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Is it ok though to offer trade never intending to do it, as a way to gauge what other player is willing to give out for a said card? And then backtrack after other player agrees to that trade?

Is it ok, if you don't have wheat at all, to start trading like "I would like to give out wheat in exchange for X, not having wheat at all in order to find out what other players are willing to give you for wheat? Is that allowed?

  • Sounds like you have had a poor experience with someone who likes to explore "creative uses of game mechanics". – Malco Apr 13 '18 at 16:05
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    I have often seen players do this as a way of finding out if other players are holding a specific resource, before playing Monopoly to steal it. – GendoIkari Apr 13 '18 at 16:55
  • @GendoIkari That's silly, the amount of resources in the "bank" is public information. No need to engage shady hijinks to find out whether your monopoly would be profitable. – aslum Apr 18 '18 at 20:53
  • @aslum Yeah, if I remember right, I used to see people doing that, and then at some point of time I realized the strategy of simply looking at the remaining bank to determine it. Although I've also seen a similar thing done in order to then play a Soldier to steal from a player after they admitted they have a specific card. – GendoIkari Apr 18 '18 at 21:28
  • This question has been asked before see link boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/29519/… – Sam Buford Apr 22 '18 at 21:35
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It's not a rules violation, but there are still consequences

I don't think that there are any rules against it (Catan doesn't have much to say about when trade agreements become binding), but I would consider it poor sportsmanship lie about your trading plans in order to gain information and mislead your opponents. If you repeatedly act like this there's a reasonable chance your game group will sour on playing Catan with you.

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    Indeed it's frustrating and I was thinking whether I could say that's illegal. I've been refused a few times the moment when I held out my card/s to trade. With comment that they just wanted to know if I had that given resource in hands, in order to use their knight to take it or for other reason. – user23778 Apr 13 '18 at 15:35
  • Is it just one player doing this, or the entire group? Are you the only one being targeted like this? – Arcanist Lupus Apr 13 '18 at 16:06
  • Usually just one player but then noticed others as they picked it up. No it was not personal :) – user23778 Apr 13 '18 at 16:08
  • Discuss it with the group before a game, and try and get a house rule established that defines when an agreement becomes binding. Something along the lines of "If you propose a specific trade with a specific person (eg 1 sheep for 1 wheat with Bob), then you must accept that trade until the game state changes (you make a different trade, build, or play a card). If that fails, you may just have to adapt to this play style. – Arcanist Lupus Apr 13 '18 at 16:22
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    I see and agree. It's just that that rule is hard to police. Consider a situation - I am a player who needs e.g. Wheat. On my turn I say - "Anyone has wheat to trade"? This player responds - What would you give for it? I say Lumber. Player - anything else? I say What about brick? Player - anything else? I say - Lumber and brick at most. Player - sorry, no. (never wanted to trade to begin with). He's completely legitimate and doesn't have to show his hand in order to show he held the card he was offering. – user23778 Apr 13 '18 at 16:36
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While the rules don't explicitly outlaw offering of an illegal trade, the goal of behavior seems to be circumventing the spirit of the following rule: Keep your development cards hidden (in your hand) until you use them, so your opponents can't anticipate your play.

I would highly suggest that groups consider such behavior illegal, since allowing such a phishing expedition could slow down the game. Since the rules don't cover the situation, there is no official penalty. If the group determines the need for a house rule to penalize this behavior, I would suggest the following: If Player A accepts a trade offer from Player B but Player B does not have the resource available, Player A is entitled to make the trade the very next time Player B receives the resource(s) offered.

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