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The Line Must Be Drawn Here!

by Matt Zinno, Guest Writer

15th July 2013

The Line


The state of the metagame these days is battle heavy.  But what do you do if you want to play something else, and be able to have a chance of doing it safe from battle decks?  One strategy is "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"; but then you enter a discussion of how to build a battle deck. Instead, I want to try discussing ideas for anti-battle.

A deck that wants to win through ship battle actually depends on several features and strategies. If you are facing a battle deck and you can disrupting any one of those steps, it could throw enough of a wrench into the opponent's plans that you can accomplish your goals first.  Let's examine the things that a battle deck relies on, and look at how we might interfere with those plans. 

1. A battle deck will get a lot of forces out. 
A deck which wants to engage in ship battle is going to need several ships.  One is not enough, because they will want to get their WEAPONS higher than the SHIELDS of your ships, and ideally higher than your facilities.  They may be relying on downloads for the ships, possibly from Spacedoor.  If that's the case, our first option is to interfere with that download, using Computer Crash.  Of course, that has the capability to affect you as well, so it may be only an option for you if your deck doesn't also rely on downloading - or if you simply judge that interfering with the opponent's strategy is worth having it affect yourself as well. A battle deck will also need a lot of personnel in play, to staff those ships.  If they're trying to get those personnel in play quickly, they may be using free plays of a headquarters. If so, Homefront can interfere with their plans.  

Homefront Besides being vulnerable to strategies which prevent them from getting lots of forces into play, a battle player also makes himself vulnerable to Bashir Founder.  If this personnel is at the same location as your opponent's fleet with a large number of usable weapons ... say,the fleet that is getting ready to fire on your facility ... then he can special download Supernova there (note: this card is banned in OTF), which will destroy the fleet.  Note that it will also destroy Bashir Founder, and whatever ship he's on ... and your facility too, if you pulled this trick at its location. So again, it's a judgement of if it's worth the effect to you as well. You probably want to do this only if it costs your opponent more than it costs you - and although he is affiliated with the Dominion, it only takes a Temporal Micro-Wormhole to include him in any (non-Borg) deck.  

2.  A battle deck has to get its forces to where you are. 
Even if your opponent has built an armada, they will still have to fly it to you. (You, of course, are going to do your best not to fly to them.)  If your missions are in a different quadrant than the opponent, it will be naturally difficult for the armada to reach you ... in effect, you've hidden from the armada. This is one advantage some people have ascribed to Delta-Quadrant decks: they are safe from Alpha-Quadrant battle decks by means of astrography. 

If you're on the same spaceline, you can make it more difficult for them to fly to you if you use what are often referred to as "pollution" cards, such as Gaps in Normal SpaceSubspace Warp RiftTetryon Field, and Anti-Matter Pod.  Badlands missions will act like pollution if you use Navigate Plasma StormsQ-Net can stop some armadas dead, since each ship needs two Diplomacy to pass (though it's possible to ferry an armada of any size across a Q-Net as long as you have four Diplomacy). The most accessible, since it's a Referee card, may be Obelisk of Masaka, which can slow down armadas made of certain types of ships (most notably K'Vorts), by increasing the staffing they need.  

There's also the type of hiding afforded by cloaking.  A ship with a cloaking device lets you hide from your opponent's cards, and they will not be able to battle you or target you in almost any other way. If they decide to just follow you around waiting for you to decloak, which you'll usually need to do so that you can beam off or attempt missions, you might want to improve your cloaking technology with Engage Cloak, which will let you even hide from your opponent across the table.  Or you could stay cloaked and still get your work done by using Scan Cycle Check, which will let you stay safe in your cloak but also beam to a mission for an attempt.  

Check Another sort of protection from ship battle is to land.  Some cards (Blue AlertEstablish Landing ProtocolsEngage Shuttle OperationsDuj Saq) allow some classes of ship to land. While some ships, like the Bajoran Interceptor, have their own landing text.  Landed ships cannot generally be targeted in battle, although some cards like Orbital Bombardment and Breen CRM114 provide exceptions to that rule.  

