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Subject: Degenerate strategy for (almost) sure win rss

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S. Colcord
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I believe I've identified a degenerate strategy which pretty much guarantees a win in a seven player game. It should *usually* work for six players too, but could fail in a worst-case ordering of the deck, unless some level of risk is accepted by drawing a few black cards.

The following is the turn sequence for seven players, using the Squire variant (no special powers):

The first three rounds, the players each place one catapult and lose two life, drawing six cards each. We will assume the worst possible card ordering for this strategy, which puts Piety as the last card in the deck and Convocation as the 35th card (thus putting them both in player #7's hand).

This leaves the following setup:

Catapults: 7
Life: 2 each
Cards: 7 Merlins + Piety and Convocation (in player #7's hand),
75 others (the entire deck)
Deck: 0 Cards
Discards: 0 Cards

Play then proceeds as follows:

Round 4:
Player 1-5: -Life, play Merlin for -Catapult.
Player 6: -Life, Accuse player 7 (just in case).
Player 7: +Catapult, play Piety.
Catapults: 3
Life: 2 each
Cards: 2 Merlins + Convocation (in players #7's hand),
75 others
Deck: 0 Cards
Discards: Piety, 5 Merlins.

Round 5:
Player 1-6: +Catapult, Accuse or go to Grail quest.
Player 7: +Catapult, play Convocation.
Catapults: 10
Life: 2 each
Cards: 2 Merlins, 75 others
Deck: 0 Cards
Discards: Piety, Convocation, 5 Merlins.

Convocation:
All knights return to Camelot
Draw the (at most) 7 cards from the discards.
Give Piety and Convocation to Player 1 and Player 2, respectively.
Return the Merlins to the players that played them.

Rounds 6-7:
Player 1: -Life, play Piety.
Player 2: -Life, play Convocation.

Give Piety and Convocation to Player 3 and Player 4, and repeat.
Repeat the above for players 5+6, 7+1, 2+3, 4+5

All knights now have 6 life, and it should be evident that as long as the discards do not grow larger than 7 cards, the Piety+Convocation combo can infinitely replenish the knights' life. Use that life to keep from ever having to draw a black card, and use the Merlin cards to remove all of the catapults from Camelot.

The game is trivial to win at this point.

The strategy can be broken if the Traitor draws either Piety or Convocation, or if they are passed to him and he refuses to use them. Of course, this gives him away, and an accusation could then force his hand into the discards to be redrawn. The risk of the Traitor can be mitigated by making accusations against several knights in Round 5, and only passing the Piety and Convocation cards to those proven loyal. Since no swords are on the table, this incurs no penalty, and as long as at least three knights are proven loyal, the cycle still generates a net gain of life.

A revealed traitor can try to Taunt Piety or Convocation into the discards, but this is ineffective for several reasons:

1) They only have a 1/12 chance of picking the right card.
2) Discarding Piety is ineffective, since Convocation will bring it right back.
3) Discarding Convocation will only cause a temporary delay, since players will either draw them back at Camelot, or play Reinforcements or Fate to retrieve them.

Also, note that the above was a worst-case ordering, and ignored special powers. In the more likely case, Piety will be played much earlier, and Convocation played on the first round after the deck runs out, instead of the second, thus saving 1 life point each.

----Scott
 
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S. Colcord
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I should also note that I wouldn't suggest actually using this strategy as anything other than an item of academic curiosity; it's rather against the spirit of the game to take advantage of the mechanics in such a fashion, and would likely be boring, too.

----Scott
 
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Travis Hall
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The most obvious way for the traitor to break this occurs when he draws Fate, not Piety or Convocation. Fate in Round 4 puts 23 cards into the white discard pile, which will make it much, much harder to create the lock you are looking for. I don't think you would have the spare life to set it up again, but you can do the analysis if you really want to know for sure.

The rules for reshuffling need to be examined when doing this. Technically, when you draw the last card from a deck, you reshuffle both decks. There is no mention of reshuffling at any other time. If you play this strictly, you wind up unable to draw for the Round 5 Convocation, due to the fact that no reshuffle trigger occurs to put the discards back into the draw pile.

If you interpret (rather more sensibly, IMO) that the discards should be shuffled into a new draw pile at the first opportunity following the emptying of the draw pile, you wind up knowing the next (indeed, only) card in the draw pile at certain times. Drawing would be possible then.

Or you could leave the discard pile alone until somebody attempts to draw from the empty draw pile, which is what you have done.

I also see an opportunity for the traitor to mess with your plan during any sharing of cards (as during a Convocation). When sharing cards, every knight involved in the distribution must agree to a division, or else all the cards are shuffled and dealt at random. All the traitor has to do is refuse the agreement, and the drawn cards will be randomised. This will usually quickly break your Piety-Convocation combination, because they won't often be dealt to the right people. I don't know whether this breaks your approach entirely. Again, you can do the analysis. Refusal like this reveals the traitor, of course, but that's not a big deal to him because if he doesn't prevent the lock, he loses anyway.

Player 6 cannot accuse player 7 in round 4, because by the time his turn comes around, there aren't six siege engines in play. Similarly, players 1 and 2 cannot accuse in round 5. I don't know if this harms the lock.

A revealed traitor screws up the Piety/Convocation combo, because it puts about 12 cards back into the white deck. That means there is a good chance that one of the two cards will not be redrawn when needed.

If anything I have mentioned above breaks your lock, you could be in a lot of trouble come turn 6 (when the traitor places the 11th siege engine).

I'm not saying definitively that your degenerate strategy won't work. (If it does, it may be time for you to start playing smaller games.) However, I think you still have some analysis to do.
 
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Travis Hall
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Wraith wrote:
The rules for reshuffling need to be examined when doing this. Technically, when you draw the last card from a deck, you reshuffle both decks. There is no mention of reshuffling at any other time. If you play this strictly, you wind up unable to draw for the Round 5 Convocation, due to the fact that no reshuffle trigger occurs to put the discards back into the draw pile.

In fact, if you go with this strict interpretation, you won't be able to draw ever again until every black card has been drawn. I do not advise using this interpretation.
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Wraith,

To me, it seems the shuffle rule is designed to discourage players from exhausting the white deck without playing any cards first. With a max of 7 players, 84 available white cards and a max hand size of 12, I hope the designers saw that the players could just exhaust the white card deck without playing any first, resulting in no white discard pile to shuffle. As you said, this would lead to two possible scenarios:
1. No white cards can be shuffled until the black deck is exhausted. Obviously, this is a severe penalty for the loyal knights, as they can't get cards for completed quests or placing black cards face down.
2. Discarded white cards would be shuffled into a draw pile as soon as the next white card draw is needed. This will result in a small initial draw pile, but would at least allow the draw-discard-reshuffle cycle to reset itself. However, this wouldn't strictly follow the shuffle rule.

I'd be curious how other groups have handled this situation. I've read several posts where players claim they load up their hands at the start of the game before leaving Camelot. If they had 7 players, then they must have exhausted the white deck without having discarded any white cards. What did they do when they needed to draw another white card?
 
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Paul Sauberer
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I just posted a question about the reshuffle rule on the Days of Wonder SOC firum. When I get an answer I will copy it over here.
 
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S. Colcord
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Hi Travis...thanks for the analysis!

Wraith wrote:
The most obvious way for the traitor to break this occurs when he draws Fate, not Piety or Convocation.


I'll agree there. I believe that it's still *possible* to recover the lock, but it's far from a sure thing; the knights would have to risk drawing some black cards, hoping that nothing too severe happened before their hands refilled. Playing Reinforcements would help to reduce the discards more quickly, and I'd probably also play Convocation rather than holding it (thus delaying the lock for an extra cycle through the diminished white deck).

Wraith wrote:
The rules for reshuffling need to be examined when doing this. Technically, when you draw the last card from a deck, you reshuffle both decks. There is no mention of reshuffling at any other time. If you play this strictly, you wind up unable to draw for the Round 5 Convocation, due to the fact that no reshuffle trigger occurs to put the discards back into the draw pile.

If you interpret (rather more sensibly, IMO) that the discards should be shuffled into a new draw pile at the first opportunity following the emptying of the draw pile, you wind up knowing the next (indeed, only) card in the draw pile at certain times. Drawing would be possible then.

