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Official Rules Question Thread

Actually, Credit Crash’s wording is just like Imp’s wording, so the Crysalis ability goes first (as it’s a when accessed abiltiy).

Related to the above, I found the Lukas ruling for Imp + Snare!

  1. No. The card must be accessed before Imp can be used to trash it, and so the conditional triggered abilities on Snare! et al. will resolve before the Runner can trash the card with Imp.

Does this ruling still jive with the later clarifications of non-paid abilities? Imp and Snare! seem to both be constant effects (neither starts with “When…” or equivalent), and both trigger off of accessing the card. Runner effects happen first on the runners turn, why doesn’t this result in Imp firing first? Are “When accessed” effects just treated as some weird special case?

Imp is a conditional ability that happens during access. The main thing is, the moment you access, the Crysalis triggers. It is an “on access” (wording is “when the runner accesses Crysalis”).

Credit Crash is a constant ability, but it only happens once you get to the access phase, which is after all “on access” triggers happen. So yeah, same interaction as Imp + Snare or Imp + Fetal/TFP.

So you’re saying we essentially have 4 timing windows:

  1. Constant abilities fire for accessing/accesses.
  2. Conditional abilities fire for accessing/accesses.
  3. Constant abilities fire on access.
  4. Conditional abilities fire on access.

If I’m understand right? Under this, Snare! would fire at (1), Chrysalis/TFP would fire at (2), Credit Crash at (3), and Imp at (4)?

TFP an Crysalis are constant conditional abilities that occur “on access.” They would fire at 1.

Not quite. /rolls up sleeves


The correct taxonomy of ability types is as follows.

All abilities are either:

  • Constant
  • OR Triggered. All triggered abilities are either:
    • Conditional
    • OR Paid.
      • Some paid abilities are click abilities and thus actions.

Any ability can be a prevent/avoid ability.

##Constant Abilities##
Constant abilities just are. They don’t adhere to a condition>trigger>resolve structure, they simply occur if and when they apply. Constant abilities generally describe states of being, but they can also stipulate specific “conditions” (not to be confused with trigger conditions) under which they apply, such as “while the Runner is tagged.” Assume any ability that is not in the form “cost: effect” is a constant ability unless it falls under a specific timing structure of some kind (more on that below). Constant abilities include ones that use if, while, and until.

##Triggered Abilities##
In contrast to constant abilities, triggered abilities are ones that can only apply when a specific trigger condition of some kind is met. This includes all paid abilities and any non-paid ability with a specific timing condition that triggers it.

###Paid Abilities###
Paid abilities are the easy ones - they are always written as “cost: effect”, meaning you must pay the cost in order to trigger the effect. Paid abilities can only be triggered during the specified paid ability windows in the timing structures.

If a paid ability costs 1 or more click, then it is a click ability, and as such it can only be used as an action during the action phase.

###Conditional Abilities###
Conditional abilities are the weird ones. They have all the extra rules that we know and “love”, especially when it comes to simultaneous effects. All conditional abilities define their trigger condition in their text. Usually, this takes the form of when or whenever, but it also includes such structures as before, after, unless, and “the first time’” (note that this is not the same thing as the first ice, or the first program, etc.). You can usually tell an ability is conditional if it has a comma in it separating two clauses, one being the trigger condition and the other being the effect.

Conditional abilities have three steps to their resolution:

  1. Trigger condition met - A trigger is what separates a conditional ability from a constant one. While a constant ability would just happen immediately once it becomes relevant, a conditional ability essentially waits and listens for its trigger condition. When that trigger condition occurs, the ability then prepares to resolve.

  2. Trigger - A triggered conditional ability is one that will resolve. Once triggered, an ability exists independently of its source. This is the “point of no return” for the resolution of an ability.

  3. Resolve - The actual resolution of a conditional ability is when its effects take place. The exact timing of the resolution of a conditional ability can vary from its trigger condition, especially in situations involving simultaneous effects.

Now, normally steps 1 and 2 are concurrent. HOWEVER! this is not always the case. If there are ever simultaneous effects, then steps 1 and 2 can have a pretty wide segment of time between them. This is where the weirdness occurs. When there are more than one active ability that care about any specific moment in the game, then you must follow all the steps individually instead of immediately triggering and resolving an ability. Why does this matter? Namely it’s because the order of operations can sometimes matter - whether it’s because both players control some of the simultaneous effects or because the order of operations can affect whether or not parts some of the abilities can even resolve. The other important reason it matters is because during step 1 a trigger condition can become invalid before step 2 occurs - this causes the ability to fizzle and never move to step 3.

EXAMPLE TIME! Consider two classic scenarios.

