From time to time questions about “fizzled actions” come up on VEKN.net (or in the VtES Usenet Newsgroup “rec.games.trading-cards.jyhad“, for that matter). Therefore I checked these sources for more answers and finally came up with the short “Questions and Answers” summary.
Question: What does “an action fizzles” means?
Answer: Fizzle is not an official rule term, but is often used when action is attempted, but then the requirements or the cost of the card are no longer met (before the action actually resolves). In this case, the action is resolved in the way, that the minion attempting the action stays tapped, the cost for the action (if any) is paid, but nothing actually happens beyond that.
For example, Howler rushes a tapped vampire using Nose of the Hound (at +1 stealth). The tapped vampire uses Sense the Savage to untap, but fails to provide the necessary intercept to block the action. As a result, Howler is tapped, but no combat occurs as result of the action, since there is no valid target for the action anymore.
Question: What are typical examples for actions fizzling?
Answer: The two most typical examples are when ..
- .. the target of an action is no longer a valid target:
- A vampire rushes another tapped minion using Ambush or Nose of the Hound, but that minion manages to untap before resolving the action.
- Parity Shift is played, an action modifier is used to make the action possible. The action modifier is DIed, but due to the pool cost there’s no longer a valid target for the Parity Shift.
- An Entrancement is played on a untapped War Ghoul. Before the action is resolved, the War Ghoul is tapped using her special ability to destroy a location. The target for the Entrancement is no longer there, hence the action fizzles.
- .. the cost of action cannot be paid anymore:
- A vampire with one blood takes an action (e.g. Govern the Unaligned), but then uses another card which costs blood (e.g. Into Thin Air or Elder Impersonation) immediately. So when resolving the action the vampire can no longer pay for the action, hence the action fizzles.
Question: What’s the difference of taking an illegal action and an action that fizzles.
Answer: The difference is in the timing of an action. An action is illegal (i.e. it cannot be taken at all) if there’s no valid target for the action or the cost of an action cannot be paid. An action fizzles, when during the action a valid target gets “lost” or the cost for the action can no longer be paid.
Question: Can an action that is about to fizzle be blocked?
Answer: Yes, that’s possible. For example, when the vampire targeted by an Ambush untaps with a card that has a clause which forces the reacting vampire to block (e.g. Second Tradition: Domain), the action is resolved by the resulting combat. It no longer matters that the original action has no longer a target.
Question: Can you fizzle an action intentionally?
Answer: Yes, you can. For example, when one of your vampires (with one blood) bleeds with Govern the Unaligned and the bleed gets deflected, you can intentionally let the action fizzle by playing Conditioning (for one blood), because now you cannot afford to pay the Govern the Unaligned anymore.
Question: When does an action not fizzle, even though the requirements are not met at some point during the action?
Answer: The action does not fizzle if during the resolution the entry condition is no longer met. For example when a vampire is being rushed using Ambush and untaps using Earth Meld, it no longer matters that the target untaps. A more complicated example is, when a Parity Shift is played and during the resolution (the referendum) Business Pressure is played (paying pool for votes). In this case, the referendum is carried out as normal, but even if the pool of the target drops below the pool of the acting player, the referendum is still carried out. Interesting side note, if the target of the referendum burns so much pool, that his pool drops below the amount that was initially targeted, only the remaining pool can be distributed.
Question: Can you play Freak Drive after a fizzled action?
Answer: Yes, you can, since the action, even though it fizzled it, has still reached resolution, which allows Freak Drive to be played. This is different to “end an actions” (Kiss of Ra), when the resolution stage is not reached.