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Rules Update, November 2022

by James Heaney, Rules Manager (1E)

7th November 2022

Happy November! Today is the first Monday of the month, a day for a regularly scheduled rules update. As always, If you just want to know the bottom-line rulings and changes, I've highlighted them in bold blue font.

Monthly Rulings

Let's go over this month's Recent Rulings Document.

Who Wins Battles?

Access Denied

Alice is trying to complete Consolidate Power, so she uses Incoming Message: Attack Authorization to start a battle between two of her own ships, the I.S.S. Avenger and the I.S.S. Enterprise NX-01. The Avenger damages the Enterprise for 50% HULL damage, but takes no damage itself. Who won this battle? Is Consolidate Power complete?

This question arose way back in January, and was the result of both ambiguity and inconsistency in how the rules for battle have defined "winners" for the past couple of decades. More than one tournament director has allowed the IM:AA + Consolidate Power trick to work, and we on the Rules Committee personally think it's a neat and balanced bit of tech. At the time, we issued a temporary ruling that basically allowed the IM:AA + Consolidate Power trick to keep working while we deliberated.

We are today reversing that ruling. A player cannot "win" (or "lose") a battle between two forces that she controls. (The forces involved still win or lose the battle, for cards like Arbiter of Succession, but the controlling player does not.)The alternative was ruling that a player who controlled both forces of a battle both won and lost the battle, and the Rules Committee thought that was both confusing and, ultimately, bizarre.

Unfortunately, this means that the Incoming Message: Attack Authorization + Consolidate Power combo does not work. In the example I gave above, the Avenger won the battle and Enterprise lost, but Alice did not win or lose, because she controlled both forces in the battle. Consolidate Power is not complete. If you want to complete Consolidate Power, two of your ships must be involved in a battle against a force that you do not control (generally an opponent's card, an uncontrolled card like Empok Nor, or a self-controlling dilemma).

We also made about a thousand minor nips and tucks to the text of the battle rules, the details of which are laid out in the RRD. Few of these edits are intended to be functional changes, just cleanup of a section of the rules that has not received a major copyedit in about a decade.

That said, there are a couple of things to note:

  1. The casualty selected at the end of a personnel battle is now simply mortally wounded and dies when other mortally wounded personnel die. (In the past, the casualty hasn't technically been considered mortally wounded, and his death happened on a slightly different timing.) This change has very minor effects for cards like Hypospray.
  2. The "declaration" and "initiation" steps of battle have been combined into one step, paralleling how other actions currently work. This has no functional impact that we could find outside of very off-the-wall timing japes.

Access Denied at a shared mission

Access Denied

When two people seed a copy of the same non-duplicatable mission (or two versions of the same mission persona), they are placed on top of each other. This is called a "shared mission," and both players treat the mission as "their" mission for cards that care about whether a mission is "yours" or "opponent's".

The question we received in June was whether this applies to Access Denied, which nullifies Establish Gateway objectives targeting "your" missions. The argument was that your opponent's Establish Gateway targets your opponent's copy of the shared mission, while Access Denied only prevents Establish Gateway from targeting your copy.

The rules have not traditionally recognized this distinction, and it seems like it would be pretty confusing. We rule that a shared mission is both "your mission" and "opponent's mission", without distinguishing between different copies. We think this is how it has always worked, including with Access Denied. Access Denied therefore nullifies all opponent's Establish Gateway cards targeting your missions, even if that mission is a shared mission (and therefore also your opponent's mission).

Sidebar: In the extremely rare situation where a card or rule actually does want to make a distinction between your copy and opponent's copy of a shared mission location, it will take special pains to make this extremely clear. The only example I know of where this happened was Trilithium Weapon, which received special wording to clarify that you rotated only your side of a shared mission. (After all, if you rotated the entire location, nothing would happen, since both players already have the seeder's end of the mission pointing at them, and still would if the whole thing rotated!)

"Becoming" can be nullified

Ordinarily, when a cause is nullified, its effect ceases. That's pretty abstract, so here's an example: Lower Decks makes your [Univ] personnel attributes +2 (except for [Holo]). Lower Decks is the cause, and the attribute boost is the effect. If Lower Decks is nullified, the attribute boost goes away.

For whatever reason, players haven't found this so intuitive with the word "becomes." When a personnel "becomes" another species, or another affiliation, or whatever, something about that seems to feel permanent, at least to some readers. This recently led to confusion with the new Commander Kyle, whose restriction box reads, "Becomes [NA] if your Khan in play." Some players thought that Kyle would remain [NA] for the rest of the game, even if Khan left play.

Nevertheless, today the Rules Committee affirms: when the cause ends, so does the effect. This is true for "becomes" as well. If Khan leaves play (or is captured or otherwise no longer under your control), Commander Kyle reverts to [Fed].

Commander Kyle

The exceptions to this are the phrases "once in play" and "for rest of game," which are used on cards like Commander Charvanek and Temporal Micro-Wormhole. These effects last for the remainder of the game, even if their cause is discarded.

Rules Soapbox: The Klauser Archive

I'm pleased to announce that, thanks to a generous donation by veteran player and Decipher T.D. Klauser, we now have available a new treasure trove of documents, images, articles, and even old forum threads from (mostly) the Decipher Era. It will be a long, long time before we're able to sort through all of it and present it in an organized way alongside our other Decipher-era documents, but it's a tremendous find with a lot of the game's history. Of particular interest to the Rules Committee are several Decipher CRDs that we've never seen, not to mention the only remaining missing FAQ, the long-lost FAQ v2.

Although not yet fully organized, and therefore not yet hosted on the Continuing Committee website, you can see this trove for yourself in The Klauser Archive on the Starship Excelsior Rules Archive.

A hearty thank you to Matt Clouser for taking the time to dig out all these old files from CD-ROMs and transfer them to me one chunk at a time!

See You Space Cowboy...

Thanks for reading! As always, please let us know if you see any errors, typos, or obsolete text in the rules documents.

And be sure to tell us on the forums what you think of everything we've done this month. Hopefully you're happy, but, if not, we want to hear that, too. Until next month, we'll see you on the spaceline!

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