How Would You Decide? Friends,

For an article I am writing, I need your solution to the following two problems. Please answer regardless of how many others have already given the "correct" or "incorrect" answers.

BACKGROUND

Three players A, B, and C, seated in that order, are playing the basic board game. It is player A's turn.

Player A would like to give Player C two woods in exchange for one brick. Player C is willing to make the deal, but only if Player A agrees to hold the two woods in his hand for him until it is Player C's turn, as he would already have six cards without the woods and the brick and is afraid that Player B or he himself will roll a seven, in which case he would lose half his cards if he now accepts the two woods. Player C's exact words are: "I'll give you one brick for two woods, but you have to hold them for me until my next turn."

Player A agrees.

NOTE: I know that many of you believe that the rules do not allow this kind of deal. Please assume that it is, in fact, allowed.

PROBLEM 1:

Player B rolls a seven on his turn and steals one of the two woods held by Player A for Player C. As a result, after Player C rolls the dice on his turn, Player A has only one wood to give to Player C.

QUESTION: Does Player A have to give Player C the next wood he gets?

ANSWER: Please pick only one of the following two options:

___ Yes

___ No

PROBLEM 2:

After Player B's turn is over, Player A has eight or more cards. Player C rolls a seven on his turn and player A loses half of his cards. Among the cards he relinquishes are the two woods, which are his only woods. As a result, he has no woods to give to Player C on this turn.

QUESTION: Does Player A have to give Player C the next two woods he gets?

ANSWER: Please pick only one of the following two options:

___ Yes

___ No

Many thanks for your help.
asked by Bernhard Rohrbacher on December 22, 2011
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Thanks!

And to all the others who have not yet repplied, here is my final plea:

Because the discussion has died down, I am responding to those who felt compelled to inform me that the type of deal I am looking into is simply not allowed under the rules of Catan, or that the rules of Catan dictate one outcome or another for this deal. For the following reasons, this is simply not the case. I am explaining this in the hope that some who have not answered my two yes/no questions with yes/no answers will, after reading this, decide to answer them.

You only have to go to the rules on official German Catan website, athttp://www.catan.de/spielregeln.html, and click on the links named "Siedler von Catan - Basisspiel - 3/4 Spieler" and "Siedler von Catan - Almanach," to see that the official rules themselves have nothing to say on the topic. They neither prohibit this type of deal, nor do they explain what happens in the situations that are described in the problems I posed to you.

Next, the same official German Catan website offers a link to the Encyclopedia Catanica, at http://www.catan.de/literatur/encyclopaedia-catanica.html, which, given the "Beratende Mitarbeit" from Klaus Teuber, the game's creator, has some weight of authority. If you click on EnCata_Vol_1.pdf to download the first volume, you will find the following on pages 12 and 13 (translation follows):

"Andered Absprachen unter den Spielern sind nicht Teil der Handelsregeln. Beispiele:
. . .
Ein Angebot "Ich tausche dir 2 Erz gegen eine beliebige Karte, wenn der Raeuber nicht zu mir gestellt wird," liegt im Ermessen der betroffenen Spieler, bzw. Der Spielrunde. Eine solche Abmachung ist nicht verboten, da Abmachingen zwischen Spielern generell nicht durch die Spielregel reglementiert sind und dies auch nicht sein sollen.

Auf jeden Fall kann der Tausch nicht sofort vollzogen werden (in der Phase "Rohstoffe auswuerfeln" findet ja kein Handel stat), sondern erst in der Handels- und Bauphase. Ob die Vereinbarung dann noch Gueltigkeit hat, bleibt wiederum den Spielern ueberlassen."

Translation:

Other agreements between are not part of the trade-rules. Examples:
. . .
An offer "I will give you two rock for a card of your choice, if the robber is not put on one of my fields," is within the discretion of the players involved, or rather of all players who are playing. Such an agreement is not prohibited, because agreements between players are not and generally should be regulated by the rules of the games.

In any event, this exchange cannot be executed immediately (no exchange takes place during the phase "rolling the dice"), but instead only in the trading- and building phase. Whether the Agreement is then still in effect is left to the discretion of the players.