3. The ships have to be able to initiate battle.  
There are rules about attacking, and one of them is that most affiliations can only attack different affiliations. Ferengi cannot attack Ferengi, and so forth.  You can try using that rule to protect yourself from attack.  Temporal Micro Wormhole allows you to report any personnel, regardless of affiliation, and makes them compatible with all of your cards.  So if you report a Ferengi affiliation personnel to your Federation ship with TMW, suddenly you have a crew which cannot be attacked by Ferengi!  Other cards that make different affiliations compatible, like treaties or Scientific Diplomacy, are fine too, but note that making the personnel compatible is important here.  If your personnel are not compatible, then they are not allowed to mix with each other; e.g. that Quark you reported to his bar can't mix with your Bajorans. Having a dual-affiliation card is not enough either: if you report Nog and mix him with your Federation cards because he's Federation, then he counts as Federation affiliation only while he is in that mode, and can be attacked by Ferengi affiliation cards.  Switching him to Ferengi affiliation would make him incompatible, and you can't do that while he is aboard your Federation ship.  

Alternately, you might put your forces at a location where the opponent cannot attack you.  At the homeworld which matches the affiliation of your ships, you cannot be attacked if you have Strategema. It doesn't even need to be in play in advance of the attack, if you have Q the Referee out instead, since it can suspend play to download it.  Defend Homeworld and HQ: Orbital Weapons Platform can also deter attacks at your homeworld, even if it doesn't actually prevent them.  The universal mission Nebula is another place which can prevent attacks (especially in OTF, where Scan is currently banned). It's also possible to hide at the Paxan "Wormhole", since each ship without an android aboard simply can't stay. 

Even if they reach you, you might escape!  Certain ships, at certain locations, can avoid battle with cards like Asteroid SanctuaryMagnetic NorthNarrow Escape (each series' entry point to the game needed one of these), or Ensign Tuvok.  

Narrow Escape4. The attacker has to hit his target.
An attack isn't going to be very worthwhile if the defender doesn't even get damaged. As the defender, how can you plan to survive?  And remember, we're looking for answers that don't involve becoming a battle deck yourself. You can improve your defense rating with Strategic Base, and also by simply docking your ships (a lowercase-t tactic which you would use not during deck building, but while actually playing your game).  Alternately, mission choice can help: the new mission Evade Borg Vessel doesn't prevent the battle like the missions discussed above, but it will restrict the fleet to using only one ship. Your choice of ships can help, too. High SHIELDS is one way to go, of course, but another is the hard-to-hit Edo Vessel.  As for those SHIELDS, you might boost them with Plasmadyne Relay (which you could download with Equipment Replicator), or boost their effectiveness with Ablative Armor.  

If your opponent is using Tactics (which almost every battle deck will), you can diminish the advantage this gives him if you use Crimson Forcefield as your own tactic. Alternately, the interrupt Tactical Scan will prevent him from playing whichever Tactic you're particularly worried about (such as the one with a particular boost for the opponent's affiliation).  If you have in your Battle Bridge some specific tactic you want to use; whether it's to get a hit, stop him from getting a hit, or for some other benefit discussed here; Make It So can download it, if your ship has its matching commander.

5. The battle should not be very costly for the attacker.
Maybe he's going to hit you.  But you're not going down without a fight!  If you can make your opponent lose enough of his resources because he battled you, you might be able to deprive him of the ability (or perhaps the will) to attack you again. You can use To Be or Not To Be to damage all of his ships in the battle, no matter how many or few of your ships his armada attacked. Similarly, you can use Chain Reaction Pulsar with Chain Reaction Ricochet to damage several of his ships until one of them is destroyed. 

There are a number of cards which affect "all ships" at a location; so if they happen against your opponent's armada, then you'll get more advantage out of them. Stellar Flare and Gomtuu Shock Wave will each damage multiple ships, and Quantum Singularity Lifeforms will put them in stasis. Now, you might not excpect dilemmas to be very helpful against a battle deck, since that type of deck usually attacks early and only tries missions after wiping you out. The way to use dilemmas like these against a battle deck is pre-emptively: you can self-seed them under a mission you can attempt, and trigger them when the armada is at that location.  

