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Twilight Struggle» Forums » General

Subject: The Card Manifest Question or: Being Up Front with noobs rss

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I lost an extremely long and well structured post, thanks Windows 10. Maybe a blessing in disguise for the TL;DR crowd, so I'll just get right to the point


1) Is it better to let new players / intermittent casual players / all players have a card manifest DURING PLAY that they can tick off cards*

2) Is that even legal? (tournament/organized or even in casual play)

The point being that even though *I* have enjoyed losing (and sometimes winning) in a variety of klutzy ways which would not have occurred if I/they had known that this or that card was left in the deck and/or had this specific effect, it seems to bother some people, and I don't think its a necessary specification that you should "be ok with it" to be able to enjoy the game (so no replies "this is not the game for them"). I know I often forget some of the key cards when returning to the game after a break of a few months, and I know many players who get put off by losing a long 3 or 4 hour learning game because of something they would at least have tried to prepare for had they known. Like losing a game of chess because you hadnt realised a pawn can be promoted to a queen, or youd forgotten it, to use a clunky example. You could learn by making the mistake but its harder to justify in a long 3 or 4 hour game when you might put a potential opponent off for life, plus, dont you want to get to the "good part" of actually playing each other, not fighting with the rules

This is NOT a criticism of the game, or complaint about how it works. I'll go on enjoying the game for years to come, don't worry about that. This is purely a discussion point for the general principle, is it worth cutting out the "I didnt know about that card" or "I forgot about that card" part of the learning curve to get straight to the "OK, I'm not going to let you do the fools mate on me, let me try and let you beat me without me giving it you on a duffer move"


* with sub options 1) a manifest of card titles 2) a manifest of card titles with summarized effect or at least warning icons for defcon suicide risk cards etc etc


I'll include my disclaimer that I LOVE Twilight Struggle, its one of the half dozen games I kept during the cull of 1100 (700+ base, 400+ expansions) games over the last year or two. I've won and lost with skill, luck and buffoonery for and against, and have no problem with the game, its awesome. Only the semi scripted "oh you're couping IRAN" start gambit is anything like a "slight irk".
 
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Paul Schorfheide
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I'm not sure about a total manifest but I typically ignore DEFCON suicide with new players. I'll explain what would have happened and how to avoid it but won't actually trigger it. If it happens early I'll offer to start a new game at that point.
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DominiGeek
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I´ve translated to Spanish a summary of "suggestions" on how to play every card in Twilight Struggle. I searched the twilightstrategy.com site and many post in BGG for this. I´ve used for newbies, if he´s going to make a critical misplay, I stop the game and give him the document to read the specific card information before moving on.
 
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I knew I'd explained myself badly

I really want to focus on the general discussion as to whether the gaming experience resulting in "blunders" is really needed, and if anyone has ever seen or tried playing with a card manifest, such that this aspect of the game, the memorizing of specific cards and counting the specific cards left in the deck at any point is reduced / removed.

I'm not looking for "answers" per se, more a philosophical debate about whether in some games, some part of the "learning curve" is actually unnecessary
 
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Paul Schorfheide
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I think I'm in the no manifest camp. My experience might be different (I only have 5-10 plays) since I have mostly played with inexperienced people as well. While it might be frustrating to lose to someone more experienced than me, I feel like a manifest would be more pressure to come up with the "right" play for everything instead of going with my gut. I would rather lose and build the intuition for myself than spend most of the game analyzing the manifest.
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Jay Sachs
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It's an interesting question. The rules explicitly permit the discard pile (and permanently removed cards) to be examined at any time. So a player who has memorized the entirety of the decks is at significant advantage. Certainly playing online/PBEM gives plenty of space and time to work from a manifest. FTF, if my opponent (of any level) requested to use a pre-printed manifest, I'd accept that, though I'd probably request similar materials for myself. Even though at this point I can recite the cards in order from memory. With effects. (It's unclear if that's bragging or confession.)
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I think a "manifest" or similar is fine for players that prefer to play that way.

I learnt to play TS through Vassal play-by-email games, which gave me the time I wanted to browse Twilight Strategy and figure out card effects between ARs/turns. I even still prefer asynchronous games to games played under a strict time pressure. That said, I imagine the experience of playing with a beginner, who I know I'm going to beat regardless of how long they study the card lists, would be made quite painfully slow if they spent time trying to figure out all the cards I might possibly hold and what they might do in addition to getting their head around their own cards.

I suppose that I don't really consider "learning the cards" as part of the learning curve of the game. It's a prerequisite to start learning the game!

