Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Bennies and Cards

Tim and Lee and I were having a discussion the other day about bennies and adventure cards, and it got me to thinking. Tim pointed out that the reaction to adventure cards has been less than enthusiastic, which he found odd considering they are just free perks that don't need to be given out to begin with.

I see his point on this, although the natural reaction for someone who is given a card that he doesn't think will come in handy at all is to groan about it, it's certainly no worse than not having a card at all, and generally better. The main grousing point has been the card which allows a player to go through the deck and get a card of his choice...easily the most powerful card in the deck, and the one which people seem to like the least. ???

Now, I kind of understand the problem with it, as I once had the card myself and I kind of froze with it, not wanting to blow the card too early and regret it later. Those who get the card seem to suffer from somewhat the same problem...too many choices makes it difficult to make any choice at all, and it feels like it slows the game down. Tim has offered to take the card out of the deck...which is okay, I guess, but it will be detrimental to us over all even while making things easier on us the players. Perhaps the problem lies simply in the fact that we are all new at the Adventure deck, and aren't familiar enough with it. I know that if I had the deck down much better it would probably make it easier for me to judge how to use the card. What do you folks think?

This is an important question. I like the cards, but we as players need to make our feelings about them better known. Right now Tim thinks we'd rather not have them, which I hope is not the case, and if it isn't we need to show more appreciation for what the cards do for us, or we may lose them as a perk.

Now, bennies. Bennies are unanimously loved, I think, but there is a wide difference in how each player handles them. Most exemplified by the two players who seem to be at opposite ends: Shawn, who spends his bennies like water and me, who tends to horde them.
Shawn will spend his bennies early and often if he doesn't like a roll he gets, thus usually meaning he has none at the end of a session. Nothing wrong with that per se, but sometimes he gets a bit beat up on account of he runs out of soakers or doesn't have a bennie at a crucial moment. On the other hand I almost never spend my bennies unless I am soaking damage or I need to re-roll something which is crucial to the success of a plan (ie, the plan will fail if I fail my roll). I am a paranoid gamer who fears taking a big hit and reaching for a bennie to soak the damage...and finding them all gone. Or that I will need multiple bennies to soak the hit because I fail one or two of the soak rolls. In other words, I don't feel very safe unless I have two to three bennies at all times. Luckily my current character's power helps me keep bennies handy while still spending them.

Most everyone else is between Shawn and I on the "bennie spending" spectrum. Other than Shawn and Nigel (who starts with less), most folks have one or two bennies left by the end, but are willing to toss a bennie here and there to re-roll a damage roll (something I am LOATHE to do) or something along those lines. I am not advocating that anyone needs to change their bennie habits...Shawn's way is no less valid than mine. In the first half of the session though I think nearly everyone is a bit wary of spending a bennie until they have a general idea of how things are going. While persusing the bennie rules in the main book, I noticed something that could change the dynamics a bit, making those of us on the miserly end of the spectrum a little more free-spending and those on the free-spending end able to every once in a while have a bennie or two at the end of the session.

The rules state that, on the average, the GM should give out one or two bennies per session to each player, depending on play. Obviously you might get less if you suck, and more if you do some way cool stuff or make a great joke or what have you. I don't think I've ever seen more than one player gain one bennie in any session, and usually none. Are we just not doing very well at impressing you, Tim? Or have you chosen to set the bar higher? If you chose to set the bar higher in my case, given my character's unique edge, I would understand that. Something like the cliff-dive last session I would think would be benny-worthy, for instance...but if you thought "Well, I'd give a bennie to anyone else's character who did that stunt" I'd understand that. I'm not trying to grub for more bennies, is what I'm saying, but I do think it might be good for the others if you gave out more.

Then again, I could be wrong. We seem to do pretty good even without the extra bennies, so if you have indeed chosen to raise the bar as to what it takes to earn a bennie mid-session, I'm not going to argue too strenuously. I guess what I'm saying is, I'd like to know about where the bar is so as to give people more of a chance to try to impress the gm and earn some. Until I re-read the section on bennies I hadn't even given any consideration to that aspect of the game...it could have an entertaining effect on game play if people think more about things they can do to earn some bennie love.


Locnar said...

It's true that I've probably raised the bar on bennies a bit. Probably because I've made them more powerful (you can soak with any stat, you can auto-soak extra's hits), not to mention the cards give you more options help with rolls and such. That being said, I've probably raised the bar too much. You are correct in that your dive was a "bennie worthy" move.

Barilas said...

I also tend to hoard bennies like gold.

The problem is that too many times, when I need to make a roll concerned with navigating and what not, I shake a handful of cubes onto the table and am greeted with naught but ones.

