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Mirumoto Kuroniten

Official rulings and developpers' email answers

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Hello!

I have seen a lot of arguments and counter-arguments regarding how certain cards work or may work, some of them substantiated by personal email received from devs. It is necessary to point out that those emails are NOT official answers and can not be considered official rulings.

I like exemplify it with the case of Borderlands Fortifications and Strongholds: here is the answer from Nate French (received by Gaffa) and here is the official ruling , posted and stickied in this very forum. Both of those answers are signed by Nate French, however only one of them has the official FFG's seal ofapproval.

I do believe the devs answering personal emails do it with the best interests in mind, nonetheless FFG may disregard their interpretations and go another way. I do not wish to fathom the reasons nor is it relevant. What we must remember is that there are only one official document that gives the official interpretation of the cards: the Rules Reference. It will be updated regularly, that has been confirmed, and is currently in version 1.01, and should be the basis of all discussions regarding card interpretation.

Even with the Rules Reference, there is still room for interpretation and discussion, opening many possibilities for topics and replies, only within the official framework in order not to confuse players even further.

Edited by Mirumoto Kuroniten

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Yes and no.  The emails people get from Nate aren't emails just sent to him casually.  There is a rules request form you can fill out if you have question about any rule.  You can access it through this forum if you scroll to the bottom of the page, click contact, then customer service, then rules -> rules request form (or this quick link)

https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/contact/rules/

These answers are officially given by FFG through FFG channels, they just come in the form of a response email from Nate.

The issue you point out requires context.  When Nate answered about the Stronghold being able to move, it was a specific answer to the rules as written.  Developers will always answer to the rules as written.  Sometimes the rules change, and thus the answers change.  This typically happens (rules changes as well as card errata) when there was either some error or oversight in production / design, or if some ability / combination of abilities creates NPE and needs a nerf.  When this happens the previous dev response are no longer valid as the rules have changed - and if you submitted that rules request to the dev the new ruling would be received according to the current rules.

There are some rules questions that devs answer and we may still question.  The Stronghold moving was one that I questioned even after seeing the dev ruling.  When I saw that I expressed my disappointment, but I will always play by the rules.  I was not surprised when the rules were revised to fix this oversight.  I expect we will receive an errata to Toturi and Hotaru in similar fashion.  Currently we know they work in an awkward way that few feel is "working as intended."  The ruling is based on the rules as they are, and I expect eventually the cards and / or rules will be updated to correct this - but until they do - I strongly advise players to abide by the rules as they are now.

The game does work a certain way.  Some may think the RR are up for interpretation, and they aren't entirely wrong...  but the end all - be all is the word of the developers.  They write the rules, and unless they lose the position as "person who literally writes the rules as they want them to be" their word is essentially fact.

Edited by shosuko

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34 minutes ago, shosuko said:

The emails you get from Nate aren't emails you just sent to him casually. 

Two things: I did not send any email, the exemple, as mentioned, was an email received by Gaffa, nor did I ever say they are casual emails.

35 minutes ago, shosuko said:

These answers are officially given by FFG through FFG channels, they just come in the form of a response email from Nate.

The channels may be official, however the decision is not, nor is it final as it has been overturned. Official rulings that will be used in tournaments are inserted in the Rules Reference; that is all there is to it.

36 minutes ago, shosuko said:

The issue you point out requires context.

No, it does not. The context is already there. The only thing you add is your personal experience, which is not context.

Developpers can and will answer all they want, it will not change the fact that the rules tournaments follow are the ones compiled in the Rules Reference document. The reason, and context, is obvious: everyone needs access to the rules, and emails sent privately, albeit through official channels, can not in fairness be considered common nor accessible knowledge, otherwise creating a dissension in the rulings. The only way to ensure every player has the same access to official rulings is to compile said ruling into a document readily and easily accessible, which is what FFG has done.

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The dev answers with  emails and forum posts are official. They rule as raw. In your specific example of the border fort, they changed the RR because they didn't like the interaction that was very much permitted by the rules. So much so that they affirmed that the rules said border fort could work. 

The fact they changed the RR to stop it doesn't make the initial answer non official. They were confirming a very real interaction with at was totally allowable. This is official. 

They then changed the RR to stop it. This is also official. 

Edited by BayushiCroy

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I'm so glad we need to dig deeper with the debate on the rules by now debating what qualifies as a legitimate rules clarification. Perhaps we should ask for a rules clarification on this, too. And maybe a timing chart to confirm the correct timing structure of clarifications.

