Welcome to the second Rules Processing article here on the Crystarium. Before we get to today’s article proper, I wanted to quickly provide a little follow up to my last article. First and foremost, it was great to see all the responses, regardless of if you agreed with what I said or not. I could probably have written another article in response to some of the points people made in retort, but I ultimately decided that rather than doing that, or responding at all, that I’d said my piece on the subject, and I felt happy to let others discuss beyond that if they wanted. This is likely a practice I’ll continue in the future. I’d rather let the articles I write make their points, then leave it to others to discuss them. That doesn’t mean that if I feel strongly enough that something demands a follow-up article or a response that I won’t, of course I will, but I’d rather that be on rare occasions rather than a common occurrence.
As they say on the internet:
*teleports behind you* psssh… nothin personnel… kid…
– Coldsteel the Hedgeheg
Secondly, I mentioned I was in the process of becoming a FFTCG judge. Well, let me tell you, communicating in smoke signals is a difficult process, mostly because I have no idea what any of it means. However, somehow, some way, I did manage to make contact with the appropriate people, and I can confirm I am now, officially…
waiting to hear back after taking the test, and let me tell you, I almost want to write about what’s wrong with the FFTCG judge test but I won’t because I don’t imagine Square Enix and/or Hobby Japan would be too pleased about me giving you any details on the test (even if at no point has anyone told me not to share the test or talk about it).
Alright, guess it’s time to talk about today’s article topic. I briefly mentioned I’d been working on something for a little while last article, and today I can finally unveil my own version of the FFTCG Comprehensive Rules. I’ve cleverly named it, if the article title didn’t give you at least a hint, “Yoh’s Advanced Rules.”
“So why create your own version of the rules Yoh?” I hear you cry out. Well, how many people reading this have ever had a rulings questions and the only place to find the correct ruling, isn’t the Comp Rules or the FAQ, but fucking Twitter. Now, I don’t hate that you can get rulings answered on Twitter, I just hate the fact that there isn’t enough in place for any question to be answered by reading, ya know, the actual rules document that’s supposed to be “comprehensive.” Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself here, first I want to tell you the purpose of the article, given that I’ve created a document (technically two), you might be wondering why this article is not just a link? Why now that you’ve stopped reading and looked at the scroll bar, does it seem to keep going well beyond this paragraph? Ha! Made you look. Well, if you just want to read the document, scroll to the bottom, you’ll find it there. BUT WAIT. Before you go, I just want to let you know there are actually two versions of the document. One with references, and one without, for your pleasure. Go forth and enjoy. If you instead want to stick around and read these remaining words I will write, good good, let’s continue on. So yes, the purpose of today’s article, outside of telling you about my document, is to talk about the state of the rules in FFTCG, with my not-so-positive opinions on that, as well as what I think can be done to make things better. Then, if you’ve been good and eaten your vegetables don’t just skip past that (or you can, I can’t stop you or even know, but you’ll know, and you’ll have to live with that for the rest of your life. Is that what you really want? Is it Paul?! WELL PAUL?! [if your name isn’t Paul, please disregard this]), I’ll give some insight into the process of creating my Advanced Rules, what I plan to do when (not if now apparently, more on that later) Square Enix/Hobby Japan update the actually Comp Rules, and…uh that’s about it. I think that’s enough, I’m not trying to publish a novel here. Speaking of novels, you can preorder the next book in the hit series A Song of F…oh uh I’ve been told that apparently we don’t do ads here on the Crystarium, well anyway, please enjoy as we press onwards.
The Utter State of the FFTCG Rules
You might already be able to tell I’m not about to give a glowing review in regards to the current state of the FFTCG rules. It’s a bit of a clusterfuck to put it bluntly. Let me now proceed to break down how things currently stand, in terms of the different places you can get rules:
1. “Comprehensive Rules”
First, we have the Comprehensive Rules PDF that hasn’t been updated since the 22nd of November 2017. That’s almost 2 years ago at this point.
Now, this is where we need to pause, and address the elephant in the room. The one that’s made me come back and rewrite this article for the second fucking time this week. The Japanese Comp Rules have now been updated to Opus IX, and it’s been confirmed we are FINALLY getting an updated version of the English Comp Rules. However, as of now that’s not out, and this whole thing is about the state of the English rules specifically, not the Japanese, so let’s continue on as things stand.
