Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

Alchemists» Forums » Rules

Subject: Weird debunking of a wrong theory situation: how to handle this..? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
wout wit
msg tools
mbmbmb
So me and my friends ran into a tricky situation last night... Apprentice game.
Player A had published a theory (let's call it combination X) of the Toad.
Player B, later in the game, found out the correct combination for the Mandrake root and wanted to publish a theory. Only, she found out that that symbol was already in use; it was combination X as well.

Now, in these cases you can use the debunk/publish action, however through the course of the game player B had gathered no single data on the correct combination of the Toad. She wanted to debunk Player A's theory so it would free up the combination X token, but had no knowledge how to do so, which color-aspect to debunk safely.

This seemed like a very unnatural problem to us. I mean, you know 100% sure that that theory is wrong. However, you can't use the debunk option to disprove it with 100% security because of the way the debunking process is handled in the app.
Or in other words: she knew the Toad combination was wrong but not because her research on the Toad showed otherwise but because other research showed her it simply couldn't be that specific combination.

Does that mean you would have to invest time in researching the toad just to debunk something safely you know to be wrong? That seems pretty unbalanced. Surely, if you discover that a theory is wrong by arriving at the combination through testing of other ingredients, you should be able to do something about it to free the Combination tile?

Did we play this wrong, or is this how the game works? If so, it feels like they missed something in the design here... Or do other people encounter the same issue? Any house rules?
We ended up using the Conflict tokens to specify both theories used the same combo tile. Not ideal, but better than feeling like all your efforts were in vain... Would love to hear other people's thoughts!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mc Jarvis
United States
Bloomington
Minnesota
flag msg tools
I speak to improve upon the cacophony.
badge
This heart is meant to convince you that I feel.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sometimes in life you know things are wrong but you don't know why. Similarly, sometimes you "know" things are right but you don't know why. These kinds of situations have appeared in the history of science and mathematics, and I believe it's that history that the game is modeling. A concrete example might be the way calculus was used widely before mathematicians sat down to construct proofs that it actually should work.

So it is in The Alchemists. Sometimes you know something is wrong but don't have enough information to formally show that the theory is wrong. That's a part of the game.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
wout77 wrote:
This seemed like a very unnatural problem to us.


It's a game. Everything in it is unnatural and artificial. When, in the real world, do you get a choice of gaining exactly one ingredient, or performing an experiment on a student, but not both?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Henry
United Kingdom
Wellington
West Midlands
flag msg tools
Avatar
wout77 wrote:

Does that mean you would have to invest time in researching the toad just to debunk something safely you know to be wrong? That seems pretty unbalanced. Surely, if you discover that a theory is wrong by arriving at the combination through testing of other ingredients, you should be able to do something about it to free the Combination tile?


Yes.

This game is one of the best examples of the scientific method in practice.

I may read a paper that comes up with a great new theory, I then perform some experiments in another area that shows the paper was incorrect, but do not have evidence to directly discredit the original paper. So if I want to prove that theory wrong I need to perform a series of experiments directly related to the subject of that paper.

In the case of the game the challenge is that you need to write theories at certain times, so the lady who wanted to publish the "correct" theory could have put down the wrong combination, but hedged successfully against it. Returning to the main scientific method, this would be like writing a paper, where you know the other paper is completely wrong, but you do not have direct evidence it is wrong, so you write a paper heavily implying it is wrong. You then begin experiments on the other ingredient to discover what is wrong about it. Mixing it with the thing you definitely know would be a good starting point.

Then in future turns you can debunk and rewrite your theory correctly once you have discovered what the error is. You finally have the evidence, and you can say with confidence that the other paper is definitely wrong, safely debunk your correctly hedged theory for even more reputation, and then stun the academic world by writing the definitive work on Mandrake root.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nicola Bocchetta
Italy
Milano
MI
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Change to master mode!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Faso74it wrote:
Change to master mode!


He would have the same issue if playing with master debunking.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nicola Bocchetta
Italy
Milano
MI
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Uhm... you're right.
But he could at least show some conflicting theories maybe, depending on the board state
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Faso74it wrote:
Uhm... you're right.
But he could at least show some conflicting theories maybe, depending on the board state


If the theory that Feather is not-X is already published, then he could try debunking by showing that Toad and Feather don't make soup. That would put Toad and Feather in conflict (unless Feather is also wrong, and they do happen to make soup, which would be pretty unlucky). But that wouldn't really help, he still wouldn't be able to publish the theory he wants, that Mandrake is X.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Dupree
United States
Bellevue
Washington
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
JBH1 wrote:
[You then begin experiments on the other ingredient to discover what is wrong about it. Mixing it with the thing you definitely know would be a good starting point.


