Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

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Re: Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

Postby twentyeighth » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:29 am

You guys have some valid, rational points, but I'd like to defend the threat system.

I see it as a way to sharpen one's overarching path to victory. Without it, the game is a collection of fine mechanics whose applicable scope (generally) falls within a handful of turns. With it, this time-scope is lengthened. I can understand the assertion that it hurts the underdog, but that's quickly remedied through the loss of a turn order. (And yes, I realize that too is a great cost.)

I guess you can argue that it hurts Wickedness and Cunning builds, but I haven't really tested these enough to argue for or against this point. That said, it's required of everyone, so I see it as a way to reward the player who can assess his threat against the length of the game, not necessarily the present leader or the one who shares borders with you. And that's not necessarily bad.

I'm against threat systems based off of prestige, because that punishes the leaders, who've either worked their way into the lead or lucked it. The former should be rewarded, the latter will likely make a mistake to loose it.
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Re: Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

Postby Stupendipity » Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:23 am

Legions and praetors are unaffected by by YOUR threat rankings. So no, it doesn't affect everyone, players who don't use rituals on other players get freedom from the system.

It still affects their demands, but a player with a strong praetor can single combat vendetta multiple people in spite of that.
Last edited by Stupendipity on Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

Postby twentyeighth » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:53 pm

True it affects rituals, but it also affects diplomacy, which is requisite to almost everyone.

"Higher ranked threats are easier targets for diplomatic actions, which means they cost less Prestige and resources to engage."

Is the threat system not a reward for those who can project their threats accordingly? Even if it doesn't immediately influence a legion's move and combat, is not the overhead for their movement enough?

I'll give you the Praetor point. They seem rather strong, and my best plans have often been undermined by the astute player with a Praetor. But isn't it our responsibility to round ourselves as Archfiends, choosing multiple avenues for success rather than one?
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Re: Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

Postby John Mc » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:09 pm

The threat order affects Demands and Insults only modestly. If my Demand is going to be conceded, I don't care if I used 6 or 8 PPs to make it. If it isn't conceded then I'm out 2 PPs. That's unfortunate, but not a big deal. Unconceded Demands are rare, so I'm not going to sweat that one. However, I can easily play one or more rituals every turn. Having those double in Tribute Cost is a big deal. Besides, the Prestige costs affect everyone, but the Ritual costs only affect Deceit and Destruction builds. So the question is: Do those builds need this weak spot? Does it add enjoyment to the game?
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Re: Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

Postby twentyeighth » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:45 pm

John Mc wrote:The threat order affects Demands and Insults only modestly. If my Demand is going to be conceded, I don't care if I used 6 or 8 PPs to make it. If it isn't conceded then I'm out 2 PPs. That's unfortunate, but not a big deal. Unconceded Demands are rare, so I'm not going to sweat that one. However, I can easily play one or more rituals every turn. Having those double in Tribute Cost is a big deal. Besides, the Prestige costs affect everyone, but the Ritual costs only affect Deceit and Destruction builds. So the question is: Do those builds need this weak spot? Does it add enjoyment to the game?


Ah, good. I can buy this argument more than its polarized companion. As a mechanic, the threat order is not necessarily bad, but that doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be tweaked if it unfairly punishes a style of play.

Do those builds need this weak spot? Right now, I'd say no. They seem harder to me, too.

Does it add enjoyment to the game? As a system, yes it does; it lengthens one's strategic vision, frames the game in terms of its potential length, not the steps that reach that length.

Balance (which is hard to attain without homogenizing gameplay) lies in the area where one's middle-tier threats feel adequate in ritual costs, the lower threats feel expensive, and the highest seem worthwhile to pursue. But the system's purpose (I believe) is to allow another wrinkle for us to mull. Our threats may change as the game progresses, and so gameplay moments where I must weigh two or more equally purposeful orders seems like sound design to me.
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Re: Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

Postby eumaies » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:24 am

so... as the game stands now i think it's actually the most important feature of the threat ranking that it limits the long range offensive capabilities of deceit and wickedness rituals to just a few limited opponents. Legions would be a bit nerfed by comparison if it were really cheap to blast and steal from them regardless of distance or without limits.

That said, you could make an argument for just averaging out the costs of those offensive rituals across all opponents, rather than having a few be really cheap and a few really expensive.

