Author: CDavis7M
Original Source and Forum Conversation

There are a lot of rules on timing, active conditions, and passive conditions that can be confused. However, there are only a few gameplay situations where two or more cards are in apparent conflict and the players need to trace the timing to determine which card “beats” the other card (which card works and which doesn’t). I have outlined two simple rules for determining how the timing plays out and then given examples. By design I have avoided specifics of active/passive conditions and instead focused on their effects on gameplay timing. I hope beginners think “this is helpful” and that veterans think “I knew this.”

SUPER SIMPLIFIED TIMING RULES:

  1. When playing cards/effects in response to each other, playing last wins except (A) an earlier effect discarding or tapping a card as a cost cannot be beaten by a later effect attempting to discard or tap that same card (the cost), and (B) an earlier effect with a specific target cannot be beaten by a later non-targeting non-cancellation effect. Of course, (C) a card cannot be affected by later cards played in response unless they cancel it or modify it’s dice roll and (D) you cannot interrupt the implementation of the effects played in response to each other.
  2. The order for applying effects already in play is the same as the order in which those cards/effects were originally played unless (A) each of those effects were already in play at the start of the Movement/Hazard phase — then the Hazard Player decides the order. (B) If the order doesn’t matter, the Resource Player can decide.

SIMPLIFIED TIMING RULES:

To determine which card beats which, use Rule 1 if the cards are being played in response to each other and use Rule 2 if the cards were already in play. For Rule 1, decide which category the cards fall into (e.g., a specific target effect vs a non-targeted effect applying to future cards or effects), and then see if any exception applies (e.g., cancellation or dice rolls). For Rule 2, figure out the order the effects were played and if the effects were already in play at the start of the Movement/Hazard phase.

1. When an effect is played in response to another effect, the subsequently played effect beats the earlier played effect. Tapping a Nazgul beats Marvels Told.
EXCEPTIONS:

  1. An effect to discard a card played in response does not beat an earlier played effect that had a prerequisite to discard that same card. The same goes for tapping. Marvels Told cannot beat Daelomin At Home or Nazgul sideboarding. Adunaphel cannot beat Concealment.
  2. A non-targeting effect played in response does not beat a targeted effect, unless the subsequent non-targeting effect cancels/prohibits the earlier targeted effect. Rank Upon Rank does not beat Ready to His Will. Morgul Night does not beat The Evenstar. The Balance of Things played in response does not affect Vilya‘s corruption check. But Magical Harp cancels a corruption check that discards.
  3. An effect played in response cannot directly affect an earlier played card or effect, unless the subsequent effect specifically cancels an earlier effect or modifies a dice roll. Gates of Morning played in response to Doors of Night does not stop Doors because Gates does not specifically cancel Doors. Twilight played in response to Doors of Night can specifically cancel Doors. Tom Bombadil tapped in response to Call of Home can specifically cancel it.
  4. An effect cannot be played in response if it depends on the result of an earlier effect. You cannot use Dark Tryst in the hopes of Twilight to cancel Doors of Night. You cannot use Daelomin at Home to increase the hazard limit in order to play Many Sorrows Befall to cancel a short-event.

2. If multiple effects already in play would happen at the same time, those effects are applied in the order that they were originally brought into play, except:

  1. The Hazard Player decides the order of applying the effects if the order matters, but only if those effects were in play at the start of a Movement/Hazard phase.
  2. The Resource Player decides the order of applying effect if the order does not matter.

Bottom-line: The order that triggered effects (mostly long/permanent events) are applied is determined by the order they are played, except that the hazard player can re-decide the order at the start of the M/H phase.

GAMEPLAY EXAMPLES:

1. When an effect is played in response to another effect, the subsequently played effect beats the earlier played effect. Last in, first out. “Played” includes playing a card or using/activating an ability of a card. This simplified rule is based on the Timing rules using Chains of Effects.

