Captain's Blog: Conspiracy
Posted February 10th 2020 by dragoncymru1

"Damn it, Jean-Luc. I tell you that some of Starfleet's top command people are changing....officers I've known for years are bluffing their way through talk of old times."– Walker Keel, ‘Conspiracy

Welcome to my 25th article on my solo project for STCCG First Edition and where this week I’m investigating those shadowy and dangerous corners of the Star Trek universe with Hidden Agenda cards, Intelligence skills and those scuttling Bluegill alien parasites that get your head to explode...

Conspiracy: I remember watching this episode very clearly when it aired in the UK in 1991 (3 years after US transmission), and also recall the fast edit that removed the final confrontation and Remmick’s head and body exploding in phaser fire and goo! The episode clearly warranted a sequel, but the Bluegills, as the alien parasites became known, were never seen or heard again (although I described my version of a sequel as a conclusion to Season 2 of The Next Generation in my ‘missing episode’ blog Too Short a Season’, a few months back). In the CCG we had the Alien Parasites Dilemma from Premiere, a mention on Alas, Poor Queen from First Contact (surely due a The Next Generation virtual promo from the CC?) and then had to wait until All Good Things for Bluegill Infestation. There are some really great Federation Personnel in this episode, such as Picard’s old friend Walker Keel and several that were controlled by the parasites like Quinn, Tryla Scott or Savar, that sadly have yet to make the CCG (although versions of them do exist as Dream cards...).

Hidden Agendas: These cards – Events, Incidents or Objectives – were first introduced in First Contact and were a terrific idea to play cards face down so that you can surprise your opponent with sudden reveals. It really opened the game up to new possibilities and subtle tactics for all the Affiliations. Since the initial 12 cards in that set, most of which were Borg-related, there have been many more released. There are some really great Hidden Agendas that relate to capturing opposing Personnel such as E-Band Emissions or Psychological Pressure. These really capture the theme of the cards and devious Affiliations such as the Romulans or Cardassians. My favourite The Next Generation Hidden Agendas however, are the ones that relate to an Affiliation and give a thematic bonus if your Personnel are at the Opponent’s Missions, such as Seek Out New LifeExpand the EmpireWe Are Back and Ferengi Commerce Operation.

Intelligence: This is really several skills that represent the dangerous secret police and Military Intelligence organisations that exist in the different Affiliations - Section 31 (Federation), Klingon Intelligence (Klingon), Tal Shiar (Romulan), Obsidian Order (Cardassian) and FCA (Ferengi). The number of Personnel possessing these skills is fairly small, although the devious Romulans and Cardassians have a slightly higher number of Personnel with Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order. Personnel with Intelligence skills are almost always important characters within the Affiliation, with lots of other skills, low INTEGRITY and high CUNNING.

Intelligence skills have several uses, some matched with Hidden Agenda cards such as Plans of the Tal Shiar or Plans of the Obsidian Order, that both allow more freedom with Espionage cards. My favourite and the most thematic however, is HQ: Defensive Measures from Deep Space 9 that allows Intelligence skills to battle their own Affiliation and stops your Opponent from stealing your Missions.

Intelligence skills are also present on other cards, including various Missions. Of these, the appropriately titled Espionage Mission, is the most obvious and allows several Affiliations to try and get an advantage over the Federation. Staying with the brutal theme of the Organisations these skills represent, both the Holding Cell Door and the Security Holding Cell Site allow Intelligence Personnel to download some nasty Events such as Torture or Brainwash to play on a captive. The Continuing Committee Facility also allows a free report of Tal Shiar Personnel on Romulus.

Hidden Agendas and Intelligence: Playing Hidden Agenda cards face down to ‘surprise your Opponent’, is a little difficult in a solo game! To recompense players, link and expand the two concepts as well as open up some interesting game-play, I’m ruling that: Personnel with an Intelligence skill may be stopped once per game to download to the table a Hidden Agenda card.

Next time I’m finishing off my first ‘season’ of Blogs and taking a D’deridex cruiser to Romulus as I discuss all things The Next Generation Romulan, from the Affiliation in general, to base Missions and other important cards.

My re-watch of Star Trek continues and I’m currently in the middle of Season 7 of The Next Generation and Season 2 of Deep Space 9. I Tweet my episode reviews on Twitter- so if you're interested in what I think about Season 6, Follow me - @DWSSG01. Check out CardGameGeek for all my blogs in stunning colour too! 

“Make it so...”

Captain's Blog is a weekly series on Star Trek Customizable Card Game First Edition Solo Play. Read the whole archive here.