Or you could leave the discard pile alone until somebody attempts to draw from the empty draw pile, which is what you have done.


I'll agree that the first interpretation, while literal, is a little nonsensical.

The second interpretation actually strengthens the cycle, since that means that when the draw and discard piles are empty, Piety (or any single card) becomes the new draw pile as soon as it's played. Once it's there, each player can draw it at Camelot, and then pay a life for the extra action to play it, and Convocation becomes superfluous.

The third interpretation actually seems like the least degenerate option; it'll be interesting to see what the official ruling is.

Wraith wrote:
I also see an opportunity for the traitor to mess with your plan during any sharing of cards (as during a Convocation). When sharing cards, every knight involved in the distribution must agree to a division, or else all the cards are shuffled and dealt at random. All the traitor has to do is refuse the agreement, and the drawn cards will be randomised. This will usually quickly break your Piety-Convocation combination, because they won't often be dealt to the right people. I don't know whether this breaks your approach entirely. Again, you can do the analysis. Refusal like this reveals the traitor, of course, but that's not a big deal to him because if he doesn't prevent the lock, he loses anyway.


This brings up an interesting point; if there are fewer cards to share than players, and a random choice is forced, how do you decide who gets the cards?

Disrupting the Convocation would be damaging, and would probably also force the players to accept some black cards, hoping the damage wasn't irreversible. The followup accusation would also put the Traitor's hand into the discards. This is still less damaging than the Traitor playing Fate, though.

Wraith wrote:
Player 6 cannot accuse player 7 in round 4, because by the time his turn comes around, there aren't six siege engines in play. Similarly, players 1 and 2 cannot accuse in round 5. I don't know if this harms the lock.


The way we play, once there have been six catapults in play, accusations are permitted even if they are removed. I'm not sure if this is official or not, though.

Wraith wrote:
If anything I have mentioned above breaks your lock, you could be in a lot of trouble come turn 6 (when the traitor places the 11th siege engine).


It might be advantageous to make accusations in round 5 in order to force out the traitor. This does place his 12 cards in the discards, but as long as you get either Piety or Convocation back from the turn 5 Convocation, recovery is very likely - Piety allows the knights to burn life for the extra round needed to redraw the cards, and Convocation would probably cause Piety to be redrawn. If Reinforcements has been played, it would also work to pull cards in more quickly. Also, the knights have 2 life each in Round 5, so they've got at least a little breathing room.

The strategy isn't 100% guaranteed unless there's no traitor, but I think that even with a traitor, the knights would have to catch a pretty unlucky break in order to make it fail.
 
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Carl Bussema
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You broke the rules:

After round 3:
Catapaults: 7

Round 4 says each knight 1-5 is to lose 1 life and play Merlin for -Catapault.

This leaves you with 2 catapaults during player 6's turn, so he can't accuse player 7.

Instead, Player 1 or 2 must make the accusation, and Player 6 must play a Merlin for -Catapault.

As for the draw/reshuffle rule, the rules say you shuffle (both piles) when the pile runs out. I can't see anyone possibly interpreting that to mean you must be able to shuffle both piles, except rules lawyers doing a very bad job of trying to, well, rules lawyer. But if there are no cards left to reshuffle... well, let's assume that you get to reshuffle the next time someone would draw from that pile (this is similar in a way to what we do with TTR, especially near endgame, we don't shuffle the discards even if the draw pile runs out UNTIL someone wants to draw).

Start: 84 white cards
Opening deal: 6 x 7 = 42 leaving 42
After round 3, 2x7x3 = 42, leaving 0
Round 4:
The player holding piety must play it. If no one does, you know they're the traitor but you won't know whom. Try this:
without loss of generality, assume that whatever accusation pattern you decide on, the traitor is not discovered until last. Here, P2 will be our traitor. The traitor must be holding piety and convocation and not fate (I'll leave that to others, I'm short on time). So a loyal knight will play fate instead of accuse.
P1 (fate): -life (1), fate (loyal) (2)
P2 (traitor): -life (1), accuse P1 uselessly
P3 : -life (2), accuse P4
P4 (k.l.) (n.p.): -life (2), accuse P5
P5 (k.l.) (n.p.) -life (2), accuse P6
P6 (k.l.) (n.p.) -life (2), accuse P7
P7 (k.l.) (n.p.) -life (2), accuse P3 (now we KNOW P2 is the traitor)

