Star Realms Platinum League: One Game In Depth
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For the past two seasons, railbaron (schoonmj) and I have finished 1st and 2nd in the Platinum Division of the BGG Star Realms league*. This season we're playing against each other in the last game of the season.

This game is likely to be close, but the trade row can always swing heavily in one direction or the other, so who knows? In any case, it seems like a good chance to take an in depth look at the individual plays of a game. It's likely to produce some interesting strategy discussions.





* The user Aweberman has taken it upon himself to organize a league that currently consists of 15 divisions. The 15 divisions are organized in a pyramid, and the top 2 players of each division move up the pyramid. The bottom 3 (or 4) of each division move down the pyramid. The Platinum Division is the top division.

Click here for the sign-up thread if you're interested.
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1. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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schoonmj goes first. (I'm referring to him by his Star Realms name. On BGG he is railbaron.)

Trade row:
Freighter ImperialFighter TradingPost BattleStation TradingPost

He gets 3 trade and takes a Trading Post. Really, his only other choice was an Explorer, possibly with the Imperial Fighter. That may have been a better choice if there were a Brain World or something on the trade row, but there isn't. On top of that, there's no good combat on the trade row, either, so the outpost is likely to last. Generally a bad card, but this trade row makes it about as attractive as possible and probably the best option. With the lack of combat, Battle Station may have even been a reasonable choice, but with no trade on it it's generally a terrible first turn purchase.
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2. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #2: FlyingArrow's first turn.
Score: 50-50

Trade row:
Freighter ImperialFighter BattlePod BattleStation TradingPost

I get 5 trade. The Freighter is very tempting, but he already has one outpost and there are two more on the trade row. The Battle Pod is the only decent combat option. If I take the Freighter, he will almost certainly have two outposts, and I might not be able to kill either until mid-game. That is, if he takes the Battle Pod/Trading Post and no more combat comes up for me. So I take the Battle Pod. A Trade Bot replaces it in the trade row and I take that, too, along with an Explorer.
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3. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #3: schoonmj

Freighter ImperialFighter Corvette BattleStation TradingPost

3 trade. A 3-3 start is almost always bad. And not good here - he would have much rather had the Freighter. But he takes Imperial Fighter/Corvette. Generally bad early game choices, but so are Trading Post/Battle Station. At least this way they are paired, and more importantly he evens out the combat to prevent me from rushing him. I already have a Battle Pod, and the trade row doesn't look like I could pull off a successful rush anyway, but better safe than sorry. Probably the best move given the bad situation.
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4. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #4: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 48 schoonmj 50

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice BlobFighter BattleStation TradingPost


So I actually made a mistake on turn 1. For some reason, I was thinking of a 4/4 trade split. So when I bought the Battle Pod, I was thinking that I would have 4 trade on my second turn. I'd get the Freighter if schoonmj had a 3/3 start, and I'd get 2 Explorers otherwise. In any case, I'd have a decent (not great) economy going and have the combat I needed to take out his outpost. I would have bought the Battle Pod anyway, but didn't realize my mistake until after the draw. He got his 3/3 start, but my bad arithmetic means I buy a Blob Fighter and an Explorer. Not even a decent economy, but at least it's better than what my opponent has at this point. And as a bonus the Blob Fighter that popped up for me goes with the Battle Pod. Despite bad arithmetic, I like my position at this point in the game. Too early to be confident of anything, but I'd put the chances of a win up to 55-60% from a 50-50 start.
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5. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #5: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 48 - schoonmj 48

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice PatrolMech BattleStation TradingPost

schoonmj's hand: 2 Scouts (shuffle), 2 more Scouts, Imperial Fighter

I was glad to see the Patrol Mech pop up. Even though I blew my chance at the Freighter on turn 2, this means I should get whichever one schoonmj doesn't take. I'm not surprised to see him take the Patrol Mech. His 5th card is the Imperial Fighter, which means I'll have to discard.
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6. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #6: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 46 - schoonmj 48

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice SurveyShip BattleStation TradingPost

I have 3 Scouts, 1 Viper, 1 Explorer. I have to discard one.
Tough decision here, but minor consequence either way. I want the Freighter but I have 5 trade. Do I discard a Scout and risk that a good 1-cost card comes up that I miss out on? Or drop the Viper and give up 1 combat? Discarding the Scout has the bigger downside but keeping it is less likely to pay off. I discard the Scout, and no 1-cost card comes up so that worked out.
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7. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #7: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 46 - schoonmj 47

Trade row:
Cutter CentralOffice SurveyShip BattleStation TradingPost

Unfortunately for me, what popped was a Cutter.

