Is Min/Max a bad thing?
I was reading this thread on Reddit : https://www.reddit.com/r/dndnext/comments/u9r9xa/heres_some_of_the_reasons_why_i_prefer_dming_for/
How do you feel about min/maxing in either table top or MU*? What are the upsides or downsides that form your opinion on the matter?
@arkandel I'm in a tabletop game with a min-maxing wizard. The player often destroys entire encounters because his initiative bonus guarantees he'll act first in any round, and his focus on one particular instant death spell means it's nearly impossible to survive; so the other players don't even get a chance to draw their weapons before combat is over. I'm not sure than min-maxing is the problem here rather than his disregard for allowing other players to play the game they're here to play, but his min-maxing is the method by which he's able to prevent them from playing.
@greenflashlight That's definitely something I've seen too. In my case it wasn't done intentionally, the GM had fucked up and given a character who could punch really well some enchanted punching gloves... and he started just blasting.
One of the issues I've seen in MU* is when min/maxing has a cascading arms-race effect. Meaning that a couple of players make very effective combat characters and then STs have a choice; either they balance their encounters based on those, which means the bad guys can pretty much one-shot 'regular' characters, or they don't and those few outliers go through fights like they're the Hulk fighting bank robbers. It tends to force other other players to make a choice - either keep up, or... don't.
faraday last edited by
I think it depends on what you mean by "min/max" because people sometimes have different definitions.
My definition is a player who spends their CG points/XP in the most expedient way possible to achieve their character goals. Maximum benefit for minimum drawback.
This isn't inherently a bad thing. It just depends on what their goals are.
If the player is trying to make some kind of unstoppable badass that essentially ruins the game for others? That's a crappy goal. Or if they're trying to make a one-dimensional caricature that's lacking in abilities their background dictates they should have? That's also a crappy goal.
But just learning the rules well enough to spend your points more effectively than someone else might? That doesn't bug me.
Whenever this question comes up, it really boils down to one thing: Are all the gathered people having fun?
If no, then it is a problem. If yes, carry on.
The problems in the former are often situational and subjective, and it usually simply reflects a difference in attitude rather than anything inherently "bad."
I agree with @GreenFlashlight when it comes to 'encounters have to scale to meet the abilities of Billy Badass'. I'm on a DnD game right now. I play a (fairly) powerful character with a fairly decent build, but I've tried to make him the sort of character that can solve a variety of problems while still being combat-capable.
Save that the other players have hyper-focused on sword-swinging because sword-swinging is pretty much all they care about. Not solving mysteries. Not finding alternatives. Just hit the thing until xp falls out. It's basically Final Fantasy.
Which means that my versatile guy, that has a ton of utility in a lot of ways, is pretty much useless in combat. He can dish out a LOT of damage in a turn, granted, but his saves are absolute shit compared to the DCs these beefed up monsters are throwing out, and it's hard to hit something so scaled up in AC as to keep the Level 20 Paladin of Smashing from one-shooting him.
But more than that --
It's been my experience that the people that hyper-focus on the numbers aren't in it to play the same kind of game that I am. They're in it to win, and get frustrated when they don't win. They will find every excuse in the book why that roll that they failed shouldn't have failed because, see, it's right here on the sheet, he can't ever be intimidated by anything, ever. All that muscle mass makes him immune.
And this isn't limited to just fighters and martial types. The people that over-optimize for a certain thing always have trouble when presented with something else, and will seek to turn it back to what they've specialized for. Diplomatic talks? Good luck, because that fighter is gonna punch that guy, and then just do some Big Stick Diplomacy. Glad you greed to our terms, I hope there wasn't too much concussion.
A certain amount of strategy is good. But if all you're focused on is getting your sword-swinging number as high as it will possibly go, then we're gonna have problems.
Paradox last edited by
I GM at a Gaming Table with a group of about 6-8 players; a few steady, a few rotating. I originally started out with each campaign saying 'this is going to be more tactical' 'this one is more theater of the mind' 'this one is more RP/Narrative focused' and it let players know what to expect. I've actually shifted to doing that per session.
Min/Max is not a bad thing explicitly. It can be a frustrating thing when you have to adjust encounters to make them challenging enough for someone who is powerful, but as a GM that's also part of the job if you did not explicitly layout for players the expectations you have for the session.
I personally love doing Min/Max design of characters, to see what I can possibly do. Does min/max design somehow make a character less narratively interesting? I think that's a really bad assumption to make but is one made quite a bit. The real hit is the winning vs. losing thing; and I also have seen it not just in a Min/Max character but also in a 'RP Focused' character, getting upset about losing.
TL;DR -- Players should know the expectations for the game.
Misadventure last edited by
I'd like to introduce the term "degenerate build".
I'd also like to suggest (as either someone here, or something I read elsewhere designed a game around) that if possible combat related abilities and more story/investigative abilities be on separate tracks.
One GM usually cannot out power build many players. And to succeed might be to destroy the reason for the work in the first place.
I am playing with a group who definitely love finding all the power building interactions, but they will help anyone also do so while being mindful of the desired feel of a character, and they are thrilled when conflicts have risks and highlight their weaknesses. (I do think there is the unstated backstop that the GM doesn't want to wipe out the storyline completely.)
Jennkryst Banned last edited by
Obligatorally chiming in because I half-min-max... but it's rarely for combat efficiency or the like. It's almost always done when a game's chargen and xp advancement ratio is different. To explain to the five people on the forum who dont know the concept, and to use the nWoD math... two characters start, one with 1/1/1/1, and the other with 4/0/0/0. Player one needs to spend 27 XP (6 + 9 + 12) to get to 4/1/1/1; player two needs to spend 9 XP (3 + 3 + 3).
