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Zomnivore
04-19-2014, 05:17 PM
How do you teach deception?

Especially to someone who's trying to learn general strategy.

What needs to happen in your normal play for deception to even matter?

What is 'good' deception, and is there any way to optimize deceptive tactics for some sort of goal?

How do you explain any of that to a scrub?

How do you 'read' whether or not you opponent will get fooled by something, and can fool them into thinking you're bluffing? Is there enough value in faking out an opponent vrs normal rote play?

Halp!?

funktion
04-19-2014, 05:44 PM
A whole wave of pointers come to mind (maybe I ought to find time to write an article?):

-Focus on your personal technical play before you focus on misleading your opponent. If you don't really understand what the optimal play in a given situation is then you're probably going to do yourself more harm than good by trying to make sub-optimal plays in order to mislead your opponent.

-Almost all deception involves trying to mask what you might have in your hand. Holding back cards or only playing out one of them in order to leave some up (so that your opponent thinks you have "Live" cards in your hand when you actually have "Dead" ones).

-Often times you can intentionally not play a turn 3 resource or something to make your opponent think you missed a draw but in reality it didn't effect the curve of your hand or you plan to blow them out the following turn.

-It's one thing to try and bluff having a combat trick, but you want to be aware of all the potential information which you're giving your opponent. Their optimal line of play might not be any different whether you have it or not, in which case you're causing yourself extra mental strain for nothing when you could be focused on other aspects of the game. This might not matter in a one off match for proving grounds, but when it comes to an 8 hour tournament you've gotta pace yourself.

-While there were a few bluffing related cards which seem like they didn't make it into set 1 (Head Games & that Sphinx), Hex doesn't seem like it is nearly as deception heavy as say Netrunner is. You wanna teach someone, play a couple sessions of Netrunner with them... really great game.

-Know when to apply pressure and how to make your opponent apply more / less pressure than they need to.

-Once again and with emphasis, focus on the technical elements of your own play first and foremost. Often times what might seem like the optimal play is not optimal at all. Is it likely that your opponent still has lots of removal in their deck / hand? Then why play out your haymaker troop when something less powerful accomplishes the same goal.

Axle
04-19-2014, 05:44 PM
Making yourself look like a bad player will never work against someone who plays optimally even if they're a mile ahead in cards. The idea that "bluffing" in the term of "oh man you got me I lose!" in chat or misplaying your cards on purpose is a fallacy in card games that looks down on your opponent and doesn't work in higher levels of play and you should play without it in lower levels of play too.

Of course that's not to say you can't make reads on your opponent based on what they do. You can easily think they don't have a certain card based on how they play their turns and respond to your cards. However you should still be making safe plays under that pretense where if they do have that card you still have steam left in your hand and the trade is only a 1-1 or favorable to you.

Rather than "deception" you should be thinking about pressure. Ways to threaten your opponents life or cards while playing from a safe distance yourself. Drain them of their repels and force unfavorable extinctions. Xentoth's Inquisitor is good for pressure with a gem that generates card advantage when damage is placed. Same with cards that have a good/decent body but also replace themselves when they are played like Corpse Fly.

edit: Sorry for listing only blood cards but a lot of other shards have cards like this too :P.

Showsni
04-19-2014, 06:35 PM
I'm playing a Red/Green deck, and you know from game 1 I run Wild Growth and Crushing Blow. You have a 2/3 troop in play; I blithely attack into it with my 2/1 Inspire troop and mana open. So, am I bluffing or not? Do you call it?

Axle
04-19-2014, 07:03 PM
I'd need more info on the game. Life totals? How many turns into the game is it (no one missed a resource drop)? Against aggro I would usually focus more on stabilizing the game with cards they can't ever trade favorably with rather than something like close call trades. There are other things in question like if you crushing blow or Wild Growth do I have enough sufficient creatures in my hand to threaten that 2/1 in later turns or am I giving you the opportunity to swing for free now? I might even have my own Burn or Repel to turn your play into a -1. Like I said, you would need your full hand/the entire board, life totals, resource total, etc to really answer that question. Just from what you gave, at 20 life I'd be more focusing on the bigger picture.

edit: The answer is less about calling your opponents bluff but figuring out for yourself if you have the ability to continue the game at the same pace if they do have the card.

