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Star Trek: Frontiers» Forums » General

Subject: No reputation gain for defeating Borg cubes? rss

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Dustin Hodge
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As has been discussed ad nauseum, this game's mechanisms are a strange mix of deeply thematic and deeply unthematic elements. And that's fine. Even the most thematic games have to be abstractions at some point, and I'll take fun over theme any day. For the most part, I can rationalize away the stuff people have trouble with and tell myself a story that makes it fit with the theme better.

I can even come to terms with decimating a planet. Yeah, the Picard we know would never do that. But if I let TNG drift into the darker DS9 atmosphere (which the movies tried to do, though not very successfully) and keep in mind that we're in a Borg-controlled sector... maybe in that instance it was the only thing that could be done. Maybe they tried real hard to evacuate everyone they could, but couldn't get everyone. Even with that best-case scenario, I can see the Reputation loss signifying that people just look at you differently now, even though they know they shouldn't.

But no Reputation gain from defeating a Borg cube... I... what? Mechanically, I can see why that's the case, given that spheres give you +2 and if cubes gave you more, in a 4-cube game you'd max out that track no problem. But any sort of win against the Borg in the series' was always a big friggin' deal. It broke my immersion enough that I stopped playing and spent half an hour scouring the rulebook, sure that I just missed something. And then spent another half an hour writing this diatribe.

But maybe I'm crazy and the only one who feels like this. You tell me.
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A. Mandible
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In Mage Knight, the enemies you only gain reputation for defeating enemies who attack you first (or who would do so under the right circumstances). So, um, presumably the Borg cubes were just minding their own business until you came along and picked a fight?
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How about the following explanation?

The borg figures in the game are not assault ships, they are the equivalent of an enemy civilian city. Destroying a "civilian" city may win you the war against evil, but at a cost of many lives who are in the process of being assimilated or have recently been assimilated. So, the large positive reputation from defeating a cube is offset by an equally large negative one from those people who still retain hope to recover their recently lost loved ones. On the other hand, Borg spheres are assault ships optimized for combat with many fewer "civilian" functions.

Also, these huge ships probably have a Borg queen. When you destroy a small Borg ship or sphere, you are merely chopping off a limb that the Borg can grow back. But, if you destroy the Borg queen, you are committing genocide. The morality of Borg genocide is complicated. These kinds of themes are explored in some depth in Star Trek Voyager. Maybe somebody can link to the episode where Janeway is agonizing about the decision of Borg genocide.

In The Next Generation, the Borg were portrayed as purely evil, and if that is your view of the Star Trek universe, then you will be understandably perplexed about why you do not get reputation for defeating Borg figures. Whether or not Voyager did the right thing to humanize the Borg is a totally separate question of course. But, it does enable a thematic interpretation fully consistent with canon.

Edit: actually, I forgot about the TNG episode "I, Borg" (one of the best imo) where the idea of Borg genocide is explored and agonized over by Picard and crew. That was a wonderful example where an offensive action against the Borg had questionable morality (in game terms, 0 reputation gain).
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Dustin Hodge
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I am going to try my hardest to rebut you without letting this discussion descend (further?) into nerdfight territory. I don't know if I'm up to that challenge, but I'm trying, Internet.

The above are all good points. I had forgotten about the "I, Borg" episode. But, unfortunately, it still feels off to me. Communicating why I has those feels is hard, but here's what I think it is:

The game wants you to destroy the Borg. There's a substantial amount of thematic/fictional groundwork that informs why the game would want you to destroy The Borg. The game is fully unambiguous about this. And I'm supposed to believe that, after I destroy the Borg and (assumedly) save the galaxy... no one gives a shit one way or the other? Even if I could be convinced that there's enough love/moral handwringing for the Borg As A Stand In For Unstoppable Evil that fully half the galaxy is sad they're dead (and I can't), an average Rep gain of 0 is still deeply unsatisfying. This is why the lack of Reputation gain is icky (for me) both mechanically and thematically.
 
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Joseph Cochran
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The game is already altered (and made easier in this regard) in that in MK those are cities that cost you one rep when you attack them, whereas in ST:F they don't have that cost associated.

I get the thematic disconnect, but giving rep on top of already not losing rep would make things way too easy. Good luck with the reconciliation.....
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Dustin Hodge
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Yeah, I said earlier I get why there's no rep gain because it would break the Reputation system. The crux of my complaint is they didn't think make enough changes to the Reputation system when designing this retheme. At least for me.
 
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Nerdfight!

This kind of thing is fundamentally a matter of personal opinion, and as long as your opinion is logically self-consistent (which it is), it cannot be objectively shown to be right or wrong. That's what opinion means. The only thing we can really do is explore why we have those opinions. [Call it a nerdfight from high horses.]

The star trek universe has gone through a fundamental shift in how it portrays the borg. In TNG, the borg were essentially a perfect evil incarnate, like the Nazis in 1941. By the end of Voyager, they became a flawed and almost sympathetic race that needs help rather than destruction, I suppose in some ways like the Axis at the end of WW2.

Whether or not 0 reputation for destroying a borg figure feels thematic to you will depend entirely on whether the narrative you weave around the borg portrays them as evil incarnate or as a flawed race to be redeemed. It also depends on how you feel about destroying Borg drones -- are you killing innocent victims in the name of a greater good, while knowing that in principle assimilation can be reversed? (A bit like the atomic bombing of Japan -- ok, maybe I'm taking that analogy too far.) Or are you destroying evil incarnate?

Star Trek canon certainly admits both views, and in general has enough inconsistencies that something that is thematic to one person can seem very unthematic to another. Then it just comes down entirely to what you personally choose to believe about the ST universe.

Zelbinian wrote:
The game wants you to destroy the Borg. There's a substantial amount of thematic/fictional groundwork that informs why the game would want you to destroy The Borg. The game is fully unambiguous about this. And I'm supposed to believe that, after I destroy the Borg and (assumedly) save the galaxy... no one gives a shit one way or the other?


I think everyone gives a shit, it just cancels out . (A bit like the US having 0 net reputation for nuking Japan?) Also, keep in mind that you get a diplomacy benefit while you are on the Borg cube. If you defeat 5 borg defenders, that is basically like getting a +5 reputation! (But only on the cube itself.)

Zelbinian wrote:
Even if I could be convinced that there's enough love/moral handwringing for the Borg As A Stand In For Unstoppable Evil that fully half the galaxy is sad they're dead (and I can't),


Keep in mind that half the galaxy is not necessarily sad for the borg, they are sad that humans/klingons have stooped down to the easy path of violence and genocide when the harder path of unassimilation is in principle possible.

If you like the game, I say just try to spin the story from that angle and see if you could eventually become comfortable with that!
 
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