Tom Chick
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A poor fellow by the name of secoAce posted his account of getting stuck at sea while playing Eldritch Horror, the globetrotting Lovecraftian adventure game in which you can always move one space, but if you have the forethought to buy a shipping or railway ticket -- only available for purchase from a city -- you can move an additional space. SecoAce misunderstood the rule and thought you needed a ticket to even move, so he found himself Stuck out at Sea.

Fortunately, the rule got sorted out and presumably Mr. Ace's ensuing Eldritch Horror sessions will be less becalmed.

But it got me to thinking about how disastrously wrong games can go with simple misunderstandings or oversights. That's partly why I'm a super hardcore rules reader, and it helps that I love reading rules (weird, huh?). So I'd love to hear your stories about rules you got wrong and what terrible damage it wrought to your gameplay experiences. Ideally, explain them so that even people who haven't played the games can appreciate the horror of your misfortune. :)

I'll start, but I'm afraid it's not as good as poor secoAce bobbing around helplessly in the Pacific Ocean:

Troyes is a fantastic dice-based Euro game, but each player has a secret identity card that gives the entire table victory points at the end of the game. So in addition to the points you're earning as you play, there will be # of players additional objectives when the game is over, one of which you know about, the rest you might be able to deduce by watching other players. But our teacher missed that rule and assumed only the player who held the card earned the points! So here I am, trying to build up money that I don't spend while everyone else's economy is primed and running smoothly because they don't get victory points for their leftover cash. It really is amazing what a different kind of game Troyes became once the points for secret identity cards are shared.

-Tom
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jumbit
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How long have you been playing a game wrong? 2013

Holy Crap! I have been playing a rule wrong this whole time? 2012

Gaming gone wrong: Who needs rules anyway? 2007

"You Never Told Me That Rule!" -- Rules You Most Certainly Told Them. 2006 - 2014

I got the rules wrong... again. 2005
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Krawhitham B
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TomChick wrote:
That's partly why I'm a super hardcore rules reader,


What are your other reasons?

I'd also love for you to elaborate on how your rules reading is "super hardcore". Is it that you read rulebooks for games that you never intend to play? Or do you do it in extreme ways (such as during a sky dive)?

(OK, OK, I admit it. I'm very bored at work today).
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Ridley Bojangles
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Our first game of Ghost Stories, we misunderstood the activation rules and the ghosts were haunting/cursing 4 times as fast as they should have been. We wondered why we got clobbered so mercilessly...

When we played Robinson Crusoe and we didn't know that only the first player suffered loss of determination/wounds when morale was low. Our castaways entered a depression spiral that left them unable to get up off the beach to continue surviving...
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Tom Chick
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Holy cats, those are fun lists, jumbit. Thanks for the links!

Krawhitham wrote:
I'd also love for you to elaborate on how your rules reading is "super hardcore". Is it that you read rulebooks for games that you never intend to play? Or do you do it in extreme ways (such as during a sky dive)?


Well, never while sky diving. But I've certainly read my share of rules for games that I knew would never make it to the table, or even games I haven't even bought. Frankly, I'd rather read the rules instead of the back of the box to make a purchasing decision. And I also read rules very closely, often multiple times, often taking notes. I enjoy that aspect of gaming because I really like understanding systems. For a lot of folks, learning rules are a barrier to entry. For me, they're the beginning of the fun.

-Tom
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Jordan Booth
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Not really a disaster, but one I kinda saw coming:

A friend is teaching me Valley of the Kings. He doesn't really like teaching games because he always leaves something out, so when he's done I jokingly ask, "So what rule did you forget?" (Next time I know he won't mind when I double check the rules to make sure we got everything.)

So we're playing, everything is going swell and we're getting to the end of the stack. But it has been almost an hour and a half (my friend has AP and we were playing with another AP prone gamer), and we notice that the adjacent table of 4 players has finished the same game in less time. Then we all notice at once that there is a possibility that the game might never end because we are all busy entombing cards and not buying.

That's right, we weren't sacrificing a card when we didn't buy/take anything.
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Joe G
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When I was first introduced to Pandemic by my gaming group, they premised it by saying that they had played a couple of times, and never won. They also told me that there were three levels of difficulty, of which they only played the easiest. I was very surprised by this, because they were very serious gamers (I had played about 100 games there and never won a game at the group). After playing it a few times over the next two months, they informed me that they had only won once.

They also told me that some nutter, obviously deciding that the game was too easy, had brought out an expansion to make the game even harder!

Later on, after playing with a different group, I discovered that their rule of cubes not returning to the box after being removed was completely mistaken. From then on, the game became very easy very fast. Now they don't take it too seriously anymore.

