Jennifer Walters – Rules Lawyer Update (RRG 1.2A Roundup)

On February 25th, 2020 FFG released a new updated version of the Rules Reference Guide. You can find the official document here. This article will summarize some of the updates, clarifications and changes so you can know how this impacts your favorite marvel card game! Changes ranged from minor things, like clarification on when Setup abilities trigger to things as wild as how (defense) events are used! Read on to find out what’s new!

I’m going to lump things into one of two categories: minor clarifications, major clarifications, and major changes! This article is by no means all-inclusive but I will highlight the clarifications and changes that may change the way you play this great game!

Minor Clarifications (‘Nuff Said) – These clarifications are pretty obvious and are really wording updates to make sure we are all playing the same game. Most people probably played this correctly, but if not, we now have direct updates to reflect this!

  • Setup abilities
    • Player card abilities cannot resolve during game setup, unless they are noted with a “Setup” timing trigger. So despite what She-Hulk want’s she can’t use her “I Object” ability to prevent threat at game setup. You can still use alter ego setup abilities like Steve Rodgers and T’Challa have! Nuff’ said
  • Mandatory triggers
    • Previous versions of the RRG did not list Setup, Force Interrupts, and Forced Response abilities as mandatory abilities. They are, we knew this, now it is written so no one can lawyer you out of it. Thanks FFG!
  •  Component Limitations
    • Another yup… obviously. Previously it stated if you run out of tokens simply use something else to denote it (I suggest M&M’s so you can eat them later). It mentioned every type of token in the game except…. acceleration tokens. Hopefully no one is playing a game where they run out of those, but if they are. Fear not, you can use red M&M’s instead.

Major Clarifications (Stan’s Soapbox) – These clarifications are a bit more complex, they change the way some people play the game or address commonly asked questions. The FAQ highlighted here are questions I’ve seen come up a lot on discord but there are several more FAQs answered, be sure to check them out!

  • Boost ability clarity
    • The order in which boost icons and abilities trigger is now more clear. In the enemy attacks section we are now instructed to resolve boost abilities (stars) before the attack resolves (in step 3)! This has a few implications. If the boost ability gives the villain toughness when attacking a hero with retaliate the tough token will be placed prior to retaliate damage. Another situation arises when a player defends with an ally but the boost ability destroys the ally (see Concussive Blast). More explanation on this later but it is now clear that the defending ally is destroyed due to concussive blast and the attack now becomes undefended (the check for undefended happens in step 4) against the ally’s controller! This may open the design space for some really cool boost ability cards.
  • Identity-vs-Hero clarity
    • Several instances of hero in the RRG were replaced with identity. This has been clear in printed cards for a while. Cards like Shocker only affect you when in hero form, like wise for cards that target alter egos. The rulebook was a bit more sloppy. It told players to place their hero card in play, when in reality you place your identity card in alter ego form. No brainer right?  
  • More examples
    • There’s a few instances where this makes a big difference. One is in the overkill entry. Previously a player in alter ego form could defend for another player with their ally. If the attack had overkill the overkill entry instructed you to deal excess damage to your hero. Thus, many players assumed they could avoid the overkill damage. Not the case anymore you now take the overkill damage to your identity. General rule of thumb, if the rule book used to refer to your hero card you may want to check and see if it changed to identity card.
  • Dash/Value-0 clarity
    • Additional clarity has been given to characters that have a dash as a stat value (attack, thwart, scheme, etc). If a game step or ability references those values are now treated as a zero. Similar language is used for a star ability (like on Green Goblin / Risky Business). Combining this with the answer to when boost icons resolves let’s us determine what happens when Green Goblin flips mid attack. He will flip before resolving damage, and then his attack will be treated with a base of 0. More on that in the FAQ next!
  • FAQ
  • Risky Business FAQ
    • There was previously some confusion about this scenario. First, if Norman Osborn is stunned what happens when he prepares an attack. The answer was in the rules all along, the status cards always take priority so stun is discarded and no tokens will be added to criminal enterprise as this is a replacement effect.
    • Second, several instances occur where Green Goblin flips mid-attack due to a boost ability. With out increased awareness of when boost abilities trigger this means he will flip and his star value on the Norman Osborn side will be treated as a zero. The forced interrupt has missed it’s window so tokens will not be placed on criminal enterprise due to the attack.
  • Ms Marvel Embiggen/Shrink Common Questions
    • Lots of questions have come up with Ms. Marvel’s upgrades Embiggen and Shrink. Two common questions were answered Embiggen will increase both instances of damage from the card Melee. and Shrink does not interact with Emergency as no threat is removed it is only prevented.
  • Captain America Living Legend Clarification
    • Living Legend, Steve Roger’s alter ego ability only impacts the first ally played, so if you flip after another player has already played an ally you still cannot use his discount!

Major Changes (Needs a No-Prize!) – These clarifications are a bit more head-scratch. I’d say some of these straight up change the way the game was played. Be sure to review these so you are playing the game as FFG design team intends!

  • Defend ability triggers
    • This is the big one! The way defenses work has now been changed. Some changes are minor (like explaining what an undefended attack is). This actually has some interesting consequences. Abilities that trigger after you defend, are no longer triggered by (defend) events. Only the act of using a hero or ally to defend makes an attack defended.  The 5th bullet is the major new update a triggered ability labelled as a (defend) can only be triggered when you are the target of an attack. For solo this doesn’t change much but it changes a lot in multiplayer. Let’s go through some examples.

 Example I: Sound Manipulation

  • Sound Manipulation is a treachery card from Klaw’s villain deck. It is NOT an attack and it is now a lot more deadly! Previously defense interrupts like Shield Block and Wiggle Room could stop this damage, but not any more. Since you are not the target of an attack you can no longer block that damage!
  •  Example II: Preemptive Strike
    • This card has changes a bit as well. In solo, no big difference, but in multiplayer. This card is significantly worse. In the previous RRG if Ultron flipped a three boost icon card on your play partner you could play this from the side lines. No more, you now need to be the target of the attack, so you would have had to defend with an ally or your hero. Quite unfortunate! The TLDR is be careful with (defense) events they interact a bit differently now and have an extra condition.

Challenger Approaching…..

Some RRG updates are also not in the rule-book in red. Note the underlined phrase below that was changed between the last RRG and this one! Tricksey FFG not even showing us this change, maybe there will soon be other ways to defend?


  • One errata is officially now in the rule book changing Thor’s nemesis Loki from an optional response to a forced response (I think we all thought it belonged that way!)

That’s it for this summary of the RRG update, there may be more hidden gems let us know in the comments below (according to FFG’s site there was another update on March 5th but I’ve yet to see the new content in this second update, so hopefully it’s not a big deal). For this RRG update we are going to considered the Case Closed!

Special shout-out to discord user ApotropaiC for helping me muse out any changes I didn’t fully understand! Thanks friend!