Home * What's
New * Trade * Shop *
* Bloody Legacy * Confucius * Coppertwaddle * Fzzzt! * Guilds of London * Ivor The Engine * On The Cards * PaperclipRailways* Scandaroon * Snowdonia * Tara * Totemo
Carrier Strike * Mission Command * The Cousins' War
A Closer Examination Of The Processes Underpinning A Robbing, During Which The Reader Is Made Aware Of More Subtle Strategies by Dr Neal Grancy
It would be true to posit that, for the 'Twaddling novice, perhaps the most complex aspect of the game is the turn phase known as Robbing. In simple terms it is 'stealing a Threlm from your opponent's Domain in order to place it in your own, provided your forces are, in effect, stronger'. However, greater complexity is introduced by the internal structure of the phase, whereby players are allowed to utilise Threlm abilities and/or play Favours to affect the 'strength of forces' (both Robbing and defending) and, therefore, the eventual outcome.
This article explores both the Robbing phase with the following goals:
It is appropriate, then, that we first look more closely at the base internal structure of the Robbing phase in order to clarify WHAT is allowed to occur and WHEN. The phase is, logically, divided into the following steps - the nomenclature is my own, but the existence of the steps is a ratified Society tenet; I have labelled them appropriately for ease of understanding:
- R1. Announcement
- R2. Exchange
- R3. Resolution
In order to differentiate the players involved in games examples, I have adopted (for this article) the common terminology of the 16th Folio rule book whereby the "Guardian" is the active player who initiates a Robbing, and the "Challenger" is the player who is 'on the defensive'.
A player is always afforded the opportunity of announcing their intention to Rob in their turn; however, a Robbing may not proceed into its second step (Exchange) until the Announcement criteria have been met - paraphrasing the 16th Folio rule book, here are the procession criteria:
1.1 All involved Threlms, the Robber(s) and the Defender, must be of the same rank / hierarchy, i.e. Noble or Peasant. To explain further: the hierarchical state of a Threlm is regarded as its 'last' updated state which may be distinct from its natural hierarchy, thus:
- Father Time comes into play with the natural hierarchy of Noble;
- Lute And Bellows, though possessing the natural hierarchy of Peasant, would be regarded as a Noble Threlm if 'A Long Climb' were played, and still remained, upon it;
- Mappa Mundi, though characterised as both Noble and Peasant for the purposes of card interaction and Threlm abilities, remains at the hierarchy of its most recent placement, i.e. if it were brought into play from hand to the Noble rank, it is a Noble; if its ability were utilised and it is placed in the Peasant rank of an opponent, it is a Peasant etc. This most unusual card may undergo multiple changes of hierarchical state within a single game!
1.2 The target of the Robbing (the Defender) must have AN INDIVIDUAL STRENGTH value that is less than the combined strength of all Robbing Threlms (the Robber(s)).
You will notice immediately, of course, that this second rule makes no reference to any SUPPORT that the Defender may receive at the time of the Announcement, excepting that of the Defender itself. Thus, the Guardian is allowed to enter his Robbing phase, satisfying all of the pre-requisite criteria, without hope of success due to overwhelming support for the Defender: this is a strategy used to coax cards from a Challenger known as 'decoying'.
1.3 There must be a space for the Defender to occupy in the appropriate Rank of the Guardian's Domain, should the Robbing prove successful.
1.4 The Defending Threlm must be proud.
This step affords both the Guardian and the Challenger the opportunity to adjust the Robbing and Defending values, the hierarchical state of Threlms (their Rank), or to cover Threlms / make them proud, i.e. to invalidate the rules enforced at the Announcement step.
Once the Robbing has progressed from the Announcement step, the Guardian is given the first chance to play; priority passes between the Guardian and the Challenger, alternating, until both players have passed
It should be noted that passing on an opportunity to participate in the Exchange does not automatically exclude you from playing when the next window of opportunity arises. For example, it is common practice for the Guardian to announce their Robbing and then pass first priority to the Challenger; thus, if the Challenger also passes, the Robbing will succeed straight away (because both players have passed and the state of the game has not changed since valid Announcement). However, if the Challenger accepts the priority and plays a card/ability, the Guardian is once again given the chance to play or pass and so on.
When a player gains priority, he/she may play one Favour from their hand of cards or use one ability of a Threlm currently in play in their Domain. It is advisable for both players to remind themselves of the state of the game after each individual play during this step, i.e. which Threlms are covered or proud, what the current Robbing and Defending values are, which Threlms have their support negated (Divisored) etc.
The Announcement rules may be invalidated as follows:
In addition, the following points further clarify the events during an Exchange:
I should stress that care should be taken by both Guardian and Challenger alike not to squander perfectly good resources in pursuit of a 'lost cause' - sometimes a gracious retreat is more advantageous in the longer term!
Once both players have passed, the Resolution step is entered and the state of cards in play is checked to determine whether the Robbing has been a failure or a success. No cards or Threlm abilities may be utilised in the Resolution step. Play then proceeds to the Respite phase.
A Robbing is successful if Announcement rules 1.1 (same Rank), 1.3 (space for the Robbed Threlm), and 1.4 (Defending Threlm is proud) are still valid and the combined strength of the Robbing Threlms exceeds the Defending value of the targetted Threlm. All Robbing Threlms are covered, and the robbed Threlm is placed, covered, in the Guardian's Domain in the appropriate Rank ditch.
Conversely, a Robbing fails if any of Announcement rules 1.1, 1.3, or 1.4 are invalidated, or if the combined strength of the Robbing Threlms is less than or equal to the Defending value of the targetted Threlm. No Threlms are covered.
While it is important that players understand the regimen of the Robbing phase, it is also useful to understand how to manipulate the structure to gain the greatest effect for themselves. For example, we have already discussed how the Guardian often places pressure on the Challenger to play cards in defence (or concede the Robbing) by passing first priority. Equally, it is a valid strategy to initiate a Robbing that satisfies the Announcement rules but with no intention of capturing the target Threlm; thereby playing cards and using abilities to draw resources from the Challenger's hand (decoying).
Another commonly applied trick is to use Threlms with the bestowal ability (Cover during a Robbing to give a like Threlm a bonus), which are not adjacent to the Defending Threlm, to boost an adjacent (or Defending) Threlm and, as a consequence, the Defensive value.
There are, of course, many other tricks that can be applied but which rely on more specific scenarios (cards in play, cards in hand etc); I leave these for you to dicover in your own time, dear reader.
Finally, the best players endeavour to manipulate the environment of the game even before they engage in Robbing, taking in a view of the game stretching across several turns. In this brief final section, I will present some thoughts for your consideration.
The Divisors are the four nautical Favours Capstan, Compass, Sextant, and Wheel; they disallow a Threlm from using its ability until the end of the turn or contributing its strength value to any Robbing calculation, i.e. the Robbing and Defending values. These cards are tremendously powerful, often used to obtain a powerful Threlm from an opponent utilising a humiliatingly weak Robber, e.g. robbing the The Bentham Fish with Trepaner!
Much discussion centres around the best time to play a Divisor when intending to Rob in a turn; however, more experienced players prefer to play a Divisor during their En Garde phase and, if it is not Coppertwaddled, enter their Robbing phase thereafter. The reasons for this are:
Finally, one should consider isolating a Threlm that you intend to rob (such as a bestowal) by robbing its immediate supporters and/or fellows of the same Rank. One can always release lower-strength Threlms with elimination cards later on, if necessary.
Neal Grancy (Dr)