Conversation System Guide
The conversation system is an action tweak / mini-game which you will need to use regularly right from the start, so it is important to understand it. You can let the computer play the game for you, but most of the time you will be lucky to get anywhere with this tactic, and later in the second and third cities, you will need to take direct control yourself.
So - on with the show.
When you start the action in question - in the example I will use it is HeadHunt, you should watch the action from the start. You should bookmark it in case you miss it, or if it begins without showing you, I suggest clicking on the image of the character performing the action in order to start following it. You cannot interest with the conversation unless you are in action view - rooftop view or map view will not work.
The conversation will not start for a while in many cases. You will need to watch your character and the person he is meeting and wait for them to exchange greetings and sit down wherever you have planned them to sit. When they have, the following screen will appear.
The aim of the conversation is to play your four cards (twice each, a total of eight rounds) and try and beat your opponents's card. Each round offers either 5, 10, 15 or 20 points and you will have a set target to reach in the 8 rounds. A detailed explanation follows.
In the top left hand corner is a question mark. Click here for extra help, although hopefully this guide will tell you what you need to know!
Underneath the question mark is the avatar (picture) of whoever is performing the action. This will usually be yourself or one of your faction members. The name of the person performing the action is also printed under his picture, and under that, his status.
On the far right side you can see details of the person you are performing the action on. In this example we are doing a HeadHunt action, so the person shown on the right is the person we are trying to recruit. Above his picture is a faded out green tick - once we have completed entering the required information, this tick will lighten and we can click on it to continue to the next stage of the mini-game. Let's leave it for now though!
Next to the green tick, coming from right to left, you will see the words "Pool Size: 15 v 14". That means that for the game, you have 15 points to work with and the "defender" has 14. Don't worry if you don't know what this means - it will be explained.
Under this is your target score. This is an important number. In the game you are about to play, you must gain (in this example) 42 points.
Under this, in red, it says "15 remaining". This shows how many points we have still yet to assign into the game we are about to play. Because we have not started assigning yet, this number will be the same as your pool size.
Next to our character's image, there is a big red number, currently at 28. This shows how many seconds we have left to complete this section of the mini-game - you have to be quick!
In the exact middle of the image, you will see two sets of four numbers (5, 10, 15 and 20). Each number indicates one round in the eight round game will will soon be playing. In the first round, 5 points is up for grabs, in the second there are 10, in the third there are 15 and in the fourth there are 20. The sequence is again repeated for rounds five, six, seven and eight. This means there are a total of 100 points up for grabs (remember in this example we only need 42).
Lastly, there are four picture cards, all of which are currently set at level 0 - "self deprecate". What we have to do now is assign all our available pool points to these cards, ensuring that no two cards have the same value. You'll see that because all the cards are currently at 0, they are highlighted red to indicate it is illegal to leave it at this setting - you will have to change them so they are all different. When this occurs the red numbers will turn white and the green tick will become active.
Assigning your pool to the four cards
Before you run away and start assigning points to cards though, listen up. This is the part of the game where a little skill and planning is required. We need to get 42 points. That means we need to win, at the very least, the two 20 point rounds and at least one of the 5 or 10 point rounds. Therefore, let's concentrate on playing our higher cards on these two rounds.
At easy or medium levels, it is often fairly easy to guess what the computer will play at each round. We can therefore use this to our advantage. A typical move by the computer is to put fairly low numbers on two of his cards (between 0 and 3) and higher numbers on two (usually around 5-6 on one and 8-9 on the other). It will then use the lower cards on the lower point rounds (rounds one, two, five and six) and play the higher cards on the high point rounds (three, four, seven and eight).
This, of course, is a sensible tactic, but one which can be overcome quite easily. It requires a little luck but usually we can win the computer over quite easily. Let us assume that the computer will put one card at 0, one at 2, one at 5 and the last on 7 (the pool size for the defender is 14 so this could be a fairly accurate guess). The computer will nearly always play a 0 at the start so putting a 1 or 2 as our first card will hopefully beat it. Let's be brave, and hope that the computer will play a 0 card rather than a 1 card (if both my number and the computer's number matches, I loose (defender wins draws)). To put points onto cards, simply click on the pictures with the left mouse button to increase that card by one. Your will see the name of each card change as the points increase and the argument becomes stronger. Right clicking on a card picture will decrease it by one.
The computer will often plump for a 2 in the second round so if you play a 3 we have a good chance of winning the 10 point round, so set one of your cards to 3. You may wish to be a little more careful and set this to 4 instead - see why later.
In the third round the computer will get aggressive, as 15 points are up for grabs. We really have no idea what the computer will play, so (and this may surprise you) I suggest not even trying to win this round. Set your card for this round at 0 and throw it away. The reason? Well - we want to save as many points as possible for the big 20 point round at the end, so to be sure of beating the computer here we will need a lot of spare points to play with.
Whatever is left in your pool should all be put on the last card. This, in our case, is a rather handsome 12 points, which we are sure to win with, especially if the computer has wasted 5 or 6 of his on the 15 point round. The highest I have ever seen the computer to is actually 10, so you may want to knock this card down to 11 instead of 12 and put the spare point on either the card currently at 1 or 3 to booster their chances of success in the early rounds.
Before you click the tick!
