Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I thought I should post something for my adoring public (shades of Job coming through?), but I have been a little busy, and will continue to be for some time. So posts may be a little few and far between.

I had a pretty sweet vacation back east. Seeing the Liberty bell and Independence hall was nearly a religious experience for me, and of course being back in the 802 was outstanding ass well. I will make no effort to exhaustively document my travels here on this blog. That strikes me as a lot of hard work and also boring for you- my adoring public.


In the game "Settlers of Catan", when playing with the expansion pack, is it ever possible for a player to win the game in advance of his/her turn during the "special build" portion of the game or must he/she wait for her turn to declare victory even if he/she has accumulated the necessary number of points during the aforementined "special build"?

I will be sending this query to the makers of the game and will keep you posted with regards to their response.


Chad said...

That's a good question. It seems like you could win in special building, but I've never seen it happen.

Steve said...

I looked this up on the Internet for a while last week and found only two possible sources online for the answer. The first was a guy who posed it as one of a few conundrums without giving an answer. And the second was the homepage of the game's maker, who pointed all questions about rules to a massive FAQ page.

Which was in German.

I don't read German, so the search was fruitless. But the issue, as I see it, has two parts:

1. Is a Special Build 'turn' the equivalent of a regular 'turn' such that a player may win on either his or her regular or Special Build 'turn' according to the original game rules, which limit victory to one's own turn?

2. Should the expansion rules, which contain specific limitations on what may NOT take place on a Special Build 'turn,' while specifically stating a player may build any item he or she is able to, be interpreted to either (a) allow anything they do not specifically exclude (here, winning the game), or (b) exclude everything they do not specifically allow, if it is prohibited by another rule from the original game?

In order to answer the question 'no,' you must first assume that a Special Build 'turn' is not equivalent to a regular 'turn' according to the definitions of the original game for purposes of victory, and then conclude that though the writers of the expansion rules specifically excluded certain actions for Special Build, actions which did not include winning the game, they nevertheless intended that players understand winning was also excluded.

Clearly the rules are somewhat ambiguous, but to me (and neutral arbiter Josh Jones), it just makes sense that since the rules say:
(a) you can do anything you could do on a normal turn during a Special Build turn,
(b) except certain specifically enumerated things (such as play a card),
(c) winning the game is not among those specifically enumerated exceptions,
(d) you can win the game on your Special Build turn by doing those things you could do on your normal turn (e.g., build a city and win).

Where I'm coming from is that in the law, if the legislature goes to the trouble of writing a list of exceptions (affirmative defenses for homicide, for instance), those are considered to be exclusive. A list of exceptions must include all exceptions, or it's meaningless. That's what happened here -- it could be clearer, but since it's not ruled out in the expansion rules, it should be allowed.

Rocket Surgeon, Phd said...

Where I'm coming from is that in a democracy, if the people go to all the trouble of putting together the game board and investing over an hour into a game then democracy should rule (if it's reasonably "ambiguous" as you called it) over the despotic rantings and bullying of a, well, sore winner.

I don't think you can do everything on a special build that you could on a normal turn. You can't trade cards right? The very title says that it's for building specially. Not for playing cards or otherwise engaging the game on any level except to build. One would then expect that if they drew a card that would benefit them (say a soldier) to the point of winning they wouldn't be able to benefit from that until their turn.
Similarly, if you were able to build a city to such a degree that you were able to win you wouldn't be able to cash in until your turn.

In the future, I guess, when it comes to ambiguously ruled games it is always in the best interests of untainted victory and good humor to allow majority rule to prevail.

Steve said...

As you know, democracy is often antithetical to what is right. Perhaps I should have conceded to the majority in the name of peace. I confess that I (a) got little sleep in an uncomfortable place the night before, and (b) had been constantly challenged that weekend ON EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY RULE by the single most argumentative person I know. Not a recipe for graciousness, especially when the game had already gone on so long and I had a 4-hour drive ahead of me. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

All that said, it's irrelevant to the discussion. Your arguments about the rule are flawed because they assume, without any support, that a Special Build turn is not a 'turn' you can win on, and that although you can build things during SB, you're somehow restrained from counting the points they bring you. Such a drastic departure from the regular practice of the game requires codification, not merely assumption.

Majority rule simply shifts the self-interest to everyone else who wants to win themselves. Appealing to a neutral arbiter (or two) was the right call.

Steve said...

And if this isn't the nerdiest argument of all time, it's in the top ten for sure.

Steve said...

Josh, you have an unfortunate typo in your second paragraph. About being back in the 802... I think you meant "as."

lisa d said...

so sorry that i missed out on hissyfits of cataan.

the most argumentative person stevey m. knows said...

stevey m. does have a point. he did have to drive a long ways.