  1. The Runner has Wyldside and Aesop’s Pawnshop installed. Both have abilities with trigger conditions “when your turn begins”. Because they share a trigger condition, both will meet their trigger conditions at the same time (step 1). Both Wyldside and Aesop’s are Runner abilities, so the Runner chooses the order they will trigger in. The Runner chooses Aesop’s first, so Aesop’s triggers first (step 2). Aesop’s then resolves, and the Runner chooses to trash Wyldside (step 3). There are still simultaneous effects to worry about, so next up is Wyldside, which is still stuck back at step 1! So Wyldside goes next, but lo and behold, it is no longer active, so its ability fizzles. It never reached the all important step 2, so it can’t continue onto step 3 either.
  2. The Runner has a Femme Fatale installed, targeting a Tollbooth. Both have abilities with trigger condition “when the Runner encounters Tollbooth”. Because they share a trigger condition, both will meet their trigger conditions at the same time (step 1). It’s the Runner’s turn, so the Runner goes first with Femme (step 2). Its ability resolves, and the Runner pays 1Cr to bypass the Tollbooth (step 3). There are still simultaneous effects to worry about, so next up is the Corp’s ability on Tollbooth, which is still at step 1. Tollbooth is still active, so that’s good, BUT! the trigger condition is no longer valid. The Runner is no longer encountering Tollbooth, so its ability fizzles. It never reached step 2, so it can’t continue onto step 3 either.

The most important feature of this to remember is that only an ability that has triggered (reached step 2) is one that must resolve. If an ability never gets to step 2 for any reason - because its trigger condition is no longer valid, because the card its on is no longer active, or whatever - then it will never resolve because it will never reach step 3. This forms the basis of a great number of rules answers in Netrunner.

##Key Points##

  • Constant abilities are faster than conditional abilities
  • Conditional abilities do not always necessarily trigger at the precise moment that their trigger condition is met
  • Once triggered, an ability exists independently from its source
  • In order for an ability to trigger, the card the ability is on must be active (and not blank, thanks FFG) AND the trigger condition must remain relevant all the way up until the card begins resolving

##Bonus Weirdness##
But Jake! Some abilities use both constant ability words and conditional ability words in them. How do I figure out how an ability works if it says both “if” and “when” somewhere in it?

Abilities that both say “if” and “when” in them are still conditional abilities, not constant ones. The “if” in this case modifies how the ability works in some way. There are two ways that these types of abilities can work, and it all depends on where in the ability the “if” is.

  1. If the “if” part of an ability is in the trigger clause (e.g. “When X if Y, do Z” or “If Y when X, do Z”), then it is a conditional ability in which Y must be true at time X in order for the ability to trigger. For example, Quantum Predictive Model says “If the Runner is tagged when Quantum Predictive Model is accessed, add it to your score area.” The Runner must be tagged at the time the access occurs in order for this ability to trigger. If the Runner isn’t tagged at that time, then QPM never triggers in the first place, and if the Runner becomes tagged at any point after the access occurs then the ability can’t go back and trigger retroactively.
  2. If the “if” part of an ability is in the effect clause (e.g. “When X, do Z if Y”), then it is a conditional ability that will always meet its trigger condition X, but Z will only occur if Y is true when the ability resolves. For example, Underworld Contact says “When your turn begins, gain 1Cr if you have at least 2L.” Underworld always meets its trigger condition at the start of the Runner’s turn, but when it resolves the Runner only gains 1Cr if they have the 2L at that time. If the Runner doesn’t have 2L when Underworld meets its trigger condition, but by the time it triggers the Runner does have 2L, then the 1Cr is gained.

We need to sticky this. @Crunchums as OP, can you sticky Jake’s post?

The initiating thing must have started in order for the
replacement to take effect, so anything that checks on “first time” will
have met its trigger, but anything that looks at the result as having
been successful will fail to find a proper resolution.

So, am I understanding this right:

initiating a thing counts as the ‘first time it happens’ so your window is opened, but it doesn’t count enough for it to count as ‘it happens’ so you can’t actually use it, yet it still uses up your window. It’s the first occurrence of an event … it’s just not a real occurrence. It happened both once, and not at all.

If that’s correct, then … seriously?..what the actual fuck.

I don’t understand how it needs to be (or can reasonably be) any more complicated than “if it’s replaced, it never happened”. I don’t have to start something to replace it, it just needs to be imminent.

Note about Damon’s response “NBN: Controlling the Message looks to see
if the first card to be trashed is trashed.” - where does it say or imply that? That seems like a bit of a re-interpretation there.

I’m not sure if I have permission to do that, and if I do then I don’t know how.
I could edit the opening post to link to it, but nobody reads the opening post.
So I dunno

Anyway, to bring it all together, and hopefully clear this whole thing up once and for all:

The full break down for the first time the runner trashes an installed corp card and then uses Salsette Slums to remove it from game can be found below. (Mostly copied from up thread, but with better terminology.)

