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Into the Final Frontier, Part 4 - Customizing Your Starter Decks (3 of 3)

by James Hoskin, Staff Writer

27th February 2009

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[ Fed ][ TNG ] Federation (The Next Generation)
The Federation (The Next Generation) starter deck, like all the other starter decks, contains several battle cards to introduce the concept to new players. These cards, Render Assistance and Cry "Havoc!", can be removed unless you plan to focus your draw deck on battle.

Much like the other Federation starter deck, the Next Generation starter contains one mission requiring Strength while not really offering much in the way of strong personnel to complete it with. For this reason, Surgery Under Fire can be replaced with either Investigate Maquis Activity, from Energize, or The Last Outpost, from Strange New Worlds. Both of these missions require skills that already exist in the deck and are much easier to complete than the one being replaced.

The wide selection of skills needed to complete the various missions makes the task of nominating personnel to be removed slightly harder for this starter deck. Martin, Rixx and Van Orton are all candidates though, as they provide less useful skills than the other personnel. If you replaced the mission as suggested above, one of the first things you should add to this deck is more Diplomacy, as it only gives you three personnel with the skill. Seth Mendoza, from Premiere; Norah Satie (Starfleet Investigator), from Call to Arms; and Deanna Troi (Ship's Counselor), from Necessary Evil; all provide more Diplomacy and above-average Integrity.

It is worth adding extra copies of Davies, from Premiere, as he has all the skills you need to complete Geological Survey. Important skills can also be found on Gideon Seyetik (Great Terraformer) and T'Lara, both from Premiere; Sarina Douglas (Cataleptic Conundrum), from Call to Arms; and Benjamin Sisko (First Officer), from To Boldly Go. It is also worth mentioning that Cadets are very cheap to play - because they have no skills! However, Dorian Collins (Acting Chief Petty Officer) and Riley Shepard (Confident Cadet), both from Necessary Evil; as well as Nova Squadron's Jean Hejar, Nicholas Locarno and Sito Jaxa, all from To Boldly Go; each gain skills when they are facing a dilemma. They are complemented by Boothby (Groundskeeper), also from To Boldly Go, who gives each of your Cadets an increase by one to their attributes when they are facing a dilemma. Boothby doesn't even need to be with them to give his bonus.

To round off the Federation (The Next Generation) section, here are some rare and/or premium cards that could further enhance your deck: Nog (Eager Cadet), from Premiere, allows you to look at the top four dilemmas of your opponent's pile. He works well in conjunction with Worf (Security Detail Leader), from Premiere; and Improved Scenery, from Raise the Stakes; so you should always know the dilemmas your opponent is going to be choosing from when your personnel begin a mission attempt. James T. Kirk (Living Legend), from Fractured Time, is a must-have card. If he is ever facing a dilemma that has requirements that you can not meet, you can just kill him to overcome it. If you can't get hold of any Fractured Time boxes, then Genesis offers another version of Kirk that is equally as good. James T. Kirk (Original Thinker) can prevent and overcome a dilemma before you have even seen what it is. And finally, an excellent supplement to either version of Kirk, is Montgomery Scott (Relic), from Strange New Worlds. He can automatically overcome any dilemma requiring Programming or Transporters, provided he is equipped with (the equipment could have some effect on the personnel) an equipment.

[ Kli ] Klingon
The Klingon starter deck, like all the other starter decks, contains several battle cards to introduce the concept to new players. These cards, Render Assistance and Cry "Havoc!", can be removed unless you plan to focus your draw deck on battle. The Klingon affiliation has some excellent battle cards, so even if you do plan to focus on battle, these two can be replaced with others that are more cost-effective and decidedly Klingon.

Most Klingon personnel tend to have high Strength, medium Integrity and low Cunning. For this reason, all four of the missions that are provided in the starter deck should be replaced with others that require Strength or Integrity instead of Cunning. Investigate Alien Probe and Rescue Prisoners, from Premiere; Brute Force, from Energize; and Survey New World, from To Boldly Go; are all good choices, but there are several further options available in other expansions.

With these changes made, there is little else to do because the personnel provided in the deck offer a good selection of skills. If you want to remove some cards then Kahlest (GhojmoH of Worf), Kitrik ("The Tyrant Molor"), Kroval and Rabal are the best choices. Possible replacements include J'Dan, from Premiere; Bregath, Kahless (The Greatest Warrior of Them All) and Khar, all from Energize; as well as Martok (Leader of Destiny), from Call to Arms. Each offers useful skills and/or high Strength.

