Friday, June 17, 2011

Political Darwinism.

Let's start at the beginning with a statement that will already be inflamatory.

The game has changed. 
Passing a vote in today's environment can be both harder and easier than ever before. 

Huh?  Both?  Yeah.  It has to do with decentralization of voting power. Let's look at the table when you actually reach a referendum and being to pool. 

We're seeing an uptick in vampire capacity on tables because they really are innately more playable now than they were in the past. 
  • Their discipline-point ratios are higher and their card-text specials are often quite powerful.  This makes them more attractive to a wider group players.
  • Villein's "trifleness" removes the Master Phase Action (MPA) overhead associated with recurring pool from those large vampires.  So now we have greater return on investment in play AND easier refund of the investment
  • Combining Villein with Giant's Blood and Lilith's Blessing, complete recursion of the pool cost associated with these large minions can be robust and reproducable. 
  • There are some powerful sect-based mechanics that leverage newer titles (Revolutionary Council and No Secrets from the Magaji, in particular.)  This provides more incentive to design decks around minions with attached votes.
  • With more available sect-based titles and a larger pool of vampires overall, contesting titles is generally less frequent than in the past, so the titles on the table remain accessible.
Those larger vampires tend to come with more titles than the smaller vampires they replaced did. 
And they are sitting in front of player who may not playing political decks.

If you're willing to accept this logic and agree that the number of votes on the average table has increased, we can discuss how that makes voting both harder and easier than in the past.

It used to be that when 2 title-heavy voting decks sat on the table, they would either cooperate to carve up the table or butt heads until one was completely dominant.  In-turn vote push might swing the pendulum for a few actions, but that seemed to be how things worked. 

Now, we see more dispersed, decentralized titles, the swing votes often come from vampires not attached to the heavy vote-powered decks.  It stands to reason that:
  • It is now harder to consistently ram your votes through from the "dominant" position, because just in-play titles seldom create true vote lock.  This is especially true in the early and middle game, when 5 players are present.
  • It becomines easier to pass votes from the lesser of the vote decks, as the 3rd-party votes might be accessible to the right terms.  This effect usually diminishes as the table shrinks and the unattached votes are ousted.
  • If there are 2 heavily titled decks present, the lesser of the voters should be expected to go from a weak voter to establishing complete dominance if the current dominant voter is ousted. 
As a result, I believe there is now more art in setting terms of referenda.
Influencing the swing voters is important even from a typical dominant position.  

In a future blog, I will discuss a political deck which reached the finals of two different tournaments without having a single title attached to it's vampires.  It simply used people's innate greed to defeat its prey.

I would love to say that decentralized political power is good for the game as a whole, because it emphasizes the original intent of political game mechanic.  Unfortunately, the real result wides the efficiency gap between bleed-based decks and vote-based decks.

Political actions never had the same output as bleed actions, despite having a more torturous path to follow.  KRC's 3 damage per action is the benchmark impact vote.  Bleed decks typically generate twice that per action.  It is true that KRC damage can't be redirected.  It is therefore "sticker" and safer.  But is it much more difficult to make maken happen. 

Simply getting to a place where you can pass votes at all can be tremendously difficult, then you have to actually oust your prey with your votes.  You'll never see an ousting bleed voted down across the table by your "allies", but it happens all the time with votes.  The less dominant decks are correct in keeping extra votes on the table to help control the dominant political force, so voting down an oust is often the tactically correct play.  It just adds an additional level of overhead to a political do I get that last vote through?

As we discuss political decks in later blogs, it will always be with the following realization.

A political deck should be able to circumvent other players' reactions and voting abilities for brief windows.
 It should also include an alternate method to create pool loss. 
Otherwise, it is likely to fail to achieve it's primary objective: to oust its prey.