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Topic Subject: PBEM Etiquette and House Rules
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posted 06-18-02 00:39 AM EDT (US)   

The following etiquette and house rules are almost universally observed in both competitive and friendly games. They should be assumed during any PBEM game unless there has been an explicit statement before the game is started that they do not apply.

  • Do not restart the same turn to gain an advantage. You may not overwrite and then reload a partially played turn in order to replay the turn, or any part of the turn.
  • Do not look ahead to the next player's turn. You may not load games from your Emailout directory in order to look at the next player's turn regardless of whether your opponent uses a password or not.
  • Explain restart messages. If you generate a restart message on your turn, especially during turns with key battles, then explain the circumstances regarding the restart message to your opponents.
  • Do not attack on the same turn that you declare war. After declaring war against an opponent with whom you are at peace you must wait at least one turn before attacking them. This rule does not apply if there is no initial diplomatic status between the two opponents.
  • Do not declare war on the same turn that you break alliance. After breaking an alliance you must wait at least one turn before declaring war against your former ally.
  • Do not use the Dominate/Disband cheat to gain extra experience. Experience points are awarded for Dominating units. If you possess a hero (or leader) with the Dominate ability, you may not use that hero (or leader) to repeatedly Dominate and Disband units for the purpose of gaining experience points. It is understood that some enemy units may be Dominated during Fast Combat, or as part of tactical strategy during Tactical Combat. These units may be Disbanded and slain, but may not be Dominated a second time. Use Tactical Combat when you are slaying them to ensure that they are not Dominated unintentionally during Fast Combat.
  • Do not use the Incarnate Possess/Disband cheat to gain extra movement points. You may not use the Incarnate Possess/Disband cheat which is commonly used with Archers in order to gain movement points from the possessed unit, and move your Incarnate an almost unlimited number of times per turn.


The following etiquette and house rules are sometimes used, but should not be assumed. They are generally used in casual, non-competitive games in which the goal of the game is just to have fun.

  • Do not look in the editor to locate points of interest on the map. You may not load the map you are playing in the editor, and then ALT+TAB between the game and the editor in order to "explore" the map more efficiently.
  • Defeat the AI races first. You should either defeat or severely cripple your AI opponents before going after your human opponents.
  • Play with leaders off. Because all human-vs-human battles in PBEM must be resolved using Fast Combat, and because Fast Combat can be very unpredictable, it is a good idea to play PBEM games with leaders off. This will prevent players from losing the entire game as a result of losing their leader in Fast Combat. The player who sets up the game may opt to use the map editor to add new heroes to the map in place of the leaders which will not be used.
  • The use of FMDS is not allowed. The developers never anticipated the use of the Free Movement spell on Dragon Ships. These FMDS (Free Moving Dragon Ship) can unbalance the game, and are therefor sometimes not allowed.
  • Do not send flame messages using the in-game message system. If you are going to taunt your opponents using the in-game message system, then be sure that they know it is good-natured and not malicious.

CayMack on Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network, and Steam. CayMack#1436 on BattleNet.
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[This message has been edited by Cay (edited 01-02-2003 @ 03:56 PM).]

posted 07-14-02 07:54 PM EDT (US)     1 / 49  
Is the diplomatic house rules assumed to count in relations with computer controlled races as well?
posted 07-22-02 07:38 AM EDT (US)     2 / 49  

Quoted from Kanibeos:

Is the diplomatic house rules assumed to count in relations with computer controlled races as well?

I've never thought of that. I would say "no" -- I don't see why the AI needs protection. But I'm interested to hear other's opinions.

CayMack on Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network, and Steam. CayMack#1436 on BattleNet.
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posted 07-22-02 02:22 PM EDT (US)     3 / 49  
I bet the AI isn't going to follow the house rules anyway :~)
posted 07-22-02 03:41 PM EDT (US)     4 / 49  
Lol... good point!

CayMack on Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network, and Steam. CayMack#1436 on BattleNet.
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posted 08-07-02 05:07 PM EDT (US)     5 / 49  
so if 2 players are allies, and player 1 breaks the alliance on turn 1, then on turn 2 declares war, when is player 2 eligible to attack? before or after player 1 (the aggressor) can make his first attack?

shouldnt players formerly in an alliance have to endure the same # of turns of non-aggression?

posted 08-07-02 05:12 PM EDT (US)     6 / 49  
The person who declares war cannot attack on the same turn that they declared war. If someone declares war on you, you can attack them immediately
posted 08-07-02 05:44 PM EDT (US)     7 / 49  

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posted 08-07-02 06:39 PM EDT (US)     8 / 49  
house rules are house rules, but where exactly is the logic in that?

I can see giving the 'defender' a turn to regroup, but to allow him the first attack, too? its quite silly...

posted 08-08-02 00:16 AM EDT (US)     9 / 49  
The idea for the house rule is to prevent an ally (aggressor) from moving into an advantageous position against his ally (defender), and then declaring war and attacking before the defender has a chance to react. This is highly unfair because the defender was allied to the aggressor, and would not have made plans to defend against him.

