The Min-Max Problem: Solved - Page 4

# Thread: The Min-Max Problem: Solved

1. Member
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Originally Posted by Lanefan
If the players/PCs can't get something using their best numbers how are they supposed to get it by using smaller numbers?
If the biggest number on my PC sheet is some form of fighting, and what I (as my PC) want is to befriend someone, then I have a reason not to use my biggest number.

Etc.

2. Originally Posted by Saelorn
I'm not sure that binary success/failure is the enemy here, though. For the participation-oriented player, half-damage on a miss will still feel like they aren't contributing much, because their expectations will normalize around the new baseline. For the power-oriented player, there will always be somewhere else in the formula that they can re-optimize around, even if it's something like damage or endurance. In any case, the cost associated with implementing a graduated success scale is in complexity, which multiplies the length of time required to resolve poor rolls for everyone else at the table; even if you do some damage instead of no damage, it takes twice as long before it gets back to your turn, because everyone else is also doing something on a miss.
We can't do anything about the normalizing and re-optimizing players, since it sounds like they'll min-max no matter what the rules are. Except not invite them back to our tables.

I'll take a graduated success scale, if it means that my turn doesn't go by with me doing nothing if I roll too low.

Originally Posted by Saelorn
Remember how 4E addressed the issue of boring fighters who only took the attack action?
Nope. I'm happy to say that I don't know how 4e addressed the issue

3. Originally Posted by pemerton
It is possible to design and/or run a game in which players don't always want to bring their biggest numbers to bear.
This is possible. Or at least, there are games that reward things in addition to "success on all rolls".

Many games have rewards for letting your flaws get taken advantage of. FATE comes to mind where you get Fate points when your Aspects are used against you. And those Fate points activate a lot of what you can do. Having aspects that can be negative, and are applicable enough that one or another of them comes up frequently is integral into the power economy of the game.

D&D 5e has the often ignored Inspiration system, where doing stupid but in-character actions can gain you a bonus on future things you do. But since you can also get the same results doing reasonable, in-character things it's not particularly strong in that aspect.

I'm blanking on the name, but there was at least one system where advancement of skills requiring accumulating failed roles.

There's a single-session game called Fiasco where while you are roleplaying multiple scenes, success is probably the least "fun" of what you do. If you set everything up like a crazy Coen Brothers movie where everyone has crazy outcomes it's a real blast.

4. Originally Posted by Lanefan
A GM can easily enough remedy #1 for her own table by simply not inviting such players into her games.
For some GMs, this simply means getting closer to a player count of zero. So I wouldn't necessarily consider it a controlled variable.

Originally Posted by Lanefan
Before going further here, I think you're making a rather big and quite possibly incorrect assumption behind all this: that a player's fun only happens on her "turn", and that watching what happens during other players' turns (and the monsters' turns, of course) is not fun.

Even further, it also assumes fun is only had during combat; the only part of the game where "waiting for a turn" is an issue.
I'm assuming that a player's opportunity to play occurs mostly on his turn, since that's when a player gets the most GM attention. Fun in combat can occur during other turns too, but not to the same degree.

The combat-focus is due to the topic of min-maxing. Min-maxing isn't much of an issue during non-combat scenes, IMHFO

Side note:
Spoiler:
While I'm explicitly talking about combat, since it's where many games spend the most time focusing on rules, this discussion could also refer to any other rule-focused subsystem in which players like to have really high numbers. Like...decking in Shadowrun, starship combat in N.E.W., or any extended conflict in Modos RPG.

Originally Posted by Lanefan
Lan-"and just because it's not your "turn" doesn't mean you can't shout warnings to your allies, taunt your enemies, or do other non-game-mechanical things"-efan
Lan-turn-efan? Your nicknames make a good point: doing non-game-mechanical things is fun. Altering succeed/fail rules into something less mechanical might help black-and-white players see a little more gray.

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Originally Posted by DMMike
Nope. I'm happy to say that I don't know how 4e addressed the issue
That's unfortunate, because it's actually quite relevant to the topic at hand. Basically, the designers agreed with your premise, that it's boring if nothing happens because your attack happened to miss. Their solution was that most attacks would have secondary effects, which either happened if you missed, or just happened regardless.

For example, the Fighter had a passive ability that allowed them to Mark any enemy that they attacked (whether or not they hit), and the Marked condition gave them penalties to attack anyone who wasn't the Fighter. (I think the Fighter's ability also let it make an opportunity attack against a Marked foe, under certain conditions, but I don't recall exactly. Every tank class had a different effect for how they punished breaking a Mark.)

But they also gave everyone a bunch of different maneuvers, and a lot of those also had special effects. One of the very basic at-will powers for a Fighter allowed them to deal half damage (give or take) if the attack missed. Other powers applied other conditions, or let you move people around the battlefield.

The upshot of the whole endeavor was that, instead of the Fighter taking three seconds to miss and then waiting around while the Wizard and Cleric took ten minutes each to choose and resolve their spell effects, now everyone took five minutes to decide which power to use and figure out how to resolve it. For all that the Fighter felt like their turn still mattered, even if they missed, it didn't really matter because the rest of the game was designed to compensate for it (if a monster is supposed to survive three rounds, and average damage-per-round goes up 30% due to damage-on-a-miss, then monsters are designed with 30% more HP), and the only real benefit was that the waiting got spread around a bit.

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Originally Posted by DMMike
I'm assuming that a player's opportunity to play occurs mostly on his turn, since that's when a player gets the most GM attention.
Many RPGs aren't turn-based all or even most of the time.

7. Originally Posted by DMMike
The combat-focus is due to the topic of min-maxing. Min-maxing isn't much of an issue during non-combat scenes, IMHFO
My experience differs from yours. Anywhere where an advantage is determined by a single roll or just a few rolls, I have seen min-maxing happening. Stealth, perception, locks/traps, "face" - these are just a few.

All of these can be min-maxed to dominate a certain type of scene because of a focus on a singe or small set of skills and abilities. It's easier to pull off than combat with all of it's variables, and because of that can often be done in tandem with other optimization.

8. Originally Posted by Saelorn
The upshot of the whole endeavor was that, instead of the Fighter taking three seconds to miss and then waiting around while the Wizard and Cleric took ten minutes each to choose and resolve their spell effects, now everyone took five minutes to decide which power to use and figure out how to resolve it.
So, did we see more or less min-maxing in 4e?

Or if you're a min-maxer, how did you feel about 4e's efforts to reduce your down time?

Originally Posted by Blue
My experience differs from yours. Anywhere where an advantage is determined by a single roll or just a few rolls, I have seen min-maxing happening. Stealth, perception, locks/traps, "face" - these are just a few.
...and what if these rolls were not succeed/fail? Would the min-maxing still be going on? (Pssst what's "face?")

An example?
A PC, let's call him Lueb, wants to play the best Trap-Destroyer ever. Traps are his nemesis, and he's somehow written this into his backstory. If Lueb is destroying traps in Fate, rolling a Failure can mean "you don’t get what you want, you get what you want at a serious cost, or you suffer some negative mechanical consequence." In addition, Lueb can spend a Fate point to invoke his "Best Trap Destroyer" aspect, further watering down the succeed/fail dichotomy.

If Lueb is destroying traps in AD&D, he pretty much has two options: destroy the trap or die.

In which game does he spend more time min-maxing his character?