Friday, June 20, 2008

Game Theory

Yesterday, the Gaming Guild played a fascinating game called Cutthroat
Caverns. The setup of the game requires that the players cooperate to
defeat monsters, but only one player gets points for the victory. It
is possible, and often required, to sabotage other players in the
hopes of claiming the kill. However, if this happens too much,
everybody dies and the game ends. Players take their turns by playing
various attack cards face down, and can use other cards to alter or
manipulate attacks and effects.

It is an excellent way to create tension and force players to think.
You have to cooperate just enough to kill the monster, but not so much
that the other players can take advantage of you. There is a lot of
bluffing, calculation, and manipulation involved. At least, that is
the intention.

I played the 'naive' cooperative strategy. I shunned cards that
disrupted the other players, and sought out cards that simply attacked
the monsters for a lot of damage. This worked quite well, mostly
because it was unexpected. For example, in one turn, I had used a
special card to play two attack cards face down. Another player
played a card that would have given him credit for the second attack.
I said, "That would be an excellent way to disrupt my cunning strategy
... if I had a cunning strategy." and flipped over the first attack
card, which was enough to kill the monster and claim points. My
opponent shook my hand and said, "Well played, sir!"

If everyone expects you to be sneaky and tricky, than brute force is
often the most cunning strategy.

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