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Strategy Articles

Into the Delphic Expanse!

by Craig Giblett, Staff Writer

19th October 2010

Playing Starfleet using the Delphic Expanse-focused subset of cards is a rather obvious choice of strategy. After all, Peak Performance points us heavily in that direction. So given that the set is new, and I had just printed three copies of it at Office Works, I thought it was time to give the brave men, women, Vulcans and Denobulans of Starfleet another chance at intergalactic glory. The list I played Sunday, September 26th, is here and I will be discussing the more interesting cards in the deck, with a particular focus on the Peak Performance cards.

The Basis of the Deck

Pre-Peak Performance, I had already built a fairly standard Nathan Samuels Starfleet deck with the A Sight for Sore Eyes and At What Cost? combo, and a Future Enterprise sub-strategy. This deck was based upon some research I had done by looking at the common threads in the Starfleet decks posted online, most notably Ben Paulson's and Johannes Klarhauser’s builds. I considered Ben’s mission selection strictly the best combination for the personnel available, and also being the missions I actually owned copies of.

I played it once about two months ago and finished one win and two losses in a four-man, three-round tournament. I was quite satisfied with the deck, but the lack of the affiliation’s ability to deal with events, other than Restorative Responsibility, concerned me. My focus was diverted away from the deck for about a month or so, and I had planned on adding in a couple copies of Kevin Uxbridge to help deal with events more effectively, which all changed once Peak Performance got released.

When I sat down to build the deck, I did not have much time, so I took my old Starfleet deck and proceeded to modify it rather than building a new deck from the ground up. It is not the best way to build a deck, however, it has a couple of advantages. First, the core of the deck is already built with a lot of key personnel still relevant in the Delphic Expanse version, such as D’Vela, Shran (In Archer's Debt) and Greer. Second, it helps keep the deck focused, as I know it works and I do not have to spend a lot of time considering other personnel for the deck (except for the new ones available in Peak Performance).

The Missions

There are not many Region: Delphic Expanse missions to choose from, and my initial changes led me to only include two missions from the region: Eliminate Sphere Network and Investigate Refinery. I kept Navigate Minefield and Restore Errant Moon from the previous build. My plan was to attempt and complete Eliminate Sphere Network, then move on to Investigate Refinery in order to take advantage of the Damaged Enterprise’s ability to allow personnel to be played directly aboard. This plan left out Restore Errant Moon as attempting Investigate Refinery for the third mission and game win was easier and quicker. Despite the fact that attempting and completing Restore Errant Moon second can allow for a two-mission win (along with Tallera (Covert Isolationist), Earth (Humanity’s Home) and A Sight for Sore Eyes), I felt this was highly unlikely and decided to cut it in favor of Investigate Anachronism.


To begin with, Jonathan Archer (Damaged Captain) is a no brainer and an automatic selection with two copies. As was Phlox (Damaged Doctor), given his incredible personnel-saving ability, and Charles Tucker III (Damaged Engineer), for his Engineer and ability to remove Damage cards from any ship he is aboard. (Properly set-up, Gomtuu Shock Wave can hit just about any affiliation.) Travis Mayweather (Damaged Navigator) should replace Travis Mayweather (Space Boomer); the Space Boomer is not a bad card, and the Range is handy, but not relevant for this deck. The Travis Mayweather (Damaged Navigator) ability gives him an edge in that he can potentially have more skills (especially Security) and attributes. The other "Damaged" personnel, I felt, were not as appropriate for the deck. T’Pol (Damaged Science Officer) is just not as good as T’Pol (Not a Slave). The latter has more relevant skills -- with both Astrometrics and Anthropology, which the former does not have -- while typically costing one less to play. Malcolm Reed (Damaged Security Officer) was not included either, in favor of Malcolm Reed (Enthusiastic Major), as the non-Damaged Reed has Engineer, one higher Cunning and Treachery. I'm thinking of dilemmas such as Back Room Dealings and An Issue of Trust here. The Damaged Reed’s ability is useful and he could have made the deck alone for that, but I made a metagame call that I would not be expecting any engagements.

Soval (Vulcan Ambassador) was chosen for his high attributes, four relevant skills, and ability to dodge random selections from dilemmas that cost three or more. Tallera (Covert Isolationist), Jadzia Dax (Soldier of Fortune) and Persis (Loyal Daughter) were chosen primarily for their high Cunning and relevant skills. Tallera’s ability to gain five points when completing a 40-point mission is useful, as is Jadzia’s draw/hand manipulation ability. However, it is the high attributes that make these three shine. With such high Cunning, they allow smaller teams to complete missions, and if left unstopped after dilemmas have been overcome, can complete missions that otherwise would not be completed.

Shran (In Archer’s Debt), like the above, has relevant skills, but not high attributes. He is one of the personnel I chose for the deck to use his ability. Being able to return dilemmas to my dilemma pile, although one at a time, can add up to a lot if it occurs three or more times a game. With Personal Duty and An Issue of Trust being commonly-played dilemmas, Shran could be stopped often, with his ability coming online and providing good value. I wanted some dilemma-manipulation cards in the deck, and cards like Shran can save space so that extra cards are not required.