This is why CoD is a delight. The cost to raise things is flat. 0->1 costs the same XP as 4->5. So I feel less compelled to dump everything into a single skill, and make a more well-rounded character.
Prism Banned last edited by
@arkandel I have a character in a MU* that is maxed in a skill and as such, it can likely make things not fun for others if certain types of scenes are run. I'm the type of person that I will try to find another way to be involved in certain scenes unless someone with comparable skill is there for me to play against.
I don't judge others who don't do the same, if someone worked hard to raise a skill to a certain point, they want to occasionally have the chance to either be a bad ass, or the big brain. It's just how I work because I've been in the situation before where I had to sit through someone single handedly taking care of something without having any regard to anyone else playing with them. It's not fun.
tl:dr If you want to be an occasional bad ass and have a snowflake moment, have at it. If you are constantly shoving that bad ass behavior in my face -- suddenly I'm going to have something better to do when you want to play.
Wanting to have a character who is really good at the thing that you want them to be good at isn't wrong. But both systems and playstyles mean that having a character that is too optimized (either to 'do all the things' or so focused on a single scenario that they can do nothing else) tends to create some problems, in my experience. Some have already been mentioned, but also:
The player doesn't have fun when their character is outside of their 'niche', and torpedoes the 'nonfun' scene to get quickly to whatever it is their character is good at. ("Court is boring, so my barbarian punches the King.") Or they just tune out, which can be almost as bad, if it's a small tabletop group.
Other players start to tune out when the MinMax character does THEIR thing, because they feel like they have nothing to contribute to the situation. Ideally, in my opinion, every RP scene should have something for every PC to do (whether they choose to DO IT or not is up to them).
I believe in niche protection - I think every PC should have something to contribute to a group or game that other PCs can't easily replace. But with a group of minmaxers, that can be taken to too much an extreme where you're almost running four separate campaigns, where only one player is engaged at a time. Some systems almost demanded this (Early Shadowrun, particularly, had the game everyone else was playing, and then the game the Decker was playing), while others incentivize it (especially systems that tend to set difficulty levels for tasks high, and have high penalties for failing for tasks), so it's not something I tend to blame on players.
A lot of us have been trained to make the most maximized character we can have. And in MU*s, I notice this is promoted by people who ask for/demand a certain skill level before even letting you into a plot or giving you RP. Hell, even on ARES, with F3S - which is NOT a particularly 'high threshold' system - I've had to shut someone down because they wanted to find the mechanically "best" person to take on a plot scene, rather than base it on RP factors.
BetterNow last edited by
As a GM if I have a player who hugely outscales the rest in combat, I separate them from the party and have them face something on their own scale, while the rest tackle enemies at their level. If they complain about it, well, I can point out the imbalance and the fact the rest of the party doesn't deserve to get one shot, or to have him one shot, the entire encounter.
Misadventure last edited by Misadventure
@arkandel I didn't answer the question.
Min/Max, whatever it's form, is just one of many ways there can be player-GM mismatch and player-player mismatches.
Short version - if it's in the way, yes it's bad.
Next up - how to define and enforce your desired level of mix-max if the game normally allows for it (looking at you D&D 5E).
Sunny last edited by
I agree that it just comes down to matching expectations between player and GM. There's simply nothing inherently correct about one way or the other, because it depends so heavily on the circumstances and people involved. If a GM doesn't know how to deal with (or doesn't want to) a minmaxed player at their table, then the minmax is a problem. If the GM runs their table with the expectation that players all minmaxed, Becky's professional skill: basketweaving points are just going to screw her in unpleasant fashion.
Inherently, though? There's no value attached to one way or the other.
MisterBoring last edited by
My opinion is that Min/Max is only good or bad based on the decisions of the particular group you are with.
I've had fun in groups where Min/Maxing was declared the standard at the start of play, and I've had fun in groups where Min/Maxing was strictly limited or just flatly banned.
I think if your group is all on board with it, it's fine. It's those situations where the group is trying to play one way and a single player is going the other that causes frustration, in my opinion.
Rucket Banned last edited by
The goodness or badness of min/maxing depends on the group.
If you have a group of four and three people are making RP-based characters and those RP choices aren't exactly mechanically 'optimal', then the fourth person min/maxing the shit out of their character is a bad thing.
If you have a group of people min/maxing to have a fun, challenging campaign... then that's perfectly fine IMO.
So to answer this, and basically all other "Is X bad?" questions, the answer is "it depends."
So to answer this, and basically all other "Is X bad?" questions, the answer is "it depends."
And what it depends on is whether the players involved are dipshits.
No matter what is good or bad in a game, every gaming experience can and will be ruined by dipshits.
Choosing your party wisely means picking the best players, not the best builds.
@ganymede Yep. As a middling student of psychology, pretty much everything I'm learning is "it depends."
And in MU*s, I notice this is promoted by people who ask for/demand a certain skill level before even letting you into a plot or giving you RP. Hell, even on ARES, with F3S - which is NOT a particularly 'high threshold' system - I've had to shut someone down because they wanted to find the mechanically "best" person to take on a plot scene, rather than base it on RP factors.
I think this sounds like the 'arms race' phenomenon I had seen before in nWoD MU*.
Aside from the other, social factors, it can be devastating to the entire game if left unchecked. If Big Puncher (or Rich Noble, Vampire Hypnotist, etc) get significantly more RP simply for having those stats, but playing a chef just... doesn't, then you aren't going to see chefs getting rolled. You won't see much of anything rolled other than the specific archetypes the game - quite possibly inadvertently - promotes.
And that can and does affect the overall theme.