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Subject: Timing issues rss

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Mike zebrowski
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While playing last Wednesday, I noticed 3 timing issues that slow down the game.

1) Bonds.
The rules say that players may buy and sell bonds at any time. This has the effect of generating free money as a player can buy a bond just before interest on the bonds is awarded and then immediately sell the bond to get cash back.

This goes against the general idea behind bonds and slows down the game as each player calculates how much free money they get each turn.

In my games, I only allow bonds to be purchased at the end of the Salaries Phase, after interest is awarded. This way, if a player wants to collect interest, the bond needs to be held for the entire turn.

2) Aborting ICBMs.
While the rules say that ICBM launches can be aborted before the dice are rolled, there isn't a discrete step. It creates a race condition where neither the launching player nor the ABM player(s) want to make a firm commitment first. The launching player wants to abort if too many ABMs are dedicated to shooting down his missiles while the ABM player want to remain "neutral" for political reason.

In my games, I added an Abort phase after the Declare ABM phase to break the race condition.

3) Blockades, Seizures, and collecting Resources.
Another set of race conditions that slow down the game as everyone is trying to act last.

Allowing companies to be seized/blockaded after collecting resources simply leads to confusion with my player pool (some of them have memory issues) and we spend a needless amount of time rectifying everyone's Supply Center. ("I produced 9 this turn, you blocked 4 of them, so I should have 10 as I think I started at 5, or was it 6"). Add in the domino effect of reactions and it gets very complex to resolve (due to noted memory issues).

In my games, I added discrete steps where players declare seizures and then blockades. After those declarations, then we collect resources.

Mike Z
 
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Luke O'Hearn
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Mike Zebrowski wrote:
While playing last Wednesday, I noticed 3 timing issues that slow down the game.

1) Bonds.
The rules say that players may buy and sell bonds at any time. This has the effect of generating free money as a player can buy a bond just before interest on the bonds is awarded and then immediately sell the bond to get cash back.

This goes against the general idea behind bonds and slows down the game as each player calculates how much free money they get each turn.

In my games, I only allow bonds to be purchased at the end of the Salaries Phase, after interest is awarded. This way, if a player wants to collect interest, the bond needs to be held for the entire turn.

We noticed this too. The last group I played with suggested just automatically paying interest on any full trillion to save time (I instead never collected T-bills, instead using my bond counter).

Probably we can get Marshall to post this an an optional rule on the CCP website.

Mike Zebrowski wrote:
2) Aborting ICBMs.
While the rules say that ICBM launches can be aborted before the dice are rolled, there isn't a discrete step. It creates a race condition where neither the launching player nor the ABM player(s) want to make a firm commitment first. The launching player wants to abort if too many ABMs are dedicated to shooting down his missiles while the ABM player want to remain "neutral" for political reason.

In my games, I added an Abort phase after the Declare ABM phase to break the race condition.

The attacker has to call off his launch before step three (top of page six, second column).

This means the ABM holders must commit before the attacker has the option to abort (because ABMs target on step two). I don't like this rule - I think it is prone to abuse (players can "launch" nukes just to see who will come to the defender's aid, and adjust their targets accordingly). It doesn't seem realistic either - can nukes really be safely returned home once they are in the air? But that's the rule.

Mike Zebrowski wrote:
3) Blockades, Seizures, and collecting Resources.
Another set of race conditions that slow down the game as everyone is trying to act last.

When blockades are a potential, Salaries should not be done simultaneously. Players should instead act in turn order. When the first player records production, other players (in turn order) declare blockades.

Mike Zebrowski wrote:
Allowing companies to be seized/blockaded after collecting resources simply leads to confusion with my player pool (some of them have memory issues) and we spend a needless amount of time rectifying everyone's Supply Center. ("I produced 9 this turn, you blocked 4 of them, so I should have 10 as I think I started at 5, or was it 6").

Memory isn't an issue. You produce your units and adjust your chart - I declare what companies I am blockading and we adjust our charts according to how many units that company produced. The only thing we need to remember is which companies you paid salaries for - but that is marked by the rotation of your cards.

Note that this means if you produce excess of your capacity, those units are lost before you suffer blockades! That's my interpretation.

Maybe Marshall can chime in if I am wrong about anything.
 
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Mike zebrowski
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crimhead wrote:
The attacker has to call off his launch before step three (top of page six, second column).

This means the ABM holders must commit before the attacker has the option to abort (because ABMs target on step two).


Nope. That is the race condition: Exiting Step 2 to go to Step 3. There isn't a weird "between step" point where the attacker can call of the attack. The decision has to be made during step 1 or 2.

Example:
Player A will not commit to ABMs unless Player B is going to attack. Player B doesn't want to transition to Step 3 unless he knows if Player A is going to commit ABMs.

Quote:
Salaries should not be done simultaneously. Players should instead act in turn order.


Don't disagree, but the Salaries phase is explicitly done simultaneously.

Quote:
Note that this means if you produce excess of your capacity, those units are lost before you suffer blockades! That's my interpretation.


