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The question

In Guillotine, the Confusion in Line -action card says:

Choose a player. Randomly rearrange the line just before that player collects his or her next noble

The Master Spy card says:

After each action card is played, move this card to the end of the line.

If the Master Spy is in the line, will he go to the end of the line after the card is placed on the table, or after the line is shuffled? i.e. Is it possible to collect the Master Spy with the Confusion in Line (and luck), when there are multiple cards in the line?

Confusion in Line -action card

Additional info

As Zags noted, user Robrob in BGG has asked a question from the makers of this game (WoTC)

The Master Spy card goes to the back of the line each time an Action Card is played. There are two possibilities: a) an Action Card is played - the Master Spy is moved to the back of the line - the Action Card is carried out or b) an Action Card is played - the Action Card is carried out - the Master Spy is moved to the back of the line

and got a reply

The answer is B, there is no way to play a card to get the master spy to the front of the line without him just going back after the cards effects.

But this does not answer the questions, which will arise from the usage of Confusion in line -action card:

c) No action cards are placed on the table - Effect of an action card (Confusion in line) is triggered - Does the Master Spy move? - Noble is beheaded.

or

d) Action card is placed on the table - No effects of an action card is resolved (played Confusion in Line, +2 points at the end of the game, or similar) - Does the Master Spy move? - Noble is beheaded.

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    The big issue here is that WoTC haven't used the term "resolved" in any way when writing the rules. Does Master Spy move after the card if played or after the card is resolved? Normally we play that the Master Spy moves after the action on the action card had been fulfilled. – Michael Frank May 14 '15 at 1:22
  • @MichaelFrank Exactly. And then there are those action cards, which will be resolved only at the end of the game (+2 points, -2 points, +1 for every green card, ...). Because the Master Spy is moved also when these cards are played (placed on the table), I would suppose that the Master Spy is moved after placing a card on the table. So I suppose that if the card will be resolved on that turn, Master Spy will wait until the card has been resolved before moving. If that card is not to be resolved on that turn, Master Spy will move after the card has been placed. – np8 May 14 '15 at 6:29
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My conclusion is that Confusion in Line can move the Master Spy to a different position in line without him moving back. This conclusion is based on the principal that consistency of rules trumps authorial intent. The explanation follows.


As noted in this question, there is an official answer from Wizards of the Coast here:

An Action Card is played - the Action Card is carried out - the Master Spy is moved to the back of the line

There is no way to play a card to get the master spy to the front of the line without him just going back after the cards effects.

The Master Spy has the ability:

After each action card is played, move this card to the end of the line.

What this put together seems to imply is that the resolution of an action card is included in the playing it, and the Master Spy moves only after the card has finished it's resolution and has been placed face up in the play area or in the discard. Then, the Master Spy will move regardless of whether or not the card had an effect (so playing Fountain of Blood which is just worth two points but doesn't do anything will still cause the Master Spy to move).

Now we are left with two options in the case of Confusion in Line:

Option 1: Take the WotC's answer to the letter.

This means that we pay particular attention to their point that there is no way whatsoever possible in the who wide game to manipulate the line such that the Master Spy does not end up at the end. And there is your answer. You play Confusion in Line, and then the Master Spy ends up at the end.

This is an unsatisfactory answer because it isn't well reasoned. It's saying the Master Spy's ability trumps Confusion in Line's ability because... it just does. Author's intent is irrelevant without an official FAQ or card specific ruling. This is not how I play Guillotine. For that, move on to option 2.

Option 2: Use what we know about other WotC products (namely Magic the Gathering) to create a consistent rules framework for Guillotine.

There are three phases to a turn in Guillotine:

  1. Play an action card (optional)

  2. Collect the first noble in line

  3. Draw an action card

Confusion in Line creates a delayed triggered ability that takes affect in phase 2 of the turn of the player of your choice. It must be in phase two, because if it were during phase 1, a player could avoid the trigger by not playing an action card on their turn (in which case Confusion in Line would read "Randomly rearrange the line after that player plays an action card".

With this framework, we can also determine that the Master Spy moves to the end of the line at the end of phase 1. Thus, phase 1 (if the player chooses to have it) has the following steps:

  • Play action card

  • Resolve effects

  • Put action card on table or in discard as appropriate

  • Move Master Spy (if relevant)

  • Repeat these steps if you are allowed to play another action card

Let's say you chose yourself with Confusion in Line. The resolution of effects for Confusion in Line is merely the creation of the delayed trigger. It is then discarded. The Master Spy so cleverly moves to the end. Then we move on to phase 2. The line gets shuffled. The Master Spy is at the front! You scoop him up and get a delicious four points.

Then, on the next player's turn, they play an action card and the Master Spy leaves your score area to go back to the end of the line :P (just kidding; although this might not be a joke since apparently "Clerical Error... end[s] the day and discard[s] all nobles in line if used to get Robespierre from someone else's score pile."; noble abilities working from score areas is a whole other rats nest that we will kick elsewhere).

Anyways, I like this option flavor-wise as well because it means even the Master Spy is thrown off by mass confusion (there is no good information for him to act off of).

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you for your answer. However, I did not still see how this answers to this question. The original question in the forums was I wrote WotC and asked: "The Master Spy card goes to the back of the line each time an Action Card is played. There are two possibilities: a) an Action Card is played - the Master Spy is moved to the back of the line - the Action Card is carried out or b) an Action Card is played - the Action Card is carried out - the Master Spy is moved to the back of the line" – np8 May 13 '15 at 7:15
  • and the original answer was "The answer is B, there is no way to play a card to get the master spy to the front of the line without him just going back after the cards effects." The question did not include the situation I wrote as a comment to ikegami below my question. – np8 May 13 '15 at 7:17
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    @np8 the response from wizards indicates that the master spy moves after the action on a card is performed, even if this takes place at a later time (like on their turn) – Zags May 13 '15 at 15:56
  • What about when playing a +2 points at the end of the game -card (or similar)? Also, the question to the wizards did not include the case c) No action cards are played - Effect of an action card is triggered - Does the Master Spy move? – np8 May 14 '15 at 6:32
  • I edited the question – np8 May 14 '15 at 6:51

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