RR #100: Major Rakal's STCCG Mission Rating System
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 May 28th, 2000.
This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:
- Previous "Romulan Review" (# 99): "RR #99: Prepare the Prisoner".
- Next "Romulan Review" (# 101): "RR #101: Q the Referee".
Aefvadh! In the introduction to my very first Romulan Review, I promised (in a stunning display of optimism) not only to review individual cards, but to comparison-rate personnel, ships, missions and other cards. "For missions," I wrote, "I'll look at point/cost ratios, and how they vary between affiliations for multi-color ones." Well, it's taken just a bit longer than I anticipated to get around to those mission ratings (Major's Review Trivia: What was the subject of Romulan Review #1 and on what date was it published?), and so far it covers just the Romulans, but for my 100th Review I present the long-overdue...
Major Rakal's STCCG Mission Rating System
How much is a mission worth? On the face of it, that seems like a simple question to answer; it's worth 25 points, or 30, or 40, or whatever is printed on the card. But what if you ask yourself what it costs to do that mission? Two 30-point missions may differ widely in the effort you have to put into them; and the same mission may be much more difficult for Romulans to do than for Klingons. So the real question is, is the mission worth what it costs to include it in your deck?
To rate missions, I have developed a system of calculating a "point/cost ratio." A higher ratio means the points should be easier to earn. Costs include the difficulty of supplying the skills, attribute totals and other requirements for the mission, quadrant location, span, number of other affiliations that can also attempt the mission, any special benefits or restrictions that apply and other features.
For each affiliation, I will include the missions attemptable by that affiliation, including missions attemptable by "any crew" or "any Away Team" and those with icons (which allow any Away Team or crew containing at least one personnel to attempt). I will not include any that require Espionage or an objective to solve, with the exception of a homeworld.
Unlike my personnel rating system, where skill value is derived from the demand for each skill, skill costs in the mission rating system are derived from the supply of that skill available to each affiliation. The more personnel you have available to supply a skill, the easier it is to assemble an Away Team including the needed skills. Since I want fewer personnel to mean a higher cost, and also want small whole numbers to work with, I calculated the "cost" of a skill requirement as 100/N, where N=the number of instances of that skill/classification on the personnel of the specific affiliation + Non-Aligned/Neutral personnel. All costs were rounded to the nearest whole number.
For the Romulans, Treachery appears 23 times on Romulan personnel and 27 times on Non-Aligned personnel (total 50), while Stellar Cartography appears a total of 9 times. Thus, the cost of a Treachery requirement is 2 for the Romulans, while Stellar Cartography costs 11.
To calculate the cost of supplying attribute totals, I divided the required total by the average attribute value for the affiliation + Non-Aligned cards (rounded up to the nearest whole number), and for Romulans, assigned a cost of 2 for each personnel required. Thus, a requirement of CUNNING > 40 gave 41/7.5=5.5, rounded up to 6 personnel, times 2 for a cost of 12.
If there is more than one way to solve a mission, I calculated the least costly method for that affiliation. Also, if the target affiliation could reasonably be expected to be able to solve the mission with a different set of requirements, I assigned a "negative cost" of -5 to account for the flexibility this provides. (While the alternate requirements have a higher cost, it can pay off in skill redundancy depending on your other missions.)
Besides the actual mission requirements, many other features of a mission can make it more or less costly to use. The larger a mission's span, the more time-consuming it will be to traverse the spaceline, so the span was added directly to the costs. Missions outside an affiliation's native quadrant require a method of travelling between quadrants which may be thwarted in various ways, so Gamma Quadrant missions were assigned a cost of 10 for Alpha Quadrant natives. Space missions were assigned a cost of 3 points (compared to planet missions) for their general inability to use artifacts, requirement for a ship, difficulty in redshirting, the dangers of Borg Ship dilemmas etc.
Universal and regional missions, on the other hand, received a negative cost of -5 for each feature, for the skill redundancy allowed by universal missions (and the fact that they can't be bumped by an opponent's earlier seed) and for the ability to place regional missions as a group, requiring less travel. Homeworlds incur a cost of 5 (if it's not your homeworld) because they have a high probability of being assimilated, or duplicated and solved by the opponent with HQ: Secure Homeworld. An affiliation's own homeworld is included, even though it requires an objective to solve it (the requirement costs are based on HQ: Secure Homeworld), due to the great advantages of using a homeworld for headquarters, and a negative cost of -10 is assigned.
Other advantages and disadvantages provided by special mission text (or occasionally by other cards, such as the Badlands region's vulnerability to Navigate Plasma Storms) were assigned fairly arbitrary cost factors, usually ranging from -5 to +5.
After all the costs were calculated, a ratio for each mission was calculated by dividing the point value by the cost total, carried to two decimal places.
The actual mission ratings for Romulan-attemptable missions will be found in a set of tables on my website. Missions are listed three ways: by descending point/cost ratios, by descending point value (alphanetically within a point category) and alphabetically. Also, a listing of costs assigned to each skill is included.
So how do these ratings compare to your subjective opinions? Covert Installation, a modest 35-point mission, is at the top of the list due to its single affiliation icon (not many can steal it), simple requirements and Neutral Zone location. Second is the 45-point Wormhole Negotiations; while it also has Federation and Klingon icons, missions don't get much easier for the Romulans than Treachery x4. Third, oddly enough, is a 25-pointer, Excavation. Its low point value is compensated for by being to solve it either with a single skill (Archaeology) or with any five average Romulans/NAs for a total CUNNING of 33 or more. On the other hand, a number of high-point missions are near the bottom of the list because their Gamma Quadrant location makes them relatively unattractive.
And What About the Borg?
Because the Borg do not solve missions, they will not be included in this rating system. I may consider a separate but parallel rating system based on other factors (for example, certain homeworlds are more attractive to the Borg because a ready-made counterpart is available), but for now I plan to cover only the non-Borg affiliations.
First, any rating system is inherently arbitrary. As with my personnel rating system, I made a number of assumptions in designing this system, the most important being the assumption that supply of a skill has an inverse relationship to the "cost" of supplying that skill, and that the overall number of personnel available to an affiliation is not a significant factor.
Second, the actual value of a mission in your deck depends a great deal on other aspects of your strategy. A group of missions which, individually, have relatively unexceptional point/cost ratios may have sufficient skill redundancy to make them very attractive in combination, by "amortizing" those costs over the whole group. Also, you may require certain skills for dilemma-passing and for side strategies, effectively reducing the cost of having those skills for your mission requirements. For example, Tal Shiar skill has a relatively high cost of 11 (compared to 3 for Computer Skill or 4 for Diplomacy), but if you're already using it for free reporting to Continuing Committee, maintaining stats on a D’deridex Advanced or enabling Plans of the Tal Shiar, it's worth your while to include missions that require it.
Third, remember that assigning cost values to special mission text and other features is not exactly a scientific process. You may disagree heartily with my assessment of the costs or benefits of such features. If you find a particular mission with a low ratio fits your choice of deck design and strategy, then my rating is irrelevant to you. Use what works for you.
Finally, please do not ask me to justify or explain individual mission ratings, or the costs of special requirements or features. (I'm not positive I can justify all of them even to myself. ;-) )