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Subject: wheelin' and dealin' rss

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Mike Young
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When playing with the Talk the Talk option, can you make a deal to change ownership of galley squadrons?
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Michael @mgouker
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I would say no. Units cannot be exchanged and I don't think galleys should be different. If an alliance card is played, the forces of another power can stack with yours though. This provision should allow galleys of another power to escort an ally's armies.
 
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Mike Young
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Ok, what about cities? I know provinces have to have a unit of the recipient present to change hands.
 
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Michael @mgouker
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If you have an alliance card you can give up a city or town. Neil gave a ruling on that. We distinguish between informal and formal alliances by the use of the Alliance card. Here's a summary (so far, I'm still going over the messages):

During the game, players may form informal alliance by agreements, but these are thoroughly unregulated. A formal alliance only exists, if an Alliance card is played. An alliance card allows you to stack your armies together and share lines of communication. For naval movement, you do not need to make continuation rolls at a port controlled by an ally (or any of their home spaces). Also, concession of towns or cities is possible only with an Alliance card. Without a formal alliance, you may not cede cities or towns to another player.
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Neil Randall
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Correct - no units of any kind can be exchanged.

To be honest, I'm not really happy about swapping cities or towns, either, and when time comes to prepare the Second Edition rules, I'm going to look hard at that idea (with the help of Michael and all those who feel strongly one way or another).

Michael, let's also work on some better guidelines for the Talk the Talk option.
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Mick Weitz
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Hello!

I'm a very big fan of diplomacy in games. Games such as Civilization, Twilight Imperium, Diplomacy (duh), and yes, Pax Romana, are excellent venues for diplomatic play. It is very entertaining to BE Rome, or Greece, etc., or at least an ambassodor when you "make deals" with other players.

One of the great things about Pax (in my mind), is that you not only exercise diplomacy in the traditional sense (If you don't interfere with my plans in western Asia Minor, I won't block your access to the Black Sea, ect.), but you can also make a "formal," rule changing alliance.

Because of the mechanics of Pax, this formal alliance is an excellent perk, and can really expand your stategic options. At the same time, it is at best brief, and not unbalancing (I think).

Having said all this, I'll get to my point. I really like the current alliance/table talk rules. Sure, a few clarifications may be needed, but all in all, I believe the existing rules are simple, solid, strategic, and superb.

Good Gaming~! Mick

PS I don't think units should ever be exchanged, but I do believe that cities and towns should be. Seems reasonable, historic (I'm thinking of Pergamum, I guess), balanced, and would be a rare enough event in any case. I guess Tarentum becomes a candidate for some kind of city swapping deal, or any Greek cities that are built with those suicidal garrisons in the far West.
 
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Michael @mgouker
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As long as players have to play the Alliance card, it doesn't really bother me at all. The only change that I would make actually to the way the Alliance card is used is to mandate that after the play of the Alliance card, the terms of the alliance cannot be broken until the end of the turn. This is especially important for tracking LOC and combining troops. At the end of the turn (in the isolation phase), the foreign armies should be returned to the nearest city or town, or the capital (player's choice).

We want play of the Alliance card to have some significant value, which this will guarantee.

Usually the Greeks are the ones that are hellbent on delivering Tarentum to the Romans. It usually is a mistake. I don't mind that they get to learn this for themselves! LOL.
 
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Michael @mgouker
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Mike and I were posting together and he beat me too the response. I do think there is a need for the minor change I posted, but I have no problems with the current strength of the Alliance card. Something like this would be fine. List the advantages of the alliance card and then say:

A formal alliance can be terminated by mutual agreement during a turn. Otherwise it lasts until the end of a turn.

Advantages are:

During the game, players may form informal alliance by agreements, but these are thoroughly unregulated. A formal alliance only exists, if an Alliance card is played. An alliance card allows you to stack your armies together and share lines of communication. Also, concession of towns or cities is possible only with an Alliance card. Without a formal alliance, you may not cede cities or towns to another player.

And of course, the dissolution of the alliance at the end of the turn has to account for where the armies must go. (nearest city or town, or the capital city)


 
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Mick Weitz
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I agree about the "unbreakable" aspect of the formal alliance rules. Because they are rare and so brief, the formal alliance should be sacrosanct (and thus not entered into lightly).