/sarcasm

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17 minutes ago, BayushiCroy said:

The dev answers with  emails and forum posts are official. They rule as raw. In your specific example of the border fort, they changed the RR because they didn't like the interaction that was very much permitted by the rules. So much so that they affirmed that the rules said border fort could work. 

The fact they changed the RR to stop it doesn't make the initial answer non official. They were confirming a very real interaction with at was totally allowable. This is official. 

They then changed the RR to stop it. This is also official. 

This.  While the original ruling from the email was changed in the RR, Developer rulings via email ARE official until the RR is updated.  In some cases, the RR may never be updated, and the ruling will stay as-is.   He ruled correctly in his email, based on the rules available that strongholds could change.  FFG did not like that rule, and changed it accordingly, but until it was changed in the RR, it was officially how it worked. 

People can't just think something works a certain way based on their interpretation of the RR and ignore a dev ruling that counteracts their belief simply because its not "written in the RR"

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1 hour ago, Mirumoto Kuroniten said:

Developpers can and will answer all they want, it will not change the fact that the rules tournaments follow are the ones compiled in the Rules Reference document. The reason, and context, is obvious: everyone needs access to the rules, and emails sent privately, albeit through official channels, can not in fairness be considered common nor accessible knowledge, otherwise creating a dissension in the rulings. The only way to ensure every player has the same access to official rulings is to compile said ruling into a document readily and easily accessible, which is what FFG has done.

And when the Rules Reference isn't updated in a month? Six months? A year?

There's a group of people collecting as many official FFG responses as possible, and compiling an unofficial FAQ (which is starting to become widely available).
As FFG update their documents, the UFAQ can be cleared of any unnecessary rulings.

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4 hours ago, Bayushi Shunsuke said:

There's a group of people collecting as many official FFG responses as possible, and compiling an unofficial FAQ (which is starting to become widely available).
As FFG update their documents, the UFAQ can be cleared of any unnecessary rulings.

From my point of view, this is the very core of the issue at the moment, and points directly to Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) communication policy --at least as per what it has been up to now in regards of Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game (L5R:TCG). Let me start making sense of the time-line preventions in my previous statement: I'm perfectly aware that the product isn't fully released yet, so the communication policies and practices by FFG may only have had a reasonably very small impact on the L5R:TCG community. However, in my opinion the current situation creates some issues that I will try to explain: 

 

a) The current official rules-related documents released for L5R:TCG are i) the Learn to Play (L2P) book as it is printed on 'dead paper', and  ii) the Rules Reference (RR), which is an amendable living document, 

Quote

is intended as the definitive source for rules information 

, and takes precedence over the Learn to Play book as per the Jade Rule

Quote

If the text of this Rules Reference directly contradicts the text of the Learn to Play book, the text of the Rules Reference takes precedence.

If the text of a card directly contradicts the text of either the Rules Reference or the Learn to play book, the text of the card takes precedence. 

The only other official document available, apart from fiction, is the suggested deck lists for the 30/30 game format. 

b) For any of the L5R:TCG players/(potential) customers, the only official communication channel with FFG for rules questions is the (not-so-easy-to-find) rules form. Several people have already used the form to pose questions about the rules in the game. Each question risen using this official communication channel, is answered by an FFG representative (AFAIK up to now it's been always one of the game devs) sending a (personal) e-mail to the original enquirer. I want to stress here that the rest of the community does not have access to the primary source of the answer given, only the person posing the original question receives the answer --and this is perfectly logic and completely understandable. 

c) Here is when things start getting interesting, because here it is when we (the community in general) start making assumptions and having understandings that doesn't have FFG's approval or sanctioning by any means. Let me be explicit: we assume that this personal communications are official FFG rulings on the question posted and there is no piece of evidence for that. AFAIK, FFG hasn't recognised in any ways these personal answers as official rulings. 

 

However, from the fact that several players/(potential) customers are rising these questions, it is clear that the game rules in its current form need some clarifications. Furthermore, I'll stretch the statement a bit more and be adventurous enough to asseverate that  they need official clarifications. From the other FFG Living Card Game I've played, Android:NetRunner, FFG has dealt with this problem issuing official FAQ documents, which often included new rules (i.e. NAPD most wanted list or updated timing structures), general rules clarifications,  card clarifications and card errata in addition to the proper FAQ. These official FAQ document is a living document and amends and supersedes the core rulebook (akin to the L2P and RR in L5R:TCG, respectively). 

 

On top of this, nowadays L5R:TCG does not have any official rules for tournaments. From my point of view this is a bit sad because, even if only at pre-release events, there have already been three official tournaments on the game: the Kiku Matsuri, the Gencon Tournament, and the Honored Preview event. I think it is fair for the community to assume that the official tournament rules will comply with the current standards for other games, like enforcing the last version of the living rules document or leaving the ultimate decision on a rules dispute to the Tournament Organiser (TO) or the designated and authorised representative (i.e. head arbiter).

