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Author Topic: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"  (Read 2614 times)

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mxdata

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2020, 12:06:27 am »
0

Not that I necessarily get a vote, but my vote for a future printing would be to keep the card wording exactly as is; and update the FAQ wording / ruling to match. This way we get identical behavior for identical wording between Jester and Gamble. Unless of course that just makes Gamble too strong. But honestly I think a lot of people who don't read these sorts of things are going to end up playing Gamble that way anyway.

It doesn't seem like leaving it on top would make it that much stronger.  I mean, think about it, how appealing would an event that was just "+1 Buy.  Reveal the top card of your deck" be?  Especially since whatever's on the top of your deck is just gonna be part of your initial 5-card hand, so there's not that much you could do with that knowledge.  Seems to me that there would be little practical difference between "discard an unplayed Treasure/Action" and "leave an unplayed Treasure/Action on top of your deck"

Well no, if itís an action that you donít want to play now, then youíve just thrown away your $2; you gambled and lost. But if itís an action you donít want to play now, thereís a pretty good chance that you do want to play it next turn... like if itís a Village, Throne Room, Remodel, etc. So no it wouldnít be a lot stronger that way, but it was already super weak in the case that you discarded the action. Worse than if you hadnít bought it at all. Leaving it on top just helps mitigate that weakness.. instead of losing $2 and your action for next turn, you only lose the $2.

Ah, that's a good point
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scolapasta

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2020, 12:56:43 am »
0

There is another out for this card, but maybe it was already tried, which is getting rid of the "you may":

"+1 Buy
Reveal the top card of your deck. If it's a Treasure or Action, play it. Otherwise, discard it."

There's no ambiguity now. And if you have something you don't want to play, well, it's called Gamble. Is that too awful for some reason?

Not that I necessarily get a vote, but my vote for a future printing would be to keep the card wording exactly as is; and update the FAQ wording / ruling to match. This way we get identical behavior for identical wording between Jester and Gamble. Unless of course that just makes Gamble too strong. But honestly I think a lot of people who don't read these sorts of things are going to end up playing Gamble that way anyway.

Either of these approaches would solve the consistency issue with "Otherwise" that irks me.

My (non binding) vote is the 2nd one. I like that it adds a strategic choice sometimes. Right now, when you reveal certain Actions and all(?) Treasures, there's really no reason not to play, as the alternative is to discard. If you can leave on top of the deck, then it may sometimes be a better decision to leave it for next turn.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2020, 01:26:36 am by scolapasta »
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Donald X.

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #27 on: March 13, 2020, 03:40:55 am »
+2

Not that I necessarily get a vote, but my vote for a future printing would be to keep the card wording exactly as is; and update the FAQ wording / ruling to match. This way we get identical behavior for identical wording between Jester and Gamble. Unless of course that just makes Gamble too strong. But honestly I think a lot of people who don't read these sorts of things are going to end up playing Gamble that way anyway.
Jester and Gamble aren't identical. There's a period in one, a semicolon in the other, and that can affect the scope of a clause. I'm not arguing that Gamble is clear enough as-is, just, I don't think I get anything from keeping Gamble worded the same but changing the ruling on it.
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Donald X.

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2020, 03:47:27 am »
+2

There is another out for this card, but maybe it was already tried, which is getting rid of the "you may":
The time for me to change the card functionally in order to improve the clarity of the wording... was before it was printed! That was the time to do that. People had input then and the card was printed like it was.

When the card is reprinted, I can try to improve the wording, but I will avoid any real change to functionality, because it's much much better to not change the functionality. I reserve that for situations where the functionality is utterly messed up, e.g. Inheritance (not the case here), or situations where it's a significant edge case to get the difference to appear. Yes okay I also allow "keep you honest" fixes, which are not utterly messed up and do come up, but are extremely minor. Anyway there is not sufficient impetus for changing Gamble's functionality, so its functionality will not be changing. The wording could be improved though.

