thread: 2010-03-01 : Reliable vs Unreliable Currency

On 2010-03-15, valamir wrote:

I think the key difference between reliable and unreliable currency is the different feel of play they support (the "fairness" aspect is I think merely a superficial one given unwarranted importance due to the dysfunctional history many of us have).

The problem once can find in either method, then, IMO stems from them being used in the wrong (often opposite) cases.

Unreliable currency I think is best used in a simulationist environment where the players around the table can be relied upon to be more true to the source material than any mere rules set could be.  This is why so many old table top minis rule sets (i.e. pre-warhammer and its emphasis on tournament wins)were essentially free form resolution.  And why Memoir '44 with its unreliable command and control is one of the best simulations of the soft factors of warfare you can find despite its complete lack of attempt to model hard factors.

Reliable currency I think is better suited to games where telling a particular story in a particular way is the goal.  After all no one has more reliable currency at their disposal than a novelist for whom even coincidence is a perfectly reliable tool.

I would finally conclude that the effective use of unreliable currency in a competitive game is restricted (at least in the main) to games where the stakes are fairly low.  As the stakes get higher, players' willingness to have the outcome ride on unreliable currencies will, of necessity, decrease, for whatever value of high vs. low the players attribute to those stakes.


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