This still gives PLENTY of oppurtunity to break deals, back stab, lie, and cheat your "friends," if that is what you're into.

The returning of units via "special move" after the termination of a formal alliance is somewhat troubling, perhaps because on the unusual nature of the mechanic. Would they be moved in the removal phase? Would they have unlimited movement potential (at least to the nearest city/town/home province). Perhaps I just need to attach some kind of back story/justification, and then I'll be at peace with it...

Good Gaming~! Mick
 
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Michael @mgouker
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They would be removed in the current turn during the isolation phase (before scoring). The reason for this is that with the alliance terminated, the armies must return to friendly-controlled cities or towns (or the capital city) or the formal alliances won't work. Imagine the alliance terminates and you have 3 LG inside of Athens. See? That's the problem with letting the armies stack together (the only real benefit of the Alliance card besides LOC). The cleanest solution is to having them immediately return to the nearest controlled city or town (as long as an LOC can be traced) or even moving all the way back to the capital city. After all, we are talking 25 year periods.
 
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Mick Weitz
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Hello Michael! In retrospect, the "return" procedure after an alliance terminates is probably the simplest solution (once it's clarified).

My initial thought was that the troops just stay where they are. Thus, even though you may be dealing with an "ally," you still would be very wary about where and how many troops they are moving through your territory. I think both concepts have their advantages/disadvantages, and thus the simplest solution (rules wise) is probably best.

If formerly "allied" units were to remain in place after the termination of an alliance, rules would have to be in place for potential conflict with cities/units that they were stacked with. This could get complicated. Or not. Not being a game designer, I'll leave it up to you guys...

Good Gaming~! Mick
 
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Michael @mgouker
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"Complicated" doesn't begin to describe that scenario. Worse, however, is the fact that if there is an opportunity for a formal Alliance to terminate normally, there is no purpose in using the card at all. The changes I'm requesting would make it work better.
 
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Neil Randall
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Interesting discussion, and let's continue it. I'm going to let Michael G. be the guide here, because he's played far more live multi-player games of Pax than I have. I agree, however, that the formal Alliance (i.e., via Alliance Card) should be sacrosanct for a time, and "until the end of the Victory Phase" seems right to me. But let's keep chatting about it.
 
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Michael @mgouker
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I have played a lot of Pax, but an alliance card is very infrequently played. I've played 3 alliances and I think we've seen 2 others played (more or less). In one case I used an alliance to make an informal alliance more binding. In one case I did it to join forces with a nearly defeated Greece (with every intention of facing the immediate problem and then breaking the alliance when convenient). In the final case, I was actually tricked and as Rome I suffered a slave revolt and a barbarian invasion care of my ally and could exact no revenge. During Paxr-107 an alliance was used to unite Greece and Rome in the division of the Danube, but it was dropped as soon as convenient for the Romans. I think we also saw an alliance card in paxr-bgg1, but I am not sure. In general, though, the weakness is that the play of the card guarantees nothing. The alliance can be broken even in the same activation, which in my mind defeats the purpose of formalizing the alliance.

Couple more things though:

1. We should not allow an ally to build a city or town in the home province of its ally.

2. The disposal of allied forces at the end of a treaty should be only from home provinces and if the ally controls a city or town in the home province already (for example Greek Tarentum in Roman Bruttium) they should not have to leave.

Note that these conditions only apply to home provinces.
 
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Mick Weitz
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Hello. I just read over the formal alliance rules again (section 4.2), and was startled at their brevity!

Because Pax is a game (as opposed to a simulation), I'm inclinded towards the Keep It Simple, Sir, rule (obviously modified for civility).
Hence, it would seem a shame to take such a small, concise rules section and add .5, .6, .7, etc. to it.

However, the vagueness of the current rules do present a bewildering array of questions, as mentioned in the posts above.

My thoughts are that an Alliance card must be agreed to by both parties (as is currently the case), the alliace lasts for the remainder of the turn, and the alliance is Sacrosanct (live with it, you both agreed, and it's only a turn).

The Alliance allows both players to exchange cards, talents, cities or towns (but not units), to count each others HOME territory as their own home territory for continuation, and allows a player to move military units THROUGH but not on his allies. Thus, no combining armies or stacking with the enemy.

