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 Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In OTF) 
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Post Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In OTF)
I am wondering why mission stealing is still blocked in OTF by the "Fair Play" rule.

My understanding of why mission stealing was bad was that you were facing your own dilemmas so you know what is coming, I guess that part still exists, but you still had to seed reasonably effective dilemmas or your opponent would be able to waltz through the missions anyway.

At the very least in OTF you are facing whatever the opponent throws under missions first so you can't pull something using your own dilemmas that bypasses all barriers.

Has the idea of removing the Fair Play rule(and banning Fair Play) in OTF been explored or are there lots of problems that I am not seeing?


Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:59 pm
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
The last major public discussion of Mission Stealing was this one in 2017. It was... divisive.

There was a card in Cold Front that allowed mission stealing under strictly limited circumstances. Perhaps predictably, given the discussion I just linked, some testers thought it was garbage because it allowed way too little mission stealing, and others thought it was garbage because it allowed way too much mission stealing. Nobody liked it, though, and the rules didn't really have a good way to support it yet, so it got cut. (And that's how you got Temporal Almanac instead.)

The basic premise was sound, though, I think, and (thanks to Homestead), the rules are better now at overriding OTF rules occasionally than they were back then. I'd like to see strictly limited mission stealing tried again, although I'd rather err on the side of too weak than too strong when it comes to mission theft. Let's release a crappy mission stealing card, establish a basic not-that-scary baseline, and see what can be done from there.

EDIT: Basically, I want to design and release a mission stealing card so tame that its critics will actually want to play with it, one that addresses all their concerns about the brokenness of the original mechanic. That's the level of conservatism that's needed in reintroducing mission stealing. And the approach we took in Cold Front was to look at the fears of critics -- I specifically remember quoting Marquetry in pitching a limit -- and build a mission-stealing card that would make them happy.

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Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:38 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
I think the biggest problem is that Mission Stealing can be a real negative experience for a player whose mission is getting stolen. I remember building decks way back in the day that were set up to be able to steal any mission with not too much difficulty. The deck could fairly easily pass it's own dilemmas and would go fairly quickly, and was very frustrating to play against since it would never encounter your dilemmas and each mission I scored would take away possible points from you, reducing your ability to win by depriving you of your own missions.

I would love to see mission stealing looked at again at some point, but I definitely don't think we should go back to the wild west days pre- Fair Play.

- James M


Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:54 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
BCSWowbagger wrote:
The last major public discussion of Mission Stealing was this one in 2017. It was... divisive.

There was a card in Cold Front that allowed mission stealing under strictly limited circumstances. Perhaps predictably, given the discussion I just linked, some testers thought it was garbage because it allowed way too little mission stealing, and others thought it was garbage because it allowed way too much mission stealing. Nobody liked it, though, and the rules didn't really have a good way to support it yet, so it got cut. (And that's how you got Temporal Almanac instead.)

The basic premise was sound, though, I think, and (thanks to Homestead), the rules are better now at overriding OTF rules occasionally than they were back then. I'd like to see strictly limited mission stealing tried again, although I'd rather err on the side of too weak than too strong when it comes to mission theft. Let's release a crappy mission stealing card, establish a basic not-that-scary baseline, and see what can be done from there.

EDIT: Basically, I want to design and release a mission stealing card so tame that its critics will actually want to play with it, one that addresses all their concerns about the brokenness of the original mechanic. That's the level of conservatism that's needed in reintroducing mission stealing. And the approach we took in Cold Front was to look at the fears of critics -- I specifically remember quoting Marquetry in pitching a limit -- and build a mission-stealing card that would make them happy.


I think a card that might work would probably let the opponent throw some dilemmas at you one way or another, whether they swap dilemmas with another mission when you attempt their mission or seed some dilemmas from their side deck or whatever.


Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:24 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
geraldkw wrote:
I think a card that might work would probably let the opponent throw some dilemmas at you one way or another, whether they swap dilemmas with another mission when you attempt their mission or seed some dilemmas from their side deck or whatever.


