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Strategy Articles

The Sky's the Limit: Self-ish (Part I)

by Charlie Plaine, The Sky's the Limit Lead Designer

24th April 2013

When The Sky's the Limit releases this Friday, you will find a trio of dilemmas to First Edition that introduce the brand new self-controlling mechanic. These cards represent creatures, vessels or other entities that freely roam the spaceline once they are encountered, posing an ongoing threat. This has been something that's been represented in the game since Premiere, most infamously in the form of the Borg Ship dilemma. The self-controlling mechanical is both an expansion and a streamline of that concept, and is something design has been excited to bring to the game for several years.

What Does It Mean?
Self-controlling dilemmas are marked with the new Self-Controlling icon (which was discovered and discussed by the community in early March.) This icon is based on the maw of the infamous Planet Killer from the Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine," but does not mean anything on its own; it simply marks these cards for reference on other cards.

Before we show you the first preview of these cards, a brief summary of how they work. (We'll talk more about the detailed rules after the preview.) Self-controlling dilemmas are dilemmas and seed like dilemmas; you don't require any special cards to seed them or bring them into play. Each player may only control one self-controlling dilemma on the spaceline at a time; however, the owner gets to choose which one stays and which one goes. When they are encountered, they are placed on the spaceline - usually at the mission where they are encountered. Then, at the end of every player's turn, they take their actions and then move towards the far end.

So now that you have a basic idea of how they work, take a look at one of the new self-controlling dilemmas - Osaarian Pirates.

Osaarian Pirates

As you can see, the self-controlling dilemmas feature more than just a new icon, but come complete with a new dilemma template! Not only does this give us more space for game text (at the cost of less lore and slightly smaller image), but its intuitive. Players have to learn how RANGE works in order to play the game, and thus should understand how to move these new dilemmas as well. Putting RANGE on these dilemmas makes their movement easy and helps us keep the rules complexity to a minimum.

The Osaarian Pirates, once encountered, roam the spaceline indiscriminately stealing equipment from everyone they encounter. But they won't steal from Smugglers (or perhaps they can't find their stash), so if you want to protect your equipment from these pirates, bring along a Smuggler or two. Of course, if you don't want to smuggle your equipment, you can send a ship or two after the pirates and blow them up. Any affiliation (except Borg) can start a fight against a self-controlling dilemma, but don't forget they have WEAPONS as well as SHIELDS and they will counter-attack, so be prepared.

After the pirates move down the spaceline (remember, they head towards the far end from where they were encountered), they will eventually reach the end. As long as they have at least 1 RANGE remaining, they - like all self-controlling dilemmas - will move off the spaceline and are thus discarded. But since they do have RANGE, its possible that a dilemma might get "stuck" somewhere and be unable to move. In the case of the pirates here, just don't leave any equipment there otherwise they will steal a piece every turn.

And speaking of stealing, these self-controlling dilemmas are just that - they don't respect your cards versus your opponent's. The Osaarian Pirates will steal your equipment just as often as they will steal the other guy's. This adds a big element of strategy to the seeding of these dilemmas, and will lead to some interesting mid-game maneuvering to avoid these cards and their effects.

A special rules update will be releasing Friday to go along with this expansion, but for your reference, here are the complete rules for the self-controlling dilemmas:

self-controlling - A card with the [Self] icon represents a vessel or entity that is not controlled by either player. Cards with the [Self] icon will act and move “on their own” according to the following rules.

Each player may only have one [Self] card active on the space line at any time. When a [Self] card is encountered or played, if the owning player already owns a [Self] card that is currently active on the space line, he or she must discard one such card (their choice). A [Self] dilemma is placed on the spaceline at the location where it was encountered (unless otherwise specified.)

At the end of every turn, each [Self] card in play acts according to its game text. When a [Self] card has game text that involves an attack, it attacks all eligible targets present at that location. When a [Self] card moves, it will move its full RANGE toward the far end of the spaceline (unless specified otherwise on the card.) A [Self] card requires 1 RANGE to move off the spaceline. If there is a tie for the far end, the opponent of the owner of the card chooses the direction. [Self] dilemmas are discarded when they leave the spaceline.

Any non-[Bor] player may initiate battle against any [Self] card. [Borg] players may only battle according to normal Borg restrictions. When battling a [Self] card, players use standard attack and damage rules. [Self] cards do not use either player’s Tactic cards; thus, your ships and facilities it hits suffer default damage (two damage markers for a hit, four for a direct hit) if your opponent is using a Battle Bridge side deck, or card rotation damage if they are not.

If you have unstopped ships at the location of a [Self] dilemma during your turn, they may attack the dilemma. It will return fire against all ships (and facilities) that attacked it (but not other targets that were not involved in the attack). The battle is conducted according to normal ship battle rules, with the exception that the [Self] dilemma fires on multiple targets. Hits, direct hits, and damage to the dilemma are calculated and applied as if it were a ship.

When a [Self] card is attacking both players’ cards, it does so as two separate battles. The player whose turn it is chooses which happens first.

[Self] cards are not ships and are not affected by cards that affect ships (such as Calamarain, Q-Net, Wormholes, etc.) or by Plasma Fire, Warp Core Breach, Isabella, Into The Breach, or the first function of Anti-Matter Spread.

Tomorrow, there will be another article from yours truly about the origin and design of these dilemmas and their mechanics, as well as another spoiler. In the mean time, we want to know what you think about this new dilemma mechanic, icon, and template. Check out or Gameplay (1E) forum for the latest discussion on these cards, as well as all the other cards arriving Friday in The Sky's the Limit. Friday is going to be an exciting day!

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