1. The runner pays the trash cost of the card to trash it
1.1. Salsette Slums meets its trigger condition and triggers
1.1.1. Salsette Slums resolves and puts its replacement effect into play
2. The card is trashed
2.1. Both Salsette Slums and Controlling the Message care about this game event. CtM meets its trigger condition, but has not yet triggered because there is a simultaneous effect to resolve first.
2.1.1. The constant effect from Salsette Slums is faster than triggered abilities. It replaces the card being trashed with removing that card from the game.
2.1.2. CtM goes to trigger and can't because its trigger condition is no longer met.

… Sometime later that turn …

42. The runner pays the trash cost of a second card to trash it
43. The card is trashed

And that’s it. Nothing else to record in the game log. Controlling the Message can see that its trigger condition isn’t being met by step 43 because this is the second time its trigger condition would have been met.


I don’t agree with what you said here because of a personal, nebulous, undefined reason. I’m probably gonna need another 50 or so posts, if that’s fine? We’ll see how I feel at the end, but no promises!


Again, the Tori Hanzo: if you replace your first net damage, there will have been a “first net damage” but there has been no net damage.

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@RTsa you’re exact, I think you made a good summary of the consistency problems that ruling implies.

I’m not sold too because of “NBN: Controlling the Message looks to see
if the first card to be trashed is trashed”.

I disagree with that. CTM doesn’t look for anything, it records its trigger or not, simple as that.

In my understanding of action + consequence, no card ended trashed, so the trigger never recorded.

In his understanding of action only, the trash action was made so its trigger records but fizzle. And he’s the boss, so he’s right.

When you play a trigger situation like ABT/Foundry, Foundry is actually waiting for the rez to trigger. So triggers can intervene in the middle of something, or in the end, with no major problems.

Here with this ruling, CTM is triggering before any card actually ends in archives, this is really weird to me.

Not sold aswell.

As I explained, meeting trigger conditiom and triggering are not the same thing.

That’s fine though. I have nothing really further to add to this conversation. I suppose you’ll just have to chalk it up as one of many weird things about Netrunner



I’m really not melting those 2, you’re the one who’s doing this.

“if the runner is doing something like this, then” => you’re cuting the thing in 2, not me.

I’m waiting the runner to “do the thing like this”, not waiting the runner to “do something”, record a trigger, then check if it was “like this” after simultaneous effects.

This way to record trigger is totally new. They do not have one time component and one qualitative component that have to be sorted if they happen to be in the same assertion. This is too complicated for me sorry, it’s not supposed to be harder than Boson physics.

So, time component have higher priority than qualitive component but how quantitative component if there is an “a”, or an “any”, or a number ? I’m not the one that is making things complicated.

It’s not new at all. It is in the core rule book. It has literally been the way since the beginning. Pages 21 and 22 lay out the differences between the types of abilities, and the section on simultaneous effects shows that abilities that meet their trigger conditions simultaneously trigger in the order as determined/chosen by the players.

I do not seek to complicate, I seek to illuminate. It’s really not even that complicated, you are the one trying to insert your own interpretations and biases into the interaction. You should instead seek a more complete mental model of how the game works, rather than insisting that the person breaking it down to as small of constituent components as possible is trying to make things complicated.


I’m the first one to understand why that ruling is related to an interpretation of a card text, ~50 posts ago :slight_smile:

You say “simple”, to me it’s still quantic. There is no element to say if the card is speaking about the rule action (because “trash an installed corp card” action doesn’t exist if I’d nitpick) or about action + consequences.

OK, I think I get this. I was pretty confused too, but I think I understand it now; thanks Jacob!

I suspect it’s the wording that throws people off as much as anything, so just to check that I really do understand it: am I right in thinking that any triggered effect of the form “When X occurs, do Y” might more fully be written as “When X would occur, if X occurs, do Y”? And that what CtM’s ability really says is “The first time a card would be trashed, if that card is trashed, trace 4 blah blah blah”?

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It’s new.

The prerequisite of CTM is “trashes a card”, that prerequisite has not happened fully but the trigger is still recorded, this is totally new and not in core rules.

I particularly don’t understand why “they” are understanding X as an action in the when part, and X as an action + consequences in the if part, to make CTM fizzling by replacement. Or else, the runner was still making the trash action so CTM would trigger after Slum replacement effect.
This is inconsistent here too. My second problem is here, with that ruling. What is X is changing if you’re in the when prereq, or in the if for simultaneousity. And that is no way “simple”, in any cases.

In my model, X stays action + consequence in the when part, and there is no new if stuff. And if there was one, mainly to solve simultaneously triggered cards, it doesn’t change the problem. All Netrunner worked fine with that model, various trigger concurrency problem aswell.

Here, this is new.