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Subject: Strategy for Merlin in a 5 Player Game rss

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Scott Alden
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We played 5 games of Avalon last night - and it was a 5 out of 5 Merlin assassination that won the game for evil.

Does anyone have any advice that can avoid this outcome? It seemed way too easy to pick out Merlin.
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Aldie wrote:
We played 5 games of Avalon last night - and it was a 5 out of 5 Merlin assassination that won the game for evil.

Does anyone have any advice that can avoid this outcome? It seemed way too easy to pick out Merlin.


Add a couple more players. The Resistance is awful with 5 people, I can't even imagine trying to do that with Merlin.

I won't play Resistance with fewer than 7.

If you must do 5, just play it vanilla (i.e. no special roles).
 
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Scott Alden
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Well we had a good time with it. I've played with higher and do enjoy that as well.
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Jonathan Takagi
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The probability of a Merlin assassination in a 5-player game is high, but it's surprising that it happened 5 times in a row. When I play Merlin, it's almost like I'm a spy. I make sure that the spies see me accusing other Resistance players, especially when it doesn't matter to the outcome. The only time I ever allow my Merlin knowledge to come into play is during voting, and even then I would exercise caution, probably never voting for a mission in which I am not included. IMO even the other Resistance players should not suspect that you're Merlin.

I actually really like 5 players. I think odd player counts are always superior, and 5 players is the most intense. It's very hard for both sides, since with so few people the amount of scrutiny is very high.
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Clyde W
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Asmor wrote:
Aldie wrote:
We played 5 games of Avalon last night - and it was a 5 out of 5 Merlin assassination that won the game for evil.

Does anyone have any advice that can avoid this outcome? It seemed way too easy to pick out Merlin.


Add a couple more players. The Resistance is awful with 5 people, I can't even imagine trying to do that with Merlin.

I won't play Resistance with fewer than 7.

If you must do 5, just play it vanilla (i.e. no special roles).
5 is one of my favorite player counts, it isn't awful at all.

Did your Merlins ever try whispering the spies to a good guy?

Did they ever motion under the table?

Did they ever just come out as Merlin and claim spies?

Those things will help.

This means good guys (and spies too) should also claim Merlin and whisper and motion under the table.

If you treat the game like regular Resistance, spies will nearly always spot Merlin. If team good goes out of their way to cause confusion and trick the spies, they're more likely to win.
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My experience is that the other good guys need to talk more to give Merlin some air cover - give Merlin reasons to agree with you without revealing too much.

You can also add in the Percival and Mordred roles - Percival helps to protect Merlin, and if you have Percival in with 5 then you need to have Mordred or else the good guys will win every time with all the information given at the beginning.
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Jeremiah Lee
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Glad your plays at BGGCon inspired you to play more, Aldie.

I agree that 5 is tough for Merlin. It really needs a group of people that are willing to talk and get into it. Arthur's servants need to serve, not just getting successful quests, but serve to protect Arthur. It's tricky, at first, to remember this other goal, but it is just as important.

That all said, my absolute favorite way to play the game is playing the base game with five experienced players. It's a very tight game, with very little room for mistakes on either side when everyone is playing well.

Hope you find your way to fun with Merlin at five. And I hope we get to play more, perhaps at Origins/GenCon.
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Shawn Macleod
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Did you play with any other roles? I prefer min 6 when using Merlin role, but 5 can work. Adding any other roles at 5 can be extremely challenging. Even adding these extra roles at 6 is a challenge if the group isn't experienced.

This may sound like a lot of rubbish, but my strategy is to never shut up. Yes, I'm that guy. I'm consistently a pain in the butt so others can't associate my "assertiveness" with my good versus evil play. I play boldly. Often, folks want to assassinate me just for the satisfaction regardless of whether they think I'm Merlin or not. I like to use bold play (which may include ridiculous accusations at times to keep people guessing - especially if I am in fact Merlin) and challenge folks on their decisions. I bring attention to just about everything that goes on while purposely trying to create enough commotion for Merlin's hints to go unnoticed. At that point my strategy typically relies on two things:
1. Determining Merlin for myself so that I can cover his/her tracks.
2. Hope that my bold play hasn't mistakenly confused my good role as evil - effectively opening the door for evil to capitalize on my obnoxiousness.
Or, if I am Merlin, trying not to be such a pain in the butt that they want to assassinate me regardless of my role.

