Thursday, December 30, 2004

Year of games at the JSGC

A breakdown of games played in the group, with a comment about my own plays:

53 Puerto Rico (I played at least triple this figure elsewhere. As mentioned, the majority of these games are now played with my expansion buildings.)

21 Settlers of Catan (Lots of first year gamers in our group)

20 Magic: the Gathering (always good for two player Rochester draft)

16 San Juan (also played online about 10 times)

13 El Grande

9 Pente (quick games tend to rack up plays)
8 Geschenkt
8 Goa
7 Blokus
7 David and Goliath
7 Taj Mahal
6 Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers (also played online about 5 times)
6 Princes of Florence
5 Amun Re
5 Anagrams (pulling Scrabble tiles)
5 Ra (actually, we played "Lo Ra", same game with Jewish temple themed pieces)
5 Through the Desert
5 Tigris and Euphrates (played online a few times)

And two that just missed:
4 Cosmic Encounter (Mayfair)
4 Railroads of Catan (a rail game I created for a Settlers board.

Other games played
History of the World (Risk plus)
Bang! (not played enough, so sold)
Settlers of Catan card game (dull, sold)
Wallenstein (want to play more)
Die Macher (want to play more)
6 Nimmt (dull)
El Grande: King and Intrigant (intriguing as a variant)
Chess (first time player came to game day, wanted to play)
Bridge (best card game ever)
Taki (Israeli version of Uno)
8 1/2 (by same designer, playtested by request)
Scrabble (several plays outside the group with spouse)
Checkers (still an interesting game)
Fluxx (yuck)
Apples to Apples (not good for our game group, played with non-gamers occasionally)
Citadels (cards too boring, game play too nasty and/or boring)

several of my own game designs (one day... sigh.)


December gaming at the JSGC

December was another fine month of gaming at the Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club. We received a number of new games and books, and had attendance at around 10 each night. The following is a look at what was played (only in the group, not outside of it):

Games played:

6 Nimmt x 1

We played this one more time because I had constructed Geschenkt out of these cards (having constructed 6 Nimmt out of an old Flinch deck). We still don't really like it much. But we really like Geschenkt.

Amun Re x 2

Our group really likes this game, a bit more than I do. After the infamous discussion on BGG, it's kind of ironic. It can be a bit on the long side (close to three hours with five people).

Geschenkt x 8

A huge hit with all but one person. I like to call this "Ra-lite", since the tiles flip up and, as the game progresses, become of differing value to different people. It's hard to tell if the lower cards are better, since there will be competition for them, or the higher cards, which, if you can get them and form a straight and get a lot of tokens in the process, you will win. Enough luck but not too much. A game of daring. Fun. Of course, I constructed the deck out of other cards. I can't see why one would buy the game unless you have lots of disposable income. (This would have made a fine entry in last year's shared pieces competition on, for instance.)

Goa x 1

No matter how much I diss this game, the game group continues to like it. Even I'm willing to come around a bit, after I made one significant change: no flipping for colonies, just add four to your attempt. It still sucks in three player, because of the auction dynamics, but it can be fun(nish) in two or four player. Seems more like work than fun, though. And the luck from which cards you get is still a huge problem.

Magic: the Gathering x 2

THE game for many years before board gaming, and still fun to play, but I can't remember when I last won a game against my friend David K. We play by pulling out random cards and Rochester drafting them.

San Juan x 5

It seems limited in potential, but after 30 (40? 50?) plays, it gets incrementally better each time. This is weird. The luck factor seems to reduce. In early games it's about getting the best cards. After a while, it just becomes working best with whatever you have. You still lose if you get less six point buildings than your opp, which is a drag. I eagerly await expansion sets for this (here's hoping!)

Settlers of Catan x 2

Many of our players are relative newbies, so this is always a good game for 3 or for with moderate time available.

Puerto Rico x 5

The king of our games, still, and no signs of stopping. Almost all of our games are played with random buildings from my expansion sets. Now that I've winnowed down some of the broken ones, it's pretty much the only way to play. Still play regular online, though.

Taj Mahal x 1

Always a great game when it hits the table. I try to play only every two sessions, to keep it fresh.

TCP 4 x 1

Another in my series of games for three colored pegs (blue, red, yellow). In this game, played on a 4 x 4 grid, there is a shared pile of 16 of each colored peg. Each player is dealt a card with one of the three secondary colors (orange, green, purple) which he keeps secret. Each player then takes a peg of his choice and places it on the board, such that he doesn't put the same colored peg into the same location. You win when either a) anyone creates three in a row of your color, or b) you place a piece such that it forms three browns in a row (brown = all three colors).

