Monday, 26 December 2011

Rules Conundrum: What to Do When the Rules Have Been Broken?

And he's back.

Life, work and Christmas have conspired to keep me from blogging. One's calmed down, one's taking a break, and one is basically over, so I'm back (for now, at least).

And it's time for another Rules Conundrum.

What do you do when a rule has been broken?

Let's face it, we break the rules of our games of choice all the time. We misread, we misremember, we assume and we forget. When time's an issue (as it is in many tournament settings), I can only imagine that the added stress causes mistakes that wouldn't have otherwise happened.

I'm assuming that all these little acts of rules vandalism are entirely accidental. No one would be nefarious enough to cheat at a wargame, would they?

So, what do we do?

For one group of mistakes, the answer is simple: get on with the game. This is particularly the case when no rule has been broken, per se. Someone scooped up one too few dispel dice for his pool, a piece of rubble that wasn't meant to be Difficult suddenly was, and so on. Best to just...

There are mistakes, however, that are, in essence, breaking the rules.

Among the most commonly encountered such mistakes are when special rules that are not optional are forgotten. These cane be detrimental rules, such as Rage (40k) or Frenzy (WHFB), or they can be beneficial effects, such as Bump (Hordes). They can also be effects that have been initiated by one player, and are forgotten about because they're resolved later on. Burrowing models in WarmaHordes are frequent offenders.

No matter their nature, these things have one thing in common: they, at one point or another had to be resolved.

Unfortunately, games manufacturers don't consider this. There are no guidelines. (At least in the games I play)

I get it, they don't want to encourage cheating/confuse people/write more rules than necessary. I get it.

But having some sort of hint about when to Keep Calm and Carry On, and when to go back and resolve the thing that wasn't resolved, would be helpful.

This is what we do:

Was it a voluntary effect? If so, it's done. Move along.

Is it something that is easily remedied (e.g. that Juggernaut should have taken two more/less points of damage)? If so, fix it, then move along.

Has a considerable amount of in-game time passed? If yes, it's done. Move along.

Is it a game changing effect, within a reasonable time frame? If yes, fix it, even if it requires a little work.

Are there models missing (the burrowing models mentioned above, for example)? If they can be placed, place them as soon as possible. If not, furrow your brows, flip through the rulebook dejectedly and then place them as close to their intended place as possible. Unless there are rules for what happens in those circumstances; if there are, follow those.

Should there be fewer models on the table than there are (too few models removed as casualties, miscalculated damage, models from unit A - which shouldn't be in this battle - mixed in with the models from unit B)? If so, remove the surplus. If it is no longer clear which models should be removed, randomize.

In the end, these are guidelines we (generally) use. They are there to speed things along, and ensure that everybody is more or less on the same page. They are also not quite as explicitly stated as they are here. They're just sort of implied...

But no more.

And that's that for me. Have a nice Christmas.

No, I will not call it something else. I don't care whether you believe in Christ or not. I don't. That's not what Christmas is about.

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