Action cards that specify fixed damage vs. bonus damage

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Hi.  I posted the following below in a discussion with Ultiville regarding his PAX East Tournament warband.  I thought I would post it separately to stick my finger in the proverbial wind and get a read on how other people interpret action cards that specify a fixed damage amount vs. those that specify a bonus (or additional) damage amount.

195802833 wrote:
Maybe it doesn't belong here, as it is more of a rules question, but I see a card interpretation that my crew doesn't use at the moment.  You stated in your report the following "I Shadowy Ambushed his Orc Barbarian for 70 (50 + 2x Beastmaster) with the Giant Spider."  We do not add any bonuses for cards that state a fixed amount of damage like Shadowy Ambush and Riposte.  Card text from Shadowy Ambush is "Shift 2 squares. Make a melee attack that deals 50 Damage."  While cards like this state that they are melee attacks, we believe this is just to clarify that they are not ranged attacks or other damage (like terrain), and thus require the creature to be adjacent (or within reach for the Horned Devil).

Contrast this with cards like Power Attack that say "Make a melee attack that deals +20 Damage."  In this case, one needs to know what the base melee attack value is so you know to what you are adding the +20.  Because of this, presumably other bonuses like Beastmaster would apply.  But where a fixed amount of damage is specified, we do not allow further modification.



So, how do you interpret these subtle differences in the card text?
Coming from a DDM background, I would interpret the powers as follows:

1). "Make a melee attack that deals 50 damage." As the wording of the attack states "deals", then 50 points of damage is the maximum that that attack can inflict on the enemy mini; no bonuses. But, I suppose someone could approach this from a M:tG point of view, and bonuses thru cards added to the stack can increase the attack.

2). "Make a melee attack that deals +20 damage". As long as the attacking mini has a melee attack, an extra 20 damage is applied.

If I have helped really depends on what question you are asking?
Anytime you make an attack, it will do your base damage unless you apply some modifier to it. In the case of a card like shadowy ambush, it changes your base damage for that attack to 50. You would still apply your modifiers like undaunted surge or beastmaster on top of this.
Anytime you make an attack, it will do your base damage unless you apply some modifier to it. In the case of a card like shadowy ambush, it changes your base damage for that attack to 50. You would still apply your modifiers like undaunted surge or beastmaster on top of this.



That's my interpretation as well.

And, if you actually look at it, a card like charge has the little sword symbol indicating 'this creature's melee attack value' before the +10 damage part, and so it's really quite straightforward and math-y if you compare them/word them/think about them like this:

Charge
This creature moves its Speed. Make a melee attack that deals [Base Melee Damage] +10 Damage. 

vs

Shadowy Ambush
Shift 2 squares. Make a melee attack that deals 50 Damage. 

So from this point there is absolutely no reason to think that modifiers would apply to one an not the other - they're both melee attacks. 
Anytime you make an attack, it will do your base damage unless you apply some modifier to it. In the case of a card like shadowy ambush, it changes your base damage for that attack to 50. You would still apply your modifiers like undaunted surge or beastmaster on top of this.



That's my interpretation as well.


Hmm, interesting. We've never played it like this. But thinking it through, you might be correct.

Anytime you make an attack, it will do your base damage unless you apply some modifier to it. In the case of a card like shadowy ambush, it changes your base damage for that attack to 50. You would still apply your modifiers like undaunted surge or beastmaster on top of this.



That's my interpretation as well.




Interesting, I didn't reach the conclusion that "it changes your base damage for that attack..."  I saw it as setting the fixed damage amount of that melee attack action created by the card action to 50, period.  I would have expected a card that changes a creature's base damage to state just that.  But seeing the comparison of Charge and Shadowy Ambush text, I can also see how one arrives at the alternate interpretation.

As always, it would be tremendously useful to get an official ruling on this, but those seem to have dried up for a few months now, so thank you all for the opinions.  This will spark further discussion within my crew on how to handle it.

I would venture an opinion that the interpretation I have provided tends to keep these specific action cards more in check and not so potentially overpowering.  For example, Shadowy Ambush let's a level 3 DEX critter punch a little above its weight, while allowing a higher level creature access to a move-punch combo at or near its weight.  Allowing the bonuses can start to make some of these actions seem a bit too powerful.  But that's just my opinion.  Thanks again.

I agree that the lack of FAQ updates is annoying, and I know it's disconcerting when you misinterpret something, but I don't think this one is at all unclear from the cards.  Let's look at the relevant parts of the text of a few cards from my PAX deck (since I have it sitting next to the computer and all):

Beastmaster:

"Beast creatures you control deal +10 damage with melee attacks."

Quick Jab:

"Make a melee attack that deals [sword] damage."

Shadowy Ambush:

"Make a melee attack that deals 50 damage."

Now, it seems like we all agree that Quick Jab + Beastmaster does [sword] + 10 damage.  Looking at the actual way these cards are written, I don't see any way that can be true if Shadowy Ambush only deals 50.  The attack lines are literally word for word the same - the only difference is the number.  In one case, it's 50, in the other it's [sword] - ie, the creature's attack stat.  Beastmaster explicitly increases the damage of melee attacks.  If they wanted it to increase [sword] and only that, it's an easy fix - just write "Beast creatures you control have [sword] +10", much like Loping Stride (or whatever that bad Goblin card is) increases Speed by 2 rather than saying "when it moves, move it two additional squares" or something like that.

Again, I get that rules are complicated and it's a bit of a shock when it turns out you were playing something wrong (I've been there!) but I think this one is clear from the templating, or at least the interpretation where Shadwowy Ambush interacts with Beastmaster differently than Quick Jab has no support in the rules, which is the same thing.  I mean, it probably still belongs in a FAQ because some people have asked it so fair enough, but I don't think it's ambiguous.
Does loping stride adding 2 to the base speed of the attached creature affect it when the loping creature is adjacent to an enemy? Base speed is 1 when you start adjacent but loping stride adds 2 to my base speed.
My Dark Sun Campaign "Shards of a Broken Crown" http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/shards-of-a-broken-crown
When a creature starts it's move adjacent to an enemy it's speed is 1 regardless of any modifiers.However if you move your creature first (using an order) or kill or move all adjacent opponents, then your speed goes back up to full + bonuses.
Does loping stride adding 2 to the base speed of the attached creature affect it when the loping creature is adjacent to an enemy? Base speed is 1 when you start adjacent but loping stride adds 2 to my base speed.



Loping Stride adds to the printed speed on the card (hence why it says "Gets +2 speed").  If a creature starts adjacent to the enemy, that creature's Speed stat is 1, regardless of anything else.  So any card that checks the Speed stat (Into the Fray, Charge) will get 1, as will the normal move.  That's why if Beastmaster were templated the same way ("gets [sword] +10") I'd agree it wouldn't help Shadowy Ambush.

If Loping Stride worked like Beastmaster/Undaunted Surge, though, it'd be written as "when the creature moves, move it 2 additional squares" and then you'd get the additional squares even if your Speed stat were 1 (due to starting next to an enemy), the same way you can Spring Attack 6 squares even if your Speed is 1 (due to being next to an enemy or any other reason).