This section explains several optional rules that players may freely use to customize the game to their liking.
Although not all of the optional rules can be used together, players can experience Nexus Ops in many different ways by using several optional rules during the same game (e.g., players can use the alternate units, intercepted transmissions, and the vortex).
Before starting the game, players must all agree on which optional rules (if any) they wish to use.
Time is of the Essence
The game ends immediately after a player acquires 10 or more victory points. That player wins the game. The game still ends if a player is eliminated, as described in "Winning the Game".
In for the Long Haul
The game ends immediately after a player acquires 14 or more victory points. That player wins the game. The game still ends if a player is eliminated, as described in "Winning the Game".
During the Receive Starting Rubium step of setup, all players receive one Secret Mission card.
King Of The Hill
If the active player controls the Monolith hex during the Draw phase, he may either draw two Energize cards or take one King of the Hill card (the backside of the Battle Victory card) and place it faceup in his play area. If he takes a King of the Hill card, all other players each draw one Energize card.
King of the Hill cards are worth 1 victory point each. Players still gain Battle Victory cards as normal.
Instead of drawing only one Secret Mission card during the Draw phase, the active player draws two Secret Mission cards, chooses one to keep in his hand, and returns the other card to the bottom of the Secret Mission deck.
Extra Exploration Tokens
Included with this game are six extra exploration tokens, marked with green borders. These tokens are meant to increase the variety of rewards that players can find on the board. These bonus tokens can be used in the classic or variant game and in conjunction with any other optional rules.
During the "Place Exploration Tokens" step of setup, instead of returning the exploration tokens with green borders to the game box, players are free to exchange these bonus exploration tokens with any of the other exploration tokens.
There can only ever be 18 exploration tokens on the board (12 on the Energy Dependence two-player board), so return all unused exploration tokens to the game box.
Note: For optimal game balance, it is recommended that the entire group of exploration tokens contain refineries that generate no fewer than a total of 16 rubium.
After preparing the Secret Mission deck during setup, draw two more Secret Mission cards than the number of players in the game. (For example: in a two-player game, players draw four Secret Mission cards; in a three-player game, players draw five Secret Mission cards; in a four-player game, players draw six Secret Mission cards).
Reveal these cards by placing them faceup near the board where all players can see them. This row of cards is called the transmission line.
During the game, players do not draw Secret Mission cards into their hand. Instead, the active player may fulfill any card(s) in the transmission line. When the active player fulfills a card, he places it faceup in his play area. During the Draw phase, he replenishes the transmission line back to the original total.
The active player still takes one Battle Victory card after winning a battle, and he is limited to fulfilling only one Secret Mission: Battle card per battle.
Four-player Team Rules
To play a four-player team game, set up the game for four players as shown in the diagram on page 12. Players separate into two teams of two players each. Teammates sit across from each other. Instead of playing to 12 individual victory points, the first team to reach a combined total of 20 victory points wins the game.
At the end of the Draw phase, the active player's teammate may choose one card from his hand and pass that card facedown to the active player, who adds it to his hand. The passed card can either be an Energize card or a Secret Mission card.
If the active player moves any of his units into a hex that contains his teammate's units, the hex is considered contested, but no battle occurs. Neither player collects rubium from a refinery in that hex. The active player can move units that are capable of moving more than one hex through hexes containing his teammate's units as long as none of the opposing team's units are present.
Teammates may discuss whatever they like, but all talk must be public. Also, aside from the card-passing rule explained above, a player may show his teammate some cards from his hand. If he does so, he must show it to all players.
If one player is eliminated, the game does not end. The remaining teammate continues playing and can still win the game for the team. The eliminated player's victory points still count toward the team's total victory points.
If two teammates are both eliminated, the game ends. The surviving team wins the game.
During the Place Terrain step of setup, flip the Monolith hex to reveal the Vortex.
Each edge of this hex is labeled with one face of a six-sided die. It does not matter how players orient this hex during setup, but once placed it must remain in that position for the duration of the game.
Each time before the first player takes his turn, he must follow these steps to resolve the Vortex's effect:
Roll one black die and one white die, and then refer to the numbers on the Vortex hex. The Vortex sucks in all units occupying the hex that borders the number shown on the black die. Then the storm blows these units into the hex that borders the number shown on the white die. Simply move the units to this new hex.
Then roll one die and refer to the numbers on the Vortex hex. The Vortex projects massive amounts of energy toward the hex that borders the number shown on the die. All units occupying that hex are destroyed.
Finally, for each controlled hex adjacent to the Vortex, the controlling player draws one Energize card.
Note: Skip these steps during his first turn of the game.
The blue border surrounding the Vortex hex indicates that no units can enter that hex. Cards affecting the Monolith do not affect the Vortex. During setup, return "Death From Above" and "Secure the Monolith" to the game box; they are not used.
To play with alternate units, use the backside of the reference sheet labeled "Alternate Units". Some clarifications to the alternate unit abilities are explained here:
Clones: If players have difficulty remembering the purchasing limit, simply place newly purchased Clones on the refinery art. Then at the end of the turn, slide all Clones off the refinery art.
Shardian: If a defender destroys his own Shardians and he has no other units in the contested hex, he loses the battle and the attacker wins the battle.
Sporling: It is possible for Sporlings to move several times and participate in multiple battles during a single turn.
Boulder Blitzer: If in a Rock Plains, Boulder Blitzers attack before all other units (instead of after Magma Divers).
Magma Diver: When moving from a Magma Pool, Magma Divers "dive" down and may surface in any other Magma Pool as well as any hex adjacent to a Magma Pool.
Monolith Wyrm: Each time the Monolith Wyrm scores a hit during its special attack, the owner must roll another die. This process continues until the Monolith Wyrm misses.