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 Non-Competitive Aspects of the game 
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Mini-Boss
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Almost every game has competitive aspects and non-competitive aspects to it. The fact that gamers don't always agree on which are which creates a sort of dissonance between us (we have words like Beardy and Cheesy to describe people who are being competitive with game choices that we think shouldn't be competitive). Even in the most competitive tabletop miniatures games, terrain placement is often considered a non-competitive part of play.


So for SDE what aspects of the game do you all feel are non-competitive? At what point have you gone too far in trying to play competitively?

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April 27th, 2017, 3:16 pm
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Mini-Boss
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I wanted to give my own answer in a separate post.


My group definitely feels that monster selection and to a point hero selection, as well as tile placement are non-competitive parts of the game. We can balance the party in that we'll make sure that certain roles are filled, and that they have a balance in their die colors and traits used, but we don't try to create the uber party that will destroy everything.

Sometimes, we shuffle the heroes together and deal them out into piles of two. For each hero slot, you have to pick one of the two heroes in that pile. This generally allows for a balanced party without always bringing the best of the best type folks.


We pick tiles that we think will make things fun or funny (the tiles with secret passages are our favorites) and pick monsters mostly based on what we haven't seen for a while.


Once the minis are on the table, though, we're out for blood. In Classic, we expect the consul to try and murder the heroes as best he can (ie- the Consul player does not act as GM).

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April 27th, 2017, 3:18 pm
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Minion
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I basically agree.

Monsters - the Consul picks them, but they have to fit the theme. Von Drakk isn't going to be paired with kobolds and trolls. Forgotten King doesn't get skeletons or rock turtles (although if ND gives us moss-back tortoises, it's on).

Heroes - everyone just plays what they like... and what I have painted. I haven't finished painting everything yet and I basically disallow any minis that aren't painted.

Tiles - the dungeon has to fit the theme. Fire and stone can go with Roxor or Starfire. Von Drakk's manor goes with his undead. Forgotten King gets forests.

The only place we differ is in the role of the Consul. With a competitive group that has played the game, it's on like Donkey Kong, and I pull no punches. With new players, on the other hand, I make them sweat but ultimately let them win. But the scarier I can make it, the better. Yes, I pretty much GM, but just with new players.

Now, when Legends comes out, that may change, especially depending on how character progression works and whether a TPK means everyone picks new heroes. And it could go either way - I might step up the competition when death isn't disastrous, or back it off for people who are going to get butt-hurt if they have to pick a new hero.


April 27th, 2017, 3:34 pm
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Minion
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If a game is truly meant for competition, then anything by the rules should be fair. Otherwise, it's not going to have a healthy competitive scene. If two groups meet for the first time, they shouldn't first have to go over a list of each others house rulings on what is fair and what is not. Having multiple house rule sets would fracture the player base into smaller groups who train with their choice of house rules. You want as many people to be in one group as you can to keep the competition alive.

If the competition is to mean anything, then everyone should be on a level field to practice and train for an event. I believe the company producing the rules has the best chance of creating a large group. I won't say it's impossible for a 3rd party to make a list or rules that goes with the official rules that get enough traction to become a healthy competitive scene, but it's a lot harder. DOTA worked out, for example.

That said, for me, the truly beardy stuff is when players begin to look for grammar oddities to get more from an ability or rule than was intended (of course this is kind of subjective on what was intended). An extreme example of this is, in a card game, a player has a card that says "opponent loses next turn". So they play it and declare they will win the game on their opponents next turn because the card says their opponent loses (the game) in the next turn. I actually don't know anything like that in SDE yet as I haven't played it that competitively yet. I seem to remember having discussions with my friends on exactly how potions could be used during the consoles turn in 1st ed. But that's mostly been cleared up with the descriptions of the potion types I think.


April 27th, 2017, 3:48 pm
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homedrone wrote:
If a game is truly meant for competition, then anything by the rules should be fair. Otherwise, it's not going to have a healthy competitive scene.



I want to give you an example, because I don't think we really disagree on this.

Warmachine has a healthy competitive scene, and they've worked pretty hard to make sure that the game works when everyone comes to the table with their A game, and also they work pretty hard to write their rules in precise legalese so as not to be misinterpreted.

However- the terrain set up is not a competitive part of the game. Once or twice I met someone who wanted to turn the terrain set up into a competitive part of the game. For proper tournaments of Warmachine, this is solved by having tournament organizers arrange the terrain, so trying to game the terrain set up isn't even an option.


So that's what I'm talking about. Some games have a broader range of non-competitive choices than others, and I honestly think that Dungeon Crawler players are often not on the same page (the big question is always whether the monster player should role play the monsters or try to eliminate the heroes as quickly as possible).

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April 27th, 2017, 8:32 pm
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Minion
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The issue with keeping the map construction a non competitive aspect of the game is you'll need rules that removes all player choice from building the dungeon or you always need a 3rd person willing to build your dungeon for you.

A reasonably effective way for a table top war game (maybe like warmachine?) to keep terrain balanced is to have one player set up the terrain, and then the other player choose the side of the table they want to play from. That might still need to set some minimums of what will be added.

SDE doesn't have that as an option though. I guess there's a version where it's not determined who will platy the Heroes and who will play the Console until after the dungeon is created. One player makes the dungeon, the other chooses which side to play? But if theme is important, this would get weird.

