This Strategy-Note article was written by Kathy McCracken (aka Major Rakal) and was published first on "Decipher's Website (decipher.com)" at Jan 10th, 1999.
This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:
- Previous "Romulan Review" (# 68): "RR #68: Actions, Responses and Timing, Part 3: Timing".
- Next "Romulan Review" (# 70): "RR #70: Office of the Proconsul".
Aefvadh! A little over a year ago, I introduced my personnel rating system to compare personnel values from all affiliations. Two months later, First Contact made it instantly obsolete with the Borg, new bridge crew, lots of new dilemmas and other cards; and in July of 1998, DS9 added 276 cards and two more affiliations to the mix. Well, I have finally gotten those two expansions (and the little things like the Fajo Collection, the Away Team pack and OTSD), with the exception of the Borg themselves (see the end of the review for more on the Borg), incorporated into my system.
I know, I know, it's just in time to be made instantly obsolete again by the advent of The Dominion. But one of the things that took me so long was building expandability into the system, so it will be a lot easier for me to add in the Dominion and Ferengi affiliations, though I will probably hold off on adding the Dominion in till the battle set comes out.
OK, a lot of people asked for it, so here it is...
MAJOR RAKAL'S NEW! IMPROVED! STCCG PERSONNEL RATING SYSTEM
(Note: if any of this review sounds familiar, it's adapted from #31, which introduced the original rating system. If it's still valid, I reused it. Getting lazy in my old age. ;-) )
We all have opinions on whether one personnel is better than another. For a long time, Data (Prem) was considered by many to be "the best" personnel in the game. Jean-Luc Picard (Prem) had his fans as well. When the other affiliations acquired better personnel, some thought that Mogh or Dr. Telek R’Mor were strong contenders for "the best". Several strong personel from the Fajo Collection (Lore and the Sisters of Duras, for example) are now high on a lot of lists, and of course the Bajorans and Cardassians have their own candidates for "best" personnel.
But these are subjective opinions at best, and heavily dependent on your preferred affiliation and strategies. I wanted to develop a more objective method of determining the relative values of different personnel. Not surprisingly, the ratings include the attributes, skills, and other features (e.g., staffing and other icons, species, personas, matching commander status etc.) of each personnel.
This is still the simplest part of the ratings to calculate. CUNNING and STRENGTH points count directly as rating points, while INTEGRITY points are weighted twice as heavily. Attributes of I6 C8-S7 would thus be worth 27 ratings points (2x6 + 8 + 7).
I double-weighted the INTEGRITY because it is the most difficult attribute to enhance. CUNNING and STRENGTH are easily enhanced with PADDs, Phasers and Disruptors, Yellow Alert, Lower Decks and HQ: WarRoom while INTEGRITY is enhanced only by Lower Decks and no equipment (plus The Emissary boosts Bajoran INTEGRITY only). INTEGRITY points are thus more valuable because there are so few ways to compensate for their lack.
While I originally planned to use skill values derived from both supply and demand for skills, I eventually settled on demand-based skill values. I consider that the demand for a skill is an effective measure of the skill's value; if MEDICAL skill is called for 56 times to overcome dilemmas or solve missions (for Federation), it is more than 4 times as valuable as Exobiology, which is called for only 13 times. The supply of each skill, on the other hand, is irrelevant to determining the skill's value; just because Taris added one to the supply of MEDICAL personnel does not make the skill any less valuable to Takket.
Furthermore, a given skill may be more or less valuable to different affiliations, depending on the relative demand for that skill within each affiliation. Treachery, for example, is needed in 33 instances for Romulans, making it twice as valuable to them as to the Federation, who need it in only 16 instances. Why should Federation personnel be valued for a Treachery skill that they have relatively little use for - they can't solve Romulan-only missions! (The differences in demand come mostly from mission requirements.) Accordingly, I have determined for each skill a value for each affiliation. Non-aligned personnel have five ratings, one for their value to each of the five non Borg affiliations.
The demand (i.e., the value) for each regular skill (including classifications) was determined by counting the number of times the skill is called for as a mission requirement, dilemma condition or cure, or other use. For example, Expose Covert Supply requires Treachery x3 + Navigation; this generates a demand of 3 for Treachery and 1 for Navigation. Zaldan can be overcome by Treachery x2, among other possible conditions, so it generates a demand of 2 for Treachery. The Charybdis requires the presence of Archaeology to acquire artifacts, generating a demand of 1 for Archaeology. If a skill has negative consequences in a particular situation, such as Empathy which is selected to be killed by Empathic Echo, it has a demand of -1. Only missions with matching affiliation icons were counted in determining the demand/value for each affiliation.
