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Rules Update, November 2021

by James Heaney, Rules Manager (1E)

1st November 2021

Happy November! Today is both the first Monday of the month and the release day of The Trial Never Ended, which means today is a regularly scheduled rules update day twice over!

If you just want to know about the functional changes, I've highlighted them in bold blue font.

Q-Flash errata

The Big News: Q-Stuff

Today marks the release of the first new Q cards since Holodeck Adventures back in 2001. Along with that comes a big Errata push to "clean up" various Q-card oddities from 1996, along with a huge Rules shift for Q cards: we've moved most of the rules for Q-icon cards out of the rules documents onto the Q cards themselves. Charlie has already written about this transition (twice), and so has Q himself.

So I am delighted to say that most of what is happening today on the Rules front is deletions of Q-related rulestext. Q's not really all that much simpler, but he is a lot more self-explanatory. We're also updating a lot of rules references that have changed due to errata.

The one thing we are adding today is an explanation for a not-quite self-explanatory interaction we've been hearing about during the TTNE spoiler week: what if a card tells me to "have a Q-Flash with X cards" but my opponent doesn't have an open Q-Continuum side deck? Well, you technically have a Q-Flash, because the card says so. Military Privilege and other cards that last "until any Q-Flash" discard. But then nothing else happens, because there's no gametext in play explaining where those X cards are supposed to come from or what you're supposed to do with them -- that gametext can only exist on opponent's open Q-Flash doorway, and we've already established your opponent doesn't have one of those!

So it's just like if you try using The Warp Five Program to download Ayala to Seat of Starfleet using Defend Homeworld, but don't have Assign Mission Specialists in play. The Warp Five Program says, "Hey, you can download mission specialists your here," but the game replies, "Huh? What's a mission specialist? Never heard of it. You're telling me Ayala's a mission specialist? I don't see anything that says that. Get outta here!"

So we added one sentence to the Glossary. In exchange, we got to delete six paragraphs in the Glossary and an entire section of the Rulebook, because those rules all live on cards now, so players no longer have to dig them out of the rulebooks whenever they see a [Q] card. FeelsPrettyGoodMan.jpg.

The (Other) Big News: Gender Rules Tweaked

Soren

This sounds bigger than it is... especially to me, because we actually finished this rule change last year but had production delays until today! The functional change here is (very nearly) nil, but it's a neat little cleanup and rewrite of a rule with some notorious gray areas.

For many years, the Star Trek CCG has had four legally distinct genders: male, female, "neuter," and "GENDER IS IRRELEVANT" (the Borg's secret-menu gender). Neuter was a funny little term, because it never actually appeared on a card, not even in lore. It was just the gender label Decipher had adopted for anyone whose gender didn't seem to fit the "male" or "female" boxes, based on dialogue in TNG: "The Offspring" -- and it was an awfully broad label, encompassing everyone from The Artificial Intelligence to Soren.

Today, we've tweaked the gender rules just a bit, so they work more like species. The game is no longer limited to male, female, and neuter. If a card specifies its gender in lore, it has that gender -- even if that gender is not defined in the rules or used by any other card. If a card says it's "androgynous," then the card is gender androgynous. If a card says it's genderless, then the card has no gender. If a card says its gender is "cogenitor," then it's the game's first cogenitor. And so on.

Just as using the pronoun "she" means that a card is gender female, using the pronoun "it" now means that a card is genderless (instead of neuter). All [Bor] Borg drones are legally genderless. Just like always, if a card does not state a gender, look at the image. If the image is obviously female (like Kell Perim or Vedek Winn), the card is female. Otherwise, the card is male. We don't love the "just look at the image" rule -- remember the Crewman Biggs controversy? -- but we aren't able to remove that rule at this time. (Too many errata.)

Functionally, today's gender tweak doesn't change much. It opens design space for Design to explore various alien genders seen in Star Trek canon. It cleans up a minor point of Borg exceptionalism, without actually changing any in-game interactions. Nearly all the current "neuter" cards are now "genderless" instead.

The exception to that is Soren. After taking another look at her lore and TNG: "The Outcast," we are ruling today that she is the only card in the game who "natively" has two genders: Soren is both gender androgynous and gender female. Expect clarifying errata in the future to make this very clear.

