Hazard Limit Reduction Tutorial

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zarathustra
Posts: 671
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:26 pm

Hazard Limit Reduction Tutorial

Post by zarathustra »

To Fizzle or not to Fizzle, that is the Question

First, before we begin, let's get the technical terminology defined.

Hazard Limit - The hazard limit is a value that attaches to a company. A company's hazard limit is set when they begin their movement/hazard phase, and it is equal to two or the number of characters in the company, whichever is greater. Hobbits and Orc-scouts count for half of a character (round up) when it comes to determining hazard limit. Allies do not count towards the hazard limit.

Declare - A hazard is declared against a company when the hazard player either plays a hazard card or otherwise uses a card in play during his opponent's movement/hazard phase (such as tapping a nazgul permanent event, discarding daelomin@home, or moving an agent). Until it resolves, a hazard has no effects beyond counting as a declared hazard in the current chain. The number of hazards that can be declared against a company (assuming all of them count for 1 against the hazard limit, unlike Power Built by Waiting and Veils Flung Away, e.g.) is equal to the hazard limit. No more may be declared than that, as the hazard limit is checked at declaration, and if there is not enough remaining (each declared-but-unresolved hazard takes up a spot for this calculation, as well as each declared-and-resolved hazard and each declared-and-resolved hazard limit-reduction), the hazard may not be played. Hazards are not the only things that resolve; resources and resource effects also resolve, but we are most interested in hazards for the purposes of this discussion.

Resolve - A hazard resolves when it is reached in an unwinding chain of effects. At this point, its text becomes active and does whatever it does. There is the further wrinkle that many hazards (permanent and long events, though not all of them) take yet more time to have a noticeable effect because they are triggered by passive conditions, but more of that in another document. Hazard limit is also checked upon resolution (a calculation separate from but similar to the one made at the declaration of a hazard; this one checks to see how much hazard limit remains against a company, which is a function of the number of hazards and hazard limit reducers that have been played and resolved hitherto), which means that sometimes a hazard will not have enough limit left to resolve, and thus "fizzle". Again, hazards are not the only things to resolve, but they're the important thing for us now.

Chain of effects - A chain of effects is a specifically MECCG concept. The idea is basically this: both players have the right to play as many cards (and use as many effects) they like in a row. These cards/effects pile up on top of each other -- all declared but unresolved for the moment -- until finally both players decide they've had enough suspense, and they allow the chain to resolve. It then does so, each card resolving and taking effect in the reverse order of its play in the chain. So, if I play hazard1 against my opponent, and he responds with resource1, then I respond with hazard2, then he responds with resource2 and resource3 (supposing I have no response to resource2), the chain would unfold thus:

resource3 resolves and has whatever effects it has;
resource2 resolves and has whatever effects it has;
hazard2 resolves and has whatever effects it has;
resource1 resolves and has whatever effects it has;
hazard1 resolves and has whatever effects it has.

However, in some cases, hazards "fizzle" because there is no hazard limit left for them in which to resolve.

Fizzle - "Fizzling" is a term of art in MECCG for the case when a hazard that was legal at declaration becomes illegal when it tries to resolve. Fizzling can take many forms, only one of which is the result of hazard limit reduction. Another way to effectively fizzle a hazard is to remove its active conditions from play between its declaration and resolution (e.g., my opponent taps Adunaphel to force me to tap Thrain II; I respond by tapping him to play Marvels Told on some long event. The Marvels resolves first, effectively fizzling Adunaphel, since she can't tap an already-tapped character. Or, my opponent plays Withered Lands against me to change my site path; I repond with a Twilight to nuke Doors of Night, and then when Withered Lands tries to resolve as the chain unwinds, it realizes that DoN is no longer in play and disappears in a poof of logic). We are here interested in fizzling as a function of hazard limit reduction. This occurs, as already stated, when a hazard tries to resolve, checks the remaining hazard limit, and realizes there is none left.

