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Dominion Advanced Gameplay Series (Part 1 of 3): Dominion Strategy

by Andreas Rheinländer (Dukat), Freelance Writer

29th April 2015

Introduction

This is the first of three articles of the Dominion Advanced Gameplay Series, all of which will deal with specific aspects of playing the Dominion at an advanced level. These will be a bit more complex than the ones described in the Dominion Basic Series articles.

In this article, we will have a look at five cards in particular: what they can do, what they offer and what their role is in certain deck types.

I.) Aid Fugitives and Camping Trip

First, let's have a look at these two gamma quadrant missions. Each of them has a special game text of some importance. Aid Fugitives allows personnel targeted by Hippocratic Oath to be relocated to this planet, regardless of the quadrant the dilemma was encountered in. Camping Trip allows Gamma Jem'Hadar and Vorta to report on planet.

a) Aid Fugitives

Being able to relocate personnel has always been a very powerful ability. Only a few cards / mechanics allow that to happen and Hippocratic Oath in combination with Aid Fugitives is one of them.

Aid Fugitives

There are some advantages at hand. First of all, it is very specific; the personnel that is about to be relocated needs to be there, so it is a requirement making the dilemma a hard wall if the away team lacks MEDICAL. Secondly, it is not simply any MEDICAL personnel that relocates, but the most CUNNING one. Furthermore, Hippocratic Oath is a dual dilemma and therefore can be seeded at any location.

The obvious question becomes: why should anyone bother to relocate a single personnel to a planet in the Gamma Quadrant? As it has been said before, even with all the rules nowadays, the Dominion can decide to stay in the Gamma Quadrant and still win. It is not easy, but possible to make it even a 2-mission win (2 x 50 points from missions + 40 bonus points not acquired when solving missions).

Getting 40 bonus points is not easy, but the Dominion has the means to do so. This is where Aid Fugitives comes in: the relocated personnel on the planet can easily be captured or killed for bonus points. I will deal with capturing in future articles of the Advanced Gameplay series, so let's instead focus on the killing part.

There are two ways to do that. The first one is a classic: use any Jem'Hadar, kill that personnel and play Victory Is Life for 5 points. If the personnel has high STRENGTH, there are even more points to gain: send a Jem'Hadar with lower STRENGTH, let him be killed and gain points from No Way Out. You can do that one as many times as you like. When you are done, send in a Jem'Hadar with higher STRENGTH and let him claim that Victory Is Life for an additional 5 points. Unfortunately, MEDICAL personnel do not often has high STRENGTH, so it might be necessary to change that (see below).

Hippocratic Oath also offers another advantage: it can be “upgraded” using DNA Clues. If prepared thoroughly and done so correctly, an opponent has to allow you to relocate not one, but three MEDICAL personnel. You will read more about that in the next paragraph. A card like Aid Fugitives in combination with Hippocratic Oath should – obviously – always be part of a grand scheme.

It would seem logical to not only relocate one or two personnel, but as many as possible into the Gamma Quadrant. First Edition offers only a handful of ways to relocate people to another quadrant, but the ones available should be used (excessively). One that seems quite tempting is Jealous Amanda. It allows any personnel affected by Love Interest, Parallel Romance, or Alien Groupie to be relocated to any planet location. Parallel Romance even targets two personnel. Alien Groupie is a bit more tricky due to the requirements: it targets a male personnel after mission completion and is therefore not suited for interference in an early stage of a game. Since Jealous Amanda is a Q-card, a Q-Flash is required which brings me to another useful card in that arsenal: Q-Type Android. As it has been said – most MEDICAL personnel has low STRENGTH value. Q-Type Android makes it possible to make such a personnel STRENGTH +4 in order to make use of No Way Out as described above.

Another addition to the “relocation engine” is Paxan Wormhole. Since most of the action takes place in the Alpha Quadrant and android decks are not the most common ones, it is a good move to place that mission in the Alpha Quadrant. If possible, place it somewhere you consider to be passed by your opponent often. If possible play Subspace Warp Rift on Paxan Wormhole so that your opponent has to chose between damage (use a Battle Bridge Side Deck with the appropriate damage cards) or relocation.

