Hearthstone Wiki:Advanced rulebook project

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Defias Bandit full.jpg This page is part of a Project, an ongoing collaboration between editors to improve articles and content related to a specific subject.


This project commenced on 2015-05-03, and was completed on 2015-05-28, with the current draft transplanted into the live Advanced rulebook article. While discussion related to the project itself can still be found here, new topics regarding the article should be started on the article talk page.

This is main page for the advanced rulebook project, aiming to improve the Advanced rulebook article. User:Patashu's current draft can be found at User talk:Patashu‎. A spare draft page can be found at Hearthstone Wiki:Advanced rulebook project/Draft1.

Discussion[edit source]

Rather than a formal presentation of project goals, all information for this project has been posted within the framework of a discussion, to which all editors are free to contribute. General talk page etiquette applies.

Project goals[edit source]

This project was created on 2015-05-03 with the goal of rewriting Advanced rulebook for improved readability and accessibility. Prior to this date, much of the technical portions of the article were written and edited as a series of notes during the process of testing and establishing the rules for the game. As a result, some sections are unnecessarily complex and in general not as readable as they could be.

Some editors have also expressed interest in significantly simplifying the page, either by removing some of the more detailed content, or by moving it to later sub-sections below each primary section. The simplification would likely also take the form of a change in style for the article.

This project is intended to serve as a shared space for all interested editors to collaborate on the rewriting of the article. Once an agreeable article has been produced, it will be transplanted to the main article, and this project closed. -- Taohinton (talk) 22:07, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Creation[edit source]

I created this page to serve as a collaboration space for the rewriting of this article. While in most cases a conventional blow-by-blow editing, discussion and re-editing process would be sufficient, given the scale and complexity of this article, as well as some of the proposed changes to it, it seems prudent to host the rewrite in its own location, where it can be handled at length. This allows for greater iteration, experimentation and sandboxing, without concern for the currently featured version of the article.

I would present a few key starting points to bear in mind:

  • The article must be accurate. The rulebook is a complex article, with a huge amount of detail, some of which is still unclear and not fully understood. With multiple editors rewriting the article, there is a substantial risk of inaccuracies and inconsistencies creeping in. Care must be taken to produce a set of rules which are accurate and consistent, both with the game and with the rest of the rulebook. This is particularly important given the potentially game-losing technicalities involved; accuracy is important for building and maintaining trust in the competence of the wiki.
  • Information and data should not be lost. I can definitely see the value of presenting a simpler version of the rulebook, since most of the specific instances and card details are not necessary in order to understand the basic rules. However, the information and experimental data recorded on the page has taken substantial testing to produce, and is also of value to any reader wanting to learn more than the basic rules. For this reason, while it may well be a good solution to separate the more complex information, care should be taken not to simply delete or discard it.
  • Play nice! With several interested editors involved, it's important to collaborate and respect others' opinions on the project. Discuss disagreements on this page rather than edit-warring. While experimentation is encouraged, for radical changes to the page separate drafts can be created, in order to showcase alternate solutions.
  • ...but be bold. Bear in mind that just because another editor has changed the page, doesn't mean it has to stay that way. Editors should be free to present ideas and experiment with the article, if necessary using a separate draft.

On a personal note, this is the first major collaborative project for the wiki. After a long time of being the primary and often sole substantial contributor to the wiki, I'm glad to see other editors slowly joining the team to help build this substantial and surprisingly well-read and -respected resource for the game. The ultimate creation of this project was spurred by the substantial number of players regularly reading the Advanced rulebook, which is certainly something I never expected to see when I first created the article. Hopefully this will be the first of many collaborative efforts for the wiki. -- Taohinton (talk) 22:07, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Simplification/Complexity split[edit source]

This is a major question for the format of the page. I'd be interested to see a draft for a simplified version.