That's one of seven limits I think a "safe" mission stealing reintroduction card would need.

All seven are:

* reliable defensibility, like you said (e.g. "you may download and seed 2 dilemmas, even from your discard pile")

* a repeatability limit (presumably "once per game")

* a pace limit (e.g. "you may not attempt until after your opponent's next full turn")

* a time limit (e.g. [Countdown:3] )

* an attemptability limit (e.g. "if appropriate Espionage card here and no player has attempted mission, your Intelligence personnel may attempt")

* a redistribution mechanism so losing a mission isn't devastating for the stealee or game-winning for the stealer (e.g. "When solved, opponent first scores 10 points from mission, then you score remainder.")

* an absolute defense for people who HAAAAAATE mission stealing and are willing to continue avoiding it at a steep cost (e.g. allowing the card to target only 35-point missions)

If a card with all those limits turns out to be binder fodder after a year, fine. Great, even; we will have reintroduced mission stealing with no major casualties or drama. Then we can remove one of the limits and try again, until we creep slowly into a good power level that the entire game is comfortable with.

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Star Trek: Excelsior | Ass't designer: Cold Front, The Cage | I support Exhibition Format

Then Jesus said to Peter, "Put thy Glossary back into its place: for he who takes up the Glossary shall perish with the Glossary."
-Mt 26:52


Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:03 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
Orbin wrote:
I think the biggest problem is that Mission Stealing can be a real negative experience for a player whose mission is getting stolen.


If mission-stealing is a possibility and the player doesn't do anything to defend against it, then for sure it'll be a negative experience. And the onus for that negative experience will be on that player.

If battle is a possibility and a player doesn't do anything to defend against a battle deck, then they'll probably have a negative experience as well. But you don't blame battle for the negative experience, you blame the player for playing a game that has a feature (mission-stealing, battle, etc.) but not preparing to deal with that feature.

BCSWowbagger wrote:
If a card with all those limits turns out to be binder fodder after a year, fine. Great, even; we will have reintroduced mission stealing with no major casualties or drama.


A) Such a card WILL be binder fodder, instantly. No card with that many restrictions will find itself used in any deck.

B) You can't really honestly say you've reintroduced anything (such as mission-stealing) if it's not actually used.

C) There's nothing great about designing a card that is pretty much designed to be binder fodder. That's an incredible waste of resources, including designers, artists, and particularly playtesting.

Quote:
Then we can remove one of the limits and try again, until we creep slowly into a good power level that the entire game is comfortable with.


So then the real goal of the card is a multi-step process of designing useless cards until you eventually design the card that you originally wanted to design in the first place?

Given the slow pace of development (with so many false starts and cancelled premises), which you've gone into detail many times before - I don't see how you can expect this to be a realistic process. Even if it DOESN'T get stalled (and it will, unless it continues to remain every designer's number one priority, from one set to the next), you're talking about a multi-year process (at least three, more like five years) that will iteratively churn out useless cards, leaving many angry players and playtesters in its wake.

Also, keep in mind, designers tend to shy away from making cards that are strictly better than other cards. So if your first mission-stealing card has seven restrictions, then I don't think the second mission-stealing card is going to have six or fewer (unless one of those six is a stronger version of the original seven). Meaning your prototype mission stealing card becomes the eternal baseline, not the starting point for determining the final baseline.


Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:39 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
frakkingoff wrote:
Orbin wrote:
I think the biggest problem is that Mission Stealing can be a real negative experience for a player whose mission is getting stolen.


If mission-stealing is a possibility and the player doesn't do anything to defend against it, then for sure it'll be a negative experience. And the onus for that negative experience will be on that player.

If battle is a possibility and a player doesn't do anything to defend against a battle deck, then they'll probably have a negative experience as well. But you don't blame battle for the negative experience, you blame the player for playing a game that has a feature (mission-stealing, battle, etc.) but not preparing to deal with that feature.
Sure, but the existence of Fair Play means mission stealing is only valid in some circumstances, the only thing that OTF did was make it so you didn't have to put Fair Play into your Q's Tent: Civil War ref pile. Removing the rule (and removing the card from the ban list) doesn't dramatically change anything. Fair Play has been a part of the game for a while (since Dominion) and ref card retrieval through Q the Referee at suspend play speed has been around since The Trouble With Tribbles.

