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Asymmetric Multiplayer

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Asymmetric Multiplayer is a multiplayer mode in which the different players have totally different roles and capabilities, unlike most multiplayer games, where all the players are generally doing the same thing and playing the game the same way.

Nintendo popularized the term with their Wii U console, as a way to describe how one player could play the game using the touchscreen-equipped GamePad controller, while others play on the TV, and the two groups have very different goals and even game mechanics. An example is New Super Mario Bros. U, where players who use traditional controllers control characters who run and jump on the TV, while the GamePad player can interact with the environment by messing with enemies, placing blocks in mid-air, and doing other things that affect the TV players' experience.

However, the concept has been around since ancient (by video game standards) times. Generally, it is quite rare in games, as creating two completely different gameplay experiences for two different players requires a great deal of balance, especially if the two are competing against each other.

This does not refer to such things as games where players can be different characters (e.g., a magic user and a sword user) with slightly different abilities but carry out essentially the same goal in the same way. This instead refers to games where the roles, abilities and gameplay experience are drastically different. To see whether an example fits, think of the question "Does each player have a totally different experience from the others?" If the answer is yes, it's probably Asymmetric Multiplayer.

Compare Variable Player Goals, which are often paired with Asymmetric Multiplayer but not the same thing (as Asymmetric Multiplayer can have two players working towards the same goal different ways, and Variable Player Goals can have all players use the same game mechanics). A Social Deduction Game is a specific type of asymmetric game where the goal of one group of players is to figure out which players are secretly part of the other group.


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  • Possibly one of the oldest examples, Nautilus for the Atari 8-Bit Computers was a two-player game in which one player controlled a submarine and had to destroy underwater buildings, while the other controlled a ship which dropped mines and depth charges and attempted to repair the buildings, but was unable to go underwater. (Fun trivia fact: according to Wikipedia, it's also the very first Split Screen game in existence!)
  • G.I. Joe: Cobra Strike for the Atari 2600 was similar in multiplayer. One player controlled a giant mechanical cobra that dripped venom from its fangs and could fire a laser beam to attack Joe troopers, while the other player controlled a shield that they could use to block the venom and lasers, and fire missiles to try to destroy the cobra.

  • Little known Metroid Vania, 8 Eyes had the second player controlling the protagonist's pet hawk.
  • In Duck Hunt "Game A", the first player shoots ducks with the light gun and the second player can control the duck with the normal gamepad.

    Sega Genesis 
  • Thunder Force IV had a two-player option, with one player piloting Rynex and the other aiming the weapons.
  • Gunstar Heroes' space stage has one player controlling the ship, while a second manipulates a satellite turret around it.
  • Mechwarrior for the Sega Genesis's multiplayer had player one driving the Mad Cat Omnimech while player two aimed and fired the weapons.

    Super Nintendo 

  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has a co-op mode where one player controls Link and the other uses a Game Boy Advance connected to the GameCube to provide support (potions, bombs, etc.) with the Tingle Tuner in-game item. (This doesn't apply to the Wii U remake - ironic in light of the Wii U GamePad that can replicate the GBA functionality - instead having been replaced with Miiverse message sharing in the form of the Tingle Bottle.)
  • Pac-Man Vs. also uses a connected Game Boy Advance. The player using the GBA is Pac-Man and gets a full view of the maze, while up to three other players are ghosts and only given limited visibility on a TV split-screen.

