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 Post subject: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-02 3:41 pm 
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Joined: 2013-Nov-04 2:12 am
Age: Dragon
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Not entirely certain that this should be posted in Strategy but it seemed like the best place for it.

Here's the scenario: you're playing a game of Commander with a group consisting entirely of friends playing relatively casual decks. The game is just starting out: it's turn 4 and you've got a 3 drop on the table (for the sake of argument let's call it Centaur Courser but the actual creature isn't important) and a 4 drop you can play post-combat to block with. Everyone is still on 40 life. Almost all of the other players also have a couple of creatures on the table to the point you can't attack them without losing your 3 drop. There's a single player with no creatures out at all.

You move to your attack step and declare an intention to swing your 3 drop at the player with no creatures in play. In response he says, "If you attack me now then I will focus all my efforts on making you lose the game, in this game and in every game that we play together in afterwards, even if it means that I'll never win myself."

My questions for you all are:

A/ Is this a morally legitimate thing to say in a group consisting of good friends with casual decks? Feel free to give answers with either the assumption that he's telling the truth or that he's lying.

b/ In this situation, ignoring the threat, is attacking the only player with no blockers an unreasonable move to take?

C/ Assuming this actually happened in your current play group, would you swing anyway?

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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-02 3:53 pm 

Joined: 2009-Jul-02 4:25 pm
Age: Drake
To answer all of your questions: I'd say that depends on how funny it is.


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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-02 4:08 pm 
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Joined: 2015-Sep-28 11:55 am
Age: Wyvern
If you're dead set on attacking, call his bluff. He might go through with it for the current game at least, but that adds kind of a new element to the game. I typically don't like picking on the guy without a blocker unless I know his deck is particularly rude.

If he actually is going to follow through on the threat beyond that game, dude, find a better friend.

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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-02 7:59 pm 
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Joined: 2010-Dec-10 12:16 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Masked Thespian wrote:
"If you attack me now then I will focus all my efforts on making you lose the game, in this game and in every game that we play together in afterwards, even if it means that I'll never win myself."


Masked Thespian wrote:
A. Is this a morally legitimate thing to say in a group consisting of good friends with casual decks? Feel free to give answers with either the assumption that he's telling the truth or that he's lying.

I would guess he was being humorous. If that was not the case, then I would question his reasoning for such a tactic, in private, after the game.

Masked Thespian wrote:
B. In this situation, ignoring the threat, is attacking the only player with no blockers an unreasonable move to take?

Not unreasonable.

Masked Thespian wrote:
C. Assuming this actually happened in your current play group, would you swing anyway?

Generally, in this type of situation, I would not have attacked anybody. His saying that would guarantee I attacked him. I would also make sure he knew the only reason I attacked him was because he said that (in jest or not).

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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-02 9:32 pm 

Joined: 2009-May-05 9:45 pm
Age: Dragon
Location: Acworth, GA
I don't think morality comes into your questions, actually.

Our group does not tolerate verbal politics, as it significantly detracts from the game. Such an outburst might be seen as humor, laughed at then moved past, but if carried through, that person would no longer be a part of the group. This means in my group, at least, it would be incorrect to make such a threat, but not morally wrong.

Your game actions should be based on threat assessment, how they progress you towards a win, prevent someone else progressing towards a win, or how they prevent you from loosing. No reasonable person can hold any such action against you in a game. There is no morality in this at all.

Vindictive people are just immature people, my suggestion is to pity them and avoid activities they have petty feelings about.

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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-02 11:15 pm 

Joined: 2013-Aug-20 4:37 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Boston
I don't think that threat is immoral, but it is definitely unsportsmanlike. I'd point out that this is the only sensible attack and swing anyway. If the player tries to ruin my future games, I will destroy him again, and then not play with him any more. Somebody who gets that bent out of shape because they can't muster an early defense in one game sounds like an asshole.

My group is cool with verbal politics as long as they don't take forever, but this threat wouldn't fly. Vendettas typically last for the current game. We have had a few cases where people retaliate in a later game for an action in an earlier game, but those are typical only when somebody is given an especially humiliating defeat using some aspect of the game they particularly hate. That is never used as a disincentive for attacking, though, only as a matter of redemption.


