I just started GMing my first game of mouseguard, and altogether it ran very well. However, I have several people in my game that are at least as analytical as I am, and so I am a little concerned about something. Namely, that I can’t figure out what beats Attack in the conflict system.
Attack clearly beats Feint and Feint clearly beats Defend. That much is blatant.
Defend v Manuever (aside from Feint coming into play) generally favors Defend because each excess success is +1 disposition, as compared to a 50% chance of either removing one more disposition or retaining one more disposition next action. Attack beats out Manuever for much the same reason. Disarm can be potent, but takes time to make a difference (roughly -1D to your opponent, at the cost of 3 successes. It takes 3 relevant actions to catch up with what the other Manuever options give, 6 to catch up to what your successes would have earned with Attack or Defend).
Attack v Defend is just a straight dice-off, but ultimately Attack has the advantage because Defend cannot ever win as such, and Defend gets clipped off (can’t have more than starting disposition).
I understand that for a particular mouse/conflict, the difference in skills might make a different choice stronger situationally, but then in terms of picking skills and such if Attack really is strictly the best action, it’s obvious that you should invest most in bonuses for Attack.
If you know your opponent will Defend, you should Feint. If you know your opponent will Feint, you should Attack. If you know your opponent will Manuever it seems like any of the others comes out to your advantage. If you know your opponent will Attack, it seems like there is no way to beat that (aside from more dice or rolling better).
Can those of you with more experience with the game help me understand why I should pick something other than Attack/Attack/Attack? (Assuming equal dice as is roughly true of all animals, and ignoring the obvious question of playing in-character. I want to know why the character would see it as better to do something else.)
I would currently be tempted to houserule something like assymetric rolls:
In Defense v Manuever, Defense is independant, but Manuever is versus (the Manuever only counts successes above the Defender). In Attack v Manuever the Manuever is Independant but the Attack is versus (the Attack only counts successes above the Manueverer). Then you have a clearly favored action against each action, and a clearly disfavored action against each action. (As well as having roughly even matchups and of course identical.)
While I’ve got your ear, is there actually an advantage to ranged weapons? It seems like a very lateral move. Attack v Attack at different ranges is simply lower damage in both directions (v instead of i) and Attack v Manuever being i instead of v means more damage up front, but disarming is almost guaranteed and can probably add some more dice shifting to the next roll. Is it really just a change of flavor in effect, or is there something about the range rules that actually makes long range better than not having it? (I.e. what do you gain when throwing a thrown weapon that makes up for losing it?)