SDE also gets a little odd in the competitive zone because the Heroes are often played by multiple people. I've found the game a little more enjoyable when we have multiple players play the console as well as the heroes.


April 27th, 2017, 10:52 pm
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Minion
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odinsgrandson wrote:
Some games have a broader range of non-competitive choices than others, and I honestly think that Dungeon Crawler players are often not on the same page (the big question is always whether the monster player should role play the monsters or try to eliminate the heroes as quickly as possible).


Yeah, this is an issue with dungeon crawling games.

It's a weird one to me, as "role playing" the monsters should still equal them trying to eliminate the heroes as well as they can.

If players are really interested in role playing, then probably the level of threat for the monsters needs to be re-evaluated as the heroes wont be working optimally due to ..not trusting each other from invented back stories? or personality traits they've given themselves like cowardice? or self serving behaviour because they are loners/rogues? But lowering the threat level shouldn't mean making the monsters do dumb things. Maybe less monsters, or reduced stats or something. But they should still do their best to win. And if people are really role playing.. it's not a competitive game anyway, it's a story building activity. The console is a DM, not an opponent.

If the game was balanced so that there was room for non optimal play by the heroes to account for roleplaying, and then you get a group of heroes who do play optimally, cause nothings actually stopping them from doing so.. the game would be very easy for them. And thus probably no fun for them or the console.

I think dungeon crawlers are largely designed as one off tactics games. They are puzzles with varying amounts of leeway of straying from the optimal path. That leeway is all the room there is for roleplaying without also losing. There was no actual role playing in Gauntlet. Or really any of the fighting parts of old (or even new?) DnD computer games. Even raids in WOW aren't designed with role playing in mind. If the heroes are really interested in role playing that much, they are probably playing the wrong thing. Legends might be closer to what they are looking for.

I think a game could be designed with tactics and roleplaying in mind. The easiest example is a hidden traitor game. Where a player or players are actually working with the boss in secret. Think Battlestar Galactica SDE. There are probably ways to make it more varied as well.. Dead of Winter has some ideas there. The core idea is to make it so that role playing doesn't just result in making sub optimal tactics moves, but fully part of the playing experience. I guess the problem with this style is people don't get to design their characters in those games and maybe that's a big appeal to the players who want to role play.


April 28th, 2017, 5:17 am
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If we are talking actual competition/tournament, I think it only makes sense to talk about Arena.
Explore has that assymetric gameplay that's not really suited for a competitive scene imo.

But if we are talking about games at home with friends, I'd say the competitive gameplay start with the first roll of the dice.
The players should set up a game that will be balanced and enjoyable.
Will this combination of monsters, bosses, heroes and tiles be a fun challenge?
Yes?
Now let's do everything in our power to destroy each other within the premises of the game we have set up.

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April 28th, 2017, 5:41 am
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All parts of the game are competitive in my opinion. There is always the possibility to forbid any side to pick the absolutely worst offenders on the broken list though, but I have found that the game works as best when both sides tries their best to win. :)

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May 12th, 2017, 9:40 pm
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Firesplitter wrote:
All parts of the game are competitive in my opinion. There is always the possibility to forbid any side to pick the absolutely worst offenders on the broken list though, but I have found that the game works as best when both sides tries their best to win. :)

But won't that typically end up with the same models being picked each time?
Why pick Herald of Vulcanis when you can pick Glimmerwing?
That's why I suggest picking models together as a group. How else would you ever get to use all of your cool painted models? :)

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May 12th, 2017, 10:04 pm
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Goblin-King wrote:
Firesplitter wrote:
All parts of the game are competitive in my opinion. There is always the possibility to forbid any side to pick the absolutely worst offenders on the broken list though, but I have found that the game works as best when both sides tries their best to win. :)

But won't that typically end up with the same models being picked each time?
Why pick Herald of Vulcanis when you can pick Glimmerwing?
That's why I suggest picking models together as a group. How else would you ever get to use all of your cool painted models? :)

As I said, you can remove the worst offenders (like Glimmerwing), while the players still go all out with these limitations. Think something similar to the tier system in competitive Pokémon.

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May 12th, 2017, 10:29 pm
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Firesplitter wrote:
Goblin-King wrote:
Firesplitter wrote:
All parts of the game are competitive in my opinion. There is always the possibility to forbid any side to pick the absolutely worst offenders on the broken list though, but I have found that the game works as best when both sides tries their best to win. :)

But won't that typically end up with the same models being picked each time?
Why pick Herald of Vulcanis when you can pick Glimmerwing?
That's why I suggest picking models together as a group. How else would you ever get to use all of your cool painted models? :)

As I said, you can remove the worst offenders (like Glimmerwing), while the players still go all out with these limitations. Think something similar to the tier system in competitive Pokémon.



What he's saying is that you'll likely still end up with the same party of adventurers and same boss/monsters etc. Or at least there will be some that never see play.

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May 19th, 2017, 4:05 pm
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Depends on how many tierlists you make... XD But sure, some models are always going to be the worst ones, that is inevitable in a game where you choose your pieces. Even without restrictions though the hero side has several party options, and there are a couple of great consul choices, while regrettably all of them include Glimmer Wing there is still some variety, and I think that the new batch might further expand this.

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When all realities in which you can lose are eleminated, first then can you be proclaimed the winner.


May 19th, 2017, 7:17 pm
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