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Subject: (Yet another) Secrecy during skill check (topic) rss

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Aurélien Defossez
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We're having a crisis at this instant, a real crisis, not a BSG crisis.

For quite some times, we've been playing with this secrecy rule:
When a skill check is shown, before player play their cards, they can say how many cards they can put into the test, with the polar value of these cards (low (1 / 2) or high (3+)). It looks like this:
- I can play 1 High and 2 Lows
- I can play 1 High
- I can play 3 Lows
- I cannot play
- I can play 1 Low

Then, we study the skill check, the objective, the potential destiny card values, the potential cylon liars and decide which cards each player should play. For instance, player 1 might just play his High card and not his lows, because it would overkill the test.

The problem with that is that it has become a mathematical and probabilistic problem.
For the next computations, I assume to play with all cards from Pegasus and Exodus expansions.
A low card is 1 or 2. The average value is around 4/3 (so 3 low cards = 4 points on average)
A high card is 3 to 6. The average value is around 4.
Based on that, we can easily determine the needed cards.
For instance, if we have a test with an objective of 12, no cylons to be seen (let's say an early game without any cylon detected yet) and half the colours positive (so the destiny deck is "neutral"), the players can then decide they need 3 high and 4 lows (3 x 4 + 4/3 x 4) to get to the objective, with security margin of 4.

The main problem is that the checks are now really efficient, we rarely overflow them, except if the destiny is 100% good with us, and we rarely fail the checks anymore.
Also, we detect Cylons easily even with an unreadable destiny deck (a small variant from BGG).

So we were wondering if the secrecy rule was supposed to be played like this. We all know these secrecy rules are really too vague, even the FAQ is too vague about this point.

We're starting to think we should not state the number of highs and lows *before* the skill check, but only when you put the actual cards on the table. And before the skill check, you can only say 4 things:
- [No] I won't participate
- [Low] I will help a bit
- [Medium] I will help
- [High] I will help a lot

How should we play and what is the right secrecy policy to play with?
 
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Mark L
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I think asking for contributions before the skill check is all right, but you should only allow high/low/medium (if more than 1 card) when playing into the check, i.e. (1 high and 2 lows) is not allowed. This seems to tally with most of the PBF secrecy customs.

Of course, if the check is Investigated, then more leeway can be given due to the additional information.
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Kārlis Jēriņš
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I'm pretty sure that you are only allowed to say low, medium or high referring to the total strength of all cards you put in the check. At least that's how I've always played.
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Mooseulie Ferenczy
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If you are able to talk with such precision that you can reliably pass skill checks while there are still liars among you, I would tend to say you are passing along too much information. I would probably advise barring people from stating the relative value of individual cards, so they can say the number of cards they plan to play in and the combined vague value, but can't talk about the individual cards. So you can say 3 cards high, but can't say if all 3 cards are high or if 1 of the three is low.
Also, Exodus and Daybreak somewhat mitigate this problem with the 0 value cards because their values are variable depending on what others play. But then you also have the other problem of people adding descriptors to their play (I'm playing 2 cards high and some insurance (for Iron Will)).
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Tim West
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I agree with the other responses: we've always played that you can refer only to the general strength of the total number of cards you're putting in ("I can help a lot/I can help/I can only help a little"). We also don't say ahead of time how many cards we'll be putting in (i.e. the person playing in will say "I'm adding two cards" but subsequent players can't say beforehand, "I have three cards to add". We do allow people to say "I only have two cards in my hand", however).

I think saying "I can play one low and two highs", where "low" means 1 or 2 and "high" means 3-6 is essentially just stating your card totals - it's a code for the actual values, more or less, and therefore breaks the secrecy rules.
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Yeah, enumerating your whole potential contribution card by card goes against the secrecy guidelines.

We say "I can help a little" or "I can help a lot", or "I may be able to help", and not how many cards we're planning to play into the check. We're playing with all expansions. With the base game listing all potential contributions you're giving away much too much information and slowing down the game in the process.

