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Author Topic: "Have a good friend nearby who's done it before" [sort of an AP]  (Read 4999 times)
oliof
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Posts: 449

Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« on: June 25, 2006, 12:11:16 PM »

Hello,
I tried a game of Capes today with two friends, Martin and Verena. Unfortunately, the rules turned out to be big stumbling blocks for us.

Nobody of us had played the game before, but I read the rule book cover to cover, and Martin and I had followed the development of Capes for quite some time, so I thought I knew enough to start out the game with two people. My impression is that I should have followed the advice on the old Solaris installation manual: "Have a good friend nearby who's done it before."

We tried to play two scenes, but broke off in the second scene, because we were under the impression that the game should work better, and we'd probably have missed something subtle. We went back and studied the rules and the example play, but it took us almost two hours to work off our confusion.

I had the rules at hand (always a good idea), and our biggest problem was the fourth paragraph on page 22, and the explanation of resolution on page 30. After reading, re-reading, passing the book around and giving everyone the chance to prove their understanding was superior to mine, we became more and more confused.

Things we didn't get, but which are pointed out in the FAQ (which I didn't read before - my mistake):
  • When do Conflicts resolve? In the FAQ, it's stated that you can only resolve a conflict you claimed at the beginning of and controlat the end of a single page. I don't find that in writing on either pg.22 or 30, but according to the FAQ and the example of play, it's right - and we finally figured why it made sense.
  • Debt staking and end-of-conflict rewards. We were confused about when you earn story tokens. It's easier once you understand that staking debt and winning is the prerequisite of giving out Story Tokens to the losers. In hindsight, this is very clear, although we still suspect tracking debt during a conflict might cause some workload
  • We found that our game was pretty slow since we could only do so much with 'fresh' characters lacking any Story Tokens. Post-game and post-rules-re-reading we concluded starting with zero Story Tokens is part of building the story structure with the villain getting away in the first act using all his nifty powers (staking debt, winning the conflict and giving out Story Tokens), or the old-and-tried heroes-meet-and-mistake-eachother-for-the-villain routine (generating inspiration and story tokens for the parties involved to further a shared agenda).


What we really, really liked was the click-n-lock character system, because we really liked to see come the characters come alive - villains and heroes alike!

We're eager to play again, but next time we're probably going to rehearse the rules again before we start. I tried explaining the rules before we played, and it sounded about right, but the subtleties are hard to grab. I am planning on building a flow-chart or finite-automaton description of the scene>pages>conflicts stack for easier referral.

The conclusion of all this: We were mightily confused, but eager to try this out another time. Understanding the interaction between debt, story tokens, conflicts, characters and inspiration in the context of scenes, pages and order of play (counterclockwise, advancing to the left per page and scene) is a lot of mental work before you can really start enjoying the game.

"We will see what this will lead to ..."
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TonyLB
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2006, 05:04:33 PM »

Question because I'm interested, not because I want to put you on the spot:  Did you check out the Flash example of play in the downloads section?

I'm trying to get some sense (as time goes on) how much or how little that's helping people to grok the flow of the rules in action.  Obviously I am among the people who cannot directly know what the game text (or any additional material) looks like to someone who doesn't already have the game in their head.
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oliof
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Posts: 449

Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2006, 01:57:06 AM »

Action: Tony uses 'point out the obvious' to inform a new player that a useful flash demo exists

Hey Tony,

that flash demo didn't register on my radar although I went to the downloads section to print the click-n-lock sheets. It definitely needs more attention by newbies such as yours truly! Important thing I learned from the demo: you can react on your own action, but it is risky. This solves one more problem that we had from our limited understanding of the rules - we really were missing the awesome action because we felt restricted to one action, and only being able to react to others actions.

I am still surprised how much of a to-and-fro was between bob and claire without adam being involved. I have  to re-read that to see that the direction and cycle of play has not been broken somewhere in there (deliberately)... The demo shows the intricacies of inter-page game resolution fairly well, but I am not sure the prerequisites for resolving a conflict are very clear. It may be that the core problem here is that you have two conditions, one which has to be met at the very beginning of a page (be claimant of the conflict from the beginning of the page), and at the very end of the page (be in control of the conflict by having the highest sum of dice on your side). I am still not sure if it's really only one player who will be able to try to resolve a conflict, because if more people claim sides, they will after the first on a page. Also, do the dice really reset to '1's at the end of a page? In other words - Is what happens "when a page is turned" the following?

  • all dice on all unresolved conflicts are reset to ones.
  • split dice only stay on a conflict if they were used to create a new side to the conflict (mexican stand-off like)
  • in the new order of play, each player gets the new chance to be first claimant of a conflict.