 

Even if all these assumptions (regularly updated RR, tournament rules publicly available) aren't only fair but also true, the problem on how to deal with official non-publisized clarifications is not solved... which was exactly the point of the OP: 

8 hours ago, Mirumoto Kuroniten said:

I have seen a lot of arguments and counter-arguments regarding how certain cards work or may work, some of them substantiated by personal email received from devs. It is necessary to point out that those emails are NOT official answers and can not be considered official rulings.

Again, I am totally aware that the game hasn't officially been released yet --and thus any rulings worries are only preemptive, but the current concern has nothing to do with the present hype on the game but with the officialness conflict on different kind of official clarifications: those that have been widely released to the public (i.e. in the form of RR) and those that are merely personal communications. And what is that conflict? As simple as that different players can be engaging the competitive scene by (slightly) different sets of rules. If I use the rules form to get an official answer on a rules question, there is nothing preventing me to keep that answer private and present it to the rules enforcer/arbiter/TO in a tournament if the ruling favours my interests in the course of a given game, just stressing it is an official ruling!!!!. Thus, effectively I'd be playing by a different rules set than my opponent, making IMHO the whole contest unfair. 

 

So the question is how this situation can be dealt with? I think it is as easy as publicising any official ruling issued. So, apart from the L2P, RR and Tournament Rules, FFG could have a less-curated, living and time-stamped e-document with a copy of the original questions received via the rules questions form and the answers given. The document could even easily sustain contradictory or opposite rulings, leaving during a tournament the final word on rules application to the TO or designated rep. From my point of view, that would help to have fairer contests since all ground rules would have the same sort of officialness and everyone would be aware of them. 

 

I know FFG employees do not visit or read these forums. I don't know if there is many people out there sharing these concerns. And if it was the case, I don't even know what would be the better way to (officially) rise the issue to FFG. 

What are your POVs on the issue? Does the community share this concern? How would experienced TOs expect to deal with non-publisized official rulings?

I think the discussion is interesting and just happening at the right time.  

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Well, I'm often a judge or rules referent in LCGs I play (mostly for AGoT and Arkham Horror at the moment, but I've done it for ANR, Star Wars and Conquest -before I stopped playing those games- and I'm ready to do it in L5R once the game is released). And my opinion is that those personal emails sent by FFG staff (which are usually posted on the net, here on CardGameDB -owned by FFG- and on fan-made online deckbuilders) should be taken as official, unless contradicted by the FAQ for the relevant game.

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2 hours ago, barrufet said:

Again, I am totally aware that the game hasn't officially been released yet --and thus any rulings worries are only preemptive, but the current concern has nothing to do with the present hype on the game but with the officialness conflict on different kind of official clarifications: those that have been widely released to the public (i.e. in the form of RR) and those that are merely personal communications. And what is that conflict? As simple as that different players can be engaging the competitive scene by (slightly) different sets of rules. If I use the rules form to get an official answer on a rules question, there is nothing preventing me to keep that answer private and present it to the rules enforcer/arbiter/TO in a tournament if the ruling favours my interests in the course of a given game, just stressing it is an official ruling!!!!. Thus, effectively I'd be playing by a different rules set than my opponent, making IMHO the whole contest unfair.   

The Dev Rulings aren't actually generating any new rules.  They are giving clarity for specific situations of how the rules already work.  For the Stronghold example that was given in the OP, the first ruling was not incorrect.  It was not dev ruling -> FFG correction.  It was Dev Ruling according to the rules in the RR document at that time -> RR update -> New ruling posted explaining the change, and the new ruling because of these changes.  All answers in the unofficial FAQ are by the rules as written in the RR, and are justified by the RR.  The Dev Ruling just ensures we have the correct interpretation.  People who question a ruling by a Dev either disagree because they feel it should be a different way, or are refusing to accept how the rules actually work, insisting they work some other way in which they don't.

The game isn't even out yet - we are likely to get a fully detailed FAQ which includes the most pertinent of Dev rulings.  This will give clarification to any TO / Judge, and give players a single place to go to for the best understanding of the game.  I do not think that requiring a ruling on a card indicates the RR need to be updated.  The rules work as they are written, if we are confused by an aspect and present a situation to the devs, and they give us instruction on how that plays out - then this sets a precedence for future interactions of that type.  The FAQ can cover these, but seeing as these rulings already conform to the RR there is no reason to update the RR every time.  If anything, more words just gives room for more confusion.

