Conventions in Games

This page is a compilation of common variations in the ways different communities play games. Going through these sets of frequent variations and deciding on a convention before starting to play games helps to avoid the frustrating and awkward situations when one realizes that a game has started among people used to different sets of rules, and thus have played differently due to assumptions of convention.

The points mentioned in this page range from “this is a freely varied element” to “there is an official correct answer to this, but people just don’t like it or for some reason aren’t good at remembering it”. For some items on this page, I have included in [blue brackets] afterwards what to the best of my understanding is the canonical answer, either because of some authoritative set of official rules, or because of apparent universal understanding that a certain convention is a variation in personal experience. If the typical canonical answer tends to leave out certain possibilities usually considered within the spirit of the canonical answer, that is clarified in the [orange brackets]. If I believe a variation to the canonical answer leads to a significantly better game, I include such an answer afterwards in [green brackets].

This list is, of course, far from complete. Please let me know about certain conventions you think should be added, or canonical answers for which you have substantial evidence against them being canonical.

Card Games

Liar’s Poker/BS Poker

  • How many Jokers are in use? [2]
  • Are 2s universally wild or wild to their suit? [wild to their suit]
  • Are straights or flushes valid claims?
  • Are extended straights or extended flushes valid claims? [No.]
  • Are extended full houses valid claims?
  • How do these claims rank in comparison to each other? Do they rank strictly in probability order (and if so, calculated before or after 2/Joker transformation?), or via extension of parallel hands, or something else entirely?

Hearts

  • What passing convention is used?
  • Do ♡s need to be broken to lead? [Yes.]
  • What determines leading the first trick? If ownership of a card determines leading the first trick, does that card need to be played in the first trick? [The player with the 2♣ leads the first trick, and must lead it with the 2♣.]
  • Are point cards allowed on the first trick? [No.]
  • Does acquiring all ♡s or all ♡s plus the Q♠ constitute shooting the moon? If they both are, are they considered at different levels? [all ♡s plus the Q♠]
  • What condition ends the game? [When at least one player ends a round with a score of at least 100, the player with the smallest score at the end of that round wins.]

Chinese Hearts

  • Are opposing players in a team? [No.]
  • What passing convention is used? [No passing happens.]
  • Do ♡s need to be broken to lead? [No.]
  • What determines leading the first trick? If ownership of a card determines leading the first trick, does that card need to be played in the first trick?
  • Are point cards allowed on the first trick? [Yes.]
  • Is the 10 of clubs, acquired without any other point cards, worth anything? [+50 points] [+5 points, in a game where all point values are divided by 10]
  • What constitutes shooting the moon, and how are the levels of shooting the moon that are recognized scored? [Ending up with all ♡ gives +200 points. Ending up with all ♡, 10♣, J♢, and Q♠ automatically wins the game.] [All ♡ is instead +20 points, with all point values in the game divided by 10.]
  • Are the 2, 3, and 4 of hearts required for shooting the moon? [Yes.]
  • Are declarations/exposures recognized? If so, what cards can be declared/exposed? [10♣, J♢, Q♠, A♡]
  • If you declare/expose a card, can you play it on the first trick started of the suit of the card? [Only if it is your only card of that suit.]
  • What lower and upper bounds of score is the game played to? [-1000 and +1000] [-100 and +100, with all point values divided by 10]

Spades

  • Are opposing players in a team? [Yes.]
  • Is fulfilling a bid considered as a team or for each individual player? [as a team, but nil bids are considered separately]
  • Is half-nilling (halving the nil bet for a card exchange with one’s partner) allowed? [No.]
  • Is double-nilling (doubling the nil bet for declaring the bet before seeing one’s cards, also called blind-nilling) allowed? [Yes.]
  • Is there a separate option to double a nil bid, in addition to the doubling from a blind nil bid? [No.]
  • Do ♠s need to be broken to lead?
  • What determines leading the first trick? If ownership of a card determines leading the first trick, does that card need to be played in the first trick? [The player who bids first leads the first trick.]
  • Is the penalty for not meeting bid 10 times the entire bid, or 10 times the amount below bid? [10 times the entire bid]
  • What bag-scoring convention is used? [+1 per bag, then -100 upon reaching 10 bags]
  • What lower and upper bounds of score is the game played to? [-200 and +500]

American Napoleon

  • Is the secretary allowed to reveal being the secretary at any time? [No.]
  • Is Napoleon allowed to ask the secretary to reveal being the secretary? [Yes.]
  • Is the secretary required to play the secretary card on the next opportunity possible after reveal? [Yes.] [No.]

Egyptian War/Egyptian Rat Screw

  • Are sandwiches slappable? [Yes.]
  • Are top-and-bottoms slappable? If so, is top-and-bottom considered including or excluding burn cards? [Yes, exclusive of burns.]
  • Are marriages slappable? [No.]
  • And what in the world else is slappable? [Nothing.]
  • When a player is out but hasn’t provided enough cards as demanded by the previous face card, does the next player have to finish the job? [Yes.]