Overall, my strategy has been successful enough to bring Arthur some wins. And, I don't think my play has been too obnoxious.


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Scott Alden
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We played a couple of different formats.

Merlin, Percival, Morgana & Merlin, Percival, Mordred

I think one of the things that gave it away is that the vanilla "good" player really hasn't a clue. It is pretty easy to spot that person out as an evil player.
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Scott Alden
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Jeremiah_Lee wrote:
Glad your plays at BGGCon inspired you to play more, Aldie.

Hope you find your way to fun with Merlin at five. And I hope we get to play more, perhaps at Origins/GenCon.


Definitely - I think I might be obsessed with this game now.
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Aldie wrote:
We played a couple of different formats.

Merlin, Percival, Morgana & Merlin, Percival, Mordred

I think one of the things that gave it away is that the vanilla "good" player really hasn't a clue. It is pretty easy to spot that person out as an evil player.


One piece of advice that has helped me so far:

- Remember that Merlin's main task isn't to arrange successful quests. Merlins first and most important job is to NOT BE REVEALED. Only when he has that down can he start trying to affect the missions. A Merlin that never helps his team at all has still done better than a Merlin who causes a loss by assassination.
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Agent Emme
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Phelanpt Feb 11, 2:15 PM: evils have mostly stood by and watch goods fall. except for emme. she's spinning them round and round.
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I love Resistance with 5, even with an inexperienced player at the table, and while I haven't played Avalon with 5 yet I'd imagine it's still a fun game. My gut advice is to say that Merlin should relax and take more of a backseat role. Resistance wins plenty in 5 player games, at least in my experience, so I view the Merlin role in this context as the last-second savior. If the Loyal Knights are about to lose the game to the Traitors, then Merlin should speak out and try to manipulate events to the Loyal Knights' favor. Until that point though, it may help if Merlin tries to forget he even knows who the Traitors are and even has some moments of confusion himself.

One of my favorite Mafia players of all time once told me something along the lines of, "When I'm a Spy, I tell myself that I am not actually a Spy - I'm just an ordinary citizen who happens to know who the Spies are and am fine with it." - this, to me, sounds like Merlin too.

I'd also watch body language. Maybe certain players in your circle have a tell that gives away the idea "I know more than I should".

Finally, you mentioned that there's usually a vanilla townie at the table who everyone immediately knows is not Merlin - well, why should your Merlin not act this way as well? Perhaps spewing nonsense left and right but making all the correct votes is a good disguise for Merlin.
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Robert Stewart
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Something you can try next time you're Merlin in 5-player is simply to not open your eyes during the reveal phase. Sure, you lose the chance to swing things in your favour if Evil gets ahead, but you make it practically impossible to pick you out too.
 
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mmazala wrote:
I love Resistance with 5, even with an inexperienced player at the table, and while I haven't played Avalon with 5 yet I'd imagine it's still a fun game. My gut advice is to say that Merlin should relax and take more of a backseat role. Resistance wins plenty in 5 player games, at least in my experience, so I view the Merlin role in this context as the last-second savior. If the Loyal Knights are about to lose the game to the Traitors, then Merlin should speak out and try to manipulate events to the Loyal Knights' favor. Until that point though, it may help if Merlin tries to forget he even knows who the Traitors are and even has some moments of confusion himself.


If merlin just sits back and does nothing, the spies lose 1/3 of the games they would have won without merlin.

If it gets to a last-second savior situation, merlin often gets assassinated because the save is usually incredibly obvious.

Having one person who votes well helps a lot even if merlin doesn't want to talk a lot. It helps if the other rebels adapt to each other. Don't be the odd man out.
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rmsgrey wrote:
Something you can try next time you're Merlin in 5-player is simply to not open your eyes during the reveal phase. Sure, you lose the chance to swing things in your favour if Evil gets ahead, but you make it practically impossible to pick you out too.


If you are doing this, just play without avalon. I guess if you are playing avalon and a total liability as merlin, do this. But once this because know, you should be the default guess when it isn't clear.
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Clyde W
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A good rule of thumb is: anyone acting ignorant about player roles is either a plain old rebel or Merlin acting. Therefore, all rebels should be very confident. If you have ANY inkling a player is a spy, accuse them outright and never look like you have doubts. If you doubt, you aren't Merlin.
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Phelanpt Feb 11, 2:15 PM: evils have mostly stood by and watch goods fall. except for emme. she's spinning them round and round.
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clydeiii wrote:
If you doubt, you aren't Merlin.


