Middle Earth: the Wizards Guide

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Rules Annotations

This section presents some annotations to various sections of the Starter and Standard Rules. They address situations that occur infrequently and often are subtle. Players should not get bogged down with committing this section to memory until they are comfortable with the regular rules and subtle issues on timing and so forth begin to arise.

Table of Contents


An action that is played out through one or more specific entities as stated on a card or in the rules is considered to "target" the entities. A targeted entity is said to be a "target" of the action. Possible targets include characters, sites, companies, regions, items, factions, corruption checks, and combat dice-rolls. A card that acts on a class of entities, however, does not target them (e.g., Foul Fumes).

Annotation 1

A card is not in play until it is resolved in its chain of effects. When the play of a card is declared, no elements of the card may be the target of actions declared in the same chain of effects. An exception to this is a dice-rolling action, e.g., a corruption check.

Annotation 2
A corruption check or any dice-rolling action can be targeted in the chain of effects during which it was declared.

Annotation 3
Long-events and certain other cards do not have targets because they are not played out through one specific entity, i.e., they generally affect an entire class of things.

Annotation 4
An action may not target a face-down card nor any element of a face down card. Face down cards include unrevealed new site cards and on-guard cards.
Actions and Active and

Active and Passive Conditions

There are two types of conditions for actions in METW: active and passive.

An active condition must be in play or established when the action requiring it is declared. Typical active conditions are tapping a card and discarding a card. For example, Magic Ring of Stealth can cancel a strike against its bearer if two particular active conditions are met: the bearer must be a scout and Magic Ring of Stealth must tap. These are called active conditions because a player actively decides to invoke the action they satisfy. Active conditions serve as the price of an action. They are restrictions to the player invoking the action. In the case of Magic Ring of Stealth, the player cancelling the strike must have provided a scout and he must tap the ring, which renders the ring unable to be used again until his next turn.

Annotation 5
If an action requires an entity to tap as a condition for the action's main effect, that entity must be untapped when the action is declared; else, the action may not be declared. Tap the entity at this point; this is considered synonymous with the action's declaration, i.e., it is not a separate action. When it comes time to resolve the action in its chain of effects, that entity must still be in play and tapped or the action is cancelled.

Annotation 6
If an action requires an entity to be discarded as a condition for the action's main effect, that entity must be discarded when the action is declared; this is considered synonymous with the action's declaration, i.e., it is not a separate action.

Annotation 7
If any other active condition for an action does not exist when the action is resolved, the action has no effect; if the action were playing a card from your hand, it is discarded.

Annotation 8
An action that requires a target is considered to have the active condition that the target be in play when the action is declared and when it is resolved. An action may not be declared if its target is not in play. However, dice-rolling actions may always be targeted by other actions declared later in the same chain of effects

A passive condition causes an action to happen as stated on a card already in play. Typical passive conditions involve forcing corruption checks and forcing the effects of environmental long-events. These are called passive conditions because the actions they satisfy come into play only indirectly as the result of a decision made by a player.

Annotation 9
If a card specifies that an action is to occur as a result of some specific passive condition, this action becomes automatically the first action declared in the chain of effects to immediately follow the chain of effects producing the passive condition. The passive condition must exist when this resulting action is resolved in its own chain of effects, or the action is cancelled. Note that actions in the strike sequence follow a different set of rules.
Foul Fumes is a long-event which states that if a company without a ranger has a shadow-land or dark-domain in its site path, it must return to its site of origin. Additionally, if Doors of Night is in play, any site with a shadow-land or dark-domain in its site path becomes tapped.

Larry has two companies. When the first company reveals its new site, Larry's opponent, Mark, plays Foul Fumes. The first company is unaffected because it has all wildernesses in its site path. However, Larry's second company has no ranger and a shadow-land in its site path. Oops! The act of flipping over the second company's site card establishes the passive condition for Foul Fumes. Larry's second company returning to it site of origin becomes the first declared action in the chain of effects following.

