User talk:Ghostwheel/Counterplay Chat

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I remember watching that video a while back and liking it, but I don't really thing it supports your dislike of VH in this instance. The sniper example is the most obvious, because it covers both sides. The "sniper just sits there and murders people" is noted as the poor gameplay example, but "sniper just sits there using spotters to murder people who don't have near immunity" is noted as a good gameplay example despite "murder people" being the ultimate outcome unless "near immunity" (and since immunity and other hard counters have been previously decried as boring, we'll ignore it). The LoL example is less obvious (to me anyway, because I've only even seen it played that one time with you), but it sounds like it's probably also a kill / you suck (so, VH) style power that requires specific positioning.

You could say that a monk also has the job of "murdering" people. It's all about degrees and how/if/in what way they can respond. --Ghostwheel (talk) 13:57, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
There was an implicit "in one shot" associated with the sniper examples that makes the monk comparison invalid. I should have made it explicit, mea culpa. The tank example really does line up nicely with the wizard (assuming some usage limitations) in that they have limited uses of abilities that wreck the game for those they hit. And in WoT, those who are wrecked are pretty much out for the round. - Tarkisflux Talk 06:08, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
The difference is that there's no real downside to most VH-level characters. I haven't played WoT, but it sounds like the sniper is A. squishy, which means it needs protection, and B. has low sight which means it needs scouts. It "carries" a game sure, and murderizes people, but it needs to entirely rely on other people, like the carries in LoL whose job it is to straight up murder people.
However, tome fighters have Foil Action as a defense, wizards have a plethora of defensive abilities (mirror image, displacement, spell resistance, immediate-action teleports, etc), and so on. Each is an entire team by themselves whereas lower-power characters often need to work together in order to defeat enemies, which leads to increased counterplay.
I'm not sure how explicit I've been about this, but I want to make it clear--I don't have a problem with someone having the job of "murderate enemies". I have a problem when it happens and there's no counterplay to use against it tactically (as opposed to strategically/logistically before the battle), or when it happens and there's no way to stop it. For example, I would be fine with a save or die that said, "In 3 rounds your target dies unless they spend a full-round action to do nothing but pray to their gods," or whatever. It gives incentive to penalize the opponent, but introduces counterplay because they can decide what to do and when, or that their actions are too valuable and that it's more important to take someone down. Or you have a friend who limits them to standard/move actions, and then comes the question of when to use that, when the enemy has the actions available, and everything else. That's good IMO. But the way VH-level play right now does it is terrible. --Ghostwheel (talk) 11:37, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
That save or die does not fit the sniper tank example. The sniper tank example is mostly "guy uses action to target something, other guy murders it (or renders him seriously damaged and non-threatening) in one shot (unless heavily armored and largely immune)". It is a setup counterplay where you deal with it by tactical consideration before it even happens, not a recover / sacrifice counterplay where it happens to you and then you have to respond to it (because when it happens to you you're dead). The LoL example in the video is a similar one, where you try to avoid letting them get a shot lined up, but allows recovery in that it's less strong and you have choices to make after it hits you. So when you argue for counterplay, are you arguing that all counterplay needs to include recover / sacrifice decisions? - Tarkisflux Talk 00:22, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
Either that, or open up new options. The "pray to the gods" thing, for example, opens up a new option. Let's pretend for a moment that you auto-die in 3 rounds unless you fulfill one of the following actions: deal damage to the target 3x before the duration is over, get more than 200' away from the caster, or pray for a full round. You can decide whether to pray to the gods and auto-remove it, but waste a turn (casting the spell caused an enemy to waste their whole turn, and opened up the option of wasting a turn for the enemy), or you can decide to go all-out on the enemy and hope to damage them 3x during the course of the duration, or run away. All three are valid options, and as the time gets closer, your options become more and more tactical. If it's the last round and you've damage them twice, do you risk it on a final attack? Do you try to run away (perhaps provoking AoOs), and get a friend to bull rush them further away so that they move out of the area? Or do you go with the safest option and pray? All of these are valid choices, and all of them are opened up simply because of that one ability. On top of that, it also opens up options for the team whose ally used said ability. Suddenly that ally is going to be focused in order to stop the ability. This makes sticky tanks awesome, as they can keep their friend from taking damage, thus stopping one of the conditions from being fulfilled. The caster wants to be far enough away that they aren't in the line of fire, but on the other hand close enough that the enemy can't simply walk away. All of these options are opened up just from that one ability that's similar to a save-or-die, creating a huge amount of counterplay. These are tactical decisions that are opened up mid-combat, and different enemies might respond differently in a myriad of ways, making for potentially a new experience every combat.
Contrast that to conventional save-or-dies, which have no counterplay. There are 3 effective results: the enemy is immune to the effect (like constructs or undead to [Death] effects), in which case you've made a logistical error (you prepared the wrong spell), which is just plain boring and frustrating, the enemy fails the save and dies, which again, while effective, is ultimately boring, and there is no counterplay involved while being frustrating to the target (the enemy had no options opened up when it happened and could do nothing throughout the combat to stop it once the ability goes off, and it's frustrating for the player targeted or DM if it was an important monster that was the centerpiece of the combat), or the target saves successfully, in which case it's frustrating for the caster who effectively just wasted their turn... and still opened no counterplay as it was simply logistics (the pre-built saves of the target) that decided the outcome, rather than their tactical decisions in combat.
Would you consider the above-suggested spell to be VH in power? If so, I would agree with you that games can be played at VH-level, and still have counterplay. After all, it is still a save (or no save at all)-or-die :-P --Ghostwheel (talk) 19:03, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

