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Discussion on deception in Malifaux (and tabletop gaming in general)


moxypoo

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The article "Deception" by Michael Kelmelis in Chronicles 15 seems to have opened up a huge debate in the Chronicles 15 (and beyond) thread (located here). 

 

One side of the discussion considers the forms of deception outlined in the article to be unsportsmanlike, while the other side considers deception during the game to be permissible.  I thought it would be worthwhile to start a thread specifically to discuss both whether deception is permissible in Malifaux, and if so, what types are permissible. 

 

Follow the link to the other thread to see the beginnings of the discussion!

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Hi, good call making a new thread.

 

Responding to your comment on what constitutes deception through omission, this depends on what a player asks.

 

For instance, "how hard is this model to hit?" should realistically include DF/WP, manipulative/Terrifying, and any modifiers to accuracy. Basically, how difficult it is to hit. That's what I'd expect baseline. In a friendly game, I'd probably volunteer triggers, H2W, etc.

 

If someone asked "what's this model's current defensive capabilities?", it'd be the above, including the latter volunteered info.

 

In a tournament, I think it's not a player's responsibility to know another model's current defenses, since they can be quite layered. Let's go with an obnoxious one- Tannen.

 

He's running with The Mimic's blessing, Useless Duplications (on a friendly), has cast Leave it to Luck so has activated, but Graves drubbed something this turn, he's playing in a Pandora list, and he's near an Oiran for good measure. He's at 2 health.

 

Front of Tannen's card: he has Cooler and WP 6, and no manipulative since he's activated.

back of Tannen's card: he used an ability which creates an aura, but is not indicated by any marker.

The Mimic's Blessing: no effect, since he's activated, but still takes reading.

Useless Duplications- read 2 rules on an upgrade that's on a model near him, see if one applies.

Harmless: a rare condition that cross-references a trigger on another model's card.

Martyr: Pandora's card says she can take one point of his damage, since he's a woe. 

Pandora has 3 upgrades, none of which happen to do anything in the situation.

Oiran: gives a passive bonus, so check range if it happens to be a relevant stat.

 

Particularly in a timed context, that's a ton of information to be expected to read when your opponent says "here, you can read some cards" in response to "what's Tannen's defenses like?" And maybe he hands you Candy's card and upgrades for you to read as a red herring, or, better yet, his entire crew's cards to let you sort through them. Then, for good measure, he points at a nearby scheme marker and suggests you might want to watch out for that.

 

Your opponent probably knows that stuff well, since he probably either planned each of those or noticed another passive buff and decided to grab it.

 

You know half of them from playing against Lynch frequently, but maybe you don't know pandora or candy well, or any of the other Woes, and your opponent has suggested that there's some secret scheme marker interaction.

 

You finally parse things out, make your attack, cheat half your hand to get through all the layers of defense, and manage to sneak through with 2 damage on your 1/2/3 damage track in some long shot because he's necessary for a scheme or you just hate him so much. Then your opponent has Pandora take 1 damage and shrugs saying you should have read the cards more closely/known them better.

 

There's nothing technically misinforming about that, but I'd be pretty pissed if an opponent did that.

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For me there's two types of deception that go on in gaming, Deception of Intent and Deception of Fact.

 

Deception of Intent I'm fine with and generally expect in gaming.  This essentially entails not telling your opponent what you intend to do and leaving it as a something they'll just have to guess or figure out.  It includes bluffing about the relative importance of certain models, or the specifics of things they don't have access to (What cards are in your hand, What Schemes you're looking at).  It's a fun element of the game to try and figure out how the pieces of the other player's list are supposed to come together and how to counter that with yours.  The only time I'll generally not adhere to this is against newer players for whom deciphering complex game-plans is usually problematic.  In these situations I don't mind walking someone through what's happening.

 

Deception of Fact, on the other hand, usually makes for some unfun games.  This is actively omitting or lying about information that the other person can, by the rules, access at any point in time.  If I asked how hard something was to kill (I wouldn't actually ask such a broad question mid-game, but as an example) and the other player responds "Probably take like 2-3 hits" I would glower at the other person and ask for the models card, then probably take an excessive amount of time reading it.  After all isn't that the purpose in not stating something I could find out at any point, to waste my time?  I might as well waste yours as well.

