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Dominion => Bug Reports => Card Bugs => Topic started by: ElisabetK on 13 March 2019, 09:13:04 PM

Title: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: ElisabetK on 13 March 2019, 09:13:04 PM
I ran into a weird situation in a bot base game last night. I had a Vassal in my hand, and playing a Sentry had showed me that my next card was a Throne. I also had some other actions in my hand.

So I played the Vassal, expecting to be able use it to play the Throne that was the next card and use that on one of the other cards in my hand. Instead, the Throne went to the discard pile and I was not given any option to play it.

I backed up using undo a few times, trying again to replay Vassal/Throne, and even backed up a couple of moves and tried replaying, but it always ended with the same result - when I played Vassal, it would discard my Throne and not allow me to play it.

I gave up on that and tried using another Throne in my hand first, so that I played Vassal twice. This time, I was given the option to use the second (pulled by Vassal) Throne card as expected, so I was able to apply it to another card in my hand. It wasn't what I wanted to do, but it worked. I tried one more time to back up and do what I originally wanted, but since it still did not give me the option to play Vassal/Throne, I backed up and played Throne/Vassal/Throne instead and continued on.

I've used search to see if similar problems have been reported, but I'm not familiar with the cards mentioned so I'm not sure if this is the same issue.

I'm also not sure if it's an interface issue (a button not appearing) or a problem with how Vassal is being interpreted. Or, for that matter, a misunderstanding on my part, although what should happen seems pretty obvious to me.
Title: Re: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: Ingix on 13 March 2019, 10:37:25 PM
First, thanks for the report!

You're the second person today to mention basically the same problem, the other thread is here:

So there is a (new?) problem that seems to happen only under special conditions (I tried to recreate the problem and couldn't). Since it's a bot game, I guess you don't have the game number any more. If this (or another bug) happens in the future, it would be really great if you noted to game number, as this allows me or others to load the game and maybe figure out what went wrong by trying (as you did yourself).

Again, thanks for reporting this.
Title: Re: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: ElisabetK on 14 March 2019, 03:08:42 AM
It's happening to me again. Game #24522571.
I'm not sure how to insert an image here so I'll just describe what is happening.

I've got two actions, and a Militia and Vassal in my hand. I play the Vassal and a Festival is discarded but there's no option to play it; the Militia is highlighted and the "play action" button is available.

Once again I've tried backing up with undo, reloading the page, closing and reopening the browser, all to no avail.

The game log indicates that the correct behavior is an option, it's just that there is no way to choose the Festival. So maybe it's an interface issue. Anyway, here is the game log:

Turn 18 - ElisabetK
E plays a Laboratory.
E draws a Festival and a Laboratory.
E gets +1 Action.
E plays a Festival.
E gets +2 Actions.
E gets +1 Buy.
E gets +$2.
E plays a Laboratory.
E draws a Militia and a Vassal.
E gets +1 Action.
E plays a Vassal.
E gets +$2.
E discards a Festival.

It's your action phase, you may...
• play an Action from your hand.
• You may play a Festival from your discard pile.
Title: Re: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: ElisabetK on 14 March 2019, 03:19:29 AM
Update: Maybe this was just a confusing interface. I clicked on "play action" and it did play the Festival.

Usually if Vassal hits an action card it will tell me in a message what the card is, and ask if I want to play it.
Title: Re: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: Ingix on 14 March 2019, 04:17:38 PM
Thanks again for the report!

First, if you want to upload a picture, click on "Attachments and other options" just below the area where you type your post, then select "Attach".

I *think* what's happening and what is confusing you is the difference when playing the card with Vassal is your only option, vs. when you may be able to do other things.

The case 1) would be hand of say 4 Copper and Vassal. You play Vassal and it hits a Smithy. In this case, you either play that Smithy, or your Action phase is over. That is presented with

a) a "Play Action" and "Don't play" button in the play area,
b) a message in the central information area saying "You may play a Smithy",
c) a messege in the log area saying "You may play a Smithy from your discard pile"

I *think* when you wrote

Usually if Vassal hits an action card it will tell me in a message what the card is

you are referring to my part b) above.

Now the picture changes a bit if you have other options. In case 2) that's usually the case if you have Actions available and Action cards in your hand. In your game #24522571, you had played Festival before (so one Action to spare) and you had Militia in hand.

So when you played Vassal and it hit another Festival, you had 2 options: Play the Festival from your discard pile, or (ignore the Vassal effect, leave the Festival where it is and) play the Milita from your hand.

This is presented in the game as follows

a) a "Play Action" button in the play area,
b) a message in the central information area saying "You may play Actions",
c) two messages in the log area saying "play an Action from your hand." and "You may play a Festival from your discard pile" (they can be seen in what you copied into your post)
d) the "End Actions" button in the char area.

The difference to the previous case:

a) no "Don't play" button. Not playing the Festival is implicitely done by either playing the Militia or pressing "End Actions"
b) the message in the central informations area is showing only one option
c) two options are shown in the log area instead of just one.

The general idea behind this whole setup (that happens in many cases with different options) is that in the log area, text can scroll, so the game can present all options, and often (but not in this case) requires selecting the option by clicking there.

In the central information area, the space is limited, so only a short guidline can be shown. Unfortunately, in the second case with options, instead of the central information area telling you to choose between the options, it shows incorrect text that makes you believe you cannot play the Festival.

So I can see that if you usually encounter case 1), the incorrect text in the center can mislead you in case 2). OTOH, the button "Play Action" is there, and AFAIK it exists only for Vassal or similar cards (Herald), so this should be a good indicator that it should be clicked to do what you want, just in case 1).

