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Into the Final Frontier, Part 6 - Choosing Missions and Personnel (1 of 1)

by Ron Oliver; Updated by James Hoskin, Staff Writer

4th March 2009

To Boldly Go... but where, and with whom? As of the latest release (Raise the Stakes), there are over 150 missions and almost 900 personnel to choose from in the Second Edition of the Star Trek Customizable Card Game. Deciding which ones to include in a deck can be both fun and overwhelming, as well as the primary factor in determining how well a deck will perform. As outlined in Part 2 of this series, decks must consist of five missions, a minimum of thirty-five cards in the draw deck, and at least twenty dilemmas. This article will focus on the selection of the five missions and the personnel to include in a sample draw deck for the [SF] Starfleet affiliation, introduced with the To Boldly Go expansion.

There are many philosophies regarding deck design. One approach is to select a central theme for a deck, and to find cards that fit that theme. For instance, you may want to build a deck designed around hand-to-hand combat. Two affiliations ([Dom] Dominion and [Kli] Klingon) are most suited for this type of deck, because of the high Strength attribute of many personnel in these affiliations. Other cards (ships, events and interrupts) could then be selected to complement the strength of the personnel. Similarly, it would be wise to select missions that require Strength. Klingon affiliation decks, for instance, may attempt the Strength-oriented mission Brute Force; and the selection of Qo'noS (Heart of the Empire) is a given afterthought when playing with the Klingon affiliation. You may play with multiple headquarters missions (allowing you to play personnel and ships from different affiliations/factions), but you may not have more than five missions. Since a typical win requires you to complete a planet mission and a space mission, you should not plan to have more than three headquarters missions, so that you can attempt and complete at least one planet and at least one space mission. A notable exception for multiple affiliation play is the Borg headquarters, Unicomplex (Root of the Hive Mind); which, in keeping with the uncooperative nature of the Borg Collective, forbids playing with any additional headquarters.

Another approach to deck design is to select missions that have common skill and attribute requirements, and to then select personnel who excel at providing those skills and attributes. For this article, we will begin with Earth (Humanity's Home), since this is the headquarters mission to which the [SF] Starfleet affiliation reports. An important note with this headquarters mission can be found on the card itself: "When you complete a space mission, if no other space mission has been completed, score 10 points." This is especially appropriate given the space exploration principle upon which Starfleet was founded, and represents a notable element of the game that keeps it popular with so many fans: consistency with the various Star Trek television series and movies. One warning, however... although those 10 points are only for the player commanding Earth (Humanity's Home), you can not score them if an opponent completes a space mission before you do. As with any field of exploration, being first to make a discovery is important, and speed is of the essence.

Emory Erickson (Father of the Transporter) is a strong personnel in the Starfleet affiliation from which to start assembling our deck. Only a handful of personnel have three levels of any one skill, and Emory touts such knowledge of Transporters, a skill many personnel don't have at all. Emory's skills are a natural fit for many missions, such as Automated Repair Station and Retrieve Materiel, and the boost he provides to the attributes (and skills) of other Engineers while facing dilemmas helps solidify the core theme for our deck: Engineers with high Cunning. The skills carried by the Engineers we choose will help us select the remaining missions, as well as at least one Non-Aligned personnel, Miles O'Brien ("Smiley"). Non-Aligned personnel can report to nearly any headquarters mission (again, with the notable exception of the Borg Unicomplex), and this particular version of Miles O'Brien has an ability that takes advantage of our Engineers to help us play our ships for less than their printed cost.

