This Strategy-Note article was written by Ross Fertel and was published first on "The Continuing Committee (trekcc.org)" at May 5th, 2001.
What is the Battle Bridge Side Deck?
Conceptually, the Battle Bridge Side Deck is the set of strategic maneuvers that your ship can use to survive or augment an attack. With the simple seeding of a Battle Bridge Door, you’ll use specific techniques (Tactic cards) to give you an edge in ship battle. They can also be used to target a specific section of a ship or a particular attribute. Each card is tailored with its own strengths and weaknesses.
How does it work?
The Battle Bridge Side Deck works in two ways. First, whenever a ship battle is initiated, you draw a minimum of two Tactics from your Battle Bridge Side Deck. These can increase both your Attack total (making it easier for you to pulverize your opponent) or Defense total (making it easier to survive being pulverized). The Attack value of a Tactic is added to your firing ships' Weapons and the Defense value is added to your defending ships' Shields. Should you score a hit (usually an Attack total greater than the opponent's Defense total) or direct hit (usually an Attack total more than double the opponent's Defense total), you will usually do additional damage with the bottom portion of the card, often with other effects on your opponent’s ship involved (such as personnel casualties or disabled special equipment) as well as damage to the ship's attributes. Without the Battle Bridge Side Deck, you’re stuck with the default "rotation damage" of reducing Range to five and halving hull integrity.
Note that you can only use one Tactic per battle, no matter how many you draw or how many ships you have in your armada. For more details, please consult the rulebook and glossary.
What are the Advantages?
First and foremost, you get a bonus to your total Weapons or Shields. Note that you’re adding to the total Weapons and Shields no matter how many ships you have in the battle. Since battle is not card-based as it is in Second Edition, your opponent doesn’t even need to plan for a fight; they can initiate battle on a whim. With a Battle Bridge Side Deck, you’ll get an edge in the fight. Just look at Maximum Firepower: Six extra weapons. That’s almost another ship! I would love to have another ship in battle for free. Heck, in the Enterprise or Original Series era, it is almost better than another ship! Defense, however, tops out at 4 with Evasive Maneuvers.
The damage abilities are diverse as well. Yeah, you could go for basic personnel kills, but several damage effects are simply unavailable on any other card type. In general, you’re looking at something better than a random kill. The best part is that since it is a side deck, you don’t need to have these cards cluttering your hand or diluting your deck. Your opponent can ravage your draw deck with discards all they want, but your Battle Bridge Side Deck will be looking back at them smugly.
So I’m an Idiot If I Don’t Use It?
You're not necessarily a fool if you aren't using a Battle Bridge Side Deck. For one, while you will get a boost in battle, it won’t be enough to fully turn the tide against a deck dedicated to battle. There are enough Weapons enhancement cards in the game that if an opponent really wants to do you in, they will. As great as battle is, it takes time to get going--time you can use to solve missions.
Most importantly, the Battle Bridge Door takes up an all-too-important seed slot. These are more valuable than gold. Every time you put a non-Dilemma in your seed deck, you have to take something out. With more and more cards--not to mention factions--requiring this quick start, there just might not be room for another seed card. If the benefits don’t seem all that appealing or if battle is not your thing, by all means don’t even bother with the extra side deck.
How Can I Tie It Into My Deck?
This is where the effects come in. Killing someone on your opponent’s ship is great, but killing someone that is a key to your opponent's strategy is even better. Tactics don’t let you choose who is killed, but can help narrow down the field. The damage done can be more crippling to the ship than standard default damage. While you would like to destroy the ship outright, thus setting your opponent back several turns, some crippling damage is a pretty nifty consolation prize.
I Want to Kill People.
You may need psychological help. Please contact a mental health professional. For those of us who have passed our mental health reviews, you need look no further than your Dilemmas. Do you have Dilemmas requiring Medical or its related skills? Attack Wing is worth a shot. Love the Murder Investigation/Friendly Fire combo from Homefront but want to make it more potent? Photon Torpedo to the rescue. Barely survive the battle and want to eliminate the opponent's matching commander? Strafing Run will take out an Officer. You can target specific personnel types to suit your needs. The more you fine tune your Tactic selection, the more you can make your Dilemma combos more potent.
Note that Dilemmas can use Tactics as well: any Dilemma that damages your opponent's ship will utilize Tactics to deal that damage. Designing your Dilemma selection in tandem with your Battle Bridge Side Deck can leverage your Dilemmas to filter personnel from future mission attempts by killing them off with Tactic damage.
I want to stall my opponent.
Here is where the shear unparalleled power of Tactics comes into play! Unparalleled, you say? Want to beam through your opponent’s shields? Shut down transporters? Stop your opponent from attempting space Missions? How about if it doesn’t cost you a card play at all? You still need to win the ship battles, but these are effects you won’t find on any other card in the game!
Then there’s Range. There is no harder attribute to increase than Range. Well, maybe Integrity is more difficult, but that’s not a ship attribute. Target Engines and Target Warp Field Coils will reduce the target's Range by five. Against the fastest ships, that will reduce Range to 7. At worst (for your victim), the ship will be stalled in the middle of hostile space. Plop down your Defiant Dedication Plaque, 'cause you’ll need it.
As with anything, you’ll want some variety in your deck. You could go for damage, but you won’t get the attribute reduction. You could go for specific kills, but you won’t do much hull damage. Plugging your deck full of 40% hull damage Tactics is as bad as playing deck composed of nothing but Rogue Borg Mercenaries.
There is so much more to Tactics than simple ship damage. They are strong enough for you to build a deck around, and cripple your opponent for a nominal cost. They are not for every deck, but for a player who wants to get a leg up or take advantage of some really cool stuff, there are some really great options out there. Woot indeed.