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Hidden Information and Honesty

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debiant
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I'm working on a design in which players all have access to a resource pool. I would like the number of resources a player has to be hidden information, but stealing resources from other players is also part of the game.

This creates a difficult situation for me. There is a need for trust among opponents as to whether they have any resources available to steal. Generally, I hear: "If you don't trust someone don't play games with them," but I also recognize that this is problematic for many gamers.

Would you consider this a problem? If the information is traceable anyways is it necessary or even desirable to keep such information hidden?

I also have given some thought to being able to bluff about having no resources and if called a player must reveal. If they have resources they are penalized in some way. That would solve the problem of having to trust opponents but would motivate tracking of resources for up to 5 players (which isn't necessarily a behavior I want to promote).

I'd love to hear other's thoughts on this subject.

Soulfinger
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I caught one of my best

I caught one of my best friends cheating at a game the last time we got together. It turned out that this was the way her family played games throughout her childhood, so trying to get away with it was just part of the game for her. She assumed that everyone cheated during friendly games.

Similarly, I've played games with numerous acquaintances who have had no compunctions whatsoever against cheating, as winning was by far more important than having fun or building up social relationships.

Lastly, I've seen younger gamers develop a power gamer mentality using cheat codes and in-game purchases in digital games to win the game without consideration for enjoying the journey or finding a sense of accomplishment from completing the game tasks themselves. It translates into some very bad tabletop behavior.

kos
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Avoid the cheating problem

If it was me, I would design the game in such a way as to avoid the cheating problem. Although I'm sure there are counter-examples, the majority of opportunities to cheat can be removed through better rules.

Option 1: Make cheating impossible
E.g.: The target of the steal gets to choose which resource to give, or must reveal that they have no resources.

Option 2: Make bluffing into a virtue
E.g.: The target of the steal can deny having a particular resource, but then the stealer can spend a resource to force the target to reveal all their resources and inflict a penalty if the target was bluffing.

The second option rewards both "card counting" and "bluffing", which are valid skills to win games (Blackjack and Poker, for example) but it is up to you as to whether you want these skills to be part of your game.

Regards,
kos

MarkD1733
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is the information hidden the whole time?

Depending on the game, I don't think there is always a need for trust among opponents. That is dependent on the rules, mechanics, etc. Sherriff of Nottingham is a perfect game of knowing who to trust and who not to trust...without some element of distrust,there is no game. But a clear and simple disregard for the rules is different. Now, back to your problem...

Thinking about Catan, the resources someone gets are known at the time they get them, but hidden thereafter. This creates a little need for memorization. That could be an offsetting mechanic.

Could you comment on the thematic connection? Knowing why resources and stealing them are elements to the game would helpful in feeding back ideas and opinions.

Also, how do you envision the stealing to occur? Blind selection? or a "give me all your 3s" like in Go Fish!

Thanks!

debiant
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It is a simple resource

It is a simple resource (coins) and a bluffing role-selection game. So behind your screen you have several roles that may become exposed. If all of the roles you have influence over become exposed then you lose the game.

One idea that was posted at BGG (which I quite like) is to provide a penalty if the person can't/won't pay up. I think it's a good solution to the problem as it gives players a meaningful choice. They may refuse to pay 2 (or however many) coins but they are paying a big cost for not doing so.

As a side note, I am very interested in people's experiences with cheating. I got the cheat card in Cosmic Encounter once and I felt guilty the entire game. I thought: "someone is going to see me and not say anything and just think I'm a big cheater." This was some people's first game of Cosmic. I had to make a big show of the card when I revealed it to ease my conscience.

Cheating is not something I expect from players. When I think of a game like Love Letter, it's a basic conceit of the game that players will answer truthfully when asked if they have a certain card. That being said, I'm not a big fan of mechanics which allow players to cheat so easily.

kos
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Attitudes to cheating

debiant wrote:
As a side note, I am very interested in people's experiences with cheating.

It depends very much on the group you play with.

With some of my friends/family, I would never suggest playing a game in which bluffing was a core mechanic, because even though it is "in the rules" they would consider it to be dishonest or deceptive. These people attach real-life morality to actions taken in the game.

With other of my friends, they enjoy the challenge of deceiving (bluffing) and getting away with it. Some may even consider cheating to be a virtue if you don't get caught, on the premise that it is "just part of the game". These people don't attach real-life morality to actions taken in the game.

I've played a game where due to a misunderstanding over the rules, the action that I considered to be the core skill of the game was considered by the other person to be cheating. Once they figured out what I was doing they were very upset with me.

In my experience accusations of cheating (whether justified or not) have been quite damaging to the enjoyment of the game and the cohesion of the group. That's why I think that the game should be designed so that either the behavior is explicitly allowed or impossible. Well written rules also lets me choose what types of games to play with different groups of people so that we can all enjoy it.

Regards,
kos

debiant
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kos wrote:debiant wrote:As a

kos wrote:
debiant wrote:
As a side note, I am very interested in people's experiences with cheating.

It depends very much on the group you play with.

With some of my friends/family, I would never suggest playing a game in which bluffing was a core mechanic, because even though it is "in the rules" they would consider it to be dishonest or deceptive. These people attach real-life morality to actions taken in the game.

With other of my friends, they enjoy the challenge of deceiving (bluffing) and getting away with it. Some may even consider cheating to be a virtue if you don't get caught, on the premise that it is "just part of the game". These people don't attach real-life morality to actions taken in the game.

I've played a game where due to a misunderstanding over the rules, the action that I considered to be the core skill of the game was considered by the other person to be cheating. Once they figured out what I was doing they were very upset with me.

In my experience accusations of cheating (whether justified or not) have been quite damaging to the enjoyment of the game and the cohesion of the group. That's why I think that the game should be designed so that either the behavior is explicitly allowed or impossible. Well written rules also lets me choose what types of games to play with different groups of people so that we can all enjoy it.

Regards,
kos

Thanks, kos. It's good to see the different types of play styles that people have experience with.

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