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Subject: Really getting annoyed with the direction the rulings are going rss

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Ian Toltz
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I come from a background of Magic. I like Magic, because of everything that happens in the game follows explicit rules. It can sometimes be difficult to understand exactly how the rules work on weird corner cases or unusual situations, but if you read the comprehensive rules, you will find an answer. In the rare cases that an unambiguous answer doesn't exist, WotC erratas things or clarifies the rules in order to resolve the ambiguity.

Thanks to a couple recent semi-official rulings from Lukas, it's looking like Android: Netrunner is going in more of a kangaroo court direction.

First, we had the Oversight AI (OAI) decision, which runs counter to the precedent established in the Chum decision. Chum does something if a runner fails to break all subroutines, and OAI does something if a runner successfully breaks all subroutines.

It was ruled in the official FAQ that Chum does not trigger on ice without subroutines. This ruling follows the formal logical concept of a vacuous truth, and is the ruling many people (myself included) expected. Put another way, saying to do something if all subroutines are broken is equivalent to saying do something only if there isn't at least one unbroken subroutine.

That ruling established a precedent. When OAI was published, both the precedent and the rules of formal logic seem like they should apply. OAI says do something if all the subroutines are broken, which should be equivalent to do something only if there are no subroutines which are not broken.

However, someone emailed Lukas, and he provided a contrary ruling: OAI would not trigger in the case where an ice had no subroutines.

This establishes that we can't trust to formal logic in interpreting how cards work. Some have argued that the rule, then, is that in the case where there are no subroutines, both of these effects are simply turned off or ignored. Not only do I find that an ugly rule filled with potential ambiguity, it's not even a rule. It's something people have guessed, based on an entry in the official FAQ and a response from one of the designers of the game. This is stated nowhere in the rulebook, nor even explicitly stated by any of the designers.

If I wanted to be inferring the rules for a game, I'd play Mao.

Now we have a second troubling ruling. Someone had a question about whether Trick of Light could move Advancement counters off of scored agendas. Obviously, the answer here is no. Or is it? No one could find a rule anywhere actually saying that advancement counters are removed from scored agendas, and Trick of Light's wording is open to interpretation as to whether the word "installed" is meant to apply to both cards it's affecting or just the second one (the card you're moving counters to).

Let me give you some examples of answers that I'd find acceptable here.

1. "Advancement counters are removed from scored agendas. We'll add that in next time we update the rules."

2. "Trick of Light can only move counters between installed cards. We'll issue errata to make this more clear."

You know what I think the absolute worst possible answer that could have been given is? Tuism tweeted Lukas, and here's his reply:

Lukas, via Tuism wrote:
@Tuism Youre right. Cant do it. Trick of Light implies that the card is installed; safe to assume counters are removed from scored agendas


(emphasis mine)

So there we have it. Based on the Oversight AI and Trick of Light rulings, we've established that in Netrunner...

1. Precedent means nothing. You must always ask the designers how cards work, because there might be special rules you don't know about.

2. You can't use common logical readings of cards, again because there might be special rules you don't know about which are contrary to how a strict logical reading of cards would work.

3. When in doubt, you're supposed to read into what the cards imply and make assumptions.

In closing, I want to point out that so far all of my discomfort here stems from semi-official rulings straight to fans via email or twitter. If we only look at the official rules and FAQs, there are no problems. Everything makes logical sense and follows the rules (although we'd still need either a new rule or a clarification for Trick of Light). I'm holding out hope that both of these are just ill-considered off-the-cuff responses. The twitter one, in particular, sounds like something that Lukas just said without really thinking about the implications (pun not intended).

Basically, I'm hoping that the next version of the FAQ will clear this all up (and, in particular, reverse the Oversight AI ruling). There are games where a kangaroo court mentality is fine. My favorite game is Cosmic Encounter, and if you can go a night of CE without getting into a rules argument then you're probably doing something wrong. But a game like ANR requires explicit, logical rules, and if this trend continues I don't think that I'll be able to support it anymore.
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Lieven De Puysseleir
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Asmor wrote:

... and if you can go a night of CE without getting into a rules argument then you're probably doing something wrong...


and what game be "CE" please?

I agree that either they should follow the precedent or just reword the card in errata to get the effect they want. period.
 
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Jeremy Larner
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lievendp wrote:
Asmor wrote:

... and if you can go a night of CE without getting into a rules argument then you're probably doing something wrong...


and what game be "CE" please?

I agree that either they should follow the precedent or just reword the card in errata to get the effect they want. period.


Ironic that you started the quote where you did, and not two words earlier....

