What is "fair play" anyway?

  • Hello fellow Catanians! :bowtie:

    I'd like to share some personal thoughts here that I have about fair play because I personally find people complaining about it one of the most annoying things about online Catan play. :rage4:
    And I think it would be helpful for the community to have an honest conversation about it.

    The definition of "fair play" or "gameplay etiquette" in Catan is purely subjective and different to every person. There is no objective standard of "fair play" or "gameplay etiquette" in Catan. By the official rules of Catan, players may do anything they want, as they see fit, as long as they follow the OFFICIAL WRITTEN RULES of the game. There is no rule that you may only rob or hinder the player who has the most VP’s. Players may rob or hinder whoever they want, for whatever reason they want, and as many times as they want.

    But even though there are no official rules about fair play, some people still try to impose their own personal subjective definitions of fair play onto others. And I think this is some really toxic behavior!

    By blaming and/or shaming another player for robbing or hindering you, YOU are in fact the person that is being unfair to the other player(s). Because you are trying to manipulate the other players into thinking that it’s somehow “unfair” that they robbed or hindered you and by doing this change their behavior.
    So complaining (whining) about being robbed, blocked, or hindered in any way has no purpose whatsoever, BESIDES convincing (A.I. manipulating) other players into not targeting and robbing them.
    (Ohhh.. that’s pretty sneaky actually! :smiling_imp: )
    Manipulating and pressuring other people, so they won’t target them, by “shaming” them for the action of robbing or hindering them (and even threaten to block someone for it) is pretty dirty when you ask me. Because certain weak-minded people might fall for it and could potentially actually lose the game because they were misled to not target that player.

    I think that by complaining about being robbed or hindered people are ruining the game, not only for themselves because they are actually cheating in some way, but especially for others as well. Players should always try to have understanding to other players’ way of playing, even if it does not match their way of playing. Just let other people play the way they want to play, play to the best of your own ability, and MOST OF ALL stop playing the VICTIM CARD because that’s just weak!

    The only scenario I can come up with which I would consider to be truly “unfair”, would be when ALL other players in a game would all team up together and purposely target only ONE player from the very START of a game until the very END of a game. Besides that happening (which would probably never happen anyway) I think all else is game in this game.

    So what do you guys consider to be fair play?
    And what kind of moves do you think are unfair?

    I would love to hear yall thoughts about this topic. :grimacing:

  • @Wooly-Woodsit Thank you for bringing this up. I think it is an important discussion, because I have witnessed/ been part of many quarrels :rage: :boom: :rage: on the subject.

    These quarrels can be really fun, if they are in the style of sportive :smiling_imp: banter, just like bragging "I am going to destroy you all, I am the evil Pirate, :laughing: harr, harr, harr". "No, you will not, because I will bore a hole in your wicked pirate ship, :smirk: hehe!" "Oh no, you fiend, you took all my wheat!" etc.

    But some complaints are meant serious, and not kindly banter at all. These are the ones that turn into feuds that can be really hurtful. :cry:
    Different people have different styles of playing, due to their needs and preferrences.
    Some look for

    • a playful release for their aggression

    • competition

    • a success experience

    • just a friendly nook, to meet with people online.

    All these different aspects of online-Catan can be found and are valid interests or exspectations. None is better than the other. But a conflict of interest can easily be sparked if players believe their way of playing is the only "correct" one. And if they meet without warning, things blow :boom: up.
    I have beee critisized both for playing the robber, or not playing the robber, and also on my choice of "victim". And I confess, I have complained myself a lot, too.
    I blame three causes for this: different needs, bad communication on the subject, and a tilted self- perception. On PayCatan, you could check your own statistics much easier, to get a reality check if this was the case.

    On PlayCatan, there was a bunch of folks who liked to play a less aggressive style. They would always choose friendly robber. And I personly preferred to play with them, because this way, everyone can build much more and I really enjoy that. But that is a matter of choice, it has to be agreed upon on at the start of the game.

    On CatanUniverse, there is a lot of pressure to get on with the game, since you have less time and the moves take so much longer. So agreements at the start of the game have gone out of style.

    Another reason for increased conflict is the lack of lobby in automatch. The two fractions of playeres are no longer separated by their choice of friendly or not friendly robber, but thrown together without choice. I find my game has turned much more aggressive because of that. And I do not always enjoy it.

