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You're Playin' It Wrong: Head In The Clouds #76
Head in the Clouds
Updated: Wednesday, Sep 23, 2015

You’re doin’ it wrong! Hello, I’m Chaz Marler from Pair of Dice Paradise, pondering the question of whether there’s a wrong way to play a board game. Now, I’m not talking about min maxing, rules lawyering, or even throwing Five Tribes on the floor because someone in your game group insists on playing it every single Friday because seriously Kevin is there any other game you’d agree to play just this one weekend… (pause, sheepish smile at camera, smash cut)

No, I’m talking about playing a game completely by the rules, but doing so… obnoxiously. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Container is a nifty dandy game in which players produce resources in factories they control, set their prices, then sell those resources to other players, who then ship them off to some destination that’s besides the point. What’s relevant to this discussion is that all the resources available in the game are produced by the players themselves. If a player hasn’t built a factory to build white cubes, then there’s no white cubes available for players to purchase.

So, while a friend of mine was recently introduced to Container, they adopted an interesting strategy. The first thing they did was to build a factory to produce white cubes, while simultaneously buying up every white cube possible that was produced by other players. The result was that they cornered the market on the white cube resource, and once their monopoly was established, they jacked up their price, forcing the other players to pay dearly for any white cube they wanted. It was all done in good humor, and nobody complained, but was a pretty obnoxious tactic.

After the game, the other players mentioned how they’d never seen anyone take that strategy before. And it got me starting to wonder why that is.

Even though the strategy of cornering the market to create a monopoly on certain resources is completely within the scope of the games rules, is it not the way the game was intended to be played; and therefore, even though it wasn’t technically cheating, was it not within the spirit of the game and a form of bad sportsmanship?

So, is it possible to play a game completely by the rules, but still be playing it wrong? Let me know in the comments below. Because some may say it’s better not to play a game at all than to play and ruin it for everyone else. That’s also why, if you need me, I’ll be the one over in the game of Five Tribes, swallowing my feelings.
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