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The first of my strategy guides on helping people improve their gameplay in Star Trek Ascendency. Due to the randomness of the game, the draw of systems, space lanes, and the roll of the dice, this guide cannot assure victory. But hopefully it will help improve your gameplay and help new players develop easier.

So let us "Boldly Go" with the faction that started the entire franchise - The United Federation of Planets.


Playstyle
The “Diplomatic Explorers” of the Alpha Quadrant are fast to explore, adaptive to their discoveries, peaceful in expanding their influence.

Typically the Federation focus on accumulating Culture to win via Ascendency or 'Diplomatic' Supremency. As the non-military faction, they are probably the hardest of the original three to play requiring some finesse and experience to use their “Quality over Quantity” fleets effectively.

Weakness

Cultural Needs
No faction values Culture more than the Federation, as Hegemony is their only means to achieve Victory by Supremacy (which costs -2 Culture minimum for a successful attempt).

Unfortunately Culture also needs to be spent to create Culture Nodes, increase Ascendency, and Colonize Virgin systems. While there are ways to reduce these costs (e.g.: use a Colonization Fleet on Virgin worlds, develop Starfleet Diplomatic Corps for cheaper Hegemony), there is no way to completely overcome it.

Inevitably, to succeed, the Federation needs be tactful in how they spend their Culture. If able to build Culture Nodes they should take and fortify that system. Else they may find themselves suffering in the late game.

Peacekeepers
The Federation is NOT a military force. They cannot invade systems, their largest fleet is comparatively small to their rivals’, none of their Advancements enhance Space Combat (with exception of The Cochrane Institute for making Retreats), and their focus on accumulating Culture often results in forgoing Production.

To compensate, the Federation should develop Shields and Weapons to improve ship Quality (to make up for lack of Quantity). Shields particularly benefit them as it helps them survive both Space Battles and studying Phenomena, though Weapon development should not be ignored (the ability to hurt would-be-attackers is a powerful deterrent).

Prime Directive
Unable to claim/ colonize Pre Warp Civilizations is unquestionably annoying (i.e.: leave a Production Cache of 3 on an ‘essentially’ Virgin World for your rivals to claim) but it needs be accepted – there is no way the Federation can circumvent this alone.

That said, this weakness disappears in the mid-late game when your rivals move in to claim these systems (at that stage, you can fly in and diplomatically reclaim them for yourself).

Strengths

Exploration
In the early game, the Federation should prioritize Exploration to maximize Explore Strange New Worlds (before their rivals discover all the Phenemona and Civilizations). Doing so should build up a decent Culture Cache to be used for their inevitable Hegemony attempts.

If able, develop Long Range Sensor Arrays in the early game to double the chance of finding phenomena (in the late game, when the quadrant has been mapped, this development becomes near useless).

Hegemony
Invasion is not a Federation option though it matters little due to their Diplomatic prowess. Even without developing Ascendency, their Universal Translator lets them succeed their Hegemony attempts against:
* Warp 1 Civilizations automatically
* Warp 2 Civilizations on a 3+
* Warp 3 Civilizations on a 5+
Improving Ascendency will reduce the chances of failure further (and increase your resistance to your rivals attempting Hegemony against you), as will utilizing a Diplomatic Fleet (though it is possible to attempt Hegemony with a single ship – every individual Federation ship is a diplomatic threat to every enemy Homeworld).

Developing Starfleet Diplomatic Corps is highly recommended for this as it halves the Culture Cost for successful Hegemony attempts (potentially reducing it to 0 if the Civilization was newly discovered by the Federation).

Specialized Fleets
What they lack in military power, the Federation make up for in versatility.
* A Colonization Fleet can secure a Virgin World without needing to waste -1 Culture or a Command to do so (and will have a garrison of 2 ships protecting it).
* A Diplomacy Fleet can Warp to neutral/ rival Colonies
* Finally a Science Fleet can sit on a Phenomena with relative safety, farming Research each turn without exhausting any Commands.


Interaction
The Federation want to be everyone’s friend, including their rivals. Developing Multicultural Collaboration will make your Trade Agreements even more beneficial – letting you gain +1 research per Trade agreement held (allied with two factions gains you +2 Research per turn in addition to 2-6 Production earned from the agreements themselves), while equally giving your “allies” +1 research in exchange.

Cardassian
Essentially the Federation’s polar opposite. Where the humans can ONLY take Colonies via Hegemony, the Union REFUSE to do so – favouring invasion at all times (even when diplomacy is an option).

Develop the Planetary Defence Shield and the Verteron Array Beam Emitter to discourage their invasion force. Enhancing shields will help too, though don’t ignore their Metagenic Weapons will bypass even the most advanced defence.