OK, so much for all that mumbo-jumbo. The point is, there are rules governing when a hazard is fizzled due to hazard limit reduction and when it isn't.

The most important thing to notice is this: the hazard limit checks for declaration and resolution are separate, even though they are similar. According to the CRF: "You check the hazard limit at declaration and resolution. At declaration there must be less hazards already declared than the hazard limit. At resolution there must be no more hazards declared than the hazard limit." Let's look at a couple examples to make this a bit clearer:

Example 1: Declaration Matters

My opponent is moving Strider and Beorn through a couple of s, so I decide to play a Cave-Drake on them. It resolves without further complications, and they kill it. I then play a Lure of Expedience on Strider, to which my opponent responds with Many Turns and Doublings (for its second, hazard limit-reducing effect). I realize that this will cause my corruption card to fizzle when it tries to resolve (the unused portion of the hazard limit is 1; it will be eliminated when MTaD resolves, and so the Lure will have no remaining hazard limit left when it tries to resolve). I decide that that's no good, so I try to sneak in An Unexpected Outpost in response before the MTaD resolves. Bzzzz. No dice. My Outpost cannot even be declared, because when I try to declare it, it checks the remaining hazard limit. One hazard has already resolved (the Cave-Drake), so there is one hazard limit remaining. I used that one for the purposes of declaration when I played the Lure of Expedience, and so my Outpost has no remaining hazard limit left in which to be declared. The Lure fizzles out, and Beorn gets Wormsbane that site phase, much to my dismay.

Example 2: Resolution Matters

I'm playing a roving Akhorahil deck, in which the mad sage goes about in Fell Rider mode maladizing the kidneys and whatever other internal organs they may have out of my opponent's characters. Unfortunately for me, my opponent has a counter: the almighty RIVER. Akhorahil has a hazard limit of 2 when he sets out on his mission of gleeful homocide, and the first thing my opponent plays is -- what else -- a River. Ah, but I have a couple tricks up my sleeve as well. I respond with a Deeper Shadow to reduce my hazard limit by one; my opponent elects not to respond to that, so I play a second Deeper Shadow in response to my first to reduce the hazard limit by yet another one. If no more cards are played at this point, my Deeper Shadows will resolve first, reducing the hazard limit to 0, and then when the River tries to resolve, it will have no hazard limit left and fizzle. However, my opponent is wilier than I suspected: he has yet another River, which he plays in response to my second Deeper Shadow (he can do this because neither of my Deeper Shadows have resolved yet). If I have no more trickses, then things will fall out like this:

River2 checks to see whether there is at least as much remaining hl (2) as declared hazards (2). Check. Resolves. I'm stuck.
Deeper Shadow2 resolves, reducing hl to 1.
Deeper Shadow1 resolves, reducing hl to 0.
River1 checks to see whether there is at least as much remaining hl (0) as declared hazards (1). Bzzz. Fizzles. I'm stuck anyway.

If I had a third Deeper Shadow, however, things would be different. I could play it in response to the second River, and things would fall out much differently:

Deeper Shadow3 resolves, reducing hl to 1.
River 2 checks to see whether there is at least as much remaining hl (1) as declared hazards (2). Bzzz. Fizzles.
Deeper Shadow2 resolves, reducing hl to 0.
Deeper Shadow3 resolves for no effect.
River1 checks to see whether there is at least as much remaining hl (0) as declared hazards (1). Bzzz. Fizzles.

Note that this is different from how hl-reduction has been interpreted by many (including myself) in the past. The key difference is the CRF entry mentioned at the beginning of this article:
The CRF wrote:
You check the hazard limit at declaration and resolution. At declaration there must be less hazards already declared than the hazard limit. At resolution there must be no more hazards declared than the hazard limit.

