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Strategy Articles

Dial D for Dilemmas!

by Paddy Tye, Broken Bow designer and perplexing puzzler

26th March 2017

"Do you think a cup holder's too much?"


While the new "Botany Bay" icon dilemmas will inevitably get a lot of attention as part of the Broken Bow release, there are a few other contenders in the dilemma line-up that are worth some reflection too...

Dilemmas are a particular favourite of mine to design - Jol Yichu'! from Star Trek 50 was one such dilemma which I'm very happy to see getting used and shaking up the meta. And for Broken Bow we wanted to add a few more unusual dilemmas to give the meta a good kick up the backside.

I'm a bit different in my approach to design, given my Creative Team background. I tend to draw inspiration from specific events in the episodes or movies, and build the gametext around that, while many other designers start with the gametext and it's down to Creative to tie the gametext back to a Trek-based situation.

One episode of Enterprise that was crying out for a dilemma was "Singularity" - where the crew of Enterprise exhibit unusual obsessive behaviour after exposure to a black hole as part of a trinary system. This seemed like a classic "dilemma episode" to me - where the plot has often been boiled down in 1E to be largely represented by a single dilemma - for example Barclay's Protomorphosis Disease, Horta, The Cloud, etc. 

The concept of "Singularity" is that the radiation emanating from a combination of a trinary star system and a black hole results in the crew of Enterprise becoming obsessed with small tasks, from fixing the Captain's chair, to developing battle preparation procedures or just cooking that perfect meal. So how does this become a dilemma? Most dilemmas are designed to kill, stop or filter - and the most fitting application here was a filter. But rather than stopping X people in a mission attempt, it instead "focuses" the skills on all personnel in the attempt: doubling the first and second listed skills, but losing any skills thereafter - and Preoccupied was born.

Silent Enemy

I've been a big fan of the random element that filters like Chula: The Chandra can add to a mission attempt. It is possible to plan around Chula: The Chandra (send a team all with a matching attributes say), and similarly with Preoccupied, if you're expecting a certain dilemma you can ensure the necessary skills are covered by the first two listed skills on your personnel, but most likely it will just take a random slice of skills out from a previously well-prepared crew!

One other focus for the team was a desire to revive the Self-Controlling mechanic, first seen in The Sky's The Limit but not seen since. Having random cards flying up and down the spaceline causing havoc is just one of the great things we love about First Edition! The mysterious assailant from Silent Enemy was a perfect example for this dilemma type.

Outside the initial encounter and battle with Silent Enemy, existing Self-Controlling dilemmas like Borg Ship and Spaceborne Entity already have the "marauding battle cruiser" aspect largely covered, so we wanted to add something a little different. Given the "end of turn" effect, a traditional stop effect would do nothing - so borrowing from cards like Chula: The Game, we went for the slightly longer option of the "until end of next turn" stop! In this instance, the need to have enough people aboard for the CUNNING requirement targets players who use "daisy-chaining" to move people up and down the spaceline by transferring crews to empty ships en route. Taking out those empty ships will severely hamper their movements.

Hopefully this gives you a little insight into the dilemmas within Broken Bow and these won't be the only surprises... from a Sci-Fi tribute, to a frozen menace, and something which makes sitting at a time location a little less safe (and looks like it could ruin Worlds 2017). The dilemmas in Broken Bow should really expand your power in the universe!

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