Rules against intuition (Archimedes board wipe)
Update: Archimedes no longer works as described in this article, due to a rules update that says that creatures cannot gain Destroyed abilities after being marked for destruction.
When FFG announced the errata on Library Access and Bait and Switch I refrain from writing about the subject. For the most part the topic has been discussed to death, and you already have the opinions of much better players than myself. But I now need to talk about it, because it is relevant to the topic of the Archimedes ruling.
The opinions I’ve heard about the errata include, but are not limited to: Unnecessary, good for the health of the game, bad for the health of the game, bad for new players, good for new players. Etc.
Some people are of the opinion that errata is always bad, because it demands the player base to remember changes to cards. It is alarming for a new player that comes to a chainbound event with his shiny Library Access and then they’re told that it gets purged. The card they played, is not the card they brought with them.
But you know what is even worse than that? People taking advantage of rulings that warp the very foundation upon which logic is built.
During the Origins Vault Tour it was ruled that if you have an Archimedes on the board, and it has say three creatures to one side, then a board wipe such as Unlocked Gateway will archive all three creatures, and not just the one neighboring creatures. It will archive your entire battle line.
I took a very long time to wrap my head around this ruling, but I eventually understand it. I understand it, and I’m going to try and help you understand it.
In order to understand why it works we’re going to need to make a pseudo timing chart, that looks roughly like this:
- Card destroys all creatures in play.
- Active player chooses a creature with a Destroyed effect, trigger (activate) it .
- Resolve the Destroyed effect completely, mark them as resolved.
- Go to step 2 if there is another creature with Destroyed effect.
- Remove all creatures from the board.
So what happens with Archimedes?
- Someone plays Unlocked Gateway.
- Active player choose the card directly adjacent to Archimedes and triggers the Destroyed effect.
- Destroyed effect dictates you take the creature off the board and put it into your archives.
- Since the creature was physically removed from the board by the Destroyed effect, it is no longer on the board. This change of board state was not caused by the creature being destroyed before the others, it is caused by the Destroyed effect itself removing the creature from the board. The creature is no longer there, so the next creature is now a neighbor of Archimedes, and thus has a newly acquired Destroyed effect.
- Rinse and repeat.
- Remove all other creatures from the board.
So as you can see, active player also doesn’t get a choice in the matter, unless Archimedes itself has a Destroyed effect that would remove it from the board, such as Backup Copy. Then active player may choose to put Archimedes on top of it’s owner deck, thus removing it from the board before it’s neighbors have a chance to have their Destroyed effects resolved.
It’s not about power
to understand (something) intuitively or by empathy;
When a card has the word Destroyed on it, you expect it to happen while it is being destroyed, not before it is being destroyed. And when you’re told everything dies simultaneously, you expect the Destroyed effects to happen simultaneously as well. I consider myself a fairly smart person, and I took a full day to wrap my head around why this works. This is not grokkable.
When people said that errata are bad because they make new players face unexpected consequences, it’s a drop in an ocean compared to facing this Archimedes ruling.
Let’s compare those two conversations:
“I play Library Access”
“You know Library Access purges itself now, there was an Errata”
“Well because if you played Library Access, got it back with Nepenthe Seed, you could play it again, drawing two cards per card played, this gave you a high chance of drawing your entire deck, and playing every card 6 times.”
“Oh ya, that sounds like something that needed to be fixed.”
“I play Unlocked Gateway”
“Ok so because I have Archimedes in play, I archive those 10 creatures”
“What, why? Don’t only the neighbors get the Destroyed effect?”
“Ok, so, well, just trust me?”
I don’t have a problem with Archimedes having this massive effect on the board. I think having a defense against board wipes could be a good thing. But I have a problem with the reason it does. It is unintuitive. Nobody is ever going to look at Archimedes for the first time and think, oh yeah, I’ll get to archive my entire board against a board wipe. It’s just not what is written on the card. And frankly, I doubt it is how they meant the card to work.
This is not the first time FFG have ruled on how a card works based on RAW rules, rather than by how the card was designed to work.
While playing at Vault Tour Birmingham side event, I picked a deck with a bunch of enemy archiving and Destructive analysis, and I was flat out told by the judges that, yes, they wanted the card to allow purged archived enemy creatures in your archive, but they did a poor job, so it doesn’t work and I have a bad Punch in my deck now.
This is not good for the health of the game. This is not good for new players. This is putting a strain on the metagame, as everyone has to reassess every deck, sometimes even during a tournament. There is no faq available on the Archimedes ruling, people just showed up to an event, and found a card has a vastly different power level than what they thought it had.
I wasn’t at Origins, but I feel like it’s possible the judges are over-prepared. I seriously doubt a player came to the judges and forced them to make a ruling on this. For once, maybe don’t get ahead of yourself, let players play it as they interpret it. There is no need to shake up our entire understanding of the game if nobody would have figured this out on their own. Take your time to fix it and do it properly. Make cards work as intended. And then let us know, after the fact, that you messed up and it didn’t actually work the way we thought.
But on the off chance that a player did force you to make a ruling on it, why is it so bad to go against RAW and say that they intended the card to work in a certain way, so that’s how it works, and just slap it into the FAQ until you get a chance to fix the rules? If 99.9% of players thinks something works a certain way, let them play it that way.