Messing with a good thing

Here, I’m talking about something typical to all roleplaying games or, specifically, gaming groups, but the example I have close to hand is something that came about on CoH over the last two night.
So. It’s Sunday. Monday? Whatever. Must have been Monday night. Jackie has Shock.Therapy on and I’m … I don’t know why, but I’ve got Rose.Red on, maybe to take a shot at finishing off some of her missions or something — I’d really like to get teleport for her, cuz she’s slow as dirt. Anyway. Point is, Jackie and I were off doing our own things.
I’m gallumphing my way through the Hollows and I get an invite to team up from one “Punchie”.
First, I have a rule I generally follow, and it’s served me well — I don’t accept invites from people I don’t know, if they haven’t at LEAST sent me a tell (translation: in-game instant message) and used decent… you know… language and communication skills. Like the one’s I’m displaying in this post. Not.
But still, any moron can click the invite button — show me you can communicate with a message better than “Grp??/”
But… I dunno. I decided to accept the invite, if for no other reason than to have someone’s messages to read on my slow-ass journey across the the get-me-killed Hollows (and if an area ever encouraged players to learn about teaming up, that one does), and I was feeling snarky and playing Rose who is, frankly, mean to people, and I thought “Punchie” might be a good target for ridicule.
Lo and behold, Punchie can type. Punchie is funny. So are the other people on the team. I change my plans and actually group up with them for a mission — we don’t have any major damage dealers at all, but we roll the mission (a hard one) EASILY. Halfway through, I get Jackie’s toon into the group as well — we roll that mission, and proceed to Kick the Holy #*@#& out of every mission anyone can find to run. We’re awesome. Everyone’s funny and interesting and can type worth a damn. They’re smart.
No one gets a free trip to the E.R. the WHOLE NIGHT. We had to retreat from a bad ambush at one point and we even did THAT well.
Somewhere in there, Punchie goes to level (everyone on the team leveled twice in about 3 hours, which is amazing), and comes back having registered a SuperGroup for everyone to join — in keeping with the fun of the night the SG’s name is Punch and Pie (“We joined because we were told there would be Punch and Pie…” is the motto) and the all-female-toon group determined the pink-and-black color scheme and heart-emblem.
It’s all in fun — we had a really really good time with an awesome group. The “Punch and Pie” night goes down in my head as one of the best nights on CoH evah. It was just FUN.
Last night, Jackie logged on the same toon and sees a new team member. Later, I’m playing Gilly with Jackie and, the conversation on her SG channel was:
“What’re you doing, Shockie?”
“Grouped with a tank named Gilly?”
“Cool, does she want to be in a SuperGroup?”
And just like that (they didn’t know it was the same player as the night before), I get an invite.
We group with some of the SG guys and some other guys… it’s not a BAD group — no one dies, mostly thanks to Jackie and the player running Punchie being on the same tactical page… but no one really impresses me as being a really kick-ass example of the player base, y’know?
Every. Single. One. Of. Them. gets an open invite to the SG. Hmm.
Now, one of us comments about the really active recruiting, and the player doing most of it says “I ran in a guild in Everquest for five years, and if you don’t recruit, you don’t grow. Worse, you wither. I’m just trying to make the group even better.”
Better? Better than the amazing thing we had going the night before? How is this possible? Why try? Why SCREW with it, for one thing?
So… lengthy game example aside that’s where this ties back into gaming in general.

Who’s had this experience?
You and some people sit down to game — frequently, it’s a pick-up game, or something you’d planned as a one-off, or something. Damn little prep — maybe not a group you would have assembled on your own — alot of it came together by chance, or it just seemed to work out the way it did in an odd way.
It rocks. There’s no real explanation for it, but it’s some of the best gaming you’ve had in awhile, and the most fun in a long time. It’s cool.
You continue, but you tweak stuff. You try to make it better.
The first group was only the GM and two people? You add a few folks… maybe just to have ‘more to do’? Who knows.
You lay in some backstory and concrete location to what was sort of a hazy background that offered (you realize in retrospect) a lot of freedom for everyone to create.
You switch game systems to add more depth. A whole session goes by with conversions and figuring out how things work now.
None of this makes the game *bad*… it just makes it not the same as the great experience you had — which is ironic, because you’re making all these changes to achieve either find or maintain the experience you had *before* the changes.
Not to say that change isn’t good — sometimes you add people becuase you need a better dynamic. Sometimes the rules you have don’t work.
But when everything is great? What’s that about?
Anyone? Am I the only one to experience this? To be guilty myself? I think not.


  1. Wow. Rereading that, it’s a tad stream-of-consciousness, but I’ll let it stand as is.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. This is how I got 20 players in House of Cards.
    I have more to say, but I need to blog it because I suspect it will easily get too long for your comments section.

  3. Punchie’s comparison to an EQ guild may not be particularly applicable. Much of EQ was designed for “raiding” with up to 72 people at a shot and so larger guilds are pretty much required to advance beyond a certain point. I have the impression CoH was designed around a much smaller scale and growing too fast (with no real standards except a pulse) may actually cause the group to implode.
    I think in all games, if you add conflicting personalities to the mix you are asking for trouble. Often its not so much the rules set or campaign you are using as it is simply a clash of personalities that takes away the fun.

  4. Actually, it’s a different player, not Punchie, that’s into the heavy recruiting.
    As to the rest, I totally see your point. I mean, the mission team you can have is 8 people. I can see wanting a larger net roster than that, so that there are often folks on to hook up with, but I still think there’s already a limit on SG size in the relative range of the Avengers, plus their back-ups, which is far less than the 75 or 80 folks you mention for raids. I can’t imagine that many people doing any one thing.
    Heck, realistically, any group of more than about four or five people? You’re basically in there just to have fun, not move with any kind of efficiency.
    Anyway. As I said, my toon in that SG is supposed to be a bitcah, so I guess I’m the perfect person to bring that up.
    Which, again, goes back to ‘trying to make it be like it was’. Again. 😛

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