In particular, the difference lies in the interpretation of the last sentence, which (perhaps unexpectedly) says that at resolution you do not check how many hazards have resolved, but rather how many are declared. What we are now interpreting this sentence to mean is, essentially, this: "At resolution of a standard hazard there must be no more standard hazards declared-but-unresolved than the remaining hazard limit."
We say standard hazard just to account for cards like Power Built by Waiting (which requires 2 hl), Veils Flung Away (which requires 0), and Twilight (which also requires 0). We say declared-but-unresolved just to clear up what declared means. That is, a hazard that was declared and then resolved against a company this mh phase is no longer considered declared. Only hazards that are still waiting to resolve in the current chain are considered declared. The final difference from the old way of interpreting lies in the wording "hazard limit". We read that term in the CRF entry to mean "remaining hazard limit", which is used up as hazards are played, rather than strict "hazard limit", which remains the same unless hl-manipulating cards are played (e.g. Deeper Shadow, Lost in , etc.). The rules for the game are somewhat loose in their application of these two differing terms, and so it is important that we be careful to determine which one is meant in each instance. But that, sad to say, is a job for another article.
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CDavis7M
Posts: 1914
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Re: Hazard Limit Reduction Tutorial

Post by CDavis7M »

Did anyone read this? There's no comments in 13 years but there are so many issues with the tutorial: (A) it's convoluted, (B) it lacks basis in the terminology of the rules, and (C) it causes confusion by attempting to create it's own framework inconsistent with the rules. Ultimately, the tutorial misunderstands the rules on the hazard limit and takes the CRF statement on "hazard limits" out of context. But at least the end result of the examples are correct even if the rationale isn't.

Hazard limit reduction can be understood based on 3 points (as described in the rules, not made up):
  1. "Playing" a card does not happen immediately, it involves declaring and then later resolving that card in a chain of effects, with other cards being declared and resolved in the interim.
  2. The maximum number of hazards that can be played on a company is equal to its hazard limit. Meaning, at declaration there must be less hazards already declared than the hazard limit and at resolution there must be no more hazards declared than the hazard limit.
  3. A an action (ie playing a hazard) can be negated if a condition for playing the action (ie, point 2 above) is negated.
The 2 examples:
  1. Opponent's hazard limit is 2. I play Cave-Drake (1st declared hazard) and it is defeated. I attempt to play Lure of Expedience (2nd declared hazard) but my opponent interrupts the play of my Lure by responding (in the chain of effects) with Many Turns and Doublings to reduce the hazard limit by 1. I cannot declare a 3rd hazard because "the maximum number of hazards that can be played" is 2 (the hazard limit). It doesn't matter that the 2nd hazard hasn't "resolved" yet because "at declaration there must be less hazards already declared than the hazard limit." But at declaration of the 3rd hazard, there are 2 hazards already declared, which is not less than the hazard limit of 2, and so the 3rd hazard cannot be declared (return it to hand if play was attempted).
  2. My hazard limit is 2. Opponent attempts to play River (1st declared hazard) but I interrupt its play by declaring 2 copies of Deeper Shadow in response to lower the hazard limit by 1 twice, down to 0. These actions resolve in a chain of effects with the last in being the first out: the two Deeper Shadows reduce the hazard limit to 0, which "negates" River because "at resolution there must be no more hazards declared than the hazard limit." At resolution of River, there is 1 hazard declared (the River itself) which is greater than the limit of 0.
    • If a 2nd River is declared (2nd declared hazard) in response to the 2nd Deeper Shadow, the 2nd River is not negated because it resolves before the Deeper Shadows, at which point there are 2 hazards declared which is no more than the hazard limit of 2.
---------- Actual Rules ----------

It makes sense to describe the rules of the game using the same terms as the rules. These 3 points above are a summary the actual rules on the Hazard Limit.
The Wizards Rulesbook - 10 PLAYING AND DRAWING CARDS wrote: A card is playable only if its effect applies to an existing situation, hazard, attack, etc.

