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Rules Update, April

by James Heaney, First Edition Rules Master

6th April 2020

Happy April! The Rules Committee had a very, very busy month... and we can't tell you about most of it. But there's a pretty fun new decision about disguises, so let's lead off with that.

Leyton Founder


Twenty-one years ago, Decipher ruled that Leyton Founder did not have the "Admiral" characteristic, because imposters and disguises did not "count" for characteristics. This ruling was never properly copied into the Glossary, so people still ask the same question today: is Leyton Founder an admiral? Is Selok an ambassador? For that matter, is Selok a Vulcan?! The official answer has always been "no."

Indeed, Rules has made Design and Creative jump through some pretty clever hoops in order to avoid falling afoul of this old ruling: we made them write lore for Leosa and Admiral Patrick that conferred the desired characteristics without ever saying that they were just disguises... because that would invalidate the characteristics! (Every time I look at Leosa, I marvel at how clever her lore is. Isn't that a genius workaround?) This month, Rules decided to officially put this ancient Decipher ruling into the Glossary.

However, we soon discovered some problems with the 1999 ruling. If someone who "posed as" a characteristic isn't considered to actually have that characteristic, then Vedek Dax can't report for free to Chamber of Ministers! Yet everyone has played her for twenty years as though she could. Same deal with Vedek Kira. Same deal with Data (Things Past), who was clearly intended to function as a dissident, but doesn't under this Decipher rule.

Vedek Dax

On the one hand, we don't change twenty-one-year-old rules without good reason. On the other hand, we don't break twenty-year-old card interactions without a good reason, either. We couldn't preserve both here. So we had to make a decision.

First, we surveyed all the cards that are affected (or could potentially be affected in the future). We found that several cards would break if disguises weren't allowed to count, but none would break if they were.

Then, we considered the Trek Sense. We noted that, if Kira could be disguised as a vedek to gain access to the Chamber of Ministers on the show (as she did in "The Siege"), we should allow her to access the Chamber in the game as well. In general, if your disguise is good enough to fool the characters on the show, it should be able to "fool" cards like Taking Charge and Kolinahr as well.

So we decided to change the rule. That's our big news for the month: as of today, disguises "count" for characteristics. Vedek Dax is a vedek. Leyton Founder is an admiral. Selok is not just a Romulan, but an ambassador and a Vulcan as well. Beverly and Will are human and Barkonian. Retaya is a perfume salesman, in case Design ever makes that relevant to gameplay.

Monthly Rulings

Assimilation Table

Assimilation Table

We keep getting questions about this weird card, and we didn't have clear answers for them. You could move into and out of an Assimilation Table, which implied it was a separate "place," but occupants were still "present" and could still move around, and what happened if the table got stolen?

We answer these questions in this month's rulings. You no longer "move" in and out of an Assimilation Table. It is instead connected to personnel who are present, which is an order.

Multiplexor Drone

We have heard reports that some players, including some Tournament Directors, were using Nine of Seventeen (Multiplexor Drone) incorrectly. These players would sometimes target a ship with Eliminate Starship, start an attack against that ship, then use Multiplexor Drone to target every other ship present, thereby wiping out entire fleets at one blow. To be sure, Borg can do just that, using Gowron of Borg, or when defensively returning fire or counter-attacking. However, Eliminate Starship only authorizes an attack against one target ship. Multiplexor Drone does not override that restriction.

Eliminate Starship

This is a very old ruling, and it was already mentioned in the Glossary. However, we asked an experienced T.D. to take a look at the existing entry, and he told us that it was unclear. We have now made it explicit: Multiplexor Drone cannot attack multiple targets while attacking under Eliminate Starship.

"In place of one card draw" in the opening hand

Credit where it's due: Andreas Rheinländer threw us for a loop with this very, very clever exploitation of a rules loophole. His question was: if, at the end of the seed phases, I have a card in play that allows me to do something "in place of a card draw," can I do that something with cards in my opening hand, drawn at the very start of the play phase?

We debated the answer, and didn't reach a clear conclusion. The rules seemed ambiguous, but allowing it would be a rules morass. (Not to mention the headache for Design.) Are actions taken before the first turn really actions? What would that mean for timing rules? How much text were we going to have to write to explain it?

Today, we're solving the problem in the simplest possible way. For twenty-five years, the opening hand card draw has been the very first step in the play phase. We are today moving it back a step, so it is now the very last step of the seed phases. This makes no difference at all to how the game is played. The order of operations remains the same. But the rules tightly restrict what actions can be taken in the seed phases. Since the opening hand draw is now part of the seed phases, those restrictions now block Andreas's very clever tech.

Cytoplasmic Life-Form


The definition of "different" was normalized throughout the game back in 2013: two cards are different if they are not copies and they are not versions of the same persona. This normalization has served the game very well, allowing the development of cards like Federation Flagship: Recovered and IDIC: Courage of the V'Shar, and permanently answering zillions of rules questions. (On the other hand, Q help you if you seed six copies of the same universal mission, you hit Edo Probe, and your opponent's playing Borg!)

However, two cards that were intended to be included in this normalization were accidentally left out. (A Rules Committee member pointed this out at the time, but fixing it fell through the cracks.) They are Cytoplasmic Life-Form and Energy Vortex, each of which used their own bespoke definitions of "different." Not anymore! We're fixing this today. A card referring to "different" cards now always means the same, consistent thing.

General cleanup

You can find most of the details in the RRD, but we made a few other minor changes in addition to those: cross-references were added, typos fixed. Thanks for reporting those, by the way.

We noted this month that the Draw Deck section in the Rulebook and the Draw Deck entry in the Glossary were almost word-for-word identical, so we converted the Glossary entry to a Rulebook cross-reference. This is a very minor landmark, because it marks the first time since 1999 that the Glossary is not "comprehensive." Someday, we hope to have rules in the Rulebook and glosses in the Glossary, but that's still years away.


You may have noticed that the Dilemma Resolution Guide has expanded by leaps and bounds over the course of the past month. That's thanks to the incredibly hard work of Jarrod Cafaro (Takket) and Tim Mirkes (tlmirkes), who have been blasting through the DRG workload months ahead of the schedule I set for them. There's still a few outstanding items, mostly new cards plus a bunch of rules questions Jarrod and Tim discovered for us and which we haven't answered yet. I also still intend a major cosmetic refresh to the DRG to officially "relaunch" it. (I expected two more months to work on it before they got done!) But Jarrod and Tim have worked so hard this month that it would be criminal for me not to thank them for it here.

The DRG remains an unofficial play aid, and you should always consult the Glossary first, but it's a big value to a lot of people, and Tim and Jarrod have done a tremendous amount to extend that value.

Reminder: Counterattacks At Same Location

If your opponent attacks you, during your next turn, you may initiate counter-attacks against your opponent's cards only at the same location as the original attack. You may not counter-attack your opponent's cards at any other locations. You may initiate regular attacks anywhere, of course, but you will have to follow affiliation attack restrictions and have a leader or Defense drone.

We are reminding you of this because... well, actually, this is my Rules Soapbox space, so how about a little behind-the-scenes story about how we operate?

...No, wait, hold up, getting a message from the smarter members of the Committee...

They're telling me this article is already long enough, and I should do the story about the counterattack rule as a separate article later in the month. It's hard for me to argue with that, so I'll copy this story to a new article you can see in a couple weeks! For now, consider yourself reminded: you can only counter-attack at the same location as the original attack.

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

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