DoW scripting strategies

OK, Santa got me Burning Wheel Gold for Christmas. :smiley: I used to own revised. I read it, loaned it out and never got it back. :frowning: I also got the Mouseguard box set in my stocking (it was a big sock) :p. I am able to discern from reading but never playing that there is no perfect strategy. One has to be able to read his opponent and have an argument that fits the maneuver. However from listening to the Podgecast I heard it mentioned how leading with “Feint” can lead to disaster. If your opponent comes out of the gate swinging “scripting point” you can get hosed. I would think that leading with “point” is a natural way to start a debate. Thereby one could look at his opponent and say he/she has passion about this topic and is an aggressive speaker you may choose to lead with “Obfuscate”. What other strategies can people suggest?

If you believe they’re going to come out of the gates with a point, you could script an Avoid the Topic.

If you think he’s going to use dismiss an action, going on the defensive before or on his action will make him lose a round.

If you’re on the verge of out right losing such that you think the DoW might not last pass the next volley, best to get aggressive and script a dismiss so as to maximize concessions.

Never, never, never end an exchange with Dismiss. If you put it in the second volley, you’re playing the odds: do they have a Point in the third volley? Or did they go with Avoid the Topic, in which case you’re fine. But if it’s in the third volley and you by some chance don’t win the duel, you will be hesitating while they script either Point or Dismiss, for sure.

I’ve ended an exchange with a dismiss against a much more skilled opponent. It won me a major compromise.

I searched, but I couldn’t find a great thread in the Revised forum were someone stated that “Point-Point-Point” was the best option (for equal opponents), but were it became apparent that since “point-point-dismiss” was the best option and everyone knew it Avoids, rebuttals and Obsfuscatis are equally useful.

Also, there were lot’s of mentions on how one just picked what one’s character would do(say), and that often one did not play just to win, but to get or avoid compromises - or even just simple get that sweet & needed challenging test.

I think a solid approach to the Duel of Wits is to find out what you want from it, and equally what you’re willing to concede. Working on solid statements, and being prepared to offer compromises is probably just as important as choosing the “right” actions.

Sometimes it works, but it’s generally suboptimal. Think about your full script, and run the counterfactuals: What would have happened if you’d put the Dismiss in the second volley instead? Or saved it for the first of the next exchange? Unless you got knocked to zero on the Dismiss and your Volley 2 action was something which reduced your opponent’s dispo, probably it would have been no worse to do one of those and it could have been better. My experience is that I don’t know when I script that I have enough dispo left to last exactly three volleys (since I don’t know what my opponent is doing) rather than two or four. So it’s better to put the Dismiss in the second volley, or save it for the first of the next exchange.

You’re totally right about approaches. It is important, too, to remember the fictional content of the Duel. Sometimes an Obfuscate or Incite can be used to bring in other stuff that’s happening and show your opponent in a bad light. If your adversary proves that the North Road is a better route than the West Road, but they come out looking like a bullying madman who hates you more than they love the King, well, the King isn’t gonna be too impressed with that, is he?

Oh that’s good. It didn’t occur to me that I could get stuff like that out of the compromise. Lets say he wins in the above duel and I agree to take the North road, but my compromise is that he suffers a reputation loss in the city for his poor behavior. That opens up so many more options. Thanks guys this was helpful. I like the advice on scripting a dismiss as a way to make my compromise better when loosing too.

Maybe you mean my thread here? It’s very relevant to the topic and I put some effort into generating real data to inform my conclusions, so I think it’s a worthwhile read for anyone who wants to know more about the strategy of Duel of Wits. It’s not so much about tricks but more a basic analysis of the actions and their interactions.

No, but thanks for showing us this great opening post. Although there’s been a few changes to the actions, the main gist of the post still applies. ‘Point’ wins debates. (As ‘Strike’ wins fights!)

However, as the system is transparent - everyone knows the Optimal strategy and can somehow counter this. Off course, the opponent will also know what the first player knows… etc

Another good idea in preparation for a DoW is to consider your own skills. Note the tone your statements should have to maximise FoRKs. If you’re skilless and outclassed, ‘Avoid’ aren’t that bad as a full Will-dicepool can make your opponent run into a last-volley ‘Dismiss’ were you then hit with a ‘Point’. Note that ‘Rebuttals’ favour the (most) skilled (at least matematically). Note that warrior-characters often have Intimidate. Using ‘Incite’ followed by ‘Point’ can be a option for those characters, and Luke seems to often suggest that “playing to lose” (by getting a compromise) is vital for low-skilled characters. Play your opponent as well. If your opponent is prone to test his/hers low skills and your more invested in the outcome of the DoW than getting tests use a Point-Point-Point or a Point-Point-Dismiss.

As a GM would you insist that your duelists RP a different point each action? Even if not using Point, Point, Point if you make the same point over and over again in an argument it looses effectiveness. Can/Should a GM give a penalty or bonus to a poorly or well role-played argument? Perhaps, wow that was was a good point -have an artha. Or Dude your just repeating yourself, a guy in the audience forks in a helping die to your opponent by heckling you.

Repeating should absolutely be hit with a disadvantage.

Unless I’m misreading you, you’re saying that Avoid is good against Dismiss? It’s not - if you avoid against dismiss, your opponent gets his full dice and you get none.

Or maybe what you’re saying is that if you expect Point Point Dismiss then you can script Avoid Avoid Point - and then get another Point in while your opponent hesitates next round. That’s true, and it’s a good reason not to be so predictable with your Dismiss actions. If you always dismiss at the end of an exchange, you make it very easy for your opponent to take advantage of you.

The latter, maybe even Avoid, Obfuscate, Obfuscate.

I do think we’re in complete agreeance, so maybe we shouldn’t confuse more? I have had good luck with a dismiss in the last volley, first exchange - though. Once it gave me a major compromise (and nearly made me win it - with a B2 persuade against a B5 persuade), both players are a little wary before the first round. Maybe we don’t know how much artha the other player has? Or even know exactly what skills he/she can muster (for FoRKs). Gambling on a dismiss can win you something with a spare fate. 2nd exchange both players will know more.

Tactics is one thing, choosing strategies to suit your character is also cool, and doing so may throw your opponent completely off his (scripting)-game OR HOPEFULLY let him/her predict you perfectly.

This thread has made me come up with a few questions of my own. :slight_smile:

Something to consider is that players and NPCs won’t have equal skill with all actions. Any B4 mook can mount a 4D Avoid the Topic, but it takes skill to use the other actions. With this in mind, optimal strategies can vary a lot by who you are and who you’re facing.

Someone attractive and pampered might be getting by with Command and Seduction, which only gives them access to Dismiss, Feint and Incite. (That would put them at a big disadvantage, but it would be a profound statement about how they approach argument.)