So if I have 10 Oil before Phase 1 and have a company that produces 5 is blockaded, I end up with 7 Oil at the end of Phase 1? (10+5, capped at 12; 12-5 = 7). Yeah, that isn't going to fly at my table.
 
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Luke O'Hearn
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Mike Zebrowski wrote:

Nope. That is the race condition: Exiting Step 2 to go to Step 3. There isn't a weird "between step" point where the attacker can call of the attack. The decision has to be made during step 1 or 2.

Example:
Player A will not commit to ABMs unless Player B is going to attack. Player B doesn't want to transition to Step 3 unless he knows if Player A is going to commit ABMs.

I see what you are saying. Here's how I think it should play out

Player B: Are you targeting any nukes?
Player A: Are you aborting the attack?
Player B: Not at this point. I can do that any time before step 3, we are currently in the midst of step 2. Your move.

At this point player A must act, because it is their turn in sequence.

I guess you (or player A) might argue that once they target step two is done and we immediately move to step 3 with no opportunity for players to take actions which are not bound by turn order?

Player B is going to argue that as long as they still have legal options, the step should not be considered over.

To me the difference is that player A must act in turn order, while player B can abort anytime they want before step three. I think if a player has an action which can be made at anytime, they should be able to make that action at the end of any step, even when everything else is completed for that step.

If I can call off nukes between players acting (declaring ABM targets), it makes sense to me I can also do after the last player acts.

I do see your point - it's all about how we interpret the transition of one step to the next; and admittedly it is not explicit. It's a god one for the FAQ:

Q: During strategic attacks, ca the active player abort the launch after the last defender has declared their ABM targets?
A: Yes, they can do abort the attack at the very end of step 2.
or

A: No, once the last defender has declared (or declined) their ABM targets, step 2 is over and it is now too late to abort.


I don't think we need an "in-between step". Just a clarification on when the step officially ends.
Mike Zebrowski wrote:

Don't disagree, but the Salaries phase is explicitly done simultaneously.

Page 2:
Quote:
Conduct each turn in a series of phases:
Salaries
Trade
Attack
Move
Build
Each player conducts his phase in random turn order. We recommend pulling spare army pieces form a cup.

Explicit to the Salaries phase:

Quote:
Simultaneous phase
To save time, every player can do this at once

Emphasis mine.
When blockades are a potential (or if not everyone is likely to pay all salaries), don't use the time saving option! Follow the default rule for conducting phases in turn order as stated at the top of the page.

Mike Zebrowski wrote:

So if I have 10 Oil before Phase 1 and have a company that produces 5 is blockaded, I end up with 7 Oil at the end of Phase 1? (10+5, capped at 12; 12-5 = 7). Yeah, that isn't going to fly at my table.

Didn't see that loophole, nice! I guess the argument would be that the company didn't actually produce five units, because three of those units were "lost".

This does create potential memory issues; and even ambiguities if your excess comes from multiple blockaded companies
eg, you have seven units,and two blockaded companies producing three each. One of those companies can only produce two, but which one?

A solution is to have players record production one company at a time, and blockades to be declared separately for each company after that company produces. Maybe we can get something in the FAQ to that effect?

aka:

Q:If I have multiple companies potential under blockade, what order are the blockades declared (this could matter if I am producing beyond my supply cad capacity).
A:The active player records production from one company at a time, in the order of their choice. Individual blockades are declared as soon as the company in question has produced.


Edit - this should probably be moved to the rules questions section.
 
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Mike zebrowski
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crimhead wrote:

To me the difference is that player A must act in turn order, while player B can abort anytime they want before step three.


Why must players act in turn order during step 2 of the strategic attack? I'm not seeing that in the rules.
 
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Luke O'Hearn
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Mike Zebrowski wrote:
crimhead wrote:

To me the difference is that player A must act in turn order, while player B can abort anytime they want before step three.


Why must players act in turn order during step 2 of the strategic attack? I'm not seeing that in the rules.


Players always act in turn order. That's what turn order is for! ABM targeting needs to be done in a sequence, otherwise everyone will want to know what the others are doing before they commit.

When all the players but one have either targeted or declined with their ABMs, the last player has to chose or the game simply won't proceed.

The attacker is in a different situation, because declining to abort is not committing - they can still abort later in the same step.

The only real question is when the step officially ends. Does the last player targeting ABMs end the step then and there, or is their a "grace period" for players to take make any optional actions before the step is considered to be officially over?
 
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crimhead wrote:
Players always act in turn order. That's what turn order is for!


I disagree. Nothing in the rules states the ABM declarations must be done in turn order. (Actually, "turn order" is a term that we've coined as it doesn't appear in the rule book.)

Quote:
ABM targeting needs to be done in a sequence, otherwise everyone will want to know what the others are doing before they commit.


That is why I state that there is a race condition!
 
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crimhead wrote:
When blockades are a potential (or if not everyone is likely to pay all salaries), don't use the time saving option! Follow the default rule for conducting phases in turn order as stated at the top of the page.