As someone who has spent an extensive amount of time going through every detail of the current version of the Comp Rules, pulling it apart and reworking sections, let me tell you its:
- Full of repetition.
- Got incorrect information.
- Missing information.
- Full of repetition.
- Has wank formatting.
- Full of repetition.
I don’t actually hate the FAQ all that much. However, like everything else from this list (besides the Comp Rules), it contains rulings information that you can’t extrapolate from the Comp Rules. This isn’t actually my biggest gripe with the FAQ though. I think if SE/HJ are going to do an FAQ, they need to actually go full steam into doing it. They get a ton of Twitter questions (and I’ll get into Twitter later) and could easily take those and the answers and turn them into information available there. As it stands, it’s a bit half-assed. If you have a question about a card in a set, it’s a toss up if you’re going to a) actually have rulings information on the card and/or b) actually have the specific rulings information you’re looking for about the card.
Of course if it’s before Opus V, well you’re mostly shit out of luck, because I guess people don’t need rulings on those cards? Oh wait, that’s what Twitter is for *insert hearty chuckle here*.
The FAQ also has a couple of errors, and some of the way they have phrased things could be better. In regards to that last issue, I’d like to actually get specific and focus on the phrasing of a ruling on a card. Larsa (9-119C) has rulings information in the FAQ that reads:
““Negate all damage” refers to reducing the damage dealt to your Forwards to 0.”
The FAQ wording here is trying to say that damage already dealt to the Forward becomes 0 (it’s removed basically), but has the problem of also reading like it reduces damage that is to be dealt to 0. Explaining to people that negating damage in FFTCG actually, despite how most would expect it to work, actually removes damage already on a Forward, it doesn’t prevent the damage, is already a difficult process, and this wording in the FAQ just makes even worse, especially when you’ve got a situation where if someone already believe it works in the way of stopping damage, showing them this FAQ wording isn’t likely to convince them otherwise. So then what can you do to convince someone? Tell them “it’s just worded badly in the FAQ?” Not likely. Maybe just show them a fucking tweet, which is apparently the answer to all rules problems in this game. le sigh
If this article had been written before the redesign, I’d have also added that the formatting and layout of the FAQ was abysmal. Credit where it’s due, the site redesign has fixed the formatting and layout to at least be consistent, although to nitpick slightly, why do we have two sections both called “General Questions” at the bottom? I’d also ideally prefer they find a better way to do it than sticking it all on one page.
Finally, let’s talk about the search facility of the FAQ. What’s that? There isn’t one? Yes, you are correct, although the FAQ did have the ability to let you search before the site redesign…it just didn’t work very well (in my experience anyway). So, the last thing I’d like to see is an actual proper way to search for the ruling(s) you’re looking for (that isn’t Ctrl + F).
3. FFTCG Articles
I like to refer to number 3 onwards in this list as “The Scattering,” because the rules are so, well, you know, scattered. I guess at least it’s good the articles are on the official site. Well, maybe not any more. Let’s get into it and I’ll clarify what that last statement actually means as we go.
Let me start this look at the FFTCG articles by saying they are probably the single best way to get information out in a clear and concise manner, that also has the benefit of being easy to find what you’re looking for quickly, and can be written in a way that’s accessible to people of all skill levels. I did realise after I began writing that sentence that it could perhaps apply beyond just the official articles, and extend to those in the community producing written content. Not that I’d be vain enough to suggest my articles achieve this, that’s up to others to decide, not myself. If you don’t think it applies to my articles, that’s fine, and you can let me know by keeping it to yourself smiley face.
The problems with articles? Well, not that many, only two. The first is, as I’ll keep repeating as we go, articles sometimes contain information you can’t find in the Comp Rules. The second is that they aren’t easily accessible on the site, they’re just buried in the News tab along with so many other things, and after the recent update, a lot of older articles URLs no longer work, and it’s even possible they’ve been entirely deleted (perhaps to be reuploaded at a later time) but that remains to be seen. You can still access them on the Wayback Machine with the old URL, but that’s not even slightly an ideal solution to the problem. Also, a quick related note that the Floor Rules for FFTCG have also completely disappeared from the site since the redesign, although I do suspect (or at least hope) that might be more to do with them planning to update them with a new version than an oversight, but who knows. You can still find the PDF in various places on the internet, but like the articles, if it isn’t accessible easily on the official site, that’s a shitty band-aid on the problem.
