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A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)» Forums » Play By Forum

Subject: ravens vs no ravens in pbf rss

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mike m
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I've playing in my second pbf, both No Ravens. I can see how that imitates real life, bec it would be annoying to wait for side huddles and continuous timeouts. But in PBF it would seem like it wouldn't add time.

Any reason for predominance of No Raven games in pbf? Anyone who has tried both have a comment?
 
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E Mart
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I haven't played extensively, but here is what I've gathered from my experience playing (and lurking) both types (I'm sure there are other reasons, but these seemed to be the top 3 that stood out to me):

1) Slower play- In Raven games, people often engage in multiple correspondences and wait to submit their orders and declare their actions until they have come to their conclusion. This can have a dramatic effect on slowing play. People generally don't like waiting days-weeks for each move while side conversations are happening.

2) Less involvement- As back door conversations become the primary means of communication, less gets said publicly. The result is a game that has much less of the group interactions that make it fun (I witnessed this in a 'real life' game once when we included text messaging to simulate ravens... the result was long periods of silence as everyone stared at their phones).

3) Preferential advantage- Many PBF players play PBFs because they don't have the time to commit to lengthy, in-person games but can afford the regular, small updates of PBFs. However, for those that do have more time, a significant advantage can be be maintained by being able to engage in back-door diplomacy with the greater 'time capital.' Of course, having more time will be an advantage in non-Raven games as well, but it is greatly increased with the addition of Ravens.

All this being said, I like the opportunity to have secret conversations and think it adds an important element to the game. It's one of the reasons I rally like Vassal play, actually. Unfortunately, Vassal has it's own issues...
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mike m
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Laffs wrote:
1) Slower play- In Raven games, people often engage in multiple correspondences and wait to submit their orders and declare their actions until they have come to their conclusion. This can have a dramatic effect on slowing play.

Interesting - i guess pbf correspondence time scales up proportionally, so you end up with proportional waiting around for the side conversations to end. Makes sense, i was envisioning a couple of quick emails back and forth, but i suppose those dialogues could go on quite a while, and being asynchronous, could take days and weeks.

Sounds painful, and by itself, a good reason not to have ravens. The other two reasons you mentioned make sense, too.

Laffs wrote:
All this being said, I like the opportunity to have secret conversations and think it adds an important element to the game. It's one of the reasons I rally like Vassal play, actually.

Yes, I was thinking secret negotiations would add a lot of intrigue, which was the catalyst for the question.
 
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Alex Read
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Preface: I haven't played PBF yet.

The way we play in real life usually involves people making negotiations at the table, unless anyone can be bothered to get up and whisper.

While ravens do add an element of secrecy and means you have to be more wary of your supposed allies, I also like the idea of knowing what's going on diplomacy-wise - like in Monopoly, if you're trying to make a deal with someone, it gives someone else a chance to make a better deal and if you're trying to fool someone with words you also have to fool other people who may have an interest; it makes it more involving for all players. And, as mentioned above, time - with ravens you can be waiting for days and not even know why.
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Dave Dave
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I am currently playing my first PBF with ravens.
I don't like it.

I send and receive ravens to/from every player telling them/me that we should totally ally against someone else.
So far, nobody has been true to his word. At least in the ravens written to me. (And I bet everything else is just coincidental)

Ravens just make it soooo much easier to lie to everyone. In a no raven game you have to decide, do I want to ally with this player and therefore probably piss of that other player? Or better stay neutral?
In a ravens game you just go like "Oh, of course I will help you. Just tell me what you need, I'll deliver". There is no downside to promising help to anyone.
This, at least for me, leads to ravens being absolutely useless.

Contrary to what I expected, ravens remove diplomacy completely from the game.
On the other hand, I don't have that much experience with ravens. Maybe I am just missing something important.

But you where asking about PBF in particular.
I have to agree with Laffs: Time. That's it.
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mike m
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dave42 wrote:
In a ravens game you just go like "Oh, of course I will help you. Just tell me what you need, I'll deliver". There is no downside to promising help to anyone.
This, at least for me, leads to ravens being absolutely useless.

