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Star Realms» Forums » Rules

Subject: rules question about "the next X you acquire" rss

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Believe it or not, I actually have a rules question for Star Realms.

The digital implementation of cards like Central Office & Freighter is different to the way I play it in print, and I've been wondering what is actually correct for the print version.

Central Office, for example, says, "You may put the next ship you acquire this turn on top of your deck"

Imagine the following play sequence:

1. Play Central Office
2. Play Mega Mech, return Central Office to hand
3. Replay Central Office
4. Buy Explorer A. Obviously it goes to the top of your deck
5. Buy Explorer B. Where does it go?

In the app, Explorer B goes to the top of your deck. This isn't intuitive for me.

When I played Central Office in step 1, a new temporary rule was added to the game: the next ship goes to the top of my deck. When I replay it in step 3, the text on the card is still the same. It doesn't say, "the next-but-one ship you acquire this turn goes on the top of your deck".

So when I buy Explorer A, I expect that rule to put it on top of my deck, fine. But that was "the next ship I acquire this turn". Explorer B isn't the next ship I acquire, it's the next-but-one. Am I making sense here?

It's not as big a deal with Freighter, because you can just say, "Oh, I didn't activate that ally ability yet". And it's rarely an issue with Central Office. But it can be in the kinda situation I describe (let's imagine I really want those Explorers there for some bizarre reason of my own).

How do you play it? How do you interpret it, after reading the above? And, WWG, fancy giving me a ruling?
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Brendan Lapsley
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Bernie Smith
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I can see it working if it was done like this:

1. Play Central Office
2. Buy Explorer A. Obviously it goes to the top of your deck
3. Play Mega Mech, return Central Office to hand
4. Replay Central Office
5. Buy Explorer B.

But maybe it's because it's an action left undone and once it's available it's still available until the end of the turn?

Or maybe it's a glitch.
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bernan wrote:
I can see it working if it was done like this:

1. Play Central Office
2. Buy Explorer A. Obviously it goes to the top of your deck
3. Play Mega Mech, return Central Office to hand
4. Replay Central Office
5. Buy Explorer B.

But maybe it's because it's an action left undone and once it's available it's still available until the end of the turn?

Or maybe it's a glitch.

Yeah, that's straightfoward. But let's say you have a blue ally in play and you want both your draws off Central Office to draw the great stuff that's sitting in your deck. With that, you reduce your opponent to 4 authority. Now, you want to put 2 Explorers on top of your deck so you can end it next turn for sure. Can you or can't you...

In terms of "action left undone", that would work if the rule said, "You may put one ship that would be acquired into your discard pile on top of your deck instead", because then you've got a couple of those powers, and you use them when you want them. But this rule is clear about which ship is affected - it's the "next ship".
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Flying Arrow
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You get to choose the timing for base abilities unlike ship primary abilities. In your example you can change the timing so that both explorers go on top of the deck. However, I don't know if you can actually stack two copies of the ability or not.
 
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Scott Heise
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I'm not a rules enforcer, but here's how I would interpret it if I were a judge...

Since you get to choose when to activate base abilities, I would think you could choose whether to topdeck one or both of the explorers at your discretion based on the order in which the abilities were activated. In order to topdeck both, you would have to declare the CO ability activated before playing the MM, then buy an explorer and re-declare the second CO ability and buy the second explorer. To topdeck one, declare both abilities then buy just one explorer after (which counts as the "next ship" for both abilities).
 
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John
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1. Play Central Office
2. Play Mega Mech, return Central Office to hand
3. Replay Central Office
4. Buy Explorer A. Obviously it goes to the top of your deck
4a. Activate Central Office
5. Buy Explorer B. It goes to the top of your deck.

Sorted.

I'm sure there is a scenario where that doesn't work though.
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Scott Heise
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zabdiel wrote:
1. Play Central Office
2. Play Mega Mech, return Central Office to hand
3. Replay Central Office
4. Buy Explorer A. Obviously it goes to the top of your deck
4a. Activate Central Office
5. Buy Explorer B. It goes to the top of your deck.

Sorted.

I'm sure there is a scenario where that doesn't work though.


I think it's important to note that the CO needs to be activated prior to playing Mega Mech, right?

