RR #4: Dilemma Strategy, Part 1 | openCards

RR #4: Dilemma Strategy, Part 1

This Strategy-Note was written by Kathy McCracken (aka Major Rakal) and was published first on "Major Rakals Tal Shiar Headquarters (members.cox.net/majorrakal)" at Dec 11th, 1996.

This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:

Aefvadh! I've been seeing a lot of requests for dilemma combos. So today, instead of a card review, let's have a little change of pace with


Dilemmas can be classified into a few major types by their effects.

  1. Killers. May kill one, several, or all personnel; randomly, by opponent's choice, or by your choice.
  2. Skill removers. Include dilemmas that directly drain skills, as well as those that stop, disable, take captive, or otherwise prevent the use of personnel without killing them (e.g., Love Interests).
  3. "Wall" dilemmas. Require some combination of skills and/or attributes to get past.
  4. Ship damage and destruction.
  5. Point suckers. They drain your points and/or add to your opponent's score.
  6. Miscellaneous. May delay mission attempts, cause you to lose cards, or have other nuisance effects.

Most dilemmas are relatively ineffective if used alone, or without regard to effective combinations. Some have little effect if faced by large, highly-skilled Away Teams; the effects of others can be minimized by redshirting with expendable personnel. Since the main purpose of dilemmas is to prevent or delay your opponent from completing his missions, you need to combine dilemmas in such a way that either approach carries risks.

One common strategy is to place killer and skill remover dilemmas first, followed by wall dilemmas. (When I refer to placement order for dilemmas, I am always referring to the order in which they will be encountered. So "place first" means seed last.) One example would be Female's Love Interest followed by Matriarchal Society; remove one female, hoping there will not be two left to get past the Matriarchal Society. Unfortunately, if your opponent did not have any females in the Away Team, the Female's Love Interest card is completely wasted.

This strategy has other problems. Many of the killers and skill removers are not very selective. Armus - Skin of Evil will always kill one personnel (barring a well-manned Genetronic Replicator), but if that personnel was a common, universal, expendable redshirt, and the personnel with the skills to complete the mission are back on the ship waiting until it's safe to beam down, you haven't accomplished much. And dilemmas that kill a whole Away Team or a significant portion of it are more or less wasted if encountered by a 1- or 2-person team.

A corollary to this strategy says that you should not place a wall dilemma at a mission with similar requirements. Don't place Impassable Door, for example, which requires Computer Skill to pass, at Sensitive Search, which requires Computer Skill + CUNNING > 28, because your opponent will be certain to have Computer Skill present in order to do the mission. True, but will he want to risk that Computer Skill against killer dilemmas, or will he try to keep him safe on the ship? If you require him to bring in his Computer Skill in order to get past the Impassable Door, you may be able to eliminate him before completing the mission.

So...use the reverse strategy. Simply place a wall dilemma first, to ensure a minimum of 2 or 3 personnel present, preferably valuable ones, to be killed or disabled by one or more followup dilemmas.

For example, place Matriarchal Society first, and Female's Love Interest second. If the initial Away Team does not include two females, you have stalled your opponent for a while; just how long depends on how many females are in his deck. Once he gets past Matriarchal Society, he loses one female. Guaranteed. (With the remotely possible exception that this is the only planet mission on the spaceline.) For a finely-tuned Federation deck with a minimum of highly-skilled bridge crew for personnel, the loss of Beverly Crusher or Picard, or one of the Tasha Yars, can be a perfect setup for a final killer requiring MEDICAL + SECURITY, like Barclay's Protomorphosis Disease or Microvirus. Against Klingons, you may take out a critical MEDICAL (Vekma or Kahlest) or Kurak with her important Astrophysics. And against Romulans, you may get the even more critical Major Rakal (the Rommies' best bet for Empathy and Tal Shiar), Sela (Diplomacy), or Taris (MEDICAL). Follow up with any killers requiring MEDICAL or Empathy to overcome.

There are lots of Planet wall dilemmas to choose from for your setup. Malfunctioning Door, Hidden Entrance, Hologram Ruse, and Alien Parasites are all virtually certain to get 4 or more personnel into place for the killers. Alien Labyrinth, Impassable Door, Matriarchal Society, Security Precautions, Portal Guard, Wind Dancer, and Zaldan may net you only one or two, but they're likely to be a higher quality one or two than your average redshirt team. What's that - you didn't know Alien Parasites was a wall dilemma? Look again. No "discard dilemma." If the Away Team has the Integrity, it also has a minimum of 4 personnel; if it doesn't, you get to play around with the team, and then the dilemma still doesn't go away.

For Space-only wall dilemmas we have only one, both rare and relatively weak: Ancient Computer. But it is still likely to get some of your opponent's better personnel into position for the killers. In addition, you have a few Planet/Space dilemmas to choose from: Outpost Raid (if not at an outpost), Android Nightmares, Empathic Echo, and Thought Fire, all relatively weak as wall dilemmas, and my personal favorite, Shaka, When the Walls Fell.

My next review will look more closely at Shaka, and the best ways to follow it up, including relative effectiveness against the three affiliations.