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Player error question

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#1 FrinkiacVII



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Posted 11 July 2012 - 03:31 PM

I just played my first game of aGoT, and I don't own the game, so forgive the lack of complete detail.  Anyway, there are 5 "Special Orders" tokens (the ones with the little star on them) available to players, and there are rules concerning how many of these a player can place in the face-down "assign orders" phase or whatever it's called.  In our game tonight, one person had been able to place 3, then lost that position on the board and in a later turn she could only place 1, but she forgot about that when assigning orders.  When we all revealed all of our orders tokens, someone noticed that she had placed too many of the "Special" ones.

At this point, she said "Ok, I guess I take this one back and replace it with something else, there." 

Since it was my first game and clearly a mistake on her part, we all left it at that, but I then pointed out (gamer that I am) the following problem moving forward.  simply put, if this is how we resolve all future errors of this kind, that rule can be "weaponized" very easily.

Let's say a player is only allowed to place one of the starred "Special Action" tokens, and they place all 5 "by accident", this information won't be revealed until all of the tokens are turned face up.  At that point the "Cheater" goes "WHUPS! I mistakenly placed a bunch of stuff I wasn't allowed to place, I guess I have to replace 4 of my tokens with other ones. Ok, let's see, you're attacking with that guy, so clearly I defend with +1 HERE, you DIDN'Y choose to attack over there so I'll just put a Crown on THIS area, etc.."  This person now get's to rearrange most of their orders tokens with FULL KNOWLEDGE of what everyone else is doing because they failed to follow the rules, on purpose.  So clearly, we can't let that be the rule, ever, at any time, even when it really is "by accident" because we have no way of determining when it's a real accident or a fake accident.   Even if you call a "misdeal" and pull all of the tokens back, the cheater has gained valuable insight into what everyone else INTENDED to do that round, which can be very enlightening, and in most cases the other players probably aren't going to change their orders too much in the redo.  Also, if a redo is called for, the other player have tipped their hand in terms of their real intentions now, but the cheater has not, because he placed a bunch of orders that were illegal in the first place, and therefore the other players learn nothing about what he would have done with those units had he not tried to cheat.

We looked for a few minutes to see if the rulebook had anything to say about this issue and never found anything, but I can't say it was a totally exhaustive search, and we didn't look online at all.  I just read the FAQ and didn't see anything about it there either.

I feel like we were either doing that part of the turn incorrectly somehow or we're missing something really basic that prevents or otherwise deals with this issue.

Can anyone help me out?  how do you deal with this?

#2 dypaca



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Posted 11 July 2012 - 04:26 PM

You're not missing anything.  When someone makes this mistake you should try to give them a fair replacement order.  When someone does this intentionally, they are cheating and you should not play games with them.  (and in the meantime I would remove all their starred orders without replacement for that round).

With more experienced players this mistake isn't made often, but if it remains a problem, just ask each player to check their starred orders before revealing orders.  They can do this easily by checking that you have 5 minus your allowed stars in your unused orders.  If you want to get really fancy, you could make 6 cards with 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 5 blank order spaces on them.  Then each player has a visual reminder of how many unused star orders they need to keep to fill their card.  (Though the two 5 cards aren't really necessary, since those players can just put all their starred orders face up in front of the player screen).

There is a similar issue with orders that are not allowed for a turn based on the Westeros deck III, but those can just be placed face up in front of the player screen to make sure no one uses them by mistake.

#3 Prince Capsicum

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 03:21 AM

What I do when someone places too many special orders is replace those orders with their mundane counter part. If you don't have enough mundane ones just get rid of those you can't replace.

