This !type article was written by Kathy McCracken (aka Major Rakal) and was published first on "Major Rakals Tal Shiar Headquarters (members.cox.net/majorrakal)" at Nov 29th, 1997.
This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:
- Previous "Romulan Review" (# 34): "RR #34: First Thoughts on First Contact".
- Next "Romulan Review" (# 37): "RR #37: Ready Room Door".
Aefvadh! For the second in my series on First Contact Expansion, let's take a look at the major new card type introduced in the expansion, Objectives. Since most of the objectives are clearly Borg-oriented (anything that starts "Assimilate..."), let's specifically examine the workings of...
The Borg don't attempt missions. This is logical; it's difficult to picture the Borg assisting in quelling a plague, or conducting diplomatic negotiations. While other affiliations earn points by solving missions, the Borg earn points by completing objectives. A Borg objective represents a goal, such as assimilating a planet or a ship, or establishing a transwarp gateway at a space location.
The most crucial feature of Borg objectives to keep in mind is that the Borg essentially cannot do anything without a "motivating" objective. They normally cannot attack, or beam to a planet or to an opponent's ship unless their current objective permits them to do so. (There are exceptions, such as counterattacking against a suicidal opponent who attacks first, or if a specific card allows or requires it, such as an Iconian Gateway, or the Conundrum dilemma.)
For other affiliations, solving a mission requires announcing the mission attempt by a crew or Away Team, encountering and resolving any dilemmas or Q-Flashes seeded there, followed by completion of the mission and scoring its points by bringing the necessary skills to the mission. The Borg follow an analogous process: playing an objective card and naming its target, scouting the location or ship by encountering and resolving dilemmas and Q-flashes, and finally completing the objective (and scoring points if applicable) by probing for an outcome.
Let's look at each part of this process, illustrating it with the one Borg objective we have seen so far, which, judging by hints and examples in the rules, is likely to be quite typical. (Some objectives may not include all features of this one.) Although the card text may look straightforward, parts of the process are defined in the rules and may not be obvious from reading the card alone. Also, the different parts of the process are dispersed among various sections of the rules, under "Objectives", "Probing", "Scouting", and more; here I will bring them all together in one place.
Objective, 25 points
Plays on table. Target an unassimilated planet on spaceline (except a homeworld) with a point box showing at least 35 points. Your Borg may scout that planet. If you have Borg at that spaceline location, you may probe: , : Assimilated. Place on planet. May download one Objective card.
Establishing Your Objective
The first step is to play the objective card on the table. This counts as your normal card play, and it must be played before you execute orders, like an Event card. Because this objective has a Hidden Agenda icon, you may play it face down on the table; it will be inactive until you turn it face up, at which time it becomes your "current objective." As a Borg player, you may have only one current objective at a time, representing the single-mindedness of the Borg collective. You are not required to play it face down, however.
When you play the card face up (or turn it up), if it requires you to target something, you must do so immediately, announcing your selected target to your opponent. In this case, you must target a planet on the spaceline (i.e., not a time location, which is not part of the spaceline) that has not already been assimilated. Furthermore, it may not be a homeworld (defined in the rules; so far these include Earth, Romulus, and Qo'noS), and it must have a point box with at least 35 points. The mission may belong to you or to your opponent, and it may be solved or unsolved when you target it.
Once you have established your objective, you cannot simply discard it to play a different one, unless another card allows you to do this. It remains your objective until you complete it, until it is nullified, or until the target is removed from play or somehow becomes invalid (in which case you discard the objective). For example, if the planet you targeted with Assimilate Planet was pulled into a Black Hole or assimilated by a Borg opponent before you completed the objective, you would discard the objective.
Scouting the Target
Once you have announced your target, you may continue to the next step specified on the objective card. In the case of Assimilate Planet, the objective gives you permission to "scout" the target planet. Scouting represents "overcoming resistance and gathering data", and as with attempting missions, involves overcoming dilemmas and Q-Flashes. (For the rest of this review, when I refer to dilemmas, I am including Q-Flashes.) Scouting follows a rigid protocol, defined in the rules, depending on whether you are scouting a planet, a space location, or an enemy ship.
Unlike other affiliations, the Borg are required to "red shirt" dilemmas on a planet. You must beam down one lone "scout", as the Borg sent a single scout to the Enterprise in the episode Q Who. Now you may begin turning up dilemmas, just as you do for a normal mission attempt. If the scout is killed, stopped, or otherwise unable to continue, you may beam down another single scout to continue.
There are a few things to keep in mind as your scouts encounter dilemmas. First, they are not "attempting the mission." If a dilemma refers to a mission attempt, that part of the dilemma is probably not applicable to the Borg. For example, Alien Abduction is "cured" by completing the mission OR 3 Leadership. Since the Borg will never complete the mission, they would need 3 Leadership to get the alien-abducted Borg back. Second, "Gender is irrelevant." The Borg are unaffected by Love Interests or Parallel Romance, for example. Third, "Bonus points are irrelevant" (to the Borg, that is). If your Borg overcome Microvirus, they do not earn the 5 bonus points. Just discard the dilemma. However, if they encounter something that would give points to their non-Borg opponent (such as Lemon-Aid), the opponent scores normally.
