Saturday, July 31, 2021

Post-Dynastic washup

After a long dynasty, a chance to reflect. (It’s a joke because vampires are famously not reflective.)

Before we get stuck in, I’ll gently remind all those present that the objective is to reminisce and give constructive feedback - not to continue the grudges of the dynasty, nor to create new ones.

Thank you all for playing - I think it was a C+ kind of a dynasty but I hope that you had fun and found something to enjoy in it.


Clucky: he/him

31-07-2021 21:53:20 UTC

Probably goes without saying, but I definitely think the biggest flaw in this dynasty was certainly the round structure.

The pachinko machine mechanics meant that sometimes you’d have rounds where you didn’t get a whole lot, and other times you scored big. Which only compounded the problem I think because it made getting a low puissance roll and then waiting another three days for something to happen even more frustrating.

Maybe one of these days someone will come up with a super clever way that allows for reactionary, round based gameplay cause there are certainly interesting gameplay you can do with it (were you to turn this into an actual game, I would think you just want to have turns. but we learned turns don’t work well either unless those turns are limited to a couple of people)


31-07-2021 22:18:15 UTC

I’m just here to unidle.

lemon: she/her

31-07-2021 23:31:36 UTC

there were some arguments throughout the latter section of this dynasty, but for those who weren’t a part of those arguments they were mostly just annoying tbh. what stood out to me most during this dynasty was:

1) the concept, and the initial ruleset, left a *lot* of room for expansion, so it was a very fun and novel sandbox to play around in!! i wonder even if we would’ve benefitted from continuing to add content (features, traits, etc) to the game towards the end, bc it never rlly felt completed to me and i liked that :0

2) the story posts!!! i’ve said this, but i’ll say it again: i really liked the journey story posts. they added great flavour, they let me get invested in what would’ve otherwise just been, as clucky calls them, pachinko machine mechanics doing their wacky thing, n it felt like they motivated everyone to give the dynasty a lot of character for josh to build off of!!

Josh: he/they

31-07-2021 23:50:05 UTC

I was really pleased with how flexible the ruleset was for this.

The initial premise is one I’ve been kicking around for years - it began as an idea for a dynasty themed around the old British TV show Knightmare, which I am… 98% certain was as influential on Kevan as it was on me. I wanted to lean way more heavily on the idea of adding active and passive influences to Richardo’s movement, making it less random but equally chaotic, but I’m thrilled at how far we got without even really touching that side of things.

The upended premise of the dynasty - that the players weren’t really actors, but were instead kind of the board - was neat and worked well, but it’s hard to see how or even if it could be tried again. Centering Richardo as the actor is the original sin that led to the round timing issues; after two months I think they might be insoluble.


01-08-2021 04:35:26 UTC

I was mostly hanging around to read the Expeditions.

Brendan: he/him

01-08-2021 04:52:36 UTC

I really enjoyed reading the Expeditions, and I am grateful for the huge amount of work Josh undertook in leading the dynasty, as he often has. Thank you, Josh.


01-08-2021 05:18:27 UTC

I think this is the sort of thing that could be turned into an actual game, too. If playing it in person, I think you repeatedly pick a random person and say “spend some Puissance now, or do nothing until the next Expedition”, but that obviously wouldn’t work online when people are in different timezones.

I am beginning to suspect that the best movement-controlling mechanic is “Richardo always moves to the adjacent room in which he’s historically lost/spent the least energy” (making Familiar and Daunting statuses into a continuous number rather than temporary statuses), which should help to level off the benefit from various squares automatically.

There were a few combos available. Chiiika got much of her early influence via the deathtrap + Denizen combo (injure Richardo so that he couldn’t kill a Denizen, then have it deal extra damage, doubling influence gain from the Denizen + the Glyph); that combo wasn’t particularly broken under the late-game ruleset but was earlier on, before Daunting was invented, before Richardo had enhanced starting energy, and before there was an easy way to put Roc Feathers near the entrance. We’d worked together to set that one up (I was in charge of manipulating the proposal queue / rules to help her, she was doing the actions). Unfortunately, there was no way to stop Jumble simply copying the combo once we’d used it (I don’t know whether he thought of it independently, or whether he saw us use it and decided to do the same thing). I think this was the main determining factor in the dynasty mostly turning into Jumble vs. Chiiika for the main part.

