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Games that have developed a strong professional circuit generally consider resignation a courteous behavior. Some consider not resigning discourteous. This question is about the rest of board gaming: When (if ever) is resigning acceptable?

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Many people I've played with have a "See it through to the bitter end" mentality. Especially for some of the longer games, like Advanced Civilization, Pax Britannica, and Supremacy. Then again, in those, the game is multi-player, and one player dropping out will drastically alter the flow of play; further, all three have victory conditions that can change the apparent leader to a loser in even the last turn.

I see nothing wrong with offering a resignation, but I also often see it as discourteous to simply walk away.

My usual experience with resignations in long games is one of two situations:

  1. Player has to leave for work. Generally, if this was known before hand, no big deal.
  2. Player is frustrated, losing, and a jerk; player scatters pieces and/or flips board.

On the other hand, while no one I've played with saw offering to resign as inherently discourteous, neither was it discourteous to ask the attempting to resign player to play it out in multi-player games.

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I offer a resignation, and on occasion, my opponent will state a preference to continue playing, at which point I'll continue to play my best. –  Neal Tibrewala Mar 24 '11 at 7:32
    
Might also be worth noting that some long games (Civ and Advanced Civ in particular) have specific rules for "short games", and playing a short game could significantly alter a player's strategy. Accordingly, I'd consider it courteous that, if the group knows they don't have sufficient time really for a full game, they should all agree ahead of time on how long they're going to try to play (even if that goal gets further scotched by misjudging the time). It ticks me to call a Civ game early when people "have to leave" and then have it suggested to just count scores to determine a winner. –  Viktor Haag Jun 21 '11 at 20:50
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I would say that resignation is perfectly acceptable as long as

1) It was preceded by a good-faith effort to play optimally.

2) All parties who are affected by the resignation agree on its timeliness.

The only times I feel a resignation is discourteous is when it negatively impacts people who were depending on your continued presence; for example, if Japan were to unilaterally resign from a game of Axis & Allies despite the objection of Germany.

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I agree, and I prefer resignation over other things people do, like playing suboptimally (or ridiculously) on purpose. For example, purposely ending a multiplayer game of Dominion that you're losing (even though it doesn't help you) because you're bored is much ruder than resigning gracefully (which is usually possibly in Dominion will little effect on the remaining players). –  lilserf Mar 18 '11 at 19:38
    
Great answer; I wish I could pick two. I chose the other because it mentioned a few more cases. –  MrHen Mar 21 '11 at 15:23
    
You can always upvote all that have good advice. –  aramis Mar 25 '11 at 7:21
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It depends on the type of game:

  1. In a game between two players, I would encourage resigning.
  2. In a game between more players, it depends on the game:
    • If the game has rules for resigning, or players can agree on a set of rules, resigning should be allowed.
    • However, if resigning would spoil the game for any of the other players, all players should be encouraged to play out the entire game.

Option 1 is easy: when you're playing chess, there is more honor (and a sign that you atleast understand the game of your opponent) in seeing when you are lost, then in playing on and hoping the other person will make a mistake. When I see I'm lost and I'm sure the other person knows he's won, I will usually resign. Unless when I want to learn from the other player, in which case I'll say "I know you've won, but I want to strengthen my endgame for a bit by watching how you do it" or something like that.

Option 2: for example in Monopoly, a resigning player could just donate his property to the bank, if the other players agree.

But there might be cases where the other players don't agree, for instance when the quitting player will probably be hitting one player's hotels the next turn - the other player may feel his odds of winning decrease when the player goes.

One small tip: if you do insist the game is played to the bitter end, take away the bitter. Grab something to drink and/or to munch on, make jokes, have a conversation. Thank the player for continuing to play, apologize that he still has to play but explain that this allows the other players to end the game as it is supposed to be played.

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One thing to keep in mind is resigning isn't a means to avoid losing, but a recognition that you have lost - you just haven't finished going through the motions.

In a two-player game, this should be fairly simple - you resign, opponent wins, you start another game.

In a team scenario (like Axis & Allies), the entire team should resign as a group - if a single player just packs up and leaves, the other team members should be allowed to fill in the blank spot. (Assuming they wish to continue the game).

