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Rules specify that when trading each group exchanged counts as an action to the player whose turn it is. And then later goes on to say that puppets of a group are transferred along with it. Is the player then limited to exchanging 1 group for another group or two groups for cash/special cards? Or can he exchange a parent group with 3 puppets for another group?

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On Page 7 of the rule book, it says:

Each Group exchanged counts as an action for the player whose turn it is, whichever way the Group moves. So if you trade a Group for a Group on your turn, that counts as two actions – one to move the first Group, one to move the second one!

Then, on Page 8, it says:

When a Group is transferred to another player, its puppets (if any) must go with it, along with all treasuries involved. The player receiving the Group must immediately fit it, and its puppets, into his power structure...

(I know you already pointed that out, I just wanted to show the exact rules quotes.)

That would lead me to believe that you can trade off one of your own Groups (and any of it's puppets) for another Group (and any of it's puppets). Doing so will cost your both of your actions for the turn, one to 'release' the old Group and another to 'welcome' the new Group in. The puppets don't have a say in where they are going, so so they don't count as additional 'Groups' in this case.

So you are fine to trade away a parent Group with three puppets for another group, just as long as you get a good enough deal!

(Note, that if a player can't fit a traded group and all it's puppets into their Power Structure, some of the puppets may have to be released to the uncontrolled area.)

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In addition, that means that if you had a structure A>B>C, you could transfer B>C to your opponent, then take back the C to give you A>C, leaving your opponent with B. – ConMan Feb 12 '14 at 22:24
Wouldn't the opponent be able to not give you C back as it's technically a trade 'in future' (he can't trade you C now because he doesn't have it). So that would be two trades: B>C to him for X and then C back to me for X. Where after making the first trade he might not agree to the second. – Artur Gadomski Feb 13 '14 at 6:39
@ArturGadomski I'm not entirely sure that ConMan's example would work within the rules. The active player would take one action to trade/give B>C to an opponent. However, because it's not the opponent's turn, they can't "give" C back, so A would have to arrange another trade (say for a Plot card) to get C back. I'd say it's you'd probably have to get the table to agree if they'd allow "I trade you B>C but you have to trade me back C" as a valid trade. – Discord Feb 13 '14 at 19:29
@ArturGadomski The strange thing about the rules is that if it's NOT your turn, you don't need actions to receive or swap groups, but you can't give a group away... – Discord Feb 13 '14 at 19:31

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