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Subject: How Honest or Dishonest are we? rss

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David Nimmo
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I am designing a game that I am very excited about. It is a game of espionage that requires deduction. Part of the deduction is to enable you to win combat with enemy agents in a sort of modified rock, paper scissors format but with 5 variants.

My promblem is that although the attacker must disclose his identity, i want the defender to be able to declare who the winner of the conflict is, without identifying which type of agent he has ( as at least one other type would also have the same result.)

My question is .... are bopard game players honest enough for this? I am fairly new to gaming. If somebody was dishonest they would be found out later in the game and the game would bw spoiled.

Also when hiring new agents the amount you pay for agents also varies and although you buy more than one at a time, I need to rely on players to pay the correct amount because
1.) It gives a possible clue to the agents type.
2.) Agents with more skills cost more.

So Can an enemy be trusted to play fair?

Please, your assistance would be very helpful.
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Pieter
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so I guess the game would be something like: there are five possible identities, and every player has one; each identity defeats two others and gets defeated by two others. Attack shows that he has identity X, and then defender says "I defeat you" or "You defeat me" without revealing his identity.

In general you may assume that board gamers are honest. There are so many ways to cheat in any game, but most people don't cheat. An example game which is, conceptually, a lot like yours is Scotland Yard. If you are the Spy in that game, you move invisibly on a board and have to declare whether or not you were caught. At the end of the game players could check all your moves to see if they were legal, but nobody ever does: they trust the Spy to have been honest. Because really, if you play with a Spy who you don't trust to be honest, why bother playing at all.

However, you could do something about this, if you want to avoid the possibility of cheating. You give players their identity at the start, and then based on their identity they get to take some cards from a deck which only say "I defeat X". They take, of course, the cards that belong to their identity, but the cards do not have the identity on them. Then, when they get attacked, if they defeat the attacker they show the corresponding card and put it on the table before them. This has three advantages: (1) if they decide to cheat, they have to decide that at the start of the game, but as at that point they have no information on the identity of the other players they have no reason to; (2) the "I defeat X" can remain on the table and function as a sort of memory; and (3) if someone has cheated, it immediately is discovered at the end of the game when everybody sees their identity and their "I defeat X" cards.

This does not solve your "hiring agents" problem yet, but you could probably do something similar. E.g., if the money is in the form of cards, put the cards that you pay for an agent underneath the agent card, so that it is easy to check at the end of the game.
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Zach Rey
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Super interesting topic. I come from a community of people where undiscovered cheating is rewarded with monetary gain and potential for future gain: TCGs. Were this going to be a game played for prizes, I would say, resoundingly, no. But, if this is a game played for entertainment, bragging rights, and exercise of skill, as most board games are, I honestly think boardgamers will tell the truth to ensure the integrity of the game.

Maybe a record would encourage honesty? Like how the criminal in Scotland Yard has to secretly write their moves. But I really don't think you'd have much of an issue with trust, if everyone comprehends that a violation of the trust would tarnish the validity of the game's outcome.

The one place where you might run into issues is the comprehension of the game's rules and procedures. I know game designers believe that the audience will understand the rules as easily as they thought them up, but this is often not true. And in fact, sometimes they skim rulebooks. For example, my copy of Risk: Legacy feels sullied to me, because our group missed quite a few things, and the jury-rigged outcomes are recorded forever. A mistake by a newcomer could result in a drastic early game change in beliefs about a player's holdings.
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Jerry Wilkinson
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David Nimmo wrote:
I am designing a game that I am very excited about. It is a game of espionage that requires deduction. Part of the deduction is to enable you to win combat with enemy agents in a sort of modified rock, paper scissors format but with 5 variants.

My promblem is that although the attacker must disclose his identity, i want the defender to be able to declare who the winner of the conflict is, without identifying which type of agent he has ( as at least one other type would also have the same result.)

My question is .... are bopard game players honest enough for this? I am fairly new to gaming. If somebody was dishonest they would be found out later in the game and the game would bw spoiled.

Also when hiring new agents the amount you pay for agents also varies and although you buy more than one at a time, I need to rely on players to pay the correct amount because
1.) It gives a possible clue to the agents type.
2.) Agents with more skills cost more.

Please, your assistance would be very helpful.


Hello, David,

I know this is not a very helpful answer, but it depends on the gamer. Most (almost all) of the people I game with are honest when it comes to gaming. But there are a few gamers who think its fun to cheat.

I greatly prefer to play games with those who are honest. One of my favorite types of game mechanics is Secret Unit Deployment. This is how the Mister X role in Scotland Yard, N.Y. Chase, and many other games works. Without honesty this is broken.

I hope this helps (at least some).

Jerry
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David Nimmo
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Thank you so much for your reply and your ideas. It is slightly more complicated than that as each player has a variety of agents that could encounter each others agents at any time.
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Seamus O'Toole
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An option, if each agent is represented by a card, is to have the list of all agents on the back of the card. When a defender defends successfully mark what he has defeated (or been the same as) with a coloured paperclip or similar so there is a record. Also if the front of the card is such that 'I defeat diplomats' would be marked by the same paperclip, it helps remove the possibility of player error.

For the secret buying, I'd suggest allowing your players to overspend if they want to help spread confusion.
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Mario Lanza
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I think the better question is will others be comfortable with a design that relies upon everyone else being honest. I think this is bound to present issues.

It would be better if the design at least provided a delayed means of verifying the integrity of play. Remember, even honest players would sometimes make beneficial mistakes.
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David Nimmo
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mlanza wrote:
I think the better question is will others be comfortable with a design that relies upon everyone else being honest. I think this is bound to present issues.



Could others please give me an idea whether this would be a problem for you. For example in some forms of stratego I believe you need an outsider to mediate conflict. This would probably spoil the game for many.????
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David Nimmo
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They can buy up to Five agents and spent up to a certain limit in each HIRING PHASE and thus the exact nature of the Hiring is not clear. Civilians can also be hired at a much cheaper rate.

However I will give your suggestion some serious thought.

Thank you for your input.
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Drew Dallas
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What about baking dishonesty into the game? Sort of a bluff mechanic where if one player thinks another player is lying they can 'call their bluff' in some way to get a reward, if the player wasn't bluffing then they get the reward.
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David Nimmo
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I had that in an earlier generation, and was sad to lose it, but this game already has many layers of strategy and I thought it would be too much.

But I think I will keep that option as something to throw at the playtesters to see what they think.

Thanks

Edit: I had the ability to deceive through lies in the phase of a turn where each player is able to make diplomatic accusations about the other player. In this case the answer does reveal some more useful information, but if the answer is a lie it increases the deception with a greater risk and reward attached as the punishment for being found out would be severe. (as I said - put on hold for now.)
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John "Omega" Williams
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There isnt a answer to this really. It varies so wildly from group to group that it is impossible to say.

If there is a possibility to cheat. Then someone somewhere will. That is all there is to it. You can make it harder to cheat. But theres a point where anti-cheat mechanics get in the way of gameplay.
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