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Strategy Articles

Hippocratic Oath

by Michael Shea, Chief Ambassador

23rd December 2019

Today, we're taking a look at Hippocratic Oath. Hippocratic Oath

When I heard that a boutique set to "punch up" First Edition cards to Second Edition had been approved, there were so many dilemmas I missed from my 1E days that immediately came to mind as possibilities for this set. I remember feeling so excited. Would we get to see a Second Edition rework of Borg Ship? Or maybe, finally, the dreaded Barclay's Protomorphosis Disease? What about Judge Q making his 2E dilemma debut? The possibilities were numerous. So, when the testing file came in and I saw Hippocratic Oath among the dilemmas, I was a little perplexed. But then I read the card and thought about the possibilities, and this dilemma immediately became one of my favorites.

First, the card has a high degree of fidelity to its 1E original. Both dilemmas require the "relocation" of a personnel with Medical to a planet of the opponent's choice. But, the Second Edition version provides a stiff penalty for refusing aid: a dual three-cost all-stop, and that's a pretty nasty incentive to comply with the relocation.

Next, there's the "in play" text. This is something fairly unusual in Second Edition. Only three other cards contain the phrase: the D'Kora Transport from Lineage, which rarely sees play; Ferenginar, Financial Hub from Strange New Worlds; and Quinn from Extreme Measures. In the case of the Transport and the HQ, the inclusion of the phrase "in play" is of obvious necessity. On the transport, the phrase denotes that all Commodity and Rule events in play, regardless of who commands them, count towards the ship's enhancements. On the HQ, the phrase makes it clear that cards under Ferenginar are not considered in play, even if they had been before. The text on Quinn disallows the kind of shenanigans that are sometimes employed when playing Holding Cell - namely the deliberate choosing of a card not in play to reap an additional reward. We've all seen it happen: an opponent plays Holding Cell and names "Borg Queen" but you're playing Romulans. So, Holding Cell still comes into play, but now there's room for a third interrupt on the Decay text and the opponent gets that much more verb control. The concern here, obviously, is that if Hippocratic Oath lacked the "in play" text, an opponent could simply name a mission not on the board and the dilemma would be a guaranteed all-stop. No fun at all.

Finally, from a story point of view, this card is dead on. In the Deep Space 9 Fourth Season episode of the same name, Bashir and O'Brien find themselves stranded on a planet on which several Jem'Hadar, led by their First Goran'Agar, are struggling to free themselves from their addiction to ketracel white. Bashir's ethical and moral obligations as a doctor immediately come into conflict with his duties as a Starfleet officer: he must choose between helping the sick beings in need before him even though they are soldiers of the Dominion, which is a mortal enemy of the Federation and a threat to the entire Alpha Quadrant. DS9 was at its best when it was exploring shades of grey, moral ambiguity, and the conflict that can arise from a reality that is far crueler and more complicated than the Utopian vision usually depicted in The Next Generation. This card captures the weight of that conflict nicely.

So, let's talk about just some of the fun to be had with this dilemma. A player can use it to set up cards like Jem'Hadar Ambush or Jem'Hadar Strike Force to force the opponent to choose between almost assuredly allowing for the 10-point-score and succumbing to the all-stop penalty for not relocating. Or, the dilemma could fit in quite nicely to an Infiltration deck that relies on lowering attributes to fail attempts. Or, the dilemma could compliment various skill denier strategies like Chained Environment - Nth Degree piles or the dreaded doubler piles incorporating Pattern Loss and Underlying Influence. Or, the dilemma could be a really nice set-up for Flare of Rage or Frozen by Fear. The point is that the possibilities for this card to enhance interactive strategies or compliment themed piles are numerous. And, if none of those options appeal to you, this card will surely fit in to standard attrition piles as well.

So, I hope you're as excited to play this card as I am. Stay tuned for more excitement from Inheritance.

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