I was hoping that the secret of who was playing which color would hinder the usual problem of three player abstracts, which is always being able to block what the third player is doing. Unfortunately, it was rather easy to guess early on who was what, so it didn't really work out. Back to the drawing board.

Through the Desert x 1

Starting to flop, unfortunately. The very colorful pieces don't add up to enough color in the game. It is definitely an abstract game; you can't pretend unlike, say Tigris and Euphrates. And it is quick to play, but long to set up. Doesn't hold enough interest anymore. Too bad, because I like it more than my group does, and it makes a nice introduction to gaming.

Tikal x 2

A new game for the group, and very rich. Love it. Just starting to try to figure it out.

Torres x 2

Also new to the group, and the vp acquisition is pretty easy to figure out. Now looking at the other facets of the experience, such as player interaction. Love it, but not as much as Tikal. Actually, the five action points in Torres take longer to play than the ten action points in Tikal, because there is less to do in Torres so you have to think deeper.

That's it. I'll send the yearly summary when I get a chance.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Links to other JSGC stuff

My profile on BGG. Includes, Full and capsule game reviews, numerous articles including variants, comments and selected session reports.

The JSGC home page, including complete session reports and game variations.

The mailing list

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The first full calendar year of the JSGC

Well, I've been playing around for a long time, but the official JSGC had a first year anniversary this year, and this Wed marks the last evening of a full calendar year for us, so I'm happy. Only one missed week during the summer. We've had as low as two people or as high as 11-12 for a regular session, 14 for a game day. Would like bigger and better game days. I will advertise better next year.

The biggest thing hampering growth is my lack of advertisement in the Hebrew market. I think we could grow much more if I could reach them. But, since I can't teach in Hebrew, I would only hope to attract more experienced gamers to start with, after which they could teach any newbies.

Why growth? Well, for one thing, the more people, the less likely that we will have a missed week of games. For another, the more gamers, the more these games will be available to us, spurring on game imports. More people will mean more crossover to other gamers (such as Chess and Go) as they might take Eurogamers more seriously, enough to join us for a game day.

Of course, with more growth, you increase your chance of more people with bad-manners, or just not smart enough or able to concentrate enough to make playing with them enjoyable. Sad, but true. OTOH, with enough people, a separate group could form, for those that can't come Wed nights, anyway, or who prefer wargames to Euros.

After this week's game, I'll try to wrap up both December gaming, and the entire year in review.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

Weekly calls

Every week or two I get calls about my game group that fall into two categories:

1) "Sounds interesting, I'll come at XX:XX time. What are the directions? OK, got it. I'll be there ..." and then they don't come. Weird.


2) "What sort of games so you play? Do you play bridge? I'm looking for a bridge group?" (or) "Do you play chess? I'm looking for a chess group." No, unfortunately, but I can direct you to the right group.

The last one is sad, because bridge has its own group (several), chess, scrabble, go, diplomacy, rpg, ccg, etc... have there own groups. I play them all, or I'd like to.

My dream is to have a pavilion where all of us can meet once a month. I would really like there to be flow between each of these groups. We share common needs (tables, chairs, snacks), and there is overlapping interest, even if a lot of players dedicated to their own game don't know it, yet.


Friday, December 24, 2004

Catching up on the Geekspeaks

On BGG, which are really geeky, but kind of fun if you have been following BGG. Since I have, I don't know what it would be like for those who haven't.

I will never be featured, since I only buy games after they have been around for a while, since I don't want to waste my very precious money. So I have nothing particularly new to add.

My newest games acquisitions are Tikal (1999), Torres (2000), and Traufabrik (19something). OTOH, I am trying to play new games by constructing them from other components (Geschenkt).

The invitees fly to Essen in Germany and buy 30, 40, 50 new games every few months. They like about 3 or 4 and sell the rest. Or they keep a collection of 300 - 700 games. Mine is about 30.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

In the Zone

Some games get you into the zone. For me, its Puerto Rico. There are several stages to be passed:

1) Learning the rules

Trying to figure out what the rules actually do.

2) Learning the victory conditions

Trying to figure out what makes points, and acting to get or prevent opponents from doing it.

3) Maximizing the points

Learning how each action contributes the more or less points over the course of the game, and taking better actions with less points now for more points later.

4) Lookahead

Trying to anticipate how the next action after this one will affect the results of this one. This starts with the immediate next phase taken by your opponent, and progresses to your own next actions, and then futher.

