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nickv2002

Skirmish Attack-Phase Timing with Command Cards & Re-Rolls

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So, this came up in a game at the North American Championships at Gen Con 2016 between myself and tropoFarmer

  1. tropoFarmer attacks with an HK (YBB die).
  2. I defend with a Black Die
  3. Specific results don't matter but my figure was going to survive the attack
  4. tropoFarmer has me re-roll defense die: same result
  5. tropoFarmer re-rolls 1 attack die, gets more surges but not enough to finish my figure off because he now has too many surges
  6. I'm still fine with the result since my figure will live (with 1 health remaining)
  7. tropoFarmer plays the command card Hunter Protocol so that his Droid can use the +1Damage surge ability twice and kill my figure
  8. At this point I do want to do something, I have Tough Luck in hand as well as Zillo Technique either of which would save my figure. I try to play Tough Luck.
  9. tropoFarmer points out that he playing the card in the Spend Surges phase and my window to play Tough Luck (and Zillo) has passed
  10. We ask the head judge and he agrees with tropoFarmer as long as I was given a chance to respond after the re-roll (which implicitly was)
  11. My figure dies.

A few things to point out on the side: there was no malicious intention by tropoFarmer or myself to rush people into a mistake or misinterpret the rules. We generally were unsure as to the timing windows here. No hard feelings either as I was able to eek out a win with objective points.

 

So:

  1. Is this the correct ruling?
  2. Assuming this is the correct ruling, as written, is this how, generally, we want the rules to work?

For point 1:

 

I think it was correct generally as Hunter Protocol says "Use while attacking." while Tough Luck says "Use after your opponent rerolls a die." (and Zillo applies in the Apply Modifiers step which is also before the Spend Surges step).

 

For point 2:

 

There are some problems with this method: 

  1. To be entirely fair in a high level tournament, you're going to have to confirm each step end. This ends up playing like Legacy level Magic the Gathering where you have to explicitly talk though each step which will inevitably slow the game down in addition to increasing the leaning curve into high-level play.
  2. It creates feel-bad situations where I have a card that can save my figure but I'm not allowed to play it because my opponents card is played in a later phase of the same attack.
  3. It gives a lot of privileges to the attacker who can wait to play cards that say "Use while attacking" in the Spend Surges step while the defender can't apply modifiers. I'd argue that the defender should generally have the last opportunity for modifications because the attacker got the first say in that they initiated the attack. Defender's having a slight advantage is how many other game combat systems work.

So that's a lot of words, but I'd be interested in hearing thoughts on this topic: should the game work this way or would it be better to use something else like Magic's Stack (which is a first-in-last-out system)?

Edited by nickv2002
removed errant word in first item

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I'll be straightforward - I don't play IA, I play Armada, but I'm a lot about rules.  :)

 

So, for 1)

 

The applicable rules on timing are as such:

• Any ability that is resolved “while attacking” or “while defending” can be used at any point during the attack with the following exceptions:

 

- An ability that adds dice to a dice pool can only be used immediately before step 2 of the attack.

- An ability that allows a player to reroll dice can only be used during step 3 of the attack.

- An ability that allows a player to modify die results can only be used during step 4 of the attack.

 

 

On the face of it, Hunter Protocol does not conform to one of those exceptions above, so it can be used at any point during the attack...  

 

So I would agree with you - it does appear that the letter of the rule was applied correctly....

 

Even in my quick "FAQ-ish Search", I came up across a couple of discussions on BGG, which definitely implied that it is the way it should be, and the 'shrug off' response seems to be that its fair and balanced, as it can happen for both "While Attacking" and "While Defending", depending on the card - both players will play them only when they are most advantageous for them.

 

 

-----

Now, as for the Second part...  Like I said, I don't play IA...  So it would be dreadfully untoward of me to harbor an opinion on that, and thus, will disappear quietly to allow the discussion to take place...  

