Communication Breakdown: Melee Language, pt. 1

by Will Lentz (Kennon)

Melee is a social game.

There, I said it. I ripped off the band-aid. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it — melee really is a social game. Take that how you will. Some people will enjoy that aspect, and some will not, but that’s the case with anything from brown vs white gravy to unsweet vs sweet tea.

Editor’s Note: Tea is absolutely not debatable. Sweet tea is unequivocally superior… -Luke

This article is for those that enjoy social games.

In a social game, communication is key, in whatever form it may come. It can be overt or covert, conscious or unconscious. Now, most folks are aware and familiar with the overt and conscious end of the scale where we find verbal communication. In that realm you’ll be conversing with other players, offering deals and incentives, as well as explaining your motivation. There’s much to be said on that particular topic, but this time around, we’re going to be looking at covert and unconscious communication.

This communication takes the form of body language, and for those watching the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle shifts around the table, it can give you a great deal of insight into the thoughts and feelings of the other players. With that knowledge, you can better plan your moves and anticipate those of your opponents. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some common signs and what they mean in the light of AGOT melee.


Just a fancy way of describing when a player is being receptive to what you have to say. Mirroring may come during negotiations for a specific deal or possibly just general table rapport that could tell you who’s more likely to ally with you. Be on the lookout for other players mimicking your own movements and body language. If they’re crossing their arms, shuffling their hand of cards, or otherwise taking non-game actions just after you do, they’re certainly paying attention to what you’re doing. Generally this is positive, but also beware that they could be closely watching for you to make a move, and then unconsciously mirroring you due to their intense scrutiny.

Crossed Arms or Legs

This one could be difficult for you to see under the table if you’re trying to see their legs, but noting it can be valuable. Particularly watch for this while you’re trying to negotiate a deal or compromise with another player at the table. If folks are crossing extremities, they could be unconsciously signaling that they’re closed off to the ideas being presented to them. At that point, you may change your offer to see if they uncross and open up their consideration, or drop the issue entirely and move on to something else without wasting further time and effort.

Genuine Smiles

In this case, you may be judging a smile after an agreement is made, general table rapport with another player, or anything else that may cause a grin. What you should be looking for, however, is a genuine crinkle around the eyes. If they’re faking it, that crinkle will be missing. Be on the lookout with that player.

Excessive Nodding

Normally, nodding along with what someone has to say signals agreement, but be on the lookout for someone nodding too much. Excessive nodding, instead, signals anxiety about the issue at hand. If you’re presenting a case about why another player is about to win the game, for instance, an excessive nodder probably doesn’t believe your reasoning.

Eye Contact

Looking another person in the eyes while talking to them is normally a factor in what makes people believable and trustworthy. Someone who is nervous about what they’re saying, on the other hand, may unconsciously have a hard time meeting the gaze of the person to whom they are talking, which can be the case if they are trying to convince people of something else that they do not really believe themselves. So, if another player is trying to convince you that a third player is about to win, yet they can’t meet your eyes while explaining the scenario, they’re likely trying to divert attention from something else.

There you have it folks, a start to communication in melee. Join us next time when we discuss conscious overt communication.

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
Notify of