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Rules Update, July 2021

by James Heaney, Rules Manager (1E)

5th July 2021

Happy July! Today is the first Monday of the month, which is the scheduled day for rules updates. (Belatedly, a Happy Independence Day to our American players!)

Just three headlines this month, none of them big surprises. I'll have to write this article fairly quickly tonight, because (as usual) I have left it until the last minute, and I promised my elder kiddo I'd be taking her out for fireworks... so I couldn't be as verbose as I usually am even if there were any big news!

Space-Time Portal

(Incidentally, the July 2021 Recent Rulings Document will be posted tonight at the usual time -- the same moment as this article, so it should be on the front page right now. However, the actual text updates to the Rulebook and Glossary will come later tonight, around 2 AM Eastern time, after the fireworks are done and my family is in bed. Hand-coded HTML, bay-bee! So don't reprint your Complete Glossary and Complete Rulebook until morning, 'kay?)

The Big News: OTSD Remastered

Open Diplomatic Relations

With the official release today of Official Tournament Sealed Deck: Remastered, we're publishing the related Glossary updates. Thanks to clarifying errata on the Remastered cards, we are pleased to announce that the entries for Explore Interstellar Matter, Hide and Seek, Husnock Outpost, Investigate Incursion, Open Diplomatic Relations, and Spacedoor are all deleted or reduced to cross-references. We also significantly reduced the entries for Reflection Therapy, Treaty: Federation/Romulan/Klingon, Make Us Go, and Space-Time Portal.

Although we only reduced Space-Time Portal's entry rather than eliminating it, it's still my favorite update in the set, because that card had a hellaciously long Glossary entry (seven very confusing paragraphs), the card was already packed full of text, and the team came up with some very clever rewordings to chop it down to three without functional changes -- except one!

Space-Time Portal used to have a complicated rule about how you can only play one Alternate Universe-icon card during each "turn" in the seed phase, although this only mattered for cards like Assign Mission Specialists that played multiple cards during the same "turn" in the seed phase. Rather than explaining that complicated-palooza on the card, we moved some parentheses around and removed that limit. Enjoy!

I also want to take a quick moment to direct your attention to the very plainly functional change on the remastered Open Diplomatic Relations. This was not a change by Rules, but it was the only conscious and significant rebalancing in the set, and I haven't seen an article about it (maybe I missed it?), so please note: using ODR to retrieve a treaty previously had a cost of two cards plus discarding ODR. With the remaster, it no longer requires you to discard ODR. This change was made by the Balance Team in response to a recent spate of The Devil decks, and the inability of certain other decks to recover against multiple copies of The Devil.

Monthly Rulings

Here's what else is covered in this month's Recent Rulings Document.

Experience BiJ!

Some Basic Clarifications

We received some questions about how Experience BiJ!End Transmission, Bajoran Resistance Cell, and Recruit Mercenaries work. In each case, we feel that the cards themselves are pretty clear and do not require rewording, so we aren't doing clarifying errata for them... but when people have questions about how cards work, that's the whole actual point of the Glossary, right? I did a whole Soapbox about that last time? So we put the answers in the Glossary.

That may not seem like a big deal, and it won't be in the future, but the last time the Rules Committee put "non-essential" text in the Glossary was something like a decade ago, so this does represent a course change, as we begin to clarify the future of the Glossary. We'll figure out on a case-by-case basis which rules questions should get this treatment and which ones should continue being handled as forum and Facebook answers.

Glossary to Rulebook: mission attempts

The second-longest Glossary entry is mission attempt. Combined with its sibling, mission attempt - example, these two entries, by themselves, comprise 2.3% of the Glossary.

...until today. We made sure that the Rulebook covered all the bases for these entries and then reduced them to cross-references. Take that, Glossary bloat!

This had one minor side effect: there's a very specific ruling about how to meet the artifact requirements on Investigate Time Continuum and Deliver Ancient Artifact, which was part of the mission attempt entry. We decided that ruling was too esoteric to add to the Rulebook -- which, in general, should only cover "generally applicable rules" -- so instead we spun off two new Glossary entries, one for each of the affected missions, explaining how that weird requirement works.

Investigate Time Continuum

Then we sent Design a nice note asking them to please never rely on that ruling again, and put both of those missions on the clarifying errata candidate list. :)

(Sidebar: The longest Glossary entry is dilemma resolution, which by itself is 2.8% of the Glossary. Its day will come, but we're not quite ready to take it on until we've revised actions and hopefully improved the dilemma resolution procedure.)

Okay, that's it, time for fireworks!

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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