He has Corvette, 3 Scouts, 2 Vipers. He wastes a trade to take the Cutter, passing on 3 different cost-3 cards. Good choice.
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8. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #8: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 43 - schoonmj 47

Trade row:
Blob Wheel CentralOffice SurveyShip BattleStation TradingPost

Trade Bot, Blob Fighter, and 3 Scouts.
I scrap a Viper and buy the Blob Wheel. This was a tough decision. The Trading Post was also tempting. I don't want his Cutter to trigger every time around, so I considered taking the Trading Post to make it harder for him to get blue ally bonuses. But I already have 2 green cards, so Blob Wheel helps me and I think it's generally a better card than Trading Post anyway, so I went that direction. Briefly considered 2 Explorers so I don't waste trade, but decided against it. Still too early for Battle Station. Survey Ship might be a decent option for schoonmj with his 2 yellows, but doesn't fit my deck so well.

When I buy the Blob Wheel, a Supply Bot comes up. Two times in a row a great card comes up for him. I think the trade row just evened the game out, making up for schoonmj's 3-3 start. I think we're back to 50-50.
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9. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #9: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 43 - schoonmj 44

Trade row:
SupplyBot CentralOffice SurveyShip BattleStation TradingPost

schoonmj's hand: Corvette, Trading Post, 4 Scouts
Unsurprisingly, he buys the Supply Bot. Then a Missile Bot comes up for him, too, which he also buys. And the pendulum swings slightly into schoonmj's favor.
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10. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #10: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 42 - schoonmj 44

Trade row:
MissileBot CentralOffice SurveyShip BattleStation TradingPost

FlyingArrow's hand: Battle Pod, Explorer, 2 Scouts, 1 Viper

His deck now looks a little bit better than mine, particularly because he has two-and-a-half scrappers to my one. Fortunately, a Missile Bot came up for me, too. Also, he just missed pairing his Blue and Yellow cards. The Trading Post is out, but I have the Battle Pod to destroy it.

I take the Missile Bot and the Battlecruiser comes up. I use the Battle Pod to scrap it from the trade row and the other Freighter comes up. I scrap my Explorer and buy another one.
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11. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #11: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 42 - schoonmj 41

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice SurveyShip BattleStation TradingPost

schoonmj's hand: Patrol Mech, Imperial Fighter, 1 Scouts, 2 Vipers (4 trade, 4 combat): Buys the Battle Station

Could have gone for the Trading Post here. I probably would have because it makes it easier to get the Cutter's ally bonus and it's still early enough for the 1 trade to be useful, but he also has 2 scrappers that need ally bonuses. Either one is a good choice.
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12. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #12: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 38 - schoonmj 41

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice SurveyShip PortOfCall TradingPost

Hand: Freighter, Blob Wheel, 2 Scouts, 1 Viper: Discard the viper due to schoonmj's Imperial Fighter. Buy the Port of Call. Save the Blob Wheel for later. I'm not very excited about the Port of Call - I already have enough trade. But it is a 6-strength base. I'd much rather have what pops up in its place - the Flagship that schoonmj is sure to grab.
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13. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #13: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 38 - schoonmj 40

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice SurveyShip Flagship TradingPost

Cutter, 3 Scouts (shuffle), Corvette, Scout (6 trade, 1 combat): Buy Flagship

Easy decision here. This is schoonmj's 4th shuffle. FlyingArrow's 4th won't happen until turn 18.
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14. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #14: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 37 - schoonmj 44

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice SurveyShip EmbassyYacht TradingPost

Battle Pod, Missile Bot, Explorer, 2 Scouts (Blob Wheel still out 4 trade, 11 combat):

I scrap Embassy Yacht from trade row, which reveals Survey Ship. I don't really want Embassy Yacht, but schoonmj already has two bases and the yacht will also trigger the Cutter's ally bonus so I don't want him to have it. Central Office is a bigger ticket item, but he's unlikely to be able to afford it anyway.

