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The Jerk Move: Valid Strategy? (Head In The Clouds #77)
Head in the Clouds
Updated: Thursday, Sep 24, 2015


Chaz Marler from Pair Of Dice Paradise here. Last time, I pondered whether it’s possible to play a game by its rules, but still play it wrong. For example, establishing a monopoly on a resource and then jacking up the price in an economic game, when the game possibly wasn’t designed with that in mind.

This question generated a lot of feedback, which is way cool. Opinions were mixed, agreeing and disagreeing, with a slight majority leaning towards the argument that “even if obnoxious, if it’s not breaking the rules, then, so be it”.

Some excerpts from the comments include:

William S, who said, “If someone is playing within the rules they can't be perceived as playing ‘wrongly’. If the game rules reward a strategy that one considers obnoxious… your issue is with the game, not the gamer.”

Stephen M. offered, “I don't disagree that cornering the market in a game like that is often Jerk Move, but... it's a Jerk Move that's in the spirit of the game, like taking a tile in Suburbia and turning it into a lake just because your opponent(s) are after that tile”

Jonesy commented, “The fact that some players engage with the environment in original, atypical or novel ways, warms my gamer heart. You can call it a jerk move, but I call it originality (which may or may not be 'jerky').”

And Tim V. simply asked, “How is it possible to interpret the ‘intent’ of a game?”

The discussion was great. Based on the feedback received, the general consensus seems to be that Jerk Moves, if not breaking a written rule, are usually a valid way to play a game.

Cool. Okay. Now, I asked you that question just so I could ask you this one:

The game that got me thinking about this in the first place is Dead Of Winter. In it, all players have a group objective, plus each player has a secret objective of their own, and one of the players may even have an objective that betrays the entire group, sometimes even stealing the win away from the rest of the group.

The biggest complaint about Dead Of Winter that I’ve heard is that a player, realizing that they cannot achieve their own objective, can sabotage the group, so that nobody wins. Technically, this isn’t against the rules, and (some say) actually meshes with the desperate, paranoid atmosphere of the game. But it’s certainly considered a Jerk Move. I’ve even heard that the fact it’s even possible is a flaw in the game that breaks it.

So, do your opinions from last time remain unchanged when it comes to Dead Of Winter’s possible strategy of “if I can’t win, nobody can win”? Or is this a completely different issue? This strategy is unpopular at best. But, does unpopularity make it any less valid?
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