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Distant Control

by James Heaney, Assistant Designer

9th January 2018

CORRECTION 26 March 2018: This article originally misstated the way Empathy personnel are targeted by dilemmas when using this card. With new guidance from the Rules Committee, the article has been updated.

Distant Control Back before the war with Earth and the establishment of the Neutral Zone, the Romulan Star Empire was remarkably insular. With their territory fortified by minefields, their ships lurking under cloak, and their few external agents acting as deep-cover spies, the Romulans of those days were content to achieve their goals by manipulating the quadrant from the comfort of their home territory.

One of the best reveals in all of Star Trek was the stunning moment at the end of "Babel One" when Trip and Malcolm broke onto the bridge of Raptor One only to find it empty... and then the viewers realized that the Romulan command center that we'd taken for the ship's bridge was actually a dozen light-years away, remotely controlling the ship from Romulus itself!

Remote Interference Romulan isolation is already partially represented by Remote Interference, which allows Romulans to battle and harass their opponents with drones without leaving their native time location, but Distant Control takes the old Romulan way into new territory by allowing them to solve space missions via drone.

Distant Control is enabled the same way Remote Interference drone-drops are: by having your Empathy, Leadership, and Treachery present at Drone Control Room. You can get this running on Turn 1 by using Drone Control Room to download Admiral Valdore (Treachery, Leadership), then using Valdore to download Gareb (Empathy x2). Then, you need an away team of all-native personnel at Drone Control Room. Well, okay, technically you already have one -- Gareb and Valdore -- but presumably you'll want a few more bodies before you go attempting missions, especially if you have Q's Tent: Civil War out. (Comfort Women and The Spires of Romulus will come in handy here, since they don't just let their targets report here, but actually make them native.) Remember, if you have any compatible non-native Romulans or non-aligned personnel at Drone Control Room, they will automatically join the away team and you won't be able to use Distant Control.

Once you have the people needed to run Distant Control, you can drop Raptor One at any attemptable space mission in play (fetch it with Remote Interference) and begin a mission attempt. I'm looking forward to using this with Comfort Women to do turn-one theft of my opponent's Investigate Quantum Singularity in the Delta Quadrant.

During the attempt, only Empathy personnel can be killed. As in the show, they are the ones whose "telepresence" makes them vulnerable to being affected by events dozens or thousands of light-years away. In some ways, this is extremely beneficial. Fail V'Ger with a nine-person team plus Gareb? They're all stopped, but only Gareb dies (and you're down a ship, of course). Facing an Alien Abduction or an Underestimating the Founders? Since your personnel can't be relocated to the spaceline, these dilemmas whiff for lack of target. Nyah-nyah, 22nd-Century Klingons!

Plus, with only Empathy vulnerable, there are certain space dilemmas that don't have quite the same bite that they used to. A Hull Breach will still pick out two personnel, but unless one or both of them have Empathy, they'll just ignore it and move on. On the other hand, if a Hull Breach does kill your Empathy, that's a pretty big bummer: not only is your mission attempt over, but you need to play new Empathy before you can use Distant Control again. Even if you have another ship in the vicinity, you can't attempt it again this turn. At least your personnel aren't stopped, since you didn't technically fail a condition on a dilemma.

It's not as though your other personnel are totally invulnerable, either. Spatial Rift can still eat anyone (because it discards personnel but doesn't "kill" them, and Distant Control only protects against kills), and your Admiral Valdore can still get selected by Garak Has Some Issues... and now you've got a crazy guy killing people in your own home base. Plus, there's always a risk that your Empathy will be randomly stopped by something like More of Your Kind or Devastating Communique, ending the attempt prematurely. You might even run into Make Us Go, a dilemma you literally cannot pass with a Distant Control crew (you MUST have a personnel held atop mission as a condition of passing, but Distant Control forbids it), and then you'll have to go solve your mission the old-fashioned way.

Distant Control also forbids you from attempting a mission with Distant Control and then re-attempting it on the same turn -- even if you have a separate, crewed Bird-of-Prey at the location ready to "B-team" their way through whatever dilemmas are left. Whenever their plans for remote control of the galaxy are set back, the Romulans of this time period require a cooling-off period to let the heat die down so that their interference in galactic events remains unnoticed by the other great powers. That means no more nor attempts of that mission for the rest of the turn, period.

Yet, for all that, being able to come at dilemmas sideways like this can really upset the intended effect of your opponent's combos. Oh, you spent three dilemmas building up to V'Ger? Yep, you blew up my ship, which killed my one Empathy! Now let me use Remote Interference to fetch a new copy, play a new Leodis from hand and... now I'm back to full power and there are no dilemmas left! Distant Control presents the 22nd-Century Romulans with a remarkable new way to approach the game. Have fun, and jolan tru!

"We're all soldiers, Nijil, from the moment we're born. When we forget that... we invite disaster."

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