Rana Puer
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I was playing a game the other night, and one of my teammates asked to have a conversation with me. I went aside to discuss the matter with her, but a player from the opposing team intentionally followed us. My teammate asked him to leave so we could talk privately, but he kept following us in order to deny us a private conversation. When she asked again, he replied "This game is called Two Rooms, and players can walk anywhere they want within their current room." He refused to leave us alone.

Fortunately, I was the room's leader, so I booted his ugly mug to the other room, and we had our private conversation the next round.

In a later game, two of my opponents were standing in the circle with everyone else and began to whisper in secret. My teammate and I could almost hear them, so we moved a bit closer. Our opponents realized what we were doing, and one of them said "we're discussing in private" and began to move to a far corner of the room. "Ok, we'll respect that" was my reply. My teammate gave me a very funny look and replied "are we?" He began to follow them while I remained in place. Halfway there, he stopped, and said "ok, I guess we will."

The two opposing players managed to implement a successful conspiracy that won them the game. If we had been able to hear that private conversation, we would have had a good chance of stopping them. After the game, my teammate said "we shouldn't have let them go off and talk like that. That was our big mistake."

The big question: Should players be guaranteed the ability to have private conversations during gameplay?

I actually think there is merit to both (or even more than two) answers to this question. I'm going to attempt to break down the positives and negatives of the two main options.

Option 1: Players are free to follow opponents into private conversations against the opponents' wishes

Pros:
-This adds strategic depth to the decision of hostage selection. If a player is aggressively tracking one of your teammates, it can be important to protect them by sending the tracker to the other room. The strategic benefits of this must be weighed by the opportunity cost of sending other players for other reasons.
-It gives even inexperienced generic Red/Blue players a very useful and easily accomplished task. I've seen a lot of overwhelmed new players and bored veterans standing around doing nothing when they are generic Red Team/Blue Team members. Allowing this behavior would give these players a purpose within the game. "Go follow Matt around and tell me what he says" is a mission that's easy enough for new players and important enough for experienced players to respect, reducing the chance that players disengage from the game.
-There's strategy regarding who tracks who. I don't know how deep it gets, but deciding which teammate to send to "cover" which opponent could be strategically rich (or it might not be. I don't really know yet).

Cons:
-It is REALLY annoying to be tracked by an aggressive follower. Anyone who is tracked might potentially feel nullified or helpless and disengage from the game.
-A well-organized team could fairly easily track every opposing player in the room. In order for an outnumbered team to do this, they only one fewer player than the number of players on the majority team. (This is because the one untracked player must be near one of his tracked teammates while conversing) Denying a team the ability to have a private conversation in a room they control seems overly strong and against the spirit of the "room control" aspect of the game.
-This makes physical mobility and hearing ability a very part of the game. If players can maneuver themselves around the room with greater speed or recklessness than the opposing tracker, that provides a distinct advantage by allowing them to evade the hearing radius of the tracker and discuss matters while avoiding eavesdroppers. Similarly, if a player has a hearing impairment, that significantly reduces his or her ability to follow and report on the plans of opposing players. This is really the one drawback on this list that I consider to be prohibitively problematic. Fortunately, I feel like certain limits could be placed to abate this drawback, but that is beyond the scope of this article (in fact, I hope the readers who favor this method can offer some suggestions for reducing this problem).

Option 2: Players must leave the hearing radius of opponents who wish to exclude them from private conversations.

Pros:
-This provides more opportunity for players to craft conspiracies which require information to be hidden from the opposing team. In my opinion, that's the coolest part of Two Rooms and a Boom, and enacting these plots provides some of the greatest and most memorable moments while playing this game.
-While discussing plans, players don't have to constantly be paranoid about an opposing player bursting into their conversation. TR1B is already a generally stressful game before factoring in the attention required to ensure secrecy, and this replaces a stressful and constant obligation to check surroundings with a relaxing atmosphere. (on the other hand, some players love the stress, so your mileage may vary)
-You never have to decide between walk-chasing someone around the room nonstop/being very awkward and sticking your head right next to two other heads to try to overhear things/jumping over a table versus losing the game for your team

Cons:
-Players who are part of the minority within a room can feel powerless and have nothing to do. I've been in rooms with a giant circle of players on one team excitedly whispering their plans to each other on one side of the room while the pair or singleton on the opposite team stare blankly into space on the other. Allowing tracking would provide these players with an opportunity to much more actively participate in the proceedings even while outnumbered within a room.
-The potential strategic element of deciding who tracks who or controlling a room to the extent that at least a few players may discuss in secret is completely lost.

With those basics established, I want to start a discussion about some of this. While I do currently have a preference between the two above options, there are elements of the other one that I do appreciate. Perhaps someone can cook up a neat guideline that gives us the best of both worlds. And one of the greatest things about this great game is that any rule can be broken with a special ability. To start things off, I present to you the following role:

"The Eavesdropper" (or "Wiretapper" or "Mole" or whatever)
[Red/Blue]
You may private reveal to a player to cause them to gain the "tapped" condition. While that player is "wiretapped", you must stand near that player and he or she may not whisper, receive whispers, move away from you, or have any private conversations outside of your earshot. If you move away or private reveal to another player, your previous target loses the "wiretapped" condition.

What an annoying snoop! Give some less prominent players a chance to conspire, or kick his/her butt out of the room so you can plan in secret. And make sure your Eavesdropper is in the correct room to overhear all sorts of important plans. Recommended for larger games only.

Thanks for reading.
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Lemon
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Lemon
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I think it's very much a playstyle preference, that can be kinda decided per group. I forget what the Privacy Promise variant says, does that include anything about private conversations?

I personally prefer Option 1, but do see merit to 2. In making sure everyone is having fun, etc. (I'd rather players not be frustrated if this is causing problems.)

One thing that you didn't touch on for Option 1, and something I do often (especially at conventions with players that don't know me, heh), is fake whisper. Whisper loudly false facts on purpose. Keep an eye out for if anyone was listening and what they do after they hear you just dropped the "President's" name.
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Contig
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In my group, players have whispered to each other so it was hard to eavesdrop, but that doesn't work as well for large groups. I personally think you should just decide before the game; pick which works best for your group.

If others want to know the official rules, in the most recent revision, the Privacy Promise states "Some players prefer to have guaranteed privacy whenever doing any card sharing or color sharing...", so it sounds like this refers to card shares rather than conversations.

However, the Paparazzo role description make it sound like this also includes conversations -- "Do your best to make sure there are no private conversations. Be as intrusive and nosy as possible without actually physically manipulating others. If playing with the Privacy Promise rule variant, ignore the rule as long as you publicly reveal your card to prove to others that you are permitted to be invasive"

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I would like to know the official ruling on "private conversations". Should players allow an allowable distance for them?
 
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Alan Gerding
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toober wrote:
I would like to know the official ruling on "private conversations". Should players allow an allowable distance for them?


Official ruling: There are no rules on private conversations. The only real rule is that you can't go into the opposing room during play and you should never be able to hear the opposing room.

That being said, there also isn't a rule for slapping people in the face. However, like all things in life, there may be natural social/legal consequences even if it isn't written in the rules.
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mcgormack
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Laval
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When a majority of players on the same team start talking together in circle, excluding the few players on the other team, that would probably break the fun of the game for me. Especially if you know you don't plan sending them as hostages, there's no need to remove them from the conversation.

Also, what you're describing that guy was doing fits the role of the Paparazzo pretty well.
 
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Hal 2000
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I don't pla with private conversations, whispers, etc.

It adds a lot of subliminal messages or quick conversations when people aren't looking but can still be heard by everyone.
 
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