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Subject: 'Throwing' a battle / accepting a bribe in combat rss

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Nick Storm
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I'm seeing a lot of this lately - in the online games here. Is this widespread ? Something new ?

Accepting spice for throwing a battle /arriving at a consolation or whatever you want to call it drastically changes the game IMO.

I guess it could be argued that backstabbing, coercion and all manner or Byzantine politics is thematically possible in the Dune milieu...geez..I dunno though.

I'm not in favor of it, as I see it becoming too commonplace where almost every battle is 'litigated' for possibilities. Bogs the game time down to, I would imagine.

Thoughts ?
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Brad Johnson
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I'm not totally sure I understand all of your questions, but yes, negotiated battles are very, very, very common in all the groups I've ever played with. Particularly useful in circumstances such as:

1) I move into a stronghold you control with 1 token to block it in order to prevent the dominant faction(s) from attacking it. Perhaps I negotiate a fee from you for keeping your stronghold safe in exchange for throwing the battle to you.

2) I "attack" you in a space in order to dump 1 or more worthless cards. I know I'm definitely losing this battle, so perhaps I negotiate paying you a fee of some type for you to be kind enough to let me throw the battle to you without you killing my leader.

3) You attack me, and I know I'm going to lose. I can either go down swinging and take as much of your resources with me as I can (frequently a valid choice), or perhaps I think we may have an alliance in our future, and I convince you to let me throw the battle to you "peacefully" with minimal losses on either side.

I'm sure you can think of lots of other reasons.

In our groups, we've developed what we call the "Standard Deal", as in "I'll offer you the Standard Deal", which means I throw the battle to you, dialing 0, playing my lowest leader, and you dial 0 and play a higher leader, with neither of us playing offensive cards nor calling traitors.

Ok, I will admit that there are lots of times I wish that people would just fight it out and accept the consequences (usually when I'm a 3rd party, of course), but really, if you have a diplomatic avenue open to you that gets you the result you want with less uncertainty and variance, why would you risk a battle you don't need to fight?

People who don't realize that Dune is first and foremost a game of negotiation will not play it well.
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Shawn Garbett
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A thrown battle is a path to victory that I've employed in several Dune games, especially as the Bene Gesserit. This is quite consistent with the theme of the novels, I don't see an issue.
 
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tempus42 wrote:
In our groups, we've developed what we call the "Standard Deal", as in "I'll offer you the Standard Deal", which means I throw the battle to you, dialing 0, playing my lowest leader, and you dial 0 and play a higher leader, with neither of us playing offensive cards nor calling traitors.
That works till someone breaks the Standard Deal...
 
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CyberGarp wrote:
tempus42 wrote:
In our groups, we've developed what we call the "Standard Deal", as in "I'll offer you the Standard Deal", which means I throw the battle to you, dialing 0, playing my lowest leader, and you dial 0 and play a higher leader, with neither of us playing offensive cards nor calling traitors.
That works till someone breaks the Standard Deal...
Not a concern if it's stated publicly. Public deals are binding.
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Nick Storm
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CyberGarp wrote:
A thrown battle is a path to victory that I've employed in several Dune games, especially as the Bene Gesserit. This is quite consistent with the theme of the novels, I don't see an issue.
Thrown battles are consistent in the novels ?? Not the ones by Herbert that I've read. His son's 'contribution' maybe ? Please cite where there are 'thrown' battles in the literature.

Subterfuge, deceit and treachery -yes ? Not at all the same as literally giving up a battle.
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Nick Storm
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tempus42 wrote:
I'm not totally sure I understand all of your questions, but yes, negotiated battles are very, very, very common in all the groups I've ever played with. Particularly useful in circumstances such as:

1) I move into a stronghold you control with 1 token to block it in order to prevent the dominant faction(s) from attacking it. Perhaps I negotiate a fee from you for keeping your stronghold safe in exchange for throwing the battle to you.

2) I "attack" you in a space in order to dump 1 or more worthless cards. I know I'm definitely losing this battle, so perhaps I negotiate paying you a fee of some type for you to be kind enough to let me throw the battle to you without you killing my leader.

3) You attack me, and I know I'm going to lose. I can either go down swinging and take as much of your resources with me as I can (frequently a valid choice), or perhaps I think we may have an alliance in our future, and I convince you to let me throw the battle to you "peacefully" with minimal losses on either side.

I'm sure you can think of lots of other reasons.

In our groups, we've developed what we call the "Standard Deal", as in "I'll offer you the Standard Deal", which means I throw the battle to you, dialing 0, playing my lowest leader, and you dial 0 and play a higher leader, with neither of us playing offensive cards nor calling traitors.

Ok, I will admit that there are lots of times I wish that people would just fight it out and accept the consequences (usually when I'm a 3rd party, of course), but really, if you have a diplomatic avenue open to you that gets you the result you want with less uncertainty and variance, why would you risk a battle you don't need to fight?

