RR #90: Understanding Artifacts | openCards

RR #90: Understanding Artifacts

This Strategy-Note was written by Kathy McCracken (aka Major Rakal) and was published first on "Decipher's Website (decipher.com)" at Dec 12th, 1999.

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

Aefvadh! My most popular Romulan Reviews have been the ones explaining how to resolve dilemmas, especially the Dilemma Resolution Guide that accompanied them. Recently I've been asked to do something similar for artifacts, interrupts and other card types, to clarify the timing and resolution details for these sometimes confusing cards. Interrupts look like a big project (maybe worse than dilemmas), so I've decided to start with something a little more manageable...

UNDERSTANDING ARTIFACTS

Getting Artifacts into Play

Unlike Equipment, Interrupt and Event cards (which artifacts generally act like), you can't just put artifacts in your draw deck and play them. Artifacts are primarily seed cards: you seed them face down under missions during the dilemma seed phase. When you encounter one during a mission attempt, you can't just take it and use it; you must first earn the artifact by solving the mission, so move the artifact to the back of the seed stack and continue encountering and resolving dilemmas.

Borg do the same when encountering an artifact during a scouting attempt, but since the Borg don't solve missions, they must complete an objective targeting the mission. Even then, Borg don't earn an artifact - upon completion of the objective, place any artifacts face up on the mission. Your Survey Drone may "acquire" the artifacts later using his special skill, unless your opponent gets there first, at which time his personnel may acquire them; they're up for grabs.

Notice that I said they're primarily seed cards. Now, you can include artifacts in your draw deck (or Q’s Tent), but remember that you can't play them normally. The only thing they're good for in your draw deck or Tent is for use with another card that allows you either to seed them during the game (such as Q’s Planet), to "earn" them during the game (such as Starry Night) or bring them into play "as if earned" (such as Secret Compartment).

The same goes for any artifact that you discard during the game and then retrieve with Regenerate or Palor Toff; you cannot use such an artifact again unless you can re-earn it in some way. ("Use as Equipment" artifacts may be retrieved as if earned with Reclamation.) One earning (or acquiring) gets you one use of an artifact.

Where and How Many?

Where can you seed an artifact? The default rule is that artifacts must seed only under a planet mission. If an artifact says, "Seeds at a space location," you must seed it only at a space mission. But if it says, "May seed at a space location," you may seed it either at a planet or a space mission. A few other cards, such as the Characterize Neutrino Emissions mission or the Cryosatellite artifact, may give you specific permission to seed certain artifacts at a space location, but otherwise artifacts seed at planets only.

Make sure you seed it at an attemptable, solvable mission - missions lacking either mission requirements or affiliation icons (or game text saying who may attempt it) may not be attempted or solved, so there is no way to retrieve an artifact seeded there.

How many artifacts can you seed? You may seed only one artifact at any single mission (your opponent might seed one there also), unless a card specifically says you may seed more (such as Orb Negotiations or Cryosatellite). If you illegally seed more than one, all the artifacts you seeded there will be considered mis-seeds and placed out-of-play. However, you may seed an artifact at each mission on the spaceline, if you want to use that many seed slots. They may be the same artifact or different ones, but if an artifact is marked "Not duplicatable" you would only be able to bring one into play at a time (if you earned another copy while the first was still in play, the second one would have to be discarded).

Now What Do I Do With It?

OK, you've solved the mission and earned the artifact(s) that are there (if your opponent seeded one but you solved the mission, you earn it), or you assimilated the planet and your Survey Drone acquired the artifact(s). What do you do with an artifact? When do you use its text? It depends on the exact wording of the game text. There are three basic types of artifact game text, all of which work a little differently.

  • "Use as Equipment card." Unlike other artifacts, you don't have to "play" one of these when you earn it at a mission. Your Away Team just carries it away, or it comes aboard your ship if earned at a space mission. Thereafter, you use it just like any other Equipment card - you can carry it or beam it, your opponent can destroy it with a Disruptor Overload, if your ship blows up it's destroyed and discarded, a Common Thief can steal it. Its game text tells you what powers it confers on your Away Team, crew or ship; in some cases, it gives you, the player, permission to do something totally unrelated to a crew or Away Team (such as the Orb of Prophecy and Change), and in that case doesn't have to be present with any personnel - you can leave it aboard your outpost if you like.
  • "Place in hand until played..." As soon as you earn it, place this artifact in your hand, where it becomes a card to be played like any other card. If it says "played as an Event card," you must use your normal card play to play it and it may be nullified by Kevin Uxbridge. If it says "played as an Interrupt card," it doesn't use your card play, may be played during either player's turn at any time you could play an interrupt (that is, between other game actions) and may be nullified by Amanda Rogers. (Like an interrupt, it would normally be discarded after use even though it doesn't say so.) If it just says "played at any time" and does not say it plays as another card type, then it plays "like an interrupt" (whenever an interrupt is legal and without using your card play) but is not vulnerable to Amanda.
  • Other text, usually (but not always) using the word "immediately," is carried out as soon as you earn or acquire the artifact. Just do exactly what the artifact says: play it on the table (where it will usually have an ongoing effect similar to an event), choose three cards from your draw deck, relocate a planet location etc. Unless it plays on the table or on a ship, personnel etc., it will normally say "discard artifact" at the end of the text. You must carry out this text immediately (even if it doesn't explicitly say so); you may not save such an effect to use later. If you can't meet the conditions for using the text (for example, there is no longer a Trading Post where you earned Starry Night, because your opponent destroyed it), you must discard the artifact anyway.

Alternate Universe Artifacts

A few artifacts have Alternate Universe icons. To seed such artifacts, you must first seed an Alternate Universe Door or Space-Time Portal during the doorway seed phase. If the doorway is closed when you solve the mission, you still earn the artifacts; they have already conceptually "entered this universe." However, if an Alternate Universe artifact is placed in your hand when earned to play later (or reclaimed with Reclamation), you must have an open AU Door or STP when you play the card. Also, to seed an Alternate Universe artifact under Q's Planet or to download "use as Equipment card" artifacts with Starry Night or Secret Compartment, you must have an open doorway.

That's about it (much simpler than dilemmas). You'll find a table on my website listing all artifacts, classifying them according to type and clarifying any details of their use that may not be entirely clear from their text.

The Major's FAQ Trivia:

Early FAQ documents used a numbering system to classify questions and answers by card types or other concepts. In which FAQ was the numbering system introduced, and what was the number assigned to Artifact cards?

FAQ #3; artifacts were classified in section 9.

The original rulebook did not restrict the number of artifacts you could seed at a mission, nor did it prohibit re-using an artifact that you Palor Toff-ed, leading to a rather over-powered Betazoid Gift Box. How did the tournament rules (v.2 1996) handle this untenable situation?

Each player was restricted to one artifact per mission location, and any artifact that was supposed to be discarded was instead placed out-of-play.

In what expansion set was a permanent fix made for this problem, and how did it change the tournament rules?

In First Contact, the one-per-mission rule was made official for all gameplay. Discarded artifacts were no longer placed out-of-play and could now be retrieved, but simply could not be used again without being re-earned.

(Note: This isn't a contest, just a little trivia I've dug up from the old FAQs and rules sheets. Feel free to post your answers for discussion; I'll insert my answers into the review when I post it on my own website.)