Breath of Clarity

My Experience in the Initial Countdown to Compromise Game

Our group won as a campaign. The landowner and biologist won as characters. I was the conservationist.

What lessons did you learn from playing the game? How did the game affect your perception of creating a conservation plan?

I learned planning our actions in advance helped a lot with collaboration. When we planned in advance, we were able to set up being at the same locations in a smoother fashion. That said, conservation plans should be written following a long-term strategy instead of only looking at matters one step at a time. Additionally, I learned events are extremely powerful because sometimes they only leave the group with all unfavorable response options. Further, the events can interfere with collaborative actions that would have required two rounds to fully bring to fruition.

Also, checking in about categories we were lacking quantity in as a group and characters was crucial. It made our decisions far more intentional compared to if we were only going for general gain of funds and points. Therefore, frequent evaluation of needs throughout the process is crucial in creating a conservation plan.

How did the constraints of the game affect your decision making? How realistic do you think these constraints were, especially given what you’ve learned about species preference this week? Were there times when you made decisions that you didn’t like?

The constraint regarding character funds restricted us a lot. There were times we had to base our playing of the “move action” card upon character funds. We also had to select responses to events that were not our first preference due to a low amount of character funds. It was interesting we had to kill wolves when our character funds were low and our campaign funds were still high because there was no other option for the landowner during one of our rounds. It is a realistic constraint because there are a variety of ways resources can be lacking that cause a massive loss in a species. Additionally, not being able to shift funds around characters or into the campaign finance pot was tricky. The constraint is realistic. Typically, a character in the real world would not solely donate funds to the campaign or another character without any other gains, such as social and/or political influence involved.

There were rounds I had to play a card that did not make a lot of progress in order to not cause a lot of harm. This was typically because I was putting myself in a position to collaborate with a group member in the next round. It reminds me of what we learned in species preferences because the rule of not being able to play the same card in back-to-back rounds is representative of delays and stagnancy in the ESA. However, as the stagnancy happened, it was hard to make sure we did not lose a lot of points in various categories, especially considering the events could be negative at any time. That said, inaction is quite risky even though it may not seem so on the surface.

Did you have ‘table talk’ that wasn’t in the game instructions, like bartering or deal-making with other players? What was the content of those discussions?

All the ‘table talk’ was just notifying each other about our character point status. Since we all decided our priority was to win as a team from the get go, we were constantly trying to help out all the characters individually so they could keep there funds up and therefore continue to use the “move action” card. It worked well. Characters made sacrifices for the campaign, and the campaign made sacrifices for the characters.

Were there stressful moments? If yes, what were they and why were they stressful?

Stressful moments occurred when any event disrupted our ideas for the upcoming round and there were limited ways to respond. It was stressful because events had substantial consequences and it was the only type of occurrence we could not predict. We also had to make a decision about whether or not to kill a lot of wolves in order to keep one of our characters afloat. It was stressful in the sense that our conscience was uncomfortable with it. However, it was interesting to notice the rules of the game did not require a certain population count to win as a group. It factored into our decision about killing the wolves. We also made it less stressful by understanding there was the option to kill wolves in the short run now in order to increase funds/influence now, as long as we predetermined a way to increase the population later.

If you could change the rules, what would you change and why?

I would implement negative consequences anytime the population is decreased to below 40. It would represent the issue of endangered species wildlife conservation well, as there can be a lot at stake socially and politically. Conservation can also cost more as a result of waiting too long to address a decreasing population.

Bonus: what other event cards would you create? What would the actions, costs, and consequences be?

Event: Trevor Hall decides to hold a concert to honor Sacajawea in northeast, Oregon. Wolves appear at the venue and sing along in English.

Options: 1) Do nothing- campaign cannot receive social or political influence for the entire next round, landowner gains 6 character social influence, landowner gains $700 2) Biologist investigates the anatomy of the wolves- loses $400 resulting from the tools required to do the study, gains 3 character political influence and 5 campaign political influence 3) Journalist interviews the wolves- gains 6 character social influence, gains 5 campaign political influence, gains 5 campaign social influence, gains $4000 campaign funds

Comment by Fenton Kay:

Thank you, Mary. I particularly like your singing wolves.

Comment by Jonathan Hogue:

It’s funny that your team didn’t include ‘table talk’ that revolved around under the table bribes and creating your own rules to the game. Perhaps we’re REALLY jaded out here in the PST. =op We had some laughs about ‘winging it,’ so Dr. Kay could see that every man/woman has their price. It would’ve been comical to say the least. I really like your advising serious consequences should the population fall under 40. That’s a stellar idea and could pose realistic consequences for both the Conservationist and Wildlife Biologist. Very cool and great review and well thought out point potential, Mary. Great post!

Comment by Nora Frank:

Hi Mary,

My group actually ended up having the same outcome as yours where we won as a campaign and the biologist and the landowner won. One comment you said was that as a conservationist it is important to plan ahead rather than evaluated situations one move at a time. I think that is true for any of the characters in some respect. I think the event cards made it necessary for plans to change and for everyone to kind of re-evaluate within that move, but overall I think it was at least important for every team member to consider their own targets throughout the game rather than focusing on their next move or how the next move will benefit the campaign. At least for my group it took us a few rounds before we even thought to look and ask each other what we all needed as individuals to win. This will definitely be something I consider doing sooner next time. What would you do differently?

Comment by Alex McAuliffe:

Hey Mary,

I like your team’s strategy of campaign first but making sacrifices both ways for the benefit of both the individual characters and the campaign. Our team moved around in-between cards as well to maximize the benefits of using certain cards. I would be curious to see how your landowner achieved their individual goals. I was the landowner in our group and to finish with over $1000 in my personal funds seemed close to impossible while maintaining a healthy wolf population. Ultimately, I explained to the group that in order for me to continue to help the campaign I needed to sacrifice wolves to gain personal funds. I also figured that since it was so early on in the game we did not know what to expect from the different action cards in the upcoming turns and did not want to risk the wolf population as a whole.

Reply by Nora Frank:

Hi Alex,

I was the landowner in our game as well and I basically said the exact same thing you said. A couple rounds in I really understood that there was no way I could possibly win without the population sacrifice. I oddly felt nervous to bring it up since it seemed like everyone was so focused on team collaboration, but I did anyway and the team reluctantly agreed that I could make that sacrifice. Realistically we all would be looking out for ourselves equally if not more so than for the campaign so I think the decisions we ended up making were probably what land owners in real situations would have decided as well.

Comment by Catherine Sautter:

We also didn’t include table talk in our dealings. I think we too afraid it went against the rules of the game even though it wasn’t particularly outlined. Your suggestion card is very specific and I applaud your creativity. I think it’s an interesting idea that relates to the card that included a celebrity but with an interesting twist!