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Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game» Forums » Rules

Subject: How I learned to stop worrying and love the rules. rss

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An open letter to the community:

My apologies if this has been discussed before. I hope you'll agree that this is a difficult topic to search.

We're seeing some new and interesting cards from Wave 4, and the Reb Aces and Wave 5 spoilers.

This leads me to review the Core Rule Book, FAQ, and Tournament rules with renewed vigor. The Steps in each Phase have just been second nature to us for so long, that when a new card comes along that involves a specific interplay, we forget that there is an order of operations that is inherent and vital to the way the game is played.

I'm not a miniatures veteran. Or even an LCG/CCG guy. I played Yu-Gi-Oh for like a minute, and I've watched and learned as friends played MTG and D&D. Those "in the know," (read: not me) I think, are more sensitive to the importance of the defined segmentation of each Phase of a game like X-Wing.

In order to have a chance of knowing what I'm talking about, I have to reread the rules (core, FAQ, tourney, etc.) on a regular basis, and look up items in question. If I can't remember the exact wording of a ruling, I at least recall that it was specifically covered in the X, Y, or Z publication so I can find it easily (on Dropbox on my phone, for example). I think it's perfectly fine if someone doesn't know the answer, but knows where to find it.

Mind you, I'm not calling anyone out for asking questions easily answered by such documentation. I love helping newer players; I get an endorphin rush from getting little green thumbs ups, as stupid as that is!

Without sounding faithfully dogmatic or irrationally optimistic with regard to FFG (and lacking meaningful experience with other developers/games), it seems to me that they take care in their consistency, foresight, and overall method of presenting a cogent, fun, and long-lasting game.

What are your thoughts? I think the "letter of the law" is more important now than ever and will continue to be so from here on out.

This rambling tripe has a point: Let's review and reread what we have available to review and reread, and then, therefore, know what works with new, creative cards for us and our opponents. This way we can counter or augment as needed, and remain competitive.

Thanks for reading, fly casual, MTFBWY (a holdover from my XvT days!), and good hunting!
-Vall
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Ryan King
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I think the problem is ffg's layout and ambiguity. Not as bad with x-wing, but I have boxes of Descent that I don't play only because I would have to read so many faqs to figure out how it is suppose to play. Give me a procedural point by point reference manual any day!
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ryanking wrote:
I think the problem is ffg's layout and ambiguity. Not as bad with x-wing, but I have boxes of Descent that I don't play only because I would have to read so many faqs to figure out how it is suppose to play. Give me a procedural point by point reference manual any day!

I'm not convinced that there's a problem to begin with...

That said, I haven't played any other FFG titles, Descent included, so my knowledge is limited!

I will submit to you, though, that FFG has a Rule book and one current FAQ that, combined, provide a procedural point-by-point reference (step-by-step, phase-by-phase) for X-Wing.

Cheers.
 
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Ryan King
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You concede to the problem in the article: you have to constantly reread the rules, faqs, threads, etc. I like some heavy wargames where that is needed, but this game is light enough where the rules could have been more concise and laid out better. This game isn't as bad as some, but FFG isn't know for their awesome rulebooks.
 
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ryanking wrote:
You concede to the problem in the article: you have to constantly reread the rules, faqs, threads, etc. I like some heavy wargames where that is needed, but this game is light enough where the rules could have been more concise and laid out better. This game isn't as bad as some, but FFG isn't know for their awesome rulebooks.

My "concession" is due to my (and other's) memory and familiarity (requiring rereading) rather than the basic tenants of the game. The point I was trying to make is that newly introduced cards/talents/abilities reference variations on originally stated sequences that have become "old hat" to some players. With a perfect memory, one can easily suss out how to play the latest cards' effects.

I, once again, must admit that I haven't a reference point for what is "light," whether other games lay out rules with more concision, or whether FFG is known for anything or nothing.

You've said twice that X-Wing isn't as bad as other games... I'll first take that as a positive of sorts. Secondly, when only discussing X-Wing Rules, what do you have to say or ask that's productive?

EDIT: Specifically, in what way(s) is X-Wing's layout problematic or ambiguous? I'm certainly not a fanboy, but I can't find complaints about FFG's other games germane to this discussion.
 
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Creed Buhallin
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X-wing's rules, compared to most CCG's (which follow a similar style) are simply a mess. Timing is vague where it is defined at all, terminology is rare where it is actually defined, card templating is a train wreck, and while it's gotten better, there are FAQ answers which flatly and blatantly contradict the actual rules without bothering to make errata.

