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Vampires, Werewolves, and Microteaming

by Fritz Meissner, Ambassador

12th June 2019

I teach a lot of people to play this game, and I know the things that people get stuck on. In particular, there are certain cards that make no sense on a first read, and people either get them wildly wrong ("Timescape just prevents a mission attempt? Why would I ever play any other dilemma?") or ignore them because they don't understand and can't see any use for them. Unfortunately they're also very common and so every beginner has to stumble over them in almost every game.

I'm talking about a category of cards called "silver bullets", "magic bullets", (or a less fantastical term) "hammers". Talk of bullets most likely originates in Magic: the Gathering, but it's applicable throughout competitive gaming: certain strategies are so powerful that you need something specially designed to beat it. In response to these strategies, game designers create cards that give you a really big advantage against that strategy. These cards are our silver bullets.

There's a lot of amusing history to these cards in STCCG that isn't the subject of this article. Suffice it to say, Decipher leaned heavily on silver bullets to shape their games away from strategies that they feared would turn people off the game. Sometimes, it worked.

Here I come to my point: here are 5 cards that are a stumbling block to beginners but also really important because you'll get roflstomped by sharks if they know you don't use them.

1. Alpha 5 Approach, Transport Crash Survivor

Transport Crash Survivors counters micro-teaming. If your opponent attempts with very few personnel with high attributes (a micro team), you get to draw very few dilemmas and have very little chance of stopping them. Less interaction and less fun, unless you're the one doing it.

What it actually does: if your opponent attempts a mission with less than 6 personnel, you get to draw and spend 6 extra counters on dilemmas. Beware: it also works on your attempts.

How bad could it actually get? Without any special setup: Jem'Hadar can solve Teplan Prime with 4 personnel. McCoy can help TNG solve Wolf 359 with 3. Bajorans can do some missions with 2. Going back in time combo decks existed that could solve missions with only 1 person, although those have mostly been beaten back with errata (look at some early decks that include Goval, for instance).

2. Timescape

This is always the card that I take out of every beginner's deck on the first game, and put back in on the second or third. Timescape counters one of the benefits of spamming really cheap personnel and/or cards that let you unstop stopped personnel: multiple attempts on a single turn.

What it actually does: when your opponent faces the dilemma, it does nothing! But it goes on the mission (not under), and prevents them from making any more attempts at that mission on the same turn.

How bad could it actually get? Imagine 20 personnel split into 3 teams and making 3 attempts per turn. How long do you think you could hold that off? If you think 20 personnel is a late-game only scenario, you obviously haven't seen cadets.

3. Insurrection

Insurrection is another favourite that I leave out for beginners because of its "this does nothing now, it'll only affect you later" nature. Insurrection counters easy to solve missions like Kressari Rendezvous.

What it actually does: it goes on the mission, and increases the attributes required to solve the mission (if the mission has a lower than average attribute total). This will only matter after you pass all the dilemmas there.

How bad could it get:Teplan Prime is in almost every Dominion deck. Kressari Rendezvous is very popular in certain decks. It used to be everywhere. Similarly, how easily do you think honorable Klingons or Bajorans can muster 26 integrity? There's a mission for that.

4. In Development

Most of my beginner players find this dilemma impossibly powerful. This is because I usually hand them decks with lots of simple personnel, and simple correlates with cheap. In Development counters lots of cheap personnel.

What it actually does: gather up all your personnel that cost 0, 1, or 2. Only one of those is continuing past this dilemma.

How bad could it get: if In Development and other anti-weenie dilemmas didn't exist, we'd never use expensive personnel. You could forget about most versions of Data, for instance. Thankfully, it does exist, and we get to include star power in our decks.

5. Provoke Interstellar Incident

I've played very few games where this meta mission's game text mattered, and its mere existence is one of the reasons why. This card counters multi-Headquarters decks. HQs were the way that Decipher stopped people from playing all of the most powerful cards in one deck, and everyone quickly learned that 2 or more HQs was the way to unbalance it.

What it actually does: (apart from being a very good strength mission on its own) if your opponent is playing 2 or more HQs, you get to take turn two immediately after your turn one. That's right, two turns to your opponent's one.

How bad could it get: I went back in time to see the results from the very first world championships of this game. 5 of the top 16 decklists were dual HQ, including the eventual winner's. That was when there were only two sets totalling around 500 cards. Imagine the potential with 3000+ cards today.

Honourable Mentions

I need to mention a few other cards that could have been on this list, or alternatively are good options to know about when one player in your area has been dominating with something for too long. Go look them up!

There's a whole lot more of these out there! When you think of them, post in the comments or on Discord or Facebook.


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