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Never Pay Retail

by James Cream, Staff Writer

26th August 2010

Ferengi Deck: Never Pay Retail

Seed Deck: (42)
Missions: (6)
Deliver Message (Ferenginar)
Acquire Illicit Explosives (Bajor Region)
Gunrunning
Market Research
Geological Survey
Purchase Moon

Dilemmas: (22)
Ferengi Infestation
Denevan Neural Parasites
Dead End
Theta-Radiation Poisoning
Dal'Rok
Orion Syndicate Bomb
The Clown: My Festival
The Arsenal: Separated
Founder Secret
The Clown: Guillotine
Personal Duty
Friendly Fire
Abandon Ship!
Important Guests
Maglock
Yuta
Executive Authorization
Trauma
Hazardous Duty
Unscientific Method
Scientific Method
Horta

Facilities: (3)
Tower of Commerce
Ferengi Trading Post
Deep Space 9

Sites: (6)
Ops (required)
Guest Quarters
Quark's Bar
Promenade Shops
Cargo Bay
Docking Ports

Other Seeds: (5)
1st Rule of Acquisition
Defend Homeworld
Assign Mission Specialists
D'Kora Transport
Q's Tent

In Q's Tent: (13)
Kukalaka
211th Rule of Acquisition
Establish Landing Protocols
Brunt's Shuttle
Quark's Treasure
'45 Dom Perignon
Small Cloaking Device
Engineering PADD
Medical PADD
Tricorder
Medical Tricorder
Ferengi Disruptor Rifle x 2

Draw Deck: (70)
For Free at HQ: (20%)
Grand Nagus Zek
Maihar'du
Ishka x 2
Gaila x 2
Brunt
Krax
The Trois
Leck
Nilva
Nava x 2
Urilash

For Free at Quark's Bar: (14%)
Quark x 2
Rom x 2
Leeta x 2
Aluura
Mardah
Pel
Frool

Also Plays For Free: (34%)
Gold Pressed Latinum x 7 (at Ishka)
6th Rule of Acquisition x 2 (at Zek)
35th Rule of Acquisition x 4 (at Zek)
62nd Rule of Acquisition x 2 (at Zek)
Tullux (at Docking Port)
Xepolite Freighter (at Docking Port)
Hidden Freighter x 2 (Interrupts)
Dr. Farek (Mission Specialist)
Dr. Borts (Mission Specialist)
Sceptor of the Nagus (Free download with Maihar'du)
Bodyguards (Free download with Maihar'du)
HQ: Ferengi Credit Exchange (Free download with Zek)
The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

Card Plays: (30%)
Ferengi Conference x 3
Recruit Mercenaries x 2
Ferengi Financial Data Net x 3
Regenerate
Res-Q
Dabo (Free download with Leeta)
Morn
Lurin
Berik
Falar (Mercenary)
Kol (Mercenary)
Letek (Mercenary)
Ah-Kel and Ro-Kel (Mercenary)
Zef'no (Mercenary)
Yint x 2 (Mercenary)

I have been surprised, lately, by the apparent unpopularity of the Rules of Acquisition expansion. To me, this always fell into the 'golden era' of First Edition along with Deep Space Nine, The Dominion, Enhanced First Contact, and Blaze of Glory. As a result of this bad reputation, Rules of Acquisition has become the cheapest and most easily acquired expansion. The primary reason that has been given for this unpopularity is that it consists of mostly Ferengi cards and serves the purpose of introducing that affiliation. But this could also be said of other sets such as Mirror, Mirror; The Borg; and The Dominion. What I find odd about this is that the Ferengi are such a solid affiliation which has the drawback of being rather confusing to play. The intent of this article is to introduce the Ferengi affiliation to players who might not have tried them yet, especially new players. The low price for these cards (Call now for an even lower limited time offer) makes the Ferengi a great place to start in the game. Throughout this article, I have added general rules regarding deckbuilding (in bold). These are meant to help new players but are far from definitive. I enjoy breaking the rules as much as anyone else, however there should always be good reasoning behind the breaking of a rule.