I'm quite happy to change the existing article into a far simplified form. However, I would also like to keep an article for more complex and detailed investigations of the game's underlying mechanics, rather than simply deleting all the research and tests on these more subtle points. These need not be the same article. -- Taohinton (talk) 22:07, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Way to go initiating this, Tao! I definitely think the AR would benefit from a narrowing of focus and splitting off of sub-articles. Here's the thing: the meaty part of the article is ALL about timing rules, which makes the first couple sections stand out as incongruous. Frankly, they're also not really that "advanced" and could be folded into other pages. That would leave what is known as the "Advanced rulebook" with a clearer mission: To explain the various chain reactions in the game. That's where all the hard-to-follow "advanced" situations are anyway! This wouldn't necessarily be "simpler", but it would be less disjointed. Arguably we should rename what's left to "Advanced timing" or similar.
I doubt we need a comprehensive page dedicated to be "The Rulebook". A wiki's strength is having different pages on interrelated subjects. If we had a "Game rules" category, my instinct from other wikis would be to direct people interested in the complete rules to browse pages via that category page. But, looking at this wiki, it seems like our categories are used more for behind the scenes organization rather than content. So perhaps more suitable would be a "table of contents" page or just a section on the front page directing to various pages that explore detailed rules. Not sure what the best solution is for a top-level rules index, but I know that the sprawl we have here just feels unwieldy. - jerodast (talk) 08:37, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks - I can't take the credit for the impetus, but I thought it might be useful to create a central portal for collaboration :)
I'm still too busy IRL to get into the rewrite in-depth at present, but hopefully I'll be able to contribute later on. In the meanwhile, seeing Patashu's draft has been as instructive as I'd hoped, and I can now see more clearly the plan for a mostly bullet-pointed rulebook. With the inclusion of examples and more in-depth discussion in sub-sections and references (rather than simply deleted entirely) in mind, I'm not sure we'll see so much of a need for a separate 'complex' article. I look forward to seeing how the project and discussion progress though! -- Taohinton (talk) 16:56, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
I agree that half of the advanced rulebook is stuff like 'this is how enchantments work' and the other stuff is stuff like 'this is how sequences work'. I was thinking of putting the sequences part first, for example, since that's the craziest AND most globally applicable thing right out the bat, for example. The problem with splitting up the rules for how sequences work, for example, is that you need to know ALL of them to make correct predictions, you can't learn just one then stop (which also means simplification can only go so far - you need those rules). --Patashu (talk) 05:18, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

Proposed reorganization[edit source]

Let me run down each of the sections we have now and tell you where I think they fit:

  • Why no advanced rulebook: Move lower. This sticks out a bit, when the entire rest of the page is under "observed rules". However "Player actions", like this section, also discusses HOW we observe rules, whereas the rest of the sections describe WHAT the rules are. So they make a natural pair. They should be at the bottom - the top section will contain some disclaimers, but in the body of the article, the rules themselves should be front and center, with the sections on process and dev rationale coming later.
  1. Player actions: Move lower. Assuming this page stays focused on timing, then this section is relevant enough to keep. But we should move it down along with "No official rulebook", because it's really more of an aside about how the game DISPLAYS actions, not how the actions themselves work.
  2. Health, buffs, and taking damage: Split. Already has a "main article" link, pretty much stands on its own. I actually think the Attribute page is a bit bloated and could be split as well, but that's something to deal with at another time.
  3. Enchantments: Split. This stuff is actually pretty straightforward and would be just fine as a section on the main Enchantment page. Again, it's fairly independent from all the timing business.
  4. State updates: Move lower. It's tempting to put this with "enchantments", but in the end it's all about timing, not the enchantments themselves, so it should stay on this page. It should probably be moved to after the Sequence of Events section though, so it can build off that groundwork.
  5. Sequence of events: Promote & refocus. Currently, this section is actually focusing specifically on simultaneous events, or at least it starts off that way. I think what it really should be (or at least, what I think a section named "Sequence of events" should be) is the introductory section giving an overview of timing rules in a general way. How players initiate actions, how actions break into phases, how triggers can go off at various points, how triggered actions can chain into more triggers, and how deaths fit into it all. (Again, at a high-ish level without getting bogged down in the most complex possible examples.) Since "Sequence of events" should be more general, the parts about simultaneous events should be moved to the "Simultaneous triggers" section (see below).
  6. Resolution: Dissolve. The name of this section doesn't really make clear what it's talking about - the whole PAGE is about resolution of things. This section has more discussion of simultaneous events, which overlaps with others. Its content should be merged wherever relevant, either into "Sequence of events" or "Simultaneous triggers".
  7. Order of activation: Integrate. Short and relatively straightforward. It probably doesn't need its own section at all, since it basically describes one of the fundamental rules of how simultaneous events are resolved, which will probably be described very early in the corresponding section.
  8. Area of effect: Integrate. Closely related to "order of activation", again should probably be part of the "Simultaneous events" section.
  9. Combat...
  10. ...Card playing and spell casting...
    1. ...and Minion Summoning: Move lower. First of all "Minion summoning" should not be a subsection of "spell casting", they should both be subsections of "Card playing". More to the point though, I think these should come after all the general rules are described, including death and triggers. While the card-playing processes are certainly important to understand, they each comprise their own isolated sequence of events. Those sequences have SOME overlap but don't apply to each other in a general way: If I cast a spell, I will never need to check the phases of "Combat" to understand what's going to happen. This is in contrast to triggers, damage, and death, which EACH have the potential to result from ANY type of initiating action. Therefore, they are more general, and more essential.
  11. Death and damage: Rename and promote. Despite the obvious link between death and damage, this section is actually mostly about death, and for good reason. In terms of chains of events (with simultaneity considerations), damage is simply another "effect" like healing, drawing a card, enchanting, summoning a token, etc. But DEATH has its own special place in the ordering of events, waiting for all other triggers to finish before it finally takes hold, and then having its own little sequence of stages to follow. So let's call it "Death", or perhaps "Lethal damage and death". Because this sequence is more nitty-gritty and specific than the general "this is how a trigger works", the trigger section should probably come first. But, because Death can occur as a result of any player action, it should still precede the action-specific sections (Combat, Card Playing).
  12. Triggered effects and secrets: Promote. This is a critical section; in my eyes it drives all of the complex behavior we ever see, and should therefore come immediately after the basic sequence of events.
  13. Simultaneous triggers: Promote. This should follow "Triggered effects", as the logical progression in increasing complexity.

Let me repeat that outline, this time in the order I envision:

  1. General timing rules
    1. Overview / Sequence of events: Introduction outlining the general steps in the event resolution process.
    2. Triggered effects and secrets: Discussion specifically about triggers, including any details about individual trigger timing not covered in the overview. Note that summoning effects have their own sequence of events.
      1. (Possibly) The summoning sequence: Detail the summoning sequence when caused by a triggered effect, including board placement, aura activation, and triggers. The "Play minion" action will build on this. (Or, just save it for the later section entirely.)
    3. Simultaneous triggers: Details of multiple triggers at once, and their resultant triggers, including "Order of activation" and "Area of effect".
    4. The death sequence: Details about the timing of lethal damage, removal of minions from the board, Deathrattles, on-death triggers, and loss of auras.
    5. State updates: Discussion about state updates. Activation and deactivation points of auras should be identified in the summon and death sequences, but there are further wrinkles.
  2. Specific action phases
    1. Card playing - Shared phases: Removal of mana and card from hand, "Plays a card" triggers, Overload. Mention playing weapons, which (currently) trigger nothing more than that.
      1. Playing minion: Repeat and build off of the summoning sequence above. (Or, just include it for the first time here.) Highlight/differentiate phases unique to summoning from the hand, like Battlecry.
      2. Playing spell: Early spell triggers, Spell effects, Late spell triggers.
    2. Attack: Preparation, Strike
    3. End turn: Doesn't exist now, but it's the final piece of the "player actions" paradigm: In Hearthstone, players can 1) play cards 2) attack and 3) end turn. That's it! (Well, also concede...) Everything else is a reaction to one of those 3 things. The turn transition has its own set of phases just like the others: End of turn, Start of turn, and Draw.
  3. Disclaimers/discussion: These two sections pair well. Both acknowledge sources of uncertainty in the "rules" on this page. They discuss the "how and why" of Hearthstone science rather than the "what".
    1. No official rulebook: Let's frame it as an observation rather than a question, and discuss what that means regarding the documentation on this page. That provides context beyond what's in the top paragraph, and reiterates that it's mostly based on science, not word of god.
    2. Player action animations: Formerly known as "Player actions", this warns about some of the more misleading elements of the user interface/animations with regard to timing rules.

