RR #41: The ups and downs of downloading | openCards

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RR #41: The ups and downs of downloading

    This Strategy-Note article was written by Kathy McCracken (aka Major Rakal) and was published first on "Major Rakals Tal Shiar Headquarters (members.cox.net/majorrakal)" at Dec 28th, 1997.

    This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:

    Aefvadh! For the next installment of my continuing series on First Contact Expansion, I'm going to look at, not a single card or card type, but rather a new concept that affects many card types. It comes in several "flavors", each with its own peculiarities, and it can be confusing. Let's examine...


    On the face of it, downloading is a simple concept. Just as you can download information from the Internet to your computer, you can now "download" a card from your deck to your hand, or directly into play, at the time you need it. Downloads are allowed by some cards, required by others. The confusing part is that there are two distinct types of downloading, one specified in a text instruction to "download", the other represented by a Special Download icon. Though they have many features in common, there are important differences. We'll look first at the general rules, followed by the Special Download features.

    Downloading as a general concept is described in the First Contact Expansion Rules Supplement under "New Rules." The ability or requirement to download will be spelled out in detail on a card, using the word "download" (not an icon). The "target" card(s) may be specific (Weak Spot) or more general (a Borg drone).

    When you are allowed or required to download a "target" card, you may find it in any of four places: your draw deck, your hand, your Q’s Tent (if not closed or inactive), or your Zalkonian Storage Capsule. If the download is for more than one card, they may come from different places. You must show the target card to your opponent. Then, you may put it directly into play, if that is possible. If not possible, or if you choose not to play the card, you may put it into your hand.

    Why might it not be possible to play the card immediately? For one thing, you must obey normal reporting requirements for personnel, equipment, and ships; that includes reporting them to an outpost compatible with their affiliation (or other legal reporting location, such as a Borg Cube), and having an open Alternate Universe Door for AU icon cards. Wall of Ships, for example, "Downloads any Enterprise." If you download the U.S.S. Enterprise-C (which has an AU icon), but your Alternate Universe Door is closed by a Revolving Door, you cannot play the ship. Visit Cochrane Memorial has one probe outcome that says "Download a card." If you chose to download a personnel card, but your only outpost had been destroyed, you could not play the personnel and would have to place it in your hand. The exception to the outpost requirement is a download that species another destination. Ready Room Door instructs you to "download to one of your ships its matching commander." An outpost is not required.

    You also might not play the downloaded card immediately because you lackan appropriate reason for doing so. Sense The Borg allows you, under certain circumstances (various Borg cards entering play), to "Download Weak Spot OR Hugh OR Borg Neuroprocessor OR Ready Room Door." Since Weak Spot, for example, is used during a battle, you may not need it right now, but because a Borg ship just entered play, you want to download it in anticipation of need.

    Downloading does not count as your normal card play. It is generally tied either to the play of another card, or to the use of a skill on a personnel card, either of which will determine the timing of the download.

    • Activate Subcommands reads "Downloads one Borg Communication Borg drone, one Borg Navigation Borg drone and one Borg Defense Borg drone." Because it is an event card, Activate Subcommands counts as your normal card play and must take place at the beginning of your turn, before executing orders. You perform the download immediately upon playing the event.
    • Ready Room Door reads "Once per turn, plays to download to one of your ships its matching commander (draw no cards this turn)." This doorway card may be played at any time (subject to timing rules) during your own turn. You perform the download when you play the doorway.
    • The Borg Queen (FC) has as a skill "May download A Change of Plans or a Borg drone in place of one card draw." You perform the download at the time the card draw would normally take place; e.g., at the end of your turn if replacing your normal card draw; at the time you play Kivas Fajo - Collector if replacing one or more of the three draws provided by that card. You may not perform the download earlier in anticipation of a later card draw.

    Downloading is not considered a "card draw". Playing a Q's Tent does not generally affect your ability to perform a download later in the turn. However, if the download is specified to be "in place of one card draw", and you are not entitled to a card draw, you cannot perform a download instead.

