Feint Hack

I thought of this hack as a possible solution to this thread. Yeah, AAA does not need to be “fixed”, but it’s still fun to explore other possible mechanics and their ramifications, at least for me.

I’ll post my favorite “solution” so far here in the OP, but the actual OP will continue below.

And now back to the actual OP:

This is a hack for the usual rules for how a Feint attack interacts with the other actions.

When a Feint action is selected a predication must also be selected. The prediction is what the Feint will go up against and can be Attack, Defend, or Maneuver. If the prediction was correct then the enemy’s action is negated and your test is independent, if the prediction was wrong then your action is negated and the enemy’s test is independent. You cannot predict Feint, if both sides chose Feint it is a versus test.

That’s kinda fun! I like the general idea.

The problem is that this makes Feint, predicting Attack, too good.

Hmm… does it? That leaves you vulnerable to the enemy taking a free maneuver or defend, which could really change the course of the conflict. And they can feint to have a versus test to hurt you. So if you only (or mostly) Feint against Attack, then they’ll get the upper hand with their Defends and Maneuvers and whittle you down with opposed Feints.

I’ll take those odds! For one thing, Attack and Defend can’t really be Independent, since they’re both doing arithmetic on the same disposition. So if I’m always scripting Feint(Attack), then your options look like:

Attack - you take average damage
Maneuver - you take average damage, but (likely) earn Disarm and Gain Position
Defend - versus (effectively) you go up or down a little
Feint(anything) - versus, someone takes a few points

An early Maneuver will be survivable if your dispo is good, but you’re trading a full damage injury for a next-round bonus. There’s not much hope of you defending your way back up, since it’s Versus. Once you maneuver, you’re pretty much choosing a deep compromise.

I think you missed the part where I said that if you guess wrong your action is negated. If you Feint(Attack) and I Defend or Maneuver, you do nothing, I take no damage and get the full benefit of my Maneuver or Defend.

I did!

Still, so long as I feint vs your attack, you can never hit me with an attack, and the conflict never ends.

Edit: SOrry, just thought it through and reread the thread. THat’s actually very clever. Everyone feints most of the time, and you only stop feinting when you think you can sneak an attack or maneuver or defend through, but feint is the default action. Cool!

Feint (Attack) becomes the only rational choice, regardless of the losing your action. I script that endlessly, and they script:

Attack: Woo for me.
Defend: Whatever, doesn’t matter, doesn’t hurt me.
Maneuver: Sure it can make things worse—but it doesn’t matter, because they can’t ever leverage the advantage into an attack to hurt you.
Feint: Versus test attack.

The two degenerate conditions (non-harming action vs. Feint (Attack)) and Feint (Attack) vs. Feint (Attack) are both problematic. The first is super tedious, nothing happens, until one side essentially throws it. Fuseboy had a mass combat-ish system for BW that we used a few times that had a disposition countdown—every Exchange both sides lost disposition. I think if you did that and scaled it by differences of order of might you could relieve things. The weaker side has an incentive to try and hammer as hard as they can while the stronger side can either just exhaust the weaker side or pummel them. The second set is essentially just Attack vs. Attack but with the added annoyance of the fact that weapons / spells that transform Attack vs. Attack into actual versus tests are made meaningless and highly favouring layering it on thick to a single roll so you can not only negate the other’s attack but also punch through it. Again the auto-countdown can help there as it means that losing a bit stings a lot more.

So basically, I wouldn’t just swap that out, I’d also put something else in there that forces conflict to countdown.

You still can’t win with a straight up Feint (Attack) strategy, because as long as they aren’t attacking you never do anything but the occasional versus test which your enemy will have advantage in from their unopposed maneuver actions. However, it is a viable strategy if what you want is to slow the game down and make it frustrating…

The real question is: Is Feint (Attack) better than just Attack in raw? Looking at your analysis, raw Attack is definitively better. Attack vs. Feint just switch places, in raw attack wins, for my hack Feint (Attack) wins. Same. Attack vs. Attack is either independent or versus depending on weaponry, but pretty much the same as FvF in my hack. Attack versus Defend is better than F(A) vs Defend, since at least it’s a versus test instead of your action being negated. Same with Attack vs. Maneuver, better than F(A) vs. Maneuver in my hack. So raw Attack is equal or better in every way in raw than Feint (Attack) in my hack. If you think Feint (Attack) is broken then you must, logically, think that raw Attack is really broken.

Still… what if I added the option to script Feint(Feint) so that if you opponent selects a Feint their attack is negated and you get an independent roll (though F(F) vs. F(F) would still be versus, who feinted against a feint the best!)?

Admittedly there are slightly more complicated interactions here.

Attack is priveleged in the rock-paper-scissors of the Burning system by not having an independent negation (Feint negates Defend, Attack negates Feint, Defend does not negate Attack). With equal dice pools, it is clearly the best choice, and you get AAA as a viable strategy.