1. Play Central Office
1b. Activate Central Office
2. Play Mega Mech, return Central Office to hand
3. Replay Central Office
4. Buy Explorer A. Obviously it goes to the top of your deck
4a. Activate Central Office
5. Buy Explorer B. It goes to the top of your deck.

or alternatively

1. Play Central Office
1b. Activate Central Office
1c. Buy Explorer A. Obviously it goes to the top of your deck

2. Play Mega Mech, return Central Office to hand
3. Replay Central Office
4. Buy Explorer A. Obviously it goes to the top of your deck
4a. Activate Central Office
5. Buy Explorer B. It goes to the top of your deck.
 
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Good points all. But the basic question remains, do topdecks stack while waiting to be cashed in? They do on the app, should they in person?

People have suggested workarounds for the situation described, but the point stands. Let's say instead I want to play Central Office 3 times, using its draw ally each time, then topdeck 3 explorers, should I be allowed?

1. Play Trading Post
2. Play Central Office (1st time)
3. Draw using CO ally
4. Battle Barge on CO
5. Replay CO
6. Draw using CO ally
7. Stealth Needle on Battle Barge on CO
8. Replay CO
9. Draw using CO ally
10. Neat, after I drew all that cool stuff, I see opponent has just 6 life. Let's topdeck 3 explorers for the kill next turn.

Y/N?

There's no workaround here by delaying activating the CO primary. If I want to activate the CO primary 3 times, I have to activate the first one before I barge it at 4, and again before I barge it at 7. My last draw is at 9, and by this point I'd already have to have two topdecks banked in order to topdeck 3 explorers.
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This becomes more relevant, likely and complex in Colony Wars, where there are various things that can happen when you buy cards. With the two blue topdeck bases, and the "acquire into hand" cards, understanding whether abilities are supposed to "bank" gets complicated.

The activation of the abilities is often tied to gaining trade, so you can't just say "oh I'll trigger them when I want them". You may need to activate two topdeck powers just to get enough trade to buy & topdeck that 5-cost, and now it flips a 1-cost, you could topdeck that too if you were allowed to bank one of those topdecks.
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Dániel Lányi
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greylag wrote:
Good points all. But the basic question remains, do topdecks stack while waiting to be cashed in? They do on the app, should they in person?

People have suggested workarounds for the situation described, but the point stands. Let's say instead I want to play Central Office 3 times, using its draw ally each time, then topdeck 3 explorers, should I be allowed?

1. Play Trading Post
2. Play Central Office (1st time)
3. Draw using CO ally
4. Battle Barge on CO
5. Replay CO
6. Draw using CO ally
7. Stealth Needle on Battle Barge on CO
8. Replay CO
9. Draw using CO ally
10. Neat, after I drew all that cool stuff, I see opponent has just 6 life. Let's topdeck 3 explorers for the kill next turn.

Y/N?

There's no workaround here by delaying activating the CO primary. If I want to activate the CO primary 3 times, I have to activate the first one before I barge it at 4, and again before I barge it at 7. My last draw is at 9, and by this point I'd already have to have two topdecks banked in order to topdeck 3 explorers.


I would say no. Because each activation of central office says you may topdeck the next ship. Not one ship this turn, just the very next one you buy. For all three the next ship would be the first explorer. You would have to activate-buy-activate again-etc to topdeck one ship for each activation.

I think you can bank topdeck in the sense that it's not a problem if the card that gave the effect leaves play, but because topdecking abilities only effect your next buy, you can't bank them in the sense you want to in the above 10 step example.
 
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wallwaster wrote:
I would say no. Because each activation of central office says you may topdeck the next ship. Not one ship this turn, just the very next one you buy. For all three the next ship would be the first explorer. You would have to activate-buy-activate again-etc to topdeck one ship for each activation.

I think you can bank topdeck in the sense that it's not a problem if the card that gave the effect leaves play, but because topdecking abilities only effect your next buy, you can't bank them in the sense you want to in the above 10 step example.

I agree, and this is how I interpret these abilities in real-life play. But the app doesn't. The app will bank 'em all day. I'm posting to highlight that. So is this one of those things we put down as a rule difference between online/in-person?
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Dániel Lányi
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greylag wrote:
wallwaster wrote:
I would say no. Because each activation of central office says you may topdeck the next ship. Not one ship this turn, just the very next one you buy. For all three the next ship would be the first explorer. You would have to activate-buy-activate again-etc to topdeck one ship for each activation.

