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Subject: Do you play games as .... "Allowed Until" or "Denied Until" rss

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Drinky Drinky
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Most of us may look at the title in different ways. The IT folks may call it implicit deny all unless permitted, or implicit allow with specified denies. It can also be looked at as "freedom to" vs. "freedom from".

For those gray areas not covered by the rules, do our cultures shape how we react to how games are to be played out? I'll address this further down the post. Also how do we as a gaming community get around and deal with what are sometimes considered "gentleman's rules".


How many times, especially with more complicated games, have you run into the following:

"You can't put that piece there, it does not say you can do that. There is no specific rule specifying that specific type of movement."

And someone replies with:
"The rules do not disallow it, and it still lines up with one of the rules how I can place said piece even though it not specific to how I did it."

These are almost like the unwritten rules of baseball, such as you do not swing on the first pitch after 2 consecutive home runs have been hit. Or in Ligretto it is frowned upon placing cards using 2 hands, instead of one hand to shuffle and one hand to place cards. There are more examples, but these are the easiest to come up with and convey.

Back to cultures. From what I have seen on rules arguments in the forums there are many disagreements on the gray areas of rules. Are more democratic cultures more apt to argue the point of you have not told me I can't, there for I can. Where are other more European cultures are more apt to state the rules have not expressively allowed you to do such, therefor anything other than what is stated is disallowed. Unless cubes are involved...I kid, I kid. I'm not trying to push the point there is a Soviet Arkham Horror out there, that plays me more-so. But people did grow up with certain mindsets that will effect how they view the game to be played.

I think with any answer, the only "wrong" answer is, the one that dissuades people to playing a game, or keeps them from coming back.

What happens if we say yes moves are allowed, did we just allow some groundbreaking power move that makes the game so unfair that no one wants to play. Or vice versa did we just smother a set of players so much that there is no innovation in gameplay, or the game is reduced to riding on rails to where other players can be replaced by a small shell script.

With BGG we have the option of posting in the forums until we wait for the answer from a developer. But as with most other things in life the answer isn't always available and for better or worse we have to come up with our own.

I'm more curious on how the rest of the community thinks.



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Albert Hernandez
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In a boardgame, I think I tend to disallow something unless the rules account for it. In an RPG I would go the other way. Really though, I think it depends on the individual game and when something like this comes up I tend to ask myself "What feels more in spirit of the game?"
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Derry Salewski
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I wouldn't play a game where the rules are that vaguely written, and someone isn't around to offer customer support.

In games where the gray area comes more from the players than from the clarity of the rules, I would tend to modify the rules to fit however I think the game is supposed to work, probably with 'fairness' the top priority.

I don't think I would approach it in the terms you describe.
 
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Kevin Salch
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OK - I'll bite.

First I think you need to give a few specific examples. I think that most of the cases arise from poorly written rules or someone choosing to violate the "spirit" of the game.

Example - Chess - No possibility of playing not by the rules. Yes you can play by house rules - ignore the en passant rule; not allow castling. But these are not what I think you are implying.

Next Example -Monopoly - Again there are a lot of "house" rules, but I don't think there are any plays that are not covered by the rules as stated.

Final example - Killer Bunnies There are several plays that have to be interpreted based upon the "spirit" of the game and there a quite a few arguments about these interpretations.

My position is to allow something unless it violates the spirit of the game or unbalances the game in some way. Often agreement is done by group think as to if something makes sense. Unless something violates the written rules that is. So I would say I fall on the "Allowed Until" side.
 
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Harald Torvatn
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You are not allowed to do anything unless the rules say you may.

If the rules say you may do something, you are allowed to do all permutations of that something unless the permutations of it that the rules specifically disallows.

If the rules specifically allows some pemutations of otherwise forbidden actions, you may do all of those.

And so on.
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Rob Miller
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Have a vote for "denied until" from me.

I tend to swing towards the "if the rules don't explicitly allow it, it ain't happening" side of things.

I'm a wargamer predominately, and an ASL player at that. In ASL, a refrain of "COWTRA" is often heard. That is to say that you should concentrate on what the rules allow.

I've never had any issues with this, as it tends to reinforce the way I interpret rules in any case. I find that following this principle in games outside of ASL tends to cut down on arguments, hurt feelings, and instances of people truly testing the "spirit" of the rules.
 
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Ethan Larson
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In boardgames, disallowed unless specifically allowed. I'm very picky about this.
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Michael Vinarcik
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I'd say it depends on reasonableness...

For example, when Julius Caesar was released, the rules stated that you could only place new blocks in friendly cities, but it said nothing about limiting the increase of existing blocks in contested cities. Here's the thread:

"Justin:

I can find the rule that states you cannot place/deploy a block in a contested city but there is not a statement that you cannot increase an existing block by a step. There don't appear to be restrictions on that (the first bullet in 6.4 is unrestricted).