And, if it needed the small font, it could get it; now that the card exists, it's stuck getting the best wording it can despite what font size that entails.
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LostPhoenix

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2020, 08:40:48 am »
+5

This isn't specific to this example, but I personally loathe the overly-specific and awkward wording of cards in games like Magic, the Gathering, and appreciate the simplicity of Dominion. IMO, cards shouldn't have extra lines of text to cover edge-cases that show up 0.5% of the time (unless it's particularly game-breaking). If something's fuzzy rules-wise, then that's what the FAQ is for.

Casual gamers just want to know what the card does, not read a wall of awkward text.
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Jeebus

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2020, 11:12:22 am »
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I also don't think Gamble is like Jester and Tormentor, precisely because of "you may". Since Jester and Tormentor don't have "you may", they are not ambiguous at all. Gamble is ambiguous, but with the most natural interpretation probably being that you only discard the card if it's not a Treasure or Action.

How about "If you didn't, discard it" though, like I said in the other thread? It looks like it could fit? Obviously for any future printing.

With this wording, when the card is not a Treasure or Action, it's actually not clear whether this instruction has to be followed. Because the verb is missing, the reader has to interpret that this is referring to the "you may play it" clause. But that clause doesn't apply when the card is not a Treasure or Action, so one interpretation is that this sentence is still conditional on "If it's a Treasure or Action".

Right, it's not as good as "if you didn't play it". But it's still an improvement.

Interpretation A: "only discard the card if it's not a Treasure or Action"
Interpretation B: "only discard the card if it's a Treasure or Action that you didn't play"
Desired interpretation: "discard the card both if it's not a Treasure or Action and if  it's a Treasure or Action you didn't play"

Current card: ambiguous between A and "desired", but leaning towards A
"If you didn't play it" change: "desired", non-ambiguous
"If you didn't" change: ambiguous between B and "desired", but leaning towards "desired"

GendoIkari

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2020, 12:00:13 pm »
+2

I also don't think Gamble is like Jester and Tormentor, precisely because of "you may". Since Jester and Tormentor don't have "you may", they are not ambiguous at all. Gamble is ambiguous, but with the most natural interpretation probably being that you only discard the card if it's not a Treasure or Action.


I'm not sure why "you may" matters here... having something be optional is just one possible way that a card might instruct you do to something; but it's not the only way. What matters is that it's possible that you don't end up doing the action in question. If someone plays with Gamble first, and reads the FAQ for it, then it's completely reasonable for them to play with Jester later and think that the "otherwise" in Jester means "if they didn't gain a Curse".
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Jeebus

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #32 on: March 13, 2020, 12:35:59 pm »
+2

I also don't think Gamble is like Jester and Tormentor, precisely because of "you may". Since Jester and Tormentor don't have "you may", they are not ambiguous at all. Gamble is ambiguous, but with the most natural interpretation probably being that you only discard the card if it's not a Treasure or Action.


I'm not sure why "you may" matters here... having something be optional is just one possible way that a card might instruct you do to something; but it's not the only way. What matters is that it's possible that you don't end up doing the action in question. If someone plays with Gamble first, and reads the FAQ for it, then it's completely reasonable for them to play with Jester later and think that the "otherwise" in Jester means "if they didn't gain a Curse".

Nobody has ever been confused about Jester. Yet Gamble immediately caused confusion. I think there's a reason for that.
The reason is the same that makes Donald dislike that mandatory effects say "if you do". Madman's "Return this. If you do" looks weird, and players will ask, "wait, is it mandatory or not?" When parsing "if you do", they won't consider that the first instruction might fail. (The weirdness will probably make them consider it and look it up though.) The same brain function will make them read Jester and not even consider that "otherwise" could refer to not doing something that is mandatory. (And here there is no weirdness to make them think about it.) Gamble is different because it's not mandatory.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2020, 12:37:21 pm by Jeebus »
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dane-m

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #33 on: March 13, 2020, 12:49:30 pm »
+1

As a matter of interest, how would people tend to interpret "Reveal the top card of your deck. You may play it if it's a Treasure or Action. Otherwise, discard it."?  Just curious.
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scolapasta

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #34 on: March 13, 2020, 12:52:35 pm »
0

Jester and Gamble aren't identical. There's a period in one, a semicolon in the other, and that can affect the scope of a clause. I'm not arguing that Gamble is clear enough as-is, just, I don't think I get anything from keeping Gamble worded the same but changing the ruling on it.

So maybe the period vs semicolon could make a difference to scope (I am not in that camp), but it doesn't matter - we just chose Jester as our example, because that was a clear case where the intent was that you should not gain a Province if the other player can't gain a curse. There are plenty of other examples* that use the "If X, Y. Otherwise Z.": construct: Tormentor, Leprechaun, Farmers' Market, Rogue...

* many of these other examples would involve edge cases - e.g. for Farmer's market, it would be if you played it with BoM or some other command card so didn't trash, Rogue if you used Trader to gain a silver instead, etc. - but I still think they're relevant.


I also don't think Gamble is like Jester and Tormentor, precisely because of "you may". Since Jester and Tormentor don't have "you may", they are not ambiguous at all. Gamble is ambiguous, but with the most natural interpretation probably being that you only discard the card if it's not a Treasure or Action.


I'm not sure why "you may" matters here... having something be optional is just one possible way that a card might instruct you do to something; but it's not the only way. What matters is that it's possible that you don't end up doing the action in question. If someone plays with Gamble first, and reads the FAQ for it, then it's completely reasonable for them to play with Jester later and think that the "otherwise" in Jester means "if they didn't gain a Curse".

Right. Imagine two cards:
"You may gain a silver. Otherwise, gain a Gold."
"Gain a silver. Otherwise, gain a Gold."

In both cases, you either gain a silver or gain a gold*, the difference is just that the former gives you the option, the latter waits until the Silver pile is depleted. The "you may" makes no difference in how you would interpret the "Otherwise".

* unless of course both piles are empty!

The time for me to change the card functionally in order to improve the clarity of the wording... was before it was printed! That was the time to do that. People had input then and the card was printed like it was.

When the card is reprinted, I can try to improve the wording, but I will avoid any real change to functionality, because it's much much better to not change the functionality. I reserve that for situations where the functionality is utterly messed up, e.g. Inheritance (not the case here), or situations where it's a significant edge case to get the difference to appear. Yes okay I also allow "keep you honest" fixes, which are not utterly messed up and do come up, but are extremely minor. Anyway there is not sufficient impetus for changing Gamble's functionality, so its functionality will not be changing. The wording could be improved though.

And, if it needed the small font, it could get it; now that the card exists, it's stuck getting the best wording it can despite what font size that entails.

Changing the wording, of course, also solves the consistency issue.
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Jeebus

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #35 on: March 13, 2020, 01:31:02 pm »
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Right. Imagine two cards:
"You may gain a silver. Otherwise, gain a Gold."
"Gain a silver. Otherwise, gain a Gold."

In both cases, you either gain a silver or gain a gold*, the difference is just that the former gives you the option, the latter waits until the Silver pile is depleted. The "you may" makes no difference in how you would interpret the "Otherwise".

* unless of course both piles are empty!

Your comparison doesn't work. The second card is like Madman, not like Jester.

GendoIkari

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #36 on: March 13, 2020, 01:44:56 pm »
+1

I also don't think Gamble is like Jester and Tormentor, precisely because of "you may". Since Jester and Tormentor don't have "you may", they are not ambiguous at all. Gamble is ambiguous, but with the most natural interpretation probably being that you only discard the card if it's not a Treasure or Action.


I'm not sure why "you may" matters here... having something be optional is just one possible way that a card might instruct you do to something; but it's not the only way. What matters is that it's possible that you don't end up doing the action in question. If someone plays with Gamble first, and reads the FAQ for it, then it's completely reasonable for them to play with Jester later and think that the "otherwise" in Jester means "if they didn't gain a Curse".

Nobody has ever been confused about Jester. Yet Gamble immediately caused confusion. I think there's a reason for that.
The reason is the same that makes Donald dislike that mandatory effects say "if you do". Madman's "Return this. If you do" looks weird, and players will ask, "wait, is it mandatory or not?" When parsing "if you do", they won't consider that the first instruction might fail. (The weirdness will probably make them consider it and look it up though.) The same brain function will make them read Jester and not even consider that "otherwise" could refer to not doing something that is mandatory. (And here there is no weirdness to make them think about it.) Gamble is different because it's not mandatory.

