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Federation Surprise - Essen '08

by James "RedDwarf" Hoskin, Staff Writer

8th October 2008

Kevin "Hoss-Drone" Jaeger's article last week gave a wonderful insight of what to expect if you plan on playing in the Chairman's Challenge in Essen on Sunday October 26, 2008. Any players wanting to win one of the two Getting Under Your Skin foils at this tournament will be packing a Neutral Zone deck. The rules state that this involves the use of one of three headquarters (Earth (Cradle of the Federation), Romulus or Ferenginar), and that each other mission in the deck must reside in the Neutral Zone region.

This may sound simple, but there are only five missions in the Neutral Zone, so there isn't much choice when it comes to the four you must play in order to be eligible for the prize. With the likelihood of many players using one of the three headquarters, there is every chance that players will tailor their dilemma piles towards Federation, Romulan and Ferengi personnel. If you throw in the fact that two of the affiliations have access to the U.S.S. Prometheus (therefore ship destruction is highly likely), and that One-Upsmanship will probably feature in every deck, then you have the makings of some interesting games.

Rather than build a variation on a deck your opponents are expecting to face, why not try the opposite? The rules say you have to use specific headquarters, but they don't say you have to play Federation, Romulan or Ferengi personnel, do they? Why not try a deck that your opponents won't be expecting? It's time to wheel out the Androids.

If you haven't played an Android deck before, then here is a quick overview: You want to use the ability on Noonien Soong (Often-Wrong) to download an Android each time you play an Android. If you don't draw into Soong early on, then These Are the Voyages and One Man Can Summon the Future will help you draw through your deck to find him. Once you have most of the Androids, Ira Graves (Noted Molecular Cyberneticist) and James T. Kirk (Original Thinker) in play, you can begin attempting missions. Your opponent will probably have started attempting missions before you, but you need not worry. Androids may be slow starters, but they can breeze through missions with ease and snatch victory from your opponent's grasp. By attempting your missions with Graves, Kirk, Lal (Beloved) and two other Androids, your opponent will find it difficult to stop an attempt where the personnel can nullify one dilemma (Kirk), prevent one personnel from being stopped or killed (Graves), and still go on to complete the mission with just four personnel.

While the deck list below may look like a fairly standard Android deck, there are some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) features that may just give you the advantage over your unsuspecting opponent:

Don't patrol the Neutral Zone.
Patrol Neutral Zone may offer the potential for 40 points, but you are very unlikely to score that many points from it in a tournament where many players will have Region: Neutral Zone missions. What if your opponent anticipates this play, and leaves an empty ship at every one of your Neutral Zone missions? At the very least, you should expect your opponent to have one or two ships in the Neutral Zone when you complete it, so you should plan to score a maximum of 30 points from it. Anything more will be a bonus. It makes much more sense to attempt Investigate Destruction instead, because it requires six less Cunning to complete, and will still score you 30 points.

Five points from the U.S.S. Enterprise-E makes all the difference.
By completing Investigate Destruction, Investigate Massacre and Iconia Investigation, you will only score 95 points. You could choose to complete Collapse Anti-Time Anomaly instead, but it has much tougher requirements than the other missions. Fortunately, the U.S.S. Enterprise-E (Federation Envoy) offers an easy way to score the additional five points you will need to win the game. You just need to make sure it is at your planet missions when you complete them. What could be easier than that?

What, no mission skills?
Completing missions may look daunting when you look over the list of skills that can be found in this deck, but all you really need is Lal (Beloved) and the Emergency Transport Unit. The Androids in this deck may not have any Archaeology or Navigation, but who cares when Lal can gain two skills of your choice every turn? As long as you use the Emergency Transport Unit to prevent her death at the end of your turn, you don't need (many) mission skills.

Two-upsmanship!
As mentioned earlier, you can be sure to run into One-Upsmanship at the tournament. Anyone playing to win a Getting Under Your Skin foil should be using this to slow their opponent down. The good news is that there are very few targets for your opponent to pick (unless they are playing Androids too.) James T. Kirk stands out, but you should be returning him to hand during mission attempts anyway, so your opponent's copies of One-Upsmanship will just be taking up valuable hand space.

Raise shields!
Like it or not, you can be sure of coming face to face with the U.S.S. Prometheus. Whether it is the Federation's Experimental Prototype, or the Romulans' Stolen Prototype, if you are not prepared, you can be sure to kiss your ship goodbye at the most inconvenient time. Line of Defense will be useful in Federation and Romulan decks because the Neutral Zone missions have the relevant icons, but it won't be enough by itself. This is where Power to the Shields (or Evasive Maneuvers) comes in. Providing your deck has enough Engineer (or Navigation) personnel, you can surprise your opponent by raising your Shields by four during an engagement.

