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 Post subject: Cheese Weasel Munchkin Question
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 3:46 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:25 am
Posts: 573
Location: Dallas, TX
What gives you more bang for your buck?

Raising your skill rank?

...or buying a Specialization?

...and why?

:D
Tom

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 Post subject: Re: Cheese Weasel Munchkin Question
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:46 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:48 pm
Posts: 56
I enjoy these sorts of questions, so let the games begin! I'll assume that the character in question hasn't hit the ability-based cap on the skill, so buying an additional level is a possibility.

First, does gaining the skill level or specialization qualify you for a talent that you want? A specialization in Perform (Dance) may never affect in a single roll in many games of Witch Hunter, but qualifying for the Basic Fighting Style: Acciaio Mantello makes the specialization worthwhile in any case. If the answer is yes, the rest of the analysis is moot.

Second, is the skill a background skill or an elective skill? Since background skills cost half as much as elective skills, it makes sense that it's better to buy a background skill for a longer period of time.

Third, how wide is the focus that you're buying the specialization for? A specialization which applies to all rolls (e.g. Notice (Notice), Navigation (Navigation)) is going to be more useful than one which only applies to a subset of rolls (e.g. Charm (Deceive/Gossip/Persuade), Ride (Drive/Horsemanship)).

Fourth, is the skill Scholarship? Scholarship doesn't succeed on 7s without a specialization (and does succeed on 6s with a specialization), so it will behave a little differently than other skills.

Finally, what's your pool before buying the skill level or specialization? On average, the expected value of a single die rolled without a specialization is 0.444... successes. Buying a specialization increases that expected value to 0.555... successes per die. Therefore, the break-even point for a wide focus is at 4 dice: going to 5 dice without a specialization is effectively the same as buying the specialization with 4 dice. *

In terms of bang per buck, I went with "increase in expected value of dice pool divided by cost in survivor points". I assumed that the specialization is in a wide focus, and that the skill isn't Scholarship. If I could set up a table in here, I'd show the full math, but here are the results.

For a background skill, increasing the skill is more effective when going up to level 3. The specialization becomes more effective if you'd be increasing the skill to 4 or 5.

For an elective skill, increasing the skill is more effective when going up to level 2. The specialization becomes more effective if you'd be increasing the skill to 3, 4, or 5.

If you have a +1d bonus to the skill from something like Expertise or a minor relic, then the specialization becomes more effective slightly sooner. It doesn't quite overtake the background skill, but it means that improving the elective skill to level 2 isn't worth it if your ability is a 5.

If the focus isn't wide, then increasing the skill gets better in terms of expected value. Trying to assign a value to how often you'd make a skill roll without benefiting from the specialization is left as a exercise for the reader. :P That same principle goes for Scholarship and its focus areas. If you care a lot about a particular focus, it's going to be worth it to buy the corresponding specialization a lot earlier than it would for other skill/specialization combos.

* When the expected value is tied between specialization and increasing skill, the specialization option is more likely to result in at least one success (as long as the dice pool isn't reduced below 3 due to penalties), but it's less likely to result in multiple successes. Specializations have a greater benefit when difficulties are lower.


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 Post subject: Re: Cheese Weasel Munchkin Question
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:38 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:25 am
Posts: 573
Location: Dallas, TX
Wow! Thanks Herid! A lot more thought provoking than listing probabilities. I'll pass these along to the cheese weasel(s) in question. :D

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