I think you can bank topdeck in the sense that it's not a problem if the card that gave the effect leaves play, but because topdecking abilities only effect your next buy, you can't bank them in the sense you want to in the above 10 step example.

I agree, and this is how I interpret these abilities in real-life play. But the app doesn't. The app will bank 'em all day. I'm posting to highlight that. So is this one of those things we put down as a rule difference between online/in-person?


I guess so. I'd go even further to say this is a fault in the app. I think this is so rare but the wording is so clear that it might have been just programmed without this in mind. An official answer with some arguments would be nice though.
 
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John
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greylag wrote:
So is this one of those things we put down as a rule difference between online/in-person?

It's difficult to know. I've not used the app for at least a year but if I remember correctly Central Office's primary ability is automatically triggered, as is Freighter's ally ability. It may be that the app stacks the abilities to give the same effect as what you would do in the physical game most of the time (i.e. the various examples above) and occasionally gives you a benefit that you shouldn't get. However it's equally possible that abilities are supposed to go onto some kind of queue or stack and when you acquire a ship any abilities relating to that get pulled off but duplicates of those stay. Rather than a temporary rule it's as if you have two tokens saying "You may put the next ship you acquire this turn on top of your deck", when you acquire a ship you must give up a token choosing whether to gain the benefit or not.

The advantage of stacking them is that it would speed the game up as it eliminates situations where it's not clear whether you can get two top decks and means you don't need to spend time thinking about whether there is a way of achieving it.
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Dániel Lányi
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Another reason this might be purposefully different in the app and IRL, is that since you can't choose order of activation, just order of play, it's way harder to get the effect twice, if you could. In IRL play there are just these fringe example, but otherwise you would just point at your cards ability and say I activate this ability, and then buy this card.
The wording on the cards is clear, so I think they don't stack IRL, and only stack in the app because you can only choose order of play there.
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Ian Taylor
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Replacement effects like this effectively stack. If you have two "next-to-top" effects, and you buy a ship, both effects will attempt to modify the action, but only one will succeed. The player chooses which one works in case the two effects are similar-but-different. The other will wait around for the next purchase.

So this one's the same as the app, though IRL you should specify that you're using the ability before you bounce the base. (Judges can safely assume that you did I think, but communication is always better).

Ian Taylor
Director of Organized Play
White Wizard Games
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Cliff Roberts
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Yay for official answers!
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IanWWG wrote:

Replacement effects like this effectively stack. If you have two "next-to-top" effects, and you buy a ship, both effects will attempt to modify the action, but only one will succeed. The player chooses which one works in case the two effects are similar-but-different. The other will wait around for the next purchase.

So this one's the same as the app, though IRL you should specify that you're using the ability before you bounce the base. (Judges can safely assume that you did I think, but communication is always better).

Ian Taylor
Director of Organized Play
White Wizard Games

Cool - thanks! This also answers some of my Colony Wars questions, about what happens if you buy a Colony Seed Ship with a base that has existing topdeck powers. Sounds like, you pick CSS's effect to be the one that fires, put it in hand, then you still have a delicious applies-to-all topdeck effect to use with the trade you just got off CSS.
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Dániel Lányi
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greylag wrote:
IanWWG wrote:

Replacement effects like this effectively stack.

...Colony Seed Ship...


This is still weird to me because it's neither in the rules nor in the wording of the cards (or I missed something). But it kind of makes sense.

Btw, let's say I have the Black Market gambit in play, making a Colony Seed Ship 1 cheaper, so costing 4. I play Customs Frigate and use its primary ability to acquire CSS. Now, CF says: You may acquire a ship of cost four or less AND put it on top of your deck. I would assume because of the "AND" that you either do both, or none. So in the spirit of the above, I guess I can still pick and choose which modification put it in my hand with CSS's ability. I'm not sure though, because it's not the same thing.

On a related note, let's say my deck is four cards, two vipers and two scouts, and my plan is for those four cards to skip the shuffle. I play Customs Frigate, I acquire a ship. Can I choose to not put it on top of my deck?
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