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I'd like to challenge the idea popular on these forums that the "Support of the People" objective (from the "Fall of the Empire" scenario) is broken.

The objective states: "When you give away your fourth Treaty Card, reveal this objective. If at least 3 other players have your Treaty Card in hand at this time, you win." It seems that the main problems people point to are (a) it requires someone to accept at least your #3 or your #4 treaty, which are highly unattractive, and (b) Once you've given out two objectives, it becomes obvious what you're doing and is easy to thwart by someone discarding your treaty (by accepting someone else's).

As far as point (a), I think people tend to underappreciate the real value of treaties #3 and #4: their secret message. The rules state that discussions must be public, so that giving treaties is the only way to pass a secret message. If you make your treaty offer be more about the secret message than the number, I think it's got a pretty good chance of being accepted.

As far as point (b), people can only thwart you if they have not yet passed. If you can sufficiently outstall everyone before it becomes obvious that you have the SotT objective, nobody can discard your treaties that round.

Here's what I think is a viable strategy based on these ideas:

1. First, wait till a good opportunity presents itself to give out the #3 or #4 treaty to somebody. Before they scoff at the high number, tell them that the secret message on the treaty (e.g. attack the player on the right or Lazax) is critical to your alliance's success. Pretend like you have some other objective that has to do with that secret message -- and promulgate that belief with your actions.

2. Then, start sowing seeds of your displeasure about how your alliance with #3 is working out, but not so much that the #3 guy decides to discard your treaty. Just find small things to pick on. In parallel, collect CCs (inconspicuously) so you can stall during the critical round.

3. When you think you have a legitimate argument to break your alliance with #3, this is the critical round. Stall until everybody passed except you, making sure you still have 3 CCs in your CA, and then offer the #2 treaty to the weakest person, citing your displeasure with the #3 guy. I think the #2 treaty will be accepted even if people start suspecting that you have the SotP objective because the weakest person has little to lose and up to this point you've been putting on a convincing show that you don't have SotP. Even if they suspect you, they can't do anything about it because they passed.

4. Now, with your second remaining CC, offer your #1 treaty to somebody, saying that you have the SotP objective and that of course this person will win with you if he accepts because everyone passed and can no longer thwart you.

5. With your final CC, give your final treaty to anybody (which will of course be rejected).

6. Win!

Does anybody see anything wrong with this strategy? Sure, it's still difficult, but with this strategy, is SotP really any more difficult than any of the other objectives?
 
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Simon Kamber
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rbelikov wrote:
Does anybody see anything wrong with this strategy? Sure, it's still difficult, but with this strategy, is SotP really any more difficult than any of the other objectives?


Three major problems:
- It only works if no one sees it coming. Both the #3 treaty guy and the #2 treaty guy can break your chances of winning easily, and for both of them, it won't be that hard to see what you're doing. Your 'the message on the treaty is important, so please take my crap treaty' requires a very specific metagame, and that metagame is very fragile when players KNOW that 'support of the people' is in the objective deck. It only takes one player at the table to call bullshit before your whole objective fails.
- What on earth are you going to tell the sucker that you expect to take a # 2 treaty from a known alliance-breaker with two more CC in the Command Pool? Remember, you not only have to fool him, you also have to fool the rest of the table who'll be more than ready to call you on your (pretty obvious) bluff. If you actually wanted to ally with him, you'd give him your # 1.
- Even if you could somehow make it work, this is the only way it could work. An objective that can only be achieved by one specific chain of events, assuming that no one sees it coming, qualifies as broken in my book.
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Thanks for pointing those things out. I agree with your objections, but it seems that what you are saying is that the strategy is not *guarateed* to work. What are the chances of it working? Let's say 20%, which could be modified by the skill of the player? That puts it on par with any other objective and any other strategy, the very definition of balance!

Dulkal wrote:
-Your 'the message on the treaty is important, so please take my crap treaty' requires a very specific metagame, and that metagame is very fragile when players KNOW that 'support of the people' is in the objective deck. It only takes one player at the table to call bullshit before your whole objective fails.

Why would this not be a legitimate strategy for other objectives, (say "powerhungry", "traitor", maybe others)? I think the value of secret messages (and hence #3 and #4 treaties) for those other objectives is generally underestimated. The player calling "bullshit" may very well be wrong if everyone agrees on the value of secret messages. But even with that said, I agree this step is fragile, so let's say it has a 40% chance of succeeding.

Dulkal wrote:
- What on earth are you going to tell the sucker that you expect to take a # 2 treaty from a known alliance-breaker with two more CC in the Command Pool? Remember, you not only have to fool him, you also have to fool the rest of the table
You spent the whole game bickering with the #3 guy (by design -- but not enough for him to dump the treaty) and thus engineered a legitimate excuse to break the alliance. I submit that this could legitimately happen with other objectives. Collecting CCs is also a good strategy for other objectives, so I don't believe it's that suspicious. The #2 guy is likely to accept because he is the weakest player -- he's got little to lose. You don't need to fool any other players, because they already passed -- they can call "bullshit" all they want as long as they don't change #2's mind. In any case, I agree that this step is also fragile, so let's say it has a ~50% chance of succeeding.[/q]

All other steps have 100% chance of succeeding, so you get your 20% chance, which could be modified by skill of the player. Again, that's the very definition of a balanced objective in my book! What numbers would you assign to the different steps?

Dulkal wrote:
Even if you could somehow make it work, this is the only way it could work. An objective that can only be achieved by one specific chain of events, assuming that no one sees it coming, qualifies as broken in my book.
Just to play the devil's advocate , this is just one example of how it can work, there may be others that we haven't discovered yet. Also, this "specific chain of events" has a lot of flexibility in how you actually carry it out, in the same way that other objectives have a lot of flexibility in how you carry out a specific goal!

