Exotic Commune Game Rules

“Is this a friendly game?”

This question gets asked with some regularity where i live, and it has a unique and very specific meaning here.  For most of the games we play, it means that we are going to be forgiving when people make mistakes or want to change their move/play.  Specifically, it means that if no other game decision has been made by another player, you can go backwards and fix your play on your turn and not be penalized for it.

Love_cards

Occasionally this is frustrating, especially in a game like Dominion, where you might have preferred the inferior play of your opponent, before they got help with their play (either by figuring it out themselves or thru a helpful co-player).  And this begs the question, what is the role for “friendly” in competitive gaming culture.  i would argue it is huge.  In fact, it is more important that people feel good about the game, especially after it is over, than it is that we play by especially rigid rules.

Not a friendly game

Not a friendly game

And for “serious gamers” the situation gets worse in games like Magic, where we have Armenian Rules.  At the risk of being deemed racist, this rule is at the center of much of the “friendly” play at Twin Oaks and Acorn.  The way the Armenian Rule works is if you are manna starved in a particular hand in Magic, you can, by your own determination, draw a land instead of your normal card from the draw.

We also permit the “paradise Mulligan”.  Some games permit players who draw a poor or initially unplayable hand to shuffle the cards back into the deck and draw a new hand.  Normal Mulligan rules in Magic, for example, are that when you draw your second hand you get one few card.  This is a tax for your bad luck or poor deck design. In friendly games we are not interested in bad luck taxes, so you can just draw another full seven card hand.  And if you bad luck continues you can draw another one, and so on.

So you need one of these?

So you need one of these?

Serious gamers retort that these types of rules are just an excuse to build a badly designed deck, and that if people built better decks this would not happen.  And they are on some level right.  And since Magic can be an expensive game to build decks for, by using Armenian rules and paradise Mulligans, poor communards need not invest hugely in specific cards that might make the deck work better.

But more importantly, as with most games, Magic is more fun if the score is actually close.  Having one player stuck early in the game damages the game for everyone: it degrades the win, it is harder to learn anything, it can discourage you from future games.

Who's rules?

Who’s rules?

We have something of a mix here at Twin Oaks and Acorn.  Some folks are uninterested in who has the most points, but rather are in the game so that they can they play some lovely combination of cards or strategy.  Most players are excited about a close game, where you have to think hard or get lucky to pull it out in the end.  Some folks believe that adhering to the rules makes the games more fair and a truer test of skill.

And in the end it brings up the more philosophical questions as to what is the purpose of games.  Some will trivialize them as a waste of time, others will point to them as a social lubricant, i use some games pedagogically.  I think most players simply enjoy them, which might just be enough all by itself.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

2 responses to “Exotic Commune Game Rules”

  1. adelord says :

    This post made me laugh, thank you. Mana-destruction decks were always my favoriate. Armenian Rules just makes Magic a different game, one with almost no place for the frustrations induced by my favorite deck archetype.
    The only “bad” deck is one not optimized for the rules being followed.
    Saying that Armenian Rules allows bad decks to win ignores that the game being played is simply a different game. A good formation of pawns in chess can be an aweful formation in checkers: similar pieces with different rules is a different game. Checkers does not allow bad pawn formations to win anymore than Armenian Rules allows bad decks to win.

    For those attracted to the “serious player” mind-space I highly recommend “Playing to Win – Becoming the Champion” by David Sirlin, available for free or donation at his website. The is an undeniable elegance to his approach, stripping away illusions to see the game as it really is.

  2. Ruth West says :

    I don’t play Magic anymore, but overall I am in complete agreement with, “The important thing is that each player enjoy playing.”

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