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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 91 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Contenders] Questions/Suggestions after MACE game  (Read 4650 times)
David Artman
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Posts: 570

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« on: November 14, 2006, 09:13:09 AM »

The nature of this post makes it hard for me to categorize, so forgive me if I am in the wrong forum. I hope to provide feedback via questions and suggestions based on actual play at MACE, though I won't write out the events of play (perhaps Jason will do so, as the GM?).

First, we were four new players, learning the system at the con, though I followed most of the development posts and had a notion of how it plays. Nevertheless, we ran into a fair bit of early confusion regarding scenes, particularly turn order and what one could do in a scene. Jason was able to straighten us out eventually (strict turn order, to avoid unfairness; clarified that Challenging costs the challenged player his scene because he is forced into a Fight scene on his turn). But this lead to my (still unanswered) first question: What is the price of refusing a challenge? If none (other than loss of opportunity to knock down an opponent while earning cash and hope), the perhaps you could add a mechanic whereby Reputation goes down if one refuses.

Second, dirty tactics caused some confusion as well. By my reading of the rules, it seems that these are the net results possible from the use of dirty tactics:
  • Win Round: None (other than normal Damage and VPs, etc)
  • Win Fight: None (other than normal Rep, Hope, and Cash gains)
  • Lose Round: Warning and 2 VP to the opponent, in addition to whatever VP they gain for the round from their Damage.
  • 3 Warnings: DQ
  • Lose Fight (never Warned): None (other than normal Rep, Pain, and Cash gains)
  • Lose Fight (Warned): -1 Reputation
Now what seemed to stick in my craw or confuse me was that, for the Lose Fight (Warned) situation, you suffer -1 Reputation... then gain 1 Reputation for participating. Right? Now, if that's the way it works, cool; it, in effect, makes you unable to Rep up if caught using dirty tactics in a fight you lose (makes sense). But, in that case, it would have helped me if the rules simply made that clear as they discussed the Rep loss (a simple note like "Note that this -1 to Reputation will offset the +1 Reputation the fighter earns for fighting, even though he loses, making a net Reputation change of 0 for the fight."). Of course, if this is NOT how it works, then a more extensive edit or clarification is probably needed.

Finally, a mere suggestion for the Character Sheet and opposite Quick Reference page (Jason had photocopied both facing pages on one sheet, which works great and, thus, don't EVER separate the CS and Reference). Under the dirty tactics line, include the special rules (summarized, of course) for them, as they are the only tactics with special rules. Something like:
Dirty Tactics
"street fighting"
DOMINATE 4 / DAMAGE 4
Lose Round = 1 Warning
3 Warnings = DQ
***and maybe a DQ reference here?***
Lose Fight = 0 net Rep gain

Thoughts?
David
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2006, 09:50:23 AM »

A couple of notes:

We had no NPC fighters in the game, so a challenge meant you were taking away another player's turn. 

We were under some serious time constraint and that ended up squeezing out most of the "step 4b:  roleplay" stuff - it was a series of mechanical contests.  They were fun and engaging but I don't feel like we really played Contenders as hard as we could have.  I see the potential and am dying to play a full, multi-session game with lots of juicy drama.

I agree with Dave that the information represented on the cheat sheets could use some fine tuning - they are OK, but a little bit more information would be useful.  Also, we house ruled that the draw order was the same as the order on the sheet (power, balanced, defensive, then dirty I think), which added a little drama to the proceedings.  A minor point but a fun one. 
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David Artman
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Posts: 570

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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2006, 08:37:55 AM »

Also, we house ruled that the draw order was the same as the order on the sheet (power, balanced, defensive, then dirty I think), which added a little drama to the proceedings.  A minor point but a fun one.
Thanks for reminding me! Yes, I think this was both a good handling element (obviating any negotiation of who draws first, which could be an issue with card counting and infrequent shuffling) and nice for drama (as folks using Dirty would sweat more, having to wait). Plus, it sort of made sense, from a style perspective: an aggressive attacker would sort of "hit first," a defensive fighter would be "hanging back," and a balanced fighter would be somewhere in between. (I reckon one could imagine a dirty fighter having to wait, too: for the Ref to be distracted or lose line of sight for a second.)