Anything that brings new players up to speed faster is good... but playing more games, faster, is arguably just as good, if not better, than struggling through excruciatingly slow games with a bunch of player aids. In the end it all comes down to whatever the individual enjoys.
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I found it difficult after playing F2F for a while, then taking a break, then back on VASSAL/ACTS to realise that people of course were tracking cards then, so I started doing it, more out of a desire to try to play "better" but I am not sure I succeeded. I found it trickier coming back to the game F2F as I'd gotten used to seeing which cards were round the corner.

It was mostly the comment of someone who seemed kind of surprised that we didnt just play with the manifest open and I tried to tell him Id never seen anyone do that in live play and wasnt sure it would be considered legal, I'd prefer to play that way (I think), but sometimes when you mull things over in your head, you get to seeing other points of view and at least I could see his point. You're essentially doing away with the blunders caused by lack of deck knowledge (especially as you dont always see the later decks so often) and just getting to the real game (he said).

I don't really know if I would want to get bogged down with looking through that but on the other hand, meh, when its your opponents turn I could see you just ticking off what might be against you and trying to "up your game" as a result. Nah, I don't think I would want to play that way really, and probably when you play regularly enough and competently enough you know the deck well enough not to worry about that aspect anyway.

It was just a point of discussion anyway, not something that really affects my F2F games
 
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pschorf wrote:
I'm not sure about a total manifest but I typically ignore DEFCON suicide with new players. I'll explain what would have happened and how to avoid it but won't actually trigger it. If it happens early I'll offer to start a new game at that point.


and yeah, I've always assumed everyone points out the "oh no you cant play that card because this" with DEFCON and such, to this point I've never played with anyone where I wouldnt be happy for them to pick a card back up as they start to read out the consequences and realise they just nuked themselves. I guess in tournaments that wouldnt be allowed, but I dont see the point of enforcing a self suicide. Pedantically you could just imagine you "won" and then rebooted the game from that point to see what "would have" happened otherwise.
 
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I usually don't give a full manifest, but I warn new players about a few cards to keep from completely upsetting the apple cart:

1. You have to tell them where the Early War scoring cards occur. Otherwise they play right in North/South America and get decimated early.
2. Blockade can be game breaking for a first time US player if they haven't seen it.

I usually like to warn the Soviet player about Defectors as well (can be rather unpleasant), but you can roll with the rest.
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tallgrant wrote:
I usually don't give a full manifest, but I warn new players about a few cards to keep from completely upsetting the apple cart:

1. You have to tell them where the Early War scoring cards occur. Otherwise they play right in North/South America and get decimated early.
2. Blockade can be game breaking for a first time US player if they haven't seen it.

I usually like to warn the Soviet player about Defectors as well (can be rather unpleasant), but you can roll with the rest.


I'd add to that list Muslim Revolution and Warsaw Pact Formed. I've seen numerous new U.S. players fight for the Middle East, and lose all their work in the Mid-War to that card.

Also, if Warsaw Pact formed returns in the late war, it is just something to keep in mind if Europe is contested. Cards that completely wipe out influence are the general "be aware of" cards. Otherwise, everything else is manageable and fun to learn.
 
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CorpusJurist wrote:
tallgrant wrote:
I usually don't give a full manifest, but I warn new players about a few cards to keep from completely upsetting the apple cart:

1. You have to tell them where the Early War scoring cards occur. Otherwise they play right in North/South America and get decimated early.
2. Blockade can be game breaking for a first time US player if they haven't seen it.

I usually like to warn the Soviet player about Defectors as well (can be rather unpleasant), but you can roll with the rest.


I'd add to that list Muslim Revolution and Warsaw Pact Formed. I've seen numerous new U.S. players fight for the Middle East, and lose all their work in the Mid-War to that card.

Also, if Warsaw Pact formed returns in the late war, it is just something to keep in mind if Europe is contested. Cards that completely wipe out influence are the general "be aware of" cards. Otherwise, everything else is manageable and fun to learn.


But any line you draw is arbitrary. Consider the surprise of Truman, Nasser, Sadat ... and that's just the region-specific cards. Any event is potentially a surprise (e.g. not controlling neighbors of Thailand against Brush War). What's an "acceptable" surprise and what's not acceptable?
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That's actually more in line with what I meant as the main discussion point actually, noobs was an obvious example case but it applied also to players who know the game but haven't memorized the deck, or are coming back to the game - and even then extend to the general point which is

Do games like this require a memory aspect of a fixed deck
Is the game better with the aspect of some/most players not knowing all the deck

Or are you fundamentally only adding self imposed 'blunder time' to a whole series of games until you might reach a point where just the presence of a manifest would be of any use

