New FAQ: The Good, the Bad, and the WTF?

“Always in motion the future is.”
— Yoda

I should probably post “We need answers!!” rants more often.  I’m relatively sure that last week’s post was the final straw for FFG and made them say “Whoa, we need to get this thing out there!”  I’m therefore claiming at least 80% of the credit for the release 😉

And a solid release it is.  It may not be the full advanced rules set or preemptive Wave 3 answers I’d dreamed of, but it’s not another puff-piece update like the one we got around the Wave 2 release.  It’s full of meat, and I can only think of one outstanding question that didn’t get resolved.  It’s not all roses, however.  A few of the rulings directly contradict cards as printed, and some actually confused murky issues further, or took solidly-established rulings and introduced some uncertainty.

I’m not going to go through every single ruling, but let’s hit some highlights and look at issues that I think are worth a deeper read.

The Good
Measurement: Let’s deal with the elephant in the room first.  For all the contentious debate on the topics, measurement has been very solidly clarified.  Range measurement can only be done when an ability lets you, actions must have a target or direction and must be completed if possible, and “It doesn’t say I can’t” has hopefully taken the bullet to the head that it deserves, at least for now.  There’s already a little grumbling about how they chose to present it, with the “Competitive Addendum”, but I think people should be careful not to read too much into that.  In the news article, Kniffen writes “A Competitive Play section, which includes an in-depth explanation of action resolution, is also present for players who have requested more detailed rules.”  I think that makes it clear that this is the way the rules work, not some optional version that only applies in tournaments.  Play friendly, loose and fast when possible, but these are the rules.

Simple clarifications: There are a lot of new clarifications which weren’t really in question for those of us who were serious rulemongers, but certainly fit the definition of “frequent”.  Stealth devices, obstacle flybys and whether you hit it if you start on it, simultaneous fire and ability effects, etc.

Boost and Barrel Roll: The movement actions get errata to fix the oddity of them crossing other ships and obstacles without hitting them, and Boost formally picks up the “Don’t lose your action if you can’t fit” premeasure wording it was lacking.

Attack: We finally have a definition of “attack”, which is good.  Sorta (see The Ugly).

Parallel Ships: I like this one not for the ruling itself, but for the nod to Vassal players.  Parallel ships is a extremely rare case in tabletop play, far more common in Vassal, so I really like that they addressed it.

Acquire a Target Lock While Stressed: Not so much for the ruling itself, but for the confirmation of the distinction between something like barrel roll or target lock as a process vs. an action.

Daredevil: Fixes the problem with Daredevil not generating stress, while leaving the reading in place which led to R2 making it green in the first place.  This one gets a big thumbs up.  I may not throw a fit over whether they call something a ruling or errata, but this is the right way to do it.

Kath+Ion Cannon: The timeline is safe.  ‘Nuff said.

The Bad
Boosting onto a Proximity Mine: This one directly contradicts the text as printed on the Proximity Mine card, which indicates that it only detonates following a maneuver.

Heavy Laser Cannon modification: The text for this one was solid, but the answer actually makes it less clear what it does and doesn’t do.  I originally read it as allowing the HLC to keep rerolls, but I’m slowly coming around to Robert’s view that it doesn’t actually change anything.  I don’t necessarily trust myself on that, though, because “reroll” not being a “roll” makes my head hurt so bad I’d say there were five lights just to make it stop. (Yeah, cross-universe reference there)

Cluster Missile and Gunner: Most of this makes sense, except for the “Miss, Gunner, Second Cluster” ruling.  Honestly, it’s so baffling I may need a completely separate post to sort it out.  The short version is that the last line of Gunner says “You may not perform another attack this round”, but the ruling tells you to perform another attack.  I have no idea why the Cluster might bypass that restriction, and hence what else might.  For now, I’m punting on it.  As I posted in another comment, I’m considering this our Bush v Gore moment – it says what it says, but it generates no precedent for any other interpretations.
UPDATE: FFG has stated that this ruling was an error, and posted a new FAQ.  If you use the Gunner after missing your first attack, you do NOT get the second.  Huzzah!

Veteran Instincts vs. Damaged Cockpit: This is the only outstanding rules issue that I can think of that didn’t make it in.

The Ugly: Dark Curse vs. Blaster Turret/Deadeye
This one gets a section all its own.

As I said above, it’s certainly good that we now know that an attack covers all 7 combat phase steps.  That clarifies a lot.  And if it weren’t for this particular ruling, I’d be jumping for joy…  but this one takes all the good that might come out of clarifying what an attack is, and makes secondary weapons inherently paradoxical.

I’m probably going to spin this into its own full post later this week, but the short version is this: When do you declare and pay costs for secondary weapons?  There is no single, consistent answer to that timing which will handle all the cards as we now know them.  This ruling on Dark Curse says it has to be after he is defending, so it must be after target selection.  But the special targeting options for other secondary weapons, especially turrets, must come into play before target selection if they’re going to work.  The standard missile text: Spend your target lock to perform this attack is also rather problematic, since general understanding of cost-paying in game systems like this is that you have to pay costs before getting any effects; meaning the text should be equivalent to Spend your target lock before selecting a target…  but it’s not.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the FAQ update.  Even if there are some problems and I might have hoped for more on a few issues, it did answer almost all of our unknowns, and they didn’t shy away from the truly contentious issues (such as measurement).