- Beta Quadrant
 -  
#600244
Time for another series of pedantic and legalistic Tribunal of Q questions, centered around this text:
Tribunal of Q wrote:While you are downloading or playing a [Ref] card, you may ignore any effect...
About 10 years ago I asked whether this meant I could ignore literally any effect, even things unrelated to the [Ref] card (specifically if I could ignore In the Zone so all my points counted and I win). Unsurprisingly the answer is no, and the following was added to the glossary:
Glossary, Tribunal of Q (emphasis mine) wrote: When you download and/or play [Ref] cards you may ignore any game text that would prevent, nullify or modify the cost of downloading and/or playing those cards. This card does not allow you to ignore game text not directly related to the downloading/playing of ref cards.
This was a welcome addition, but I do not think it is sufficient. I will pose a set of scenarios probing the limits of the boldfaced text above, and am curious about your thoughts and explanations. I will share my own thoughts after some time. For some of these I believe the answer (under the current rules) is yes and for others no; and what the rules *should* say (as opposed to what they *currently* say) is a separate question.
The Wake of the Borg
Plays on opponent's Neutral Zone Region mission if they seeded 4 or more. End of opponent's next turn, all non- [Bor] ships, facilities, and personnel there are returned to hand.
Can I play this on an opponent only using 2 Neutral Zone missions, ignoring the "if they seeded 4 or more" game text on The Wake of the Borg? This is "game text that would prevent ... playing the card" which is what the Glossary allows me to ignore by direct quote.

By the same reasoning, can I play this on any of my opponent's missions (regardless of whether they have any Neutral Zone missions at all), ignoring text so the card reads as follows: "Plays on opponent's Neutral Zone Region mission if they seeded 4 or more. End of opponent's next turn, all non- [Bor] ships, facilities, and personnel there are returned to hand."
Containment Field
Seeds or plays on table. May not leave play. Nullifies each Destroy Radioactive Garbage Scow (its owner loses its points), Telepathic Alien Kidnappers, and Static Warp Bubble. Players must place a card from hand face up here to use a [DL] or Hidden Fighter. Start of each player's turn, they return up to two of those cards to hand; if they still have any cards here, they skip that turn. (Not duplicatable.)
Can I ignore the "Not duplicatable" text to allow me to download a second (third, fourth, ...) Containment Field into play? (Again this is game text preventing me from playing the card.)
Tribunal of Q
Seeds on table. You may download [Ref] cards from your discard pile. While you are downloading or playing a [Ref] card, you may ignore any effect and no action may suspend play. In place of a card draw you may download a [Ref] card (once per game per card title) OR Q the Referee (limit once every turn). At the start of the first turn, if it is not your turn, you may download a [Ref] card.
Tribunal places some limitations on its own powers -- no player (including you) can suspend play when downloading or playing a [Ref] card; it has a once per game per card title limit on replacing draws with [Ref] cards, and a once every turn limit on downloading Q the Referee in place of a draw. Can any (or all) of these be ignored using Tribunal's own text?

If I am downloading a [Ref] card, can I suspend play to download another (using Tribunal's "ignore" ability to override its "no action may suspend play" text?)

Can I download the same [Ref] card multiple times (using Tribunal's "ignore" ability to override its "once per game per card title" game text?)
Writ of Accountability
Seeds or plays on table. Once per game, downloads an FCA personnel; discard incident. OR Seeds or plays on table. Place on your [1E-Fer] FCA personnel. If opponent has used Subspace Schism or Brain Drain more than twice OR played Static Warp Bubble, Anti-Time Anomaly, or Black Hole more than once OR used their own dilemma(s) to score more than 15 points or to discard other dilemmas, they lose the game.
Can I ignore the text requiring me to place this on a [1E-Fer] FCA personnel, and instead place it on anyone?
Scorched Hand
Plays to cause each player who has more than 12 cards in hand to shuffle all but 6 (random selection) and place beneath draw deck. (Immune to Amanda Rogers.)
Can I ignore the text limiting it to players with more than 12 cards in their hand?

Finally, "ignore any effect" is found on one other card, Homestead, which allows you to "ignore any effect that requires you to score 'an additional 40 points to win.'" Presumably this includes the "You Are a Monument" effect, which is now an official rule of the game in Modern. By analogy to Homestead, does Tribunal also allow me to ignore various rules of the game (such as the action timing rules) in order to download or play [Ref] cards when I would not otherwise be allowed to?

