I was playing a rip-off version of Catan (Settlers of Zarhemla) the other night and had an incident of what I believed to be gamesmanship/cheating between myself and two friends.
We started the game and I had an extremely powerful position on the placements. Naturally, the game devolved into leader bashing almost immediately, but the rolls were going my way. This escalated to the point that one player (player 2) literally gave away their cards to the other player with the dice, so that player 3 could lock down the "Longest Road" victory points, elongate the game, and get below the 7 card limit. I simply shook my head, because they had made a comment about doing something similar a few turns before. We continued to play the game, which obviously took extremely long at that point, so that we were all within a turn or two of winning.
I won the game, but I told them that the experience had soured my taste of the game and wouldn't play it with them again. We had already played the game many times before, and I know teaming up is part of the game, especially with 3 players. I accused them of cheating, which obviously made everyone fly off the handle. It was a classic, loud, board game argument, and it made an already long night even longer. I'll just leave a small summary over the points because it isn't really the main topic.
Points of contention:
-It's not cheating, it's a 'legal unethical play'. Teaming up is part of the game and I couldn't handle the degree of cooperation.
-This version of the rulebook did not have a specific line that said "You cannot give away cards." I wasn't able to find one online. I've played the actual Catan, they haven't.
-This was now being considered a "mutually beneficial trade" by p2 and p3, despite no physical materials being traded both ways. The possibility of winning by drawing out the game was a trade condition in p2's mind in order qualify as trading.
-The move was ultimately superfluous, as I hit a drought on road-building materials and likely wouldn't have gotten the points from Longest Road. Also eventually won the game.
What is the community's feelings on gamesmanship? I respect giving it your all to win a game, but I feel like there are always many ways to break games. How do you handle someone with the "win at any costs" mentality? Or do you ascribe to it for games? Do you play through games and make house rules after? Do you make rules midway through the game? Should I be aiming my frustration at the game design? Just looking for general thoughts and discussion