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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-03 2:07 am 
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Joined: 2008-Dec-26 7:50 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Amsterdam, Holland
I wouldn't ever express the threat, however, when a player from my group back-stabbed me quite viciously in a non-Magic game by making agreements and then not keeping his word first chance he got I made clear that I would not be relying on his word for some time. In effect this had exactly the same results as our games were highly political and he spent quite some time on the opposite side of me as a result. The group was aware so they weren't likely to take his side either.

I have no problems with inter-game politics, I wouldn't even limit them to Magic. Everybody knows I will keep my word if I am at all capable of doing so, I have done things that screwed me because I promised to do them (I will be careful how I phrase things though, the promise may not be what they thing it is). Similarly I make sure people know that I will retaliate if I can, because it makes them think twice about going after me (I'm not even that vengeful in reality, but the reputation is beneficial). I have played weaker versions of decks in my first few games with them to make the deck an underdog for later games. Etcetera.

As for the questions:

A - I'm fine with the threat. If anything my first thought will be "challenge accepted". I think everybody in the group I was in would have been more likely to attack if you threaten them this way, so it would be a very poor choice politics wise.
B - This is the question of whether you play in a cutthroat or gentlemanly group (see here). If it's common in your group to go after an open player, then by all means, do it, if it isn't, then you should expect repercussions, perhaps even from other players. For me it would depend on how much I would hit for, if it's significant: nope, if it's minor: sure, and how likely I am to be able to handle the repercussions (we definitely had a gentlemanly group).
C - I would swing, quite likely harder than I was originally planning to. You definitely do NOT want to set a precedence of threats like this having the desired effect.

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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-03 10:14 am 

Joined: 2012-Sep-19 2:29 pm
Age: Wyvern
Location: Brazil
It's sort of a silly threat... Well when threatened I usually die after killing or trying to... And I laugh about it.


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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-04 10:45 am 

Joined: 2012-Mar-31 11:52 am
Age: Elder Dragon
A) It's a pretty spiteful thing to do, IMO, and rather childish. But he's hurting himself by giving himself that image.

B) Assuming no downside (in game) to attacking, then yes I'd probably attack.

C) Absolutely. With a smug look on my face and tell him to prove it.


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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-05 5:14 am 
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Joined: 2011-Jan-16 5:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Toronto, ON
Seems childish.

"Let me win, or I'll do my best to ensure you never do, ever again?"

That would provoke me into attacking someone.

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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-05 5:35 am 

Joined: 2011-Aug-18 3:35 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
I'd probably ask to back up so you could equip lightning greaves on your second creature and swing at him with both. 3 damage on turn 4 is nothing. It's not like you're swinging with an Eldrazi or something that messes up his board in any way that early in the game. There are plenty of creatures that you need to swing with for value, not to hurt someone but to help yourself.

If you don't have a blocker, get one ASAP. Don't try to threaten people into babying you. It's not the tables fault you built a deck with low creature density, too high curve or the stars just aren't aligned today.

I'd probably disproportionately attack that player moving forwards after a threat like that. I'm already used to playing with the whole table trying to group me out of the game but I doubt he can handle the same situation. People tend to not be aggressive enough which leads to games on turn 15 where everyone is still at 40 waiting to combo off rather than everyone being low and every play becoming more and more important. I always swing when I can even if it's just a 1/1. It's a lot easier to alpha strike for 30 than it is for 120.


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 Post subject: Re: The morality of a multi-game threat of retaliation
AgePosted: 2015-Oct-07 1:56 pm 

Joined: 2015-Jul-06 5:58 pm
Age: Wyvern
With my friends I play with the answers would be:


A) I would expect nothing less. But the gesture usually only last through the next game in my group.

B) Attack would commence.

C) I would expect it to happen and attack would commence anyway.

I will say that if it was put this specifically in my current group, everyone in turn would attack during that round. :twisted:

But then one of my friends has a deck that can tun 3 damage on turn 4 into 10 poison counters. And has done so on multiple occasions.

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