And if so, are there any limitations on which rules I can ignore (provided they are related to playing/downloading a [Ref] card?)
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First Edition Rules Master
By BCSWowbagger (James Heaney)
 - First Edition Rules Master
 -  
Community Contributor
#600313
If you limit your pedantry to once every ten years, I can live with it. :)

I think we all know what Tribunal is (rather overbroadly) trying to say, which is why we find problems with it in theory, but rarely in practice: we want your [Ref] cards to be able to ignore nullification effects from Amanda Rogers and Kevin, anti-download effects from Computer Crash or pre-severance Standard Orbit, and cost-adding effects like 211th Rule.

We do not want to block conditions defined by [Ref] cards themselves, nor blow out the timing rules, nor allow (for example) the trick popular circa 2012 where you'd convert all your Masaka draws to [Ref] downloads against the clear mandate of Obelisk itself.

The Glossary entry even seems to indicate something along these lines in its examples: when it says that you can't ignore Obelisk's own text, it goes against the very broad reading of "ignore any game text" that you adopt here. So it seems like we know and even the Glossary knows what we're trying to allow here, but it isn't stated clearly.

That's still bad, because, as Lucas Thompson recently argued, the rules of a game need to be precisely specified, not a vague "you know what it means" oral tradition, in order to feel simple and learnable. But it gives us a starting point for figuring out what we need Tribunal's Glossary entry and/or gametext to actually say.

(FWIW, I dug up the Rules Committee thread about this from ten years ago, and they were just as annoyed about Tribunal's "ambiguous and broad" wording as you are. Maybe moreso, because it fell to them to clean it up.)

My first inclination is just to add "non-[Ref]", either to the Glossary entry ("you may ignore any game text on a non-[Ref] card") or to the card itself ("you may ignore any non-[Ref] effect"). I think that solves most of these conundra, and, as for the last idea (using this text to blow up the timing rules), I just don't think that the timing rules can be conceived of as an "effect." The extra victory condition seems like an effect, since the rule says, "If condition X met (haven't solved planet and space), apply effect Y (needs extra 40 points to win)." But I don't think it's easy to interpret timing rules in that way.

*shrug* Your thoughts? I'm inclined to just let you pitch Glossary edits for a while, since you've clearly thought about this situation more than I have.
 
 - Beta Quadrant
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#600371
BCSWowbagger wrote:If you limit your pedantry to once every ten years, I can live with it. :)

(FWIW, I dug up the Rules Committee thread about this from ten years ago, and they were just as annoyed about Tribunal's "ambiguous and broad" wording as you are. Maybe moreso, because it fell to them to clean it up.)

*shrug* Your thoughts? I'm inclined to just let you pitch Glossary edits for a while, since you've clearly thought about this situation more than I have.
I'm happy to help, and will post more in a few days when I get a chance. If I'm going to raise an annoying question the least I can do is try to provide some paths forward.
BCSWowbagger wrote:I think we all know what Tribunal is (rather overbroadly) trying to say...
In broad strokes, yes I think we all agree about what Tribunal should do, but it's still not entirely clear. For instance:
BCSWowbagger wrote: We do not want to block conditions defined by [Ref] cards themselves, nor blow out the timing rules, nor allow (for example) the trick popular circa 2012 where you'd convert all your Masaka draws to [Ref] downloads against the clear mandate of Obelisk itself.
I believe some conditions defined by [Ref] cards *are* meant to be blocked. If I [DL] a [Ref] card with Roger Korby or Saavik, Tribunal lets me avoid placing a marker card on Containment Field, right? (This means that just adding non- [Ref] to Tribunal won't fix the issues, unfortunately, but I do promise some other suggestions in a later post.)

And re: Masaka, maybe I'm reading the glossary wrong but I think that trick *is* allowed, as long as the extra cards you download are [Ref]:
Glossary, Tribunal of Q wrote:You may ignore the text of Obelisk of Masaka to download more than one [Ref] card from multiple draws gained from a single card. You may not ignore to text to download multiple non- [Ref] cards.
BCSWowbagger wrote:The Glossary entry even seems to indicate something along these lines in its examples: when it says that you can't ignore Obelisk's own text, it goes against the very broad reading of "ignore any game text" that you adopt here. So it seems like we know and even the Glossary knows what we're trying to allow here, but it isn't stated clearly.
Again, I read that Glossary entry differently, to me it says that Tribunal does override even limits on [Ref] cards.
BCSWowbagger wrote: ... as for the last idea (using this text to blow up the timing rules), I just don't think that the timing rules can be conceived of as an "effect." The extra victory condition seems like an effect, since the rule says, "If condition X met (haven't solved planet and space), apply effect Y (needs extra 40 points to win)." But I don't think it's easy to interpret timing rules in that way.

A fair point, and perhaps I should have taken the time to come up with some more specific scenarios; these don't involve the timing rules directly. Are these any more convincing?