Blood Frenzy (and Bloodthirsty punishment in general) is something that turned out to really hurt the dynasty, in retrospect: its main effect was to randomly ruin players’ strategies, taking them out of the game for a while. This basically eliminated Brendan, and also stopped Chiiika in her tracks lategame. Likewise, the Dust mechanic would cause you to lose two turns if you got randomly hit by it (and there was no real way to prevent this: both me and Jumble got hit by a Silver-Tipped Stake + Secret Passage Map combo, and neither of us gained any real Influence for the rest of the dynasty after it happened, preferring to act in a support role to other players because we had been set too far back to win on our own). This sort of random “actually you don’t get to play any more” effect may have contributed to the death of the dynasty; both Chiiika and Jumble got hit by it and ended up having to turn to a pooling strategy as a consequence (part of the reason Kevan was doing so well is that he managed to dodge all the Blood Frenzy and Dusting effects), which implies that the effect was way too strong. If I were redoing this dynasty as a board game, I’d remove Dusting entirely and place Puissance on a 0 to 12 scale: if it goes above 12 it gets reset to 6, and there are no special effects at 0. That way, there’s still an incentive to avoid getting stair-munched, but when people mess up their Puissance calculations, it doesn’t randomly ruin the day of someone else.

Puissance generation itself wasn’t well-designed – the only reason the dynasty functioned at all was due to players self-sacrificially creating Puissance-generation rooms near the entrance, giving us a reasonable drip. In retrospect, I think I’d have made the “every Vampire Lord with an engraved Sigil here gains 1 Puissance” effect something general that applies to all rooms, not something that you have to purchase (because with only one turn of Newly Furnished available to make use of your purchase, it is never worth it, and indeed few players did), making the Glyph/Sigil choice more interesting. Industrious Denizens were, I think, a well-balanced way to do that (or would have been if team lemonfanta hadn’t taken over the area near the entrance, which indirectly protected everything further away) – they needed to survive three Expeditions to show any profit, and typically died faster than that, but it was possible to protect them if you spent enough on it. So they were less powerful than people were considering, but still had their niche. Purification also served as a reasonable Puissance source towards the end. (The main mechanism I saw for Chiiika to win towards the end, other than “end it by die roll”, would be to collapse lemonfanta’s Sepulchre; we were aiming to maximise the probability, although with the centre of the map dominated by team lemonfanta, the probability would necessarily be quite low. If we had steered Richardo into the Fitness Center, though, it would have not only wiped out all her unspent Influence, but left her almost unable to gain Puissance for the rest of the dynasty, and also wiped out the Influence of her team-mates.)

It’s worth noting that Chiiika and I saw Kevan as a major threat this dynasty; we were planning to attack him, but then the Imperial Favours were used to grab rooms near the entrance, and we suddenly needed to devote all our effort to trying to prevent lemonfanta running away with things, meaning that attacking Kevan had to move down the priority list somewhat (and in the end, Kevan, Chiiika and I were all trying between us to stop team lemonfanta by any means possible, thus the proposals to end the dynasty by dice roll). Kevan and I are both quite surprised that The Crystal Dome passed – it wouldn’t have done without lemonfanta’s vote. My “game player” theory as to what happened here was that team lemonfanta were afraid that Brendan was working (or would be about to work) with us, in which case we would have had sufficient resources to gradually claw back map control over time, but in retrospect, this might have been nothing to do with gameplay: lemonfanta might simply have gotten fed up of the dynasty and been willing to sabotage her own victory chances somewhat in order to vote through the end of it.

Having control of rooms near the centre of the map was disproportionately powerful; in this respect, I think both the Dark Favours mechanic, and Sepulchre collapse, were overtuned. Once Purification was invented, that would make more sense as a fate for visited Sepulchres than leaving an empty square, which the next person online could Light with a Glyph in – I didn’t fix this because I thought it would make more sense to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, Brendan found my idling request before I could really get organised; I shouldn’t have posted it that early, but I was very tired at that point and not thinking straight (having to be awake and online and paying attention to BlogNomic almost constantly in order to play optimally gets really wearing); accidentally idling myself was probably good for my mental health, even though it was bad for my victory chances. Everyone immediately assumed I’d asked Brendan to idle me by PM, but no, he somehow found my comment on a month-old post unprompted.

