What's New Dashboard Articles Forums Achievements Tournaments Player Map Trademanager The Promenade Volunteers About Us Site Index
Article Archives
First EditionSecond EditionTribblesAll

All Categories Continuing CommitteeOrganized PlayRules CommitteeDeck DesignsVirtual Expansions
Card ExtrasSpecial EventsTournament ReportsEverything ElseSpotlight SeriesContests
Strategy Articles

Rules Update, August 2022

by James Heaney, Rules Manager (1E)

1st August 2022

Happy August! Today is the first Monday of the month, a day for a regularly scheduled rules update! This is the first update since March to actually have something in the section "The Big News," so kind of an exciting one!

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

The Big News: No More Whiffing for Lack of Target


Consider the humble Zaldan. (He's the big guy at right.)

Your Away Team faces Zaldan. But, alas, you don't have 2 Treachery or Wesley Crusher or a disruptor or Exobiology. You have failed the dilemma's conditions, so the mission attempt fails, the dilemma reseeds, and you're stopped, right? That's how most novices and even many established players intuitively read the card.

That's also how Zaldan worked when he was released. (Check out this 1999 DRG if you don't believe me.) You fail the conditions, you're stopped and fail the mission. It's the original rule and a simple one.

However, in 2000, Decipher introduced a complication. See, according to our best sources (hi, Rachmaninoff), there was a problem with a dilemma called Thought Fire. If a player was using The Traveler: Transcendence, Thought Fire became an Empathy wall. That was all well and good -- in fact, that was the point! -- but, as the millennium turned, players figured out how to use Thought Fire aggressively. They started playing The Traveler: Transcendenceon their opponents in order to create an Empathy wall, then used cards like Brain Drain to ensure their opponents never had Empathy!

Faced with this problem in the meta, Decipher had a few options: it could ban one of the cards in the combo. It could errata one of the cards in the combo. It could create counter cards against the combo (it tried). Or it could fundamentally rewrite the rules of dilemma encounters, affecting dozens of cards and further complicating the already-challenging dilemma resolution and response-timing rules, in order to defang the Thought Fire combo. Apparently, for various reasons (several of which made sense), Decipher picked that last option.

Decipher created a rule in 2000 that said, if a dilemma targets someone and no valid targets are present, the entire dilemma "whiffs" and discards immediately, without checking the conditions and (thus) without stopping your mission team. This solved the problem with Thought Fire: as long as you attempted the mission with no personnel with CUNNING+INTEGRITY<12, Thought Fire would "self-nullify for lack of a valid target." But it also nerfed Zaldan, Empathic Echo, Assassin's Blade, and a dozen others, while creating a new and complicated twist for players of all skill levels. Only players with a deep learning in the Way of the Glossary tended to even check this. (Have you ever caused a Berserk Changeling to self-nullify by attempting the mission with only changelings? Probably not, but I sure have.) This twist almost immediately needed additional exceptions, since savvy players quickly argued (reasonably) that this new rule should mean that any dilemma that targets two or more personnel (like Armus: Roulette) should be "self-nullified" if there is only one personnel in the attempt.

Thought Fire

Today, after 7 months of discussions and 4 months of playtesting, we are rescinding this rule. Dilemmas no longer "whiff for lack of target." If there are no valid targets, then that part of the dilemma cannot be carried out, but the rest of the dilemma should be played out normally. Zaldan is now a wall, even if there's no Diplomacy in the Away Team. (Shades of Gray players, rejoice.)

To go with this update, we have given minor errata to Cardassian Trap, in order to ensure that it still discards when an all-Cardassian away team faces it. Ironically, we arenotgiving any errata to the original problem card, Thought Fire. Playtesting data gave the Rules Committee moderate confidence that, in to the modern OTF environment, the Thought Fire/Brain Drain/The Traveler combo (and variations on it) are no longer viable. We're willing to be proven wrong, and rest assured that we will be keeping an eye on Thought Fire.

Here is a full list of the effects of this change, to the best of the R.C.'s knowledge. Most of these only make a difference in bizarre circumstances (how often does Palukoo see an all-android Away Team?), but a few are more significant (Empathic Echo might even occasionally see play, maybe?):

Cardassian Trap (errata)

So we're looking at a small-to-moderate power boost to about 20 dilemmas, many of them currently binder-fodder. More importantly, from a Rules perspective, we have restored another piece of the original / "Golden Age" rules and made the game a little bit simpler for new and established players alike. (I'll bet some of the gotchyas on this list had never occurred to you! I'd certainly never thought of a few myself.)

If you are confused about this change or think we missed some of the effects (or both), let us know on the forum thread attached to this article!

Monthly Rulings

Let's go over the rest of this month's Recent Rulings Document.

Borg Use Only cards and "Playing Borg"

There was a question on the forums about the circumstances under which a non-[Bor] player could use a [BO] Borg Use Only card, and it became a bit tangled up in further questions about whether the Borg Use Only rule is a usage rule or a deck construction rule and what it means to be "playing Borg" (for purposes of cards like Montana Missile Complex).

The upshot of this discussion is a clarification that the [BO] Borg Use Only icon can only be stocked in [Bor] decks, and a tweak so that seeding or playing a [BO] Borg Use Only card means you are "playing Borg" for the rest of the game. (Previously, the "playing Borg" condition was only triggered by playing a [Bor] Borg-affiliation card, as with other affiliations.)

A hearty thanks to Franklin Kenter for proposing the initial wordings in the thread, which I think received only one further tweak from the committee.

How To Read A Point Box

Patrol Neutral Zone

We noticed a couple months ago that the second paragraph of the entry for "point boxes" was very outdated. It spoke about "showing" points as if Fair Play were the only card or rule that had ever cared about the points "shown" on a mission. This is no longer true. So we rewrote the entry to be more general.

At the same time, we resolved an issue that came up at North American Continentals. The specific issue was an Establish Trade Route played on Patrol Neutral Zone when there are 6 Neutral Zone locations. Does Establish Trade Route require 120 CUNNING, 20 CUNNING, or 0 CUNNING? The rules were not clear, and some players improperly extended the "showing" rules to fill the hole. However, since Establish Trade Route does not ask what points the mission isshowingbut what points it is currentlyworth, the correct answer is 120 CUNNING. If a card or rule wants to know what a mission is worth, but doesn't specifically ask what the point box is "showing", calculate its full current value.

"Reduction" clarified

"Attribute reduction" has been strictly defined for a long time as a card which disables, "reduces", or applies a "-X" to an attribute, or rotation damage. This has turned out to be too narrow a definition. For example, does Space Amoeba reduce a ship's RANGE to 5 (assuming the ship's printed RANGE >5)? Intuitively, yes. Under a strict interpretation of the rule, no! We therefore tweaked the rule a bit to be more general, because a world where Space Ameoba's attribute reduction doesn't "count" as attribute reduction for Abandon Ship! is too weird of a world for our tender brains.

The usual maintenance

We removed a temporary ruling about mission attemptability being checked at the start of the attempt and at solve time, because we rewrote the relevant rules to say so.

To repeat that: you check whether you are able to begin or continue a mission attempt only (1) when starting the attempt and (2) when all dilemmas are cleared and you are trying to solve. That means, if you run out of matching personnel mid-attempt (or lose the 4th SECURITY for Homefront, you play out the rest of the attempt (not just the current dilemma). You simply will not be able to solve. This rule is several years old, but can't be repeated often enough, because many players missed the change at the time.

The Compendium (a combined Glossary + Rulebook with all sidebars opened for searchability) has been updated for the first time since its initial release earlier this year. More importantly, the Compendium is now set up to auto-update every month, rather than requiring regular maintenance, and should continue to be a resource going forward for those who use it.

We also tidied up the usual typos, updated a few entries to reflect errata either recent (Containment Field, errata'd today) or ancient (Temporal Rift, errata'd eleven years ago), and sprinkled in a new cross-reference or two. Some of the new cross-references are not noted in the Recent Rulings Document. The Glossary's introduction has also been tightened up (also not in the RRD).

Rules Soapbox: Rulebook Numbering

A common complaint over the past couple of years has been that, if you're using printed-paper documents, it's very hard to go directly from the Glossary to the Rulebook, because the Rulebook has no numbering system. Click a Glossary link that says "see Rulebook: Cloak" and you go directly to the Rulebook chapter on cloaking... but if you're using a printed Glossary, you're scrabbling to find that header somewhere in a pretty sizable rule document.

I've been working solo for months and months on a project to get the Glossary and Rulebook both loaded into the database. Unfortunately, I ran into trouble with the Rulebook side of that, and it's been stuck for about three months. So, I finally bit the bullet, loaded up a couple episodes ofThe Orville to watch while I did it, and numbered the dang thing by hand. (Then an episode of BritishHouse of Cards while I updated the Glossary with all the numbering.)

Now every section of the Rulebook is numbered. Most are sensible ("10.2.1: Getting Stopped"), some a bit of a mouthful (" Clarifications on Tactics Damage"), but the document is now navigable by hand.

My original plan was to only include the numbers on the print layout. That way, printed-paper users would have the tools they need to navigate the Rulebook, but the numbers wouldn't clutter things up for anyone else. However, I ended up kind of liking the numbers! They do make it a little easier for me to refer to rules in the Rulebook, which (unlike the Glossary) is not alphabetized. So I kept them in for now.

But I'd like to know your opinion (and I'm also asking the Rules Committee): do you want to see the Rulebook numbering in the online version, or just in the print-out PDF? Let us know in the forums. We'll keep this trial running for a month or two, depending on the level of feedback.

The difficulty of navigating between the print Glossary and the print Rulebook is why we suspended the Glossary-to-Rulebook project last year (where we eliminate redundant Glossary entries and gradually to get all generally applicable rules to live exclusively in the Rulebook). Now that this problem seems solved, we plan to resume the Glossary-to-Rulebook project, one section at a time, starting next month. We even did a small one this month (the rule about Calloway and similar personnel not being able to use Starfleet Phaser Pistol).

Coming Attractions: Paradise Lost

The HTSBEG (check the Glossary) has informed me that the long-awaited Paradise Lost is on the calendar. If we go "by the book," like Lieutenant Saavik, days could seem like months, but it looks like Paradise Lost will be coming in less than 30 months.

However, we do not anticipate a rules supplemental for Paradise Lost, so that's the last you'll hear about it from me! Rules will see you again next month, on September 5th.

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 we know there's always some frustration when a 22-year old rule changes (even if it's to revert to an even older and more traditional rule). If you're unhappy with the current pace of change, we want to hear that, too. Until next month, we'll see you on the spaceline!

Discuss this article in this thread.

Back to Archive index