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Subject: Secret Discussions rss

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Scott Lewis
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So I was looking at This PBF Thread (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/28731849#28731849) briefly, and one of the questions asked was whether PMs are allowed. A fair question, to be honest. I've seen that several games outright prohibit this, and I do not understood the rationale why. One claim is that it gives an unfair advantage to someone who can spend more time PMing than the working dad who only has limited time. While I can see that to a degree, I honestly don't think that's as big a factor as it's made out to be.

Another poster said "This game should not have collusion". I couldn't disagree more with this statement. The game is all about collusion, informal alliances, betrayal, etc. In TI3, it was far from uncommon to have backroom deals. While some groups disallowed it, it was typically disallowed because of potential for dragging on the game, but I don't know if I'd even classify those groups as the majority. Every group I've played with that I can recall has allowed it as long as it doesn't become problematic (and for us, it hadn't. Just a quick "aside" conversation).

Anyway, I didn't want to clutter up that thread with this discussion, but I thought I'd bring it up for such, because I was quite surprised at some of the comments that made it sound like it was against the very spirit of the game - again, an opinion I couldn't disagree with more because I think it's very much in the spirit of the game, as long as it doesn't cause the game to slog down.

I can say for certain now - if/when I ever host my own PBF game, PM's will certainly be allowed (if nothing else, because there'd be no way to enforce a ban, anyway, other than "honor"; and while honor would be enough for most gamers, there'd be no way to know who violated it).
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Dusty 27
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If you do decide to host count me in on your next game.
 
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Steve Arnold
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Consistent with a 95% ratio, we are in agreement on this too Scott. I didn't want to clutter up the thread either so I let the issue drop, but I couldn't agree more with your assessment. Real life games would be bogged down far too much if people were constantly leaving the table to make backdoor deals. I find absolutely no reason why that should be the case in this format and moreover, I think there are plenty of reasons for them to exist in the forum setting. The least of which is that they can exist in the game without bogging down the time. The time=advantage argument I find preposterous because if someone had all the time in the world to PM me, just because they were persistent or more responsive would IN NO WAY dictate whether I would agree to those deals or not.

I was PMing with the GM gracious enough to host the game I'm currently in and it brought me to the PM page, which I rarely use these days. I looked at the old ones I had yet to delete and I came to large amount from a game that you and I played in Scott, called 3.2. I read over all of them and was constantly smiling at the great interactions that occurred off the forum that didn't bog down the page with endless back-and-forths in regard to deals being made.

Scott, please keep me in mind for your potential PBF and I will do the same for you because I plan to figure out a way to playtest my Star Trek races once the inevitable first expansion comes out for 4e.
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Thayne Weston
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It is an interesting question as to what is best. I don't have strong feelings either way and think both work. Every TI 3 PBF has allowed PM discussion, the last ti4 one did not and have the best by far in game discussion and deals of any of my PBFs (that may be more to the fast play and group rather than the rule). One of my other favorite games Fief: France 1429 has the back room deals built in which is super fun.

I guess it just goes to how you want the PBF in relation to a real life game as most people keep game discussion at the table (due to time rather than rule)
 
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Of course, private communications vs. public-only diplomacy is a matter of preference. My experience is most dislike the idea of public-only diplomacy but then become much more receptive to it after a few games played that way.

For PBF games I prefer public-only diplomacy because:

* it encourages more role-playing

* there are far fewer instances of blatant betrayal that results in hard feelings

* keeps things more balanced (negates the advantages a player with more time and inclination to negotiate has over others)
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Herbert Muench
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"Well, that's just like your opinion, man..."

Just kidding
I'll definitely be hosting more games when #2 and #3 are done/nearing the end. As long as everyone knows what he signs up for I'm okay with hidden diplomacy. It's just that I personally prefer all-open games because in my experience back room dealing eats considerable amounts of time. But as long I don't actually play myself I don't really need to care.
 
