Empire Builder
Equal Events Rule
Equal Turns

ebEB7 Screen Shot

Most play crayon rails with the Equal turns rule under which each player gets the same number of turns, and a win is awarded at the end of a round. Most who use Equal turns have encountered confusion handling events during the match's final round. As shown below, the Equal events rule easily resolves that confusion, and is recommended for use whenever you play with Equal turns.

Equal events is available in EB Pronto (EBP) starting with version 2.0.33, but is also suitable for use in face-to-face board game matches.

Let's look at how Equal events resolves inequities that can result from events during a match's final round. Consider a three-player match, with players A, B, and C in that turn order.

Scenario 1 For the first scenario, assume all players met city-connection victory requirements at the start of the round. and that $250m cash is needed to win. Proceed as follows:

  • Player A delivers and now has $280m
  • Player B delivers and now has $270m
  • Player C delivers and now has $260m, but draws a Flood event that severs the track networks of both A and B such that they no longer connect the required number of big cities

Who wins? There are various ways of handling this. Some say award the win to C because he is the only player who meets victory conditions at the end of the round. Others say players are evaluated for meeting winning conditions at the end of their turn, so events that happen after a player's turn cannot disqualify that player from winning; under this interpretation A wins since he has the most cash (that's how EBP handles this situation if Equal events is not enabled). Other people handle it in yet other ways.

Scenario 2 Let's look at another scenario. Start as for the first, except have player A draw a Flood event that severs the networks of all players such that they no longer connect the necessary big cities. That means no player meets victory conditions at the end of their turn this round. While the Flood is in effect, no player can rebuild a washed-out bridge, so the match continues into the next round. Player A cannot rebuild because the Flood does not end until his turn has finished. Players B and C, however, can rebuild; assume both end with more than $250m. EBP awards the win to either B or C, depending on which has the most cash at the end of the round.

Despite having even more cash than B and C, because Player A did not get a chance to rebuild, many say he is cheated out of the win. Consequently, some people modify the rule to permit a rebuild round for all players.

Scenario 3 Weirdness can happen with the Tax event, too. Let's say Player A meets victory conditions with $250m at turn end. If Player B draws the Tax event, and that causes Player A's cash to drop below $250m, can Player A still win (with $225m)? EBP says yes, but many players instead cancel A's victory.
Equal Events Rule The "Equal events" rule resolves the inequities above, and does so in an a simple, easy-to-understand manner.

Under Equal events, ignore any and all events that occur while any player meets victory conditions at the time the event is drawn. Do so even if victory conditions are met before the drawing player's turn ends. The event is discarded and the player draws again. Such an approach prevents an event from interfering with a player's win after that player has met victory conditions. If players end in a tie and the match continues with a $300m cash requirement, normal handling of events resumes until any player again meets victory conditions, at which point events are ignored per the above.

So, in the scenarios above, the Flood and Tax events are discarded and simply have no impact. Player A wins in all three scenarios, provided, of course, he has the most cash at the end of the round. This approach stops events from having unequal impact. Having a win cancelled because a player never gets a chance to rebuild has never felt right for a strategy game of skill.

No Gaming the Rule When an event is drawn during the final stages of a match, the drawing player is responsible to immediately state that he has drawn an event, and to ask players if they meet victory conditions. The drawing player may not delay to contemplate how player(s), if any, will be impacted by the event. When any player is so asked, each player, including the drawing player, must correctly announce to all whether he meets victory conditions at that time. When assessing victory conditions, do not include effects of the pending event because the drawing player is not obligated to reveal the event to the other players until after all have replied.

If a player is later discovered to have not announced meeting victory conditions even though he had indeed met them when asked as described above, that player receives a two-round penalty as follows: the player is disallowed from winning the match during the first round in which he otherwise would win, as well as the next round. This gives his opponents two rounds to catch up and possibly win before the disallowance is lifted.

Miscellaneous If the event's drawing player fails to ask if player(s) meet victory conditions, the event is handled in normal fashion, i.e. it is not ignored. When Equal events applies, all events are ignored, not just Flood and Tax. EBP automatically asks and announces for all players.

You can use Event events without Equal turns, if you wish. It prevents an event drawn by a player from cancelling a win he achieved via delivery that round.

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Empire Builder is a trademark of Mayfair Games, used here under license. EB Pronto, EBPEdit and the alternate maps are not products of Mayfair Games. EB Pronto is a trademark of Intersystem Concepts, Inc.