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Subject: Telegraphing and feinting rss

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David Fisher
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This is just a "thinking out loud" post ...

In fencing and boxing, part of the skill is reading your opponents and predicting what they are about to do; and conversely, to telegraph (I think that's the right word) that you are about to do something you aren't -- also known as a feint.

Just wondering how this could be applied to a board game. I like the idea of actions that accumulate over several turns, so that an opponent can either see what you are doing and prepare a counter strategy, or decide it is a feint and ignore it (or prepare a counter strategy for what they think you are really doing).

I remember some kind of wizard duelling game where they make hand signals to cast spells that worked something like this, but I'm not really sure.

Even if it's been done before, I'm interested in designing a game that focuses on this kind of thing. Multiplayer rather than just a two player duel would be good. It sounds like some kind of RPS system would be appropriate too, with good and bad responses to a given action.

Some other thoughts ...

Multi-turn actions could be implemented by spending resources over several turns, either in a specific order (with a branching tree of possible outcomes), or in any order (like adding ingredients to a recipe). One way to think about it is that the player would always be at some node or other in a finite state machine. (Have they been used much in board games before? As in, printed on the board, with pieces on the nodes? Is that too boring looking for a board game?)

Instead of resources, maybe the actions could be to do with arranging pieces into a pattern; eg. a battle where the idea is to arrange your troops / space ships / whatever into a certain formation, then strike. Opponents can guess at where you are heading and prepare their own formations (to attack first, or be ready to defend then maybe counter attack). This might work OK with cards; you can save up cards that let you move quickly into the desired formation, or more slowly if you don't have the required cards.

Or in a different setting, you could be rerouting computer functions to perform different tasks (maybe a space battle again -- your main computer is down, so you have to do everything manually. Better be ready with that force field on time, or else you'll lose your forward sensors and your primary weapon).

I normally don't do games with direct conflict, but with this particular mechanic it seems unavoidable.

Edit:

One more thought ... in fencing, once you start on an action you are kind of committed; it's hard to change your plan mid-flight. A way to simulate this could be to put down cards 1 or 2 turns ahead of their affect (like planning your moves in RoboRally). Not sure how this would interact with everything else.

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Dallas Tucker
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I have found that wargames are good for this. Some examples:

I was the Allies in a game of The Game of France, 1940: German Blitzkrieg in the West. I placed my units so that most of my armor was a little north of the Ardennes, and spread out in defensive-looking positions, where I figured the main push would be. I played defensively until he came close, then I was able to concentrate all of my armor in just a couple of hexes and punch through his line.

In a game of Afrika Korps, I was again the Allies, and I retreated from Tobruch and strung my units out along the road and the mountains, with some units across the desert at the eastern opening of the mountains. My opponent decided to go through the desert, and then I moved into action. I had placed my units so that the faster units were in position to surround his army if he came that way. I then sprang the trap, and was 1 hex away from completely surrounding his army. He was forced to retreat, because he did not have enough supply for a standup fight with my units about to cut him off.

In a game like Napoleon's Triumph, feinting is the name of the game. Same with a game like Stratego.

While feints can be achieved in Euros, I think that wargames are designed for feinting.
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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In Race for the Galaxy you can feint during the build phases by putting a card upside down on the table and then picking it back up. I'm sure there are other feint with role selection but for the most part, in engine-building games, taking away from your engine in order to feint is usually just an opportunity for your opponent to not feint and run away with the game.

In Chicago Express you can feint by putting a company up for auction you don't really want, causing others to fight over it and sitting back...

In Genoa, you can sometimes feint that you want a certain building for a certain reason, and then end up turning in a message and an order while only paying for one of them.

In Master of Economy, you can build and also sell factories for practically the same price. So you can build up 3 factories and make it look like you're going the factory route, and then next turn, sell them out and pay yourself dividends.

So, being able to undo your actions for low cost is a must, and also, in this particular example, a certain amount of money is needed to pay dividends, and if you were not going to hit that level, it would still be perfectly acceptable to NOT sell the factories and continue with a 'good' company.

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Andrew
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Yomi is all about bluffing and feinting. The core is RPS, except each move has an additional effect, each character has strategic strengths and weaknesses, and there's tactical information leaking during play that influences what each side wishes to do.
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Sam Mercer
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Nice thread David. GG for you for making a cool post with nice ideas and links.

I would say that some games can have this kind of thing come up. For me a recent example is something like Battle Line in which you try not to declare what type of trick you will play against a flag (eg: once you habe placed Two 5's, the opnent knows you are going for a three-of-akind, same applies for a suited run as well) and an even more recent example, I played A Few Acres of Snow over the weekend for the first time, and (although it wasnt used) there is a "reserves" area in which you can stash units for later in the game (to hpoefully launch one big attack on an enemey controled point) BUt while they are in this "reserve" area, the opponent knows that they will be coming, and more over his special card "indians" can actually destroy cards specifically in this stash.

