Cluny
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My interest is prompted by this ruling via Plaid Hat customer-support, as a response to a query:

Quote:
Liam Molloy
Wed 02/01/2019, 04:07
Regarding the game's rule for objective-secrecy, from i.e.
Rulebook, 'Game Setup': [p.6] - "A player cannot reveal his secret objective card to other players."

Is this rule intended to mean that it is:
1) Forbidden merely to reveal the physical secret objective card to other players; or
2) Forbidden also to make verbal claims (falsely or truthfully) about what is on the card?


In reply:

Quote:
Plaid Hat Games Customer Support <support@plaidhatgames.com>
Wed 02/01/2019, 15:44

Liam,

Only to physically reveal, players can make any claim they like about their secret objective.
[emphasis added]

Best of luck!

"Games with Plaiditude”
Plaid Hat Games Customer Support
Support@plaidhatgames.com


I suppose that until the Secret Objective card is revealed (at the end of the game, or upon Exile when your original becomes your Secret Objective card no longer), no-one knows if the information shared verbally is real or not - hence discussing the card has not revealed it.

Personally, I was originally taught the game with the idea that nothing should be stated at all on this point. As yet, I haven't had the opportunity to play by rules-as-written as detailed above. When the absence of any such actual rule in the rulebook was pointed out to me, it was kind of a revelation, seeming to solve some of the game's issues. One critcism I sometimes hear is that Dead of Winter lacks objective information against which to measure other players' decisions and judge their trustworthiness - or, more importantly in many cases, on how close they are to being ready to complete the Main Objective, securing their own victory when you aren't ready for it yet yourself (and thus whether you should be helping or hindering them). Should a decision ever somehow seem peculiar, typically people can just shrug and say something like: "Must be something to do with their Secret Objective." What I hope is that trying out free communication, the dynamic of Dead of Winter will work out less sterile-seeming, and a little more like the game's apparent promise.

Anyone have any comparative experiences to share about playing Dead of Winter with/without adding restrictions on what players are permitted to say - falsely or truthfully - about the contents of the Secret Objective card they drew?

In particular, if anyone has played the game in both ways - did you ever find, for example:
i) That two players ever claimed to have drawn identical Secret Objective cards, thus making it almost certain that one of them was a Betrayer, and engendering a subsequent Which-Captain-Kirk-Should-I-Shoot format of conundrum?
-
ii) That some non-Betrayers lied so they could later make it seem they weren't yet ready for the Main Objective to be completed and so to discourage other players from withholding aid to them, directly trying to interfere with their actions, or to Exile them, so as to stop them from ending the game?
-
iii) Or, having first heard others claim what their Secret Objective cards read, manipulated others into being readier to aid them at their own expense, by lying to make their own Secret Objective card seem more easily achievable in common with theirs?
-
iv) Or, for the reasons of either i) or ii) above, would agree to share only part of what their goals demanded?
-
v) Or, similarly, deciding to share no information at all about it, costing themselves trust in exchange for less risk of others conspiring together to Exile or otherwise frustrate you as you advanced too close to being ready to end the game?
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M. B. Downey
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Cluny wrote:
Anyone have any comparative experiences to share about playing Dead of Winter with/without adding restrictions on what players are permitted to say - falsely or truthfully - about the contents of the Secret Objective card they drew?

In particular, if anyone has played the game in both ways - did you ever find, for example:
i) That two players ever claimed to have drawn identical Secret Objective cards, thus making it almost certain that one of them was a Betrayer, and engendering a subsequent Which-Captain-Kirk-Should-I-Shoot format of conundrum?
-
ii) That some non-Betrayers lied so they could later make it seem they weren't yet ready for the Main Objective to be completed and so to discourage other players from withholding aid to them, directly trying to interfere with their actions, or to Exile them, so as to stop them from ending the game?
-
iii) Or, having first heard others claim what their Secret Objective cards read, manipulated others into being readier to aid them at their own expense, by lying to make their own Secret Objective card seem more easily achievable in common with theirs?
-
iv) Or, for the reasons of either i) or ii) above, would agree to share only part of what their goals demanded?
-
v) Or, similarly, deciding to share no information at all about it, costing themselves trust in exchange for less risk of others conspiring together to Exile or otherwise frustrate you as you advanced too close to being ready to end the game?


This way is no good when playing with a mix of new and experienced players, since a new player might say they have an objective that doesn't exist, which only an experienced player would know.