  • A Way To Be Dead: You can either play as a survivor trying to escape from August Valentine Hospital, a zombie trying to eat the survivors, or Dr. Riley McClein trying to kill the survivors.
  • Savage, for the PC, is a cross between a Real-Time Strategy game and an action game. One player on each team would be the commander and could see the entire battlefield and issue orders to players. All other players would be individual soldiers.
  • In the Half-Life 2 mod Overwatch, one player controls Combine forces from an RTS point of view, while all the other players are on the opposing team and control an individual resistance fighter in typical FPS gameplay.
    • Another Half-Life 2 named Zombie Master is similar: most of the players are playing survivors in first-person shooter style, while one player plays as the titular Zombie Master, who spawns and controls the zombies and sets off traps in RTS-style gameplay.
  • A popular Arena mod for Team Fortress 2 called Vs. Saxton Hale pits one superpowered player against the rest. Originally, that player would take control of the eponymous Australian, but the mod eventually expanded to include a number of different TF2 "freaks", such as Vagineer and Christian Brutal Sniper, rebranded as Freak Fortress 2.
  • Natural Selection is a Half-Life mod with Aliens (generally melee- and ambush-focused) vs. Space Marines (standard FPS gameplay and guns, and a Commander with an RTS perspective).
    • This is continued in the sequel Natural Selection 2, but as it's no longer a mod, the abilities of the aliens, the space marines and the commanders are increased.
  • The Hidden is a source engine mod where one person with invisibility and a knife faces off against a heavily armed team of SWAT-type police with techno-gadgets.
  • Pirates Vikings and Knights features three different teams with unique classes and playstyles. The Viking team focuses mostly on melee damage and works best as a horde, overrunning the enemy with pure strength. The Knight team's classes have varying degrees of Crippling Overspecialization, making a teamwork-oriented approach with class variation the best. The Pirates are poorly equipped and lightly armored, but their use of gunpowder weapons makes up for that. Their best use is as The Swarm, dealing consistent poke damage, then running off, never facing the other teams head-on, but rather being a consistent thorn in each of their sides.
  • Left 4 Dead has zombies vs. human survivors with completely different gameplay styles. The humans can revive downed teammates, and their goal is to reach the end of the level. Player-controlled zombies instead choose where to spawn, and must prevent the human players from reaching the end of the level by killing them. Their capabilities are also vastly different. Dead humans stay dead for a very long time, whereas dead zombie players revive shortly afterward to keep trying to stop the humans.
  • Player Unknowns Battlegrounds has the (unofficial) "Zombies" mode, where instead of everyone trying to kill everyone else to the last one standing, a large percentage of the players spawn as zombies, all trying to kill the few humans on the map. While humans play as normal, zombies cannot use weapons, armor, or vehicles, and thus rely on sheer numbers and swarming tactics to take down the humans.
  • Primal Carnage is basically Left 4 Dead but with dinosaurs instead of zombies. In the "Team Deathmatch" gamemode, each side simply has to get the most kills. In the "Get to the Chopper" gamemode, as a human you have to capture checkpoints and make it to the escape helicopter at the end of the map within a time limit; as a dinosaur, you have to stop them.
  • Island Defense, a popular custom map for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, has ten players controlling builders that need to collect resources and build a fortified base to hold of the Titan, while the remaining player controls the Titan, a powerful unit that tries to stop them before their bases become impenetrable.
  • The Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator simulates a Star Trek style spaceship bridge. Each player controls a different aspect of the ship, leading to very different play-styles; the captain is the most extreme example of this, since they cannot take any actions personally and instead relay orders to the other players.
  • Crawl Is a dungeon crawler where one player controls the hero, and the other three control the monsters so they can kill him and play as the hero.
  • The FPS/RTS hybrid Battle Zone 1998 and its sequel have two player states in the "strategy" multiplayer gamemodes; Commander and Pilot. The Commander takes over most of the RTS functions and have sole control over base equipment (factories and the like) and by default control all the Player Mooks. Pilots start out with nothing under their control besides their own Hover Tank, but the commander can grant control of units to pilots. Commanders generally remain in the base to build it up and defend it, while pilots guide Scavengers to biometal pools and engage the enemy. Players can freely swap between the role of commander and pilot in multiplayer. The MPA gamemode has a human team (commander and pilots) versus an AI controlled commander, and Strategy has two teams of human commanders and pilots.
