Yet another team conflict question

So after going through about a half dozen or so threads on this topic I decided I was confused enough to just ask my questions directly and hope for answers.

I am confused about how to handle team conflicts, specifically when there are two teams vs one team.

First just a few things to make sure I am understanding right:

  1. When your teams tests are the same type (versus, or independent) one rolls and one helps correct?

  2. When your teams tests are different they both roll and the ‘unopposed’ team rolls against the enemy team’s roll as a difficulty, correct?

  3. The solo enemy team gets to choose who to target of course, but just to clarify when they choose are they stuck with the same team for the round (of three cards) or can they swap during the round?

Now a few questions:

  1. When the team has a related goal it sort of makes sense to me as they are reducing the enemy’s disposition but in different ways. For example in trying to keep the raven from stealing mail (the example from the book) one team tries to recover the mail while the other tries to distract/scare off the raven. However if the team goals aren’t directly related how does it work? Like one team wants to kill the snake but the other wants to destroy it’s eggs? While I guess if you kill the snake destroying the eggs is an afterthought, it doesn’t make (thematic) sense for destroying the eggs to work towards the goal of killing the snake.

  2. I understand the ‘helping’ examples, but can somebody give me an example of how actions that aren’t considered ‘helping’ play out?

For example we have Team A, Team B, and the Raven. Now Team A attacks the Raven and the Raven Attacks Team A while team B selects Defend. So the raven vs. Team A I get, a normal result of Attack vs. Attack however does team B test against the enemies attack roll and make their defend normally?

  1. Lastly but perhaps more relevant… What possible advantage is there to not have as many teams as possible? How I see it:If you have one team of two mice vs. the Raven the mice combined have one disposition as does the raven, they take their one turn (three cards) and the battle plays out. If however you have two teams of one mouse each vs. the Raven the mice now have two sets of disposition instead of just one while the Raven still has one and each round the mice get a minimum of three cards with assistance (an extra die) on each card (if they are the same types of actions) or as many as six cards per round (if they select them to be different kinds of actions, letting the teams focus on different things more effectively.

So again to reiterate, what advantage is there to ever not have multiple teams against a solo enemy?

Basically what I’m looking for in all of this is just a spelling out clearly and slowly (as if I took one too many kicks to the head or something) of how multiple teams vs. one enemy works in terms of card resolution, disposition resolution (particularly in situations where goals are not directly linked), and finally why you would ever choose not to have multiple teams.

Thanks, I love the game but after playing several sessions, reading through the book a few times and the section on teams many times, and searching the net I just am not clear on it.


(second group)
3) this is a narrative as much as a mechanical facet of the conflict. If two teams are not reasonably opposed, then play it out in one team (even if that team is somewhat larger for it). If, however, there really are three opposing teams, then you could opt for a multi-team conflict.

As an example:

Team Killer Mice says, ‘We’re going to hurt this raven very badly and the whole town will eat well once it is cooked!’
Team Snuggly Mice says, ‘We’re going to chase this raven away by scaring the bird and won’t hurt it except by accident.’
Team Foolish Raven saying, ‘Wow, that shiny buckle is neat and I want it; I don’t care about hurting mice to get at the thing I want–it will be mine and I will fly away from these grounded mice!’

In an example such as that, the two mouse teams clearly want different outcomes to the conflict. Also, clearly the Raven wants a different outcome from either mouse team. Thus, when Team Killer Mice uses Attack, they very well might need to target Team Snuggly Mice’s Dispo (although narratively they are taking an action against the raven). If, by chance the Team Foolish Raven’s Dispo hits 0 before the two mouse teams–guess what–conflict is not over! The two mouse teams still have to finish the conflict with each other (or one side surrenders their goal completely! terrible, even the raven would earn a compromise better than the surrendering team). Even so, while the conflict continues, the raven itself still exists in the narrative–despite that it can no longer throw dice on the table.

In short, the conflict continues until there is one winner and the rest losers; then we call for compromise. Also, the goals should be noticeably divergent.

