Variant: Discovery of a “New” Rule
Try as they might, not every game comes with a completely clear set of rules. And even those that do often have “ifs” and “buts” describing certain situations that don’t come up often in the game and are mentioned only briefly in the rules. So, from time to time otherwise well intentioned gamers start playing the game (gasp! horror! shock!) wrong.
Of course, once purchased a game can be played however the owner likes. That’s the whole point of variants and house rules. However, I’ve found that most gamers like to play as close to the rules as possible. But, sometimes errors creep in. In my group, I’ve been designated the rule reader and game explainer. If I mess it up, well then we’re all playing the game wrong.
And, sometimes, if we’re lucky, someone new will come to the table, laugh at our mistake, and correct our flawed understanding of the rules. Has this happened for you?
My group has experienced it on a couple of occasions. The most notorious incident was Settlers of Catan. I had read the rules briefly, but this was our first gateway game and everything seemed simple enough. That is, until someone had two settlements on a hex when it produced. Does that person get two goods or one?
Unwilling to delay the game more than a few minutes, we decided the question in the negative. After all, the land only produced once, so shouldn’t the player only get one card? (Nevermind that if all three spots had been taken by different players we would have had no issue with dealing out three cards).
We played with that incorrect rule for years. We never took the time to look it up and just assumed we were correct. Eventually, another gamer friend of mine joined us for some settlers. When we denied him a second grain he shot down our incorrect rule. Confident that we hadn’t been playing wrong for the last two dozen games, we finally looked it up. There it was – the rule we had overlooked and incorrectly guessed. We’ve been playing it right ever since, though we still laugh about it now.
How about you? Ever played a game several times only to find out later you were missing something?