Is mixing the two ingredients guaranteed to provide a debunking opportunity? If it's not guaranteed, what is the probability that it will?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
stannius wrote:
Is mixing the two ingredients guaranteed to provide a debunking opportunity? If it's not guaranteed, what is the probability that it will?


No, mixing the ingredient theorized to be X with the ingredient that you *know* to be X will *never* give you a way to debunk the wrong theory. It always makes soup or a potion that's consistent in sign with X.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Henry
United Kingdom
Wellington
West Midlands
flag msg tools
Avatar
DaviddesJ wrote:
stannius wrote:
Is mixing the two ingredients guaranteed to provide a debunking opportunity? If it's not guaranteed, what is the probability that it will?


No, mixing the ingredient theorized to be X with the ingredient that you *know* to be X will *never* give you a way to debunk the wrong theory. It always makes soup or a potion that's consistent in sign with X.


Unless by some strange quirk it's the exact opposite, which will give you water so you will know exactly what it is.

Mixing it with the thing you know for sure will narrow it down to 50:50 on which of the other elements you can debunk on. Also, since you know exactly what you are mixing it with you will get the size of the other component for the colour of soup you make, which may narrow down the options even more quickly.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
wout wit
msg tools
mbmbmb
DaviddesJ wrote:
Faso74it wrote:
Uhm... you're right.
But he could at least show some conflicting theories maybe, depending on the board state


If the theory that Feather is not-X is already published, then he could try debunking by showing that Toad and Feather don't make soup. That would put Toad and Feather in conflict (unless Feather is also wrong, and they do happen to make soup, which would be pretty unlucky). But that wouldn't really help, he still wouldn't be able to publish the theory he wants, that Mandrake is X.


Yeah, that's what I figured, thanks for phrasing it this logically.
So debunking it still is a risk. Which means you 'wasted' actions deducing your ingredient for the sake of publications, and must now risk wasting even more actions debunking it. So all in all you're pretty screwed...

And sure, I get that you can make this issue fit with the theme but hey, next to the theme I would also like the mechanics to have a sense of balance and fairness to them. So if it indeed works the way it works, to me it feels like an oversight in the rules and playtesting.
There are so many clever ways this game incorporates simply to provide balance (penalties in the reputation track, turn order, discount cards) that I personally think it's mighty strange this works the way it does. But hey, beauty and eye of the beholder and all that

I think we may keep our improvised house rule that the conflict tokens can be used to state that these theories use the same combination token.

Anyhoo, thanks for chiming in guys!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marcus
Italy
Torino
Piemonte
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
@Faso is right, change to master mode.

when master debunking your experiment can include a ingredient that is not already on the published theory.

I can sum up master debunk this way:


Take, as examples, gamemaster board alchemicals A(R+ G+ B+) and D(r- G+ b+)

Situation 1: I debunk only 1 theory (I prove that A make Red- so theory about A is wrong)

Situation 2: I debunk 2 theories (I prove that A and D make Green- so both theories are wrong)

Situation 3: conflict! (I prove that A and D make Green+ so one of the 2 theories is wrong but we don't know wich one.
U mark them with conflict tokens and the seals remains.
(see manual page 15 to understand what happen in this case)


Note that in situation 1, second ingredient can be one that is not on the theory board already.


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kris Boyen
Belgium
Leuven
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
a lot depends on the situation, but a possible continuation from this point is to publish a theory on the mandrake route you know is wrong, just make sure you hedge on the correct color, and take the time to investigate the problem further. The goal of the game is to have the most points in the end, not to have all 8 elements in the correct place.

Early game, a lot of players will also only publish theories for which they know 2 of the 3 symbols. If you pay attention to which potions someone already created at the time of publishing a theory, you can also guess/deduct which the element is the player isn't sure of. This can help later in debunking the theory.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Philip Morton
msg tools
Avatar
Karian wrote:
Early game, a lot of players will also only publish theories for which they know 2 of the 3 symbols. If you pay attention to which potions someone already created at the time of publishing a theory, you can also guess/deduct which the element is the player isn't sure of. This can help later in debunking the theory.

Agreed; I always record on my sheet during the early publishes if a player only has results of two colors (I've been circling on my grid the two colors of the publish that are correct if they're being safe with their hedges).

If you find out later that it must be wrong because you know the alchemical somewhere else, then you should be able to debunk it right there if you're using apprentice mode because you strongly suspect which color is wrong. If you're on master mode, you do need some information about other ingredients to debunk it (but not the target itself--if you trust their two known colors, then you know what the target really is, so you need to find the thing to mix it with to disprove it). One mean thing to do on master mode if you can manage it is to put their hedged theory in conflict with another one of their theories just before a conference (it's much easier to show conflicts on something you know is wrong than to fully debunk it).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.