In general I don't like playing with this ruling, as some players can use this to pressure others to force them to say what they have, and it ruins the whole "are they doing it because of their objective or because they are the betrayer" metagame to me. I prefer to play it as not even hinting at things, but, as in all boardgame things, YMMV.
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David Brzezinski
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We have always played that the secret objectives were just that: secret. We do not discuss the objectives, though we will speculate as to what players may have based on their actions. Objectives are not revealed until the end of the game or upon exile.
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Cluny
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Quote:
This way is no good when playing with a mix of new and experienced players, since a new player might say they have an objective that doesn't exist, which only an experienced player would know.


It seems they could just refuse to share what their objective is, precisely because they know there are experienced players at the table? There's more than one reason to mislead other players about your goals - being a Betrayer, sure, but also to prevent them from recognising when you are ready for the Main Objective to be completed and hence for you to win.

Quote:
In general I don't like playing with this ruling, as some players can use this to pressure others to force them to say what they have, and it ruins the whole "are they doing it because of their objective or because they are the betrayer" metagame to me. I prefer to play it as not even hinting at things, but, as in all boardgame things, YMMV.


That surprises me a little, as now I'm aware of the state of the rules it seems the other around is far more likely - if nothing's is even allowed to be said about what someone's objective is, then there's no real metagame at all - how can there be, as there's nothing to measure what they do against?
 
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Cluny wrote:
That surprises me a little, as now I'm aware of the state of the rules it seems the other around is far more likely - if nothing's is even allowed to be said about what someone's objective is, then there's no real metagame at all - how can there be, as there's nothing to measure what they do against?


Others can speculate all they want, but the holder of the objective says nothing about it, instead pointing out how they are helping the colony and what’s-her-face over there isn’t really doing anything helpful and sure is maki g a whole lot of noise over there, we should make her play the cards into the challenge this round.
 
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Dizz
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Yeah, I see the secret goals as sort of abstracted selfish tendencies. "Is your goal to have two barricades up at different locations?!" feels a lot less thematic than "Guys, Stephanie has a bunch of stuff but didn't help us with that crisis. Keep an eye on her."
Direct confrontation in a game this long can be stressful and can suck the fun out of the game for some groups.
I can see how some people might like it... but not me or most people I play with.
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Jeffrey L
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I have always played with that understanding-- you can claim whatever you want, but you cannot actually reveal your secret objective.

However, I don't think we play how you are expecting. It sounds like you're hoping for specific claims. That's not what we do. We claim that we are not the betrayer, and whenever someone thinks we do something suspicious, just say "I'm doing this for.... reasons." We also say, "Please don't end the game yet, I need one more round for my secret objective!" Things like that.

We aren't going around claiming, "Oh, yeah, I'm the Hypochondriac. I need 2 medicine cards." Even for experienced players, it is extremely easy to tell the truth about your secret objective, and very difficult to lie, and maintain the lie, if it is not your objective.

Another problem with making such specific claims-- even if you aren't the betrayer, you probably want to lie about your secret objective anyway. If there is a crisis that requires medicine, I don't want people to know that I'm the hypochondriac and that my search at the hospital actually turned up medicine. I'd rather fail the crisis than my secret objective, but my teammates may not take kindly to my selfish motivations.

Even with that in mind, I have had some good experiences, and I think I can answer some of your questions.

i) There was a time two players were obviously going for the same thing. Since I was the most familiar with the game, I realized however that they were both good guys, they just had similar secret objectives (to the other's detriment.)

ii) Claiming that they still need to work on their secret objective is fairly common in our group. However, this is really only guaranteed to work if the rest of the people are relying on them to complete the main objective. "Sorry, I didn't get the card I need for my secret objective, so I can't contribute to the main objective right now." Sometimes when I'm about to complete it, and they ask for another round, I'll let it go another round if we are feeling confident in ourselves. Usually, by then we can tell if there's a betrayer to worry about.

iii) Yeah, that's happened too. "Oh, hey, I don't have enough action dice to complete my secret objective, and the main objective. But if you do ___, then I will be able to end it my turn."

iv) and v)
, since our default position is to not share, you could think of our situation as these questions reversed. Keeping secret doesn't lose trust, but sharing even a little bit in our vague manner does gain trust. It usually doesn't happen until later in the game, however, so I'd be concerned that sharing early would make you seem too easy to please, and thus seem suspicious.

Some of your questions included threatening to exile. Threatening exile isn't something that has ever happened in my games for hoping to complete a Secret Objective. Saying "I'll exile you if you don't ____, I need it for my secret objective!" would never work, because you have to convince everyone else, and you're the only one motivated by your secret objective.

What does work is threatening exile bring the betrayer in line. "Oh, you're doing ____? That seems like some something a betrayer would do. Hey, are you going to ____? Because if you do/don't, I'm going to vote to exile you my turn."