However, come October, I hope to reverse this effect with in the Lab.
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jumbit
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TomChick wrote:
Holy cats, those are fun lists, jumbit. Thanks for the links!


Oops! Forgot to play by the rules!

Playing With the Wrong Rules (or After Reading the Rules Three Times... Read them Again!)

I got the rules wrong... again.

"Tune in next week when I screw up Medici and Princes of Florence..." Rules Errors GeekLists: The Meta-List or: One Big FAQ (14 pages)

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Chad Ackerman
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I just realized a couple of things recently with two of my favorite games...

We all knew that the Redevelopment Planner allowed you to replace it with a new tile from a future play. What we didn't realize is that the new tile would be free of all costs... That explains why we've never bothered to try it out. I expect that'll change with all future plays. That tile is badass now!!!

I recently "retaught" Kemet mostly from "memory" after having not played it for awhile. Sadly, I failed to remember that recalling troops awards you 1PP per troop (making it more attractive to do), and the winner can choose to recall after battle as well. I also forgot that the winner chooses where the loser retreats to...
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Nathan Bentley
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The first time I played pandemic, my brother misread the rules, so, instead of doing the standard infection after every turn, we did the initial setup infection every turn. We almost made it around the table once.

In a game of Cosmic Encounter, after both returning from a long drought, and being the first time I taught the game, I forgot that you're supposed to only shuffle the flares from the initial draw into the deck. Instead, I shuffled ALL the flares into the deck. That was rather... Insane.
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Wayne Schulatz
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Evenhope wrote:
I just realized a couple of things recently with two of my favorite games...

We all knew that the Redevelopment Planner allowed you to replace it with a new tile from a future play. What we didn't realize is that the new tile would be free of all costs... That explains why we've never bothered to try it out. I expect that'll change with all future plays. That tile is badass now!!!

I recently "retaught" Kemet mostly from "memory" after having not played it for awhile. Sadly, I failed to remember that recalling troops awards you 1PP per troop (making it more attractive to do), and the winner can choose to recall after battle as well. I also forgot that the winner chooses where the loser retreats to...


Winner chooses where the loser retreats to? Hahahaha!

I'm the guy that Chad retaught this game to. I'll tell ya, I would have been a much smaller pain if he got to choose where I retreated!
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Marcus Rubin
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When my group started playing Game of Thrones: the board game we missed on the ruling of the pillage order and thus thought it able of also removing march orders, more or less leading all of our games to end in border lockdown. Needless to say it became a completly different game when we realised this was not the case
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Dave Kelly
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Until we played it with our gaming group, my girlfriend and I completely misunderstood the tile elimination process in Forbidden Island.

How you are supposed to play:

"Waters Rise!" is drawn. Take all drawn island cards, reshuffle them, and place them back on top of the island draw deck. (Then if the cards for the already submerged tiles are drawn again, which is now more likely, remove the tiles from the game.)

How we were playing:

"Waters Rise!" Is drawn. Immediately remove all submerged tiles from the game. Shuffle the discard deck into the regular deck.

We played games where 10-12 tiles were gone at a time and games lasted 5-10 minutes with 2 players, 2-4 minutes with 4 people, and a guaranteed loss.

We were so embarrassed at the group, lol.
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Jason Peacock
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Played KAOSBALL a bunch of times before realizing that after 1st and 3rd period players stay in the field and don't return to the scrimmage line.
 
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Clyde Erwin
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With the "play to learn" approach, we always end up doing things wrong at first but we clean up our act once we understand fundamentals. BUT ... there are some cases where a thing or two permanently slip through the cracks. We actually like it. When we start playing something correctly, it is like a brand new experience and breaths new life into old favorite games.

Catan: We used to think the ports meant two of anything for one sheep, etc. Played that way over a year. Also thought a wall could be sacrificed instead of losing a city when the barbarian attacks.

Alhambra: We played the Architect 3 cards all wrong. We thought that if you bought something with one of them, you got a free neutral zone move. The correction of this has made everyone hate those cards now and it rarely makes it into our 80% of the expansions rotation. Heavy pressure to house-rule it back.

Agricola: We thought the people limit was 2 per room. Also thought you could buy multiple occupations in one turn for the extra food as opposed to just one at a time and only the first free. Also spent one reed for each upgraded room instead of just one period.

Stone Age: Unaware of player variety restrictions everywhere. Also shocked to discover that you can trade ANYTHING (but food) once you are on the bone track, not just bones.

Tonto Cuore: Played to three piles gone like it was Dominion.

Puerto Rico: Owners of Hacienda would choose two plantations from the viewable ones instead of pulling first one from bag. Oh, salad days.