To be clear I DONT use a manifest in F2F play and have enjoyed the game immensely but I find it difficult to argue rationally to people who FO think adding a deck memory aspect is just a way of distracting players from the 'real game'. Learning through experience is one thing but their contention is that even with deck info - e.g. As in online games for example - the game is still hard, still rewarding and can still be enjoyed 'from noob to expert level' but without the memory aspect ever being involved. Of course it's an easy knee jerk reaction to say 'learn the cards' and most expert players have internalized that but again as a purely external argument, I don't know , I have not been able to give a convincing argument against why there's a need to effectively 'learn all the rules' of a game that's still a challenge when you do ( he used chess as a very loose example of principle - chess is hard, it's not easy even knowing all the rules - it would not be improved if you had to learn / memorize all the rules by playing the game many hours first
 
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I still don't know what you are getting at.

Yes, you can design a game that doesn't require memorisation of a pile of cards. You can even do it for otherwise very complex card games (Mage Knight comes to mind - you only need to know 16 cards). However, the shared deck design of Twilight Struggle and the zero-sum nature of OPs and VPs make it a game that rewards comprehensive card knowledge. You can't take that aspect out of the game.

I have heard of people enjoying the game without knowing all the cards, and good for them. As I said before though, I consider the card knowledge to be a prerequisite to start learning the game. For anyone that lacks the necessary card knowledge *and* finds the game less fun without that knowledge, using a card list makes sense.
 
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Well the original argument was whether having the copy of the card manifest was legal (titles only, or even summary) and ticking them off during live play. I assumed it was not, and told an opponent this but had to admit I felt unsure if I'd just made that up on "gut feeling" or if that was a rule, since the card manifest is in the game box.

Later on it became a philosophical argument about whether this game (and similar games, in general) substitute a period of "blundering" (learning games) for getting to the ACTUAL game, and philosophically are you better off just adopting the stance that here is a list of all the stuff you would ideally want to memorise or be aware of, in order to get to decisions based on facts and not on "not knowing" or "forgetting" stuff

AGain, you sound defensive, this is NOT a criticism or a complaint, I was a bit flummoxed by the arguments presented to me, wasn't 100% convincing in my replies to him and later found the general concept to be interesting
 
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BoJack Horseman wrote:
Well the original argument was whether having the copy of the card manifest was legal (titles only, or even summary) and ticking them off during live play. I assumed it was not, and told an opponent this but had to admit I felt unsure if I'd just made that up on "gut feeling" or if that was a rule, since the card manifest is in the game box.

Later on it became a philosophical argument about whether this game (and similar games, in general) substitute a period of "blundering" (learning games) for getting to the ACTUAL game, and philosophically are you better off just adopting the stance that here is a list of all the stuff you would ideally want to memorise or be aware of, in order to get to decisions based on facts and not on "not knowing" or "forgetting" stuff

AGain, you sound defensive, this is NOT a criticism or a complaint, I was a bit flummoxed by the arguments presented to me, wasn't 100% convincing in my replies to him and later found the general concept to be interesting

Not defensive, just not interested in making all the roundabout assurances that some online dialogues seem to require these days.

So the original question is answered to your satisfaction? I mean, you yourself point out there is a card list player aid in the box. The only question there is how much a new player will really benefit from the list (I mean, to a really new player it is completely meaningless) and whether or not your opponent demands fast play. I think it's totally a matter of personal preference though, and although my preference is to have equal access to such aids I prefer to play for speed over perfection when playing face to face.

I don't know what you mean by "substitute" in the quoted text. Substitute for what?

On the more general subject:
Perhaps I over-stated the argument that card knowledge is a "prerequisite".
Even after I learnt the decks, I played my only 3 OP while knowing my opponent was holding Blockade because my reason for holding the 3 OP momentarily slipped my mind. That's also part of the game, and although I think that particular match would have been more interesting had I not made such a stupid blunder, it ensured I'll devote a little more processing power to making sure that doesn't happen again. That's how the game develops naturally, if you aren't playing slowly or asynchronously with a bunch of player aids. Every game has this kind of learning curve, whether it be encountering a fools mate in chess or whatever. TS has it more than most, because of the stack of shared cards, and it has the "surprise" upsets that can be off-putting to new players. However, no matter how much time a new player spends on checking card descriptions, they are still going to lose against an experienced player, because there's far more to it than simply knowing all the cards. Take France, for instance. A new US player might be surprised by De Gaulle. A player with card knowledge but little experience might resolve not to "waste" OPs in France until De Gaulle is dealt with. Both players are missing the experience needed to realise the very specific situational value of controlling France. I seem to have come back full circle to my original point... Whether or not you use player aids is entirely a matter of preference, both for you and your opponent. The learning curve is long and steep, and card lists won't really help you get there any faster, but if they increase the enjoyment (of both players) I'm all for them.

