Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
25 Posts

Ludology» Forums » General

Subject: The unwritten rules of gaming rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Christian K
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I thought this could be a fun topic to discuss here.

Rulebooks are not 100% explicit on what you may and may not do in a game. That sometimes leads to discussions.


I thought it could be fun to make a crowdsourced list of "the unwritten rules" which tend to be assumed in games unless they say something different. Here are some of mine (some are easily true, others can be discussed):


-You are allowed to say anything you want. You may suggest aliances, reveal hidden information, etc.
(Exception: I think in Love Letter, you are not allowed to reveal what you see with a priest to the others even though it is not explicitly forbidden)

-Only the owner of cards may see their front side, the others may only see the backside.

-You are allowed to know how many cards each opponent has in hand.

-You are allowed to swap the order of cards in your hand as often as you want, even when it is not your turn and even hiding them from the opponents while doing it.

-If a card contradicts the rules, whatever is on the card is correct (this is often written in the rules, but I think it could be omitted. If the rues say, you 1-5 spaces on your turn and a card says that you can move 7, no one would be confused because the rule said you could only move 5).

-When you gain X points, move your point tracking stone x spaces on the point track.


What else can you think of that should be in the book of unwritten rules?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Chaffer
United States
Grand Rapids
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
Grand Rapids Area Boardgamers
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If the game does not provide a mechanism for hiding information (like a player screen), that information is public.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Dillon
United States
Spring Lake
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Unless the rule book explicitly says that you can, you may not punch other players in the face.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Muemmelmann wrote:
I thought this could be a fun topic to discuss here.

Rulebooks are not 100% explicit on what you may and may not do in a game. That sometimes leads to discussions.


I thought it could be fun to make a crowdsourced list of "the unwritten rules" which tend to be assumed in games unless they say something different. Here are some of mine (some are easily true, others can be discussed):


Interesting idea to make the implied, explicit.

Quote:

-You are allowed to say anything you want. You may suggest aliances, reveal hidden information, etc.
(Exception: I think in Love Letter, you are not allowed to reveal what you see with a priest to the others even though it is not explicitly forbidden)


Revealing hidden information seems like a no-no. Any partnership trick-taking game would fall apart.

My personal preference is to not allow alliances unless they are explicitly allowed. Deal making when not part of the game tends to make games drag out and reduces the fun (for me).

Quote:

-If a card contradicts the rules, whatever is on the card is correct (this is often written in the rules, but I think it could be omitted. If the rues say, you 1-5 spaces on your turn and a card says that you can move 7, no one would be confused because the rule said you could only move 5).


While generally true, I think it should still be specified. For example, assume there is a global mud condition in a race game that limits speed. Playing a card higher than that speed shouldn't take precedence and allow movement beyond the limit. Overall point is that cards don't always trump rules.

Others that you could add,

No cheating.

Don't destroy game components.

Don't change position of pieces when rules don't specify that it's allowed.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ido Abelman
Israel
Hod Hasharon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Muemmelmann wrote:

-You are allowed to say anything you want. You may suggest aliances, reveal hidden information, etc.
(Exception: I think in Love Letter, you are not allowed to reveal what you see with a priest to the others even though it is not explicitly forbidden)


It's funny, because I always play by that "unwritten rule" in one of my first games of love letter I used priest on the last player and told the player after me what I saw, and he immediately used guard to eliminate him. We immediately agreed this ruins the game (not common for me, I like to play the rules as written for at least several games) and that this should not be allowed.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean McCarthy
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
1. The rules are an exhaustive description of things that may happen.

Thus, negative rules ("you may not do X") are to be treated as meta-rules that place limits on what other rules can allow, since if treated as normal rules they have no informational value.

Sometimes the rules do explicitly list things you can't do for clarity's sake, and aren't meant to be read as meta-rules. If they're not worded in a limited enough way, this can lead to confusion.

2. Actions that humans tend to do that don't affect the game are not governed by the rules of the game. For example, eating food is usually not mentioned by the rules, but it's permitted because we understand that it's of our world, not the game's world.

Talking about the game is a gray area.