 

Telling someone what an ability does or what abilities a model has doesn't tell them how you're going to use it.  That being said, in the above example "How hard is model X to kill?" is a bad question and even if the other player is trying to not leave things out you haven't left them anywhere to go.  Part of this just boils down to critical thinking i.e. what abilities or stats would actually be a problem for the model/models I'm trying to kill it with?  Then use that to ask more specific questions like "Does it have Armor".

 

The biggest thing I would recommend to any player is asking when the other players are talking about triggers on your Master or Henchman "Is that after succeeding or after Damaging?".  Such things make a huge difference in whether or not you should use SS to prevent and frequently I'll specify a trigger requires damaging when attacking things that can use SS.  I don't expect my opponent to know the exact wording on every trigger for every ability I have and if they play like they expect me to do that, then we're going to spend an excessive amount of quality time that game with me looking at his cards.

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I liked that article. Some of the stuff you guys are mentioning goes beyond the scope of that article, which specifically states that Deception!=Liscence for Cheating. 

 

If there is an issue with a model's abilities as written on the card, sometimes "gotcha!" moments happen. Through study and experience, one can minimize their succeptibility to this; it's one of the things that frustrates me about game companies releasing wave after wave of new stuff, because then I basically have to re-learn how everything new interacts with everything else... and honestly, I'd rather get some games in.

 

What I took away from the article is more along the lines of something out of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, which I believe was mentioned once or twice. Not pulling a gotcha! based on your opponents misunderstanding of how a model or ability works, but by disguising your intentions. If anyone has a problem with THAT, this is probably not the ideal hobby for them. 

 

Maybe everyone should re-read that article to get proper context, because it covered, in depth, what deception should, and should NOT be, for gaming.

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Obviously if your opponent lies, that's cheating.  If your opponent omits potentially useful information, then it's entirely your own fault that you didn't ask to read the card.

 

No it's not.  The tournament packs specifically calls out that you should be given all information.  Good call on a new thread.

 

 

For me there's two types of deception that go on in gaming, Deception of Intent and Deception of Fact.

 

Deception of Intent I'm fine with and generally expect in gaming.  This essentially entails not telling your opponent what you intend to do and leaving it as a something they'll just have to guess or figure out.  It includes bluffing about the relative importance of certain models, or the specifics of things they don't have access to (What cards are in your hand, What Schemes you're looking at).  It's a fun element of the game to try and figure out how the pieces of the other player's list are supposed to come together and how to counter that with yours.  The only time I'll generally not adhere to this is against newer players for whom deciphering complex game-plans is usually problematic.  In these situations I don't mind walking someone through what's happening.

 

Deception of Fact, on the other hand, usually makes for some unfun games.  This is actively omitting or lying about information that the other person can, by the rules, access at any point in time.  If I asked how hard something was to kill (I wouldn't actually ask such a broad question mid-game, but as an example) and the other player responds "Probably take like 2-3 hits" I would glower at the other person and ask for the models card, then probably take an excessive amount of time reading it.  After all isn't that the purpose in not stating something I could find out at any point, to waste my time?  I might as well waste yours as well.

I think this is a really good distinction.  The first is part of the game and comes with bluffing schemes, resource management etc. but the second is just a doucebag move, in a tournament or otherwise.

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While I like the distinction between Deception of Intent and Deception of Fact, as SpiralingCadaver has pointed out, sometimes in this game the potentially relevant "facts" can be quite extensive, and it is not fair to put the onus on the player being questioned to discern his opponent's intent and work out which of these potentially relevant facts are actually relevant and which are not. Even if the player being questioned acts entirely in good faith he does not know what his opponent intends to do, and erring on the side of caution (as SD demonstrates) will bring some games grinding to a halt.

 

If the questioning player asks pointed questions, eg, "What is that model's Df?", then the situation seems fairly straightforward and in most cases all the other player should do is reply with the number. However in some cases, eg Colette, the model's Df stat is so wholly unrelated to how the model protects itself that the player really should add, "...but she has amazing triggers that can avoid all damage. Do you want to know more?"

