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You Be The Judge >> Deliver the Verdict in the Court of BGG
Jay Little
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Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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BANG - BANG - BANG

"All rise for the honorable Judge (insert your name here)."

Everyone stands at attention as you enter the courtroom. Settling into your ridiculously luxurious chair, you survey the crowd. The courtroom is packed with all your Geekbuddies. The Geek of the Week is sitting in the front row, and politely nods. Aldie and the admins are providing security at the door, keeping the throng of photographers and non-gamers at bay.

The crowd is abuzz with anticipation. Looking over the docket, you can see you have a long day ahead of you. You bang your gavel for silence. The representatives for the first case shuffle through their cards, make some last-minute notes on their score sheets, and tidy up their meeples.

"Court is now in session. Gamers, you may present your case."

It's time to prove your appointment as Chief Gaming Judge was the right call. The rulings you make on these cases will be scrutinized by everyone on BoardGameGeek and may well influence the course of gaming for generations.

Don't screw up.

For each case, you must rule in favor of the Plaintiff or the Defendent.

So what's the verdict?
How does your personal gaming experience influence your decisions?
How will you justify your ruling to the reporters?
What would swing your view to rule in favor of the opposite party?


(for maximum enjoyment, I suggest reading this using the voice of Stephen Colbert)
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1. Board Game: Kingmaker [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1378]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #987 - The Kingmaker Conundrum

Jesse and Pat are playing a game with Morgan. It's Morgan's turn in the final round of the game. If Morgan attacks Jesse, Pat wins. If Morgan attacks Pat or does nothing, Jesse wins. In both cases, Morgan comes in last place.

Plaintiff:
Attack Jesse, giving Pat the win.

Defendent:
Attack Pat or pass/do nothing, giving Jesse the win.


My Ruling:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
This is an open and shut case. The evidence against Jesse is overwhelming. In this specific setup, Jesse is the clear leader -- with more possible endgame outcomes benefitting Jesse than Pat (pass/attack versus just attack), Jesse has the advantage. The court rules to attack Jesse, ruling for the Plaintiff.
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2. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:409]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #45 - A Dicy Situation

Cameron and Riley are playing a game that uses dice. Cameron rolls the dice, which bounce off the table and onto the floor. Cameron wants the roll to count, since no one specifically mentioned any house rules. Riley wants the dice roll to be re-rolled, arguing that the default expectation is results are only valid if they remain on the table.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Cameron; the dice roll stands.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Riley; the dice must be re-rolled.
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3. Board Game: A Victory Denied [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:1635]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #31954 - Victory Pointless

Kelly, Robin, and Shannon are playing a game. It is the last round, and it is Shannon's turn. If Shannon attacks Robin, the final score will be Kelly 100, Robin 81, Shannon 80. If Shannon attacks Kelly, the final scores will be Robin 90, Shannon 50, Kelly 40.

Plaintiff:
Shannon should attack Robin; if you cannot win, the goal should be to gain the most Victory Points regardless of the finishing position.

Defendent:
Shannon should attack Kelly; if you cannot win, the goal should be to finish with the highest possible position/ranking.

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4. Board Game: Party Pooper [Average Rating:4.92 Overall Rank:9526]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #29119 - Party Foul

Taylor and Casey are hosting a game night with several of their friends. Taylor wants everyone to play one long game, which will take up the entire evening. Casey wants to split into smaller groups and play shorter games throughout the evening. The guests have no preference for either option.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Taylor; everyone plays the same game for the entire evening.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Casey; shorter games with smaller groups are played throughout the evening.
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5. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:31]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #12493 - Seeing Stars

Sandy and Bobby are playing in a game of Twilight Imperium with some friends. Sandy is a veteran player and has lots of experience playing Twilight Imperium. Bobby has never played the game before and is relatively new to the hobby.