You may be wondering how the Borg can ever overcome a "wall" dilemma such as Hologram Ruse (requires INTEGRITY > 30 + CUNNING > 30), if they are required to send down one scout at a time to encounter it. Every scout will be stopped! What you can do is send down enough individual scouts to supply the required conditions. Each of them will be stopped for the rest of this turn, but on your next turn, now that you have them all there, they can continue scouting together and overcome the dilemma. Of course, like any other Away Team, they must then continue to the next dilemma; they can't "abort" a scouting attempt when they aren't stopped, any more than a regular Away Team can abort a mission attempt. If they become stopped again, you may split them up into separate Away Teams on your next turn.
Scouting a space location works the same way (encountering dilemmas), except that the entire crew of a ship is involved in scouting, just as in a mission attempt.
Enemy ships are scouted by beaming over a single scout to do whatever is allowed by the objective card. If that scout is stopped or killed, you may beam over another, and so on, as when scouting a planet.
When there are no dilemmas left at the location (or when you have Borg aboard an enemy ship at the end of your turn), you have completed scouting. Important: If scouting is directed on an objective, you must complete scouting before you can continue with the objective's instructions. This will not be part of the card text, but rather is part of the rules. Assimilate Planet says, "Your Borg may scout that planet. If you have Borg at that spaceline location, you may probe." This may sound like it is only required to have Borg there in order to probe, but you must complete scouting first. Keep in mind the similarity to mission attempts. A mission may require Geology to solve the mission, but just bringing Geology to the mission doesn't solve it and score points if you haven't yet encountered and resolved all the dilemmas. Resolving any dilemmas present is an inherent part of the mission-solving process, even though it doesn't say this on the mission card. Likewise, it is an inherent part of the objective-completion process (if the objective mentions scouting).
Probing for the Objective's Outcome
Once you have completed scouting, you are ready to probe for an outcome to your objective, starting on your next turn. You may not probe for that objective on the same turn you completed scouting, or on the same turn that you participated in any battles at that location (including your opponent's previous turn). The objective may also have other conditions you must fulfill before probing; Assimilate Planet requires you to have Borg "at that spaceline location." In other words, your Borg may beam back to their ship, but at least one Borg must remain on a ship or on the planet at that location - you can't just take them all elsewhere in anticipation of your next objective.
At the end of your turn (the next turn after completing scouting, that is), just before your card draw, turn over and look at the top card of your draw deck. This is your "probe card." Look on the probe card for an icon that matches one of the icons in the objective's probe list. Assimilate Planet has only one outcome listed, which requires either a blue Borg Communication subcommand icon or a red Borg Defense subcommand icon to appear on the probe card.
If one of the required icons appears on the probe card (on a Borg Cube, for example, or a Borg drone), replace the probe card on your draw deck, and do what the objective says: First, place the objective card on the planet, which is now assimilated. You score the 25 points for the objective. Then, if you wish, you may download one Objective card and put it in play. Once you placed the objective on the assimilated planet, it is no longer your current objective; this outcome allows you to get your next objective into play immediately. (Of course, you might already have a Hidden Agenda objective face down on the table, in which case you may not wish to download another one.)
However, if the probe card is Amanda Rogers, for example, the probe is unsuccessful, because the subcommand icons do not appear on Amanda Rogers. Replace the probe card on your draw deck. You may probe again on your next turn. Note that you will normally draw the probe card as your card draw immediately after you are done probing (unless you download from your draw deck as part of the outcome, in which case you must shuffle the deck).
Some objectives may have more than one possible outcome. For example, an Event or Interrupt icon may trigger outcome #1, while an Alternate Universe icon might trigger outcome #2. If the probe card in such a case was an Alternate Universe Interrupt card (e.g., Brain Drain), then you would execute the outcome whose icon appears first in the probe list, in this case, outcome #1.
Note in the rules the consequences of a successful assimilation for Assimilate Planet. The mission may no longer be attempted or scored by your opponent (though if he already scored it, he keeps the points). Seeded artifacts are placed on the planet to be acquired later by a Survey Drone or by non-Borg personnel; and any opposing personnel, equipment, and landed ships (not those in orbit) on the planet, as well as opposing stations and outposts, are assimilated also.
In summary, the Borg complete objectives by:
- Playing an objective card and selecting its target
- Scouting the target planet, space location, or ship (if so directed on the objective) to resolve all dilemmas and Q-Flashes present
- Probing for one of the listed outcomes on the objective card and carrying out the instructions for that outcome
Next time, I'll look a little more closely at the objective Assimilate Planet itself, and talk about strategies in using it.