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Into the Final Frontier, Part 7 - Provisioning Your Draw Deck (1 of 2)

by Chris Heard; Updated by James Hoskin, Staff Writer

10th March 2009

In the previous installment of "Into the Final Frontier," Ron Oliver walked you through the selection of missions and personnel for a Starfleet deck focused on Engineer personnel. You can't win a game of the Star Trek CCG with just personnel, however. At a minimum, your personnel will need a starship to ferry them about the galaxy, and the Star Trek CCG offers a variety of other cards which support your personnel with extremely-useful game effects. It's time now to supplement your personnel with the equipment, events, interrupts, and ships that they'll need to successfully complete their missions.

Before we begin, let's set out a couple of deck building basics. A Star Trek CCG draw deck must contain at least 35 cards, but there is no upper limit. (You will also have a dilemma pile of at least 20 cards, but we'll cover that in Part 8 of this series). For purposes of this sample deck, we will restrict ourselves to 35 cards, so that you can easily play your built-from-scratch Starfleet deck against your friends' out-of-the-box starter decks (which have 35-card draw decks). You may use no more than three copies of any given card in your deck.

Whether a particular card is a "copy" of another card is determined by the card title, ignoring the subtitle. Therefore, all four versions of Jonathan Archer pictured here are considered to be copies of "the same card."

Let's start with the ships, since they generally present a smaller range of options than the other cards, particularly for the Starfleet affiliation, which has a relatively slim roster of ships from which to choose. Ships present a certain conundrum for deck building. They tend to be fairly expensive, in terms of their cost in counters to play from your hand; most ships cost between five and seven counters to play. Also, once you have a ship in play, other ships tend to be somewhat redundant. Many decks have only one, or at most two, ships in play at any given time. (Armada decks, or decks which focus on ship battles with multiple ships involved, might have more ships out at a time, but even these will rarely have more than three or four ships in play at once.) Therefore, you don't want to overstock your draw deck with too many ships. On the other hand, if you understock your draw deck with ships, you may end up wasting time digging for cards instead of attempting missions. A good rule of thumb is to include one ship, or one personnel who can download (search your draw deck for the specified card to place in your hand) a ship, for every other six to eight cards in your deck. This sample deck already includes Daniel Leonard (Cautious Admiral) who can download a [SF] Starfleet affiliation ship when he is played, so we'll choose to add three ships. This will give us a ratio just slightly better than one ship to every eight non-ship/non-ship-downloading cards in the deck (this is the same ratio found in the other starter decks.)

But which ships shall we choose? A quick glance at the available Starfleet ships shows that there are nine choices. The two shuttles, Shuttlepod One (Reliable Transport) and Shuttlepod Two (Landing Craft), are tiny craft that can't go very far under their own power and require a bit of planning and sophistication to play well, so let's ignore those for purposes of this illustration. We are also going to ignore the two [AU] mirror universe ships, I.S.S. Avenger (Admiral's Ship) and I.S.S. Enterprise (Terran Flagship), because they are designed for decks that use lots of mirror universe personnel, and our sample deck doesn't. The last ship we shall ignore is the recently released NX-Prototype. This ship is good for downloading [SF] Starfleet affiliation cards, but it is not so good for ferrying our personnel between missions. That leaves us with four ships:

Enterprise (Finally Ready to Swim)

Enterprise (Battle Hardened)

Sarajevo (Starfleet Vessel)

Columbia (The Second Warp Five Ship)

It is worth noting that these Starfleet vessels, being early models in the history of Earth's space travel, have mediocre printed attributes of Range 6, Weapons 5, and Shields 5, but they each provide you with a way to boost their attributes. In keeping with the theme of species diversity on the Enterprise television series, Enterprise (Finally Ready to Swim) becomes a respectable Range 8, Weapons 7, Shields 7 ship when you have members of three different species aboard. The personnel list that Ron Oliver helped us craft in Part 6 of this series includes six personnel who are not Human: Daniels (whose species of "Alien/Human" is different gameplay-wise from "Human"), Kamala, Lore, Phlox, Soval and T'Pol; so it shouldn't be too difficult to get Enterprise's attribute boost going. As we can only have one copy of Enterprise in play at any one time, we may as well only use one of them. It will be easier to boost the attributes on Enterprise (Finally Ready to Swim), than it will on Enterprise (Battle Hardened), so we are going to use the former in this sample deck. The two remaining ships we are going to add to the deck, Columbia and Sarajevo, can only make it to Range 7, Weapons 6, and Shields 6, but we needn't worry too much about this. Three different personnel in the deck, A. G. Robinson (Prototype Captain), Erika Hernandez (Comparable Captain) and Travis Mayweather (Space Boomer), have abilities that could further increase the attributes of our ships.

Now we need to choose some equipment, events, and interrupts to help our personnel complete missions – or to interfere with opposing personnel who are trying to complete missions. (It's not strictly necessary to have a card from each of these card types in your deck; the rules only specify the number, not the type, of cards your deck must include.) Since we already have 27 personnel and three ships in our deck, and we're limiting ourselves for illustrative purposes to a total of only 35 cards, that leaves us with just five slots to fill.

The Star Trek CCG currently (through the Raise the Stakes expansion) includes 30 equipment cards, 359 event cards, and 130 interrupt cards – so with only five slots available, we won't even begin to scratch the surface. Many of these equipment, event, and interrupt cards are keyed to specific affiliations. For example, the event card Diplomatic Offer only works for [SF] Starfleet personnel with Diplomacy. Since our deck is focused on Engineer personnel, we won't choose this particular card, but it serves to make the point that the vast pool of available cards is pared down considerably by our choice of headquarters (as discussed in Part 5 of this series). So which ones shall we choose?

There are only two Starfleet-specific equipment cards: Phase Pistol (which increases the Strength of your Starfleet personnel in combat) and Vulcan Tricorder (which grants extra skills to Starfleet Leadership personnel when they are facing a dilemma). Since we're not really planning to engage in combat (though we might need to defend ourselves!), let's bypass the Phase Pistol. We do have five Starfleet Leadership personnel in our deck, so we could make use of the Vulcan Tricorder, but for illustrative purposes we are limiting the number of cards we add to the deck, and there are better options (to be discussed later.) If we're not going to use a Starfleet-only equipment card, then we need to look at the generic equipment cards that aren't restricted to specific affiliations/factions. Some of the available equipment cards add skills to personnel who have certain other skills, like the Vulcan Tricorder does. The two that stand out are the Engineering Kit and the Engineering PADD, because they add a skill (Physics or Astrometrics, respectively) to any Engineer personnel, and we have lots of Engineer personnel in our deck. Astrometrics is also required by two of our missions, so let's add an Engineering PADD to our deck.

Of the remaining equipment cards, let's take a closer look at Emergency Transport Unit. Our personnel are going to be attempting missions, and when they do, our opponent will try to stop or kill them using dilemmas. Emergency Transport Unit provides us with a way to save our valuable personnel from death, whether caused by a dilemma or a battle of some kind. The ETU, as it is commonly known (the online Star Trek CCG community is quite fond of acronyms), goes back to its owner's hand, so it can be played again and re-used. It can save any personnel, without regard to affiliation or any skill the personnel may or may not possess. Emergency Transporter Unit looks like a really good return on investment, so let's add two copies to our deck.

continued on page 2 >

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< Part 6 - Choosing Missions and Personnel Into the Final Frontier IndexPart 8 - Dealing With Dilemmas >

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