Monday, August 30, 2021

Dynastic review

Next dynasty will start within the next 24 hours. This thread is for post-dynastic chat.

Have fun!



30-08-2021 18:56:05 UTC

In my book, any dynasty where I can’t be bothered to propose the obvious is a bad one. This dynasty hit that point extremely early, and the main reason I didn’t idle myself was apathy.

Josh: he/they

30-08-2021 19:18:19 UTC

I feel like this dynasty had a good intent - to refocus the players on the proposal side of the game, which can languish - but it never came to much, which is a collective failure.

This win came about not because I pulled off some blindingly clever play - thinking about the implications of ADHERES for a few seconds would have revealed exactly what its purpose was - at heart I won because I could count on four full days passing where most if not all of the player base was not paying enough attention, not proposing in large numbers, and leaving proposals on low, trivially manipulable, numbers of votes.

I do wonder if, like the Treaty dynasty a little while back, this dynasty suggests that BN’s player base isn’t interested in pure exercises in form. I had considered a lock-box dynasty, where I make a rule that says “no player can achieve Victory” and secure it as thoroughly as possible, and see who can scam their way through the protections to change it - but I now think that theme-light, meta-dynasties that concentrate on pure nomic play might just be out of fashion. That seems like a shame to me.

Vovix: he/him

30-08-2021 19:18:49 UTC

I think the central idea (proposal restrictions) was neat, but starting out immediately with a direct incentive to pass proposals regardless of content and a disincentive against voting things down led to a lot of flailing about and a lot of things passed just because. Hell, even my “I literally just win, plz vote for me” proposal was at 3-3 and was seen as enough of a threat to veto, that’s how much the dynasty was skewed towards things passing.

Vovix: he/him

30-08-2021 19:28:44 UTC

@Josh, I think scam-themed dynasties run into the problem of incentives. If you know the win is going to be a scam, there’s no reason to engage with the dynasty except to exploit one or shut down someone else’s. That’s exactly what happened here, it’s not that I wasn’t interested in the dynasty, I just saw no reason to propose anything until I had a game-winning play. The lockbox dynasty sounds cool, but I’d imagine it would either end very quickly as soon as someone finds a loophole, or fizzle out if no one spots any loopholes and everyone just goes “well, what now?” I think the last dynasty might have struck a good balance, we all knew that it was going to end in a game-winning combo sooner or later, but we had an engine-building game to build/play in the meantime.

Clucky: he/him

30-08-2021 19:54:27 UTC

The “lose empathy for against votes” mechanic I think definitely hurt things.

There also just wasn’t much of anything to do except make proposals. But that made it hard to make a proposal but I couldn’t come up with good stuff for a proposal to do.

Lulu: she/her

30-08-2021 20:50:23 UTC

I think we can probably pull off another “exercise in form”; the Treaty Dynasty and this one had other problems that were unrelated to things being an exercise in form.

lemon: she/her

30-08-2021 21:34:34 UTC

i was busy for most of the ~1 week this dynasty lasted, but it seemed interesting!! i liked the ever-growing set of qualifiers (i compared it to legislative twister on the discord), altho that also hurt my head, so i wasn’t able to do much scheming in the time i had. if only i’d had more time to get my bearings…

lemon: she/her

30-08-2021 21:51:31 UTC

re: josh’s lockbox dynasty idea & thoughts on pure nomic play: it’s certainly something that i’m interested in, but its also something that takes considerably more effort & buy-in than other game types, i feel?

like, first off, i bet some ppl are less interested in the mechanics of proposal gameplay than they are in the creative exercise of collaborative game-building :0
but also, i think a purer game demands focus!! in some dynasties, u can come to the game every day or two and make a couple strategic/intuitive decisions, then leave, and find urself close to winning after enough good individual plays so u can then start thinking about how to get victory in ur grasp. but in a dynasty like this one, u need a specific plan to get anywhere! i wonder if that type of game might be better fit to an experience on a shorter timeframe, so ppl are more fully able to engage w/ the main premise?


30-08-2021 22:20:53 UTC

In many ways, this dynasty was an experiment – I’m not sure it was necessarily a failure, though. In particular, it taught me a lot about what BlogNomic’s attitude to proposals is.

I think one of the main problems was that we didn’t have much for proposals to interact with. I knew that was likely to be an issue, and was intentionally trying to seed open-ended things into the ruleset in the hope of giving people proposal ideas, and those proposals mostly passed, but (apart from Josh) people mostly didn’t do anything with them. (At some point, the ruleset changed in a way that made it much harder for me to make proposals, which limited the ability I had to guide things as Emperor – was that intentional?)

