Inspired by my post Horrible Proofing Person and the comments I received on Facebook, Twitter, and the Blog, I looked up some other rule sets (and took some suggestions). How did other games handle odd player behaviors?
Not all of the items below strictly relate to the scenario I mentioned in my other post, but some do, and I think all are fascinating. Really, the question is: how do designers deal with fuzzy situations?
Sometimes, somewhat seriously. Others, with a big smirking grin. All of these I think are useful as references and inspirations. I also included the one I'm going to toss in for Wozzle.
"A player could cheat when chosen with the Guard, or fail to discard the Countess when that player has the King or Prince in hand. We suggest that you don't play with knaves who cheat at fun, light games."
This is great. Instead of creating a very complex rule set to keep players honest or weakening the game by cutting the card, they instead simply say "Hey -- don't play with jerks."
Combat Commander Europe
"Important: In Combat commander, the motto "a rule means exactly what it says" should be the order of the day. In other words, as quoted from another fine game, Totaler Krieg!: Do not infer or imagine more to a rule than is stated in it. When in doubt, interpret strictly."
I love this and feel like the two most common rules questions for Farmageddon would be answered by it. The Genetic Super Worm states you reduce the cost to Fertilize by half. Everyone always assumes that means you can steal the crop or harvest immediately. It doesn't say that. Note: There is a slight wording tweak that'll be implemented in a future printing if, fingers crossed, we get another.
For Foul Manure, it states you cannot play Action cards to the crop, Fertilize it, or Harvest it. So many people ask if they can play a Foul Manure to it. But, as Foul Manure is an Action card, no. Note: Again, if there's another printing, I finally figured out how to make this card crystal clear. Ultimately, the fault for the confusion lies with me, the designer.
Once Upon a Time
This is a storytelling game with some mechanics to turn it into a game of sorts. But, they never lose site of what experience they want you to have.
"The object of the game, though, isn't just to win, but to have fun telling a story together."
"These rules are intended to encourage people to tell enjoyable and believable stories, and to ensure that the game is as fast-moving as possible. In practice, a gentle reminder is usually enough to prompt the Storyteller to correct herself, and losing her turn isn't necessary.
Challenges shouldn't be used as a tactic to take the story away from a player who's winning. And they definitely shouldn't be used to harass younger or less articulate players."
X-Wing Miniatures Game
Many miniatures games require a tedious, rigid use of rules and tape measures to fix movement. X-Wing brilliantly uses simple movement templates you follow in seconds. However, sometimes the table can get a bit cluttered. No worry -- use your best judgement.
"To execute a maneuver through another ship, the player should hold the movement template above the ship and make his best estimation of where the ship should end its movement. [...] Both players must agree on the ship's final position and facing."
Design pal Gil Hova told me that Sid Sackson noticed that player 2 playing Focus from his book "A Gamut of Games" could break the game by mimicking exactly player 1's move. His fix? Don't play with that player. He apparently fixed this more thoroughly in a second edition.
In Snow Tails, a game about sled dogs, if a player is spending too much time on his or her turn, the other players can award him or her the Big Pause token. Get it? Eh? Eh? Thanks Geoff Engelstein and Gil Hova.
I'm still doing some tests to verify that the troll tactic is indeed just rude, and not a game winner. But, in the meantime, this is the rule I inserted. Well, not a rule, but a comment.
"Designer Note: Instead of buying Points to win, a Wizard can hoard Coins to impede the ability of others to play. While holding onto some Coins can be a good tactic, hoarding all isn’t in the spirit of the game. In lieu of a complex rule, Wizards should instead best each other with spells and cards! Remember, Wizards hate trolls."
On his personal site, Max Temkin (one of the guys behind Cards Against Humanity) writes about how to play werewolf. In one section titled "Being a Great Player," he covers the topics of this post quite well. It's a long section, so I just recommend you hit this link and read it.
Do you know of other examples?