Round 5:
P1: -life, accuse P3 correctly who discards 12 cards including piety and convocation.
P2: -life, draw
P3: taunt (adds 13th card to draw pile), add SE (9)
P4: -life, draw
P5: -life, draw
P6: -life, draw
P7: -life, draw

1 white card left... assume it's one you need

crap, out of time, well, see where this goes... I'm not sure. I think you need to start drawing black cards, being prepared to merlin the "al knights lose 1 life" but anything else is a-ok. The traitor will add a SE every time so you need to be merlin'ing them (make sure there's never 10 at the start of the traitor's turn in caes "add 2 SEs" is drawn).

I think it still works but it is worth figuring out.



 
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Mark Biggar
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InfoCynic wrote:
You broke the rules:

After round 3:
Catapaults: 7

Round 4 says each knight 1-5 is to lose 1 life and play Merlin for -Catapault.

This leaves you with 2 catapaults during player 6's turn, so he can't accuse player 7.

Instead, Player 1 or 2 must make the accusation, and Player 6 must play a Merlin for -Catapault.


Are you sure that's the correct way to read that rule. Is it: Accusations become possible if there are 6 catapault's on the board, or is it: Acusations become possible after the sixth catapault is played, indpendent of whether some have been removed by Merlin or fighting them? It doesn't really make sence that the ability to accuse goes away once you have it just because soemone removes catapaults.
 
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InfoCynic wrote:
You broke the rules:

After round 3:
Catapaults: 7

Round 4 says each knight 1-5 is to lose 1 life and play Merlin for -Catapault.

This leaves you with 2 catapaults during player 6's turn, so he can't accuse player 7.


As I mentioned above, the way we've been playing, once there have been six catapults, the field is open for accusations, even if they are removed. The rulebook says "once", not "when" or "while", so I think this is legit.

InfoCynic wrote:

Round 4:
The player holding piety must play it. If no one does, you know they're the traitor but you won't know whom. Try this:
without loss of generality, assume that whatever accusation pattern you decide on, the traitor is not discovered until last. Here, P2 will be our traitor. The traitor must be holding piety and convocation and not fate (I'll leave that to others, I'm short on time). So a loyal knight will play fate instead of accuse.


A loyal knight wouldn't play Fate while the draw pile is empty; it's a waste of a card that will be far more useful after the traitor is revealed, to rapidly redraw the traitor's discarded cards.
 
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Travis Hall
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sacolcor wrote:
This brings up an interesting point; if there are fewer cards to share than players, and a random choice is forced, how do you decide who gets the cards?

When the cards are being shared due to the completion of a quest, the knight who completed the quest gets the first card, and the rest of the cards are dealt clockwise from there. (Not that the cards are shuffled before dealing, so you won't know who gets what. There are times when loyal knights are better off acceding to a suspected traitor's demands just to find out where the cards are going.)

Quote:
The way we play, once there have been six catapults in play, accusations are permitted even if they are removed. I'm not sure if this is official or not, though.

Bruno has said before that the board has no memory. By that principle, you wouldn't be able to accuse if there aren't currently at least six siege engines in play (or six white swords). I'll watch for word from on high, though.

Quote:
It might be advantageous to make accusations in round 5 in order to force out the traitor. This does place his 12 cards in the discards, but as long as you get either Piety or Convocation back from the turn 5 Convocation, recovery is very likely - Piety allows the knights to burn life for the extra round needed to redraw the cards,

Ah, no. With only six loyal knights 72 cards distributed evenly between them prevents drawing at Camelot. You need a card-drawing special to be able to redraw the last of the deck again, or to somehow manufacture a quite uneven distribution.

Quote:
The strategy isn't 100% guaranteed unless there's no traitor, but I think that even with a traitor, the knights would have to catch a pretty unlucky break in order to make it fail.

Playing the standard game straight, without resorting to attempts at a degenerate strategy, with seven players is a pretty easy victory for the loyal knights anyway. The loyal knights always have to catch a pretty unlucky break to lose.
 