I also wish we'd gone in for more role playing, in general. A couple of us tried to get into the spirit when it wasn't our round of action (as commentators or corner men) but we generally were watching for tactics (or heading for the bathroom--which, frankly, is kind of cool to be able to do without interrupting play). But I could have been more in-character between fight round or in the course of playing other Turn Actions; for example, in my scene with my sister, I basically just showered her orphanage with fight cash and told her I had to keep fighting: better money than working on the railroad, and safer in the long run!

Of course, given that we didn't reach the endgame, in spite of limited role playing, we might not have learned even the basic notions of overall strategy and system interactions that we did glean, without at least a few full rounds: a tough trade-off. *sigh* Ah, con games....

Still, aside from confusions, the game was very fun--an unusual hybrid of narration and pure strategy (Nar/Gam, eh?)--and I will definitely buy the next edition of the book. (I'd really like to see some clarifications before I buy in, or I'll be writing in the margins on Day One, which makes my OCD go nuts.)

Looking forward to answers;
David
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2006, 09:37:48 AM »

Quote
Nar/Gam, eh?

No.
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Joe J Prince
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Posts: 99

Putting the fun into dysfunction!


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« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2006, 04:52:12 AM »

Hi David and everyone

Thanks for posting this, and big thanks to Jason for running the game. Now for the questions.

... my (still unanswered) first question: What is the price of refusing a challenge? If none (other than loss of opportunity to knock down an opponent while earning cash and hope), the perhaps you could add a mechanic whereby Reputation goes down if one refuses.

Interestingly, I ran into a problem like this recently. As it stands there is no price for refusing a challenge. I've been allowing the challenger another scene in this case, they can go train or something.

I see where you're coming from with a Rep diminishing mechanic, but I don't want refusing challenges to become a way of stalling Endgame.

Quote
Second, dirty tactics caused some confusion as well.

Whoever wins narration decides whether the ref spots the dirty moves. It's possible to win the round and still get spotted. Or win narration and have the ref spot you! - I meanly did this during a stipulation match that my opponent had to lose.

Quote
Now what seemed to stick in my craw or confuse me was that, for the Lose Fight (Warned) situation, you suffer -1 Reputation... then gain 1 Reputation for participating. Right? Now, if that's the way it works, cool; it, in effect, makes you unable to Rep up if caught using dirty tactics in a fight you lose (makes sense). But, in that case, it would have helped me if the rules simply made that clear as they discussed the Rep loss (a simple note like "Note that this -1 to Reputation will offset the +1 Reputation the fighter earns for fighting, even though he loses, making a net Reputation change of 0 for the fight.").

Yes, you're right, I will make that clarification in future. I should also add that you suffer the Rep loss for fighting dirty even if you're not warned. The ref didn't spot it but you can bet the promoters and punters did!

Quote
Finally, a mere suggestion for the Character Sheet and opposite Quick Reference page (Jason had photocopied both facing pages on one sheet, which works great and, thus, don't EVER separate the CS and Reference). Under the dirty tactics line, include the special rules (summarized, of course) for them, as they are the only tactics with special rules. Something like:
Dirty Tactics
"street fighting"
DOMINATE 4 / DAMAGE 4
Lose Round = 1 Warning
3 Warnings = DQ
***and maybe a DQ reference here?***
Lose Fight = 0 net Rep gain

Good idea. I'll start working on a revised character sheet soon and put it on my website.

Also, we house ruled that the draw order was the same as the order on the sheet (power, balanced, defensive, then dirty I think), which added a little drama to the proceedings. A minor point but a fun one.

Interesting, I'd not really thought of standardising draw order, I usually deal hands face down then reveal simultaneously. The way you guys played it made a lot of sense too.

I'm putting together a Contenders FAQ. So I'll add my answers there.

Cheers
Joe

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Jason Morningstar
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Posts: 1428


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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2006, 05:44:20 AM »

Joe, the game is solid enough that it easily weathered whatever drift we indulged in.  I do think you could spell out everything that might lead to confusion on the character sheet, though. 
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