Another point: It will take a time to understand how to fill your resources to get the game running fluidly when starting out with zero story tokens and inspirations. At the end of our first scene, we tried to 'improve' the game by giving everybody two story tokens to 'oil the gears', but of course this didn't have an effect at all. At the end of our re-reading session we had the impression this wouldn't be needed as it a) does not build story, b) will be a non-problem after the first scene if grabby conflicts are on the table.

I don't know why I am so resistant to go and read the damn FAQ again, but it might be the idealism that a) all this should be in the rule book and b) my super-intellect will allow me to understand the super-rules...
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Glendower
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Posts: 182

My name is Jon.


« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2006, 04:35:00 AM »


  • all dice on all unresolved conflicts are reset to ones.
  • split dice only stay on a conflict if they were used to create a new side to the conflict (mexican stand-off like)
  • in the new order of play, each player gets the new chance to be first claimant of a conflict.

I'm not sure where you got this from the rules.  Not one of these things happen.  Once a side is claimed, it stays claimed.  dice on unresolved conflicts never reset.  Split dice stay put.

Definately read the FAQ.  Hell, I printed it out and taped it to the back of the Capes book.  Watch the Flash demo a few times, I needed to watch it about 3-4 times to get a feel for gameplay.  I also read the example of play in the book, even played it out with counters and clicksheets.  All these things really helped me in getting an overall picture of how play works. 

I also recommend the quickstart rules as a "first go" as it carefully walks through the steps required.  I ran the quickstart rules two or three times when learning, and it helped massage the way for the more complex parts of the game.

Also, resources like Inspirations and Story Tokens taste better if they are hard won from conflicts.  Having none at the beginning is fine, it just means the battles to gain control are all the sweeter when you win.
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Hi, my name is Jon.
Bret Gillan
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Posts: 375

That's Bret with one 't' damn it.


« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2006, 05:00:30 AM »

I think his last one, each player gets the chance to be first claimant, does happen in that the first claimant rotates around the table as play continues. But yeah, the other two don't.
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Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2006, 05:09:11 AM »


  • all dice on all unresolved conflicts are reset to ones.
  • split dice only stay on a conflict if they were used to create a new side to the conflict (mexican stand-off like)
  • in the new order of play, each player gets the new chance to be first claimant of a conflict.
I'm not sure where you got this from the rules.  Not one of these things happen.  Once a side is claimed, it stays claimed.  dice on unresolved conflicts never reset.  Split dice stay put.

Not quite, Jon.  Bret beat me to it, but claims do expire, and new claims must be made at the beginning of the page.  I cannot find the exact spot in the rules that states this at the moment (although I think the example of play makes it clear), but here is the FAQ entry:

Q: How long do claims on a side of a conflict last?
A: For one page only. All claims dissappear at the start of a page.
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=14857.msg157369#msg157369
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19286.msg201985#msg201985

Harald, just to let you know, Capes is by far the most "holistic" game I have ever played.  By that I mean that there is not an easy entry point into the rules to begin learning them, because all the rules are tightly interrelated.  You sort of just batter away until understanding dawns on you like a vision from heaven.  Expect it to take at least 3 or 4 game sessions before you can really get a handle on them.  
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Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2006, 05:15:03 AM »

At the end of our first scene, we tried to 'improve' the game by giving everybody two story tokens to 'oil the gears', but of course this didn't have an effect at all. At the end of our re-reading session we had the impression this wouldn't be needed as it a) does not build story, b) will be a non-problem after the first scene if grabby conflicts are on the table.

By the way, it is my experience that is not the presence or absence of story tokens that make a difference, but story token inequity.  If we all have two story tokens (and we are all equally skilled or unskilled at the game), then each person can match anything the others can do.  But if you all have no story tokens and I have two, that means that, if I choose to, I can have a disproportionate effect on the story in a scene. 
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Glendower
Member

Posts: 182

My name is Jon.


« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2006, 08:52:21 AM »


Not quite, Jon.  Bret beat me to it, but claims do expire, and new claims must be made at the beginning of the page.

Huh, would you look at that, found the rule on page 22.  "At the end of the page Players must resolve conflicts they have claimed.  All claims are then removed before the next page". 

I can't believe I missed that FAQ piece.  I'd better give it yet another read through. 
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Hi, my name is Jon.
oliof
Member

Posts: 449

Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2006, 10:50:35 AM »

Folks, thanks for the generous input. I still think the rules are misleading in places that make it very hard to understand. I just wish they were easier to understand.
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Bret Gillan
Member

Posts: 375

That's Bret with one 't' damn it.


« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2006, 12:35:22 PM »

I bet all will be fixed with Capes 1.359276.
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