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Timing of Tough Luck seems to be during the reroll step. The timing is the responsibility of both parties, you can't wait until you have more information to rewind the game.

 

As per your own description, you were fine with the reroll (your step 6.), so yes, the game proceeded legally to the next step, and it was too late for you to return to the reroll step.

 

Edit: I have collected the timing of quite a few Campaign attack-related abilities in here:

 https://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/22915112#22915112

 

There are only a few abilities which can be used at any time during the attack. The same principles apply to skirmish abilities as well. If you anticipate that an attack will contain multiple abilities (through interactions or card play), you need to speak up and say to step through the attack.

 

(Hunter Protocol must be played before or during the Spend Surges step for it to do anything.)

Edited by a1bert

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Thanks for the feedback so far.  To be clear, I agree the rules were applied correctly.  My bigger point is that I think the rules are poorly designed for a niche case.
 

There are only a few abilities which can be used at any time during the attack. The same principles apply to skirmish abilities as well. If you anticipate that an attack will contain multiple abilities (through interactions or card play), you need to speak up and say to step through the attack.

But the problem with this is that, unlike 99% of Campaign, I don't know what cards are in my opponent's hand.
 
On top of that going through the steps individually doesn't matter 95% of the time, usually it's just straight through roll -> spend surges or maybe roll -> re-roll -> surges in a very predictable way.
 
But, on top of that, we're playing a competitive game so everyone has to get in the habit of confirming each step (bad because it slows the game down and games already go to time too much) or players will gain advantage from exploiting the knowledge of these timing windows (bad because rule-lawyering is not fun and hinders new players).

Edited by nickv2002

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Great write up, and congrats again on the win! I feel like casual-level play (anything that isn't a premiere event) should be fairly loose in terms of timing during an attack. I certainly wouldn't have asked a judge for timing clarification in this situation for a store championship. For Regionals and above? I'll play with with option #1: confirming each step of the attack. I've already gotten used to this with the Thrones LCG, and it's the most fair to everyone at high level play. We played this way during my subsequent match, and it still made for a fairly smooth sequence. Sometimes it felt even quicker; there's less "thinking time" when you both agree that each step of the attack has passed, leaving each player to focus solely on the current step of the attack. I'll continue to play this way for future premiere events.

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In this scenario, what should happen is that the attacker, after the rerolls, asks the defender if they should move on to the Spend Surges step.

If you, as defender, say "Okay", then you have given up the right to affect rerolls or apply modifiers.

​If the attacker's card affected Apply Modifiers, he should have asked if it was okay to move to the Apply Modifiers step.

 

If, instead, after the rolls he just immediately played Hunter Protocol, then I would argue he did not give you a chance to respond.

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My thoughts really boil down to this;

 

The player waiting until the best timing for him to play the card is entirely within the rules, and a great play by that player.

 

There are many aspects of the game that boil down to when timing matters.

 

Some cards will be playable at certain times and others will not.

 

Sometimes this will bite you, and other times it will bite someone else.

 

It sounds like there was no malice in the play, and no attempt to rush through the process.

 

While Hunter Protocol is a niche case, I'm sure it will not be the last case of a card having a particular use that makes in hard to counter/anticipate?

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You saying "I'm fine with this roll" is the same as saying "I will pass through all of the remaining steps of the attack until you choose to play something" is it not? So you did in fact confirm to your opponent that you were ending the current attack steps and all subsequent steps, and it's not nearly as tedious as you think it has to be.

I'm a former MTG judge, and these types of shortcuts come up all the time, nobody in MTG actually verbally confirms every phase and subphase, every match would go to time. They use shortcuts exactly like the one you use, and you are basically saying you should be allowed to rewind the game to a previous step now that youve obtained more information about what's going to happen in a future step.

If they changed the order of the steps, then it would just make the other player feel like they missed out. You would have added a block and your opponent would have been powerless to play his +1 surge card and gotten frustrated.

