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Subject: Are there explicit rules on diplomacy? rss

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...sure...
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How is diplomacy/negotiation handled? Can we break our deals halfway? Should we honor our agreements? Are there rules for diplomacy?
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Flix
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Re: Diplomacy
There are no explicit rules for diplomacy but I think it´s clear that negotiations should be handled as in similiar games: all deals can be broken by one side but on the other hand it is important to build up confidence and not to make everybody mad at you.
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...sure...
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Re: Diplomacy
Thanks. The rules implied that, but they aren't explicit. We'll play it like that, then.
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Benjamin Maggi
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Re: Diplomacy
Coming from a Diplomacy game background, I approached my first game of Samurai Swords with the expectation that everyone else would want to spand a couple of minutes talking about alliances, strategy, etc. When I suggested that we take a minute or so before the game started to talk about such things, I was hit with blank stares. One player (the GM, an experienced player) said something along the lines of "anyone want to talk with him [me?] No? Okay, let's begin."

I then defended my proposition by saying that we would probably end up attacking each other and like other games with multiple players it might make sense to at least try and coordinate our efforts together. More blank stares.

Apparently, everyone besides me in our 5 player game wanted to go it alone! I gave it up after that. Then proceeded to come in 2nd place!

Note: At no time was I talking about written in stone alliances, enforceable agreements, 15 minute discussion phases between rounds, etc.
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Flix
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Re: Diplomacy
Benjamin Maggi wrote:
Apparently, everyone besides me in our 5 player game wanted to go it alone! I gave it up after that.

Good choice! For sure better than the one before (choosing these ignorant bastards fellow gamers....yuk
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The Elder
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The rules for diplomacy, such as they may be, are on page 9. They state in a roundabout way that agreements are binding.

It says that you "agree not to attack each other during one complete round of play. While the agreement lasts you're...without fear of being attacked from the rear."

If there was any possibility that the other player in the agreement was allowed to break the agreement that it could hardly be "without fear".

Some may argue that if I was attacked before the round was complete the agreement obviously no longer lasts and thus my fear would be free to begin without contradicting that quote. If so I go back to it and point out that if there was a possibility of it being broken before the agreed upon length I would not be without fear in the first place.
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John Labelle
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The Elder wrote:
The rules for diplomacy, such as they may be, are on page 9. They state in a roundabout way that agreements are binding.
It says that you "agree not to attack each other during one complete round of play. While the agreement lasts you're...without fear of being attacked from the rear."

The key words are “While the agreement lasts”. It can end by one side back stabbing the other. If I double cross you, the agreement no longer “lasts”.

To say that the rulebook says agreements are binding is quite a stretch. I see no punitive conditions if an agreement is broken. No wording that says simply that “All agreements must be carried out.” The “without fear of being attacked from the rear” sentence is only part of an example AND IT ENDS WITH: “But beware!”

Beware? Beware of being knifed in the back by the Green player who you made a deal with! (Never trust Green!)
In theory, you had a reason to be "without fear", but I think Machiavelli would warn against such optimism.

Flix wrote:
There are no explicit rules for diplomacy but I think it’s clear that negotiations should be handled as in similar games: all deals can be broken by one side but on the other hand it is important to build up confidence and not to make everybody mad at you.

This makes far more sense and you don’t need a legal team of 12 year olds (“Ages 12 to Adult“) to interpret whether the conditions of a deal and a rule were broken or not.
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The Elder
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Be warned: 1400+ words -- humour content less than or approximately equal to zero
Importance to the game: Undetermined, probably slight to nil, especially with updated game to be released, hopefully with proofread rulebook
Importance to your life: None
Reason for writing: Insomnia, vainly trying fill in the cold, dark, lonely hours of night with extended discussion of trivialities instead of doing something worthwhile
Probability that someone responds with "OMG, get a life, you have way too much time on your hands": Low, but only because I don't expect anyone to read this to see if it actually consists of anything more than a few proper sentences at the start and end filled with random keyboard banging in the middle


Momoshiro wrote:
I see no punitive conditions if an agreement is broken.


In Shogun I'm going to:
* move all my army and provincial units out of my provinces whenever I wish.
* keep those empty province cards.
* claim full income for them.
* change my allocation of koku after I let you spy on me.
* reinforce any attacked provinces after a battle is declared against them.
* not pay for those reinforcing units.
* place more ronin in a province than I have units.
* have more than six units in a provincial force.
* put three koku in build and erect a castle-fortress in one turn, claiming a 25% favoured customer discount based on the size of my big weapon and where I'm going to stick it (yeah, it is that big and where I stick it it's going to hurt).

