sfp 6 130 for web

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  • zellgato

    Yup. Beleif and what you do.
    Isn’t always the same thing after all..
    Hold onto the ideal.
    but make do with what you can manage in reality

  • AshlaBoga

    If she picked white the random student would get an “F” yes?

    Surely a hero would not do such a thing?

    • Emily Smith

      He already told the random student after class that his grade would not actually be affected.

      • Shweta Narayan

        But if she takes that as a given, the game is meaningless, so I’d expect her to argue about it. The fact that she’s playing means, I think, that she’s accepted the “helpful lie” that he will actually fail, as a means to test the way she’s thinking about things.

  • Arkone Axon

    Oh! Oh! Brennan and Molly are SADISTIC! Drawing it out like this…!

    • Weatherheight

      I prefer to think of it as making the moment of tension last so that the moment of release is oh so much sweeter…

      ::wiggles his ears::

      Nudge, nudge, wink, wink…

      • palmvos

        I felt what you did there…..

  • Dean

    “Honestly, it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten the rules of the game and picked the black stone at random. Remind me what it means?”

    • craptastic

      all 3 black the fictional student is forced to play black. (in this case the other student is completely fictional and has already gotten a grade) everyone wins (a+ grade/keep job).

      self white = self wins (the selfish choice).

      so you can choose to possibly sacrifice yourself for the greater good, but it will be in vain if any one person picks white (difficult with a full classroom, more likely now?).

      there was also of course the choice to abstain which is not discussed or taken.

      the original lesson was(or appeared to be) that you can play the black stone all you want
      but you can’t expect the whole world to follow your response, we are
      selfish humans after all. and a few jerks is enough to ruin it for those
      who would have everyone play a black stone.

      • Shweta Narayan

        (I think the comment you’re replying to was a joke, btw, and the question was meant to be from Al)

        • craptastic

          it has been ages IRL, how long ago was it in comic time though?
          it is a fair question either way

          • Shweta Narayan

            It’s less than a week in comic time, I believe. OF course Al’s been awake for the last 48 hours or something so she totally could have forgotten, at least for comedy purposes 🙂

            I’m mostly going from the it being in speech marks and from “I… picked the black stone”, which implies Al is the one talking.

  • Roman Snow

    I’m going to be pretty surprised it he has a white stone.

    • pidgey

      I don’t think this has much to do with reading Gurwara. I think she’s just saying she wants him to keep his job more than she wants to get a good grade. I don’t think she’ll be shocked or disappointed if Gurwara shows white. She’ll know she made the decision that created her desired outcome, regardless of what he chose, and to heck with the grade.

      • Roman Snow

        I completely missed that he said he was staking his employment on the previous page. I didn’t think he stood to lose anything.

  • craptastic

    the original lesson was that you can play the black stone all you want but you can’t expect the whole world to follow your response, we are selfish humans after all. and a few jerks is enough to ruin it for those who would have everyone play a black stone.

    In this microcosm it is possible he has a black stone but then the lesson would change quite a bit.

    • Shweta Narayan

      It’s not just her standpoint, either; in the thought experiment, the other guy gets an F if she plays white.

      Granted, he won’t actually get an F, but if she takes that into account she’s not actually playing the game Gurwara proposed, and I feel that Al wouldn’t be willing to do that without arguing about it first.

      • Merle

        How do we know that he won’t actually get an F?

    • Lysiuj

      Part of the point was that people don’t take part, not just cause they’re jerks. Some don’t understand what they can do, some have legitimate fears or limits, some guess (sometimes correctly) that the plan has no chance of succeeding, etc.
      Though, like you said it’s still admirable to risk/sacrifice for what you think is right.

      • Shweta Narayan

        Yeah I don’t remember anyone’s reasoning being outright jerky in class. There was one who wasn’t paying attention, one who predicted that that would happen (someone not paying attention I mean), and one who couldn’t risk failing a class because of financial aid issues, that I remember…

        • Lysiuj

          The one who predicted was the closest to ‘jerk’, but she was more calculated than anything; we don’t know what she’d do if she thought there would be a different outcome.