From 2.2: "Levy: for each Levy, one (1) step can be added to one (1) existing block, or one (1) new block can be chosen from a player's Levy Pool and deployed on the map at strength I. Choose levies after all movement is complete – they cannot move in the same turn. See 6.4 for details."

From 6.4: "6.4 LEVIES
Command cards have 1, 2, or 3 Levy Points (LP). Each LP allows:
• One (1) step to be added to one (1) existing block. Multiple steps can be added to the same block, each for LP1.
• One (1) new block can be chosen from a player's Levy Pool and deployed in a city at strength I. Steps can be added to a new block immediately, each step costing LP1. Multiple new blocks can be deployed in the same city if desired.
Leaders deploy in any Friendly city.
Legions deploy in their named city, which must be Friendly.
Equitatus/Elephant deploy in their named city, which must be Friendly.
Auxilia/Ballista deploy in any Friendly city.
Navis deploy in any Friendly major port. Steps can be added to existing Navis in any port, but never at sea.
IMPORTANT: In all cases, new blocks can only be raised in Friendly cities, meaning a city currently occupied by at least one Friendly block."

To my reading, the final restriction was specifically and ONLY on PLACING blocks, not ADDING to existing ones. The designer felt differently, so rules set 1.01 now reads:

"IMPORTANT: In all cases, new blocks and steps can only be raised in Friendly cities, meaning a city currently occupied only by at least one Friendly block. New blocks and steps can never be added to Vacant or Contested cities."
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fishhaid
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I've been wondering about this myself in light of all the D&D threads. I think it's more a Euro game culture versus an Ameritrash culture. When I first started playing Euros I learned early that the designers leant towards "if it's not in the rules, you can do it". I seemed to recall an article by the designer of Tempus saying just that. Contrast this with my up bringing with Avalon Hill games that needed to have a code and a section outlining what happens if the wind is blowing SSE vs. SE only.


Getting back to the D&D example, I remember the designer discussing a specific idea for a monster but not ultimately using it because the need for brevity on the card versus the possibility of misinterpretation by the players. Since it's supposed to be a simpler game, I've chosen to treat it as an Euro game - if it' not specifically in the rules, it can be done.

It would be interesting to see if those complaining the loudest are more comfortable with Ameritrash.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Everything is denied unless the rules explicitly allow it.
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Bought with Blood
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Only things specifically permitted are allowed, everything else is forbidden. Thus in settlers of catan you may only trade resources currently in your possession. Futures trading or trading for favours since not specifically allowed is forbidden.

In traders of Genoa all trading is not only allowed but encouraged. So trade/negotiate/exchange anything you want to your hearts content.

I know that there are those who consider all games negotiation games unless one is specifically prohibited from it, but I am not one of those. Apply the rules as strictly and evenly as possible. This is why I hate poorly written or confusing rules.

This is one of my main problems with GW games. They expect you to figure out half the rules on your own and deliberately put vagueness into their rules. So not my cup of tea.
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Rob Miller
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clearclaw wrote:
Everything is denied unless the rules explicitly allow it.


QFT.
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Jeff Thompson
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In ASL, this is explicitly called out as the rule of COWTRA. Concentrate On What The Rules Allow.

This is what I follow in all games.
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Richard Milner
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fractaloon wrote:
In a boardgame, I think I tend to disallow something unless the rules account for it. In an RPG I would go the other way. Really though, I think it depends on the individual game and when something like this comes up I tend to ask myself "What feels more in spirit of the game?"


^^ What he said.

Logically the purpose of a set of rules to to define what is allowed as a very limited subset of reality.
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Quote:
And someone replies with:
"The rules do not disallow it,


If every action was possible unless the rule book explicitly disallowed it, the rule book would be very, very long.

"The rules don't say I can't just take money out of the bank whenever I feel like it" etc.
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Michael Webb
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fractaloon wrote:
In a boardgame, I think I tend to disallow something unless the rules account for it. In an RPG I would go the other way. Really though, I think it depends on the individual game and when something like this comes up I tend to ask myself "What feels more in spirit of the game?"


Always denied until.

Games rules are always written as positive law, not negative law. Never assume something is allowed until that is stated in the rules, and never assume that anything more than what is stated is implied. The game rules create the universe that the players are expected to operate within.

Assuming the opposite creates all sorts of reductio ad absurdum ripe situations like "the rules don't say that I can't steal money from you when you're in the washroom" and the like.

Things like table talk, which are not explicitly dealt with in most rules, should be assumed to be disallowed, although some groups might have house rules allowing for it, which is, of course, fine as long as those assumptions are not taken to other groups.
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krechevskoy wrote:
Are more democratic cultures more apt to argue the point of you have not told me I can't, there for I can. Where are other more European cultures are more apt to state the rules have not expressively allowed you to do such, therefor anything other than what is stated is disallowed.