Disordia
04-20-2014, 05:02 AM
This might be relevant to your interests.

http://www.starcitygames.com/article/28013_Bluff-Chump-Attacking.html

Axle
04-20-2014, 11:45 AM
I don't consider that "bluffing". Swinging with a troop of equal or less value to their troop or such. Not a bluff. I agree that swinging like that will win you the game and is good but I don't agree that is it a matter of bluffing. There is only optimal play and not there. It's still not something your opponent calls on you but what they call on themselves. If your opponent blocks a scenario they shouldn't have then they're just not playing optimally(Or you just swung in a bad scenario without any risk to them). Article is also flawed because it doesn't speak of why what's in your hand matters the most. Keeping your tempo is important as the blocker. It all depends heavily on the situation and he only lists the 2 creatures and the threat of tricks in his scenarios. Lastly he's also full of shit with a good portion of the "Sell Your Bluff" section of his article. Obviously most of it doesn't work in HEX but in MTG it's also something you can only hope to accomplish while you're NobodyMcNobody in the area and shouldn't crutch on because it still assumes your opponent will look down on you like a moron.

syphonhail
04-20-2014, 11:57 AM
This might be relevant to your interests.

http://www.starcitygames.com/article/28013_Bluff-Chump-Attacking.html

This is a very good article to read through about bluffing. It actually gets really close to a game theoretic poker principle about bluffing without actually stating the direct calculation; I may have to write an article on that at some point.

Axle
04-20-2014, 12:12 PM
Can you not indulge it? It's not actually a good article. It has too much useless fluff in it that increases the length and makes it seem better than it is. It doesn't actually have much content in any of the scenarios.

jtatta
04-20-2014, 12:33 PM
Can you not indulge it? It's not actually a good article. It has too much useless fluff in it that increases the length and makes it seem better than it is. It doesn't actually have much content in any of the scenarios.

It actually is a very good article and a lot can be taken from it.

Axle
04-20-2014, 12:39 PM
Well if you say so with one liners while I actually use reason, it must be true.

jtatta
04-20-2014, 12:43 PM
Well if you say so with one liners while I actually use reason, it must be true.

Your reason was your subjective opinion, was it not? You want I should quote the entire article and point out why it's good?

Axle
04-20-2014, 12:45 PM
If you want. Don't do it for little ol' me though.

syphonhail
04-20-2014, 01:01 PM
I initially ignored your objections to the article because the assumptions you made in your critique were erroneous. Given John's warrantless one-line response and your paragraph filled with error, I will take John's one-liner.

Your initial objection to the article is flawed along two dimensions. You state that you do not consider it bluffing and that, at best, it was sub-optimal play by your opponent. This ignores what bluffing actually is and games of private information. First, in terms of bluffing, the better definitions of the term usually offers two categories "feigning strength when weak" and "feigning weakness when strong." In terms of much of Hex play, it is the former category that players will engage in and this type of bluffing is far more implicit than the first example you gave in this thread which is bluffing by lying. While blatant bluffing is a form of bluffing, it is also "cheap talk" and there is plenty written about the utility of that and, as you correctly point out, should not be a strategy you engage in during social games.

However, in this case, attacking and feigning that you have a combat trick, such as a wild growth, is certainly a bluff. You are making a play with the indication that you are stronger than you really are hoping that your opponent will make an objective error based on subjective information. This definition and use of bluffing is true in poker (in poker, you don't just say "wow, my hand is so strong!" and vocally lie, you bluff by betting into a pot with a hand that is likely to lose; of note this is different from the semi-bluff); this form of bluffing exists across many forms of competitive events and is robustly studied in the academic literature. In terms of international conflict, my expertise, states do bluff their intentions (vocally), their resolve (actions and vocal assertions), and their strength (by making militaristic moves in the hopes of dissuading counter-action (a form of deterrence)).