          • Shweta Narayan

            Yeah and having a slightly cynical (but accurate) view of one’s classmates is… pretty far from jerk.

            Nobody in the class was like “lol why should I care” — which sets up a pretty striking contrast to Max now that I think about it. Our lass here couldn’t even deal with the people-with-basic-decency reasons to play white! No wonder she *really* couldn’t deal with Max and fell back on force. :epic facepalming:

      • Arkone Axon

        That… oh my goodness. That’s right! What you just said there, about people’s motivations… that’s EXACTLY what people have been refusing to get about Max. So many people here refuse to accept that he has a legitimate fear, or that her method of approaching him gave him every right to refuse. No, he has to have been a jerk, a selfish bastard who wanted to see people die just to spite the person who “asked nicely.”

        This whole story arc has been about her trying to learn the lesson she failed to understand back in the classroom!

        • Lysiuj

          Well, I happen to fall into the middle camp of “he’s a selfish jerk, but he also has a legitimate fear and reason to say no”. (Apart from how he has the right to say no and isn’t obligated to provide an exlanation anyway.) But otherwise I agree.

    • Scott

      I feel like the lesson was that a tyrant expects everyone else to play black, a hero plays black over and over and hopes others will follow their lead.

      • Psile

        Actually, I feel like the tyrant would assume everyone else would play white. Therefor, the only way to make everyone plays black is by force. The idealist assumes everyone will play black, making their goals unrealistic. The pragmatist realizes that everyone will make black and white plays depending on the situation and person and adjusts their strategies accordingly.

        It’s really hard to encapsulate complicated moral issues into metaphors, but it really is fun.

        • Ran

          “Expect” can be ambiguous; it usually relates to honest belief (“I expect the weather to be nice this weekend”), but it sometimes indicates a sort of demand from an authority figure (“I expect you to be on time tomorrow!”). I think Scott means the latter: a tyrant *demands* that everyone else play black.

  • Martine Votvik

    If Allison had chosen the white stone this time she could have secured her own place in the course, but she would have to abandon her principle of protecting others and accept that that other student would still be failed from class. She would also run the risk of loosing Gurwara as a teacher.

    The benefit of keeping Gurwara as a teacher is higher for Allison if he also chooses the black stone. It would be an acknowledgement of her new understanding of him as someone from which she can learn a great deal. It would also be an acknowledgement of Gurwara understanding Allison on a meaningful level.

    For her the choice is not so much about herself, now that she’s had her catharsis she is free to own her ideals again. This one is all about what Gurwara chooses and what that will mean for what Allison either gains or looses by his choice.

    • Matrix

      I agree with this. She has a choice: Win the game and pass the class, also it would mean that Gurwara would quit OR Lose the game, fail the class and keep Gurwara as a teacher, thus keeping his job intact.
      Allison is a selfless person by nature. She can see the benefit of other people. It would be a crime to let such a good teacher leave her and cease teaching her and MANY others. The others deserve to be taught by someone she respects.
      From another view, if he quit it still does not guarantee that she will pass. Another teacher will be assigned. She can afford to fail 1 class. Others in her class can’t afford it due to finances and scholarships. So in another way she is also attempting to ensure the other students get a good teacher. So take the hit and wait for your one punch to KO the bad guy as it were. The bad guy here is a nebulous failure in school and in learning.
      Her view HAS changed but it encompasses more than just herself and more than what she desires for herself and her fellow students. She is also up against ONE opponent and not her whole class. But I digress.
      One of two things is going to happen. Gurwara can reveal a white stone and keep teaching and fail her Or a black stone and she passes and Gurwara retires. The latter is important for herself and her studies but it is not certain due to the fact that there will be a different teacher. The former she can retake the class or even audit it after he fails her and she stays in the class. No big deal for her. The lesson earlier was about morality and even to a lesser degree patients. She knows patients to get the right blow in on her enemies to give the ko punch and end it. It is already established that she can and will take the hit for others.
      Thinking about it: Her choice was obvious and her only way to “win” the game.