Timing Rules
You and your opponent may both want to perform actions at the same time or actions that are sequenced with respect to other actions. This can happen during your movement/hazard phase (or during your site phase if your opponent has a card on-guard). Such actions almost always include playing a card, tapping a card already in play, and revealing an on-guard card. Your opponent may always declare an action in response before your action is resolved. Then, you may respond to his action, and he can respond to your second action, and so on until neither player can (or wants to) perform an action. Such a series of declared actions is called a chain of effects. The actions in a chain of effects are resolved one at a time from last declared to first declared (i.e., the last declared action is resolved first, then the second to the last, etc.). An action in a chain of effects is negated if the conditions required to perform it are negated by another action that is resolved before it in the chain of effects.

The Hazard Limit
During your opponent's movement/hazard phase, the number of hazard cards that you may play on one of your opponent's companies is that company's hazard limit. The hazard limit is equal to two or the company's size, whichever is greater. A company's size is equal to the number of characters in it, with each Hobbit counting half (round up). For this purpose, Wizards and followers do count as characters, but allies do not.
The CRF on "Playing Hazards" clarifies that "the number of hazard cards that you may play" includes the number "declared."
CRF - Movement wrote:You check the hazard limit at declaration and resolution. At declaration there must be less hazards already declared than the hazard limit. At resolution there must be no more hazards declared than the hazard limit.
---------- Issues with the Tutorial ----------
zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
To Fizzle or not to Fizzle, that is the Question

First, before we begin, let's get the technical terminology defined.
"Fizzle" is not a game term in MECCG. It's a term from that other game. Instead, of using the term fizzle to describe cards that were played by that have no effect due to other cards played, the rules in MECCG state: An action in a chain of effects is negated if the conditions required to perform it are negated by another action that is resolved before it in the chain of effects.

Or you can follow the MECCG Netrep's preference: "I prefer to say the hazard is discarded without effect."

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zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
Declare - A hazard is declared against a company when the hazard player either plays a hazard card or otherwise uses a card in play during his opponent's movement/hazard phase (such as tapping a nazgul permanent event, discarding daelomin@home, or moving an agent). Until it resolves, a hazard has no effects beyond counting as a declared hazard in the current chain.
This is inaccurate and misleading. A hazard is "declared" when the card is played. An effect of a hazard already in play may also be declared but this is not the same as "declaring a hazard." Declaring the effect of an already played hazard does not count as declaring a hazard. For instance, "discarding daelomin@home" (as mentioned above) is not "declaring a hazard." The action of discarding Daelomin at Home for its effect DOES NOT count against the hazard limit because that action does not play or declare a hazard. Using effects of hazard cards in play does not count against the hazard limit unless the card or rules specifically say so. Nazgul cards specifically say so. The rules on agents specifically say so. If there was any more confusion, the CRF clears up that "discarding daelomin@home" is definitely not "declaring" a hazard. "Some hazard permanent-events allow you to tap or discard them for an effect, and this does not count against the hazard limit unless specified otherwise on the card."

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zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
Hazard limit is also checked upon resolution (a calculation separate from but similar to the one made at the declaration of a hazard; this one checks to see how much hazard limit remains against a company, which is a function of the number of hazards and hazard limit reducers that have been played and resolved hitherto),
There is no such thing as "how much hazard limit remains." The rules describe (A) the hazard limit and (B) the amount of hazards played. The hazard limit is not used up such that a portion of it can "remain." It normally remains fixed. No wonder there was confusion about the CRF statement if this was the understanding of the hazard limit -- the CRF explicitly describes the comparison of A to B, not some reduction of A by B. No wonder the tutorial is confused.

But this tutorial was not the first to be confused about "reduction" of the hazard limit, as explained by the MECCG Netrep: "First of all, the hazard limit is never reduced by the playing of a hazard. The rule is that you cannot play more hazards than the hazard limit."

