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Subject: Rules checking, yes or no? rss

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Carlos R
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This has been eating away at me ever since I started joining public gaming groups and wanted to see everyone's opinion on the matter.

At home with friends, I own all the games, so I've made a habit of learning the rules very well so I could teach them to new players. On my first couple of public games, the game owner would explain the rules and we would play how the game was taught. Live in complete trust of the game owner.

The nagging issue for me started after my first game of battlestar galactica. After a game where I became a Cylon and our team ultimately lost, I went home and read the rules since I didn't completely understand my role and wanted to do better next time. While reading the rules, I noticed a couple of things that were played incorrect that could've made a difference for us. No biggie, we'll do better next time. Couple of days later I brought my copy of mage Knight over to play with some people of the same group who have played the game, taught by the same person. We had multiple instances where they were playing the game differently than the RAW and we had to consult the rulebook for clarification.

Ever since that point now, whenever I get with the group I pick up the manual and read through it as someone is explaining the rules and periodically through the game just to learn it for myself. Unfortunately this has caused some conflict in playing by the rules vs the owner's explanation. One of the guys in the group even made a crack at me once when I started reading about a game that we were about to play, referring to me as the neighborhood rules checker in a not so flattering tone.

Is my habit of learning to play the game for myself considered rude and poor manner? Should I just play based on the owners version? What about games we both own and conflict occurs? On a side note, I don't ever just look at the rules to manipulate my position into an advantage. I rule check myself as frequent as anyone else. What is everyone's opinion on the matter?
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Bryan Thunkd
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I've been taught too many games wrong to worry about being called names. If something sounds funky or isn't clear, I'll check the rules.
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Matt Gustafson
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I don't see any problem with checking the rules. After playing a far amount of games, less than many, I ask to check the rules when a rule feels off as if it's not quite right. Sometimes I'm correct; sometimes not. In our group, we pass the rule book around and want to play by the correct rules. I don't think you've erred at all.
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Andrew Kluessendorf
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I don't think in general you are doing anything wrong. In my group, I encourage people to double-check the rulebook. Many of us play too many different games to remember all the rules to all the games.

However, there is a little bit of a fine line you might want to consider. If someone is teaching a game and you are constantly jumping in to "clarify" a rule or correct the person teaching the game - you could get a reputation for doing it. Many people like to teach a new game according to a script that they have practiced or in a way the game was taught to them. People might ask questions along the way but generally the person teaching the game is going through it the way they think it should be taught.

Maybe wait until they are done explaining the game and then say - I have a question about this particular rule (even if you know you are correct ahead of time). I don't think most people want to play a game incorrectly, but they also might not want to play with someone who is consistently interrupting as someone is teaching a game.
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Pasi Ojala
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We have played BSG for three years, and we still get some things wrong from time to time.. shake

Anyway, for every newish game, always read the rules through after the first play, they make more sense that way to begin with.
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Eric Johnson
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Dynamics can be very different from group to group. What I do is read the rules later (at publisher if I don't own the game), check BGG for clarification if possible, and then bring it up at the next game.

If this still bothers the group, you may have to adapt. If the game is not fun or broken... you may have to bow out of the game... or do something even more drastic.

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Samo Oleami
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It depends - I expect to be taught the rules correctly, but there are times that even with best effort something is left out or rules explainer has a bad day. So if the rules explainer at least tries to explain the rules correctly, that's fine. (or course, if somebody knows the rules better, nobody has a problem with correcting them or checking the rulebook).

But I do have a problem when I see the rules explainer didn't really put any effort into it, is okay with clumsy rules and actively prevent people from checking them ("we don't need this", "let just jump right into it"). (there are games I thought were bad, as they taught me wrong, only to realise some months later, they're actually fine). In the end it really depends on the circumstances, but yes, I'm fine with rules checking. (Unless it's a 2 hour affair of a player bickering with DM about some prestige class ability of his multiclass monstrosity)
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M M
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I would say 2 things.