And of course we may say "I don't think we're going to pass this, and the fail effect is not that bad, so let's just tank this and save our cards."
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Robert Stewart
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I'd allow "I can play 3 cards for a medium contribution" but not "I can play 1 high and 2 lows".

I don't have a problem with humans passing skill checks with precision, but I do have a problem with being able to figure out who the saboteur was based on people's claimed contributions...
 
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Aurélien Defossez
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Thanks you for all your answers. We clearly were playing with wrong secrecy rules and someone will be punished for that (wait... I think it's me!).

I have another question then. Regarding this FAQ fragment, it is said that "Players may also say such statements as 'I am playing five low cards to this skill check'".

When does this apply then? Are we allowed to deliver this information when we put our cards face down on the skill check? If it's the case, I think the problem is equivalent with what I stated above.
 
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Carl Bussema
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I would not allow the number of cards as part of the pre-skill-check discussion. Vague discussions like "I have 5 cards in hand, but most of them don't help this check" are borderline, and with the way your group seems to play, I'd disallow even that.

"I can't help"
"I can help a little"
"I can help some"
"I can help a lot"
"I can do it by myself"
"I don't think we should do it"
"I won't help"

Those are all safe statements, and I'd allow them.

I would also probably allow:
"I can help if someone can make [blue/treachery] positive" (or "I can't help unless...")

But not:
"I can help a little. I could help a lot if..." since that's starting to tell too much about your hand.
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Tim West
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Didjor wrote:
I have another question then. Regarding this FAQ fragment, it is said that "Players may also say such statements as 'I am playing five low cards to this skill check'".


Despite it being in the FAQ, I wouldn't allow that - "I'm playing five cards and my total contribution is low" is ok but "I'm playing five low cards" is not, because the equivalency low card = strength 1/2 is too much information.
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Robert Stewart
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TimEatsApples wrote:
Didjor wrote:
I have another question then. Regarding this FAQ fragment, it is said that "Players may also say such statements as 'I am playing five low cards to this skill check'".


Despite it being in the FAQ, I wouldn't allow that - "I'm playing five cards and my total contribution is low" is ok but "I'm playing five low cards is not", because the equivalency low card = strength 1/2 is too much information.


It depends whether it's read as equivalent to "I'm playing 5 cards, which are individually low" or "I'm playing 5 cards, which are collectively low".

***

It may be worth pointing out that the oFAQ is explicit about the secrecy rules being a matter for group consensus, with the FAQ's suggestions being just that - a suggestion...
 
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Michael Aldridge
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You can say "five low"... you can say "five high"... you can even say "five medium". But you cannot enumerate your cards by saying, "two high, two medium, and one low". There's a reason why you can say only "high" or "low" with one card, and "high", "low", or "medium" with multiple cards: it keeps the values unknown.

EDIT: Of course, you can play it however your group wants to play it... but, as you have seen, you might as well throw secrecy out the window if you allow indications of specific cards.
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Aurélien Defossez
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Ok, so basically I prefer to ignore this part of the FAQ. It was the part that spawned this whole idea of High/Low cards. Before, we played with the original rules (saying what you can add to a skillcheck) but in a really laxist way (It was not only low, med and high, but more steps).

Now it's gonna be stricter.

To sum up, when discutting about resolving a crisis, one can just say:
"I can't/won't help"
"I can help a little"
"I can help some" (only if he intends to play at least 2 cards?)
"I can help a lot"
"I can do it by myself"
"I don't think we should do it"

And we cannot ask if someone has a specific card to play (e.g. Investigative Committee). If a player has such a card, he should play it by itself.

Quote:
I would also probably allow:
"I can help if someone can make [blue/treachery] positive" (or "I can't help unless...")

But not:
"I can help a little. I could help a lot if..." since that's starting to tell too much about your hand.

I'm not gonna do this, it's too blurry, I prefer to either allow conditions or forbid them. The difference between your two sentences is too short.