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zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
which means that sometimes a hazard will not have enough limit left to resolve, and thus "fizzle".
Same issue as above. There is no such thing as "enough limit left." There is also no such thing as "fizzle."

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zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
There is the further wrinkle that many hazards (permanent and long events, though not all of them) take yet more time to have a noticeable effect because they are triggered by passive conditions, but more of that in another document.
There are also issues with the tutorial on passive condition, but more of that in another document.

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zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
Fizzle - "Fizzling" is a term of art in MECCG
...It is not. Why make this up instead of using the language of the rules?

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zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
Example 1: Declaration Matters
...
Example 2: Resolution Matters
...
These examples are riddled with discussion about "remaining" hazard limit which has no basis in the rules, as mentioned above.

Instead of reading these examples, a player could just read the MECCG Netrep's own examples which are based on the rules:
Question: Can a Lure of Power be played "in response" to a Flatter a Foe? The Flatter a Foe is targeting an assassin attack.
It is clear that the player trying to use Lure of Power 'in response' is trying to squeek in as much as he can before the hazard limit is reduced by two (i.e. before a resolved/successful Flatter a Foe).

MECCG Netrep's Response:
Squeeking it in is fine. Lure of Power can be played in response to Flatter a Foe. I'll try to go through the whole sequence so that
everyone understands what's going on. (Assume a hazard limit of 3, and there are no Hobbits in the company)

1. Assassin is declared.
2. Assassin is resolved.
3. Flatter a Foe is declared. The active condition for it is met by any character in the company facing the Assassin.
4. Lure of Power is declared. Note that the hazard limit is still 3, since FaF has not resolved yet. Also note that LoP has no active conditions that need to be met at this point.
5. Lure of Power resolves.
6. Flatter a Foe resolves. We assume the influence check is successful.This results in several things. First the attack is cancelled. Then the hazard limit is reduced by 2. Note that this does not retroactively cancel LoP. Last, but not least, LoP's passive condition is triggered.
7. At the start of the next chain of effects, LoP's effect is declared automatically.
8. LoP resolves, forcing the character that made the influence check in 6 to make a corruption check modified by -4.
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zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
Note that this is different from how hl-reduction has been interpreted by many (including myself) in the past. The key difference is the CRF entry mentioned at the beginning of this article:
I would be interested to know how people though hazard limit reduction worked? Did they think you could declare an unlimited number of hazards but the only number that could resolve was the hazard limit? There's no basis for this in the rules because then otherwise you could just play every single hazard card in your hand, with the cards over the hazard limit failing to resolve and being discarded. That's ridiculous and against the rule that the card must "apply to an existing situation" and cannot be discarded for "no effect."

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zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
A hazard that was declared and then resolved against a company this mh phase is no longer considered declared. Only hazards that are still waiting to resolve in the current chain are considered declared.
This is it. This misunderstanding is the root of the tutorial's confusion and is a result of taking the CRF on "hazard limits" out of context. When the CRF states "At resolution there must be no more hazards declared than the hazard limit", it does not limit "declared" to only being cards declared in the current chain of effect. The context is NOT the chain of effects. The context is "hazard limits" - the number of hazards that can be played against a company during their movement hazard phase. Any hazard that is "declared" against a company during their Movement/Hazard phase counts as "declared" whether it has resolved already or not.. That is, taking the CRF in context, any hazard declared this Movement/Hazard phase is a "declared" hazard for purposes of "At resolution there must be no more hazards declared than the hazard limit."

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zarathustra wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:43 pm
The final difference from the old way of interpreting lies in the wording "hazard limit". We read that term in the CRF entry to mean "remaining hazard limit", which is used up as hazards are played, rather than strict "hazard limit", which remains the same unless hl-manipulating cards are played (e.g. Deeper Shadow, Lost in , etc.).
There is no need for this "fix". The CRF makes sense based on the views. This interpretation has no support in the rules, its more convoluted than the rules, and it causes confusion with the ICE rulings.

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