  • Thanks for your input Rumpelstilzchen!
    You bring up some interesting things which I hadn't thought about yet.
    I agree that it would be better if players would have a choice to get matched with other players who seek the same type of game, like less agressive or friendly robber rules. It would be nice if there were buttons for that so people could choose to play a certain style of game. :smile:

    But my main annoyance is with players who keep nagging about being treated "UNFAIRLY" and are trying to manipulate the other players and therefore the outcome of the game to their own advantage. Of course this psychological warfare is all just a part of the game but I think it would be a good thing if people in the community would at least agree upon the notion that there is no such thing as "fair play" in the objective sense and that it's all just subjective opinions that vary from person to person. Because pretty much every damn time that I rob the weakest player in a game when someone else is winning, this robbed player starts acting like the victim. And I've experienced on numerous occasions that when I tried to explain to them the motivations for me robbing them (usually in a situation when I want to finish 2nd, because I care about my ELO score, when the 3rd player has clearly won already and is impossible to catch up with), or when I eventually ignore them in the chat because they can't be reasoned with, that these people eventually say that they're gonna block me for being "unfair"! And I think this is just ridiculous and saddening to see how some people are so easily offended and to weak-minded to deal with the blows of losing. :unamused:

  • I think it's an interesting conversation which I think is rooted in collaboration or cheating. Let me give you a comparison. When you are playing monopoly for example, yes I can trade with anyone at anyone time for any reason. So if I want to give Boardwalk for Baltic so we can both have monopolies, sure I can do that. However, even the most rookie players of the game know that's not an even trade because you are giving someone else a huge advantage in the game and looks like you are playing together.

    I look at fair play the same way. If I am in last place by two points and your goal is to win the game, unless I have some crazy insane setup which would allow me to expand really quickly, it makes sense to rob the other player. Given I am further behind and he is more a threat in the game. However I could also see a situation where if I was down 2 points, only have one card which I just got a sheep and he needed a sheep, I should get robbed no doubt even being down two points. So it's understanding the place in the game.

    I will also say that complaining is part of the strategy. I completely disagree that it has no purpose in the game. If you notice when most people do it, they rarely get robbed unless the person either doesn't care or has a reason. For example, I just played a game (got accused of cheating again) because I robbed the same person every single time. I didn't care the score, I know the game well enough to know he had a better chance of beating me than the other guy because of his placements and also, was the only one with a certain resource which I didn't have any income for that resource. Robbing him increased my chances of that resource and limited my biggest threat.

    Fair play to me is not necessarily robbing everyone the same amount of times, but being aware enough to understand who has the biggest chance of winning at that moment and using the robber to limit that person. That could mean blocking a 3 because he just asked for wheat and that is his only wheat income. That could mean robbing from someone you know has a chance to build a city and only has 5 cards but not be winning. There are times I have been the complainer because I do want to a chance to win and when someone doesn't understand the situation of the game, they are helping the other player either on purpose or just out of lack of experience.

    Just my two cents.

  • I will also say, your point of robbing third to maintain second is exactly my point. They are unaware of the position in the game in that you can't catch first and makes more sense to fight for second. (for ELO purposes) That is 100% knowing position in the game.

  • @Wooly-Woodsit I have considered your point, of trying to gain ELO.
    My personal perspective on ELO is rather negative. :thumbsdown: In my opinion, ELO does not reflect the skill of a player (since so many players loose it because they get kicked by the faulty kicktimer). And chasing ELO points results in boring, one-sided games for all. :unamused:
    For me, a good game is fun for all players, and the greatest suspense is caused by equal chances of winning until the end.
    Not to fight for the win, but for 2nd position is defeatist and makes it both boring for the winner, who is not challenged anymore, and the 3rd or 4rth ranking player, who cannot do anything or play anymore. :sleeping:
    Until recently, when ELO was still anounced before the game, the chase was even worse. Players hunting for ELO would gang up :gun: on me to bring me down, merely to gain more ELO (because mine was higher). I was still being robbed at the end of the game, when all I had was 2 points and nothing of substance buildt. What´s the point of games like that? I am glad the developers fixed this problem.
    I prefer to play with players who will not give up, :triumph: but fight till the last bullet rather then give in. Those games are the best, :smiley: for all players.

  • Thanks for chiming in Yeloow82 :wave:

    "I will also say that complaining is part of the strategy. I completely disagree that it has no purpose in the game. "

    After reading other people's comments and some reflection on the matter of complaining I have revised my opinion somewhat and I agree with what you're saying here. Sure, people are free to complain how much they want. But I'm personally going to target those player's even more because I just hate it when people start acting like victim's after being robbed just ONCE. I think it's just weak-minded BETA behavior. And I personally get great satisfaction from robbing and harassing those players even more after they started crying about being treated "unfairly" and see them flip out because of it! :smiling_imp:
    If other players consider the psychological warfare strategy of "complaining" (and therefore manipulating other players into not robbing them) a legitimate way of responding to being targeted, then I'm just gonna consider robbing those player's even more as an equally useful psychological warfare tactic as well. In the words of another Catanian: "Getting someone so upset they leave only benefits you." :sunglasses:

    "There are times I have been the complainer because I do want to a chance to win and when someone doesn't understand the situation of the game, they are helping the other player either on purpose or just out of lack of experience."