All games above a certain level of complexity have a trade-off between playing well and playing fast, and which to prioritise is always up to the individuals involved.
 
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I wasnt really looking for an answer, maybe thats where I explained badly, I just find it an interesting concept to discuss. I've played a lot of games (a few years back I had a real binge) and thoroughly enjoyed it despite many games/moments being decided driven by examples that would not have occurred if I'd had a ticklist of cards (as in online play). Personally I Went off the whole ACTS thing mainly because it felt like most opponents were (openly) accessing the list of cards left. Probably this is shortcutting to a higher level of play, quicker, isnt that the case? I found that it made it added a layer of "homework" mechanics that somewhat took me away from the atmosphere of the game.

In terms of "questions", I guess I am still unclear as to what the official rules / tournament rules are.

Can i sit with the card manifest in a tournament game and tick off cards as played (checking the discard pile also works). Is this legal?



The main reason for this is I myself had NEVER CONSIDERED the option that you could use the in game player aids which as I write the sentence sounds absolutely mental of course. But for some reason something about how the game works with a deck "learned through experience" and the way that I learned the game without the player aids just made me forget that this information even existed.


the rest of it was more just a philosophical question, and canvassing of opinions, and summary of how other people may or may not have approached it. It's not really a noob thing actually, that can be handled easily by obvious things like making them aware of key DEFCON cards and standout "high impact" cards etc.
 
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BoJack Horseman wrote:
Can i sit with the card manifest in a tournament game and tick off cards as played (checking the discard pile also works). Is this legal?

Depends on the tournament. Probably not, would be my guess.
Is it legal is a different question. The FAQ says you may check the discard pile at any time, and the player aid has a card list... so checking off a list gets you the same information as going through the discard pile in less time...
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BoJack Horseman wrote:
Personally I Went off the whole ACTS thing mainly because it felt like most opponents were (openly) accessing the list of cards left. Probably this is shortcutting to a higher level of play, quicker, isnt that the case? I found that it made it added a layer of "homework" mechanics that somewhat took me away from the atmosphere of the game.

Well yeah, asynchronous play defaults to a higher level of precision. If you don't enjoy that, you have to play in real time, and you have to play with an enforced time limit, or an agreement to play quickly without constant discard-checking. The whole point of playing asynchronously is to avoid time pressure, and there's no reason not to "check the discard" whenever you need to.
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Most online tournaments have time limits of an hour or so, which limits the feasibility of checking the status of cards too much. I would be happy for my opponent to occasionally refer to a card list and have done myself. The main objection to an opponent ticking each card off would indeed be that it would slow the game down a bit too much. And to be honest it probably won't really make up for a disparity in skill.
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When I'm teaching the game, I haven't had anyone go "gee, this is so boring, I figured out the rules already, but if only I had known what the cards did . . . "

Usually I start explaining each card that's important very briefly, and it's like "okay, never gonna remember all that, let's just start playing."

I think with no/little game experience, a manifest of cards isn't really going to help anyone.

But I talk to them about moves and potential cards and stuff too so . . . who knows.
 
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One suggestion related to the topic, for friendly F2F games.

As a card list will mostly be used before turns 3 and 7 to figure out the remaining cards, you may simplify the process. Just deal the remaining cards openly (of course, the newly reshuffled cards are still unknown). The information is anyway 100% known, it just saves lots of time and concentration for you and your opponent (especially on turn 7). From my point of view, you don't change anything in the game mechanics by doing that.
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BoJack Horseman wrote:
Well the original argument was whether having the copy of the card manifest was legal (titles only, or even summary) and ticking them off during live play. I assumed it was not, and told an opponent this but had to admit I felt unsure if I'd just made that up on "gut feeling" or if that was a rule, since the card manifest is in the game box.

I have no idea why you wouldn't be allowed to use the list that the game provides or even any other piece of paper as an aid.
 
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tallgrant wrote:
I usually don't give a full manifest, but I warn new players about a few cards to keep from completely upsetting the apple cart:

1. You have to tell them where the Early War scoring cards occur. Otherwise they play right in North/South America and get decimated early.
2. Blockade can be game breaking for a first time US player if they haven't seen it.

I usually like to warn the Soviet player about Defectors as well (can be rather unpleasant), but you can roll with the rest.


I go along these lines. A complete manifest would be overwhelming and unhelpful. What I do is warn them of a few specific cards at specific times, and notes about the scoring.

The first few games I play with a new player to the game, I'm not necesarilly trying to defeat them, I'm trying to give them a good experience with the game and let them feel what is thrilling about it so they'll hopefully want to play more. That's what I consider a 'win.'
 
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