Recently we have had a number of 'explosive' games of Catan and Risk, where the game has become very heated because use of 'prompting' or 'suggesting' of moves to other players. I see this as a valid strategy, however one of my rival players sees it very much the other way and thinks it is unsportsmanlike.
To give a better illustration of the issue here is a scenario for Catan:
- It is a 4 player game, around half way through
- I am Player 1 and am currently not leading the game
- Player 2 is currently in the lead as I see it, and they are a good player
- Players 3 and 4 are in similar positions to me, and look unlikely to win.
At this stage I feel like if the game plays out then Player 2 has a high chance of winning, they are unlikely to make any major mistakes and it would take a sequence of bad luck to unseat them from the victory.
It comes up to Player 3's turn, and they have several moves they can make. They initially choose to attack me. At this point I speak up and prompt another move that attacks Player 2, and illustrate that they are currently winning the game, and that they need to be stopped, implying a loose alliance. This play is beneficial to both me and to Player 3 by keeping us in the game, but damaging to Player 2.
At this stage Player 2 'explodes'. I am berated for making such a suggestion, called a bad sport, and are accused of being of weak moral fibre.
Unfortunately Player 2 has been a better political opponent as well as player, and has the backing of some of the other members of the group, as this is not the first occurrence. They have been building support for their 'anti-prompting' cause for a number of weeks/months.
I back down, and stay quiet, and watch a number of games go by that were largely uninteresting because of a lack of any team play to slow down the winner. Part of this issue is with the way the game operates, in this case Catan:
- You can see the progress of each player to within a 1-2 victory points in most cases, as well as how they trending
- The game seems to be decided quite early in many cases due to strong starting positions and early moves
- It has a large chance factor for starting positions and early resource gains
- By having only one winner it can be very cut-throat and does not explicitly lend itself to cooperation
The end result of these properties is that I feel many games are decided early, and the remaining 45-30 minutes is spent going through the motions. Ideally I would not be in this position, as the other players should see the primary threat and that we should work together toward a common goal of taking out the leader and then one of us may have a chance of the win. Unfortunately this is not often the case, and I'm not allowed to make any mention of this, or I get berated again.
Ultimately this comes down to trust also, if I suggest poor moves then no one will listen. The issue is that, as a strong player, my suggestions are often strong and insightful too, negating a major play or situation that has gone unnoticed. This is clearly aggravating for the player I'm doing this against (Player 2), but my only other option is to sit there and let them win.
Do you allow prompting in your games? Is it an issue? Do you think it is unsportsmanlike? Should I back down and keep quiet? How should I bring this up as a valid and accepted part of the game if I choose to try an get this included as an allowed behaviour in future games?