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Access Granted

by Chris Heard, Decipher.com Writer

21st June 2022

As part of our release schedule for The Motion Pictures Remastered, and to celebrate 20 years since the original The Motion Pictures, we have decided to reprint several preview articles from the original The Motion Pictures release schedule on Decipher.com, originally printed back in 2002. We've got seven articles, one for each day of the preview week, plus a word search. These articles have been reprinted in their entirety, with links and images updated to point to Remastered cards. We hope you enjoy these "remastered" Decipher articles. --Daniel Matteson, Writing Team Manager

Access Granted

by Chris Heard (uzo@unicomplex.org)

For a long time, access to cards in the Star Trek CCG wasn't easy. You could reshuffle using The Juggler, or draw extra cards using Kivas Fajo – Collector or The Traveler: Transcendence, but that was about it. Q's Tent made a limited number of cards readily accessible, and continues to find a place in the majority of decks. Then came downloading, adding a new dimension to deck design and Q's Tent usage. Over the last few expansion sets – most notable Voyager and beyond – Decipher has steadily introduced additional card access mechanisms. Now, The Motion Pictures expansion includes three cards that, alone or in combination with card access tools from earlier sets, offer new possibilities for getting at the cards you need when you need them.

"This is the gulag Rura Penthe! ... Work well, and you will be treated well."

The Voyager expansion introduced an intriguing new effect in Beyond the Subatomic, one of the Star Trek CCG's most innovative deck manipulation cards to date. Its effect is powerful, allowing you to "dig" through your draw deck, "mining" it, as it were, for any card type you name. All other cards revealed in the process go into your discard pile. The Holodeck Adventures set followed suit with All Threes. That once-per-turn interrupt provides a three-card drawing engine that does not use up your regular card play, but at the cost of discarding three cards from your draw deck. Many players have found the combination of "any Data" and a generous helping of All Threes to be a powerful card access tool.

I Just Love Scanning for Life-formsTwo cards from The Motion Pictures expansion join the ranks of "diggers" like Beyond the Subatomic and All Threes, but with their own special features. Besides squeezing out Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Cold for the lengthiest Star Trek CCG card title, I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms helps you find the personnel you need when you need them. If any personnel are in the top six cards of your draw deck, you can arrange them in any order you want, at the mere cost of playing the event and discarding any non-personnel cards among those six. I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms makes a superb addition to several different types of decks. Decks using Crell Moset or Delta Quadrant Spatial Scission can particularly benefit by setting up the exact sequence of draws desired. The same is true of decks using multiple free cards plays and powerful end-of-turn and/or start-of-turn draw engines.

Smooth As an Android's Bottom?The interrupt Smooth As an Android's Bottom? can almost be described as the inverse of I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms. Instead of working from the top of your draw deck, you work from the bottom. Personnel among the bottom three cards of your draw deck go to your discard pile; non-personnel cards in that group go to your hand. Using any draw engine you prefer – whether a straightforward mechanic like Kivas Fajo – Collector or War Council, or a more complex effect like I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms – in conjunction with Smooth As an Android's Bottom?, you can burn your draw deck at both ends and get at your cards with unprecedented speed. Indeed, Smooth As an Android's Bottom? can be used very effectively in conjunction with Q the Referee: place a [Ref] card beneath your draw deck, draw a card, then use Smooth As an Android's Bottom? to retrieve that [Ref] card (plus any other eligible cards) from the bottom of your draw deck to do it all again next turn.

"With all due respect, sir, I'd prefer to assist with the refit of Enterprise."

Cards like Beyond the Subatomic, All Threes, I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms, and Smooth As an Android's Bottom? can give you quick access to cards throughout your draw deck, but there's a price to pay. All of these great card access mechanisms have at least the potential, if not the certainty, of sending cards to your discard pile. To maximize the effectiveness of the "digger" cards, then, you'll need an effective "recycler" mechanism so that the cards placed in your discard pile are not permanently lost.

Ever since the First Contact expansion, the classic recycler card has been Regenerate. Regenerate is absolutely straightforward; you just pull your discard pile right back into your draw deck. Simple and effective, Regenerate retrieves your cards en masse. If your card access strategy involves a fast, linear trip through your draw deck, Regenerate should complement the deck nicely. Once you've exhausted (or nearly so) your draw deck, Regenerate your discard pile and start through your refreshed draw deck again.

Sometimes, however, a mass reintegration of your draw deck and discard pile is not the optimal solution. Enter two new recycler cards in Holodeck Adventures and The Motion Pictures: Data, Keep Dealing and Isomagnetic Disintegrator. Data, Keep Dealing essentially allows you to exchange the top three cards of your draw deck for any three cards in your discard pile. With Data, Keep Dealing – which, unlike All Threes, is not a once-per-turn effect and loses nothing if you have no Data in play – your discard pile becomes a readily accessible source of cards for your use.