At the end of the turn, during the records phase perhaps, all units in a former allies home territory are removed to the closest friendly town or city (even if it's in enemy home territory, like Tarentum). This is a free move, and cannot be intercepted or interfered with by anyone. Units in a former allies non-home provinces would remain where they are, and be subject to all normal rules and conditions (contesting control, supply, etc.).


Note-This is very similar to the current rules, and in my thoughts, still very simple. Stacking with allies seems too off the wall, and potentially complicated, unrealistic, and overpowered, especially if you were able to attack with a "multinational" force. The rules outlined above would still allow for some sweepingly impressive movements (imagine a Carthaginian fleet sailing from Carthage to Asia Minor to do battle with Greek forces, or a Greek fleet sailing from Ionia, along the Italian coast, and appearing in southern Gaul or northern Iberia), but would not have too many exceptions from the fundamental rules set.

Also, because Alliances are somewhat rare, it would seem a pity to clog up the rules with too many subheadings for one small event.

In my mind, the vast majority and effect of alliances will manifest themselves through the informal variety, and hence not be subject to any of the possibilities above.

Good Gaming~! Mick
 
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Michael @mgouker
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Mike:

Even when combining forces, the way we play is that you cannot lead multinational forces, however allied armies combine in defense. Note that the moment you allow an allied force to enter a city or a town, you _are_ combining forces, since a city or a town is formed from a garrison.

We play that players cannot exchange cards nor can they tell the other players which cards they have. This is a good thing in my opinion and I see no reason to write rules that a player in an alliance using a card to attack an ally. We want the game to keep its Machiavellian nature. Cards should be a surprise.

We play that players can send each other talents even without a formal alliance. It happens quite often and it is a good thing. Note that most of the time talents are sent, they are bribes or tribute - not help. One change I wish to make with this is to limit this to 5T (to avoid one player from sending all his money to another player which would ruin the game for everyone else) and forcing the player to use a minor move for the transport.

Also, note that during the time of an alliance you should definitely not count the forces of an ally in determination of control - in home provinces. Otherwise, it simply won't work. (edit: corrected this = I agree with you that it should be limited to only the home territory.)

If we solve the minor problem of disposition of the forces (and I prefer the player to have a choice of returning to the capital instead of a major nearby city) at the end of the alliance - which your solution still has - I see this as a pretty foolproof solution. I'm generally against complexity in systems, but this is one place, I believe, where specifying the exact power of the card makes the game easier to play - even with a few extra points. As it is, players get really confused about the purpose of the card now. Setting limits and giving specific powers will help a lot. Plus, we want to see alliance cards used more often.

edit: And to return to the original question, play of an alliance card should also allow galleys of one power to escort the forces of another. In the event of a naval battle, the decision to fight or not should be left to each player.
 
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Mick Weitz
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Hello Michael,

A few comments on your suggestions.

I agree wholeheartedly that players should be allowed to exchange talents at any point in the game (bribery/tribute). The very chattel nature of wealth and trade goods makes this seem entirely plausible, and it's a fun, simple mechanic.

I for one think players should have the option of either revealing or trading all, some, or none of their cards during a formal alliance. This exchange of "state secrets" seems simple, characterful, and not unbalancing to me. I think of an example, say, The Corvus. Say the East has discovered this technology, has not much use for it, and is willing to "share" with it's allies, the Romans. Or, say Mercenaries. A savy Carthaginian player has no particular need of this card for obvious reasons, but can trade their mercenary "contacts" with their friends in Greece. Just a few examples which I feel add fun, but no rules problems to the game, while simultaneously making an alliance card more interesting.

I guess I'm still queasy about stacking units with an ally. My thought is that you should not be able to stack with an allies military units, nor enter an allies cities or towns. You could move through these spaces (given enough movemnent), just not end on them (like a transit point). It just seems wierd to have Greek armies hanging out in Roman cities, and vice versa.

That being said, the "removal" mechanic would influence my thoughts here as well. What happens to units who end the turn stacked with an ally in a neutral provice? Do both nation's units get sent back to their capital or nearest city? Do they remain and fight? Dice off for the right to remain? It just seams more simple to me that the forces just can't mix to begin with.

Anyway, very intersting discussion on one of my favorite aspects of Pax (and many other games), alliance and diplomacy!

