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Author Topic: Episode 35: How to Min/Max Pt. 2: The Decision Making Flowchart  (Read 13364 times)
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Meg
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« on: January 09, 2009, 10:00:01 AM »

March 9th Edit:
The episode is up!  See my post below for more details


In Part 2 of how to min/max we'll cover how to make decisions about a new character based on the tenants of min/maxing.  We'll have an accompanying flowchart and another that shows the "normal" non min/maxing decision making process. 

We have general outlines for these episodes, but please offer suggestions!  Our guiding principle with these episodes however is to make them system neutral, so no specific D&D advice.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2009, 11:06:09 AM by Meg » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2009, 07:12:36 PM »

In Part 2 of how to min/max we'll cover how to make decisions about a new character based on the tenants of min/maxing.  We'll have an accompanying flowchart and another that shows the "normal" non min/maxing decision making process. 

We have general outlines for these episodes, but please offer suggestions!  Our guiding principle with these episodes however is to make them system neutral, so no specific D&D advice.

Based on you guys' definition of min/maxing, I think that's the "normal" way people make characters, personally.  But I think you're maybe boiling things down too much to fit it into 2 categories.  I can think of three major approaches to making a character, all of which I've used.

1)  Figure out what you want your character to be good at, be it fighting with a two-handed weapon or talking to kings.  Make sure you will be good at that.  Fill in the other spots in the character with things that make sense as appropriate.  I think you guys call this "min/maxing".

2)  Figure out WHO the character is.  Then try to fit everything that defines that character on the sheet.  Was he a prize chef before he was crippled in that accident and became a cyberwarrior?  Gotta take 5 points of Cooking!  This usually makes the character good at nothing, but for some people that's OK.

3)  Find some element in the book that really peaks your interest.  I used to do this with WoD all the time, skim the book until I found a flaw or a power that I thought would be fun.  Then take that, plus whatever you need to have that, then whatever else seems appropriate.  It's the classic "concept character" approach.
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2009, 03:47:39 PM »

Talking about min/maxing in a game where it totally doesn't make sense, like PTA, would be interesting though possibly strained.

What would be especially interesting is a discussion about what, about a game, would make min-maxing possible, or desirable. Whether or not it's good. What's missing in games you can't do it in.
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Meg
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2009, 04:31:44 PM »

Robert- those ideas will be great for perhaps our next Min/Max episode.  This one we want to remain completely system neutral so we aren't talking about games at all.  But I could definitely see a whole episode being dedicated to the idea of min/maxing specific systems and the qualities in a game that lend themselves towards min/maxing.
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2009, 04:48:06 PM »

The tenants of min/maxing?

You mean the people who live there?

Ha ha ha, just being pedantic.

Cheers,
Cam
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2009, 10:49:15 PM »

Talking about min/maxing in a game where it totally doesn't make sense, like PTA, would be interesting though possibly strained.

I completely disagree that you can't min/max PTA, good episode idea then.
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2009, 08:40:55 AM »

One way to min/max your character is by knowing the way your GM runs a game.

Once in college, I had a GM who ran WoD table-top. Instead of having us roll against different skills depending on what we were doing, he would often gravitate towards certain core skills instead. I once tallied how often he would ask a player to roll certain skills. ("roll perception" for example). I generated a list of how often he'd ask us to roll the top three skills.. (perception was one, can't remember the other two).

What I found is that I could min/max my next character by focusing solely on those 3-4 skills he asked us to roll, and forget the rest. If I've got a superb skill in something that never gets rolled, what's the point?

MilwaukeeJoe
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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2009, 08:38:56 PM »

I just can't help but read the OP without hearing Meg say, in the tones of James May, "I like flowcharts."
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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2009, 09:17:09 PM »

Very important to make sure whether or not your DM will make you roleplay your stats before you dump your mental stats. It sucks righteously to be the best player in the group and have the DM telling you to shut up because you put your int at 2 and you're illiterate.