That said, note that the weapons are NOT equally powerful across all maneuver types. Attack gets a max of +1s (2-handed weapons only) or +1D, while Manuever and Defend get +2D -AND- benefit from using a Characteristic, which is easier to min/max to a higher value on a starting character). Thus, a well-executed Defend may have 1-2 more dice than Attack. That’s the (slight) equalizing factor in the rules as written.

PS – I do think AAA ends up being over-strong against horde opponents, but that’s a longer-term tactical exercise than just one round.

I think if you want to fix Conflict within the confines of Conflict, you need to extend the matrix of choices to 6 (essentially as you have), but have each action have one that totally trumps it and it totally trumps another. That can give you the complexity of choice and remove the privilege of Attack. It just makes weapon writing a bit trickier as you have additional actions, plus you need to decide on what to use for them in various conflict types.

So fairly close to what you’re proposing, but calling each one a different action and not having them auto-fail when what they trump comes up.

don’t you only need 5? rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock :slight_smile:

It doesn’t necessarily need to be perfectly symmetrical though, but I get your point, a more well-defined matrix with explicit separate maneuvers would have a less sloppy feel to it. Maybe I’ll think about that, though of course anyone is welcome to pose a suggestion.

Regardless, I’d like to see this hack working - I think it’s awesome that Feint becomes an action that rewards you for guessing correctly what the enemy will do.

New proposal: Add “Counter” back in the mix. (another disposition lowering action)

         A C F D M
Attack   i - i v v
Counter  i v - - v
Feint    - i v i i
Defend   v i - i v
Maneuver v v i v i

Note that counter works against active enemy actions (Attack, Maneuver) but fails completely when the enemy is patient or tricky (Defend, Feint). This gives counter a higher risk/reward, but should keep it balanced. Counter becomes the tool to counter Attack based strategies while also having it’s own weaknesses.

Thoughts on this?

Feint defeats Defend and is defeated by Attack.
Defend defeats nothing and is defeated by Feint.
Attack defeats Feint and is defeated by nothing.
Maneuver defeats nothing and is defeated by nothing.


Wouldn’t the easiest fix be to just have it work like this?

Feint defeats Defend and is defeated by Attack.
Defend defeats Maneuver and is defeated by Feint.
Attack defeats Feint and is defeated by Maneuver.
Maneuver defeats Attack and is defeated by Defend.

I’m sure Thor and Luke considered this, of course, but it seems okay to me at first blush.

I think the idea is that it’s okay if things are asymmetrical, perfect symmetry is sometimes less fun, and I imagine that simplified approach would feel too contrived, less organic.

That said, with raw some people find AAA to be too powerful a strategy because it not only does damage but nothing directly negates it. In other words, if you AAA then the fight will end soon and there will be compromises. Even the GM could do that, and there’s nothing you can do at that point to avoid a compromise because nothing beats Attack. The only thing you really need then is something to counter attack… thus counterattack. That was my thinking anyway.

eta: also, I just like to mod and fiddle with games :slight_smile:


Hmm… interesting. This response seems to suggest that AAA was intended to be a desperation strategy. I wonder if there’s not supposed to be a direct counter to attack. That wouldn’t surprise me, TB is rather streamlined and counterattack from BW is conspicuously absent, so it was probably intentional. I still haven’t played Mouse Guard though, does that have counterattack?

I think I’ll revise my “Counter” matrix above to make the counter action less beneficial, maybe by making it versus maneuver instead of auto-win. Also this will help balance feint a little more, since a very risky Counter will be used less, making the added benefit of Feint vs. Counter less common.

Mouse Guard has the same 4 actions as Torchbearer.

Attack has no direct counter because if it did, you could stall fights for quite a long time, if not indefinitely. Attack, unless opposed by a superior Defend, moves the conflict toward its conclusion. The trick is making sure it’s a conclusion you’re comfortable with. On more than one occasion my players have forestalled ending a conflict because they were at under half dispo, and they wanted a chance to recoup some in order to avoid more serious consequences. It works both ways, too - if you’re at super-low dispo and you don’t think you have a shot at regaining any, gun for a compromise. I’ve long believed that the secret sauce of the conflicts system (and the Duel of Wits it’s descended from) is how the system drives heavily toward compromises, which make the outcomes more interesting.


Indeed, good point.

Still, a counterattack as the counter for attack doesn’t slow the conflict down, somebody is taking a hit. So why remove it for Mouse Guard and Torchbearer? The best I can come up with is simplicity, 4 actions are easy to remember and decide between, and each new action adds a growing set of interactions. In that case, putting counterattack back in might be an acceptable “advanced” mode. If there’s a more integral reason then it’s probably a bad idea and I’m just not seeing it, which is entirely possible. But it’s fun to pick these things apart.