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Author Topic: Why not have a reaction that hurts the attacker?  (Read 8989 times)

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Why not have a reaction that hurts the attacker?
« on: June 17, 2011, 04:48:59 pm »
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Quote from: Donald X.
As I usually tell people who want to show me cards, the obvious ideas are obvious to me too, and I had a big head start. For example Richard Garfield suggested 3 cards while he was playtesting Seaside. One was already in a set and has survived; one was already in a set but currently isn't in one although I have an idea for fixing it up. The third card was the reaction that reflects the attack, which I had had suggested so many times that I had already written up an essay on why it doesn't work.

* * *

The problem with defenses that attack is that, in 4-player games, there's a 1-to-3 ratio that goes the wrong way relative to the buying decision.

Let's consider 3 cards:

- Point Eater. An attack that makes each other player lose 1 point. There's no Curse card involved; we'll track these points on a scoring track. I'm doing this to keep the analysis simple.
- Revenge. When another player plays an attack card, reveal this to make them lose 1 point. It doesn't stop the attack. It only works for you once per attack, one way or another.
- Moat. As-is.

I am just considering 4-player games here, which is where the problem is at its worst.

I play Point Eater. Each other player is down a point. Or, from my perspective, I'm up a point.

You Moat my Point Eater. For you, that's worth a point - you were going to lose a point, but now you don't. For me, that's -1/3 points. I make two out of three opponents lose a point, which is roughly 2/3 of a point of a benefit. It's rough because, who knows, maybe two of the players suck and I only care about the other one; if that one Moats I break even and if they don't I'm up a point. But in general, it's not like that; I am more or less still up 2/3 of a point when just one player Moats. So again: The person who decided to buy Moat makes a point here - they would have been down a point but are not - and the person who decided to buy Point Eater is still up 2/3 of a point after the Moat. Both cards still reward their players for buying them.

You Revenge my Point Eater. For you, that's worth 1/3 of a point - one out of your three opponents lost a point. For me, the entire benefit of my attack is gone - I break even rather than being up a point. The person who decided to buy Revenge just got 1/3 of a point of benefit; the person who bought Point Eater got nothing. Revenge is a weak investment and Point Eater is horrible. Of course if this means no-one buys Point Eaters then Revenge is useless.

See, it's this 1-to-3 ratio. In the wrong direction.

We could make Revenge three times as powerful - the attacker loses 3 points. Then playing Revenge is worth a point, like playing Moat. Being on the receiving end means losing 2 points net. Attacking is really unattractive in this situation, while defending is just as good as it is with Moat. It's even worse if, as in this example, Revenge is cumulative. Everyone else Revenges and you end up down 8 points. If everyone had Moated, you would have broken even.

Or, we could make Revenge one third as powerful - the attacker loses 1/3 of a point. Then being on the receiving end is just like having your attack Moated - you are back to getting 2/3 of a point for your attack. Playing Revenge is pointless though - you are only up 1/9 of a point. You could make the rest of the card good enough that this was playable, but you would completely ignore the defensive part when deciding whether or not to buy this.

So that's the deal. You can't fix the problem by tweaking the cost of Revenge; you still have the bad ratio. The one thing you can do is change the ratio; for example, Revenge could make every opponent lose a point whenever any opponent attacked. Then it's an attack that your opponents have to enable. Which is not necessarily out of the question, but isn't super sexy.
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