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#1 2014-02-18 00:55:08

Registered: 2014-01-20
Posts: 231

Stuck in the middle class.

Being in the "middle class" in this game kinda of sucks. You don't have the money to do brute force assaults on the rich and yet you also aren't poor enough to try risky robberies so all you really do is sit on your ass and tend to your castle twice a day using the money from the new victims to improve your defenses while taking care to leave at least a little bit more than 2k in the vault to attract more victims. Eventually you get to the point where the whole available area is filled with your contraptions of death, so you cease improving your home by expanding it and start improving it with little tweaks; push that corridor two tiles to the left, make a smaller trap more complicated to defuse, add some 'wall dogs' here and there... You make every single barely significant change you can do to make your home more secure until you just look at it and conclude that you have reached the limits of what can be done with something that gradually grew from a primitive and very linear design, if you want to make a better deathtrap you need to scrape everything and rebuild from a blank. But you can't erase your home, not just because you don't have the funds to rebuild, but also because you have spend much time and thought on it and most of it's halls still lie unexplored because all the burglars so far have died in the 1st or 2nd sections, you don't want to erase it before someone goes and sees what you built in the 3rd, 4th and 5th sections. When you watch the first tapes of other players dying it is hilarious, but it gets old, especially when they are dying in the exact same places, in the exact same manners and for the exact same errors, one after another after another. You look at the items they are carrying and you know who they are, they are either the guy on a fresh new life trying his luck with his 2k worth of gear or the guy without items that has just lost everything and is on a desperate attempt to save his home, you've been on both places and you feel bad for them (a bit guilty even). Then you catch yourself rooting for that one guy who managed to get past your first section with a very clever solution that you didn't even predict (Killing the pitbull with the very trap that was meant to kill him! Brilliant!), but because he didn't solve the trap in the way you designed it to be solved your countermeasures kick in and the second section becomes unsolvable and the clever guy is now trapped dead there. You realize that none of those clever little guys is going to get past your defenses because you designed them with the express intent of pushing cleverness out of the picture and leaving room only for guesswork. You know that one day your castle will fall, but you also know that it won't fall because someone will outsmart your carefully engineered traps, it will fall because it will become so bloated with the money of the poorer players that it will attract the attention of the few ones who can afford to spend so much money on items as to the point where they can break absolutely any security system without even having to set their minds to it too hard. That's when you realize that you're just another player who's stuck in the middle class.

Frankly, this is very frustrating.

Self-testing is torture.


#2 2014-02-18 01:38:23

Registered: 2014-02-08
Posts: 158

Re: Stuck in the middle class.

Wow, bump.

This is a good post and should be looked into and discussed.

Everything you're saying really is true, and the situations are accurate and well articulated.  This is indeed a certain reality of the game.  I have definitely shared those experiences myself.  Now I will say however, they are not necessarily frustrating me too much because the joy I derive from the game is not very exclusively tied to climbing the rankings and landing in the game's "upper classes."  Of course it is a long-term goal- but one of the joys I get from the game is in creating new traps and climbing my way up the learning curve.  I also do a lot of creative stuff to entertain myself, like make thematic houses (TunnelHell), create designs with an intent in mind (They will die in this hallway, and they will do my work for me by hanging themselves), and use my riches to grief noob houses.  So I will say I am not as frustrated by these realities as I could be.  But maybe I will be eventually.  And there is a certain truth to what you're saying.

Of course, the responsibility falls upon each player to better their skill set, climb their way up the learning curve, and learn to build deadly houses and secure their spot on the boards.  That's kind of what the game's about.  But there is a certain "rigidity" if you will to the "class hierarchy" of the game.  You outlined it pretty well in your post so I won't go into detail.  Someone mentioned on another thread that a great deal of one's success in this game is dependent on your ability to prey on the ignorance of newer players, and because of that, it's not "sustainable."  To a certain extent, I agree with that.  That player base may not always be there long term and you can almost foresee certain types of player stalemates, or dead ends of sorts, as the demographics shift and the class system becomes even more reinforced.

And yes, like in real life, that glass ceiling is always there.  Even if they make a lot of money, middles tend to stay solidly middle.  Those who are generationally rich and have gone to the right boarding schools in the Northeast where the upper classes send their children to preserve the ways of their own kind, meet these middles and call them "nouveau riche-" newly rich.  And when you're not yet part of that elite league of alpha players with mad skills and mad intuition, sometimes you do feel yourself press up against that glass ceiling.  Despite all the pitbulls in your labyrinth, all the cleverness of your magic dances,  all your quadruple wired electric floor hallways with backup power sources, all you will ever be, is nouveau riche.  ;(  I shed a single solitary tear.

Last edited by JoyOfTrapping (2014-02-18 01:46:31)

YT: - The Bushido Code of Castle Doctrine:
Death  --> Observation --> Knowledge --> Power  --> Application --> Testing --> Skill
Seriousness --> Caution --> Deliberation --> Clearer Thinking --> More Success --> Less Frustration
Lack of Attachment to Results --> Lighthearted Play --> Respect for Enemies --> No Anger After Failures --> Faster Skill Building


#3 2014-02-18 02:40:11

Registered: 2014-02-04
Posts: 183

Re: Stuck in the middle class.

Have you tried, instead of powering up your traps, to use the 4k to 6k and just scout out higher class houses and make notes in castledraft? That what I do until I go for the weakpoint and got pretty good money, until I die to a stupid mistake like walking on a sleeping dog only because I wanted to take another note from my target house >.>


#4 2014-02-18 04:10:11

Registered: 2014-02-09
Posts: 101

Re: Stuck in the middle class.

ah, C'est la vie

One of the things I find most interesting about this game is that it closely resembles a social experiment, both in the game and in the forums. Perhaps by way of design and that it's based on real life experiences and meant to replicate those feelings and experiences in some fashion (see Jason Rohrer youtube interviews). How would each of us react to and handle such situations as the threat of imminent danger to the things we hold dear? It's interesting to watch people responding and reacting as a whole, watching the trends in reactions and the changing of how the game is played. and maybe giving a little push here, a little poke there, just to watch what happens. When there was a flood of people from the steam release the lower class was prevalent and people told their stories of despair from the poverty line because they kept dying and didnt know how to build well. Now people have generally learned more and a heavy middle class has formed as people know the dangers of leaving their house and losing everything and so turtle up and tell their woes of that predicament.

So here's some help to get out of that one.
How to escape the middle class: at some point you will no doubt grow weary from the effectiveness of your home design, if it's particularly good you can end up chilling so many people that you go for long periods without any adventurous/desperate souls encroaching on your land at all, as their previous incarnations have already come and died. There's also yet another gap between too high for suicide robbers and too low for bruteforcers. So you look around and see everyone else in ~10-15k range just sitting there turtling too. If you wish to climb higher, here's a strategy you may find useful:

sorry for the book, it gets a little more complex up here.

1. scout the houses 5-10k above yours. Just like earlier in the game some houses are high strength/low money, some are low strength/high money. Go in, look for the general layout/traps employed. Take notes. Find one that seems to suit you and you think is the best chance you have of successfully robbing. Make your way to the first commit or possibility of death. take note of the persons name and leave.

2. Get the right amount of item to pass that section safely (dog drug for dog commit, doorstop for pdoor commit etc. if its something more expensive dont bother, there's better targets out there) and go back into the house for further scouting. Fearing for your life yet? you were the one who was bored. During your second scouting run you should get deep enough in to decide whether you want this house or not. If you're not sure, do some more scouting runs, you'll be able to tell the difference after a bit. Look around for the family. If you can find them, then this house is perfect, otherwise take your chances or not but it will be more difficult if the family isn't involved.

3. Once you find a house you want to go for (for me, it has almost always been the first house to make it to the second scouting phase) you need to leave and go load up on your tools. I broke down a couple tiers of tools and their prices at first to wrap my head around it all. Here's a tier that's in this general price range:

tier 1 - $14,335 (make a lower tier if you feel like it, leave yourself with > $2k as usual)
    saw x 25 = 8,000        brick x 7 = 1,050       wirecutters x 1 = 400   
    dog x 15 = 1,500           water x 30 = 3,000        (gun x1 if wife spotted)