Also a good thing to check is to see what builds other people are bringing and mentally compare the strength of your build to theirs. Being the strongest is fine, making everyone else seem weak sucks all around. Make sure that you're bringing something appropriate to the scope of the game.

Make sure you realize why you're making this character, and why you want to min/max it. If you want the character to stay alive because he's a fun character, you're going to put in probably less effort than the guy who wants to take over the known universe because he likes doing that. Set goals for your character, then work toward them. Cheesy, but it's true. Start with a guy, say, a cleric. If he wants to form his own church and help people, he'll have a different set of goals than if he wanted to form his own church and rule the world with an iron fist (he worships the gods of metal). The first guy might take feats such as augment healing, and domains such as the healing domain, while the other guy might take feats such as power attack, and domains such as the Mechanus domain (in hopes that the metal gods will smile upon his righteousness and grant him access to the kingdom of steel). These are two different roles, and having a role in mind to work towards will make your concept jump onto the paper. That role could be as narrow as "kill things with one slice" or as broad as "do everything at least half as good as the next guy," but you can't really min/max until you have a focus that you're going for.

Finally, make sure that you are in love with the concept in some way. If you have the greatest character concept in the world you will probably Min/Max the shit out of it. For instance, I've had a few whatever characters that were stupidly powerful, but they weren't min/maxed hardly at all because I didn't care about the concept. They just happened to be druids. But once I came up with a character I liked, such as a skeleton bard who plays drums and intimidates people, I min/maxed that shit until it ended up Cleric1/Divine Bard 11 swinging DMM greater mirror images and stuff. The most important thing after all the number crunching is to make sure you're having fun at the table/computer forum.
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Meg
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2009, 11:09:46 AM »

The Episode is up!
http://brilliantgameologists.com/blog/77

Most of the sode can be summarized by the following flowchart: (Download your own copy here!)

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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2009, 03:29:01 PM »

Thanks for the kind words, guys. Though you've made me into such a nice guy I'll never get laid now.

Jeeze.
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Kai
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2009, 01:10:03 AM »

I wish I lived in the NE...I like boobs. I should go look for pictures from Arisia... Any of you end up with mono?

It's hard for me to focus on the content on the episode with DH playing a Civ mod at the same time. I keep hearing spells being cast, undead being devoured, etc. I got the rinse, repeat thing though.
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Josh
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« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2009, 10:10:23 AM »

Thanks for the kind words, guys. Though you've made me into such a nice guy I'll never get laid now.

Jeeze.

Actually Rob punched me in the ear once just for the hell of it.  And this one time we were in a Mexican whorehouse Rob stabbed a guy so he could fuck his woman.

(any better?)
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2009, 10:13:40 AM »

Thanks for the kind words, guys. Though you've made me into such a nice guy I'll never get laid now.

Jeeze.

Actually Rob punched me in the ear once just for the hell of it.  And this one time we were in a Mexican whorehouse Rob stabbed a guy so he could fuck his woman.

(any better?)
Aaaah, that's the stuff.
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2009, 08:20:50 AM »

That chart is so idealistic. (And before you ask, I just don't have TIME to listen to the podcasts. If you had transscripts or summaries I would read them, though.)


There's totally one point missing:

"You don't have enough points/money/gizmos to get everything to fit together. Think AGAIN!"

That point should come right under the big yellow button for Step 2.

And then comes the LONG, HARD part of calculating and REcalculating until you might manage to at least get your priorities in. To me, that comes much closer to real min-maxing than "Do you have conflicting elements?". EVERY element conflicts if you don't have enough whatever to buy it. At least there should be a point about choosing which elements you really want to fit in.

Some examples:
Shadowrun: If you use Priorities, it'll be mostly about money. If you use point buy, it'll be a constant fight to get everything you want into a character. And the potential differences between what comes out one way or another is horrendous.
D&D low level: Feats and skills? (Mostly feats, though), and at high level money comes into play as well.