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Chris Byer
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CE is literally clarified in the same sentence.
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Ivan Stanoev
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Well, we got first consistent rules for Magic after 6 years with 6th Edition. Lets hope we will get them faster for Netrunner.
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Robbie M.
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chbyer wrote:
CE is literally clarified in the same sentence.

But that's not his fault as he was forced to make assumptions. You see, nowhere in the rules or faq does it state what CE stands for, nor is it even defined as an actual term. The OP clearly will need to update this thread's faq, or at least tweet Tu .
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Ian Toltz
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isi23 wrote:
Well, we got first consistent rules for Magic after 6 years with 6th Edition. Lets hope we will get them faster for Netrunner.


I don't know how accurate that is. I didn't really start paying close attention to the rules until a few years after the 6th edition changes (e.g. I don't think I ever actually understood the Interrupt rules correctly when they were relevant), but I feel like the rules were already pretty consistent when I started playing (in 4th edition). Could you give examples of how the rules weren't consistent before then?
 
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General Norris
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Artifacts are a pretty good example. They were supposed to "turn off" if they were tapped, leaving them without any abilities, just inert.

However, Mana Vault did damage to you and didn't untap.
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Anthony Gat
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I'm not convinced that the OAI ruling is inconsistent. That the class of "all subroutines" must contain at least one subroutine is a perfectly valid construction. As long as it is uniformly applied going forward, what is the problem?
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Ben Asher
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If you read the ruling for Chum vs. Woodcutter, you would realize that your argument is based on false premises. While you, and I, and much of the rest of the community predicted that Chum would not trigger because no existing subroutines is the same as all being broken (i.e. vacuous truth), that IS NOT how the ruling came down. Instead, it came down that there were NO UNBROKEN subroutines, which is not the same thing.

Oversight AI's ruling does not conflict with this at all: Oversight AI can find NO BROKEN subroutines when there are no subroutines to break, and thus, like chum, there is no effect. The database NULL argument that's been stated a number of times applies here. Both OAI and Chum are looking for subroutines, whether broken or unbroken. Neither of them find any, and thus the returned result is a NULL, not 'x broken' or 'x unbroken'.

I'm truly sorry that you don't LIKE these rulings (really I am, because I have to keep hearing about how much you don't like them) but they're not inconsistent.

As for the Tweet of Light (and the stance in general that "they're OUR answers and we need them NOW"), holy crap, chill out! Official FAQs have been released steadily throughout the course of the game and we have no indication from anywhere that they will stop doing so. The fact that the game designer is willing to interface with the public at all (let alone frequently pretty quickly!) is amazing! Cut the guy some slack. Just deal with the rulings that are given until official documents come out. It can't be that hard. If there's a dispute, pass it up to your TO given the current rulings. If you're the TO, follow the rulings that have been made to date and use your best judgment. If you're proved wrong by an FAQ in two months, really, who cares?

Yes, it would be totally awesome if we had comprehensive rules right now. Yes, it would be fantastic if Lukas was a little chained monkey that we could get rulings from on the fly, in real time, as questions came up. Yes it would be AMAZING if the rules were water tight, and air tight, and impervious to misinterpretation. The fact is, they're not. The game is still a lot of fun despite those 'shortcomings'. Further more, it seems to me that as a community we go WAY out of our way to find every possible weak spot to get upset about. Feel free instead to play something you actually enjoy until they get everything sorted out. And I say until because, again, there's no indication that they won't.
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Anon Y. Mous
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Pseudocode:

SubroutinesBroken bool;
foreach subroutine in ICE
{
if subroutine.broken
{SubroutinesBroken = true;}
else
{SubroutinesBroken = false;
break;
}

if SubroutinesBroken = true
{ //Oversight AI triggers
}
if SubroutinesBroken = false
{ //Chum triggers
}

If there are no subroutines, the loop is skipped and both checks return false.
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Guido Gloor
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Ethereality wrote:
Pseudocode:

SubroutinesBroken bool;
foreach subroutine in ICE
{
if subroutine.broken
{SubroutinesBroken = true;}
else
{SubroutinesBroken = false;
break;
}

if SubroutinesBroken = true
{ //Oversight AI triggers
}
if SubroutinesBroken = false
{ //Chum triggers
}

If there are no subroutines, the loop is skipped and both checks return false.

Both these ruling were exactly as I expected them, because that was pretty much what went on in my mind. Guess my intuition works fairly similar to that of Lukas and the rules team then, which is great. It saves me disappointments like the OP must be facing.
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Billy Martin
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Some game designers are really good rules lawyers. Some are not. Take the Lukas rulings with a grain of salt.

