Before explaining what happened, here's the literal text of the "Commercial Harbor" card, as a reference:
You may offer each Opponent a resource card from your hand. In exchange, each player must give you a commodity card of his choice. If he has none, your resource card is returned.
Additional Text in the rulebook:
You may force each of the other players to make a special trade. You may offer each opponent any 1 resource card from your hand. He must exchange it for any 1 commodity card of his choice from his hand, if he has any.
You may use this ability at any point during the turn you play the card. However, you may only force each player to make this trade with you once that turn. Your opponent chooses which commodity card to give you if he has more than one. If you offer a resource to a player who has no commodity cards, then you take your card back and the trade is void. You do not have to give this player the resource card.
So this was the scenario that took place:
- Four player game, players A, B, C, and D.
- Player A played the "Commercial Harbor" card.
- Player A approached Player B, asked if they had a Commodity Card, Player B truthfully answered that they did not.
- Player A approached Player C, asked if they had a Commodity Card, Player C truthfully answered that they did not.
- Player A approached Player D, asked if they had a Commodity Card, Player D falsely claimed they did not have a Commodity Card
- The turn resolved with the card being disposed and Player A receiving no Commodity Cards
- Player D revealed after the conclusion of the turn that they had lied about their claim of not having a Commodity Card
- Players B & C immediately concluded that Player D violated the rules, arguing that Player A's approach constituted the necessary contract fulfillment to "make an offer", per the text of the card.
- Player D concluded that they obeyed the letter of the rules, pointing out that Player A did not physically show the card they intended to trade to them, and thus wasn't required to answer truthfully.
- Played D offered that in an earlier turn in the game, they had played the card exactly as they felt it should be played, but this behavior was not consciously observed by players A, B, or C.
Now, in the context of our specific play session, we concluded that this was a violation of the rules, but this determination was made via majority vote (Players B & C agreed that this was a violation, Player D disagreed, Player A abstained due to being a novice and being unsure of the rules). So I'm curious what the determination would be in a tournament setting, or at least what the usual resolution of this kind of act would be in your sessions.
I personally determined the following:
- That this was a violation of the rules, because I don't consider the text of the card to establish a distinction where only the literal act of showing a card is sufficient to establish an attempt to make an offer.
- That the rules as written in the rulebook are intended to offer a form of "Mercy Play", i.e. "Let's not screw over a player who's already behind", and is not intended to produce ambiguity on what kind of actions are intended to constitute a valid offer.
What do you make of these rules? Do you feel that Player D obeyed both the letter and spirit of the rules as written, or that it was correct to determine that their actions were in violation of the rules?