Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 Hide
19 Posts

Scythe» Forums » Strategy

Subject: The Combat Bluff: Myth or Legend? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Doug Reid
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Last year, I played roughly 30 games of Scythe. Every game was with the same group of players, 3 cagey, thoughtful players, 2 weaker seat of my pants type players, and occasionally 1 additional oddball. The core of the group being 5 players who have learned eachothers strengths and weaknesses.

In all that time, I was certain that Combat would begin to evolve and change with each play of the game, and that eventually another layer of bluffing/counter-bluffing would occur. Combats wouldn't only be brute force "I have 12, and I'm the attacker, you lose" and instead would see players leveraging the fewest points they think they need to win.

I am the only player that has attempted the combat bluff in those 30 games. I tried 2 combat bluffs, and in both situations, I was the loser. Moving in and playing a 4 point card, but spending no points both times, only to see my opponent play his max poins, and a card in the combat. In both of these situations too, these players had demonstrated that they were capable of playing 0 points, and taking a loss by being sent back to their home base having spent no assets.

My question to the community: Do you find combat to simply be a purely brute force affair? Or has your group been more cagey in their combat?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sam Gray
United Kingdom
Derby
Derbyshire
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
I love the bluffing/brute force combat in Scythe and often balance my tactics in combat between minimum power than guarantees me the victory and going low, hoping my opponent is just going to pay a combat card/1 power just to get the combat card loser's bonus.

Most of the time my bluffs are successful and it certainly feels good to pull that off, but often I am left kicking myself when I put in 5 power and my opponent anticipated this and reacted accordingly.

I love the interactions in this game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dusty Craine
United States
Linden
Michigan
flag msg tools
https://www.youtube.com/themillshow
badge
Me
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ragnar42 wrote:
My question to the community: Do you find combat to simply be a purely brute force affair? Or has your group been more cagey in their combat?
It's so interesting to me how group dynamics change games for people. I usually play with my son, but I've played a couple of larger games and while I didn't necessarily get to learn from those groups as they were one-off games. I did see how people would make others pay when they went the full power route.

I was playing a 5 player game of Scythe and this guy decided to a shot to grab a 5th star. He was going for his first combat star. He went after an opponent who bluffed him hardcore. Said, "If you think you're taking this territory and iron for anything less than full power, you're crazy. I knew you were coming. I'm ready. Let's go." Guy played 1 power. No cards. Got sent home. The attacker spent full power and a 5 card. It was his only card. The sharks smelled blood. He was in two more battles one after another from other people moving in. Over those three battles he spent from all the way from Max power to 0 power. And by then all of his mechs were bunched back up in his starting territory.

That was way more cutthroat than my little home group would have tolerated. They would have felt beat up. To his credit, the guy who was going for his combat star, got the 1, but also ended up handing out 2 more. He was a good sport about it. He acknowledged that he went too big with too little.

In that group, I could see being very careful about planning an attack because it definitely leaves you vulnerable to the right group.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew Burgess
United Kingdom
Chichester
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I guess it depends on your bigger purpose. If you don’t have one, you might as well go all in. I think the bluff comes when you’re challenging someone on THIS hex, because you actually want THAT hex, so you’re hoping they spend all their power on the first fight, so you have all the power for the second fight.

But if a battle is just a battle... might as well try to win it!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marcus Lind
Sweden
Uppsala
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I may bluff with Nordic.

Bluff: win. No problem.
Bluff: lose. Retreat to lake, attack again.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brother Walach
Portugal
flag msg tools
mbmb
I have also noticed in my group that when we got more games in we started to use more bluff tactics in combat.
On my part, even when I try to win a combat by bluffing, I usually only do it in a situation where even if my bluff doesn't work the consequences will not be so severe (e.g. give another player a combat star making it close for him to finish the game, lose control of important territories, etc).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Humberto Villela
Brazil
Porto Velho
RO
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I bluff all the time (or not)
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel Kearns
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
flag msg tools
Silence is golden.
badge
Your sea is so great and my boat is so small.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If your opponent spends all of their power on one battle, why don't you or others immediately start piling on with other battles?

That's how our games have gone. People are terrified to use too much power. Once blood is in the water...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Reverend Uncle Bastard
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Unapologetic Continual Troublemaker!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If your opponents always go max.power, just attack them with one power and no cards to drain their resources in a low priority hex, then go after them in better locations now they are drained. Or use that tactic to be first to get the full power star. Once they have faced a few one power bluffs they will catch on.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Silverman
United States
Halfway between Castro and Mickey Mouse
Florida (FL)
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
reverendunclebastard wrote:
If your opponents always go max.power, just attack them with one power and no cards to drain their resources in a low priority hex, then go after them in better locations now they are drained. Or use that tactic to be first to get the full power star. Once they have faced a few one power bluffs they will catch on.


It sounds like the OP's opponents only attack with max power, but will "bluff" on defense.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Reverend Uncle Bastard
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Unapologetic Continual Troublemaker!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DJ Kuul A wrote:
reverendunclebastard wrote:
If your opponents always go max.power, just attack them with one power and no cards to drain their resources in a low priority hex, then go after them in better locations now they are drained. Or use that tactic to be first to get the full power star. Once they have faced a few one power bluffs they will catch on.


It sounds like the OP's opponents only attack with max power, but will "bluff" on defense.


