March 14, 2016

On the timing of 'save' effects

An open letter to the Rules Team of Doomtown: Reloaded concerning the issue of how Undertaker now works with 'save' effects. I originally posted this on the rules forum, but I decided to post it here as well after the recent ruling on Theo Whateley-Boyer + The Joker's Smile.

* * * * *

Good day. This is not a rules question, nor an invitation to a discussion. This is player feedback and a suggestion, although it does deal directly with rules.

Back in October we got new rules for the timing of traits and reacts. While being generally positive and directed to make the game rules framework more consistent and orderly, they also caused a rather confusing change to the way one popular card, Undertaker, works with ‘save’ effects. Or rather, some can say, these new rules exposed a lack of clear timing as to when do discarded / aced dudes actually get placed into the discard pile / boot hill.

Back before these new timing rules we had a mostly intuitive and convenient set of rules regarding how Undertaker works:

  1. Control of the deed is recalculated after each casualty leaves play (and so its influence doesn’t count)
  2. Ghost rock is awarded to the deed’s controller only if a dude actually got aced and left play (was not saved)

Personally, I liked the way it worked quite much, and I believe many players are used to this as well.

With the introduction of new timing rules for traits and reacts rule #2 got revoked: Undertaker now awards ghost rock even if a dude is subsequently saved from being aced. The Undertaker now pays in advance, so to say. A similar confusing interaction exists with some other cards (Corporeal Twist, A Fight They’ll Never Forget, A Hero’s Passing).

A recent *temporary* ruling says that rule #1 is about to be revoked as well: a dude now leaves play only after all traits and reacts to him being discarded / aced have been played and resolved. So now an aced dude’s influence counts when determining who gets paid. The Undertaker pays in advance even more.

I understand that the game rules system must be consistent and orderly, however I believe there is a way to keep it that way, and at the same time keep this particular card (Undertaker) and some other card interactions working the same way that players are used to.

I suggest making a general rule stating that ‘save’ effects have a different timing trigger than other traits and react abilities that trigger off the same event. Something along the lines of:

    If a trait or a React ability would prevent an event from happening and/or replace it with another event (uses the word “instead”), this trait or React ability triggers when a specified event *is about to* happen. Thus, such traits and react abilities trigger before other traits and react abilities with a similar wording, but without the word “instead”.

Basically, when some event happens, first check if there are any traits or reacts that trigger and replace that event (use the word ‘instead’), if there are none, then the event actually takes place (e.g. a dude is aced and placed into boot hill), and other traits and reacts can trigger.

A primary example of a card with a ‘save’ effect, Lay On Hands, already has a wording that is different from other reacts. There are a total of 6 cards with ‘save’ effects currently in the game (Arnold McCadish, Dr. Emmanuel Ashbel, Lay On Hands, Vitality Tonic, Warren Graves, Backroom Deals). Future cards can be made to have a wording similar to Lay On Hands.

This distinction in timing between ‘save’ effects and other reactions already exists in another popular card game, A Game Of Thrones: The Card Game 2nd Edition, and I believe that it would be easy enough for players to adapt to it, and at the same time it would remove the necessity to significantly change the way certain card interactions work, the way that the players are used to.

Thank you for your attention.

No comments: