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Strategy: Real vs. Metagaming

Teh Storm October 4, 2010 User blog:Teh Storm

I've said it once, and I'll say it one more time: if a strategy involves dice, it is not strategy. Here's why:

Rolling dice is random. Always. This introduces an element of chaos. People have tried to explain to me that chaos is bad for strategy and planning. I have never argued against this, and agree with it completely. No, the problem is when in the same breath they start mentioning how they flank to get die bonuses and blah blah blah. I honestly think that they had contracted amnesia at this point. Once you are in game die rolling, be it combat or shopping, you have sworn away any rights to choice in the outcome, throwing caution to the wind and letting fate and chance decide for you. This is really shitty strategy. Gaining bonuses only dress up this shit to make it seem less shitty. So please, follow my thought process out of the shit and into the deep water.

From here on in my focus is D&D. While the principals work in any game, or in life, for now we are narrowing our focus. We established that die rolling is bad for strategy. So, where is the next step? Forcing the other guy to roll dice should come to mind. If rolling dice sucks, then make the people you don't like suck and force them to take chances. While it is not widely announced, all spell casters are powerful because this of this: spells force others to roll dice. Think about: the fighter and rogue spend their actions making attacks on orcs, then the wizard simply announces he is using fireball. Now everyone is sweating, because now everyone but the wizard is rolling dice to avoid the damage the wizard is doing.

But from here let's say that you are just the friendly local orc barbarian, and don't have crap for magic. So you are stuck in the die rolling crap shoot, right? NO! You too have options! Again, die rolling being bad, we have to look over options for mundane methods of getting the job done. Ah, coup de grace! "The Touch of Mercy" that deals maximum damage with no attack roll. If killing people is your goal, this is the prime way to do it. So, how do you get a coup de grace? You set them up. If you can stake out a location long enough to get the guard shifts down, good. If you found a hole in the shifts that you can sneak in with, better. If you know where the guards nap, great. If you know where they keep their food and can poison it, excellent. And if you know the boss executes incompetent guards and make the poison a sleep inducer, perfect! Of course, they need not be elaborately set up. If you can sneak up behind the guard and slit his throat, don't set up some bull shit Scooby Doo distraction and ambush/trap unless that can kill more guards more efficiently.

Which brings up my final point in strategy: resources. If you can set it up so that you aren't even there when shit hits the fan, do it. Set off traps, rig mines, start negotiations out of bow range as an ally takes a walk and scans for snipers, coat a field in oil and throw a fireball or flaming arrow from way the hell and gone. My personal favorite: get outsiders involved. If you are fighting orcs who have the princess you are supposed to rescue, ask for some knights from her realm, start a war, and sneak her out as they are fighting. Oh, and make sure the dragon that lives in the nearby mountain knows that orcish mercenary dragon slayer will be in this keep, and the pretty girl is the bait they are going to use to poison her. That will make so many things work better. The further away you are from harm and blame, the longer you will live.

I recognize that die rolling is inevitable in gaming. When a giant fucking worm pops out and eats your favorite torch bearer, there is no time to set up and ambush and back up: this IS the ambush! While die rolling is a shitty way to go about solving problems, all I can say is when one is deep shit, shit is all they have and better start flinging.

Thank you.--Teh Storm 07:54, October 4, 2010 (UTC)

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