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The 3 Player Problem

Imagine you have arrived at your favorite gaming site, only to discover that rather than one opponent, you have two. Let's examine your options and perhaps you can share what you choose to do in these situations.

An Original 3 Player Game

Option 1: Play a 2 v 1 Game.
This is a good option, especially if one of the three is less experienced than the other two. One player plays the agreed upon power level or points, and the other two split that amount between them. The split doesn't have to be even, especially if one player has a smaller collection.

Everyone is playing the same game.
The two player team can share ideas and work together.

The two players have smaller armies and might not be able to play with all the guys they wanted to.
Unless it was preplanned, the two player team is unlikely to have a set list ready.
The players or armies may not work together well.
It can lead to very strange pairings. Tyranids and Necrons vs Space Marines?

Points of Contention:
Does the two player team get two Warlord traits?
Does each army get 3 Command Points for being battle forged or do they share the 3 points.

Option 2: Play one opponent now and one later.
This seems like a bad option, mainly because somebody isn't getting to play. But the game (assuming 40K) is designed mainly as a 1 v 1 game. Would you try and play a 3 player game of chess? (Maybe one guy moves the pawns and the other moves the rest of the pieces.) If that just feels wrong, why doesn't if feel that way with 40K? If you are concerned about the one player left in the lurch, maybe you can play a smaller game, hopefully having enough time for a second game. To add some incentive, perhaps the winner plays again, and the loser sits the next game out.

2/3 of the players are happy.
Pre game preparation / list building etc. are not wasted.

One player is unhappy (for now)

Points of Contention:
Are you avoiding certain players?

Option 3: Play a 3 player game:
This seems like a great idea. Everyone brings the army they were set to play and you battle it out on the same battlefield.

Everyone is playing the same game.

Long time between turns.
Difficult to evenly split a rectangle into 3 deployment zones that doesn't leave one army surrounded.
Somebody has to go third.

Points of Contention:
Who goes third?

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


  1. I'd be inclined to go for option 1; as long as the sides are balanced, it generally works. And from experience, it means that a steady supply of tea/coffee/beer and bacon sandwiches can be maintained.

    1. Zzzzzz, good to hear from you. What do you do about command points? Does each player on the two player team get 3 for being battleforged? Do they each get a Warlord?

  2. tbh, I ask everyone who shows up if they're Ok with 5Ed and so far, everyone has said yes.

    I've got 6Ed and 7Ed but didn't bother with 8Ed as everyone seemed ok with 5Ed. If someone wants to use another system, 40K, Bolt Action, Striker, whatever, I'm kool with that, it's just a frame to hang the story on.

    1. Zzzzzz, That's great that you find players keeping 5th alive. I can't remember how 5th was different than 4th, or 3.5, but at the end of the day we are all trying to have fun playing make believe with some toy soldiers we painted. Honestly, I like 8th. The game seems to run a bit faster, and now that my group "accepts" the new rules we don't seem to complain much about each other's beardy/cheese-filled rules.

  3. No longer play 40k, but I'm a big fan of option 1.

    There is also option 4: the 'third wheel' acts as umpire and could even generate some 'wildcard' events.

    ...Or maybe whoever gains Objective X first has some help arrive from the third player's collection, as a Deus ex Machina...

  4. Drax! I can see where 4 works, as long as they know the rules, but perhaps with a rulebook to review, they might even learn a bit while they are looking up a rule for the other two. As far as objective X, that may require more planning than I am capable of...

  5. Hmm... they all seem like they would work - I guess it would be up to the preferences of the people playing.

    Like, if one of the players had a time limit, he could either go first in a 1v1, or try the 2v1 option, but the 1v1v1 or going second in a 1v1 would probably be out of the question?


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