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Rules Update, July

by James Heaney, First Edition Rules Master

6th July 2020

Happy July! Today is the first Monday of the month, which is the scheduled day for rules updates.

The Rules Committee spent most of this month devoted to rules review for Project Londo and Project Calendar, so there was not a lot of bandwidth for us to work on any of our broader concerns, like the "like/as" dichotomy. As always, you can see the full list of changes in the July 2020 Recent Rulings Document, but I'll go over the highlights with you now.

...really just one highlight, actually:

Monthly Rulings

The Equipment Errata

You're quite possibly looking at the Classic equipment errata and asking yourself, "Hang on, how t.f. did they end up with this?" Fair question!

A couple months ago, we were given a seemingly simple mandate from Balance: make it so that choosing a skill with Classic Communicator, Classic Tricorder, and Classic Medical Tricorder is an order, not something that triggers as soon as the cards are brought into play. Balance's intention was to eliminate the trick where you start a mission attempt, see what a dilemma requires, figure out whether you can meet its requirements, and then decide to special-download the equipment and choose the skill when it hits the table. In Balance's opinion, this was making OS Feds just a little bit too good.

Although we figured out the basic wordings by the end of May, we had to delay the errata for a month while we tried to figure out the complications.

First, several other equipments (Mission Briefing PADD, Vulcan Tricorder, Vulcan PADD, and to some extent Vulcan Database) had always been treated as though they worked like Classic Tricorder / Classic Communicator. The Glossary never actually said so, but everyone assumed it. Now that the Classic equipment was changing, should we leave those cards alone and let them work almost, but not quite, the same? Would that be confusing to players? What kind of Glossary support would they need? After a consultation with the full 1E Department, we decided that it would be most player-friendly for all these cards to work the same, so they got errata, too.

Second, we had to answer some awkward questions about what happened when you had two copies of Classic Tricorder. Decipher had offered only a partial answer to this one -- one which, to some members of the Rules Committee, seemed to ignore the actual cumulative rule in order to make the cards work the way Decipher "expected." If you've got two Classic Tricorders in the same crew, one set to Geology and the other to Physics, which one "counts"? Decipher said you had to pick one as soon as the second Tricorder arrived. But what about after? Could you switch? If so, was that an order? An at-any-time action? A "reflex" action like using skills to cure a dilemma or activating The Art of Diplomacy? The game's rules did not seem to offer any convincing answer to this. And, under the cumulative rule, mightn't you argue that they should both "count"? And what about that "May re-select once each turn" text? Did most players realize that that meant you could only re-select the skill on one copy per turn, and would have to wait until next turn to re-select the other one? What kind of Trek Sense did that make?

We considered a number of solutions to these problems, but all of them had big drawbacks, either because they broke the three-line template or because they created new ambiguities or because they made these cards significantly more powerful or because they violated Trek Sense. In the end, we settled on what seemed to us to be the least-bad option: we sidestepped the issues by making the Classic equipment and all the cards based on them Unique. This isn't any more Trek-Sensey than the old wording (on the show, there was more than one Classic Tricorder in the universe!), but it is easier to understand and with a lot fewer ambiguities.

All of our substantive Glossary updates this month are changes to support the new errata. Most of the text from the Classic equipment entries is gone, because most of it is no longer needed. Vulcan Tricorder and Mission Briefing PADD gained entries referencing these rules, which they frankly should have had years ago. We decided that Vulcan Database did not need errata, because its gametext was very clear, but we added a prophylactic Glossary entry for it anyway.

General cleanup

We added some cross-references and removed some old references to card that have received errata over the years.

Unresolved Temporary Rulings

Our temp ruling about The Squire's Rules and how it interacts with Q Dilemmas seed with a card like Beware of Q remains in force this month: you can still do this. Our work to permanently resolve the matter continues.

Our temp ruling about Enemies of the State (stating that you pass if opponent has no personnel present) remains on the books as well... but is no longer relevant in OTF with Enemies' recent ban. Enemies is really on the precipice of being re-released with new wording, but was held up until next month because the timing to get it out for today was just a day or two off.

Rules Goodbye: Thank You To Dunnagh

It's a peculiar irony of the Rules Committee that, because our membership is secret, I'm not allowed to celebrate the accomplishments of our members until they've departed. This month, I would like to thank departing R.C. member Dunnagh (Andreas) for his years of service. Andreas joined the Rules Committee in 2013 and was a highly active member for a number of years. Off the top of my head, I recall that he was key to the eventual resolution of the longstanding questions about how Mona Lisa works, and I believe he was the first person to ask (and attempt to answer) the once-fraught question of "what exactly does 'once per turn' mean?"

Like all members, Andreas reviewed hundreds of cards in his time with the R.C.. I found his feedback in this area particularly helpful, since he was (for a number of years) the Rules Committee's only non-native English speaker. This allowed him to point out when we were getting too dependent on the subtle nuances of English grammar to make a card work the right way, which forced us back to the drawing board on more than one occasion -- and the cards were better for it.

As his physical playgroup has disintegrated and he's moved on to other hobbies, Andreas has been a less-active player in recent years, and he decided to submit his resignation on July 1st, after logging in for the first time in several months. (Given current events over in 2E, I should note here that Dunnagh's resignation, to my knowledge, had nothing to do with that.) He is already missed, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors. The R.C. is always monitoring the Rules Questions forum for players who demonstrate an aptitude for answering rules questions, but we keep a particularly sharp eye out for non-native English speakers who can crack the 1E code. Talent like that does not come along every day, and we were lucky to work with Dunnagh while we had the chance. Thanks for everything, Andreas!

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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