4. Starter Guide
Not much to say here. It, like everything besides the Comp Rules on this list, has information not in the Comp Rules. Want to know how many Backups you can legally have? Well you better look here, and not in the Comp Rules. Otherwise fine, no complaints, although can’t say I actually have much use for it myself so I can’t really know how it holds up for a new player. Feel free to let me know if you have had an issue with it, details at the bottom of the article.
Admittedly, at this point, you can probably find the majority, if not all, of the rulings made on Facebook on Twitter as well, just due to the nature of people asking questions, but at one point in time this is where Kageyama posted corrections to rulings he made on Twitter, and he’s also, from time to time, chosen to post other rulings here. Lastly, something something rules not in the Comp Rules.
6. Judge Discord
The most recent addition for getting rulings that aren’t in the Comp Rules, now with the added value of no one being able to see it unless they are already in it, unless it’s shared via a screenshot that is.
So far all the rulings I’ve seen answered in the Judge Discord that have then been shared have eventually either been put into the FAQ or the answer has been given on Twitter as a response to a question. Still, it’s a bit weird to have rulings, at least for a period of time, be behind this wall. If you’re thinking “well judges need to know more than others,” well okay, sure, but, putting it publicly let’s everyone see it, so you aren’t losing anything there, judges still get the answer, but so does everyone else, and honestly is a Discord screenshot, that can’t be verified without being in that Discord, really the most convincing proof of a ruling? No, but I don’t imagine getting sent, or linked to, a tweet to answer a question really goes all the way to convincing people something either, so hey-ho.
Oh boy. Have I saved the best (worst?) for last. I guess let’s start with the positives, the fact you can actually ask a question on Twitter and get an answer is great, at least in principle it should be. Whoops, let some shade slip in there, my bad. Okay, so let us dig in a little bit here. The current account that you’ll get an answer to a rulings question from is FFTCG_SQEX. Before that it, it was Kageyama’s Twitter account, I won’t point you to that specifically since he doesn’t generally take direct rulings questions any more, but that does mean on Twitter we have various rulings for things split between two accounts.
Twitter has by far the most rulings information in general, besides the Comp Rules, but it also has the most rulings information not in the Comp Rules by far, and is really the only good way to get up-to-date rulings. This is a major problem, and let me tell you it can be infuriating at times. Sometimes, since both Kageyama and the people running the FFTCG_SQEX account aren’t fluent in English, things can be misunderstood. That’s not really an issue per se as much as it can occasionally make things a little confusing, or it can make it harder to use certain answers as proof for players asking elsewhere. Let me be clear, their English is way better than my Japanese, and while it would be good to have someone who is fluent in English answering English rulings questions, it’s a small issue compared to everything else. The reason I mention the language issue is because it feeds slightly into my biggest gripe: when the rules are actually changed, or, I guess I should instead write: when the rules, that only ever existed on Twitter, are changed. As I mentioned when talking about Facebook, Kageyama has previously corrected rulings he’s made. Not the worst, not what I mean with this. We’ve had rulings that were a mistake in the language used and later clarified. Which is why I brought it up, but again, not what I mean. No, I’m talking about the rules straight up being changed.
Actually, probably a good point to sidebar and mention that there have also been, what can only be called, “erratas” applied via Twitter. Cards like Minwu (6-123L), that cast a Summon “without paying the cost,” actually allow it to be cast for 0CP, which can bypass restrictions like Bahamut (8-015H). This was given as a ruling in tweet, and they’ve done nothing about actually updating the text. We’ve also had proper errata, like the Monsters with power printed on them from Opus VII, where the text was errata’d, not mentioned in the errata page but mentioned on Twitter and even updated in the card browser on the official page. Although those cards have now been rolled back to the previous wording there. At the time of writing, I used an image of Varuna (7-006R)’s errata version in my Advanced Rules (this will likely change at some point), if you want to see what the errata text looked like. I’ve no idea why they rolled back the errata, but whatcha gonna do.