People who don't realize that Dune is first and foremost a game of negotiation will not play it well.
Interesting. I like the examples provided. What percentage of battles are 'negotiated' in your games - no need for an exact number, just off the cuff.

Dune is indeed one of THE most political of games, but just like anything in (human) politics...everything just takes so freakin' long. One of the biggest and most frequent complaints that i hear about the game is it just takes too damn long to play, and I agree.
 
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It's very hard to estimate what percent of battles are negotiated vs. fought for real -- I've just never kept track of such things. It's extremely variable, depending on the personalities at the table, the stage of the game, and other factors.

But I guess I would estimate something around 40-50% of the results of all battles that occur in a typical tournament game might end up being fully or partially negotiated.

REAL battles tend to be saved for a) trying to go for the win, or b) trying to prevent someone else from winning. So real battles cluster more in the later stages of the game, and negotiated battles probably tend to occur more in the early- to mid- part of the game.

I do agree that the way I see Dune being played (at least at the WBC tournament), it has become very, very negotiation heavy, which can lead to very long games. Still, the average game in my records is over in about 4.25 hours (7-8 game turns on average.) That's pretty long, but nothing compared to the handful of 10+ hour games I've recorded.

Surprisingly, I don't get many complaints about the length of the games, unless you count the ones where people don't want a game to be adjudicated due to time -- they want to keep playing!

My observation is: For real Dune fanatics I know, negotiation is not seen as an unnecessary time-waster in the game; it *IS* the game.
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ppayes wrote:

Thrown battles are consistent in the novels ?? Not the ones by Herbert that I've read. His son's 'contribution' maybe ? Please cite where there are 'thrown' battles in the literature.
I vaguely recall a scene from the first book where the Fremen were demanding that Paul kill Stilgar so that he could become their leader and lead them in battle against the Harkonnen. Stilgar was prepared to lay down his life without a fight, IIRC, for the greater good.

Fortunately for him, Paul flat out refused to do battle - an option the game mechanics sadly do not allow for in the board game.

Baron Harkonnen also had this whole elaborate plan for reclaiming Dune which hinged on sacrificing Beast Rabban to make Feyd-Rautha look like a saviour. Sounds like he was throwing a battle against himself, to me. (Or perhaps against Sardaukar forces disguised in Harkonnen livery.)

Then there was the business about Paul getting blinded by the stone burner in Messiah. Again, memories are vague, but as I recall Paul foresaw the stone burner trap and chose to be blinded by it, and subsequently go out into the desert, as part of his Golden Path plan.

There are probably other examples to be found by people who know the books better than I.


Setting aside petty disputes about the literature, one of my favourite aspects of Dune the Board Game is the unprecedented level of control it gives the players to do whatever they want. I mean, can you honestly tell me that you have a problem with throwing fights but you DON'T have a problem with Truthtrance?! That card is ridiculously broken in so many ways, but the freedom it gives players to mess with each other is exactly what I love about this game. People want to buy their way out of fights, or charge a fee to pull some sly move by sacrificing a dude or two? I'm totally cool with that. It's exactly the sort of chicanery I expect from this game if it's being played right.
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ppayes wrote:
Dune is indeed one of THE most political of games, but just like anything in (human) politics...everything just takes so freakin' long. One of the biggest and most frequent complaints that i hear about the game is it just takes too damn long to play, and I agree.
The slow blade penetrates the shield.
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If you would consider the ways Dune is typically won, very common is a tempo-victory following a costly fight among one's enemies. A hole is made through those two faction's materiel through which victory is achieved.

That reality forces players to prefer to minimise losses in those battles that are not pogroms nor in earnest for the win. That is done not just in consideration of losses to oneself, but also to an opponent who may prove critical in blocking a win by third parties.
 
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ppayes wrote:
I'm seeing a lot of this lately - in the online games here. Is this widespread ? Something new ?

Accepting spice for throwing a battle /arriving at a consolation or whatever you want to call it drastically changes the game IMO.
It doesn't drastically change the game since it's been possible in the game's design since day 1.

ppayes wrote:

I'm not in favor of it, as I see it becoming too commonplace where almost every battle is 'litigated' for possibilities. Bogs the game time down to, I would imagine.
Thoughts ?
Completely your right to dislike it, of course, but Dune is not nor ever should primarily be a "war" game or a straight-forward game of attrition. Go play Kemet if that's what you're looking for (a very good game, btw).

Dune is about strategically weighing opportunities against risk as the balance of power shifts throughout the game and then striking at optimal moments. If you've struck at an inopportune time, miscalculated your strength, or otherwise want to leverage whatever you're able to do in the moment for future advantage, do so.

Brad has it exactly correct up above and in my 35+ plays I'd say that the number of battles settled by "Standard Deals" is also about 30-50% with that number increasing in that range as players become more experienced.
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