Once Lukas told someone that Cyberfeeder credits couldn't be used to pay for bypassing ice with Femme Fatale, even though that was a direct contradiction of the actual text on the cards. When the FAQ was finally updated, they reversed that ruling.

You'll notice that Lukas never publicly posts his rulings. I think that gives him permission to give "off the cuff" rulings, and I think he realizes that rules-lawyering isn't his forte. FFG gives a lot more thought to the official FAQ answers than to replies to individuals.

Anyway, unless you're a judge for an official tournament or you are programming the official Netrunner app, it doesn't matter too much if you interpret a rule the wrong way. Just play the game the way you think makes the most sense. Lukas isn't twisting your arm here. If you want to play that Woodcutter with Oversight AI gets trashed if it has no subroutines then go ahead and do so.

FFG isn't exactly known for making games with clear and consistent rules but I think for Netrunner at least, with the official rules and FAQs they've done a par job.
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Steven Tu
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Yay for common sense (not to interpret rules, but to play the game as is given to us, to not dig for pointless loopholes, and enjoy it)

If anyone REALLY quits this game over "ruling issues" such as "whether Tricks of Light should be able to take advancement tokens off of scored cards"...

Then, really, it's their own loss.
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Toby Yasutake
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Does that mean there is still hope that disruptor might actually be an interesting counter rather than a few credit saver?
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Steven Tu
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y-bot wrote:
Does that mean there is still hope that disruptor might actually be an interesting counter rather than a few credit saver?


Doubt it but lets see what the FAQ will say eventually
 
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Patrick Jamet
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I agree with you Ian.

Maybe, if you PM Lukas with the link for Vacuous Truth, and explain the case, he will change his mind.

Don't forget to speak about Awakening Center that will have an unexpected result when no piece of ice is installed in the server.
 
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I don't understand the argument that we should play the game without looking for loopholes. Isn't that part of the point?

Games like this require you to figure out how cards interact and then use that to your advantage. It's hard to do that if the rules or cards are vague or ambiguous.

Having to text or email a developer every time there's a weird interaction not spelled out well is grossly inefficient and ridiculous.

Bottom line: We are all uncredited beta testers who pay for the privilege of fixing the rules.
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Guido Gloor
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I wonder whether the early MtG players were writing on forums about how they were beta testers, too? My guess is that no, online forums weren't as common back then...
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Some were. But some were passive aggressive to balance it out.

In fairness there weren't forums like this back then, so it was difficult to discuss issues like this.
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Ian Toltz
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Pyjam wrote:
Maybe, if you PM Lukas with the link for Vacuous Truth, and explain the case, he will change his mind.


I don't have his contact info, nor do I really feel like bugging him about it. Billy's post above claims that Lukas isn't really the rules lawyer type, and that's the sort of person who should be handling this stuff. Certainly, it would explain the... nature of the answers he's provided. The last thing I want to do is antagonize him and make him dig in deeper.

Different people have different strengths. Hopefully someone with a more strict sense of rules will have more input when they update the FAQ.
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Patrick Jamet
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droshack wrote:
I stopped reading after you said an ice with no subroutines SHOULD trigger an effect that ONLY occurs when all subroutines are broken.

WRONG.

If something does not exist to break then you did not break it and thus something that depends on that breaking is not going to happen. The unsolicited leap in 'logic' is flawed, wrong and kinda desperate to make others agree.

Your magic experience should have taught you better.

It only proves that you like to talk but not listen to others.
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Lawcomic wrote:
I don't understand the argument that we should play the game without looking for loopholes. Isn't that part of the point?

Games like this require you to figure out how cards interact and then use that to your advantage. It's hard to do that if the rules or cards are vague or ambiguous.

I agree with this, though I also believe there's always going to be things designers didn't explicitly explain, especially if they open the design space up to allow unusual mechanics -- for example Personal Workshop.

The main thing is just to make sure these rulings are accessible when playing a game, so players don't have to remember them all in case they come up.
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Chris H
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Common sense rulings are being codified; truly this is the end of times.
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Ian Kelly
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Asmor wrote:
However, someone emailed Lukas, and he provided a contrary ruling: OAI would not trigger in the case where an ice had no subroutines.


I don't think the two need to be viewed as contrary. If an ICE has no subroutines, then the runner neither succeeds nor fails in breaking all of its subroutines. In formal logic terms, proving that P is not a theorem does not imply that ~P must be a theorem; the law of excluded middle is not a necessity for a system of formal logic.
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