 

The questioning player can ask more open-ended questions, eg. "What kind of defensive tricks does that model have?", but this should not result in the onus of full disclosure being placed wholly on the other player. In that case I think it is only fair for the other player to answer with an equally open-ended response, eg. "Some very good ones. She can avoid all damage in most cases," but should always add, "Do you want to see her card? I can explain it for you if you like."

 

In brief, it is up to both players to ensure they are being fair to the other in asking and responding in good faith and without turning the game into a lecture by one player on the abilities of his/ her crew.

 

  • If you ask specific questions, you run the risk of missing important information.
  • You should respond to specific questions with specific information, but embellish if there is something very significant any opponent would want to know (eg. "I can choose to defend with Wp 7").
  • If you need to ask open-ended questions, be prepared to either (1) engage with your opponent in a brief discussion of what you intend to do or (2) read the cards for yourself and take your chances.
  • Don't spend so long on it that you take you and your opponent out of the game. Press on, try it anyway and see what you learn!
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The questioning player can ask more open-ended questions, eg. "What kind of defensive tricks does that model have?", but this should not result in the onus of full disclosure being placed wholly on the other player.

But again, it should!  As the Gaining Grounds specifically call out you should give opponents all relevant information.  If you start only giving out snippets and blaming the opponent for not asking the correct questions then next time it does turn into 20 questions every time they want to do something.  If you both give out all relevant information whenever you are asked then the game flows a lot better and both players can trust the other which leads to a more pleasant experience.  As SpiralingCadaver pointed out in the other thread, being deceptive about information that you should be offering up doesn't make you a skilled player.

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But again, it should!  As the Gaining Grounds specifically call out you should give opponents all relevant information.  If you start only giving out snippets and blaming the opponent for not asking the correct questions then next time it does turn into 20 questions every time they want to do something.  If you both give out all relevant information whenever you are asked then the game flows a lot better and both players can trust the other which leads to a more pleasant experience.  As SpiralingCadaver pointed out in the other thread, being deceptive about information that you should be offering up doesn't make you a skilled player.

I think you have misunderstood what I was saying.

 

Gaining Grounds says:-

 

 

When asked, players should provide the information

and statistics for models as well as any relevant additional

public information. Players must be open and honest

about the rules of their models.

 

I was suggesting ways to comply with that that are also practical, helpful and expedient.

 

By all means stand there while I read out everything SpiralingCadaver lists about Tannen, or we can agree to engage in a more pointed and useful exercise.

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The problem with revealing all relevant information is that it is subjective and entirely dependent on the quality of question that you’re asked.

Here are some example questions:

  1. Q: How many Wds does that model have left? A: #.  If you answer with anything besides a number, then you’re making assumptions about your opponent’s intentions.
  2. Q: How difficult is that Metal Gamin to kill?  A: It’s pretty difficult to kill.  This question is really vague and depends entirely on circumstances.  If your opponent has Viktoria with Mark of Shezuul, then the Metal Gamin is trivial to kill, but if they have only Malifaux Rats, then the Metal Gamin is near impossible to kill.
  3. Q: What defensive abilities does that metal gamin have?  A: Armor +X and Hard to Kill.  This is a better question, but still not the best. Take Teddy into consideration – he has Impossible to Wound which is obviously a defensive ability.  But are Terrifying and Regeneration defensive abilities?  I’m sure that you would get different opinions on that.

The point I’m trying to make is that you may have an entirely different idea of what constitutes “relevant information” than your opponent depending on the wording of their question.  So you could answer honestly, but still inadvertently deceive them. 

 

Therefore, the best thing to do is just ask to read the opponent’s cards – obviously this is tough to do with a time constraint, but you should have basic knowledge of every model if you’re in a highly competitive tournament setting.  Also, you really should only have to read a card once during the game to retain the important information.  You can always ask for things like relevant stats as it becomes important.

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I suppose it becomes a question of would you allow your opponent to reverse an action if it brought about unintended consequences?

Example (all tournament setting)

 

a) You state at start of the game that Sybelle has Terror 12. In game you hit  model X with Yin's gnawing fears (putting  :-fate to WP). Player declares Model X will charge Sybelle. you announce that he will have to take a Horror duel at  :-fate WP, opponent states they wouldn't have done that if they had known in advance. Would you allow a takeback?

