JUDGE! 009: It's Tricky (Arrows)

Posted June 5th, 2024 by Joe Pangrazio


This has been a source of confusion and conversation for weeks, so I thought it was time to do a deep dive on Trick Arrows and how they work. So, let's take a look at the basic rules for Trick Arrows. 

A force may only contain one Trick Arrow equipment. Once per game when this (Trick Arrow) is equipped, place up to three Trick Arrow cards face down (you may look at them). // When this character hits, you may flip over a face down Trick Arrow Card and perform its ON REVEAL effect.


So, let's break that down. You can only have one Trick Arrow equipment per force. This needs to be restated because we currently have numerous Trick Arrow cards that all have the rules for Trick Arrows, but you only get to use one actual object.

Once per game when the Trick Arrow is equipped, you get to place three Trick Arrow cards face down. You get to know what they are, but they are secret to your opponent. This means that it's perfectly legal for you to double check before flipping over and using the Effect of a Trick Arrow. 

When the equipped character hits, with a close or range attack, you may flip a face down Trick Arrow Card face up. Now, this starts to be the point of contention.

First off, Trick Arrows trigger on any hit. It would make more sense if they triggered on a hit from a range attack, but that's not currently what they say.

Secondly, it says “you may flip over a face down Trick Arrow Card.” That means using a Trick Arrow Card is optional. It does NOT mean that the effect is optional. Technically, what we have is an optional effect that leads to a non-optional effect. This matters because people are, incorrectly, assuming that Trick Arrows are an optional instead of normal damage effect. Which they aren't. Which is self-evident because not all Trick Arrows are “instead of normal damage” effects.

So let's take a look at a handful of Trick Arrow cards.

PUTTY

Generate up to four squares of hindering terrain markers in or adjacent to a hit target. At the beginning of your next turn, remove these hindering terrain markers. // Opposing characters occupying or adjacent to these hindering terrain markers must roll for breakaway and cannot automatically breakaway.


So, first off, not an “instead of normal damage” effect. Meaning, you get to use this On Reveal and still deal whatever damage you would from the attack. As well, because this doesn't specify “after resolutions” you actually generate the Hindering terrain markers before dealing damage/resolving the attack. 8.1f in the Comprehensive Rule Book tells us “Effects that trigger “when,” “whenever,” or “each time”, but aren’t part of an “after resolutions” triggered effect, resolve immediately after the event that triggered them.” So this (and other) Trick Arrow On Reveals resolve immediately after hitting with an attack. Which matters a lot for the next arrow.

SONIC

Choose a hit character. This turn, if that character would reduce damage, they reduce damage by 1 less.


That applies to the damage from the attack that triggered the arrow. And if one misunderstands that interaction, they're less likely to pick this arrow.

ELECTRICAL

Choose a hit character. Instead of normal damage, deal 2 penetrating damage to the chosen character and up to one other opposing character within 2 squares of the chosen character.


Now, this goes back to the point above. This is an “instead of normal damage” (IOND) effect. But, it is a non-optional one. So, if you use another non-optional instead of normal damage effect (say, the damage from Pulse Wave or Energy Explosion) you get to choose which effect to apply. You don't get both (or all) you only get to choose one. And if you also have an optional IOND in play, you don't get the use that at all.

This also creates a weird corner case we haven't seen in the game in years. This arrow deals damage to a character it never hits or targets with an attack. However, the damage is absolutely from an attack, so it will still trigger something like Mystics. This can create some very odd rules interactions, so I wanted to highlight it.

And let's look at the big one...

BIG

Choose a square adjacent to a hit character. After resolutions, this character may use Quake as FREE as if they occupied the chosen square and, after resolutions, generate a blocking terrain marker in that square.


So, this one is written differently, so I want to break it down. You hit, you flip the BIG arrow. You immediately choose a square adjacent to a hit character, then deal damage appropriately and resolve the attack. After resolutions, meaning after the entire action or triggered effect is complete, you then get to use Quake as FREE as if the equipped character occupied the chosen square. Because of how Arrows are currently worded, this Quake can trigger another arrow. Then, after you finish the Quake, you get to generate a blocking terrain marker in the chosen square.

This single arrow can be complicated if a character can use Flurry or somehow make multiple attacks before getting to the Quake. And triggering multiple arrows in a single action can really complicate things. Which is why it's important to declare and explain what you're doing at every step. And not just rush to the end, assuming your opponent knows what's happening.

And that's Trick Arrows in a nutshell. They're a neat concept that could be great with a little refinement and further support in future sets. But we'll have to wait and see if that happens.

If you have something you'd like covered in a future JUDGE! article, email joenexus36@gmail.com

And if you'd like to read back over past JUDGE! articles, you can check out the archive here

Until next time, remember, don't shoot your arrows at the messenger, they're just your JUDGE!

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