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Quill & Tankard Regulars - Issue 18

Small Council Quill & Tankard Regulars Ire Ratatoskr WWDrakey

Quill & Tankard Regulars – Issue 18

Oh I have succeeded with my studies, let me show you these links I have. Firstly this Valyrian Steel Link sure wasn't easy to get a hold of and then this Tin Li... Alleras, what are you doing?

I am Thinking.

Oh, now where was I?

The Bad Side of Oldtown: Fast-forwarding player actions

There is a side to Oldtown, where only the suicidal and morbid dare to tread, where the streets form a labyrinth, and even fervent Archmaesters hold tightly to their Valyrian Steel Links. This is where the rules can twist into surprising shapes, or terrible specters. This is the Bad Side of Oldtown.

This week in Bad Side of the Oldtown we are focusing on something a bit different, but quite common, namely the fast-forwarding of player actions and response opportunities.

Firstly we have to know what a player action is. They can roughly be divided into 3 groups:
1) Playing a character, location, or attachment card from your hand (during the Marshalling phase, and by the active player only).
2) Playing an Any Phase: or <Phase>: (corresponding to the phase in question) event card from your hand (this is also called "triggering" an event card ability).
3) Triggering a card effect printed on one of the character, location, or attachment cards you control in play (or, in rare circumstances, from out of play) – be it Any Phase: or <Phase>: (corresponding to the phase in question).

Every time there is a player action window, the game is momentarily stopped for players to either play an action or skip their action opportunity. This is done until both players skip their action opportunity consecutively and the window is closed. Problems arise when a player doesn't give his/her opponent time to react with their own action.

For example, there is a player action window that opens up before stealth is declared in a challenge. This window is often skipped, as there aren't many cards to interact with a challenge before defenders are declared. This usually happens by the attacker omitting this window entirely and and declaring stealth on the opponents characters immediately after the attack without leaving any room for playing actions.

Now, if the opponent didn't specifically say that he doesn't have an action, then it could easily be argued that the action window is still open for actions, and by declaring stealth too early the attacking player has now told which characters he/she is going to stealth when he gets the opportunity to declare stealth. In effect he/she has just given free information to the player who has an action left to be done. This action could either be giving stealth to his own character or blanking the stealth on the opposing character using something like Nightmares (LoW) or Meera Reed (TftH)... or maybe something completely different.

Not only Player Actions, but Responses can be problematic as well, Save/Cancel Responses as well as regular Responses. For every action you make, your opponent has an opportunity to cancel the effect as long as the cancel is valid for the effect. For example, let's say we have a Stark The Maester's Path (GotC) player playing against Greyjoy Winter. The Maester player triggers his Valyrian Steel Link (HtS) and before making sure his opponent doesn't have any cancel responses, he proceeds to draw two cards. However, what if the Greyjoy player had wanted to Seasick (KotS) this triggered effect? Suddenly the game state is now a mess, with the Stark player having drawn the top two cards of the deck and has two cards in his hand which he shouldn't have.

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Now, how should the players go about fixing these kind of problematic situations? In a casual game the problem isn't that big, and can often be simply solved by players simply crying something like "Whoa! Hold it! I got an action!". If cards have already been drawn, like with the Valyrian Steel Link example above, this can be solved by just shuffling the two cards back into the deck (if they weren't placed there via Stalwart, Wolf Herald (SB) or their like). However, in a Tournament situation this situation usually would need a judge to decide what to do... and it can create some awkward moments, as the player in question could theoretically cheat by placing different cards from his hand back onto his deck.

Fast-forwarding can often happen in a situation where a player wants to combo a couple of his effects together, and thus forgets to wait if his opponent will react to it. Burn is a good example of this, as killing a character can often require several strength lowering effects. If the Targaryen player gets too trigger happy with his effects, it can deny the other person from reacting to the now lowered strength, for example by using a strength buff (like Priest of the Drowned God (KotS)) on his Tarle the Thrice-Drowned (RotO) after his strength was been lowered by Forever Burning (Core) as a precursor for a Flame-Kissed (Core).

Looking at the examples, we can clearly see the problems that fast-forwarding player actions create. On the not-so-severe side is giving information to the one whose action was being skipped. On the more severe side, they can also create game states that shouldn't have happened. For casual play, these game state problems can be handled easily by rewinding the game to the point where the mistake was made. In a tournament setting the ones that are clear and easy to fix should be done by the players, but if the situation is such that it could give advantage to one player over the other, it's usually easier to call a judge to figure out how to fix the game state.

In the end, it is a polite practice as a player to be clear to your opponent that you are going to skip your player action. And being exact with these things will often also be to your benefit! Why? Because this way you're not giving your opponent any excess information about your cards and plans! This aspect can further be improved through a small dose of psychological warfare. When passing, never use absolutes like "I have nothing" as you are then giving them a small grain of information. Keep it more neutral with phrases like "No actions". It's also good sportsmanship to ask your opponent if he/she has any actions before moving on to your own next action, and making sure they have an opportunity to play any cards that they want to. If you've offered it, and they've passed, then there's no argument for them to go back and do something that they forgot about.