Good Gaming~! Mick
 
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Steven Chambers
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Great discussion here. I'm still a newb at Pax, but it's a great game as far as I can tell, and likely destined to be a classic. The problem of two powers sharing a space in a neutral province was the first thing that popped into my head. As mentioned previously, perhaps rolling to see who stays is the best and easiest solution. For my 2 cents, I think you should be able to show and exchange your cards with an an ally, for the very sensible reasons stated above. I also think limiting the number of Talents you can send someone, as well as it requiring a minor move is a good call. What about a simple rule requiring a roll (basically a NTP roll) has to be made to see if any of the shipment was lost if there is not a contiguous controlled/allied land/sea route between the powers? This could represent weather/piracy/corruption if shipped by sea or bandits/corruption if by land. 5T was sugggested as the limit, but if it were made 6T, you could have a successful intercept or a failed 'NTP' roll just roll a d6 to see how many talents were lost. The bottom of the Mediterranean is littered with wrecks that were loaded with riches and the uncontrolled roads of this time period were by no means safe. Shipping large amounts of coinage shouldn't be as easy as a "here ya go". This wouldn't even be an issue if shipments were made between the east and carthage and between rome and greece. [EDIT] Also, why not let units that have to return home at the end of the turn have a choice between the capital or the nearest controlled city?
 
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Michael @mgouker
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Hi Steven!

Great to have you aboard!

A few comments:

In the case of a shared space in a neutral uncontrolled province both armies would have to leave.

With respect to the suggested piracy rule:

It's far more common for amounts like 2T or 3T to be exchanged than 6T. This game has a very tight economy. I don't think we need to add a rule that removes any more talents or makes it harder to bribe. A line of communication works for supply so it should also work for exchange of talents - remember that's how you get money from provinces to your home capital. Thus, if the LOC is safe for sending money from the provinces, it should be fine for sending a bribe.

With respect to the cards:

On second thought, I don't have a problem with players exchanging information about their cards, but I really don't agree that cards can be exchanged. We would have to write rules then that prohibit some cards from being exchanged while others are not. Some cards cannot be quantified – for example, Conqueror or Stability & Opportunity. What is actually being exchanged? It doesn't make sense.

 
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Steven Chambers
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Thanks for the welcome Michael! First of all, thanks for clearing this up: "In the case of a shared space in a neutral uncontrolled province both armies would have to leave." For the piracy idea, I bow to your superior logic. I was thinking more a rounding system with the d6 for talents less then 6, but that would probably just make things more complex then is justified. When you say, "Thus, if the LOC is safe for sending money from the provinces, it should be fine for sending a bribe," are you suggesting there should be a LOC between powers for sending the Talents? Regarding the cards, you bring up good points, and excellent examples. The limit on card exchange could be as simple as "Play when Drawn" and "Hold in Hand." Why not, "May (or May Not) Trade"? Like I said before though, I'm just an enthusiastic newb, and not in any position to offer advise, as anyone in my current online game could attest
 
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Michael @mgouker
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May Trade designation, imho, is not a bad idea.

There must be an LOC to send talents from one player to another. Remember that a sea LOC is only blocked by pirates and enemy galleys so - unless your opponents deliberately block the path, you usually do have a LOC by sea.
 
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Neil Randall
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Again, great discussion.

As you can probably tell, we playtested this game primarily with people who wouldn't dream of giving each other anything, let alone talents and (oh my god!) towns and cities. As I keep explaining to people, my playtest opponents and I took the approach that building a city was an affront against everyone else, and the city (and the player) had to be stomped. As for sending money or trading cards, I can't even imagine doing that in a game. Which is why there's no real trading sub-game in Pax.

But obviously (I've discovered here) people play differently, and the ideas here are worth pursuing. For now, I'll disallow trading cards, although we might consider a "May Be Traded" designation (good though, that) for the second edition, for specific cards. As for sending talents to another player, I don't have a really problem with it (just don't ask me for any!!!), and Michael's idea to tie it to the income LOC is excellent. I don't think we need sinkages or anything (as Michael says, money is tight), although it's a fun thought.

Richard, any comments on all of this? Or shall we just see what works for the second edition and figure out what to allow and restrict?

 
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