David Groot
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I'm currently in the middle of a game at work over our lunch breaks, and somebody has offered a deal that I'm not certain should be allowed. I'm playing Zeth, and the idea they had was if they (player A) make some simple deal with an opponent (player B) for a cube next round that player B will get during the next economy phase, then made a separate deal with me to steal that cube from player B during the Zeth steal phase, it would subtract 1 point from player B, thus bringing everybody else ahead effectively one point.

This feels to me like it goes against the spirit of the game, as my feeling is that the rule about unfulfilled deals is more there as a "Don't do this or else" kind of rule, not really something to be gamed. However, I can't see anything in the rules that would strictly prohibit this.

What are other people's thoughts?
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Ian Toltz
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Seems perfectly reasonable to me. Only question I have is order of operations (i.e. can the Zeth player steal before the indebted player gives). I don't know how the Zeth work, though, so maybe that's not an issue.

Of course, that player could then trade to get that cube from somebody else so they can still fulfill the trade.
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So if I understand correctly, C is going to steal a cube from B that is generated by B next turn that is supposed to go to A. Everything occurs simultaneously IIRC. So when the cube is generated by B it goes to A per the agreement and B never has the cube for C to steal. Unless of course it's a quantum cube that can exist in two states at the same time, both a stolen and gifted one.
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Jeff Warrender
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It doesn't seem obviously illegal although it's certainly not in the spirit of the game -- A is making a trade deliberately in bad faith. That's perhaps not out of character for the Zeth but for everyone else it's not a great play style. But I think more importantly, deals like this aren't really on the path to skillful play. If you watch really excellent players play, they win by making a flurry of deals, not by coming up with clever loopholes with which to throw body-blocks against the other players. The level of effort required to set up what your friend is proposing (must deal for a cube that B is going to produce exactly one of, how to guarantee this?), and as Ian notes, the likelihood that the other player can work around it (can just trade for the thing they need), combined with the bridges you're burning with B, both of you -- these just aren't worth the little bit of gain you get relative to that one player, one time, in one game. Better to make a deal with A that is mutually beneficial. A deal that enables you to each run a converter can also put you ahead by a point relative to B (depending on the specifics of course).

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Jeff Warrender
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Walt Mulder wrote:
So if I understand correctly, C is going to steal a cube from B that is generated by B next turn that is supposed to go to A. Everything occurs simultaneously IIRC. So when the cube is generated by B it goes to A per the agreement and B never has the cube for C to steal. Unless of course it's a quantum cube that can exist in two states at the same time, both a stolen and gifted one.


That's not correct; resources can only change hands during the trading phase, so there is a brief period where you're storing a resource between the time you produce it and the time you'd ostensibly be giving it away before you promised to do so. What I'm not 100% sure of is if 'next-turn' deals have to be fulfilled immediately upon the commencement of the trading phase, or if the players can come to an understanding on this point by mutual agreement (i.e. "sometime during the next trading phase").
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Ian Toltz
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Unless when the trade should take place is specified in the terms of the deal, it would just have to be completed at some point in that trading phase.

In practice, the only time I've ever seen someone not execute the trade immediately was when they'd forgotten to run the correct converter and had to trade for the thing they were indebted for. The game has enough going on that nobody wants to keep track of even more stuff...
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Brian Lewis
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That's a good way to get me to never trade with you again. whistle
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Jacob Davenport
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I agree with Jeff. If the Zeth steals the yellow I had promised to the Kt (even if the Kt and Zeth made a deal about it), then I will just have to find a way to get another yellow from someone else to fulfill that deal. First, I find it highly unlikely that the Zeth have access to the only yellow on the table, so you'd have to get everyone else with a yellow cube to agree not to trade it to me. Heck, for that price, you could simply convince all the other players not to trade with me the entire game, and I'm sure I'd lose.

But, if one player defects, and they trade me the yellow, I'll pay a good price for it. Further, if you went the whole way and convinced everyone not to trade with me (that Jacob guy helped design the game, let's stop him from winning!), but one player defects, that player is probably going to win, since she gets access to everyone's economy, while the rest of you don't get my cubes. That may be enough incentive for people to defect.

Anyway, I also agree with Jeff that the players who do really well trade with everyone for everything, squeezing the most out of their economy. I remember one game with TauCeti, Chris Cieslik, and three other players where we played nearly an optimal game, with everyone scoring a near maximum possible score. It was pretty cool. Chris won, and I think I wasn't far behind him.
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Brian Lewis
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It's part of why I enjoy the negotiation of this game so much: you need others' help in order to be successful. Sure, a well-placed hostile action here and there may help, but being mean isn't a good way to win the game. (Well, unless you're Zeth. But even then, the threat of being mean is more effective than actually doing it.)
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Joe McSteve
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jwarrend wrote:
That's not correct; resources can only change hands during the trading phase


Correct - I wonder, though, about future deals. Usually, the moment the trade phase begins, there is a flurry of activity that you don't want to miss out on. I don't want to be saying, "Hey, Jeff, here's the green and the white that I promised you!" when I'd rather be trading with others, but maybe you were counting on that green and white in order to make other deals this turn.

Is it possible, if all players agree, to give "next-turn-promised" resources to other players right after economies are run, before the Confluence Phase? No resources are consumed until the next trade phase anyway, so I don't see how it would hurt, and it would make everyone's resources clearer for a fresher start to the next trade phase.

There doesn't seem to be a reason not to allow this. Anyone else?
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Brian Lewis
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I like having it during trading phase in part because it requires attention. Also, it gives me ways to get that cube if I forgot to run a converter or couldn't get a resource I thought I could get or something. Additionally, ships can be promised and those do matter before the next trade phase. Splitting up the cube promises and ships promises is an option, of course, but a somewhat confusing one.
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David Groot
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Thanks everybody for the feedback, I'll be sure to forward this thread to the other players!
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