Hex, like poker, is a game of incomplete information. If you know your opponent has a losing hand, you make a call on a bluff; in poker, like in Hex, you do not actually know that information unless you are cheating (or used an inquisition). When an opponent responds, the question is not whether a move was objectively right, but whether, given the information that they had (including hands) and the board state, if the move was right.

The author goes on to give several examples of optimal bluffing and sub-optimal bluffing which is useful for reinforcing the concept to a new player. This content is not fluff. Additionally, the end part about selling your bluff, is not about lying, but about telling a consistent story about what your hand may hold. You do the same in poker if you want to be a credible bluffer. You don't just throw your money in at the last second, but you demonstrate strength throughout each phase of action if you want your opponent to believe you are strong when you are weak.

wurtil
04-20-2014, 01:01 PM
This is a very good article to read through about bluffing. It actually gets really close to a game theoretic poker principle about bluffing without actually stating the direct calculation; I may have to write an article on that at some point.

^

Axle
04-20-2014, 01:06 PM
Why does everyone want trading card games to be like Poker? The skill necessary is infinitely higher but Poker is more mainstream to create the illusion of worth in the game that people blindly follow. All of his examples are so weak and don't give the full picture. They're not useful in real games and set players up for pitfalls.

syphonhail
04-20-2014, 01:08 PM
Why does everyone want trading card games to be like Poker? The skill necessary is infinitely higher but Poker is more mainstream to create the illusion of worth in the game that people blindly follow.

No one is advocating that it be like poker. They share similar elements; transference of skills from one activity to another is psychology 101. Understanding and studying those linkages in analogous situations is how we can get deeper information about those interactions. If a model describes two different interactions in two different contexts, then the names of those events are less meaningful.

YourOpponent
04-20-2014, 01:23 PM
To those new to the deception mindset I have two cards to talk about to help get you a basic idea.

Head Games...it might be in PvE or it could be in set 2. Anyway it's a card that when you put it into play you pick either 5 or 10. Then your opponent picks a number. If they guess right you get hit for that much damage...if they guess wrong they get hit that much damage. Say your opponent only has 10 life left when you play that....most opponents then would guess the 10 because they would think that you are going in for the kill...so that is the perfect time to deceive them instead to hit for a 5 and follow through with a burn to the ground that turn or the next turn.

Another card which most people probably haven't thought of that is great for deception is Shrine of Prosperity. Many players get highly confident and only focus on the cards you are showing them when you have Shrine of Prosperity out...so a great tactic is to used that "downside" to your advantage...If you have an extinction before Shrine of Prosperity and then draw one when you have Shrine of Prosperity out...use that to your advantage!!! Play that 2nd extinction in a way that makes them confident that you don't have another one...then use that extinction they didn't now you have when they're least expecting it!

Zomnivore
04-20-2014, 01:24 PM
The problem I have with understanding teaching something like deception is that often, the character of the action changes with the level of knowledge each player has.

For instance, you can only bluff something if the opponent thinks you have something, and correctly outlines a style of play in which it appears you actually have something...if they can't gauge that you have or didn't have some play to make, it invalidates the benefit of lying.

Its like your actions are letters, and you're trying to create a message to the player, but if they can't understand your vocabulary, or can't read the language, how can you possibly correctly deliver the lie. If that happens the inefficiency of deception vrs trying to just go for the best play puts you behind. How do you know to invest in that opportunity cost? How do you read skill level in another player? What are the sort of actions that characterize your judgement of an opponents knowledge?

YourOpponent
04-20-2014, 01:29 PM
Also if you want some practice using deception in a TCG I recommend playing Urban Rivals. It is a game that uses Pillz which increase the stats of cards by a set amount and each player starts a game with so many pills they can use for that fight. There is a lot of deception in that game.

syphonhail
04-20-2014, 01:34 PM
The problem I have with understanding teaching something like deception is that often, the character of the action changes with the level of knowledge each player has.