The rule is meant to protect the defender from the aggressor. By declaring war, the aggressor gives up any right to protection. It is assumed that the aggressor does not need protection, or else he shouldn't be declaring war in the first place.

In my opinion, the rule as it stands still gives the aggressor the advantage. Two turns is hardly enough time for the defender to mount a reasonable defence against an ally that he has been trusting, and who may have used that trust to build an advantageous position.

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posted 08-08-02 09:46 AM EDT (US)     10 / 49  
I agree completely. I also agree that the rule is not "logical" since any rules of conduct can be broken in real life. However a house rule like this is in place to offset the built in lack of logic in most computer games. In a real world scenario alliances would be kept and formal declarations of war issued in order to maintain an honourable reputation. However in an AoW battlefield the player only has to care for his own reputation for as long as the game in question lasts - thereby giving an ilogical advantage to the player who is willing to sneak attack an ally.
posted 08-08-02 03:07 PM EDT (US)     11 / 49  
personally, if I am allied with someone and they start building up forces near my locations, I'm gonna start preparing for the worse, and I'm not going to need the extra turns like that.

I personally just think its more fair that if I declare war with someone I'm peaceful with that I can not attak them that turn, but they should not be allowed to attack me, either. Whoever declares war should be allowed to be the first aggressor.

I guess things are different on a small map (like I'm playing, war of the 12 mages), because 1 turn is more then enough time to get alot of defenses ready.... 2 turns actually, because I had to break the alliance the turn before.

Paladino and I came to a fair compromise in our game about how to handle this, but it was a complicated process because we were allies, and allied victory is off. there was also 1 computer player left, who has been turtled all game (and who i was at peace with) to add to confusion.

without a computer player left, there is no argueing that the alliance had to be desolved and we had to declare war so we could have a victor. War should have been set up near immediatly, with 1 player breaking the alliance, the next declaring war (and either attacking freely next turn or having both players needing to wait 1 extra turn to regroup). However I felt the turtled cpu should have been considered 'eliminated' for all intensive purposes (we were not playing all cpu had to be killed before humans did), and paladino did not.

I can see needing the extra turn on a larger map (but the 'defender' should not be allowed to attack first anyway!), but I think I'll be setting up specific rules for that map from now on... which would have been the smart thing to do to begin with!

posted 08-08-02 08:03 PM EDT (US)     12 / 49  
Well, allies will often leave forces next to and around each others' resources and cities to help them defend. When the men camped outside your gate ostensibly to help you turn into an invasion force it's considered unfair among gentlemen (and ladies). The AI will never play by those rules, so that doesn't matter, really.

Everyone has the option of playing without ANY rules, but it should be understood from the beginning if it's going to be a dirty game and any move can be made, or if it's considered to be played under standard rules, or under "friendly" game rules.

Is it unfair for your new enemy to attack you just after you declared war on him? Of course it is. Don't declare war if you don't feel your troops are in defensible positions.

posted 08-09-02 08:30 AM EDT (US)     13 / 49  
It's quite common for allies to have their heroes and leaders working together against the enemy. One of the reasons for this rule is to allow the person who has had war declared upon them an opportunity to move their leader/heroes out of the way
posted 08-09-02 09:16 AM EDT (US)     14 / 49  
Greenmonster you seem to completely ignore the fact that the one declared war upon willnot have had time to prepare for the war in advance. By the time the one who is going to declare war actually declares war he has had all the turns in the world to move his troops into the positions he wish. Ideally I do not think that troops ought to be poised to strike at all so if the fact that the defender gets to strike first forces the one who declares war to begin the war without troops ready to strike tehn that's just an added bonus. It may be that you do not trust your allies regardless of what rules are played but I feel that if I'm allied to someone I should accept that they may want to move large amounts of troops through my lands and expect that they do not turn upon me and raze my cities when they are halfway through. Otherwise the entire idea of an alliance vanishes because the players involved will have toa ct like enemies.

I do however agree with you that the situation where two of you are allied and there are no others left is a problem. It is however easily solved by adding to the house rules that once tehre are only two players left tehy may declare on each other with no restrictions. That way the computer player would have to be eliminated first but you didn't explain the problem in doing so?

posted 08-09-02 12:59 PM EDT (US)     15 / 49  
well I think alot of the problems have to do with the map itself. It is a very small map, with teleporters to take you to basically anywhere (above ground) easily. 2 turns (after breaking an alliance/declaring war) is more then enough time to move your troops into posistion for defense (even move the 'defenders' into an offensive posistion!).

while the map definitly offers alot of flexability in how you can play it, it is mainly played as a 'battle-royal' type, cut throat game, especially when allied victory is off. I personally dont consider AI opponants to even exist on this map, because all they do is turtle when there are a lot of humans playing to start, and are no threat at all (the AI cant handle all of the stratagies on this map!).

