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On the Underground» Forums » Rules

Subject: Rules Ambiguities, Plural rss

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tex tex
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I played the game a few times at BGG.con in Dallas; it was nice to get to play the game this year without a more expensive airfare. I enjoyed the game, and am considering buying it, but I am holding off on buying it for now.

There are two rules ambiguities that I found quite frustrating in Dallas, since no two experts that were consulted gave identical responses.

Before I get to the rules ambiguities, there are a few pictures in the rules that have overlayed text boxes. Some of these overlayed text boxes do not end with a period and give the distinct impression that a portio nof the explanation is missing. This problem also shows up on at least one of the overlays in German. Is there anything additional the rules mean to say in these cases?

Rules ambiguity #1:
Illustratively, a player plays one of his lines from South-to-North, then East, then South (a bit), then West, so he/she is about to make a "Capital P". When the track is played that connects thte mainline to the top loop, are two "half junction markers" required?

Experts in Dallas provided differing answers, i.e. both "yes" and "no". And both answers were supported by different language in the english rules.

Logically, laying the track connecting the loop to the mainline would require a junction. Some learned players reading of the english rules concluded that if this track is layed Westbound then the connection "just happens" and the junction markers are not required.

What do the rules mean, and what should the players do?

Rules ambiguity #2:
Illustratively, imagine a player has completed their "Capital P" with or without the junction makers per the above question. The player desires to extend ther last played track farther to the west on the other side of the North-South track. Is a(nother) pair of "half junction markers" required to lay this branch connection to the East?

Experts in Dallas provided differing answers, i.e. both "yes" and "no". And both answers were supported by different language in the english rules.

Logically, it is a branch line off the mainline, and the junction markers are required. But if the answer to question #1 is "no", then the players feel entitled to continue laying that end of his/her track under or over his mainline and therefore not require a junction.

What do the rules mean, and what should the players do?


vs vg



PS
The Publisher's riograndgames.com website suggests this question be posed here or at [another board game website]. So I did.


 
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Steve K
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My view:

Forming a loop doesn't require a branch token since you are not branching. When you place the last piece of track to form the loop you are simply adding that track at the end of the existing track.

However, adding a track anywhere to a loop does require 2 branch tokens since a loop has no end. If, however you were adding track to the bottom of your "P" then no branch tokens would be required.

Isn't your hypothetical case very similar to what's illustrated in the diagram at the bottom of page 2 of the rules?
 
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Nick Fisk
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SteveK2 wrote:
My view:

Forming a loop doesn't require a branch token since you are not branching. When you place the last piece of track to form the loop you are simply adding that track at the end of the existing track.


Yes, but at the same time that he is closing his loop, he is also extending out from the upright of the capital P ... it all depends whether you think he is building from right-to-left or from left-to-right.


Quote:
However, adding a track anywhere to a loop does require 2 branch tokens since a loop has no end. If, however you were adding track to the bottom of your "P" then no branch tokens would be required.


In this case, I'd say it was clearer. You are extending off to the left from the upright of the P, but it would be hard to argue that you were extending the loop part when doing so![/q]


My view:

For clarity, whenever either end of the track that you are laying is branching your existing track, you need 2 branch tokens.

However, in reality, if you did make this shape for a line, you would probably cross higher or lower with the loop, to save a lot of accidents at the crossroads!


N.

 
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Steve K
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Moviebuffs wrote:
For clarity, whenever either end of the track that you are laying is branching your existing track, you need 2 branch tokens.


But that's not what the rules say:

Once a line has been started, all further pieces of that line's track must be used to extend the line at its ends. Loops do not have any ends and therefore cannot be extended in this way.

A player may extend a line from somewhere other than one of its ends by paying two branch tokens.


So, rather than saying "if either end is a branch" what the rules say is "if one end of the track connects to an end of your line, its free".

Since "completing the loop" is extending a line at one of its ends, no branch tokens are required.

 
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Nick Fisk
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Hmm ... it's a tricky one.

I was replying without the exact text of the rules in front of me, but as I see it, you could interpret it either way.

Completing a Capital P means placing a final piece of track which does both things at the same time; it extends the line to join the upright, but at the same time it splits away from the upright to join the loop.

I prefer your interpretation, which is to say that it is a legal extension.

The second point is more clear-cut. You couldn't claim this to be an extension of the line, but you must call it a branch and pay the tokens. If you claim that you are extending the loop past the upright, you would ony be right if you never use the upright and turn onto the loop when travelling. Badly explained, but I know what I mean


N.
 