What do you mean these prefix codes don't work?
You can be sure that any deck using the U.S.S. Prometheus is going to try and place a damage dilemma on your ship to make it easier to destroy. Prefix Codes is a popular choice at the moment, but there is an easy way to beat it: damage your own ship! Once you have flown the Enterprise to your Space mission, you could use Exceed Engine Output to move the Baxial (Salvage Ship) to the same mission. You can then beam all the personnel you need for staffing the Enterprise, but don't want for the mission attempt, onto the Baxial. Should you then face Prefix Codes, it will have no effect. Once the mission attempt ends, you can beam the staffing over to the Enterprise and fly both ships back to your Headquarters. Just don't forget to repair the Baxial!

Fill your Brig!
Kevin's article highlighted many of the dilemmas you should be using at this tournament, but don't forget about the "opposite" strategy. At the very least, you should try and squeeze in some dilemmas that your opponent won't be expecting. Why not try capture? Very few decks can rescue personnel from the Brig, and there will probably be even fewer in this tournament. There are only a handful of dilemmas in the pile that can capture, but you only need to take one personnel vital to your opponent's strategy to prevent him or her from winning the game. Also, it is fun to say you are playing an "Android capture deck" and watch the looks you get as you do.

Why are skills listed alphabetically?
One of the Neutral Zone missions requires Archaeology, and another three of them require Astrometrics. If you keep an eye on the first-listed skills of your opponent's personnel when they are played, you should be able to determine whether you can stop an entire mission attempt with Accelerated Aging. Just remember that this trick probably won't work against Ferengi personnel because many of them have Acquisition, and Acquisition comes before Archaeology and Astrometrics in most dictionaries.

Final Thought: There are two dilemmas that could really hurt this deck. Both Quarren Labor Shortage and The Seen and the Unseen cause problems for decks that are predominantly Non-Aligned. Hardly anyone ever plays with them, but if this article gives a few people ideas, then you can reassign those personnel used for staffing the Enterprise, and send them along on mission attempts.

To anyone attending, have fun at the tournament. And, don't forget to take notes after it finishes for a tournament report.

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This deck is currently eligible for the following family or families of achievements:

Decklist

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Missions
Headquarters
1S161•Earth, Cradle of the Federation
Planet
1U174•Iconia Investigation
1U179•Investigate Massacre
Space
5P21•Collapse Anti-Time Anomaly
7U49•Investigate Destruction


Draw Deck (52)
Equipment
4C323x Emergency Transport Unit
Event
13U273x •Energize
7R203x Exceed Engine Output
1C952x •Line of Defense
14C362x •One Man Can Summon the Future
13C373x These Are The Voyages
Interrupt
1U1323x Power to the Shields
Personnel
Federation
14R783x •Data, Lucasian Chair
11P172x •James T. Kirk, Original Thinker
1R2752x •Luther Sloan, Man of Secrets
10U781x •Rachel Garrett, Displaced Captain
Non-Aligned
7R982x •B-4, Dangerous Simpleton
13C921x •Ezri Tigan, Soldier of Fortune
7R1013x •Ira Graves, Noted Molecular Cyberneticist
10R943x •Lal, Beloved
4R1613x •Lore, The One
7R1043x •Noonien Soong, Often-Wrong
7C1063x •Ruk, Old One Servitor
7C1082x Soong-type Android
Ship
Federation
1R3923x •U.S.S. Enterprise-E, Federation Envoy
Non-Aligned
10C1172x •Baxial, Salvage Ship
Dilemma Pile (40)
Dual
11P13x Accelerated Aging
8R12x Agonizing Encounter
10R22x An Issue of Trust
10R31x Armed Search Party
14R11x Back to Basics
12C21x Barrier's Effect
1C161x Chula: Pick One to Save Two
14U41x Chula: The Chandra
1R301x Impressive Trophies
13C112x Interphasic Effects
14C72x Moral Choice
14C101x Old Differences
15V71x Show Trial
16V152x The Clown: On His Throne
13R201x The Dal'Rok
0D22x Timescape
Planet
13C12x Aftereffects
10C122x Necessary Execution
3U251x Rogue Borg Ambush
14R161x Sylvia
12U191x Vault of Tomorrow
12R201x Vian Test
8R201x Zero Hour
Space
12R41x Distress Call
3R122x Gomtuu Shock Wave
1R421x Personal Duty
13C162x Preventative Repercussions
7R151x Where No One Has Gone Before


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