Early in the game, Bobby makes a crucial rookie blunder, leaving the home territory undefended. Sandy has the resources necessary to take advantage of this opening and all but eliminate Bobby from the game, potentially leaving him little to do for an hour or more while the rest of the game is played out.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Sandy; to become a better gamer, Bobby will learn from the mistake, and this is a mistake that won't be made again.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Bobby; Sandy should not take advantage of an opponent's inexperience or potentially ruin their evening.
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6. Board Game: Hear Me Out [Average Rating:5.00 Overall Rank:10279]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #6868 - Now Hear This

Riley is attending the first public gaming night with a large group. Riley has started playing a game when Taylor starts setting up a game at the next table.

Taylor is the only player at that table who has played the game before, and teaches the rules to the other players. While explaining the rules, Riley overhears Taylor mis-explaining one of the key rules that can impact winning the game.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Riley; if Riley knows the proper rules, that information should be shared, even if it is not in Riley's game.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Taylor; even if the rule was wrong, it's Taylor's game session at Taylor's table, and it shouldn't be interrupted.
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7. Board Game: Blood Bowl (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:163]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #712a - Time's Up

Cameron and Tracy are starting a Blood Bowl league, and need to set the ground rules. The rulebook suggests using a 4 minute timer for each player turn. If time runs out before a player finishes their turn, a turnover occurs and play passes to the opponent.

Cameron wants to use the timer, arguing that it keeps the game tense, forces players to think on their feet, and keeps the overall game length within a predictable range.

Tracy does not want to use the timer, arguing that it adds unnecessary pressure to the players, and deprives players the opportunity to make the best strategic decisions.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Cameron; the timer should be used.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Tracy; the timer should not be used.
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8. Board Game: Blood Bowl (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:163]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #712b - Taking Your Tweet Time

Cameron and Tracy are still discussing ground rules for their upcoming Blood Bowl league. The rulebook states that if a player touches one of their figures before moving the turn marker, a turnover occurs and the rest of the player's turn is forfeit. In some circles, like the really cool ones I belong to, this is known as the Tweet Rule.

Cameron wants to use the rule, arguing that it is an official rule in the rulebook, after all, and forces players to pay attention.

Tracy does not want to use the rule, arguing that dude, it's just a game.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Cameron; the Tweet Rule should be used.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Tracy; the Tweet Rule should not be used.
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9. Board Game: A Victory Lost [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:595]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #19622 - Victory / Victoria

Taylor and Jesse are playing a game that generally plays in about two hours. 30 minutes into the game, it is discovered that they were playing with an important rule wrong, which would dramatically impact the outcome. Taylor is currently in the lead and the likely winner if play continues. Jesse is in last place.

Taylor wants to implement the correct rule from this point onward, and continue play.

Jesse wants to start the game over, using the new rule from the beginning.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Taylor; implement the rule correction and continue play.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Jesse; start the game over with the correct rule.
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10. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:89]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #77130 - Let's Be Civilized About This

Tracy and Pat are attending a large open gaming event and plan to spend the entire day gaming. They start out by playing a five player game that usually plays out in six to eight hours. One hour into the game, Tracy attacks Pat, crippling Pat to the point where it is now mathematically impossible for Pat to win the game.

Pat is willing to concede the game to the other players and move on to play something else while they finish without him. Tracy feels Pat should remain in the game and finish it out, despite Pat's situation.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Tracy; Pat committed to the game, so should finish the game regardless of the situation

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Pat; Given Pat's position, Pat should be allowed to leave the game to play something else.
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11. Board Game: Rain or Shine [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #50448 - Ooh, Shiny!

"Shiny New Thing" is the latest big hit that has just been released and is all the rage at the gaming meetups. Morgan loves "Shiny New Thing." Kelly strongly dislikes "Shiny New Thing." It requires exactly four players to play.

