Is it expected that someone can log into an ongoing game as Referee?

While playing a game of Empire of the Sun, pieces started moving around randomly. The log showed that someone (tag "newbie) had apparently joined our room in “Referee” mode. I chased him away with stern messages in the Chat Window and Private Message, and we had luckily just saved the state of our game, so real damage was done. I assume newbie was unaware of the potential damage he was causing,

However, this begs the question - is it expected behavior that somebody can join an ongoing EotS game as “Referee” after anyone has already joined in a role other than “Observer”? I had assumed not, but perhaps this would be a reason to create the room as locked.

I should have mentioned - we were using Vassal engine 3.6.4, with a development version of the module based upon the latest 5.10.1.

I can’t speak to the in-development module, as perhaps this has changed, but in the most recent one available for download, I see 3 defined player sides: Japan, Allies, Referee.

So if you start a live online game in a public room, and only the Japan and Allies player sides are claimed, then yes–it would be expected behavior that a joining player could sync to someone, be prompted to choose from remaining unclaimed player sides, and seat themselves in the Referee side.

One approach would be to lock your online rooms to prevent this type of griefing, and another approach would be to create a predefined setup in the module in which the Referee player side is locked by a password that normal users are extremely unlikely to guess, leaving only Japan and Allies as choices.

Yes, that is the approach I use. Create separate start-ups for 2-player and 2-player+referee. The 2-player start is just the same as 2-Player+referee, but before saving the 2-player, change your password to something you know, but no-one else will guess, take the referee side and the save the 2-player startup with the referee side already taken.

The alternative of locking the room once you are ready to start is the no-work approach. You can still invite other players from the Main Room into your locked room.

This is a request / idea that I posted a while ago but I can imagine it is not so straightforward.

Another approach to Solitaire, for the module developer to consider, is to not have a special “God” role but instead rely on the player to switch sides.

Since 2020, Vassal retire/side-switching offers a sensible default that works especially well for 2 player games. Combined with a hotkey or easily accessed button, this can be efficient for the solo player and secure for opposed games.

For modules with side-specific features this technique helps make things consistent for the solo player.