Back to them changing the rules now. Kept you hanging on that one for a little bit, huh? Due to the nature of this stuff, there are a couple of changes where it’s hard to say if it was a language issue, or an actual change. Some might even have been because of a communication problem, who knows. However, one that seems like a pretty clear change relates to modular abilities and Summons. Things that say “select up to X of Y.” Now, I’ll try not to get too in the weeds here and have people drifting off to sleep, but basically, the original ruling was that at resolution of these, first, all the effects would be checked that their targets were still legal (if any), then each effect would resolve in order, but then, before each effect would resolve it would be individually checked to make sure legal targets for it still existed. Let me give you an example, the Summon, Ramuh (6-102R), has text that reads:
“Select up to 2 of the 4 following actions.
“Choose 1 Monster of cost 2 or less. Break it.”
“Choose 1 Forward of cost 4 or less. Dull it.”
“Choose 1 active Forward. Deal it 7000 damage.”
“Choose 1 Lightning Forward. It gains Haste until the end of the turn.””
Now, if the two effects picked when the Summon is cast are “Choose 1 Forward of cost 4 or less. Dull it.” and “Choose 1 active Forward. Deal it 7000 damage.” and both of the effects pick the same target, at resolution what used to happen, according to the ruling given at the time, was that first both effects would check their targets are legal. For this example, the target is legal for both effects still. Next, the first effect is resolved, first checking the target is legal, and if it is (which it is for this example), the target is then dulled. Then, the second effect is resolved, first checking the target is legal and if it is…oh it’s not because it’s no longer active. Okay, well, cancel that effect and, well that’s the end of the Summon resolving I guess. Now, this new ruling is that that second check, the check for each part that’s resolved, doesn’t happen. It’s not a real boy check after all. So the 7k damage would still happen if Ramuh dulled the Forward. Given some people believed when Ramuh came out that they changed the rules, since the second check wasn’t known at that point (although this is more because it wasn’t relevant than because it was likely changed), it’s quite funny to see it actually verifiably change. Well, Twitter verifiable anyway. Shame neither of these rulings ever existed in the Comp Rules.
Hopefully now you can see just how disorganised the whole rulings situation is currently, and can understand my frustrations with the rules, and why, for some, trying to get a fairly complete picture of the rules is like trying to catch sand while standing up on a Tagada.
Alright let’s move on, but first, and be honest now, did you have to go and Google what the fuck a Tagada was?
Gotta Solve ‘Em All
I’ve ranted on about problems with the rules, but what about some solutions, I hear you cry. Well, you’re in luck, because that’s what I’m about to do, and spoilers, you’ll find it’s probably nothing earth-shattering.
Step 1: Make the Comprehensive Rules actually comprehensive.
Alright, done, next segment.
Okay, okay, I’ll be more detailed than that. Wait, did I make a similar joke last article? Two articles in and I’ve already repeated the same joke. Probably should just get used to that, humour is subjective and I do humour myself fairly often. Does that sound somehow, dirty? I feel like it does and we’ll just gloss over that and continue on to talking about solutions.
So yes, the first step is to make the Comp Rules actually comprehensive, of course, but we need far more than that. We need them updated when new mechanics are introduced, and given, as far as I understand, a new mechanic of some kind is supposed to be in every set, well, I guess we need updates every set. However, let’s not limit ourselves to that, let’s instead say it should be updated as often as needed. If a set is to contain things that require new rulings, get that shit out before the set drops so people know how to play the cards.
At this point in the article, I originally had some criticism here, but I’m happy to report that I’ve removed that and I’m about to instead give some praise. So, SE/HJ had this awful policy to not answer questions on spoiled cards, only to answer questions on cards after they had been released. This was a shit policy, it just leaves people to misplay the cards and endlessly debate about what the proper usage is. Now, Kageyama recently posted on Facebook that he’s going to change this policy. THANK FUCK. Good. It’s always nice to see them making some changes for the better. Props.
