RR #67: Actions, Responses and Timing, Part 2: Responses | openCards

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RR #67: Actions, Responses and Timing, Part 2: Responses

    This Strategy-Note article was written by Kathy McCracken (aka Major Rakal) and was published first on "Decipher's Website (decipher.com)" at Dec 26th, 1998.

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

    Aefvadh! Now that we know all the basics on actions, the "building blocks" of our game, let's look a little closer at one of their finer points...


    Last time we saw that optional responses are the second step of any action; that is, after you initiate an action (checking conditions, choosing targets and paying costs), both you and your opponent (opponent first, then alternating) may make appropriate valid responses to the action before it resolves. Responses are actions themselves, but a particular type of action: attempts to modify or cancel another action. To be a valid response, an action must specifically relate to the action just initiated. This almost always means an explicit mention of the first action in the game text. (It also may include a download of a card that specifically nullifies the first action.)

    For example, if you just initiated a battle, valid responses would include any action (card play or use of game text) that says it is used or played "at start of battle", "just after battle is initiated" or "if your opponent attacks you", or that "prevents a battle" or "cancels a battle".

    Other actions may be valid responses to sub-actions which are part of the results of battle. In this case you would perform the response just after that sub-action was initiated. Examples would include actions that are used "during battle" or that occur when an adversary is "engaged" or a personnel is selected to die.

    Valid responses to the initiation of a personnel battle would include:

    • playing Vulcan Nerve Pinch ("Plays at start of battle)"
    • activating Prepare Assault Teams ("at start of personnel battle")
    • using Antique Machine Gun ("At start of personnel battle")
    • playing Qapla! ("If your opponent attacks you...")
    • playing I'm A Doctor, Not A Doorstop ("Plays to cancel a personnel battle...)

    Valid responses to sub-actions within the battle action would include:

    • playing Android Headlock ("Mortally wounds a Borg drone... who just engaged your android in combat" - response to that combat pairing)
    • using Hypospray ("During personnel battle, one of your MEDICAL present may stun their adversary" - response to that combat pairing)
    • abducting a counterpart target with Assimilate Counterpart ("your Borg who engages target in combat may abduct" - response to that combat pairing)
    • using Garak's skill ("May replace anyone randomly selected to die here" - response to random selection after the winner is determined)

    Many of these responses may themselves be responded to; any of the interrupts may be responded to with Amanda Rogers, and the abduction of a personnel may be responded to with Mercy Kill.

    What is not a valid response to an action? Anything that does not specifically modify or nullify the action, even if it happens to have an incidental effect on the action.

    The following are examples of actions that are not valid responses to the initiation of a personnel battle (or to any actions within the battle):

    • playing a personnel to your Away Team with "Devidian Door"
    • playing a Q’s Tent to retrieve Phaser Burns
    • playing Disruptor Overload to destroy a hand weapon
    • using Vedek Winn's skill to "stop" an opposing personnel
    • playing End Transmission to end your turn
    • playing Humuhumunukunukuapua’a to enhance your Youth personnel

    Although in each case the action might affect the outcome of the battle, none of these actions directly and specifically refer to or modify battle, engaging adversaries, personnel deaths or any other part of battle, so they may not be performed during a personnel battle action.


    Let's look at some other typical game actions and see what would be valid responses and what would not. (These lists are not meant to be exhaustive; for example, most cards are not valid responses to ship movement, so I have just listed a few that players frequently want to play when their opponent moves their ship. Likewise, many more dilemmas have specific nullifiers. If a dilemma says "nullified by card X" or a personnel's skill says "nullifies dilemma Y", then card X and the use of that skill are valid responses to those dilemmas.)

    Initiating the movement of a ship
    Valid responses:

    • Wormhole ("Play one on any ship just as it begins to move" - modifies normal ship movement)
    • Wormhole Navigation Schematic ("Allows your ship...to travel through Bajoran Wormhole..." - modifies a specific type of movement)
    • Docking Procedures ("Plays on any ship just as it begins to dock or undock..." - modifies specific types of movement)

    Not valid responses (do not specifically mention or affect ship movement):

    • Temporal Rift
    • Rogue Borg Mercenaries
    • Incoming Message


    Valid responses:

    • Barclay Transporter Phobia ("Plays during transport by beaming...")

    Not valid responses:

    • Anything else!

