TC member ringo points me to an official FFG response on (some of the) questions concerning premeasuring and when it’s allowed. The response is posted at the Spanish site Rojo Cinco. The link there is through Google Translate, for us monolingual types. Here are the questions and responses, via the translation. Some of it is a bit odd, but the gist comes through pretty clearly:
These responses are interesting, to say the least. Anyone who’s followed any of the “When can you measure?” questions on the various forums knows that I’ve taken a pretty hardline stance on measuring and what should be allowed, but this is harsher than even I had read it.
My position on measuring has always been that you could not measure unless the rules explicitly told you to, either by one of the “You may premeasure before committing to this action” clauses or an ability which required a range check. But within those options to premeasure, I had read it as an unlimited chance to check and see what you want to do, see who all might be in range, etc.
This ruling turns that on its head. This basically says that the “You may premeasure before committing to this action” means “Declare your action. Measure it. If you cant’ complete it, you can pick something else.” That’s a big difference from the previous understanding of “Measure, declare and finish.”
Sadly, this doesn’t actually resolve all the other issues we might have. It does answer some, though.
On the resolved side, we obviously now know when you can back out of an action. Additionally, I think the answer relating to target locks puts the final nail in the coffin of unlimited range measuring. If you could measure range at will, you’d never call a target lock that was out of range. This also pretty much confirms that you can only make a measurement when you are actually using an ability, since you have to declare both action and target before measuring.
What we still don’t necessarily know, though, is whether the “measure before committing” clause is general, or only in those explicit actions and abilities that say you can. And if it’s not general, then we don’t know what happens to an ability that you declare but is out of range, such as Squad Leader.
So what does this mean? It’s certainly going to change up the feel of the game a bit, but I actually like it. Many people had pointed out that our understanding of when premeasuring was allowed basically made any restrictions on premeasuring irrelevant, since you could check range to everything for a target lock. This fixes that – declare the action, pick the target, measure for that specific target. No “I’m going to check if I can target lock all 6 of your ships” any more. In my opinion, it also makes the game more consistent. When people would point to the “spirit” of the game in a debate over measurement, my response was typically that the “spirit” was a bit confused: movement was very harsh and relied on eyeball estimation, but actions and measurement was very forgiving. This pulls the full game in the harsher direction. Whether you think that’s a good thing or not will be personal, but it certainly does a lot to remove the disconnect.
There’s been a lot of concern over the new interpretation, mostly centered around whether or not this contradicts the idea that you can measure before committing to an action. It certainly does seem to, and I’ll admit that I’m a little uncomfortable with the reading, mainly because it’s not something I ever would have come up with. Now that we know that this is how it’s supposed to be played, however, I’ve been taking some shots at interpreting what was written vs. how it should be played, and trying to figure out why it says what it says. For brevity I’m going to focus on the barrel roll, but the same applies for target locks.
Here’s the rule as printed in the book:
The player may measure to see if his ship can perform a barrel roll before committing to this action.
The bolded part is, I believe, the key to understanding why this ruling doesn’t completely contradict the rule as it is printed. If we focus on this restriction, then the ONLY reason that you can premeasure before is to see if your ship can complete the barrel roll. If it can, but you decide not to do so, then you will have broken that rule.
There is undoubtedly a bit of conflict with the idea of “committing” to an action here. If you’re forced into it once you measure, how can you not have committed? The key to understanding, I believe, is that they are using the term “committed” to mean an action which cannot be taken back. If you were forced to commit before measuring, but couldn’t fit to complete the barrel roll, then you would lose the action.
I’m certainly not trying to argue that it’s a well-written rule, given what they wanted it to mean. But I do think that the reading is not completely alien to what is printed.