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Dwight Sullivan
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I love the idea of secret conversations and back room deals. I think that enhances the strength of the game. Sure the game seems like a 4X space opera but its really political game. Politics needs discussion, back-stabbing and deals.

Can I come play with you too Scott?
 
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Scott Lewis
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bnesbit wrote:
* it encourages more role-playing

I'll be honest, this isn't an aspect of the game (in TI3 or TI4) that is a big importance to me. While role-playing is fun, sometimes these page-long discussions in public (that could have been private in other games) end up looking more like clutter. In fact, I'll say that they are a primary reason I typically "block" PBF games from my subscription list (I wish there was a way to just unsubscribe from specific threads while keeping subscribed to the forum, but I guess that's what "block" is).
ferPlus, with the clutter, it gets far to easy to lose track of what the latest "state" is. As a PBF player, I actually prefer more concise forum threads for the game.

Of course, it does all come down to preference, and as long as it's known ahead of time, that's what's important.
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Jorgen Peddersen
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I've always played with public-only conversation in the tabletop game, which is why I enforced the no PMs rule in PBF #1. Yes, there is no way to police it, but this is just part of the 'magic circle' of board game etiquette.

My comment about collusion in the thread that was called out was more to mark the idea of hidden indication of secret info between parties that seems unfair. You could start with map creation. A pair of players that share what tiles they have with each other can create some rather nasty plots when the rest of the table has no idea they are working together.

The rules for TI4 also indicate that it does have hidden information with regards to your action cards, promissory notes and secret objectives. They indicate the only time you are allowed to show a card to someone is during a potential trade. I believe that two players secretly sharing all their information gives them a very unfair advantage against the other players in this regard.

Having said all that, I have no problem with a game being run that allows secret conversations, provided everyone is aware that the option is available. I'm not a big fan of the sort of game that creates and the temptation towards evil that creates, though.
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Peter Walsh
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Every other game of PBF TI I've played involved secret discussions. Having just finished a public discussion only game I'm fine either way. I think in a game with secret discussions players that are creative and know how to leverage those private exchanges are vastly favored over those who play the game "quietly" and in semi-isolation. The advantage is much diluted in the public discussion only environment, but I'm not sure it's entirely gone.
 
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Scott Lewis
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Clipper wrote:
The rules for TI4 also indicate that it does have hidden information with regards to your action cards, promissory notes and secret objectives. They indicate the only time you are allowed to show a card to someone is during a potential trade.

Where did you get that indication? Dane has rule specifcially that you can show your Action cards anytime you want (just like you could in TI3). You usually wouldn't WANT to, but there's times when it's very useful.

I'm not sure I agree that secret discussion is in any way a standard part of board game etiquette as a general rule. That's going to vary by group, and I honestly don't think that for most games it necessarily needs to be a "game" rule.


I still don't understand what "evil" you say you would be tempted to, though? In TI4, the hidden information is more to allow you to have secrets, not really geared towards prohibiting sharing of information. And I definitely disagree that it gives players who do so any kind of unfair advantage - since the secret deals can be done by anyone in such games. In fact, you never know if the person you are colluding with is secretly colluding with someone else, either


Again, though, I do recognize it's a matter of opinion, but I definitely do NOT feel like TI4 was intended to be a "no secret discussion" game, nor that it's against the spirit of the game or general gaming conduct etiquette to do so.
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Matt Martens
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We've talked a lot about this topic on the show, and I agree wholeheartedly with you, Scott.

The draw of this game (for me, coming from an Axis and Allies background) was the power of shifting alliances and misinterpreted intentions. For me, TI works best when people say things they don't mean and break promises. And for US, backdoor politics allows for more things to be SAID. When you take someone into the next room, they're more willing to divulge secrets...but they may also be lying to intentionally sway YOU PERSONALLY.

All of this delights me to no end, but there are LIMITS. The number one complaint we've heard about secret conversations is the amount of time it adds to the game, and to that end, we say: "Add a timer to conversations and limit when conversations can be held."