So now when I play I still tend to stock espionage cards for the occasional high point mission steal, but never plan to do mission stealing as a primary objective. Personally, I'm fine with that.

- James M


Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:44 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
frakkingoff wrote:
A) Such a card WILL be binder fodder, instantly. No card with that many restrictions will find itself used in any deck.

Tell it to the testers. Like I said, some agreed with you: instant binder fodder. Others thought even having six of the seven limits was still way OP.

I think the practical reality we have to face is that there's no possibility that Design will be able to release (or even risk releasing) a powerful mission-stealing card in the face of the sizable and passionate opposition to it... certainly not with the current size of the playtesting teams. (They do tremendous work, but are stretched thin.)

So it seems to me that the options are a cautious, incremental reintroduction to mission theft -- one that carefully reassures its opponents over a long period of time and use -- or no change, ever. I think mission theft is an important and fundamental enough part of the game that it's worth that long-term investment... complete with a high risk of false starts and binder fodder along the way.

YMMV, of course.

Quote:
Also, keep in mind, designers tend to shy away from making cards that are strictly better than other cards. So if your first mission-stealing card has seven restrictions, then I don't think the second mission-stealing card is going to have six or fewer (unless one of those six is a stronger version of the original seven). Meaning your prototype mission stealing card becomes the eternal baseline, not the starting point for determining the final baseline.

Design knows to level cards up when there's a need that has to be fulfilled and the current baseline isn't cutting it. Remember: Out Of Time was Design's original "replacement" for Temporal Vortex, and its release was supposed to make it possible to remove the [Ref] icon from Temporal Vortex. That didn't work, so the next attempt was Protect The Timeline. That still wasn't enough to replace Vortex, so finally Design rolled out Temporal Conduit, which practically gave away the store -- and finally fulfilled the need they had, allowing Temporal Vortex to go away.

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Then Jesus said to Peter, "Put thy Glossary back into its place: for he who takes up the Glossary shall perish with the Glossary."
-Mt 26:52


Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:18 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
BCSWowbagger wrote:
Tell it to the testers. Like I said, some agreed with you: instant binder fodder. Others thought even having six of the seven limits was still way OP.


Ok, so that's half the problem - pretty unusable data. It gives you a direction to go in for further investigation, but that's meaningless if you don't actually follow through with such an investigation.

If some playtesters find the card is broken OP and others think it's binder fodder....well, both groups can't both be right.

So then the playtester groups need to swap the decks they tested with. Give the "broken decks" to the "binder fodder group" and ask them to demonstrate how such a "broken" deck can be countered (or have them sign off that it truly is broken). A little less useful, but still potentially illuminating: Give the "binder fodder" decks to the "broken group" and ask them how they would beef it up in order to "break it," and see how the "binder fodder group" responds.

I mean, I'd normally assume this is all happening anyway - but from your previous descriptions of playtesting, I get the feeling that each group is just working in complete isolation and not double-checking results with one another when reports are wildly conflicting or iterating decks deigned to test card feasibility/brokenness.

Which is mind-boggling, because without that, I can't see how playtesting really has much use...

Quote:
I think the practical reality we have to face is that there's no possibility that Design will be able to release (or even risk releasing) a powerful mission-stealing card in the face of the sizable and passionate opposition to it...


And this is the other half of the problem. Playtesters shouldn't have the authority to quash a card just because they don't like it. Unanimity should not be a requirement and design shouldn't be done by (multiple) committee(s). That's what Will of the Collective is for.

The function of testing in any environment is to provide data. The function of designers is to use that data to make tweaks and final decisions.


Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:09 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
Unlimited mission makes for a totally new game - just look at how open sealed is usually played: You try to avoid the 3way treaty and only gun for opponents missions.