  • Shores of Hazeron had multiple crew stations on its starships, each of which had unique tasks; the helmsman flew the ship, sensor station locked and scanned targets, and the engineer had to keep multiple constantly moving status indicators for the engines/reactor/FTL drive within a green zone or they would become inefficient, etc. The Captain's chair did little on its own, but could override other stations on the ship, such as allowing the captain to pull up the helm station controls and fly the ship manually. Beyond the starships, each player empire had multiple levels of authority for its members; players without the right credentials couldn't authorize new constructions on planets, while the Emperor or other high-ups could commandeer any starships and colony.
  • SpyParty is a 1v1 game where one player is a spy at a cocktail party full of AI characters and the other player is a sniper trying to figure out who the human spy is from among the AI.
  • Who's Your Daddy? is a 1v1 game about a baby who attempts suicide, and a dad trying to prevent that from happening. The baby wins by killing itself.
  • Dead by Daylight is a 4v1 Survival Horror game inspired by slasher movies, in which a team of four Survivors must outwit a powerful Killer, who seeks to hunt them down and sacrifice them to a malevolent Entity.
  • Depth, is a 4v2 game where you play as either a diver exploring ancient underwater ruins searching for treasure, or a shark trying to kill the divers. As a diver, collecting gold will give you money you can spend on weapons like spear-guns, pistols, rifles, mines, and turrets. As a shark you killing divers will allow you to "evolve", granting traits like hardened scales, increased stamina, bleeding damage, and health regen.
    • "Megalodon Hunt" is a 5v1 gamemode where you either play as a diver or a Megalodon shark; when a diver kills the Megalodon, they become the Megalodon.
  • In Allegiance, one player on each team is the commander. The commander gives orders to computer-controlled miners and building vessels while also giving instructions to players, directing them on where to go and who to attack. They are also the only player that can give authorization to other players to pilot more powerful vessels such as bombers.
  • Red Orchestra, Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, Rising Storm and Rising Storm 2: Vietnam all include this as a realistic feature of different countries going to war. Available guns, classes, radio commands, and even basic statistics depend on whether you're on the German or Russian side. This is most emphasized in Rising Storm 2, where the North Vietnamese use devious traps, expendable troops, and Anti-Air Missiles to try and counter the U.S.' generally better weapons, area denial, and emphasis on air superiority.
  • Heroes & Generals, like Red Orchestra, gives each of the three factions different weapons and vehicles to choose from, giving each faction distinct advantages and disadvantages.
  • DOOM Eternal: Multiplayer modes allows for a team of players to fight as demons against one single player fighting as the Doom Slayer. Invasions allow this to occur within one person's single player campaign provided the person playing has opted innote , while Battlemode is a dedicated multiplayer version set up as a 2v1, best of 3 deathmatch.
  • Last Year: five players take the role of classmates trapped in a nightmare with the sixth player, who controls three Fiends per match. The students must complete objectives to escape while the Fiend must stop them. The students have a variety of gadgets and an advantage in numbers, while the Killer can spawn and de-spawn out of sight of the students, set up traps, and launch One-Hit Kill ambushes on unsuspecting victims.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds: The online pixel lobby features a game mode called the Salt Mines, where players can mine for salt, fight predators, and earn cosmetics. At the end of 15 minutes, whichever player has the most salt transforms into a bear. The bear has to hunt down and beat the other players, while the other players need to either survive long enough for the bear to starve, or beat the bear in a fight.
  • In Enemy on Board, four players are the crew of the ship trying to find and kill the aliens, and two players are the aliens who are trying to kill the crew.
  • Dark Deception: Monsters & Mortals offers a competitive mode which pits three "Mortals" against one "Monster"; the Mortals' goal is to collect enough soul shards to summon a portal and escape from the maze they're trapped in; the Monster just wants to kill all the Mortals.
  • Clockwords suggests that the other player who joins should move the mouse around to aim the gun. The first player would type in words, though the other player can brainstorm new ones.
  • In Silence: Four people play as humans lost in the woods at night trying to either fix their car or open an armory for guns. One person plays as a creature out to kill them, and can only track by sound.
  • Unfortunate Spacemen: Most of the players are spacemen trying to escape a failing outpost. One player is an alien trying to kill them all.

    Nintendo DS 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass included a multiplayer mode in which one player controls Link and attempts to bring "Force Gems" into a base, while a second player controls three "Phantoms", indestructible knights, by drawing paths in the map for them to follow and stop Link.

  • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 allow the second player to point at collectibles with the Wii Remote to pick them up and fire them at enemies. Other pointer controls include freezing enemies in place and giving Mario a boosted jump if the two players have good coordination.
  • The Metamortex sections of Kirby's Epic Yarn work this way, with the first player controlling movement while the second player handles a secondary aspect of whatever the two transform into. (Everywhere else, gameplay is identical for both players.)
  • Sin and Punishment: Star Successor allows a second player to provide additional firepower simply by aiming the Wii Remote at their targets and pressing the fire button. It's implied they're the character that 1P didn't choose, but 2P's character never appears on-screen during gameplay.
  • Ju-on The Grudge: Haunted House Simulator contains a mode which lets player one play a chapter as normal, while player two can add to the haunting going on by pressing buttons on their own Wii Remote.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers lets a second player use a Wii Remote to work as something of an extension of Layle's gravity powers, letting another object be manipulated simultaneously. But it only works in a few areas and isn't as versatile as Player 1's.

    Wii U 
  • Nintendo Land is all about this. Many of the games have multiplayer modes in which one player's view of the action and role is different from the others. The cooperative games do involve players working towards a common goal, but with very different abilities. The competitive games, however, involve the players having totally different goals in addition to completely different abilities.
    • Luigi's Ghost Mansion has an invisible ghost, playing on the touch-screen GamePad, try to sneak up on ghost hunters, while the ghost hunters view the TV and try to stop the invisible ghost with the use of flashlights.
    • Mario Chase has one player view the entire playfield on the GamePad while the others, using split-screen views on the TV, attempt to chase and catch Mario.
    • Animal Crossing: Sweet Day has one player control two guards on the GamePad to try to catch the other players, who are viewing the TV and trying to steal candy.
    • Pikmin Adventures has one player using the GamePad control Captain Olimar, and can fight by throwing Pikmin at enemies and objects by touching them on the screen, while up to four other players control giant Pikmin on the TV and fight enemies directly.
    • Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest has one player on the GamePad as an archer shooting enemies with a bow and arrows, including at a distance, while up to four other players use Wii Remotes to fight enemies up close with a sword.
    • Metroid Blast allows a player using the GamePad to fly a gunship that has full freedom of movement and blast enemies or other players (if playing competitively), while other players run on the ground and control human fighters who can run, roll into balls, and use grappling beams, but lack the freedom of the gunship.
  • New Super Mario Bros. U allows up to four players to control Mario, Luigi and two Toads, while another player can use the GamePad at any time to create blocks that appear on the TV. Both players and enemies can jump on or interact with the blocks. The GamePad player has other abilities, such as interacting with enemies, defeating enemies in some instances, spinning gears in the opposite direction, or revealing invisible 3-up life blocks.
  • The Wii U version of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed has two exclusive modes: Banana Heist, where one person controls Aiai in a ball while everyone else races normally, and Aiai must take bananas from them; and Ninja Tag, where one person controls Joe Musashi and runs into the other players. In both modes, all of the other players need to defend themselves.
  • The Wii U version of Rayman Legends lets player 1 do this with the GamePad, using the touchscreen to control Murphy in order to clear obstacles and tickle enemies while letting the other players run and jump as usual. Certain levels require player 1 to do this; when playing solo, these segments skew more toward Unexpected Gameplay Change.
  • Mario Party 10 has a mode called "Bowser Party", where the group is trying to reach the end of the board and collect the star, but the player controlling Bowser is trying to knock out the other's hearts by using "Bowser Minigames" involving breathing fire, smashing them with a hammer, and Bingo. Another major difference in the play types is that Bowser sometimes sets traps or tries to trick the group players.
  • In Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, the player using the GamePad can't directly control Kirby, and instead draws rainbow ropes to guide him around from place to place. Up to three other players can join with regular controllers, playing as Waddle Dees who can run and jump like a regular platform game. They can carry Kirby around and attack with their spears. Some stages have segments where Kirby transforms into a vehicle with special powers, while the Waddle Dees become secondary helpers. Inversely, when playing in multiplayer, every stage has a segment where a Grab Hand appears, which Kirby is helpless against but the Waddle Dees can fend off.