The dynasty’s mechanics did mostly deal with central rooms being powerful, though; Daunting/Purification helped a lot, and the central rooms had mostly already been built before the best uses for them were proposed, so this was an example of the nomic aspects of the game helping out the gameplay (they would be quite broken if you started with just Crypt Entrance and had all the rules in place from the start). If you make this into a board game, I think you have to start Puissance low enough to avoid turn 1 deathtraps, and start with the Iron Cross in place from the beginning.

I was expecting this dynasty to go through a few distinct phases: the early-game Puissance scramble, the deathtrap phase, then a phase in which Grievous Injury deathtraps became less important due to an abundance of Roc Feathers and a lack of space near the entrance, possibly followed by Ingress plays or infinite-corridor-of-Glyphs deathtrap substitutes. (One big problem with Ingresses is that they either did nothing, or else gave you such a huge advantage that you’d have all the other players banding together to remove it by proposal. That’s probably the reason nobody used them (it’s the reason I didn’t use them, at least); being much too far ahead just doesn’t work in a nomic, because people won’t let you stay there. The main exception is if you have a pool of almost half the players, and the Emperor is sympathetic towards it, in which case it can be hard for other players to vote to remove the advantage.) The last phase never happened, though, because team lemonfanta had Imperial Favours (and one lucky Blood Frenzy) to place deathtraps so close to the entrance that Richardo had no time to pick up a Roc Feather, and enough enchantment actions between them to prevent people making use of any of the other rooms near the entrance. This was a situation where the dynasty’s timing issues were really highlighted – the main counterplay to people blocking most of the exits from the starting location was to block the rest yourself, but (because team lemonfanta controlled two rooms adjacent to the entrance) doing that would be counterproductive until after team lemonfanta had done their blocks, leading to a standoff which required being constantly online at Witching Hour. And unfortunately, one bad timezone roll (leading to Chiiika and I both being asleep at the critical moment) made that counterplay impossible. In retrospect, we should have banned double-enchantment of any given room (I would have proposed this if it weren’t for the dynasty being about to end anyway), giving an incentive to enchant rooms early and breaking up the combo.

One nomic-related issue with this dynasty: because nothing ever really happened except during an Expedition, the sort of scam that instantly wins you the game was impossible to pull off (an infinite Puissance scam couldn’t win you the game, and nor could an infinite Influence scam, before the other players could get online to propose away your advantage). At least one infinite Puissance (or possibly “more Puissance than you should have but not infinite”, depending on how you intepret the badly-worded rule in question) scam exists in the current ruleset, but it requires tight timing relative to an Expedition: you need to take actions between the “Carry out any effects that take place when the Crypt Settles.” and “Make a post to the blog summarising this Enter the Crypt action.” steps of the Enter the Crypt action (the former stops the Organ, making it possible to act again). Josh typically performed these two steps in the opposite order (which is technically illegal – steps in an atomic action have to be completed in order), which had a side effect of making the scam impossible to pull off because the timing window for it had a negative size and couldn’t be hit. I was considering a CFJ to persuade Josh perform the steps in order (via upholding the existing out-of-order Expeditions but not giving him permission to do them out of order in the future), then doing the scam, but it really wasn’t worth it because I expected the scam to just be overturned by CFJ anyway – gaining a huge amount of Puissance doesn’t win you the game on the spot, and side effects of the scam would have made things mostly unplayable, so I would expect players to just remove the advantage gained. When your only options for a scam are “don’t use it” or “do huge damage to the game, making any advantage gained very uncertain”, the ruleset effectively becomes very scam-hostile. (At Agora, we’ve intentionally been placing outlets for this sort of scam, causing them to give the perpetrator a win but with no accompanying gamestate reset (so that other people aren’t bothered); we discovered that without these, people tended to just do the scam anyway and cause massive damage to the gameplay in the process, as they tried to find some way to force a win from it. At BlogNomic, this is harder, because “a win without a reset” is not a concept that really exists in the rules; there’s only been one incident that sort-of fits, and the scam was itself related to the new-dynasty reset mechanism and thus there was technically a reset after the win anyway, even though the Emperor didn’t change.)