Larry comes up with a plan to avoid this fate. One of his characters, a warrior, is bearing a Beautiful Gold Ring. A sage is in the company. In Larry's hand is a Test of Lore and a Magic Ring of Nature. In response to the automatic action brought on by Foul Fumes, Larry plays Test of Lore on the gold ring. No other actions are declared in this chain of effects. Larry rolls an 8 for the ring test. Subtracting one from the roll as dictated by Test of Lore results in a 7, which allows him to play Magic Ring of Nature. This gives the warrior, the bearer of the ring, ranger skill. A passive condition for Foul Fumes is removed and thus the effect is cancelled!

Annotation 10
If more than one action is required to be the first action declared in a chain of effects, the player whose turn it is chooses the order in which they are declared. No other actions may be declared in this follow-up chain until the multiple required actions have been declared.

Cards that "Cannot Be Duplicated"

Annotation 11
The requirement of cards that cannot be duplicated is not considered while a chain of effects is being declared and resolved. Once the chain is resolved, second and later resolved copies of any card in play that cannot be duplicated are discarded. Once the chain is resolved, second and later resolved effects of any card that cannot be duplicated are cancelled. Some cards cannot be duplicated in limited cases-generally on a specific target. Multiple copies of these cards or their effects may be in play normally, so long as each applies to a different target.
Teri plays Doors of Night during Ying's movement/hazard phase. Teri then plays Morgul Night. Ying responds with Twilight targeting Doors of Night; she sees that if Doors of Night is discarded before Morgul Night is resolved, Morgul Night will also have to be discarded because its active condition for play would be removed (Morgul Night is playable only if Doors of Night is in play). Teri, however, responds with a second Doors of Night. This will preserve her Morgul Night. Resolving from first to last, Teri's second Doors of Night comes into play. Even though Doors of Night cannot be duplicated, the card may be declared even if another is in play. Twilight is resolved next, so the first Doors of Night is discarded. Finally, Morgul Night is played successfully. If Ying had not played Twilight, Teri's second Doors of Night would be discarded at the end of the chain of effects. (Of course, Teri would not have played her second Doors of Night, if Ying had not played Twilight.)

The Attack

Annotation 12
An attack is considered to be resolved and concluded when the final strike, all special actions resulting from the final strike, and the associated body check are resolved.

Annotation 13
An attack may not be cancelled once its strikes have been assigned. A strike may not be cancelled once the dice-roll for the strike has been made.

Annotation 14
A cancelled attack has no effect on its target company, except that the company is considered in its history to have faced the attack.

Annotation 15
An attack must be the first declared action in a chain of effects, i.e., a creature card may not be played in response to another card in the same chain of effects. Revealing an on-guard creature is an exception.

Annotation 16
When a wounded character becomes unwounded, he is considered in his history to have been wounded and must face any special actions the wounding strike presented him.
The Pale Sword gives 6 corruption points to one character wounded by a Nazgûl's strike that was enhanced by The Pale Sword. This corruption is to be assigned after the Nazgûl's attack is resolved. If, in the meantime, another character in the wounded character's company tapped and used Healing Herbs to make his companion unwounded, the attacking player could nevertheless assign The Pale Sword as a corruption card to the character the Nazgûl wounded.

The Strike Sequence

The strike sequence is a period of time that begins when a player announces one of his characters will resolve a strike and ends after the strike dice-roll (or strike cancellation) and any body checks resulting from that strike.

Annotation 17
The only actions that may be declared during a strike sequence are those outlined below.

Annotation 18
When a defending player chooses to resolve a strike against a particular character, the only actions that may be taken by either player until the strike dice-roll are those outlined in the section on sequencing strikes (page 24). An action that has the condition that a target character tap, but which otherwise has an effect not outlined in this section, may not be declared at this point. This is true even if the recipient of the strike would be the target character tapping and thus receive -1 to his prowess.

