Thanks to the gametext on Earth (Cradle of the Federation), if you decide to play with The Next Generation-icon personnel, then you also get to play Earth icon personnel as well. For this reason, this week's top five isn't strictly a The Next Generation (TNG) top five, it is more of a Federation top five. Of course, just after the release of Fractured Time, this list wasn't even a top five. It was just a top one. As soon as I saw James T. Kirk (Living Legend), I went from having never played a TNG deck, to having such a deck become one of my all time favorites. For this week only, I'm naming Kirk as my number one card; while leaving the other four cards from my TNG list in no particular order:
1. James T. Kirk (Living Legend)
Following the release of Whisper in the Dark and Tsiolkovsky Infection in Necessary Evil, I can't tell you how many times I would have had three personnel killed by one of these dilemmas. I frequently knew my personnel were about to face them and made sure I had the skills, but one random stop was often the difference between multiple deaths and overcoming the dilemma. Kirk put an end to all that - almost. It no longer mattered whether my opponent stopped vital skills, I just had to hope that Kirk wasn't randomly stopped. He often was, but that's beside the point. Playing and killing him up to five times in one game, thanks to Runabout Search and The Edge of Forever, made up for that - somewhat.
An invaluable skill cheater, it can make any personnel gain a skill he or she already has. It is a zero-cost event. The personnel who benefits does not even need to be Federation. You can use any Federation card to add the skill, and you get five uses out of it before it decays. Fantastic! I like nothing better than including this card and a handful of Federation cards in a non-Federation deck, just to see the surprised look on my opponent's face. It may not feature the TNG icon, but it really feels like it should because it can help any deck.
U.S.S. Prometheus (Experimental Prototype)
For a long time, the I.K.S. Ning'tao was the only ship that could damage another ship twice after winning an engagement. But why should the Klingons have all the ship destruction fun? The U.S.S. Prometheus, with its multivector assault mode, means that the Federation (and Romulans) can also get in on the party. It costs a lot to play and has some hefty staffing requirements, but being able to destroy your opponent's damaged ship more than makes up for it. With this ship in play, I have found that my opponents will become much more wary of attempting space missions, because they know that one damage dilemma could mean the end of their ship. That is some kind of psychological pressure!
The only card in this list to actually feature the TNG icon. Guinan has some decent skills, some great attributes and an awesome ability. Scoring points without having to leave your headquarters can have such an impact on a deck during the first few turns, that Guinan and At What Cost? are important staples in every Federation deck I build. Giving my opponent five points isn't ideal, but Khan! can negate it. Incidentally, the look on Kirk's face in Khan! is akin to what my opponents often look like after I pull off a Guinan / Khan! / At What Cost? combo.
Practice Orbital Maneuvers
While Boothby (Groundskeeper) and Nicholas Locarno (Nova Squadron Leader) give almost all Cadets a minimum attribute of eight while facing dilemmas, Cadets tend to be fairly useless when it comes to actually completing missions. This is the mission that gives them purpose. Many of the Cadets have the skills needed to complete it, and you only need five of them to do so. To top it all off, this mission is in the same region as Earth, so it only takes four Range to fly home for reinforcements. Not bad for a 40-point mission!
There are three honorable mentions this week. Scoring three points is Leyton (Chief of Starfleet Operations) for being able to download an Earth icon ship when played. Two points go to Luther Sloan (Man of Secrets) for destroying events. And ... Wesley gets the point.
Which cards would you pick in your The Next Generation top five? Let us know on the message boards here.