The Ferengi have their inherent benefits and flaws. They are possibly the best affiliation for playing cards for free, manipulation of resources, and downloading. However, all of these free personnel are lacking in some very integral skills. The trick to playing Ferengi is to build a fast deck which also includes those key skills. A Ferengi deck should have the goal of outrunning the opponent (speed) as this is what they are best at. They also offer some disruption, but more often than not, the Ferengi find ways to earn benefits, such as downloads or card draws, at the expense of their opponent.

Of all the affiliations that I have played (all of them), the Ferengi can start the game with more cards. However this benefit has the hefty cost of seed slots. Deckbuilding Rule 1: The seed deck should not include fewer than 18 dilemmas and is always better off with more. Carefully weigh the benefits of each non-dilemma seed card against the loss of a dilemma to determine whether or not it is truly worth the slot. Also consider ways of producing the same outcome without using a seed slot. Of particular note is the lack of an Alternate Universe Door or equivalent in this deck. The Ferengi are rather thin on Alternate Universe personnel. The ones that they have are quite good but perhaps not worth a seed slot. Be careful, though, as this also limits the dilemmas that can be used.

The deck that I present here will begin the game (first turn) with a ship and six personnel as well as many key cards which are needed to run the deck.

The Eight Non-Dilemma Seed Cards

The Tower of Commerce and Deep Space 9 act as play engines for the deck. All Ferengi VIPs, CIVILIANs, and Hupyrians can play for free at the HQ while Rom, Quark, any Dabo girl (Leeta, Aluura,and Mardah), or any waiter (Pel and Frool) can play for free at Quark's Bar on DS9. Quark's bar also works double duty as a draw engine when either Morn or Dabo is there. The primary purpose of the Ferengi Trading Post is to allow the seeding of one ship (D'Kora Transport), but it also acts as a point where ships, Non-Aligned personnel, and Ferengi personnel can play (at cost) as well as being one more target for the opponent to destroy if their strategy involves Facility destruction.

The 1st Rule of Acquisition is one of the most integral cards to this deck, serving two functions; it allows downloads of Gold-Pressed Latinum (hereinafter referred to as GPL) to come from the discard pile and it allows the Ferengi player to start the game with both a Nagus and one GPL. These are downloaded to hand thereby ensuring that your first free card play at The Tower of Commerce is Zek. In the unlikely event that Zek is drawn in the opening hand, the player should choose to download Krax to hand instead.

Defend Homeworld has a similar purpose; it allows the player to start the game with Maihar'du. This may not seem that important, however he has two special downloads: The Sceptor of the Grand Nagus and Bodyguards. The latter allows you to protect the Nagus from being killed if the opponent happens to start a personnel battle. The sceptor is far more important to the deck as it allows one rule card to play for free each turn. Combined with Quark's Bar, The Tower of Commerce, and Ishka, this deck will be playing three to four cards for free each turn.

Assign Mission Specialists also has two key functions. I mentioned that the Ferengi are not that good at solving missions. In order to counteract this flaw, I have built this deck such that it only needs to complete two missions (one planet and one space). The mission specialists add 5 points to the value of each mission. Four of the missions require Greed (on specialist Dr. Farek) and one requires SCIENCE (on specialist Dr. Borts). The second benefit of these two personnel is that they can staff the D'Kora Transport that I seeded at the Ferengi Trading Post, as Dr. Farek sports a command star and Dr. Borts a staffing icon. The point bonus from Assign Mission Specialists is coupled with the 62nd Rule of Acquisition to increase the point values on the two missions by 15-20 points. Geological Survey can be worth as much as 50 points, Gunrunning and Purchase Moon up to 55 points, and Market Research up to 45 points. Bonus points can also be earned using Dabo and HQ: Ferengi Credit Exchange, the latter being an Incident (indestructible) which is downloadable with Zek first turn.

Deck Building Rule #2: All missions should be solvable (I have neglected to make Ferenginar solvable here). In a Ferengi deck, it is ideal to solve the closest missions so that the Away Team or Crew can be restocked and so that the three facilities can be used as hiding places from battle.