#4 FrinkiacVII



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Posted 13 July 2012 - 06:34 AM

Thank you both for your replies.  I like the idea of just removing all starred orders when someone, accidentally or not, places too many.  Here are some of my reasons for that:

1. When someone reveals an illegal set of orders, the genie is out of the bottle at this point and there's no putting it back.   Allowing a person to replace even just one Special Order in any way requires you to determine WHICH Special Order was "the illegal one" when in fact they are ALL illegal, because there are too many of them and it is impossible to objectively determine which one should be replaced, or what it should be replaced with.  In fact, it's not even possible to determine WHO should get to make those choices in the first place.  If you let the mistake maker do the swap, they do so with full knowledge of what everyone else is doing this round, which they were not supposed to have at the time of the orders being assigned, and thus that is an unfair advantage to the mistaken person.  If you let the opponents decide in some way, THEY make THAT decision with full knowledge of what else is going on that turn, which is unfairly tilted AGAINST the mistaken person.  Lastly, if the opponents get to make the swap, they then have to somehow decide among themselves what get's replaced where, and that's a much bigger can of worms which probably end in the opponents not being able to come to an agreement at all.

2. Making a mistake in a game should never get the mistaken person an advantage, because it breeds "intentional mistakes" as I've pointed out.  Thus, anyone who makes this type of mistake should be punished for it, even if it means losing the game at a critical juncture where you could have won.  This ensures that all players take every precaution to place their orders in compliance with the constraints that they are under, and rewards all players for keeping each other honest.  If the house rule for this issue is "You lose all of your starred orders if you make a mistake like that." then it should all but guarantee that people would be very careful when assigning orders lest they be called out by another player and suffer the tremendous loss of board position that likely comes with that rule being enforced.  It would also encourage all players to look closely at each others' revealed orders to look for this and thereby take advantage of opponents' mistakes, which is just part of gaming in general.  I mean, it's a pretty draconian rule, I admit it's not fun, nobody wants to have to triple check their markers every round, but in a competitive game environment (which I'm somewhat accustomed to) it is, I believe, necessary. 

3. The "friendly" answer to this problem, for people who want to remain on speaking with their opponents after the game is over, is to do as one responder said and simply replace one of the offending starred markers with an unstarred version of the same, if one exists.  In a casual setting I would agree to this, except that then there comes the problem of trying to decide whether someone really did it by mistake or on purpose.  Also, exactly WHICH marker get's replaced is still a problem.  If there are say, 2 illegal starred markers, which 2 get replaced is a more complicated problem, etc.

4. In the "friendly game" scenario, there still exists the possibility of people trying to cheat.   A player might place too many starred markers hoping nobody will notice and then if caught claim it was a mistake and maybe pull off a starred crown marker and replace it with a regular crown, taking the extra flags as a consolation prize in place of the extra troops they wanted to generate in that stronghold, etc.  They've not really "lost" anything if they do this, they simply have attempted to raid the proverbial cookie jar and got caught, receiving the usual number of lashes with a wet noodle for it.  Unfortunately, the severity of the punishment will determine how willing people are to take that risk, for those that are so inclined.

5. You'd be surprised what kind of stuff people come up with once the competitive juices get flowing, and I feel like there's the attitude among some people that "anything the ref doesn't see is legal", which is of course against everything I believe in when it comes to boardgames.  If you have to break a rule to gain an advantage, you're not truly winning anything.  To win, one must prevail against one's opponents while adhering to the rules.  Once people start cheating there can not truly be any winner, because the game has been spoiled entirely by a rule being broken.  Unfortunately this sometimes requires very harsh punishments to deter the would-be cheaters once their "Winning is all that matters." gear kicks in.

So that's my take.  I'm sure I'm overanalyzing this, and to be fair,  we were all making mistakes all over the place in the one game I played, so live and learn, but I feel like if this game has one tragic flaw, this would be it.  In a computer setting where the software can lock you out of illegal moves, it would work fine, but as such it's a problem that requires a bandaid, and a very uncomfortable one at that.

#5 dypaca



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Posted 13 July 2012 - 01:03 PM

I'm concerned that by declaring a standard penalty you are actually encouraging the idea that it is legal to place extra starred orders, and there is just a penalty if someone notices.  Players should not consider placing an illegal order an option any more than they consider taking extra power tokens when no one is looking an option.

