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Michael Mikaelian

Rulebook: Part Six

Commence Attack



This spring, SW:TCG will see the release of Revenge of the Sith -- and with it, a new rulebook. Michael Mikaelian continues his coverage of exactly what this rulebook will contain, what's been added, what's been changed.

If the battle phase is the heart of the Star Wars Trading Card Game, then attacks are its lifeblood. While working on the Revenge of the Sith rulebook, the Star Wars Guru discussion group didn’t have too many issues with attacks. Just as with turn order, the first step was to outline the parts of an attack.

When a Unit Attacks

1. Tap the attacking unit and choose a defending unit.

  • “When this unit is attacked/attacks” abilities resolve.

2. Pass-or-play opportunity (PoP).

  • This is when Battle cards and activated abilities that may be played during an attack are used.

3. Roll attack dice.

4. Reroll PoP.

  • Players may use “reroll attack dice” abilities, including Lucky.

5. Assign hits to defending unit.

  • Attacking player may use Overkill to assign hits to a second unit.

6. Determine damage pending based on hits assigned.

7. Damage-prevention PoP.

  • Players may use Evade, Deflect, and “prevent” abilities.

8. Place damage counters.

  • If damage counters equal or exceed defending unit’s health at any time, discard it.

9. “When this unit is discarded” abilities resolve.

  • This happens any time a unit is discarded.

10. Attack ends.

While this list doesn’t really change how things work, it does make it clear when each different kind of ability can be played and when certain events occur that can trigger other abilities.

Strictly Speaking

Because Star Wars TCG starter sets are designed more for helping Star Wars fans learn the game than for experienced gamers, the previous rulebooks had danced around the definition of a “Pass-or-Play” opportunity (affectionately known as a PoP chance). The lumbering phrase “a chance to play activated abilities and Battle cards” was used instead. The Empire Strikes Back rulebook did not find itself repeating that nine-word phrase too often. The Revenge of the Sith rulebook has faith that Star Wars fans can handle a little advanced TCG language.

Damaged Goods

In the Star Wars TCG, the words “damage” and “damaged” are used to mean several different things. Card texts include the words and phrases “damage,” “damaged,” “would be damaged,” “damage dealt,” “damage would be dealt,” and “damage counters.” Sometimes the same word or phrase doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing in two different abilities. A lot of effort went into trying to unravel all of these different phrases, effort that will probably be seen more in future card text templating and a limited amount of errata than the Revenge of the Sith rulebook.

Ever since the errata of Overkill, the previously undefined term “remaining health” had sneaked into the game with no definition of what it actually meant. Luke's Vow was the first card with this phrase actually printed on it, raising the importance of “remaining health” from reminder text to actual game text. The group debated whether to embrace this phrase and make it part of the rules or to try to improve upon it. Ideally, Henry Stern wanted something that had the right sound and feel and didn’t necessarily include the word “health” in it. Suggestions for the number of damage counters it would take to discard a unit included remaining wounds, lethal damage, and (surprise) remaining health. We just decided to leave well enough alone and stick with remaining health.

The Force is Strong in This One

The discussion group spent a lot of time talking about abilities and the build zone. Some supported the idea that more abilities should work while a unit’s in the build zone. The Empire Strike Back rulebook is clear on the fact that a unit’s activated, triggered, and static abilities don’t work as long it’s in the build zone. What it wasn’t explicitly clear about was keyword abilities. Whether keyword abilities are a fourth type of ability or each individual ability is also an activated, triggered, or static ability was a point of discussion.

Many keyword abilities already function in the build zone: Evade, Deflect, Hidden Cost, Reserves, and Upkeep. Of the remaining ones, hardly any have use when the unit’s in the build zone. Some units can attack into the build zone; they beg the question of whether or not Armor, Shields, and Lucky on a unit there should function. Units can’t attack from the build zone, so Accuracy, Bombard, Bounty, Critical Hit, Ion Cannon, Lucky, Overkill, and Stun would be useless even if they were in effect. (The possible exception is Stun, which also works with damage dealt by Deflect.) Intercept and Retaliate wouldn’t work in the build zone by their own definitions.

One suggestion was to rule across the board that abilities of units in the build zone have no effect. This is an important distinction for Upkeep, which generates a cost only and therefore must be paid. Reserves and Hidden Cost would be the only exceptions to this rule for obvious reasons. (Yes, it was suggested that the “Evade, Deflect, ‘prevent’” exception go away. It will certainly seems that way until you get to the rulebook’s glossary entry for “prevent damage.”)

Another suggestion was to take the “Evade, Deflect, ‘prevent’” exception and run with it. This variation allowed the effects of all keyword abilities to function in the build zone. Armor, Shields, and Lucky would have been the main beneficiaries of this change. One key stumbling block was where to draw the line. If a unit already had Armor, Shields or Lucky, that’d be one thing; if it had an activated or triggered ability that gave it one of those, then that would be a sticky wicket indeed. The amount of text required to pull that off would have definitely broken the golden rule of this process. We’d be talking about a major drastic change.

In the end, it was determined that keyword abilities are all one of the three kinds of abilities: activated, triggered, or static. The five current exceptions—Evade, Deflect, Hidden Cost, Reserve, and Upkeep—still work in the build zone. The rest do not.

Check back next time when we’ll take a look at what the Star Wars Guru group had to say about triggered abilities and more.



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