A well organised and skilled defence should be capable of repelling a team with numerical superiority for extended periods anyway (particularly with a lack of coordination amongst attacking players and a pitch shape which eliminates the ability to get in behind the opponents at the byline) and there's always the incentive for one of the collaborating teams to defect, especially if they're getting tired of not scoring and then the ball's lobbed into an area where they'll find themselves in a one on one situation if they decide to chase it. And even if that strategy fails, the alliance against you is only likely to last until you stop leading.
On 1v1 saying that the winner is the one who concedes the least or that scores the most is equivalent.
Whereas on a 3 sided game it is not equivalent.
See this example below (if you change the rule a different team will have won the game):
Team X: Scored/Conceded
Team A: 4/5
Team B: 5/3 (winner if highest scorer wins)
Team C: 1/2 (winner if lowest "conceder" wins)
As seen in an alternative outcome, this gives us 3 potential winners.
Team X: Scored/Conceded
Team A: 6/4 (winner if best goal difference wins)
Team B: 7/6 (winner if highest scorer wins)
Team C: 0/3 (winner if lowest "conceder" wins)
Plus it would create weird situations where a attacking team would stop a goal from the other attacking team on the line and try to get in on their own name.
> "Meanwhile the penetration of the defence by two opposing teams imposes upon the defence the task of counterbalancing their disadvantage through sowing the seeds of discord in an alliance which can only be temporary. This will be achieved through exhortation, body language, and an ability to manoeuvre the ball and players into such a position that one opposing team will realise that its interests are better served by breaking off the attack and allying themselves with the defending team. Bearing in mind that such a decision will not necessarily be immediate, a team may well find itself split between two alliances. Such a situation opens them up to the possibility of their enemies uniting, making maximum use of this confusion. 3-sided football is a game of skill, persuasion and psychogeography."
Enter "Lifeboat" Magic. Three players, player with the highest life total when the first player is eliminated wins. Attack any direction so seat order doesn't matter.
Strategic targets and alliances would shift basically every round. You'd try to keep your opponents roughly balanced until you could suddenly knock out the tougher one in one blow.
I know there are fancier CCGs, but MtG was simple and fast, so it worked as a timekiller. The emergent strategies were honestly more interesting than the cards themselves, probably could have worked with other games just as well.
When was that... oof, Google says 2005? Seriously? Wow.
David Sirlin independently endorsing a method I also thought up is one of the best compliments I can imagine. Thanks.
Another thing I've wondered about - regular two team football, but with more than one ball ('MULTIBALLLL!')
Would be hard to follow, but an intriguing idea.
Also the idea of 'walking football' - where running is forbidden. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walking_football
This reminds me the scene from 1938 Russian book "Старик Хоттабыч" and its 1956 Soviet film adaptation where ancient genie grants every football player his own ball. Sadly they don't understand it and remove all these balls from the field.
See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZRKypTrjto&t=4000 (since 1:06:40)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCqXBTBzilY&t=4157 (since 1:09:17)
You could say that in conventional football the winner is determined by the team which concedes the fewest goals as well. It wouldn't make a difference on 1v1, but it does make a difference on 1v1v1, and that'd make the two more compatible.
I've played football with 3 teams before as a kid & teen (and other sports, such as softball), but not with the above rule. It generally turned into a gank fest (2v1), and the above rule would solve that for a lot of games with 3 players though not something like MtG because the game is over after you "scored" 20 times ie. there's no end time.
Also, as a general statement, there are a lot of fun variants on football including ways to build equal teams. I've seen some of that some during gym, playground on school, and after school on the streets (yeah, did things besides playing computer back in the late 80s/early 90s). To name two simple examples of variations on football: on the schoolyard playground we played football with a tennis ball, and on football training we played football with small goals though without keeper. Simple, minor modifications which allow for a lot of variation and strategy.
A better system might be if a team's final score were determined by subtracting their concessions from their goals. Or, if you want to tweak the style of play between offensive and defensive, applying some coefficient between goals and concessions (e.g. concessions subtract 2 while goals add 1). In a way, this is already the system, except the 'goal coefficient' is zero which is clearly unbalanced.
The more effort they invest in that the more tired they'll be when they finally decide to face eachother.
Except you have to make sure you score in both the other team's goals to make sure they concede more than you.
And I expect once someone score then you can't sit back again as the result is uneven.
If the pitch is small enough it will still be an interesting match, as you have 3 parties you can't rely/trust the others enough to just park the bus and camp.
Decent history here: