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Author Topic: 'Must...learn...crane technique!' Design idea.  (Read 3024 times)
Callan S.
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« on: August 02, 2006, 11:05:57 PM »

Had an idea for a gamist bent design. Basically the GM/some player describes an opponents move toward you. You then go on to describe your move. The GM/other player then has absolute fiat to decide if that works out. What's at stake isn't your characters whole life, just a slab of his HP.

Okay, here's the mechanics. You have XP counters for each type of move you've experienced against you. Say its from zero to twenty. When you get to twenty, whatever move you used when you reached twenty, becomes the right move to make against that opponents move (forever onward!).

Now, when you do your move and it fails, you have a few options:

A. Ignore failure, do/intend to do nothing different and get a low XP increase.
B. Say right now that next time you intend to change your move slightly, to see if you can work out a way to make it work. Or you can leave it for now and wait until next time that enemy move is made, to see if you want to change or remain the same when the moment comes. Either way, this gets a more hearty XP increase. I'm thinking a dice roll and say if it was a D6, you get whats on the dice except when it's a six - you'd get some jackpot amount, like 12, in that case. To keep progress unpredictable.
C. Same as B but instead of a slight change, you declare either now or next time it happens, that you are going to use an entirely new move. This gets even more XP than B.

The idea of the mechanic is to create a tug of war between player and GM, where the player is encouraged to change and adapt (ie, improvement). The tug of war is to avoid absolute 'Guess the GM's solution'. Here, if you gain 20 XP then your solution becomes THE solution. But in the mean time, your rewarded for trying to adapt and change your moves.

Peripheral book keeping: How do you get XP back? I'm thinking various methods - that you can choose a soft mode where you can stop anytime you like and get full HP back - thus pure ego 'I can take it' drives thrilling play. Or you can take other modes, where the HP recovery is only available at certain intervals (system set, rather than GM fiat set).

Also, I'll probably use something more interesting than HP. C'mon boys, it's time to lose fingers and hold your intestines in until someone can get a bucket of salt water ready! >:)


Side note: I can't help but feel that some people would go A over and over till they get 20 XP and even then feel frustrated with the game. In a perverse way I wonder if it'd be a wonderful agenda litmus test.
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Philosopher Gamer
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oreso
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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2006, 01:55:32 AM »

Um, that doesnt seem to be how counter moves are discovered in wuxia (assuming this is wuxia :D ).

I agree you should be able to strike a balance between player fiat (a la Wushu: I use Super Move X, which I know to be your style's only weakness!) and GM fiat (Nope, that move wasnt his secret either). Instead of this record keeping though, i've used the chinese element system (which is also used in martial arts as i understand it):

Water is a Leftwards move (a weak fast attack or feint). Overcome by Wood, a Backwards move (absorb it), or destroyed with Earth, unmoving (easily blocked).
Wood is a Backwards move (counter or evasion). Overcome by Fire, Rightwards move (strong attack), or destroyed with Metal, Forward move (chase it down).
Fire is a Rightwards move (strong attack). Overcome by Earth, unmoving (block), or destroyed by Water, a Leftwards move (faster intercepting attack).
Earth is unmoving (block). Overcome by Metal, a Forward move (slip through the block), destroyed by Wood, Backwards move (get into a better position).
Metal is a Forward move (run them through!). Overcome by Water, Leftwards move (sidestep to stronger side), destroyed by Fire (sidestep to weaker side).


Instead, you could simply have retroactive learning. If you roll well, that means you have successfully learned to counter, if not, the enemy has countered your counter. This is a benefit of narrating after you roll the dice of course.

If a particular technique is crucial to the story (as in, it is truly their only weakness), then the GM should allow the players to seek the technique and learn it after the baddy trounces them the first time. I dont think this is that common though.

Anyway, sorry i havent commented on your idea, but i thought i'd show my thoughts on the subject.
Cheers!
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Callan S.
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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2006, 02:27:56 AM »

As said, this isn't a narrative empowerment mechanic. It's not like you use the mechanics to your best ability to win the right of narrating whatever you want. Nor is it in parralel with a 'paper beats rock/know well away from actual play what beats what' method of play. Your left in at the deep end and yes, if you suck, you sink.

You don't win the right to narrate, you narrate to survive. The mechanics are simply there to ensure what technique will eventually ensure survival is not known to anyone at the table. Thus it is a continual surprise and a continual source of exploration for everyone involved.
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Arturo G.
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« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2006, 02:11:45 PM »


Hi, Callan.

What's the reason for not to do always C? Only that you need to think in another move or approach?
Perhaps I would see it clearer if you describe also the drawbacks you have in mind for the three choices.

Arturo
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Callan S.
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« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2006, 08:43:16 PM »

Option C is essentially admitting you were wrong. That's the drawback. Imagine it as saying 'I admit, I was wrong and my move was a losing move'. If you see it as just another option to give narration, yeah, I can see no drawback.

And by drawback, I don't mean it's terribly horrible. All it means is that the player himself gives up on an avenue of attack and lets that avenue die off (while pursuing another line). The sting is there to assist that adjustment/change/improvement.
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Arturo G.
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2006, 02:18:59 AM »


I'm not an expert on this, but I would say that, from my gamist point of view, C is a much better option that all the others. If I would want to win (and I surely want) I would always choose C, despite how much I would need to change my mind to achieve it. Thus, there is no strategy or optimization decisions. Always use C to win.

However, from the point of view of the narrative experience, it is a big carrot to drive the story in the way you describe. I'm thinking that perhaps you may derive in a little unstable narration, where most of the times the characters are changing their approaches constantly (too much?). But I suppose that this is only a matter of adjusting the amount of points earned for each of the options.

Arturo
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Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2006, 06:57:48 PM »

I'm not sure that if your in a gamist grove, you'd take it that lightly. I may be wrong, so let me use a narrativist parralel to highlight what I mean (though nar parralels don't seem to jive with alot of folks): Say your playing riddle of steel and your spiritual attribute is about your lady love. Now imagine that it becomes incredibly hard to save her/pursue her. And you have the rules for changing SA right there, sitting in front of you. In fact, it works out to be easier to change SA than continue to pursue her. Do you ditch her for the win?

Here it's the same: Your move is your pride and joy. If your willing to give it up glibly, then it's not your killer move, it's just something you made up glibly to begin with. It's not something you put passion into (since you passionately want to win). Option C should be a minor 'Oh my god, he'd give up his precious technique and step onto new ground!' moment.

Note: I have a sense, from a few scattered observations, that in terms of narrativism people can imagine both playing the system to win & being invested in game world principles. But bring up gamism and suddenly there's this mental shift to entirely just playing the system to win, with zero investment in using the game world to get some sort of edge.

What might be an example is some sort of magic stick in the game world, which you don't know how to operate. To someone who only wants to win at using the system, if the stick shows up stat wise with no properties, it gets ignored. What I want is to explore the stick - the desire that 'Dammit, this stick has power in it somehow, if I can just figure out the puzzle of it. Then I'll have that much more power!'. The mechanics presented here would support that, as you could apply various 'moves' to try and get it to work.

However, at a frosty pure mechanics level the only goal your going to see is 'get to 20 XP'. If you wipe away the imaginary space, that's the only thing that'll remain standing and of course, look like the goal of play (it's certainly the only goal remaining). I really want play to be about working out magic sticks, or working out how to avoid the giants club and stab 'im. I don't know if I haven't provided rewards for people to be interested in the puzzling out the SIS for power. But damn, I thought that'd come naturally or you'd play a board game.
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Arturo G.
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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2006, 03:40:39 AM »


I think I see your point.
At first I thought we had a problem of scale. I was always trying to imagine situations with a detailed action-by-action pace. At that pace, it is easy to change your moves without changing your goal in the conflict.

For example: Move, I want to avoid the giant's club to stab him. It goes bad. Well, I change my move: I retreat slowly to make him walk on the ice floor. It goes bad. Well, I change my move, I try to climb the rock and jump on his neck.... or whatever! But I still keep my goal: I want to defeat him, or keep him away of my path.

However, I think you are talking also about changing the goals.
This is a very different thing. Although, I'm not sure now about how to establish the amount of investment you should change or risk to be worth of B, or C reward.

Am I right, or am I completely missing the point?

Arturo
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Callan S.
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2006, 06:49:54 PM »

I'm not talking about changing the goal, but let me ask - which is more important to you, the goal, or the means to reaching the goal? I'm asking because I've suggested that C affects something important and then you talked about goals.

In my crazy mindset, for this design, the means is the important thing. What'd be dull is if I roll a die and the evil incarnate demon, who killed a million virgins and devoured the saints of Kerthasus, dies. That's boring. Because the means was just a dice roll and terribly dull (to someone else, who's character is the last virgin and was raised by the saints, it's probably pretty damn intense). While if I had to describe a half dozen fancy moves just to kill a random deseased sewer rat, it'd be cool to me (while the vigin saint son is probably bored to tears).

If means isn't showing up as the important thing, is there anything I can do to make it so, reward wise?
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2006, 05:19:02 AM »

Callan, the kind of gamism you'll looking for is kind of hard for me to grasp, so what I'll write may not apply. Again, I see a potential in your idea, but the execution seems flawed in the basic assumptions. The thing is, I think you design what doesn't matter here.

What is the important part of your design? As I see it, you want the player who declares "my move didn't work so I change it" to admit that "I failed" as opposed to "I'm strategizing well because I don't stick to an ineffective move" that would seem more natural for a mechanically oriented gamist of a traditional mindset. (As a sidenote, look at chess. Player who sticks to a wrong strategy won't win, and won't be considered good player. Player who changes his strategy as needed is flexible, wins, and is considered a good player.) The problem is, your design highlights the second thing. Consequently, you need to explicitly stress that changing your move is admitting failure.

You could, for example, add an additional layer of reward system here. Give some kind of "badass" points to the player, who sticks to the strategy. And/or possibly, give some kind of "wimpy" points to the player whenever he changes his strategy. These points doesn't really have to mean anything. They would work as a score in videogames and allow for immediate comparison of one's gamist badassery with other players, and striving to achieve records. What you get is highlighting the way you want the game to be played, by explicitly informing players "this is the way of winning you should strive for in in this game".

As for the gamism and SIS issue, my answer is simple. Gamism is like playing a board game. Technically, there's not much difference, even if your gamism is oriented on showing everyone that you're a better actor and role-play your character more accurately (a common form of gamism in Poland). The thing is, SIS is the gamists' board. (And yes, there is a reason why gamists still want to play RPG and not board or computer games - part of the jazz is to win in an imagined space). On the other hand, not every element of the SIS is automatically a pawn in gamist's hands. There are whole areas that don't really matter and that can't be used to achieve winning. Just like playing snakes and ladders you are not interested in the pictures on the board - only with your pawn, dice and the ladders themselves* You want different focus. So make the players shift their focus to the important parts of SIS, by highlighting things that you want to constitute their board and pawns.

*I hope I didn't mess up anything here. Snakes and ladders is rather unfamiliar in my country, and I don't know English title of the game that we usually use in such examples ;)
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Callan S.
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« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2006, 11:08:48 PM »

What I'm aiming for parallels helping a six year old reading a child's book. When they read the words incorrectly, you don't tell them their bad ass. Nor do you say they sucked. Telling them their bad ass would teach them to read incorrectly. Telling them they sucked would teach them to not even try. "Do I have to read??"

At the moment, my design is trying to offer a reward for trying (while at the same time not encouraging the failing move). But in this thread (and similarly in the previous thread), posters seem to interpret gathering that reward as the goal of play itself. It's like I'm offering a chocolate for every goal you try and get in a football game, and everyones attention turns to collecting chocolate. But the chocolate is supposed to encourage whatever interest you have in getting goals. That's why I mentioned the idea of a gamist litmus test before - because if you focus entirely on the chocolate, it's most likely because you have no seed of interesting in achieving goals to begin with. Mechanics can't encourage what isn't there.

I'd idly considered a rip off version of spiritual attributes, at a gamist slant (not 'Take down the black barons castle'' but stuff like 'take down castles'. No moral angle). The players would write goals they care about. That might help that seed of interest is there to be encouraged.

Here's a twist for anyone posting in this thread: Put in your post a gamist goal, like taking down castles or beating ogres or whatever. Remember, no moral slant to them!

Oh, a simple one from me sadly comes from the PS2 game, Mercenaries. Hiding behind a rock with minimal health and a tank rolling by and enemy RPG guys hunting around for me from the other direction. How to hijack it? Do I even dare use the hijack move?
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2006, 08:10:24 AM »

Callan,

Quote
At the moment, my design is trying to offer a reward for trying (while at the same time not encouraging the failing move).

Great. Communicate it through the rules. Because currently your design rewards using option C constantly.

Quote
But in this thread (and similarly in the previous thread), posters seem to interpret gathering that reward as the goal of play itself.

Think about it. You keep proposing things, and people keep misinterpreting them. What's the reason?

I'd say, that it's impossible to assume that people play according to your intents, unless you tell them so. You can do it by explicitly stating what is to be done in this game and what isn't, however you solve the "explicit" part. If you want them to play football, don't involve chocolates. If you want to give them chocolates, be ready that they won't be interested in football. Currently your design gives players chocolates for using option C. Sad, but that's how people's minds work.

Or, it's possible that none of the people answering in those two threads are gamists. We don't pass your litmus test after all. But, I think that something's wrong on your part, since most of answers come from people declaring themselves gamists and enjoying gamist games.

It would be easier if you stated clearly what you aim for - not in any of those specific design ideas alone, but in general, in all your gamist ideas brainstorming.