The sword fighting equivalent, will be starting your lunge and the enemey reacting quickly to it, enough to parry your main attack (destroying your reserves) and weakening you after.

I would be really happy to play a game that really heavily uses this kind of mechanic as opposed to involving it in a slight manner.

I think any game (nearly) that is "Big enough" will have a small element of this. Any game that has an element of exploration to it, people know that you have commited to "exploring in a certain dicrection" and can react to you, as is the case in wargames: "I can see you have moved all of your tanks to the North - planning a big assault eh?" - but this does not constitue the main part of the game. I would be happy to help you out / collaborate / see a game be made that really involves this kind of thing.

And yes, totally it would need to be a vs. game - it would be much easier to make it a symetric vs. game as well.

What theme?
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Karl von Laudermann
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In Hansa Teutonica, it costs one action to place a single piece on the board, but it also costs one action to move multiple pieces that are already on the board. So if I don't have enough actions left on my turn to complete the route that I want, I will put those pieces on a different route, and move those pieces to the route I actually want on my next turn. This is to avoid the situation where I start the route that I want and then an opponent blocks it.
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Mike Cooper
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How about a set of commands that you commit strength cards to. You can put higher value cards in a smaller stack and commit a lot of cards to a tactic you're not going to use. Your opponent can use an action to look at one or more cards of a stack at the risk of not fortifying their own position.
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Pete Belli
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Try Wings of War: Famous Aces with two evenly matched planes in a dogfight.
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Jason
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Action selection where multiple actions have the same cost would allow for this.

In a game that involves building things, for example, there could be three things that could be built for $1 each, another three for $2 each, and another three for $3 each. Each player would declare how much they are spending to build that turn, but what they are building is not known until all players have decided how much to spend. Or perhaps cost for building is done at the end of a turn and building is completed on the next turn. Obviously, player turn order could not be fixed because the last person to declare would have an information advantage.
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J C Lawrence
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Waving Hands
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Zoneplex zoneplex

There´s some bluffing because you place spirit stones in order to get some extra point to fight fears but in fact you can cheat with them.


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chris lake
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Nuclear War has a semi feint mechanism whereby you play a missile, but it might be without a warhead.
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Ben Pinchback
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Engage has lots of this. You attack somewhere you really don't care about to get your opponent to burn up battle resource. Now your opponent has less resource to defend the positions you actually want to take over. It's a cool system.
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Brook Gentlestream
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It sounds to me like somebody here needs to play Citadels.
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Feints won't work in perfect information games like Chicago Express, you need some kind of hidden information.

Simultaneous action selection games work well. e.g.
Hoity Toity
Race for the Galaxy
Citadels
(?) yeah, I know it's not simultaneous.
in RFTG I'll sometimes lay a discount/rebate card as a feint to deter the opponent from calling a phase I would struggle to follow.

See also:
Scotland Yard (hidden movement)
Ticket to Ride has this a bit - at least you want to avoid telegraphing your moves.

Starcraft the board game
has some bluffing. I remember one game where I sent a Scourge (cheap suicide unit) against my opponents Battlecruiser (most expensive unit in the game). My potential attack cards I could be holding were values 9/8/8. My opponent guessed that I didn't have the 9, so played a card that would shoot down an 8 (but not a 9). Of course I had the 9 and played it, so he lost both the unit and a wasted a good card (Battlecruiser cards are valuable).
It would be possible to launch an attack holding nothing in order to waste your opponents cards. It wouldn't always be worth it, but I can imagine situations where it would.

Poker needs mentioning.
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Eric Brosius
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Another game that comes to mind is Empire of the Sun.

There are a lot of very specific cards. For example, there is a card in the deck whose event requires the use of the New Zealand unit. But your opponent doesn't know whether you have that card. Early in a turn, you move the New Zealand unit. Are you setting up to use that car? Or are you just feinting? There are many of these situations, so that you might be feinting some things and telegraphing others for real, but it's hard for your opponent to separate the wheat from the chaff.
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David Fisher
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clearclaw wrote:

Ah, that's the one. I like the idea of having two simultaneous states (each hand), and that one sequence can overlap with the next one.
 
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David Fisher
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Cogentesque wrote:
I would be really happy to play a game that really heavily uses this kind of mechanic as opposed to involving it in a slight manner.

Duelling/fighting games like Yomi and Waving Hands definitely focus on it. I'm still wondering how much it could be used in a non-combat game.

Cogentesque wrote:
I would be happy to help you out / collaborate / see a game be made that really involves this kind of thing.

Thanks!

Cogentesque wrote:
What theme?

That is the question.

o Fencing, boxing, wrestling ...
o Basketball, football ...
o Space battle (ship vs ship).
o Abstracted war game - making formations.
o Variation on a space battle: your main computer is down, and you need to manually reroute functions to activate weapons, shields, thrusters, etc.
o Stock market - limited information + influence on what is about to happen
o Intelligent viruses vying for control over a body (fighting the immune system & competing with each other)
o "Misdirection" could be an interesting name for a spy game. Laying false trails among true ones? Not sure how it would really work though.