...and many more too numerous to recallblush
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Dave Kelly
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don_ruby wrote:
When my group started playing Game of Thrones: the board game we missed on the ruling of the pillage order and thus thought it able of also removing march orders, more or less leading all of our games to end in border lockdown. Needless to say it became a completly different game when we realised this was not the case


I want to play this game SO BADLY, but I know that between my girlfriend and I, we will create some mutant hybrid of what the game actually is. We have a "No Fantasy Flight Games" policy because of our experience with messing up rules....and Fantasy Flight Games always have a ton of rules.
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Dave Kelly
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clydeerwin wrote:
Puerto Rico: Owners of Hacienda would choose two plantations from the viewable ones instead of pulling first one from bag. Oh, salad days.

...and many more too numerous to recallblush


Probably once a week, I teach my Dad and/or grandfather how to play a new game. This past week I was trying to teach them Puerto Rico, which they both loved and eventually played correctly.

The only problem was that EVERY TIME I looked away, they would either:

Place/Move workers at random times
Trade workers for money/plantations/goods (which I think they were doing to mess with me)
Decide "Fair Trade" prices for goods on their own

It was like playing with two little kids. Haha

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Matt Connellan
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Played the game Goa for the first time fairly recently with my wife, and missed the rule that whoever puts the flag out for the first auction can put it adjacent to the board or on any empty board square. First player would put the flag on the best board square, have a discount on winning it, got the flag again for next round along with the tile and an extra action card! I did not like the game for how unbalanced it was. Cue me rereading the rules the other day.

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Manuel Berger
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The first time I played Power Grid with my group, I told them they can only buy 1 house each turn....
That was the most boring game we played in our lives.
We realized we've been playing wrong when step 3 was triggered before step 2.....

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Tom D.
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clydeerwin wrote:
...

Agricola: We thought the people limit was 2 per room. Also thought you could buy multiple occupations in one turn for the extra food as opposed to just one at a time and only the first free. Also spent one reed for each upgraded room instead of just one period.

...


Welp, just found out we've been playing Agricola totally wrong. ETA: Bold clarification.

MegaWestWolf wrote:
I want to play this game SO BADLY, but I know that between my girlfriend and I, we will create some mutant hybrid of what the game actually is. We have a "No Fantasy Flight Games" policy because of our experience with messing up rules....and Fantasy Flight Games always have a ton of rules.


It's actually not bad, all things considered. Fairly simple and straightforward, and the meat of the rules (what the orders do) is printed on the player screens. Definitely worth a try. Or, if you're ever in Alabama, come see me and we'll play a few!
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Eric Johnson
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My gaming group played Lords of Waterdeep but didn't like the mandatory quests using up the whole round; very overpowered and unfun.

Two years later and another group; I reread the rules. Seems you can finish a quest every turn.

Now first group is playing with the expansion and loving it. We even play this weekend, so happy ending.
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Eric Johnson
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To jumbit. Those give me great hope for the human race. We always get a second chance.
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Maltodextrin wrote:
In a game of Cosmic Encounter, after both returning from a long drought, and being the first time I taught the game, I forgot that you're supposed to only shuffle the flares from the initial draw into the deck. Instead, I shuffled ALL the flares into the deck. That was rather... Insane.


Got through six games before I realised that precise mistake. Certainly those games took much longer than they should have - every time someone got a new hand (which was often, because there were fewer encounter cards in each hand) it took a few minutes to read every flare and get your head around it.

Also played a game of Ra before I realised the Ra tiles signal the end of the epoch (honestly, what else would they be for?), instead of waiting for everyone to use all their suns.

All my rules mistakes make the game go longer. I wonder if that's a subconscious thing.
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Scott Wheelock
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My friend introduced me the the Pathfinder Adventure Game, and we sat down to try it. Using one character each, we methodically worked our way through the locations, beating enemies and acquiring/losing treasures. One location down, then the second. We knew we could move around, but it seemed not to make much sense why we would. Second location down, and the Blessing pile (the game timer) was getting low. Third location down, and we're both almost out of cards. We got part of the way into the fourth location when the Blessings ran out and the game ended in a loss. Neither of us were impressed at all, and I vowed never to play again. What was the point? Just card after card with no decisions to be made.

It was only after we checked the rulebook again that my friend discovered that he hadn't shuffled in the Villain & Henchmen. shake
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Marc Mistiaen
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We were playing Caylus at one table, while the owner of the game was playing something else at the table next to ours. At some point, we turn to him and ask: "Say, when do you get the coin for having built a house?" He says: "Why, during the income phase." "What income phase?" Turns out we had been playing the whole time without the two coin income at the begining of each round. Money was tight, I can tell you. We decided to finish the game that way anyway. It was dubbed "hardcore Caylus".
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