If you have any comments on this Bad Side of Old Town, feel free to answer to the thread below!

Dear Archmaester

Dear Archmaester collects interesting, unusual and unexpected rulings from the FFG Rules forum.

This week's Dear Archmaester is also something a bit different - a direct correspondence between our Q&TR staff and Archmaester Damon Stone himself, asked because of questions arising on various forums about the issue.

Q: Dear Archmaester,

Can you setup Increased Levy (LotR), if your setup does not have a location, but you do have the location from House of Dreams (ARotD) in play?

The FAQ entry states: "You may not place attachments during this step unless they include the Setup keyword in their game text; your setup must also include valid targets for such attachments."

A: You quoted the relevant section explaining the ruling from the rulebook, "You may not place attachments during this step unless they include the "Setup" keyword in their game text; your setup must also include valid targets for such attachments." and House of Dreams reads, "After you announce House of Dreams as your agenda, choose from your deck a unique, in-House, non-limited location. That location starts the game in play and gains the text: "Immune to opponents' non-plot card effects."

Because House of Dreams does not put the chosen location into your setup, but instead lets you start with the card in play at the beginning of the game, it is not a legal recipient for a Setup attachment.

Antti Korventausta (WWDrakey) is a self-proclaimed Finnish AGoT philosopher and nitpicker, who also used to practice Quantum Mechanics, but found that it paled to AGoT in both interest and complexity. As a Stahleck regular and judge, he sometimes has oddly vivid dreams of understanding portions of the game. In AGoT, he'll play anything as long as it's suitably twisted... often ending up with something that has horns on it.

Helmut Hohberger (Ratatoskr) started playing AGoT in September 2010 and has never looked back (although his wife has, longingly). As a German, he loves rules - and I mean *loves* 'em. Try triggering a Response at the end of a phase on his watch, and he'll probably invade your country. He has actually read the FAQ, and was made a judge at Stahleck and at various other events. He sometimes answers rules questions on boardgamegeek and the FFG rules board. Some of his answers haven't even been contradicted, corrected or expanded upon by ktom - there is no higher accolade for a rules board morlock.

Every Maester needs a Raven on his shoulder. As a Finn, Iiro Jalonen (Ire) got pulled under the waves by Krakens years ago, and has never looked back. A self-inflicted Shagga and active member of the global AGoT community, he has always strived to know the rules of the game, in order to make them do ridiculous things.


A practice I picked up from Archmaester Damon is to just get in the habit of calling out "Player Actions?" and "Response?" particularly in the run-up to an event. You get into that rhythm, where even if you're not turning yourself into a brainless magpie, you "take a beat" as we say in theater, just a deliberate pause.

You develop the habit of doing your action, [beat], make eye contact with your opponent, [beat], take your hand off the card, [beat], move on to the next thing. When you make eye contact, you can see if they're contemplating something, it doesn't take much more than a raised eyebrow or a gesture to indicate there's a response coming.
    • bigfomlof and Tjglaser like this
Great article. This is something I have encountered in many games in the past but seems more important and impactful in game of thrones...

A great example of this is Dissension; the way it is commonly played is the player who is playing the dissension will wait until the other player has finished marshalling all of his cards and then play the event.

@Grimwalker it seems like that is the only reliable way to thwart the problem, but it must be done consisently... an out of place "Do you have an action?" can be a hint to the opponent that you have something else you want to do...
This article describes our group to a T. We are always playing on "fast forward" eager to get our effects off or however you want to say it. I think for us it is because we are all relatively new to the game (under a year playing). We actually have been talking about this same subject and how we can fix it to avoid crazy resets that expose peoples hands/intentions etc...
We blame it on being new but is this still an issue with more seasoned players as well ?
At least it seems to be issue in OCTGN people tend to push forward their own actions and not give enough time to react. Of course environment in octgn is different because you are not sitting face to face with your opponent.
It also happens in live games. I try to ask those questions (action? response?) every so often, especially when I think there's a good chance something will happen (but even when I'm not sure). I do it more often in tournament games (and I also try not to chain actions or responses - unless I have Brienne of Tarth (PotS) in a challenge, of course)
    • Archrono likes this
I suppose it helps that since I've been playtesting Bruno's deck, they've started to just assume that there will *always* be shenanigans.
My favorite example of this comes from a live game I was playing a few months back. My opponent was FP and was marshalling.

Opp: Kneel Street of Steel
Me: Kneel Tommen Baratheon to draw (I drew a Confession)
Opp: Sacrifice Narrow Sea
Me: Play the Confession I just drew, made him discard Stannis the moment before he was about to play him and made his reducers go to waste

That was definitely a gamechanger, but people usually don't consider that each reducer is an Action since it's not uncommon for people to just kneel them as they're playing their characters (a la Magic).
Jan 02 2013 09:42 PM
Great article. Knowing how the action windows work and where they occur is a large part of the difference between successful and unsuccessful competitive players; I learned this the hard way at my first competitive event. Suddenly, cards that you once thought to be average start to look very good...