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Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne» Forums » Rules

Subject: Hostage rules catch-all. rss

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Adam Blinkinsop
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First off: I like this game, and I've been looking for a game that does a Senji-style exchange for a while now, but the hostage rules (both timing and costing) are a bit loose. Questions below.

Interleaved with an excerpt pulled from the rules that perhaps could use some clarification.

Taking Hostages wrote:
After the basic rewards and penalties have been resolved, hostages may be awarded to either active player, depending upon the outcome of the encounter (see “Hostages” on page 9).

Hostility Outcome: The active player on the winning side (either challenger or defender) chooses any one player on the losing side and takes one hostage from that player.

Betrayal Outcome: The active player on the losing side (the player who revealed the truce card) takes one hostage from each player on the winning side.


"Taking a hostage" is defined on page 9, under the "Hostages" section (options labeled for ease of reference):

Hostages wrote:
Numerous game effects can cause a player to take a hostage from another player. This is represented by the player taking and holding one of that player’s house cards. When taking a hostage, a player can choose from one of three places:

(a) From the top of the other player’s house deck.
(b) Randomly from the other player’s hand.
(c) From the hostages that the other player has already taken.

After a hostage is taken, the card is placed facedown in the hostage-taker’s play area. At any time, a player can look at the front or back side of cards that they have taken as hostages.


Question: If the Stark player chooses option (c) and takes one of their own hostages back from the Lannister player, does it go facedown in their area? The text suggests yes. (Tracking your deck, your hand, and potentially your own hostages can be ... complex.)

Releasing or Tormenting Hostages wrote:
Hostages are not used for their values or text effects. Instead, at the start of any turn, any players can release or torment any number of hostages that they have taken.

Releasing a Hostage: When a player releases a hostage, they return the card to the original owner’s hand. After doing so, they draw one card from their own house deck.


Question: If the Stark player then releases their own hostage (to their hand), do they get to draw a card? The text suggests yes. (Even house-ruling so that taking your own hostage from an opponent immediately put it back into your hand, we ended up with pretty large hand sizes. This would only exacerbate that issue.)

Releasing or Tormenting Hostages, cont. wrote:
Tormenting a Hostage: When a player torments a hostage, they place the card in the original owner’s discard pile. This has three possible effects, depending upon the type of card tormented:

Leader: If a tormented hostage is a character card that matches the house’s leader, immediately return four power from that leader sheet to the game box.
Characters: If a tormented hostage is a character card that matches any faceup character token, remove four power from that character’s token, placing it on the house’s leader sheet.
Hostility or Truce: If a tormented hostage is a hostility or truce card, the tormenting player chooses and removes one power from one character in that house. This power is placed on the leader sheet of the tormenting player.

The promises and threats of releasing and tormenting hostages can be strong leverage during play. Players can ask for other players to support a one side or to stay out of an encounter, to play (or not play) a specific card, or attempt any other scheme they can concoct.


Question: Is "the start of any turn" before Preparation or during Preparation? We ruled the former, but it can be difficult to catch the moment just before the next player flips the event card. Allowing a hostage negotiation right after the event card flip is a bit more interesting, I think.

(EDIT: Seems like the only reason not to allow hostage manipulation at any time is dealing with complexity during the support / encounter phases, where you could kill off someone currently participating in an encounter. However, the rules there would be simple: they died during the encounter. If they were active or support was accepted, they get rewards / penalties based on their side (but contribute no power). There's no Magic-style stack, so once encounter cards are revealed, it's too late to kill someone off to affect the encounter -- though you could still kill them off as revenge.)

Also, though a bit off-topic, did anyone else seem to have a ton of cards in the mid- to late-game? The Preparation draw and Encounter play should make people card-neutral. Discarding for character powers is intended to balance out with Defender rewards on average, would be my guess. We didn't even use hostage release very often, yet we still had half our decks by the three-influence point. I wonder why they didn't keep Cosmic's hand-refresh rule.
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Craig Chapman
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We have played it where if you take your own House's hostage, it goes back into your hand immediately. I think that makes the most sense thematically, as well.

We also played before Preparation for hostage "use."

In terms of hand size, my group has had it vary.