With my toughness, I don't anticipate needing to spend a lot from my bennie pile to soak damage - at least not yet. So every bennie I've spent has been because of extreme dice failure. I weep.

As for the cards, well, I wouldn't be for getting rid of them, but I think I've only used one card the entire game. I like them, because they're a free perk from the GM, but I'm not going to be overly enthused when normally I look at my card and think, "Eh." That isn't a compaint about the cards, per se, but probably more a statement towards my luck with the cards. Interpret any card-related groans from me as cursing my luck, and not the card.

Locnar said...

Actually Matt, I don't think I've heard you complain about the cards, so you must not be doing it very loud, or maybe it's because you sit at the other end of the table. :)

Womachka said...

I think the cards are great! I think a few players have had some unlucky draws & that may be where the groaning is comming from. I can't at all complain. I got a magic item on one draw. I got a plus 2 to hits & damage on another card. I think the cards add some extra flavor to the game. Give players some extra role playing opportunities & are in general just a fun concept. I think in some cases people have missed opportunities with the cards as well. Like Nigels love interest card could have given us more plot or another idea for profit. Sometimes the cards don't seem directly benifical but somewhere down the line they could be more useful then you will ever know.
As far as the bennies go. when I played with Shane he was kind of a scrooge with the more experienced players. when we played Rippers at Gamicon the bennies he gave out whent to the newbies when they did something cool or funny. He raised the bar on the more experienced gamers so only a couple bennies were given out the whole night. Given our group & Shanes style of doing it, I would be suprised it Tim gave out more then a couple bennies the whole game.

Delphino said...

I have to take a little issue with your indication that I spend my bennies like water Brad. Allow me to start by asking you a couple of questions.

1) When you attack and roll snake eyes, are there any ill effects to you other than just missing? (Will you shake if that happens?)

2) How often are you in a position to sway the pacing of a battle by the action you are trying to take? (For example attacking multiple people without a huge negative to you rolls that you will have to make?)

I guess that I might be being overly sensitive to the issue, Brad, since I don't have a background benefit from the game that allows me to get bennies back in single combat like you. Your commentary makes me sound as if I spend then for no reason other than I don't like the roll.
Also because last game was the first time I had gotten experience @ the end of the game from bennies since in the campaign, I might be being a little sensitive.

Regardless, back to the real issue.

Bennies are fine. I don't think that I have been shafted by Tim being stingy, because I don't think I have done anything truly cool yet.

The cards are fine. I liked them when they were Whimsey cards from the early 90's and less game specific. I think that last game was the only time in which I didn't use it... because it wasn't applicable. Local Hero wasn't really applicable when no town's people were in danger. Although I would to have loved to have played it for Bluth's Crown. But I didn't think that disrupting the story by having to 1) justify the playing of the card in a dubious situation or 2) suggest that they were in the middle of a famine when we showed up with the food was going to be worth the playing of the card. Kinda dubious in my mind. Your story Tim, not as much mine.

The cards are nice, but we don't need to have them. They do add a little nice flavor to the game by giving us a trick each session. If you aren't satisfied with what they are doing for the game Tim, you can get rid of them. I like them. 'nuff said.

Boze said...

Sorry Shawn, I did not mean to indicate that you spent your bennies for no good reason, if that's what you thought I meant. Obviously, as Lee pointed out last week, your dice luck has a lot to do with how often you spend them. And I was in fact noting that you had never gotten any bennie xp, because you never had any left at the end of a game. And I also noted that having the ability to garner new benies in mid-game changes how I spend them. In fact, I bought a new Edge, Really Dirty Fighter, with the express notion that it would give me a good outlet for spending bennies I might otherwise not use.
Anyway, I'm not saying your way is wrong, I'm just saying you are braver than I when it comes to spending them. Were I in your position I would probably take the negative consequence of a bad die roll early on in the game (being shaken, failing to damage the enemy gunner, failing to notice the scorpion in your shoe, whatever it may be) for fear of not having the bennies later on and getting seriously hurt or killed on account of it. In other words, I tend to think of bennies purely as things you soak damage with. Obviously, this is only ONE aspect of what bennies are actually for, and my one-dimensional thinking with them simply reflects my overly-cautious nature as a gamer.
You are not an overly-cautious gamer, hence you spend your bennies more freely than I. If you thought I was implying this is wrong of you, I apologize. It's not wrong or even noteworthy at all except in the fact that it makes a convenient anchor-point for the "bennie spectrum" I was positing.

Locnar said...

I should definately give out more bennies for good play during the session. You may have to beg occasionally. :)

Delphino said...

Damnit Tim... you better recognize, BeaOch

You are ok Brad.. like I said, I was just being overly sensitive, you are correct that we do fit the opposite ends of that spectrum.