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Subject: When is an action marker turned face up? rss

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Zeljko
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Terminology:
Action round represents actions performed by all players empires during one of the actions (i.e. Production)
Action cluster represents actions performed by a single empire during one of actions (i.e. Babylonians Production).

Based on several threads on this forum, it can be noticed that 7 Ages is played in two ways - Empire's action marker can be turned face up at the start of Action Round (AR) and at the start of Action Cluster (AC).

From the rules:

Quote:
Each player who has chosen to start an empire will turn over that action marker, then start an empire. Then the players who have chosen production will turn over that marker and perform that action, and so on. Usually, players will be able to perform the same action simultaneously. When it matters (e.g. when empires close to each other are both manoeuvring), the player with the turn marker turns over their action marker and does that action first, and then the other players follow suit in clockwise order after that player has finished.


It seems that rules quite clearly suggest that all players reveal (in turn marker order) empires with the same action BEFORE action round. Otherwise, it will be impossible to determine whether actions can be played simultaneously or not.

Depending on the way it is played, impact is significant.

Player to perform maneouvre action cluster can use information of other empire maneouvre actions and to adjust its strategy consequently.

Other, more important, impact is on the timing and eligibility of events. Some events are played after performing an action but they do not specify whether they are played after end of action cluster or after end of action round.

Kismet, New Administration and Corrupt Administration are more powerful in AC variant. Player A may get one of these three cards and use them in player B action cluster in the same action round.

My oppinion is that AR is better.
Action markers are turned face up at the start of action round for no other reason than to speed up playing. This is a major argument.
Events that are played before action are played before action round (and subject to blowback).
Events that are played after action are played after action cluster (and are not subject to blowback).
 
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Daniel Peters
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My thoughts on Zeljko's question will appear in a later post.

For now, I just want to make a few clarifying comments regarding the terms "action round" and "action cluster", for the benefit of anyone else who wants to join in. (I think Zeljko and I are (mostly) on the same page as far as terminology is concerned – even if we disagree on several rules interpretations!)

Unfortunately, it seems (from the discussions in this forum) that the word "action" is used in several different ways. For example, the effects of Rare Conjunction may be described as providing "an extra action" that takes place "during an action" – clearly using the word in two different ways.

The terms "action round" and "action cluster" represent attempts to bring some clarity to these discussions.

An "action round" is the part of a turn during which all the actions of a given type will normally take place. By "normally" I mean in the absence of any special effects (from events or artefacts or empire special rules). So there are normally seven action rounds in each turn. Taking into account all the special effects, an action round may include actions of a type that does not normally belong in that round. (Also, the extra actions from Time Wrinkle take place after the "Discard Empire" action round, so those actions can be considered to form an eighth action round.)

An "action cluster" is a series of actions performed by a single action marker, within a single action round. An action cluster normally consists of a single action (which is normally of the type appropriate to that round), but it can be extended to two or more actions due to events (or the Forum).

For example: During the "Production" round, I turn over an appropriate action marker to do a Production action with the Babylonians. They have the Forum, so I use a "+1 go" marker to follow up that Production with a Manoeuvre action. Then I play Rare Conjunction and do another Production action. With a little help from a Vizier, I play Rare Conjunction again and do a Civilise action. So in this example, my Babylonians do a total of four actions in a single action cluster. If we're playing strictly sequentially (clockwise within the action round), then this entire cluster is finished before the next player starts any Production.
 
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Daniel Peters
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morkin wrote:
Based on several threads on this forum, it can be noticed that 7 Ages is played in two ways - Empire's action marker can be turned face up at the start of Action Round (AR) and at the start of Action Cluster (AC).

I assume you're talking about the case in which the action clusters are being played sequentially. (If the action clusters are being played simultaneously, then there's no difference: The start of the action round IS the start of all the action clusters within the round.)
morkin wrote:
It seems that rules quite clearly suggest that all players reveal (in turn marker order) empires with the same action BEFORE action round.

Look again: (emphasis added)
Quote:
When it matters…, the player with the turn marker turns over their action marker and does that action first, and then the other players follow suit in clockwise order after that player has finished.

To "follow suit" is to do the same thing that the other player did, which is explicitly described as "turn[ing] over their action marker and do[ing] that action".

(Of course, the rules are written in such a way as to neglect most of the effects of events, artefacts, etc. To be more general, I would say "doing an action cluster based on that action type" instead of "doing that action". But I don't think that distinction affects the present discussion.)

I think that's conclusive: In the case of sequential play within an action round, you turn over your action marker at the beginning of the AC. I don’t think you can argue otherwise without doing violence to the rulebook.


morkin wrote:
Otherwise, it will be impossible to determine whether actions can be played simultaneously or not.