5) Confusion, frustration, disgust

All necessary ingredients in making headway. At some point, the game seems almost done, and it's time to move on.

6) In the zone 1

But hang on. The lookahead becomes clearer. You can see not just actions, but rounds ahead of time, and start calling, to yourself, what your opponents will be doing. Sometimes it is good to give your opponents benefits to do something, just so that you know what they will do.

Of course, it doesn't always work this way. And sometimes, for all your planning, you get tempted into doing the wrong thing, or just didn't see quite far enough.

Nobody said that staying in the zone doesn't take hard work.

7) In the zone 2

Coming soon.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Must ... write

I'll never get a regular blog going if I don't write regularly. So expect a lot of garbage for a while.

I got five games in the last month: Tikal, Torres, Traumfabrik (bought before I realized that I had no more money), Battle Cry (gift for son), and Abalone (gift from parents.

So far I've played Torres and Abalone.

Torres is a nice game, but definitely more on the Chess side of the spectrum. The point gain for each move is very clear: height of knight for placing a base piece, base of castle for moving a knight up one step. Also, whenever moving, you try to create dual steps for yourself, and deny them for your opponents. Lastly, you have to ensure that there are no N-1 levels available in your castle for knights to sneak into.

So the joy of the game isn't in the wildly unexpected, but in the careful planning, like PoF, Goa, Chess. Careful planning games are what some people call "dry". So be it. There is plenty of roon in the game for fun and, often enough, the unexpected. Plenty of interaction, too.

Abalone is a simple abstract. Hard to decide how deep it is, as it seems that your object is to stay in the middle while trapping opponent's pieces in a corner. Not that hard if your opponent is careless. I will need to play against some careful opponents to see how it goes.

I also received two excellent books: A Gamut of Games by Sid Sackson, which I haven't read yet. And New Rules for Classic Games by R Wayne Schmittberger. The latter book is all about taking the boring games that were around until 1990 (it was written shortly thereafter) and adding new rules, fixes, variants, and even new games from the components. Anyone who knows me knows that this is so perfectly up my alley that I am in love. Wow, is all I can say. Maybe I can write the sequel for German games.


Sunday, December 12, 2004

Luck vs Randomness

Too often I see people mistakenly confuse the two concepts of luck and randomness. Here are my definitions:

Luck: an event that occurs beyond any player control that has direct effect on victory. A series of lucky or unlucky events will decide the game, regardless of your skill.

Randomness: an event that occurs beyond player control that can be planned for, or whose effect requires an adaptation of strategic or tactical play.

An example of luck: roll a die. whoever rolls highest wins. A series of lucky events will even out over time, in therory. In practice however ...

An example of randomness: a series of random math problems, all numbers between 1 and 10, problems involve multiplication and/or division. No matter what numbers you actually get, you can be assured that the higher the skill of the person solving these problems, the more he will get correct. There is no preparation that can help you here.

Now, there is luck in randomness. In the above example, if a person is better at multiplication than division, than more division problems will be unlucky for him. In this case, the luck is praying on his lack of skill. Better preparation for the exam will diminish the effect of this luck.

Next case: let's say that in the luck example, a person can prepare events such that he will win the die rolls on 1-4, instead of 1-3, giving him a 66% chance of victory, instead of 50% chance. The net result is that he will win 2/3 of the time, or perhaps 2/3 of the games. Does this really matter? Is there any glory to winning, or losing, because you have increase your odds of an event entirely dependent on luck? If you win an event with 1/6 chance of winning, is that exciting? If you lose with a 1/6 chance, is that fun? If you win on a 5/6 chance, is that fun?

I'm sure a lot of people will answer the above questions differently than I do. Yes, they say, if the theme is intense, and the story arc exciting. Yes, since a player can decide to withdraw from bad odds and try again at a different area where he has a better chance. Such is the excitement of the war-gamer. More power to you.

Next case: Puerto Rico plantation tiles get flipped up. A player, depending on player order, may decide to take the Settler for first choice of these plantations, if there is on he wants. Or he may encourage his RHO to do this. Or he may calculate the odds of getting what he needs in the next Settler phase after these plantations are gone. It could be, that his RHO keeps taking all the coffees before he can get them, and he loses the game to a solid coffee monopoly. OK, that's a bi of a strech, but even with that kind of strech, the luck element in the plantation draw does not determine your success in the game unless you have planned so badly that it is the only thing that can help.