Also note that none of the options detailed in those examples were missing from the original game. The first sniper could use spotters, and the LOL guy could have not fired if there were creeps in the way. The options weren't used because they were less effective than the alternatives, but were highlighted when the more obvious examples (direct fire, selective targeting, etc.) were removed. New options weren't created in either case, previously second tier (or worse) options were simply made viable / required by the elimination of the easy power use case. The power itself seems pretty unchanged in both instances. Both of these power examples are still VH options, just ones with usage restrictions placed on them that allow for more intricate emergent gameplay / counterplay than simple immunity or post-use countering.

Have enough usage restrictions and you stop being VH-level. If Wail of the Banshee, for example, was a save or die but your targets had to be A. under 50% health, B. have any two of the following conditions: sickened, nauseated, stunned, dazed, paralyzed, shaken, frightened, or panicked, and C. their CR was equal-to or lower-than your level, it would stop being VH. Obviously I'm adding too many restrictions, but it's to illustrate a point--monks also have the job of "murder people". They just have stronger requirements (stay in melee, be able to full attack for 5+ rounds or whatever, not die during that time, etc). My point is that if you put enough restrictions, the power level is lowered. VH characters have few/no restrictions apart from "target has to fail their save" usually. That's a big part of what makes them VH. --Ghostwheel (talk) 13:57, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't disagree with the usage comment. My point was only that 1) the options counterplay "adds" aren't really added (which is not a complaint directed at you but at the video, and mostly just something that I thought needed to be addressed), and 2) you can add counterplay options without reducing their strength to the point that they weren't VH (see sniper tanks). I'm attempting to separate "dislike of VH SoD powers" from "lack of counterplay", because they seem to be separate issues. - Tarkisflux Talk 06:08, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't see how most VH SoD/SoS powers would engender or promote counterplay... I still think they remove options rather than add them when they work, and have too few requirements to promote teamwork and so on as well. --Ghostwheel (talk) 11:37, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Again, I'm not suggesting that VH powers as currently designed promote those things, because they often don't. I'm saying that you can adjust them by adding setup counterplay (likely of the teamwork variety) to promote those things without removing their essential "VH"-ness, because power level and counterplay are separate things. - Tarkisflux Talk 00:22, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

There's also really core game setup considerations with this solution that make it even less applicable for those who don't want VH powers in a game. Those games (and multiplayer video games in general) try to do a lot of match balancing that isn't necessarily the case in a ttrpg. There aren't entrenched sides, weaker sides, stronger sides, differently numbered but same strength sides, combinations of those things, or other things that wind up approximately balanced power wise but with very different strengths in play that a ttrpg can simply declare. Maybe I'm wrong because I don't play those games, but the match balancing (in terms of power and positioning time) seems to help with issues that crop up in ttrpgs. I'm pretty sure that you could build in whatever usage restrictions you wanted in a ttrpg, and then people would build tactics around those limits to murder people super hard anyway. Just like they do with "racial / spell drawbacks that totally balance it" nonsense that doesn't work so well.