1: If I'm explaining a game to people who don't know it, I try to find/print a player's guide/game summary if the game is complicated and I don't know it myself very well.

2: I wouldn't be offended at all if somebody asked in the middle of the game for a rule check or clarification. There's been times when people have pulled out their smartphones to check the FAQ when even the rulebook is unclear. But I think it's a little rude, or at least odd, to feel like you have to read every rulebook to a game especially when someone is in the middle of trying to explain it. They're trying to give you the game in a digestible manner and you would be essentially ignoring them while trying to wade through something that is probably turgid, unclear, and poorly written. Now, once they're done explaining, if you want to take the rulebook and flip through it while other people take their turns, that would feel totally ok. Then you're essentially confirming what you've been told rather than trying to replace it.

As far as questions of conflict, I would certainly bring them up. And then if the group wants to house-rule a certain way then that's a group decision. But I wouldn't play a certain way that was wrong just because that's how somebody else explained it. Of course, you want to use a little tact when you are essentially telling someone that they don't know the rules to their own game.
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bort
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I probably wouldnt read the manual while someone is explaining the game to the group

But people always ask for the manual during games (while its not their turn of course). Sometimes you just want to check something.
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Carlos R
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Thanks for all the comments.

A little clarification: I may have worded my pulling out the rules during explanation poorly. What I do is pull up a pdf on my phone when the game is declared, but I do give my undivided attention to the person explaining the game. I will also pick up the physical manual afterwards and flip through it myself for further clarification for myself, not with the intention of searching for where the instructor got it wrong.

I also don't go and correct the instructor while they are teaching the game to me. However, I haven't had a game taught to me that I know so I don't know how I will handle it yet.

I mainly just wanted to "rules check" myself when it came to board gaming ettiquite. You all have been very helpful!
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victor araujo
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My group would rather have more than one person read the rules.

I download all the rules I can and keep them on my tablet. This way we have multiple copies of the book available.

We have found it's also better to stop the game to check a rule, than it is to keep going and play it wrong. This is because you get in the habit of playing it incorrectly and you will keep doing so since "it's how we've always played it."

The more people who are familiar with the rules, the better. Games just run smoother.
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Enrico Viglino
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If someone states that they're changing the rules during the explanation,
it shouldn't affect anything. If they claim to be teaching you the rules,
you damned well should be able to look and challenge.
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Aaron Yoder
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There's nothing wrong with this behavior, and, as the primary rules explainer of multiple groups, I honestly hope you do. I miss stuff, I'm human. And just because I own and am teaching the game doesn't mean I want to just play it the way it's taught; I want to play it correctly just as much as you do.
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Jessica
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Mat628 wrote:

2: I wouldn't be offended at all if somebody asked in the middle of the game for a rule check or clarification. There's been times when people have pulled out their smartphones to check the FAQ when even the rulebook is unclear. But I think it's a little rude, or at least odd, to feel like you have to read every rulebook to a game especially when someone is in the middle of trying to explain it. They're trying to give you the game in a digestible manner and you would be essentially ignoring them while trying to wade through something that is probably turgid, unclear, and poorly written. Now, once they're done explaining, if you want to take the rulebook and flip through it while other people take their turns, that would feel totally ok. Then you're essentially confirming what you've been told rather than trying to replace it.


Agreed. It is all about the timing and your approach. If someone is explaining the rules, I feel it is best to give them my full attention. I can look at the rulebook before and after that. I've had someone read the rulebook during a game explanation (while also interjecting their own explanation). They clearly weren't paying attention to the rules being taught since a lot of what they read aloud was redundant. The other players later expressed how distracting it was to have someone do that. Sure, the person wanted to play it correctly (we all did), but it hampered other people's ability to learn the game and it slowed the process down.