Contrary to what I expected, ravens remove diplomacy completely from the game.

wow, that's unexpected, but your explanation makes sense. in email, it's very easy to be vague, and skip questions you don't want to answer but make it seem you missed it, and just not respond when you don't want to.

so now that you say all that, it actually makes perfect sense that email ravens would actually be a lot less interesting for diplomacy.

i'm pretty convinced at this point that i would not want to be in a ravens game.
 
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Ru
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I'm playing my second PBF with Ravens now and I'm not a big fan. There's pro's and con's, but for me, the con's outweigh the pro's.

Pro: an added layer of strategy, backstab and deceit.
Frankly, Ravens allow you to truly set up a combined strategy with another player to attack or work against another player. Without Ravens, everything has to be said in the open and there's much less chance for surprise attacks. If you see an opening in another player's strategy, you can send a Raven to his opponent and tell him, in exchange for aid somewhere else. Also, you can suggest a backstab of an ally to his opponent without your ally knowing that you might backstab him, if the price is high enough.

In short, it adds a layer of cooperation that cannot be achieved without Ravens. This will mainly deal with backstabs and deceit.

Con: it's slow, requires more effort and is boring for lurkers.
The problem with Ravens is that every decision in the game can/will be slowed down by Ravens. A Clash of Kings, a Mustering, order placement, order resolvement, everything can be slowed down by Ravens. Especially if two players cooperate deeply, every decision has to be discussed. With players in different time zones, this can slow down a simple thing as an Iron Throne bid to take 3-4 days while Ravens fly back and forth.

Also, it requires a lot more effort. PBF#54 was a Raven game in which I played and it has taken up more time than ever. Not only did I have to think about orders and all the normal things, I also had to answer several Ravens per turn, then answer the replies, consider the suggestions and think on how to use this to best benefit. The extra layer of cooperation and the time of writing this Ravens (which were usually in character) took up a lot of time and that's just too much for some players.

Also, the game becomes quite boring to read back. I personally like to see some open conversation and discussion between players and a Raven game minimizes this.


Neutral: more or less lies
In response to dave's reply, I'm not sure whether everyone lies in Ravens. Especially in PBF#54, but also in our game, I've seen several great attacks that were set up through Ravens and took someone by surprise. With Ravens as well as in open diplomacy, everyone usually starts out friendly to everyone, but in time you see who is a useful ally and who is less useful, then choose who to work with.

Backstabs happen with or without Ravens and I think Ravens can add some great cooperation. However, for me it's just not worth the extra time and effort.
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I played in a couple of the early PBF games of the first edition. Both if I remember correctly had ravens. It certainly seemed to add to the delay as you may not get a response from someone for a couple of days and that was only in a cycle of communications. Naturally things needed to be clarified, so a response back and forth was required. So the time thing is definitely true.

Also, it was really hard to keep the GM involved, we tried copying him by Geekmail but it is difficult and tricky to remember to do, particularly as they can't comment back. This to me was the biggest drawback as that person is working hard for you and does not know what is going on. I used to try and send in regular commentary on my understanding of the situation, plans for the round etc.

There was too a lack of public in game banter, which was a shame. Some of the private stuff was brilliant, particularly communicating with guys who you knew where planning to sell you out and pretending not to know.

I really must get back in there and queue up for another go.

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Mihály Vincze
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I'm not entirely sure.
The first 24 pbf here was all with ravens, and the default option at the waitlist was with ravens too. When we started the first noR pbf here, our reasons were:
- To imitate tabletop - we didn't know if it would turn out to be good or bad, we just wanted to try it
- Better documentation - you can read back and 100% recreate a game, you can show it to others, or learn a lot more from them if you are a newbie
Some other things came up during play:
- One of our guys wanted to roleplay a lot, and it was fun to read
- It was easier for substitutes, because they could read through all the history to see what was truly going on

Personally, I thought that people will not like it, and the rest of the games will still be with ravens, but somehow they stuck to noR.
As for time, it may be true, but we didn't think of it back then. Our game in particular was extremely slow, but I guess that depends on the people playing it, and it could be that if we played with ravens, we would still be playing.
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