In real life, spies benefit from being anonymous. In SpyParty, they benefit from being notorious.
SpyParty is a game with a lot of skill expression. It’s also very difficult—even those at the top level of play will often say that they feel like they aren’t good enough. Both of these things stem from the fact that SpyParty is a multiplayer strategy game. The mechanics of play and counter-play are well documented and explored within the community, and adapting to your opponent is considered a vital skill to victory. If you don’t know what your opponent is doing to beat you, how can you possibly beat them?
From this, we can draw some conclusions:
- The more you know about your opponent, the better.
- The less your opponent knows about you, the better.
These two conclusions can be summarized together as: avoid counterplay. Of course, the nature of counterplay is that it can always go deeper: counter-counterplay, and counter-counter-counter-play, the perils of which are demonstrated, as everything is, by The Princess Bride.
What we’re talking about is that first one: countering counterplay. The choices you make when you know that your opponent knows what you are doing, and will be playing to counter them. It’s a topic that’s been covered before in countless discussions and presumably forum posts (as a Steam user, I can only guess). But I’d like to come at it from a slightly different angle, and ask a question I haven’t seen asked before:
How can you leverage your reputation?
Obviously, this idea only applies if you have a reputation to play against. But consistent play within the community will garner you one, eventually, so let’s assume you already have. What to do with it? Assuming that your opponent will have heard of you and your general play style, your options will vary with what they’ve heard. But they’ll all have one thing in common: they’ll give you an expectation to play against. To exploit.
I’ll demonstrate with an example: take belial, a well-known etiquette sniper. When playing against belial, what would you do? Obviously, avoid etiquette mistakes, or at least take care that they’re not seen. This is detrimental in the sense that you’ll have to spend attention, that valuable resource, on something you wouldn’t normally need to.
This is the first level: the “club” of a player’s reputation and the intrinsic pressure it provides. But the club is…double sided? I’m not really sure how clubs work. The point is, the attention that you would spend on etiquette can counteract belial’s skills. Which leads to the second level: what if belial suddenly stops paying attention to etiquette and starts camping mission sites? Suddenly, your careful tiptoeing around etiquette rules is a waste of focus, belial is freed up to catch you doing other things, and you’re at a massive disadvantage. You counterplayed yourself.
Maintaining a Reputation
To use your reputation in this this way requires two things:
- Knowing your reputation.
- Maintaining your reputation.
To use this strategy, you have to be secretive about it. Being known for being able to shoot for anything has its own benefits (just ask yeesh, winner of the most recent Summer Cup), and it neutralizes this kind of strategy. To maintain your reputation as a certain type of player, you must usually play the game in that style, or at least appear to. Use your highlights and lowlights as you normally would, or wait to shoot until you see something consistent with that reputation, whether it’s the thing that tipped you off or not. You can’t switch strategies constantly, but you can play unexpectedly on occasion to increase your odds of victory against an opponent who thinks they know how you’re going to play.
This strategy exists on the margins. It isn’t going to revolutionize your game or dramatically increase your win rate. But implemented correctly, it could improve them slightly, and in some competitive settings, that can be the difference.