I haven't said anything about actually cleaning up/polishing what's in each section. The multitude of sections already present gives us a great overview of the content we need, and it's important to plan how that should be organized before diving in. That way, the actual rewrites will contain info that's neither redundant nor disjointed from preceding sections. Each section should build on the next, and for that we need a definite sequence. - jerodast (talk) 08:37, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

I agree very much with most of what you've written here. Much of it was on the to-do list but definitely wasn't anything I was going to get round to any time soon. -- Taohinton (talk) 16:56, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
I like the revised outline. That's roughly what I was picturing. --Patashu (talk) 05:18, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

Data vs. interpretation[edit source]

I completely agree that we should preserve all the science we already have, particularly the observations. Essentially, the footnotes: Links to useful YouTube evidence, developer explanations, and personal testimony. The fact that this raw data is only stored scattered throughout the often-convoluted prose has actually bugged me for awhile. It's bad scientific form for the pure data points to be so dependent on the very explanations that purport to explain them!

I would love a system for organizing the data side of things better than the slew of footnotes we use now. In my ideal world, there is a massive table/database where references are stored, and tagged with relevant cards and mechanics. The theories on this page would cite the relevant portions of that table. Scientists could sort for scenarios of interest to test their hypotheses without having to do a whole new search. They'd be dated to filter out obsolete versions. Each new source that supports or deepens the theory could be linked to it as it is added. Unfortunately the wiki format, which is really only designed for a small number of citations and starts to look bloated otherwise, is probably not well suited for this type of organization. Certain complex rules that interact differently with many different cards might benefit from double digits worth of citations, and a single link that filters for citations with a "RuleX" tag is much prettier than "[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]".

Not only would such a system be prettier, clearer, and less vulnerable to accidental data loss, but there is a great intellectual divide between having a video of some specific scenario, and actually knowing the canonical rules that govern those mechanics in general. Aside from dev citations, each rule/citation here requires a leap of interpretation from the actual events shown to the author's theory. To be sure, in most cases the rules are well-reasoned enough, with enough variety of consistent observations, to make alternate theories unlikely. In certain areas though, especially ones in which the science is newest, there are stretches of inference based on just a couple non-generalizable experiences. Other times, old reasoning may be applied to new mechanics without question or thorough experimentation. And without citation at each logical step, it's possible that even if the conclusions are right, the intermediate explanations are unfounded. I know I've on occasion read a surprising "rule", checked the reference, and thought "well that's not clear at all that THAT's how it worked." We should be careful to test as much as possible, and not overgeneralize with our conclusions. Having a more established system for the evidence might make editors more conscious that their conclusions should be backed by data each step of the way. - jerodast (talk) 08:37, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Terminology[edit source]

There are some details worth getting into up front, like terminology. I have three comments on that. a) "Resolve/resolution" is used confusingly/arbitrarily, as is "occurring" to a lesser degree. Both words already have English meanings at odds with our narrow definitions. Let's not define steps within sequences using such terms. 2) There are a multitude of ways to identify one spot in the chain of events, including: action, event, step, stage, phase, part, point, round, and sub-[any of the above]. Settling on any combination of these is inevitably going to be arbitrary, but nonetheless we should formalize it a bit so that we're at least internally consistent. D) "Dead/dying/reduced to 0 health/destroyed/removed from board" have the potential to be used inconsistently. Right now it's actually pretty good, but let's establish a convention. - jerodast (talk) 08:37, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Resolved and occurring[edit source]

The list of stages involved in summoning minions includes "10. The minion summoning resolves." Item 5 in the list for deaths starts with "Any deaths will now be resolved". I don't know what this means. To me, if we're still on step 10 out of 12, or 5 out of 8, then the summoning or death has not actually resolved. In the case of summoning, nothing even happens at this "resolution step". It's only there so that we can say that the next step, 11, is when "triggers from the resolution" activate. But all we're really saying is that "there are 3 places in the summoning process when triggers go off, and this is the last one of them". Let's not call it resolution, let's call it "trigger round 3", or "late triggers", or "after-summon triggers", or whatever. Let's call that stage of the death sequence "removal from the board". We don't need to pretend the word "resolved" is more specific than it really is just to establish a trigger order. "Resolving" and "occurring" are both words we use whenever a process is in progress, they don't refer to one point within a process. Let's use more accurate and descriptive terms instead. - jerodast (talk) 08:37, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