Klingons
These Warriors will eagerly seek enemy Fleets once first contact is made, and the Federation’s tiny armadas will be prime targets if made available.
There are ways to discourage being hunted (encouraging the Klingons to chase your other rival/s). e.g:
* Warp your Colonization Fleet immediately to its destined Virgin world after forming, disbanding in the Colonization process, leaving a garrison of two “dishonourable” ships.
* Assign your Science Fleet to the most dangerous Phenomena they can handle. Only 'foolish' hunters will brave the Hazard for glory.
* Keep your Diplomacy Fleet at Warp, exiting only to attempt Hegemony, before warping away again.

Also, while their disruptors always hit on a 6, you can still raise your shields so the Klingons ONLY hit you on a 6. Farm phenomena to improve ship quality to achieve this “arms race”.

Romulans
Your research rivals. Expect them to contesting you over Phenomena and Research-focused colonies, running raids against your single ships, and attempting to negotiate trade agreements into their favour.

Developing the Tachyon Detection Array will render three of their Advancements useless against you, which can encourage them to attack your mutual “rival/s” instead.

Multicultural Collaboration will come in particularly handy with the ‘Green Bloods’ as Suspicious does not apply to it – letting them earn their +1 research even on the turn they did not receive Production.

Indeed, the Research token will probably be more desired than the Production gained – allowing you to offer your +1 Production to them without much bargaining.
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Alexander Steinbach
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Thanks for a good and clear overview. I have to ask though, is this based on actual plays of the game, or is it mainly theorycrafting. As the game has not yet been released in retail.
 
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Vardaine wrote:
Thanks for a good and clear overview. I have to ask though, is this based on actual plays of the game, or is it mainly theorycrafting. As the game has not yet been released in retail.


Pure theory crafting from extended research. Once gameplays have occurred this will be updated as it comes.
 
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Chris Schenck
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Seems like pretty solid advice all around!

While gaining culture is important to the Federation for the reasons you mentioned, I'd strongly suggest that in the early game it's more important to focus on research. This will allow you to upgrade shields and weapons, as well as getting an early jump on some of the advancements. The focus on culture is probably best left until mid-game. After all, what good are all of those cultural nodes if you don't have the capability to defend them? They're awfully shiny targets for the enemy, especially if you've not been keeping pace in the arms race due to lack of research.

zfairborn wrote:
Developing the Tachyon Detection Array will render three of their Advancements useless against you, which can encourage them to attack your mutual “rival/s” instead.

I love this advancement. Not only does it nullify 3 powerful Romulan advancements (including their starting advancement), but it also nullifies the Klingon's Adapted Cloaking Device advancement, since it's a "Romulan Cloaking Technology" as well. So yeah, this is a great early defensive advancement to develop for the Federation.
 
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Marc Bennett
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Nice wright up. Having played the only thing I really disagree with is that the federation is not the hardest to play. The Klingons are IMO
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Where did you get this information. Do you have a link to all the cards included in game? I would love to see. I wish I would have taken more pics at GenCon.
 
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KickAClay wrote:
Where did you get this information. Do you have a link to all the cards included in game? I would love to see. I wish I would have taken more pics at GenCon.


Chris (two posts above you) compiled and posted a list of all the advancement cards in the game which you can find linked here:

https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/135997/star-trek-ascendan...

Those helped me a lot in understanding how the fed's play.

I do not have access to the exploration deck, though I've done enough research to gain a decent idea of what planets appear in the original game and what their traits are.
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cbs42 wrote:
Seems like pretty solid advice all around!

While gaining culture is important to the Federation for the reasons you mentioned, I'd strongly suggest that in the early game it's more important to focus on research. This will allow you to upgrade shields and weapons, as well as getting an early jump on some of the advancements. The focus on culture is probably best left until mid-game. After all, what good are all of those cultural nodes if you don't have the capability to defend them? They're awfully shiny targets for the enemy, especially if you've not been keeping pace in the arms race due to lack of research.


An excellent point. And i was seeing that too somewhat (Production seems their least desired resource, but its not useless to them either). I did tap on that slightly in regarding their "Military" but I think you may be right in that I should express this importance some more. Ty for pointing it out.

P.S.: thankyou for providing a list of the Advancements. This tactica was created using that information you shared on this site (I'd only been able to find 7 cards from each deck prior that!)

cbs42 wrote:
zfairborn wrote:
Developing the Tachyon Detection Array will render three of their Advancements useless against you, which can encourage them to attack your mutual “rival/s” instead.

