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Top 16 from 15 and 14

by Kevin Jaeger, Staff Writer

7th July 2008

When I started writing this article, it was going to be a Top Ten... and specifically not a Top Five list since, well, I’m twice the writer RedDwarf is...just kidding! Anyway, I quickly realized that picking my Top Ten wouldn't be enough since, combined, What You Leave Behind and The Undiscovered Country have 167 cards in them. So, I upped the number to be approximately 10% of the two sets, and frankly, as you can see in the title, it’s somewhat poetic. So, for your reading pleasure and endless debate, here is a list of the Top 16 cards (in my opinion) from these two sets – in alphabetical order.

  1. A Few Minor Difficulties
  2. Due to this list's alphabetical construct, it looks like we get to start off with my dark horse selection. The most underrated event of the two sets in my humble opinion, I am betting that this card will have a huge impact at this year’s major constructed events. I’ve heard more than one person shrug this card off saying that unless the opponent is doing something particular, it’s a wasted card slot. I counter that by pointing out that if you have something to use it with beyond itself, it’s not wasted... and look at what it hoses all on its own. It combats the Dominion Defiant , hurts the U.S.S. Enterprise-E (Flagship of the Federation), protects you against a Queen’s Borg Cube and slows down those flashy Borg two-mission-win decks by nuking Locutus’ Borg Cube . Just find a way to make it useful in every game. I know, pitch it to card number eight on this list.

  3. Breaking the Ice
  4. The first of numerous dilemmas on this list because quite frankly, every deck picks from the same list of dilemmas and they get used pretty much every game. Based on what I remember reading from the reports, this was the most heavily-used card from The Undiscovered Country at the European Continentals. Unless the meta-game here in the United States and in Australia ends up disagreeing with me, I expect that trend to continue. I foresee a coupling of this dilemma with last year's winning dilemma - Psychokinetic Control. It could end up providing a solid one-two punch for years to come and take its place next to Personal Duty/Gomtuu Shockwave; An Issue of Trust/Temptation; etc. in our database of historically solid, two-dilemma combos......or it wont.

  5. Chula: The Chandra
  6. In another article, I already expounded on the greatness of this dilemma. I won't go into it again, but suffice it to say that this dilemma has found its way into every dilemma pile I have, including the ones that focus on killing. One thing I know a lot of people agree on, if you don’t want to face the dilemma, then it must be good.

  7. Commandeer Prototype
  8. The only mission on this list. I’ve included it not because it’s the most powerful or the best of the missions, but simply because it is a card you build your deck around. I don’t foresee a wave of Commandeer Prototype decks storming Worlds, but I think someone could make something inventive that will be entertaining, successful, or possibly both.

  9. Covenant
  10. The best cheater for the Bajoran affiliation. It’s been shown historically that for a deck to be competitive at a high level, it needs to have reliable event destruction. The Bajorans have solid event prevention with Political Putsch, but it requires two Treachery Bajorans... Treachery Bajorans with low Integrity, which leaves them vulnerable to such popular dilemmas as An Issue of Trust and Gomtuu Shock Wave. With Covenant, you can cheat-in both the needed Diplomacy and possibly enough of the X Integrity you're short. Couple this interrupt with the next best cheater the Bajorans have – Dark Secrets – and you start feeling the love of the Pah-Wraiths.

  11. Inferiority
  12. As soon as What You Leave Behind was released, I decided to give this dilemma a try by throwing two copies into the dilemma pile I had already put together. Boy was I surprised at how good this dilemma was and how often I used it. I guess until then it hadn’t hit me just how often I had leftover counters to spend on dilemmas. However, this dilemma doesn’t fit into every dilemma pile, and like any dilemma that doesn’t stop, kill or remove personnel from a mission attempt, it can very easily become a wasted draw. Still though, I’ve noticed that this dilemma has been popping up in the majority of dilemma piles I’ve seen in decklists. Either of those two facts is enough to convince me that this dilemma will see its fair share of play.

  13. Instigate Dissension
  14. If you haven’t already, go back and take a gander at the reveal article I wrote about this dilemma. With dual Headquarters decks having taken home the championship for the last three years in a row, you can definitely expect there to be more than a couple that will make an appearance again this year. Even if you don’t gain much benefit shutting down the secondary headquarters, at the very least you get two stops with no dilemma overcome! That puts this dilemma in close proximity to Hard Time and The Dal’Rok which have certainly proven themselves. Otherwise, you get two stops for cost four, which means that if you are using Pinned Down, it's time to switch.

  15. Kes (Experienced Ocampa)
  16. Ah yes, one of the long list of things you can do to make using limited-use events useful. That is, pitch that copy of A Few Minor Difficulties into Kes and turn her into a two-cost personnel with six skills, seven Integrity and six Cunning. Even if you never use her other ability, she’s well worth playing with. Her combination of Anthropology, Exobiology, Medical and Science is only found on one other personnel – Hoshi Sato (Uneasy Educator), who is another shining example of getting a lot of skills for your counters. Kes can provide the skills for Encounter at Farpoint by herself, she contributes three skills to Instruct Advanced Drone, and most importantly - she can provide at least one skill for seven different Delta Quadrant missions... potentially triggering her powerful ability. At the end of the day, I compare her to Goran. I think most of us recall just how often he was used during the Tain decks days. Hey, that gives me an idea for an updated version.