3. More specific rules override broader ones.

4. Time is linear unless otherwise stated, even though it doesn't strictly need to be that way.

5. As a player, you are tasked with performing in-game actions in pursuit of winning, or failing that, in pursuit of coming as close as possible to winning, according to your own judgment.
5 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dylan Thurston
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dr_steve_dillon wrote:
Unless the rule book explicitly says that you can, you may not punch other players in the face.
There's a book about that.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Rogers
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A few more unwritten rules:

1) Player turn order travels clockwise, unless otherwise stated.

2) Players are not allowed to touch other player's components, dice or cards unless allowed by a rule.

3) Players must make die rolls in full view of the other players, unless otherwise stated.

4) Pawns and other tokens occupy the "interior space" of a square or hex, not on the edges, unless otherwise stated by the rules.

5) Player Markers on a victory track move in an incremental direction when victory points are earned, unless otherwise stated by the rules.

6) Players are not allow to look into a bag or box when selecting tokens, dice or markers. If the player takes more components than required by the rules, the last component taken out is returned to the bag or box.

7) If a player joins the game right after a game has started, the dealer has two options - either withdraw all of the cards and reshuffle and re-deal them or deal a complete hand for the new player.

8) The number of pips or symbols on a die face represents a number the player must use for gameplay - be it for movement, actions, attack value, defense value, etc.

9) The player must use top-facing value/symbols on die when rolled.

10) When the game is over, the players should congratulate the winner and blame their poor luck on the game.
6 
 Thumb up
5.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Rogers
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dthurston wrote:
dr_steve_dillon wrote:
Unless the rule book explicitly says that you can, you may not punch other players in the face.
There's a book about that.


There's also this book: https://www.amazon.com/Civilized-Guide-Tabletop-Gaming-Rules...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So this ultimately goes back to our friend, the magic circle. This is the social contract that we implicitly agree to when we sit down to play a game.

Geoff and Ryan did a fantastic episode on this subject all the way back in Episode 79: http://ludology.libsyn.com/ludology-episode-79-the-magic-cir...

More recently, the subject was central when we had Fiasco designer Jason Morningstar on the show in episode 161: http://ludology.libsyn.com/ludology-161-whats-the-story-morn...

The magic circle winds up catching all these little unwritten rules. We learn many of them early in life, through kids' games like Candyland: we're each going to take turns, don't move my pieces, don't cheat, don't flip over cards we're not supposed to. We learn more sophisticated ones as we get older: don't throw the game to a friend/loved one, don't play too cutthroat with strangers, don't be a rules lawyer.

If rulebooks had to list all these magic circle assumptions, they'd be enormous! So as someone who has to write these rulebooks, I'm grateful we're only expected to put in the delta.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian K
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Scot: all these rules are unless otherwise noted, so no need ti add it after every item I don't think I understood your 8. Surely, the rule will be quite soecific for what the die is used for.

I think in general, some of these are less obvious than others, I don't think it is all just common sense.

I have often heard people discussing if they are allowed to give their coins or resources to other players (making deals) even though not explicitly allowed in the rules.

-you may not give your coins or items to hte other players!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Rogers
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Muemmelmann wrote:
I don't think I understood your 8. Surely, the rule will be quite specific for what the die is used for.


If your die shows 2 pips on it, the player can do two of something... unless otherwise stated by the rules.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Rogers
United States
Thousand Oaks
California
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
IngredientX wrote:
So this ultimately goes back to our friend, the magic circle. This is the social contract that we implicitly agree to when we sit down to play a game.


Here comes Gil to ruin our fun.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian K
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
"Don't be a rules lawyer", don't think I ever learned that one
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Scott Rogers wrote:
Here comes Gil to ruin our fun.


Someone's singing my theme song!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Hurn
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
IngredientX wrote:
So as someone who has to write these rulebooks, I'm grateful we're only expected to put in the delta.


This made me think two thoughts.

1) had someone ever tried to make a game about git source control?
2) the main difference between a game's rule book and the law is that the law (in western countries) is restrictive while rule books are permissive. Morality works as a layer of restriction on top of legal restrictions (or perhaps instead of). Bringing morality into games is a potential violation of the magic circle (I'm a pacifist therefore I will not use my troll to send your Vikings to Valhalla). In essence the magic circle is the equivalent of morality in board games. It's the same with sports - Australians are often criticising European football for being soft due to all of the diving players. The reality is that Australian sporting culture (the magic circle) says that toughness is more important in football than gaining an advantage.

Which brings me back to this discussion. This thread trying to come up with a board- gaming hobby equivalent of the Bible or Qur'an.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bart Walczak
Poland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
stephen_the_geek wrote:
had someone ever tried to make a game about git source control?


Not about git per se, but there is a simple card game about IT Startup:
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/248385/it-startup

In Polish only so far.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian Gienger
Germany
Germany
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dr_steve_dillon wrote:
Unless the rule book explicitly says that you can, you may not punch other players in the face.


I put that sticker in any rulebook. Makes life easier.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mrs Smith
Australia
Canberra
ACT
flag msg tools
badge
This is my chance to convey something meaningful! Darn. Wasted it.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This one is sometimes contentious, but I strongly believe: If a game includes hidden but trackable information, it may only be tracked by memory, not pen and paper (unless the rules explicitly state otherwise).
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Vandertol
United States
Grandville
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, now remain in my love. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. -- Jesus Christ
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Your turn is over when you say it's over or otherwise pass the "active" role to another player (by passing the dice, etc.)

A friend of mine turns every game into a speed game. The first time I played Monopoly with her in college, I rolled the dice, advanced my pawn, and said that she owed me rent. She said no, she didn't, because she rolled the dice for her turn before I declared that rent was due, and therefore I missed my opportunity.

I was slackjawed, it was my first experience with a radical disruption of what I now know of as "the magic circle". But, being openminded, I agreed to play by her rules (apparently her family had always played that way). I have to admit that it radically changes Monopoly in probably a positive way. It turns a long and boring game into a frenetic and short-ish one. I find speed games very stressful, so I hated it, but I'm still friends with her 30 years later and that's how her family still plays games ...
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoffrey Engelstein
United States
Bridgewater
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
Pit Crew avaialble now! The Expanse coming in October!
badge
Ludology Host and Dice Tower Contributor
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Agree - I talked about that here: http://ludology.libsyn.com/gametek-classic-136-hidden-but-tr...
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ian Rapson
United States
Fridley
MN
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mirrordude wrote:
Your turn is over when you say it's over or otherwise pass the "active" role to another player (by passing the dice, etc.)

A friend of mine turns every game into a speed game. The first time I played Monopoly with her in college, I rolled the dice, advanced my pawn, and said that she owed me rent. She said no, she didn't, because she rolled the dice for her turn before I declared that rent was due, and therefore I missed my opportunity.

I was slackjawed, it was my first experience with a radical disruption of what I now know of as "the magic circle". But, being openminded, I agreed to play by her rules (apparently her family had always played that way). I have to admit that it radically changes Monopoly in probably a positive way. It turns a long and boring game into a frenetic and short-ish one. I find speed games very stressful, so I hated it, but I'm still friends with her 30 years later and that's how her family still plays games ...


For the common rule, "my turn ends when I say so," she has substituted in the unstated rule that "my turn starts when I say so/when I do something"?

If both rules are allowed you could retain the dice, end your turn, and then start your next turn skipping your opponent. She may also play with the unstated rule, "you cannot prevent another player from starting their turn." Because that is what I would do, roll the dice and then immediately pick them up so that I could finish my turn.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Corbin
United States
Cumming
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When the draw pile is exhausted, shuffle the discards and to make a new draw pile.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Jordan
United States
Spokane
Washington
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
dcorbin13 wrote:
When the draw pile is exhausted, shuffle the discards and to make a new draw pile.


I would go the other way with this. When the draw pile runs out, it is run out and there is no more draw pile. I usually assume that is the case unless otherwise stated.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dylan Thurston
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
dcorbin13 wrote:
When the draw pile is exhausted, shuffle the discards and to make a new draw pile.
I was really confused by this one of the first times I played Sentinels of the Multiverse, since "tte players lose" seemed like another reasonable outcome.

(The missing rule was added in later printings.)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.