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Rules Update, September 2022

by James Heaney, Rules Manager (1E)

6th September 2022

Happy September! Today is the first Monday of the month, a day for a regularly scheduled... oh, uh, yes? Excuse me a moment, someone needs to tell me something.

(whispered: "What? But -- No, I...You're kidding! But that means... oh. ohhhhhh. oh dear.")

Umm... well. Happy September. Today is the firstTuesday of the month, which isnot the day for a regularly scheduled rules update. It seems that I forgot to release the update on schedule yesterday. Sorry, everyone! So, uh... well, we'll just carry on, then.

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

The Big News: Your Blade of Tkon Deck Works

Blade of Tkon

This isn't really "big news," unless you're quite a committed forum-dweller, but something needed the headline this month, and this is our biggest ruling.

For several years, there's been a fun deck going around called "Blade of Black Hole." It works like this:

Step one: set up a Black Hole in the Alpha Quadrant.

Step two: don't be in the Alpha Quadrant! (Most Blade of Black Hole decks are all-Delta Quadrant decks).

Step three: earn the Blade of Tkon the turn before the Black Hole "sucks in" a location.

Step four: use the Blade of Tkon to drop your opponent's outpost mission into the Black Hole's path, destroying the outpost and all cards there at the end of your turn (before opponent can do a thing about it).

However, as a forum discussion in June revealed, there were some obscure lines in the Glossary that indicated that this trick did not actually follow the rules, at least not in its most common form. Some rules indicated that, when a card (like Blade of Tkon) lets you do stuff to a spaceline, not only is the effect restricted to a single spaceline, but the effect must be targeted at the same spaceline where the card was played or encountered. Thus, if Blade of Tkon were earned in the Delta Quadrant, it could legally only move locations in the Delta Quadrant, not locations in the Alpha Quadrant!

We found the rule ambiguous and unintuitive. It makes sense that Blade of Tkon could only move planets within a single spaceline, but it did not make so much sense that Blade of Tkon couldn't target a planet in a different quadrant in the first place. After a few weeks of researching why the rule was written this way in the first place (answer: it does not appear to have been a deliberate decision by Decipher), and after a few more weeks trying to identify other side effects, we decided to resolve this ambiguity in favor of the way players have been playing it for the past several years anyway. We revised a couple Glossary entries to clarify that,when an effect moves a card to another "spaceline location," the destination must be on the same spaceline -- but the effect may be initiated from a different spaceline (as with Blade of Tkon) unless otherwise specified.

Monthly Rulings

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

Cloaking and "Here"ness

We received a question from a user on the Dojo Discord who asked whether Quantum Slipstream Drive could be played on a cloaked ship. The intuitive answer was "yes," but the unintuitive answer was that, since a cloaked ship is not considered "here" or "at" the location, doesn't that also mean it isn't considered "on" the current spaceline?

Captain Chakotay

This wasn't quite what the rule said (and, indeed, cloaked ships have always been vulnerable to Stellar Flare, Gomtuu Shock Wave, and other broadly-targeted cards), but we took this opportunity to clarify it further: cloaked ships are still at locations; it's just that they can't be particularly targeted, while requirements and abilities that are dependent on the current location (by treating cards there as "present", "opposing", "here", etc.) don't work outside the cloaking field. For example, if on a cloaked ship, Captain Chakotay's attribute bonus applies to personnel on his ship, but not on any others at that location.

Disabled, In Stasis, and In Play for Uniqueness Only

We received a question on the forums about whether disabled cards can be targeted. Bluntly: yes, disabled cards can be targeted.

The problem here was that the rules for "disabled" were tied in with the rules on being "in stasis," which were in turn tied in with the rules on being "in play for uniqueness only." This seems to have been done originally for a kind of simplicity: all three conditions are very similar to each other, so it made sense for Decipher to explain them in terms of each other, and the Rulebook confirmed that approach years later. However, having the three conditions interconnected like this made it seem like a disabled card couldn't be targeted, because cards in play for uniqueness only can't be targeted, and disabled cards are like cards in play for uniqueness only, right? What a tangle!

We fixed this by untangling the definitions of each condition. It should be much clearer now.

The usual maintenance

We fixed the Rulebook entry on Infiltration, which was misleading players into thinking that ordinary reporting requirements did not apply to infiltrators. (The Glossary had clearer rules, which we copied over to the Rulebook. As a reminder: if the Glossary and the Rulebook conflict, the Glossary controls.)

With last month's addition of section numbers to the Rulebook, this month sees the revival of the Glossary-to-Rulebook project, where the Rules Committee works (one entry at a time) to ensure that all generally applicable rules of the game are in the Rulebook, and that they are not duplicated in the Glossary (which is dedicated to more specific rulings about individual cards or vocabulary). We do not think it wise to keep the same rule in two places (written slightly differently in each place), since this increases maintenance challenges and leads to situations where the slightly different wordings imply slightly different rules -- the infiltration example above being a golden example.

This month's Glossary-to-Rulebook migration was of the download and download - special download Glossary entries. After carefully reviewing both the Rulebook text and the Glossary text to make sure nothing was being lost in the transition, we updated the Rulebook entries with all necessary fixes and then removed the Glossary entries.

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

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