Like many lawyers, you
I'm not a lawyer.
must find it baffling when, IRL, things are not spelled out in the four corners of a document.
Baffling? No. But it's easier. Many folks who run into the law in the normal course of life--probate, divorce, real estate--find out very quickly how fast things can go south when "everybody knows" turns out not to be the case.
Perhaps the issue of 'motive' may be closest to my POV on this. There are no absolutes, as you've come to realize. There are instances where one thing, done under the auspices of one motive are legally legitimized and other instances in which they are criminal.
Contracts are civil law. Criminal law does have as a foundation the requirement for intent. But I'm talking about contracts where the sine qua non is offer and acceptance. In order to have that one must be able to understand the offer. Thus, definitions. "No single-ship TFs" is brutal, crude, over-reaching--but it's clear. "Any single-ship TF" is the same. "Only some single-ship TFs and I'll know the bad ones when I see them and ask you about intent and then judge your intent and argue it's the wrong intent" is over-reaching in a different sense. It subjectifies the contract. And that's always dangerous to comity.
Your examples presuppose no intent, merely reliance upon an iron-clad contract. I'm not proposing this approach as it's too rigid. Motive is an important differentiator.
So what I think I'm hearing is it's not 1-ships, 2-ships, 3-ships, more . . . but ships not there to perform a cpmbat mission but which soak up ammo you wish had gone to the mission-performers? I've never seen an HR say that. I've seen "No 1-ship TFs."
What happens with your no HRs game when the unarguable need for HRs arises?
There will NEVER be such a case. Never. Why? Mike and I have a contract. We agreed to play to the code. The one thing I said I would not do was in the case of spinning TFs in the wormholes. This the code allows, but it's an error state, not a design feature, and it can break the game. Other than that we have a no-whine zone. He can do anything he wants. So can I. It's working fine. Not one thing he's done I object to. I don't expect there will be. But even if there is I'll shut up and soldier because that's what I contracted to do.
And because every single thing that can be done in the game has a counter move. This is the part the HRers never conceed. They prefer to ask for breaks rather than apply logic and skill to find a way to turn the tables.
Could your approach (No HRs-period) serve you when, early in the game there were some pre-patch aspects of gameplay ('nuclear artillery', 'Uber-PTs', etc.) that clearly upset the game?
They made gameplay different. They didn't break it. Each of those has a counter, or an opportunity cost which was never discussed as people were wailing about "historical." The patches came, they were equal for everyone, I play with them. As I said, I play to the code. So does Mike.
The game is asymetirical to its core. It's not chess. It's not baseball. The two sides are not equal. HRs inevitably try to make the two sides be more equal when the historical truth--the biggest one of all--is they never were. The Allies were a 20-lb sledge and Japan was a carpet tack. But if players play the code and play the design Japan can win every time if the player is skillful. And without HRs.
I know you weren't involved in PBEMs then (ergo no need for HRs), but those that WERE involved in PBEMs found the flexibility of their partners on these matters to be most important for continuitous play. I know I did.
I'll let Mike weigh in on his thoughts about the nuclear artillery thing if he wants.
Likewise, as the game system has stabilized, I've become more comfortable playing with fewer HRs. Most of the real continuity game killers have been taken care of. There are a few outstanding issues that merit discussion with an opponent before involvement in a game. Still more that argue for a 'meeting of the minds' about gameplay style in general. Iron clad? Nope. Important to agree upon before starting a 'relationship'? You bet.
So what happened to your relationship with your PBEM game with the recently posted post-mortem AAR?
Please understand my position. I think HRs are unnecessary. But if they are to be used they need to be clearly written. Many are not. And I think "emerging" HRs in the middle of a game are the worst of the lot. Be a man and play the game you took on.
"Pickets" are an example that comes closest to your final question. The common ground that I've found with my opponent requires that pickets be a 'military' craft-mimicking a small intelligence trawler.
What is a picket? That's the first question. Militarily pickets, on land and sea, have a variety of uses and designs. These uses have evolved, sometimes very quickly, as technology has changed. You can't make a rule about something unless you know what it is. When you say "pickets" to me I'm virtually certain we have different things in mind. I could take a stab at a definition, but a big problem is you, as the opponent, might very well have imperfect visibility on what the vessel is doing, and thus see something I didn't do or intend. So you open a discussion. "Hey! That ship at x,y violates HR #27 on pickets!" The only way I can discuss this with you is to give you full info on what that vessel is doing. And I don't want to do that. I'm trying to beat you.
Any PB, AMc, PC, PG or other small military vessel will do. Obviously, DDs or other small combatants are fine for that role too. Not OK: xAKL, xAK, xAP and other non-military ships intentionally deployed as early warning.
Why not a CL? Why not a CA? If I'm trying to buy off air attacks on my carriers I might risk a CA. Would a CA never be a "picket" despite doing that function? In my experience "picket" describes a function, not a platform type. If it's a DD, what does it have to be doing to become a picket and not a hunter? Intent again? Why does it matter? It's a DD. Everybody can see in the OOB what its capability is. Why does it need an HR but a CL doing the same route at the same speed doesnt?
Does that really make a difference? Aren't xAK ship types generally worth more VPs than AMc and PB vessels? Well, yes. But you can make a very different argument about the realism (yes, I'm using that word) of such a decision. Motive: military vessels should be used for military means. Civilian vessels should not be intentionally used as front line combatants.
A picket is only partly a combatant, and sometimes not one at all. It's an intel gatherer. Coastwatchers are pickets. But OK, no "civilian" ships (ignore that in WWII the definitions were gray.) Why stop at certain combatant classes? It's purely subjective. And limiting the classes to small fry which are toast versus planes is an HR which favors the Japanese.
Motive doesn't make any difference to you? OK. You play your game however you wish.
I am. And I encourage others, especially newbies, to do the same. It's liberating.
My way-communication with opponents, meeting of the minds, discussion and agreement on novel developments, working together towards a common shared experience-isn't for everyone, that's for sure.
Mike and I talk by e-mail every day, sometimes a little, sometimes more. We're getting to know each other. He's a great guy, a lot of interests. We're very close in age and lifestyle. He's giving me a great game and I hope he feels the same. But we don't spend our time discussing pickets. There's no need. His ships speak Japanese, and I don't know that one.