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Subject: The "Gentleman's Agreement" rss

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Jason
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My little game group loves to play trading/bartering games like Bohnanza, Catan, Sherrif of Notingham, etc. In Bohnanza particularly, when trading , it is not unheard of to offer a "Gentleman's Agreement" for what you want/need, an "if you scratch my back now, I'll scratch yours later" scenario if you will. And it is fully in the spirit of a lot of these type games. But we were playing Settlers of America last night and the "Gentleman's Agreement" tried to make an appearance. One guy said you can't do that, one guy says "it doesn't say you can't, and I really didn't care one way or the other.

So we started wondering how much this bartering technique is used in other games and how people feel about it. I personally love it, mainly because you really don't HAVE to honor it, at least when it's in the spirit of the game. We usually do honor all agreements, but it usually to the chagrin of someone else who has actual goods in hand ready to trade now. But what goes around, comes around, good or bad. It's almost like karma as a mechanic.

Admittedly, this topic sounded a lot more interesting last night after an adult beverage or six, but still has me curious.

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kimchi fried rice
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It so funny you mention this because this happened in my last game of Bohnanza, where my wife negotiated what she called "futures". She negotiated a deal where she gave a Red Bean for all future Stink Beans from a player - not to exceed 4. She broke out a notebook to record this in a ledger, when everyone else decided this was a great idea and decided to create their own ledgers.

As the game progressed, everyone's ledger morphed into living documents, as futures that were slow to fulfill morphed to other types of beans in varying quantities, with one player taking it so far as to strike a deal owing futures to one player, who would then agree to futures to a third party, for a rare field card. I tried to stay out of the futures market, but couldn't because everyone's card was reserved to someone else, and wound up losing track of all my deals because I didn't feel like performing bookkeeping for a filler.

Suffice it to say, it was a terribly slow game that took over 3 hours for the four of us to complete. I definitely think this type of bartering has a place, but maybe it strongly depends on the types of players at the table? I dunno...
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It's the sort of thing that doesn't really matter either way, as long as players know the way the group is playing.
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Jeff Carter
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My family and I used to make these agreements all the time when we played Catan and Settlers of America
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David Buckley
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My preference is to play you can make any deal you like but all deals are strictly non-binding. There is a caveat:

xBino wrote:

Suffice it to say, it was a terribly slow game that took over 3 hours for the four of us to complete. I definitely think this type of bartering has a place, but maybe it strongly depends on the types of players at the table? I dunno...


I sometimes find trading games like Bohnanza to outlast their welcome due to too much negotiating but I've never had one last 3+ hours. You have my sympathies!
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Jerry Schippa
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I love working and negotiating with friends...until the time comes to betray them! devil

No deal or partnership is binding (unless the rules say otherwise), be careful who you trust.
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John
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xBino wrote:
Suffice it to say, it was a terribly slow game that took over 3 hours for the four of us to complete.

That sounds terrible, and there's nothing you can do to speed it up.

I once played Bohnanza with someone who thought the way we played was crazy. Apparently the people she had played with previously would have had some kind of system where they would make "if you scratch my back now, I'll scratch yours later" type deals and people would stick to them. I got the impression they had an idea objective relative worth of all the beans (which seemed odd to me), and would attempt to make up any defecit in deals later. After the game I wondered if you played multiple games with 3 people with that mindset and 3 people with our group's mindset (beans values fluctuate depending on how many each player has, how many we think have gone, try to avoid helping the leader, might use who helped me earlier as the tiebreak between two equally attractive deals) who would win most.
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John
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cormor321 wrote:
It's the sort of thing that doesn't really matter either way, as long as players know the way the group is playing.

The post above yours about the 3 hour game of Bohnanza suggests that it might if you want a pleasant gaming experience.
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At our gaming table, no deals are binding until money / currency / cards have actually exchanged hands.

Sherrif of Nottingham example:

So if someone says, "I won't check your bag if you don't check mine" and we agree, that contract technically isn't binding because nothing of actual value was exchanged.

However, if someone says, "I'll give you 5 coins to not inspect my bag" and other person agrees and takes the 5 coins, then the contract is binding.

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George Louie
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forker wrote:

My little game group loves to play trading/bartering games like Bohnanza, Catan, Sherrif of Notingham, etc. In Bohnanza particularly, when trading , it is not unheard of to offer a "Gentleman's Agreement" for what you want/need, an "if you scratch my back now, I'll scratch yours later" scenario if you will. And it is fully in the spirit of a lot of these type games. But we were playing Settlers of America last night and the "Gentleman's Agreement" tried to make an appearance. One guy said you can't do that, one guy says "it doesn't say you can't, and I really didn't care one way or the other.


umm... The rules of Bohnanza prohibit trading cards that are not in your hand or part of the 2 you draw and place face up... So, to me that means you can't trade "futures".