So, the key points here are
Limit when: for us we try to limit secret conversations to the Status Phase, or just before the start of a new Strategy Phase. We allow for secret conversations in extreme circumstances as well (when a player's home system is taken, they may need to secretly point out to another player how they may best assist them in snuffing out a common enemy).

Add a timer: Mainly just BE REASONABLE! Some conversations can go nowhere when both players are trying to stonewall each other. Be aware when this is happening and understand when there's nothing more to say. If secret conversations are limited to 2 minutes, we find players are much more likely to get to the point and understand if they're going to make an agreement or not.

and also
Limit how many secret conversations you're having. You don't need to have a secret conversation with every single player every single Status Phase, that's ridiculous. If your group NEEDS a ruling, maybe each player is allowed 2-3 secret conversations per Status Phase. These are easy to enforce and they cause players to make tough decisions.
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Captain Kirk
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I agree that diplomacy is an integral and rewarding part of TI4, as it is with many games. However, public-only diplomacy doesn't need to be any less intriguing or fun than those involving private collaboration. If anything, it requires a good deal more tact to influence other players.

There is one more thing I dislike about private collaboration that I've seen in a lot of games where players can collude privately. It's more likely players will be ganged up on and that meta-gaming enters the mix. E.g. player A has a history with player B and plots to destroy her. He privately induces players C & D to join him to act against player B via bribe, threats, etc. Players C & D are not aware of each other's involvement until the damage is done, and player B ends up on the wrong end of a 3 to 1 dustup. Not terribly fun for player B.

I guess one thing private collaboration offers is a more real-world environment for board games...
 
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Scott Lewis
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bnesbit wrote:
There is one more thing I dislike about private collaboration that I've seen in a lot of games where players can collude privately. It's more likely players will be ganged up on and that meta-gaming enters the mix.

I haven't found this to be true. Ganging up on a player can happen just as well in "public" as in "private". And if it's happening, and is a problem for the group, that's a problem with the players, not the public/private nature of the discussion itself.


I should note that in TI3, the "Fall of the Empire" scenario EXPLICITLY prohibits secret discussions, which definitely implies that for normal games, it's permitted if the group allows. And I think a large reason it is prohibited in that scenario is because of the Treaty cards - they are CRITICAL in how the game works and it is vital that you don't share them except as specified with the rules. I think the prohibition of discussion as a whole isn't the reason, but just discussion of that one specific feature, and so the ensure it is not violated, secret discussions are banned outright.

EDIT: Upon reading the scenario, only secret discussion regarding the player's individual objectives is prohibited explicitly. See my post below.
 
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mikael mordai
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Wait secret meetings was illegal in fall of the empire???..
 
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mordai wrote:
Wait secret meetings was illegal in fall of the empire???..

Hmm, I just went and looked, and I slighly misremembered. I guess it isn't as explicit as I thought, just this line on page 14:

"Although players will usually want to keep their objectives secret, the ability on these cards can be discussed with other players as long as all discussion is made publicly in front of all players."

So it's really only specifically prohibiting private discussion regarding secret objectives, though I guess I interpreted it to mean that discussion must be public in general. But I can see how it can be read to mean that "you can meet in secret as long as it's NOT discussing your objectives."

That said, since the Treaty cards are passed secretly, too, I would highly encourage a wider net on that, because if you give a Treaty card to a player, and then demand a secret meeting to verify they kept yours (as opposed to rejecting it and discarding), that puts them in a hard place. If they refuse, it will sound like they have something to hide.
 
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mikael mordai
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I played it 3 times and i found it was better with secret talks..the only thing that was bad was the goal about taking anothers homesystem..i see if you allied with that player and allowed him to do it you would both win but i think most people woukd rather win on their own..
 
