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Old September 19th, 2020, 01:07 PM
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The Book of Shadow Binder

The Book of Shadow Binder
Looming Shadows



Basic Side Army Card
Spoiler Alert!

PDF download for printing.

The figure used for this unit is Tentacle figure from Reaper Miniatures.


Biography : TBA...
Quote:
TENTACLE GRAB 8
After moving and before attacking with a Shadow Binder, you may choose one opponent's small or medium figure within 2 clear sight spaces whose base is no higher than the Shadow Binder's height or 6 levels below that Shadow Binder's base. Roll the 20-sided die. If you roll an 8 or higher, place the chosen figure on any empty same-level space adjacent to that Shadow Binder. If the chosen figure is engaged when it is moved by Tentacle Grab, it will not take any leaving engagement attacks.

PHANTOM WALK
A Shadow Binder can move through all figures and is never attacked when leaving an engagement.
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  #2  
Old June 18th, 2021, 03:03 AM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

Although the text transcript agrees with the army card, the typical boldface is missing and both the transcript and card have one small non-compliance with an official phrasing they were modeled on (Earth Elemental's UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Heroscape View Post
TENTACLE GRAB 8 << typically boldface
After moving and before attacking with a Shadow Binder, you may choose one opponent's small or medium figure within 2 clear sight spaces whose base is no higher than the that Shadow Binder's height or 6 levels below that Shadow Binder's base. Roll the 20-sided die. If you roll an 8 or higher, place the chosen figure on any empty same-level space adjacent to that Shadow Binder. If the chosen figure is engaged when it is moved by Tentacle Grab, it will not take any leaving engagement attacks.

PHANTOM WALK << typically boldface
A Shadow Binder can move through all figures and is never attacked when leaving an engagement.
However, a bigger issue is that WotC's official "precedent" wording on UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT is a terrible abuse of English and does not say what it is trying to say. To understand the problem, we should probably first review some other examples of special abilities that (competently) constrain the vertical position to within maximum and minimum levels:
  • whose base is no more than 2 levels higher or lower than the base of that Horned Skull Brute (Barge into Battle)
  • whose base is not higher or lower than 5 levels from the base of the attacking Wolf (Pounce Special Attack)
  • whose base is not higher or lower than 5 levels from the base of the attacking Thrall (Pounce Special Attack)
  • whose base is not higher or lower than 15 levels from Kursusí base (Sonic Fists Special Attack)
These all correctly communicate what they mean, by using "higher or lower" to set the bounds. But UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT (and by extension the VCs it has lent its broken logic to) leaves out the concept of "lower" and results in a nonsensical OR construction:
...and is no higher than 1 level above that Earth Elementalís height or 3 levels below that Earth Elementalís base.
Without the word "lower" to change the direction from up to down, the phrase "higher than" automatically copies itself across the conjunction (as in all such English structures). This means the special ability is actually saying this:
...and is no higher than 1 level above that Earth Elementalís height or higher than 3 levels below that Earth Elementalís base.
I'm sure many will not like this (and some will deny it), but that's how our language works. Thus the attempt at defining a "high-low span" is actually broken because it says the space is no higher than two different values ó making one of the values redundant. It's just plain nonsensical, and terrible sentence construction; any credible English teacher would fail it.

For the Earth Elemental and its inspirees (Ashi-Dhulu and Shadow Binder) to make sense, they need to use a higher-or-lower construction as the earlier examples did. There are multiple ways that one could correctly recast them, of course, but perhaps the most obvious one (and reasonably minimal) would be to follow the "not higher than __ or lower than __" approach of the successful units listed above.
UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT
... any empty non-water space that is within 4 spaces of that Earth Elemental and is not higher than 1 level above that Earth Elementalís height or lower than 3 levels below that Earth Elementalís base. ...

STEALTH UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT
... any empty non-water space that is within 4 spaces of Ashi-Dhulu and is not higher than 1 level above his height or lower than 3 levels below his base. ...

TENTACLE GRAB 8
... figure within 2 clear sight spaces whose base is not higher than that Shadow Binder's height or lower than 6 levels below that Shadow Binder's base. ...
Now I realize that some may feel resistant to fixing this because "WotC did it that way so it must be gospel." But WotC did it wrong ó hands down, no question, just plain bad writing ó and this awful wording exists on only one official unit (that I could find). So the VC teams really should not have to feel obligated to repeat WotC's mistake for every new design that needs a structure like this.

I therefore respectfully request and encourage a review of this grammar oversight, and the possible ways to improve Ashi-Dhulu and Shadow Binder so they say what they mean.


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Old June 18th, 2021, 04:24 AM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

Well this makes me think about the "Double Attack" wording, that could be interpreted way off it there was not this "Double" mention in the special power name...

IMO this kind of things just needs to be clarified in FAQ and by usage. Context and rules logic should do the trick that no one falls into the bad (non) sense of this grammar choice.
So.... yeah for uniformity I am probably on the "resistance" team out there.


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  #4  
Old June 18th, 2021, 12:26 PM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

Just to be clear, I'm not claiming that the text is going to trick players into making a mistake. I'm more pointing out that it's an embarrassing example of poor writing that shouldn't keep getting repeated. There are plenty of other cases of bad wordings where once it was discovered/pointed out, Hasbro or WotC or the VC teams then tried to use a corrected wording from that point forward. This seems no different to me, and it's literally grammatical nonsense as written. Nobody keeps repeating the mistakes on the cards for Taelord, Blastatrons, etc., so I don't see any reason to keep repeating the mistake on the Earth Elemental.