I see, and agree. Though that's a difference in how clear vs unclear the wording is; not a difference in how the wordings should be logically parsed.
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Jeebus

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #37 on: March 13, 2020, 02:24:28 pm »
+1

I see, and agree. Though that's a difference in how clear vs unclear the wording is; not a difference in how the wordings should be logically parsed.

True. We might be talking about this from slightly different angles. But logically parsing language isn't like parsing computer code; there is some overlap into the realm of human cognition.

popsofctown

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #38 on: March 13, 2020, 10:42:00 pm »
+1

I wanna clarify that this is a great card, printing it with an ambiguous word and rulebook definition is just fine, and that this is just fun to talk about.

If a casual player plays it wrong it doesn't do something like cause them to gain the Province pile, they still have a great time.  More serious players can reference a rulebook, I love Mage Knights to death even though they cram tons of symbols on little chips that must be learned about by referencing a rulebook constantly, it can be worth it.

I presume pretty much everyone feels similarly but the "constructive" criticism seems more hostile than it is since it's referencing something that can't actually ever be fixed.
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Gherald

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #39 on: March 14, 2020, 12:13:33 am »
+1

Dominion is a game created by humans, for human players. It's not meant to be parsed by the GNU LLVM for christ's sake.

Simple card texts have ambiguities, and that's why there's a rulebook in case you miss the most natural reading. You're welcome.

Take the proposed wording:

Quote
If it's a Treasure or Action, you may play it. If you didn't play it, discard it.

Sure, this parses fine if you're a computer.

You know who it doesn't parse nice, and reads unnatural to? Casual-ish players. You know, the ones not on f.ds and who you're supposed to be trying to make a game reasonably attractive for (13th expansion notwithstanding)

They read "If you didn't play it..." and think "If I choose not to play it...", then I discard it. But of course, you also discard it in the case that you weren't able to play it. That's easy to forget, if you're a casual. The otherwise makes this clear. And so, it's a better, more natural wording. For humans, not compilers.
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Donald X.

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #40 on: March 14, 2020, 12:43:00 am »
+1

There totally may be a better wording for casual players. It's a project for when the set is reprinted; I try not to put in the work when we're not actually changing the cards.
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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #41 on: March 14, 2020, 01:08:50 am »
0

Dominion is a game created by humans, for human players. It's not meant to be parsed by the GNU LLVM for christ's sake.

Simple card texts have ambiguities, and that's why there's a rulebook in case you miss the most natural reading. You're welcome.

Take the proposed wording:

Quote
If it's a Treasure or Action, you may play it. If you didn't play it, discard it.

Sure, this parses fine if you're a computer.

You know who it doesn't parse nice, and reads unnatural to? Casual-ish players. You know, the ones not on f.ds and who you're supposed to be trying to make a game reasonably attractive for (13th expansion notwithstanding)

They read "If you didn't play it..." and think "If I choose not to play it...", then I discard it. But of course, you also discard it in the case that you weren't able to play it. That's easy to forget, if you're a casual. The otherwise makes this clear. And so, it's a better, more natural wording. For humans, not compilers.
Yeah, but the thing is, if they see an Estate and think they aren't supposed to discard it and leave it on top, the card is still fine.  It is still buyable on every board and impacts the game.  So their experience isn't ruined.

The times we have to worry about ruining a casual player's experience is for things like making sure Wish says "this isn't in the supply" on it, because that's where the misunderstood function of the card could make for a dramatically inferior game.
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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #42 on: March 14, 2020, 01:49:53 am »
+2

I am in no way arguing their experience is ruined. I am just saying the suggested change would make things objectively worse, once parameters are set to the actual target audience -- which is a human player, not a language compiler.
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segura

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #43 on: March 14, 2020, 02:35:22 am »
0

I am with Gherald here. There is no need for logic language or whatever as there is a rulebook which clarifies ambiguities. Nobody who has read the rulebook and remembers it, or looks it up when they do, will play the card wrongly.
And as DXV has said, physical space for letters on cards is limited if you want stuff to be large and readable.
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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #44 on: March 14, 2020, 08:22:09 am »
+5

I am in no way arguing their experience is ruined. I am just saying the suggested change would make things objectively worse, once parameters are set to the actual target audience -- which is a human player, not a language compiler.