The focus of the ships is obviously on Enterprise (Damaged Starship). I want to play this ship every game, and first. Typically, it should be the only ship that is needed, as my mission plan is to complete a Delphic Expanse mission first and second. The Columbia (The Second Warp Five Ship) and Future Enterprise (Displaced Warship) are there to back-up the Enterprise (Damaged Starship) in case of any disruption by my opponent, such as killing off key personnel leaving it stranded, or if its Range is reduced such that it cannot move from whichever mission it is at. Unlikely, but you never know!

Columbia's ability to allow a personnel to gain Science or Astrometrics while facing a dilemma is handy at times, especially if a personnel with either of those skills has been stopped and was needed to complete a mission. Being a 'discard' effect, it also makes use of extra copies of unique or dead cards, such as A Sight for Sore Eyes or U.S.S. Enterprise-J. Future Enterprise (Displaced Warship) supports the future personnel’s 'remove from game' mechanics, which are useful, especially in the last turns of a game where some big plays may need to be made.

Events and Support Cards

Many of you are probably curious about the two copies of U.S.S. Enterprise-J in the deck, given there is only one 40-point mission. It is an early game card for that mission, the idea being to make the deck a bit faster, since, I feel, it is potentially a little slower than other Starfleet builds. If I draw a copy of the card later in the game, I have six discard effects and one hand-manipulation effect to limit its redundancy, those being Columbia (The Second Warp Five Ship), Shran (In Archer’s Debt), Jadzia Dax (Soldier of Fortune) and Trellium-D.

Trellium-D is an amazing card for the deck. Not only is it free, but as mentioned above, it is excellent at making use of dead cards in hand. It allows me to discard extra copies of the Enterprise (Damaged Starship), A Sight for Sore Eyes and Noble Intentions. It can get me out of trouble, by potentially fixing a bad draw or allowing me to dig that little bit deeper into my draw deck for a necessary card. Which leads me to Lustful Distraction, as it can be discarded to Trellium-D and still be online. Lustful Distraction is a straightforward card, obvious in its application, but gives Starfleet much-needed game text for the current worldwide metagame. This card should be an automatic 'three of' in any Starfleet deck, as the capability to counter critical interrupts late in the game will swing many a game or reinforce an already strong position.

The Tournament

I played this deck to a two-win, two-loss finish on Sunday September 26th. The first round, I played Steve Hartmann and his nefarious Cardassians. After both of us began with a slow start, I won on the back of a Lustful Distraction, countering his copy of The Central Command, with the other two hitting his Labor Camps. Shran (In Archer’s Debt) was a star here, returning several dilemmas to my dilemma pile, and combining nicely with Temporal Incursion (allowing me to replay them easily).

Match two saw me paired up against Pegleg Pete, who almost exclusively plays the Borg. Oh, how I fear the Borg! The game went according to plan for a while; I even had Jonathan Archer (Damaged Captain) beat Old Differences with his ability, allowing six Starfleet personnel to complete a mission unhindered. But the Borg stayed in the game by earning an extra 20 points here and there. After completing Pegasus Search, he was one mission away from a two-mission victory. Even two Lustful Distractions countering two of his The First of Many could not stop him for long enough, and in his next turn, he was able to complete the second mission for the full win.

Pete Santamaria was my third opponent. He often plays Maquis and proves to be a tough match, especially with all those Maquis tricks and disruption. However, it was not to be today, as in his first mission attempt at Investigate Maquis Activity (with a copy of For the Cause in play), three personnel were killed and a fourth was placed on top of his draw deck, slowing him down enough to let me get ahead. Even though he put two of my personnel in his brig, placed a Biogenic Weapon on Eliminate Sphere Network, used Cascade Virus on a personnel, and returned three personnel to my hand with a pair of Stalling for Time cards, I was able to bust through for the full win.

The final game saw me paired against Shane Brierly, who was playing a Voyager deck. Shane is a tough, wily opponent, and I have only managed to beat him once in eight games played. I started with a bad, almost personnel-less hand, giving me a slow start. Shran (In Archer’s Debt) proved to be valuable in this match, as he returned no less than four dilemmas to my dilemma pile. However, his Jadzia Dax (Soldier of Fortune) kept on getting randomly selected by dilemmas, allowing him to filter his hand and draw into much needed cards. In another game that went close to time, he edged me out.

All in all, the deck was a solid performer; the new cards from Peak Performance are incredible. Jonathan Archer (Damaged Captain) is the real deal, and if not dealt with, can almost single-handedly win games. Lustful Distraction proved to be an invaluable asset during the day, countering many interrupts and dealing with critical events. I was able to get U.S.S. Enterprise-J into play, often when it was relevant (in three of the games), so its spot is safe for now.

Changes I would consider making to the deck for next time include switching Travis Mayweather (Space Boomer) back to Travis Mayweather (Damaged Navigator). The single copy of Kevin Uxbridge may not be needed, but it did not prove to be a hindrance, so that will be food for thought. The two Engineering PADDs are left over from the previous version of the deck and may not be needed now that Restore Errant Moon is no longer present. They could easily be replaced by another Phlox (Damaged Doctor) and a third Temporal Incursion.

All in all, a good tournament, and a fun deck to play.


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