"Once you have their money, you never give it back." - 1st Rule of Acquisition
Ten thousand years ago, the ideas of commerce, economy and profit were born on the planet Ferenginar, and from that moment on, Ferengi society would never be the same. Whereas other Alpha Quandrant cultures idolized warriors or artists or politicians, Ferengi society revolved around successful businessmen, ensuring a merger that would lead to the modern-day Ferengi Alliance (the governmental entity that developed when politics combined with business).
Though the Ferengi aren't stupid, their history of focus on business and profit has generated a society that prefers to purchase technology rather than to innovate it itself. In fact, this is how the Ferengi obtained warp drive technology: by purchasing it from an unknown-to-us alien species.
The Ferengi Alliance was formed and its members began to explore space - always seeking new opportunities for profit. This attitude has resulted in a power in the Alpha Quadrant that remains largely neutral in all major conflicts. By remaining neutral, the Ferengi not only double their opportunities for profit, but manage to avoid making enemies that would test their small defensive force.
The military that the Alliance does have is a hybrid between a merchant fleet and a traditional military system. DaiMons - a cross between a free trader and an officer, are given starships that are capabable in a fight, but these ships are primarly used to travel to and from negotiations and trade deals.
There have been a number of encounters with Ferengi privateers. Many citizens will invest their earnings into ships (possibly with weapons) in attempts to plunder valuable goods from nearby species. In particular, one such group made first contact with Starfleet in the 2150s when they temporarily incapacitated the crew of Enterprise. The Ferengi Alliance has always disavowed these freelance renegades, prefering to remain neutral and earn profit from official channels.
In recent years, significant reforms have taken place within the alliance, particularly with regard to females. For centuries, the Ferengi culture was patriarchal, with women not allowed to wear clothes or leave the home. But with the realization that over half the Ferengi population was female (and the huge potential for profit in catering to that market), along with the transfer of power to a more progressive leadership, things are changing for Ferenginar.
The Ferengi were created for and introduced in The Next Generation as the new major threat for the Federation; however, after their introduction in "The Last Outpost" they were deemed too silly to be serious adversaries, and were replaced with the Borg and the Cardassians. They were reintroduced in Deep Space Nine as quirky businessmen and became wildly popular - it is this aspect of Ferengi culture that fans are most familiar with.
Ferengi made occasional appearances on Voyager and appeared (but were not named) in a single episode of Enterprise. They did not appear in The Original Series.
Great Ferengi Episodes:
The Ferengi were introduced in the seventh set, Strange New Worlds, and were the first affiliation to be added to the game since Call to Arms (although two Ferengi-affiliation personnel appeared in Call to Arms as well). As a culture, they can "horde" resources by storing cards under their headquarters. The Ferengi get follow-up personnel in To Boldly Go, Captain's Log and In a Mirror, Darkly as well. However, almost every set after Strange New Worlds contains something for the Ferengi player.
Head over to our forum and discuss your favorite Ferengi episodes, vote in our Ferengi polls, and talk about your favorite Ferengi decks and strategies. Stay tuned this week for lots more Ferengi content!