Annotation 19
Following each successful strike or failed strike, a body check must be rolled (unless the failed strike has no body). However, if the strike calls for any special actions to follow it (e.g., a character wounded by "William" may be required to discard his items), these special actions are resolved before the body check. The body check is the first declared action in a nested chain of effects that immediately follows the strike dice-roll and special actions resulting from the strike. Other actions may be declared in response to a body check in the same chain of effects, but these are limited to those actions that directly affect the body check dice-roll. E.g., Tookish Blood could not be declared in response to the body check caused by Giant Spiders wounding a Hobbit. No action may be declared in response to a special action resulting from a strike unless the special action is a dice-rolling action, i.e., a special action is generally considered synonymous with the strike dice-roll. If the special action is a dice-rolling action, an action may be declared in response to it if the action directly affects the dice-roll.
Indûr Dawndeath, when in play as a permanent-event, can tap and cause a wounded character to discard an item of his choice. Activating Indûr Dawndeath in this way may not be declared immediately following a successful strike. He must wait for a wounded character to make a body check before forcing him to discard an item. If the character wounded by the strike failed his body check, he could transfer all his items to unwounded characters in his company and Indûr could not touch them.
Annotation 20
If more than one special action is to follow a strike, the defending player decides the order they are resolved.

Annotation 21
A successful strike against a character is synonymous with that character being wounded, i.e. inverting a character card on the playing surface is not a separate action from the successful strike.

Annotation 22
When a character fails a body check, his items may be immediately reassigned to unwounded characters in his company. Reassigning of the eliminated character's items is considered to be synonymous with his failed body check, i.e., no action may take place between the failed check and reassigning the items. Unassigned items are then discarded.

Corruption Checks

Annotation 23
When a character fails a corruption check, the standard effects of this (i.e., the character being discarded or eliminated and his items being discarded) are implemented immediately and are considered synonymous with the failed check. A card causing the corruption check may modify the standard effects of a failed check (e.g., The Precious), but this timing would not be changed. Certain cards, e.g., Traitor, which do not cause a corruption check, but specify an action that results from the passive condition of a failed corruption check, take effect as the first declared action in a chain of effects immediately following the chain of effects that contains the corruption check.

General Play

Annotation 24
If a card specifies that more than one action occurs when the card itself is resolved in a chain of effects, all these actions are to be resolved in the card's chain of effects uninterrupted and in the order listed on the card. No actions may be declared to occur between these multiple actions. The actions listed on the card are considered to have been declared in the reverse order as they are printed.
Lucky Search taps a target scout when it is declared. When it is resolved, the following actions occur in the order listed (assuming the scout is still in play and tapped):
There is no way Healing Herbs could be used to untap the scout before he faces the single-strike attack. You may not declare an action to occur within the sequence of actions stated on a card. If you declare Healing Herbs after Lucky Search in the same chain of effects, it would resolve before Lucky Search resolves and untap the scout. This would cancel Lucky Search, because an action is cancelled if a target character, tapped when the action is declared, becomes untapped before the action is resolved. You could, of course, declare Healing Herbs after the Lucky Search chain of effects resolves and untap the scout, i.e., in its own chain of effects, but after the scout faces the attack. You could play Risky Blow on the scout, if he were also a warrior, after playing Lucky Search in the same chain of effects, because an action can target a dice-rolling action declared earlier in the same chain of effects.
Annotation 25
A company is considered to be at the site given by their site card at all times except from the moment their new site card is revealed during their movement/hazard phase until their old site card is discarded during the same movement/hazard phase. During this period a company is considered to be en route between sites.