Isomagnetic DisintegratorBut what if that card you want is in the middle of your draw deck instead of your discard pile? If that elusive card is, say, fifteen cards down in the deck and ten from the bottom, you'll have to have a rather robust combination of All Threes, Data, Keep Dealing, I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms, Beyond the Subatomic, and/or Smooth As an Android's Bottom? to find it. That's where Isomagnetic Disintegrator comes in. Like Regenerate, Isomagnetic Disintegrator moves cards from your discard pile to your draw deck. Unlike Regenerate, however, Isomagnetic Disintegrator also turns your existing draw deck into a new discard pile. (Isomagnetic Disintegrator is also an uncommon card from a brand-new set, and thus easier to find in multiples, especially for new players, than a rare card from First Contact.) In order to prevent use of Data, Keep Dealing + Isomagnetic Disintegrator as cheap access to any card in your draw deck, Isomagnetic Disintegrator requires you to shuffle your hand into your discard pile before it becomes your new draw deck. Isomagnetic Disintegrator does, however, allow you to draw four cards from that new draw deck, thus replenishing your hand (not to mention that judicious use of a Containment Field or, better, Zalkonian Storage Capsule can keep that Data, Keep Dealing readily accessible).

For maximum effectiveness – especially in combination with the other cards discussed in this article – use Isomagnetic Disintegrator when your draw deck and discard pile are roughly the same size. If you use Isomagnetic Disintegrator too early, when your discard pile is much smaller than your remaining draw deck, you will hamper your ability to use cards like All Threes, Data, Keep Dealing, I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms, and Smooth as an Android's Bottom effectively, because you run the risk of running out of draw deck cards. If you use Isomagnetic Disintegrator too late, when your discard pile is much larger than your remaining draw deck, you cut down on your access to both discard pile cards (using Res-Q, Palor Toff, Reclamation, or Data, Keep Dealing) and your draw deck cards (using Beyond the Subatomic, All Threes, I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms, Smooth As an Android's Bottom?, and other such cards). Although this would have been a strange thought just a year ago in the Star Trek CCG, the fact now is that if you can get about half of your draw deck into your discard pile and gain relatively quick access to Isomagnetic Disintegrators, you can pull specific cards from your draw deck with startling efficiency.

"There will be no refit."

Easy card access is great ... except when your opponent's the one doing the accessing. Fortunately, several cards offer you the ability to gum up the works.

Notably, I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms works as well to stymie your opponent's draw deck as to streamline your own. When you play it to affect your opponent's draw deck, it only affects the top three cards. Nevertheless, the ability to move your opponent's non-personnel cards (including ships) to their discard pile, and arrange the remaining personnel cards according to your choice, should not be underestimated. Note that I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms has no per-turn limitations, so a late-turn Delta Quadrant Spatial Scission to play two copies could prove a significant detriment to your opponent's strategy.

Ever since the introduction of Q the Referee and the Obelisk of Masaka, Masaka Transformations has enjoyed a renaissance. With card access mechanisms multiplying by the expansion, consider the value that a few copies of Masaka Transformations can offer. A well-timed Masaka Transformations can undo the considerable trouble and expense (in terms of cards played) to which your opponent has gone to access specific cards. You might even think about a Parallax Arguers + Masaka Transformations combo so that you can play the event on your opponent's turn, or at least get five points for trying.

Goddess of Empathy is another (often underrated) premiere card worth a second look. Several key card access tools – including the new Smooth As an Android's Bottom? and older favorites – are interrupt cards. A turn on which your opponent cannot use card access interrupts could more than repay the cost of a card play.

If you find yourself frequently playing opponents who favor I Just Love Scanning for Life-forms, Data, Keep Dealing, or other cards that "stack" the top of their draw decks, there's a premiere card just for you, too. The Juggler will force your opponent to shuffle that draw deck they've so carefully rigged. (Don't overlook the added value this has for impeding probes rigged with these card access tools.) The Juggler has never been one of the most popular Star Trek CCG cards, but these new card access mechanisms make it more attractive. And remember that with a face-up Q the Referee in play, you enjoy ready access to The Juggler at "suspends play" speed.

Of course, if you prefer not to use any of these defensive measures, you can always opt for good, old-fashioned counter cards like Amanda Rogers, Kevin Uxbridge, and Quinn. They, too, can interfere quite nicely with your opponent's card access plans.

April 4, 2002

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