I buy the Trading Post, which reveals a Supply Bot. Scrap Scout with Missile Bot. Scrap Explorer for the 2 combat.
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15. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #15: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 37 - schoonmj 33

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice SurveyShip SurveyShip SupplyBot

Trading Post, Imperial Fighter, Patrol Mech, 2 Vipers (0 trade, 9 combat, 1 authority)

Kills the Blob Wheel. With the Patrol Mech, he opts for combat instead of the Supply Bot. Probably a good idea, but could go either way.
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16. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #16: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 33 - schoonmj 34

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice SurveyShip SurveyShip SupplyBot


FlyingArrow's hand: Trade Bot, Explorer, 3 Scouts (5 trade, 2 combat)

Had to discard Scout from schoonmj's Imperial Fighter, so only 5 trade available. Scrap a Scout with the Trade Bot. Buy the Supply Bot and the Blob Fighter that pops up.

At this point I decide my deck is better without Explorers. I scrap the one in my hand even though it doesn't do me any good since the 2 combat doesn't kill the Trading Post.

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17. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #17: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 33 - schoonmj 34

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice SurveyShip SurveyShip RoyalRedoubt

Missile Bot, Supply Bot, Battle Station, 2 Explorers (4 trade, 6 combat): Buy 2 Explorers. Scrap 2 Scouts with the scrappers.

Schoonmj goes just the opposite direction and grabs Explorers at the same time I am dropping them. Perhaps because he was low on trade while I had Port of Call and Freighter. Perhaps because he wanted the combat to push for the game to end. I have the scrap advantage, so the longer the game goes the better I look.
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18. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #18: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 27 - schoonmj 35

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice SurveyShip SurveyShip RoyalRedoubt

FlyingArrow's hand: Blob Fighter, Scout (shuffle), Blob Fighter, Battle Pod, Trading Post (12 combat).

Great draw for me with my 3 small green cards coming up together. Draw 2 cards for the fighters - 2 more Scouts for a total of 4 trade available. Battle Pod scraps a Survey Ship from the trade row to hopefully find something good. Machine Base comes up. Kill the outposts, so only 3 damage to schoonmj.

Now a really tough decision. I have 3 trade and 1 more available from the Trading Post if I want it.
* 3 Trade can take the Survey Ship. Downside: a combat card could pop up for schoonmj, and the Survey Ship doesn't help me much. I have no yellow to pair with and don't need the trade.

* Take 2 Explorers. I do feel kind of light on combat, but already decided last turn that I'm better with 0 Explorers.

* Take nothing. I do this. Waste the trade because while the Survey Ship doesn't hurt me and would help me at least a little (1 more trade and a chance to make schoonmj discard), I think it's not worth the risk of giving him a good card. The rest of the trade row he either doesn't want or is unlikely to be able to afford.

So after much deliberation I go with the last option and as soon as I confirm that I want to waste the trade this turn and end the turn... Argh!!! I realize I forgot to gain authority with the Trading Post!!!! If I lose by 1 I'll kick myself.
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19. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #19: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 27 - schoonmj 32

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice MachineBase SurveyShip RoyalRedoubt

2 Scouts (shuffle), Imperial Fighter, Missile Bot, Scout

He scraps a scout with the Missile Bot, leaving him with 2 trade. He buys an Explorer with it. The 4 combat is just enough to kill the Trading Post.
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20. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #20: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 27 - schoonmj 32

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice MachineBase SurveyShip RoyalRedoubt


FlyingArrow's hand: Port of Call, Supply Bot, Blob Wheel, Scout x2.

Discard scout from the Imperial Fighter. Scrap scout with Supply Bot. Buy Royal Redoubt.

