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Strategy Articles

What You Were and What You Ought to Become

by Matt Kirk, Second Edition Creative Manager

9th September 2017

In Second Edition, TNG has always been about teamwork and cooperation. Its gameplay has offered players incredible utility and strength in mission solving. Its strongest cards give bonuses to both players, but the TNG player usually has the first chance to benefit from the effect. Let's take a look back over the past fifteen years to see which single card from each year best exemplified and strengthened the TNG archetype.

Common Ground

2003: Common Ground

(Note: I lumped in Second Edition into the first full year of the game's existence for consideration, lest you think I forgot that it actually released at the tail end of 2002.)

Embodying the TNG aesthetic, Common Ground gave each player a "free" personnel, with the small downside that no "when you play this personnel" triggers would happen. TNG easily made the best use of this with Data, Aspirer as the most powerful single personnel in 2E's early history, while the best an opponent could hope for was perhaps a cheap Roga Danar or Jo'Bril (although early dual-HQ decks with Romulus would let Common Ground players know when their opponent's hand was personnel-free so they could reap the reward without lending their opponents a hand). Still seen in contemporary decks, Common Ground has stood the test of time and is firmly established as a cornerstone TNG staple.

Guinan, Listener

2004: Guinan, Listener

I could not write a proper TNG 2E article without honorably mentioning Jean-Luc Picard, Vintner, but it happened to get released in the same year as the easiest way to get 5 points for most decks at the time. Everyone started playing dual-HQ with TNG just for Guinan + At What Cost? as a way to accelerate the game state. Even though dual-HQ was impacted by A Royal Hunt and Harsh Conditions at the time, the trend became so problematic that a parade of multi-HQ hate cards were released, beginning with Agonizing Encounter in To Boldly Go. Guinan's 5 points may be her selling point, but her Integrity 8 and Cunning 7 made her invaluable to the TNG Integrity microteam strategy. She's still tending bar for the TNG deck all these years later, and she's become a pillar of the archetype.

2005: Leonard H. McCoy, Remarkable Man

Just as DeForest Kelley's cameo in the pilot episode helped give the new Star Trek series a push in the right direction, his character's personnel card gives an unparalleled early-game boost to TNG decks. Adding to its ranks of high-Integrity bodies, Admiral McCoy's ability pushed the strategy to new limits, dropping the needed personnel count to 3 for the often-used Investigate Maquis Activity. While Alpha 5 Approach has lessened his appeal somewhat, he still makes cameos from time to time as a great enabler of TNG early-game shenanigans.

U.S.S. Enterprise-E, Flagship of the Federation

2006: U.S.S. Enterprise-E, Flagship of the Federation

This ship immediately made waves upon its release; you could play it on the cheap (or even for free) with its first ability, when at that point, the only similar abilities were found on Miles O'Brien, "Smiley" and Zefram Cochrane, Ready to Make History. But its second ability lent itself to abuse, since the original effect didn't change the TNG player's board state if they didn't command any core events (and thus avoided the ability's drawback). This was eventually changed in 2010 to its current form. 

Data, Lucasian Chair

2007: Data, Lucasian Chair

As Decipher's support of Second Edition came to a close, they left TNG one more big surprise with the release of a Data persona from All Good Things. Loaded down with more skills than ever before, his real strength was in the mid- to late-game when he could be played for 1 counter. He slotted in perfectly to existing TNG solvers, making microteaming a cinch for the Avert Danger/Geological Survey team. He still sees plenty of play today, and looks poised to remain as a staple of solid TNG strategy.

2008: Aldea, Aid Legendary Civilzation

After the Continuing Committee commenced operations to continue producing 2E expansions, TNG had enjoyed a fairly comfortable position as a reliable deck that could outpace most other solvers. And while Aldea was not designed for TNG specifically, Picard's crew has definitely enjoyed the most benefits and highest win ratio as a result of ALC's "bomb", which forced the opponent to remove four to five personnel on average, where the TNG deck usually only had to "sacrifice" Lwaxana Troi, Extravagant Ambassador and Julian Bashir, Rebel Captain. With its recent erratum, those cheap 6-cost folks will actually have to get their hands dirty and attempt the mission instead of relaxing safely aboard your ship. Nonetheless, Aldea should still see some play at Worlds in Orlando next month.