The game works - and works well - primarily because there are a limited number of abilities ... It's very likely that when FFG's new 40K LCG, Conquest, releases it will have more unique abilities than X-wing does. The limited abilities means they tend to not get too crazy, and they can answer things with specific responses... but X-wing still has an ability:FAQ density that's as much as TEN TIMES the LCGs.

That can't last, long-term. Sadly, FFG has shown basically no interest in correcting the situation... and the cracks are starting to show. Issues like the Phantom's multiple decloak arise because we, as players, don't have a solid framework for such things, so every time something new like that arises we don't know how to handle it. Worse, cards like R7-T1 are confusing and imprecise because there simply isn't the depth of terminology and templating to convey want they want the card to do, and they'd rather cram in ambiguous text than give up on an idea they have. That sort of thing is only going to get worse.

X-wing works because FFG actively patches over the mess so players don't have to figure out how things actually work. That sort of thing can only work for so long.
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Ryan King
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First, you shouldn't take that as a positive because "not as bad" doesn't normally mean good. Secondly, if you write an open letter, don't take the responses so personally.
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Ryan King
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Regarding your edit, all ffg's rules were pertinent because the bad rules are systemic. I still love some x-wing, but spade is a spade.
 
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Wow, this has almost instantly spiraled out of control. Had to double-check to make sure I wasn't posting on the FFG forum!

I never meant for this thread to become a comparison. I play X-Wing and I'm posting on the X-Wing forum. Not to say, of course, that parallels can't be drawn, but... holy shit.
Buhallin wrote:
Issues like the Phantom's multiple decloak arise because we, as players, don't have a solid framework for such things, so every time something new like that arises we don't know how to handle it. Worse, cards like R7-T1 are confusing and imprecise because there simply isn't the depth of terminology and templating to convey want they want the card to do, and they'd rather cram in ambiguous text than give up on an idea they have.

What exactly do you mean by multiple decloak? I'm genuinely curious (showing my ignorance, perhaps!). Once per opportunity ruling isn't the thing on that?

Also, which part of R7-T1 do you find confusing?
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ryanking wrote:
First, you shouldn't take that as a positive because "not as bad" doesn't normally mean good. Secondly, if you write an open letter, don't take the responses so personally.

Fair enough! I did write an open letter.

Why, then, to your first point, do you play a game (and invest time, and perhaps lots of money, and comment on the forums) which you don't think the rules (at least) are good? Not trolling, btw. I firmly believe you should do as you please!

To your response to my edit: systemic or not, can you cite a particular instance? In X-Wing, I mean. I grow tired of saying that I'm not a table-top aficionado, but it seems reasonable to me that Errata/FAQs would be a necessary evil?

EDIT: What game(s) are, in your opinion, good or great? I will, no kidding, check them out.
 
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The game is good, that doesn't mean it can't have problems.

For evidence of the rules being a bit loose, jut check the rules forum. Lots of debating on what rules in the FAQ mean! I can handle it because I am a boardgamer and play a lot of games, so I'm used to it, but I hate not playing x-wing for a couple months and then needing to read a ton of material for what's basically a light miniature dice chucker ( at least on the lower levels of play).
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ryanking wrote:
The game is good, that doesn't mean it can't have problems.

Quite so!

ryanking wrote:
For evidence of the rules being a bit loose, jut check the rules forum. Lots of debating on what rules in the FAQ mean!

I frequent the rules forum (where we are now) and that's not the case. I asked for a specific example. On the FFG forum? Yes, I see your point...

ryanking wrote:
...but I hate not playing x-wing for a couple months and then needing to read a ton of material for what's basically a light miniature dice chucker ( at least on the lower levels of play).

The last FAQ was in April. I believe it covers everything to Wave 4, which isn't too complex after reading the Rules/current FAQ(the point of the OP) And I hope I'm not the only one here to dispute the game's status as a light dice chucker (even at lower levels). Squad building, rock placement, initial placement, first turn movement, alpha strike/merge are massive parts of the games even before die rolling factors in.

One man's opinion. You have a right to your own, and I certainly enjoy the debating of the differences!

Cheers.
 
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Michael Schneider
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I feel that the rules of X-Wing are actually pretty clear and also well laid out in the rule book.

That some complexity comes in when multiple expansions are added and that questions arise from that is inevitable in any growing system game.

