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Author Topic: Goal Sniping.  (Read 11477 times)
jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« on: March 15, 2006, 04:12:59 PM »

Hello Again,

While thinking about the whole narrative control thing, I remembered a condition of gameplay that *does* really irritate me.  I call the condition Goal Sniping.  Goal Sniping happens when a player uses their Claims at the top of the page to claim the side of a conflict that's clearly going to win and then narrates an outcome totally counter to the position that the player who has been rolling that side up the entire time.

This happens a lot with ambiguous Goals like: Destroy the Hero's Headquarters and you have two villains who each want to win this conflict on their own terms.  So what happens is Villain X rolls up side A and Villain Y rolls up B and it's clear that they both want to Destroy the Hero's Headquarters but that the players want to make sure they're the one who decides the terms.  So these two villains battle it out while Hero N watches.  Then if Hero N can tim his claim  right, he can jump in and claim either side of the conflict (because he never touched it).  He claims the one most likely to win, and then because the claim is his, narrates how neither villain succeeds.  This effectively turns Villain X's mechanical success into narrative failure.

This gets extra extra weird when Villain X rolls up his side for the page clearly bent on Destorying the Hero's Headquarters and Hero N rolls up the SAME side clearly bent on stoping BOTH Villains from achieving the goal at all.

I understand that the "creating a third side" rule is there for this reason but since "sides" don't 1-to-1 correspond with success and failure there's no need to create a third side if you can time your claim correctly.

Is there some rule I missed that says, if you Ally with a side you must be trying to achieve the SAME thing as that side?

Jesse
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Zamiel
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2006, 04:46:51 PM »

Is there some rule I missed that says, if you Ally with a side you must be trying to achieve the SAME thing as that side?

As far as I can tell, there is no such rule.

However, I think its fair to say there's a fairly straightforward strategic response to Goal Sniping. Since Claims reset to null at the bottom of a Page, clearing them off before the Claim sequence at the top of the next, the only time the Claim can be Sniped is if the Hero (in your illustration) is earlier in the sequence than the two Villains. At which point its very much in the best interest of the two to agree to oppose the Hero on the same other side without Claiming it.

Odds are very good two Characters versus one can use Actions and Reactions (to say nothing of Inspirations) to change the balance of the Conflict entirely. Since they left it unClaimed, it doesn't resolve at the end of the Page and they can continue to wrestle over it, having made the Hero expend some effort to retain control of the Conflict during the turn. Alternately, one of them can Claim the other side and have an out-of-band agreement with the other Villain to jointly narrate the results. At the end, the Conflict resolves and they proceed apace.

This is a pretty sequence-sensitive strategy, and as such is vulnerable to sequence-disrupting methods. Now, if the two Villains can't agree to cooperate briefly ... its a traditional "Villains bickering opens it up for the Hero" moment!
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2006, 05:00:05 PM »

I agree this is very turn dependent and I suppose becomes less of a problem as the number of players diminishes.  I, however, was playing with five which means two people fighting over a goal had up to three people between them to completely claim lock the two people invested in the conflict out of the conflict.  Also, it was very common for this to happen once a clear winner emmerged (i.e. debt staked, dice split, but no fruitful claims just yet).  Then a player jumps in Claims the winning side and narrates, whatever, without any regard for what the person on that side was fighting for.

This was WAY WAY more of a problem then the whole "I can narrate anything I want on my action" problem that some percieve.  Those free narration were never a point of contention, where this whole Goal Sniping thing cropped up more than once.  It was very irritating.

Jesse
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Sindyr
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2006, 05:43:07 PM »

Way way?

hrm.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2006, 05:54:49 PM »

Is there some rule I missed that says, if you Ally with a side you must be trying to achieve the SAME thing as that side?

Nope.  "Trying to achieve the same thing as that side" is one of those fluffy, undefinable things that seems like it should be obvious to legislate, but in fact turns into a ball of snakes when you try to enforce it objectively.

That having been said ... why would you want to snipe someone else's claim?  Don't you, the moment you do that, radically reduce the odds that they'll be giving you Story Tokens?  I mean, you've just turned their side into something they're not interested in, so I don't think they'll be staking Debt.  And I guarantee you that your Inspirations are better when you win a three-sided conflict than you can ever get by sniping a two-sided conflict.  Three-sided you get to match up both of your enemies against each other, which is absolutely aces.  I guess I don't see, given such a lovely setup for a three-sided conflict, what the mechanical benefit is to sniping.

Are you doing it purely for the chance to narrate the outcome?
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2006, 06:06:25 PM »

Way way?

Yes, because people, in practice, don't narrate paragraphs of situation shattering details on their turn.  The general format for a turn is a sentence or two of action plus a sentence or two of dialogue.  This turns out to be natural and obvious and it rarely occurs to anyone to do anything more.

Your typical turn narration looks like this:

"The Raven uses Mind Control to force Mr. Orange to let go of Cindy.  'Unhand, that girl you brute!'"

with a typical reaction narration looking like this:

"Mr. Orange shakes off The Raven's control and with a ferocous bellow, "You DIE NOW!" uses Massive Strength to lift up and throw The Raven across the room."

No one really cares if they get tossed around or beat up or put down or even humiliated with a given action.  It's just one turn and whatever was thrown at you can just be narrated around on your next turn.  I once had an "And Then..." narration have a bus come through between me and my intended target.  On my next turn I just described my character vaulting up onto the bus and crouching down all Batman-style and leaping down on my opponent.