Two things. First, this means that "future trades" (or "executory contracts," as they are called in the law) are perfectly permissible. The trade that is the subject of the problems I posed to you is exactly like the one quoted above: "[T]his exchange cannot be executed immediately." If the trade quoted above "ist nicht verboten," neither is the one that is the subject of my problems. Second, that the issue whether the agreement is still in effect ""den Spielern [pl.] ueberlassen bleibt," rather than "dem Spieler [sg.]" who does or does not owe player C two cards, shows that this is not left to the sole discretion of the latter, but rather is subject to reasonable rules developed and agreed-to by the players jointly. Which is exactly what I am asking you to do: To register your vote as to what the rule should be.

Finally, at the end of the entry for such "other agreements," the Encyclopedia Catanica" points the reader to the website "Handeln Total," at http://www.catanien.de/siedler/szenarien.php?ID=76, for "a few proposals how to liberalize the rules of trading, of course always assuming the agreement of all players involved," one of the authors of which is also an author of the Encyclopedia. At said website, it states:

"Eigentlich sind das keine Zusatzregeln, sondern nur eine etwas großzügigere Deutung der Regeln. Man kann sie mit dem normalen oder dem erweiterten Spiel spielen.

Wenn es erlaubt ist, jemanden etwas zu schenken (ein etwas einseitiger Handel...), sind doch eigentlich auch alle folgenden Züge erlaubt:

Handeln um
o Rohstoffkarten
o jetzt / zukünftige"

Translation:

These are not really additional rules, but rather just a somewhat generous intepretation of the [official] rules. You can play them either with the basis game or with the extended game. If it is allowed to give gifts (a somewhat one-sided deal . . .), then the following moves are really also allowed: Trading for resources: now/future.

As an example of "[t]rading for future resources," "Handeln Total" gives the following:

"Ich hab 12 Karten. Ich gebe Dir ein Erz dafuer, dass ich 5 Karten bei dir parken kann, bei meinem Zug musst Du sie mir zurueckgeben." "Falls eine Deiner Karten geraubt wird oder ich ueber 7 Karten bekommen habe und eine 7 gewuerfelt wird, geht es zu Deinen Lasten."

Translation:

I have twelve cards. I'll give you a rock if you let me park five cards with you, which you'll have to return to me when it's my turn." "If one of your cards is stolen or I get more than seven cards and a seven is rolled, it's to your detriment."

Again two things. First, except for using the word "parking" instead of the word "holding," that is precisely the kind of deal that is the basis of my problems. Second, here, the second player solves our problems in one direction. My question to you is in which direction you would solve the problem, as a neutral party (i.e., judge), if it was presented to you absent such an advance resolution.

Now that it should be beyond question that this type of deal is allowed, perhaps as few more of you could greatly help me out b y casting their vote. I greatly appreciate it.

Best,

Bernhard
Karin Ludwig answered on January 2, 2012

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The answers are "no" and "no", officially. Any deals that involve future trades would not be binding. If player A promises player C a future trade, he has not actually made a trade yet, and there are no rules to govern player A's conduct.

I have made trades before that go something like this: "I'll give you one brick in exchange for one sheep now, and also the next time I get a sheep I'll trade it to you for whatever you want". Even in this instance, I don't have to follow through. They are officially, by the rules, different trades, and I can decide at the moment not to make the second one, even though I made the deal beforehand.

Now, there still stands the question of honesty and integrity. If those are important to you during a game, or simply if you know you will be playing with the same people again and have a reputation to deal with, then you better uphold your end of promises, whether you are bound by the rules or not.

Please post again on how/where to read your article when it comes out!
Brian Herman answered on December 23, 2011

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We just got the game this Christmas and did not even think of making deals like this. I think any deal is possible and no deal is binding once your turn is complete. I don't consider this as cheating or being dishonest but as backstabbing treachery which is fine. I think it adds to the game. The idea of trading cards for not putting a robber in your territory or picking cards from you is fine. I think there comes a point if two people keep making deals like this, always sticking another player, they may decide the don't want to play the game. So I think you need to be careful when you do this.
Bryan S. Wendt answered on January 15, 2012
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