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 Mar 13th, 1998.
This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:
- Previous "Romulan Review" (# 45): "RR #45: A Probing analysis".
- Next "Romulan Review" (# 47): "RR #47: Are Dilemmas relevant to the Borg?".
Aefvadh! Continuing my series on First Contact Expansion gameplay, let's look at a mechanism that is only discussed in the rules sheet in terms of results, not in terms of how you do it. We know there has to be a way to do it; it was inevitable that this mechanism be included in this expansion...
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. YOUR PERSONNEL WILL BE ASSIMILATED.
Why don't the rules tell us how to assimilate personnel? Simply put, because there is no rule-based mechanism for personnel assimilation (except as a side-effect of planet assimilation). The only way to assimilate individual personnel is to use a card text that has the result of personnel assimilation. So far, there are only a handful of cards that have this result.
The most straightforward method is using the Talon Drone (3 of 19). His special skill reads, "Just after stunning an opposing personnel, may abduct and assimilate that adversary." In order to stun an opposing personnel, the Talon Drone must engage him in personal combat during a personnel battle. (More about how to provoke that battle later.) Form your combat piles, match adversaries, and hope that your Talon Drone will engage someone of lesser STRENGTH. (Having an Assault Drone or two in the Away Team will make this more likely.) If he does, you may choose to stun the adversary, and if so, you may choose to immediately abduct and assimilate him. Note that even if the drone's STRENGTH is more than twice that of the adversary, you are not required to mortally wound him; you may always choose only to stun (and then abduct and assimilate).
Both the Talon Drone and the assimilated victim immediately drop out of the battle, and may beam back to your ship if possible. Whether they beam away or not, they will not be part of the final STRENGTH totals to determine the outcome of the battle, so if the adversary is not particularly desirable as a drone, and you want the Talon Drone in the final count, you may leave the adversary stunned.
Assimilation Tubules (with Talon Drone)
The second method also uses a Talon Drone, but also requires an interrupt, Assimilation Tubules. This Borg Use Only interrupt reads, "Plays during battle after a winner is determined. Your Talon Drone may select one opposing mortally wounded personnel present to instead be assimilated." Here your Talon Drone must still be a part of the battle at the end (and not stunned or mortally wounded), so it can't be a Talon Drone that earlier abducted and assimilated a stunned adversary. Also, there must be a mortally wounded adversary to assimilate; this does not include the personnel who is killed if you won the battle on final STRENGTH totals.
Conduct the personal combat, total STRENGTHs at the end, and randomly select a losing personnel to be killed. If you have an active TalonDrone and at least one mortally wounded opposing personnel present, play Assimilation Tubules and select the mortally wounded to be assimilated. Then any other mortally wounded die, stunned cards recover, and survivors are stopped. Note that in this case, the Talon Drone and victim do not beam away, because there was no abduction, just assimilation.
The Talon Drone also has a special download icon for Assimilation Tubules. That means that once per game, you may suspend play and download Assimilation Tubules, at the time you would need it - when the winner of the battle has been determined and you have a mortally wounded adversary to assimilate. You may only do this once per game, regardless of how many Talon Drones you play. You may play as many copies of Assimilation Tubules from your hand during the game as you wish; you just cannot "special download" more than one.
This space/planet dilemma reads, "Unless Cybernetics and MEDICAL present, opponent (if playing Borg) assimilates one personnel present (random selection). Discard dilemma." This is a passive method of assimilation; you don't need to create an excuse for battle, just wait for your opponent to trip the dilemma, hopefully without the skills to pass its conditions. On the down side, the assimilated drone remains on the ship or planet where he was assimilated, until you can come and pick him up. Of ourse, if he's aboard a ship, you can also use him to scout that ship for an appropriate objective, such as Assimilate Starship. He cannot attack your opponent's personnel, but may serve to provoke him into attacking you.
