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If player A reaches 10 victory points on his turn but forgets to count, and immediately after his turn, the following player, player B, also reaches 10 victory points and claims victory, does player A have any grounds to be considered a winner?

It recently happened when a player reached 10 victory points but forgot to count and claim victory. The player whose turn is immediately after also reached 10 victory on her turn and claimed victory. Only after player B counted her victory points it was also determined that player A had already reached 10 victory points.

Who is the rightful winner in that situation? Can the true winner be objectively determined based on anything in the rules?

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+1: Wow. I really did not expect this question to be so contentious. An excellent question. –  ire_and_curses Feb 7 '11 at 23:24
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I've upvoted too. You can tell a good question by the amount of passion and controversy it generates! –  thesunneversets Feb 9 '11 at 19:50
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8 Answers

up vote 29 down vote accepted

The True Winner is player A. The first player to obtain 10 points on his or her turn is the winner.

From the online FAQ at catan.com

Answer

Yes. The game ends as soon as a player has reached the required number of victory points on his turn. If he’s unaware of it, you should tell him, because you can’t take an already gained victory away from him.

This means my earlier comments to the contrary are WRONG, please ignore them as the rantings of a madman. :)

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As an Englishman (by upbringing, if not birth) I am strongly in favour of this sportsmanlike attitude. If someone gets to 10 points you should congratulate them warmly and shake them by the hand. Anything else just wouldn't be cricket! ;) –  thesunneversets Feb 9 '11 at 22:13
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According to the rules:

"If you have 10 or more victory points during your turn the game ends and you are the winner! If you reach 10 points when it is not your turn, the game continues until any player (including you) has 10 points on his turn."

I can't really find any way of interpreting this as reading "if you have 10 or more victory points during your turn you may claim the victory". If at any point it was your turn and you had 10 victory points before anyone else did, you were objectively the winner, and the game should have stopped at once. Sure, you've been really annoying in allowing the other players to labour on under false hopes, and deserve a slap, but in my opinion you cannot be said to have forfeited your rights to victory.

To mollify the other player, I'd tell them that at least your doziness allowed the objective determination of second place!

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I wrote Mayfair Games and asked them for clarification. Their response was as follows:

According to Rules Guru (rules /at/ mayfairgames.com)

You can only declare a victory on your turn. If player A has 10 pts visible on the board then he wins(kind of like poker “cards on table call”), if player A had VP cards and did not turn them over to declare victory on his turn, then he lost.

This means player A, even if he forgot to end the game on his turn, should win. However, in the context of this particular case, player A only reached 10 points by indeed drawing a Victory Point Card, which he failed to declare. Therefore player B won.

I wrote back to clarify this point:

Based on your answer, I would stand to reason that if player A had 10 points showing on the board, but forgot to declare victory, then player B declared victory, player A would still win (even though it's no longer his turn). This makes the line "you can only declare victory on your turn" not entirely accurate, unless we acknowledge that declaring victory does not automatically make you winner as this would have been the case had player A had 10 points on the board.

To which I received the following response:

Yes it is accurate. If you’re playing you should know your point total, I guarantee most people playing with you know it. If you build and achieve 10 on the board most people will say good game you win, even if you didn’t notice. In a friendly game that is how it is played.

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It is funny how different well meaning people can interpret the same two sentences in a completely opposite manner. For me, the first sentence is critical, "You can only declare a victory on your turn". That means you need to take an affirmative action, to declare that you have won. If you do not, the game continues. On your next turn, you will have another chance to declare victory...if noone beats you to it. –  Pat Ludwig Feb 7 '11 at 22:20
    
@Pat, indeed, LittleBobbyTables interprets that same line as "While you may not have claimed to have won during your turn, by the rules set forth in the game you still did win on your turn." Well, at least this case was resolved peacefully and we can all now be happy settles--if we can find the time :D –  Mohamad Feb 7 '11 at 22:26
    