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Thanks for the feedback everyone.  I feel like I'm still not communicating my concern well enough. As I said, I think it was correct, but I think the rules should be better and clearer.

 

A quote from my friend ChrisLS: "The timing of that card is weird. FFG was trying to avoid needing a timing chart, and we are seeing the results of that. I don't think there was a lot of thought put into the timing of those cards: Hunter Protocol is a pretty old card and I'm willing to bet this wasn't even considered."

 

Let's consider the timing of these cards that can be used "While Attacking" or "While Defending". We have a number of cards like this and are likely to get plenty more, but these cards are actually supposed to be played in different steps of an attack depending on their effect.  Many add attack/defense symbols (played Apply Modifiers step) while others allow rerolls (Rerolls step). However, some cards, like Hunter Protocol and Force Illusion, can happen in other steps.

 

For example, Force Illusion reads: "Use while a hostile figure in your line of sight is attacking. The defender becomes Hidden." What's the last step of an attack when you can use this card? Could you play it in the Check Accuracy step after the Spend Surges step so that your opponent can't use a surge for an accuracy boost? Can you play it in the Spend Surges​ step so that your opponent can't use Deadeye to gain enough accuracy after the Hidden modification? I don't even know because the rules are not clear!

 

My proposed solutions:

  1. Hunter Protocol, Force Illusion, and cards like them (including those printed in the future) should be have official rules clarifications of what steps of an attack they're allowed to happen.
  2. Where possible, these cards should be restricted to operating in or before the Apply Modifiers step of an attack. Modifying the abilities of Surges or adding the Hidden condition are modifying the math of the attack, even if they are not directly applying +/- modifiers to the attack numbers.
  3. During the steps of an attack, the defender should be given the first right of acceptance just like in Magic. The way this would work is if an attacker wants to play a modifier or re-roll they should have to do that first then the defender can pass or respond. If the defender does respond the attacker then gets a chance to pass or respond (and it goes back and forth until a player passes).

What do you all think about those 3 solutions?

Edited by nickv2002

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I actually asked that question about Force Illusion on these forums, the answer was it has to be before modifiers are applied if you want the -2 acc bonus, although you can use it after that to become hidden but the - 2 acc won't be applied. So you can't use it after surges are spent to trick the opponent into not spending on accuracy.

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I actually asked that question about Force Illusion on these forums, the answer was it has to be before modifiers are applied if you want the -2 acc bonus, although you can use it after that to become hidden but the - 2 acc won't be applied. So you can't use it after surges are spent to trick the opponent into not spending on accuracy.

That's good info, thanks. However, the fact that you had to ask in the first place is the problem I'm hoping to solve.  We shouldn't have to use forums to answer important rules questions like this.

Edited by nickv2002

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It's right there in the rules under the Apply Modifiers step. What more do you want?

The rules are very explicit about what goes in the Apply Modifiers step.

 

Hunter Protocol doesn't add or remove accuracy, evade, or surge, so it can go in the next step.

Hidden does remove accuracy, so it needs to be applied in Step 4 to matter.

Edited by DTDanix

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  1. Hunter Protocol, Force Illusion, and cards like them (including those printed in the future) should be have official rules clarifications of what steps of an attack they're allowed to happen.

 

 

 

· Any ability that is resolved "while attacking" or "while defending" can be used at any point during the attack with the following exceptions:

-- An ability that adds dice to a dice pool can only be used immediately before step 2 of the attack.

-- An ability that allows a player to reroll dice can only be used during step 3 of the attack.

-- An ability that allows a player to modify die results can only be used during step 4 of the attack. (EdNote: Add or remove accuracy or icons.)

In addition there is "when an attack is declared". I think that is pretty well clarified. We also know that Pierce is applied in the Calculate Damage step of an attack.

 

I have collected the timing of (almost) all abilities in the campaign here: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/22915112#22915112

The timing of command cards follow the same principles as laid out in the rules, quoted above.

Edited by a1bert

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