  • Canonical Example: Marvels Told is played to discard Adûnaphel. In response, Adûnaphel can be tapped for its effect, beating Marvels Told. Note that Marvels Told cannot beat a tapped Adûnaphel per Rule 1C.
  • Adûnaphel is tapped to cause Gandalf to tap. In response, Gandalf can tap to test a ring. Exception 1A does not apply because Adûnaphel’s tapping effect is not a prerequisite for some other effect.
  • Slip Treacherously is played to tap all items in play. In response, Magical Harp can be tapped for its effect. If Magical Harp were tapped first, Slip Treacherously could not be played in response to tap Magical Harp because of Rule 1A.
  • Flatter a Foe is played to possibly cancel an attack and also reduce the hazard limit. Non-attack and non-corruption hazard effects may be played in response before the hazard limit is reduced. (See rules on Attacks and Corruption cards needing to start a Chain of Effects).
  • Withdrawn to Mordor is played on Golodhros, who was played as an agent hazard. Golodhros can be tapped in response in order to attempt to influence a faction.
  • Golodhros, played as an agent hazard, taps to attempt to influence a faction. Withdrawn to Mordor can be played in response to return Golodhros to its owner’s hand. Rule 1A does not apply because Withdrawn to Mordor does not tap Golodhros, it returns him to hand.

1A. An effect to discard a card does not beat an earlier played effect that had a prerequisite to discard that same card. The same goes for tapping a card. In fact, the subsequent effect cannot be played at all. A “non-targeting” effect is one that applies to a category of cards or effects as they come into play (or as they are declared for cancellation), as found on most long-events, many permanent-events, and even some short-events and Chill Douser and Uruk-lieutenant. A “targeting” effect specifically applies to a defined number cards or effects already in play, such as a particular character or a set of characters in a company.” This simplified rule is based on the Active Condition rules including Annotations 5 and 6.

  • Canonical Example: Daelomin At Home was in play and is discarded to increase the hazard limit. Marvels Told cannot be played in response to discard Daelomin at Home because the hazard limit increasing effect of Daelomin at Home has a prerequisite of Daelomin At Home being discarded.
  • Foul-smelling Paste is discarded to heal a character. Rats! cannot be played in response to discard Foul-smelling Paste because Foul-smelling Paste has prerequisite of that card being discarded.
  • A Scout taps to play Concealment. Darkness Under Tree cannot be played in response to tap the Scout because Concealment’s effect has a prerequisite that the Scout tap.
  • Gandalf taps to test a ring. Adûnaphel cannot be tapped in response in order to tap Gandalf because Gandalf’s ring testing effect has the prerequisite that Gandalf tap.

1B. An effect that applies to a category of cards or effects when they come into play does not beat an earlier played effect applying to specific cards or effects already in play (whether in that category or not), unless the subsequent effect is an on-going cancellation effect that cancels a category including the earlier effect. Such effects still potentially work but they don’t win the timing race. This simplified rule is based on the Passive Condition rules including Annotation 9.