In a multiplayer scenario, it really depends on how the interactivity works. Dominion can easily manage a disappearing player, but Settlers can't. Generally, I'd err on the side of allowing someone to bow out, especially if he knows he can't win, but the ultimate winner is still unknown. If it's fairly obvious that someone is going to win (or if it really doesn't matter who wins), I'd rather sweep and reset than force someone to suffer through the remainder of the game.

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That's funny, I was going to use A&A as a perfect example of a game where I would consider it very rude not to resign, although I was thinking about the Axis or Allied players retiring together as a group--I agree that one member of an alliance resigning unilaterally would be in very bad taste.

The criterion I use is that a player should resign when it's obvious that the victor is obvious but that achieving the stated victory conditions will take a long time. A&A is the quintessential example because of how hard it is to captured the "island" of Japan, Great Britian, and North America.

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In this context, A&A is a poor example, in part because it's a 2 team game, and in part because A&A has 2 different victory conditions... Economic, and capture the capitals. Having LOST my capital, playing japan, the German player and we still hit an economic victory when he took Moscow, and I rolled up on india. It's just two varied for a good example for this. –  aramis Mar 19 '11 at 22:45
    
I don't follow your logic at all. The question is about courtesy in resignation. I've played more than a few games where it was obviously over. As an egregious example, as the allies I had Japan down to nothing but the capital and some of the random South Pacific islands. It was OVER. Yet the other person demanded we play out the four or five more turns required for me to build factories, then ships, then to pound away at the huge stack of INF. Very rude; we never played again. Not giving up if you lost a capital but could still win economically isn't rude: that makes perfect sense. –  Adam Wuerl Mar 19 '11 at 23:03
    
A&A has so much luck factor, that even an optimal position can be lost in a couple turns, multiple routes to victory, shared victory, and no true player elimination (if your allies retake your homeland, you get it back). I've seen a player who had a 20infantry:1armor advantage lose a battle on several occasions... simply by luck of the dice. And further, a player dropping out means more work for some other player, since the 5 core nations are all played regardless of how many players. It is the perfect example of a game where resignation is a rudeness. –  aramis Mar 21 '11 at 22:42
    
Obviously one player can't drop out. It would be one entire side resigning. And yes luck can play a large role in games, but if that's a risk then the resignation is occurring too early. The allies don't have economic victory so they could have every territory on the board except Japan and the game wouldn't technically be over. There is no chance of dice saving that situation or one even remotely close to it. If all three of the allies are left, Germany is eliminated, and Japan is being steadily pushed back: it's over. Given 84 IPC victory for the Axis, the Allies probably should never quit. –  Adam Wuerl Mar 23 '11 at 4:35
    
Another thought that occurred to me last night: in a game where extreme luck can turn the tide but where both players think the game is out of hand, resigning is probably the most sportsmanlike thing to do. What are the possible outcomes. The game plays out as expected: hours spent rolling to find out the player who was dominating won. Something really strange happens: and the player who deserved to lose uses dice to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. That's a hollow win in my book only a poor sport would be proud to have. Better to resign and admit you were outplayed. –  Adam Wuerl Mar 23 '11 at 11:29
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In a two player game, the time to resign is when it is certain (or almost certain) that the weaker party will lose, given the playing abilities of both parties. That could be a disparity of as little as two pawns in chess (at the master level), or a piece, major or minor, for weaker players.

There are some multiplayer games like Diplomacy, where a single player can "declare civil disorder" without substantially affecting the chances of other players. On the other hand, if you are part of a pre-set "team" (Axis and Allies), it's better to resign, if at all, as a team.

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In board games played online that have score values resigning may be considered rude.

For example, if you forfeit in Scrabble Online, you prevent your opponent from scoring, thus ending their opportunity for a high score value (which is tracked and viewable by opponents).

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I don't think that's an issue with resignation as much as with expected behavior in an environment where statistics other than wins and losses are tracked. (This may be much more of a factor in online games - and thus more of a gaming.SE response - but I'll look at only that which could be applicable to board games too.) There are, or should be, distinctions between being in a Scrabble league, where there is most likely a code of behavior governing play, and simply playing random opponents. Is a lost high-score opportunity any worse than a high score gained when the opponent stopped trying? –  Dave DuPlantis Jun 23 '11 at 16:18
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