  • Splinter Cell: The Splinter Cell games have multiplayer modes where one team of players plays as spies, with a third-person camera and stealth-oriented gameplay and abilities; and the other team plays as mercs, with a first-person camera and abilities oriented towards detecting spies and killing them.
  • This applies any time a 1 vs. 3 minigame comes up in the Mario Party series, for the obvious reason that it would be unfair otherwise. Mario Party: The Top 100, being a Megamix Game, brings back 12 of the 1-on-3 minigames from previous games in the series, and have a dedicated minigame Pack in Minigame Match mode.
  • Battlefield 2 has a mode where one player on each team is a commander, while all others are soldiers. The commander has the ability to issue orders to players as well as drop artillery, though they also exist as a soldier and can take personal action as well (and of course be killed).
  • Battlefield 4 re-introduces the commander role, but removes the player from the battlefield entirely, while also giving the ability to drop supplies, order troops, and other tactical advantages.
  • The selling point of Evolve. Four players are human hunters, armed with futuristic weapons and gadgets, who rely on teamwork and coordination. One player is a massive monster that becomes more powerful over time and works alone. These two groups play against each other as the balance of power shifts from the hunters to the monster the longer the game goes on.
  • Shadow Realms is a four-versus-one game. Four human characters face a single overlord character, with the latter's abilities being consciously patterned on those of the Game Master in a pen-and-paper RPG. Its Spiritual Successor, Breach, has a similar concept.
  • Silkworm was a multi-platform scrolling shooter where one player controlled a helicopter and the other an armoured jeep. The helicopter player had full screen movement but could only fire forwards and had to avoid colliding with airborne enemies, while the jeep player had to destroy or jump over obstacles on the ground and could fire in any direction. It had a spiritual successor called SWIV with the same basic concept, only transferred to a vertical shooter.
  • A Game Boy game for The Hunt for Red October had a two-player mode where the second player was the Soviet commander hunting the titular submarine, and thus controlled all the enemy forces one would find on a typical level of the game.
  • The online multiplayer for Batman: Arkham Origins has four roles it randomly assigns to the players: one of three of Bane's minions, one of three of The Joker's minions, Batman, and Robin. In the former two roles, the players attempt to win a Third-Person Shooter deathmatch to claim as much territory on the map as possible; in the latter two roles, the players take down as many of the respawning minions as they can until they build up a Fear meter, which ends the game in their favor.
  • Friday the 13th: The Game: seven players play as Camp Crystal Lake counselors, and the eighth player is Jason Voorhees. The counselors have to try and survive until the end of the game (or if they're feeling brave, work together to beat Jason), while Jason's goal is to Leave No Survivors.
  • Predator: Hunting Grounds: four players take on the role of Fireteam members, while a fifth player controls the Predator. The Fireteam must complete a series of objectives and escape, or killing the Predator. The Predator is tasked with killing the Fireteam members, and should they fall in battle, set off their Self-Destruct Mechanism to take out the Fireteam in one last-ditch effort.
  • Island Wars subverts this. During the first phase of gameplay (Morning), one player uses a controllable aircraft to fire at the other player's palm trees on their island, and the other player's job is to control a grounded cannon to defend against the first player's aircraft. This is a subversion because the second phase (noon) switches the roles around, thus giving each player a similar experience, and the third phase (Evening) has both players fight each other in aircraft.
  • Banjo-Tooie was going to have a Co-Op Multiplayer mode called "Bottles' Revenge". In this mode, Banjo and Kazooie would be followed by Bottles' evil spirit, who would automatically possess the nearest weak-minded creature (I.E. an enemy), allowing the second player to control the enemy and attack the first. If another enemy that Bottles can possess is in range during a possession (indicated by white sparkles), the second player can switch enemies with the press of the R button. During boss battles, Bottles would simply disappear.
  • White Noise 2 is about a team of four investigators searching an area for clues trying to solve a mystery, while a fifth player plays as a supernatural creature trying to devour them and halt their investigation.
