Player Handicap in Mac’s Crossfire Missions

I’ve been thinking about player balance in Mac’s Crossfire Missions. If the two players are mis-matched in terms of experience or ability you might find the stronger player consistently wins every game. This is probably not very much fun for either player. I think a handicap system gives a way to cope with these situations. Handicapping gives the weaker player an advantage, to make it possible for them to win whilst maintaining fairness. This is Crossfire, of course.

Handicap levels

A player’s handicap is 0, 2, 5, 7, 10, or 20 points. These six handicap levels are chosen deliberately as they match the cost of different VP bonuses and also match the reinforcement options introduced in Mac’s Missions v3. Weaker players have higher handicaps.

Macs Mission Handicap
Macs Mission Handicap

If you are playing as a club, each player in the club might have a handicap. However, if there are only two players in your group, then the stronger player will always have a handicap of 0 and the other player will have a handicap of 2, 5, 7, 10, or 20 points.

Calculating victory points

Handicaps are used to calculate victory in Mac’s Crossfire Missions. Add each player’s handicap to their victory points before deciding who wins the game. In other words, weaker players get bonus victory points. Otherwise you play the game normally. Having said that, handicaps are important during the game as they give players more choices. A weaker player, knowing they have a handicap, can afford to take more reinforcements during the game.

Changing handicap

If the weaker player – the player with the higher handicap – wins the game, then their handicap is reduced one level e.g. from 10 points to 7 points. If they lose the game, then increase their handicap one level e.g. from 2 points to 5 points. Handicaps cannot go below 0 or above 20.

3 thoughts on “Player Handicap in Mac’s Crossfire Missions”

  1. Great Idea! But I would suggest other nomenclature than “Stronger” ot “weaker” to avoid resentment! How about Experience level and turn the 0-10 about?

    Dick Bryant

    • I follow your logic Dick, but I would be rubbing “Stronger” and “Weaker” for all I was worth. Unless I happen to be loosing…

    • I tried to take inspiration from golf (and other sports/games), where handicaps are a number that represent the player’s ability based on their previous scores. Handicaps allow us to compare a player’s performance with other players.

      The numeric values I propose (0, 2, 5, 7, 10, 20) are used elsewhere in Mac’s Crossfire Missions – for victory points and reinforcements – so I thought I’d align. I did want a couple of adjectives to add a bit more meaning to the scale.

      I am happy to consider alternatives to “stronger/weaker”. But I’m struggling to find better adjectives. One post on golf handicap talked about “better” players. The post didn’t use the term “worse” but the implication was clear. I thought Stronger/Weaker were a more mild version of Better/Worse.

      Experience is one factor but not the deciding factor. I have a friend who is both experienced and good. His experience contributes to being “good” but the “good” element is what I’m trying to model here. That is because I have another friend who is super experienced but not very good. His handicap should reflect his ability, not experience. One friend is the stronger player and the other is weaker.


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