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Strategy Articles

Red Shirt This!

by James Cream, Staff Writer

10th December 2010

Federation Deck: Red Shirt This!

Seed Deck: (36)
Missions: (6)
Espionage Mission (Earth)
Explore Dyson Sphere
Repair Mission
Reported Activity
Cargo Rendezvous
Paxan "Wormhole"

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

Facilities: (2)
Office of the President
Federation Outpost

Other Seeds: (6)
Kurlan Naiskos
Assign Mission Specialists
Defend Homeworld
Cybernetics Expertise
Alternate Universe Door
Q's Tent

In Q's Tent: (13)
Captain's Log
Defiant Dedication Plaque
Dexter Remmick
Starship Enterprise (TWT)
I'm a Doctor, not a Bricklayer
Norah Satie (Mission Specialist)
Dr. Leah Brahms (Mission Specialist)
Gibson (Mission Specialist)
Reginald Barclay (Mission Specialist)
Taurik (Mission Specialist)
Inge Eiger (Mission Specialist)

Draw Deck: (70)
For Free at HQ: (17%)
Jaresh Inyo
Admiral Hayes
Admiral Ross
Admiral J. P. Hanson
Admiral Leyton
Admiral McCoy
Admiral Riker x 2
Admiral Kirk (LfL)
Sarek (Premiere, Ambassador)
Spock (2PG, Ambassador)
Lojal x 2 (Ambassador)
HQ: Secure Homeworld

For Free as Androids: (16%)
Data (Premiere)
Juliana Tainer
Dr. Roger Korby
Soong Type Android x 5

Also Plays For Free: (20%)
Christine Chapel (if any Spock or McCoy in play)
Ready Room Door x 3
Live Long and Prosper x 5
Vulcan Mindmeld x 2
Vulcan Death Grip x 3
Leah Brahms (Mission Specialist)
Toby Russell (Mission Specialist)

Card Plays: (42%)
Wall of Ships x 4
The Traveler: Transcendence x 5
Handshake x 5
Assign Mission Specialists x 3
Kivas Fajo - Collector
Dr. Soong x 2
Ira Graves
James T. Kirk (TMP UR)
Mr. Spock (TWT)
Guinan (Fajo)
Dr. McCoy (TWT)
Future Enterprise
U.S.S. Enterprise (CoC)

As was quite common when I was in school, I found myself with a due date for an article approaching and nothing written or even researched. I decided to ask my friend and fellow player Ben Robinson if I could heavily plagiarize one of his best decks. Although he is a teacher by profession, he was oddly not opposed to the idea.

What I really admired about Ben's Federation build was that it used primarily old cards and virtual cards, and yet, was quite competitive. The deck utilized benefits of both the Vulcans and Androids as well as a solid drawing engine to be quite quick, while relatively simple to play. The changes that I have made mostly involve the elimination of the few cards from The Motion Pictures and All Good Things which Ben was running. If those sets are available to you, feel free to supplement this deck with a few great cards.

This deck represents the opportunity for new -- or more likely, returning -- players to be competitive at a contemporary tournament. A large percentage of players stopped playing around the time of the First Contact expansion, including Ben. These players represent an untapped resource of potential 'new' players, and in my opinion this is the most likely source of new players.

The Seven Non-Dilemma Seed Cards

The Office of the President and Cybernetics Expertise act as play engines for the deck. Jaresh Inyo, all Federation Admirals, and all Federation Ambassadors can play for free at the HQ while Cybernetics Expertise allows all androids to play for free to personnel with the skill of Cybernetics. There is a wealth of options for cards that play for free to The Office, however they tend to have a very limited skill set. Androids represent a much better value in terms of skills and attributes. The Soong-Type Android can have whatever classification that might be in high demand. A flaw to Cybernetics Expertise is that one needs to get a Cybernetics personnel into play before the play engine starts working. Ira Graves, Juliana Tainer, Dr. Soong , and Dr. Roger Korby all have Cybernetics. Lal could also have this skill if one so chose. The benefit of this as a play engine is that it is not limited to once per turn, but by the number of Cybernetics personnel in play. Further, it is not restricted to play at a specific location. Androids can be played directly to Dr. Soong in the late game to restock a mission attempt.