  • Resident Evil 3 (Remake) comes with the Gaiden Game Resident Evil: Resistance, a 4-vs-1 game. Four players take on the role of survivors forced by the Umbrella Corporation to take part in a deadly experiment by the fifth player, who takes the role of the "Mastermind". The survivors control like the main characters in the single player game and must work together to escape from the map, with each survivor having unique abilities such as stronger melee attacks or better healing abilities. The Mastermind is tasked with preventing the survivors' escape by setting traps and summoning zombies and other monsters. Typically, the Mastermind can only see what is happening in the stage through surveillance cameras (which can also be modified with turrets), but they can also take control of a zombie in order to deal with the survivors personally, as well as summon boss monsters like Mr. X to overwhelm their opponents.
  • Co-op mode in Tower Bloxx Deluxe has one player stack blocks and the other player prod low blocks to make the tower less shaky.
  • Wizball included a second sphere (evidently piloted by the wizard's cat, if the laboratory cutscene was anything to go by) you needed to obtain in order to collect paint. It would stick by your side and could controlled by holding down the fire button, but if you had a friend or sibling available, they could play it on their own. Notably, it couldn't get hit by enemies but could fire shots of its own.
  • In Dragon Ball: The Breakers, two teams of players square off against each other: a singular "Raider", and up to seven "Survivors".
    • The Survivors are tasked with surviving against the Raider, a task made more challenging due to them being ordinary people without any super powers. As such, they are reliant on various tools and other abilities to hide from, evade, or otherwise fend off the Raider. By collecting enough "Change Power", they can temporarily draw on the powers of one of the heroes of Dragon Ball to fight off the Raider, escape to safety, or protect their allies. The victory conditions for Survivors is to activate the Super Time Machine to escape, or if the Super Time Machine's startup system is destroyed, summon an Emergency Time Machine and escape, either on their own or with any allies they can bring along.
    • The Raider takes on the role of one of the villains of Dragon Ball. Over time, they can evolve into stronger forms (such as Cell absorbing Survivors or NPCs to gain more power), becoming graver threats to the Survivors. With each new tier of power attained, Raiders can completely destroy a part of the map, restricting the playing field while also potentially destroying any keys for the Super Time Machine not yet found and activated. The Raider's goal is to kill as many Survivors as possible, and to that end, sabotage the Super Time Machine's startup system to prevent the Survivors from escaping all at once.
  • Operation: Tango places a cooperative twist on the concept by having two players team up, albeit with vastly different playstyles. The Agent navigates the world, evading deathtraps and collecting key items. The Hacker, meanwhile, provides vital support from cyberspace by infiltrating computer systems. The key to success for both players is communication, as neither player has all of the tools needed to solve puzzles, but by working in tandem and doing the things their ally can't, they can win the day.
  • Star Wars Battlefront 2 introduces the Ewok Hunt mode, in which the players start out as stormtroopers trying to survive the night in the Endor forest and make it to a rescue shuttle. As each is killed off by the Ewoks, the player revives as an Ewok and hunts his former teammates. The skill and equipment set for each side is considerably different; the Ewoks have night vision and enhanced senses, while the troopers must rely on their weapon flashlights (or try to navigate in the dark). On the other hand, the Ewoks have no ranged weapons to compare to the blaster rifles, which are very effective if you can see the enemy approaching. The victory conditions for the Imperial side is getting just one trooper to the shuttle, which is not as easy as it sounds.
  • Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare features the series' two sides as its playable roster, and they're fairly different. The plants side has the Peashooter, Sunflower, Chomper and Cactus, while the Zombies have Foot Soldier, All-Star, Scientist and Engineer. Alongside this, in Garden Ops and Gardens and Graveyards, the Plants will always defend their garden while the Zombies will try to raid and destroy it. The sequel makes the playing field a bit more even, by adding Citrus, Rose and Kernel Corn for the Plants, and Super Brainz, Captain Deadbeard and Imp for the Zombies, while adding new game modes in which the Zombies protect their graveyards from the attacking Plants. Still, there are undeniable differences in the playable characters.
  • Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed allows players to control either a nasty ghost or one of the ghostbusters tracking it down.
  • The VR version of The Persistence has a companion app which allows another player to manipulate the area around the main player. They can help you out by closing doors on enemies or luring them away, but they can also lure them towards you, trap you in with them, or do something as petty as turn the lights off. They can unlock more control by either helping or hurting you, at their preference.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pen and paper role-playing games are essentially this in analogue form. The Game Master has complete control over everything and is unconcerned about leveling, loot, dying, or other player-only problems. The Game Master's job is to provide balanced and challenging gameplay as well as rules adjudications. A player's job is to attempt to survive whatever the GM tosses at them.