The issue with this is that declaring blockages is not part of the steps that are done for Salaries. The only official timing for blockades that is mentioned is that they occur after a players collect their resources.
 
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Luke O'Hearn
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Mike Zebrowski wrote:
Actually, "turn order" is a term that we've coined as it doesn't appear in the rule book.)

We could have said "the predetermined random order in which players conduct the phase". I see no problem with shortening that!

Mike Zebrowski wrote:
The only official timing for blockades that is mentioned is that they occur after a players collect their resources.
I think it's safe to say that "immediately after" is implied here. Obviously this doesn't mean "anytime after", when the resources have potentially been used!

Let's agreethat the point of this thread (or any like it) is to concisely formulate these questions so that they can be included in an official FAQ.

Mike Zebrowski wrote:

Nothing in the rules states the ABM declarations must be done in turn order.
This is a separate issue. Your original question was regrading the attacker's right to abort after the ABMs have all declared their targets. This issue is about the order in which those AMB targets are actually declared.

For the FAQ:
Q: During step 2 of a strategic, if more than one player has ABMs, what order do the players choose their targets?

Most likely the answer will be either to determine it randomly (such is the case when more than one player is entitled to a counter-attack), or else to simply use the order determined at the start of the phase when players pulled armies form the cup.

Mike Zebrowski wrote:

The issue with this is that declaring blockages is not part of the steps that are done for Salaries.


I still don't see the issue here.

At the start of Salaries, first determine random order (eg, USA, then Russia, then EU, then CW, etc).

USA goes first, they pay the salaries for companies, then for units, then they pay/collect interest.

On step 5, USA records their production. It is now "after that player has recorded new production", and this is the window for declaring blockades.

After that, Russia conducts their Salaries phase, and so on.
 
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Luke O'Hearn
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So here's the take-away so far:

Requested Optional Rule


Bonds may only be purchased at the end of the Salaries Phase, after interest is awarded. This way, if a player wants to collect interest, the bond needs to be held for the entire turn.

Rules Questions


Q: During strategic attacks, can the attacking player abort the launch after all defender have declared their ABM targets, or is it then too late?

Q: If I have multiple companies potential under blockade, what order are the blockades declared (this could matter if I am producing beyond my supply cad capacity).

Q: During step 2 of a strategic attack, if more than one player has ABMs, what order do those players choose their targets?

I suppose we could add:

Q: Are blockades declared during step 5 of the Salaries phase, immediately after production is recorded for each resource? Is there an order to companies producing?

I don't anticipate any confusion on that last one myself, but if you want something official in writing I'm sure Marshall will oblige.

Do you have any additions or modifications to these questions? If we can get these answered in an official Q&A document, will your issues be resolved?
 
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Mike zebrowski
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marsbarr wrote:
I’m not sure what you mean by race here.


"Race condition" is a tern used in software engineering to describe a condition where timing of two of more processes impacts the outcome but the timing of the processes is not well controlled.

Example:
You need to mail an important letter. In order for the letter to arrive on time, you need to put it in the postbox before the mailman arrives to pick up the mail. However, you don't know when the mailman will arrive at the postbox nor will he wait for you.

If the mailman arrives first, your letter will have to wait for the next day to be picked up and it will arrive late. If you arrive first, your letter will arrive on time.

It is literally a race between you and the mailman.

In the computer world, race conditions lead to unexpected and unwanted behaviour. One of the possible outcomes is two processes becoming deadlocked as each of them are waiting on the other before continuing.

Example:

This photo (called Deadlock) was the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the year (2008). It was taken at 3 a.m. in the Belize rain forest. The cat-eyed snake has attacked the Morelet’s tree frog, but failed to get it’s mouth around the frog, resulting in this deadlock. This photograph was taken by David Maitland.


A deadlock can occur during step 2 of a Strategic Attack as one player may not want to commit to ABMs unless the attacking player commits to actually launching the nukes and the attacking player doesn't want to lock in his decision to launch nukes unless he knows how many ABMs he will be facing.
 
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Luke O'Hearn
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marsbarr wrote:

Ultimately, after all the talking, the attacker has to decide if he is launching or not. Final answer. Then the defenders have to decide which ABMs are firing and what targets. Then roll.
This is a little unclear, as the attacker can abort anytime before step three, but ABMs target on step two.
 
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marsbarr wrote:

Yes, this again slows the game down, but this is the best part of the game. We like it when it slows down.

It's great when the game slows down because of diplomacy.

What's not good is when two players both want the other to make a move first so they can benefit from the information.

marsbarr wrote:

I've never seen an impasse arise from this.

I don't think Mike and I are going to be the only people who find it comes up. Having an order of actions is a good thing. Also, it won't put a damper on negotiations. Rather it sets a frame-work for those negotiations, establishing the terms and conditions.

If and when a group does encounter a diplomatic stand-still, it's important that somebody is able to say the words "your move". Groups that don't encounter impasses can more or less ignore the timing. It only matters when people can't agree, can't trust, or choose to back-stab.

This applies to blockading as well as to ABM fire.
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