All the other methods produce a drone. If you want a counterpart for Assimilate Homeworld (other than Locutus of Borg, who is already assimilated), you need to first complete this objective, which reads in part, "Target an opponent's unique male personnel. Your Borg may beam to and battle target's crew or Away Team. One of your Borg who engages target in combat may abduct target. If target is occupying an Assimilation Table, you may probe: ,,: Assimilated as a counterpart..."
Activate the objective and select your target. Beam your Away Team to the ship, outpost, or planet where the target is located and battle the crew or Away Team of which he is a part. If any one of your Borg (it doesn't have to be a Talon Drone) engages the target in combat, you may choose to abduct the target at that time. That means you do not compare their STRENGTHs and decide if anyone is stunned or mortally wounded; they simply drop out of the battle, and may beam away if possible. Note that the target is not assimilated yet! That comes later. Meanwhile, finish off the battle (during which your Talon Drones could assimilate other stunned personnel, or mortally wounded ones with Assimilation Tubules).
After you get the abducted target to the location of your AssimilationTable, you place him on the Table (just put the personnel card on top of the equipment card), and probe at the end of a turn (assuming you have not battled at that location that turn or on the opponent's preceding turn). When you obtain a successful probe (any one of the subcommand icons), the target is immediately assimilated as a counterpart.
Completion of these objectives may have the side effect of assimilating personnel, if your opponent has any present on the planet or on an outpost at that location at the time you complete the objective. But personnel aboard an assimilated ship are not assimilated with the ship. (They become intruders.)
Motivations for Battle
As you can see, all of the reasonably reliable methods of assimilating personnel require a personnel battle. But the Borg can't initiate battle unless their objective or another card allows it, or unless they are counter-attacking.
So far, the only objective that allows personnel battle is Assimilate Counterpart. It might seem too limited, because once you have abducted the target you can not initiate another battle for that objective. However, notice that you "may abduct" the target when you engage him. You don't have to! So you can simply battle your opponent, and leave the target alive and unabducted, and then be able to battle again based on the same objective. The main danger is that if you win the battle, the target might be selected for the random kill. This would discard your objective.
If all you want to do is assimilate drones, you can provoke your opponent into attacking you, allowing you to counter-attack at that location on your next turn in any form you wish, including personnel battle. The two easiest ways to provoke an attack are probably scouting his ship for Assimilate Starship (basically, he has a choice of attacking and killing your drone, or ignoring him and allowing him to assimilate his ship), or attacking his ship with Eliminate Starship (if he counter-attacks on his turn, so can you on your following turn).
Miscellaneous Notes on Assimilation
There is currently no way to assimilate a personnel that you capture (with Cardassian Trap, or from acquisition of your opponent's Cryosatellite, for example). Captured personnel go to the "capture area" by your deck, and even if you Brainwash a captive, you do not assimilate him.
There is also no way to assimilate your own personnel, should you end up in control of a non-Borg, perhaps through Frame of Mind. You would either place them under house arrest (aboard a ship) or leave them behind (on a planet).
As yet, there is no mechanism for "unassimilating' an assimlatedpersonnel.
Defenses for the non-Borgish
What can you do to defend against a Borg opponent with assimilation on his mind? There are a few ways.
- Don't initiate battle against a Borg opponent, thereby depriving him of the ability to counter-attack. This may be difficult, because battling him is one way to delay him from probing to complete objectives.
- If he tries to assimilate your starship, play Fractal Encryption Code to lock him out instead of battling his scout. This requires an android aboard, and prevents you from using the ship. You could play Auto-Destruct Sequence on the ship to remove his target. A bit drastic, but it does deprive him of both the target and an excuse for battle.
- Use Mercy Kill to kill off any personnel he abducts or assimilates. You lose the personnel anyway, but you could Res-Q and play him again.
- Have MEDICAL and Cybernetics in your crew to overcome the Borg Servo dilemma. Most crews would have MEDICAL anyway; here's an excellent reason to add Cybernetics.
- Carry phasers or disruptors to increase your STRENGTH in battle. If he can't stun or mortally wound your personnel, he can't assimilate them with a Talon Drone.
- Use Android Headlock to mortally wound a drone who engages your android in combat.