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Cardassians Subjugated

by Michael Shea, Gul

6th November 2020

Dukat: "You might ask, should we fear joining the Dominion? And I answer you, not in the least. We should embrace the opportunity. The Dominion recognizes us for what we are. The true leaders of the Alpha Quadrant. And now that we are joined together, equal partners in all endeavors, the only people with anything to fear will be our enemies."- By Inferno's Light

Dukat: "Cardassia was on the edge of an abyss, Major. The war with the Klingons left us a third-rate power. My people had lost their way. I've made them strong again."
Kira: "At what price? You sold Cardassia to the Dominion."
Dukat: "Yes. A high price, to be sure. But look what we're getting in return. The Alpha Quadrant itself." – A Time To Stand

The Story

In 2373, Gul Dukat negotiated a secret treaty with the Dominion, making the Cardassian Union a member of that empire. At first, it seemed like was a smart deal for both parties. The Dominion gained a secure foothold in the Alpha Quadrant and a willing ally in their coming war with the Federation - an ally with ambitions of conquest and experience fighting both the Federation and the Klingons. The Cardassians gained a patron and an ally strong enough to help them force the Klingons out of their territory, destroy the Maquis, and reclaim territories lost during the withdrawal from Bajor - an ally powerful enough to strike fear into the hearts of the other Alpha Quadrant powers. Together, and despite the tenuous nature of their alliance, they reclaimed Terok Nor and nearly defeated the combined forces of the Federation and the Klingon Empire in 2373 at the Second Battle of Terok Nor (known as the Battle to Liberate Deep Space Nine to the Federation and their allies).

From then on the Dominion, cut off from their reinforcements in the Gamma Quadrant, made Cardassia Prime their headquarters for the remainder of the Dominion War. It was then that the true price of the alliance Dukat forged became apparent. Without Dukat's force of will and his ability to keep Dominion influence over Cardassian affairs to a minimum, the Cardassians became servants on their own world - subjects to a brutal and desperate tyrant who had increasingly less regard for the interests of her Alpha Quadrant subjects. And, as the war dragged on, despite victories that would bring the Federation to the edge of catastrophe (including the Dominion conquest of Betazed), total victory continued to allude the Founder Leader and her Cardassian allies. With the entrance of the Romulans into the war in 2374, the tide of the war turned and what once seemed like an assured victory turned to stalemate, and stalemate turned to retreat and fortification. With the entrance of new allies into the war bringing renewed aggression, the Cardassians would bear the brunt of the Founder's wrath for the lack of a decisive victory.

This is part of the story Apocalypse Rising tries to tell, and we hope compellingly. Aspects of the Dominion War have been depicted on cards in Star Trek CCG Second Edition since Call to Arms. But, the Continuing Committee would not start to tell the story of the Cardassian subjugation by the Dominion until Star Trek 50, with the Dominion affiliated version of Dukat. Affiliation switching is certainly not unheard of in Second Edition, but this affiliation change was significant because it marked - in a creative sense - the beginning of the transition of the Cardassian Union from equal and autonomous allies in a joint war effort to fully integrated members of an alien power bent on conquest at any price, even if it meant grinding the Cardassians under heel to achieve it.

Damar: "Cardassia has risked too much, suffered too much. I will not stand by and let all of our plans, all of our dreams for the future, end in defeat ... ." - Treachery, Faith and the Great River

Damar: "How many more sacrifices will my people be asked to make?" - Strange Bedfellows

The Design

The design team for Apocalypse Rising settled on telling this part of the Dominion War story as part of our set for a few reasons. First, there frankly aren't a lot of stories left to tell about the Dominion (though we do have at least one new, major development on the horizon), so this seemed like a logical and attractive choice. Also, telling this story would give us a chance to add, or at least build on, a new dynamic on Dominion deck-building that we hope players will find attractive. So, we started brainstorming ideas and we settled on the themes of militarism, sacrifice, and struggle for Dominion Cardassians. The militarism sub-theme didn't survive into the final cut for this set, though the Dominion Galor comes close. That theme involved expending significant resources in order to get personnel and ships out more cheaply or to move them around the space-line more quickly. We hope that this facet of this cycle's identity might be explored by future design teams.

However, the sacrifice theme did make it into the final cut, and we see it perhaps best personified on Broca, Useful Idiot. Merriam-Webster defines an "useful idiot" as, "a naive or credulous person who can be manipulated or exploited to advance a cause or political agenda." That description could not better fit Gul - I'm sorry - Legate Broca, a Cardassian officer plucked from apparent, relative obscurity to be the "leader" of the Cardassian Union. In the end, when he could be of no further use to his Dominion overlords, he was sacrificed the moment Weyoun and the Founder Leader felt something could be gained by his death. That's exactly what the Dominion player will want to do with this Broca. He could be useful in attempting missions or helping to overcome dilemmas or even for helping to staff the comandeered Defiant. But, if an opponent plays an event or interrupt, that Dominion player can use the opportunity to sacrifice Broca if he's at his or her non-headquarters mission in order to overcome a dilemma beneath that mission. So, the Dominion player looking for an opportunity to sacrifice a few Cardies to get the job done will want this Broca out and attempting, or at least out and parked, away from the safety from home as soon as possible.

The theme of struggle also made it to Apocalypse Rising, embodied in Damar, Aggrieved Subject and Pralek. For these two Cardassians, as the war drags on, they get stronger. But, with each use of their ability, resources must be expended, thus keeping these personnel feeling very Cardassian despite their Dominion colors. This Damar is a skill powerhouse with seven skills, including the rare Intelligence. One thing that readily stands out about this incarnation of Damar is his lack of Leadership. This was a concsious decision we made with both Damar and Broca very early on in the design process because neither of these personae exhibit leadership while under the thumb of the Dominion - indeed none of the personae of Damar get Leadership until he becomes the leader of the Cardassian rebellion, so we wanted to respect that convention here. Like his fellow Legate Broca, he can also help staff the Defiant and he's good for helping complete some attractive Alpha Quadrant Dominion missions. But, his ability also lets him overcome Adopted authority and The Weak Will Parrish, as long you the Dominion player has the resources to spare (and doesn't mind spilling a little Cardassian blood to do it). Pralek likewise should prove useful in the war for the Alpha Quadrant with an impressive set of skills, and his like Legate Damar, this non-unique personnel gets stronger as the struggle drags on. The pay-off for the struggle - overcoming dilemmas or benefiting from dilemmas overcome - was inspired by a card we hope will now see more use with the release of this set: The Dominion Will Prevail (and a card which we can only hope will get the AI treatment soon as this image is not among Decipher's best).

Not to be left out, Lemec, Prefect of Betazed and his ship, which have already been well covered in this article, expand on the Terok Nor theme of milling dilemmas, much like Lemec's predecessor Gul Dukat, former Prefect of Bajor. In their case, they get stronger once enough dilemmas have been milled. In fact, the Terok Nor theme, combined with The Dominion Will Prevail, is what inspired the design team to key Cardassian abilities off of dilemmas in one way or another. This is intended to reflect two very different phases of the same long and costly war. As an interesting aside, Dukat and Lemec together have the skills needed to secure their own homeworld from invading allied forces and to subjugate Betazed if one chooses to play with Terok Nor as their headquarters, in what could be a fun and game-winning bit of alternative Trek history.

We hope these Cardassians give you a reason to want to play with the new Dominion headquarters on Cardassia Prime. Whether you're undermining your opponent's defenses in a war of attrition, or turning the tide of battle to your favor, we wish you victory. For your sons. For all our sons.

 

Broca

Damar

Dukat

Pralek


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