In another, common, game:
"I'm moving this piece backwards."
"You can't, it hasn't been 'kinged'."
"So?"
"Chequers. It's a solved game."
"What?"
"I'm trying to distract you with a non sequitir."
"What?"
"Chocolate fish."

Where are the punitive conditions for those situations?

I don't think they exist on paper.

If, I'm stressing that if with italics and this clause, the rule in Shogun is that you can't break an agreement then no punitive conditions for breaking an agreement need be written. The absence of punitive conditions in the manual does nothing to prove that such conditions are needed neither does it weaken my argument that diplomacy is binding. If the diplomacy rules were more expansive I would argue that an absence of such punitive conditions supports my side--but if they were more expansive there wouldn't be an argument.

Much (most?) of the time rules for what happens when a player breaks the rules don't exist. If you make a rule that says what happens when a player breaks another rule then a player can break that broken-rule rule, so you make a broken broken-rule rule, ad infinitum.

If you break the rules you're not playing the game. Other players tell you that a move is illegal and you don't make that move. If you insist on breaking the rules people tolerate it or they pack their board and don't invite you back.


Momoshiro wrote:
The key words are “While the agreement lasts”


We quite disagree. They are only some of the key words, not the whole of them. A more complete version I already quoted.


Momoshiro wrote:
If I double cross you, the agreement no longer “lasts”.


I agree with that perverse interpretation which is why I already countered that argument in my original statement:

If the agreement is not binding then before the agreement ends--either it ends prematurely by duplicity, it comes to term, or all or all but one of the players who made it are eliminated--I am in fear of it being broken.

If it can be broken I am not without fear. Proof by contradiction.


Momoshiro wrote:
This makes far more sense


Although it may be implicit--or it may not be implicit--I'll explicitly qualify that with "to you and anyone who thinks like you". I think that in and of itself Flix writes sensibly, I just don't think Flix writes in agreement with the Shogun rules that were published with the game.


Momoshiro wrote:
“Ages 12 to Adult“


I don't think that this constitutes part of the rules. If it does, I see no punitive conditions for playing the game with anyone under 12.

That a game is advertised as being suitable for ages 12 to adult is no guarantee that it is suitable for the bottom of that scale. On the contrary, you argue for me: That a game is advertised as being suitable for adults opens it to the possibility of being interpreted by adults.


Momoshiro wrote:
AND IT ENDS WITH: “But beware!”

Beware? Beware of being knifed in the back by the Green player


As opposed to Puerto Rico where it's beware of not sitting to the left of the green player.

I cut from my original post my commentary on the closing statement of the rules with the beware, all alliances are fragile and temporary statement since it doubled the size of my post and I wanted to keep a post short for once. Given the size this post has reached that hardly seems to have been worth it so I shan't keep this version quite as brief as its progenitor.


Shogun Rules wrote:
But beware! Ultimately, only one of you can win--and this cold fact makes any alliance risky, fragile--and temporary!


But beware!
It doesn't actually end with "beware". Beware comes at the beginning of a new thought. If it was a direct continuation of the preceding it would follow a comma or another of those overused dashes the writer favoured; sometimes punctuation is important in English. "But beware!" announces the caution to follow. Alone or in conjunction with the following sentence--or with the preceding sentence where you placed it--it contributes nothing to the discussion.

Ultimately, only one of you can win
Flat statement. Fully agreed.

Going on a tangent, it doesn't mean that anyone has to win. Imagine a game which is down to 2 players (or, if it was a 2-player game, down to one colour apiece). Each player:
* controls 34 provinces.
* has just one army.
* just one unit in that army: the daimyo.
* has their army in a single troop province.
They do battle, there are two casualties. No more daimyo for anyone. Game over. Everyone's eliminated, nobody wins. (The single troop condition isn't necessary for both sides; the attacker could be in a double troop province.) This same situation could reduce n players to n-2 for other game sizes too without increasing the number of provinces of any player. Perhaps if this happened any provincial units should remain on the board as ronin or displaced, militant peasants rather than have a straight land grab of empty regions.

and this cold fact makes any alliance risky,
Obviously--but what risk? Risk that someone will break an agreement or risk that any sensible alliance is going to profit both parties who may each both grow stronger and thus more of a threat in the future? Both are valid interpretations.

and temporary!
Follows on from the fact that there can be only one. In the end, any agreement of non-aggression has to end if the parties to it are the only parties left in the game. If this is actually a rule it could even be taken to imply that all agreements need a time-limit of anything but "forever".

fragile
I put this at the end as it presents the strongest evidence that agreements can be broken given that fragile means, of course, easily broken. It also means lacking in force. This would appear to be me arguing against my position so I oughtn't to have included it--but it's not, because you can't take it in isolation.