    Encountering a dilemma
    Valid responses:

    • Adapt: Negate Obstruction ("Nullifies a Dilemma card...just encountered...")
    • Brain Drain ("Doubles effects of Interphasic Plasma Creatures")
    • Dropping In ("Nullifies your Dead End")
    • Eyes In The Dark ("Plays when facing a dilemma")
    • Q2 ("nullifies any Q-related dilemma")
    • Beware of Q ("...if opponent just encountered one of your dilemmas there, you may replace it...")
    • Temporal Vortex ("Suspends play while you place doorway on Borg Ship dilemma or The Sheliak")
    • using Dathon's skill ("Nullifies Tamarian-related dilemmas...")
    • using Mortal Q's skill ("Discard the Q dilemma if you encounter it")

    Not valid responses:

    • Discarding Space-Time Portal to return ship to hand
    • End Transmission
    • Emergency Transporter Armbands (except for Firestorm)
    • Brain Drain ("Removes all skills and CUNNING from any one personnel for the rest of this turn.")
    • using Suna's skill to download Reflection Therapy and change a personnel's skill

    Initiation of a ship battle
    Valid responses:

    • Anti-Matter Spread ("Plays at start of ship battle")
    • Asteroid Sanctuary ("...hides ship to prevent any battle initiated...")
    • using Ensign Tuvok's skill ("...may cancel a battle at same nebula")
    • Launch Portal ("Suspends play while you...launch any or all of your carried ships...")

    Not valid responses:

    • Discarding Space-Time Portal to return ship to hand
    • End Transmission
    • Temporal Rift
    • Temporal Vortex to relocate ship



    Now let's look at a few specific actions and decide when they can be used as a valid response (and to what) and when they can't.

    Discarding a Space-Time Portal
    This action is a valid response to:

    • the play of a Revolving Door or Subspace Schism ("download Alternate Universe Door" - because AU Door directly nullifies these cards)
    • the play of a Temporal Rift on a ship ("nullify Temporal Rift")
    • playing your first Wormhole on a ship ("play as a second Wormhole interrupt"; note that you may not do this in response to your opponent's Wormhole)

    Discarding it to return your ship to your hand is not a valid response to:

    • initiation of a ship battle
    • encountering the Borg Ship dilemma, The Sheliak, Cytherians or any other dilemma
    • initiation of a Rogue Borg battle

    In fact, it is not a valid response to any other action! Space-Time Portal does not say that the discard for this purpose may respond to any other action, such as battle or dilemmas. You may perform this action only between other actions, and not between dilemmas (that is, during a mission attempt action), because it is not "playing a doorway card."

    Playing Rogue Borg Mercenaries

    This interrupt is a valid response only to your own play of another Rogue Borg Mercenaries card, or to the initiation of a Rogue Borg battle at the start of a turn. In other words, you play a Rogue Borg; if I do not nullify it, you may respond by playing another Rogue Borg, etc. You may also add more Rogue Borg to reinforce an existing group in their battle at the start of a turn.

    You may play the first Rogue Borg Mercenaries card only between other actions (including between dilemmas). You may not play it as a response to ship movement or beaming. For example, if I declare that I am moving my ship, you may not play a Rogue Borg on it to prevent it from moving; I have already initiated the movement. After the ship reaches its destination, you may play the Rogue Borg on the ship before I initiate another action.

    Playing Temporal Rift

    This interrupt is a valid response to...nothing. That's right; you can't escape from a dilemma or a battle by Rifting your ship. Once you encounter the dilemma or I initiate a battle against your ship, it's too late to hide in a Temporal Rift. You may play Temporal Rift only between other actions.

    Playing Palor Toff - Alien Trader

    This interrupt is also a valid response to...nothing. While it allows you to retrieve a card from your discard pile, it does not say it may be used during any other action or that it responds to another action. So if your opponent plays Amanda Rogers, and you don't have a Q2 in your hand, you may not respond to Amanda by playing Palor Toff to get one from your discard pile. You may play Palor Toff only between other actions.

    Activating The Line Must Be Drawn Here

    Activating this hidden agenda is a valid response to anyone playing Amanda Rogers, Kevin Uxbridge or Q2, because those card plays are all specifically affected (the player will lose points for playing the card). You may not activate it in response to your opponent encountering the Q dilemma (to try to deter him from playing Q2). It does not mention or affect the Q dilemma; you must wait until he plays Q2 to activate it. He may not then take back the Q2, because it was validly initiated and responded to.

    Note that you may, if you wish, activate this or any other hidden agenda as a separate game action between other actions. (Some hidden agendas may only be activated as separate actions, because they do not respond to anything. Assimilate Planet is an example.)

    Activating Mirror Image

    Revealing this hidden agenda is a valid response to the play of Red Alert! Kivas Fajo - Collector, Masaka Transformations or The Traveler: Transcendence, all cards which are explicitly affected by Mirror Image. (In practice, it makes little sense to reveal it as a response to Red Alert or The Traveler, as those cards play on the table and would not affect you immediately anyway. You might as well wait until just before you wish to make use of their texts.)

    It is not a valid response to your opponent encountering Thought Fire. While it can cause your opponent to be affected by your The Traveler: Transcendence, which would trigger Thought Fire's effects, Mirror Image does not directly modify Thought Fire (it modifies The Traveler).

    Activating HQ: Defensive Measures

    This hidden agenda may be revealed as a response to your opponent initiating a mission attempt at one of your missions with more than one affiliation icon on each end; it prevents that mission attempt.