And back we are when humans argue that the things they find worse than other things are "objectively worse" than those other things.

I'm adamantly in the exact opposite quarter: "If you didn't play it" describes excatly what is wanted, and should be understandable by players. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm right, but I'm not claiming that it is objectively better.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2020, 05:43:38 pm by Ingix »
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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #45 on: March 14, 2020, 10:39:33 am »
0

I've actually been trying to argue also based on what human players would think. I concede Gherald's point that the change would still not be 100% unambiguous to casual players. But it would be interpreted correctly most of the time in my view, whereas the current card would be interpreted wrong most of the time. Of course, interpreting the current card wrong makes it better, you would leave good cards on top. For the changed card you would leave bad cards.

The change has the added benefit of being technically unambiguous, which - there is no way around this - has always been very important in Dominion. This is a game where semicolons matter.

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #46 on: March 16, 2020, 09:53:06 pm »
+1

Aha, this thread was split without adding the image into OP:

Looking at the wording again in context, I wasn't thinking about the fact that it happens during the Buy phase. This make the 'Otherwise,' interpretation not clear because players will have that tendency to want to leave good cards on top of their deck rather than playing or cycling them as they're meant to....

Well, I've decided what *I* would do to fix the card, and keep it simple.

Remove the words "you may".

It's a gamble. You don't get to choose.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #47 on: March 17, 2020, 01:09:46 pm »
+2

Aha, this thread was split without adding the image into OP:

Looking at the wording again in context, I wasn't thinking about the fact that it happens during the Buy phase. This make the 'Otherwise,' interpretation not clear because players will have that tendency to want to leave good cards on top of their deck rather than playing or cycling them as they're meant to....

Well, I've decided what *I* would do to fix the card, and keep it simple.

Remove the words "you may".

It's a gamble. You don't get to choose.

I agree, and it wouldn't be much of a difference in power level either... it's one thing to wish you could leave a good action on top rather than playing it now; but it's a pretty rare edge case that you wish you could just discard it rather than play it now.
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mxdata

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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #48 on: March 17, 2020, 01:26:56 pm »
0

Aha, this thread was split without adding the image into OP:

Looking at the wording again in context, I wasn't thinking about the fact that it happens during the Buy phase. This make the 'Otherwise,' interpretation not clear because players will have that tendency to want to leave good cards on top of their deck rather than playing or cycling them as they're meant to....

Well, I've decided what *I* would do to fix the card, and keep it simple.

Remove the words "you may".

It's a gamble. You don't get to choose.

I agree, and it wouldn't be much of a difference in power level either... it's one thing to wish you could leave a good action on top rather than playing it now; but it's a pretty rare edge case that you wish you could just discard it rather than play it now.

Doesn't seem like it would be that rare.  A mandatory trasher like forager or junk dealer could hurt if you only have victory cards in your hand
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Re: Ambiguity / consistency of "Otherwise"
« Reply #49 on: March 17, 2020, 01:32:10 pm »
+1

Aha, this thread was split without adding the image into OP:

Looking at the wording again in context, I wasn't thinking about the fact that it happens during the Buy phase. This make the 'Otherwise,' interpretation not clear because players will have that tendency to want to leave good cards on top of their deck rather than playing or cycling them as they're meant to....

Well, I've decided what *I* would do to fix the card, and keep it simple.

Remove the words "you may".

It's a gamble. You don't get to choose.

I agree, and it wouldn't be much of a difference in power level either... it's one thing to wish you could leave a good action on top rather than playing it now; but it's a pretty rare edge case that you wish you could just discard it rather than play it now.

Doesn't seem like it would be that rare.  A mandatory trasher like forager or junk dealer could hurt if you only have victory cards in your hand

And gambling sometimes hurts  :)
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🚂 18xx is taking over my gaming life 🚂
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