RR #38: Patrol Neutral Zone
❖ Patrol Neutral Zone
Mission - Space
Rule hint for this card
This card has an erratum:
Revised lore: Adds Nebula. Counts as Neutral Zone Region now.Taken form Glossary - Version 1.9.2.
This card has an clarification:
There are “no opposing ships in Neutral Zone” if your opponent has no opposing ships (including landed and docked ships) at any location that is part of the Neutral Zone (see regions of space). See unopposed, cloaking and phasing.Taken form Glossary - Version 1.9.2.
This Card-Review was written by Kathy McCracken and was published first on "Major Rakals Tal Shiar Headquarters (members.cox.net/majorrakal)" at Dec 14th, 1997.
This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:
- Previous "Romulan Review" (# 37): "RR #37: Ready Room Door".
- Next "Romulan Review" (# 39): "RR #39: Ooby Dooby".
Aefvadh! First Contact Expansion doesn't include many missions, no doubt because of the narrow focus of the movie. But the two that have been shown, both universals, take on a particular importance with the new rule on replacement of duplicated unique missions with universal ones. The previous universal missions have been non-attemptable and pointless (as opposed to useless); if we were restricted to those for our substitutes, it would be possible to have a spaceline containing only 6 attemptable missions, narrowing your options considerably. But now we have two universal missions that can be solved for points, and by far the one with the greatest potential is...
PATROL NEUTRAL ZONE
This initially unassuming mission can provide a real bonanza, particularly for a Romulan player. Because it's universal, you can seed more than one, and the more you seed, the more each one is worth. The only skill required is Leadership, and the Romulans have plenty of that.
This strategy is most useful to the Romulans, because they have the advantage of already having three unique, Romulan-only missions located "in the Neutral Zone," two of them planets. They can build an all-Neutral Zone section of the spaceline without running afoul of Balancing Act, with four missions worth 60 points each, and still have a couple of standard "backup" missions in case they can't get rid of an opposing ship. Because the new "Regions of Space" rule specifies that all missions located "in the Neutral Zone" must be seeded adjacent to each other, a compact, easy to reach mission-solving zone is all but guaranteed (your opponent's Space could intervene).
The Federation, in contrast, has no other Neutral Zone missions, and must either rely on six Patrol Neutral Zones (risky, because of both inherent Federation difficulties in eliminating opposition, and the danger of heavy penalties from Balancing Act), or else play two unrelated planet missions, making the PNZs worth only 40 points each, and with the planet missions possibly located far away from the Neutral Zone.
The catch, of course, is the requirement that you must have no opposing ships in the Neutral Zone in order to complete the mission. Your opponent only has to park a ship - even a cloaked one - at any one of the Neutral Zone locations to prevent you from completing any Patrol Neutral Zones. You have a several options to force it to leave or eliminate it.
Because PNZ is a "Nebula at Neutral Zone", you could play Isabella on the ship to destroy it, if the parking space is one of the PNZs and there is no Youth aboard (or at least make it leave to pick up a Youth, long enough for you to complete the mission). An Incoming Message for the appropriate affiliation should also suffice to get the opponent out of your hair long enough to complete a mission. Wormhole it away as it starts to move toward the Neutral Zone, toward the wrong end of the spaceline. A Temporal Rift will probably make it disappear long enough for you to complete two PNZs and win. If your opponent is incautious enough to leave the ship empty, play a Ship Seizure and haul it away. A Warp Core Breach will also come in handy if he didn't want to tie up an ENGINEER on patrol duty, though it will cost you a card play. And how about mining the space locations with Anti-Matter Pods? Just keep plenty of Navigation aboard your own ships.
Then there is the straightforward approach of attacking and destroying the offending ship. Be prepared with La Forge Maneuver or Tachyon Detection Grid to force decloaking so you can attack. Although Tachyon Detection Grid requires you have four ships in play, unlike La Forge Maneuver (which can only expose a cloaked ship if the next action is an attack on the ship) it can also be used to enable playing Isabella or Incoming Message, which cannot be played on a cloaked ship. And you may find it very useful to have all those ships in play, because you can send three of them to destroy the intruder while the fourth remains at the dilemma-cleared mission with a Leadership personnel, unstopped and waiting to score those 60 points.
Federation options are much more limited, as they cannot normally attack. A Husnock or two and a totally non-aligned crew will get around that restriction, as will Incoming Message: Attack Authorization coupled with Treachery aboard. The non-attack methods will of course work also.The universal nature of Patrol Neutral Zone also makes it very useful substitute for a duplicate unique mission. If you're playing Romulan or Federation, it will be worth at least 10 points more than Space or Nebula; and even if you're playing Klingon, its point box can at least save you from tripping a Balancing Act penalty if one of your two unique space missions is the duplicate.
The Major's Combos:
- Patrol Neutral Zone x4 + Covert Installation + Iconia Investigation: four missions worth 60 points each.
- Patrol Neutral Zone + Assign Mission Specialists + Tallus: make that 65 points each.
- Patrol Neutral Zone + Sisters of Duras + non-aligned support crew: even the Klingons can get in on this strategy.