Also on a small map if your allie just has units camped out near your undefended cities, when there is no enemy threat present, you know you have to watch him carefully!

in the game i was playing, I broke the alliance and said we should move to war almost immediatly because the 3rd human player was just killed. I was actually very vulnerable when I broke the alliance because my former ally had units camped out near alot of my undefended cities, and I was not in posistion to attack. because of narrow passages, he also had my units cut off from places they needed to go, so I couldnt reenforce my places, while he could, and he could still take an offensive posistion.
Yet I did so because allied victory was off.

all in all, its no big deal. It just teaches the lesson to write any speciffic rules ahead of time.

posted 08-09-02 05:03 PM EDT (US)     16 / 49  
Of course there may be exceptions on untraditional maps such as your battle of the 12 mages. However even then with traditional house rules you would have had teh option of not decalring war until you had gathered your troops or if we use my addition to the house rules both of you would have known that once the other human player had been killed the alliance would vanish and could thus have prepared on an equal basis.
posted 08-09-02 05:18 PM EDT (US)     17 / 49  
Surely if the other human player is killed, your alliance vanishes, and the next player can attack his ally immediately, that gives him an unfair advantage? Surely it would be fairer for the *not attacking on the same turn as declaring war* rule to apply in that instance too?
posted 08-09-02 06:17 PM EDT (US)     18 / 49  
But that would put the one who killed teh palyer in an unfair position since teh fact that he killed the player doesn't neccessarily mean that he's ready for war. I wouldn't want to be teh one to finish the player off in that case. However if both knows that the war starts immediately both will have equal chance to prepare... of course a resigning player is a problem...
posted 08-09-02 06:39 PM EDT (US)     19 / 49  
I had simply stated that if the 2 remaining players are in alliance, they must immediatly break the alliance, and the next person would declare war, but not be able to attack until his next turn. the player who broke the alliance is also not allowed to attack right away, so it gives both sides 1 turn (or 2 turns if they so agree) to regroup.

basically 3 players, player 1 +2 are allies.
player 1 kills player 3, ends turn.
player 2 breaks alliance, ends turn.
player 1 declares war, ends turn.
player 2 cant attack yet, but can still get units ready. ends turn.
player 1 may attack.
player2 may attack.

its more then fair, and gves each player enough time to regroup. (at least on my map).

now if player 4 was a cpu, and they were no threat (either thru really meager forces, or because they turtled), then I still feel the situation is valid. If however, the CPU was a threat, then there would be no reason for the allies to split up yet.

posted 09-16-02 10:20 AM EDT (US)     20 / 49  
I think that in the optional house rules the FMDS should be adressed. Just a thought though.

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posted 09-16-02 01:32 PM EDT (US)     21 / 49  
I agree... of course I may be the only one who hates them
posted 09-16-02 02:41 PM EDT (US)     22 / 49  
You're not the only one, Xenobea!

Cay, I took the liberty to add a FMDS rule in the optional section.

posted 09-16-02 03:08 PM EDT (US)     23 / 49  
I assume you mean to imply that wind walking dragonships are also covered under the same rule, or did the devs anticipate the use of wind walking on ships? It is more expensive than free movement, whats the thought on that?
posted 09-16-02 03:48 PM EDT (US)     24 / 49  
Some maps would actually be made unbalanced by not allowing FMDSs
posted 09-16-02 03:53 PM EDT (US)     25 / 49  
A few problems with banning WWDS 1). The cost of researching and casting wind walking on an entire stack is prohibitive. 2). If both WWDS and FMDS or neither are allowed Earth magic is too strong. 3). This use of wind walking makes sense. The devs would anticipate that a floating unit can move on any terrain - but not that FM boats would be able to move on land even though they don't have WALKING.

I wouls assume the rule DOES also prohibit FM transport ships, galleys and galleons? Dragon ships aren't the only kind I've used.

posted 09-16-02 05:01 PM EDT (US)     26 / 49  
Hey, it's optional house rules. The players decide between themselves when the game is set up what rules they like. They're listed here as inspiration, nothing more.

Species8471 wrote what my personal thoughts are, exactly!

[This message has been edited by Nojd (edited 09-16-2002 @ 05:06 PM).]

posted 09-18-02 08:43 AM EDT (US)     27 / 49  
Thanks Nojd.

I agree with this as an optional house rule.

posted 10-09-02 09:14 PM EDT (US)     28 / 49  
One more rule: the Undead player can't offer peace and have their reapers walk over their opponents' land to destroy their economy before declaring war on them. This should apply to both human and AI opponents.
posted 10-27-02 01:33 AM EDT (US)     29 / 49  
Then what's the point of the reaper? :P

Andrew the Evil... Ready to destroy anyone who comes too close... do not intimidate me... I am undefeatable... I will come back to haunt you...
posted 12-23-02 01:16 AM EDT (US)     30 / 49  
"It is understood that some enemy units may be Dominated during Fast Combat, and these units may be Disbanded and slain."

Question: what about units dominated in TC that you just don't want to keep?

In a recent game I had a hero with dominate, 10 def / 4 att / 4 dam. Obviously, it would be easier for him to dominate most enemies than kill them. He could beat large stacks of low-level units by dominating a few and using them as shields. However, often these human shields survive, and I don't think it makes sense to force the player to keep them the whole game. He should be able to disband them and kill them, but not dominate and disband them more than once.

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