When in doubt, play sequentially. After all, the rules say "when it matters". (You may be able to argue that it always matters. If so, I won't disagree.)

I look at it this way:
Formally, play is always sequential. Detailed rules about what is allowed or not (e.g. with regard to events) are always based on the assumption that you're playing sequentially. Simultaneous play can't be fully de-bugged. There is always some danger that some situation will come up that simply can't be resolved, if you interpret the rules in terms of (formally) simultaneous play. Simultaneous play is acceptable, under some circumstances, as a way to speed up the game. At minimum, I would say that the players ought to be familiar enough with the game that they can discern when the sequence matters and when it does not, AND that they ought to be mature enough to have a well-developed sense of fairness.

If the group is in the process of doing simultaneous actions (believing that the sequence doesn't matter, under the circumstances), and something happens (such as an event) in such a way that it becomes clear that the sequence does matter, then the players should be willing to back up a few steps and redo things properly (i.e. sequentially). Failing that, someone has to be willing to overlook a rules violation to his/her own disadvantage. With a mature group, that can work sometimes, but I would never put pressure on another player to do that.

Example: During a Production round, three of us are doing Production actions. (We've never had a problem with simultaneous Production before, so we assume everything is okay. In a moment of absent-mindedness, I'm forgetting about my plan to use Rare Conjunction.) I have the turn marker, and I'm doing Production with the Franks. The player to my left is doing Production with the Byzantines. I follow up my Production with a Manoeuvre caused by a Rare Conjunction event, and my Franks want to attack the Byzantines. Oops! It turns out that the sequence mattered after all. In principle, the Byzantines' newly-bought units are not available for defence! Formally, their Production action happens after the Franks' action cluster is complete.

So what happens? The Byzantines have to undo their Production so that we can do things in their proper order. If we really care about the rules (e.g. if we are in a competitive mood), then that's the only solution. Another solution is that I can generously allow the Byzantines' Production to be considered valid, and proceed with my Manoeuvre anyway. In that case, I am allowing a rules violation to stand, to my own disadvantage. I might do exactly that, just out of the goodness of my heart. But if any other player insisted that I must allow it, I doubt that I would ever play another game with that person.

morkin wrote:
Player to perform manoeuvre action cluster can use information of other empire manoeuvre actions and to adjust its strategy consequently.

I think that’s a point against AR, not a point in favour! (It's similar to our discussion about my proposed "one last chance to play Vizier" in the "Vizier Timing" thread. You said that you didn't like the idea of being able to use information about what is in another player's hand, in order to decide whether to play Vizier or not. Similarly here: I don't think you should be entitled to use information about another player's action markers, in order to decide how to perform your action -- unless the other players give you that information voluntarily.)

morkin wrote:
Other, more important, impact is on the timing and eligibility of events.

Most events are not affected by this question. They are affected by whether the action clusters are performed simultaneously or sequentially, but in that case we're back to this fundamental rule: When it matters, play sequentially!
morkin wrote:
Kismet, New Administration and Corrupt Administration are more powerful in AC variant. Player A may get one of these three cards and use them in player B action cluster in the same action round.

IIRC, these events are played just before cards are drawn in a Destiny action. So that is during an action. Such an event is not an immediate response to the turning-over of an action marker. Again, when it matters, play is sequential. And here, as you correctly point out, it matters! So if you draw Corrupt Administration in a Destiny action, you can play it in someone else's Destiny action in the same action round (if that player goes after you in the clockwise sequence).

The only events that are (possibly) affected by the present question are those that are played in response to turning over an action marker: Overslept and Alliance. If you have to turn over action markers at the beginning of the round, then these events can have their targets changed by Blowback. I don't think this is a significant argument either way.

(Going out on a minor tangent here: I don't think the second and subsequent actions of a cluster should have the privilege of being immune to Overslept and Alliance. So I would allow these events to be played in response to the announcement of any action, not just the first action of a cluster. But the AR rule would make this generalisation awkward. There's no way to Blowback an Overslept event that is applied to the second action of a cluster, so there's a nice symmetry that is maintained by forbidding the use of Blowback against any Overslept. To me, this reinforces my preference for the AC rule over the AR rule. But this is a purely aesthetic argument, and I don't expect it to sway anyone.)

morkin wrote:
Action markers are turned face up at the start of action round for no other reason than to speed up playing. This is a major argument.

It would be a major argument, if it were true!

I agree that performing the actions simultaneously can speed up play. But in the case of sequential play, I cannot see any significant gain from making the players turn over their action markers at the start of the round.
 
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Zeljko
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