Finally, if people do become convinced you have the SotP objective, then you become a very good and trustworthy candidate for receiving treaties because you have no other way of winning at that point, so your chances of winning with via a treaty goes up. This seems to be another underappreciated advantage of the SotP objective. (Of course this works only if you haven't given out all your treaties yet.)
 
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Brian Petersen
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Looking at it from the other direction, SotP player cannot achieve his own objective if he ever accepts a treaty from another player. There is also at least one law which forces all players to discard a treaty card. If it happens early, then you need one less CC for the surprise round. If it happens later, the person with the 3 or 4 is probably ditching it.

I did play a game where someone won with this objective, and it left a bad taste in our mouths. I would rather have an objective that states you may only win through treaties.
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Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Shards of the Throne » Forums » Strategy
Re: On the viability of the "Support of the People" objective
rbelikov wrote:
Why would this not be a legitimate strategy for other objectives, (say "powerhungry", "traitor", maybe others)? I think the value of secret messages (and hence #3 and #4 treaties) for those other objectives is generally underestimated. The player calling "bullshit" may very well be wrong if everyone agrees on the value of secret messages. But even with that said, I agree this step is fragile, so let's say it has a 40% chance of succeeding.[/quote]

He may well be wrong, in a specific metagame. But you assume a very specific (and, I think, unusual) metagame, along with at least one player who gets very close to kingmaking. And that is your ONLY chance of winning with this objective.


Quote:
You spent the whole game bickering with the #3 guy (by design -- but not enough for him to dump the treaty) and thus engineered a legitimate excuse to break the alliance. I submit that this could legitimately happen with other objectives.

...assuming a specific (and unusual) metagame...

[quote] Collecting CCs is also a good strategy for other objectives, so I don't believe it's that suspicious. The #2 guy is likely to accept because he is the weakest player -- he's got little to lose. You don't need to fool any other players, because they already passed -- they can call "bullshit" all they want as long as they don't change #2's mind. In any case, I agree that this step is also fragile, so let's say it has a ~50% chance of succeeding.


But seriously. You've been outstalling everyone, with three CCs in your CP. You offer the #2 treaty to a player who you quite clearly have no interest in allying with (because he is the weakest player).

Everyone at the table is going to know exactly what you are up to at this point, or they are asleep at the helm. If #2 takes your treaty, he is giving you the win, and he is doing so knowingly (unless you're exploiting a beginner). An objective that can only be achieved through kingmaking, or sleeping opponents, is broken.


[quote]All other steps have 100% chance of succeeding, so you get your 20% chance, which could be modified by skill of the player. Again, that's the very definition of a balanced objective in my book! What numbers would you assign to the different steps?[/quote]

You have to hand your #3 to someone who actually believes that you are handing him #3 for any other reason than you having the only objective in the game where you'd be interested in handing out #3. You could probably make that case at 25% of the tables. Lets be generous and say that at another 35% of the tables, the fool would take it even if he knows you have no intention of keeping the deal.

So we're at about 60%

Then you have to trashtalk the guy convincingly, while he still does not ally with anyone else. Let's say that is a 2/3rds proposition.

40%

Now you have to be able to outstall everyone, and still have three command counters in your pool. You have to do this without being severely disadvantaged. In effect, you have to outstall everyone enough that you are not only the last to act, but have three actions remaining. You also have to do it without making it bloody obvious what you are doing (because otherwise, it only takes one action for someone to activate #1's system) Let's make that 50/50.

20%

You then have to make #2 take the treaty. That can happen in a few different ways:

- He is actually bloody naive enough to believe you might, just might, be serious about giving your #2 treaty to the weakest player in the game and NOT be about to claim 'support of the people' (despite everyone else at the table telling him so).
- He does not care who wins, so he takes it just to make the game end.
- He is a beginner. He does not understand what is happening, and he trusts the wrong guy.

Now, lets overlook that the last two options are ethically questionable and make that a generous 50/50.

So we're at 10%, assuming the other players are either foolish or immoral. And remember, you have no way to change your attack plan. It's completely reliant on the other players playing very suboptimally.


Quote:
Just to play the devil's advocate , this is just one example of how it can work, there may be others that we haven't discovered yet. Also, this "specific chain of events" has a lot of flexibility in how you actually carry it out, in the same way that other objectives have a lot of flexibility in how you carry out a specific goal![/quote]

Nono, it is the ONLY way. You might be able to find another specific way of handing out the treaties, but ANY strategy will depend on someone taking the #3 treaty. And taking the #3 treaty will ALWAYS be a suboptimal move. Even if you sing the "it's for the secret message" song, everyone else knows the secret message anyway when you have to convince him to take it.

Any other objective can be won by playing well. This strategy can only be won by someone else playing poorly.

Let me turn it around: Give me one good reason that I should ever take a # 3 treaty from anyone. Give me one good reason to not just say "I got the message, now give me a better treaty to go with it". The reason has to work at a table where people know how the 'support of the people' objective works.

[q]Finally, if people do become convinced you have the SotP objective, then you become a very good and trustworthy candidate for receiving treaties because you have no other way of winning at that point, so your chances of winning with via a treaty goes up. This seems to be another underappreciated advantage of the SotP objective. (Of course this works only if you haven't given out all your treaties yet.)


I think this is probably the only way to play this objective in a group that understands the dynamics. It is so poor that you can convince everyone else that you are never going to complete your objective, so you are a trustworthy ally.

That is kind of a sucky objective.
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