Can you post the full text of the question you posed to them? It seems that they did not at all answer the central question here. –  Pat Ludwig Feb 9 '11 at 18:56
    
@Pat: "You can only declare victory in your turn" does not (in strict logic) imply "you can only win by declaring victory". Sure, if you have face down VP cards, you will obviously need to declare them for the win to be recognized. If you just have 10 points on the table, you just win. And I like it that way: I don't really see what it adds to Catan to penalize people for not feverishly adding up their visible points all the time! –  thesunneversets Feb 9 '11 at 19:42
    
@the - I respect you but I remain baffled by the number of folks trying to find a way out of, "You can only declare victory on your turn". This doesn't appear to be a point of contention on BGG, btw. –  Pat Ludwig Feb 9 '11 at 21:03
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While your question is different than this one, the answer is the same. The rules state:

If you have 10 or more victory points during your turn the game ends and you are the winner! If you reach 10 points when it is not your turn, the game continues until any player (including you) has 10 points on his turn.

Even though your opponent reached 10 points on their turn, you technically had 10 points first during your turn, and are the winner since the game should have immediately ended there.

This is why I always count how many victory points everyone has on the table -- barring victory point cards in players hands, it should be pretty obvious where everyone is VP-wise.

Next time, you probably want to keep a close eye on your VP total though.

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To add a little more drama, here is the rule clarification for the official NACC (North American Catan Championship) rules, that are used for the National Tournaments to feed the World Championship:

2.7 A player has won if he or she has 10 or more victory points (although only 10 will be counted for the ranking) and it is the player’s turn. If a player does not notice that he or she has 10 points, the player must wait until the next turn before winning the game (assuming no earlier player wins, and the player still has 10 points).

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After some further reading it appears that the Almanac adds further information and ambiguity, so it's worth noting; filed under E with a title of Ending the Game it reads the following:

If you have--or reach--10 victory points on your turn, the game ends immediately and you win. You can only win during your turn. If somehow you find you have 10 victory points during another player's turn, you must wait until your next turn to claim victory.

The initial line states the following:

If you have--or reach--10 victory points on your turn, the game ends immediately and you win.

One could interpret this in the following manner: The turn that followed player A's turn--where player B won--was illegal, and should not have happened. This is because player A reached 10 points first; the game should have ended immediately. The rules do not state you must "claim" or "declare" that you have 10 victory points. Thus the game should have ended immediately and any further turns were illegal.

The Almanac goes on to say:

You can only win during your turn.

One could interpret this as one can not win if it is not one's turn; thus player A missed the opportunity to win as his turn had passed. However, I think this reasoning is invalid in this context since it is written to address other circumstances where one may find they have inadvertently reached 10 victory points, and must wait until it's their turn to claim victory.

The following is one such scenario given by thesunneversets

supposing one of the players has Longest Road or Largest Army, but suddenly realises his bus is leaving in 5 minutes. The rest of the players agree to carry on. Suddenly you notice that if the other guy packs it in, YOU will have Longest Road and that will take you to 10 points.

The Almanac goes on to say:

If somehow you find you have 10 victory points during another player's turn, you must wait until your next turn to claim victory.

This sentence also falls under that aforementioned reasoning where, inadvertently a player could find themselves with 10 victory points out of turn.

Can anyone describe other scenarios where this could happen in the original game?

Given my interpretation, I would argue that player A should stand to win as any subsequent turns after a player had reached 10 victory points are illegal.