It also works great to get others in line for the main objective in a similar fashion. There was one game where someone was going to lose us the game because they were more focused on their secret objective than the main objective. Even though I knew he was one of the good guys, I pointed out to everyone else that we would win if we exiled him, and then we did.

Another time, I knew someone was a traitor, and I had narrowed it down to two players. I convinced the turn player to initiate a vote to exile one of them, convincing the others that it was a great way to avoid failing the crisis, which would probably lose us the game. It worked, and he actually was the betrayer.

I also want to address some of your other comments:

Quote:
One criticism I sometimes hear is that Dead of Winter lacks objective information against which to measure other players' decisions and judge their trustworthiness


I thought so at first, but after playing a ton, our group finds betrayers way too easy. If there's a betrayer in the group, they are the ones not contributing. If I'm the betrayer, they say, "Jeff isn't helpful like he normally is, let's exile him." If my brother-in-law is the betrayer, he tries to hide by helping, but then morale stays too high and he can't drop it in time.

That being said, James Meyers's crossroads card gives you an option to look at another player's secret objective. In all the times I've played, it's only come up once. I think it would be cool if there were other cards like that. Some of the cards in the expansions have some good twists, though.

Quote:
or, more importantly in many cases, on how close they are to being ready to complete the Main Objective, securing their own victory when you aren't ready for it yet yourself (and thus whether you should be helping or hindering them).


Even though I might not know how close an individual is to completing their secret objective, I can tell how close the Main objective is to being complete. I can also tell how close morale is to 0 and what would cause the game to end that way. Very rarely am I surprised when the game ends. Hindering others doesn't seem that effective, I'm limited in my actions, so I better use them all to help myself. Asking others to help me so I can focus even more, however, that's where it's at.

Quote:
What I hope is that trying out free communication, the dynamic of Dead of Winter will work out less sterile-seeming, and a little more like the game's apparent promise.


Yeah, the way we play, I don't feel like it is a sterile game at all. I feel that the game's promise is that we are a group of people with very different goals who make a tentative union, but we don't quite trust each other. That's exactly how the game plays for me.
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WooperJeff wrote:
Quote:
What I hope is that trying out free communication, the dynamic of Dead of Winter will work out less sterile-seeming, and a little more like the game's apparent promise.


Yeah, the way we play, I don't feel like it is a sterile game at all. I feel that the game's promise is that we are a group of people with very different goals who make a tentative union, but we don't quite trust each other. That's exactly how the game plays for me.


Agreed. This may be more a case of group think than anything else. The original poster could try playing with different players, or switching up their play style and strategy, which would shake up the group dynamics that is the probable culprit.
 
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David "Davy" Ashleydale
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There are quite a few threads on this topic if you ever feel like delving into those -- some very good discussions, including weigh-ins from the game designers.

I think it's just too easy to break the game if everyone is allowed to state whatever they want about their Secret Objective card. For one reason, if you are not a betrayer, there is no good reason to keep your secret objectives secret. You are much more likely to complete your objectives if other players know what you're trying to do. Players can actually start helping each other. It becomes much more cooperative and easy.

So you could just start out every game with, "Okay, everyone go around and state what your secret objectives are." That would really put the betrayer in the hot seat. They would have to come up with a plausible good secret objective, which would be super difficult if you don't know the game really well. Also, if they pick one that someone else has, everyone would start the game knowing that there is a betrayer and have a 50% chance of knowing who it is, which would completely change the normal dynamic of the game.

In fact, I so dislike the wibbly-wobbly nature of which communications are allowed and which aren't, I created a variant in which players aren't even allowed to try to justify what they are doing.

Silent Dead of Winter

I love playing this way because it just becomes pure deduction based on observed actions. Rick went to the hospital to get medicine for the current Crisis, but didn't throw anything in after multiple searches. Did he really not find any? Is he hoarding for a secret objective? Is he a betrayer? I'm keeping my eye on him.
 
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randomlife wrote:
There are quite a few threads on this topic if you ever feel like delving into those -- some very good discussions, including weigh-ins from the game designers.

I think it's just too easy to break the game if everyone is allowed to state whatever they want about their Secret Objective card. For one reason, if you are not a betrayer, there is no good reason to keep your secret objectives secret. You are much more likely to complete your objectives if other players know what you're trying to do. Players can actually start helping each other. It becomes much more cooperative and easy.

It's true, until they're is indeed a betrayer and he work against you with the confidence that build between players. The more you lower your guard about a possible betrayer, the more you make it easy for him to manipulate you. Believe me, once a group is tricked by putting to much trust in each other by telling each other what are their secret objective at the beginning of the game, secrecy will prevail and come back at the table naturally.