Just a note, two games that are relatively balanced internally, but have very different mechanics despite being the same genre are League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients 2. LoL is very much centered around lower-level combat, where there's back-and-forth and the pendulum of power can shift, even within a fight itself. "Ultimate" abilities include effects such as dealing AoE damage that amplifies future damage, a short-range teleport on relatively low cooldown, an AoE stun that lasts 1.5 seconds, or a targeted gap-closer and knockup. On the other hand, just to compare, DotA2 has things like preventing all enemies on the entire map from using any abilities for 7 seconds, an AoE stun/% health damage/group together (for further AoEs) which lasts for 4 seconds, or summon 3 copies of itself (each of which does full damage) for 24 seconds. It has a lot of ramifications, but in short, LoL is more like H-level play, while in DotA2, a single ability can destroy the enemy with little options of how to escape if they get hit (fail their save). It's one of the reasons I much prefer LoL over DotA2. --Ghostwheel (talk) 13:57, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
I defer to you here, because of my lack of experience with both titles. You're only mentioning power strength though, not a lack of counterplay. I have no idea which of these examples allow for counterplay and which don't, and my limited understanding of the DotA links suggests these all have counter strategies that mitigate their usefulness.
I also realized after I posted this originally, and was reminded reading the DotA stuff, that a number of these strategies come from straight-up metagaming a knowledge of the abilities of your opposition. This is also not always the case in a ttrpg, as much because characters have a wider power set to select from as because in-world coherence often requires that PCs not have perfect knowledge of their foes' capabilities before hand. I'm pretty sure that means that PCs should be able to gain substantial knowledge about their foes in a fight for any sort of counterplay to even be possible, but I haven't quite worked through the larger implications for setting up counterplay options in an imperfect knowledge setup yet. - Tarkisflux Talk 06:08, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Right--the ONLY way to create counterplay against those abilities often is to buy a specific item that makes you completely immune to all abilities for X seconds (I don't remember how many, I don't play DotA2), and then it's just a matter of buying it if you're facing certain champions... and that's about it. Or picking a champion that has a similar ability, or that can kill your opponent before they are able to get it off, though again, that's more strategy/logistics than actual counterplay tactics. It's why I much prefer the LoL paradigm of power, which is much closer to H-level D&D combat where you can react to things and outplay enemies through skill and decision-making, rather than just what items you bought and which champion you picked. --Ghostwheel (talk) 11:37, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Okay, so those sound poor from a counterplay standpoint, but your comments about the LoL paradigm conflate power with counterplay again. The LoL model has both 1) counterplay and 2) a lower level of power that allows you to recover through skill and decision making as you put it. But there is nothing stopping someone from making a DotA that had 1) a higher level of power that did not allow recovery (as the sniper tank example doesn't) and 2) counterplay. The two are completely separate things. Unless you're arguing for recover/sacrifice counterplay, I'm not seeing how they couldn't make a DotA that bothered you less without sacrificing the power level even if you did prefer the lower power game. - Tarkisflux Talk 00:22, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

Now, I actually like that idea in general and I'd probably prefer it if some things required a bit more setup. If there was a grapple move (and the grapple rules not shit) that let you setup a guy for a ray spell, or if you had to blindside a threatened guy to use dominate, or if solid fog only solidified natural fog / magic fog created on the same round, I'd probably be down with that. The ambush problem is a problem, but ambushes were already problems and this seems less bad. But VH powers is VH powers, and this is a suggestion on how to design them to make them more interesting to play and play with, rather than eliminate them or the frustration of being hit with one. I don't see those sitting well with you for reasons you've previously mentioned. - Tarkisflux Talk 22:02, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

I think a lot of those things would go a long way to making me happier with VH-level play. As it is, there's virtually no counterplay. Add restrictions that make you have to work together, or force the enemy to react in various ways to them before you can unleash your death ray spell on them, and I would probably be much happier with VH-level play overall. But as it is, there's almost no counterplay there. Just who gets tags the other with their rocket first. --Ghostwheel (talk) 13:57, 24 March 2014 (UTC)