      • A. Middleton

        As Matrix comments. There’s also the point that “If everyone plays a black stone, everyone wins” being the Master Rule from the first one – they’re playing the same game with the same rules and the same stakes, just between their stones and Mr. Davenport’s black stone.
        Because Gurwara can’t be A-grade / Failed, his criteria is instead Continue teaching / Retire. He full well could play a white stone and win, failing the two of them and continuing to teach. But if she’s reached him – demonstrated her selfless nature – he knows there is nothing to fear of her playing a white stone. She will always pick black so as to at least try to help Mr. Davenport, out there in the world with his black stone, so if he plays black as well, all the tiles are black and he gets to continue teaching without failing them.
        I think he’d be truly disappointed had she played white – abandoned her principles for a grade, left Mr. Davenport to fail. As Carl below comments, he’s overacting and inviting her to explain what’s changed, if anything.

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      Didn’t the other student get the chance to work for his grades?

    • Tylikcat

      If Gurwara play white, he wouldn’t really be valuing her as a student, would he? I mean, he’d be keeping his job, but with the automatic fail, what motivation does she have to come to class. (More broadly, why would she want to be taught by an ass? Though I think he’s more generally demonstrated some pretty useful traits.)

      Playing black says she values John, but also that she values Gurwara’s teaching. …I really think this comes back to the relationship evolving between them.

      • Chani

        I wanna look at this from Guwara’s side now (before the reveal). 🙂

        If Guwara plays white, yes, he guarantees his job and the other student failing, and Alison’s choice only affects whether she passes. Not very interesting, and the lesson would be something like “people are assholes, get used to it”. By now, I doubt that’s what he wants to teach *and* I don’t think he’d take the boring choice. 🙂

        If he plays black, then Alison passes, and her choice determines whether everyone wins or only her. If she plays black, yay, happy teaching/bonding moment, and many future lessons to look forward to. If she plays white, it’s a pyrrhic victory. Perhaps he would say that since he’s failed to teach her what he intended to that day, he *should* retire, and let someone else try to reach her. Or perhaps he’d say that he has already taught her all he can (and leave her wondering what it was he really intended to teach).

      • masterofbones

        >what motivation does she have to come to class.

        Passing his class has absolutely no impact on her life. Neither does failing. She’s just going to college for kicks anyway.

        • She’s going to college to try to learn how to be a normal, responsible adult when you’re also Megagirl. Gurwara and Lisa/Valkyrie are the two valuable lessons she’s found so far.

          • masterofbones

            failing the class has no impact on that stuff.

        • Shweta Narayan

          yeah totally she’s had SO MUCH FUN so far amirite

          • masterofbones

            I didn’t say she made a good choice in how to enjoy herself.

        • Tylikcat

          Especially after today, I suspect that the in-class portion of him being her teacher is the least of it.

          Still. You might not understand her motivation, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t motivated. If anything, I suspect she’s a hell of a lot more motivated that most middle class kids supported by their families and pursuing liberal arts degrees – she is trying to figure out how to live her life in a better way, and that’s vitally important to her.

          • masterofbones

            I didn’t say that she wasn’t motivated. I said that failing this class is completely insignificant to her life.

  • Olivier Faure

    I’m kinda disappointed Allison *still* didn’t take the time to coordinate with Gurwara and communicate a strategy.

    • Lysiuj

      An implicit part of the game pehaps? That you need to see what choice you make on your own and how that interacts which the choices of others?
      Or maybe Alison didn’t think of it cause she hasn’t had enough sleep like seriously Alison go to sleep.

      • Tylikcat

        “like seriously Alison go to sleep.”

        This is me. Right now.