2009: Mediate Peace Treaty

For years, TNG players had to account for the possibility of interactive decks going for the proverbial jugular when the TNG ship had to expose itself to danger at a space mission. Then finally, Mediate Peace Treaty gave them a safe haven, but with significantly higher requirements than the average 30-point mission. Still, some TNG players leapt at the chance to have a interaction-free space mission, even with the downside. While it hasn't seen a lot of play lately, it's always there as a last resort if a local metagame turns violent.

2010: U.S.S. Bozeman, Well-Preserved Antique

While TNG certainly had access to the most efficient ships, they had never had the ability to field a 3-cost ship, much less that only required two personnel to staff the thing. While Flaxian Scout Vessel had been available before, it couldn't be targeted by Matthew Dougherty, Misguided Admiral. With just a couple of the right low-cost Cadets (or Ezri Tigan) aboard the Bozeman, Dougherty's ability was revisited as a way to extend an attribute benefit similar to Admiral McCoy's ability past the first mission attempt. This workhorse still shows up from time to time as a cheaper Excelsior for TNG to shuttle folks about, but it's always got a special place as Admiral Dougherty's favorite target.

U.S.S. Enterprise-D, Diplomatic Envoy

2011: U.S.S. Enterprise-D, Diplomatic Envoy

After the Continuing Committee had released Jean-Luc Picard, Genial Captain in 2010, a nostalgia for the beginnings of TNG became prevalent in the community. In response to this, a new NCC-1701-D was christened in the Extreme Measures expansion, the Diplomatic Envoy. It quickly became the go-to round-the-corner strategy for quick TNG solvers, as the Genial Captain could safely remain aboard during planet missions and score his 5-point bonus. It remains a solid inclusion in the TNG library.

Beverly Crusher, Encouraging Commander

2012: Beverly Crusher, Encouraging Commander

After the Diplomatic Envoy's popularity, desire in the community grew for options in corresponding Commanders to score those all-important bonus points. It was appropriate that the boutique set Tapestry, which celebrated the 25th anniversary of The Next Generation's debut on television, would give us not only a new Enterprise-D Commander, but one that was unexpected and opened up an entire new subtheme for TNG solver decks. Commander Beverly decks using all non-unique TNG folks was soon making its mark as a force to be reckoned with.

2013: Preposterous Plan

As with Aldea, Preposterous Plan was not specifically designed with TNG in mind, but players quickly realized that Guinan's ability would enable the new interrupt, and thus generate some truly explosive turns with multiple At What Costs allowing a full crew plus a ship to hit the table far earlier than they would otherwise. And while the Temporal aspects of this card are usually not terribly impactful, the utility of being able to destroy an opponent's Machinations, Tampering With Time, or even Heightened Perception can be a game-changer.

Sito Jaxa, Undercover 'Teero

2014: Sito Jaxa, Undercover "Terrorist"

Star Trek CCG had just turned 20 years old, and a new Sito Jaxa was the TNG entry of the 20th Anniversary Collection. While she seems rather unassuming at first glance, she has a solid set of attributes and an ability not unlike Beverly Crusher, Chief Physician, but working if something more drastic happened to her (and not necessarily because of a dilemma). Her Transporters has increased in importance recently, making her a great support personnel for the TNG archetype, as evidenced by her inclusion in many recent TNG decklists.

New Life

2015: New Life

This is perhaps the quintessential TNG "everyone wins" card; the last clause is what really drives this card's strength past triviality. Rewarding the TNG player for using either Alpha 5 Approach or Skeleton Crew, New Life keeps the cards flowing without having to spend valuable counters to draw them. This will usually be able to dodge any event destruction, since your opponents won't want to miss out on their free draws. And since you're drawing a card on your opponent's turn, you can potentially enable dilemmas like Gorgan, Unwanted Guests, or Shocking Betrayal, just to name a few. 

2016: Ba'ku Planet, Safeguard Civilzation

For The Original Series' 50-year anniversary, the Continuing Committee produced a small 18-card set that sourced a card from each feature film, and each television series. We had talked about perhaps creating a beardless Riker as a new Commander for the Enterprise-E, but eventually agreed to go with the entire Ba'ku planet as a new mission. The DS9 solver had been seeing success using the new Torga IV, and we wanted to give TNG a way to do that type of bonus point concept that made sense in the context of the film's story. The result was a new option for the classic TNG Integrity mission set.

2017: ???

The year's not over yet, and even though we've seen a couple TNG cards like Well Wishes and a new William T Riker, we've still got more cards scheduled for a 2017 release that could be the next breakout star for TNG. What TNG cards would you like to see in the last part of this year? Whatever your desire, TNG looks to remain one of 2E's most stable and reliable deck archetypes for years to come.

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