Now, when you lose a game of PR, or win a game of PR, the finger is pointed at the players. The randomness is there, and even a smidgen of luck, perhaps. The games always unfold differently because of it. IMHO, winning or losing in this situation is a more rich experience.

Games without either luck or randomness, such as Go, Chess, etc... are very good games. The beauty of randomness is that the games can never be analyzed with perfection for several levels. The beauty of luck is the inherent gambling nature in many of us. I just prefer to keep gambling out of my multiplayer gaming

Monday, September 20, 2004

Power Cards in German Games

Settlers of Catan

In Settlers of Catan (SoC), there are two types of cards: resources and developement cards. I will discuss the developement cards, as the resource cards are all identical (the resource cards are not variable power cards). There are 25 available cards: fourteen Soldiers that move the robber, two each of three cards that give you bonuses (roads, resource cards from the deck, resource cards from other's hands), and 5 victory point cards.

All cards are useful to some degree at any time. A VP cards may not be that useful at the beginning of the game, but will surely be by the end of the game. A soldier may is always worth at least one resource card stolen from your opponent, even if you have no need of moving the robber, and is a step in securing two bonus victory points. The other cards are each worth their cost, except in the rare case when you have no more roads to build.

The game can be played quite well without these cards. Players can build roads, settlements and cities quite well. The game involves a random element of dice rolls which has a high luck factor; you can plan for the best spots on the board. You can work around some poor rolls with good trading. You can position yourself not to need certain resources more than others. Ultimately, a long string of bad luck, or bad luck at certain times, will kill your game.

The cards add the following elements to the game: a) additional avenue of victory, through Larget Army and the VP cards, b) opportunity to plan against the robber blocking your resources, c) opportunity to slow down the leader (with some luck), d) opportunity to win when other avenues are closed to you, such as settlement space on the board, e) resources that might be too hard to acquire otherwise.

Amun Re

In Amun-Re, power cards are one of the three things you can buy each round, along with bricks and farmers. There is no limit to the number of bricks you can buy, a space limitation on farmers, and a purchase limitation on cards. The cards give you: free farmers, free bricks, vp's if you fulfill certain requirements, slight control over the auction or slight control over the group "sacrifice" action. Any card can be discarded for 1 GP.

Many of these cards are simply more powerful than others, such as getting a free Farmer vs "bid again in the same province". Some cards are useless in certain situations, such as duplicates at the end of the game, vp cards when you can't fulfill the requirements, etc...

The game can be played well without the cards. Players can build pyramids, and buy farmers, acquire gold and auction. The random element of the game is acheived through the uncertainty of the auction and the random order in which the regions are available.

The cards add the following elements: a) additional vp's through region matching, and acquiring some types of resources, b) some power to manipulate the auctions via a surprise element, c) free resources that could be acquired anyway. In my opinion, the detracting elements of the cards outweighs the benefit in this game. a) could be achieved by having players buy what vp cards they wanted directly, or make them available through some other means, or simply by giving all bonuses met to all players. The b) cards are not powerful enough to warrant buying them; each player should simply start with one of each to be used once during the game. If the remaining cards consisted only of c) cards - free bricks, farmers or money - the game would be better off.

Practical Solution: when you buy a card, pick two, keep one.


In Evo, power cards have numerous different effects. Three are dealt to each player and others may be acquired at the expense of adaptations through the auctions. Most cards simulate a double or triple power adaptation for the round they are played in, some cards change the climante direction in a manner that benefits your planning. A few cards are useless. A few cards are heavily luck dependent.

The game can be played well without the cards. Players can auction off the adaptations, move, fight, etc... withou regards to the cards. They seem to server no function except to provide surprise. They are used to make the game less strategic and more wild, and to simulate uncertainty.

As suggested on the Geek, the cards are better off being picked by the player, instead of being dealt randomly.

Cosmic Encounter

In Cosmic Encounter, there are two types of cards in the same deck. Challenge cards are the dice rolling of the game. I will not concern myself with these. The remaing cards, Edits, Flares, Kickers, etc... are the power cards. The provide a limitless set of different experiences in the game.

While the game can be played without these cards, as the powers are already a random factor, one of the joys of Cosmic is that the cards are so over the top that they far outweigh all tactics in the game. Powerful cards will certainly determine the victor. There are so many of them however, and the interact in so many non-intuitive ways, that you can never be completely certain that the card you play is going to be the one to do it.

In a sense, it is specifically the surprise element of the cards that drives the game, as the game itself is of no strategic interest, except in regards to the formation of allies and laying out of the spotlight.