In 95% of my decks, the Q's Tent acts as a kitty. That is, a place where I can put all of the cards that I do not want to ever draw. Usually this means special downloads which may be useful in some situations, but would simply clog the deck in most. The 211th Rule of Acquisition can be downloaded with The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. Both shuttlecraft and Establish Landing Protocols can be downloaded using Hidden Fighter. All equipment can be downloaded using Gold-Pressed Latinum, or alternatively Quark, Leeta, and Yint can each download specific equipment from the tent. The equipment serve to enhance the skill- and attribute-weak Ferengi as the Disruptors enhance STRENGTH, Kukalaka INTEGRITY, and the various Tricorders and PADDs necessary classifications (most Ferengi are either CIVILIANs or VIPs).

Gameplay

On the first turn, you will want to have a Nagus, the Sceptor, The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, and Morn in play. The 1st Rule as a seed ensures the Nagus, while Defend Homeworld the Sceptor. Use the first copy of Gold-Pressed Latinum that you get into play to buy a good book to read (The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition). Subsequent GPLs can be used to purchase various equipment from the Q's Tent. Which equipment you purchase should be dependent upon the cards drawn. If you happen to be thin on SCIENCE, MEDICAL, or ENGINEER, you can supplement with the necessary equipment. Yint and Leeta can get you a disruptor rifle or Kukalaka, respectively, so I recommend holding out on fetching those until each has spent their download. As for Morn, the Cargo Bay allows you to download him in place of the normal card play and end of turn card draw for the first turn. If you were lucky enough to draw him, then you can play him to the Cargo Bay and then walk him to Quark's Bar to start drawing an extra card each turn. After the first turn, you will be drawing two at the end of each turn thanks to Morn, so that card play and draw was well spent. As a bonus, Morn has a special download of one Gold-Pressed Latinum which you will use to buy the aforementioned book.

Load up the transport and fly over to pick up Zek and Maihar'du as well as anything else you may have been able to play and immediately head to Quark's Bar. I usually leave The Nagus, Morn, any and all Dabo Girls, and Quark at the bar to get the most out of my play/draw engines for the game. Who else stays at the bar is dependent on what affiliation the opponent is playing as these personnel may need to be defended. However, I made a point not to use a Docking Pylon site at DS9 so that the opponent will need either a small ship, a compatible personnel, Invasive Transporters, or a Docking Pylon of their own to board the station... a deterrent from killing Morn. I prefer not to invest resources to protecting my bar patrons.

The benefit of having Zek at Quark's Bar is the Ferengi Conference which allows the player to download a number of Ferengi CIVILIANs with up to eleven skill dots at the cost of one card play. The benefits of this are obvious; you get a few more red shirts for your mission attempts and you can choose which skills they have, in case enough survive to complete the mission. Recruit Mercenaries works similarly to Ferengi Conference in that it gets more personnel out quick. However it has a 10-point cost and only allows up to seven skill dots on the personnel. This cost is counteracted by the fact that the personnel don't have to be CIVILIANs or Ferengi. I recommend choosing personnel who cannot play for free and have the OFFICER classification. Also key is Falar who has only two skill dots thereby allowing you to make sure you get the most out of the recruitment.

Play Engines

Most of the play engines are either seeded (The Tower and Quark's Bar) or acquired first turn (The Sceptor of the Grand Nagus and The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition). However, there is one more that is integral to the deck which cannot be easily acquired: Ishka. She allows all Gold-Pressed Latinum to play for free, and since all Gold-Pressed Latinum can be freely exchanged for any Equipment card in your deck or Q's Tent, this means that she allows all equipment to play for free, a very useful ability. There are two copies of Ishka in the deck. If this is insufficient to get her into play, you can always download her using Ferengi Conference. After all, she enjoys a business opportunity just as much as anyone else. With the release of the new Life from Lifelessness expansion, the Ferengi received a few useful cards to boost their earning power. The best of these is the 45th Rule of Acquisition. This acts as a mobile Ishka as well as a Vacuum-Desiccated Remains in space. With a pair of these in play and Ishka, you can report GPL for free almost anywhere, which can be quite handy if you happen to be in orbit of a moon under foreclosure with a severe lack of funds. Like Vacuum-Desiccated Remains, this rule will net you a free card draw or GPL download whenever you have successfully red shirted a Ferengi. Unlike Vacuum-Desiccated Remains, this only works at a Space (or Dual) mission.

