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Whispers. Deep analysis, metagame, suggestions


#1

Okay, whispers.
A nice mechanic. I like the concept of whispers; being able to create strategies during the day. It means you can lie to someone specifically in a private way, tricking them into making an action you want. That you can coordinate your actions with someone else you trust to have more impact on your night abilities and that you have a way to know two people are planning something, but not sure of what it is. Except it does not work like that — if so it is so rare that we already forgot why whispers are a nice mechanic. In this thread I will try to dissect all the concept of a whisper, how it is affecting the metagame and possible sollutions to the biggest problems at my eyes — and the rest of the playerbase, of course. Yes, I am talking about King Whisper Meta. Yeah, not like this is rarely talked about. There are plenty of great ideas to avoid this, and if no heavy measures have been taken until now we can safely assume it is kinda of the point in the dev’s mind. Does it mean they don’t listen to us? Nah, they do, but balancing is hard and they have an objective in mind. Let’s already go into the topic and I will try to explain myself better.

Oh and that is gonna be a long read, hope you’re ready.

First of all: how do whispers work?
Pretty simple. You choose someone, you write a message and then just this person has the ability to read that. Simple. And to not end up becoming a flat mechanic, we have additions to this: other people can see who is whispering who, but can’t read the message. Oh, and some classes can take advantage of this mechanic. Mystic and Illusionist can use Private Matter to get completely hidden whispers, so no one can see what they got. Noble and Aristocrat have a powerful ability called Maid Spy while Apostle has Cult Spy which can see the content of all whispers in the day after it is used. Finally, Possessor can see the whispers to and from his target using Puppet Strings. How each of these abilities affect something so simple like whispers? How they don’t affect them? That’s where I am getting into now.

Possessor’s Puppet Strings:

Control a player and force them to kill another. You will also see whispers to and from the controlled player the next day. They will not be aware that they were controlled. Note that they still act normally that night; this does not replace their action.

This ability is Poss’ usual killing way, as the Possess should usually be used to remove your current suspicion and make a fuss in the court. What differentiates it from other killing tools is that is has the whisper mechanic working actively on who is his first target (the controlled attacker). Why that? So, this way, Possessor has a variety of options: he can carefully choose who is the attacker, so he will have access to all the day info this person gets. He can also counter the password meta, if lucky enough. More abrangent ways to use that could be so you jump to another body and use the logs of the previous one to deny someone’s else claims in whisper (e.g. Obs says no one visited 5 to King, but your dead logs say you did it) or be brave enough to claim Noble in harsh situations, which I don’t recommend at all but hey it is an option.

Poss’ PS has little to no impact in the whisper subject. If your target use a DeathNote and knows someone that died were not targeted by them, yet there is their drawing alongside the dead’s logs they will know there is a Poss and that you can read their whispers. Also as it only targets one person that can’t be the King you are not likely to get relevant information easily. It helps if the person you want to jump into whispers a lot and has a password, but other than that this ability hardly affects the whisper metagame and concept. I like how PS works, it is balanced for the class and useful in the right situations instead of all of them. It can benefit from King meta, but not enough to guarantee a win.

Mystic and Illusionist’s Private Matter:

All whispers to and from you will be hidden from the public.

Mystic’s touch in the whisper system. Hardly used, but useful if the Mystic player wants to be aggresive and ask for claims. No one else besides Mystic will be able to read the whispers and they won’t even know someone messaged the Mystic. Has little to no use currently, but serves as a way to confirm in Cult Game, as Apostle has telepathy but not Private Matter. If brave and lucky enough, Illusionist can pretend to be Mystic the second day after being converted (better if it was 1st night conv) and ask for claims, then be upped by fellow Unseen members the next day as “visited by Unseen last night” to confirm themselves as the good guys and get the info Illu got in whispers while also able to convert again. Real Sheriff scout fuck this up, tho.

Again, being as niche as it is, Private Matter hardly affect the game’s current state with whispers. The strategies around it are pretty situational and can be easily avoided by an experienced player. I would say Mystic needs something else besides that ability, just like Illusionist needs something else besides Mental Blur but I also see no problem with the ability to be as it is.

Noble and Aristocrat’s Maid Spy, Apostle’s Cult Spy:

See the contents of all whispers tomorrow.