lemon: she/her

01-08-2021 05:48:31 UTC

for the record, “team lemonfanta” decided to vote for the crystal dome out of a sense of fair play & for the sake of the other players, not bc i had gotten fed up or wanted to self-sabotage!! i had fun thru to the end of the dynasty, but i know that it’s less fun when ur not the ones winning so i figured i was okay enough w/ our win chances to agree to a compromise and not force everybody to sit thru 2 more weeks of us securing our win


01-08-2021 06:11:37 UTC

>At BlogNomic, this is harder, because “a win without a reset” is not a concept that really exists in the rules

Funny you should mention that; one of my few remaining dynasty ideas, which I probably would’ve cashed in on had I decided to play this dynasty and won the roll at the end, is to deliberately preserve some statekeeping rules (e.g. rule 2.4 here) but without the interactions it enables (e.g. 2.6) and build a new set of rules around the old state.

Chiiika: she/her

01-08-2021 07:35:56 UTC

Okay, so overall:

The Dynasty wasn’t bad, although it’s my first Dynasty and tbh have no reference scale lol; the community is okay and we mostly have fun, at least for the last week of June, and the 1st to 3rd Week of July.

The 4th Week is very problematic in my opinion, with drama in the form of multiple CfJs and general bad blood on Slack. From my perspective, the whole thing turned wrong when 1) Witching Hour is enacted and 2) Jumble’s revert and subsequently using a small scam to do my things back

IMO the blame should be on pooling - as Josh said, ppl are unable to see past their cabal.  Still have no idea how to fix that, a cabal of two is vastly powerful than a single player, and a cabal of three vastly powerful than a cabal of two.

Preparations: wrote an iterative program to iterate all possible Richardo path, which turned out to be a disaster - when maximum path length increased and increased again to a final height of 27, and my program just bonked “no” on my face. Should’ve wrote it in the format of iterative probability and iterate the possible possibility of each room passed.

Game analysis: Wasted a lot of proposal slots, which lost me 5-15% of the game and the favours rule: from there more than 35%+ of the game have lost. runner-up would be expected.

Early Game: joined in the fifth Expedition and started programming, thought that program analysis would help me immensely in the game. Was very confused why there weren’t any people who took the diagonals: took the Infinite Staircase and the Broken Stage pretty quickly, and demonstrated their effectiveness in the Eleventh Expedition. Shortly after, ais approached me with a alliance and Jumble copied the deathtraps with his own.

Midgame: We thought Kevan and/or Jumble/Clucky would be a major contender and so we made some plan against them but soon after, the lemon/Clucky/Jumble alliance have racketed up speed and we have to stop them instead.

Late Game: very unenjoyable, starting from the Witching Hour enactment. The game suddenly became red hot, and the fate of the game rested on a CfJ to overturn a 75 Inf gain from Lemon/Clucky/Jumble who worked as 1 player and then a Proposal to end the game prematurely.

Chiiika: she/her

01-08-2021 07:54:08 UTC

I think for the Dynasty everything up to Endgame was B+, the Endgame is F

Personal performance is A, B+ and C- for Early Game, Midgame and Endgame respectively.

Also a misstep worth mentioning was that I didn’t really thought to counter Favours using proposal, I thought I could counter it via conventional play, which heavily backfired on me.

Chiiika: she/her

01-08-2021 08:09:13 UTC

Thank you Kevan for mentoring me, and sorry for the initial barrage of questions ahaha ;) Would like to partner with you on a future Dynasty!

Thank you ais for the initial alliance, will remember that; would like to partner with you on a future Dynasty!

Josh: he/they

01-08-2021 09:45:32 UTC

@Bucky, Brendan, lemon - thanks for kind words about the story posts - that was a lot of fun for me :)

My take is that the concerns about pooling are a little wide of the mark - pooling is a feature of the game, and while building rulesets that resist pooling requires some focus it is possible. There were only two mechanics in the ruleset that enabled pooling - Dark Favours and enthrallment - and if the anti-pool contingent had wanted to break the pool then attacking either of those would have done the job.

But ultimately pools are a part of the game; No Collabs and the Traitor was off, so all the signs were present in the ruleset that this wasn’t going to be a strongly anti-pool dynasty. If anybody had wanted to make it an anti-pooling dynasty then they can and should have proposed to make it so.