Special Skills and Restrictions
Mission and dilemma requirements naming a specific personnel (such as Gowron) were considered special skills, rather than as a "demand". I assigned values to special skills and restrictions mostly subjectively and somewhat arbitrarily. The ability to nullify a specific dilemma (or being named as part of the conditions to overcome a dilemma) was worth 5 points. Being named as a mission requirement was worth 10 or 15 rating points, depending on whether the named personnel could solve the mission alone or required additional skills and attributes, and on the point value of the mission.
In the original system, bonus points for use of a personnel were generally converted directly into rating points. For example, Kova Tholl's bonus points were worth 10 rating points. With more personnel cards worth points entering the mix, I made some modifications. Since Aamin Marritza can get you 5 points for dying in any fashion, while Kova Tholl gets 10 but requires that he die in a battle in which you do not retaliate, Kova Tholl's points should not be worth the full 10 (they are harder to get). So now both Marritza and Tholl get 5 rating points for their point bonus.
A skill that enhances attributes of other personnel is worth the number of attribute points gained by a typical Away Team of 6, with an INTEGRITY boost being doubled as in the initial calculation of attribute points. If the skill enhances a specific second personnel (or if a specific personnel must be present for the first to be enhanced himself), the points were divided between the two personnel.
Other special skills and restrictions not covered here were assigned values based on my subjective evaluation of their usefulness. Special downloads, for example, were worth 5 points for a run-of the-mill interrupt download that requires specific circumstances to use, while equipment special downloads might be worth 10 or 15 points for their effect on a typical Away Team's attributes or their general usefulness. Other "Once per game" skills were worth 5 points unless extremely important, while skills that could be used each turn were worth proportionately more.
One other skill-related factor was the number of skill dot icons on the card. There are now several cards which have negative effects based on the number of dots (Mandarin Bailiff and Flaxian Assassin are two), so I subtract the number of dot icons from the rating points.
Certain features of personnel may be considered quasi-skills, and the demand calculated in much the same way as regular skills, though some of the "demands" are implied rather than explicitly stated, or may simply represent an advantage. Quasi-skills include AU icons (required for Fissure Research and seeding in a Cryosatellite), other icons such as Orb and Maquis, gender (females required to pass Matriarchal Society, but a drawback for Female’s Love Interest), species and affiliation (Cardassians are immune to Cardassian Trap; Klingons are affected by a number of special cards; androids are required to pass some dilemmas, immune to several more, and targeted by still others), personas and matching commander status.
Holograms, non-aligned affiliation, and universal icons fall in this category, but my value assignments in these cases were partly based on objective demand (e.g., hologram immunity to DNA-related dilemmas) and partly subjective, for their versatility and restrictions which are not easily quantifiable.
Multi-affiliation personnel are a special case. They are assigned a rating value normally for each separate affiliation, with a 10-point bonus for the versatility granted by multiple affiliations.
Dual-personnel cards are rated by totalling the points for all skills and attributes as usual (for both personnel on the card), with a single multi-affliation bonus where applicable, plus a single 5-point bonus for the card-play advantage (and other advantages such as engaging an adversary as a pair).
The actual current personnel ratings, including all personnel released to date through Deep Space 9 / Terok Nor, will be found in a separate document entitled Major Rakal's Personnel Ratings. Personnel in each affiliation are listed in descending order of rating, with non-aligned personnel included in each affiliation's listing, as their values to the affiliations differ. In addition, the non-aligned personnel are listed in alphabetical order with all five affiliation ratings for comparison. Finally, a listing of skills and quasi-skills and their demand values for each affiliation is included at the end. Special skills and restrictions are not included because of their large number and variability.
Ratings overall are much higher than they were over a year ago; First Contact and DS9 have added huge demands for certain skills, among others MEDICAL, ENGINEER, SECURITY and Navigation. So these numbers aren't directly comparaable to the old ratings.
So how do these (mostly) objective ratings compare to your subjective opinions? You'll have to decide that for yourself, but here are some of my impressions. Sirol (219) is still on top of the Romulans, surprisingly ahead of even the Sisters of Duras (201). Tallera is next at 192 in Romulan mode, with Dr. Telek R'Mor (169) trailing by a full 23 points. Major Rakal (103) has dropped from 6th to 22nd among the Romulans themselves. Tal Shiar may be a handy skill for solving Quash Conspiracy or enabling Plans of the Tal Shiar espionage, but overall the demand is very low compared to many of the personnel types.