I'd also try to keep my tone light/friendly, when correcting a rule. Most people are going to react somewhat negatively, if they feel challenged...human nature. We're only playing a game so no reason for anybody to get too worked up. Actually, I have one friend who absolutely hates teaching games and acknowledges that he's not very good at it. I know I have to approach a rules correction/question differently with him since he considers it a personal failure each time he makes a mistake. It's like kicking a puppy, if I'm not careful.
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Carlos R
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Yeah I try to use tact, but the guy became very adamant about his position even after seeing that the rules were against him when rules discrepancies occured, and appeared visibly annoyed that I even checked the rules. Hence why I was wondering if I just broke board gaming ettiquite by rule checking the owners game.

Don't get me wrong though. The group is great and polite and I enjoy playing with them. I also understand people are human and can mess up. Heck, I get rule corrected all the time and am grateful for it.
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Waspinator
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That guy kind of sounds like a jerk. People checking the rules is fine. No one should assume their memory is perfect.
 
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Carlos R
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To be fair, he didn't call me out on checking the rules. It was a different guy that did. For all I know he may have just been frustrated that the rule wasn't in his favor on that particular case. It was when the other guy made that comment on a different day when I felt that maybe the group think is that rule checking isn't ok.
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Enrico Viglino
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The only excuse for rules checking to be an issue is when it
interferes with the game. Sometimes, key pages need to be open,
and if there aren't photocopies of those pages, it can be a royal
pain to have someone wanting to look through the rules all the time.

Another time it can suck is if someone keeps questioning everything,
dragging play to a halt. In some cases, it may be better to be playing
incorrectly.
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Carlos R
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Nah, usually the game goes smoothly and if I am reading the rules it's just to read them to have the knowledge, not to challenge every move someone makes. It's just unfortunate that the person didn't get the rules right for his game on multiple occasions. Trust me, it is awkward enough to say anything.
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Steven Hykes
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There's a running joke among the main group I play with that I 'engage cheat mode' by asking to see the rulebook after the rules have been taught by another.

Also - I am human and will admit mistakes when called out on errors in explaining rules. Most of the rest of the group doesn't care as long as there's fun and friendly competition... mostly. There's a reason I won't ever play Walnut Grove again (a horrible case of another forgetting a critical rule mid-game).
 
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Gary Tanner
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My first introduction to Arkham Horror.. I'm at DunDraCon in California, and I see the game for the first time. I wonder whether or not to get it. And lo and behold, there's someone in the open gaming setting it up. He's an experienced player, and he offers to teach myself and 2 friends how to play, along with a couple others. We eagerly accept.

8 hours later, we're still playing. We feel like we've gotten no where. Sure, we've closed a few gates, but there's been no challenge, no awakening, nothing really interesting at all.

So I finally pick up the rulebook which has recently landed near me, and start thumbing through during other peoples' turns. Within a couple of minutes I see something in there that catches my eye. I point out the rule to the person teaching the game and it's an epiphany. Yes, we should have lost about 5 or more hours ago, and we've wasted all this time sitting here being bored to death by a game that should have been interesting.

I read the rules since then.
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r0t1 prata
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I don't mind having people like you in my game group, you can read the rules during teaching or during your downtime. But if you're reading the rules when it's your turn and holding up the game then maybe I'll be a bit annoyed.

But if you're the one teaching and you have to look at the rules because you've forgotten them, that I'm totally okay with.
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Carlos R
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With BS:G we didn't even have the base star and raiders out in the beginning. Something just seemed off and upon discovering that we even got the initial setup wrong, we continued anyway. Humans still lost though.
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Bart R.
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I'm the rules teacher in our group, but I occasionally mess up and nobody's ever called me on that - well, of course, they will usually say I mess up intentionally so I could win . It's in everybody's advantage that the game is played by the rules, so I'm glad if someone points out a mistake - we're all the better for it.
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Peter Thur
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Of course you're allowed to read or check the rules. The more players get a grasp on how a game is to be played the better.

There's nothing wrong with playing a game by house rules. And it's no tragedy if some rules are accidentally forgotten or interpreted falsely. But everyone should know which rules have been changed and agree on the version you'd like to use.
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