I'm sure there are lots more.

Another idea about mechanics: assuming a game with cards, I kind of like the idea of a powerful card (that perhaps you pay for - though your opponent doesn't know what it is until it is played) that you hold in reserve until just the right moment. As opposed to burning through cards constantly. (Perhaps the card permanently gives you an ability, but maybe at the cost of making other actions more difficult or costly).
 
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Isaac Shalev
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paulclarke339 wrote:
Feints won't work in perfect information games like Chicago Express, you need some kind of hidden information.




I disagree. Chess and Go are perfect info games with feinting. What makes a feint work is the low cost of a making a threat versus the comparatively higher cost of defending it.
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Eric Brosius
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paulclarke339 wrote:
Feints won't work in perfect information games like Chicago Express, you need some kind of hidden information.


This may sound odd, but a game is not effectively a perfect information game if the players are imperfect. Although the board position may be evident to both players, you still don't know whether your opponent will see the optimal move.

I won a game of Chess once back in junior high, even though I had a lost position (my opponent could force mate in 2 or 3 moves) by acting completely unconcerned and attacking elsewhere on the board. I was playing as if my opponent didn't see the winning sequence, and it worked. If I had looked unhappy, perhaps he would have looked harder for a win.
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Sean Westberg
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No love for Twilight Struggle?

The whole game is full of bluffs and feints. Do you open with disadvantaged cards, making your opponent think that you have a crappy hand? Do you feint into Africa as the US, not intending to seriously fight there but wanting the USSR to spend precious resources shoring up their tenuous grip?

Even if your opponent knows your hand of cards, you can still bluff and feint by using them for ops, events, or space race.

Another excellent feinting game is the old school Civilization. The trading section was crazy for player screwage. Go look those rules up and you can see just how painful misreading a telegraph can be.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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davidf wrote:
...

In fencing and boxing, part of the skill is reading your opponents and predicting what they are about to do...
...
I like the idea of actions that accumulate over several turns, so that an opponent can either see what you are doing and prepare a counter strategy, or decide it is a feint and ignore it
...
Multiplayer rather than just a two player duel would be good. It sounds like some kind of RPS system would be appropriate too, with good and bad responses to a given action.
...
One more thought ... in fencing, once you start on an action you are kind of committed; it's hard to change your plan mid-flight. A way to simulate this could be to put down cards 1 or 2 turns ahead of their affect (like planning your moves in RoboRally). Not sure how this would interact with everything else.


It's interesting that you're working on this, as I had a somewhat similar (but much simpler) concept in mind. You can follow my progress in:
(PnP) Strike, Feint, Riposte! v1.0 (5-way RPS with a twist)


If you open up the GoogleDocs PDF, you'll find that I have a set of drafting rules as a variant for the game. The use of some form of drafting rules was my way of allowing the players to do two things: (1) select their own strategy, and (2) influence their opponent's strategy. In a round-about way, it may also lead to (3) "telegraphing" a false sense of what your strategy is. Unfortunately, the game I'm working on is strictly one-or-two player.


Also, you may want to look at A Game of Thrones: The Card Game ... I find that it makes great use of "feints", since you can lure your opponent into committing his resources to defend against one attack, but that would leave him open to a different kind of attack. This game works extremely well in multiplayer.

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Eric Brosius wrote:
paulclarke339 wrote:
Feints won't work in perfect information games like Chicago Express, you need some kind of hidden information.


This may sound odd, but a game is not effectively a perfect information game if the players are imperfect. Although the board position may be evident to both players, you still don't know whether your opponent will see the optimal move.

I won a game of Chess once back in junior high, even though I had a lost position (my opponent could force mate in 2 or 3 moves) by acting completely unconcerned and attacking elsewhere on the board. I was playing as if my opponent didn't see the winning sequence, and it worked. If I had looked unhappy, perhaps he would have looked harder for a win.


Fascinating!
 
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Daniel Rocchi
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I can't tell you how many times in Princes of Florence I've opened the bidding on some item I didn't realy want, in the hopes of getting other players to bid on it, leaving the item I really wanted wide open.

I can't tell you how many times I have bid on that unwanted item, just to get my opponents to spend all their money.

I also can't tell you how many times I have been stuck with that unwanted item, because I failed to read my opponent and misjudged their limit on that useless peice I was now stuck with.
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S. Turner
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Scotland Yard is all about Mr. X trying to lead the detectives the wrong way. It may also have some mechanics worth thinking about for your game. Specifically, how the manner of movement is known each turn, but the location is only known at certain points in the game. For other games, you may consider a (quantum ) mechanic where you know the type of action but not the object being acted upon or the object being acted upon, but not the type of action.

Another poster mentioned a decision tree. This might be a good way to map out the game and plan out so that you have enough meaningful feints.
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