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Camping

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Camping refers to a sniper intentionally focusing their attention on one or two specific missions and effectively ignoring all others. Many new snipers employ camping as a way of coping with the sensory overload of trying to track all possible missions at once. However, camping can be a viable tactic even at more advanced levels of play. For example, in a game with a known set of missions, it can be quite effective for the sniper to choose to camp one particular mission, especially one with a hard tell. Over-reliance on camping, however, may hamper the sniper's ability to play effectively in games where the tactic is less viable.

Note that camping is an intentional strategy. Unintentionally becoming focused on a particular character or mission is typically referred to as tunneling.

The Second Book of SpyParty StrategyEdit

The Second Book of SpyParty, on how to approach a camping sniper:

Camping snipers can be found at all skill levels. The camper flips the priorities of the behavioralist - they care relatively little about the partygoers themselves, but they care a lot about the actual mission sites. Campers guard the missions, plain and simple. The usual camper formula is to evaluate the available missions, determine which missions would be most efficient to cover to prevent the spy from winning, and then to do almost nothing except stare at points where the spy might be accomplishing those missions, preventing the spy from winning. They collect far less data than the behavioralist does about the party in general.

Because of these facts, the spy skills that are important against a behavioralist are not so important against a camper, and vice versa. Your primary weapons against the camper are not so much about passive stealth, but about proactive stealth. This means that instead of trying to remain hidden, you must actively attempt to fool the camping sniper; you must jam their radar. They have cast their mission coverage in such a way as to prevent you from winning, so you must find or poke a hole in that coverage.

Therefore, your most important skills against a camping sniper are terrain-reading and misdirection. These skills have to do with finding and creating gaps in the sniper's coverage. A game against a camping sniper is won or lost in that one moment when you attempt a tell that they are trying to guard[1]; the rest is relatively unimportant. Your whole game as spy must be management of that moment in such a way as to give yourself the greatest chance of success. At the risk of repetition, the reason we care so much about finding a gap in coverage rather than disguising ourselves as AI is because a camping sniper cares relatively little about the AI partygoers, or for that matter, about the spy until he/she tries to complete a mission. If you can get away with that one guarded tell (sometimes more than one) that you need to, which will usually be a hard tell, you can win with relative ease thereafter.

This is because the camping sniper doesn't pay much attention to anything else the spy does. A camping sniper is like a guard in a stealth video game, walking his patrol route (check statues, check Toby, stare down ambassador; check statues, check Toby; stare down ambassador). In this metaphor, even if you commit what would be egregious errors against a behavioralist, the camping sniper is more likely to, at best, be slightly curious, say "I guess it was nothing," and return to guarding the missions. Only if you figuratively walk right in front of them, by trying to do a guarded tell, will they be alerted.

Just as you would beat a stealth game guard, so too must you beat a camping sniper. That is the reason terrain is so important. You must know what the lay of the land is, where the sniper is looking, where they are likely to look next (the pattern of their patrol route), and what hiding spots are available. You must know everything about the place where you will commit the fateful act, and as much as possible about the patrol route of the person guarding it, before you attempt it.

Reading the terrain is all about finding the blind spots of the camping sniper so that you can sneak into them. But the camping sniper knows this; their whole game, and their collective practice as a sniper has all been put into eliminating and minimizing these gaps. If your whole game as spy is just built on trying to sneak into the gaps, you are, to some extent, playing the camping sniper's game, which they have more practice at than you. Remember, too, that the sniper can deceive you as well as you can deceive them. Good snipers try to provide false and unpredictable information about what they are looking at and when, and camping snipers tend to be particularly good at it, since a camping sniper who is overly predictable with their visual sweep and too "honest" with where they point the laser is often defeated, and thus quick to evolve.

This is why you must not just look for gaps and take advantage of them where they are, but also create your own gaps. Thus the importance of misdirection. What kinds of misdirection will work against this or that particular sniper is highly variable. You must learn about your particular sniper using the lessons of this chapter to find the best methods. Treat it as an ongoing experiment. What happens when I banana bread and then immediately purloin? Did I get shot? If so, that means the sniper might be neglecting hard tells other than purloin in the aftermath of the banana bread. In this way, you can begin to get a read on the sniper's game, and try to remain one step ahead in the evolutionary race of how the two of you play.

  1. It is usually better to attempt this moment after doing all other things necessary to win. Otherwise, you risk the sniper half-seeing your tell and then looking for you to complete the rest of your missions for confirmation. Still, as always, you need to keep the sniper honest by varying your approach, so occasionally you may wish to do the tough tell first.

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