I recently talked about board games with one person. He was a fan of Dominion and swatted away my observations about the game. Mainly, that it tended to get somewhat solitary-like, with every player just optimizing their own game. That got me thinking about the nature of multiplayer games.
Single-player games tend to become too easy when faced with an AI opponent. They work with limited parameters and usually make the same choices in same situations. By identifying how an AI reacts to something, it is possible to figure them out and metagame them into a corner. Then the games just become an exercise in optimization. Making the best possible choices. With shallow game mechanics, it becomes boring.
I like to influence other players and their game. Especially in games with hidden information and luck elements, like Magic or Battlestar Galactica. If someone is winning, I would prefer to divert resources to cripple that player instead of just accepting defeat and trying again next time. It is much more exiting to stay on top while every other player is trying to knock you down. It tends to create more organic and people-centric gameplay.
People-centric. Few games are people-centric. Most big games (video games, board games) are about skill tests, numbers and logics. Few are about people and their thoughts. Perhaps this is a train of thought best adressed in another post.