While the rules form isn't as easy to find, once you find it it is extremely easy to use.  Further - this is the age of the internet.  I doubt there is any question that has been asked by just 1 player, that no other better natured player has asked and shared online, which would also cause a problem or advantage if played correctly.  Some players may not be aware of rulings shared online* when they show up to play, but this won't give a player with a ruling a golden ticken in their pocket.

*this will be true for both the ufaq and the official faq once they release it.

Edited by shosuko

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I'm not sure what's the subject of discussion here. Is it a practical question of how cards should be played in tournaments? Or is it a rhetorical statement on what FFG should and should not do?

In tournaments, it all comes down to the judge. Some judges like to make rulings on the spot, based on their reading of the RRG and, well, their own logic and intuition. Other judges do their homework before the tournament, and come prepared.

If you're a judge, I suggest you familiarize yourself with the compiled rulings, unofficial FAQs, forum topics, and devs' emails. That would make you a good judge.

If you're a player, ask your judge how an interaction works. Preferrably do that before the tournament starts, and if you disagree with his/her interpretation, you can present your own arguments. Still, during the tournament, just do what the judge says. In organized play, smoothness is more important than perfect correctness.

If you're a player, and you're dissatisfied with how your local judge makes rulings, you should probably bring it up with the TO and your player base (before/after the tournament). Maybe try to make the judge change his approach, or get a new judge.

BUT if you just think that FFG is not doing things properly, and they should update the Rules Reference often, and you're telling THEM that devs' emails are not good enough - well, you're yelling at a wall here. FFG employees do not read these forums. Maybe try contacting them using the official feedback form.

Edited by mplain

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8 hours ago, barrufet said:

What are your POVs on the issue? Does the community share this concern?

Most of the FFG games I have played will be see the release of the FAQ about 4-6 weeks after an expansion. During that time there may be one or two rules that aren't clear and need a ruling and one or two more that are clear but can't be resolved to someones satisfaction without an official ruling. In general most rulings support the Rules, so as your working knowledge of the rules improves your ability to avoid rule issues probably diminishes too.

I know in the past a TO who felt there was one or two rules that had outstanding rulings on them would just make his own rulings on the event flyer, facebook page or what not and avoid anything on those matters during the event.

In general the FFG events I have been to have been very relaxed and easy going. It's not like a game mat, card box or alt art card needs high tension and drama. While I can be as pedantic as any one when it comes to rules, I think you leave that for the forum, where such  discussion can be fun.

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Thank you all for your answers. Your opinions on the subject are sincerely appreciated. I understand my concerns are somewhat eccentric and I'll keep them to myself. Again, thank you for your time and effort on sharing your points of view. 

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I realise I have been too forthcoming in my opinions. For two things mainly: the game is not released officially yet, therefore changes to the  RR can, and probably will be made, and some email answers have been used as a base for ruling in GenCon tournaments, as it has been pointed out.

However, I remain sceptical of the idea that, in order to competitively and fairly play the game, one would need to browse every forum and look for rulings given as personal emails. It seems to bring imbalance in knowledge of the rules, and therefore the ways to play and win the game; don't you think so?

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57 minutes ago, Mirumoto Kuroniten said:

I realise I have been too forthcoming in my opinions. For two things mainly: the game is not released officially yet, therefore changes to the  RR can, and probably will be made, and some email answers have been used as a base for ruling in GenCon tournaments, as it has been pointed out.

However, I remain sceptical of the idea that, in order to competitively and fairly play the game, one would need to browse every forum and look for rulings given as personal emails. It seems to bring imbalance in knowledge of the rules, and therefore the ways to play and win the game; don't you think so?

There will eventually be an official FAQ that is posted right along side the RR Document.  It sounds like that is what you're waiting for - so trust me, it will happen.

That said - I would suspect any competitive community would have at least 1 member who is active online to watch for any news.  I have a few friends I have played games with on a pretty competitive level and several of us seem to exist in different communities, but we all end up getting the latest news, gossip, and rulings lol.

I have seen players who have participated more casually come out to a regional event (it was probably close to them, but they never came out to play before) and they were blind sided by a few of the rules.  Its a tough situation, but unfortunately that is the bane of casuals...  When you play casually and don't watch for news and updates then it can be shocking to be confronted by a ruling mid-match in a tournament...  but the knowledge is basically public, and the FAQ once its posted is in the same spot as the RR so its tough to miss.  Anyone who comes to the gameshop I will be playing at will certainly be made aware of any rulings.

