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Subject: Scripted Games rss

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Jerry Schippa
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Sun Prairie
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While reading through comments and reviews of Scythe, one particular comment has come up...the game is scripted.

I've yet to play Scythe so I can't speak on that specific comment. But it got me wondering about asymmetric games in general and whether or not they are all scripted to a degree...and is that more than non asymmetrical games?

My suspicion is that all (or the vast majority) of games that feature asymmetry are scripted to a higher degree than non-asymmetrical games. If I play Khorne in CiTOW, I'm going to play very different than the other factions.

So to those more knowledgeable than me, what are your thoughts?
Are asymmetrical games more scripted than the rest?
Is there a good example of an asymmetrical game that has almost no scripted play?

Thanks!
 
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I don't think they mean "when playing faction x, I will do y more often than otherwise." Scripted would mean "regardless of circumstances, when playing faction x, doing a then b then c then d is the optimum move."
 
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Chris Williams

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For most games, everything can be reduced down to a single cost.

Hit Points, Dexterity, Damage Points, Armor Rating, etc. are all effectively the same metric. Either you're doing something to reduce damage or you're killing the bad guy - thus preventing damage. Money you earn goes towards buying things which add HP, Dex, DP, and AR. You could use money as a stand-in for damage prevention for most purposes.

That sort of breaks down where you have pairings of things that create combos or have a multiplier effect, but even there you can run the odds of getting those items together and their average benefit over time, paired vs. unpaired, and assign an average value.

So if you look at a game with a static start - Viticulture Vanilla, for example - and compare it to a game with an asymmetric start - Viticulture w/ Mamas & Papas - theoretically the designer has done the math to determine that the starting conditions and pathways through have an equal cost.

So, basically, there shouldn't be anything scripted about asymmetric starting conditions. They entice players to attempt different paths through the game and, in a sense, that does script it for them. But the alternative is that the players always do the same thing each game, and effectively self-script. Chess players, for example, will always play the same few openings in games, because those are found to be more optimal than others. You have to randomize the start to get them to try new things.

I don't think I've played any heavily scripted games yet, but the two closest that I can think of are 7 Wonders and Legacy. In the first, the scoring for Science is so generous if you get ahead that each player is behooved to take some Science, regardless of whether they're interested in using that strategy, so that no one person can get a majority in them. In Legacy, different colored workers are forced on you, to force you to take a variety of cards from the market, rather than choosing what you want.

These are scripted because the designer is preventing you from playing freely. He has installed mechanisms that either force or strongly cajole you to play in a certain way.

Granted, there are probably some asymmetric starts that enter the realm of a "strong cajole", if the game makes it overly costly to move off from what your start leans you towards. But usually your start conditions aren't that hard an anchor since the total value of everything you've got is basically nothing anyways.

With Scythe, the fact that it's not just the start conditions, but also the cost of upgrades and special powers you get, added to the scoring mechanism ("You must perform exactly 2 attacks per game"), could probably start to enter the realm of cajoling. But at least most of it will be a different experience each time, if you change characters each time and only play every month or two. It's not quite as hardcore or as a game which forces you to relive history exactly as it occurred, or whatever.
 
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Kyle
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While some games do feel scripted (to me Panamax felt scripted, determined entirely by the die outcome, and maintenance fees, it got old quick).

Some assymetrical games that are not scripted in the least:

Dune
Dominant Species
Polis
most wargames..

I've only played one game of scythe, but I can see that being a legitimate concern with regards to that game, as it is an efficiency engine game (with some other stuff looming on the sidelines). You are pushed quite hard to take the most efficient path (it is a race game), so it does leave creativity at the door to some extent.
 
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Chengkai Yang
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Eh, lots of asymmetrical games have optimal action sets that players prefer, what I would take to be scripted would be something like tragedy looper, one of those Sherlock Holmes games, or a D&D adventure path. Given certain bonuses your incentivized to value certain things over others, the impact of other game events like players or event cards is supposed to direct your actual performance though. There's games where you might be doing less than efficient moves but still come out ahead due to board state, and I wouldn't call that scripted.

While most games of say War of the Ring 2E have a similar flow, I've never played the same game twice. The fate dice and cards you get really shape how you go about doing what you need to. It's similar for CitOW, you kind of do similar things with Khorne, but where and to who shifts dramatically game to game.
 
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"She comes out of the Sun in a silk dress runnin' like a watercolor in the rain."
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Luck that follows decision unscripts things in one big damn hurry. Modern games have painted themselves into a corner by removing it.

With care assymetric games can remain wide open regarding the path you take, even without decision-then-luck mechanics. But -- they have to be well developed and well tested. That's less common as well with modern publishing via Kickstarter and the like. Good games come from hard work and dedication.

S.
 
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Mike Jones
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I feel that games are only scripted if you study and follow the scrit.

I am constantly reading around here, the Puerto Rico is a scripted game. On more then one occasion, I have beat seasoned players that complained most the game that I wasn't following the script.

Dare to play your own way and see who can keep up.
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Quantum Jack
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Take a look at The Ares Project.

4 very assymetric factions. Each pairing has many rock-paper-scissors like situations. But clever play and second-guessing keep the game fluid and not scripted.
 
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