From the rulebook:

The active player may trade/donate the two face up cards and/or cards from his hand.

The non-active players may only trade/donate cards from their hands.

===

My group, generally tries to follow the rules of the game as written in the game manual / instruction. We'll check on BGG if we have a question, and will correct our methods as soon as we get the answer. So, if the rules prohibit "trading futures" we won't do it..
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Robert Sell
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glouie wrote:
forker wrote:

My little game group loves to play trading/bartering games like Bohnanza, Catan, Sherrif of Notingham, etc. In Bohnanza particularly, when trading , it is not unheard of to offer a "Gentleman's Agreement" for what you want/need, an "if you scratch my back now, I'll scratch yours later" scenario if you will. And it is fully in the spirit of a lot of these type games. But we were playing Settlers of America last night and the "Gentleman's Agreement" tried to make an appearance. One guy said you can't do that, one guy says "it doesn't say you can't, and I really didn't care one way or the other.


umm... The rules of Bohnanza prohibit trading cards that are not in your hand or part of the 2 you draw and place face up... So, to me that means you can't trade "futures".

From the rulebook:

The active player may trade/donate the two face up cards and/or cards from his hand.

The non-active players may only trade/donate cards from their hands.

===

My group, generally tries to follow the rules of the game as written in the game manual / instruction. We'll check on BGG if we have a question, and will correct our methods as soon as we get the answer. So, if the rules prohibit "trading futures" we won't do it..
Thanks for saving me from getting the rules. I thought it was in there.
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To the OP, it really comes down to group preference. Some groups like these little side deals or informal alliances between players. Others don't.

My personal preference is not to allow negotiating unless the rules specifically allow it. Which is consistent with the general rule of thumb that the rules are permissive and anything not permitted is disallowed by default.

But, they are your games. Play 'em how you want!
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Trent Boardgamer
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forker wrote:

My little game group loves to play trading/bartering games like Bohnanza, Catan, Sherrif of Notingham, etc. In Bohnanza particularly, when trading , it is not unheard of to offer a "Gentleman's Agreement" for what you want/need, an "if you scratch my back now, I'll scratch yours later" scenario if you will. And it is fully in the spirit of a lot of these type games. But we were playing Settlers of America last night and the "Gentleman's Agreement" tried to make an appearance. One guy said you can't do that, one guy says "it doesn't say you can't, and I really didn't care one way or the other.

So we started wondering how much this bartering technique is used in other games and how people feel about it. I personally love it, mainly because you really don't HAVE to honor it, at least when it's in the spirit of the game. We usually do honor all agreements, but it usually to the chagrin of someone else who has actual goods in hand ready to trade now. But what goes around, comes around, good or bad. It's almost like karma as a mechanic.

Admittedly, this topic sounded a lot more interesting last night after an adult beverage or six, but still has me curious.



It's always going to be a group specific answer.

Personally I'm fine with it because most games we play don't have rules to enforce it one way or the other, so it merely adds to the experience (I actually have/had a couple of games that the rules actually state agreements are binding).

Some games like Game of Thrones actually use this as a major mechanic. (Very non-binding as per the rules).

I guess the one area that it can cause problems is with king making. Some games that this can be a major problem with, simply don't address it in the rules, so house rules dictate the ok or not so ok of it.

Overall though, we always allow it unless the rules address it in some form. There is only about 20 people I play games with and they pretty much all know one another, so Meta takes care of most issues, because if you are a Dic$ one week and expect someone to have your back the next you're out of luck. This also goes for people that try to team unfairly.
 
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We mostly play games where negotiation and deals are at the core of the game. That naturally bleeds through into other games where it's not specifically prohibited.
 
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Eric Brosius
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Groups vary widely. Some think this adds to the game and others hate it. Just make sure you know what your group thinks about this.
 
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Timothy Young
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We mostly play with just two, so bartering like this is not normally in a player's interests.

However, when we do, the agreements are not "enforceable". If a player wants to betray their side of the deal, they can, but of course it means they might never get to make a deal again.
 
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Edward Kung
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Tim RTC wrote:
We mostly play with just two, so bartering like this is not normally in a player's interests.

However, when we do, the agreements are not "enforceable". If a player wants to betray their side of the deal, they can, but of course it means they might never get to make a deal again.


It introduces a whole "meta" layer to the game

Do I betray this guy? If I do, he won't make deals with me in future games. Hmm... I'm playing with a bunch of strangers I likely won't see again - does honor go out the door?

