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A Golden Opportunity

by Matt Kirk, Second Edition Creative Manager

30th September 2017

They're mercenaries, soldiers-for-hire, rogues, and some of the most ubiquitous personnel in the game, since they can be played at nearly every headquarters mission. It's Non-Aligned, mixing with most everyone no matter their agenda. Let's take a look back at the best Non-Aligned card for each year in 2E's history...

Nel Apgar, Temperamental Researcher

2003: Nel Apgar, Temperamental Researcher

"Dirty" Nel is among the oldest personnel in 2E; as a card in Second Edition, he has been there since the beginning to give card selection to anyone willing to pay his very modest cost of 2. His skills are not irrelevant for many decks, but aside from his ability to show you three new cards (which has proven to be a good enough reason on its own for his inclusion), his most useful aspect is his above-average Cunning of 7. While TNG began with several native Cunning 7+ personnel, Cardassians and Romulans were left to call on Dr. Apgar and Grathon Tolar to keep pace with the most efficient Fed solvers. He remains a staple of Constructed and Limited play as an example of excellent early personnel design.

Lore, The One

2004: Lore, The One

Necessary Evil tilted 2E on its head, challenging the limits that had been set by the first three expansions in the first 18 months of the game's existence. Perhaps the superlative in personnel that pushed the envelope, Lore enabled many different types of decks that until that point had fallen behind TNG's powerhouse Geology build featuring Data, Aspirer. Lore confounded conventional dilemma strategy, and caused many players to include tech dilemmas to specifically deal with him, such as The Demands of Duty. He was the star of many Romulan denial decks that relied on a host of core events, and also often featured Crosis, Fanatical Lieutenant as a way to support early microteam attempts. He would eventually find a place as one of the only [Cmd] personnel in the Android archetype. Even after Lore, Brother and Son was released five years later in Favor the Bold, Lore, The One remains a powerhouse, giving nearly any deck access to fantastic skill selection, high Cunning, high Strength, and a high cost to enable an optimal These Are the Voyages.

Tolian Soran, Renegade Scientist

2005: Tolian Soran, Renegade Scientist

In direct contrast to Lore's prohibitive cost of 6, Dr. Tolian Soran came in for an unforgivable 0 cost, and would thus be cemented as the most-played Non-Aligned personnel in Second Edition's history. He can fit in most any non-Borg deck with a minimal impact on the deck's efficiency. He has a fairly decent skill selection, if you don't mind stopping another of your personnel when he uses one of them. And as a [Stf] personnel with a Cunning of 7, his utility is undeniable. Dr. Soran is still found in many current decks as an afterthought, ably fulfilling his role in mission attempts or simply existing as a cheap personnel to help staff a ship.

Shran, In Archer's Debt

2006: Shran, In Archer's Debt

When dilemma choke was a legitimate strategy, Shran was welcomed as a way to help slow the speediest solvers down. But when reliable dilemma choke was eventually removed from the game's fabric, it didn't take very long for Shran to become a scourge. Once [TOS] was introduced into the 2E metagame with These Are the Voyages, Shran was often paired together with Leonard H. McCoy, Chief Medical Officer, and a new lockout dilemma strategy became popular throughout the tournament scene. Players often stocked Secret Identity and similar effects to try to combat this threat to the game's integrity. It took over six years for this issue to finally be addressed by the virtual dilemma Ingenious Jury-rig. Regardless, this version of Shran still pops up from time to time to punish players who've forgotten about his ability to take over a game all by himself.

Dukat, Pah-Wraith Puppet

2007: Dukat, Pah-Wraith Puppet

Perhaps one of the most polarizing personnel the game has ever seen, "Greasy" Dukat has been one the few tools that 2E players use to combat discard-reliant strategies. Wanting to avoid focusing his power in just Cardassian or Terok Nor decks, he was made Non-Aligned to give almost everyone equal access to his powerful ability. The rest was history; being able to slot into any deck meant that most high-level decks made some space for him somewhere. And even though Metron Arena limits his current usefulness, he's still seen on occasion.

2008: Lore, Brother and Son

What's better than the ability "While facing a dilemma, this personnel may not be killed"? How about "This personnel may not be killed or stopped"?! Virtual Lore quickly made his way into decks, pushing out The One from most competitive play. And even though a few of his important skills had been changed or deleted, Brother and Son's ability against non-Consume dilemmas was more than enough reward for using the newest version of Data's evil brother.

