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Subject: ways to deal with the "I don't know" answer? rss

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Byron Campbell
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The major problem with this game, and it could be either a game-breaker or not a big deal depending on your group, is that people who play "poorly" by e.g. not taking detailed notes often put the other players at more of a disadvantage than they put themselves. For instance, in my last game, I asked another player the question "Have you, at any point in the game, received [card x] from [player y]?" Their honest response was "I don't know," and it was a bit disappointing to have to waste a crucial questioning opportunity--having a yes or no answer would have told me a lot. Even more frustrating, simply asking a question always tips your hand to some degree, and if you don't get a proper answer you're put at an extreme disadvantage. This was on top of the fact that I had, the previous turn, drawn a card that allowed me to place the players anywhere on the board I liked. I put the player in question outside of her own cell, which was currently occupied by [player y], hoping she'd go inside and force [y] to serve penance, but the juicy opportunity went completely over her head! This player went on to win the game, and I have to wonder how it might have turned out if I had gotten a real answer to my question.

In any case, I can see two potential ways to fix the "I don't know" problem, if it is a problem with your group. One is to force everybody to maintain the same minimum note-taking scheme--I keep track of who I give and receive cards from, who sees my cards and whose cards I see, and of course I differentiate between suspects I've actually seen and those I've deduced. However, I know it's difficult to convince some people even to try a game, and forcing them to adopt complex note-taking criteria doesn't help.

Here's Plan B: any time somebody answers "I don't know" or "I'm not sure" to a question, you may immediately ask that player a different question OR ask the same question of any other player, regardless of where they are on the board. For example, in the scenario described above, I could have asked the same player something else, or I could have asked [player y] "Have you ever given [card x] to this person?" If I received another "I don't know" answer, I could simply keep asking new questions until I received a proper answer.

I thought about imposing a penalty for "I don't know" answers but that would just encourage people to ask impossible questions. This way, I feel, minimizes the damage of a wasted question without giving any particular advantage to the asker. How do you handle such things in your game?
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How about don't play games that expect a lot of attentiveness with inattentive people? Either find a different game or find different players.
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Byron Campbell
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Nah, I don't like that answer. I enjoy playing the game with this group of people. The issue here is that inattentiveness on their part hurts the attentive players more than it does the inattentive ones.
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Brad McKenzie
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I think it only fair that if someone were to answer 'I don't know', you should get to ask a question that they can answer.

I can't imagine forced note taking would go over well - sounds too much like school or work...

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Gavin
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Seems to me that the appropriate action is for the person who doesn't know to exercise their vow of silence.
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Byron Campbell
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gavinjdow wrote:
Seems to me that the appropriate action is for the person who doesn't know to exercise their vow of silence.


Hadn't thought of that, but I could see that becoming a house rule. Doesn't work if it happens on your free question in return, but it's a start.
 
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Salim Khoury
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Maybe instead of "requiring" a note taking scheme you just spend time pre-game explaining the importance of the issue, suggest methods, highlight important nuances and hope they pick up on it and commit to play well. I would imagine that over a series of games they will inherently want to be better note takers...or not play because they don't like the game. Playing a game with passive & inattentive people generally sucks, and we all know that but it is certainly exponentially worse in games like this...

I was introduced to this game and played my first session just a few weeks ago, we loved it but the note taking required wasn't immediately explained to us. We knew we needed to take basic notes but I had no clue I needed to know what card was sent where, and what card was received from who, and certainly didn't realize it mattered to differentiate between seen and deduced cards until mid game and I was regretfully full of I don't knows and worse felt like I had no chance of winning because my notes were so weak.

BUT, despite all that I actually won the game and nailed the suspect...so maybe the game is designed in such a way to allow for poor note taking because an alert player might still catch enough from other's questions and narrow it all down to win. Or beginners luck...we'll see!
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Sven F.
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"Our" only rule regarding what notes have to be taken, is that the boxes have to be checked when a monk is regarded impossible as the murderer. How each player then proceeds, is up to each one. It has worked so far, but if someone asks "How many monks have you ruled out", the answerer would probably ask something like "Do you mean crossed out, or...", etc.
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Terry Chocorange
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Bruno Faidutti himself (that is, the author) gave what I found to be a slightly surprising answer to this question over at the Days of Wonder forums back when the game first came out. He believed that most "I don't knows" and "I don't remembers" should allow the questioner to try again with different wording or a different question. Have a look:
http://www.daysofwonder.com/en/msg/?th=308&start=0
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Amos
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chimpa wrote:
Bruno Faidutti himself (that is, the author) gave what I found to be a slightly surprising answer to this question over at the Days of Wonder forums back when the game first came out. He believed that most "I don't knows" and "I don't remembers" should allow the questioner to try again with different wording or a different question. Have a look:
http://www.daysofwonder.com/en/msg/?th=308&start=0


Why is that surprising? If a question is un-answerable, it seems natural not to count it as a question. The spirit of the game seems to expect questions that actually have answers. Thus, communicate clearly until a proper question and answer have been clearly exchanged.
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Dwayne Wood
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kittenhoarder wrote:
The major problem with this game, and it could be either a game-breaker or not a big deal depending on your group, is that people who play "poorly" by e.g. not taking detailed notes often put the other players at more of a disadvantage than they put themselves. For instance, in my last game, I asked another player the question "Have you, at any point in the game, received [card x] from [player y]?" Their honest response was "I don't know," and it was a bit disappointing to have to waste a crucial questioning opportunity--having a yes or no answer would have told me a lot. Even more frustrating, simply asking a question always tips your hand to some degree, and if you don't get a proper answer you're put at an extreme disadvantage. This was on top of the fact that I had, the previous turn, drawn a card that allowed me to place the players anywhere on the board I liked. I put the player in question outside of her own cell, which was currently occupied by [player y], hoping she'd go inside and force [y] to serve penance, but the juicy opportunity went completely over her head! This player went on to win the game, and I have to wonder how it might have turned out if I had gotten a real answer to my question.

In any case, I can see two potential ways to fix the "I don't know" problem, if it is a problem with your group. One is to force everybody to maintain the same minimum note-taking scheme--I keep track of who I give and receive cards from, who sees my cards and whose cards I see, and of course I differentiate between suspects I've actually seen and those I've deduced. However, I know it's difficult to convince some people even to try a game, and forcing them to adopt complex note-taking criteria doesn't help.

Here's Plan B: any time somebody answers "I don't know" or "I'm not sure" to a question, you may immediately ask that player a different question OR ask the same question of any other player, regardless of where they are on the board. For example, in the scenario described above, I could have asked the same player something else, or I could have asked [player y] "Have you ever given [card x] to this person?" If I received another "I don't know" answer, I could simply keep asking new questions until I received a proper answer.

I thought about imposing a penalty for "I don't know" answers but that would just encourage people to ask impossible questions. This way, I feel, minimizes the damage of a wasted question without giving any particular advantage to the asker. How do you handle such things in your game?



How about "I don't know" equals a vow of silence?
 
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Mark McEvoy
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Someone else suggested that over two years ago in this thread.

Doesn't work when the 'I don't know' question is a free-question-in-return, which cannot be vow-of-silence'd.
 
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