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Michael Mikaelian

Rulebook: Part Seven

A Disturbance in the Force

This spring, SW:TCG will see the release of Revenge of the Sith -- and with it, a new rulebook. Michael Mikaelian continues his coverage of exactly what this rulebook will contain, what's been added, what's been changed.

Two topics the Star Wars Guru discussion group was eager to sink its teeth into were disrupt and triggered abilities. Of all of the abilities added to the Star Wars TCG since the Attack of the Clones set, disrupt is one of the most enticing for serious players. These are the same players that care—very much—exactly when Chewbacca (B) removes damage counters from their units when they play Wedding of Destiny.

Disrupt and triggered abilities both figure prominently into what happens when a card is played. To get that straight, we used this outline as a guide for what happens when a card or ability is played:

  1. Announce that you’re playing a card or ability. If you’re playing a card, reveal it. Any triggered abilities triggered by playing a card or ability wait until after the effect would occur.
  2. Pay any costs. Any triggered abilities triggered by paying this cost wait until after the effect would occur.
  3. Players may attempt to disrupt the card or ability. If the card or ability is disrupted, ignore the next step.
  4. The effect resolves.
  5. Any effects triggered since the start of step 1 resolve.


Until the introduction of disrupt, playing a Battle card guaranteed results. (Well, unless the card produced damage that could be prevented.) Control decks had to settle for controlling the arenas or the opponent’s hand, Force, or build points.

When Jedi Guardians previewed the first two cards with disrupt—Yoda (F) and Darth Vader (G)—the prospect of canceling your opponents’ Battle cards was initially a lot more exciting than the reality. Both Jedi were watered-down versions of two of the game’s most powerful Characters, only with conditional Battle card disruption. Players instead wanted a straight counter card like Magic: The Gathering’s Counterspell. While those players didn’t get “Pay 2 Force Arrow Disrupt a card,” they did get Change in Destiny.

If you’ve been following along, then you already know that Battle cards can be played anytime that there’s a Pass-or-Play opportunity (PoP), not just during the Battle phase. What you don’t know is that there was a very compelling reason for this change that had nothing to do with preventing damage. The question of whether or not Battle cards could be played outside the battle phase depended on what Wizards R&D wanted to be able to do with disrupt in future sets. Making the disrupt rules less restrictive could allow for it to cancel units, Equipment, Locations, Missions -- any card type the designers could imagine.

Starting with the Revenge of the Sith set, Battle cards won’t be the only thing you can disrupt. The definition of disrupt will expand to include Mission cards and activated abilities (but not units, Locations, or Equipment). Keep in mind that the current supply of cards that disrupt all specify that they disrupt Battle cards—this change doesn’t give them any new power.

The discussion group put a ton of effort into trying to clarify the disrupt rules. Everyone had their own version of how disrupt should work. These weren’t simple pet projects; these were full-blown, step-by-step instructions. Some suggestions came very close to turning Star Wars TCG’s “closed” timing system into an “open” one. (A “closed” timing system almost always requires abilities’ effects to resolve before allowing the play of new abilities. An “open” system, such as in Magic, allows players to play abilities in a stack before their effects resolve.)

Triggered Abilities

Triggered abilities are the trickiest of the three different kinds of abilities you can have in the Star Wars TCG. Static abilities are just on, and activated abilities follow most of the same rules as Battle cards. But triggered abilities have to happen sometime.

Currently, triggered abilities resolve at the beginning of the next phase, step, or PoP depending on what triggered them and what they do. Start-of- and end-of-phase and -step triggered abilities (such as drawing a card at the start of your build step) are the simplest—they always work the way they seem they should. Damage-prevention, disrupt, and reroll triggered abilities won’t trigger until the appropriate PoP occurs. The rest wait for the next phase or PoP to start, whichever comes first.

The discussion group toyed with the idea that triggered abilities should resolve immediately, that they should not wait. The most convincing argument for this method was that it reduced the amount of time a player would have to wait between an effect triggering and resolving. Some triggered abilities wait a fairly long time to resolve in the current system. A few members were concerned that players might “lose their place” if made to wait too long to resolve something that was triggered three or four effects ago. A strong argument against immediate resolution was that it would restrict a player’s tactical options. Every time you’d have the opportunity to resolve a triggered ability, you could only choose among abilities triggered by the same event.

Multipart effects begged an interesting question: Would it be a help or a hindrance if triggered abilities resolved during other abilities? The example mentioned at the beginning of the article is a good one. If you have Chewbacca (B) and play Wedding of Destiny, how should those two cards’ abilities interact? Currently, you draw your three cards, gain your Force, and then deal with any abilities triggered by those events. Should the player draw one card, remove a damage counter, draw another, remove another, and so on?

Despite all of the group’s debating, the Revenge of the Sith rulebook offers much the same description of the way disrupt works (other than that bit about abilities and Mission cards) and triggered abilities as the Empire Strikes Back rulebook.

Not So Difficult, the Future Is

This is nearly the end of the Revenge of the Sith rulebook preview. Next week’s article will cover the much-expanded glossary section. The following week will cover any odds and ends not mentioned before. Then in just a few weeks, we’ll start talking about the Revenge of the Sith set itself. Sure, it’ll have Equipment cards, but that’s just the beginning. Check back each week so you can be sure you don’t miss a thing!

Thoughts or comments? Visit the message board thread for this article here.