Although I have to add that I came late to the party (just started basically) and have German X-Wing stuff, where things might be ironed out.

For me and my gaming group, there hasn't been any questions or confusion about how R7-T1 works or cloaking. I find R7-T1 pretty straightforward. Am I missing something?
 
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Andreas Krüger
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The point is that an FAQ should not be necessary for basic timing issues. For example, the question whether or not R2-D2 can recharge a shield before or after the collision with a rock should be clear from the basic steps of a turn sequence. This sequence should make clear at what point "executing a [green] maneuver" ends and whether or not taking damage from a rock is within this sequence or not.

(Edit: This is actually not the best example, but the first I remember from the FAQ).

Each rule for itself is clear enough and works. It is easy to perform the move of an X-Wing by following the rules. The trouble begins when different rules interact because the rules writer did not take enough care to use a clear terminology.

Not that I could do better, and I don't think I would be able to find these holes before stumbling over them during play.
 
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Andreas Krüger
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knurps wrote:
have German X-Wing stuff, where things might be ironed out.


My printed version of the rule book has something wrong with the asteroids. The sentence about overlapping the template is missing. This may be corrected now in your version, but if not, you may want to download the rules from Heidelberger. The online version is correct, as far as I know.
 
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Ok, I can partly see the R2-D2 question.

However, I have interpreted that exactly in the way that is written in the FAQ because it is very clear in the rules that you suffer damage in the "Execute Maneuver" step from obstacles (marked with a big, fat red "Note" in my rules). It would be more concise to say "After the Execute maneuver step", though.
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There is a card that was spoiled for rebel aces that said "Once per round, when a friendly ship at range 1-3 performs a focus action or would be assigned a focus token, you may assign an evade token instead". This was the first card that a) didn't say "another ally" and b) made sense that the ship carrying it would want to use it on itself if possible.

So it raised the questions, is a ship an ally of itself, and is a ship at range 1 of itself?

In Magic: The Gathering, a person with a good mind for rules could scour the expansive rulebook and come up with an answer to those questions and tell us how to use the card. In X-Wing, we just have to wait for the designers to tell us how they mean for the card to work. And even when they do tell us, they won't answer either of those questions I listed above, they will just tell us that no, this card cannot target the ship its on.

Thats what people are talking about.
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Michael Schneider
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I see your point and there are certainly cards that are not clear and need clarification.

However, I find the comparison to Magic: The Gathering inappropriate. Magic is now around for more than 20 years now. Thus, there was a lot of time for the people behind Magic to develop a terminology and a set of rules that work well. X-Wing has been only around for two years. Thus, the direct comparison seems to be unfair.

Maybe X-Wing will be just as clear and concise as Magic in 18 years .

 
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Well, the rules for Magic are not clear and concise. You have to be a real expert to understand them. That's the trade-off. I'm glad X-Wing doesn't have a giant rulebook that details action windows and "the stack". X-Wing is a relatively simple game, so their method of outlining clear if not all-encompassing rules is fine for now. But the more cards and ships that come out, the more exceptions, the more ship-specific rules that come out, the less wieldy this system will get.

I compare the rules to Magic because Magic is the most popular and most extreme example of a rulebook that answers every question and is crafted by and understood by rules experts. In case you got the wrong idea, X-Wing is a better game than Magic, and I don't even think X-Wing should adopt Magic's approach to rules, but they could find some middle ground that doesn't involve publishing an FAQ where half of the entries are not "clarifications" but full on rulings necessary to use the cards correctly.
 
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Jeff Dunford
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ryanking wrote:
I think the problem is ffg's layout and ambiguity. Not as bad with x-wing, but I have boxes of Descent that I don't play only because I would have to read so many faqs to figure out how it is suppose to play. Give me a procedural point by point reference manual any day!


I suffered through Space Hulk: Death Angel's rule book, read it a second time, still didn't get it, and had to find 3rd party rules summaries (available on BGG) to figure out how to play the game. It's really not a complicated game, but FFG made it so through writing a terrible rule book.

X-wing, on the other hand, can be learned by watching the < 13 minute video below. Yes, there is technically more going on, and yes, the exact order of events can lead to some unusual and probably unintended interactions (like how Night Beast doesn't get a free Focus action after performing a green maneuver if he was stressed at the beginning of the turn because the "check stress" step happens after the timing window in which he could otherwise perform a free action ... probably not the way the designers intended). Anyway, the game is a relatively streamlined miniatures game that can be picked up quickly. Sure, there are some strange combinations and "exceptions" that require some brain burning logic to fully comprehend, but those interactions are pretty rare except for the most competitive players who play very frequently.

