RR #118: Hidden Agendas Revealed, Part 2 | openCards

RR #118: Hidden Agendas Revealed, Part 2

This Strategy-Note was written by Kathy McCracken (aka Major Rakal) and was published first on "Major Rakals Tal Shiar Headquarters (members.cox.net/majorrakal)" at Apr 29th, 2001.

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

Aefvadh! Last time we looked at seeding, playing, and activating hidden agendas, including examples of activating as a valid response to some action. Once you activate a hidden agenda, when can you -- or must you -- use the different parts of its text? That's the subject of...

Hidden Agendas Revealed, Part 2

The text we're now interested in is whatever comes after " plays on table". Remember that that introductory sentence has nothing to do with the rest of the card text, but just lets you know whether it's seedable or not; it always goes face down on the table. When you activate a hidden agenda, pretend that part of the text doesn't exist, and that you just played an interrupt (one that stays in play, usually) that has the remaining text on it. (A hidden agenda is activated like playing an interrupt -- it's an "at any time" action.)

The rest of the text falls into three basic categories.

"Do this (now)"

This kind of text always comes right after "Seeds or plays on table." It doesn't actually tell you when to "do this", because it always means "do it now," just like playing an interrupt that says "do this." You must perform the action immediately. If it's not possible to do that (for example, it says, "Target X", and there is no X for you to target, or there is a condition, such as "If X is true, do this," but X isn't true), then you can't activate that card; you must turn it face down again.

It's fairly rare for this to be the only kind of text on a hidden agenda. Usually, once you "do this", it results in one or more of the other kinds of text ("this condition exists" and "you may do something later").

A good example is Impersonate Captive. "Place on your Founder present with a non-Borg personnel you've captured." If you don't have a Founder present with a non-Borg personnel you've captured, activating this card is an illegal action. The rest of the text describes what happens to that Founder after you place the card on it.

A variant that appears on a couple of cards is "does this" (that is, "this card does this"). It's just as mandatory and immediate as "do this." Examples are Assimilate Starship ("Targets an opponent's ship") and Writ of Accountability's first function ("Once per game, downloads an FCA personnel").

Important timing note: Because "Do this (now)" text must be done whenever you activate the hidden agenda, and activating a hidden agenda may be done "at any time", it follows that that text may be used (by activating the card) during your opponent's turn, or during your own turn without advancing to executing orders. It's exactly as if you played an interrupt that said, "Place on your Founder..."

"This condition exists"

Next is text that provides an ongoing effect. Once the card is activated, you don't take an action to get the effect; it's always there (until the card is nullified). This can be considered more or less an "automatic modifier." You don't "use" the card, but simply play in accordance with its effect.

The simplest example of this kind of text is Treaty: Romulan/Cardassian. Just like a non-hidden agenda treaty, once it's face up on the table, "Your Romulan and Cardassian affiliations recognize this treaty. They can now mix and cooperate."

Another example is Computer Crash. While it is in play, "No player may play a Q's Tent doorway, download any card or play any card that requires downloading."

Other examples include E-Band Emissions, Fair Play, and Intermix Ratio.

Important timing note: Actually, a "non-timing" note. Since you don't perform an action in order to "use" this kind of text (it's always "on"), there is no issue of "when you can do it."

"You may do something later"

The final category, and the most common, is text that allows you to do something at a later time. It may let you do something "during your turn" or "once each turn" (exactly when you can do it during your turn depends on whether it's executing orders or not); at any time; or when some specific action or condition occurs. It may require you to discard the hidden agenda card when you perform the allowed action (so you only get one action from one copy of that card), or it may stay in play indefinitely, allowing you to perform that action repeatedly.

Fajo's Gallery is one example. "You may draw two cards each time you capture a unique personnel, and one card each time one of your [Fajo] cards or your Mona Lisa enters play." Here, another action triggers the use of the text, and you get to do it each time one of those triggering actions occurs.

Some cards have more than one of these functions, such as Plans of the Tal Shiar. Let's look at each of the functions separately.

"Wherever you have a Tal Shiar personnel in play, your Romulan espionage cards play at any time (for free) and may not be nullified." This is a little bit of "this condition exists" (the fact that your espionage cards can't be nullified) plus some "you may do this later" (you can play espionage cards for free and at any time).

"Also, once each turn, you may discard one of your Romulan espionage cards from hand or table, then draw one card." You can do this only during your own turns ("once EACH turn"), and since it's not playing or downloading a card, and doesn't say "at any time" or "suspends play", it's executing orders. But you can keep on doing it each turn as long as the Plans card is in play -- this function doesn't require you to discard it.

"At any time you may discard this objective from table to download one Romulan espionage card." This you can do on either player's turn, and it isn't executing orders ("at any time"), but you have to discard it to get the function.

Important timing note: Because this type of text is not tied to the time of activating the hidden agenda, it's not all automatically allowed "at any time". You must follow the normal timing rules for performing whatever action the card allows. For example, while I may activate Plans of the Tal Shiar (like any other hidden agenda) during my opponent's turn, I cannot discard an espionage card to draw a card during his turn. That function is limited to my own turns by the text "once each turn". Likewise, while I may activate it during my card play phase and still make my normal card play after that, I cannot activate it during the card play phase, immediately discard an espionage card to draw a card, and then play the drawn card as my normal card play. The activation is "at any time", but the discard/draw is not, and it advances me to executing orders.

More examples

Another card that combines several types of hidden agenda text is Q the Referee. "Intermix Ratio, Mirror Image, Oof!, Intruder Alert!, Temporal Vortex, Scorched Hand, and The Juggler have icon." This is an ongoing effect.

"Once each turn, you may play one card for free OR discard (or place beneath draw deck) one of your cards from hand or in play to draw a card." This is a "you may do this later" function, which remains in play indefinitely.

"Also, you may suspend play while you download any other card (ignoring Computer Crash), then discard incident." And this is a "later" function that requires discarding the incident.

Finally, all the hidden agenda Borg objectives combine "do this (now)" with "you may do this later." For example, Assimilate Counterpart says, "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:..." The targeting step is always "do this (now)" -- you must target an appropriate card immediately when you activate the card. Once you do that, you may do the rest of it later on -- beam to the target's crew or Away Team and battle them, and abduct the target if the triggering action (engaging him in combat) occurs. Following that, if you meet the conditions (both those on the card and the standard rule-based conditions for probing for a Borg objective), you may probe at the end of your turn.