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Does discarding an upgrade card in X-Wing miniatures behave differently from discarding a damage card? The motivation for this question are two abilities: Chewbacca (crew) and Tomax Bren. Chewbacca has the ability:

When you are dealt a Damage card, you may immediately discard that card and recover 1 shield.

Then, discard this Upgrade card.

There is the FAQ ruling on Chewbacca:

If a ship equipped with Chewbacca is about to suffer its last damage before it would be destroyed, Chewbacca may be used to prevent that one damage and recover a shield.

Based on this, it appears that discarding a card means removing it from your ship. Additionally, the core rules say:

Some abilities may require the player to discard an Upgrade card. Return discarded Upgrade cards to the game box; they cannot be used for the remainder of the game.

However, then there is Tomax Bren's ability:

Once per round, after you discard an Elite Upgrade card, flip that card faceup.

If discarding an upgrade card caused it to be removed from your ship, turning it face up wouldn't do anything. It would be face up in the supply area, rather than something you can use again.

It seems pretty clear to me that Tomax Bren's ability is meant to be something along the lines of:

Once per round, when you would discard an Elite Upgrade card, instead do not discard it.

Why does he not say this and how (given the rules on discarding cards) does his ability work?

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The X-Wing rules reference overrides the Core Rulebook with the following:

When an Upgrade card is discarded, it is flipped facedown. The card is out of play for all purposes except when determining the total squad point cost of the ship to which it was equipped. If an Upgrade card is flipped faceup by a game effect, it returns to play equipped to the same ship.

So yes, discarding a damage card does behave differently from discarding an upgrade card. In part, this is because facedown damage cards already have significant game meaning, where facedown upgrade cards do not. Some critical damage cards have ways of turning themselves facedown, which is different from discarding them since they remain a damage but no longer have any special effect.

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