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Playing to Lose

by Charlie Plaine, Assistant Designer

11th April 2008

How much of an advantage is there to going first? This is a question as old as Second Edition itself; players have long been trying to find out how much that initial coin flip affects the outcome of the game. Up until These Are the Voyages, there weren't any cards that even addressed this issue. But suddenly, there was Ambassador Gral (High-Ranking Official).

Ambassador Gral is a decent personnel under normal circumstances, but if you happen to have had less turns than an opponent, he suddenly becomes significantly better. This is the first card that rewarded you for going second, but still, it was but a drop in the ocean. Then Caleb Grace won the 2006 World Championship and one of his prizes was the right to design a card, and Caleb chose to address the "who goes first" issue directly with •Investigate Derelict.

•Investigate Derelict and its counterpart, •Historical Research, directly addressed the disadvantages of going second. The former allowed you to "catch up" by restoring all of your Range, while the planet mission lets you get a jump start by grabbing a key personnel from your deck. With these three cards, there was a small but distinct trend towards rewarding one for going second. This trend continues in no small way with two cards in The Undiscovered Country.

Surprise Amity is a new and improved version of First Edition's Mission Briefing - simply put, when an opponent ends a mission attempt, if you have fewer points than he or she, you can stop all of his or her personnel. Read that again: all of his or her personnel! So your opponent can't double team, or split his crews across two missions. It doesn't even require him or her to have completed a mission, just a mission attempt! This card can give a leg up to slower decks that require more set up, or just help you buy some time if your opponent gets a quicker start.

•Breach Barrier is the first card from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier to make an appearance in Second Edition. If you want to send me hate mail, go ahead. I'm still proud of this card. Not only does it support the "40 or more" theme introduced in What You Leave Behind, it also enables the "play to lose" strategy in a very versatile way. When completed, if an opponent has more points than you, you can either boost your score, regain control of all your personnel, or restore full Range to all of your ships. This provides a lot of options depending on the game state when you complete this mission. Since every affiliation can attempt and complete this mission, it will make a nice fit in many decks.

These cards aren't the only ones that help you if you're behind. Check the archives of the Section 31 Podcast to hear a spoiler for a dilemma that helps you if you're behind on points as well.


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