Card logging info: Logged by openCards team at May 1st, 2009.
This !type article was written by Kathy McCracken and was published first on "Major Rakals Tal Shiar Headquarters (members.cox.net/majorrakal)" at Oct 18th, 1998.
This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:
- Previous "Romulan Review" (# 60): "RR #60: AU Door & Space Time Portal".
- Next "Romulan Review" (# 62): "RR #62: Treaty: Romulan/Cardassian".
Aefvadh! At a tournament yesterday, a player confessed to me, somewhat apologetically, that one of the new DS9 Romulans had taken Major Rakal's place in his decks. Well, that hasn't happened with me yet - the Major still has a solid place in my decks (even in the 95% Cardassian deck I played yesterday), because instead of replacing her I have supplemented her sterling qualities with those of...
Back when Alternate Universe came out, Major Rakal was the only personnel with the new Tal Shiar skill, and thus the only one who could solve Quash Conspiracy. If you lost her and didn't have a Res-Q, forget doing that 40-point mission. Then Q Continuum gave us a backup in the form of Telak. Better, but still iffy, and when First Contact brought us both Espionage Mission and Primitive Culture, with 2 Tal Shiar as the "green" way to solve the first and pass the second, we were back to having barely enough of the skill to get by. Vakis now gives us a third source of this vital Romulan skill. DS9 also includes yet another mission that can use the skill to solve it (Intercept Renegade, which also requires Obsidian Order skill, making this a "treaty" solution), as well as Flaxian Assassins, which will kill two of your opponent's personnel instead of one if you have Tal Shiar anywhere in play.
As if that wasn't enough, Tal Shiar can still enable you to attack a Romulan opponent as well as conferring Leadership skill, using the HQ: Defensive Measures objective. And perhaps most important of all, Tal Shiar skill at a mission lets you play your Espionage card there for free (doesn't use your card play), at any time (out of the normal turn order, or even on your opponent's turn), using Plans of the Tal Shiar. That means you can play a card, move your ship to a mission and still play your Espionage card on the same turn, and then it can't be nullified. With all these uses for the once obscure Tal Shiar skill, you have every reason to include both Vakis and Major Rakal in your Romulan decks.
But beyond that obvious similarity, how does Vakis compare to the Major? Same command star, same V.I.P. classification (which is also seeing more use of late), same Treachery. But where Rakal has the still-important (especially with the advent of Lethean Telepathic Attack) Empathy, Vakis has MEDICAL and Biology. Given the severe deficiency of good MEDICALS in the Romulan affiliation, that skill is almost priceless. Biology, also relatively rare for Romulans, is becoming a more frequent requirementfor passing or curing dilemmas, and the MEDICAL/Biology combination is needed for both Extraction and Plague Planet (as well as Medical Relief and Evaluate Terraforming, both doable with Espionage).
Vakis's stats are an improvement over Rakal's, too. CUNNING is the same, but one extra INTEGRITY point saves her from Firestorms, and two extra STRENGTH points make it more likely that she will survive a personnel battle.
On balance, Vakis has an edge over Rakal. But the Major's Empathy is still a very necessary skill, and her dual affiliation gives you extra versatility in a deck heavy on Non-Aligneds, as you can use her to "espionage" Federation missions without an Espionage card. Add that to the many uses for multiples of Tal Shiar skill, and you can see why both of these cards will be in my decks.
The Major's Combos:
- Vakis + Major Rakal + Espionage Mission: Two of the most needed skills for passing dilemmas, plus the skills to solve the mission. The best of both worlds.
- Vakis + Major Rakal + Sisters of Duras + Maques + Diplomatic Conference: All your V.I.P.s in one green package (with gold highlights), and enough Empathy to cure Frame of Mind to boot.
- Vakis + Extraction + Quash Conspiracy: 75 points from one personnel.