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The Moral Choice

by Michael Shea, Designer

2nd May 2021

"The Prime Directive doesn't apply. These people are not indigenous to this planet. They were never meant to be immortal. We'll simply be restoring them to their natural evolution." - Admiral Matthew Dougherty, Star Trek: Insurrection

"Well, how badly do you want it, Admiral? Because there are hard choices to be made. Now! If the Enterprise gets through with news about their brave Captain's valiant struggle on behalf of the defenseless Ba'ku, your Federation politicians will waver, your Federation opinion polls will open a public debate, your Federation allies will want their say. ...Need I go on?" - Ahdar Ru'afo, Star Trek: Insurrection

Principled Stand

In Star Trek, The United Federation of Planets is meant to represent the pinnacle of humanoid existence - a multi-planet representative democracy built upon the ideals of equality, freedom, justice, opportunity, and peace. Starfleet is the military arm of the Federation, answerable to the Federation Council, and it is meant to be governed by the same principles. While Star Trek: Insurrection is certainly far from a perfect film, it does deal with the idea that desperation can drive even the noblest of human beings to break with their morality when they perceive that morality to be in the way of accomplishing an important goal. Matthew Dougherty, "Partner" in Crime is meant to personify this reality. He considers himself a loyal citizen of the Federation acting in its best interests, but his desperation has clouded his judgment and abandoned his morality. This allows him to used as unwitting accomplice to a gross injustice in the service of the Federation's enemies. It is up to our heroes, the TNG Dissidents, to make a stand against this injustice. That brings us to the first of today's cards from Heroes and Demons: Principled Stand.

In Insurrection, Picard and his crew must put their careers as Starfleet officers, even their very lives, on the line to defend a defenseless people who happen to have something a more powerful people want. History is drenched in the blood of those who found themselves in that unlucky position. The TNG Dissidents must take up arms against the very Federation to which they've sworn an oath, and their temporary "partners". So, when we designing the TNG Dissidents, we wanted them to feel different than any other cycle of TNG cards. One the primary ways we accomplished that goal is by incentivizing the TNG Dissidents to fight. Principled Stand gives TNG Dissidents ready access to combat. But, the heroes of our story don't kill personnel or rob an opponent of resources when they win their combat. Instead, they frustrate the plans of the wicked by destroying an event. And, while this may not seem like adequate incentive to fight, other cards can be used with your TNG Dissidents to sweeten the deal. Principled Stand also provides incentive for the TNG Dissident player to use the Ba'ku - or other [NA] Honor personnel by giving a conditional one point discount. The idea of playing Dathon, Speaker of Tama or Hugh, Rogue Borg for a discount is certainly attractive, and it wouldn't be out-of-line to assume we'll be seeing more eligible personnel in the future. To be clear, Principled Stand doesn't turn the TNG into bloodthirsty Klingons, but it does letr the TNG Dissident player stand up and fight for what is right - and that idea is at the heart of Insurrection.


Today's second card from Heroes and Demons examines the Federation's dark, shadowy reflection in the Son'a warlord Ru'afo, Once Called Ro'tin. Ru'afo is a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Desperation is not his motive. Instead, he is driven by greed and vengeance, and even though he may fool the likes of Admiral Dougherty into thinking he is an ally, his interest in the Federation is merely as a means to his own dark ends. He has the Engineer, Science, and Treachery needed to complete Ba'ku Planet, Collect Metaphasic Particles, in addition to being a Son'a. And do not think for a minute that Ru'afo wouldn't gladly sacrifice a Ba'ku or three to get those extra points. Skills aside, Ru'afo's true nature is revealed in his ability. When you kill an opponent's personnel at the mission where he is during your turn - by whatever means - the Dominion player may draw cards equal to that killed personnel's cost. A Dominion player so inclined as to engage in a little murder to help them win the game will be well-served to have a copy of this Ru'afo in their deck. His Acquisition is also certainly bound to come in handy - he may even replace Liam Bilby, Unwitting Accomplice as the Dominion player's go-to protection against Nothing to Lose.

Ru'afo, Sam'po, Left in Command, and Pa'rena all play off of the theme that the Son'a are more than willing to use aggression and murder to get what they want. And that, of course, puts them right at home with their Dominion allies. Ru'afo's ship, the Li'seria, likewise encourages battle by offering a reward for spilling blood in victory at the opponent's expense. If the Federation is meant to embody humanity's noblest ideals, and Starfleet is supposed to protect those ideals, then the Son'a of Heroes and Demons and their Dominion allies are the Federation's antithesis. It was an exciting experience to translate the conflict between these two diametrically opposed powers through design, and I am confident that I can speak for this set's design team when I say I hope players enjoy playing these cards as much as we enjoyed working on them. The only question that remains is whether you will fight for justice and for the defenseless, or will you fight to extend your will across the Briar Patch, even if it means death to all who would stand in your way.

Stay tuned for more from Heroes and Demons.

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