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Steve K
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Moviebuffs wrote:
The second point is more clear-cut. You couldn't claim this to be an extension of the line, but you must call it a branch and pay the tokens.


Agreed. Not least because the rules specifically say a loop has no ends, and this is illustrated in the rules by the diagram on page 2.

An additional argument for saying "closing a loop doesn't require a branch token" can be found in the diagram on page 3 of the rules. The lower-right box of text describes Green making a loop to score points for the enclosed stations. No mention is made of paying branch tokens to complete the loop, while the other example details how Red does have to pay branch tokens for his track laying.
 
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This question came up in our game, too (were you in on that?). I can't say what the designer intended, but in crayon rail games (the only other game I can think of where you're paying different amounts to build based on where you're building) it matters where you're building FROM. So building from then free end to the previous track, completing the loop, would be free; building the other direction would require 2 branch tokens. Despite the fact that it all looks the same once the track is laid.
 
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Sebastian Bleasdale
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As the designer, I can confirm that the rules are as follows (general comments will follow in the next post):

scattered wrote:

Rules ambiguity #1:
Illustratively, a player plays one of his lines from South-to-North, then East, then South (a bit), then West, so he/she is about to make a "Capital P". When the track is played that connects thte mainline to the top loop, are two "half junction markers" required?


The player is extending their line from one of its ends. Since this is taking place, the player does not have to pay two branch tokens. This can be seen in the example on page 3 where green extends his line from Bond Street to Charing Cross without paying branch tokens.

scattered wrote:

Rules ambiguity #2:
Illustratively, imagine a player has completed their "Capital P" with or without the junction makers per the above question. The player desires to extend ther last played track farther to the west on the other side of the North-South track. Is a(nother) pair of "half junction markers" required to lay this branch connection to the East?


The player is not extending their line from one of it's ends, and so must pay two branch tokens to branch. This can be seen in the example on page 2 where it states 'The blue track may only be extended on one of the track spaces highlighted green' - the track from Canary Wharf to Greenwich is not one of the highlighted tracks.
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tex tex
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Thanks Sebastian.

It is nice to know what rules were intended to be played, and, also, that each rule was played correctly at least once. The problem we had was not that the rulebook supports Sebastian's conclusions, but, rather, it supports both conclusions. Hopefully these ambiguities can be reduced in the next edition of the rules.

Similarly, hopefully the next Rio Grande rules printing will correct their layout or printing issues so we can see the whole document that was intended to be printed.
 
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Sebastian Bleasdale
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I didn't want to bog down the response to the rules questions (above) with further comment, so I've separated the comment into this post.

scattered wrote:
Before I get to the rules ambiguities, there are a few pictures in the rules that have overlayed text boxes. Some of these overlayed text boxes do not end with a period and give the distinct impression that a portio nof the explanation is missing. This problem also shows up on at least one of the overlays in German. Is there anything additional the rules mean to say in these cases?


Regretably, the text boxes were resized slightly to fit into the available space, and when this was done, the font size was not altered to fit. This was not spotted until the rules had been printed. Fortunately, cutting these words out did not affect the meaning in any of the cases, so given the timescales (we wanted to launch at Essen), the decision was taken to leave the rules as-is, rather than reprinting.

I'm currently putting together a website for On The Underground, and when I have completed doing so, you'll be able to download the 'official' rules. (The current ruleset, updated to include the missing text and with reworded sections in the areas where people have been asking questions).

scattered wrote:
Rules ambiguity #1:
Illustratively, a player plays one of his lines from South-to-North, then East, then South (a bit), then West, so he/she is about to make a "Capital P". When the track is played that connects thte mainline to the top loop, are two "half junction markers" required?

Experts in Dallas provided differing answers, i.e. both "yes" and "no". And both answers were supported by different language in the english rules.

Logically, laying the track connecting the loop to the mainline would require a junction. Some learned players reading of the english rules concluded that if this track is layed Westbound then the connection "just happens" and the junction markers are not required.


Thank you for passing that way of looking at this issue on to me (having to pay two branch tokens if you create a junction even if you're extending an end). It's the first time anyone's looked at it that way that I know about, and now that you have, it makes a lot of sense. If I was still developing On the Underground, I would be giving serious consideration as to whether it should replace the current rule. (As is, the published game has been turned for the rule that was published, and the published rule has the advantage of being somewhat simpler for non-gamers to understand.)

I hope that this has cleared things up for you, and I hope that you continue to enjoy the game.
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Andrew Smith
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Sebastian,
This level of comment and support makes a great game even better. This is on my 'must purchase' list.

Andrew
 
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