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Rules Update, May 2022

by James Heaney, Rules Manager (1E)

2nd May 2022

Happy May! Today is the first Monday of the month, a day for a regularly scheduled rules update!

If you just want to know the bottom-line rulings and changes, I've highlighted them in bold blue font.

The Big News: Nothing!

Procurement Drone

This is a quiet month. We mostly just cleaned up the errors in the Glossary that I mentioned last month. Thanks to all who helped alert us to them, and please continue to let me know if you see something the Rulebook or Glossary that's justwrong.

Still, we did make a couple of functional rules tweaks. They're quite small, but I still want to call those out very clearly.

Monthly Rulings

Borg Hand Weapons

When the [Bor] Borg affiliation came out in 1997, they could theoretically use hand weapons. However, there weren't very many they were actually eligible for, and even fewer they could get any use from. A [Bor] player could report a Starfleet Type II Phaser to a Borg Cube, but, with a "Federation Use Only" restriction on the card, there wasn't much point. All hand weapon cards are terrible probes for [Bor] decks, anyway. The only time that the Borg really got an opportunity to use a hand weapon was when they stole hand weapons from opponents using Procurement Drone. When an equipment card is stolen, it removes all affiliation/species based restrictions on it. (There's an obscure rule I'll bet you didn't know!)

For years, Decipher ruled repeatedly that the [Bor] could do this, just like everybody else. Then, in September 2001, Decipher abruptly reversed course. They created a new rule: "[Bor] Borg personnel do not use hand weapons in any way, even if stolen." This is one of the Seventeen Special Rules For Borg.

Funny thing is, nobody today seems to have any ideawhyDecipher suddenly created this extra rule. Were [Bor] players stealing opponents' phasers galore? Were they showing up and wrecking face with a Varon-T Disruptor? The Rules Committee consulted its members and several other old tournament grognards and can find no game-balance reason why Decipher added this rule just a year before abandoning the game. We certainly can't see a way in which this special, extra rule is necessary in the game environment of 2022.

So we are removing it. Borg [Bor] can use hand weapons just like any other affiliation, particularly if stolen. Be warned that, if you manage to break the game with this, we'll just switch it back. But we're hoping that this will just remove one tiny and particularly unnecessary piece of overhead for people who want to start playing [Bor].

Counting restriction removed

There is (well, was) a rule in the Rulebook that said, "You may not count the number of cards remaining in your draw deck or side decks." Problem was, everyone who saw that rule said, "Wait, that's a rule?" and everyone responsible for rules went, "Hold on, where did that rule come from?" So it's a rule nobody knew about and nobody understood the reasons for. Presumably nobody obeyed it. As rules go, that's... pretty bad!

As it turns out, this "rule" came during the writing and editing of the new Rulebook. It was how one member of Rules interpreted the counting cards entry in the Glossary: the Glossary expressly allowed you to count some cards, so (the thinking was) anything it didn't expressly allow you to count must be legally not countable. This is perhaps not an unreasonable interpretation of the Glossary, but it's also not the official interpretation of the Glossary. It slipped through the Rulebook editing process and became a rule without ever being approved by anyone.

(Full disclosure: that "member of Rules" was me. This was in 2013, though, when I was basically a child, and I have no memory of doing it.)

So now we know where that rule came from... just in time to get rid of it. The legal restriction on counting cards in your draw deck and side decks are lifted. There is no longer a formal rule about this. Of course, your Tournament Directors can still get you for stalling and other violations of the Tournament Code of Conduct if you abuse this.

Error Corrections Resolved

The rest of this month is just technical corrections. As of this moment, the Glossary and Rulebook are now immaculate and there are no errors in them whatsoever.

(Ha ha ha. Seriously, let us know when you find errors. We do try and fix them promptly.)

Rules Soapbox / Call for Comments: Errata in the Glossary

As you know, we are currently preparing for the release of The Motion Picture: Remastered, the second fully-remastered Decipher-era set and the first one of its size. It was a ton of work, but the product is gorgeous and you will all be very happy with Art (as well as the Playtesters, Proofers, Creatives, and of course Rules people who went over it with a fine-toothed comb. I am (checks notes) not authorized to post a spoiler here today, because I didn't think to ask until 10:18 EST on Sunday night, but, trust me, it's gorgeous.

However, TMP:R also poses a modest logistical problem for us, because it contains 82 errata. That's a lot of errata.

Nearly all of these are non-functional or nearly non-functional errata. For example, on U.S.S. Enterprise-A, we updated the original special download text, "Any Federation [CF] personnel" to use "Any [Fed] [CF] personnel" (replacing the name of the affiliation with its icon, following modern convention). On Henreid, the Creative Department corrected "Excelsior" and "Enterprise" to "Starship Excelsior" and "Starship Enterprise" to match the card titles, in case future cards leverage the named-in-lore mechanic with ships. On Transport Inhibitors, we jiggered the wording around to make it clearer how the card worked. You already know from Second Star to the Right that St. John Talbot and Team Sybok gained the Sha-Ka-Ree icon and a little rewording to work with it correctly.

And so on and so forth... 82 times. No big surprises, just lots of small nips and tucks.

Nevertheless, there are many players who prefer to play with physical cards rather than printed errata versions. That's extremely reasonable! We all paid good money for our cardboard, and the cardboard looks ten times better than what I print out at FedEx. How do we support those players as old cards receive non-functional or minor errata, without telling those players to just sleeve their original physical copies forever?

One solution we're looking at is putting errata in the Glossary. Errata text used to be in the Glossary. It was removed several years ago because, at the time, the way the Glossary was produced made it difficult to keep the text up-to-date. It wassupposed to moved to a separate appendix, but that fell through for administrative reasons (even after the programming part was finished). That's no longer a problem, so we could start putting errata back in the Glossary.

But, with so many errata from TMP:R and other clarifying errata (both in the Decipher era and the current era), would that make the Glossary too crowded with revised text, especially since lore changes would have to be included now? Perhaps we should create a new appendix for errata after all. Or perhaps we should just tell players to check the card database pages (like withMagic: the Gathering's Oracle system). Or something else?

This is a tough problem. There's a lot of minor "tweak" errata coming down the pipeline, and Rules has to figure out how to make that experience as smooth as possible, including (as much as possible) players who don't want to give up their physical cards. We welcome your input.

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

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