One last thing, in your groups, is the low / mid / high well defined by numbers (e.g. 1-3, 4-6, 7+)?
Another relative question. If I want to play a 5 card. With the above number, it would be a medium card, but because I play only one card, I can only say high or low, so I say High, even if High is higher than 5.
Why isn't is allowed to say "medium" when we play only one card?
 
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Pieter
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Didjor wrote:
To sum up, when discussing about resolving a crisis, one can just say:
"I can't/won't help"
"I can help a little"
"I can help some" (only if he intends to play at least 2 cards?)
"I can help a lot"
"I can do it by myself"
"I don't think we should do it"

I think this is OK, but you should be strict about formulations. Allowing people to say "a little", "some", or "a lot" instead of simply "low", "medium", or "high" may lead to people saying "very little", "quite a lot", "a whole lot", etc. I know groups where the secrecy rules have translated to "very little" = 1, "little" = 2, etc. At that point, the secrecy rules could just be scrapped.

Didjor wrote:
And we cannot ask if someone has a specific card to play (e.g. Investigative Committee). If a player has such a card, he should play it by itself.

Actually, the rules allow asking someone if he holds a certain type of card, but you cannot ask for a list. We usually translate this as that you can ask someone if he holds a certain card if you would like him to play it.

Didjor wrote:
One last thing, in your groups, is the low / mid / high well defined by numbers (e.g. 1-3, 4-6, 7+)?

There is no value 7. In general, what I have found is that most groups use the following: if the average of the cards is 2 or less, you call them low, if it is 3 or higher, you call them high, and otherwise you call them medium. But I try to avoid discussing this, so that you never know exactly what someone would consider low/medium/high. That makes it more interesting.

And actually, while I myself use these ranges as general guidelines, I often diverge from them if I want to achieve a certain effect; for instance, if there is a check that I really want us to pass, I might claim that I contributed medium while my contribution was a 3 and a 4, which I would normally call high. Just to avoid other players underplaying thinking that their contribution is not really needed.

Didjor wrote:
Why isn't is allowed to say "medium" when we play only one card?

Because it makes it too specific. This low/medium/high stuff was determined for the base game. The base game has only values 1 to 5. That means that with 1 card, low would be 1-2, medium would be 3, and high would be 4-5. Since there are only 4 cards of value 3, and 3 cards of value 4-5 in each color, allowing medium for 1-card contributions would make it too easy to determine who played (or at least claimed to play) the value-3 cards, and consequently who played the value 4-5 cards.

Moreover, the actual secrecy rule is that you can only state polar opposites. It is not as if "medium" is disallowed for 1-card contributions -- it is actually an extra bit of leeway allowed for multi-card contributions. If you think there shouldn't be any difference in handling single and multi-card contributions, then I would disallow the use of "medium" altogether.
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Robert Stewart
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I've come across two different ways of evaluating "low", "medium" and "high":

A) average value of the cards played
B) value played relative to a notional share of the check

For example, with an 8-difficulty check, playing in 5 cards for 10 points (with Declare Emergency in hand) would be described as "low" by the first scheme, but "high" by the second...

I consider it a good thing when there isn't an agreement on the exact meanings of "low", "medium" and "high" - some confusion will slow the humans down a little and give the Cylons more of a chance...
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Miroslaw Terlecki
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If we play one card, we say only 'low' or 'high' and it`s related to card value. When we play more than one card, we say 'low', 'medium', 'high' 'help' and it`s related to check difficulty. 'Can't help', 'i`ll do it myself', are also allowed.
 
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Aurélien Defossez
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
There is no value 7. In general, what I have found is that most groups use the following: if the average of the cards is 2 or less, you call them low, if it is 3 or higher, you call them high, and otherwise you call them medium. But I try to avoid discussing this, so that you never know exactly what someone would consider low/medium/high. That makes it more interesting.

I thought when you participate to a skill check and say "low", it's for the total sum you're bringing in the check. In this case, 7+ is possible.

Quote:
B) value played relative to a notional share of the check

That's more what I had in mind, you say low/med/high relative to the skill check objective.

Quote:
I consider it a good thing when there isn't an agreement on the exact meanings of "low", "medium" and "high" - some confusion will slow the humans down a little and give the Cylons more of a chance...