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The highlight of trading and deal making games is the sudden but inevitable betrayal.

Some groups could not take it and would take it personally, in our group all is fair game.

In a game of spartacus a deal was made to the host to save the downed 2 combatants (One house had two gladiators in the primus which went unconscious), money changed hands and the host then thumbed down and killed the combatants keeping the money. We all applauded (out of game) and then vowed to take revenge in game.

The player knew what he was doing and that no one would ever deal with him in the game again but the chance to take money and massively weaken another player was too much.

That said we tend to play games with soft alliances like game of thrones, dogs of war and sparatcus and we almost never play coops.
 
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zabdiel wrote:
cormor321 wrote:
It's the sort of thing that doesn't really matter either way, as long as players know the way the group is playing.

The post above yours about the 3 hour game of Bohnanza suggests that it might if you want a pleasant gaming experience.


As long as you know that that's the way the group plays the game you can easily make the choice to join that game or not.
 
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Christian Kalk
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I'm now inspired to create a game where unenforceable present-and-future deals is the primary game mechanic.

Name of the game? "Gentleman's Agreement", of course!

Wait...that game already exists.
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Jason
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glouie wrote:
forker wrote:

My little game group loves to play trading/bartering games like Bohnanza, Catan, Sherrif of Notingham, etc. In Bohnanza particularly, when trading , it is not unheard of to offer a "Gentleman's Agreement" for what you want/need, an "if you scratch my back now, I'll scratch yours later" scenario if you will. And it is fully in the spirit of a lot of these type games. But we were playing Settlers of America last night and the "Gentleman's Agreement" tried to make an appearance. One guy said you can't do that, one guy says "it doesn't say you can't, and I really didn't care one way or the other.


From the rulebook:

The active player may trade/donate the two face up cards and/or cards from his hand.

The non-active players may only trade/donate cards from their hands.

===

My group, generally tries to follow the rules of the game as written in the game manual / instruction. We'll check on BGG if we have a question, and will correct our methods as soon as we get the answer. So, if the rules prohibit "trading futures" we won't do it..


Don't get me wrong, we follow the rules AS WRITTEN when the group is aligned (newbs don't have fun/like playing with total rule nazis). But the "donation" portion doesn't express provisions are not allowed. i.e. "Sure I'll take that card if..." or "I'll give you this card if..." Only the active player is able to participate in such deals. Really, with games like this, it adds a little conning/deception that makes for a fun game. Now we won't hold up a game for 3 hours doing this, like "Ah, to late, took to long to decide, deal is off the table" Something else will always comes up.

And I know it's always going to depend on the parties involved, as with any game. Not everyone is gonna love the same things as everyone else. The real reason I brought this up for discussion is we were flirting with the idea of making this a house rule on the occasional random game. Settlers for example. The rules don't prohibit or allow such actions, so what would happen? How would it play out? Sure we play by the rules, but sometimes, we just like total chaos.
 
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used to do it with games and the family, but not anymore.
 
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Derek H
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glouie wrote:
forker wrote:

My little game group loves to play trading/bartering games like Bohnanza, Catan, Sherrif of Notingham, etc. In Bohnanza particularly, when trading , it is not unheard of to offer a "Gentleman's Agreement" for what you want/need, an "if you scratch my back now, I'll scratch yours later" scenario if you will. And it is fully in the spirit of a lot of these type games. But we were playing Settlers of America last night and the "Gentleman's Agreement" tried to make an appearance. One guy said you can't do that, one guy says "it doesn't say you can't, and I really didn't care one way or the other.


umm... The rules of Bohnanza prohibit trading cards that are not in your hand or part of the 2 you draw and place face up... So, to me that means you can't trade "futures".

From the rulebook:

The active player may trade/donate the two face up cards and/or cards from his hand.

The non-active players may only trade/donate cards from their hands.

===

My group, generally tries to follow the rules of the game as written in the game manual / instruction. We'll check on BGG if we have a question, and will correct our methods as soon as we get the answer. So, if the rules prohibit "trading futures" we won't do it..

Actually, the above rules don't prohibit it - they say what you are allowed to do "in the game world" and make no mention of what you can or can't say outside of that context (nor would I expect them to).

A trading game played in good spirits is a bit like Diplomacy. Players can make whatever deals they want behind the scenes; but all that actually happens in the "game world" is that pieces get moved/removed according to a fixed set of rules. Ditto with Bohnanza: the rules limit how and by who cards get traded; but have nothing to say about what "agreements" can/can't be made - so by definition these are not enforceable in any way, shape or form. The "Gentleman's Agreement" is then, as in many social situations, purely one of maintaining (or not) your own integrity within the context of the way your group behaves.



 
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