With the release of Unstable, we're starting to get rules questions. Of course, although there's a FAQ, the actual comprehensive rules do not cover silver-bordered sets, and never will, so to some extent it is up to the players to determine how to play cards.

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    In my experience the community has proven more than capable of upvoting good answers, downvoting bad ones, and otherwise moderating silver-bordered questions without the help of this meta question and its answers. I see answers that source blogs, MaRo's tumblr, and actual rules (where possible) getting more votes than those that don't. So what exactly do you think the community is doing wrong or could do better? Can you provide any concrete examples from the main site? – Rainbolt Dec 19 '17 at 18:10
  • @Rainbolt See my answer here: "It's useful to have a single canonical question" and "we don't really need to reiterate that full spiel on individual questions." I have seen answers with relatively long explanations of why you can do whatever you want, and relatively little devoted to answering the actual question. It's nothing awful, but we could do slightly better, and it's also often better to discuss on meta quickly just in case, rather than waiting to see. And of course, the fact that the community upvotes good answers doesn't mean it's bad to provide meta guidance about how to write them. – Cascabel Dec 19 '17 at 18:26

We should answer to the best of our abilities, using available resources if possible (the FAQ, Mark Rosewater's social media rulings, and anything else similarly "official"), and our best reasoning beyond that. That presumably means starting from the available rules, but also includes taking into account gameplay quality: a strict rules-based ruling that completely breaks the game obviously isn't helpful.

To give some background on the overarching philosophy of Un-set rules, it's useful to have a single question about Unstable and silver-bordered rules in general, covering the "it's for fun, do what you want" ideas. We sort of already have one: Should "standard errata" be applied to silver-bordered cards? asks specifically about errata, but Alex P's answer is pretty general. We might want to post a more clear version of the question, though.

But individual specific questions are totally fine too, and we don't really need to reiterate that full spiel on individual questions. It's unnecessarily repetitive, and besides, people are coming to us looking for whatever advice is available to help them have that fun game.

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    A single canonical question for silver-bordered rules would be very welcome. That said, I could still see additional questions about Unstable being okay on a case by case basis, if it's clear that they're aware they are in "houserule" territory. – Thunderforge Dec 10 '17 at 8:55
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    @Thunderforge I don't think we need to insist that questions make it clear it's a house rules issue. First off, it's not necessarily. Sometimes there'll be a ruling from MaRo that the OP wasn't aware of, or even a FAQ entry. Second, the point of this is to remind people answering that "do what you think is fun and consistent with the rules" isn't really a full answer, and doesn't need to be repeated in all of them. The OP shouldn't have to remind everyone of that every time. It's not a case by case basis thing. This is an actual game, and it's fine for people to ask how to play it. – Cascabel Dec 10 '17 at 14:07
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    I suspect some people may be reading your "It's useful to have a single canonical question" with an implicit "and close any other Unstable questions as dupes of it" (since that's what having a "canonical question" on something typically implies on SE). Based on your reply to @Thunderforge, I suspect that's not what you actually meant, but it might be a good idea to edit your answer to make that fully explicit. – Ilmari Karonen Dec 20 '17 at 19:51
  • @IlmariKaronen Thanks, updated a bit. – Cascabel Dec 20 '17 at 20:00

I think the dicey thing is there's kinda two classes of Un-card questions:

  • "How does this card work?"

All of these have a clear answer based on the card text, FAQs, and a bit of "common sense" — that's a bit different from how we answer regular MTG questions using Oracle text and comp rules, but it's very consistent with how we answer a lot of non-MTG questions.

I don't think there's any real ambiguity here.

  • "How does this card work in a combo with some other non-Un-card?"

These get dicier because the truest — but least useful! — answer is essentially "It was never designed to work in all cases." You can still try to answer it, and probably come up with something that'll work fine, but there's an inherently tension there because you're taking this other card that works in black-border detail-oriented they-have-a-full-time-employee-for-this you-can-get-a-certification-letter-saying-you-know-the-right-answer-to-this world and dragging it into the pretend-you're-twelve-and-don't-have-the-Internet-to-help-you world of the Un-cards.

I think you can still answer these questions, but it would pay to have a little Ur-question or tag wiki or something you can link to that just says "Hey, so, the way Un-cards exist outside of the proper comp rules of Magic means that they can produce wholly contradictory or nonsensical situations when you introduce them to all the corner cases of individual cards, and also you should just make stuff up" after which you can give your actual answer about how you'd rule it.

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    Broadly I agree with you - it's useful to have a canonical question, and maybe to link to it in a tag wiki. However, I wouldn't call things "dicey" here. I know these questions are not always as rigorously answerable as black-bordered MtG rule questions, but that's a really high bar. It's totally fine to have questions that involve a little bit of good judgment and might have a few different good possibilities. The people answering (and voting) just have to be aware of this, and write (and upvote) answers that try to help the OP decide what to do, and not write (or upvote) useless answers. – Cascabel Dec 11 '17 at 23:23
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    @Jefromi The interesting and challenging thing here is that it's an opportunity to think like a Rules Manager rather than a Judge: some stuff just doesn't work within the letter of the rules, but how do you apply the overarching spirit of the rules to integrate it with minimal disruption. – Alex P Dec 12 '17 at 0:19
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    Sure - that's very close to what I described in the first paragraph of my answer. I'm just saying that's not "dicey". It's totally fine - and in fact expected, and good - to have questions that go beyond reading the rules, applying them, and repeating them to people. – Cascabel Dec 12 '17 at 2:11

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