They suck. Everyone hates them. But, as a game designer, what can we do to try to avoid them? For the uninitiated, a kingmaker is a situation in the final turns of a mafia game in which you have 3 competing groups, let's call them A, B, and C, and A and B are in a good position to win and C is not at all. However, C's actions determine which of A and B win. C is called the "kingmaker," as C decides who gets to win but cannot choose him or herself. The winner between A and B is no longer decided by who has played the better game. It is now decided arbitrarily by C, who probably no longer cares about the game. This is pretty terrible, and it happens in more games than not. What could be done to fix this? The most obvious fix would be to simply have there be only two factions in any given game. Unfortunately, that formula can only be used a few times before it gets boring. Alternatively, we could include measures to either dramatically raise or lower faction C's influence. If we raise it, then the kingmaker situation is avoided, as now C has a legitimate chance of winning, and has no reason to arbitrarily choose faction A or B to win. This may just end up postponing the kingmaker, however. This could be done via game mechanics that empower factions that have very few players left. If we lower C's influence to the point of being unable to change the game at all, we have also eliminated the problem. In that case, however, there is no incentive for C to continue to care about the game. This could be achieved via game mechanics that take power away from very small factions. The problem with both of these last two solutions (which many of you have probably already seen) is that it's going to be difficult to tell when a game is in a kingmaker situation, and even if we could, then it's going to be difficult to warp the game mechanics to dissolve these kingmakers. However, both of these proposed solutions are extremely vague and come with flaws of their own. I haven't come up with a full solution to the problem and I don't know if a solution exists. But we all recognize that kingmakers are a problem with the game of smofia today, so we should at least attempt to fix it. Do you guys have any ideas?