Quote
Here's a twist for anyone posting in this thread: Put in your post a gamist goal, like taking down castles or beating ogres or whatever. Remember, no moral slant to them!

Ok. Vampire Larp. My goal is to gain social appreciation from gathered people, effectively "winning" the game by being the star. It's possible to attain this through posing as a most angsty goth, acting your character like a professional actor, and plotting against obvious rivals to make them trip. My board is the whole vampire larp, my pawns are my facial acting skills, clothes, voice and words. How to move my pawns on the board in order to get highest "goth rating"?

Another, more mechanically oriented version. D&D combat. Minis, grid and stuff. 10th level cleric and wizard trapped in a back alley, unable to cast spells (antimagic field in the city, nevermind the logic of its presence there, since as long as it gave us tactical challenge, plausibility didn't matter). Tight back alley, two high level rogues on one end, two more on the other. How to defeat the rogues or get away from there in one piece? And later, after losing my weapon due to critical hit, and getting a sneak attack from one of the enemies. Will I decide to move on this square (what puts im in danger of being flanked by one robber), or this square (where I flank the robber with the wizard, but later I can be flanked by more than one robber), or will I risk provoking attack of opportunity and move to a more safe square? Will I attack the rogue barehanded, or try disarming him and use his weapon, or trip him, or...? Etc.
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Arturo G.
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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2006, 03:10:58 AM »

Quote
Here's a twist for anyone posting in this thread: Put in your post a gamist goal, like taking down castles or beating ogres or whatever. Remember, no moral slant to them!

Hi, Callan!

I think that the problem is that you are exclusively thinking in the second layer of the gamist play, the Challenge that happens for the characters in the SIS. However, you cannot ignore how the proposed rules are going to be used at the first layer for the Step On Up behaviour of the players.

I could not really propose a gamist goal without talking about what is the player trying to show, and perhaps even how are the other players reacting to her.

Does this make sense to you?
Arturo
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Callan S.
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2006, 03:19:21 AM »

I like that D&D example, Filip. And your right, Arturo, I am focusing on the second layer. Here's why:

Imagine a glass dome underwater, which houses an areana for some sort of ball sport. The glass dome is specifically there to keep out the water, right?

Okay, the players play and realise its essentially very easy to win if they bounce the ball off the glass walls. It's well within the rules to do so, as well.

But every time they bounce it against the glass wall, cracks appear. Bounce, crack! Bounce, crack!

"But why should we stop? It's within the rules!"

The cracking is a little bit of artistic licence. What it really refers to is a game made so easy that all you could do is go and play another one, another without a glass wall. Which would mean playing in the black, dark water.

Okay, what is the big bad black water that the wall keeps away? The hurdle (even in just recognising the hurdle) that kept me from writing anything over the two years or more years I've hovered around the forge?

Gaining absolute control

It's absolutely lothesome to even mention it. But let me run another analogy past you that I once spoke with Ron about. Imagine some people in a boat, most of which use their cupped hands in the water to try and move the boat in various directions. One person sits at the rudder, but his arms are absolutely folded, away from the rudder. Not even touching it.

The people with their cupped hands move the boat in a certain direction. Who chose that direction? The people? No, it was the guy at the rudder. Because no matter how much his hands weren't on the rudder, at any time he could grab it. That means any direction the boat goes, it's because he allowed it. Which means any direction the boat goes, he chose that direction. He has absolute control.

So far I'm asking you to indulge me and I need a bit more, thanks.

You know what I recurringly see in gamist actual play accounts? Play resting on the fulcrum of players able to cry out 'The GM should be fair!'. Okay, this can only pan out in two ways:
A. It has no effect what-so-ever. Which, while often observed to have its own host of issues, is nothing to the inky water of B
B. It has an effect. It steers play.

This is exactly the same rudder. Anyone who can cry out 'That's not fair' or, as is more common, look grumpy, unhappy, distracted, bored, is at the rudder.

This is where my line of arguement will most likely fall down to scrutiny here, since the responce will be that you only say it's unfair when it really is unfair. That when it's fair, people wont reach for the rudder.

I question my own ability to know what is fair.

And if I don't really know what is fair, all I have is absolute control! Because at any time I can steer events. Which is completely lothesome - lothesome to have (it's not too bad when someone else has this control). As lothesome as if, by looking unhappy during poker, everyone starts throwing the game in your favour. It's force, Jim, but not as we know it. Because as long as you stay under the illusion you were facing a challenge, it's incredibly fun. Best session ever, fun! Force never felt so good!