So then if I'm Merlin I should act like I doubt.

But if Merlin acts like he's doubting, maybe the Spies will suspect him more because they know a good Merlin will act confident and therefore in order to trip them up they know a better Merlin will doubt.

WIFOM?

I heart Resistance. Too bad there is no heart emote.
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Troy Adlington
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Aldie wrote:
We played 5 games of Avalon last night - and it was a 5 out of 5 Merlin assassination that won the game for evil.

Does anyone have any advice that can avoid this outcome? It seemed way too easy to pick out Merlin.


Last time I was Merlin I was actually the last one they thought was him

Just play your usual game. If you're outspoken and opinionated normally be that way

If quiet, be quiet and let your votes do the talking.

Sometimes I said things to specifically screw with the perceptions of the Evildoers

Fun fun!

We need to play this soon!

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Robert Stewart
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"But you must have known I was not a great fool. You would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."

From experience, however, the majority of casual gamers don't automatically jump to the conclusion that the best strategies for a game should form a Nash Equilibrium, let alone go looking for it, so you can get away with iterating through the outcomes without too many other players jumping ahead...
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Robert Stewart
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I played half-a-dozen games of 5-player Avalon last night, with Merlin and the Assassin and no other named roles.

First game was 3-0 to Evil - I was the Assassin, but had no clue who Merlin was - and didn't care either.
Second game, I was a vanilla good guy, but the Assassin managed to guess Merlin through spurious reasoning.
Third game, I was Merlin, the vanilla minion (the same guy who was the Assassin the previous game) guessed me because he thought I'd signalled the other good guys (I hadn't) - happily, the Assassin didn't buy his reasoning.
Fourth game, I was Merlin again, and late in the game said I was and denounced the two minions - the Assassin figured I was bluffing and went for someone else.
Fifth game, I was vanilla good guy again, but the baddies missed Merlin
Sixth game, I was vanilla good guy, mission 4 was a double-fail (with myself as the innocent party on the mission) - I claimed to be Merlin (and denounced the other two) but the other vanilla good guy made it clear that he wasn't Merlin, and that he was convinced one of the minions was actually a good guy, so, when Merlin included me in his mission selection, it blew his cover for the Assassin.

So it was 3-3 overall, with 1 straight evil win, 2 assassinations, and 3 games where Merlin went undetected by evil. Not conclusive, of course, but evidence that the good guys can win.
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Philip Thomas
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I played a 9 player and then an 8 player game the other day. 9 player game the Good guys won three straight missions in a row, but the Assassin guessed Merlin because Merlin had been almost completely silent. 8 player the bad guys won 3 in a row.

Merlin seems to be trouble for the good guys. Unless he helps the good guys with his special knowledge he's just a liability- in a 5 player game which was previously balanced he makes it 2/3 for the bad guys. If he does help the good guys he makes himself a more obvious target...
 
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Clyde W
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Agree, a UTR Merlin is so rarely good play that it should be avoided. However, it is remarkable how few times I've been assassinate as Merlin when I straight up claim Merlin. I think it might be zero times, in fact, but I have a bad memory and claim Merlin in nearly every single game I play ( regardless of role).

But, anyway, wanna confuse spies? Claim Merlin. It works well.
 
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Paul Smith
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clydeiii wrote:
Agree, a UTR Merlin is so rarely good play that it should be avoided. However, it is remarkable how few times I've been assassinate as Merlin when I straight up claim Merlin. I think it might be zero times, in fact, but I have a bad memory and claim Merlin in nearly every single game I play ( regardless of role).

But, anyway, wanna confuse spies? Claim Merlin. It works well.

Indeed. I like the way you play it. Always claim Merlin. ALWAYS.

Also, if you're Merlin and a Minion is sitting next to you, whisper to them that you're Merlin. Get's 'em every time.
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Philip Thomas
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If everyone at the table claims Merlin...
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Philip Thomas wrote:
If everyone at the table claims Merlin...
Then the game is amazeballs.
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