Annotation 26
If at the start of a movement/hazard phase there are multiple effects in play such that their net effect depends on the order they are applied, the player who is currently not taking his turn decides the order in which they are to be applied. Once this interpretation is established, all further actions are applied in the order they are resolved for the rest of the turn.
Once the effects of an environment card have been applied to change a site type or a region type in a site path during a given movement/hazard phase, that effect is not applied again during the current turn. If several environment cards are in effect at the beginning of a movement/hazard phase, the non-phasing player chooses the order in which the effects of those cards are applied. This choice is made after the moving player has revealed the first movement declaration where the order of application would be a consideration.
At the start of Meredith's movement/hazard phase, Morgul Night and Fell Winter, both long-events, are in play, because Meredith played them during Quinton's movement/hazard phase. Morgul Night changes wildernesses to shadow-lands and shadow-lands to dark-domains; Fell Winter changes free-domains to border-lands and border-lands to wildernesses. Meredith reveals the new site of one of her companies: Edhellond, which her company is moving to from Lórien. Quinton now decides the order the two long events are to be applied to the site path w b f f b w. Since Fell Winter does not affect wildernesses, Morgul Night changes these to shadow-lands. The order the two environment cards are applied does not affect this outcome. Since Morgul Night does not affect free-domains, Fell Winter changes these to border-lands. The order of the cards' application is important to determine the ultimate destiny of the border-lands printed on the site path. If Morgul Night is applied first, then Fell Winter, the border-lands end up as wildernesses (Morgul Night could not be reapplied to then change these new wildernesses to shadow-lands). If Fell Winter is applied first, they end up as shadow-lands. Since Quinton is holding several double wilderness creatures in his hand, he chooses to apply Morgul Night first, and then Fell Winter. For the remainder of the turn Morgul Night must be applied first and then Fell Winter.
If Meredith plays Moon at a later point during her turn, the order of application for the three cards is Morgul Night, Fell Winter, and then Moon.
Annotation 27
If a card has optional effects, the player playing the card must choose which will take place. He must do this at the time the card is played, not when it is resolved in its chain of effects. When such a card is resolved, if any active conditions for his choice of effects do not exist, the card has no effect and is discarded-he may not at this point choose to implement an alternative effect of the card.
Meredith plays a two-strike Troll-attack against one of Quinton's companies. Before declaring which untapped characters will receive the strikes, Quinton plays Gates of Morning. Then, Quinton plays Dark Quarrels and chooses its second alternative effect, i.e., he would like to reduce the number of strikes of the Troll-attack by half to one. This alternative effect requires Gates of Morning to be in play. Quinton believes his character Boromir II can easily defeat one Troll-strike, but no other character would have good odds against the second strike. Naturally, Quinton is thinking about the marshalling points for defeating all strikes of this attack, so he does not want to cancel the attack. In response to Dark Quarrels, Meredith plays Doors of Night which discards Gates of Morning. Quinton does not respond, and the two cards are resolved. First, Doors of Night takes effect and Gates of Morning is discarded. Then, Dark Quarrels is resolved, but the active condition for Quinton's choice of effects no longer exists, so his card has no effect and he must choose to assign both strikes of the Troll-attack. Quinton does not have the option of now choosing the other alternative effect of Dark Quarrels, i.e., cancelling a Troll-attack.
The Witch-king of Angmar in play as a permanent-event can tap during its opponent's movement/hazard phase and become a long-event changing all shadow-holds to dark-holds. During Claude's movement/hazard phase, Helmut has played The Witch-king as a permanent-event. Claude plays Gates of Morning and reveals a site for one of her companies that is a shadow-hold. For the purposes of playing hazards, Helmut wants this shadow-hold to change to a dark-hold; for the purposes of avoiding hazards, Claude wants the shadow-hold to change to a ruins & lairs. She plays Quiet Lands which, among other alternatives, changes one shadow-hold (thus, a target site) to a ruins & lairs. Helmut taps The Witch-king in response to make the change he wants. Resolving the actions from last declared to first, The Witch-king of Angmar goes off changing the shadow-hold to a dark-hold. The Witch-king removed the target (and thus the active condition) for Claude's action! Unfortunately for her, Quiet Lands fizzles for no effect. She must discard it.

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