That isn't how this reads to me:

Quote:
I am the only player that has attempted the combat bluff in those 30 games. I tried 2 combat bluffs, and in both situations, I was the loser. Moving in and playing a 4 point card, but spending no points both times, only to see my opponent play his max poins, and a card in the combat. In both of these situations too, these players had demonstrated that they were capable of playing 0 points, and taking a loss by being sent back to their home base having spent no assets.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Matthews
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't see it a lot at my table because it is not usually worth the cost (unless you can set it up right). If it's obvious you are going to lose and someone overspends anyway, that really isn't a bluff from you so much as the opponent's mistake/ being overcautious.

It needs to be set-up right for this bluff to be worth the cost since normally you don't really want to give another player a star, location advantage, and have your mech sent home just to get them to spend a few power. Having a second attack set up is the classic reason to do it, but I wouldn't consider that a bluff really as your intentions are telegraphed.

At the beginning of the (standard) game mech positioning is too expensive for most, and by the end game, it is probably too late when someone tries it as a hail mary in an attempt to stop someone from getting their power star.

I used it once specifically in the hopes of getting someone to overspend while really just looking for a quick free teleport to my home zone-- that time even going 0 was absolutely was worth it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel Kearns
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
flag msg tools
Silence is golden.
badge
Your sea is so great and my boat is so small.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It also kind of sounds like people are waiting too long to attack where sides have large numbers of points to consider.

You don't have to attack to do well in the game but if you do go the attack route, early is better than late.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Laudermilk
United States
Orange County
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
"I don't often bluff, but when I do..."

Usually it's a calculated all-in affair. I won't pick a fight unless I'm nearly certain of winning it. Except when I need to sucker another player to burn their power on a meaningless fight when I have a more important territory I'm after. It usually works. I've even suckered them to gain a star to get to, or close to, end game when I want to rush the end since I know I'm in a winning position (double-bluff?).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
arah
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Start punishing those max bid combats by bidding one, and forcing a lot of combats usually in the same turn by moving one combat unit to each of multiple combat locations. They will run out of steam faster, and then you can start winning combats and benefiting more.

This doesn't work if it is near the end game, but in the middle it works well because you have time to make them run out of resources. A factory card or being Rusviet will help force combats more often and Saxony will help you get more combat stars. Nords will help you just move one space back and try it again each two turns, where it is probably the strongest faction to try this approach. With Polania, you can start attacking workers and make them attack you to stop you.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Silverman
United States
Halfway between Castro and Mickey Mouse
Florida (FL)
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
reverendunclebastard wrote:
DJ Kuul A wrote:
reverendunclebastard wrote:
If your opponents always go max.power, just attack them with one power and no cards to drain their resources in a low priority hex, then go after them in better locations now they are drained. Or use that tactic to be first to get the full power star. Once they have faced a few one power bluffs they will catch on.


It sounds like the OP's opponents only attack with max power, but will "bluff" on defense.


That isn't how this reads to me:

Quote:
I am the only player that has attempted the combat bluff in those 30 games. I tried 2 combat bluffs, and in both situations, I was the loser. Moving in and playing a 4 point card, but spending no points both times, only to see my opponent play his max poins, and a card in the combat. In both of these situations too, these players had demonstrated that they were capable of playing 0 points, and taking a loss by being sent back to their home base having spent no assets.


See the last line, where they appear to have conceded combats on defense.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Reverend Uncle Bastard
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Unapologetic Continual Troublemaker!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DJ Kuul A wrote:
reverendunclebastard wrote:
DJ Kuul A wrote:
reverendunclebastard wrote:
If your opponents always go max.power, just attack them with one power and no cards to drain their resources in a low priority hex, then go after them in better locations now they are drained. Or use that tactic to be first to get the full power star. Once they have faced a few one power bluffs they will catch on.


It sounds like the OP's opponents only attack with max power, but will "bluff" on defense.


That isn't how this reads to me:

Quote:
I am the only player that has attempted the combat bluff in those 30 games. I tried 2 combat bluffs, and in both situations, I was the loser. Moving in and playing a 4 point card, but spending no points both times, only to see my opponent play his max poins, and a card in the combat. In both of these situations too, these players had demonstrated that they were capable of playing 0 points, and taking a loss by being sent back to their home base having spent no assets.


See the last line, where they appear to have conceded combats on defense.


That isn't what that sentence means. He is saying that even though they could have taken a loss they didn't, instead paying max power and falling for his bluff.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
fortheloveofdice
Canada
Toronto
ON
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I find a lot of combats people go in knowing they can win or at least gambling that the other player doesn't have a 5 combat card.

But! Not always. And I certainly don't always go full power or cards even when I am the one attacking.

Maybe if you use up someone's combat power they won't be able to produce, or won't get that combat power star. Maybe you are using a faction where you have another use for a combat card (innate ability, factory ability, another combat...) and would like to steal a combat card or spend 1 power and no cards and lose so you get another. Maybe you'd rather lose the combat for some reason, like to meet some kind of objective. Maybe you are getting ready for an offensive on the factory or a hex with tons of resources, or to make two attacks at the same time and finish with two stars the next round....

Just like I don't see a ton of combat I don't see a ton of bluffing in those combats.

But after getting burned a few times people catch on - that someone else might be bluffing, and that maybe they should try bluffing.

As soon as you start making assumptions like someone will never attack, always go full power in an attack, or just whatever, the person who ignores that assumption and tries something different has an advantage.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brendan Slade
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Usually I don't bother bluffing because the combat tends to go towards the end of the game and there is no value to having left over power points or combat cards so you may as well use them up.

It will definitely depend on your groups meta though. If one person starts bluffing everyone else will start lowering their power spend until someone goes and starts spending max power again.
 
 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.