 

a-2) Same as before, but prior to declaring a charge your opponent asks "what def is Sybelle" and you state 6, he proceeds to declare the charge. Takeback allowed?

In both cases the intention of the Ressur player is to either paralyse model X with horror duels OR blast it with other abilities that resist with WP. 

B) Model Y charges Flesh Construct, and proceeds to flip for attack, you then declare she has HtW, opponent states they wouldn't have charged if they had known in advance. Takeback?

b-2) Same as above, but you declare she has def 3 when asked "whats her defence?"  Takeback?

 

Here the Ressur player is answering all the questions posed by the opponent. But only that information.

c)  Triggers. Your opponent attack Sidir/Lady J in :melee , or shoot Tara with  :ranged and you declare that the trigger kicks in. Your opponent states that they would have made a different choice - takeback?

c-2) You tell your opponent ALL the defences and abilities built into the model, just not the triggers. Takeback?

Here the player is volunteering extra information in the form of abilities, but not mentioning the triggers they are hoping to use.

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The amount of information does not automatically make an answer better. I could totally deliver an answer about Colette's defences that is factually correct, all inclusive and totally useless at the same time.

I'm pretty much with Sholto here. If asked about models defences, I usually answer with roughly the amount of information I think the player might be interested in and ask if they would like to know more or see the card.

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I suppose it becomes a question of would you allow your opponent to reverse an action if it brought about unintended consequences?

Example (all tournament setting)

For all the A and B questions, I wouldn't allow a take-back.  In those situations, it's the prerogative of the attacking player to understand the consequences of their actions.  If they don't ask all the appropriate questions and get blindsided, it's really their own fault.  If you answer their questions truthfully and directly I see nothing wrong with the defending player.  This really highlights the concept of "what constitutes relevant information" I tried to discuss in my previous post.

 

For C, it really depends on exactly what your opponent asks.  If they asked you for all defensive abilities and triggers, and you didn't tell them about the trigger then I would allow a take-back.  If you give your opponent all the defenses and triggers, then they had full knowledge of what they were doing; no take-back.

 

In a friendly setting, I would probably allow a take-back in most of these situations provided we could easily backtrack any flipped cards.  However, I wouldn't let an opponent have too many take-backs during the game.  At some point, your decisions need to have consequences.

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Yes I agree in all cases with you. For C I was putting on my Lawyers wig and trying to show that Def and abilities could be interpreted to not include triggers on defence. Is it relevant - you could argue its only relevant if the suit comes up.

I think your questions were a great illustration of the topic at hand!

 

The amount of information does not automatically make an answer better. I could totally deliver an answer about Colette's defences that is factually correct, all inclusive and totally useless at the same time.

This is a good point too.  However, if you provide your opponent with what you think they want to know, then you're making an assumption about their intentions.  What if you assume wrong and provide them with information they weren't looking for?  Then it looks like you're intentionally trying to withhold information from them.  This situation is probably really rare, but I have seen it happen.

 

Another point is that asking to read a card instead of asking a specific question actually provides some deception of your own.  For example, if I start asking my opponent about a model's defenses, my opponent can reasonably infer that I'm going to attempt to attack or kill that model.  However, if I simply ask to read the card, all my opponent can infer is that I have some interest in the model.  You can use this to your advantage by asking to read a card for a model you have no interest in to try and get your opponent to focus on it while you focus on his/her other models.

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This is a good point too.  However, if you provide your opponent with what you think they want to know, then you're making an assumption about their intentions.  What if you assume wrong and provide them with information they weren't looking for?  Then it looks like you're intentionally trying to withhold information from them.  This situation is probably really rare, but I have seen it happen.

This is a risk I'm willing to take. At least it's faster than giving the long useless answer. I'm lazy that way.
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I didn't like the article. I don't agree with what the author was saying. A game is a game and should never be taken too seriously. Deceiving and lying (both the same thing in my book) are frankly pretty sad in a gaming environment. Mercifully I don't have to deal with these kinds of 'aggressive nerds' in my local club but I'd not play against someone a second time if they started behaving like a plonker by deliberately mis-leading and fibbing to me. I suppose I'm a bit of an odd ball but I don't think being excessively competitive is a good thing, either at work or during your leisure time. I've been bought up to believe in 'fair play' and being nice to others, a little old-fashioned in the modern world but nevertheless, principles that I stick to! 