Now that is a powerful ability. Not because the concept of whispers is busted, but because of the meta around it. King’s meta is my next topic, but let’s first talk about how this interacts with the meta. Spy will allow it’s user to see everything that is not hidden with Private Matter, from everyone. It has 3 uses to Noble and Aristo and only 2 to Apostle, what means in usual Unseen games they can safely Spy the first two days and gossip until they feel like doing so again. This ability can gather information better than the King’s meta, as it benefits from the meta and additional whispers. I believe the initial intention of the buff to see almost everything was to nullify King’s and Prince’s whisper meta, but it did not work. When people don’t whisper their main reason is to simple dislike the meta or believe the king is evil, almost never because there can be converted Noble.

The ability gives Noble way too much power. They can easily spot lies comboing Spy with Gossip, pressure EK to actually go to work when he has 3 claims of the same class, give them easy logs to write and be read and most importantly: completely shutdown Evil’s plans. No, I am not just saying evils talking with each other via whispers. This gives them no room to trick players individually, to indeed hide their classes while lying, which is the major concept of the game. Whispers are almost a “tell me the truth” mechanic because of Spy. Every claim via whispers put you at risk, no matter what. Neutral, evil, converted; all non-BD members are at disadvantage because Spy is a thing. Not to say the late use third Spies (remember when I said they can safely use 2 in the first two days?), as no one expects to be spied d6, d7 or d8. Spy puts evils at pressure. It would be a good thing if whispers itself weren’t already doing that. How? Well, I know you are waiting for this. In the King Meta!

The King Whisper Meta
Damn that’s a hell of a name, I will call it KWM from now on. KWM consists of a concept simple as day: you whisper King your claim, now he has to do the Investigative work with this analyzing the claims of other people to see discrepancies. When he sees, he up. Usually, when people don’t claim, they are also upped just so the court can have access to his logs. Not surprisingly enough, this strategy puts evils at a very low chance of success when faced against a Good King (both GK and a good player, so to speak). The KWM is happening for a while now and has been confirmed a pretty consistent strategy. The King, differently from the Prince, can guard himself to prevent attacks. That is the major downside of Prince Whisper Meta; he could be healed, sure, but there are a lot of abilities to bypass that while King’s guard do not have that big of a downside. If King happens to be confirmed Good all BD members can gladly claim to him.

And why it is that bad?
It has one of the biggest problems that any metagame in any game usually has: F U N & I N T E R A C T I V E G A M E P L A Y. But, of course, the opposite. You see? Most part of the game is at the King’s hands. It is too much power for a person. Other than that, as I said previously, it has a big impact on the lies. You lie, you get caught. When you have all the info you could ask for in the game, you are just like a spectator that can check what everyone is doing, but instead you are actually there commanding the game’s flow. This is not healthy, yet is consistent. KWM puts pressure on the evils, EVEN if you are Evil King; remembers Noble? They make it so EK has to up discrepancies and end up really executing Unseen. Not only that, but even if they play well both as GK or EK and end up dying with their notes showing all claims, BD still benefits from the info more than evils. This is not even meta plays that consist of using the best options available to win, this is literally meta game. No one likes it cause it requires very little effort for BD in order to win.

And how to counter that?
There are two ways to counter a behaviour you don’t want in a game. You can either passively/actively make the mechanic worthless or nonexistent or you can demote it’s use or promote not using it. The more healthy way, of course, it rewarding people the less they use it instead of forcefully making it a bad option; you can whisper, but you have a risk in doing so.

I have a few suggestions to how avoid this meta and most whisper problems. No need to remove the mechanic or to make it useless, you just need to give space for evils to use it and punish its widespread use.

The first suggestion.
Unseen Spy
MasterMind’s Day Ability, 1 use.
See the contents of all whispers tomorrow. (Can be used d1, of course).

How does this affects the game?
Yes, BD still benefits from whispers more than evils, but this put them at a disadvantage as well. It does not even work as a tool to give Unseen information, it is mostly a disruptive way to make BD hesitante to whisper. “Will MM use it to d2 or d3?” Not everyone will want to claim, probably ending up not claiming at all. MM will have a meta information that can help them to claim, even with KWM in use. They will have more targets, more options and BD will find the need to lie! Throne of Lies! The Online Game of Deceit! BD will look forward to lie in whispers if they want to trick MM, while evils will look forward lying as usual as well. When the mechanic that only benefits BD turns out to alongside benefit evils, it balances itself. The whisper meta won’t be that frequent, so MM won’t have the most powerful tool of information and AGAIN: BD benefits from info more than evils.