For instance, you can only bluff something if the opponent thinks you have something, and correctly outlines a style of play in which it appears you actually have something...if they can't gauge that you have or didn't have some play to make, it invalidates the benefit of lying.

Its like your actions are letters, and you're trying to create a message to the player, but if they can't understand your vocabulary, or can't read the language, how can you possibly correctly deliver the lie. If that happens the inefficiency of deception vrs trying to just go for the best play puts you behind. How do you know to invest in that opportunity cost, and such n what not. How do you read skill level in another player.

How do you adequately gauge what tier of knowledge you each have, and then correctly lie in each different tier, and how do you do any of that to your benefit beyond and above just correct play.

This is an excellent question and one that I won't directly provide an answer for, but we often refer to this as levels of thinking. In any interactive environment, players should think about what their opponent has and can do; but new players tend not to. We would consider this to be 1st level thinking as the player is just thinking about what they can do. 2nd level incorporates knowledge about the opponent (what can my opponent do in response) and you can only bluff a 2nd level thinking player or higher (or you only should). 3rd level and higher is deeper and involves the "I know that you know that I know..." train of thought that can get into deep levels of fake-bluffs and the like.

Trying to figure out what level a player really thinks at comes from mostly experience and interactions. If it is your first game with them, it will be a lot harder to discern. If it is your 100th game with them, then you will have a better idea. However, even in that first game, particular actions may give you some idea as to what information they are processing in their decisions. Sometimes sacrificing a 2/2 to a bluff may lose you a 2/2, but also gain you information of what not to do later in the game/match.

syphonhail
04-20-2014, 01:37 PM
Also, this illustrates that concept to some degree; a classic game theory example in the movies:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_eZmEiyTo0

Zomnivore
04-20-2014, 03:00 PM
It seems to me that a crucial portion of player skill is in deception. Part of why I want to know is...because, A. I want to be able to explain it, and teaching is an effective way to relearn things...and B. it creates a functional reason to keep acquiring new information...and C. because deception as a mechanic is cool, and the more I understand it and can get people thinking around it, the more I can get it into developers heads as a consumer.

infam0usne0
04-20-2014, 03:25 PM
Wow axle you are so right in this situation. Good job buddy!

As for how to teach deception...that's a tough one.
To make a bluff in a game like hex a lot of things need to really fall in to place. First your opponent has to know your deck or at least think he does. This requires a solid metagame and for your opponent to be savvy to it. Due to the nature of a TCG of this magnitute, your opponent will have to know what kind of cards could be in your deck and they will have to have a fair amount of card knowledge for that. You can't make a bluff against someone who has so little knowledge of the metagame they don't even know half the cards they themselves are running for example.

If the first proviso has fallen in to place they then have to actually be afraid of that play or that card. Again due to the minimal nature of just attacking it may not be the case. There is some middle ground but attacks fall in to the camp of game changing or irrelivent, if the attack is game changing they would likely block it anyway if it is not they probably wouldn't anyway.

I think the main problem however is the first, the person has to know what you could be playing in order for you to bluff them, this can be achieved by having played that card earlier in the match, if you caught someone out with a growth in that game it makes it a billion times easier to bluff regardless of what knowledge they have.

Other than this though the uphill struggle you face is that the people who know what cards you could play are also likely to be good players who aren't likely to make sub-optimal plays. I wouldn't say you need to teach someone the theory of bluffing until all of their other fundamentals are in place. Once they are in place, something like bluffing is probably just going to be second nature, i think it's something you learn by just playing, you take some risks and you can learn yourself if they played out well or not. All information will help you be better, but i don't think it's something that needs to be taught persay, it's just something that experience will bring.

You can make a bluff at any time easily if it's right to do or not is a different matter, it's learning when to bluff and what to bluff that is the key, and really that can only come from playing. You can teach a bit of it but it's really just down to how many situations you've seen and how easily you can assess another player and the situation you are currently in.

If you want to teach someone deception in a card game, just teach them everything else.