I love this advancement. Not only does it nullify 3 powerful Romulan advancements (including their starting advancement), but it also nullifies the Klingon's Adapted Cloaking Device advancement, since it's a "Romulan Cloaking Technology" as well. So yeah, this is a great early defensive advancement to develop for the Federation.


I did consider stating that it helps VS the Klingons too for that one bit of tech, but figured it was too circumstantual. But yes. Its almost a must have VS the Romulan's. But fortune may not provide it! Such is the beautiful mechanic of this game ;)
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Klaxas wrote:
Nice wright up. Having played the only thing I really disagree with is that the federation is not the hardest to play. The Klingons are IMO


Ty! I will review this when I get the game myself and field test my theory. Thankyou for the insight. I'll keep it in mind for when the game happens.
 
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Marc Bennett
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zfairborn wrote:
Klaxas wrote:
Nice wright up. Having played the only thing I really disagree with is that the federation is not the hardest to play. The Klingons are IMO


Ty! I will review this when I get the game myself and field test my theory. Thankyou for the insight. I'll keep it in mind for when the game happens.


the reason i say that is because both the romulans and feds get an early game boost, the romulans have mining fleet, and the feds colonization fleet. these speed up their early game. the klingons have to be slower in getting going and more careful.
 
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Klaxas wrote:
zfairborn wrote:
Klaxas wrote:
Nice wright up. Having played the only thing I really disagree with is that the federation is not the hardest to play. The Klingons are IMO


Ty! I will review this when I get the game myself and field test my theory. Thankyou for the insight. I'll keep it in mind for when the game happens.


the reason i say that is because both the romulans and feds get an early game boost, the romulans have mining fleet, and the feds colonization fleet. these speed up their early game. the klingons have to be slower in getting going and more careful.


Excellent point. My headspace was more towards the Romulans and Klingons can get quite efficient in building Fleets and being military focused - being open with choices (i.e.: they can invade AND attempt hegemony). Thus the Federation are limited in their choices in certain areas and need to be worked around them.

Your point is still relevent. I'll be looking to see how it plays out in the real game. Ty again for the contribution!
 
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WD Yoga
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Thanks for writing this!

With regard to exploration, should Federation player seek to connect with the other players' systems early or not? Or, maybe there is vital advancement that Federation player needed before initiating contact with other players?
 
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Esvath wrote:
Thanks for writing this!

With regard to exploration, should Federation player seek to connect with the other players' systems early or not? Or, maybe there is vital advancement that Federation player needed before initiating contact with other players?


I say the answer is circumstantial depending on what the federation AND their rivals get in regards to planets and developments.

On one side, if a rival look to be getting decent Culture Nodes up, you should likely try to make contact ASAP to take them from them to fuel your Hegemony attempts. If they try to turtle up, Stellar Cartography will let you move in unexpectedly.

On the otherside, if you are securing plenty of C-Node worlds, YOU may want to turtle up to rush for an Ascendency win.

Making contact IS a big deal with your Trade Agreements as just +1 free production each turn is still +1 ship or one new node made every turn from that alone (and thats the minimum gain).

If you can research Multicultural Collaboration, your Trade Agreements become even more notable as they will each offer both sides +1 Research Token as well. Trade with both rivals (in a 3 player game) and you get +2 research while they get +1 each.

As for any important tech to develop - really the only one is the Tachyon Detection Array when VS'ing Romulans. They will HATE you for that! But it will often make them focus their attention on the Klingons, which may give you one less threat to focus too much on. If you don't develop it, its not a huge loss. But it will make them reconsider starting 2 of their 4 projects.

Inevitably there is no right/ wrong answer to "should I make first Contact early" as it boils down to how the game evolves and your playstyle.
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Marc Bennett
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Esvath wrote:
Thanks for writing this!

With regard to exploration, should Federation player seek to connect with the other players' systems early or not? Or, maybe there is vital advancement that Federation player needed before initiating contact with other players?


if you are going for the trades, you want the tech, but in my experience, you mostly want to avoid first contact (of course i have played mostly 2 player games)

avoiding first contact is hard when your attempting to explore everywhere. i feel the tech to add extra space lanes is mostly for increased exploration, like adding a 5th lane to your homeworld. the feds should try to be at 3 ascendancy before first contact.
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Maldus Alver

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I always find the Hegemony and Federation Prime Directive to have rather funny in terms of theme. To say that federation cannot take over a system by force is a understatement. They can still innate a space battle in a system. Then use Hegemony after all the rival ships are destroyed. It is like the Federation says to that planet "Join us because we blew up all your ships"
 
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