Assign Mission Specialists and Defend Homeworld serve their standard function here: to allow the player to start the game with a few key personnel. Note that these two cards function differently as Assign Mission Specialists downloads two personnel during the seed phase while Defend Homeworld cannot be triggered until the play phase of one's first turn. The Federation Outpost is required to utilize Assign Mission Specialists as those personnel are specifically downloaded to an outpost.

As is common in my builds, the Q's Tent acts as a kitty, a place to keep cards that you may want but certainly do not want to draw or clog the deck with. The Alternate Universe Door rounds out the non-dilemma seeds and is a requirement for the deck, which is fairly heavy in Alternate Universe-icon personnel.


This deck works quite counter-intuitively. In Star Trek, it is common for the background characters (Red Shirts) to die during mission attempts, leaving the Bridge Crew to solve the missions. Admirals and Ambassadors sit back in their comfy offices and order ship's captains on dangerous missions. Then those captains assign an away team of all their closest friends and a few mission specialists to draw the attention of the planet's dangers. But in this deck, the intent is to sacrifice the VIPs and Bridge crew to the dilemmas and then bring in the Mission Specialists for the solve.

The deck is built around the commonly-overlooked second function of Assign Mission Specialists. That is, scoring bonus points for using single skilled personnel to solve missions. There are eight such personnel in this deck, with a range of distinct skills. At the end of the seed phase, download the two mission specialists from the draw deck and play them at the Federation Outpost. I chose to use Leah Brahms and Toby Russell in this function as their skills are the most useful. Many more copies of Assign Mission Specialists are placed in the deck. These function much like Bajoran Civil War in a Bajoran Deck or We Are the Borg in a Borg deck in that they cost one card play and net two personnel. These are used to download the other Mission Specialists from the Q's Tent. Which specialists to download first depends on which missions one intends to complete. On the turn that you intend to play a copy of Assign Mission Specialists, you will first need to discard the copy that is currently in play. Then a new one can be played to replace it.

Assign Mission Specialists significantly boosts the value of the missions in this deck. Each was chosen specifically because of the potential value. The best of these is Explore Dyson Sphere. If completed with Dr. Leah Brahms, Leah Brahms, Reginald Barclay, Toby Russell, and Gibson, it is worth 60 points. Similarly, Repair Mission and Reported Activity can be completed for 50 points each. As can Cargo Rendezvous if one were to consider James T. Kirk , who was red shirted in the film Generations. Espionage Mission can be completed using HQ: Secure Homeworld, James T. Kirk, and Norah Satie for 50 points. The last mission, Paxan "Wormhole", is simply easy to complete with the personnel in the deck, and nets a mere 45 points maximum. Also of note: None of these missions can be stolen in the OTF format, so feel free to clear the dilemmas under each while waiting for the proper specialist to show up and complete.

During the play phase of your first turn, you will want to trigger Defend Homeworld to download Dexter Remmick from the Q's Tent, and then use his special download to fetch Inspection. Remmick is simply a solid Security personnel with the rare skill of Section 31. Inspection is the key card that is useful to have in play on the first turn. This Incident rewards you for having an excessive amount of VIPs and/or Admirals by giving each of your ships a +1 to the attributes across the board. This deck has no deficit of either VIPs or Admirals, and all of those personnel play for free at the Office. The second function of Inspection allows the player to regain an Admiral or VIP from the discard pile (even in the middle of their funeral procession) and red shirt them all over again.

Draw Engines

One of the most impressive things to me about this deck is how well it drew, a characteristic which can be attributed to Ben's original design. Five copies of The Traveler: Transcendence have the purpose of ensuring one fairly early in the game. Live Long and Prosper is another draw engine card which allows the player to return an opponent's just-killed personnel to hand in order to draw cards equal to the number of skill dots on that personnel. The deck should be played with a high level of kill dilemmas to allow options for this. Ideally, one would want to return the opponent's most highly-skilled personnel to them while still avoiding those personnel with the key skills that they would actually want.

The now printable card Handshake is the crux of the draw engine as it has two very useful functions. Function one allows a player to draw three cards for free if his or her hand has fewer cards than that of the opponent at the start of the player's turn. This function works well in this deck as it is quite good at playing cards and thereby limiting the hand size. However, it is never wise to build a deck on expectations, and there will always be an opponent with a deck that simply plays cards easier. For that reason, I actually consider Handshake's third function to be more useful. In exchange for a card play, this function allows the player to discard their hand and draw a new one (seven cards) as long as there are at least three cards in hand. So for example, if you have at least three cards and handshake in hand, use function three; but if you have fewer than that, use function one. Fodder cards like those extra copies of The Traveler are good for fueling Handshake's third function. Also, don't be afraid to discard any cards in favor of a fresh hand. The discard pile can always be Regenerated, and if you've tossed your only copy of Regenerate, you can still Res-Q it. (Of note: once either Regenerate or Res-Q is in the discard pile, it is recommended to waste a card play on Regenerate. Unless, of course, you intend to win this turn).