I get your point about people living in strict, authoritarian societies more intuitively grasping the idea that you can't do X unless someone says so. I find it bizarre that you use 'European cultures' as a contrast to 'more democratic cultures.' The European countries are the more democratic cultures. The USA uses one of the worst voting systems. The only major democracy that is worse (to my knowledge) is the UK. We use first past the post, without primaries, plus the unelected house of Lords where bishops (today in 2010) are entitled to vote on laws that we all have to obey.

*Belarus is Europe's last dictatorship, but I doubt they play many BGG board games.
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John McGeehan
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To take it to the extreme, the rules of Chess do not state specifically that you can't flip up the board and storm away, and the rules of Monopoly don't ban stealing money from the bank (oddly enough, they do stress that the Banker keep his money separate from the Bank's money, but don't mention anything about other players doing so...).

These are obviously unsportsmanlike things (and for that matter represent cheating) but the rules don't absolutely address the possibility of these things happening. There's lots of little things that aren't quite so egregious that can come up if you simply say that a player can do anything the rules don't forbid them doing, because there's always something the rules don't say.

To such an end in a boardgame I'd generally err on the side of allowing something only if the rules permit it.

(Note that in an RPG, I'd generally lean the other way but in an RPG the DM always has, in the end, the final say to allow or disallow anything he so chooses, rules be damned).
 
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mvinarcik wrote:
For example, when Julius Caesar was released, the rules stated that you could only place new blocks in friendly cities


That's just badly worded. It could mean:

* If a block is new, then it must go in a friendly city, or
* all that you may do is place new blocks in friendly cities.

In this kind of situation, ask the designer/publisher. If they're not around, try and use common sense.
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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CortexBomb wrote:
Things like table talk, which are not explicitly dealt with in most rules, should be assumed to be disallowed, although some groups might have house rules allowing for it, which is, of course, fine as long as those assumptions are not taken to other groups.


This is where I part company with the denied until group. Of course things like stealing money from the bank prove that you can't play that anything is allowed unless prohibited. But rules generally don't specify that players may breathe during play, thus indicating that some things are permitted without being specified. And talking can very easy be argued to be more like breathing than stealing money.

How? Essentially most games are finite state machines - at any given time you can define the state of the game, and the rules specify how you can change state. This is really obvious in games such as chess, but apply to most other games too. (Exceptions include most figure wargame that are analogue rather than digital.) But no matter how much I talk, I have not changed the game state.

OK, you may not buy that as proving that table talk should always be permitted. But you should buy that talking is different in nature to stealing money from the bank. The former is obviously excluded. But applying the same principle to table talk is a choice, not a logical necessity. And that's why people come to different conclusions over it. Or in short, the absolutist position stated above is wrong. (And also, in practice, so is its opposite, that any form of table talk is always permitted. It's a matter of what works, which varies by game and by group.)
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Dave
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By nature, I'm more of a "denied until" person, but these days, I'd probably check the publisher's web site and/or BGG for official errata or community standards. Surely, as gamers, we know the importance of using all strategic resources available.
 
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Although it makes the most sense to not allow an action unless it's specifically mentioned in the rules there's one thing to remember: A game is your toy to play with as you want. If everyone at the table agrees to a rule then it's fair game.
 
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Guy Srinivasan
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Synnical77 wrote:
If everyone at the table agrees to a rule then it's fair game.

Sure, but be very careful you don't accidentally socially bully everyone into agreeing without noticing. It's a lot harder to notice than you might think if you're the one with the social high ground!
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Dearlove wrote:

This is where I part company with the denied until group. Of course things like stealing money from the bank prove that you can't play that anything is allowed unless prohibited. But rules generally don't specify that players may breathe during play, thus indicating that some things are permitted without being specified. And talking can very easy be argued to be more like breathing than stealing money.

How? Essentially most games are finite state machines - at any given time you can define the state of the game, and the rules specify how you can change state. This is really obvious in games such as chess, but apply to most other games too. (Exceptions include most figure wargame that are analogue rather than digital.) But no matter how much I talk, I have not changed the game state.


That is true to the extent that a given game and a given game group allow you to cleanly separate the game from the metagame and focus only on playing the game. For e.g. Werewolf or Diplomacy, extracting a finite state machine and arguing that "talking does not change game state" would miss the point entirely.

If a game makes things that entangled, the written rules should cover a fair bit of what would normally be metagame behavior. If a given game group tends to entangle game with metagame, that group should presumably have developed customs for the metagame. Finally, where keeping game and metagame fairly separate is possible, it's probably because there is good consensus about metagame rules, which are frequently discussed here in the guise of "proper gaming behavior" etc. Consider the recurring discussions here about kingmaking, playing to win, taking back moves, leaving games early, etc. etc.

Edit: in case it's not clear, I agree with most posters--generally, things are not allowed unless the rules allow them. Probably the most common example is that people will occasionally ask "Can I trade items with another player." No. No, you can't.
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Eric Brosius
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Wargamers use the acronym "COWTRA", which means "concentrate on what the rules allow."
 
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