To round off the Klingon section, here are some rare and/or premium cards that could further enhance your deck: Strangely enough, all three cards recommended here are usually found on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D! William T. Riker (Exchange Officer), from Necessary Evil and Reflections 2.0, is a must-have for any Klingon deck. By discarding one card from hand, this version of Riker can gain any skill from a [Kli] Klingon-species personnel present with him. Combine this with The Promise, already in the deck, for a truly fantastic ability to gain skills from other personnel, from your discard pile, or from your hand. Worf (Son of Mogh), from Reflections 2.0, is cheap to play and has Integrity and Strength of eight. And finally, Jean-Luc Picard (Worf's cha'Dich), from Strange New Worlds, offers an interesting ability that could help you overcome dilemmas; he can replace any Klingon-species personnel selected by a dilemma with himself.

[ Rom ] Romulan
The Romulan starter deck, like all the other starter decks, contains several battle cards to introduce the concept to new players. These cards, Render Assistance and Cry "Havoc!", can be removed unless you plan to focus your draw deck on battle.

Most Romulan affiliation personnel tend to have low Integrity as well as medium Cunning and Strength. Before recommending missions and personnel though, it is worth mentioning a point-scoring mechanism that is a staple of many Romulan decks. The two cards it consists of are Prejudice and Politics, from Premiere; and Getting Under Your Skin, from Necessary Evil. You'll often see this deck type referred to as a "P+P/GUYS" deck. Having both events in your core will mean that you are "guaranteed" to score five points once per turn every time you play an event. (The word guaranteed is in quotes because, in the Star Trek CCG, there are ways to negate another player's actions.) These five points can then be spent with Power Shift, from Necessary Evil, to increase the attributes of your personnel when they are attempting a mission. This truly makes any mission viable in a Romulan deck.

To narrow the number of different skills required to complete the missions, the two planet missions could be replaced with Excavation and Iconia Investigation, both from Premiere. Each requires skills you already need for Investigate Rogue Comet, so you will only need to add more of those skills to make the deck more efficient. Once you remove Supervise Dilithium Mine, you can no longer play The Reman Mines so you may as well remove that, too. You can also drop the Engineering PADD, Dralvak and Jorvas, as the skills these cards provide become less critical with the new missions.

Mareth, Relam, Setek and Taul, all from Necessary Evil, are good additions to any Romulan deck because of their abilities, which allow you to prevent them from becoming stopped by discarding an event from hand. As you're going to have extra events in your deck for use with the P+P/GUYS combo, you should have some spare for the "four stooges" (as nicknamed by the game's designers and developers.) Other potential additions include Mopak and Selveth (Tal Shiar Pilot), from Premiere; Mirok (Interphase Researcher) and Toraan, from Energize; and Mullen, from Call to Arms.

To round off the Romulan section, here are some rare and/or premium cards that could further enhance your deck: Ruwon (Intelligence Analyst), from Call to Arms, has an ability that just keeps getting better as you progress further through a mission attempt. Every time a [Rom] Romulan-species personnel present with him is stopped by a dilemma, you can discard a card from hand to increase his Cunning by two. Spock (Celebrated Ambassador), from Strange New Worlds, can increase the attributes of all other Romulan-species personnel present by one. And finally, Jean-Luc Picard (Bearer of Ill Tidings), from To Boldly Go, gives you another way to spend points. When you are about to face a dilemma, you can lose 5 points to shuffle your opponent's dilemma stack (not the dilemma pile) and randomly change the order of the dilemmas your personnel are about to face.

[ Equ ] [ Evt ] [ Int ] Cards For Any Deck
That's the six starter decks out of the way. All that remains is a few suggestions for common, uncommon and virtual cards that you could add to any starter deck. Dilemma pile manipulators such as Unexpected Difficulties (pictured right), from Energize; Stir Crazy, from Call to Arms; or Delirium, from Raise the Stakes; can help you slow your opponent down for those few precious extra turns. The Emergency Transport Unit, from Necessary Evil, can prevent one of your personnel from being killed. Desperate Sacrifice, also from Necessary Evil, can be used to destroy your opponent's core events. Astrometrics Lab, from Premiere, can increase the Range on your ship by two. Energize, from In a Mirror, Darkly, reduces the cost of the first personnel you play for three turns. A Few Minor Difficulties, from What You Leave Behind, can be used defensively to ignore the ability of a ship of your choice. Stricken Dumb, from Energize, will make one of your personnel lose all of their skills when facing a dilemma. Surprise Amity, from The Undiscovered Country, will stop your opponent's personnel after completing a mission, if they have more points than you. And finally, Bridge Officer's Test, from Raise the Stakes, can be used to continue past a dilemma that is about to stop all of your personnel - at a cost of letting your opponent kill one of them.

So, over the next few days, spend some time looking at the starter deck and extra cards you've purchased and decide which cards will enhance it and which can be removed. Once you've played a game or two, to see if your modifications worked, try changing the deck again. When you're happy with the deck, check back here for the fifth installment of Into the Final Frontier, in which we'll talk about building your first deck.

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