Princes of Florence

In Princes Of Florence (PoF), there are three types of cards: professions, bonuses and prestige cards. Profession cards are played for indirect points; their value depends on what areas you have invested in. You can alleviate the randomness of these cards by buying them early and planning around them. Bonus cards add between 2-4 indirect points, and you choose 1 card out of 5. The difference is usually a 1 point difference, and negligible to the game, except insofar as it does or doesn't let you play a work that you had not planned for correctly. Prestige cards give points directly, and again you choose 1 out of 5. They are typically worth between 5-8 points, and rarely you will not be able to select a worthwhile card. Again, buying them early allows you to plan around them, although this is not always easy. Buying them late introduces a large element of luck.

The game cannot be played without the profession cards, and thankfully the luck issue in them is irrelevent. The game could be played without the other cards. You couls score points by playing works.

The bonus cards add an element of strategy to catch up when you have no alternatives for playing a card, and for trying to secure best work in a round. The prestige cards introduce another means of acquiring vp's.

It is likely that the game would be slightly less luckier if the prestige cards were no longer available during the last two rounds, or if one could choose which ever cards they wanted during the last two rounds.


The power cards of Goa provide more of the resources that can otherwise be provided (but may be difficult to do so), as well as colonists which cannot be readily acquired. In general, they may be planned for. Unfortunately, many of the cards are stronger than others, especially as the game progresses. Colonist cards are useless after you have acquired all of your colonies. Progression for money is nigh impossible in a cash poor game. Due to the hand limit, which card you get when is a matter of high luck. If you have good ship production, getting more ships is less useful than getting spices, and vice versa.

The solution is to buy them before any other actions, and then plan your actions accordingly. This is not always possible, and some cards may go to waste.

The power cards are also used directly for victory points my matching symbols on the cards. If you match the symbols, you score more points, otherwise less points. Since a game of Goa is often won by 1-2 points, this introduces a high luck factor into the game.

The game could be played well without the cards and the card track, by reducing the number of auctions to six, for instance. The auctions provide a high degree of randomness with little luck (but we won't go into that).

The cards add: a) the possibility of acquiring items that are beyond your reach otherwise, and quicker, b) an additional means of vp's to win the game, c) colonists that could otherwise not be acquired.

I have written a long series of changes I would like to make in this game, elsewhere. Just addressing the above, you could remove all of the cards, change the track to acquiring colonist cards, and put symbols on the colonist cards which you could choose when you buy them.

These games have many things in common. The first four games involve allocating your pieces onto the board to control certain positions. The last two games require you to collect and play various items in order to advance your position independent of other's activities. The power cards also seem to be very similar, adding free items that are otherwise hard to acquire, or additional vp's. However, in each game, the game's balance indicates how strong a role the cards play in determining whether the cards are used to add a high degree of luck or simply randomness into the play.


Monday, July 19, 2004

The New Games

Fairy tales were once for adults only, full of horror, sexuality, love, morals, and all the good things that make up good art. Sometime in the last few centuries, the fairy tale changed in two ways: the tales became simplistic and less gruesome, and the audience became children.

To sell the old fairy tales to a new generation who scoff at them as children's stories is an uphill battle, both because the name itself has become stigmatized, and because the entire concept is viewed skeptically by a sour association. You can sell "thrillers" to adults, "historical fiction", and Margaret Atwood's "speculative fiction". But not "fairy tales".

"Board games" suffer from the same problem. Board and card games used to be for adults; today, mainstream board games require no more brain than the average 3-6 year old can wield. Games like Sorry. Trouble. Monopoly. Most "games" are not even games but "activities", such as Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, etc... meant for breaking the ice at parties.

Mystifyingly enough, ask the same person if Chess or Bridge or Go are for children, and he will admit that they are for adults, but that he never thought to group them under the term "board game". But Bridge and Chess require so much time to learn to play well, and who has that much time?

I am happy to tell you that the fine art of producing quality board games for adults is making a comeback around the world.

The new games, these games of ours, are games for adults. You can think of them as midway between Monopoly and Chess: accessible like Monopoly, yet engaging for adults like Chess. They don't require a lifetime to master, but neither are they simply a way to pass time without thinking.

They are a lot of fun, like games should be, but they are also serious, intelligent, and often educational. They can stand against any other adult recreational activity, from television to computers to movies to newspapers to drinking beer, and can be considered at least as respectable a use of your time as any other.

Examples of these games, and good starting games, include Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Ticket to Ride. Essential information about these games can be found at Board Game Geek. They can be bought at various online stores, such as or

For a good list of games that can rekindle your interest in board games, check out my Holiday Gift Guide.