I'll also note that there is a rule saying you must place an order in every area that you can.  So even with the most draconian punishment, there can be a case where a player can abuse the star order penalty to avoid being pillaged.  While the value of enforcing the mandatory order rule in these cases is dubious, it is still a rule.

Ultimately, I guess it's up to you to decide what will work best for your group.  A house rule saying "you can place starred orders over the limit, but then they will all be discarded" would work.  Just call it out as a house rule and try to cover all the cases with the raven.  (Can the raven make an order legal to prevent the discard?  Can a player do the discard, then use the raven to put a starred order back on the board?)

As a final thought, I really don't think this mistake will happen much once players have a few games of experience.  The rule that really takes dilligence to follow is the supply limit.  Even with other players double checking you, there are some rare cases with split marches where it can be hard to say what is legal.

#6 FrinkiacVII



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Posted 16 July 2012 - 02:21 PM

I agree with what you're saying about people only adhering to the letter of the law versus its spirit.  I really think this is not per se the fault of the house rule (or the people making and agreeing to it) but rather it is a flaw in the game itself.  The rules as written simply state that certain possible sets of orders are not allowed under any circumstances, but that they are not physically impossible to attempt is a problem. What's worse, there's nothing in there to tell you what to do when someone attempts to do the thing that's "not allowed". 

In a grander sense, this is like declaring that something is against the law, then NOT telling anyone at large what the punishment is for that crime.  Saying "Don't do this, OR ELSE." logically begs the question "Or else what?".  If your only answer is "Just don't, or you'll be sorry." you're going to get to a point where someone somewhere KNOWS they're not going to win if they don't cheat, but they MIGHT if they cheat and nobody notices.  Since there is no well defined punishment other than the vaguely implied threat of "You'll be sorry.", they have to take the risk that the unknown punishment isn't as bad as simply losing outright.  And yes, saying to people "If you do the crime you'll have to do the time." will sometimes cause some people to say "I like that deal, crime committed, catch me if you can." if the punishment is not, in the eyes of the would-be criminal, so bad as the other option.  The problem is (In my opinion) the people who would break that rule intentionally (in cases where they see it as their only option other than flat out losing) would do it even if it were never mentioned what the punishment was.   Again I would reiterate that anyone who tries to win via intentionally breaking a rule does so only in their own mind, and their mind isn't working right in the first place, as far as I'm concerned.  As I said, if there is cheating, it logically follows that there cannot be a winner.  That said I see this all the time.  People can't help their own human nature, and inside all of us, I think, is the desire to trip the guy you're running the race against so that you don't have to run faster than they do.  An honorable opponent is NOT one that never THINKS about cheating, but rather one that sees those possible exploits and chooses not to ACT on them.

Anyway, different strokes for different folks, in my group we're pretty big on having a solid house rule for this kind of stuff. 

#7 jhagen



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Posted 18 July 2012 - 09:07 AM

standard rules for wargame apply:

if 2 conflicting orders are given for one unit:

the unit does nothing.

Use that moving forward. In your case that player would have 5 units doing NOTHING…

#8 Enrick Frostbite

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 01:13 AM

It will sometimes boil down to how democratic you game group is.

My group tends to be more forgiving to new players, allowing them to change illegal star orders. However, if it's a game with all of us being experienced players, these illegal star orders cannot be replaced -- they 'fizzle'.

On a tactical angle, we allow the use of order tokens in order to bluff. People place them knowing it: 1. does nothing or 2. is an illegal order and will thereby fizzle anyway, but it will greatly affect how people think and act given the presence of order tokens in an area.

#9 ArcticPangolin



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Posted 03 January 2013 - 02:35 PM

You are legally required to place an order in every region you have units as per page 12 of the manual. The only time you do not place orders in all regions is when they are not able to be legally placed (eg insufficient special orders due to King's Court influence track position).

Our group lets brand-newbies swap out illegal orders with whatever they like, newbies with the equivalent non-Special Order, and people who should know better get nothing, although they can still use the Raven dominance token to put an order in the vacated region.

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