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The issue seems to hinge around whether it is possible to gain points inside of another player's turn in the Cataniverse. If it never was, then it would be very curious for the rules to suggest that it's possible to find you have 10 victory points in another player's turn, and have to wait to win. HOWEVER, in the 5 and 6 player variants it's possible to build at the end of other player's turns: so it's possible for many players to meet the victory condition simultaneously: in which case the next "winning" player to start a turn would win. –  thesunneversets Feb 7 '11 at 6:14
    
Even without invoking the 5 or 6 player game: supposing one of the players has Longest Road or Largest Army, but suddenly realises his bus is leaving in 5 minutes. The rest of the players agree to carry on. Suddenly you notice that if the other guy packs it in, YOU will have Longest Road and that will take you to 10 points. Okay, the example is a bit of a stretch, but this sort of thing can easily happen, and I like that the rules give a clear suggestion on how to deal with it! –  thesunneversets Feb 7 '11 at 6:17
    
@thesunneversets, so do you agree then that the game should have ended and any further play was illegal? Therefore, player A, the player who had 10 victory points but only realized after his turn had ended, should have been declared a winner? –  Mohamad Feb 7 '11 at 6:21
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I think You can only win during your turn. is pretty clear. While you may not have claimed to have won during your turn, by the rules set forth in the game you still did win on your turn. –  LittleBobbyTables Feb 7 '11 at 12:37
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@Little - I think it is more plausible that the phrase you use means that if it isn't your turn and you find yourself with 10 points then you need to wait until your next turn to claim victory. –  Pat Ludwig Feb 8 '11 at 4:05
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I'm of a somewhat different opinion. The interpretation of the Almanac rule entry under ending the game seems to hinge on two key sentences:

Alpha: If you have 10 or more victory points during your turn the game ends and you are the winner! If you reach 10 points when it is not your turn, the game continues until any player (including you) has 10 points on his turn.

and

Beta: If somehow you find you have 10 victory points during another player's turn, you must wait until your next turn to claim victory.

In Alpha above, the meaning seems to support the view that indeed, the game should have ended on player A's term (per the original post/question). This seems to be Mohamad's interpretation in declaring player B's turn an "illegal" turn. Indeed, were there some neutral, omniscient 3rd party (e.g. perhaps on a webbased game), victory would be determined by proxy immediately any player has 10 points on their turn, through some basic boolean calculation. No next turn would arise and there would be no potential for this mishap or oversight to occur.

However, the reality (not hypothetical) of playing a face-to-face strategy game, is that one is responsible for declaring when one has won. e.g. The rules of Monopoly state that when a player goes around "go", they collect 200. In an automated version of the game, one's bank account may increase by 200 automatically upon passing go. However, in most competitive games, one must remember to actually claim that 200, or once the turn passes to the next player, your "right" to the 200 (per the rules) is often forfeited.

Similarly, when one buys a lottery ticket, one must choose the winning lottery numbers to win. However, while a person may take personal satisfaction from their ability to foresee winning numbers, they are not in fact rewarded for this if they fail to actually claim the winning numbers. In such a scenario, they would have picked the winning numbers (analagously, been the first to 10 points), but do not win the lottery (receive no reward for doing so) because they did not claim their win (analagously, person A did not in claim his win, and so the game did not in fact end - though, per the rules, it should have).

As a result of person A's miscalculation/oversight, the game did not in fact end. As person A seems to have handed the dice to person B and passed the turn onto B, the game in fact continued. In the absence of an omniscient, neutral, rule enforcer, the onus must be on the player to declare that they have won.

Consider the robber. If on Person X's turn, person X rolled 7, but moved the robber, but "forgot" to rob an opponent, and then passed his turn on to Person Y, it would seem that despite the rules clearly stating that when a person rolls 7 they must move the robber AND take a card from an opponent of their choice, person X through his own oversight, allowed the game to continue and therby forfeited his "right" to the card theft. Of course, if playing with lenient friends, one might expect them to allow one to fulfill that turn, however, play having moved on, there would be no obligation on the remaining players to allow him to return back to his turn and do what he should have done, per the rules, on his turn.