  1. considering the example above, keep in mind that multi-team goals will need to be really different. Your example about the snake is a good illustration of this case. The patrol might look at the situation in multiple perspectives:

a) Patrol decides to split to accomplish two tasks at once; divergent goals, multi-team, snake must face both teams (bad for snake) [keep above comments in mind; teams will have to oppose each other to earn their goal]
b) Patrol decides to kill snake together as group; single goal, single team, snake faces off against team (balanced for snake)
c) Patrol decides to destroy eggs together as group; single goal, single team, snake faces off against team (good for snake)

Next, patrol faces compromise. This might also bring in new perspectives too. Think of a few ways that compromise might keep the mice away from their combined goals being automatic.

a) A team won but must compromise (mixed bag); maybe snake lives, but eggs don’t; maybe eggs gone, but a mouse is in the belly while others ran away; maybe snake is dead, but eggs cannot be found; etc. (in any case, the Player Turn may be the only way for the mice to truly resolve both goals)
b) Team maybe wins but the compromise dictates they hunted the snake over distance; eggs are only available to destroy during Player Turn (got enough checks for that)
c) Team maybe wins but the compromise dictates the snake gets away clean (not a scratch); must hunt snake during Player Turn (sure you want to)

Other compromises might be used; maybe conditions like Injured, Tired could deepen the obstacle since players want to recover.

I’d love to indulge you, but it isn’t scientific. It is academic. It is a great thinking game, but the different situations are hard to codify. It is better to consider examples and look for interesting ideas to steal from literature, television, film, real life.

Thanks for the in depth response, that makes a lot of sense.

My only real followup question (I think I get the rest of the basics of multi-team combat) is my last(ish) question above; what advantage is there ever to not having multiple smaller teams? Is there ever an advantage (when fighting on enemy) of having one team of two rather than two teams of one? You can still help one another as normal but it seems like you have more latitude for actions and potentially double the disposition (depending on the specific goals in battle).

yes, that’s true, but I’d say there are two disadvantages to often making multiple teams (and possibly a third disadvantage).

(1) The patrol would have to be often conflicting within their own patrol regarding the outcome of Conflicts. Each time three teams come into a Conflict–with valid divergent goals–only one can remain with Dispo above 0. They have to complete the conflict once started; the only other option is surrender. It can’t be the case of two mice teams making divergent goals, then working together, and finally making a deal instead of a compromise. That would be inappropriate. So, this means the players have to play out conflicts against each other more often. Maybe that’s a benefit to the game, but I see that as a disadvantage.

(2) The players must often create divergent goals in order to create valid multiple teams. If I saw it happening often as a GM, I’d really start to question it. I’d make it less and less favorable to split teams. I feel that the first disadvantage is discouragement enough. But, creating conflict goals has a unique challenge; producing a compromise can be more challenging. I would not like to slow game play for little more than an attempt for mechanical advantage.

A possible (3) is that conflicts either become more lengthy with three teams playing ‘paper, rock, scissors, lizard, spock,’ or become less frequent via avoidance. I feel both of those options are reasonable, but maybe not preferable.

In a similar sense as the not infrequent discussions about conflict actions, this idea of highest advantage is likely the worst method for making decisions in regards to story. In regards to mechanics, sure, go for high advantage. It is a game, after all. But, the key here is blending game and role-play. Play needs far less mechanical advantage. In fact, when blending in story in addition to the game and role-play, sometimes (often perhaps) the characters make a better cast of players when positioned at a disadvantage.

Gottcha, I appreciate it. I get that the idea isn’t to min/max in a game like this, but sometimes it’s good to have solid reasons not to do something that appears to be an obvious benefit beyond “Well… Cause you shouldn’t that’s why”.

Again, thanks for all the info, cleared up my last notable question about Mouse Guard mechanics (one that’s been haunting me a bit through the various games I’ve played).

If three teams start a conflict and only one team remains, who compromises with who? Only between one winning team and two losing teams? What about compromising between two losing teams?

i’d say the losing teams don’t have to compromise with each other. Each gets to draw a compromise from the winning team. Hopefully, that doesn’t eat up too much of the goal from the winning team.

Let’s return to raven and mice example:

Raven wins! Two mice teams have lost to each other and to Raven.

First point, Team Killer Mice and Team Snuggly mice don’t get their goal, but they might have room to ask that the Raven be injured (from part of Killer Mice goal), and that it was scared away (from part of Snuggly Mive goal).

Second point, Foolish Raven can offer that the buckle didn’t come loose (giving up a part of his goal), but a patrol mouse was injured and all the mice are angry, since they realized they were working at odds with each other.

In both of those points, the losing teams do get to see a little bit of their goal come through. The raven only gives up part of its goal, but adds a neat complication in the form of conditions, and used a part of his goal to injure a mouse.

This all depends on the degree of compromise, of course.

However, the two losing teams don’t get to extract something from each other during this time. They only get to deal with the winning team. That does mean that it gets a bit strange if one of the PC teams wins against another PC team. In such a case, the players need to remember that is part of the rules of the game. They’ve got to honor the rules of the game in making a compromise else it really wasn’t a fair game.