What is gained by perpetuating an error? Especially one that's easier to fix when there have been only two VCs that have copied it so far.


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  #5  
Old June 18th, 2021, 12:53 PM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

Wow, that's a great catch. I definitely hope that a fix is considered too. Using poor grammar just for the sake of using it definitely communicates a lack of proffesionalism and quality.
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Old June 18th, 2021, 02:18 PM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiftrex View Post
Wow, that's a great catch. I definitely hope that a fix is considered, too. Using poor grammar just for the sake of using it definitely communicates a lack of proffessionalism- and quality.
FTFY

We know how to edit. How about ask first, before throwing around nasty accusations.

I'm sure someone will be along presently to answer JAB's question, which is a perfectly reasonable one.

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Old June 18th, 2021, 02:29 PM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

Let's be clear, this is no "catch". Everyone involved was well aware of the precedent and its odd wording when we made the conscious choice to mimic it in this power's wording.

This is an discussion that has been had out many, many times with regard to precedents. As @DanieLoche points out, Double attack is worded horribly from a technical perspective. It's ambiguous (only the name of the power really provides clarity, which is dangerous) and it also fails to provide a clear trigger and timing window.

And that's not even the worst case, IMO. The Swog Rider card offers basically no guidance on how to square the circle of a common figure with a boosting power. Charging Assault of the Kozuke Samurai is flat-out misleading in a plain reading, as it doesn't seem to imply that you are required to end engaged, and yet you are. There are many more.

And yet, when there is a single clear precedent for what you are doing, it usually behooves us to follow it. We do so for a simple reason - because, if an experienced player notices the variation, it's natural for them to wonder why the precedented wording was not followed. If you mimic past wording, it's implicitly clear that you mean to follow past behavior.

To be honest, I've not always found myself on the side of the argument I laid out above. I have, in the past, made the opposite argument - that a variation will be easier for new players, and even experienced players who notice the difference will find it almost impossible to draw out the wrong conclusion from that variance. That said, it's a fair argument, and I don't consider it a mistake to follow the precedent, even when I disagree with it.

Often, the choice about whether to follow precedent exactly will come down to other issues of readability or space on the card or the like. We're not perfectly consistent, nor are we immune to mistakes. However, I don't see us revisiting this one just to change away from the Earth Elemental wording.
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Old June 18th, 2021, 03:15 PM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_a_Bill
Now I realize that some may feel resistant to fixing this because "WotC did it that way so it must be gospel." But WotC did it wrong ó hands down, no question, just plain bad writing ó and this awful wording exists on only one official unit (that I could find). So the VC teams really should not have to feel obligated to repeat WotC's mistake for every new design that needs a structure like this.
Focusing complaints on the Earth Elemental being the only instance when the wording (and entire power) for Tentacle Grab is clearly ripped from the Drow Chainfighter

I have to agree with Dok. Heroscape has always had clunky and inconsistent wording, and changing the wording on say Double Attack would only serve to make people question if they were playing it wrong before. New powers can be professionally done, but I prefer to let sleeping dogs lie when it comes to old ones, which I always enjoy seeing pop up from time to time on Customs and C3V/SoV units.

~TAF, at no point has ever found this particular power wording confusing

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Old June 18th, 2021, 03:24 PM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

Like dok, I’ve wrestled with this principle internally before. It pains me to concede that reusing imperfect power language is preferable, but when that imperfect language has a body of authority explaining it already, then I grin and bear it. Changing it just invites new questions.

Heaven knows it’s a fair question, and I appreciate @Just_a_Bill bringing this lens to our work and to the books themselves.

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Old June 18th, 2021, 09:01 PM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

This discussion lead me to an interogation, did you think to propose an updated version of the original cards with a better wording?
Like that experienced player would print fixed card

I am thinking to errata as Taelord flying too, do you known if a pdf version with the fixed power have been done?
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Old June 18th, 2021, 09:06 PM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

What we’re saying, @Zeldarck , is that we considered this issue, and made a choice to follow precedent rather than to try to improve the work of the original designers. I appreciate JAB’s question, but it is not something we failed to consider. We followed precedent, and in general we are disinclined to change it, when we are reaching for the same effect.

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Old June 18th, 2021, 11:26 PM
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Re: The Book of Shadow Binder

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAverageFan View Post
Focusing complaints on the Earth Elemental being the only instance when the wording (and entire power) for Tentacle Grab is clearly ripped from the Drow Chainfighter
What I love best about ad hominems is how they so quickly get us to a constructive resolution of a conversation, while engendering respect between the participants.

The overall effect may be templated from the Drow, but (as touched on earlier) the specific phrasing that my whole point focuses on is more clearly templated from the Elemental. (An objective examination of the three abilities will probably make this clear.) In fact, if they had actually used CHAIN GRAB's "above or below" approach, then we would never have even had this conversation in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAverageFan View Post
~TAF, at no point has ever found this particular power wording confusing
I'm relieved to hear that. Of course I didn't claim that anyone was confused, I said it was an abuse of English. I even followed up by specifically noting that I wasn't claiming it would trick players into making a mistake.

But it did liven up my day to be both misrepresented and ad hominem'd in the same post; it's been a while since I've had that pleasure. Was this some kind of representative Father's Day gift?


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