Charles Tucker III ("Trip"), Kelby (Arrogant Engineer), T'Pol (Not a Slave), Sean Hawkins and Callaghan are all natural selections for our Starfleet deck because they have the Engineer skill in common. Callaghan's ability encourages waiting to play her until after we complete our first space mission. For instance, consider what happens if we command three [SF] Starfleet affiliation personnel who have the Engineer skill, have completed a space mission, and have not spent any counters yet during a given turn. We could play a copy of Callaghan for three counters and draw three cards, one for each Starfleet affiliation Engineer we command. If we have another copy of Callaghan, we could play her for another three counters and then draw four more cards, the fourth of which comes from having played the first copy of Callaghan. We have one more counter to spend, and the overall result is the ability to draw seven cards and spend seven counters, all in one turn! Like Callaghan, Travis Mayweather (Space Boomer), Maxwell Forrest (Starfleet Executive), and Elizabeth Cutler (Eager Entomologist) provide special bonuses if the first mission we complete is a space mission. Selection of these key personnel complement the Engineers who will be providing the crux of our central "Cunning Engineers" theme, and provide a specific target (early completion of a space mission) to help give our deck a special boost.

Secure Strategic Base and Eliminate Sphere Network complete our mission set, based on our primary personnel selections noted above. We then need to check to see if these missions require any skills that we are currently lacking. Fortunately we are not, so the next critical consideration is to shift focus to those skills which are often targeted by dilemmas we will face, but are not yet represented in our deck. Classic deck "holes" include the skills of Intelligence, Law and Telepathy, since only a select few personnel possess these skills. Like most decks, many skill holes can be filled by additional personnel from the same affiliation, with the occasional Non-Aligned personnel filling in where needed. If we add Daniels (Temporal Enforcer) and Malcolm Reed (Weapons Expert) who have Intelligence; Soval (Vulcan Ambassador) who has Law; and Kamala (The Perfect Mate) who has Telepathy; then all our bases should be covered. It is worth noting that Kamala has a useful ability that allows her to "borrow" a skill from another personnel once each turn, should we ever find ourselves with a skill gap mid-game. All that then remains is to add a few personnel, like Erika Hernandez (Comparable Captain) and Lore (The One) to help complete our skill set for better dilemma resilience.

With so many cards to choose from, there are countless possible deck designs, and as new cards are released, they dynamically interact with existing cards to create even more possibilities. However, our Starfleet deck needs more than just personnel and missions to be successful, so watch out for the next article in this series to learn about other cards -- like ships, events, pieces of equipment, and interrupts -- that allow you to fly around the galaxy, escape destruction, manipulate your opponent's deck, engage in combat, and far more!

Have an opinion about this article? Post it here!

-djl-

< Part 5 - Choosing a Headquarters Into the Final Frontier IndexPart 7 - Provisioning Your Draw Deck >




Decklist

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Missions
Headquarters
8U55•Earth, Humanity's Home
Planet
12U42•Organia, Secure Strategic Base
8U60•Retrieve Materiel
Space
8U53•Automated Repair Station
14U53•Sphere 41, Eliminate Sphere Network


Draw Deck (27)
Personnel
Non-Aligned
5P341x •Daniels, Temporal Enforcer
1R3321x •Kamala, The Perfect Mate
4R1611x •Lore, The One
5P352x •Miles O'Brien, "Smiley"
14U1021x •Soval, Vulcan Ambassador
Starfleet
17V801x •A. G. Robinson, Prototype Captain
8U942x Callaghan
8C951x •Charles Tucker III, "Trip"
8C971x Dallas
10C1051x •Daniel Leonard, Cautious Admiral
8C991x •Elizabeth Cutler, Eager Entomologist
8U1003x •Emory Erickson, Father of the Transporter
10U1041x •Erika Hernandez, Comparable Captain
8C1021x Garrid
8U1071x •Kelby, Arrogant Engineer
8R1081x •Malcolm Reed, Weapons Expert
16V441x •Masaro, Idealistic Saboteur
8R1091x •Maxwell Forrest, Starfleet Executive
8R1111x •Phlox, Alien Physiologist
12C1151x Sean Hawkins
13R1141x •T'Pol, Not a Slave
8R1132x •Travis Mayweather, Space Boomer
Show Deck Stats


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