In my head, resolved means 'the event, and all of its consequences, and all of its consequence's consequence's... have been fully carried out EXCEPT for Death processing, and now we move on to the next trigger/event/Phase under consideration'. Basically the meaning (with all its specificness) I gave it in the Terminology section. Is there a better word besides resolved we can use to signify all of this? If I give it this meaning and always use it consistently for this, is that fine? --Patashu (talk) 12:40, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

Timing term hierarchy[edit source]

Settling this vocabulary inevitably suggests a fair amount about how the "Sequence of events" introductory section should look. Here's what I propose (as an outline, not actual article text):

  • Players use the UI to take actions, which are either: Playing a card (which has 3 variations depending on card type), Attacking, and Ending turn.
  • A series of ordered phases is started by each action. For instance Attacking has Preparation and a Strike; Ending turn prompts the distinct End of turn, Start of turn, and Draw phases; and Playing a minion has a buttload of phases.
  • Effects cause changes in status of elements of the game, or the creation of new game elements. This includes anything from damage, to unique effects like Loatheb's, to the application of enchantments, to the redirection of an attack.
    • Effects may or may not be caused by each phase. "Strike", "Draw", "Battlecry", and "Spell Effect" phases respectively cause Damage, Draw, or a variety of effects.
    • Effects may be caused by spells, or Battlecries or triggers on cards.
  • The death sequence is a series of ordered stages that always occur when effects cause minions die.
    • The summoning effect is also a sequence of stages.
    • Here I am unsure: Should we call the steps of these sequences "phases" or "stages"? Calling them phases implies they do all the same things player action phases do, such as checking for player death at the end. (Again, I'm not actually sure when this happens.) If there are marked differences in behavior, we should call them "stages" instead.
  • Triggers react to phases, stages, OR effects to cause effects of their own. Those effects may in turn activate more triggers, which cause further effects, and so on.

This establishes a clear hierarchy of terms, and a clear overall picture of how chains of events form. - jerodast (talk) 08:37, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

This is good to think about. I believe the terminology used in my draft should be up to your standards :) Indeed, we must be VERY careful to only call things Phases that are true Phases. (Of course, we can have a few redundant Phases and if no deaths/removed from play/added Auras can occur in them using any mechanics currently existing in Hearthstone, no one will be the wiser.) --Patashu (talk) 12:37, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

Death terms[edit source]

First of all, "destroy" is a specific effect caused by the likes of Assassinate and Emperor Cobra, so let's avoid using it as a general term in deaths that may have been caused by regular ole damage. Otherwise, we're fairly consistent as far as I can tell. From least to most severe, the stages of death are "reduced to 0 health", "dying", "removed from the board", and "dead". Each has distinct differences. A minion reduced to 0 health could actually be saved by simultaneous healing effects, and not die. Dying minions are those that have been flagged as guaranteed to die, either by being at 0 health at certain checkpoints, or by being hit with a destroy effect; dying minions cannot be targeted by random effects such as Knife Juggler's or Dark Cultist's. "Removed from the board" reflects the actual physical display, and also opens up their slot on the battlefield for additional minions. "Dead" is what it is after the full death sequence has completed - the Deathrattle has gone off, the aura has been removed, it's done and the game has moved on. I hope we can all agree this provides a clear way to talk about stages of the death sequence. - jerodast (talk) 08:37, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

I agree with this in general - we should be very careful to make it clear that 'going to die' and 'Dead and removed from play' are two distinct things. Especially since many effects in Hearthstone ignore such 'going to die' minions so as to not produce undesired overkill for the player. In the current draft, mortally wounded means 'reduced to 0 or less HP, but not removed from play yet, but IS ignored by many negative triggers, Secrets and effects', pending destroy means 'hit by a Destroy effect, not ignored by anything' and Dead/removed from play is the finality of true Death. I don't currently distinguish 'dead and hasn't had its Death Phase resolved yet' and 'dead but has had its Death Phase resolved yet' - is that really necessary? In both cases it is removed from the board, after all, so all of the important things have already happened. These can of course be renamed, as long as we remain consistent. --Patashu (talk) 12:35, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

Bug reporting[edit source]

This is actually a continuation to a thread from the Advanced rulebook talk page, where Taohinton, Patashu and I were discussing bug mentions.

