Small numbers of explorers sympathetic to each faction roam the planet, their locations largely unknown to other factions. Where a faction has a significant concentration of hidden supporters, this is represented by that player holding a Location Card, as shown on the left. Up to two Military Units may be placed directly onto the Card, representing the fact that the Units have been deployed there stealthily.
At the player’s discretion, Location Cards can be placed face-up (“Exposed”) or face-down (“Hidden”) when they are first received. They may be turned face-up at any time, even during the processing of a single order, and must be turned face-up in the situations described below, but they can only be turned face-down between Mil Ops Phases, and only if they are empty. Empty Cards may be shuffled at any time between Mil Ops Phases.
Units on face-up Cards may be transferred to the map at any stage, provided stacking limits are observed, but are always considered to have received the Military Order issued to the Card.
Advantages of Location Cards
- Add to Friendly Area. All builds and musters performed in the game must be performed in a faction’s Friendly Area, which includes friendly Location Cards. A Location Card may not have Utilities or Shields placed on it, but may allow Utilities or Shields to be built on the corresponding map space if the location is in the Friendly Area.
- Extra Stacking Room. Units may be mustered onto Cards under the same circumstances as mustering on the map. By combining the Card’s stacking limit (2) with the stacking limit on the map (5), a single location may contain a total of 7 Units.
- Extra Orders. A Location Card may receive Military Orders that are different to the Orders submitted to the corresponding on-map grid space.
Only once Exposed:
- Optional Hostility. Even an empty Location Card may have some military effects, rendering a space hostile to opposing factions as soon as the Card is turned face-up. This represents the presence of small mobile squads capable of performing scouting operations or assisting with missile spotting, and so on.
- Location Cards break ties in battle, and may be turned face-up after all other battle strength has been calculated.
Only if Hidden:
- Secret Mustering. The mustering rules for face-down Cards are identical to face-up Cards, but the effect is vastly different. If the map location specified by a Location Card is in the Friendly Area, a player may deploy Military Units on the back of the Card, including mustering Civilian Units immediately before a Military Bonus Action or submitting Military Orders.
- Invisibility to Bombs and Missiles. While a Card is face-down, any Units on it are safe from a Missile Attack or Bombing Raid.
- Safer Support. Support from Hidden Units is not cut by Missile/Bomb hits, or by Marches and Supports.
Exposure Rules for Location Cards
The back of the Location Card indicates which hemisphere the Card is in. Other players can see how many Cards from each hemisphere are being held by a faction, but can only insist on the Card being Exposed when:
- the corresponding map space becomes the site of a Utility build or is used to muster Units and the right to claim the space as friendly relies on the Location Card;
- the Card is used an obstruction to the movement of Units or Missiles;
- the Hidden Units are ordered to March;
- the Hidden Units perform a Demolition Attack (including “misses”);
- the Hidden Units are about to exert any direct military effect on any other Units, including the provision of Support in battles;
- the location is the site of a battle.
Conversely, if the Hidden Units do not actually respond to their order and no battle occurs, the Units may stay Hidden. If Hidden Units are ordered to March, their location must be revealed by turning the Card face-up as soon as orders are revealed, before Missiles are launched, because March Orders are compulsory.
A Card does not have to be Exposed during building and mustering on the map if the Card is merely used to connect friendly spaces, and it does not have to be Exposed if the mustering is performed onto the Card itself.
The unifying principles underlying these Exposure Rules are:
- significant changes to the map that directly involve the on-Card Units or the corresponding map space do not need to be taken on trust.
- it is not possible to hide in the middle of a battle.
A player may hold up to 5 Location Cards at the end of Exploration; if this limit is exceeded, the excess Cards must be discarded at the end of the Exploration Action. (A discarded Card must not have Units stationed on it, but if necessary, it can be emptied by moving on-Card Units to the map.)