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This is during a 6 person game of catan with the fish. I am somewhat new to the game and when I was handed the dice I rolled them. At this point, one of the other players said this player wanted to special build. This player wanted to put a road right where I was going to put a road and in fact had the cards to do it prior to the roll.

I was told that because I had rolled the dice I had forfeited my opportunity to special build in that place, though if I had not rolled the dice I would have had the priority to build there. It seemed to me that the roll of the dice was not legitimate, as I had forgotten to call for the special building phase, and so should be disregarded and the special building phase should be called for.

How would you interpret this situation?

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I just want to point out that this is partially a subjective social issue. When you play games with people, you have to have some shared expectation of what happens when someone flubs a rule. Your opponents seem to be of the "no forgiveness, take the worst possible interpretation" school of thought. (Or realistically, they're trying to get an edge wherever they can.) Most people looking for fun, friendly games are a little more forgiving. At some point you have to figure out what your group's style is going to be, independent of what game you happen to be playing. –  Jefromi Dec 17 '13 at 20:37

2 Answers 2

There are 2 possibilities of how to handle this here, and neither one would allow your opponent to build the road instead of you.

1) Have the special building phase; pretend like you never rolled. In this case, because it would be your turn next, you would get the first turn during the special building phase to build where you want.

2) Don't allow the special building phase; because it's too late for that. The special building phase would happen before your turn; now that you've rolled, it is your turn. People missed their chance to build. In this case, you can just build during your turn like normal.

The rules don't clearly state whose responsibility it is to ensure that people get a chance to build in the special building phase. However, they do state that the phase does happen. It's not optional (though each player building during the phase is optional). So you technically shouldn't have rolled the dice yet; because it wasn't your turn yet.

The Special Building Phase occurs just after the end of your turn (i.e., between player turns).

But in a friendly game; we either do a quick check ("is anyone building in between turns?") or just assume that no one is unless someone speaks up ("hold on, I want to build before you roll").

Either way, I don't see any situation in which the rules would imply that you don't get a chance to build your road before your opponent; you have first chance at it.

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I think the opponents' argument is that their conventions are like your second version ("hold on, I want to build") - if no one says that, and you roll, you're demonstrating that you're not going to build, and you just didn't wait long enough for your opponents to say "hold on". But I much prefer your first option; there's really no reason to do anything but that in a friendly game. You don't need to punish people for forgetting a rule, especially not people who are newer to the game. –  Jefromi Dec 17 '13 at 20:11
    
Ah, I hadn't considered that. I guess you can make an argument that the act of rolling is the same as saying "I'm not building." But I wouldn't play that way, personally. The only way to be really sure would be to always require each player to say if they are building or not after each turn, which would be slow. –  GendoIkari Dec 17 '13 at 20:16

There is no specific rule in the game to address this situation, so the correct answer is entirely dependent on your gaming group and your "house rules." Is it a more relaxed, just to have fun type of group? Or is it a highly competitive, win at all costs type of group? Or like many groups, somewhere in between?

Put another way, how does your group handle other rules? For instance, if someone builds a road and places it on the board, are they allowed to change their mind and move it (before or after any other action takes place)? If someone starts paying the costs to build something to the bank (actually placing the cards back in the supply), are they allowed to stop and recover their resources?

Is there an "expected" behavior for how the build phase is treated in your group, and did you violate that? For instance, in one group I play with, before you roll you are supposed to ask if anyone wants to build. In another group, it is expected that you declare your intent to build when the turn ends if you want the build phase.

Most importantly, does the group assess penalties for other infractions and if so, in what manner? If your group doesn't assess penalties for other infractions, then there is no reason to assess one here (limit your choices to 1-3 below).

Depending on how you answer these questions for your group, I can see a number of options, from most relaxed to most competitive:

  1. Stop your turn, allow the build phase to proceed with each player getting their turn to build, and then proceed with the dice you already rolled.
  2. Treat it as if you didn't roll, allow the build phase to proceed with each player getting their turn to build, and then proceed with your turn by rolling the dice.
  3. Since the roll started your turn, the build phase is over. The other player should have spoken up before you rolled and can build after your turn if they wish to do so.
  4. Since you rolled "out of sequence" and violated the rules (of the game/for your group), you are penalized by losing your chance to build during the build phase. Treat it as if you didn't roll, allow the build phase to proceed with the other players getting their turn to build, and then proceed with your turn by rolling the dice.
  5. Since you rolled "out of sequence" and violated the rules (of the game/for your group), you are penalized by losing your turn. Since the dice have already been rolled, the build phase preceding your turn has been missed. Process the effects of the dice roll, and then proceed to the build phase following your turn.
  6. Since you rolled "out of sequence" and violated the rules (of the game/for your group), you are penalized by being disqualified from the current game. Leave your current pieces on the board, continue to roll on your turn, but you neither draw nor play cards for the remainder of the game.
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What is all this "out of sequence" business?? In the most competitive setting, you speak up or lose the chance to build! –  The Chaz 2.0 Dec 18 '13 at 0:55
    
@TheChaz2.0, not if your group has an expectation on how the build phase is handled. If the expectation is that you ask if anyone is building or provide a minimum time after being handed the dice and before rolling, then by rolling immediately after being handed the dice, you have rolled out of sequence. I would consider this to be more competitive because you have established firm play expectations and penalties for rules infractions. –  YLearn Dec 18 '13 at 1:08

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