In the Federation, Geordi (256) still edges out Data (238) with his double ENGINEER skill, Benjamin Sisko is right behind Data (235), and Rachel Garrett still has the edge over Jean-Luc, again from her highly valued ENGINEER skill and her AU icon. Major Rakal in Federation mode is almost equal at 109 to both her Romulan mode and her premiere persona, Deanna Troi (Prem) (103), though FC Deanna is way ahead of them at 136. Over in the Klingon Empire, Governor Worf (226) has dropped well behind Geordi, with T’Kar (218) now the second-ranking Klingon over Mogh's 3rd place (184).
Among the new guys on the block, the Cardassians' top place goes to Dukat at 210, followed distantly by Danar at 186 and Toran at 155. KIra Nerys (224) and Odo (171) lead the Bajorans, with the distinctly odd Razka Karn third at 150. Because much of the demand for skills comes from mission requirements, we can expect the ratings of the new affiliations to lag behind the established ones; there simply are not that many missions yet for them to solve, and thus a lack of skill demand compared to the others.
Lore and Zefram Cochrane are the only Non-Aligned personnel who break 200, with Lore ranging from 219 for Bajoran use to 275 for Romulan use (not counting Federation, to whom he is worth 0) and Zef from 205 (Bajoran) to 245 (Federation).
It's interesting to note that now only 4 (down from 7) of the top 20 personnel in the Federation list are Non-Aligned, while they account for 13 of the Klingons' top 20 (up from 12) and 14 of the Romulans' (no change). 15 of the top 20 on the Bajoran list and 13 of the top 20 on the Cardassian list are likewise Non-Aligned. Just an indication of how crucial Non-Aligned personnel may be to non-Federation decks, and how inconsequential to the Federation.
And What About the Borg?
Because the Borg do not solve missions, their "demand" for regular skills stems almost entirely from dilemmas and other verb cards, and thus their ratings based on this system would not be at all comparable to the those of the other affiliations. In addition, their skill-sharing and other special skills have values heavily dependent on your specific strategy, with a battle and personnel assimilation strategy having very different requirements from a mission-scouting strategy based on Establish Gateway and/or Assimilate Planet.
Because of their vast differences from the other affiliations, I decided not to attempt to "assimilate" the Borg into my rating system. Instead, I am working with Borg expert Evan Lorentz to develop a parallel, but separate, rating system for Borg personnel. Look for it sometime this spring, after we have the chance to assess the changes that EFC will bring to the Borg.
First, any rating system is inherently arbitrary. I made a number of assumptions in designing this system, the biggest being that "demand" for a skill for solving a missions is worth the same as "demand" for overcoming dilemmas, leading in battle, or enabling an interrupt or equipment card. You may not agree with this, and indeed the balance may change when the battle enhancement expansion appears, for example.
Second, please keep in mind that these ratings are based largely on overall demand for specific skills within each affiliation, and that much of the demand for certain skills comes from mission requirements. The actual value of a personnel in your deck depends a great deal on the missions that you choose to play. Dr. Telek R'Mor ranks high among the Romulans, but his strength is largely for selected space missions; if you play a Treachery/Archaeology planet deck, he will be virtually useless. And while Geordi and Data are valuable for their ENGINEER skill because the Federation has many missions requiring that skill, they will be considerably less useful in a Diplomacy deck.
Third, remember that assigning values to special skills is not exactly a scientific process. You may disagree heartily with my assessment of the value of such skills. If you find a particular personnel's skills to be valuable to you with your choice of deck design and strategy, and with the opponents you regularly face, then my rating is irrelevant to you. Use what works for you.
Finally, please do not ask me to justify or explain individual personnel ratings, or the value of special or quasi-skills. (I'm not positive I can justify all of them even to myself. ;-) ) Up to a dozen or more individual factors enter into a single personnel rating, some of which may not be immediately evident because they are not on the personnel card. For example, Ba’el gets a small bonus because she can score double points at a Colony built before mission completion by Gi’ral and Tokath; Mortal Q can be killed by Calamarain or nullified by Immortal Again (two negative "demands"); several rather obscure personnel get a matching commander bonus. And many of the special and quasi-skill values are at least partly subjective, for want of any better way to establish value. Not to mention that I may have simply overlooked an obscure demand here and there, though the effect should be minimal.
The tables of ratings, in alphabetical and rating order, for each affiliation with and without Non Aligned personnel, for all affiliated personnel, and for all Non-Aligned personnel (alphabetical only), and the table of skill values, will be found online at my website.