Invalid downloads (Rulebook 6.5.3.0.2): I attempt to download a card, look through my Q's Tent and can't find it, and claim the download fails; my opponent declines to verify by looking through my deck. I later realize that the card may have been stocked in my draw deck and attempt to download it again. (Or maybe it's just a huge draw deck and I missed it the first time.) The rulebook says I can't do this, an invalid download can't be re-attempted; in your language condition X is "the download is invalid because the target card could not be found" and Y is "the same download may not be attempted again until one of its downloading sources is replenished or reopened." Can Tribunal override this effect to allow me to reattempt a [Ref] download?
If you begin executing orders before using your card play, you forfeit your card play for the turn.
Can I execute orders, then play a [Ref] card by using Tribunal to ignore the effect of forfeiting my normal card play?
If a player seeds or plays a card as a hidden agenda (face-down) when it does not have a [HA] icon, that player forfeits the game.
Can I play a non-hidden agenda [Ref] card face-down and ignore the effect of forfeiting the game?

Again, these are mainly rhetorical questions, and I am thinking on proposed wordings that clearly rule out this kind of behavior. The crux is that the phrases "ignore any effect" or "ignore any game text" are hopelessly broad and need to be replaced by more specific (but hopefully not much wordier) language.
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By Takket
 - Delta Quadrant
 -  
1E The Neutral Zone Regional Participant 2024
#600377
effect is a terrible word there because it isn't defined anywhere else. (The glossary has an entry for "long-term effects" but that is really about cards that play on other cards for more than one turn).

Maybe it would help to define it? Specifically the definition should clarify that an "effect" is:

1. NOT a rule. (Hence, for example, playing a non- [HA] [Ref] card face down cannot be done by tribunal because this is a RULE, not an effect). Note that this definition would break the card Homestead.
2. The result of the influence of game-text. So Amanda Rodgers game-text attempting to nullify Wake of the Borg is an EFFECT that can be ignored.

Although I think an errata to Tribunal is the cleaner answer...

Seeds on table. You may download [Ref] cards from your discard pile. While you are downloading or playing a [Ref] card, you may ignore any Non-[Ref] game-text and no action may suspend play. In place of a card draw you may download a [Ref] card (once per game per card title) OR Q the Referee (limit once every turn). At the start of the first turn, if it is not your turn, you may download a [Ref] card.

That's my attempt. Doesn't let you override any rule, makes you still obey text on obelisk, and yeah you need to put a card on containment field if it is out, but that only effects two cards with [DL] . Not even sure this is sufficient because you could go "I have 93 points. I'm downloading a [Ref] card and while I'm doing that I'm ignoring the gametext on Torture that caused me to lose 7 points. I'm now at 100 points and I win." Tribunal kinda needs to say you can only ignore game-text that is directly related to stopping you from DL/playing the ref card but that makes the text on the card too long lol

I need to go to bed........
 
 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
#600540
Seeds on table. You may download [Ref] cards from your discard pile. Downloads and plays of [Ref] cards, cannot be suspended nor be affected by other cards. In place of a card draw you may download a [Ref] card (once per game per card title) OR Q the Referee (limit once every turn). At the start of the first turn, if it is not your turn, you may download a [Ref] card.
 
 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
#600554
Here's what I propose:
Seeds on table. You may download [Ref] cards from your discard pile. [Ref] plays or downloads may not be nullified, prevented, or have costs modified by other cards; play cannot be suspended while they resolve. In place of a card draw you may download a [Ref] card (once per game per card title) OR Q the Referee (once every turn). You may download a [Ref] card if you are not starting player.
It is just a few characters longer than the existing text. The key changes:

1. I have removed the broad language about "ignore any effect" and replaced it with language mirroring the more specific text in the current glossary. This is important because right now there is no clue from the card itself that this is much narrower than "ignore (literally) any effect". (There are several threads over the years where people have asked what "any effect" means, even after the glossary entry, which means it is not obvious or well-known.) The Glossary should also remove the phrase "ignore any game text," the wording on the card plus some examples should be sufficient.

2. I have added the word "other" to indicate that limitations on the [Ref] card you are playing/downloading, and limitations on Tribunal of Q, are not exempted. The Glossary can explain this further with examples.

3. Perhaps the biggest gameplay change is that the free [Ref] download for the second player now happens during the seed phase rather than at the start of the first turn. I admit this was done purely to save words on the card, and I don't think there's a huge impact (you seed Tribunal during the facility phase, and if it's your last seed as second player you have almost as much information as you would at the start of the first turn), but I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

4. I have written this text to keep the interactions with other cards as they currently stand (barring my rhetorical examples above). In particular, you can still ignore Containment Field and Obelisk of Masaka.


