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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 66 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: unequal extended contests?  (Read 2159 times)
elgorade
Member

Posts: 20


« on: October 12, 2003, 08:10:17 AM »

Two questions about the mechanics and synamics of extended contests.

1)  Assume the contest is unequal.  One side has managed to work the situation  such that they have a master over the  other side.  So, all other things being equal, they start with both an AP edge, and a skill combination which means they are likely to win rolls.  Why isn't thier first action a huge AP bid meant to close out the contest in one round?  

2)  Assuming the advantaged side doesn't go for the flashy one roll end of the contest, how do you handle the conservative approach.   They can go for a series of low AP bids just trying to use the statistics of their advantage to get the win.  But how do you make that interesting over the series of rolls?   This seems especially likely to be a problem if it is the players using the conservative, atritional approach.    They may well be right in an analysis that that is the way to win the contest, but it makes for a dull contest.


My best guesses for answering both potential problems, is that lopsided situations shouldn't be extended contests.  

elgorade
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Brand_Robins
Member

Posts: 650


WWW
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2003, 10:44:06 AM »

I'm going to agree with your solution, but add a proviso:

Unequal situations should not be extended contests unless they are dramatically interesting and/or dynamic.

The first thing to consider with such a situation is the possibility for dynamism. In an extended contest the AP setting skill is only necessarily the skill for the first roll. If the underdog side can survive the first roll they can shift the skills to another focus that may be more advantageous to them. The ability to shift the nature of the contest by introducing/using either elements of the world or the story is essential if you want to run an unequal conflict as an extended contest.
To reuse an example, Conan might grab the Devi Yasmina and kiss her dizzy – changing the contest from Debate vs Debate to Seduce Nubile Maiden vs Resist Manly Barbarian. The Devi may still have an AP lead, as she started off in a stronger position, but she’s now dealing with a lower skill that will mean that she won’t be winning rolls as often.

Of course this does fall into your question #1 – why shouldn’t the favored side try to crush the underdog with one roll? The answer is going to depend on how much the favored side actually is favored by. A really overwhelming advantage is just that – really overwhelming. A lesser advantage, however, is not a sure thing and betting your farm on a single master advantage can get you into a lot of trouble. While a single mastery will get you at least a minor victory 75% of the time, it will also fail you 25% of the time – and you have to wonder if you want to bet your life on a roll with a 25% chance of going really wrong. This can become even more of a gamble if the underdog side has Hero Points to play with.

So if a situation is interesting, has the possibility for dynamism, and is within a single mastery difference, there can be good reasons to play it – as it gives a chance for dynamic and exciting turns. If there isn’t really a chance for any of those things and the advantage is truly overwhelming (such as JarEel 17w4 against Bill the Farmer 13) then there isn’t a purpose in doing an extended contest.
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- Brand Robins
Peter Nordstrand
Member

Posts: 501


WWW
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2003, 11:11:09 AM »

Hi,

I'll just add that both your concerns are addressed in HeroQuest.

Quote from: elgorade
1)  Assume the contest is unequal.  One side has managed to work the situation  such that they have a master over the  other side.  So, all other things being equal, they start with both an AP edge, and a skill combination which means they are likely to win rolls.  Why isn't thier first action a huge AP bid meant to close out the contest in one round?


See page 67, "How Much Should I Bid?" sidebar.

Quote from: elgorade
2)  Assuming the advantaged side doesn't go for the flashy one roll end of the contest, how do you handle the conservative approach.   They can go for a series of low AP bids just trying to use the statistics of their advantage to get the win.  But how do you make that interesting over the series of rolls? This seems especially likely to be a problem if it is the players using the conservative, atritional approach.    They may well be right in an analysis that that is the way to win the contest, but it makes for a dull contest.


See page 186, "Picking Advantage Points."

Cheers,

/Peter N
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GB Steve
Member

Posts: 429


WWW
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2003, 11:34:31 AM »

You shouldn't know what your oppponents scores are before the contest starts, unless you have seen them in action before, so you don't always know that one big bid should swat them down.
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simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2003, 01:59:52 AM »

I'd also point out that a full mastery advantage does not guarantee success. Suppose I have a skill of 10 and you have 10w. If I roll a 5 and you roll a 12 we both succeed since your fail is bumped to a success, but it's still only a 12. That's higher than my roll, so I still get a marginal success. If you bet the farm on that roll, you just lost half your APs. Do that again, and you're out.

Factor in Hero Points as well, and the situation is even less clear cut.

Having said all that, option 1 (bet the farm and finish it quick) is a common tactic. Nothing wrong with that. Also check out my post on the "Extended Contests 2" thread. Just because on your phase you get to choose an ability I can't compete with, doesn't mean I can't do the same on my phase, so long as my chosen ability jives with my goal in the contest.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2003, 01:57:24 PM »

Further, if the character does decide that the most interesting thing is to bid all the points, then they've just exercised their right to make the whole thing into a simple contest. Apparently they don't see the need to do an extended contest, so it's all good.

Also, simple contests can be more dramatic than long ones. Consider the scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon where Lu-Bei is facing the girl on the rocks after the long fight in the bamboo (definitely an extended contest there). In this conflict she says, "I'll be your student if you can take the Green Destiny from me in three moves". The player in this case just bids everything and rolls and takes it in one move. Very dramatic, very interesting, very fun.

Another example is the initial standoff from Yojimbo/Fistfull. One guy against four? One roll. All over for the bad guys. Incredible addition to the protagonist. Perfect.

Basically, don't plan on Extended Contests. You don't know how long a contest is going to go until it arrives. But don't worry. Simple contests work just fine.

Mike
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