Edited by shosuko

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Thing is, most people that do not read ruling compilations and unofficial FAQs on the internet, do not read the official FAQ either. The number of people who do read and interpret all official documents, but disregard any web compilations, is rather small I believe.

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5 hours ago, Mirumoto Kuroniten said:

I realise I have been too forthcoming in my opinions. For two things mainly: the game is not released officially yet, therefore changes to the  RR can, and probably will be made, and some email answers have been used as a base for ruling in GenCon tournaments, as it has been pointed out.

However, I remain sceptical of the idea that, in order to competitively and fairly play the game, one would need to browse every forum and look for rulings given as personal emails. It seems to bring imbalance in knowledge of the rules, and therefore the ways to play and win the game; don't you think so?

You don't need access to personal emails to understand the rulings; you just need to look carefully at what the card(s) and rule(s) say, just like the developers do in making the ruling.  As others have pointed out, the official rulings answered in personal emails are only clarifications of rules as they currently are.  It doesn't matter if the rule needs to be changed or a card needs to be errata'd, the developer will still answer according to the rules as written, which competitive players/judges can probably reason for themselves or at least see the reasoning behind if it's argued.

Only if a rule/card is changed would it really impact competitive play, and fortunately changes are recorded in the Rules Reference, and never come through personal email.

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I play X-Wing and I am a firm believer that we need to rely on an official FAQ to clarify rulings. There have been instances where developer emails have garnered a lot of discussion and more confusion about how they answered a question that it is best to wait for the official documentation to come from FFG themselves. If it is not in an FAQ, I would say it shouldn't be allowed as an 'official ruling'. This is something FFG should clarify for official play.

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22 minutes ago, Braxton said:

I play X-Wing and I am a firm believer that we need to rely on an official FAQ to clarify rulings. There have been instances where developer emails have garnered a lot of discussion and more confusion about how they answered a question that it is best to wait for the official documentation to come from FFG themselves. If it is not in an FAQ, I would say it shouldn't be allowed as an 'official ruling'. This is something FFG should clarify for official play.

If a question is not in the FAQ, how does it get resolved then?

For example, Seeker of Knowledge makes a contested ring air as well as its current ring element.  Once the conflict ends, the ring is no longer air, for all kinds of reasons.  But can you specify, based on the RR and such resources exactly when the ring loses the air trait?  Is it when it gets claimed (and is therefore not contested anymore)?  Is it before it gets claimed?  When you claim it, does it count as the ring of air for seeker/Keeper purposes?

Nate has mentioned in multiple emails that they are working on a FAQ, and I'm sure they are generating it off of the questions we ask.

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13 minutes ago, Mirith said:

If a question is not in the FAQ, how does it get resolved then?

For example, Seeker of Knowledge makes a contested ring air as well as its current ring element.  Once the conflict ends, the ring is no longer air, for all kinds of reasons.  But can you specify, based on the RR and such resources exactly when the ring loses the air trait?  Is it when it gets claimed (and is therefore not contested anymore)?  Is it before it gets claimed?  When you claim it, does it count as the ring of air for seeker/Keeper purposes?

Nate has mentioned in multiple emails that they are working on a FAQ, and I'm sure they are generating it off of the questions we ask.

The TO has usually had final say on a ruling if something was ambiguous.

Seeker of Knowledge:
While this character is attacking, the contested ring gains the [Air] element. If this character wins the conflict as an attacker, you may choose which of its ring effects to resolve. 

You claim the ring and choose which of the two elements to resolve. After that effect is resolved, the ring loses the added element since it is no longer contested. Since the ring has both elements, it should count as either one for the Seeker/Keeper purposes.

Just my thoughts on it. I know there can be debate on this and it is something I think FFG can be more specific on either in the RR or on the card itself.

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33 minutes ago, Mirith said:

If a question is not in the FAQ, how does it get resolved then?

For example, Seeker of Knowledge makes a contested ring air as well as its current ring element.  Once the conflict ends, the ring is no longer air, for all kinds of reasons.  But can you specify, based on the RR and such resources exactly when the ring loses the air trait?  Is it when it gets claimed (and is therefore not contested anymore)?  Is it before it gets claimed?  When you claim it, does it count as the ring of air for seeker/Keeper purposes?

Nate has mentioned in multiple emails that they are working on a FAQ, and I'm sure they are generating it off of the questions we ask.

The conflict ends in 3.3 which is after 3.2.6 Resolving Ring Effects, and 3.2.7 Claim Ring (yes, you actually resolve the ring effects before you claim it)

The Seeker of Knowledge adds the Air element to the ring, but does not change the ring from the Ring of X.

Edited by shosuko

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