I had one game where I had a TON of cards, but I was literally in every conflict of the game (3 player).

I have had games where I've never had over 5 cards for a long period of time though.
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Gary Masters
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The Hostages section on page 11 of the rulebook makes it pretty clear that if you take a hostage from your own house back from another player it is returned to your hand.
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Adam Blinkinsop
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Could you point out the relevant section in the text above? I grabbed it from the book verbatim.

There are two actions I see here:

1. Taking a hostage in the resolution step "from the hostages that the other player has already taken", which is "placed facedown in the hostage-taker’s play area."

2. Releasing a hostage at the beginning of any turn. "When a player releases a hostage, they return the card to the original owner’s hand. After doing so, they draw one card from their own house deck."
 
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Gary Masters
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None of the text that you have copied from the rulebook confirms what I've said. That is because you haven't copied any text from the section "Hostages" on page 11 of the rulebook where it clearly states

"If a player takes a hostage corresponding to their own house, that hostage is returned to their hand."
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Gary Masters
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Also in answer to your other question about the timing of when people get to release or torment hostages, this is done at the start of each player's turn before the preparation phase starts (so before the current player flips over the next event card.)

To prevent the current player flipping an event card before people have had a chance to use hostages we've included a step immediately after clean-up from the previous turn where we stop and say "does anybody want to use hostages right now?" and once people all agree that it's ok to continue we move on to the start of the preparation phase.

Having one person in charge of revealing cards from the event deck for all players can also help.
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Adam Blinkinsop
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Gazbowski wrote:
Having one person in charge of revealing cards from the event deck for all players can also help.
We've been passing the event deck around to remember who's the offense each turn, but I guess that might be unnecessary.

Wonder how I missed that part of p.11, but thanks!
 
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Locutus Zero
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To be fair, the hostage rules are spread across three different sections of the book.
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Florian Ruckeisen
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More hostage details:

1. Releasing / tormenting hostages individually
The rulebook says
rulebook p.9 wrote:
Hostages are not used for their values or text effects. Instead, at the start of any turn, any players can release or torment any number of hostages that they have taken.

I am taking this to mean that I can choose individually for each of my hostages. Correct?

So, if I have 4 hostages, I can decide to release one, torment two others, and do nothing (for now) with the fourth.

2. Drawing a card after releasing a hostage
rulebook p.9 wrote:
Releasing a Hostage: When a player releases a hostage, they return the card to the original owner’s hand. After doing so, they draw one card from their own house deck.

I am taking this to mean that drawing a card is always part of "releasing a hostage", not just when "releasing a hostage at the start of the turn". So when other effects cause a hostage to be released (i.e. Cat Stark's Heart of Stone or Davos' Smuggler ability), these will also let the hostage holder draw a card. Correct?

3. Discarding hostages
Some effects (Melisandre's Terrors of the Night) instruct you to discard a hostage. There's no mention of this in the rules, but I am taking it to mean that the hostage card is simply placed in the original owner's discard pile (like it would when tormenting, except that no power is removed - at least not from the discarding as such). It can't really be anything else IMHO.

4. Tormenting dead characters
rulebook p.9 wrote:
• Leader: If a tormented hostage is a character card that matches the house’s leader, immediately return four power from that leader sheet to the game box.
• Characters: If a tormented hostage is a character card that
matches any faceup character token, remove four power from that character’s token, placing it on the house’s leader sheet.
• Hostility or Truce: If a tormented hostage is a hostility or truce card, the tormenting player chooses and removes one power from one character in that house. This power is placed on the leader sheet of the tormenting player.

No mention of what happens when you torment a character card that matches a facedown (dead) character. Two likely possibilities:
a) the dead character's card counts as a hostility card (the only use it has now is hostility with value 0, after all), causing the same effect as above
b) tormenting a dead character's card has no effect (besides discarding the card)

Thematically, I'm leaning towards b), but I can see both options to be valid rulings.
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Witold G
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Agreed on #1-3, I even made the same argument on #3.

Good catch on #4!