"Regarding the matter of bugs, I would agree that we should aim to outline the intended rules, not the behaviour of bugs. That said, we shouldn't deliberately mislead readers; if we use specific examples, it's worth explaining the intended behaviour deviates from the current actual behaviour." -- Taohinton (talk) 22:18, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

For sure, for sure, if we are somehow forced into using buggy examples, we certainly want to disclaim it. But whenever possible, when attempting to illustrate a general rule, let's just use non-buggy example as much as possible. For instance, we can certainly explain about simultaneous damage without going into a tangent about the Frothing Lightbomb issue (try a Dragon Egg + Knife Juggler + Flamestrike version).

Perhaps we could include a section about bugs in the "disclaimer" section, with a link to the Bugs page. What might be really nifty is a specially formatted footnote / popup link of some kind that identifies that there is a bug associated with that mechanic, with a link to further details. Newer readers wishing to get a sense of the basic rules could just keep reading without being distracted by minutiae that will be patchfixed anyway, while the more curious could follow through to get every single caveat. But barring that, the default should definitely be to stick to permanent rules. - jerodast (talk) 08:37, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. -- Taohinton (talk) 17:00, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

First draft done![edit source]

http://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/User_talk:Patashu#Sandbox:_Advanced_rulebook.2C_condensed_.26_formalized

Obviously it needs references, tests, formatting and editing, etc etc but it's FINALLY at the stage where everything I want to touch upon is talked about somewhere :D So let's fix it up until there's nothing objectionable left about it. I don't mind if you rewrite or redo parts of it, BTW. It's just a draft, after all, it exists to get improved, and I have written it very rushed to get it all out.

References can be taken from the old Advanced rulebook or youtube as appropriate, but be wary of too-old tests. For example, Taohinton has a reference where he proves Ship's Cannon always triggers before Knife Juggler, but today I found a video where a Knife Juggler triggers before a Ship's Cannon on the same summon, so it seems something has changed in the mean time. If you want to create videos for the Advanced rulebook rewrite but aren't sure what's needed, http://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/User_talk:Patashu#Things_that_I_need_video_evidence_for is a good indication of what -I- think needs to be tested. If you don't know how to create videos of Hearthstone, use https://obsproject.com/ . --Patashu (talk) 12:31, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

Rewrite almost complete![edit source]

http://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/User_talk:Patashu#Sandbox:_Advanced_rulebook_rewrite

I am seeking constructive feedback (such as things that are confusing, ambiguous, contradictory or could be merged/formatted correctly to fix redundancy) at this point, especially from Taohinton, Jerodast and Xinhuan but even from people who haven't read about advanced mechanics before (because this page shouldn't just be able to document, it should Teach, be self-explanatory). --Patashu (talk) 05:13, 24 May 2015 (UTC)

Congratulations - it's a rulebook![edit source]

The new advanced rulebook has now been released into the wild! Well done to Patashu for putting the (somewhat massive) bulk of the work in, and to all the other editors who have contributed in various ways.

The one significant addition I've made to the draft is to include the rule changes and discussion sections, now including a revised 'why isn't there an official rulebook' section. I agree this wasn't appropriate to sit at the top of the article, but it's also ridiculous not to have a discussion of the subject on the wiki, since it is a question which is widely and repeatedly asked, and one that is fundamental to the very existence of the advanced rulebook in the first place. Having a Discussion section at the bottom provides a good place for such matters as a kind of appendix, without getting in the way of the rulebook itself. -- Taohinton (talk) 04:55, 28 May 2015 (UTC)