    If a download requires you to download a particular card or group of cards, and you cannot download some of them, the entire download is invalid. For example, Activate Subcommands requires you to download one drone from each of the three subcommands. If you look through your deck, hand, Tent, and Storage Capsule and find that you have no Borg Defense Borg left to download, you cannot download any of the drones. Your opponent may look through your decks and hand to verify that the download was invalid.

    If you attempt a download that expends some "resource" (you play a card, you use a special icon, you forfeit your card draw), and the download proves invalid, the resource is still used. In the above example, the Activate Subcommands card is still discarded, and you cannot play another card this turn, even though your download failed. If you attempt to download with the Borg Queen's skill in place of your end-of-turn card draw, but find you have no drones in your deck or hand, and A Change of Plans is in your closed Q's Tent, the download is invalid, but you still do not get your normal card draw.

    If you or your opponent looks through your draw deck during a download,you must reshuffle it afterwards.

    Downloading in general does not circumvent the normal timing rules, i.e., it does not allow you to suspend play or otherwise interrupt other game actions, unless the card says it does. Awaken is an interrupt that "downloads one Borg Communication or Borg Navigation drone." You could not play it when facing a dilemma, for example, because the timing rules don't allow interrupting a dilemma.

    Special Download Icon
    Some cards (mostly personnel, but also ships and outposts) have a special icon, a red, downward-pointing triangle, known as a "Special Download" icon (hereafter abbreviated Special Download) and described in the Rules Supplement under "New Icons". The icon will be followed by a specific target card name. On a personnel card, this icon is treated as a "special skill" (so it cannot be shared, selected by K’chiQ or Lal, or gained through Mindmeld). While they generally follow the normal downloading rules, the downloads allowed by this icon have special privileges and restrictions which do not apply to other downloads.

    The special privilege of a Special Download is that, by definition, it allows you to suspend play while you download the target card and put it into play. In some cases this is mere convenience (you can get an equipment card into your crew without returning to the outpost). In others, it represents an emergency measure (you can get an interrupt card that was not in your hand and play it after a battle has been declared). But this privilege comes with a price.

    First, you may use each particular Special Download only once per game. Alyssa Ogawa (FC) has the skill Special Download Medical Kit. Once you have used that skill, even if Alyssa Ogawa (FC) gets killed and you play another one, you can't use the second copy's Special Download this game.

    Second, unlike a regular download (where you may put the downloaded card in your hand and play it later), a Special Download target must be put into play immediately, at the location of the card with the Special Download icon, or to affect something at that location. If you cannot do that, you cannot download the card.


    • Alyssa Ogawa (FC): Special Download Medical Kit. You play the equipment card directly to her crew or Away Team. There should never be a barrier to playing this card immediately. You might use the Special Download as a non-emergency measure just to get the Medical Kit, or you might use it to suspend play when facing a dilemma requiring more MEDICAL than you have, giving your OFFICERs present MEDICAL skill.
    • Geordi La Forge (Prem): Special Download Ocular Implants. This event card plays on a Borg, android, or Geordi. You could always play it on Geordi himself, or you could play it on an android in his crew or Away Team. You could not play it on an android at another location.
    • William T. Riker (Prem): Special Download Anti-Matter Spread. This interrupt plays only at the start of a ship battle. Thus, you cannot use the Special Download just to have the card ready in case of a later battle; you would use it only tosuspend a battle just declared, so you could download Anti-Matter Spread from your deck and play it to reduce the opposing ship's WEAPONS.

    To summarize the differences, a regular download (text instruction):

    • follows normal timing rules (cannot suspend play unless specified on the card).
    • may be performed more than once per game.
    • may be put into play immediately or placed in your hand for later use.

    while a Special Download (Special Download icon):

    • may suspend any game action.
    • may be used only once per game (even if more than copy of the card is used).
    • must be put into play immediately at the location of the Special Download icon.