Recovered And then there's Mona Lisa. This puts a different cost on the battle: it directly costs your opponent actual points.  If he destroys your ship or facility which has Mona Lisa on board, he loses 25 points, right away. That threat itself might deter him from attacking at all. Now, the Mona Lisa might seem difficult to get, since normally you need to solve a planet mission in order to get an artifact. But this one is easier than some, since it can be downloaded by Leonardo da Vinci, and he can himself be downloaded by I'm a Doctor, Not a Bricklayer (to any quadrant, even) or by a Holodeck Door (also in any quadrant, if you have another Holodeck Door already there).  It's also a "Use as equipment" artifact, which lets you potentially download it with certain other cards like Ferengi Commerce Operation and Secret Compartment.  

6. The battle is meant to eliminate the victim, so that he can't (quickly) recover. 
The point of a typical battle deck is not just to battle, but to use that battling to deprive the victim of resources, ranging from blowing up their ships and personnel to actually taking out the facilities and depriving the victim of ways to report. But some cards make you less vulnerable to this effect. Mission IIs provide outposts which are easy to rebuild in case they get destroyed.  For ship battle, Federation Flagship: Recovered will save all of your crew, and download a new ship for them. Just make sure to use ships that work with this card: Any Federation-affiliation Enterprise, or other ships of a class that includes at least two cards (and not, say, an only-one-of-its class ship like the U.S.S. Drake, or a ship whose only others of the "same class" are a different affiliation an thus incompatible with your crew, like the Vidiian Interceptor). Also, this will only work if you don't have another ship in play at the time. 

If you don't meet the conditions for that card, Escape Pod can do almost as well, saving the crew but not itself getting a new ship. What's more, there are many ways to download this when you need it: Emergency EvacuationJoret Dal, and (outside of OTF, where it's banned) Launch Portal. While, Benjamin Sisko (Chain of Command) can download that Emergency Evacuation.  

For some deck types, having the cards go to the discard pile is quite acceptable. Cybernetics Expertise can get androids back to your hand where they can be replayed for free, and Fal-tor-pan can get Vulcans back in play. Get It Done can help TNG decks recover their cards, and if none of these apply to your deck, there are always Regenerate and Isomagnetic Disintegrator; or you might play Dabo with your discard pile, and not even try to get them back. 

Emergency Evac

7. Eliminating all opponents will win the day.
Despite your preparations, you may find that whatever defenses you've planned fail you, and your forces or reporting mechanisms are destroyed by the opponent's armada. You say the odds are against you, and the situation is grim. Never give up! Never surrender ... er ... concede.  

Quite often, a battle deck is ill-equipped to reach 100 points and full victory. They may have been so focused on including the cards needed for battle (ships, leaders) that they don't have the skills needed for dilemmas, or perhaps even missions. Or perhaps they've taken so long in getting their armada, or in using it (you've managed to slow them down, right?), that they run out of time. If you concede, they get a Full Win, but if time runs out, then they only get the less valuable Modified Win, and those can add up - or more properly, they can fail to add up to enough.

Suppose that in a typical four-round tournament, there's a battle deck that gets all modified wins. That adds up to 12 Victory Points.  If you lose to it, but get full wins in all your other rounds, you get 13 VP, placing higher even though you lost to that battle deck. So everyone should make them play out the game, and deny them the reward of the tournament win. Maybe it will even change their notions of what decks can win, and the next time they'll bring a solver. 

"This far, no farther"
Ultimately, there is a trade off between including counterstrategies to battle and not slowing the deck down unreasonably with useless extra cards. Ideally, you will want just enough defense to allow your deck to edge through with the win. 

Here is a deck that includes several of these cards, to protect itself from battle.  It is a Federation deck, further illustrating the point that it is not intending to initiate battle itself.


Discuss this article in this thread.



Decklist

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This deck is legal in the following Card Pools:

This deck is legal in the following Rules Sets:

This deck is currently eligible for the following family or families of achievements:


Mission (6)
Mission
32 V1x Espionage Mission
20 V1x Evade Borg Vessel
R1x FGC-47 Research
21 V1x Foster New Collective
R1x Paxan "Wormhole"
Federation
21 P1x Test Mission II