Morgan and Kelly are the last attendees to arrive. Two other players are already there, with "Shiny New Thing" set up, looking for two more players. Morgan knows Kelly dislikes the game, but thinks they should join the other two players so everyone gets to play something. Kelly would prefer to wait for a different game to finish rather than play "Shiny New Thing."


Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Morgan; Kelly should give the game another chance, while providing an opportunity to play for the other two players. This makes Kelly miserable but the three other players happy.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Kelly; Someone should not feel compelled to play a game they do not enjoy. This makes Kelly happy but the other three players miserable.
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12. Board Game: Change Horses [Average Rating:5.35 Overall Rank:10145]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #30379 - Change of Plans

Cameron and Sandy are playing a four player game with their friends. They have already played for one hour, and are half an hour from completing the game. Cameron has a strong position and is in the lead. Tracy arrives and wants to play the same game.

Cameron wants to complete their current game, allowing enough time to get one more game in after that before needing to leave.

Sandy wants to restart the game so Tracy can join them, which would not leave enough time for Cameron to play another game.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Cameron; the current game should be completed.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Sandy; the game should be restarted with Tracy.
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13. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:360]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #483 - Walking on Eggshells

Kelly and Pat are playing a tense game of Diplomacy with a number of new players. Kelly and Pat are both experienced players. Kelly wants to double cross the new players immediately and show them what Diplomacy is really all about. Kelly asks Pat to be a part of the plan, which would result in a joint-win. Pat knows Kelly will make good on the plan and they will crush the newbies.

However, since Pat knows Kelly's intentions, Pat wants to side with the new players to help them figure out the ropes and tip them off to what Kelly is planning. If he does this, one of the newbies will win, but Pat cannot win.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Kelly; not only will Pat get a shared win, but the sooner the newbs learn what to expect from the game, the better it will be all around.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Pat; turn the tables on Kelly and inform the newbies of these plans to let Kelly know Diplomacy is never certain.
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14. Board Game: Sticky Situations [Average Rating:4.42 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #14761 - Finger Lickin' Good

Jesse and Pat are playing a copy of Taylor's new game at Taylor's house. Jesse is a bit obsessive compulsive and keeps his own games in sterling condition. He does not know about Pat or Taylor's preferences, but Pat is eating Cheetohs during the game, and smudging Taylor's cards and components with bright orange cheese dust. The vein in Jesse's forehead starts to throb.

Plaintiff A:
Side in favor of Jesse, to take the initiative and ask Pat to mind the Cheetohs and the potential damage he's causing to the game.

Plaintiff B:
Side in favor of Taylor, with the expectation that Jesse or Pat should ask Taylor what his preference would be if a potential issue would arise.

Defendent:
Side in favor of Pat, it's not Jesse or Pat's game, so don't fret about it. If Taylor was that concerned, he would not have allowed them to play, or to let Pat bring Cheetohs to the game.
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15. Board Game: What Did I Step In? [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #35172 - The Substitute

Robin and Tracy are playing a two hour game with four other players. Robin is trailing by a wide margin, while Tracy is leading by a wide margin. After one hour of play, an emergency suddenly pulls one of the players away. Shannon offers to step in and take over for the now-absent player. Shannon does not know the rules, and it will take longer to complete the game than usual.

Robin wants to start the game over, arguing it will take almost the same amount of time to complete the current game as an entire game would take if they started from scratch, and Shannon can learn and play properly from the beginning.

Tracy wants to keep playing with Shannon stepping in as the substitute, despite the fact that Shannon will need to be taught as they go. Tracy argues that they've already reached the halfway point and even if it takes slightly longer to complete than expected, it will still be less total time than if they start over.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Robin; start the game over, letting Shannon play the complete experience. This makes Robin happy but Tracy miserable.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Tracy; continue the game, teaching Shannon as you go. This makes Tracy happy, but Robin miserable.
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16. Board Game: See you later ... [Average Rating:4.67 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #6992 - Late Bloomer

Kelly is host for a weekly game night. Riley is new to town and has been invited to the game night, and RSVP'd for several evenings, but ended up not showing.