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Paul Sauberer
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Wraith wrote:
sacolcor wrote:

The way we play, once there have been six catapults in play, accusations are permitted even if they are removed. I'm not sure if this is official or not, though.

Bruno has said before that the board has no memory. By that principle, you wouldn't be able to accuse if there aren't currently at least six siege engines in play (or six white swords). I'll watch for word from on high, though.


I posted a question about it on the Days of Wonder forum. I'll pass along the answer when I get it.
 
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Gilles Duchesne
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Quote:
Quote:
The way we play, once there have been six catapults in play, accusations are permitted even if they are removed. I'm not sure if this is official or not, though.


Bruno has said before that the board has no memory. By that principle, you wouldn't be able to accuse if there aren't currently at least six siege engines in play (or six white swords). I'll watch for word from on high, though.


Yes, I remember him saying that, but the context was slightly different, wasn't it? Anyway, I think this is one of those things where the authors changed their minds every once in a while...

In the french rules, it is said that accusing another knight can only be done IF there are 6 swords or 6 catapults. "If", not "once".

Then again, on the (french) beta FAQ found on the authors' website, it does say that once you met the conditions you're good to go, but it appears that ruling was based on a vague recollection of the rules' wording... Hee.

Guess I'll point that out on the forum...
 
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Travis Hall
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InfoCynic wrote:

Start: 84 white cards
Opening deal: 6 x 7 = 42 leaving 42
After round 3, 2x7x3 = 42, leaving 0
Round 4:
The player holding piety must play it. If no one does, you know they're the traitor but you won't know whom. Try this:
without loss of generality, assume that whatever accusation pattern you decide on, the traitor is not discovered until last. Here, P2 will be our traitor. The traitor must be holding piety and convocation and not fate (I'll leave that to others, I'm short on time). So a loyal knight will play fate instead of accuse.
P1 (fate): -life (1), fate (loyal) (2)
P2 (traitor): -life (1), accuse P1 uselessly
P3 : -life (2), accuse P4
P4 (k.l.) (n.p.): -life (2), accuse P5
P5 (k.l.) (n.p.) -life (2), accuse P6
P6 (k.l.) (n.p.) -life (2), accuse P7
P7 (k.l.) (n.p.) -life (2), accuse P3 (now we KNOW P2 is the traitor)

Round 5:
P1: -life, accuse P3 correctly who discards 12 cards including piety and convocation.
P2: -life, draw
P3: taunt (adds 13th card to draw pile), add SE (9)
P4: -life, draw
P5: -life, draw
P6: -life, draw
P7: -life, draw

Those round 5 actions don't work, because all the knights who accused in turn 4 have 12 cards in hand, so cannot draw.

This is the big problem that always has to be overcome in these attempts. With only six loyal knights, it is very difficult to draw the entire deck, because you can only finish the job by using special cards.
 
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Wraith wrote:

This is the big problem that always has to be overcome in these attempts. With only six loyal knights, it is very difficult to draw the entire deck, because you can only finish the job by using special cards.


It's hard to completely guarantee the ability to draw the whole deck, but it can be made almost certain. Each knight starts with a Merlin, which can be played for -Catapult. That means they'll have 11 cards, and can thus draw to 13, bringing 78 total cards into their hands, and leaving only six. As long as Fate, Convocation, and Reinforcements aren't *all* in the bottom six, you can keep drawing: Five cards for Reinforcements, 6 for Fate and Convocation. This leaves at most two cards in the discards, which means that at least one of the three card-draw specials must be available to finish the job.

Hmm...let me study the numbers a bit more...

Six players (+traitor) have a total of 29 turns before they are forced to draw black cards (11 Catapults and 3*6=18 life each). 35 cards in the deck means that a minimum of 18 turns are needed to draw all of them, leaving 11 "spare" turns to deal with the following factors:

Traitor catapult plays (probably 2-3, but could be up to perhaps six)
Traitor taunts (removes up to six cards, costing up to three turns)

Accusations: Up to 6, but note that if the traitor is to play lots of catapults (or taunts), they'll give themselves away.