Ships

Pop Quiz: How many ships did I put in this draw deck? If you answered 'five' then you have little need for my article and can continue playing your awesome Ferengi deck at leisure.

Though likely a character flaw, I like to put an excessive number of ships in my decks. Even though this deck has one ship seeded, it is hardly invincible. I included a copy of the Trullux and the Xepolite Freighter, both of which play for free at the Docking Port on DS9. I also included two copies of Hidden Fighter, which plays for free (is an Interrupt) to download a shuttlecraft to my away team on a planet. You can play this card simply to get an extra ship out that could then be used to ferry personnel and equipment between the missions and facilities or it can be played to an away team that has lost its mode of transportation. The final ship is Gaila who has Hidden Fighter as a special download. Together with Regenerate, these cards produce an infinite loop of free and easy-to-get ships. A necessity given how incredibly easy to destroy these ships are. Another benefit to Hidden Fighter is its combination with the dilemma Ferengi Infestation, which exists in the deck solely to get more personnel out fast. Hidden Fighter allows the Ferengi downloaded using Ferengi Infestation to then fly themselves over to your away team or facility. I usually seed this dilemma under whichever Homeworld the opponent seeds in order to ensure that a facility is present when Ferengi Infestation is triggered. There is, of course, always the possibility that they will not seed an HQ there at all in which case the dilemma becomes worthless.

Draw Engines

Dabo is a pretty standard card for Ferengi decks, and this one is no exception. I stocked three of them (two happen to be named Leeta) to ensure that I get this going fairly early. In the event that the actual Dabo copy is drawn before Leeta, her download of Kukalaka can be used instead. Dabo allows for both card draws (or GPL downloads) and the scoring of bonus points. The maximum possible points scored per turn is six, while the maximum number of card draws (or GPL downloads) is three. The latter is due to the fact that only three dabo girls exist in the game.

In addition to Morn and Dabo, I have included a number of other ways to get cards and thereby fuel the play engines. Two sites allow free card draws; Promenade Shops and Guest Quarters. The 35th Rule of Acquisition allows an extra card draw (or GPL download) each turn. Play it (for free due to that book which Morn bought for you) on a personnel in your away team to get them instant GPL, which can later be spent on some equipment (at any of the three Facilities). Alternately, just draw more cards each turn. Remember that those GPL downloads can come from the discard pile, thereby making a cycle of money and merchandise. Beware though: this card begs your opponent to come attack you. So against a battle deck, this card is worthless right? Not quite. By using the gametext on The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, you can simply place it beneath your draw deck to draw a replacement card or download a rule that will treat you better. This ease of getting whatever rule you want is the reason that I have put only two copies of the very important 62nd Rule of Acquisition in the deck.

Ferengi Financial Data Net is a Ferengi-specific Masaka Transformations which allows a card draw for each Greed personnel in play. As you are playing Ferengi, this translates to a card draw for (almost) every personnel in play and if you've been paying attention, that is a lot of card draws, even on turn two. Finally, we have the 6th Rule of Acquisition. This rule allows any Ferengi who has Greed or Treachery to sell a family member for cold, hard Gold-Pressed Latinum (or card draws). When I first encountered this card, I thought that it was only good for late-game play in exchanging personnel that are no longer needed for resources. However, I have changed my mind. I can use Quark to sell Rom or Ishka or Gaila (or sell Quark with just about anyone as they all name him) and then replay that personnel from hand. Each of these plays for free at either Quark's Bar or The Tower. This gives an excuse to put extra copies of each of those key personnel, thereby ensuring that they are drawn early in the game. In the event that a second copy is drawn, however, it can be converted into more resources. Quark sells his kin and then they instantly show back up at their respective play point, though a little bit irritated.

The Expensive Cards (those which do not play for free)

I have clearly established that the Ferengi are good at drawing cards and getting many personnel and equipment into play for free. However, this benefit is countered by a severe deficit in necessary skills.