Not a difficult turn. Not much worthwhile in the trade row. Just 1 damage to schoonmj.
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21. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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Turn #21: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 27 - schoonmj 31

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice MachineBase SurveyShip BattleBlob


schoonmj's hand: Corvette, Patrol Mech (for 5combat), Scout x2, Explorer x2 (scrap both for 4 combat) (6 trade, 10 combat):

The 10 combat kills the Port of Call and does 4 damage to FlyingArrow. Schoonmj buys the Battle Blob. The trade row has been very kind to him. His own deck, however, is not so kind.
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22. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Flying Arrow
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Turn #22: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 23 - schoonmj 31

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice MachineBase SurveyShip ImperialFrigate


FlyingArrow's hand: Trade Bot, Missile Bot, Freighter, Viper, Scout (Blob Wheel is still out - 8 combat, 6 trade)

I have 6 trade and while I like the Imperial Frigate I would much rather have the Battle Blob. But I buy the Frigate. The Dreadnaught pops up. Good news for me - schoonmj doesn't have the trade I have, so chances are I'll get it... but not this turn.

That Survey Ship that wasn't worth taking before looks a lot better now that it can trigger ally bonuses for the Frigate and Royal Redoubt, so I buy that too. The Mothership pops up - also good for me for the same reason as the Dreadnaught.
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23. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Flying Arrow
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Turn #23: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 23 - schoonmj 23

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice MachineBase Mothership Dreadnaught


Trade row is the Freighter and four 7-cost cards. schoonmj gets probably the worst draw of the match. 6 cards left in his deck and one is the Flagship, so if he draws the Flagship he gets all 6 and gets Cutter/Flagship ally bonuses. Flagship is the buried card.

schoonmj's hand: Supply Bot, Cutter, Viper x2, Scout (5 trade, 2 combat, 4 authority): Scrap a scout with Supply Bot. Doesn't buy Explorers. 2 damage to FlyingArrow instead of the 11 it could have been.
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24. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Flying Arrow
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Turn #24: FlyingArrow
Score: FlyingArrow 21 - schoonmj 27

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice MachineBase Mothership Dreadnaught

FlyingArrow shuffles for the 5th time just before drawing:
Blob Fighter x2, Battle Pod, Viper, Trading Post (and the Blob Wheel is still out)

For the 2nd time this game, the 3 small greens come up together. Two draws from the Fighers. 1st draw: Imperial Frigate (scrapped for another draw), 2nd Draw: Supply Bot, 3rd Draw: trade bot. (22 combat)

I was really hoping for the Freighter on the first draw here. Top-deck the Dreadnaught and then draw it. No such luck. So 3 tradeā€¦ 7 available if I scrap the Blob Wheel and choose trade from the Trading Post. But I buy nothing and take authority instead. I also scrap nothing with Battle Pod.

This was a difficult turn. I have 7 trade available but did not take the Mothership or Dreadnaught. A lot of factors came into play here:
* I want to put one on top of the deck. I would have to scrap the Blob Wheel to get one this turn. If the Trading Post survives a turn and I draw the Freighter but not the Port of Call, I may need the Blob Wheel to top deck next turn.
* I want to make sure I can kill his outposts if they come up. That 1 combat from the Blob Wheel may be what I need (Royal Redoubt + Blob Wheel = 4 combat to kill the Trading Post.)
* He isn't likely to be able to afford either, and even if he does they'll be in the discard pile where he probably won't get draw them before the game ends... so I am not that worried about waiting.
* But it is possible he could afford one, so I don't scrap either with the Battle Pod. Even if he buys one I can get the other.

All of that together led me to wait and not buy either... which might have won me the game except for what happened on my next turn...
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25. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:99] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
Flying Arrow
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Turn #25: schoonmj
Score: FlyingArrow 22 - schoonmj 5

Trade row:
Freighter CentralOffice MachineBase Mothership Dreadnaught

Flagship (shuffle), Explorer (discarded), Cutter, Trading Post, Battle Station, Imperial Fighter (11 combat, 10 authority, 2 trade)

It doesn't quite make up for the buried Flagship, but the Cutter comes right back for an ally bonus on the next turn. Plus the Trading Post and the Battle Station, so schoonmj rushes back from death's door.

The 2 trade doesn't do anything, but this turn was a 21 authority swing for schoonmj.
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