Hello lovely Netrunners! Today I am very pleased to introduce you to an exciting update the Rules Team has put together that is also an excellent tool for the design of future cards. With each of the major updates we’ve put out for the Comprehensive Rules (CR), we have been working hard towards a game system with more thoroughly and explicitly defined ability classifications and resolution processes. The upcoming 1.4 update is the culmination of a lot of this work, and it includes a complete overhaul of the abilities section of the CR. We’ve been alluding to some of these changes since Jamie’s original article before the release of version 1.0, and we’re so excited to finally roll them out.
The major theme for this update is revising the historical classifications of abilities to make the different types of abilities simpler to identify and easier to resolve in a consistent manner. Many of the changes simply give a clearer answer when you don’t know the exact order of steps needed to handle an obscure card interaction. If we’ve done our job well in writing the cards and collaborating with the Development Team, you hopefully won’t need to reference these changes a whole lot.
The one change that will make everyone’s lives easier, however, is the introduction of explicit marking and handling of interrupt abilities. And when I say “marking”, I literally mean that the Graphics Team worked with us to make a new glyph that you will see on cards from here on out. What does it look like? Glad you asked!
This symbol (written in plain text as “[interrupt]”) indicates that the following ability uses different timing than normal paid abilities and conditional abilities. Here are two cards you already know, written in the new interrupt style:
Since the first version of the Comprehensive Rules document, we’ve had the concept of an “interrupt window”, but these rules only explicitly covered prevent/avoid abilities, “additional” trigger modifiers, and replacement effects. Until now, the other abilities players might expect to use in these windows were less clear.
For some cards, like Tori Hanzō, we have the convenience of the word “would” to intuit that the card must resolve before the indicated effect. But the rules didn’t actually give us the machinery for that to work. For other cards, such as Harbinger, we have an ability that, for all intents and purposes, appears like a normal conditional ability, yet the timing is vague at best: the ability tries to do something “instead of” adding Harbinger to your heap, but by the time the ability triggers, it should have already been put in the heap! The new interrupt symbol allows us to indicate special, faster timing for any ability that needs it—without having to hack together some kind of “prevent”-based wording like on Disrupter.
Giving explicit rules backing to these “fast” interrupt abilities not only helps us make sense of existing cards, but also opens up new space that the Design and Development Teams have been itching to use. To show you what I mean, here’s your first spoiler.
As you can see, Project Vacheron is unlike any agenda we’ve seen in the game to date. It interrupts the process of the Runner acquiring a new agenda (yes, even if it’s swapped into their score area with Exchange of Information or Turntable), bringing it into the score area with agenda counters already hosted on it. If this ability weren’t an interrupt, then Project Vacheron would briefly be worth 3 agenda points immediately after being stolen but before agenda counters were placed on it. We wouldn’t want a Runner already on 4 agenda points to win the game before the ability on Project Vacheron resolves!
The rules already give interrupt timing to abilities that use the words “prevent” and “avoid,” but moving forward, these abilities will also be marked with the interrupt glyph for consistency. For example:
One of our upcoming projects is to provide the most up-to-date card wordings in a more accessible format, rather than expanding the Comprehensive Rules with an ever-increasing list of errata. In the meantime, we will be issuing errata only for cards that need interrupt timing to work—such as Flip Switch, Tori Hanzo, and Harbinger—but we will not be issuing errata for prevent/avoid abilities.
And that just about covers the new concept of interrupt abilities and the glyph marking them! Look for the full rules in CR update 1.4 when Uprising releases next month. The Rules Team will have more to say about rules and card text updates in Uprising’s Release Notes as well, so if you have any questions you hope to see answered as Spoiler Season unfolds, be sure to tweet us or email us.