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I'm trying to test the waters as to how deceptive I would be. I've always declared that I have potential triggers when I flip, i feel this is relevant information. Consider the following example:

 

I am going for Decapitate, knowing my opponent has no soulstones and only 2 cards remaining. I flip, hit my required suit and my opponent flips. They are currently -9 in duel total and I decide not to reveal I have the trigger. My opponent cheats to bring the duel total to within 5 for  :-fate flips, and I then declare decapitate. Flip weak and kill the model. My opponent points out they wouldn't have cheated if they had known. 

Here I feel I am moving from deception of intent to withholding information and I wouldn't do it. My opponent is in error for not asking/knowing what potential situations could arise but for me it pushes the "relevant information" clause too far the other way.

However as a result, when people don't declare triggers and assume I assume they declare critical strike then no take-backs! Yes I know that most Guild models have it on as standard, but then that should make it easier for you to remember to declare it!

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I didn't like the article. I don't agree with what the author was saying. A game is a game and should never be taken too seriously. Deceiving and lying (both the same thing in my book) are frankly pretty sad in a gaming environment. Mercifully I don't have to deal with these kinds of 'aggressive nerds' in my local club but I'd not play against someone a second time if they started behaving like a plonker by deliberately mis-leading and fibbing to me. I suppose I'm a bit of an odd ball but I don't think being excessively competitive is a good thing, either at work or during your leisure time. I've been bought up to believe in 'fair play' and being nice to others, a little old-fashioned in the modern world but nevertheless, principles that I stick to!

There are ways to deceive your opponent without withholding any information he could have if he knew all the rules and the models perfectly. You can for example drop a scheme marker when you don't actually have any schemes that could use them. Or you could put your master in a compromising position (master bait, heh heh) where your opponent can take her down almost certainly if he expends enough resources doing it, while leaving your scheme runners free to win the game for you.

Do you honestly feel that this level of deceit does not have its place in Malifaux?

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I think there are a lot of cool deception mechanics in the game. Adding deception through ommission/barriers to what's considered public info is in my opinion not healthy for the game environment. Misdirection within the structure of the game is different than deception that's stretching the rules.

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Myyra, I wouldn't say what you've described is particularly deceitful, especially the second example. It just sounds like sound tactics to me. I think most people know what is and isn't reasonable behaviour. Neither of the examples you gave would negatively impact on a 'normal' opponent's enjoyment (there'll always be the occasional person who gets wound up when they lose and looks for reasons for their lack of success). I think most people know what is and isn't reasonable, and to an extent it's down to intent (are you doing something because you've let your desire to win override your respect for your opponent's feelings for example). At the end of the day we're mostly reasonable adults that play Malifaux, if someone can't behave properly, I'd personally just not play them in the future, unless they were really out of order, in which case I'd let them know I wasn't happy with them - and not play them again! 

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Myyra, I wouldn't say what you've described is particularly deceitful, especially the second example. It just sounds like sound tactics to me. I think most people know what is and isn't reasonable behaviour. Neither of the examples you gave would negatively impact on a 'normal' opponent's enjoyment (there'll always be the occasional person who gets wound up when they lose and looks for reasons for their lack of success). I think most people know what is and isn't reasonable, and to an extent it's down to intent (are you doing something because you've let your desire to win override your respect for your opponent's feelings for example). At the end of the day we're mostly reasonable adults that play Malifaux, if someone can't behave properly, I'd personally just not play them in the future, unless they were really out of order, in which case I'd let them know I wasn't happy with them - and not play them again!

Tactics and deceiving your opponent aren't exactly mutually exclusive, but I do get where you are coming from now. I guess we have a bit different definition for deceit. (I also hate term normal people, because I sure haven't met any.)

Getting back to the question at hand. I feel that there also a big downside to this "full disclosure" line that some of you seem to be driving. What do you do when your opponent asks you: Can you kill my model this turn somehow if I move it here? (And I'm not talking about checking distance to another model here or anything.) I personally get a strong urge to tell that guy to go f*ck himself. I don't actually do that, but I won't tell if I can charge that model or not if I'm playing even relatively seriously. It's like opponent asking in chess if his knight will get taken within the next five moves if he moves it to A5.

