RR #16: Everything you always wanted to know about Dilemmas | openCards

RR #16: Everything you always wanted to know about Dilemmas

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 Apr 14th, 1997.

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

Aefvadh! You may have noticed a little gap in my reviews (like about 3 weeks). But I hope you'll feel that what I have coming up was worth the wait. For the next couple of reviews, rather than review single cards, I'm going to tackle a topic that seems to generate at least half of the rules questions on the mailing list and BBS, namely, how dilemmas work. So without further ado, I present to you...

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT DILEMMAS*
*but were afraid to ask

Does this dilemma stop the Away Team? Do I discard this dilemma or does it return under the mission? What happens if there's no ship present? And more. Dilemmas are one of the most important factors in the game, and one of the most confusing. The latest FAQ covers the "components" of dilemmas very concisely, but you may not have the FAQ handy, or may wonder how to translate this information into practical terms to explain how a particular dilemma works. In this review I will expand on the FAQ explanation and give more examples.

Note: All of the following applies only to normal dilemmas, not to Q-icon dilemmas.

However a dilemma is phrased, it all boils down to a few components:

  • TRIGGERS
  • CONDITIONS
  • TARGETS
  • EFFECTS 
  • CURES
  • POINT VALUES

which collectively determine how it works (what it does to you, whether it stops you, and how you dispose of it).

A TRIGGER is something that must be present or in effect if the dilemma is going to do anything at all. In other words, something that "triggers" the dilemma. If it is explicitly stated, it will be at the beginning of the dilemma and usually starts with "If..."

One exception to this "If" rule is Bendii Syndrome, which reads, "One Vulcan without Youth present..." Although this may appear to be a TARGET (the Vulcan is targeted to die), it is considered a TRIGGER because an affected Vulcan is necessary for the dilemma to have its effect on other personnel.

The most common trigger that is not explicitly stated is a ship. If a dilemma's effects target the ship itself (and not the crew), then the ship is a trigger. If it explicitly says "Play (or place) on ship", then the ship is also a trigger, even if it actually affects the personnel.

CONDITIONS are the most common dilemma component. They are the requirements that you must meet in order to avoid the dilemma's bad efefcts. They may include skills, attributes, specific personnel, equipment, or other elements that must be present at the dilemma site, or occasionally, an action you must take such as discarding something. They usually (but not always) include the word "unless," as in "Unless XXX is present, something bad happens." They include the requirements of so-called "wall dilemmas", where you must have certain skills, etc., to get past the dilemma and continue.

  • "Unless INTEGRITY > 32..."
  • "...unless SECURITY and MEDICAL present."
  • "...Away Team must have Computer Skill present."
  • "...unless...you bribe rebels...by discarding an Equipment card."

When a dilemma has conditions, they must be overcome when the dilemma is encountered in order to avoid its effects. Bringing the necessary skills in later cannot undo a dilemma's effects, i.e., CONDITIONS may not be used as a CURE.

TARGETS are personnel with specific characteristics that the dilemma can affect. If no personnel with that characteristic are present, no one will be affected, but the dilemma may have other consequences.

  • "...two Away Team members with Diplomacy..."
  • "All Away Team members with INTEGRITY < 5..."
  • "...one unique, non-Cardassian personnel..."
  • The presence or absence of specified TARGETS in the Away Team has no effect on discarding a dilemma or stopping the Away Team. They simplylimit who may be affected.

EFFECTS are, well, effects! They may only happen if you don't overcome the conditions of the dilemma, or they may be something that you cannot prevent. Effects may include killing or otherwise discarding one or more personnel (Yuta, Anaphasic Organism), diseases and other long-lasting effects that may or may not expire naturally or be curable later (Rascals, Birth of "Junior", Parallel Romance), damage and destruction of ships (Null Space, Nitrium Metal Parasites), stalling of ships (Conundrum) or Away Teams (Alien Labyrinth), loss of points (The Higher … The Fewer), and other nasty consequences (The Sheliak).

CURES appear similar to CONDITIONS, but instead of preventing an immediate effect from taking place, a cure either puts an end to an ongoing effect, or prevents a "delayed effect" from taking place. A cure usually requires skills, attributes, or equipment that must be brought to the dilemma site or to the affected ship or personnel, or may be an action that you must take.

  • The dilemma may say "cured by (or with)...", or "...until XXX present."
  • "...until mission completed OR 3 Leadership present."
  • "Cure with 3 Empathy present."
  • "...unless 3 MEDICAL present OR ship returns to outpost first."

The last example is from REM Fatigue Hallucinations and at first glance appears to be conditions rather than a cure. It would be more clear if it it read "...unless 3 MEDICAL present by then" .

POINT VALUES are indicated in a point box on the card. You may gain or lose points from a dilemma. If the dilemma doesn't state explicitly how you score the points (e.g., Sarjenka, The Higher … The Fewer), then you score them:
when you overcome a dilemma's conditions (e.g., Nagilum)
when you cure a dilemma (e.g., Hyper-Aging)
If you don't overcome a dilemma's conditions or cure it as specified, you don't score the points.

NULLIFIERS are one more thing that can affect what a dilemma does, but are almost never mentioned on the dilemma card itself. Many dilemmas may be nullified by the presence in the Away Team of a specific personnel, equipment, or artifact card; by the existence of an Event in play; or by playing an Interrupt card.

Whew! So, you may ask, how does all this let you figure how what to do with the danged dilemma once you turn it up? There are a few simple rules to follow.

  1. If a required TRIGGER is not present, the dilemma is nullified and discarded immediately. It has no further effect.
  2. If you nullify the dilemma with a NULLIFIER personnel, equipment, event, or interrupt, discard the dilemma immediately. It has no further effect.
  3. The Away Team or crew is stopped only if a dilemma has CONDITIONS and you did not overcome them.
  4. Discard the dilemma after following its instructions:
    • if it had no conditions and doesn't enter play
    • if it says "discard dilemma"
    • when you cure a dilemma that enters play
    • when a dilemma that enters play expires or is destroyed
    If the dilemma carries bonus points, place it in the bonus point area when applicable rather than discarding it.
  5. If it doesn't meet one of the criteria for discarding and doesn't enter play, it remains under the mission to be encountered again.

In Review #17, I will present Major Rakal's 5-Step Guide to Dilemma Resolution, including a couple of detailed examples of how to "parse" a dilemma, and (drum roll!> provide a link to a table of "Dilemma Facts" on my website which lists in gory detail exactly how each dilemma is handled.