But i like this system. you can incinerate or steal from 1-2 opponents a great deal, which forces them to react, but you can (since the differing prestige costs of vendettas are really pretty irrelevant) do military action against anyone adjacenet to you. I don't think maintaining the threat list is all that costly a complication to enable that aspect of the game.
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Re: Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

Postby manveruppd » Fri May 13, 2011 12:18 am

I'm also in favour of getting rid of it completely, again for the reason that it affects certain strategies (which aren't particularly strong strategies either) to a disproportionate degree. Martial 5 and Infernal Juggernaut is powerful enough even without it that abolishing the threat level system would still leave it a popular strategy.

Every other aspect of the game feeds into something else. Every strategy counterbalances another one, every mechanic enriches the game by enabling someting that wouldn't have been possible without it. By contrast, threat level only detracts from the game: it makes rituals prohibitively expensive to cast if you ignore it, but it doesn't add anything extra if you manage it well.

Its only saving grace is that excommunicated players automatically count as top threat level for everyone, so you could argue it balances it out by making it a riskier strategy, but to be honest the benefits are not so dramatic when compared to someone being your 2nd or 3rd priority. It's only when you get further down that that that when the penalties to ritual cost become prohibitive.

If rituals were ridiculously powerful and cheap to cast, I could see a need for it, but unlike legion combat, where there's a certain degree of certainty before an encounter, rituals are pretty unreliable. Your target might make its saving throw even against overwhelming odds, you're limited in how many you can cast not only by your max orders but also by your max ritual slots, and even for top threat level targets they're cheap but not stupidly cheap (only slightly cheaper than a 3-element combat card, and less reliable).

Generally speaking with rules systems (whether they're for strategy games, RPGs, card games, or whatever) I like complexity, but I believe in the adage that "if you can eliminate a mechanic without adversely affecting the rest of the game, then you should get rid of it!"
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Re: Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

Postby Sord » Fri May 13, 2011 1:59 am

Although I don't think I'd be terribly bothered by removing it, I think it adds something to the game. I tend to play heavy ritual based builds that should be strongly affected by the costs, but I also find I'm always maxing out Charisma early, so they don't bother me too much. However, I will say I'm usually loathe to attack someone who is 4th or 5th on the threat list more than very occasionally.

The strongest argument I'd have for getting rid of it is that I rarely change it after turn 10, despite playing builds that should be getting hampered by it. In games where I change it, it will happen once around turn 30 to move #4 or #5 up to one of the top slots and that will hold me for the rest of the game. However, if I can guess the top two correctly (or a couple of players are eliminated), I can go with my turn 10 guesses for the whole game.

However, what I would prefer is using the pre-turn 10 adjustment method for the entire game (no cost, no order slots). I would also add an additional turn of lag between updating the list and having it take effect (much like starting a vendetta) and make the update a bit more public so it is more of a diplomatic or posturing action. The way it might work would be on turn N you update your threat list, on turn N+1 there is a general message that "<avatar name> appears to be focusing their attention on <#1 target name>", and on turn N+2 there is a private message that "Your forces are now positioned to more effectively deal with <#1 target name>" and your costs will be updated. I think it might also be appropriate to add some additional delay before being allowed to switch again, maybe based on rank (so Princes could switch frequently - Lords, not so much).
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Re: Threat Ranking: Subtlety or Complication?

Postby Frothy_mikhael » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:00 pm

I think the suggestion about adding a weakness to cunning- and wickedness-based builds was interesting. In particular, it seems like it imposes a cost of switching your focus from one enemy to another that is similar to the switching costs of legions too.

I think the analogy would go something like this: if you have a legion-based build, then moving your legions from one border to another in order to attack a different player will cost you a few order slots. This is kind of like transaction costs of the threat mechanic for ritual based builds - altering threat levels will cost you the equivalent to a few order slots (both switching and making up the cost of resources paid to switch) that you would otherwise spend marching your legions around.

So it seems like the threat mechanic counterbalances the inherent flexibility of ritual based builds compared to legion builds. Otherwise ritual based builds would be far more flexible, since they would have no swithcing costs equivalent to marching legions from border to border.

Of course, maybe ritual builds are less powerful than legion-based strategies, so perhaps they deserve this flexibility.
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