Card ordering (Up to 12*) - Ensuring that the cards get into the hands of the players who can play them, and in the correct order to establish the lock.
*This is much less than it seems, since Accusations can also serve to deal with card ordering requirements, as can playing the six Merlins.

Where the special cards fall makes a huge difference, of course. Convocation, Loyal Fate, or Reinforcements each grant 2-3 turns worth of extra draws, and Piety grants an extra four. Plus, any special card play can also be used to benefit card ordering. Traitorous Fate is definitely the best way to spoil this strategy, as it effectively costs six turns. But without it, from some back-of-the-envelope figuring, it takes some really unlikely confluences of events to avert a Loyal Knight victory.
 
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Paul Sauberer
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One of the questions was answered on the Days of Wonder forum.

Once there are 6 siege engines outside Camelot, accusations can be made for the rest of the game, even if the number of siege engines drops below 6 later.
 
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Eric Hautemont
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To be clear; the answer I posted re the shuffles in the DoW forum are only official in that I answered them. I don't think that either Bruno or Serge has had the time to read this thread in its entirety.

What I can say safely however is that the new cards they have been working on will make any such attempt completely moot anyway.

Eric
 
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Erich wrote:
To be clear; the answer I posted re the shuffles in the DoW forum are only official in that I answered them. I don't think that either Bruno or Serge has had the time to read this thread in its entirety.

What I can say safely however is that the new cards they have been working on will make any such attempt completely moot anyway.

Eric


New cards? NEW CARDS?!? I'm drooling with anticipation. Any idea when they'll be available?
 
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I don't have the rules in front of me at the moment, but I'm fairly sure the Sacrifice rule (spend a life for an extra Heroic Action) says specifically that you must perform a different action than the one you've already taken (i.e. you can't take the same action twice in a turn)... which makes the entire subject a moot point, doesn't it, since there's no way to draw more than two cards in a turn at Camelot.
 
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Dourgrim wrote:
I don't have the rules in front of me at the moment, but I'm fairly sure the Sacrifice rule (spend a life for an extra Heroic Action) says specifically that you must perform a different action than the one you've already taken (i.e. you can't take the same action twice in a turn)... which makes the entire subject a moot point, doesn't it, since there's no way to draw more than two cards in a turn at Camelot.


They were losing lives as their progression of evil, not to gain an heroic action.

That being said, there were fatal flaws in this strategy, due to some faulty rules interpretations.
 
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I'm not sure which rulings you're talking about. The accusation ruling matched how I'd used it. The reshuffle ruling that Eric made at http://www.daysofwonder.com/index.php?t=msg&th=5025#msg_num_... was that the first card discarded to an empty discard pile triggers a reshuffle. If you accept that as official, it actually makes this strategy stronger, not weaker.

Without a traitor, this strategy cannot fail, even with no knight powers.

Even when there is a traitor, the strategy only really fails if the traitor draws and plays Fate. Otherwise, the only failure points are highly improbable edge cases requiring all of the other key cards to be at the very bottom of the deck or in the traitor's hand, or for the traitor or to get very lucky and taunt away just the right card out of a dozen.

The title of this thread is "Degenerate strategy for (almost) sure win". I think the strategy meets that bar; it's not Perfect, but it's darn close.

As Eric observes, though, the release of new cards will greatly weaken this strategy, by virtue of growing the white deck past the point where cards can be quickly cycled. Putting the hand size limit on a sliding scale that decreases with the number of players would also render it unworkable.
 
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Carl Bussema
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I've been pondering this still, and I just don't see how it works in extreme cases, even if the traitor doesn't get fate.

OK, so we take the first 3 rounds losing 2 life and adding 1 cata and drawing the deck, fine.

If the traitor is holding piety, I think you're in trouble, because you'll have to (at least a few knights) lose life to progress evil and make accusations. If that takes 7 accusations, you're in a world of hurt, especially if the traitor starts taunting other things like Reinf, Conv, Merlin from your hands.

