Boardgame Losers
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I previously posted on advice for a first time GM, and I can't thank you enough for the feedback. I started a new thread because this is a more specific question on a rules discrepancy/oddity I have found in the game I will be running: Sagrada. Basically, its a question on how to deal with a discrepancy between a straightforward/clear rule in the rulebook versus the designers interpretation of the rule in response to questions on the BGG forums.

For those unfamiliar with the game, I'll give a very quick summary so hopefully my question makes sense. In Sagrada, players take turns drafting different colored D6 dice and placing them on their own 4 x 5 grid in order to score points. Each space on a players grid has a number, color, or is a blank white space.

The rulebook has a section titled "Placing Dice", which lists 4 rules to follow when placing a die on your grid:

1) Each player’s first die of the game must be placed on an edge or corner space
2) Every other die must be adjacent to a previously placed die, touching diagonally (different row and column) or orthogonally (same row or column)
3) The die must match the color or value restriction of the space. White spaces have no restrictions
4) Dice may never be placed orthogonally adjacent to a die of the same color or the same value.

During the game players can use tool cards that break certain rules. For instance, a card might say "move any existing die on your grid to another space, ignoring the value restriction of that space, but follow all other placement rules." To me, this is pretty straightforward: I can move a Red 4 die to a space on my board that has a value restriction of 3 on it. But, I must follow all other placement rules, i.e.: that die must be adjacent to a previously placed die (rule 2) and can not be orthogonally adjacent to a red die or a die with the number 4 on it (rule 4). Rule 1 is essentially moot after your first turn, and rule 3 was the rule that was broken by the card.

Seems clear, right? But I was reviewing rules questions in the forums (as recommended by many of you prior to GM-ing a game), and I found that in response to a question by a user, the designer himself said that the phrase "follow all other placement rules" does not actually apply to Rule 2. That is, I could place my die in a space that is not adjacent to a previously placed die. If this was any other BGG user, I'd say he/she is just wrong. But this is the designer, and I think he knows his game. The problem to me is that the rule book gives no indication of the designer's interpretation. To me, the rule book lays it out plain and simple. It lists 4 placement rules. The card says break one rule, follow all other rules. How could I interpret that any differently?

As a GM, I have spotted this rules oddity/discrepancy in advance, so I want to address it. My gut is telling me to ignore what the designer said in the forum, and just go from the logical interpretation of the rule book. I anticipate having many casual Sagrada players in the event (is there even such a thing as a hardcore Sagrada player?laugh), and to rely on a rules interpretation given by the designer in a BGG forum seems unfair. To my knowledge, there has been no rules errata. This interpretation is only found on the BGG forums and therefore probably not well known.

Am I thinking about this the right way? As long as I'm clear and consistent about this rule, am I being fair by ignoring the designers interpretation?

Sorry for the long post, and thanks in advance for your insight!

-Daron
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Chris Kizer

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As a fellow GM at WBC, I'll give you the best advice I can.

First off, it sounds like the designer was talking about a couple of the tool cards that specifically allow you to break rule 2 . . . but without seeing the thread it's a little difficult to be sure. If he did actually say that for all tool cards that read "obey all other placement rules", you can ignore rule 2, that sounds like errata that should get published somewhere. Except it's Sagrada, so that probably wouldn't actually happen.

Since you've got a few months before the tournament, I think it wouldn't hurt to message the designer directly through BGG. It sounds like he's fairly responsive, and would probably appreciate a polite question about this situation. If you can get direct confirmation from the designer, then you can incorporate it into your tournament rules.

Another option, since Sagrada is a quick game, would be to find some friends and play a few times using both versions of the rule, and see if it really makes a difference. In my experience with the game, I haven't really found a need for using a tool to chuck a die into a random corner of the grid, unless the tool that specifically allows that is in play.

All that being said, I think you are totally within your rights as a GM to use the rules as written. The GM is the ultimate authority at WBC, and your decision is final. The important thing is to be consistent in your rulings.
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Christopher Yaure
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Thank you for taking your GM responsibilities so seriously.

Chris Kizer's suggestions are excellent. I would only add one more. Regardless of which interpretation you adopt, share that interpretation with the players before each heat/round, by oral announcement or in writing with other tournament rules (advancement, tiebreaks, etc.).

You are right that some players will not have read the BGG forum, but others will have. Letting everyone know how you will interpret the rule will limit later complaints.
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Michael McKibbin
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I know it doesn't help for this year, but a great place to address this kind of rules clarification issue is in the event preview. That way, the interpretation if the rules is in writing where everyone has access to it. That said, I agree with the idea of making an oral announcement after everyone has been seated, but before the game begins. I know my wife and I have run across this very question with Sagrada previously, and our interpretation was that the moved die had to follow all the other placement rules. As stated above, your authority as GM is final in WBC events. Just make sure your rulings are fair and consistent.
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Michael McKibbin
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boardgamelosers wrote:
(is there even such a thing as a hardcore Sagrada player?laugh)

you'd be surprised. If there is anywhere to find them, it's at the WBC.
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Jay M
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hgman3 wrote:
boardgamelosers wrote:
(is there even such a thing as a hardcore Sagrada player?laugh)

you'd be surprised. If there is anywhere to find them, it's at the WBC.

One time I had some time to kill. Saw a Splendor heat, figured I know that game, I'll just go play.