    • Shweta Narayan

      That would certainly be a better way to do it, but I’d find it pretty implausible if she got there already. The idea of cooperative consensus building is just so far outside
      her experience as a child soldier (and probably outside her experience
      in college too, thinking back, though now I’m wondering why Brad manages it so well…)

      The events we’ve had a year to think about have happened over about 3-5? days i think for her. And the last 48 hours or so of them, she hasn’t slept. And I think it’s only in those last few hours that she’s learned to let go of her assumptions enough to incorporate more than one perspective into her thinking at *all*. Like, she’s talked out her problems before but it’s always come down to condemnation or absolution, or at least that seems like what she’s taken from it before.

      Plus she’s a 20 year old whose mid and late teens were spent on combat, not social cognition. Emotionally I think she’s working on stuff a lot of kids figure out in high school. So (assuming my beliefs are at all accurate here) it would be whiplash-quick if she suddenly got the insight that Gurwara never said *don’t* talk it out, if she was able to learn and change that much that quickly. Even though it feels slow to us.

      • MisterTeatime

        I think Brad manages cooperation and other interactions better than Alison does because being Sonar (i.e., Mega Girl’s teammate) was a very different set of formative experiences than being Mega Girl. Distributed randomly, both of them could have spent their teen years being the most powerful person in any given room… but since they spent those years together, only one of them could have that experience.
        Brad (and Hector and Mary) still felt a lot of the recognition and the responsibility that went with being superheroes, but standing next to Alison cost them a lot of the self-determination that we associate with that lifestyle. I think you can see the repercussions of that in a lot of their development since then- Pintsize’s deep need to prove that he and his accomplishments have value (because he knew that “the Guardians” meant one person and it wasn’t him), Brad’s drive to help people and find agreeable solutions for everyone (because he knows what it’s like to be at the center of a problem and still have no one listening to you), Mary’s attempts to singlehandedly dismantle problems that are too big for any one person (because people are counting on her to be superhuman and she doesn’t get to refuse).

    • Giacomo Bandini

      They just did it. They spent the entire morning getting to know each other in a philosofical and i ll say “spiritual” way.

      • Shweta Narayan

        Yes and no. It would still be better to have explicitly stated consensus before you make a move you can’t take back, it’s just not a thing I’d expect her to understand yet.

        To be fair Gurwara did say ‘let us at least leave with your grade intact’ or something, making it clear he wants her to pass. But that’s not the same thing as one of them saying “I’m going to play black.”

        • Giacomo Bandini

          Not really. If a teatrical trickster like Gurwara said it loud that he is going to play black, you can be sure it’s gonna be a white.

    • ampg

      I was thinking this, as well. The whole point of Prisoner’s Dilemma is that you don’t have access to your fellow players to coordinate. But there he is, right in front of you. Just talk it out.

      • Charles

        There’s no communication and in the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma there’s only one choice so the selfish strategy is the smart one. But in the real world we often make the choice between cooperation and defection over and over again (in each of our relationships, for instance), so the other player’s track record is itself a form of communication. Game theory has found that in the case of an iterative prisoner’s dilemma, the best long-term strategy is some form of “tit-for-tat”: you cooperate, if the other player defects then you defect the next round, and if they cooperate you cooperate the next round. Over time rational players will learn to choose cooperation.

        Even if Alison hadn’t run into Gurwara in the park, I’m confident that she was going to be offered the black stone-white stone choice again at some point, even if it was in the form of some kind of “double or nothing, here’s your chance to save your grade”.

      • Shweta Narayan

        y’know i kind of hope she talks to someone else about the stone game, and that they go “did he SAY you couldn’t talk about it beforehand?”

        If only to see the panel in which Al is struck with a Cluebat+5

  • Carl

    Come on, the cartooning is too good–you can all see Gurwara overacting, right?

    This is where things start to reverse, as Gurwara is shown to have been inspired by Alison, just as he has educated and reassured her.

    • Shweta Narayan

      if anyone is surprised at the idea of Gurwara hamming it up at this point they prob need to reread the conversation because my goodnes the guy is amazingly good at being a terrible actor

  • ampg

    So picking the black stone is analogous to refusing to pick up the gun in the street. She opts out and is “at the mercy of the world,” in his words.