Even if you do manage to setup the discard pile so it has 3 merlins, piety, and convocation... and one extra card from the traitor taunting.... and reinforcements is in someone's hand... if discard = draw because there is no other draw pile, p1 reinforces other knights: p2, p3 merlins, p4 piety, p5 convocation (requires deck to have been stacked or shuffled since there's another merlin and a random taunt in there).

p2 - p3 use merlins to nuke SEs or whatever, p4 plays piety, p5 plays convocation leaving only that card left in the discard/draw pile until the traitor taunts. P5 picks up reinf, others pick up whatever, presumably they have something they can use to stall with (it may be necessary occasionally to add a SE instead of losing life for evil, since otherwise merlin for -SE won't be an option).

Even if all that goes off without a hitch, at some point, P6 has to win a quest, say BK, putting 4 white cards into the discard pile and drawing 3 (including the conv or reinf that P5 just played and presumably 2 of the fight cards he just played). With an extra card in there, plus an extra card from the traitor's taunt, I suppose you can just absorb a turn here or there to draw instead of Merlin -SE if needed, but it does seem like you would not be able to guarantee this loop could go on indefinitely, simply because getting the cards in the right hands all the time would be hard. I suppose a workaround would be that if it's the wrong time for conv/reinf, and you don't have a merlin, you could randomly move to a quest.

So maybe it works in an average case, but if the traitor gets fate, if the traitor has any part of piety/conv/reinfocements, or if the traitor manages to taunt one of those out of your hands more than once or twice, it might not be possible to keep a lock.

 
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sacolcor wrote:
Even when there is a traitor, the strategy only really fails if the traitor draws and plays Fate. Otherwise, the only failure points are highly improbable edge cases requiring all of the other key cards to be at the very bottom of the deck or in the traitor's hand, or for the traitor or to get very lucky and taunt away just the right card out of a dozen.

That's not quite true. Any scenario involving the traitor being accused hurts the plan, because it puts about a dozen cards back in the deck and limits the ability of the loyal knights to hold all the cards other than the ones they want to cycle.

And since the traitor being accused thus helps him thwart the strategy, he has to be willing to screw up the ordering by refusing to agree to the distributions of cards that the loyal knight need.

None of that will necessarily stop your approach from working, but it does increase the odds of failure (even if they do remain quite low).

Quote:
The title of this thread is "Degenerate strategy for (almost) sure win". I think the strategy meets that bar; it's not Perfect, but it's darn close.

That is probably true. However, the seven-player basic game is already extremely easy for any group competent enough to be able to implement the strategy you describe (as opposed to being able to step through it with printed instructions sitting in front of every player). I still don't think you've shown that it actually increases the chance of a victory for the loyal knights. It looks to me like you may well have gone from "unscripted almost-certain victory" to "scripted almost-certain victory", and I don't see why anybody should care about that.
 
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InfoCynic wrote:

If the traitor is holding piety, I think you're in trouble, because you'll have to (at least a few knights) lose life to progress evil and make accusations. If that takes 7 accusations, you're in a world of hurt, especially if the traitor starts taunting other things like Reinf, Conv, Merlin from your hands.


There's a 1/7 chance of the Traitor getting Piety. If he does, and if he's not found quickly, the knights can risk some black cards if they don't have the spare life. Of the 76 black cards, only the five Morgans will affect the lock, so that's only a 1/15 chance per draw. Taunts have only a slim chance of getting one of the key cards, since everyone has such large hands. Once the lock is established, any standard black cards on the quests can be Merlined.

InfoCynic wrote:

Even if you do manage to setup the discard pile so it has 3 merlins, piety, and convocation... and one extra card from the traitor taunting.... and reinforcements is in someone's hand... if discard = draw because there is no other draw pile, p1 reinforces other knights: p2, p3 merlins, p4 piety, p5 convocation (requires deck to have been stacked or shuffled since there's another merlin and a random taunt in there).


Remember that p6 gets a card too, leaving one in the discards, plus Reinforcements. And if the traitor didn't get Fate, it's got to be in someone's hand, and could be used to give more draws.

InfoCynic wrote:

p2 - p3 use merlins to nuke SEs or whatever, p4 plays piety, p5 plays convocation leaving only that card left in the discard/draw pile until the traitor taunts. P5 picks up reinf, others pick up whatever, presumably they have something they can use to stall with (it may be necessary occasionally to add a SE instead of losing life for evil, since otherwise merlin for -SE won't be an option).


