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Strategy Articles

Non-Aligned week: Top 5 cards

by James "RedDwarf" Hoskin, Staff Writer

17th June 2008

With so many Non-Aligned personnel to choose from, I doubt many people will agree with my top five list this week. There are a number of groups to be found among the Non-Aligned: Androids, Gatherers, Orion Slave Girls and Thieves to name a few. Whichever group you favour will affect which cards make your list, so I imagine that this Non-Aligned top five list is going to look radically different from anybody else's Non-Aligned top five list. While looking through the cards, I tried to stay impartial. Instead of favoring one group over another, I looked at those cards which appear most frequently in my decks. By doing this, I have almost managed to stay away from the groups altogether. Just one of the following five cards actually belongs to one of the groups mentioned above. I guess the group I actually favour is none of them! Here, in no particular order, are my Non-Aligned top five cards:

Miles O'Brien ("Smiley")
Smiley makes this list for featuring in one of my all-time favourite decks. During the 2005 championship season, I played a Maquis deck that recycled Stalling for Time, Organized Terrorist Activities and Deploy the Fleet so that I could play multiple copies of them every turn. Obviously, without any points I couldn't play Organized Terrorist Activities each turn, so scoring points from Deploy the Fleet was vital. This necessitated playing multiple ships (and their corresponding Commanders), so Smiley became a huge asset to the deck. As long as he was in play, it wasn't uncommon to see me playing a ship for free. Ah, happy days.

Inad also featured in my 2005 Maquis deck. The key to recycling all those events each turn was the Ressikan Flute. To play it, I needed to complete a mission requiring Acquisition, Anthropology or Archaeology. To use it, I needed multiple personnel with Integrity greater than six. Inad met these requirements by providing all the skills needed to complete Encounter at Farpoint, and having seven Integrity. Once I had used Smiley to play one or more ships for free, I would take all the Engineer personnel who had served their main purpose and throw them at Encounter at Farpoint. I would then follow those "engineering red shirts" with three high Integrity personnel and Inad to complete the mission. That then let me play the Ressikan Flute and I could begin the cheese that is playing Stalling for Time three times each turn.

Dukat (Pah-Wraith Puppet)
I think this version of Dukat was made to combine with The Caretaker's "Guests". As long as you can remove personnel from your opponent's discard pile with Dukat, The Caretaker's "Guests" becomes a very cheap way of removing personnel from your opponent's mission attempts. This combination first came to my attention at the 2007 World Championships. My Voyager planet deck really suffered at the hands of these two cards and Hard Time because I couldn't build up any personnel in play if I was losing one or two each turn. Since that day, Dukat and The Caretaker's "Guests" have appeared in virtually every deck I have built. Incidentally, I think Dukat could possibly spell trouble for my Maquis deck mentioned above. If he removes from play any of the events the deck relies on, it will fail miserably. Of course, the deck could remove Dukat from the game as well. Perhaps no one can hide from the Maquis!

Phoenix (Risen From the Ashes)
I thought this card was binder fodder when I first saw it. I felt that the resources required to move the ship made it a waste of deck space. Of course, I was overlooking Warp Speed Transfer. Much like the Dukat combo, it wasn't until someone played a deck with the Phoenix against me that I realized how great it actually was. Not only can it potentially force your opponent into completing four missions, but by using Warp Speed Transfer to move it, you get to add a personnel to one of your mission attempts as well. Fantastic!

Ira Graves (Noted Molecular Cyberneticist)
Soon after Strange New Worlds released, my brother Will built an Android deck and then played it on and off for about 18 months. From time to time, if I needed a deck and was too lazy to build something new, I would swipe the deck and use it without his knowledge. Consequently, I became quite familiar with Androids, and now I feel that my final pick in this top five should come from that deck. There are several worthy candidates, but I felt Ira Graves was the best choice because he really helps you during mission attempts. Someone playing an Android deck can typically attempt and complete a mission with four personnel, so having Ira Graves' ability really makes it very hard for the opposing player to stop the attempt. If you only drew four dilemmas, how often do you think you would be able to stop two personnel with them?

As noted above, there are so many worthy Non-Aligned cards that this week's honorable mentions could easily form their own top five list. During the early years of the game, there was very little to do with duplicate ships once you had drawn them, so the cycling ability on Nel Apgar (Temperamental Researcher) gets him the first mention. Next is Altovar (Vindictive Criminal) for being able to return a Leonard H. McCoy back to your hand. Whether it is Chief Medical Officer or Fiendish Physician, I love being able to play either of them with their upgrade each turn. The third honorable mention is Lal (Beloved) because she can gain two skills of your choice when attempting a mission. Yes, she is killed at the end of turn, but an Emergency Transport Unit solves that problem. Next to get a mention is the Baxial (Salvage Ship) because it is very cheap and very easy to staff. As long as your deck discards events, this ship can be very cost effective. Last, but not least, is Navaar (Experienced Gift). Besides getting credit for being green, her ability to gain a skill of your choice really helps any deck she is played in.

Which cards would you pick in your Non-Aligned top five or ten? Let us know on the message boards here.

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