False Profits

01131I’ve seen it asserted that the card Negotiate (or others like it) offers the user a 2-for-1 trade, since you remove one die and your opponent then has to remove two. While a 2-for-1 is almost always a good idea, and most players will take that value, in this case the card – while certainly not bad – isn’t offering that exactly.

But what is it offering? That’s very hard to quantify.

Two-For One? What’s that?

If you’re new to CCGs, you may not know this concept. Basically this is the idea is that the cards that you have are like resources, so if you can kill something that your opponent put two cards worth of value into with one card worth of value, you come out ahead. This is a very popular topic among players of Magic as well as Hearthstone. It certainly could be popular here as well, except for one complication that Destiny offers.

The trade isn’t only the dice.

The problem that Negotiate has is that it takes you playing a card for your action, one resource, and also the die that you are removing. Other games where trading is discussed in this manner are primarily talking about cards, and it is very easy to compare apples to apples in that way. This creature had an enchantment attached to it, I killed it with just one of my cards, sending two of yours to the trash. One card handled two. We don’t have that kind of simple comparison available to us here. Cards don’t just cost us a card; off the top of my head, they take up:

  1. A Card (as we’ve discussed)
  2. Finite Resources
  3. The action to play it
  4. Potentially, dice
  5. Potentially, character health/shields

It’s very difficult to compare the actual value of a finite resource with a card. In Destiny, we are assured nothing more than two resources per round, rather than lands that we know will untap or mana crystals that regenerate each turn.

How does a rolled die compare to any of the items in that list? A die represents some percentage of the action that we took to roll it, though one die of an activate action that rolled five is different from one die of an activation action that rolled two. This is as true for the dice that you sacrifice to Negotiate as it is the dice that your opponent will remove.

We also have action economy to consider. Everything that we do means that we didn’t do something else. Obvious, right? But that means that we have to be somewhat deliberate. Do we use our action to play Let the Wookiee Win at the expense of a card and a resource or do we place an upgrade on Rey, giving us an additional action? The value of what you do before your opponent has the chance to consider what to respond with is a hard thing to peg with a number

So Negotiate isn’t good?

No, it’s good – it offers fairly efficient die removal and even though your opponent gets to choose which dice they are getting rid of, that also diminishes the value of the action that they took to roll them in the first place. It also eliminates potential future actions, since even a blank die can be focused to show another face. Still, even on this end, it’s hard to say that it’s as simple as an X for Y trade.

Negotiate costs me: Action, Resource, Card, Die (which represents some percentage of an action)

Negotiate costs my opponent: Die, Die, Some percentage of an action

So we see that this doesn’t exactly align, and since the die removal choice is theirs, we can’t know what they’re losing. Of course, the die that I remove might be a blank, an otherwise dead die, and that can’t be quantified either since a die can always be focused or re-rolled in any number of ways.

The lesson…

…is that while playing, you ought to avoid the fallacy that any trades involving a mixture of resources can be simplified to be called a 2-for-1 or any other similar ratio. The value of each individual resource isn’t directly comparable. Instead, consider the real cost-vs.-benefit of each of the various assets when deciding if you are comfortable with a play. It is especially important to examine whether the resource that you could disrupt for your opponent is one that they actively need to use to win the game.

3 responses to “False Profits

  1. I think this article very clearly demonstrates why Negotiate doesn’t make the cut on a lot of lists. I think the awkwardness here is that the card requires you remove one of your dice, which makes it even more difficult to use this card well because the best case scenario is a) you rolled a blank on a bum die and b) your opponent hasn’t rolled any dice you don’t want them to get rid of. If this was a 0 cost card, I think I’d include it a lot more often, but as it stands the ‘trade’ is so detrimental and/or situational to the Negotiate player that I don’t think it warrants a spot on a list often, if at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think so too. It has a place but it is more niche than some of the analysis has identified to this point.

      Of course another wrinkle to card analysis is that every card has invisible “discard this to reroll dice” on it!

      Like

  2. The value of this type of removal changes with timing as noticed when evaluating it in the context of the opponent having rolled out 6 or rolled 2 dice. It´s power comes through the higher number of dice removed at the expense of a tighter opportunity window. Let the Wookie Win is very similar.

    Like

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