-----

While we are on the topic of [Ref], if I may be so bold I will propose two other changes that can avoid some unpleasant situations for players who don't understand the nuances of the timing rules:

1. Because flipping Q the Referee face-up is its own action (and not a valid response to anything) the first action of the game cannot be affected by a [Ref] card unless it has been seeded on its own. If I'm starting player and play Kivas as my first action, you don't have time to flip QtR and download Mirror Image before it resolves.

2. Using abilities on some [Ref] cards is a separate action from the card entering play. For instance, let's say my opponent plays The Walls Have Ears to report a changeling aboard my ship and I expect them to infiltrate as the next action. I use Q the Referee to suspend play while the changeling is being reported and download Intruder Alert!. I'm fine, right? No; first I have to flip Intruder Alert! face up as a separate action (it is NOT a valid response to The Walls Have Ears); and activating its "at any time ... download Intruder Force Field" text is a second, separate action. My opponent gets to infiltrate before I can activate it. Panel Overload and Reactor Overload are similar; you can't nullify Bynars during a battle, or Genetronic Replicator during a mission attempt, as I've seen players try to do. Placing Writ onto my FCA personnel is not a valid response to my opponent scoring points from dilemmas; so if it's not already there and my opponent scores a bunch of self-seeds to win the game, it's too late.

These are particularly unpleasant because players are lured into a false sense of security; they think they have the right tech but it turns out that they can't use it the way they thought, which is extremely frustrating.

I first propose that when you seed, play, or download a hidden agenda, placing it face-down is optional. You also have the option of seeding/playing/downloading it face-up so it is immediately in play and active. This mitigates (1) completely and (2) partially; a [Ref] should not have a mandatory timing slowdown by giving it a [HA] icon.

I then propose that Intruder Alert!, Panel Overload, Reactor Overload (and similar cards) receive errata so that they can also be used immediately upon entering play and not just as a separate action. e.g. "At any time or when entering play, you may capture..." for Intruder Alert! or "Seeds or plays on table... If opponent has [done naughty things], place on your [Fer] FCA personnel; they lose the game." We may as well add the [Ref] icon to Intruder Force Field while we're at it.

If we're going to have unstoppable god-mode [Ref] cards (as Tribunal and Q the Ref intend), let's actually have them be unstoppable god-mode cards and not have sneaky timing loopholes.

Plot twist: even with these changes, some cards like Kavok may still be too fast if he can use his magic [DL] timing to respond to being disabled by Intruder Force Field.

-----

Finally, for what it's worth here is how I interpret my scenarios under the *current* letter of the law. I will answer them slightly out of order.

1. Wake of the Borg if opponent has only 2 Neutral Zone missions. Yes, I can ignore any game text that prevents playing the card.

2. Can I ignore "Not duplicatable" on Contaiment Field? Yes (it is game text preventing playing the card) but the card is not cumulative so only one of them applies to any given download. (There are interesting questions about who can choose which Containment Field applies, and on whether the rule about "discarding down" extra not duplicatable cards applies after it has been played and Tribunal is no longer active... but this post is too long as it is and I hope that the cards change to avoid this entirely.

3. Can I use Tribunal to ignore its limitations on once per game/once per turn. Surprisingly, no. It would seem like this falls under the same rule as (1) or (2), but one of BCSWowbagger's posts introduced me to the legal notion of "verba cum effectu sunt accipienda," that cards should not be interpreted in such a way as to render their own text inconsequential, as would be the case if you could ignore your own Tribunal restrictions ad libitum.

4. Can I use Tribunal to ignore its limitations on suspending play. Yes! This clause also constrains my opponent, so verba cum effectu sunt accipienda does not apply. I can ignore this text preventing me from downloading a [Ref] card.

5. Can I use Tribunal to place Writ on a non-Ferengi FCA personnel? No. Tribunal only allows me to ignore effects preventing me from playing or downloading Writ, not effects preventing me from *using* it.

6. Can I use Tribunal to Scorch a player with less than 12 cards in their hand? No. Scorched targets players with more than 12 cards in their hand but it can play regardless, so this text is not preventing me from playing the card.

7. Can I use Tribunal to play Wake of the Borg on an opponent's non-Neutral Zone mission? Interestingly it depends on whether they have any Neutral Zone missions in play. If so, then no -- you can still play the card, so this is game text isn't "preventing" you from playing the card. (It just limits the target.) But if my opponent doesn't have any Neutral Zone missions, then it *is* preventing me from playing the card, so I can choose any of their missions.

I'm not ready to touch my "ignore the rules" scenarios. I confess I still do not have a good understanding of what an "effect" is. BCSWowbagger suggested an "if/else" conditional framework, but I have not thought about this enough to have an opinion. My initial reaction is not positive, it seems like it will lead to all kinds of sophistry about what is "really" an effect or not, and I'd rather avoid that debate entirely.
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