  • Silenceaux

    Alison’s response is much better response than mine, which was “I don’t want you to stop teaching.”

  • We do the right thing, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

  • JohnTomato

    Eat the crusts.

    • Silenceaux

      Life’s too short.

    • Weatherheight

      Pizza bones!

  • Elaine Lee

    Never doubted that Alison would play the black stone. In this scenario, Alison is the only person who stands to lose by her making that choice. She cannot cause some poor, randomly-chosen guy to fail the course, just to insure her own grade. And rightly so. She’s much less likely to be harmed in the long run by a bad grade than Random Guy. And she has less to lose than the student in the classroom scene who was dependent on financial aid. But in the case of Max vs. Feral & World, the amount of harm Max suffered (if you can even use that word in this context) is minute when compared to the suffering of Feral and the people in desperate need of transplants. It’s all about causing the least harm possible under the circumstances, as “no harm” is not an option that is always available. This seems to be where Alison’s morality is grounded. It’s also about being willing to accept the consequences of your actions. Alison now knows what the worst outcome of the tone game could be and has decided she can live with that. It’s doubtful she would throw another tantrum, if Gurwara shows the white stone. And perhaps she understands that making an enemy of Max is another consequence she’ll have to live with. With all his money, he could find an abuse victim who has decided to reunite with her spouse (it happens all the time) and offer her lots of cash to sue the Foundation. (Just an example. Not expecting the story to go there.) I think that’s where Alison’s peace of mind will ultimately be found; not in always understanding the only moral course of action, but in learning to accept the consequences of the actions she’s decided she has to take. To sum up, when working toward a better world for everyone: 1) First do no harm. 2) Failing that, create as little harm as possible, for the fewest people, and only for those who can bear it (as in, “tax the rich”). 3) Accept the personal consequences. 4) Try and mitigate any unintended consequences. That would be a workable moral POV for Alison and I think he’s almost there.

    • “the amount of harm Max suffered (if you can even use that word in this context) is minute”

      Intimidated, abused, forced to act against his will, potentially exposed in a way that will set his life at risk. We have a different definition of ‘minute’.

      • Stephanie

        You left out the rest of that sentence: “…when compared to the suffering of Feral and the people in desperate need of transplants.”

      • Elaine Lee

        What Stephanie said. Plus I object to “potentially exposed in a way that will set his life at risk.” Sneaking in under cover of darkness doesn’t qualify as that. And no one could prove he did anything, just because he was in the room. He could have been visiting. Lots of these biodynamics are showing signs that their powers are increasing. Could have been a natural phenomenon with Feral. Alison only threatened exposure, if he didn’t act. Max is the biodynamic equivalent of the kid who says, “If you don’t let me play shortstop, I’ll take my ball and bat and go home!” except that people suffer and die for it.

        • Arkone Axon

          Actually, I’d say Max is the biodynamic equivalent of the closeted homosexual who just got blackmailed and physically assaulted into doing what the blackmailer wanted.

          It’s amazing how many people continue to insist on such a negative image of him, given that Alison and the comic itself have canonically established that he was a victim and that Alison was completely unjustified.

          • Zorae42

            No, Max is the equivalent of those awful, rich girls who throw a tantrum because the car their parents bought them for their 16th birthday isn’t the one they wanted.

            What was done to him was the equivalent to roughing up the sole witness of an elusive mass serial killer to get the information they know so the serial killer could be stopped. Bad, illegal, and unfair, but somewhat understandable given the circumstances.

  • M. Alan Thomas II

    I love how in the middle panel she appears to be looking up an a greater angle than necessary based on prior pages and even other panels on this page. Instead, it looks like she’s making an offering of her values and sacrifice to some god, who may or may not choose to accept them.

  • McFrugal

    Well, so much for the clever solution, at least in her case. I wonder if the professor will take the no-stone route?

