Why can't I make chocolate ice cream? or the rule that never was
Randall Bart
United States
Winnetka
California
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When learning new games, often there are disputes over the rules. Sometimes the rules are badly written, sometimes people are misreading well written rules. People often get into disagreements over the rules.

I find the worst of these disagreements happen over rules that just don't exist. When they misread a rule, you read the correct rule. But when the rule doesn't exist, there is no rule to read. Even the most complete rulebook rarely specifies that players may not make chocolate ice cream.
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1. Board Game: Taluva [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:412]
Randall Bart
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Winnetka
California
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A game with simple rules and unexpected depth, confusion over this well written rulebook led me to write a detailed FAQ and eventually this geeklist.

On every turn, you must make one build. There are four types of builds, labeled A, B, C, and D. On a type A build, you choose one empty first level space and place one hut on it. B and C are about Towers and Temples.

The type D build is the only multiple build. You choose a settlement (group of connected hexes) and a terrain type, and you place huts in all the hexes of that terrain type adjacent to the settlement. When making a type D build you must take all of the build; you can't skip some hexes.

Confusion arises when someone makes a type A build in a space adjacent to a settlement. Many players insist that you must make a type D build, and therefore must build in all adjacent hexes of that terrain type. Nothing in the description of the A build says you cannot do it when adjacent to a settlement. Nothing in the description of the D build says any hut build next to a settlement must be a type D build. Yet somehow when you try to make that type A build they insist you must complete the D build.
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2. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:185] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Randall Bart
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Winnetka
California
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This is not a well written rulebook. There are a lot of combos with these powers and they didn't explicitly list how they work together. Even so, the words that appear to have only one meaning have two.

Witness the Flying Sorcerers. Flying lets you conquer anywhere, not just adjacent spaces. The Sorcerer power lets you conquer one adjacent space with a special type of conquest. Players insist that the Sorcerer power can only be used on an adjacent space, even with the Flying power, because the description says adjacent. But the description of all conquest is adjacent. If Flying does not overcome adjacency, it does nothing. Some magic distinction then emerges that powers change the rules but not other powers.
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3. Board Game: El Capitán [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1271]
Randall Bart
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Winnetka
California
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Our group played this game wrong three times. I was part of the second playing. By halfway through it was clear that we were too deeply in debt. The winner was the person who took the least loans, but the first round could not end until someone took enough loans to build all his pieces.

The person who read the rules had invented an extra charge. He said we needed to pay a card in order to move, pay the docking fee at the city where we landed, then pay the warehouse fee to build a warehouse. The docking fee is the number on the dock where you place your ship, and the warehouse fee is the number where you build the warehouse.

The numbers just didn't work. I kept running the numbers in my head, and it was close, but we could not all pay our debts. I kept looking through the rulebook, but could not find a rule to contradict what we were doing.

It turns out that you pay to move, but you don't pay to dock. The number under your ship in the port is what you pay for a warehouse. You never pay the number under the warehouse. But when I read the part about paying for the warehouse, I assumed it was talking about the number under the warehouse, since the number in the dock was the other fee.
 
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4. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:29]
Randall Bart
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Winnetka
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With two players you use three regions, and with six players you use five regions, but with three to five players, the number of regions equals the number of players. The rules suggest you allow each player to choose one region. Many players think they must build their first city in that region. Nope. Build anywhere.
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5. Board Game: Steam [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:109]
Randall Bart
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The rule says that every track you build must connect to a city or to your own track. Someone inquired whether the rule this meant that you could not build from a town. Everyone else sees the track exiting the town as connected to the town which is connected to track entering the town. This player sees the town as a gap in the track. There is no rule saying ignore the gap, because no one else sees the gap.
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6. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:232]
Randall Bart
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Winnetka
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You buy cards of the current type, then immediately score that type. You pay 3 or even less for a Lumberjack, and he immediately pays 3. This is just so unusual that people imagine a rule which says you can't collect for cards bought this turn.
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7. Board Game: Vikings [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:312]
 
Linda Baldwin
United States
White Plains
New York
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I did this recently with Vikings. I had a choice between a start island space with a Veeple I wanted, or a mid-island space with a Veeple I couldn't use, on the last turn of the game. Problem was, the place I wanted to put the good Veeple was the second space in a row.

It seemed obvious to me you couldn't put a start island in the second space in a row; after all, that would render the left space completely useless! I was resigned to taking the useless mid-island until my fellow players convinced me there was no such rule.
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8. Board Game: World in Flames [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:941] [Average Rating:7.51 Unranked]
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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Even a long ruleset like WIF can be incomplete. Sometimes there are debates, and somebody says "the rules don't define this" - this being something that seem obvious to the rest of us.

My usual retort is the game specifies ten-sided dice, but it DOESN'T say they have to be numbered 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9. So I can use the 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 for naval searches (where low rolls are good), and 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0 for land combat (where high rolls are good), because the rules don't say I can't right?


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9. Board Game: Kill Doctor Lucky [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:2074]
Rebecca Colbourn
United States
California
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We're playing the original Cheapass Games version, so I don't know if the later versions resolve the ones that are due to there not really being a rule.


1. Move Cards
A typical Move-1 card reads as follows: "Play this card to move yourself or Doctor Lucky 1 room in any direction." [There's also cards allowing to move up to 2 or 3 spaces.]

You would think that this is self-explanatory, you play a card then get to move either yourself or Doctor Lucky, but it's just not that simple with my family as the rules do not answer any of the commonly disputed issues.... like using Move Cards to go through walls.

Hallways and stairs also were disputed as being not real rooms until I pointed out that elsewhere the rules say "hallways and stairs count as rooms."

That also doesn't get into the issue of people trying to use Move Cards on each other. Sure there is technically no rule against it, but it should also be obvious enough just from reading the cards that it's not valid.


2. I'm going to Attack and Snoop!
The rules are clear enough that there are two types of turns, one where you snoop around in hopes of finding something that will aid you in your diabolical plot to kill doctor lucky [ie draw a card] and one where you do something [which usually involves trying to kill him.]

There's an ongoing problem with my mom trying to do both such that the draw pile has to be kept out of her reach at all times and cards handed to her as no amount of cheating accusations have rectified it.


3. The Random Free Turn
The other big problem is the rule about free turns. The rule is that if Doctor Lucky goes into a turn you are in that it becomes your turn regardless of whose turn it was supposed to be.

It's been grossly misinterpreted to the extent that I have family members that regularly try to give themselves extra turns due to Doctor Lucky going into a room that they are in when it is their turn. [You would think that they would be happy with just having an opportunity to kill him. but obviously not.]

This one got so out of hand that we had to completely disregard the turn change rule completely. >.>
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