In fact, depending of the circumstance, this could help the betrayer or hurt him.

Since it could be tricky for the betrayer to hide when everybody tell their objectives at the start, you'll figure out rapidly that it is not a good idea, just because nobody want to compromise them self for the next time they will be the betrayer.

The game is structurally made in such way that keeping your things secret is THE WAY to go on the long run, even if it's not outright written in the rule book. And you don't need to forbid it. People will eventually figure it out. Yes, revealing a lot of info (your secret objective, your cards (even showing them), etc.) will get you a short, punctual and sometime strong advantage in a given game, to a precise moment. But in the long run, over course several games, this will hurt you more than anything. The playing stance you'll adopt between the game you are the betrayer or those where you're not will be to easy to distinguish and soon, you won't be able to hide yourself anymore.
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randomlife wrote:
I think it's just too easy to break the game if everyone is allowed to state whatever they want about their Secret Objective card.

So you could just start out every game with, "Okay, everyone go around and state what your secret objectives are."


I've played this and TLN maybe 60 or 70 times and this scenario has never come up. Most games go by with a few almost-joking observations about the Betrayer. Some have heated discussions. Players have been exiled maybe three times. None have ever had, "I need 2 Medicine cards for the win". That's just too meta - I would immediately quit the game if that were to happen. Knowing there's a Betrayer is enough. Talk about that and accuse/exile all you want. But to actually mention specific objectives is unheard of, at least in the couple-of-dozen different groups that I've played in.
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Chuck Hurd
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Cluny wrote:
...if nothing's is even allowed to be said about what someone's objective is, then there's no real metagame at all - how can there be, as there's nothing to measure what they do against?

For me the metagame is having no perfect information - only your own observations - in that way the game very much simulates real life. I'm in a colony with complete strangers. I don't know what their tendencies are or what motivates them. I have to try to figure out who to trust and who to potentially call out. You have to judge actions more than words. I mean, in real life a masochist doesn't go around saying he's a hypochondriac. There is no motivation to do that. They just go around acting like a masochist.
 
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David "Davy" Ashleydale
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braceletwinner wrote:
randomlife wrote:
I think it's just too easy to break the game if everyone is allowed to state whatever they want about their Secret Objective card.

So you could just start out every game with, "Okay, everyone go around and state what your secret objectives are."


I've played this and TLN maybe 60 or 70 times and this scenario has never come up. Most games go by with a few almost-joking observations about the Betrayer. Some have heated discussions. Players have been exiled maybe three times. None have ever had, "I need 2 Medicine cards for the win". That's just too meta - I would immediately quit the game if that were to happen. Knowing there's a Betrayer is enough. Talk about that and accuse/exile all you want. But to actually mention specific objectives is unheard of, at least in the couple-of-dozen different groups that I've played in.


What are the communication rules that you play with? That is, how would you state it to new players that you are about to sit down and play with?

It sounds to me like you would tell them that they can’t talk about what their Secret Objectives are. You stated that you would immediately quit if players started doing that, so I guess you let them know that before the game starts.
 
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randomlife wrote:
braceletwinner wrote:
randomlife wrote:
I think it's just too easy to break the game if everyone is allowed to state whatever they want about their Secret Objective card.

So you could just start out every game with, "Okay, everyone go around and state what your secret objectives are."


I've played this and TLN maybe 60 or 70 times and this scenario has never come up. Most games go by with a few almost-joking observations about the Betrayer. Some have heated discussions. Players have been exiled maybe three times. None have ever had, "I need 2 Medicine cards for the win". That's just too meta - I would immediately quit the game if that were to happen. Knowing there's a Betrayer is enough. Talk about that and accuse/exile all you want. But to actually mention specific objectives is unheard of, at least in the couple-of-dozen different groups that I've played in.


What are the communication rules that you play with? That is, how would you state it to new players that you are about to sit down and play with?

It sounds to me like you would tell them that they can’t talk about what their Secret Objectives are. You stated that you would immediately quit if players started doing that, so I guess you let them know that before the game starts.


I've never had to state it, except to say that you can't reveal your secret objective. And like I said, it never comes up. Players that are interested in this type of game know how to play it.
 
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David "Davy" Ashleydale
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braceletwinner wrote:
I've never had to state it, except to say that you can't reveal your secret objective. And like I said, it never comes up. Players that are interested in this type of game know how to play it.


Interesting. It comes up almost every time I’ve played. Maybe the people I play games with are too analytical. They always want to know exactly what they can say and what they can’t in games that prohibit certain types of communication.
 
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