  • I detect an axiom change… from “We are all in this together” to “I am in this for you”.

  • martynW

    “And if YOU don’t pick the right color, I’ll haul you into orbit and drop you like Marvelman did to Dr. Gargunza.”

  • Joe in Australia

    Gurwara flat out killed a guy because he didn’t want to be inconsistent. I think he’d be totally down with failing Alison.

    • Dean

      He said specifically that he believed that at the time. Gurwara strikes me as someone who doesn’t say anything without meaning to.

    • Shweta Narayan


    • Tylikcat

      Gurwara offered this as an example as something awful he’d done that she could hold over him. So I wouldn’t exactly use it as a model for his current behavior.

  • To be honest Alison is in a win-win situation. If she plays white, she gets an A, whatever Gurwara has played. If she plays black, and Gurwara plays black, then she gets an A. If she plays Black, and Gurwara plays white, then she gets another year of being taught by Gurwara, and I think she’s starting to understand the value of that. (I’d actually weight that as having greater value than the A, but the A isn’t a loss).

    Gurwara is the one with something at risk, but only if he plays black. If he plays white he keeps his job. If he plays black, then he is putting his future in the hands of Alison, and, oh, hey, he just did that once already. If he plays black and Alison plays white, his job his forfeit, I guess he resigns. If, however, Alison plays black, then they’re both safe.

    The game only has meaning if you play black and put your trust in the other person. Which is another lesson,

    Gurwara is going to play black, and fully expected Alison to play black, despite the mock surprise.

    • mendel

      If Alison’s aim is to make it impossible for Gurwara to quit his job, then she has to play black. It’s the altruistic move.

  • mendel

    That’s the second time this comic has made me smile hugely in recent memory.

  • David Claughton

    I think the point here is not whether Alison would pick the Black stone or not – we all knew she would. The question is why? The key sentence on this page is the last but one panel – Gurwara’s exclamation “Can it be your position has not changed at all!”

    Alison might have still picked the Black stone, but her reasoning for doing so has changed – originally she picked it both because it was the right thing to do and because she expected everyone else to do the same. Now she picks the black stone because it’s still the right thing to do *despite* the fact that she now knows that others would pick the White.

    In fact picking the White stone would have indicated that Alison had embraced the role of Tyrant – putting her own goals (passing the class, helping Feral) above the goals of others (Mr Davenport passing the course, Max keeping his autonomy). Picking the Black indicates she is willing to try to do the right thing going forward, even though she now knows it isn’t the easy choice she once thought it was.

  • Tdoodle

    I think Allison remembers all too well about the professor who got fired after she made a complaint. She has more than just physical prowess- her super status gives her serious clout with the university.

  • Arklyte

    Same choice, different reason… and different outcome. During the lesson they had luxury of knowing the end result, as if they lived in RPG that allows save scumming and nothing bad could happen. Here, after this events, discussion and emotions involved, the choice is driven by self guilt, but the other person isn’t innocent either. No one is. And only madmen don’t feel guilty and believe that they have right to judge others.
    That’s one way to see situation. On the other hand…

  • Георгий Лешкашели

    I honestly can’t remember what black and white stones meant anymore.

  • Malcolm Wright

    I kind of feel like for her this is a kind of ideological Xanatos Gambit. She might be risking herself, but she also has an opportunity to score a pretty big symbolic victory no matter what happens. I don’t think this is what the comic is trying to communicate, but if Gurwara plays white, she demonstrates the strength of her commitment to her ideology of making oneself vulnerable for the betterment of other people. She demonstrates both that she isn’t so invincible as people think, and also that she’s willing to put her money where her mouth is. If Gurwara plays black she demonstrates the same thing, with the added benefit of demonstrating that the risk wasn’t entirely hers, that sometimes behaving in a way that puts your own betterment aside gives you the power to help those you otherwise couldn’t.

  • Brett

    Finally finished binging this thing tonight. If this isn’t one of the best damn webcomics out there I have no idea what is