I suppose what I'm trying to ask here is: Where do you draw the line? What is too much information demanded/given?

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-snip-

I think this is a really good distinction. The first is part of the game and comes with bluffing schemes, resource management etc. but the second is just a doucebag move, in a tournament or otherwise.

Agreed, I think mastershake's definitions of deception are spot on. Deception of intent is what the game is all about and I love it when an opponent blindsides me with a cunning activation or combo that I didn't see coming. I have to adapt and match it, which leads to me developing my own answers and improving my playstyle.

Deception of fact seems like a douchebaggy move that is purposefully denying your opponent information that should be available to them, and would be with a bit of digging through rules.

I can't see myself ever taking the game so seriously that I'd be okay with jeapordising my opponents and my own playing experience just to win through lying and deliberate omission.

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Agreed, I think mastershake's definitions of deception are spot on. Deception of intent is what the game is all about and I love it when an opponent blindsides me with a cunning activation or combo that I didn't see coming. I have to adapt and match it, which leads to me developing my own answers and improving my playstyle.

I agree.  I somehow missed those definitions earlier in the thread, but after having read them, I would say they make a very good distinction.

 

Getting back to the question at hand. I feel that there also a big downside to this "full disclosure" line that some of you seem to be driving. What do you do when your opponent asks you: Can you kill my model this turn somehow if I move it here? (And I'm not talking about checking distance to another model here or anything.) I personally get a strong urge to tell that guy to go f*ck himself. I don't actually do that, but I won't tell if I can charge that model or not if I'm playing even relatively seriously. It's like opponent asking in chess if his knight will get taken within the next five moves if he moves it to A5.

I suppose what I'm trying to ask here is: Where do you draw the line? What is too much information demanded/given?

This is another good point.  If you ask poor questions you should be prepared for poor answers.  In this case, I would either say "I don't know" or just tell them "yes," since they're clearly worried about about that model dying. 

 

Anecdote time!  I had revealed Protect Territory and Breakthrough and had a smattering of scheme markers around the board at the end of turn 4 such that I would score full VP for both schemes if nothing changed.  My opponent asked me how many VP I had, to which I replied "3" (I had 3VP from Turf War at that point).  He then asked how many VP I would have at the end of the game if nothing changed.  In a nice way, I told him to figure it out since all the relevant information was right on the board.  You shouldn't have to play the game for your opponent or help them analyze the board.

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This is another good point.  If you ask poor questions you should be prepared for poor answers.  In this case, I would either say "I don't know" or just tell them "yes," since they're clearly worried about about that model dying.

It's another chance to deceive your opponent! If you want your opponent to feel afraid for that model, you can just downright tell him "Yes." and if you want to lull him into false sense of security, you can tell him "It wouldn't be very easy." ;)
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I think that this is a multi-faceted issue.

 

There is varying degrees and interpretations of deception, some I think are plain cheating and some which are obvious and reasonable strategies with others in between.

 

For a start any type of deck stacking (outside special mini rules), moving mini's extra or changing position outside activation and that sort of thing is plain cheating in my book.

 

At the other end of the scale I am not obliged to remind opponents of miniatures or rules they have missed, forgotten or otherwise appear to be not aware of such as them not realising mini x has a unexpectedly long charge range or appearing to forget a mini in their backline corner in a forest out of sight and out of mind. This is not cheating its strategy.

 

I think this debate really centers on the middle ground between these extremes. Fundamentally I think that intentionally misleading, lying to our omitting facts (when they ask) from an opponent is uncool if not strictly cheating. Whereas I think that if your opponent makes assumptions, vocalises moves/thoughts or receives poor advice from third party observers and does not clarify that with you then it might be mean but its fair.

 

It really also depends on the 'seriousness' of the game (I'd be harsher in a tournament concerning what I impart freely than in a casual game) and the experience of your opponent (I think playing on the ignorance of new players is harsh but exploiting inattentive veteran gamers is fair).

 

The fool proof method is both a check and a punishment because if you play slippery and squeeze every opponent stretching every rule you can to breaking and beyond well my guess is you'll only rarely get second games from within your community and oft times only with folks as extremely competative as you are.

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