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Frisco Del Rosario writes about chess960, women's basketball, minor league baseball, unsupported collectible card games, lettering in comic books, and Golden Age movies

Procyonn’s Folly applied to South Park: Phone Destroyer 12/24/2017

During the late ’80s, I worked as a room host in an AOL freeform roleplay area. It certainly was freeform — if you could type it, your character could do it — but there was a game called Duel of Swords that had rules.
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Two players roleplayed/described their action while messaging one of 10 possible moves to a trusted third party, who consulted a matrix for the result of move-vs.-move and reporting the result.

Duel of Swords was great fun. For some, the roleplay aspect was key, while some also wanted to play the game as well as they could.

I got into that game years late, but I have this insane obligation to myself to find something new in the strategy or tactics of any game, even one as simple as compiling the results of a 10×10 matrix.

One of the fundamental aspects of Duel of Swords was that you couldn’t make the same move twice in a row (with one seemingly-insignificant exception), so players had to make this type of decision at every turn: My two highest-powered moves are A and B, but they’re both foiled by C. If I play A or B, and he goes C, not only am I losing a point (leader after 10 turns wins), he’s got a positional advantage on the next turn.

So what should one do on the first turn? All 10 moves are available to the opponent, so neither side wields the positional advantage of having more useful moves in store. I reasoned that the seemingly-insignificant move that could be repeated had to be a fair first shot.

The move — disengage — was seemingly insignificant because you were disengaging instead of fighting, and what’s the point of that, especially since the opponent could still whack you according to the matrix. But I figured even if I did lose a point at turn one, I had a slight positional edge — 10 possible moves to 9 — on move 2. (I called it Procyonn’s Folly, after the chess opening Santasiere’s Folly.)

This meant that my opponents had to play the he-knows-I-know-he-knows-I-know game at move one. Opponent knows I favor the move one disengage, which can be smacked by high cut or low cut. I know he knows that, and so on. The I-know-he-knows-I-know-he-knows thinking could drive one batty, but some people had a better intuition for anticipating an opponent’s move than others, and they were at the top of the game.

How does one apply this to South Park: Phone Destroyer, where any of five cards could be the best play against whichever five the opponent drew. Sometimes you get an obvious one — protective tank plus rugged fighter plus ranger in rear, or maybe a simple Hookhand Clyde. Otherwise it pays to see what the opponent lays down first, and then counterattack with the goal of stealing the initiative.

If you wanted to apply the logic “I’ll make the lowest-cost move fir, like Disengage, so if I get whacked, I lose less than if I’d lost with a higher-reward-higher-risk play”, then a good first move in South Park: Phone Destroyer is casting a low-energy character with a deathwish, because then there’s even a tiny gain after death.

Maybe Paladin Butters is the best of the Butterses for that. Among the Kennys, Princess Kenny could be ideal.

Again, this gambit is based on having zero information about what your opponent has in store, and having no concrete plan based on your initial draw. At South Park: Phone Destroyer, there might be a clue in the outfit the other new kid is wearing.

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