Rules and Balance decided to errata Soong-Type Android to explicitly maintain its current functionality (you can choose one of three genders). Notably, we decided NOT to errata Shape-Shift: Fluidity, so if you wanna use that to turn your changelings into gender thaan, go nuts.

UPDATE 1 November 2021: I wanted to make sure it was okay with everyone for me to say this before I said it, but it is okay with everyone, so... I want to extend a big Rules Committee thanks to community VioletBlaze for providing some valuable input on our approach to the gender rules. Hopefully Violet sees the impact in the final product here today! We've very grateful.

Monthly Rulings

Shall we see what else is in this month's Recent Rulings Document? Yes, let's.


Trust Me

Timing Cleanup on Aisle Pre-Encounter Dilemma Stops!

The cards Cyrus Redblock, Mission Fatigue, and The Squire's Rules all do a similar thing: they stop a personnel during the dilemma reveal step, before the dilemma encounter begins. Unfortunately, none of the cards actually said this exactly, so we had to have Glossary entries for all three and an extra timing rule explaining how they all worked. Today, all three cards receive clarifying errata to state explicitly that they trigger during the dilemma reveal step, so we can get rid of those explanations.


Retrieving Out-of-Play Cards

Until this month, there was a rule that, if you place a card out-of-play, you may not later bring it back into play, even with a card that allows you to get a card from outside the game. This was an odd and unintuitive rule, and it posed a problem for [TNG] [Bor] decks that were reliant on multiple Consume: Outpost. We did some research to figure out why this rule was on the books in the first place.

It seems that this rule was added in 1996 because of a bad interaction between Countermanda and Trust Me (and, to a lesser extent, Amanda's Parents, especially first-print Amanda's Parents). In 1995, Countermanda was ruled to count as an "Amanda Rogers card." But that meant that, if opponent could play Trust Me on you (through a Q-Flash), your Countermandas were gutted: Countermanda would let you remove three of opponent's cards from the game, but Trust Me would then allow opponent to immediately put two of those cards back. Since Countermanda was considered an important counter card at Decipher HQ, this was unacceptable, so this "once they're out-of-play, they're out-of-play" rule seems to have been Decipher's solution. The Colon Rule was introduced very soon thereafter, eliminating this whole problem -- but the rule stuck around forever, forgotten but still on the books.

After looking at the issue from all angles, we deleted the rule. When you get a card from outside the game, it can be any legal card, even a card previously removed from the game. This removes the need for our temporary ruling on Consume: Outpost from last month, so that ruling is gone, too. I'm not even highlighting this a functional change, because the rule was so obscure I don't believe it was actually being observed -- and anyone who knows the rules well enough to know this rule is already the sort of person who reads the unhighlighted parts of Rules Updates! (Good for you, you cleversaurus!)


Engagement Clarification

There was a good and brisk argument on Discord and the forums last month about how separate engagements work in ship combat. (Multiple engagements in a single battle can happen, for example, when attacking a Borg Cube with a Multiplexor Drone aboard). We saw that the rules for this were ambiguous and dis-ambiguated them this month.


Disrupted Continuum

Personnel on Destroyed Ships Die (Redux)

It was suggested on the forum that the Rulebook was not 100% consistent in describing what happens to personnel when their ship blows up -- in some places it said they died, in other places it said they discarded. Which is true?

Well, since we just ruled that they die a few months ago: they die! But we cleaned up the inconsistent text to make this crystal-clear.

Temporary Ruling on Unique Cards and Disrupted Continuum

Last month, the question was raised: suppose I seed two Dead Ends, the first one hits and is placed on a mission. When the second one is encountered, can I replace it with Disrupted Continuum? Or does it get discarded (because Dead End is unique) before I am able to do that? We ruled (on a temporary basis) that the replacement works. We did not figure out our final decision on this yet (and probably won't for several more months), so it's going in the Glossary as a temporary ruling while we work on it.

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. There are so many changes this month (especially with all the little references to Q-Flash that have to change to "Q: A Dazzling Flash" or "Miss Q") that I feel certain I made at least one or two mistakes. The sooner those mistakes are caught, the sooner we can correct them!

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 you're not, we want to hear that, too. Until next month, we'll see you on the spaceline!


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