Agreed.

Thanks to all of you for helping me improve the secrecy rules in my group!
 
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Robert
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
In general, what I have found is that most groups use the following: if the average of the cards is 2 or less, you call them low, if it is 3 or higher, you call them high, and otherwise you call them medium. But I try to avoid discussing this, so that you never know exactly what someone would consider low/medium/high. That makes it more interesting.

I'd like to point out, that "2 or less" for "low" and "3 or more" for "high" leaves no uncertainty about the amount of a medium contribution with only two cards. Therefore I'd suggest to call a contribution "medium" if the average value ranges from 2 to 3, "low" if it is lower than 2 and "high" if it's higher than 3.

And I think not to discuss this in order to generate more confusion is unnecessary when you play with the 0-strength skill cards from Exodus and Daybreak, because they add a nice element of uncertainty and personal evaluation to skill check contributions.
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Mark L
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When playing multiple cards into a skill check, every player's definition of "low", "medium", and "high" differs. Some players call it strictly based on their contribution, some tweak it depending on the contribution relative to the number of cards, some factor in the difficulty of the check.

This is a GOOD thing. And under no circumstances should you ask someone what they mean by "low", "medium" and "high" - and god forbid you have all players with the same metric.
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Carl Bussema
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One other point.

We allow "in favor of escaping the brig" or the like in the case of a skill check where it might be ambiguous which side you're playing for.

"3 high in favor of keeping that frakking toaster behind bars"

vs just
(known cylon attempts to escape the brig)
(you play, and say) "3 high"
(other human) "What do you mean, 3 high? Are you on his team? You're next!"
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Steye
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In our group we keep it simple:

You can say:

- Add nothing
- Add a little (0,1,2)
- Add a lot (4,5 or more)

If you want to play a 3 strength skill card, you choose "a little" or "a lot".

When actually playing the cards, we mention how many cards we play.

Nothing more. And it works.
 
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We play with
low = 1-3,
high = 4-6, and say how many of each.
We do also say "I can't play any high or low cards, but I can help otherwise" (referring to skill checks and cards that are played afterwards). I haven't felt we are too or not enough precise with that.

Of course you can't be too open, but I don't see the point in being too vague either, tbh, as it would make every check a potential card waster and the game rather frustrating. With cylons, I think it gets interesting enough as it is.
 
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Aurélien Defossez
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After the answers on this topic, we played the last dozen games with this rule :

Players can say:
- I don't play
- I play low
- I play mid (only if the player adds 2 cards)
- I play high
- I can do it myself

It's really better for the cylons to play cards. It's still tough for them, as we've high level players in the team that thoroughly inspect the checks results and can determine a lot of stuff.

Also, we never agreed on a value for low/mid/high. Each player sees it differently.
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Pasi Ojala
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It is not good to agree on a strict number anyway. When I'm thinking a cylon will be sabotaging a check, I will say "a little" when playing big...
 
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Curtis Kopciuch
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I believe mid is actually not allowed. I'm pretty sure it says in the rules saying "medium" goes against the secrecy rules.

Only polar opposites.

can/can't
lots/little

And giving a value to what each means is also not cool. let each person decide in their head what low or high means. Thats the point, you aren't suppose to know.

if you give a value to what low means on top of knowing how many cards that player tosses in...

In fact the way I read the rules you can give a high/low on each card. And then some groups are giving values to what high/med/low means? No wonder people think this game takes too long. It sounds like some groups have some crazy formulas for what High and low means.

We don't even make how many cards people play public unless someone asks.

We keep it simple. go around the table, can you help? yes/no. And you can say lots/little. Then go around the table and toss in your cards. Done.

Who cares how much people put in. Whats really crazy at our table is when more then 2 bad cards are in the check. Then we know...whistle

Don't waste your time on this. All you care about is who put in the bad cards. Not who put in a 1 or who put in the 6 that actually helps. It all helps. What I want to know is who the prick is that put in the 3rd card that goes against the check. devil
 
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