Modify these a bit based on the house. saws because you're in someones place who likes to use a lot of electricals, bricks for badly designed magic dances/cat and chihuahua electric floor traps/and opening doors that may have a insta-pitbull or shotgun wifey behind them. you know when to be wary because you are careful to watch for any pets or family appearing at the edge of the map when you move, especially ones behind windows. If this is a house with a family you saw then don't bring the really expensive items like ladders yet. This is because you will shoot the wife in the head with a gun (walk over her to pick up her allowance) and spare the other family members for later. Now continue on and track the most logical path where his vault could be. Saw around blind corners or pdoors, strategically drug dogs to block other dogs mindful not to lock yourself in. Turn back and leave if things get too dangerous. This shouldn't happen much if you did the first two steps right. By now you should have a good idea of his house. Get as close to where you think the vault is while still being safe. Usually this will take you right up to a relatively hefty amount of ptrapdoors trap that needs to be passed, sometimes just pdoors. you can usually tell you're close to the end, however. Either finish it here or if you need more items (ladders, crowbars, explosives, the expensive stuff usually at this point) then feel free to turn around, leave, and go get those items. You killed a family member this time in so your damage through his traps won't reset.

4? Get just what you need to continue including a club, if you're still not far enough in this time around go club a family member you saved to lock the house again and get a couple more tools you need. A house is only so big, so by this point you should be right there or extremely close. Maybe turn that one corner and...yeah, the vault. just sitting there in all of its victimized insecurity. ripe for the pluckins.

here's the notes on one of the houses I broke recently:

Successful    - Anthony Benjamin McMillin. House value: $23,300
    intel:  house damaged. wife killed?
N: 2 dogs in commit trap, drug 1 to block.
E->N: door 1left, door 1Up->dog/dead end, right1->window with wife, assume safe robbed. pass window with dog on N, corridor immediately after then door all the way up , (bricked door, remember wife in window? yeah shes standing there with a shotty) came back killed wife w gun only $741. one child remaining other child must have been killed locking house dmg, damnit, safe still active.
bitlock guessed: 1 1 0 1 1 (if you test one button at a time then check door your chances are greatly improved. I've simply guessed correctly 3 times now. not that it mattered with my tools)
S:doorstop 2 doors, E->chihuahua/sticky deathtrap?, saw into wall to view dog, yep. trip it and use waters.
S->W: 2 more doors, need two more doorstops and wirecutters to be safe.
vault must be just beyond, perhaps need ladders. bring club too, if need more tools kill last child on way out to save new house damage.
need: 2 doorstop, 10 dog drug, 10 saws?, 10 water, 1 club

This strategy will put you on page 1. which is another list of dangers and strategies... go for #1 or bide your time and play around awhile. Don't want things to be Too easy do you? then it would be over.

hope some of this helps ya out in one way or another. have fun

Last edited by Storm (2014-02-18 04:20:15)


#5 2014-02-18 06:26:23

Registered: 2014-02-08
Posts: 96

Re: Stuck in the middle class.

This mindset is a trap. It's based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the game.

Well engineered traps have little to no chance of being "outsmarted". Because they kill the robber with parts that he can't see. Your house not meant to be accessed the same way you access it; you have a huge information advantage over robbers and if you're abusing it they have no hope at approaching it without tools. Give up on having people "solve" a house like a puzzle unless you decide to deliberately build a very weak house.

Each segment of your house is meant to be bypassed with tools (when the robber does it) or with information (when you do it). The existence of your route to the vault is a hint for the robbers about what tool to use where. It had better not be enough of a hint that they don't need to use tools.

Once you have come to accept that, you will start seeing deathtraps from a new angle; every trap has three natural solutions. The perfect information solution, the way you reach your vault. The optimal dismantling solution, where the robber uses tools to learn all the components of the trap and can then copy your entry on subsequent trips (in a poorly designed house this often costs 0 tools). The optimal bypassing solution, where the robber uses tools to avoid needing to learn about the trap at all.

When designing your traps, you should be considering all three solutions. The perfect information solution, in this game, is only special in that you need to know what it is to design a house. Just because you ignore the other solutions doesn't mean they don't exist. It only leaves your house vulnerable to "brute forcing" with under $10k buy value (that's only $5k sell value!) of tools. It doesn't even deserve the brute force label at that point if you're trying to protect $20k.


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