The Deepening Mystery of Méthodologie
The Deepening Mystery of Méthodologie
In Méthodologie: The Murder on the Links, players have a hand of cards that consist of characters, locations, and objects. Each one of these cards also has its own point value, rank, and set (transportation, trappings, evidence, etc.)
The game is played in two distinct phases – the first being the investigation phase, in which players are trying to gain information about what’s in other players’ hands as well as penalize them for lying about what cards they have. The second phase is the accusation phase, in which players score points for both correctly guessing which cards are in other players’ hands as well as being able to keep other players from guessing what’s in their hand. The points are then added up and the person with the most amount of points is the winner.
Everyone Has Something to Hide
The fact that this is a social deduction game about points and not about finding one specific traitor or one specific character, location, and object means that it’s more about the continual process of deduction as opposed to one definitive “aha” moment. This unique change breaks away from conventions of the genre, operating in a system of much more thematic moral grayness. In this game, everyone has something to hide. From a game mechanics standpoint, it also means that continual management of cards in your hand is crucial.
- During the investigation phase, players have the ability to place down cards from their hand, which will eventually be eliminated; but the question of which cards to place down is multi-layered. Because the rank value on cards dictates who gets to be the interrogator, the player has to take this into consideration.
- The cards have their own point value, as well as bonus point values with other cards in hand, so the player might be more inclined to keep higher-point cards.
- The player also must consider which cards they want to get rid of from their hand – which ones do other players know that they have that they should get rid of before the accusation phase? These questions and priorities are often at odds with one another, leading to tense and difficult decisions of what to play.
Creating games helps me explore big ideas. In this case, I’ve created Méthodologie to give players an opportunity to view the same story from both sides of the magnifying glass. I hope the shifting perspectives in Méthodologie will help players understand their own motivations and recognize the similarities they share with their fellow perpetrators.
Maintain Your Composure
The strategy that players start out with often has to adapt throughout the game. Players might start out with a card combo, determined to hold onto it for the rest of the game, only to be interrogated later on and have it revealed that they have a particular card. However, players are not helpless when they’re interrogated because they have the option to lie. But this too is a complicated decision: players have to simultaneously weigh the cost and benefit of lying and consider which card is safest to claim as their own, all while maintaining their composure in front of a group of people. The accusation process decision space is similar – with players determining risk/reward and chances of revealing an opponent’s card while also utilizing their social deduction skills.
All of this gives players plenty to think about, but the fact that the sets have different numbers of cards within them as well as the fact that certain cards have bonuses for creating combos with other cards creates even more interesting wrinkles.
Let’s consider, for example, the neighbor cards. There are only two of them in the game, but they are both worth a whopping 9 points, more than any other card. Successfully scoring one of these cards at the end of the game could be game winning, but the fact that there are only two of them means that if another player plays one of them out, everyone at the table knows that you have the other. Therefore, there’s high incentive to hold onto this card, but there’s also a high probability of it being found out. So then, how long is it worth it to hold onto this card as opposed to drawing a new one that might be more likely to stay concealed? Or, is there a right time to play it defensively?
On the other end of the spectrum, the documents set has seven cards in it, meaning that you’re more likely to get away with your lie, but is there a higher value card that you’re missing out on to do it? These cards also have significant bonus points, so lying to conceal these cards becomes more important, but only if the player believes they can accomplish the card combo. Because each card set has its own point values as well as frequency, the decision space changes not just based on the game state, but also with each individual card. As the game goes on, and more cards are eliminated (placed onto the board for others to see), the tension of keeping your own valuable cards concealed ramps up.
Bonuses contribute to the growing tension between players as well. Certain thematic card combos, such as Gabriel Stonor and Renauld’s Will, provide powerful bonus effects that are sometimes worth more than the base points of the cards themselves. Therefore, players are highly incentivized to keep specific card combos (meaning they might lie more to protect them), but it also means that other players are more likely to suspect players for having specific combos.
Savvy Suspects and Sleuths
As players in the group get more familiar with the base points and the card combos, the game of “what cards do I think you have in your hand?” becomes more and more nuanced. A group of newcomers trying the game for the first time might focus on card combos while a group of experienced players might be too savvy to leave a trail of breadcrumbs while chasing bonus points. The new best strategy might become a blending of the obvious and obscure.
In essence, because of how much variety is within the sets of cards, as well as the bonus points, the strategy of Méthodologie is constantly evolving.
Méthodologie is a social deduction game where wins and losses are based on not only your ability to keep a straight face, but also about your cleverness. Setting up the right card combos can be just as (if not more) effective toward your winning strategy as being able to be a human lie-detector. There is no perfect card, just as there’s no perfect deductive moment, but the game still gives players that sense of “I got away with it!” when they’re able to score those valuable cards at the end and a series of “aha” moments as players start to unravel each other’s schemes.
Ethan has been playing games for as long as he can remember. His love of games began when his dad taught him chess at age four, and he has been playing, creating, and analyzing games ever since. Ethan loves the way that games can provide connection, joy, and learning to groups of people.