Snapshot wrote:
4. Tormenting dead characters
rulebook p.9 wrote:
• Leader: If a tormented hostage is a character card that matches the house’s leader, immediately return four power from that leader sheet to the game box.
• Characters: If a tormented hostage is a character card that
matches any faceup character token, remove four power from that character’s token, placing it on the house’s leader sheet.
• Hostility or Truce: If a tormented hostage is a hostility or truce card, the tormenting player chooses and removes one power from one character in that house. This power is placed on the leader sheet of the tormenting player.

No mention of what happens when you torment a character card that matches a facedown (dead) character. Two likely possibilities:
a) the dead character's card counts as a hostility card (the only use it has now is hostility with value 0, after all), causing the same effect as above
b) tormenting a dead character's card has no effect (besides discarding the card)

Thematically, I'm leaning towards b), but I can see both options to be valid rulings.


Immediately before the section you quoted, there's this...

Rulebook p. 09, "Hostages" section:
"When a player torments a hostage, they
place the card in the original owner’s discard pile. This has three
possible effects
, depending upon the type of card tormented:"


Emphasis mine - I think we can infer from the quote above that there are no other possible effects than the three you listed, therefore no simple discards when torturing a hostage.

In this situation, tormented hostage is certainly not a character card that matches the house's leader or a faceup character token. So this leaves us only with the third possibility: treat it like hostility card (which is consistent with its use in another situation, like you already mentioned).

So I'm leaning towards a), but I definitely agree that the rules are not precise in this case.
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Anthony Rubbo
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FWIW, I posed this question on the Cosmic Encounter Facebook page a while back. Excerpt:

Anthony Rubbo wrote:
...if a Hostility card is tormented, the result is that the tormentor chooses a character from the tormentee's House to lose a power. So, if a dead character is considered a Hostility-0 as posted above, that is what would presumably happen. Alternatively, it could retain its "character" status (only becoming a 0 during challenges), and 4 power would be removed from it (though, that would be impossible, as it is dead).


Cosmic Encounter wrote:
It doesn't work that way, Anthony. You cannot torment using a character card of a character that is facedown (aka dead). You can release that card, e.g. I found Eddard's glove and am returning it to you, and collect a reward of one card from your deck to your hand. The released character card is useless, of course. It can't be used for its character effect and if played as a hostility card is worth 0. So it goes. We think page 9 of the rules is clear on these points.
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Florian Ruckeisen
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Perf wrote:
Rulebook p. 09, "Hostages" section:
"When a player torments a hostage, they
place the card in the original owner’s discard pile. This has three
possible effects
, depending upon the type of card tormented:"


Emphasis mine - I think we can infer from the quote above that there are no other possible effects than the three you listed

That's a good point - I guess that is why interpretation a) was the one I instinctively assumed to be intended, and only after that considered b) to be quite plausible too.

LemonyFresh wrote:
FWIW, I posed this question on the Cosmic Encounter Facebook page a while back. [...]
Cosmic Encounter wrote:
It doesn't work that way, Anthony. You cannot torment using a character card of a character that is facedown (aka dead). You can release that card, e.g. I found Eddard's glove and am returning it to you, and collect a reward of one card from your deck to your hand. The released character card is useless, of course. It can't be used for its character effect and if played as a hostility card is worth 0. So it goes. We think page 9 of the rules is clear on these points.

Well that's certainly interesting - thanks for bringing this up!

So that would be interpretation c) then - you cannot torment dead characters' cards at all, if we take this as official ruling. I must say I don't find that clear from the rules on p.9 at all, but hey.

In effect tho, that's not all that much different from interpretation b) - if tormenting dead characters has no effect besides discarding the card, then it's not something you'd be particularly inclined to do anyway. So it's just as well if that's not allowed in the first place.
 
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Witold G
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Snapshot wrote:
I must say I don't find that clear from the rules on p.9 at all, but hey.


The explanation does make perfect sense, but I feel it's rather in a "makes perfect sense once someone points it out to you" category... In other words: not immediately obvious even if you carefully read the rules.
 
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Florian Ruckeisen
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Perf wrote:
Snapshot wrote:
I must say I don't find that clear from the rules on p.9 at all, but hey.


The explanation does make perfect sense, but I feel it's rather in a "makes perfect sense once someone points it out to you" category... In other words: not immediately obvious even if you carefully read the rules.

Aka: "not clear from the rules at all".
 
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