At the core of the confusion lies what has been negatively remarked before: A player should not need to look into the log area for 'normal' game interaction, like Vassal.

I hope this was helpful, if not in solving the main issue (you did that yourself) but in showing the different parts of the game where important information may be shown.
Title: Re: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: ElisabetK on 14 March 2019, 06:06:33 PM
Great reply, thank you.

First: including images. I'm trying this again. The image isn't showing in the preview, but this time I'll go ahead and post with the attachment and see what happens.

If you can see the image, you will notice that the Festival card in the discard is NOT highlighted like the Militia one is. That, I think, is a big part of the confusion. It genuinely looks like it isn't playable.

I honestly don't see how including the message that the Festival could be played would be limited by the space in the central information area - it's blank, and the message does appear in other cases. Of course I'm not playing with other expansions where that area might end up more cluttered. But it's an inconsistent, misleading presentation of available options from the user's point of view, if not to the programmers.

The larger point I suppose is ease of entry. I get the idea that most players, at least the ones who stick around, don't much notice the workarounds and unintuitive interfaces they have learned to deal with. They are paying attention to  playing the game, with all its mechanics and options and cards and strategies. Beginners and newcomers, though, have a rough time navigating the initial hurdles before they can really start to enjoy a fantastic game.

This reminds me of the time I was a teaching assistant for a remotely-offered intro computer programming class back in the nineties; the students had to dial in to our system instead of using the onsite Windows computers. Probably ninety percent of the questions I got were about Unix. Don't get me wrong, I love Unix, but it wasn't a Unix class and not what the students had signed up for.

Anyway, thanks again for the detailed and informative response.

ETA: Well, looks like I saved the wrong picture. This is immediately before playing the Vassal, sorry.
Title: Re: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: Ingix on 14 March 2019, 07:23:02 PM
I've appended a picture that shows what automatic effects can happen at a start of turn. There is no way this could be put into the central information area and still be understandable. I guess it may not be possible to get this much in the base game, but the UI has to work with everything. Even then, relevant cards not in play (set aside or Duration cards) are unfortunately only visible when explicitely 'looking' for them. It's not good, but screen space is unfortunately limited.

You are of course right that experienced online players learn to live with all those little sharp edges that make the game less than optimal. And it's good that new players (which I assume you to be, at least for online play) remind us that these things could be better.

But I just don't understand why those 2 cases, that seem very similar to me on the UI side, seem not to be similar to you and Josh (the person from the other thread I mentioned), and also probably to many others that don't write here. Both times you need to click on the "Play Action" button if you want to play the card.
Title: Re: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: Rabid on 14 March 2019, 11:42:28 PM
My guess is that people are looking for a button saying "play festival".
But only see a button saying "play action".
Title: Re: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: ElisabetK on 15 March 2019, 05:46:02 AM
Okay, I was able to play a game and recreate the inconsistency in the messaging when Vassal is played.

When there is no choice of what to play, that is, when there are no action cards in my hand, the message tells me the name of the card in the discard pile. "You may play a Chapel". In the upper right are two buttons, Play Action and Don't Play. That's actually fairly straightforward.

When there is an action card in my hand (as well as actions left to play), the message says "You may play actions". The action card in my hand is highlighted; the card in the discard (which also could be played) is not. There is a single button in the upper right, Play Action, which refers to the card in the discard pile, although that is not clear. There is also an End Actions button under the log now.

The first scenario is pretty clear, even though it would make sense to highlight the card on the discard pile.

The second one though is confusing. The action card in my hand is highlighted, but the question of whether to play the card revealed by Vassal should be decided first; the interface should make that clear. I suppose the thinking is that clicking on the card in the hand is equivalent to choosing the Don't Play button and continuing the turn.

It doesn't seem to be a matter of "You may play a Chapel" taking more room than "You may play an Action". I guess it does save a click, since you can choose to not play the Vassal-revealed card and simply click on the action in your hand. I'm not sure that slight efficiency is worth the ambiguity though.

One other confusing aspect to that scenario is that the number of actions remaining is displayed on the central message, and the "You may play an action" and the "Play Action" button all use the same word, and the action card in the hand is the one highlighted. When I made the initial post there were Thrones involved which just multiplied the confusion. It seems it would be more clear to have the message say something like "you may play a [card] or play an action", and have the button read "Play card" instead of "Play action". Or have the playable card in the discard highlighted too so that it can be clicked.

Anyway I appreciate your looking at this. I'm not a complete newbie, but I am a beginner even if I've played a little over the years. I even made a couple of lengthy posts here a little over two years ago, about the interface actually. Several weeks later though I got in a situation where I couldn't play at all because a game got stuck and wouldn't end for me, and I just kind of gave up. Two years later many things seem easier, but the site still seems to be unwelcoming for newcomers. I haven't recommended it to friends. Just my two cents.
Title: Re: Vassal / Throne wouldn't play
Post by: jeebus on 02 May 2019, 05:57:13 PM
You're making a good case, but unfortunately I think the developer is not interested in fixing the myriad UI issues to make them more intuitive and understandable for newcomers. Actually I'm not a newcomer and I still make mistakes because the "play treasures" button suddenly changes to a "don't play treasures" button in the same place and looking exactly the same, etc.

I made this post almost a year ago about one aspect of these inconsistencies:
Unfortunately this bad practice instead continued when new cards were implemented. The UI choices are always to the benefit of reducing the amount of clicks instead of making it intuitive. (Of course many improvement could be made even without increasing the amount of clicks.)

I really see this as a grave failing of the implementation that should have been taken care of very early. The most important thing is to make the interface welcoming and intuitive, especially for new players. That way you get a stable user base and the finances to keep developing - and hiring more people as needed.