My table had three grandma's, and I never saw what hit me. Wham, BAM. It's over.
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Eric Brosius
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I'll agree with the replies above, and I'll add one more thing:

The GM is the final authority on how the game will be played at WBC. You are responsible for making the tournament run well, and part of carrying that responsibility out is choosing rules that will work in the tournament setting.

In some cases, GMs use rules that don't match those provided by the designer. However, when this happens, it's important that this be communicated clearly to the players well in advance.
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Richard Irving
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I agree with the consensus here.

But designers do make mistakes from time to time. I would not trust a single post by the designer as authoritative. He may have forgotten the rules--confused with a rule dropped in development or playtesting. Or the change occurred in development where a change added by an editor caues the issue. Or the post was about a specific exception on a particular card, not a general rule. A translation error from the designers native language could be the source of the problem.
Etc.

A classic example of the last is the German term "muss nicht" which literally translates to "must not", but means "is not required to" (ie optional). Vs the English meaning of must not which means, "is required not to" (ie prohibited.) very different meanings--more than one game has screwed that up.

If the publisher or the designer has published an official errata making the change, go ahead. If you contact the designer and he confirms it, OK. Then in either of these cases, bring the documentation and include it in a handout and make a change to online event preview.

If no official errata exists, go with the rules as published.
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W. Craig Trader
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hgman3 wrote:
I know it doesn't help for this year, but a great place to address this kind of rules clarification issue is in the event preview. That way, the interpretation if the rules is in writing where everyone has access to it. That said, I agree with the idea of making an oral announcement after everyone has been seated, but before the game begins. I know my wife and I have run across this very question with Sagrada previously, and our interpretation was that the moved die had to follow all the other placement rules. As stated above, your authority as GM is final in WBC events. Just make sure your rulings are fair and consistent.

It's not too late to fix the event preview. Just drop a quick email to the CD and/or ACD and the website can get updated.
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Michael McKibbin
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Another consideration. If there are two possible rules interpretations, and one is fairly straightforward and simple (e.g. "all other placement rules must be followed" and the other has a number of caveats (e.g. "all other rules placements must be followed except the die can be placed anywhere on the board, even if it is not adjacent to another die", I'd go with the former. Keep it simple and easy to remember.
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John Weber
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FWIW, I would recommend making an effort to contact the game designer (many are registered users on BGG) to try to resolve the discrepancy before the event. Sorry, it's been awhile since I played Sagrada, so I'm not up to speed on the specific issue, but that's my general advice and it's helped out in the past.
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Bill
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All of the above advice is absolutely correct. I don't think you can go wrong deciding either way as long as you are upfront about your decision.

It does bring up an interesting philosophical question regarding the extent to which the designer's opinion on a rules discrepancy is really the final opinion on the subject. I happen to be of the opinion that your interpretation of the rule is better than the designer's own answer (which seems to contradict the rules as written).
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Duncan McGregor
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For anyone interested, the rules post in question is this one, and is as described.

Daron, I agree with the others who recommended reaching out to the designer regarding this as a first step. This interpretation isn't supported by the printed rules, and it's possible he just made a mistake while answering. Once you have confirmation, you can decide how to move forward from there, and nobody is going to be upset by any decision you make that is clear and that is clearly communicated.
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Curt Collins
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I would consider just excluding the card in question from the game. You only use 3? during the game anyway so the easiest thing might be to just not allow the card with the unclear rules in the tournament.
 
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Duncan McGregor
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Spleen wrote:
I would consider just excluding the card in question from the game. You only use 3? during the game anyway so the easiest thing might be to just not allow the card with the unclear rules in the tournament.

There are several cards that allow you to move dice around, so you'd need to exclude all of them. That's 5 out of 12 cards.

Actually, if you assume that the designer thought that the question was about specifically the Cork-backed Straightedge (the tool that specifically allows you to place in a spot that is not adjacent) then this all makes sense, and there is no need for special rules. Probably still worth confirming.
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Max Jamelli
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RobRoy wrote:
Probably still worth confirming.

Yeah, I'm sure the designer would be happy to clarify how the rule should be interpreted - and I'd make sure I sent Ken an email requesting the website be updated with that information. Not all WBC'ers are on BGG.
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Boardgame Losers
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Thank you all (once again) for taking the time to respond and offer your advice. Based on the overwhelming consensus, I reached out to the designer to get his thoughts on the matter (thanks to Duncan for finding that thread again!). Unless he really makes a compelling case for his interpretation, I think I will opt for the straightforward rulebook based interpretation. But I will make sure to specify it clearly to all players from the get go (I'm planning on having a rules cheat sheet at each table) so that there is no confusion. I will update this thread if/when I do hear from the designer just in case people are curious.

Hopefully I'll see some of you at my event! And if you do come, please feel free to offer advice/suggestions/constructive criticism on how things are being run. Being a GM is obviously a learning process, so advice is always welcome!

-Daron
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Boardgame Losers
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For those interested, I did hear back from the Sagrada designer, and he said the following:

"The intent of the tool was to be more flexible, but reviewing this further I think we'll have to go with your interpretation as the appropriate on... Moving a die must obey all other placement restrictions, including adjacency to existing dice."

Thanks again for all the advice, especially those who recommended contacting the designer.
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