  • Canonical Example: Ready to His Will is played on Assassin to cancel the 1-strike attack and make him an ally. Rank Upon Rank cannot be played in response to increase Assassin’s strikes from 1 to 2 in order to beat Ready to His Will, which requires a 1-strike attack. Rank Upon Ranks effect applies to any non-agent Man attack that comes into play while Ready to His Will specifically applies to the Assassin creature card already in play. Note that if Assassin comes into play when Rank Upon Rank is already in play, then Ready to His Will can still be played in response to Rank Upon Rank’s triggered effect, beating Rank Upon Rank per Rule 1. Note that neither Ready to His Will nor Rank Upon Rank can be played in response to the Assassin per Rule 1C. The same reason goes for Ready to His Will vs. Minions Stir on an Orc-lieutenant, etc.
  • Canonical Example of the Exception:Call of Home is played to potentially cause Bilbo to be returned to his owner’s hand. Tookish Blood can be played in response in order to cancel Call of Home’s effect. Even though Tookish Blood applies to a category of effects when they come into play (i.e., any future effect this turn for discarding Bilbo or returning Bilbo to his owner’s hand), Tookish Blood’s effect is an on-going cancellation effect.
  • Smoke Rings is played. Bane of the Ithil-stone CAN be played in response to beat Smoke Rings. While Bane of the Ithil-stone’s effect does apply to any future searching or looking effect that comes into play, Bane of the Ithil-stone’s cancels such effects and so it is able to beat Smoke Rings.
  • Gandalf is moving to Mount Doom in Gorgoroth and he plays Test of Form, requiring a Sage, to test a Precious Gold Ring. In the Heart of His Realm cannot be played to beat Test of Form by removing Gandalf’s sage skill because In the Heart of His Realm’s sage skill removing effect applies to any current or future Sage that moves with a Dark-domain or Gorgoroth in their site path. Non-targeted effects do not beat specific target effects.
  • Gandalf is moving to Mount Doom in Gorgoroth and he plays Wizard’s Test, a Spell, to test a Precious Gold Ring. In the Heart of His Realm CAN be played to beat Wizard’s Test because even though In the Heart of His Realm’s cancellation effect applies to any current or future Spells, this effect CANCELS spells played by characters moving with a Dark-domain or Gorgoroth in their site path. Cancellation beats other effects.
  • Master of Wood, Water, or Hill is played to change Cardolan from a Wilderness to a Border-land. Morgul Night cannot be played in response to change Cardolan from a Wilderness to a Shadow-land before Master of Wood, Water, or Hill changes it to a Border-land. This is because Morgul Night’s effect applies to any Wilderness region type that comes into play while Master of Wood, Water, or Hill specifically applies to the Cardolan region card already in play. The earlier played Master of Wood, Water, or Hill beats the later played Morgul Night.
  • Beorning Skin-changers is played on Fallen Saruman to return him to his site of origin. Govern the Storms CAN be played in response, beating Beorning Skin-changers. Even though Govern the Storms is a categorical effect and Beorning Skin-changers is a specific effect per Rule 1B, the effect of Govern the Storms is an on-going cancellation effect.
  • First of the Order cannot be played on Saruman to help with the corruption check caused by Govern the Storms. First of the Order applies to all corruption checks made by Saruman when they come into play. The effect of First of the Order is not a cancellation effect, it is a dice roll modification effect. Therefore, First of the Order cannot be used in response to Govern the Storms, it would have to be played beforehand. The dice roll exception for Rule 1C does not apply because First of the Order applies to all future corruption checks made by Saruman, it does not specifically target a dice roll from Govern the Storms.

1C. An effect played in response cannot specifically apply to an earlier played card or effect, unless the subsequent effect specifically targets a dice roll of the earlier effect or specifically cancels the earlier effect. This is because earlier cards are not in play yet. Note that if a card in play is tapped to play an effect, another effect can be played in response that specifically applies to the card (but not to the effect of the card). This simplified rule is based on the rules on Targets, including Annotation 1.

  • Canonical Example: Adûnaphel is tapped in order to tap a Gandalf. Marvels Told cannot be played in response to discard Adûnaphel before Gandalf is tapped. Note that Adûnaphel becomes a short-event immediately when tapped (it is no longer a permanent-event in play per the rules on Nazgul and Active Conditions). Still, Gandalf could tap to play Marvels Told to discard a different event besides Adûnaphel before he gets tapped per Rule 1.
  • Canonical Example of the Exception: Gates of Morning is played to discard Shadow of Mordor. Twilight can be played in response to beat Gates of Morning, saving Shadow of Mordor, because the Twilight’s effect was specifically played to cancel Gates of Morning.
  • The Roving Eye is played to cause Pippin, who bears the Palantír of Orthanc, to make a corruption check. Halfling Strength can be played in response in order to have Halfling Strength’s +4 effect apply to the corruption check since it specifically targets the corruption check dice roll of The Roving Eye.
  • Daelomin at Home is played. Marvels Told cannot be played in response to specifically apply its discarding effect to Daelomin at Home. Marvels Told only discards cards, it does not cancel them.
  • Gates of Morning is played to discard Shadow of Mordor. Doors of Night cannot be played in response to beat Gates of Morning, saving Shadow of Mordor, because the first discarding effect of Doors of Night is not a cancellation effect, and the second cancellation effect of Doors of Night is not an on-going cancellation effect. The second effect of Doors of Night only happens once — “when Doors of Night is played.”
  • Call of Home is played on Frodo. Tom Bombadil can tap in response to cancel Call of Home because Tom Bombadil’s cancellation effect was specifically played to cancel Call of Home.