Suddenly, Mystic’s Private Matter are a good thing. But just like Prince they can be easily shut down, not to say converted as well; it avoids the entire meta claiming but still gives the ability it’s use.

The second suggestion.
Maid Spy
Noble’s Night Ability, 4 uses. | Aristocrat’s Night Ability. 3 uses.
See the contents of whispers to and from 2 targets of your choice. Noble’s.
See the contents of all whispers tomorrow. Aristocrat’s.

How does this affect the game?
First of all, Noble has to strategically think about using the ability. Usually targeting the King and an additional person of his liking. This gives evils and neutrals room to breathe and use whispers at their side, while still being a threat cause, ya know, you can be one of the targets. This nerfs Noble’s powerful ability to gather information while making it more strategic and interactive. Aristocrat can maintain the ability as it is currently, cause there is no problem in that for the same reasons in the MM suggestion above. Can even nerf it to 2 uses, being honest, but not necessary. The thing is this won’t make whispers a “must tell the truth” mechanic, you can put your deceit abilities into use, what is awesome.

The third suggestion.
Private Matter
Mystic and Illusionist’s Day Ability. 2 uses.
All whispers to and from you will be hidden from the public. They will not know who are you neither you will know who they are.

How does this affect the game?
Yes, it may give room to a “claim to Mystic” meta, but you have no reason to believe it is not Illu and you can pretend to be another person. Any meta that goes around you claiming your number in whispers may be easily avoided. Thing is you don’t know who Mystic is and if they are gathering a lot of info trying to force a whisper meta they have no way to know your claim is legit. This would make games more interesting in my view, again allowing breathe room to lies and deduction. This is gameplay!

And finally: why is this still a thing?
I don’t think the devs aren’t listening, I just think they are trying to issue a problem with King usefulness in the wrong way. Think about King with absolutely 0 claims. He will just guard himself and point when a Sheriff/Pala/Scorned/Fool/Stuff scream SOMEONE IS GUILTY! Even EK’s Allies is worthless without any claims to help him select the targets. King needs claims, but not all of them like it is happening right now. Sadly I don’t know any way to fix the problem with King, but I like the concept of the class being the leader in most decisions; after all he is the King. We need a leader, yeah, but not an omniscient entity that makes the game uniteractive and too reliant on a single person.

What we need is a way to make the mechanic usable for everyone and don’t make it a way to get a lot of truths in a DECEIT game. We need more thought in the matches, not less.

Thanks for reading it all and sorry for any spelling mistakes, PM me anything and I can correct :b


#2

Umm, before i read this I would recommend you put like a “Warning: Long Read Thread” just so people know before reading for forever


#3

I did it tho


#4

I liked this and agree with the statements being made. Whisper King Meta has to die, and soon, comments like

are so very true, doubly so for classes that cannot contribute as much, such as Physician or Hunter, who just sit there having to watch the Wall of Pink Text while others play the game for them basically.

Personally, I like the idea of the Unseen having a Spy at the start (with cult just getting a starting Apostle with a higher chance) BUT I don’t like the MM having it, though this is a personal opinion due to me having suggested giving the Mastermind his Foresight power as a day power. Perhaps starting Assassin can have it, he is an Assassin after all, they are meant to be sneaky.

Honestly however most of what has been said here is something I agree with so I have no real need to add to it, other than giving it my backing.

NEXT TOPIC HAS TO PETITION TO CHANGE THIS USELESS ABILITY.


#5

Aw you linked me :slight_smile:


#6

I was linked as well. It’s some high level of witchcraft, I see. :mage:


#7

Links to everyone!


#8

I think my whisper suggestion for MM might be a bit more creative though, if you’d like to check it out


#9

Yup I did check it yesterday at night, I thought it was funny cause we were discussing the same thing on Discord and I popped the whisper suggestion. I like how yours reward MM for not converting, I think it’s a safe trade, but possibly a little more strong than it should be. Good design choice, tho, I think we need something to reward failed convert.