Board Games

Chess

  • What is the rule for pawn promotion? [If a turn lands a player’s pawn on the furthest rank with respect to the player’s king’s starting position’s rank, then on that turn that pawn could be replaced with a queen, rook, bishop, or knight.] [If a turn lands a player’s pawn on the furthest rank with respect to the player’s king’s starting position’s rank, then on that turn that pawn could be replaced with a queen, rook, bishop, or knight of the same color that the pawn was.]
  • What constitutes allowable en passant? [A pawn may capture a pawn of the opponent if in the immediately previous move that to-be-captured pawn moved two squares forward to end in a square on the same rank and in the file immediately to the left or right of the capturing pawn.]
  • What constitutes allowable castling? [Castling is a one-move operation involving moving the king two squares towards a rook and moving the rook to the square between the king’s origin and destination squares, allowable if neither the king nor the rook has previously made a move in the game, there are no pieces between the king and the rook, the king is not in check, and the square the king travels through (the rook’s destination square) is not a square an opponent’s piece could move to the immediate next turn.] [Castling is a one-move operation involving moving the king two squares towards a rook and moving the rook to the square between the king’s origin and destination squares, allowable if neither the king nor the rook has previously made a move in the game, the rook is not the result of a pawn promotion, there are no pieces between the king and the rook, the king is not in check, and the square the king travels through (the rook’s destination square) is not a square an opponent’s piece could move to the immediate next turn.]
  • What form of threefold repetition is recognized? [If the exact same position, with the same player to move next, occurs thrice in a game, then either player may declare that the game ends in a draw.]
  • What form of fivefold repetition is recognized? [If the exact same position, with the same player to move next, occurs five times in a game, then the game is a draw, even if both players desire otherwise.]
  • What form of the 50-move rule is recognized? [If 50 full moves pass with neither a capture nor a pawn move, then either player may declare that the game ends in a draw.]
  • What form of the 75-move rule is recognized? [If 75 full moves pass with neither a capture nor a pawn move, then the game is a draw, even if both players desire otherwise.]
  • What constitutes insufficient material for draw considerations? [one side having only a king, and the other side having in addition to a king at most one knight or one bishop (in other words, the sum of the number of rooks, queens, and pawns on the board is 0, and the sum of the number of knights and bishops on the board is less than 2)]
  • Are players required to say ‘check’ when they are checking the opponent? [No.]

Bughouse

  • What time controls are used? [5 minutes per player]
  • Are drop-checks allowed? [Yes.]
  • Are drop-checkmates allowed? [Yes.]
  • Are drop-captures allowed? [No.]
  • Are pawn drops on the 1st rank allowed? [No.]
  • Are pawn drops on the 8th rank allowed? [No.]
  • Are pawns dropped on the 2nd rank allowed to advance two ranks on the first turn? [Yes.]
  • Are pawns dropped on the 5th rank with respect to the opponent en passant capturable on the immediate next turn? [No.] [Yes.]
  • When can moves be retracted? [Before the clock is hit.]
  • Are players required to say ‘check’ when they are checking the opponent? [No.]
  • What happens when someone makes an illegal move? [If the king becomes capturable, they lose. Otherwise, the move is retracted and the clock is hit, and they must find a new move.]
  • Does the game end upon a checkmate? [No. If someone is checkmated and they’re ahead on time, they are allowed to stall until this is no longer the case. In addition, if they later receive a piece that no longer makes a checkmate a checkmate, they can continue playing.]

Xiangqi/Chinese Chess

  • Is it legal to move a general onto the same file as the opposing general when no pieces are in between? [No.]

Monopoly

  • What happens when a player rolls doubles? [They get to take another turn.]
  • What happens when a player rolls three consecutive doubles? [They go to jail.]
  • Does a player receive money from income and luxury taxes if they land on Free Parking? [No.]
  • If a player lands exactly on the ‘Go’ square, do they collect $400 instead of $200? [No.]

Lost Cities

  • Does a ‘game’ constitute one round or three rounds, where a round is a run through the deck of cards? [three rounds]
  • Does a player get +20 points for eight or more cards for the same city? [Yes.]
  • Do players look at the bottom card of the deck before starting the round? [No.] [Yes.]
  • Can a player pick up the next card in a card pile this player discarded to this turn? [No.]

Association Games

Codenames

  • Is the number of guesses allowed one more than the number of guesses hinted, or infinite? [one more than the number of guesses hinted]
  • If field operatives guess a word incorrectly, does their turn end? [Yes.]
  • Are zero-clues allowed? How many guesses are allowed in the turn after a zero-clue? [Yes. Unlimited guesses.]
  • Are unlimited-clues allowed? [Yes.]
  • Is the spymaster allowed to give a number-of-related-words that is not the same as the number of words genuinely clued? [No.]

Word Games

Good grief. Uh, hope you’ve agreed on a dictionary.

Hidden Role Games

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

  • If a single werewolf sees just a werewolf in the center, are they allowed to look at a second card? [No.] [Yes.]
  • In the day phase, is simultaneous confirmation allowed?

Avalon

  • In an ending discussion to uncover Merlin, are Merlin-aligned players allowed to pretend they are Morgana-aligned and enter discussion? [No.]
  • Are Arthur-aligned players allowed to fail a mission? [No.]

Coup

  • How many cards can a player with an ambassador examine from the middle pile? [2]
  • How many cards can a player with an ambassador exchange out after examining cards from the middle pile? [2]
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