Actually, p2 and p3 should avoid putting cards other than Piety in the discards until the lock is more firmly established; what exactly they do otherwise isn't important. Then p4 plays Piety, and p5 plays Convocation. There are five cards in the discards at that point (Reinforcements, Piety, Convocation, 2 taunts). p6 gets Piety, p1 gets Convocation, and they each play them. Now the lock is solid; they can pass those two cards around the table, maxing out their lives. If Piety gets taunted, it costs a play, but Convocation still brings it back. If Convocation gets taunted, Piety lets everyone -Life until whoever has Reinforcements or Fate can play it to get Convocation back into play.

InfoCynic wrote:

Even if all that goes off without a hitch, at some point, P6 has to win a quest, say BK, putting 4 white cards into the discard pile and drawing 3 (including the conv or reinf that P5 just played and presumably 2 of the fight cards he just played). With an extra card in there, plus an extra card from the traitor's taunt, I suppose you can just absorb a turn here or there to draw instead of Merlin -SE if needed, but it does seem like you would not be able to guarantee this loop could go on indefinitely, simply because getting the cards in the right hands all the time would be hard. I suppose a workaround would be that if it's the wrong time for conv/reinf, and you don't have a merlin, you could randomly move to a quest.


Once the lock is set, they can play some Merlins and the Lady of the Lake before each Convocation, being careful not to allow the discards to grow beyond 5 cards (4 if the traitor will get a taunt before the next Convocation). This allows them to remove all the siege engines and all the standard black cards that might have been played, and complete the Excalibur quest without needing to discard into the lake.
Eventually the knights will have to do some quests, but with their life and hands maxed out, I don't think they can fail unless they do something foolish. Completing a quest will redraw almost all the cards used on it, so it's pretty easy to go back and spin the Piety for a while to max out life again if need be.

InfoCynic wrote:

So maybe it works in an average case, but if the traitor gets fate, if the traitor has any part of piety/conv/reinfocements, or if the traitor manages to taunt one of those out of your hands more than once or twice, it might not be possible to keep a lock.


Traitorous Fate is indeed the worst case, and drops the chances of success below half, by my estimations.

Traitor getting Piety is the next worst case, since it means that the knights will be very tight on life by the time the accusations go around. This case probably forces some black card plays, depending on card and accusation order. If a black card draw is forced, it's Russian (British?) Roulette, with Morgan as the bullet.

Traitor getting Convocation and/or Reinforcements isn't that bad, since there will then be at least one play of Piety to give breathing room, and once revealed, Loyal Fate can get the key cards back out of the discards. The only time this case is fatal is if all three card-draw specials find their way into the bottom six cards of the discards after the traitor is revealed. That would force the knights to go to some quests in order to park fight or Grail cards outside the deck, which probably costs them enough time that they have to risk black cards.

A lucky taunt could delay the lock, but once it's set, the knights get so much life so quickly that I don't think taunts can break it. The traitor needs to get them during the point where they're short on life and siege engines, so that they're forced to risk black cards, and then hope that they draw a Morgan.
 
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Wraith wrote:

And since the traitor being accused thus helps him thwart the strategy, he has to be willing to screw up the ordering by refusing to agree to the distributions of cards that the loyal knight need.


If it gets to that point, he's already in trouble, because it means that Piety and Convocation have both been played once, and the discards and deck are empty. If he screws up the distribution, he'll get accused on the next player's action, and one of the loyal players will play Fate to redraw his cards. Plus, at least one of Convocation or Piety will have been returned to play by the distribution he screwed.

Wraith wrote:
I still don't think you've shown that it actually increases the chance of a victory for the loyal knights. It looks to me like you may well have gone from "unscripted almost-certain victory" to "scripted almost-certain victory", and I don't see why anybody should care about that.


I think that showing (mathematically) that I've increased the chance of a victory would be nigh impossible, not least because there's no way to know what the odds of winning are when the game when is played normally. I do think that it's interesting that there is a game state which allows the knights to regain all their life and remove all of the black cards and siege engines. And as I mentioned above, this was primarily intended as an item of academic curiosity.
 
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