However, it is extremely, extremely, extremely frustrating to spend Pages and Pages and Turns and Turns staking Debt, spliting dice and then have another player who hasn't even been involved in the Conflict up to that point Claim a side and then resolve it or roll up the side in a manner that doesn't even coincide with what that side has, up until that point, clearly been about.  People mostly did this to control and be eligable for the Inspiration and Story Token distribution.

In fact the only house rule I would ever DREAM of adding to Capes is this:

The first player to roll up a Side sets the Agenda for that side.  The narration which accompanies any attempt to roll up or resolve that side must accord with that Agenda. 

Want a different Agenda?  Stake Debt and make your own side.

Jesse
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Sindyr
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2006, 06:09:11 PM »

Can you give a play by play example of your house rule?
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TonyLB
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2006, 06:11:39 PM »

However, it is extremely, extremely, extremely frustrating to spend Pages and Pages and Turns and Turns staking Debt, spliting dice and then have another player who hasn't even been involved in the Conflict up to that point Claim a side and then resolve it or roll up the side in a manner that doesn't even coincide with what that side has, up until that point, clearly been about.  People mostly did this to control and be eligable for the Inspiration and Story Token distribution.

We're clear that you can still use the debt you staked and split off of previously to split a third side, right?

Like if you've got three debt, and dice with 3, 5 and 6 on your side, and somebody you don't like claims it, you can split into four dice (1, 2, 5 and 6) and take three of them (2, 5, 6) to form a new side.  You have to leave them the one "free" die that comes with the side, but in most cases you lose one, maybe two points of effectiveness, and they're left clutching the empty air.
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jburneko
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2006, 06:15:41 PM »

Are you doing it purely for the chance to narrate the outcome?

In some cases, yes, but in others it was because the Page had been particularly brutal with Debt Staking and Dice Spliting and multiple actions bought with Story Tokens.  Because the resources were fairly exhausted, there was usually a "safe bet" for the winner.  So, the player would jump in and claim that side.

1) Yes, to get the Inspiration.  Making a third side on a conflict so heavily invested in makes no sense at this point.  Why do so, when you can just steal the Inspiration that's already on the table?
2) To control the Story Token distribution and make sure that players favorable to their overall agenda get more. (In some cases, I saw a Hero roll up a Villain's side in the conflict but narrate something that was clearly trying to make the villain lose but wanted to be Allied with that side so they'd be eligable for Story Tokens because it was clear that no matter how well they improved the side, that side was still going to lose.  However, this was rarer, than the whole Claim, something I'm not invested in to control the Inspiration and Story Tokens strategy.)
3) Yes, just to make sure the narrative turned out the way they wanted.

Jesse
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TonyLB
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« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2006, 06:23:12 PM »

2) To control the Story Token distribution and make sure that players favorable to their overall agenda get more.

Uh ... what?  How does claiming give you any control over the distribution of Story Tokens?
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jburneko
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« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2006, 06:25:12 PM »

Like if you've got three debt, and dice with 3, 5 and 6 on your side, and somebody you don't like claims it, you can split into four dice (1, 2, 5 and 6) and take three of them (2, 5, 6) to form a new side.  You have to leave them the one "free" die that comes with the side, but in most cases you lose one, maybe two points of effectiveness, and they're left clutching the empty air.

Oh, holy crap!  No, I did not know that!  I thought if you were going to split off to a third side you had to do it WHEN you Staked the Debt.  I didn't realize that you could take the debt you have already staked on other Turns and Pages and just go, "Neaner, new side."  Can I do that repeatedly?  Like if a player claims that third side, can I do it again and make a fourth side?

Dude, that might totally fix the problem.  Or at least reduce the damage done by it.

Jesse
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2006, 06:26:38 PM »

Uh ... what?  How does claiming give you any control over the distribution of Story Tokens?

Uh, doesn't the person who Claims and Resolve a conflict distribute the Staked Debt as Story Tokens to the losers?  Like they do with the Inspriation?

Jesse
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TonyLB
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« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2006, 07:21:50 PM »

Oh, holy crap!  No, I did not know that!  I thought if you were going to split off to a third side you had to do it WHEN you Staked the Debt.  I didn't realize that you could take the debt you have already staked on other Turns and Pages and just go, "Neaner, new side."  Can I do that repeatedly?  Like if a player claims that third side, can I do it again and make a fourth side?

Yeah, only when you're splitting away from the third side you don't even have to leave one die.  It's your debt, your dice, you can pull them out from under someone if you want to.  'course, if they've staked their own debt on your third side then that's a different can of worms.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2006, 07:24:58 PM »

Uh, doesn't the person who Claims and Resolve a conflict distribute the Staked Debt as Story Tokens to the losers?  Like they do with the Inspriation?

Nope.  Winners distribute their own stakes.  So if I staked two debt, I'm the one who distributes those two debt no matter who resolves the conflict.
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2006, 07:39:18 PM »

Nope.  Winners distribute their own stakes.  So if I staked two debt, I'm the one who distributes those two debt no matter who resolves the conflict.

CRAP AGAIN!  That would have fixed one of the most bitter and resentful moments in my play experience in Capes.  Here's what happened.

Myself and Dave were fighting Patrick tooth and nail, Page after Page, Turn after Turn, over a conflict.  It was pretty clear we were going to lose.  Earlier in the conflict Meghann had rolled on our side, ONCE, so she was Allied but she quickly moved on to other conflicts on the table.  Amy Claimed Patrick's side of the conflict SPECIFICALLY to award all the Story Tokens to Meghann because she was angry at Dave and I for something we did during another conflict.

Jesse
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