While Kelly has not specifically un-invited Riley, Kelly is surprised when Rilely does show up for one of the weekly gatherings, unannounced but sincerely apologetic.

All of the players are already committed to existing games well underway, and including Riley would require one of the current games to break up into smaller groups and start new games.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Kelly and ask Riley to leave; as host Kelly has the prerogative to decline guests, especially one with a no-show track record.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Riley and break up one game to accommodate the new player. Riley's sincere apology and arrival should be appreciated and Riley should be included in the activities.
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17. Board Game: Hacker Tracker [Average Rating:2.60 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #12908 - The Tell-Tale Tracker

Casey and Taylor are playing a game with several players where victory points are publicly scored, but secretly kept on individual tracking sheets. One of Casey's unique gaming qualities is Casey's photographic memory, while Taylor often forgets what was for breakfast.

Taylor pulls out an iPhone and begins tracking everyone's scores using an app (or uses this old-fashioned method called "pencil and paper" for the elder set). Casey thinks this is cheating, since the rules stipulate the individual scores are kept privately, even if all scoring is public knowledge as it occurs.

Taylor argues that the public knowledge of the scoring renders the secret tracking moot, and provides an unfair competitive advantage for players like Casey with perfect recall of everyone's scores. Tracking thus ensures a level playing field for all.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Casey; if the rules clearly state hiding individual scores, the game should be played that way.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Taylor; if an unfair competitive advantage is gained when all scoring is indeed public knowledge, tracking is acceptable.
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18. Board Game: Hog Tied [Average Rating:5.62 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #12006 - Sister Kissing

Shannon, Cameron, Pat, Sandy, and Kelly are playing a game together. It is the last round of the game, and Kelly is taking the last turn. Kelly has two options for play -- attack or defend.

If Kelly attacks, Shannon and Cameron will tie for first place with 100 points, then Pat technically places in third place with 97 points, making Sandy and Kelly the defacto fourth place finishers with 95 points. The margin between first and last place is only 5 points.

If Kelly defends, Sandy comes in first place with 100 points, Pat comes in second place with 90 points, with Shannon, Cameron, and Kelly all tying for third place with 75 points -- fairly low for this game. The margin between first and last place is 25 points.

Plaintiff:
Attack, closing the gap as much as possible is preferable to a larger tie for last with fewer total points.

Defendent:
Defend, a three-way tie for 3rd with a low score is still better than a close finish in 4th.
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19. Board Game: Turnabout [Average Rating:4.44 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Case #9399 - Take That

Bobby and Morgan finished playing a game in which Bobby completely crushed Morgan, by a wider margin than necessary to actually win the game. They start a different game with more players, and soon it is apparent to everyone at the table that Morgan is exclusively targeting Bobby over the course of the game. With this approach, Bobby has no chance to win, but Morgan could possibly pull out a victory -- though the chances are slim.

Bobby argues that Morgan's exclusive targeting is poor gamesmanship, allowing the day's "meta" events to influence his subsquent gaming choices.

Morgan argues that targeting Bobby exclusively, while partially fuelled by the previous game, is a valid strategy, as completely removing one player from the equation means fewer remaining players vying for the top spot.

Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Morgan; after all, Bobby is responsible for the lop-sided result in the previous game, and Morgan's actions are not precluding the possibility for Morgan to actually win the current game.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Bobby; Morgan's being a jerk.
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20. Board Game: LCR [Average Rating:2.90 Overall Rank:11054]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
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Case #3522 - The No Brainer

Casey and Jesse are at a gaming night. Casey wants to play LCR all night, claiming it is a great strategy game. Jesse knows better.


Plaintiff:
Rule in favor of Casey and lose all your Geek cred.

Defendent:
Rule in favor of Jesse, lest you lose all your Geek cred. Then remove Casey from your GeekBuddy list.
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