Please note that this is a tactic for conversations where you need to get less than 60 points (70 at a stretch) - later games where you need to get more than 60 will require you to go for the 15 point round and tactics will need to be changed for that. Read more later.
Note also that if you do not set all of your cards to different levels and click on the green tick before the time runs out, the computer will choose random card values for you. This may or may not work in your favour, but at least you can still choose in which order to play your cards.
Click on the green tick to continue. The two characters may sit around chatting for a while before the next screen comes up and you start playing your cards for real.
Playing the game
OK - when the next screen pops up you will only have 5 seconds per round in which to play your cards, so be sure you are focused and ready. Luckily we have worked out a tactic already, so all you have to do is select the cards in the order you want to play it. As it happens, you will probably have already set your four cards in order - 1 (possibly 2) for your first card, 3 (possibly 4) for your second card), 0 for your third card, and 11 for your fourth.
Here is the bit which will change from the above picture. At the start of the 8 mini rounds, the points values are listed in order from top to bottom (in the middle of the image) and whilst the counter is counting down from 5 seconds in each round, the round coming up is indicated by a question mark on both sides.
Before the counter reaches zero, click on the card you wish to play. In this case we have decided on the card set at 1 or 2. Make sure your click has been registered - the number will turn a bright green when selected, which indicates you have selected it for the round coming up.
If you are lucky, your opponent will play a 0, in which case you will win 5 points. If your opponent plays a 1, then you will have won only if you played a 2, and if he plays a 2 or higher he will have won. Don't worry of you don't win - it happens, and you can still get the points you need. Read on for more! If you have won you will notice that the once grayed out five at the top of the list in the above screenshot will shine green and move over towards your picture. Your score in the very bottom left hand corner will also increase by 5. If you didn't win the round, or if you drew, then the opponent will get the points and the number will turn a yellow colour and move towards him. His score will also increase.
Continue onto the next round and ensure you have clicked on the 3 or 4 you set before. With a bit of luck your card will beat the 2 or 3 he will probably play and the 10 points up for grabs will be yours.
The third round, we decided, was going to be thrown away, so place your 0 down down and watch him thrash you in that round and help himself to 15 points. Never fear, however, for you will be very very unlucky to loose the fourth round.
Play your very high card in the round and give yourself a pat on the back when you thrash the computer. If for some incredible reason the computer beats you then it's tough... but there is a solution.
In rounds 5-8, you know what cards the computer has chosen. Sometimes this is of great help and sometimes it is not. Your score so far will dictate whether you make any changes depending on his cards.
If you have been lucky, and won rounds one, two and four, then don't change a thing - play your cards in the same order for rounds 5-8 and you should be walking away with a damn impressive 70 points.
If you have lost one of the two early rounds but won the 20 point round, then don't fear. We only need 42 points in total so continue doing the same order and you should still walk away with at least 50-60 points - easily enough to win.
If you won nothing except the fourth round, then changes need to be made. We need to bank on the computer playing his cards in the same order as he did in rounds 1-4, but if it does then the situation can often be rectified. It is very unusual for the computer to play a card higher than a 2 in the first round, so use your 3 or 4 card in round five to snatch 5 points, and sacrifice the 10 point round which you almost definitely going to loose. Luckily you will still in the next 20 point round, giving you a grand total of 45 - enough to squeeze through this time round!
If you won the first two rounds but not the 20 point round (this will be very unusual) then simply play your high card in round seven (15 point round) and you will more likely than not squeeze by with 45 points in total.
If you are very unlucky, you won't win anything, but this will only happen when the computer is significantly stronger than you, and you will be very lucky, even with playing your cards in a different order, to win the conversation outright in the latter stages. Try again another time - possibly with a different character or gameplan.
At the end of round 8 you will know whether you have won either by comparing your final score in the bottom left hand corner with the target score, or by looking to see if the bar under your picture is coloured green or not. Hopefully with the tips given above, you will have no major problems!
Click the tick to complete the mini-game and watch the rest of the action unfold.
Some extra hints and tips
The rough guide given above will obviously not work if followed to the letter every time. You will need to get different final scores, and your character nay have more or fewer points in his "pool" to play around with. Use your head and try to maximise your points depending on what you need.
If you need to get less than 50 points, then there is a sure-fire way to winning. Set your first card to 4, the second to 1, the third to 0 and the fourth as high as you can make it. Play them in the same order and 95% of the time you will come out the winner. If you need 40 points or less it is even easier - put your cards at 0, 1, 2 and highest possible respectively, and again play them in this order. You will get an almost guaranteed 40 points.
If you need over 60 points, it is perfectly possible to win with the suggestion given above but you are walking a bit of a tightrope as you are bargaining on a hunch that the computer will choose low numbers at the start. Another tactic is to go specifically for the 5, 15 and 20 point rounds and forget the 10 point round. With the 3-4 points (possibly more) points the computer is likely to use winning this round, it may give you the edge to win both the high point rounds - although a little luck is required. Because you *must* set every card to a different number, you can still play a 1 in the first and fifth round and hope for a quick 5 points in each round. A 0 in the 10 point round will obviously fail, but dividing your points up so that they are spread over the two high rounds can work - I suggest that the 20 point card is approximately 3 higher than what you set the 15 point card to. Remember you can always re-take the conversation game another time if you loose, although I suggest waiting a few days before you do so (repetitive actions close to each other are harder to achieve).