Bottom line - the cabal did well at the end because they recognised the pool potential in the ruleset and used it, and their good lategame play was as valid as chiiika’s excellent early-game conventional play.

I do agree, chiiika, that Witching Hour was a huge mistake for the ruleset.

I also agree that the interpersonal conflict in this dynasty was on a whole other level that I personally would prefer to never see again on BlogNomic. I’m not innocent on that front, and I do apologise for my own contributions to the general bad temper of the dynasty. I’m trying to figure out how best to address that, as some players have approached me saying that they feel the need for a separate discussion on the subject, as it did significantly undermine the dynasty as a whole at the end. I’m open to thoughts about how this should be addressed.

Brendan: he/him

01-08-2021 16:03:45 UTC

I haven’t done a search through the archives yet, but thinking about it, I’m quite surprised that Dusting as a mechanic was never repealed. It was never super popular, clearly contributed to a lot of player consternation and reluctance, and only really showed its scam potential via Enthrallment right at the endgame. It’s pretty intuitively sensible to say that a simple mechanic installed early in the dynasty will go on to have huge effects and withstand a lot of voter opposition later—that move has been my (only) go-to for years now—but Dusting is a particularly striking case study.

Clucky: he/him

01-08-2021 16:56:41 UTC

> The 4th Week is very problematic in my opinion, with drama in the form of multiple CfJs and general bad blood on Slack. From my perspective, the whole thing turned wrong when 1) Witching Hour is enacted and 2) Jumble’s revert and subsequently using a small scam to do my things back

(to be clear, most of this isn’t specifically directed towards Chiiika more I was just using this comment as a jumping off point but want to clear I’m not singling her out)

I feel like problems were already simmering before that. We had like two days in a row in which someone had made a move only a short period of time before the organ had started playing making the day drag on and be overall not much fun to play. So people we already on edge, and annoyed at what seemed to be behavior primarily designed to slow play/stall the game. We’d already seen fallout the run before where, after Jumble getting hit with a very bad stroke of luck, some player(s) were acting like it wasn’t really that bad luck. We’d already seen players get accused of acting as proxies simply for stating “no I don’t think its fair to the leaders to make gaining BMC so much cheaper”

Really if anywhere when the dynasty went wrong was after I pulled off my “oh look you can light any room not just a dark room” scam, felt like the overall response instead of being a “haha well played lets get that fixed” turned into “okay lets try and twist and break both all dynastic and non-dynastic rules with no regard for the drain that has on the game”

I also feel like people are maybe overstating the effect witching hour had on things? Lemon, Jumble and I had a fair amount of money to spend on stuff so even with the old rules I think we would’ve been in pretty good shape. Furthermore, even if people were like “I need to make my moves now”, they could’ve looked at the same map we did and defensively blocked some of the stuff we were trying to do (such as putting up an east wall on the library of souls) but no one took the opportunity to do so. So while Witching Hour being the time it was certainly helped, I don’t think it was the total decider some people are making it out to be, especially when you consider there was also a later run in which the witching hour was at a bad time for us and a good time for other players

Would it kill people to recognize a job well done? We made some good moves. But even after the fact, it feels like Josh is the only one who is willing to actually recognize that. Did having three people work together help? Sure. But reducing the game to “lemon/clucky/jumble won because they caballed” I think both misses the fact that anyone else could’ve also formed a 3-ball, and more importantly, ignores the gameplay we did which leaves a bit of sour taste in my mouth.

Overall, I play nomic to have fun. Scams and loopholes are part of that fun. But when the game descends into “the core rules don’t actually work this way because of XXXX so turns out we’ve just been illegally playing for the last five years” or “I’m going to try and twist the wording of the rules to this one specific meaning in order to claim you get nothing from your move” that sucks up a lot of the fun for me. (I do regret how the ‘messed up the chest filling move’ played out and definitely should’ve taken an active role in getting a CfJ up to retroactively allow it but like I said, at the time I was annoyed at what seemed like an attempt between Chiiika and Brendan to slow the game down after Brendan had already done something similar the day before)


01-08-2021 20:21:23 UTC

“anyone else could’ve also formed a 3-ball” – yes, but people didn’t want to have to do that because they were enjoying the conventional gameplay (and yours had two Imperial Favours on its side, which made a very large difference to how easy it was to counter). I had made an intentional decision early on to avoid excessive amounts of pooling – both because I thought it wouldn’t be fun, and because I thought (perhaps incorrectly) the other players would react via punishing the pool by proposal in order to prevent it being too dominant, and thus doing so would be counterproductive.

