Focus on a problem to be solved.

Our FAQ reminds us that "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face."

Therefore the question should focus on what issue you are trying to resolve by using a house rule. Examples:

  • I find the endgame of XXX monotonous
  • YYY is a great game, but the card deck is too small and repeats often. I'd like more variety
  • My group enjoys ZZZ however the game ends too quickly for us and we have experimented with ...

House Rules that haven't been tested in actual play shouldn't be discussed here. That only invites speculation and we should direct those questions to a traditional forum (where they'd probably be welcome).

Emphasis actual play experience instead of guesswork.

I feel strongly that any question here must involve people who have actually played the house rule under discussion.

Ideally the Asker has that experience

The asker should try his or her proposed house rule, then come here to ask about the implications. If the asker hasn't tried the rule, then he is most likely seeking to have a discussion along the lines of "What do you all think about XXX". These sorts of questions are prohibited via our FAQ. Here are a couple examples that I think are potentially good questions.

  • My group used this House Rule for a couple games and it seemed to solve the problem for us. Can anyone see any unintended consequences?
  • The House Rule solves the problem for us, however there is one annoying side effect that we haven't been able to solve. What tweaks would you suggest?

Asking about a popular variant/house rule

If there are popular, commonly used house rules for a game. Those can be discussed without playtesting by the asker as long as it ties back into the problem. However, the question should insist that any answer be based on actual use of the house rule. Example:

  • I'm considering using this house rule. Can anyone that has tried it tell me whether it solves the problems I see with this game?

Question types to avoid

Asking for recommendations of house rules to solve a problem

Instead this question should be phrased to ask if the problem exists. Just because strategy X always wins in a certain game for you does not mean the game is broken! Other people may have different experiences.

Instead of "I need a house rule because XXX always wins in game YYY" try "What strategies can be used to counter XXX in game YYY" Perhaps the answer is "Everyone knows that and uses house rule ZZZ" but I think more often the answer will be "Have you tried ZZZ?"

Not stating a problem

Giving a list of house rules and asking what people think the impact will be without telling folks what problem you are trying to solve tends to lead to short, not very insightful answers.

If the problem is "Game ZZZ does not have enough variety/options" consider first asking a question "In Game ZZZ, does every game follow this pattern?" or "What strategies besides XXX are viable in game YYY"

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I was disagreeing with you on the question that sparked this, but this is a really cogent post, and makes a good point. –  Lance Roberts Jul 22 '11 at 18:04
    
@Lance - Thanks. I was hoping that most of us could come to an agreement in principle on this topic while understanding that there will always be differences in opinion on each item. If you have suggestions/changes I'm eager to hear them. –  Pat Ludwig Jul 22 '11 at 18:19
    
With respect to the "what strategies" form of the question: it seems like "how can we deal with situation X in game Y" might be better. Sure, it's bad to assume that house rules are the answer, but assuming that they aren't isn't ideal either. –  Jefromi Feb 21 '12 at 21:19
    
@Jefromi - definitely agree with that. It irks me when people who have played a game once, or only with one group ever assume that a problem they see is endemic to the game. I prefer to give the designer the benefit of the doubt and assume they did enough play testing. (It isn't always true, but...) –  Pat Ludwig Feb 21 '12 at 21:53
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