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by James Cream, Staff Writer

18th October 2010

Since the beginning (April 1995, for me), the Romulans have been my favorite affiliation. What's not to love? The intelligent plotting, the blackhole-powered ships, the cloaking devices... In the shows, the Romulans were best at sitting back, carefully observing, and manipulating their opponents when possible. However, in the game, this aspect has never been fully represented - until today. We have been given approval by The Continuing Committee to begin a covert mission against the budding Federation, and they have sent a team to help us in this task.(Warning: Some links in this article won't work until those cards have been revealed.)

Admiral Valdore, whom we saw earlier this month, is the linchpin for the 22nd Century Romulans. As an Admiral, he plays for free at the Office of the Proconsul, and as such, can be readily tossed into any pre-existing Romulan deck. His skills are rather common for that play engine, with the exception of OFFICER, which exist, but not on any personnel that get used. His real benefits are the two special downloads. Remote Interference is a great new affiliation-specific draw engine, and Gareb is a personnel with two rather hard-to-come-by skills: Empathy and Geology.

Valdore becomes even more enticing once you realize that the Romulan 22nd Century Time Location, Drone Control Room, allows every player to have him in play on the first turn. For a single seed slot, a player can essentially start the game with Admiral Valdore, Gareb, and the Objective Remote Interference. Together with the Time Location and a Drone-class ship, these are all of the cards needed to get a solid draw engine going, and could be all of the head start a player needs to win.

At the cost of a discarded card and a card play, that last part of the draw engine, the Raptor One, can be acquired. If you are willing to spend a second seed slot on Remote Interference, all of these components would be in place by the play segment of the first turn. With only the Drone Control Room seeded, it would be established on turn two.

There are some flaws to this draw engine, though. It requires that the opponent has a ship in play, and that Raptor One can fly to the same location as that ship. A smart opponent will likely avoid playing a ship until he or she has enough personnel in play to attempt a mission, and most ships will have enough range to outrun the drone's 22nd Century technology. Two aspects of these cards help to counteract this flaw. First, Raptor One can report to any spaceline location. This means that, regardless of what quadrant the opponent might be playing, the ship can still be dropped right next door. What's more, if the appropriate range is available, it might be possible to draw two cards each turn by simply flying to the location of the opponent, flying away, and then returning. It could be quite beneficial to seed some one-span missions in order to increase the likelihood of this happening.

But what if the opponent is playing a Voyager deck (with all the Range enhancing tricks) and can hop all the way to the end of a spaceline? Or what if they drop a couple of wormholes and bounce over to a new spaceline altogether? Well, Remote Interference allows a player to pick up Raptor One at the beginning of his or her turn and then replay it to any spaceline location again. I'd recommend choosing a locale adjacent to that of the opponent's ship. The cost of this trick is another card play, but that is a reasonable trade off for some draws. If your Romulan deck is much like mine, then there are a lot of card plays that go unused already and could readily be spent on card draws instead, thereby allowing for more card plays the subsequent turns.

The last Romulan card in this expansion helps with this strategy as well. Nijil's ability boosts the range of your Drone-class ships, a reasonable ability considering that he designed the thing. Like Admiral Valdore, his skills are nothing special. Unlike the other cards, however, Nijil has no easy trick for getting him out early game. He does play for free at the Time Location, and is likely the only Romulan that will be played there in most games.

It seems that a likely strategy to counteract this draw engine would be to simply blow up the ship. After all, it lacks a Cloaking Device, only has shields of four, and can't be enhanced by standard attribute boosters like Captain's Log. But I say let them. Simply stock another copy or some way to get the card back into the deck, download, and replay it. Inevitably, the time lost blowing up a ship with no personnel aboard will become unappealing.

Like all AU personnel, the 22nd Century Romulans can be sprinkled into any deck that is running an Alternate Universe Door or Alternate Universe Door-equivalent card. But it seems more likely that they will hang out in the 22nd Century permitting draws for most games. I won't likely be giving them a way out of the past in my deck, although it might be nice to borrow them to complete a mission if certain skills have been depleted. Since they rarely interact with the other cards in the deck, there really is little reason not to put this draw engine into non-Romulan decks.

I will expect detailed reports via subspace on the progress of your missions. Remember: If you get caught, destroy any evidence linking your actions to the Star Empire. Jolan Tru.


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