The large rush of scams towards the end was partially caused by the number of players who were locked out from winning conventionally – a pool will typically beat conventional gameplay, but a scam will beat a pool (and indeed everything else). At least from my side, the flow of scams was basically because it was the only method I could see to have a chance remaining in the dynasty, because the pool was dominating everything and because Clucky’s scam had destroyed my big move that aimed towards a conventional win, so I had few choices remaining.

As for the game being slowed down, I think that at least part of it was players intentionally slowing the game down because they didn’t have time to play the game at the fast pace that other players wanted. “What pace do we play at” is always going to be a large problem for people who have day jobs, unreliable Internet connections, or just other hobbies; a pace which is unbearably slow for one person may be too fast for others. Going at the pace of the slowest person is normally fairest, but can be very frustrating for the people who can be online almost all the time.

Incidentally, walling the entrance pre-emptively wouldn’t have helped much against your gamestate; if people are doing that, they’re spending two major resources (Puissance and enchantments) on preventing you taking a particular move that you haven’t even spent anything on yet. It might have made it a little harder for you to advance your gamestate, but would have hurt everyone else more. The counterstrategy that Chiiika and I were actually using was to try to maximise the chance that lemonfanta’s Sepulchre got hit (losing you both your main Influence, and your main Puissance, sources), but we couldn’t get it much above 20% or so – it’s worth noting that on one of the expedition attempts that had to be rolled back due to a mistake, Drol got within one square of it before running out of energy, so the basic idea seemed to work.

As for attacking Jumble’s Sepulchre, we were considering adding the one extra wall that opened up the path there, but decided it probably wasn’t worth attacking it that day – the odds of hitting it were too low to be worth the 1 Puissance cost (although they were somewhat higher than the figure Clucky has posted, because Koda had multiple tries to get there in a single run). It was quite amazing to see it get hit anyway. (It’s a little surprising that no independent player decided to open up the path there, as they’d also have benefitted from stopping Jumble – presumably the unaffilated players either weren’t paying much attention or didn’t really care who won.)

Chiiika: she/her

01-08-2021 20:24:28 UTC

@Clucky I think I should respond to some points:

> the point at where the Dynasty turned sour

I agree that the room relighting scam is also a major turning point and especially made ais spiteful in the later stages, but all of those event took place very close chronologically so I think all of these really should be factored to the overall downfall.

> stalling in general

See my preparations. In the middle half, the run length capped at height 27 iirc, and the program began to cost me half a hour to fully simulate. Around at the same time as the Witching Hour happened, the program simply bonked NO on my head every time I ran it.

> The core rules don’t do what they say // twisting wording to get my point done

To be honest, the core rules didn’t even said what is to be done!
That’s what CfJs are for: when no one really know how it should be done, we need to agree on something and keep playing (or declare a Metadynasty).
I don’t really see I’m twisting wording - but at a pressure cooker situation we all may be twisting the rules to each of us’ benefits.

> Not recognizing your good moves

I sadly tell you that my good early moves would probably be forgotten soon. Conversely, the fact that you have a 3 person cabal, the fact that you all have played your game well, the fact that I have had a few misplays is gonna be known as Jumble I or Jumble & lemonfanta I.

Chiiika: she/her

01-08-2021 20:27:22 UTC

> I don’t really see I’m twisting wording - but at a pressure cooker situation we all may be twisting the rules to each of us’ benefits.

Also I’d really like this resolved before any serious mid game of the next Dynasty happed, we will all be doing the BN Community a big favour.

Chiiika: she/her

01-08-2021 20:28:00 UTC

* happened

Clucky: he/him

01-08-2021 21:03:51 UTC

> I sadly tell you that my good early moves would probably be forgotten soon

I apologize if you feel like your gameplay hasn’t been properly acknowledged. I think you did play a very good game, and the larger cabal certainly did help, I’m just frustrated by the notion that the cabal is why jumble/lemon/myself were able to do so well. Like you said, it helped, but it certainly wasn’t the only factor.