RR #48: Resistance to Dilemmas is not futile
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 6th, 1998.
This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:
- Previous "Romulan Review" (# 47): "RR #47: Are Dilemmas relevant to the Borg?".
- Next "Romulan Review" (# 49): "RR #49: I can put this card where?".
Aefvadh! At first glance, many dilemmas appear to be impossible for the Borg to pass, leaving your scouts open to repeated kills and endless walls. But as a tradeoff, some dilemmas have little or no effect on the Borg at all. In addition, the Borg have ways to get around some dilemmas that no other affiliation has. Read on to see why...
RESISTANCE TO DILEMMAS IS NOT FUTILE
With a single scout allowed for planet scouting, the lack of classifications and skills such as OFFICER, Diplomacy, and Empathy, and the limited attributes of Borg drones, it looks as though you'd be stuck behind some wall dilemmas forever. Maglock, for example, requires 3 OFFICERS with STRENGTH >5 each, when there's only one Borg with OFFICER skill, and that a limited-edition Locutus of Borg. Cardassian Trap requires Empathy to overcome, or a unique personnel to be captured; no Borg has Empathy as a skill, and the only unique Borg, again, is Locutus. Hologram Ruse asks for INTEGRITY >30 and CUNNING >30, and you have a single scout on the planet. Looks grim. But in fact, these dilemmas can all be overcome by the Borg with relative ease.
First is the question of supplying skills that no Borg (or only Locutus) possesses. While you could attempt to assimilate a drone with the required skill, it's not a reliable way to overcome dilemmas. The simple answer is to use the Borg Queen (FC)'s special skill, which allows here to select one regular skill, and change it if desired at the start of your turn. Since she may select any classification-as-skill (except ANIMAL) or regular skill existing in the game, it's a simple matter to give her a crucial skill needed to pass any wall dilemma.
What if you need multiples of that skill, however, or of any skill existing on a drone (e.g., MEDICAL), but of which you don't have enough copies? For that contingency, you have the Interlink Drone, who enables skill-sharing throughout the Borg in one hive (all Borg at a single location). All you need is one icon Borg on each ship or in each Away Team, and every Borg has all the skills of every other Borg in the hive. If the Queen selects OFFICER as her skill, and a staffed cube in the same hive encounters Maglock, there will be at least 7 OFFICERS aboard, and if one is an Assault Drone, you will pass Maglock. One Bio-Med Drone in a hive with skill-sharing enabled will supply every Borg with MEDICAL skill, allowing you to cure REM Fatigue Hallucinations with ease.
For space dilemmas, it's not difficult to overcome most dilemmas requiring only attributes; aboard a staffed cube, such an outcome is almost automatic. However, planetary wall dilemmas requiring large attribute totals, and/or multiples of a skill, are slightly more of a problem due to the restriction of sending only a single scout down to a planet at a time. But even these dilemmas can be passed on your next turn, provided you have enough Borg at the location, because if yoursingle scout is stopped, you may immediately send down another to continue scouting and encounter the dilemma again. Of course, that scout will also be stopped, and the next, and the next... Once enough Borg are stopped on the planet to supply the attribute totals you need (or the multiple skills), wait until your next turn, when all the Borg will be able to scout together and pass the wall dilemma.
Another way to get a group of Borg to the planet who can scout in a group is with a card such as Emergency Transporter Armbands, or Near-Warp Transport. These interrupts allow group beaming despite the normal one-at-a-time restriction.
If a dilemma requires only a large amount of CUNNING and perhaps one skill, you may be able to overcome it with a lone scout, if it is a Borg and you have a Unity Drone in the hive. The Unity Drone allows any group of Borg (with a Borg) in the hive to act as though it has the total CUNNING of all the groups in the hive that have Borg. So if you have 40 CUNNING and a Unity Drone aboard your ship, your single Borg scout on the planet will have a total of 45 CUNNING to work with for overcoming dilemmas (it does not affect that Borg's individual CUNNING).
Finally, there is a simple way to overcome any wall dilemma on a subsequent turn after you first encountered it. Just encounter it again with a Borg, and immediately play Adapt: Negate Obstruction to nullify the dilemma. The interrupt may be downloaded by the Countermeasure Drone in place of a card draw, and may also be used to nullify a copy of any non-Q-related dilemma that you encountered on a previous turn. So if your opponent is prone to using multiples of a certain dilemma, always keep an Adapt: Negate Obstruction in your hand and every copy after the first can be immediately nullified.
The effects of dilemmas other than wall dilemmas are highly dependent on the type of requirement and the type of mission location. On a planet, if encountered by a single scout, some, though not all by any means, will give an automatic kill. Nausicaans, for example, will always kill a lone scout, because it requires STRENGTH >44 to pass. But Barclay’s Protomorphosis Disease, which always kills a redshirt of another affiliation, will probably be passed by a Borg scout, if it has a icon and skill-sharing is enabled with a well-staffed hive, because it's quite likely that scout will have shared MEDICAL, SCIENCE, and SECURITY. Even if you can't pass it, your loss will generally be limited to the single scout.
Many space dilemmas will be automatically overcome or immediately cured if encountered by a well-staffed ship (or even a small crew with skill-sharing enabled with another, larger crew). The exception is a dilemma with a skill requirement that is not found on the Borg; if that skill does not happen to be the one selected by the Borg Queen at the time of encounter, she cannot select it in time to overcome a non-wall dilemma. For example, Microbiotic Colony damages the ship unless SCIENCE, ENGINEER, and OFFICER are aboard. The first two are quite likely to be present, but if OFFICER is missing, your ship will sustain damage.