In conclusion, Aid Fugitives has an intrinsic value and allows for a certain style of playing by using as much relocation cards as possible, Hippocratic Oath being a particularly good one, especially in combination with DNA Clues.

b) Camping Trip

This mission is one of only a few that allows certain personnel to report on planet. The other ones are the Ba'ku planet, Free Orion Slaves, and those Delta Quadrant missions. The latter offer two or three different cards to report (for free) and the Ba'ku planet allows 4 personnel to report for free there. With currently seven Orions, Verex III offers the most options, of these. The only other mission allowing a very large number of different cards to report at that location is Vulcan (Observe Ritual). The number of different cards being able to report at the Camping Trip mission is much bigger than any of these: there are more than about a dozen different Vorta and dozens (plural) of Gamma Jem'Hadar.

Camping Trip

One might now ask: why use this card? It would cost a card play each time and under normal circumstances, a Dominion deck can breed legions of Jem'Hadar each turn for free. Since Camping Trip allows the majority of Dominion personnel to report and to do so without any facility.

Now, why would that be useful? Well, it is when considering one of the most difficult, but dreadful Dominion deck types: the 29 dilemma Dominion deck. The only seed card in such a deck is Tribunal of Q because it allows relatively free access to everything needed. First of all, it grants access to Deyos: download Q the Referee in place of a card draw to download Defend Homeworld which is used to download Deyos to the planet. Second of all, it grants access to all other Referee cards. More about that below.

Before we get to that, let's have a look at such a deck: 29 dilemmas means 5 dilemmas per mission (except for one mission where only 4 can be seeded). That alone is a horror for anyone who might have hoped for a quick win. Next, one could go for a “mission type lock-out”: if a player uses only 2 space or 2 planet missions, one could “lock-out” one of those. Place 8 (or 9) dilemmas under those and leave the other ones with “only” 3 dilemmas.

Now the relocation measures come into effect: killing personnel and destroying ships will not be the only thing bothering your opponent, you also take personnel from your opponent leaving him no choice but to deploy more and more. With an enormous amount of dilemmas like that, you can even afford to set up the DNA Clues to boost Hippocratic Oath up to three MEDICAL personnel needed to relocate. The downside is that your own deck will be slow. However, such a deck is not designed to win with 100 points. Instead, it is designed to prevent your opponent from scoring points. Let's say you score 10 points in a game and your opponent gains 0 points. Do that 5 times in a row and you have 15 Victory Points (VP) and a Differential of +50. Get a Bye and you have 16 VP.

So much for the general aspects. How do you play such a deck?

Perhaps most importantly, you need card draws. Normally, Deyos would be the basis for that, but in such a deck using Mutation and The Power (and enough copies of all cards so that discarding is not an issue) as well as Remodulation is a good start. It allows you to make your hand bigger. When big enough, you can use a card draw and draw a new hand using that seeded Tribunal of Q: convert a card draw into a Referee-card download to get Q the Referee. Discard that card in order to download Obelisk of Masaka and Masaka Transformations. Renew your hand.

Second in order of importance, you'll need a ship. An approach that makes sense is to include Hidden Fighter and either Temporal-Micro Wormhole to report some Non-Aligned personnel or Host Tournament (downloading the ship there) and report Non-Aligned Gamma Quadrant personnel there who can staff those downloaded ships. Stock an appropriate amount of What Does God Need With a Starship? in your deck. It either slows down your opponent additionally or allows you to download ships. Chose wisely, as you will not get too many chances to do so. 

(Note: What Does God Need with a Starship? is currently banned in the OTF format.)

Now that the question of how to get card draws and ships have been illuminated, two other different issues have to be addressed: getting personnel in play without spending a card play on each single card as well as scoring points.

As it has been mentioned, bonus points come from Jem'Hadar killing personnel relocated to the Gamma Quadrant. What would be the best way to start there? Well, you'll need a Jem'Hadar. If you do not plan on downloading Deyos, instead chose to download a high-STRENGTH Jem'Hadar who has SECURITY. Transport him to your first victim, kill him or her, play Victory Is Life and download Jem'Hadar Birthing Chamber. Now you have a way to report additional Young Jem'Hadar and therefore universal Jem'Hadar for free. If you have the time, you can also download Deyos and spend one card play on such a high-STRENGTH Jem'Hadar, making your draw engine is a bit more solid.

Additional personnel can also come from cards like Assign Mission Specialists (2 personnel to an Outpost) or by using a card play to play a Vorta or (good) Jem'Hadar at the Forested Planet (Camping Trip). Recommendable Vorta are Gelnon, to download another Ketracel-White, or Deyos. Once you have two Ketracel-White in play, you can use Obedience Brings Victory to download additional Victory Is Life to hand or to draw (additional) cards.

