Breaking Ties

The rules on breaking ties is unclear to me and we had some discussion about it in the first Mouse Guard game I ran.

The rules state: If a versus test is tied, there are three ways to break it. They may be used in the following order. Then it goes on to say (and I paraphrase) 1. A trait may be called on to break the tie in the opponent’s favor 2. You can spend a fate point to reroll sixes 3. A tiebreaker roll may be made.

Then in the example, it says Lieam can’t spend a fate point to break the tie (option 2) and he doesn’t think his traits apply (option 1), so he’s forced to make a tiebreaking role.

Although the wording says “may”, the phrase “In the following order” makes me think that these are heirarchical, so I’d have to try option1, then option2 then option3, but that’s clearly not what’s written in the example. So, which way is it and, what does “In the following order” mean?


I think the “may” implies options, not a necessary order. For instance, the first option given is using a trait to break a tie in the opponent’s favour, but note that the example has Lieam (or rather, the player) first thinking about spending a Fate point (which he can’t do). He then looks like his traits (no go) and so must use a tiebreaker roll.

The “may be used in the following order” is basically saying “these are your options, from best to maybe worth it to default.” Using a trait earns a check. Bonus. Using a Fate point is using up a Fate point (not the best option if others are available). Rolling is the default if you don’t really want to win the tie or don’t want to earn a check by breaking it in the opponent’s favour.

I’d be glad to be corrected, but that’s how I see it: as a suggested order.

He used the fate point before to get the successes needed to tie the roll in the first place (see the prior example). I think you’re just trying to read too much into the example.

So… the question remains: is that the order, or can any of them be done if the conditions for them are met?

“In the following order.”


I’m all for the simplest, most literal reading of the text. So “in the following order” means that you must follow the order of the options suggested. You may only select further down the list if the first option is not applicable or available.

Thanks, Luke! It was the “may” in there that was throwing off myself and Greg.

Yes, thanks Luke and others who responded.

Wait, I’m sorry, I’m still a little unclear on this.

So it goes:

  1. You may use a Trait to break the tie.
  2. You may use a Fate point to re-roll sixes.
  3. If not 1) or 2), you have to use a tiebreaker roll.

Meaning that if I have an applicable Trait, but I’d rather use a Fate point because I really want to win the roll (or whatever reasoning), I can use the “may” to not use the applicable Trait, and then use the “may” to use the Fate point instead.

Because as described in this thread, it seems more like given it a designated ordering means that if you can use a Trait, you have to, before you can use a Fate point… except that you can only use one per tie (obviously).

So, why is there an order to it at all? I would think it would be better to interpret as “choose one of the following”, else all ties would end up being broken in the opponents favor when there is an applicable Trait, even if the player doesn’t want to use that trait in that instance.

Sure, earning Checks is a good thing and all, but that doesn’t mean the choice should be taken out of the player’s hands.

You guys are making this very complicated and it’s not.

Let’s say you choose to use a Fate point to break the tie, but don’t come up with any successes. Can you still choose to use your trait to break the tie? No! You’ve already tried to do it with a Fate point. You must now use a tiebreaker roll instead.

That is why an order of operations is important.

Actually… that cleared everything up. Thanks, Thor.