Seed Deck (30)
Dilemma
2 V1x Chula: The Chandra
3 V1x Chula: The Lights
2 V1x Dangerous Climb
3 V1x Data Has Some Issues
5 V1x Dead End
4 V1x Dignitaries and Witnesses
5 V1x Forsaken
6 V1x Founder Secret
7 V1x Friendly Fire
8 V1x Gomtuu Shock Wave
4 V1x Hunter Probe
5 V1x Irrational Commander
9 V1x Maglock
11 V1x New Essentialists
13 V1x Picking Up the Pieces
17 V1x Subspace Shock Wave
Doorway
1 V1x Battle Bridge Door
93 VP1x Q's Tent: Civil War
10 V1x Temporal Micro-Wormhole
Event
14 V1x Duck Blind
Facility
Federation
11 V1x Federation Outpost
Incident
23 R1x Chain Reaction Ricochet
22 V1x Continuing Mission
22 V1x Federation Flagship: Relaunched
4 V1x Make It So
31 V1x Strategic Base
2 VP1x Tribunal of Q
Objective
18 V1x Assign Mission Specialists
10 V1x Protect Historic Encounter
Time Location
R1x Montana Missile Complex

Draw Deck (54)
Doorway
U1x Ready Room Door
34 VP1x Space-Time Portal
Equipment
11 V1x Ablative Armor
5 V1x Mission Briefing PADD
C4x Plasmadyne Relay
Event
16 V1x Isomagnetic Disintegrator
R1x Ocular Implants
C1x Q-Net
8 V1x Regenerate
C1x The Line Must Be Drawn Here
18 U1x To Be or Not to Be
Incident
15 V1x Followers of the One
Interrupt
39 U1x I'm a Doctor, Not a Bricklayer
35 U1x Narrow Escape
19 V1x Your Place is on the Bridge
Objective
9 V1x Launch the Phoenix
Personnel
Federation
R1x Data (First Contact)
69 R+1x Deanna Troi (The Borg)
P1x Ensign Tuvok
74 VP1x Geordi La Forge (First Contact)
U1x Hawk
14 V2x Jae
R1x Jean-Luc Picard (First Contact)
C2x Joseph Travis
R1x Paul Porter
6 V1x William T. Riker (Chain of Command)
38 V1x Worf (Shades of Gray)
Federation/Bajoran/Cardassian
3 V1x Kira
Non-Aligned
40 V2x Bosus
42 V2x Goval
27 V1x Kathleen Tonell
R1x Lily Sloane
46 V2x Morik
113 R+1x Secret Agent Julian Bashir
U1x Sevek
R1x Solkar
C2x Soong-type Android
U1x T'Shonra
80 VP1x Zefram Cochrane
Non-Aligned/Federation
68 C1x Angelo Tassoni
Ship
Federation
18 V1x U.S.S. Akira
10 V1x U.S.S. Defiant (Chain of Command)
R1x U.S.S. Enterprise-E
P1x U.S.S. Jupiter
R1x U.S.S. Stargazer

Q-Tent Side Deck (13)
Dilemma
2 U1x Engine Imbalance
Equipment
14 C1x '45 Dom Perignon
Event
U1x Captain's Log
U1x Crew Reassignment
55 VP1x Defiant Dedication Plaque
15 V1x Federation Flagship: Renewed
U1x Lower Decks
C1x Plasma Fire
C1x Yellow Alert
Interrupt
34 C1x Live Long and Prosper
Personnel
Dominion/Hirogen
62 C1x Dar
Ferengi
41 V1x Brunt
Romulan
77 VP1x Dr. Telek R'Mor

Battle-Bridge Side Deck (21)
Tactic
12 V5x "Crimson Forcefield"
11 V5x Chain Reaction Pulsar
28 V2x Riker Maneuver
31 V7x T'Pol/Soong Maneuver
35 V2x Target Warp Field Coils

Q the Referee Side Deck (13)
Doorway
2 V1x Temporal Vortex
Event
17 V1x General Quarters
8 V1x Villagers With Torches
20 V1x You Are a Monument
Incident
10 V1x Containment Field
13 V1x In the Zone
16 V1x Obelisk of Masaka
18 V1x Q the Referee
21 V1x Strategema
22 V1x White Deprivation
23 V1x Writ of Accountability
Interrupt
24 V1x Oof!
Objective
28 V1x Defend Homeworld

"outside the game" (1)
Ship
Non-Aligned
58 VP1x Phoenix



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