This pair of sentences is flavoursome not forceful. I claim this not arbitrarily but contextually. Rules in and of themselves don't, as a rule, use such poetic terms as "cold fact" or put in that second dash which doesn't serve a grammatical purpose (but is only intended as a pause) or use exclamation marks so freely. It is clearly written for dramatic effect and obfuscates any game effect it might have been meant to possess. (I wouldn't be surprised if it’s the work of a copywriter and not the game designer.) Since the diplomacy section requires interpretation it should be interpreted accordingly. This flavour text would be indistinguishable from that which appears before the rules start in the book. It really has no place appearing muddled up in the rules proper and should have remained on the inside cover page. It would be an odd sort of game where flavour text overruled the rules.

Please, read the inside cover (page 2). It actually includes the question, "Will your opponent honor a truce line?" Go ahead and use that against my position. I wouldn't bother to answer, "Yes, because the rules say he has to," because I'd be waiting for you to convince me that it really is 16th century Japan.
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You seem pretty sure that agreements are binding, and there is nothing in the rules that explicitly contradicts that. If that's how you and your friends play, then that's great.

However, I disagree with that ruling and would rather play with people who view agreements and in-game diplomacy as non-binding. That doesn't mean you'll see countless broken promises and rampant backstabbing in games that I play - honor and alliances aren't something to be taken that lightly - but it certainly can happen.
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Leo Zappa
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There are no obligations on agreements in this game - they may be broken at will. Of course, breaking agreements comes with the usual consequences for the agreement-breaker in both the game and the meta-game sense.
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John Labelle
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Well, if I play a game that agreements are binding in, then I want "the Elder" to draw up my contracts. I like the way he puts things. Those 12 year olds won't know what hit them.laugh
 
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Lawrence Mak
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Reminds me of a Settlers session I had.

I said, "You can't just collude with your brother and give favourable trades / no robbers!"

Guy, "Why not?"

After I calmed down and thought about it, he's 100% right. There's nothing in the rules that strictly prevent it.

Of course, I might think twice to play that "duo" at the same time.. but there's nothing against it in the rules.

Could he? Yes.
Should he? Probably not. But it's his choice.

Heh.. legend has it that he was once playing a game of risk and made a truce. He was the first-player and then immediately broke it. "Why did you bother making the truce then??"



 
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kalvin connor
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Well, I just played my first game and two players formed an alliance and I had an unwanted alliance. The other two players decided that they can talk about how to place their koku and I said in absolutely no way is that fair at all. I dont care if you work together ON the board, but not off the board. Thats some bull if you look behind someones shield. I then proceeded to tell them that there would be no point in the ninja if they were to do this and thus it would be unfair to everyone else. After bitching and moaning, they finally agreed. But that just seems fair to me!

Everything else imo is fair game when it comes to diplomacy. I also think you should only form any sort of alliance AFTER the game has been set up.
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Geoff C
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As a big proponent of freeform diplomacy, I find this thread interesting.

I searched for and found both the old and new rules online, as I couldn't recall any rules on diplomacy from my old shogun/samurai swords games. There are none. Specefically, the original version had none and the new version only has a sidebox comment on them on p.11, notably starting with "diplomacy and alliances aren’t
formally covered by the game rules".

If there are no rules on diplomacy, then diplomacy has no rules. Simple.
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Nils 1973
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Hi The Elder,

Loved your piece about the formal status of diplomatic agreements!

And I think you are right, formally.
Especially the part about the no fear! I am actually laughing out loud right now. And every time again when I think about 'no fear'.

But I think it was a wrong decision of the Shogun-manual writers to write it that way.
Because a truce can be broken in real life also (Barbarossa) and these dynamics are an important part of the reason that we like to simulate reality by playing games like these.

But man, you can write!
 
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