The low vote counts weren’t specific to this dynasty, I think – we had something similar happen in the previous dynasty (which ended up giving me far too much control of what the ruleset looked like as I was one of the few players who was consistently voting, e.g. it let me pass “Reap What You Sow” in a situation where it should probably have been voted down by the non-farmers).

I think it was definitely worth putting Empathy into the rules to see what happened. People’s default attitude at BlogNomic is normally to vote proposals down unless they clearly benefit everyone. In this dynasty, repeatedly voting down proposals just causes someone to win, and Empathy was an incentive to let proposals enact unless you cared strongly about stopping them. However, despite Empathy, and despite the victory condition, most proposals ended up failing anyway.

Another thing that this dynasty highlighted is that it’s hard to write proposals at BlogNomic (and that being able to stay online for a full edit window after you’ve created your proposal, something that not everyone has the Real Life availability for, is actually a major advantage). It’s very easy to mess things up in a way that causes the proposal to deal damage, or have an unintended effect, or whatever; and even when you avoid doing that, people will often dislike the numbers, or dislike the idea, or like the idea but think that it’s excessively biased towards a certain subset of players, etc.. This means that more experienced players, who are less likely to make mistakes, get a huge advantage in dynasty-shaping because proposals by less experienced players have very little chance to pass. I think we urgently need some sort of system to allow newer players to get wording help with their proposals; not necessarily a protosal system, but maybe some sort of Mentor-like service where an experienced player tries to find bugs in the proposal.

The other interesting thing that this dynasty has highlighted is that the pace of core play is probably too fast. The rules are designed to assume that people can get online every 48 hours and will vote on every proposal, and that was the case earlier in BlogNomic’s history, but nowadays there’s a sizeable minority of players who’d prefer to play the game that’s being built rather than try to influence it. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something that our core rules don’t currently handle very well. On the other hand, BlogNomic also struggles with long queues – it becomes very difficult to design a proposal to be compatible with all earlier proposals, and even when you do, it often becomes an unreadable mess of conditionals. This might be a contradiction that’s hard to fix in practice.

@Vovix: proposals passing “just because” was intentional; if not for that, the dynasty would have collapsed very early on (possibly with no proposals passing at all), and I was interested to see how biased proposals could get and still pass.

@Josh: I don’t think that exercises in form are necessarily going to be a bad thing or a failure, and I think they may be worth trying once every couple of years or so to shake things up. (The Fifth Metadynasty, for example, is one of my favourite dynasties and I consider it a success, even though it was a mess of mechanics that never gelled together.) I do think, however, that it’s probably inadvisable to try them too often. (I also suspect that with your hypothetical lockbox dynasty, it’s unlikely that anyone would actually manage to win “conventionally”, and I’d expect the dynasty to eventually be ended by CFJ. That said, you’ve already given me thoughts for how I might be able to try to win it…)


30-08-2021 22:26:48 UTC

By the way, Josh, did you take less than a minute to write your DoV after opening the page? If not, it’s possible you enacted it early by mistake (this can now be trivially fixed by re-enacting it, though), because the limit is 12 hours after it was published, not 12 hours after you started writing it.


30-08-2021 23:51:06 UTC

> I think one of the main problems was that we didn’t have much for proposals to interact with.

This seems to be an extension of the principle that if you start the play too early it distracts people from writing proposals, even moreso than from the utter inability of proposals to be inoffensive.

The “play” here was control of the queue and Empathy farming. They were there from the opening proposals. That meant everyone was chasing the victory condition from their first proposal.


31-08-2021 00:16:52 UTC

Well, passing proposals reset the victory timer, so proposals were inoffensive in that sense – if you’re not the current leader, there’s no downside to passing someone else’s proposal.

Josh: he/they

31-08-2021 06:42:18 UTC

@ais I always write my posts in notepad then paste them into the form

Kevan: City he/him

31-08-2021 07:59:47 UTC

I passed early on this dynasty as I had a busy week and the cognitive load felt too high on voting and enacting/failing proposals. Did seem good for using proposals as the base speed of the game, though, and I liked the ongoing FRC-style (?) restrictions to the scope of them.

Clucky: he/him

31-08-2021 08:18:32 UTC

The increasing restrictions on proposals wound up being something that I felt was better in theory than in practice. While there was potential for it to turn into a game of “find a creative way to get your proposal to satisfy all this stuff” we never really got there.

Josh: he/they

31-08-2021 09:56:32 UTC

To be fair though Clucky, we only got eight days in. Another week and I reckon the restrictions would have started to really bite.

I think the main thing that would need to change in this ruleset to make it fun would just be tweaking incentives. Up the rewards for making proposals and nerf or remove the voting incentives. Fix that and I think you have a dynasty.