Basically, as long as I doubt my own ability to know what is fair, I don't screw with that glass wall. I don't go all gamist on it, cause I know it's the only thing between me and lothesomeness. I keep that glass wall right out of my gamist zone of play. So these rules become an absolute nill activity area in terms of gamism, in order to support gamist play.

But, while you don't doubt your own ability to decide what's fair, the wall is fair game. Heh, an appropriate pun.

Terrible side note: By extension, while I doubt myself, I doubt other mens ability to know what is fair. 'Cept that one time the pope played. And I'm pretty sure he didn't chip in on the pizza. Only just realised it now, that when I've felt some accounts of gamism weren't really about gamism, it was supported only by my personal doubt about how well I personally can judge fairness. How dare I! But dare I do.

Jeez...'doubt'...supposed to be the subject of nar play, not an issue of design itself. What a bloody drama queen, eh?
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2006, 05:50:11 AM »

Hi, Callan.  I only now noticed this thread, so excuse me if I am going to reply to an older post (and excuse my sorry English, it's not my native language). But before, a little about the background from where I am replying. I "discovered" narrative games (and narrative play) only a few months ago. Yes, I did know there were games with that name, but I didn't really understand how they worked. For a log, long time (I gamed almost every week from almost twenty years) I played with a hard-core gamist agenda at the table (even if sometimes we deluded ourselves thinking that we were "simulating reality" or some other nonsense). And even if I am now smitten with there "wonderful narrative games I just discovered", I would still enjoy a good gamist game now and then. And it's really simple for me to look at a game situation with gamist goggles (it's more difficult to avoid doing so, to be frank...)

Looking at your first post, I would choose option C. Every time. Changing my "move" every time for me would not be a "failure", but a way to show everyone at the table what a badass "moves creator" I am. I would invent 100, 200 different moves one after another, without caring for none of them, because in this way I would (1) get more xp than everyone else at the table, and (2) show that I have more fantasy than everyone else at the table.  And I someone other would "fail" more times than me (and getting more xp that me) I would "step on up" failing more, more and more, changing even more "moves".  Until I "win"

Everything it takes to win.  In a game like this, "failing" with a move would mean "winning" more xp, so it would be the RIGHT move and would "win" me the cheers and admiration of everyone at the table. [and if I found that I liked a move more than the others for some non-gamist reason, I would simply kept it in "reserve" using it only when it would become "the right move")

I'm not sure that if your in a gamist grove, you'd take it that lightly. I may be wrong, so let me use a narrativist parralel to highlight what I mean (though nar parralels don't seem to jive with alot of folks): Say your playing riddle of steel and your spiritual attribute is about your lady love. Now imagine that it becomes incredibly hard to save her/pursue her. And you have the rules for changing SA right there, sitting in front of you. In fact, it works out to be easier to change SA than continue to pursue her. Do you ditch her for the win?

I did not play Riddle of Steel, so I am not sure about the details of what this would mean, but in general I wouldn't care about "easy". "Easy" is for losers (or beginning players). In a (gamist) rpg "winning" mean getting the respect and admiration of the other at the table because you master DIFFICULT strategies.

So, in this situation I would choose the strategy who could get me "more". If staing true to her would mean getting "more" (xp, resources, currency... I don't know, I don't know RoT) I would declare my love for her every time, no matter the difficulty of doing so in the game (if I would not be able to do so because it's "too difficult", that I would consider a failure on my part, it would mean I was not able to "step on up" enough). If not, I would ditch her in an heartbeat (I am not saying that I don't care for the SIS. I would invent some "in character" reason for doing so. It's not very difficult to come up with some good way to doing the thing you want to do "in character")

Quote
Here it's the same: Your move is your pride and joy. If your willing to give it up glibly, then it's not your killer move, it's just something you made up glibly to begin with. It's not something you put passion into (since you passionately want to win). Option C should be a minor OH my god, he'd give up his precious technique and step onto new ground!' moment.

Why?

I think this it the crux of my failure to understand your design of this game. It seems that for you the fact that I would have someform of attachment to these moves is a given. For me, it's an absolute given that I wouldn't care a bit for any of them (if you don't give me a reason to care). More: SHOWING to everyone that I don't care for any of them would get me the "oooh!" of admiration from everyone at the table because I would "playing very well" and I am able to discard every move in and heartbeat because I am such a badass in inventing moves that I am absolutely no fear of not being able to invent another one without any problem.

So, I think that you see some "in game" reason for not doing so, but you didn't tell us about it (maybe because for you it's obvious). Without that reason, my impression of this game is that will become a sort of competition to see which player could come up faster with new "moves" to discard.

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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
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