Similarly, by failing to bring an end to the game when he had 10 points, person A ignored the rules through his own oversight. The game should have ended - just as person X, in the example above, should have robbed a card from an opponent of his choice. In the absence of a neutral, omniscient, rule-enforcer, the onus is on each player to remember to claim his rights. By failing to end the game on his turn, person A allowed the game to continue. Person B's turn can not then be rendered illegal as a result of Person A's oversight. Similarly, if person Y (following person X's failure to rob his card) was then to use a card to buy a development card, or build a settlement etc, person X could not then say "oh wait - i forgot to rob you on my turn, so take back your settlement and let me do what I should have done on my turn, per the rules". That would require great leniency and tolerance! Person B should not be punished for Person A's oversight and consequent failure to follow the rules, and end the game on, just as Person Y can not be expected to reverse his turn to allow Person X such a great advantage that he forfeited through his own carelessness.

Having allowed the game to continue to Person B's turn, Person A finds himself now in the condition described by Beta above:

Beta: If somehow you find you have 10 victory points during another player's turn, you must wait until your next turn to claim victory.

Now certainly there are multiple ways to find yourself in this situation. (e.g. someone builds a settlement inbetween an opponent's longest route and you now have the longest routes and suddenly have 10 points!). And in some of the expansions, indeed, there are other ways to earn points out of turn. This does not change the fact that person A is also now in this situation. And the rules are clear on what Person A's options are: he must wait until his next turn.

As such, it seems person A is unfortunately, simply out of luck. The game continued as a result of his own oversight, and as such, he has no claim to the victory as although the game should have ended, in the absence of a neutral, omniscient, rule-enforcer, the onus to end the game was on him. He neglected to do so, and thus, the game did not in fact end. His turn passed, and person B declared victory. Any other conclusion would require retroactive enforcement of rules, just as person X would wish he could retroactively steal a card as he was entitled to do on his turn when he rolled a 7. Alas, such a request would require the leniency of their opponents, and such leniency can not be compelled.

Moral of the story: one needs to pay attention! Forgetfulness and inattention to detail are very costly in all strategy games and Settlers of Catan is no exception!

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@Tetteh, wow, too many words. To address your first chunk: The game does not say you need to declare or claim victory. It says reaching 10 points does it. That's objective. Trying to argue that this is the players responsibility is your opinion. The book clearly says otherwise. –  Mohamad Feb 7 '11 at 18:13
    
However, the game does not come with an "objective", rule implementer. The onus is then on each and all players to implement those rules - what other alternative is there? –  Tetteh Feb 7 '11 at 18:21
    
That's irrelevant. The rule book has an imperative declaration "the game ends immediately" -- that is an order. It does not say who must, should, or who has responsibility to carry it out. It says the game ends. Therefore the game ended at the end of Player A's turn. Objectivity is built into the rule book. –  Mohamad Feb 7 '11 at 18:35
    
@Mohamad - the game also doesn't say a player must remember to rob someone if they roll 7. It says this must happen. If a player forgot to do either (with the robber on a tile that was disadvantageous to that player), would his opponents speak up to enforce the rules? Who would enforce/implement the very clear and "objective" rules? In the absence of such a rule-enforcer, the players have to implement the rules - including implementing the rule that says the game ends on your turn if you have 10 points. If you forget to do this, it is your own fault. The rules won't enforce themselves. –  Tetteh Feb 7 '11 at 18:36
    
@Tetteh, Forgetting to rob does not "end the game." You lose your chance to rob. The game continues. Reaching 10 points ends the game. Since the game had already ended, any subsequent turns are invalid. The robber instance is not valid since the game still continues. It was not an illegal move. Building outside of your turn was illegal, but we went back and altered that, and returned the cards. –  Mohamad Feb 7 '11 at 18:42
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From the Settlers of Catan website FAQ:

"Requirements for Victory - What if someone has reached the required number of victory points for a win but is unaware of it? Did this player win anyway? Answer: Yes. The game ends as soon as a player has reached the required number of victory points on his turn. If he’s unaware of it, you should tell him, because you can’t take an already gained victory away from him."

Therefore, the only way it seems that you can gain 10 points in the regular game is when it's not your turn is if someone breaks up a longest road.

So it's likely that the confusing language was used 1) in regards to the breaking up the longest road; and 2) in anticipation of the fact that in the expansion sets there are ways of getting points when it's not your turn.

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