There is a funny German game called "Das Schwarze Auge", it has another name in the US, where I believe it's totally unsuccessful, but I wouldn't really know. This game has a mixed generation points/XP buy system where you can create equivalents of level 10 characters at level 1 if you min-max. Or rather, that badly built level 1 character would reach level 10 until it could keep up with the well-built level 1 character. While this is clearly a design flaw, to me it still serves to demonstrate that min-maxing is mostly about crunching and crunching again, rather than some idealistic thoughts about goals and elements. OF COURSE you need those goals and elements, but that's not really what will take most of your time.

And that's not MIN-maxing, it's my own personal favourite: Max-maxing, or rather, maximising all strengths, minimising all weaknesses, as far as you can.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2009, 08:23:26 AM by Brainpiercing » Logged
Zeke
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2009, 09:14:59 AM »

you really really really need to listen to the episode if you are going to comment on the chart.
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Josh
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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2009, 09:18:51 AM »

That chart is so idealistic. (And before you ask, I just don't have TIME to listen to the podcasts. If you had transscripts or summaries I would read them, though.)


There's totally one point missing:

"You don't have enough points/money/gizmos to get everything to fit together. Think AGAIN!"

That point should come right under the big yellow button for Step 2.

And then comes the LONG, HARD part of calculating and REcalculating until you might manage to at least get your priorities in. To me, that comes much closer to real min-maxing than "Do you have conflicting elements?". EVERY element conflicts if you don't have enough whatever to buy it. At least there should be a point about choosing which elements you really want to fit in.

Some examples:
Shadowrun: If you use Priorities, it'll be mostly about money. If you use point buy, it'll be a constant fight to get everything you want into a character. And the potential differences between what comes out one way or another is horrendous.
D&D low level: Feats and skills? (Mostly feats, though), and at high level money comes into play as well.

There is a funny German game called "Das Schwarze Auge", it has another name in the US, where I believe it's totally unsuccessful, but I wouldn't really know. This game has a mixed generation points/XP buy system where you can create equivalents of level 10 characters at level 1 if you min-max. Or rather, that badly built level 1 character would reach level 10 until it could keep up with the well-built level 1 character. While this is clearly a design flaw, to me it still serves to demonstrate that min-maxing is mostly about crunching and crunching again, rather than some idealistic thoughts about goals and elements. OF COURSE you need those goals and elements, but that's not really what will take most of your time.

And that's not MIN-maxing, it's my own personal favourite: Max-maxing, or rather, maximising all strengths, minimising all weaknesses, as far as you can.
I'm sorry you don't have time to listen to the podcast.  It contains all the materiel, the chart is just a reference.  

In other words, your comment does not even make sense if you listen to the episode.
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« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2009, 11:24:42 AM »

Quote from: zeke
you really really really need to listen to the episode if you are going to comment on the chart.
Quote from: meg
Most of the sode can be summarized by the following flowchart:

Ok, so I guess one of these is not true then. Rolls Eyes

No, really, I was taking the chart as a separate, independent piece of information. I was also not trying to come off as dismissive or indignant, although I do realize that intentions are sometimes irrelevant on the internet.

I guess I HAVE missed something, though, so I'll refrain from further commenting until maybe I've found time to listen to the episode.
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Zeke
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2009, 11:41:44 AM »

MOST and SUMMARISED, jeez Bang Head
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« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2009, 03:20:26 PM »

Hey there, I just subscribed to BG, and I'm working my way through all of the episodes. I think it was Josh who made a statement about why all athletes aren't drug tested. As someone who recently worked in a lab that processed drug tests I can say that that is not the case.

Any drug test that returns a positive result is automatically retested on a new machine with a much higher, more precise, set of parameters. False positives do not occur twice on the same sample from two different testing machines, and one of those machines is set for a much finer detailed set of metrics. The retest is called a Reflex Test, and it's an industry standard expected by the Food & Drug Administration.

So, if all athletes are not tested for drugs, then its most likely due to cost, but I can asure you that it is not due to the posibility of a bunch of false positives.

Love the show!  Big Grin
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