#10

Yeah but the big part is how MM starts with 0 uses, so they could or could not have it on Day 2


#11

I would rather make it strategical than luck-based, but both options are fine honestly


#12

I agree that spy is ridiculously overpowered, and has not even had the intended effect (of discouraging whisper king meta). But letting the evil faction keep global spy is not the solution. The Neutral Killer (and any neuts siding with him) gets the short end of that bargain.

When anyone whispers, the contents of the whisper must remain secret to everyone but the two intended parties, as a general rule. This is the whole point of a whisper. You are already taking a risk since everyone knows you whispered.

Spy should be reverted to single target. Since not even global spy has discouraged whisper meta, don’t let it target King. I believe there really is no point in trying to discourage whisper king meta. King is supposed to be the leader. If nobody whispers him, he can’t lead.

Allies and Swear Fealty (while of course being better than OE) should be replaced with some ability that helps king lead trials. Like Gladiator (King chooses someone, making it so only that person or the King himself can get executed for that day). Or allow King to talk during defense phase. I’m sure someone can come up with something. Swear Fealty is very unfun for the evil faction, we’ve got enough unconvertables. Allies is next to useless, since a good Evil King can figure out who evils are without it but he can’t even whisper them because of the freaking global spy.


#13

It works as a solution because it prevents this from happening. It balances the information between the two sides and gives people the doubt benefit. It isn’t even guaranteed to hit the right day people want to start whispering. It requires luck, strategical thought and asks for people to lie a little if they want better results.

Yes, but it is a mechanic. Mechanics are better the more they are explored. If this does not work, we go back, if it does we improve. Just letting it be a simple whisper mechanic may work, I completely agree, but it is also removing a lot of potential to fun abilities and strategical thought. If you can engage the players to use something to help and simultaneously hurt them, depending on their skill, why not? This is gameplay, this is interaction and this makes the game interesting and complex. Give us a mechanic, then give us something else. The same applies to Royal Blood, which has a lot of potential but end up being a flat and uninteresting concept.

Give it single target may also work, but I feel like it is too much of a hit in the class. It is still a limited use ability, so they can’t spam it forever. Going to 2 targets they can use more strategy while being fixed on a target they don’t want to lose the sight on. Anyways Gossip is probably gonna be used a lot more after a nerf like that, what makes the ability even more balanced. It has to exist because it puts you in situations of risk vs reward. You know you can be spied, but you want too bad to put that strategy into work. You do or you don’t whisper? The punishment is entirely your fault. That’s how the game should be more like; giving you the room to do your evil plan, but punishing you for your own bad decisions. It requires skill from both the Noble and the guys whispering, then I think it’s fair.

Yes, I said that in the post. That’s probably the main reason why whisper meta is still a thing; devs want the King to command the court. However, we must seek other ways to accomplish this. KWM is not the right way for all the reasons mentioned in the thread.


#14

I think the problem with the starting king is mindset.

Classes are not leaders

People are leaders


#15

And I must agree. However is completely possible to create a class that is more likely to lead the court, and in this current scenario that is exactly the King. This happens, actually. Usually Investigative classes can carry a game and in all this game they are putting themselver as a leader, even telling the court to exe the King if necessary. People are leaders, but the game insists that a specific class should be one too.


#16

When I was thinking about how to fight the meta, I remembered about Mayor meta in ToS. It was very rare for people to reveal, but why? Then I noticed it was because they were so prone to dying.
The problem is that you usually have so many layers of protection in ToL. Removing King guards should help a bit.


#17

Hey what about that Neutral I came up with in mind yesterday :thinking:


#18

Efficient but kinda complicated(In my opinion) way to solve this issue.

Make different type of Kings that aren’t straight up “good” and “evil”.
Each King have different objective that aren’t nessesary “Defeat X faction and live”.
However it must be balanced number of “slightly less harmful for BD” and opposite. Otherwise people mostly wouldn’t thing to not hang King Day 2.


#19

I am curious. Why do you think it is complicated? These changes are only abilities reworks, no need to create a whole new mechanic or remove existing ones.

I believe this would not work, that follows the same concept of why starting Neutral King isn’t a thing anymore.


#20
  1. From Devs perspective. In order to make them it will take some time, also you need to make sure it won’t be either too powerful or weak and they have a reasonable wincon.

Why is that? Without testing you can’t say for sure it won’t work.