Okay, so we’ve covered the fact that the first and most important step is a properly maintained and updated Comprehensive Rules, let’s keep going with other things they should change.
The next thing is to use the FAQ and Twitter as they should be used, as supplementary resources. I’ve already sort of covered some of this when talking about it in the problems part but the FAQ should be far more extensive, covering more rulings that aren’t card specific and it should use what’s asked on Twitter to build upon what’s already there. The FAQ also needs some good search tools, and to be segmented instead of being a single page. Twitter of course can remain as it is now, a place where people can ask questions and receive answers (about once a week, if you’re lucky). Just remove all that unnecessary need to rely on it for rulings that can’t be otherwise gotten, especially because it’s too slow if you actually need the answer for an important event. And…that’s it. Everything else just falls in line for the most part if the Comp Rules are properly maintained and updated, and the FAQ and Twitter are used in the way they should have been from the start.
Probably worth pointing out at this point that they should also keep producing those articles about rulings stuff, on top of doing all that other stuff I just mentioned, as those tend to be a really good resource for players.
I will say, as someone who has now written their own rulings document, that all these changes might not be a fast process, but they’ve had a two year break, not to mention they are the ones running the game, that people are buying products for and attending tournaments to play, so excuse me if I’m not quick to be entirely sympathetic. If I can do at least some part of it in my own way, why can’t they do it properly?
Creating Yoh’s Advanced Rules
I’ve covered, in my opinion, the problems and solutions, now I think it might be interesting to give some insight on the process of creating my version of the Advanced Rules. Don’t worry, I’ll try to keep this concise and short, given how long this article is already. But what’s a few thousand more words between friends writer and reader, eh?
I don’t remember when I first expressed an actual, real, desire to make my own version of the rules, but certainly by the start of September last year (2018) I was talking about it on Discord. When I actually knuckled down and started planning, it was around early October-ish. I aimed to be done originally by Opus VI release and then quickly realised I wasn’t going to hit that. So then I looked at the 22nd of November, one year on from when the Comp Rules had last been updated, as a good date to hit and then if I was slightly off, Worlds was pretty close as well, as a fallback date. By late October, I probably didn’t admit it at the time, if I even realised it, but I was almost certainly not finishing it in November. It didn’t help then that I started working full time (only temporarily at this point). Well, it helped my wallet, just not the creative process. I basically stopped for the period I was working, and I didn’t exactly jump right back into it once that work was over in December. From late December, to February, I worked on it here and there, but never in any great way.
March was when I started to spend larger periods of my week actually working on it, normally at the weekends, as during the week I had now started working part time hours and probably was playing video games otherwise (hey what can I say, I chronically procrastinate…and I like video games).
Around late June, despite now being back to working full time (what a rollercoaster of working hours it’s been, huh? Well, hope you’ve enjoyed it, this is the end of the rollercoaster I’m afraid as I’ve been working full time since June, and well, I will continue to for the foreseeable future. Anyway, uh, let’s get back to not being inside brackets.), was when I further increased the amount I worked on it, with an aim to actually finish the fucking thing before a) I’m 80 and/or b) SE release their own version. Although I was less concerned with b, it’s (hopefully) inevitable, but more on that in the next section I guess.
I finally finished the fucking thing in the second week of August. You might be looking at the date now and thinking, “isn’t it October…why did it take 2 months to release this?” Okay, well, great question. So, I managed to focus up and get it finished. However, I did not continue to focus after completing it, as while the text was written, I still needed to clean it up, sort out links and do some other miscellaneous stuff. It wasn’t a long process, but it took a few weeks (okay, maybe a month) before I actually sat down and did it. Once I did, I shared it with my teammates (TFE shoutout!) to get some other opinions and eyes on it. Jeff, master grammar man, gave it a really good going over and made me add/remove commas and shit. By this point, it was the last week of September, and I decided to go with 12th October as the article/document release date, just so the guys had time to look over it if they wanted. Plus eureka was releasing an article around this point and I just decided to give plenty of breathing room between the two articles. Since I mentioned it, you can read eureka’s article here. Ain’t I just the most supportive teammate?