    It is not a valid response to the attempted completion of the mission immediately following the resolution of the last seed card. Since it prevents the mission attempt from even being initiated (returning you to "step 0" of the action), it must be revealed during the response step of the mission attempt, not during the results step.

    Although it allows your personnel to initiate battle against their own affiliation, it is not a valid response to initiating battle. Meeting battle affiliation restrictions is a condition for initiating battle, so you must activate the hidden agenda before the initiation itself.


    Just because a card says it may be used "at any time" does not mean you may use it as a response. I'll talk about this more in the article on timing, but briefly, "at any time" does not mean literally at any time, in the everyday sense of the phrase. It is gameplay shorthand for "at any time between other actions." "At any time" does not override the basic rule that you can't interrupt one action with another, unless you are making a valid response. What is does mean is that you may perform the action on your opponent's turn, or before your normal card play, for example. Most interrupt cards have an implied "at any time" (unless the card text limits you to a particular time or situation).

    The prime example of this limitation is Space-Time Portal, which says it may be discarded "at any time" for one of a variety of functions. As noted above, this does not mean you may do it during a mission attempt (which is one overall game action) or during battle.


    Ironically, a card that explicitly "suspends play" may be played literally at any time. An action that suspends play may be used as a response (for example, Temporal Vortex may be played as a response to the encounter of The Sheliak, making that dilemma "disappear"), but it also may suspend any action, whether related or not, even during the results step of an action.

    Launch Portal is a card that suspends play. Although it is a doorway (normally playable only on your own turn), because suspending play by definition may happen "at any time," you may play Launch Portal even during your opponent's turn. Its most obvious use is during battle. You might play it as a response to the initiation of the battle (after your opponent targets your ship), but you may also wait and play it during the results of the battle, for example, just before the mothership is destroyed.

    Using a special download icon also suspends play, by definition. (Other downloads do not suspend play unless they specify that they do.) So, while you may not use Suna's skill to download Reflection Therapy to change a crew member's skill to MEDICAL while facing a dilemma, you may use Alyssa Ogawa (Prem)'s special download icon to download a Medical Kit, adding MEDICAL skill to your OFFICER-classification personnel in the crew. If you encountered Rascals, you could use her special download after the dilemma took effect to download the Medical Kit, giving you a second MEDICAL skill to cure the dilemma.


    Some actions may be initiated only "just after" some other action has occurred, before anything else can happen. Usually the action will use the word "just" or "immediately." It may be a response to another action (for example, "just initiated" or "just played"), but in some cases it may be a new action that must immediately follow the result of another action ("just completed," "just after stunning" etc.).

    A "just" action will always take place before a non-"just" action. This might mean you get to take an action when it would normally be your opponent's turn to initiate an action.

    • Amanda Rogers ("Nullifies any one interrupt card just played"). "Just played" means the play was just initiated and you are in the response step. In other words, you can't nullify an interrupt with Amanda after its results have occurred (even if it is an interrupt that remains in play, such as Temporal Rift). Note that Kevin Uxbridge is not a "just" response, so it may be used to nullify an event already in play.
    • Security Office ("Whenever a personnel battle was just initiated on this station, any player's personnel here...may move there..."). This is a response to the initiation of battle (i.e., it would take place before the battle results begin with shuffling the combat piles). If your opponent wished to use the text of Antique Machine Gun ("At start of pe personnel battle..."), he could not do so until you moved your personnel there from the Security Office.
    • Particle Fountain ("play...on just completed planet mission..."). Although you initiated the last main action (the mission attempt), so it would normally be your opponents turn to initiate an action, this interrupt is a "just" action and comes first. He may not play a Brain Drain to remove an ENGINEER skill from the Away Team and thus prevent you from playing the Particle Fountain.
    • Temporal Wake ("Plays if any ship or Away Team just time traveled"). This interrupt plays after the time-travel has taken place. For example, I play Temporal Rift on your ship to make it time-travel into the future. Then I may immediately play Temporal Wake on another of your ships present to force the Rift to affect the second ship. You may not take an action between these two plays, except a "just" action of your own (for example, you might play a Temporal Wake on my ship present, to send it into the Rift).
    • Talon Drone ("Just after stunning an opposing personnel, may abduct and assimilate that adversary"). Stunning an opposing personnel is the result of a combat pairing (a sub-action in the results of a personnel battle). You would use the skill before the next combat pairing took place.



    My thanks today go to the authors of the Star Wars CCG Special Edition Rulebook Glossary for the explanation of "just" actions and "just" responses, which I have "commandeered" for Star Trek CCG. (In case you were wondering, the timing rules in Star Trek CCG are based on the ones developed for Star Wars CCG, with a few minor differences. Though the "just" actions have not formally made it into the STAR TREK CCG rules, they may be interpreted in the same way.)

    That wraps up Responses. Next time, an in-depth discussion of Timing.