1D. An effect cannot be played in response if it depends on the result of an earlier effect. This simplified rule is based on the rules for Chains of Effects. The reason is because the chain of effects is still resolving.

  • If Dark Tryst is played in response to an effect, the effects of the cards drawn using Dark Tryst cannot be used to beat that effect.
  • If there is no hazard limit left to use, Many Sorrows Befall cannot be played in response to Daelomin at Home’s hazard limit increasing effect, which was played in response to an attack cancellation resource.

2. If multiple effects already in play would happen at the same time, those effects are applied in the order that they were originally brought into play. This simplified rule is based on the the ICE rulings applying Annotation 26 to these situations.

  • Canonical Example: Plague of Wights, doubling the strikes of Undead attacks, is already in play when a company starts their Movement/Hazard Phase. The Moon is Dead, giving +1 strike and +1 prowess to Undead attacks, is played during the Movement/Hazard phase. Then a Barrow-wight is played against that company after Plague of Wights and The Moon is Dead are already in play. The order of applying Plague of Wights and The Moon is Dead matters because the Barrow-wight will have 3 strikes if Plague of Wights is applied first, but 4 strikes if The Moon is Dead is applied first. However, since both Plague of Wights and The Moon is Dead were NOT in play at the start of this company’s Movement/Hazard phase, then Rule 2A does not apply. Accordingly, Barrow-wight will have 3 strikes because Plague of Wights was originally brought into play before The Moon is Dead was brought into play, and so Plague of Wights’ doubling effects is applied before The Moon is Dead’s +1 strike effect.
  • Awaken Minions, doubling strikes at Shadow-holds, is in play when a company enters the Moria site, a shadow-hold, to face its automatic-attack. Minions stir, giving +1 prowess and +1 strike to the automatic-attack is revealed on-guard. Because Minions stir was revealed on-guard it is treat as if it were already in play. Therefore, the effects are applied in the order they were originally brought into play, meaning that the effect of Awaken Minions is applied before the effect of Minions stir. Accordingly, the automatic-attack at Moria is doubled from 4 strikes to 8 strikes and then it is given +1 strike to 9 strikes. But if both Awaken Minions and Minions stir were already in play at the start of the last Movement/Hazard phase, then the hazard player would have been able to choose the order for applying these effects per Rule 2A.

2A. The Hazard Player decides the order of applying the effects if the order matters, but only if those effects were in play at the start of a Movement/Hazard phase. This simplified rule is based on the the ICE rulings applying Annotation 26 to these situations.