2009: Deal With the Count Man

While this event from This Side of Paradise doesn't explicitly require a Non-Aligned personnel, there are only a handful of Thief personnel that aren't Non-Aligned, which meant that decks that wanted to use this card would either have to shoehorn a Thief native to their own HQ, or as in most cases, include a few Non-Aligned Thieves. Sort of a proto-Holding Cell, Count Man was highly effective in stopping certain decks dead in their tracks (Borg Queen, Guardian of the HIve, for example).

2010: Alpha 5 Approach, Transport Crash Survivor

Introduced in Infinite Diversity as a generic mission that didn't require any specific skills, Alpha 5's ability was a long overdue answer to the threat of microteams. When players would attempt missions with only three or four personnel, their opponents were severely constrained on viable dilemma pile possibilities. Originally only protecting 30+ point missions, Alpha 5 was recently given an erratum (and a reprint) that now covers all mission attempts, all the time. 

U.S.S. Enterprise, Chariot of 'God'

2011: U.S.S. Enterprise-A, Chariot of "God"

While [TNG] and [TOS] decks had enjoyed the Enterprises' abilities for easy access to bonus points, the rest of the 2E universe was able to join the fun with Tacking Into the Wind's addition of the Enterprise-A. Appropriately Non-Aligned and representing its appearance in Star Trek V as a commandeered ship on a pilgrimage, the Chariot quickly found its way into many decks looking for an easy way to round the corner, most often in concert with Tallera, Covert Isolationist. For those players who enjoy two-mission wins, the Enterprise-A was exactly what they desired.

Obrist, Temporal Tactician

2012: Obrist, Temporal Tactician

While 2E players had the abiilty to "mulligan" their opening hands somewhat with Ceti Alpha V, Find Lifeless World, sacrificing a mission slot for the ability was often too much to ask for decks that needed certain mission selections. Enter Obrist, and the problem has a different, if more unreliable, solution. As long as you draw him in your opening hand, he can give you the option of redrawing that hand to help mitigate an unfortunate shuffle and/or cut. Even if your hand is great, he's a serviceable addition to your crew, with solid skills and attributes.

2013: To Rule In Hell

The Non-Aligned affiliation was designed to be the catch-all designation for those independent characters and ships that had no particular allegiance in the Star Trek multiverse. As such, it never really made sense to think that they might get their own headquarters mission some day. And while To Rule In Hell didn't exactly serve that purpose when it released in Unnatural Selection, it did enable the first new all-Non-Aligned archetype since Noonien Soong, Often-Wrong had given rise to the Android swarm. Going 4 planets with 120 points was a tall order, but the Genesis Planet allowed TRIH decks to get around that limitation, and it became a deck that many players enjoy.

2014: Metron Arena, Resolve Standing Conflict

As previously mentioned, Greasy Dukat had been established as a policing card against discard-heavy strategies. The problem was that many players were using him aggressively as part of a lockout strategy, removing enough of an opponent's deck from the game to essentially lock them out. Metron Arena gave players a great way to keep from being completely locked out of a game by their opponent, with the downside of being a fairly unexciting 30-point mission. Still, its simple requirements ensure its utility in many different decks.

Nimira

2015: Nimira

It's rare for a non-unique personnel with a downside to make it into the current metagame, but Nimira has beaten the odds. Boasting an impressive array of skills (especially for a Non-Aligned personnel) and respectable attributes, Nimira has become a staple for decks that are looking to deepen their pools of Law and Telepathy personnel. And since most decks contain at least one or two interrupts, her downside is often not an obstacle at all.

Ru'afo, Reluctant 'Partner'

2016: Ru'afo, Reluctant "Partner"

As we were designing cards for Star Trek 50, we hit upon the idea of writing some villain cards. We hadn't seen a 2E Ru'afo yet, and even though many players have suggested that he should have been a Dominion personnel rather than Non-Aligned, we wanted to give everyone a chance to try this guy out. As a low-cost, highly skilled personnel, we wanted to avoid the same type of design flaw as had been made with Tolian Soran. Since Ru'afo's release, he's been seen in plenty of decks.

2017: ???

Ths year only has a couple of candidates so far, but we should see at least one or two more release before 2018. Whichever becomes your favorite, Non-Aligned personnel will continue to shore up skill gaps, provide staff icons, and be among the most utilitarian cards in Second Edition.


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