  17. Moral Choice
  18. This comes down to statistics. According to the tournament statistics page, from what I can gather, it appears that the percentage of decks using a headquarters to which Federation personnel can play is approximately 56%. Of that percentage, over 90% of those decks are ones where playing Federation personnel is almost assured. Regardless of the exact percentages, the point is clear – in any given game since the statistics were kept, you have had a roughly 50% chance of facing an opponent with Federation personnel. If you are not using at least one copy of Moral Choice, then you are missing out big time. You need this if you want to slow down guys like Kirk, Picard and Data...not to mention those darn cadets.

  19. Shocking Betrayal
  20. I love this dilemma. If you are playing Federation, it’s your greatest defense against Kirk. Use this as the first dilemma in the stack and your Federation opponent either chooses Kirk to stop or will most certainly get to watch Kirk die. In either case, you win. Lord knows you need this dilemma if you are playing a Kirk-less Federation faction like Voyager, Maquis or Mouth of the Wormhole (Deep Space 9). Granted, a two-cost stop of the opponent’s choice isn’t anything great, but mirror games are often the hardest. If you are playing an affiliation you expect to see lots of in the tournament - like perennial favorites the Borg and the Klingons - then you still have a good chance of getting the secondary benefit. So start betraying people already!

  21. Stripped Down
  22. This dilemma follows the vein of Inferiority. It may not appear so at first, but if there is already a mission completed by your opponent, then Stripped Down essentially banks you one dilemma counter back. This may not seem like much, but it is really is powerful. Two of the guys in my local play group have been using this card a lot since it came out, and it has been aggravating me ever since... so again, it must be good. Lastly, it has a great picture which is always a good reason to use a card, right?

  23. Surprise Amity
  24. There has been a mild, ongoing debate on whether this card's dual ability to work for both solvers and interaction decks is good. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that people better get used to seeing this card because whether your deck is a solver or an interaction deck, it could benefit from a couple of copies. Opponent got more missions completed? Slap ‘em on the hand and catch up. Running an interaction deck? Put the cuffs on your opponent, then punch their personnel in the face. Plus, as a side benefit, this card re-opens the “crop dusting” strategy – putting a bunch of dilemmas under each mission, then in one fell swoop, completing three missions in one turn. Playing from behind? Don’t sweat it. I just wouldn’t bank on it though, because there are now lots of new reasons to stock interrupt nullification tech.

  25. The Cost of Freedom
  26. While I haven’t actually seen this event played yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone gives it a go or has some secret hot tech under wraps. While getting the plus nine attributes bonus is probably a pipe dream, I wouldn’t put it past someone to come up with a near fail-proof way of getting it (or something close to it) to happen predictably and reliably. At the very least, I expect a certain Charlie Plaine to keep his promise from the Q&A and have a Cost of Freedom deck rolling. For all I know, he could be rolling one as I write this at the North American Continentals. As I said above, I haven’t seen this event played, but I have been working on my own Cost of Freedom deck...and so far it looks promising.

  27. Three of Twelve (Specialty Drone)
  28. With the growing popularity of using unique personnel in Borg decks, Three of Twelve should find his way into your Borg future. Giving a plus one attributes boost to all your unique Borg is incredibly useful. Get him present with Six of Ten, and you have another personnel with Integrity greater than six to stop for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? He also helps make it easier to get past Gomtuu and interestingly, a Borg player can now complete several Integrity missions with a reasonable number of personnel. Three of Twelve plus Six of Ten plus Four of Nine plus Five of Twelve equals a completed Investigate Alien Probe. Not too shabby. This could easily open up some crazy new Artifact shenanigans to Borg players. Interlinking plus Tox Uthat? Crazy. A nine-Cunning Queen and an eleven-Cunning Data? Nice.

  29. U.S.S. Pasteur (Medical Ship)
  30. You mean, all I have to do is put one Medical personnel on the ship and I have twelve Range? Sign me up!

  31. U.S.S. Prometheus (Experimental Prototype)
  32. It’s rare that a ship becomes the centerpiece for a powerful new deck type, but here it is. This ship, I think, is the Federation’s definition of “Blitzkrieg”. The ability to put just one Damage counter on a ship, say Gomtuu or Nanite Attack, and then boom – no more ship cannot be understated. That is a huge advantage, since that ship destruction will most likely accompany the deaths of between seven and nine crewmen. Average a cost of two per crewman, include the ship as well, and you just set your opponent back by two to four turns. Nasty.

There you have it. A list of the Top 16 cards I expect will have an impact until the next set is released. In homage to RedDwarf, here is the list of honorable mentions: Back to Basics, Find Lifeless World, Harvest Drone, Data (Tempted By Flesh) and the three Orion slave girls. Each of these is good, but the line had to be drawn somewhere, and each of these is much more limited in its ability to have an impact. Back to Basics, while intriguing, dies to Kirk, assimilation and solid event destruction. Find Lifeless World has an intriguing ability, but it’s limited in what it's good for accomplishing. Data is a stats powerhouse, but he’s 'Borg use only' and his drawback is severe enough to drop him out of the running. Harvest Drone is vastly expensive and is limited to one deck, really. The Orion girls were tough to cut from the Top 16, but I did so because their stats of four/six/four are sub-par and they require an event-heave deck to really shine.

I doubt I’ve identified anything in this list most of you didn't already know save one or two selections, but I hope you enjoyed reading it nonetheless. I’ll see you after the World Championships. Until then, head on over to the message boards and feel free to debate this list.


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