Of course, dilemmas with no conditions generally will affect the Borg exactly as they affect any other affiliation. If the Cytherians call, even the Borg have to travel to the far end of the spaceline, though they score no points when they get there.
Borg Defense Strategies Against Dilemmas
What does all this mean to the Borg player? How can you best protect yourself against dilemmas?
First, a Borg Queen is nearly indispensable to playing Borg, because you have no other source of Empathy (outside of assimilation), and she's more versatile and easier to come by than Locutus for supplying Diplomacy, Leadership, Music, or OFFICER skill. Protect her at all costs, because if she dies and your opponent has Alas, poor Queen in his deck, your entire hive will be wiped out. That protection can be supplied by never using her in an Away Team, and keeping her on a separate ship from the one scouting space missions; use the Interlink Drone to share her skills with the hive.
Consider always using a drone to scout planet locations. With skill-sharing and CUNNING-sharing enabled, a lone Borg can overcome a surprising number of dilemmas, and can enable you to play Adapt: Negate Obstruction to immediately nullify a second copy of a dilemma encountered during a game. But don't use your only Countermeasure Drone to scout, because if it is stopped it cannot download the Adapt card at the end of that turn.
Consider carefully the composition of your Away Team when attempting to overcome a wall dilemma by accumulating stopped scouts for your next turn. It may be a setup for the next dilemma, which will wipe out your Away Team if a critical skill is missing, or even for a Q-Flash, which may be a real problem with a large Away Team. If your hive is not well-equipped with skills, or if your opponent is playing with a Q-Continuum side deck, a better alternative may be to nullify the dilemma with dapt: NO, so only a single scout will be killed.
Finally, one option to get a large Away Team down to the planet is to self-seed your own wall dilemma last, to be encountered first as a precautionary measure against certain dilemmas. In particular, a pre-existing Away Team with INTEGRITY >32 is the only way for the Borg to overcome Alien Parasites. (It may be nullified with Adapt: NO on your next turn, but by then the damage may be done, i.e., an untimely Auto-Destruct Sequence or Space-Time Portal may do away with your ship and crew.)
Dilemma Strategies to Use Against the Borg
The best dilemma strategies against the Borg may be radically different from those used against other affiliations. A number of dilemmas that are devastating to others have little or no effect on the Borg. Their enforced redshirting makes them susceptible to certain dilemmas, but protects them from much damage from others.
The first strategy to use against the Borg is to use all different dilemmas to minimize the potential for nullification with Adapt: Negate Obstruction. Three or four Shakas may be annoying or paralyzing to a non-Borg player, but against a Borg player it simply invites nullification.
While I normally recommend placing wall dilemmas to be encountered first, in order to ensure a pool of personnel to be killed by a subsequent dilemma, a Borg player using skill-sharing may well gain so many multiple skills in his Away Team by overcoming the wall, that he will breeze past any killer dilemma with conditions. Either place the killer first, so that a single scout will be certain to die, or follow up the wall with condition-less dilemmas like Armus - Skin of Evil. Remember that Borg are immune to gender-related dilemmas and in general, those with species triggers, so Love Interests and Chinese Finger Puzzles will be worthless except as bluffs.
The Q-Continuum side deck, or Q-Flash, is relatively ineffective against the Borg at planet locations, because unless you plan carefully your opponent will encounter only one Q-icon card for a lone scout. The solution is to precede a Q-Flash with a wall dilemma in hopes of forcing the Borg to send down a large number of scouts to pass it. At space locations, they can be very effective, especially if your opponent is using cube ships, and the Borg cannot Adapt to Q-related cards.
Classification and Resolution of Dilemmas for the Borg
On my website, you will find a table of all dilemmas and Q-icon cards, with two columns of information on applying the cards to the Borg.
The first column is "Borg Dilemma Type." This is a rather loose classification of dilemmas into categories such as:
- immune (usually gender or species trigger)
- 2-turn wall (simple wall dilemma which normally may be overcome on the next turn by accumulating stopped scouts on the first turn, or by Adapting)
- probable pass
- probably fail
- always fail
- automatic kill
- probably immediate cure
- probably ineffective
- no effect
Some dilemmas have no well-defined category so this is blank.
These categories are based on the following assumptions:
- A planet is scouted with a Borg.
- skill-sharing is enabled with a well-staffed hive (the 5 basic personnel types, with the auxiliary skills that are found on the drohns with those skills).
The second column is "Borg Notes," indicating how each dilemma applies to the Borg - how to play out a points-related dilemma, whether "mission attempt" references are relevant, how to overcome it, and any other differences from the way the dilemma affects other affiliations.
Use this chart in combination with my previous dilemma charts, which explain the normal effect of each dilemma on other affiliations.
The Major's Combos:
- Shaka, When the Walls Fell + Zaldan: old favorite still works against the Borg. Skill-sharing must be enabled to get 2 Diplomacy, meaning every Borg present has Diplomacy and may be selected as one of the two killed by Zaldan. The only likely way to overcome Zaldan is Exobiology.
- Maglock + Don’t Call Me Ahab + any killer requiring skills to overcome: Make everyone an OFFICER and then stop one of them with a icon. With luck, you'll get the one enabling the skill-sharing in that group - and the rest must continue to the next dilemma.
- Coalescent Organism + Cytherians: The Borg can't beam off the infected drone to a planet without some workaround like Emergency Transporter Armbands. If it's still on the ship when Cytherians is encountered, they will lose a personnel each turn and probably run out of staffing long before reaching the end of the spaceline.