Michael Redston
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This rule is true for pretty much every board/card game that have effects that can contradict each other; if a "can" and a "can't" clash, "can't" wins always and forever. It's commonly known as one of the two "golden rules" (the first being that if a card contradicts the rules, the card wins). Anyone knows why that is exactly? why not the other way around? you know, in some games?
 
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Jeff Wood
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Because most of the time the 'can't' effect is put in to stop a 'can' effect that broke game balance in testing.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Actually, you can have the 'cans' take precedence. Except when there is a 'can't' and then you can't.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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Not sure what you mean.

I'm thinking about Chess. Pieces can't move through each other as a general rule. But there is one when they can: knights can always move through occupied squares. So can takes precedence over can't.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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bwingrave wrote:
I'm thinking about Chess. Pieces can't move through each other as a general rule. But there is one when they can: knights can always move through occupied squares. So can takes precedence over can't.
Except the rules are typically given in the format of "The bishop can move diagonally an unlimited number of spaces. If there is a piece in the way, it cannot travel any further and must stop it's move."

The reason why things are explained that way is that it's easier to establish a big framework and then give limiting exceptions. It would be really weird to explain everything you can't do and then give a few exceptions of what you can do.
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Bart
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Usually because the way games work is that the rules describe what happens and is true for most of the time, and then document the exceptions with the various 'can't's that are situational and don't always come up.
 
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Scott Nelson
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just play Pandemic
- you can lose if you run out of cubes
- you can lose if you run out of cards
- you can lose if you have too many outbreaks

a bunch of cans
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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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"Can" effects are often themed as granting an ability—without them, you can incapable of performing the action. "Can't" effects are often prohibitions, something that is preventing you from taking an action, and thus overrides your ability to do the action in its absence.

Alternately, can't trumps can in Magic: The Gathering, and its rules are used a model for a lot of other games, implicitly or otherwise.

In Exalted, they even make an explicit point of the Unstoppable Object being stopped by Immovable Wall, in that Perfect Attacks which always hit are always blocked by Perfect Defenses that always work, to put an end to the arms race that would otherwise result (and because getting hit by a competent opponent basically kills you, so you need Perfect Defenses).
 
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Sicaria Occaeco
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We can dance if we want to.

v.s.

We can't dance if we want to.




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Aleksander K
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ropearoni4 wrote:
[...]
- you can lose...

a bunch of cans

You will lose, especially if all are empty


The same rule of can't over can is used everywhere. Check how grammar rules and exceptions are created and presented.

It is always easier to show bigger picture, before narrowing it. Try to imagine how things like eBay would work with reverse category tree & search engine...

Madness.

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Kevin C.
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I think because the only function "can't" serves is to contradict a "can."

Why have them in the game at all if the "can" wins?

In other words, if you play a card that says, "All my dudes have first strike," and the "Oh no they don't" card doesn't take precedence, why have that card in there at all?

From a design point, I think it has to be this way, or else you wind up with worthless cards.

Special abilities add interest and variety to a game and to balance them out, you have the "can't" cards. For them to function at all, they need to take precedence, I would think.

Kevin


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Brendan
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Thunkd wrote:
The reason why things are explained that way is that it's easier to establish a big framework and then give limiting exceptions.


This. thumbsup
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Chris Robbins
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Advanced Squad Leader has long had the mantra of COWTRA, Concentrate On What The Rules Allow. As long as you find a way something CAN be done, there are an infinite number of CAN'Ts.
 
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Donald X.
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kroen wrote:
This rule is true for pretty much every board/card game that have effects that can contradict each other; if a "can" and a "can't" clash, "can't" wins always and forever. It's commonly known as one of the two "golden rules" (the first being that if a card contradicts the rules, the card wins). Anyone knows why that is exactly? why not the other way around? you know, in some games?

"Can't" wins so that it can do anything at all. Almost everything in your game is "can." It's usually just implicit. Let's consider a case from the early days of Magic. Stone Rain says "destroy target land." Consecrate Land says "enchanted land can't be destroyed." They contradict each other. If "can" won here, Consecrate Land would be useless; the entire point to it is to beat "can."

You don't need to have this conflict; you can use "replacements," as Magic calls them. Consecrate Land can say, "when enchanted land would be destroyed, it isn't." That doesn't create a contradiction with "destroy target land;" it's clear what happens.

In practice replacements are too confusing for most games (they are also confusing in the other games, but you know, some games have an audience with fewer casual players). So you fall back on "can't beats can."
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Yao-ban Chan
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Because the rules only tell you what you can do. We see this all the time in the rules lawyer/ethics threads; people saying "the rules don't say I can't do such-and-such, therefore I can do it". The correct response to this is of course, "the rules don't say I can't punch you in the face, therefore I can do it". In other words, the default position is that you can't do everything (i.e. you can't do anything), and the rules tell you what things you can do. The specific "can't"s in the rules have therefore to go over the "can" layer (you can't have two "can't" layers) and therefore must take precedence.
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Michael Redston
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Thanks guys, very informative!

And while we're discussing golden rules, my favorite is the Golden Rule of Lovecraftian Games: If you don't know which is right, and the rules don't tell you, do the thing that's most harmful for the players.
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Dune Tiger
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I've never thought about it. I've been working in IT so long, explicit denies always overrule everything, so it's just natural thinking for me. That being said, I don't think it's always the case in board games. In many cases, you can't do something unless you have a card or an ability that allows you to.

But yes, in a clash, the deny is always more powerful. Call it an application of Newton's first law?
 
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Lucas Maciel
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I believe Thunkd nailed it.

"Can't"s are exceptions. No one explains the exceptions first and, therefore, they overrule what was established so far.
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