  • Cooperative Adventure Board Games like HeroQuest and Descent: Journeys in the Dark emulate Tabletop RPG in having a "Game Master" but the GM is constricted by the rules just like the other players, and their role is basically reduced to controlling monsters and traps, while other players control individual Hero Units.
  • In Clue: The Great Museum Caper, one player plays the thief, who is invisible on the board, trying to steal artwork, while the other players play the detectives trying to catch the thief. This style is also used in games like Scotland Yard and Fury of Dracula, or in the bio-terrorist challenge for Pandemic: On The Brink.
  • A few Collectable/Constructed Card Games do this, most notably Netrunner. In both the original version and the reboot, one player is the corp defending his servers, while the other is the runner trying to hack into those servers. Each side plays by different rules and has his own set of cards to use; the runner can't use corp cards and corp can't use runner cards.
  • Leder Games:
    • Root, where each player also play different military, political or religious groups with very different strategies and goals. Each player is essentially playing a different game than the other. The game is essentially a War Game, but the Marquise plays a Construction and Management wargame, the Eyrie plays a Programming wargame, the Alliance plays a Political Strategy wargame, and the Vagabond plays an Adventure Board Game with Equipment-Based Progression. That's just the basic factions; each additional faction plays some other method.
    • Vast: The Crystal Caverns takes this to an extreme, with up to five completely different characters: the dragon, the knight, the goblins, the thieves, and the cave itself. Each has different rules, statistics, and goals.
  • Tafl games are a now-lost genre of board games in which the attacking player has numerous pieces and must attempt to capture the defending player's king, while the defending player is greatly outnumbered and must find a way for the king to escape the board. The first tafl games were played in the fourth century, making this video game trope Older Than Feudalism:
    • Fox games are a similar class of ancient two-player strategy board games where one player's force is smaller than the other, but usually has unrestricted moves and the ability to kill opposing forces; the larger force has restricted movement and can only immobilize the smaller force.
    • The Discworld board game Thud (created by the mathematician Trevor Truran in 2002 and made part of the setting in Going Postal a couple of years later) is a "tafl game" where one player controls a large group of fast-but-weak dwarfs and the other player controls a smaller group of strong-but-slow trolls. A full match is two games, so to win you have to have mastered both.
  • In Betrayal at House on the Hill, the game starts with everyone neutrally aligned, but once the Haunt begins, the game decides who will be the traitor (which some Haunts have multiple or none) depending on the scenario given, which depend on the Omen card drawn and the tile they drew it from. In most cases, the teams are split between the traitor(s) and the remaining heroes, and each team have a set of completely different objectives to complete and may have special gameplay effects or powers to use. For example, the traitor will sometimes play as a different monster with unique stats, while the heroes have to work together to kill the traitor, or the traitor may have control over monster tokens to oppose the heroes.
  • OGRE is considered a classic with this trope: One player controls an enormous cybertank (The titular Ogre) that is brimming with weapons and heavily armored. The other player commands a number of more conventional forces against it.
  • Spirit Island has each player cooperating towards the same goal, but every playable spirit has wildly different rules and effects, will start with a unique set of power cards, and build their own power deck over time.

    Non-Video Game examples 
  • In the Final Chase of "The Chase" The Chase, the players have their clock continue to run during their wrong answers, which the Chaser does not. To balance, the players get a chance to answer the Chaser's dropped questions, for a chance to reduce the Chaser's total.
  • Thud!: Discussed in reference to the titular board game, which features one side playing a small number of individually powerful trolls, and the other a larger number of weaker but fast dwarfs with very powerful combo abilities. The story mentions that most casual players lose interest because "the dwarfs always win", but at the highest levels of play the win percentage leans slightly in favor of trolls. It's also explained that in tournament play every match is two games, one as each side, so a player must master both.