Kill more personnel and score points and once you have enough personnel together, try to solve at least one mission. Since such a deck would be big and you will most probably discard a lot of cards, you can also use cards like Explicit Orders.

c) Modifications

There are some modifications to the way such a deck can be played. The ones described in aa) and bb) are the “classic” ones, however not the only ones.

Recruit Mercenaries

aa) Bonus Points Use

Instead of downloading a Jem'Hadar to begin slaughtering personnel, one can go in a totally different direction. For this, you'll need a seeded Mirror Quadrant mission allowing you to download an Emblem Card, allowing you to download The Art Of Diplomacy. Do so and download a hand weapon to Deyos (who has already been downloaded). Now you have a Treachery personnel in play. Play Recruit Mercenaries and download Treachery Non-Aligned Personnel you consider useful for your style.

Here are some recommendations:

- Arturis + any one personnel with Treachery and one other skill => downloading Construct Starship to download a facility (Remote Supply Depot, once a Dominion ENGINEER is available). 

- Lore => doubling your Crystalline Entity (to furthermore increase the effect of Crystalline Entity which is quite useful when so many dilemmas can be seeded). 

- Penk + Nel Apgar: make another personnel (or Tsunkatse Ship) available (Penk download) + “renew” a part of your hand (Nel Apgar special game text).

- Sybok + any other personnel with Treachery and one other skill: if your opponent plays a Non-Aligned deck, use Sybok and his special skill to simply steal those personnel (instead of killing them). 

- Yint + any one personnel with Treachery and three other skills: increase the number of hand weapons available.

Another approach is to download only personnel with 2 or 3 skills, allowing you to download three personnel cards with each Recruit Mercenaries (two with three skills like Ishara Yar, Mr. Garak, or Javed and one with three skills like Bosus). Since each copy of Recruit Mercenaries played costs 10 points, it should be used only once (or twice). After all, you still need Jem'Hadar to kill personnel and score bonus points using Victory Is Life.

bb) A Little Bit More

The deck described above is very strict. Tribunal of Q is the only seed card and the deck is slow. You can, of course, use more seed slots for non-dilemma cards. However, the more you do so, the less effective you are when it comes to flooding your opponent's missions with dilemmas especially when you try to “lock-out” one mission type from being solved successfully.

If you do decide to use more than one non-dilemmas seed card, make it a dilemma booster: Shades Of Grey dilemma booster cards, Kobayashi Maru Scenario or any card of that kind. You can also do the following: seed Save Stranded Crew and download All-Consuming Evil. You now have the chance to either enhance Armus-related dilemmas or download an Armus dilemma into a mission attempt.

Finally, if you really insist on using another non-dilemma seed card, use a well-assorted Tribbles Side Deck. It can slow down your opponent severely.

cc) Dilemmas

Having enough space to put four or five dilemmas under one mission (or eight when blocking two missions of a specific type) is quite the challenge. The usual number is three dilemmas per mission. Some people (including me) spend hours and hours thinking about devastating dilemma combinations. Now the situation has changed and you have a lot more space. Always think about the grand scheme that such a deck is designed to work in when compiling dilemma stacks.

Iconian Gateway

II.) The Dominion Is Everywhere

Part II of this article will deal with the ability to send Dominion troops all over the spaceline. There are three very different ways to achieve that goal: Jem'Hadar Shrouding, Iconian Gateway, and The Nexus.

a) The Nexus

This card offers an interesting feature: you have to seed it (as though it were a dilemma) and once it enters play, it will consume all personnel cards (and destroy all ships), as it moves along the spaceline. After it has reached the end of the spaceline it is placed on table, but at any time (as an order) the personnel in the Nexus may be relocated to any planet location (even a time location).

The Nexus is an interesting card to use. In a format without batch seeding (e.g. Open), it can be placed first and therefore triggered right when you need it. It can also be seeded first (or second) quite easily at a shared mission. In the most common format right now, OTF, it will have to be seeded last, as self seeds are always encountered last. This means that, while you do not have to solve the mission where you seeded it, you will still have to have gotten by all the dilemmas which the opponent seeded there. 