Unlike most decks that I play with, this one only has three ships. This number is so small, that I would feel at risk of being ship denied if they weren't so easy to get out. This deck utilizes a variation of the classic Federation 'Download Half of Your Deck' technique. Four copies of Wall of Ships, three copies of Ready Room Door, the Future Enterprise, the Chain of Command version of the Enterprise-D, and two copies of Admiral Riker in the deck all represent an opportunity to get this download going. Here is the long version:

Play a copy of Wall of Ships (one card play) to download the Future Enterprise, then play the Ready Room Door (for free) on the Future Enterprise to download Admiral Riker => download the U.S.S. Enterprise (CoC) => download Wall of Ships => download the Starship Enterprise => download Dr. McCoy => download I'm a Doctor, Not a Bricklayer => download Sevek (a Vulcan geologist from First Contact).

Of course, there is little reason to do this all at once and one reason to specifically not do it all at once. In fact, the best time to fetch Sevek is during a mission attempt, rather than immediately when the opportunity arises. Drawing Admiral Riker or the U.S.S. Enterprise-D will start the sequence at a later step. Similarly, if some of the cards are in play, others can be substituted. The Starship Enterprise can also download Mr. Spock or Christine Chapel. Admiral Riker and Wall of Ships can get any of the ships into play. By design, the Future Enterprise is the primary ship for the deck (with huge range that only gets an extra boost from other cards in the deck) while the other two ships can act as backups or transports. Ready Room Door can also be used to fetch either Captain's Log or the Defiant Dedication Plaque without the loss of the end-of-turn card draws that penalizes the matching commander download function.

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

There are a few cards which are not free in this deck, but all of those are quite useful. Both Ira Graves and Dr. Soong are necessary for the Android play engine as well as being quite useful for their skills. Dr. McCoy and Guinan can both cheat past dilemmas making them invaluable in the redshirt attempts. One of my best dilemma combos utilizes V'Ger as its punchline. After Ben used Guinan to cheat past this, I decided to start proceeding it with a copy of The Caretaker's "Guests".Mr. Spock is primarily a skill monster, but as a Vulcan, he also helps save key personnel from dying with Vulcan "Death Grip" and can cheat around dilemmas with Vulcan Mindmeld.

James T. Kirk is integral to the deck as he can increase the value of many of the missions by 5 points. His ability of downloading any Captain's Order is also useful as it can net a copy of the Defiant Dedication Plaque to increase the ship's range or Captain's Log to protect against battle decks.

Tweaking Your Deck

Even if you don't own every Admiral or Android in this deck, it is still quite easy to build. There are a significant number of Admirals and Ambassadors in the game, any of which would make a fine Red Shirt. There are even two good Admirals in the Second Edition Premiere base set (and one of those is a Vulcan).

The card which is the most integral to the deck -- but not readily available to a returning player -- is Cybernetics Expertise, which is a common from the Holodeck Adventures expansion. I would recommend that expansion to any returning player just because it did so much to make PAQ-era binder fodder useful again. Just about every other card is either from a pre-First Contact set (43%) or printable (30%). The remaining key cards are from The Fajo Collection; The Trouble with Tribbles; and Mirror, Mirror expansions, which are reasonably priced at the moment.

Now perhaps you're thinking, 'Thanks a lot Vulcan for building me a deck which only requires multiple copies of some of the hardest to obtain and rarest cards in the game. I'll go build that right now, you bastard.' But I have good news: Admiral Riker, Handshake, and Assign Mission Specialists are already printable, while Wall of Ships, the ultra-rare Dr. McCoy, the ultra-rare Future Enterprise, and most impressively the ultra-rare James T. Kirk will be printable shortly. Each of these later four cards is part of the Series B Tournament promos. Until then, you'll just have to play in local tournaments and hope to acquire one of Dan's beautiful foil promo versions.

I know which ones I'll be gunning for.


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