In First Edition, many personnel have multiple classifications and the Ferengi are no exception. When looking at all of the cards in the game, three of these classifications never occur on the same personnel; VIP, OFFICER, and CIVILIAN. Ferengi VIPs and CIVILIANs play for free at both Quark's Bar and The Tower of Commerce, however no OFFICER play for free at all. As such, the deck needs to be supplemented with OFFICER-classification personnel as well as other rare skills necessary for completion of missions. I chose to incude Ah'Kel and Ro'Kel as they are two OFFICERs for the cost of one card play. They also have some very useful skills for the missions. Most of the other OFFICERs can either be played at cost or downloaded using Recruit Mercenaries. In choosing these 'expensive' personnel, I specifically tried to keep their number low while adding a good amount of hard-to-get- or useful-for-missions-type skills.

Finally, the most important card in the deck and the card that occurs most frequently in my builds is Regenerate (never leave home without it). Throughout the game, the Ferengi utilize resources quite liberally. The more accepting you are of losing cards, the faster the deck can go. Also, the key to getting the Ferengi through missions is to simply throw them at the dilemmas and watch them die. Once all of the dilemmas are gone, rebuild the necessary mission requirements and solve. This type of gameplay is successful in quickly filling up the discard pile. Toss down your Regenerate to restore the draw deck and start the cycle all over again. Res-Q is included in the deck for one specific purpose; to get back the Regenerate. I could have instead included a second Regenerate, but in a pinch, Res-Q can be used to return some other card to hand. Generally speaking though, use it to fetch Regenerate.

Tweaking Your Deck

As each play group has a distinct meta, you may need to add counter or referee cards. It is my opinion, though, that the Ferengi are quite adept at dealing with this extra card load. Extra cards in the deck can be easily drawn through or discarded and replaced with new cards if unneeded for a given game. A seeded defense card could be more problematic, but not any more so than in most decks. Writ of Accountability fits well into a Ferengi deck, as it can be seeded to get Brunt first turn and then retrieved from the discard pile with Regenerate and Brunt's special download. Alternatively, it could be placed in the deck and simply downloaded once Brunt was played.

Any different rules could be swapped into this deck with little effect on the drawing/playing speed. This is also true of equipment. Also, the Ferengi Trading Post/D'Kora Transport two-seed card combo can simply be traded for a Ferengi Outpost/Spacedoor combo. The benefits being of this alternative include higher shields, easy download of Spacedock for ship repairs, and easy access to multiple ships. Download universal ships using the Spacedoor, then buy a '45 Dom Perignon with your GPL and use it to upgrade those ships to whatever rare versions you have. The Trullux from Holodeck Adventures is the only unique D'Kora Transport, but there are many D'Kora Marauders in Rules of Acquisition. Marauders aren't able to play for free at the Docking Ports and will instead require the Docking Pylons site added to DS9.

How Can I Get this Deck?

There is really little reason to use the same dilemmas as I did in your deck. They are hardly deck specific and any good dilemmas would suffice. I'd recommend the eighteen dilemmas in Homefront as a solid alternative, perhaps supplemented with the other printable dilemmas. Sixty-two of the cards in this deck come from the (currently) cheapest set: Rules of Acquisition. At $8 a box, one could simply buy two boxes and then trade for whatever other cards are needed. Many players avoid this set due to it being primarily Ferengi and would happily trade for key Romulan or Borg cards. The other cards are primarily uncommons and commons. That leaves fifteen other rares to acquire.

Both The Trois and Uri'lash are not integral to the deck at all... simply nice to have as the Empathy can bypass many solid dilemmas and the Hupyrian represents another bodyguard with a nearly useless skill set. Note also that The Trois are printable in the Identity Crisis virtual expansion.Kol (from Voyager) could easily be substituted out for Dr. Reyga from Life from Lifelessness as his primary purpose in the deck is to add Stellar Cartography. That hard-to-get skill is also the purpose for Zef'No. The only reason that I chose these latter two for the deck is that they are mercenaries, but to be honest, I don't often actually use Recruit Mercenaries when playing this deck as Ferengi Conference works quite well on its own.

The only real necessary Rares would be Defend Homeworld, Deep Space Nine, Hidden Fighter, Regenerate, and Ferengi Financial Data Net. Quark's Bar can only play to DS9 (or Terok Nor) so it is absolutely necessary. That card is a promo right now, but will be printable shortly. The printable card Handshake (promo) is an acceptable replacement for the Ferengi Financial Data Net. Defend Homeworld is printable in the Referee Reprints as is Q's Tent.

-djl-


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