Board games used to be for kids; board games of the twentieth century were for kids. These games are not for kids.

Good riddance to the last century's board game world, and welcome to the new one.


Saturday, July 03, 2004

The Five Qualities of a Good Gamer

The Five qualities of a Good Gamer are:

1. Good Manners

Good manners is a top quality of any human being. My definition of good manners is similar to that of Miss Manners' - the quality of taking care not to cause other people undue offense. This includes many things:

* Listening as much as talking, because other people have egos as big as yours
* Taking care to observe local customs
* Acting in a manner that increases everyone's enjoyment each session
* Keeping yourself and your surroundings clean and well-kept
* Good sportsmanship as both winner and loser

and many other items too numerous to mention.

2. Intelligence

You really can't be a Good Gamer without some modicum of "gaming intelligence" (I will qualify intelligence here as "gaming intelligence", because some otherwise very smart people in other areas just aren't going to shine when it comes to games). Time spent with them may still be very enjoyable, the friendship may still be valuable, and no judgement would ever be cast on their worthiness; but it's not really gaming. Maybe it's socializing.

Most people have difficulty grasping some rules and some games; this doesn't mean that they are not intelligent or "gaming intelligent". After a few attempts, they can pick it up. If they can't, then after a point you realize that you are never going to be challenged playing a game (or this game) with them.

3. Patience

This could be a sub-quality of good manners, but even a well mannered person may gracefully give up too quickly. To learn some games (and actually hear and understand the rules as they are explained), to become good at them, and to be respectful when others take time to make a difficult move, requires patience.

4. Curiosity

Curiosity is what is going to get you playing to begin with, keep you playing, get you to try out new moves, break out of group think, and get you to try new games.

5. Creativity

Similarly, you need creativity to try out new moves (curiosity to want to find new moves, creativity to actually come up with them) and to make the leap into a game's "system of thought". Creativity also allows gives you license to look at games and game systems and dream up something better - tweaks, variants, new ways to harness the fun beyond what comes in the box.


Friday, July 02, 2004

Culture Clash

We just ran into two situations of culture clash in our group.

In the first incident, gamers with a wargame background played against gamers with a Eurogame background. A deal was made during the game between player A (Eurogamer) and player B (wargamer), and unilaterally broken on the last round of the game by player B, after all of player A's actions were over. This was our first playing of anything resembling a wargame (Wallenstein).

The treachery was a complete surprise to the Eurogamer. He had left his postion completely open to player B, because he had assumed that a deal made is as binding as any rules of the game in print, unless given advanced notice of intent. Player B assumed that deals were to be made and broken when to the advantage of the one who wants to break it. Who was right?

The answer is that neither one was right or wrong. Both styles of play can be acceptable, as long as prior understanding is given before cracking the game open. It is the gaming group that must determine if deals in any game not specifying must be kept or only held under a balance of power. At the very least it is the group who play the game that must agree to it, before the game is started.

I like to think of it as players and characters. The players are the people that come to play, the characters are the personas they take up when they play. The players must decide what rules the characters must abide. Once done, it is up to the characters to decide what to do within the game rules.

Only note: the answer that "the lesson was learned for future games" is not acceptable to me, because it implies that player B "knew" a rule of the game that player A did not, and exploited this, which is patently unfair.

The second clash involved the classic question of what to do on your last turn when you can't win. Player C, a wargamer, decided to inflict a loss on player D who had attacked him (in a normal game play) earlier in the game. This one is much harder to answer, because it depends on why he did it. (We were playing Taj Mahal)

If he did it because it was really the best move for him to maximize his position, it seems "right". If it was done because he wanted to "remain in character", it could also be "right". On the other hand, if he did it in order to dissuade player D from attacking him in future games, it seems "wrong". I think some combination of the second and third was closest to the truth, but most unconsiously; it is just what wargamers do. They attack people who attacked them. This was another surprise to the Eurogamers.

My hesitation is that among wargamers, I believe that there are some who play with a kind of quasi-roleplaying which extends toward any game. They think that it is normal and correct to "get back" at an offending player during the game, even if it does not maximize their points, and would maintain that it has nothing to do with metagaming issues.

I don't want to be in a position of telling a player that they need to choose or to not choose a certain decision in a game. I hope that they will not choose actions that offend people outside the game board if they are playing with non-wargamers. I also hope that other players do not take offense when another player makes a reasonable move against them. That is why the first attribute of a gamer must be good manners.