  • Canonical Example: Plague of Wights, doubling the strikes of Undead attacks, AND The Moon is Dead, giving +1 strike to Undead, are both already in when a company starts their Movement/Hazard Phase. The order of applying Plague of Wights and The Moon is Dead matters because if an Undead Barrow-wight is played, the Barrow-wight will have 3 strikes if Plague of Wights is applied first, but 4 strikes if The Moon is Dead is applied first. Rule 2A lets the Hazard Player decide the order since the order matters and both Plague of Wights and The Moon is Dead were already in play at the start of this company’s Movement/Hazard phase. Accordingly, Barrow-wight will have 4 strikes because the Hazard player would decide to apply The Moon is Dead’s +1 effect first before applying Plague of Wights’ doubling effect.
  • A company enters Moria, a shadow-hold with an orc automatic-attack. Awaken Minions, doubling strikes at shadow-holds, and Minions stir, giving +1 prowess and +1 strike to Orcs and Trolls, were both in play at the start of the last Movement/Hazard phase. The order of applying the effects of Awaken Minions and Minions stir was already decided by the hazard player at the start of the last Movement/Hazard phase. This order of application still holds during the site phase. Meaning that the effect of Minions stir would be applied to the automatic-attack before Awaken Minions. Accordingly, the automatic-attack at Moria is given +1 strike to 5 strikes, and then the strikes are doubled to 10.
  • Both Fell Winter and Morgul Night are in play at the beginning of a company’s Movement/Hazard phase when the company moves to Beorn’s House in Anduin Vales, which is a border-land. Here the order of applying the effects matters. If Fell Winter’s effect is applied first, then Anduin Vales will become a wilderness, and then Morgul Night’s later effect will change Anduin Vales into a shadow-land. If Morgul Night’s effect is applied first, then Anduin Vales will not be affected by Morgul Night and it will instead become a wilderness by Fell Winter’s later effect. Therefore, Anduin Vales will either become a shadow-land or a wilderness depending on the order of effects. So the Hazard Player can decide the order.
  • If Fog was in play with Crown of Flowers while Morgul Night was also in play with Doors of Night at the start of a Movement/Hazard phase, then hazard player would still decide the order of applying these effects even though Fog is a resource.
  • Both Snowstorm and Smaug Ahunt are in play when a company starts its Movement/Hazard phase, moving to The Lonely Mountain. The order of applying Snowstorm and Smaug Ahunt matters because if Snowstorm is applied first then the company will be returned to its site of origin, immediately ending the Movement/Hazard phase before Smaug can attack. Since both of these effects were already in play and the order matters, then the Hazard Player decides the order that they are applied. If the company is not likely to defeat Smaug Ahunt then the Hazard Player may decide to let Smaug Ahunt attack the company before Snowstorm returns the company to their site of origin.

2B. The Resource Player decides the order of applying effect if the order does not matter. This simplified rule is based on the Annotation 26 and the ICE Rulings applying Annotation 10 on Passive Condition rules to these situations.

  • Doors of Night, The Nazgûl are Abroad, and The Pits of Angband are in play at the end of the turn. The order of applying the effects does not matter because retrieving the Nazgûl using The Nazgûl are Abroad doesn’t preclude retrieving the Dragon using The Pits of Angband.
  • If a company has a tapped character with Covetous Thoughts and an untapped character with Covetous Thoughts that would both make a corruption check at the end of the turn, the order does matter because the untapped character could support the tapped character’s corruption check before they make their own check (which may remove them from play preventing them from supporting). However, supporting a corruption check is not an effect that was already in play. The Resource Player decides the order because the order does not matter when considering only the effects already in play. The Resource Player would also decide the order of corruption checks when 2 of his characters in the same company have Lure of Nature for similar reasons.

COMPLETE TIMING RULES:

The simplified rules should apply to any situation where one player is trying to play an effect to beat another effect, but they don’t cover every possibility. Here is the complete list of timing rules for your enjoyment:

  • The MELE and METW rulesbooks, in section 10 · PLAYING AND DRAWING CARDS of the Starter Rules, especially the subsection ACTIONS AND CARD PLAY.
  • The MELE and METW rulesbooks, in section 10 · PLAYING AND DRAWING CARDS of the Standard Rules, especially the subsections on DICE ROLL TIMING and TIMING RULES.
  • The different timing examples in the METW Rulesbook and the MELE rulesbook (they have different examples), and the METW Companion and the MELE Companion.
  • The MELE Glossary on: Action, Chain of Effects, Condition Active, Condition Passive, Declaring an Action, Resolving an Action, and Targeting.
  • The Annotation to the rules found in the METW and MELE Companion books and the Collected Rulings File (CRF), including Annotation 1-4 on Targets, Annotations 5-8 on Active Conditions, Annotations 9, 9a and 10 on Passive Conditions, Annotation 24 on resolving actions within the same card, and Annotation 26 on resolving actions in play at the start of a movement/hazard phase where the order changes the net effect.
  • Also, the Legal Play of Cards section in the Council of Lorien tournament policy, and in the CRF tournament rulings.