The games can be extremely interesting but also do not really resemble the one we are playing right now - and it is absolutely brutal for new players because the new game has very little to do with what the rule book and tutorials tell you.

I like the way design has gone in the last expansions in making important missions steelable, this should be the way to go. If only 1-2 of your missions are stealable (and it is your choice to use those), this makes for an interesting game, but Open without Fair Play might not be a good way to go.


Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:13 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
Frakkingoff, you raise some interesting things to discuss, but, alas, I can't discuss them. Since testers themselves are bound by confidentiality, Design, too, can't delve too far into process details in public. Surface stuff like "testers loved / hated X" is about as far as I can go without putting them in an awkward position.

All I can say is that our wonderful testers work very hard, are spread very thin, and that you can find out all the secrets behind the curtain for yourself if you volunteer as a tester today! (PM MidnightLich for details). And I would be very happy to continue the discussion of these points with you in the Playtesting forum at some point (maybe after you and I play a test game with Delenn Version L or GKar Version A).

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Then Jesus said to Peter, "Put thy Glossary back into its place: for he who takes up the Glossary shall perish with the Glossary."
-Mt 26:52


Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:13 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
Mogh, Son Of Worf wrote:
Unlimited mission makes for a totally new game


Not a new game. The original game.

Different from how it is now, yes, but not new.

BCSWowbagger wrote:
Frakkingoff, you raise some interesting things to discuss, but, alas, I can't discuss them. Since testers themselves are bound by confidentiality, Design, too, can't delve too far into process details in public. Surface stuff like "testers loved / hated X" is about as far as I can go without putting them in an awkward position.


This response is, frankly, baffling.

There really should be no reason the process in general, or the process specifically as it applies to previously-released sets, should be considered confidential. Really, the only thing confidential should be the text of cards still in development and, perhaps, the playtester identities (if only so they can avoid being pestered).

Transparency has been something the CC leadership has publicly said they've been striving for recently. And in cases like these, is probably necessary if the process is ever going to improve or adapt to the needs of the community.

And let's be honest - we're not talking about trade secrets here. This is all fun and games, not a profit-driven commercial enterprise.

(I understand that you, personally, may not like the position you're in - and if so, my response and my bafflement is directed more to the powers that be which are restraining you in principle, rather than you yourself).


Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:57 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
Mogh, Son Of Worf wrote:
The games can be extremely interesting but also do not really resemble the one we are playing right now


But I wonder if it resembles what Decipher originally thought about how the game would be played.. ;)

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Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:22 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
AllenGould wrote:
Mogh, Son Of Worf wrote:
The games can be extremely interesting but also do not really resemble the one we are playing right now


But I wonder if it resembles what Decipher originally thought about how the game would be played.. ;)


That's true, but I don't think they wanted a game where people only solved their opponents missions. I think with more downloads and more control over what people you have in play early on, this is no longer doable. Decipher recognized that as well with Fair Play. You can have unlimited mission stealing, but then you also have to revert to draw 1 - play 1 gameplay without downloads if you don't want inexperienced players being beaten round 1-2 constantly.


Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:30 am
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Post Re: Does Mission Stealing still need to be prohibited? (In O
Here's an idea that doesn't mess with Fair Play or the OTF rule and creates an option for players who really hate mission stealing to opt out.

Create seedable verbs that are activated by seeding 40+ point missions with more than one affiliation icon.

Very Rough Example

Bigger Fish to Fry
Seeds or plays on table. Once each turn, if you seeded one mission showing 40 or more points or 2 [Univ] missions, you may ignore one effect that states: "Draw no cards this turn."

Economy of Scale
Seeds or plays on table. If you seeded 2 missions showing 40 points or more, all your ships are attributes +1, and you can not be forced to discard cards from hand(except by [Ref] cards). If you seeded at least 3 missions of 40 points or more or 3 [Univ] missions, at the start of each mission attempt, choose a personnel to double their first two listed skills.


Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:38 am
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