Zomnivore
04-20-2014, 03:46 PM
Also that article was nice, although some of it isn't usefulness because it requires you to physically sell the lie with body language.

Still it helped differentiate a potential deceptive action. Bluff attacking.

Very nice :)

I think part of how you accurately teach something is how you use language to label and dissect portions of the whole process...bluff attacking does a nice job of that, for one instance of where you could use deception.

Also using pacing of how you play an action... think that was in there to be parsed out.

infam0usne0
04-20-2014, 03:50 PM
Also that article was nice, although some of it isn't usefulness because it requires you to physically sell the lie with body language.

Well that is true 99% of the time with HEX, but if you are ever at a big event you will likely be sat across from your opponent just like any other game. So i'm sure it's useful to know in that situation.

You never know...if e-sports becomes a thing you could have a touchscreen in front of you with your hand on it tilted towards you and then a table with a screen on it between you and the opponent at the organised events ;)

jtatta
04-20-2014, 04:09 PM
While not the focal point of this discussion,it's worth noting that it's much easier to bluff a better player. Bluff attacks are a good example of this. A good player will be less likely to block a 2/2 with a 3/3 early in the game because they assume there's a trick and that they can probably race anyway. A lesser skilled player will likely snap block there the majority of the time. The same can be said for cards like Countermagic. A skilled player will play a less important card into three open resources from a sapphire player where as a less skilled player is more likely to cast their best card without much hesitation.

These are very broad examples but still relevant.

syphonhail
04-20-2014, 04:16 PM
There are some tells that exist in the online space as well. Conversation and speed of play can be indicators with pacing being the more present variable to watch.

However, neo is accurate in that bluffing is probably the last thing to really learn. You really need to know the game inside and out to understand what you are saying with your action and whether or not your opponent will buy it.

jtatta
04-20-2014, 04:34 PM
There are some tells that exist in the online space as well. Conversation and speed of play can be indicators with pacing being the more present variable to watch.

However, neo is accurate in that bluffing is probably the last thing to really learn. You really need to know the game inside and out to understand what you are saying with your action and whether or not your opponent will buy it.

I agree that speed of play is super important. If I'm trying to run a bluff by my opponent, I'll almost immediately move to my attack step. I think this is pretty important to keep in mind.

Turtlewing
04-21-2014, 10:29 AM
It seems to me that a crucial portion of player skill is in deception. Part of why I want to know is...because, A. I want to be able to explain it, and teaching is an effective way to relearn things...and B. it creates a functional reason to keep acquiring new information...and C. because deception as a mechanic is cool, and the more I understand it and can get people thinking around it, the more I can get it into developers heads as a consumer.

Mostly "deception" is just "information hiding". I "deceive" you by keeping my apparent options open such that you can't infer from the game state what exactly my options are.

When done correctly this forces you to play as if I have more options than I really do and take the choice that minimizes your risk to those imaginary options. The usual example being holding a shard and enough resources for a counter which forces you to assume I have the option to counter and choose your spells accordingly (likely meaning you wait until you can bait my counter before playing anything important which might buy me a turn before your win-condition hits the board).

It's pretty important to realize that this doesn't work at all against low-skill players (you can't bluff someone with no knowledge of the meta), and against high-skill players this sort of information hiding is standard practice (so it's more acurate to say that if you aren't doing it your giving away free information). It also doesn't work if your opponent lacks the ability to mitigate the options you are pretending to have (if they know they can't do anything about your counter and you'll win if they don't play their spell now they'll just play their spell and hope you're bluffing).

The more active kind of deception where you don't just keep your apparent options open but also take actions that would be sub-optimal unless you had a trick up your sleeve, is a lot more situational. As an example attacking into a 3/3 with a 2/2 and bluffing a combat trick, can very easily result in your opponent choosing the same action regardless of whether they think you have the combat trick (it may be better for them to risk losing the 3/3 than risk taking the 7 that the +4/+4 action they think you might be holding would make it, in which case their optimal choice is: block and hope the combat trick is a bluff, regardless of how well or poorly you convince them you have the trick).