One strength of the Nexus is that you can choose which of your personnel enter it simply by moving them to the mission where it is (or leaving them at a mission where it is about to move). Then, you can immediately (assuming that it is your orders phase) relocate them to the planet of your choice. Note also, that Equipment can travel in this manner as well, as it can be carried by the personnel.

One major flaw of The Nexus, though, is that it stays on the spaceline for a limited time, depending on the length of the spaceline. While your personnel can exit at any time while it is on the spaceline or while it is on the table, they can only enter the Nexus while it is on the spaceline. It also has the tendency to destroy ships, so a player will need to be careful about the placement of their ships while it is moving down the spaceline. What's more, it isn't possible to attempt the mission that it is at, on any given turn, because the personnel and ships have a tendency to not stay there.  

In conclusion, The Nexus is not a traditional way to move personnel around, when playing Dominion, but it is an easy one. Also, it does not spare personnel on a homeworld from being the target of capture or sudden sniping.

b) Iconian Gateway

In the old days, Dominion players would use Iconian Gateway to send their troops everywhere. Nowadays, this card is not seen played at all – quite unfortunately.

Since it is an artifact, you need to solve a mission first to get your hands on it. After that has been accomplished, you need to play it on your planet mission. Such a thing can, of course, not happen in the very early stages of a game. However, most games are decided on later turns when both players have solved one or two missions.

At that point in the game, a decisive advantage can make the difference. Using Iconian Gateway is therefore not an isolated component of the game, but a decision that requires careful planning and consideration.

aa) Preparation

First of all, you need to make sure your opponent does not complete their planet missions until late game. You have to “blockade” them as long as possible using dilemmas, or by just putting more dilemmas under planet missions than you would under space missions. Kobayashi Maru Scenario, Access Denied (banned in OTF), Strange New Worlds, and other cards of that kind can add to those efforts.

Once your opponent is slowed down, solving the mission where Iconian Gateway was seeded is necessary. Once it is acquired, play Iconian Gateway on an appropriate planet mission and begin sending your troops where they are needed.

Since an opponent will most likely have solved a mission (or two) and you will have solved just one, the primary objective is to kill as many personnel as possible. Iconian Gateway allows both personnel AND equipment to be sent to any planet location, always carry some hand weapons and – if possible – have at least one copy of Sniper seeded. This way, you can increase the amount of personnel killed each turn.

The Alamo

bb) Slowing Down the Game

In order to keep your opponent from solving missions in the early stages of the game, you can use additional methods to accomplish that goal. One option is to use a Cardassian / Dominion treaty and seed Sleeper Trap at the front of a couple combos. This will stop his away team and kill some personnel before he even gets to the second dilemma.

Attack your opponent each turn if possible. A seeded Sniper will increase your chances to kill personnal.

In such a deck, Remember the Alamo is a useful card because it can kill a SECURITY personnel (which will probably have high STRENGTH) AND kill personnel even if you, technically, lose the fight. Do not hesitate to use the downloaded Cardassians to kill as many personnel as possible until your Iconian Gateway is ready.

Summarizing this section: Iconian Gateway is most useful in decks primarily constructed to attack the opponent directly. Since it requires a solved mission, it also requires a deck being able to solve at least one mission efficiently (i.e. build the deck to be good at busting planet dilemmas early).

c) Jem'Hadar Shrouding

In general, Jem'Hadar Shrouding works a bit like Iconian Gateway, but is available from the beginning of the game. However, it does not allow non-Jem'Hadar personnel to be sent down to a planet AND it does not allow hand weapons to be carried.

Therefore, the best way to use Jem'Hadar Shrouding is as follows: whittle down the unique Jem'Hadar you would put in your deck to seven personnel. Two of them should be Ixtana'Rax and Ikat'ika. Each of those gives a bonus of STRENTH +1. In combination with Bluegill Infestation, those unique Jem'Hadar have STRENGTH +7 (or +6 if Ixtana'Rax or Ikat'Ika) and cannot be stunned. Their STRENGTH would than be between 16 and 18 – without hand weapons.

(Also of note: Jem'Hadar Shrouding is not currently legal in the OTF format.) 

III.) Summing Up

The deck ideas presented in this article are not easy to play, certainly. Since those decks work with very little margin for error, an opponent can interfere with them to a certain point. Such an interference can cause the strategy to collapse. However, when they do work the way planned, the effect on the game can be devastating, for an opponent.


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