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Allen T
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I've only really noticed some ambiguity after coming on here- I've found pretty much everything to be straightforward. Well, the timing on Wes' ability was questioned the first time we used him, but looking at FCS pretty much solved that problem.
 
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Creed Buhallin
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Vallador wrote:
What exactly do you mean by multiple decloak? I'm genuinely curious (showing my ignorance, perhaps!). Once per opportunity ruling isn't the thing on that?

Also, which part of R7-T1 do you find confusing?

One opportunity per does cover it. A nontrivial number of people disagreed. There was also disagreement over whether/how you could use both Advanced Sensors and decloak for the same dial reveal - basically, the question was whether "immediately before" was an instant time window, and using one of them put you past it. There's still no real answer on why Gunner interacts with certain effects the way it does, and I can't count the number of interpretations of X-wing's timing without needing more fingers. That exists because X-wing doesn't actually have detailed timing rules.

R7-T1 is a mess. There are two different conditions: Range and arc. There are two different actions: Target Lock and Boost. Which applies to which? Do you have to Target Lock in order to Boost? The debate on this went for pages and pages.

What's the timing for an action like Squad Leader, measuring opportunities, and takebacks? I can measure for an action before using it, so I can measure from my Squad Leader to another ship to, say, let it barrel roll. But what happens if it can't barrel roll in the direction I declare? Is it stuck taking some other action, or can my Squad Leader pick a different action? What if the ship can't take a different action, maybe because I TL'ed earlier and I'm too close to Jax to Focus?

Your confidence in a given interpretation does not mean it's correct. Lots of people were very sure that Night Beast could get his free focus if he started stressed, but they were wrong. There are any number of us who are active, committed rules gurus, and every one of us has been wrong at some point about something, and usually multiple times.

Like I said, X-wing's rules work... but they're a LONG way from being good.
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Creed Buhallin
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knurps wrote:
However, I find the comparison to Magic: The Gathering inappropriate. Magic is now around for more than 20 years now. Thus, there was a lot of time for the people behind Magic to develop a terminology and a set of rules that work well. X-Wing has been only around for two years. Thus, the direct comparison seems to be unfair.

It's only unfair if you assume that X-wing should have to start from the same point Magic did 20 years ago. It didn't. All the lessons learned from the thousands of cards printed across dozens if not hundreds of games should have been integrated for X-wing, but they weren't.

Even inside FFG, X-wing stands out as particularly bad. Take a look at the Star Wars LCG some time... solid timing rules that close off a lot of common problem interactions, good use of keywords, and very consistent templating. The LCG currently has about 750 cards, and an 11 page FAQ. X-wing has around 120 abilities... and an 11 page FAQ. And X-wing's down from 16 pages due to the recent reformatting.

That comparison controls for pretty much everything - they were released around the same time, they're developed by the same company, etc. It doesn't make X-wing's rules look good. It's also not unique - all of FFG's LCGs have considerably better metrics than X-wing.
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Alan Bull
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Do you not think that sometimes trying to figure out precise timing can simply be supplanted by common sense. A phantom cloaks, followed later (this turn or more likely another turn) by a decloak, why would anyone try suggesting anything different?
 
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Cowpers wrote:
Do you not think that sometimes trying to figure out precise timing can simply be supplanted by common sense. A phantom cloaks, followed later (this turn or more likely another turn) by a decloak, why would anyone try suggesting anything different?

Common sense can work. Common sense may also not work. Most common sense said Night Beast would get his free focus after a green even if he started the turn stressed. Timing says otherwise. Common sense would say that if I can't take a target lock action I can't target lock at all, but again not the case. Common sense says that if you fly over an asteroid with R2-D2 it should time out just the same as if you fly over a Proximity Mine, but nope. If you can use Advanced Sensors to cloak and then immediately decloak (which you can), is there any common sense reason you couldn't decloak before that cycle and do it 3 times instead of 2? Not really... but the once-per-opportunity rule kills that.

Rules should feel natural and make sense, but that's not necessarily the same as "common sense". "Common sense" is like Rules as Intended - it's rarely as shared as most people think. More often than not "common sense" really means is "This is how I think it should work and anyone who doesn't think the same is an idiot". That's why we have rules, including for things like timing.
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