    "Fair play to me is not necessarily robbing everyone the same amount of times, but being aware enough to understand who has the biggest chance of winning at that moment and using the robber to limit that person."
    "I will also say, your point of robbing third to maintain second is exactly my point. They are unaware of the position in the game in that you can't catch first and makes more sense to fight for second. "

    I agree with these statements wholeheartedly :clap: and this is exactly why I hate it when people start whining about being robbed. Because there are these instances when people are too oblivious to the nuances of the game and they start to rely on "fear tactics" far too easily, instead of just taking the blows and playing to the best of their own ability. :muscle:

  • @Rumpelstilzchen
    I agree completely that ELO does not fully reflect the skill of a player. However, I think the "skill" of a player could also be recognized when that player has played lots of games and crawled his way up to a high ELO score by consistently winning some games, AND choosing to go for 2nd spot in situations when it was clearly unfeasible to finish 1st, and by choosing to lose the minimum amount of ELO points this way. I think there is something to be said about that kind of tenacity. :feelsgood:

    But you have really made me think about this strategy since it can indeed result to boring, one-sided games for all. I have experienced that myself quite a few times. And I agree that the best games are those when all players have equal chances and are a real challenge to each other, like you said. So I guess with that in mind, I could reevaluate my motives for making ELO score my priority and I could start playing more for the fun of playing itself, instead of being focused so much on ELO all the time. But I think this will be a challenge for me since I have been playing with these motives for such a long time and worked so long and hard these past years for a reasonable high ELO score (I'm currently around 1180)......... :thought_balloon:

    I think people should just play the way they want to play, for whatever reasons those may be, let other people do the same, and not judge other players for playing for different motives then they do themselves. Some people like to play for nothing more than the fun of playing, and other's get a kick out of reaching a spot on the ELO leaderboards. I'm not sure yet which of these I want to be. But what you said here sure has given me reasons to reconsider my motivations for playing this game and for this I'm grateful. :wink: :thumbsup:

  • I have gotten accused of unfair play for my use of the robber because I sometimes rob from the person who I believe is most likely to have the resource I want, rather than rob to take a resource away from someone in the lead. In this scenario, I may rob the person in last place if they dominate stone and that's what I need, though I try to place the robber to block a space that person shares with the leader if possible.

    The only time I've been bothered by what I consider unfair play was a game where two opponents were clearly friends and chatting the whole time, and neither acted against the other ever and ganged up on the one player they thought was the biggest threat from start to end. Playing as a team in an individual game, to me, does seem unfair.

  • @Wooly-Woodsit I would say ELO is at least a fair estimate of skill. While I don't take it for everything with all the people leaving, knocked out, and other factors like you said, it is a metric. I don't really have a better suggestion.

    It's so hard to get really high ELO's with their structure. For example, I was 1270ish and got matched with a new player and low rated player. I have learned that not every game is going to go your way. Could be placement to start because you go last, could be not getting rolls, could be off game. (also could be collaboration but let's not go there and not saying it was here. I lost plain and simple) I came in third and dropped 14 points in one game. ONE GAME. If I win that game, maybe 3 points. I have lost three games in a row and lost close to 40 points this weekend alone. That's just brutal for a dice game where there is some element of luck in either start position or rolls, even development cards. I mean I have seen games where you have a resource you need and in 90 rolls have a 10 rolled once. While I don't bank on 10's, but when you expect at least a descent average and constantly have to trade it or get caught with more than 7 other cards because of it, I don't care how good you are, you can't win. While I do like to see how high I can get, it's not the only why I play. Trust me, do it for fun.

  • Yesterday I blocked :no_entry_sign: a player for the first time. :angry:
    Not because she said something rude, but because I had one of the most boring :anguished: games ever.
    She was obviously playing for 2nd place, and although I understand the theorie of competing for ELO points, I just could not bear the thought of another hour ::tired_face: of my live spent in utter Boredom :scream: like that.
    I don´t mind loosing a game, :game_die: but I DO mind not being able to participate in a game. I don´t want to play in games like that anymore. It is no fun for me. I have never left a game just because I was about to loose, but this new trend of "playing for second place" makes me reconsider :thought_balloon: my principles.
    If the other players just need a dummy :no_mouth: so they can gain ELO points, let them play with the stupid AI. :alien:
    I have better things to do. Hell, I´d rather clean my boots :boot: or unclogg a toilet! :poop: :toilet:

  • Playing for ELO or 2nd place or whatever is the most stupid thing ever.

    I have seen hundreds of games where the player who seemingly had no chance of winning... actually won! If you bash the leader constantly, he can be brought down. Some times. Giving up early is just ridiculous. Why do you even play if you do not intend to win?

    All of this can be blamed on ELO... Or actually the developers for thinking that ELO would make the ame experience better. No, it doesn't. It just brings out the worst in people so they will ruin the game experience... Apparently it happens in most games now.

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