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Scott Lewis
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mordai wrote:
I played it 3 times and i found it was better with secret talks..the only thing that was bad was the goal about taking anothers homesystem..i see if you allied with that player and allowed him to do it you would both win but i think most people woukd rather win on their own..

With the scenario, trying for a solo victory is very, very difficult. I personally think what makes it work so well is the concept of the shared victories - particularly if you get an objective that you are having a hard time with, you can still jockey to win. The Lazax can almost never win alone, either, especially in the higher count games because someone will almost certainly have the one to win if the Lazax win

For many games, I think shared victories can dilute the game. But for others (including Dune/Rex and the Fall scenario) I think they make the dynamics even better.
 
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Avery Bailey
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We don't allow secret meetings in our home games mostly because of time. However, there are other good reasons to keep everything at the table/in the forum. There are a TON of rules in this game. You could end up playing a half dozen games and have a firm grasp on the rules and still miss a couple. Keeping the discussion consolidated can help avoid many of these missteps.

In a PBF game the other day, there was someone (pretty well versed in the rules) trying to show another player action cards. We were able to avoid this issue by catching it before it was revealed. The moderator would have had an opportunity to catch this as well as all secret information was channeled throw the "Custodians"

I would love to play a game with semi-secret convos. I'd like a moderator to be involved to make sure rules aren't expressly broken. Although, that could end up being a lot of extra reading and work for the moderator and you'd have to have a policy if any rules are broken.

I would never want to play a game with shared victory.
 
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Avemo3 wrote:
In a PBF game the other day, there was someone (pretty well versed in the rules) trying to show another player action cards.

That is not prohibited by the rules. Per a ruling from Dane (which I've posted elsewhere, but I don't feel like looking for the thread for the sake of speed):

"Tabletop etiquette is something you may want to discuss with your individual group. There are no rules preventing players from showing an an action card from their hand." (in response to the question "Can you choose to reveal (to an individual or everyone) an Action Card from your hand without actually playing it?")

So wanting to show others your cards, unless specifically barred for that group's etiquette, is perfectly allowed. Happens in physical games all the time (as threats, for instance, or part of an alliance proposition, which doesn't have to involve giving them the card).

Quote:
I would love to play a game with semi-secret convos. I'd like a moderator to be involved to make sure rules aren't expressly broken.

Which TI4 rules could be expressly broken by a secret conversation?

EDIT: Modifified the above to highlight Dane's exact response to me with his ruling.
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Secret conversation are not prohibited. However, each group play by their own rules.

So far here we have 3 rules that can be controversial

1 - No secret conversation
2 - No discussion related to a specific place on the board (to avoid you allow me to go next to your HS and I`ll do the same). Conversation should be generic.
3 - No pointing out objectives someone may achieve that round (this is to speed up the game)
 
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Avery Bailey
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Quote:
2.5 A players action cards remain hidden from other players until they are played.


This is a rule that expressly forbids showing other players action cards. It would need a house rule to change this.

 
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Avery Bailey
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If Dane made a rule to change that, it didn't make the new Living Rules Reference or FAQ.
 
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lpporto wrote:

3 - No pointing out objectives someone may achieve that round (this is to speed up the game)

I don't understand this one. Basically, this prohibits you from trying to block another player from scoring - which is a vital part of the game if you are near the end and it's a race to the finish.
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Avemo3 wrote:
Quote:
2.5 A players action cards remain hidden from other players until they are played.


This is a rule that expressly forbids showing other players action cards. It would need a house rule to change this.


I quoted Dane's ruling above. I'll edit my post above to highlight his exact response to me

Basically, I think what his ruling is emphasizing is that saying 'remain hidden' isn't a prohibition against voluntarily sharing, but rather to say that those things aren't public information that anyone can view on a whim. But there is nothing in that rule to expressly FORBID you from revealing this hidden information to others if you so choose - it's still hidden information if you share it.

Of course, you can always disagree with Dane, but since he's the one who made the rules I think it's safe to say he knows what the intent of saying "remain hidden" is meant to be
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