Anyway, looking back, ignoring the sporadic nature of working on it and focusing more on the hours invested, I can say the first section (even if it doesn’t look it) took the longest to do. At that point I had no clear vision of what I wanted to go where in the document, I wasn’t aiming to just like-for-like copy any existing layout, that was for sure, I wanted to try and make it in a sensible order I was happy with. During the process, I referred to, besides the FFTCG Comp Rules, the Magic and Weiss Schwarz Comp Rules. Funnily enough, I’m certain SE/HJ did as well when they made the FFTCG Comp Rules (or if it wasn’t Weiss Schwarz, perhaps Vanguard). There are some areas that were so similar it was hard to ignore, although who knows for sure (bet Kageyama does). What I can say for sure is that they definitely looked at the Magic Comp Rules. Hell, they literally lifted most of the fucking thing from Magic, and just did the old University change-some-of-the-words-around-so-its-in-your-own-words technique. In terms of writing, I did start trying to do my own thing, and avoid being too word-similar to anything besides the FFTCG Comp Rules, but then I realised that was fairly pointless, and frankly, sometimes the way it’s written in a certain Comp Rules is clear enough, or at least not bad enough that it’s worth the hassle of trying to force alternative phrasing for. Sometimes SE/HJ tried so hard with the FFTCG to change words that it loses some clarity, and those were typically where I tried to redo heavily, if possible. Once I got the first section done, I’d love to say it all fell into place, but even until the very end I was undecided on certain things. Even now, writing this, there’s at least one section where I’m not sold on what I did with it. I may in future change some things up. I’ve implemented a changelog, so you can keep track of anything I do change very quickly. I’ll be adding a glossary eventually (like 2-3 months or more eventually) as well, so look forward(?) to that. Anyway, I’ll end this section by letting you know my least favourite section to write: auto-abilities. Urgh.
So, what does happen when Square Enix/Hobby Japan decide to actually update the Comprehensive Rules? Well, it depends really. When this new version that’s planned comes, if it’s actually properly comprehensive, well, I’ll put a message at the top explaining my version is outdated and won’t be updated for the time being, and put a nice big ol’ link to the current Comprehensive Rules front and centre. If they lapse at any point after that, well it probably won’t take much to update mine again and continue to keep updating it until they see fit to once again update the official version. If when they update it it’s not properly comprehensive, well I’ll not stop at all and just keep plodding on with mine. I really do hope that this updated version of the Comprehensive Rules that’s coming soon is as complete as it needs to be and keep it updated going forward, I don’t even care if it happens tomorrow or the same day as this article, I just want them to do it (this statement now makes me laugh since I wrote it far before they decided to actually update the Comp Rules, and now it might actually happen, and that’s totally fine).
Well, that’s about it for this article, just a couple of extra bits to get through, then you can finally get off the toilet and get back to work or whatever. First, I just want to note that the intent behind this article, and the rules document I’ve created, isn’t to just shit all over HJ/SE or throw hate their way and just be negative to be negative They do a good job with the game in general, but they aren’t perfect and certainly in the rules area I feel there is a lot to criticise.
Second, I’m now open to receiving questions, and other things (not dirty things), via email. I plan to try to use the questions I receive for future articles, but I will respond with an answer even if I don’t use your question, so don’t worry. I’ve got a document linked below that will better explain all the details, and I’ll have a link to the document in every article going forward. I said at the top of the article I won’t typically be responding to feedback, and that holds true here, but feel free to send it as well if you want, I swear I don’t have a filter to put it straight into the bin. Maybe. Really though, if you want to give feedback, that’s totally fine, and while I likely won’t respond, it’s appreciated.
Lastly, I’ve got a lot of exciting(?!) plans for articles coming up, including something I’ve had ready to go since around the start of the year but has been delayed due to me wanting to get my AR document out first, so that’ll be my next article, probably in a couple weeks, maybe a month, Idk, lots of games to play. Remember how I mentioned earlier, about the video games, and the chronic procrastination? Well, uh, that.
Alright, well, that’s all folks. As mentioned previously, you’ll find PDFs of both versions of my rules document below, as well as the document with details on sending me emails. Thanks for reading, bye bye now.
Article & Rules Processing Material
“The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.”
– John Locke
El. Psy. Kongroo