So in this post there was talk about NPC expansions for the super enemies of the Federation, the Borg and the Dominion. As I believe all expansion factions should be playable in a 3 or more player game but remain NPCs in a two player game. I think this model opens up many possibilities in having a 2 player NPC 3 player playable expansion for one opens up the game from 3-theoretically 10 players to 2 players with some of the superpower factions sectioned off as NPCs in a 2 player game. However in proper 4x strategy game format with 3 or more players brings in a lot of diversity to the table with these factions being playable but having mechanics set up to force them along the theme (such as the Borg be aunomotrons). Here I will focus on the Dominion as an NPC for a 2 player variant for Star Trek Ascendancy. So the idea behind the two player set up using the Dominion as the NPC is one of exploration and intrigue. The Gamma Quadrant holds many resources and culture nodes for other races to exploit but it is home to the dominion who view this incursion as an invasion and slaughter any intruders from Bajoran to Federation.Worse than that, the founders have not been idle to this new threat and have already seed infiltrators into the solids ranks manipulating and sabotaging their empires from within. Players will have to find the changeling infiltrators by searching for clues. Some are locked away in the gamma quadrant which is frequently patrolled by Jem'Hadar raiders.
2 Player Set up
So first the Gamma Quadrant and map set up. In the two player variant set up the homeworlds 5" from the table edge and 18" apart from each other. Place the Alpha Quadrant Bajoran Wormhole Phenomona 18" apart from both homeworlds. Place the Gamma quadrant entrance of the Bajoran wormhole 5" away from the table edge but outside of the perimeter formed by the two homeworlds and the Bajorn Wormhole Alpha quadrant.
The gamma quadrant much like the Delta Quadrant in the Borg the Gamma quadrant has their own stack of unexplored systems. These systems are kept separate from the regular stack of explored systems. These systems can only be accessed from a Gamma quadrant system and never connect to another non-gamma quadrant system via space lanes.
The Dominion The dominion is controlled by the xenophobic shapeshifting race of the Changelings who call themselves Founders. Through genetic manipulation they have cloned the Vorta who acts as their envoys and the merciless Jem'Hadar who are their enforcers. Through these two they have subjugated other races into their order. The mechanics are along with having a hidden homeworld inside the gamma quadrant. but having changling infiltrators that cause havoc inside the other 2 player games. Along with gaining ascendancy each empire has to find clues about the changlings presence and develop ways to counter them before they destroy their empire from within.
Changling deck The changling action deck is one that each player has to draw from during the start of the refresh phase and this could cause all sorts of problems from disrupting trade agreements, stopping all production from a system for a turn or even sending your ships to engage in a space battle/invasion of another system. To prevent these acts of sabatoge from happening the other empires must search for clues which may be hidden in the gamma quadrant.
Jem'Hadar deck Entering the Gamma quadrant is a risky venture, not only do you have to deal with the regular hazzards of stelelar phenomena and crisis from the eploration deck you also have to deal with the Jem'Hadar. When ever a ship of yours enters a Gamma quadrant system you have to draw a card from the Jem'Hadar (after encountering all hazards and drawing an exploration card). This could result in no encounters. Or this could result in JemH'dar warships apearign out of no where or raiders attacking a control node inside the Gamma Quadrant. However encountering the JemH'dar is not all bad. They may have the clues you need to discover the Changlings and even locate their homeworld the Great link. if you can survive the onslaught of the Jem'Hadar.
Ascendancy Victory You will need to eliminate the changling spies from your homeworld. When you identify the changling through spending enough clues you have a changleling token on your homeworld.
Changling tokens This represents the changling spies that has infiltrated the ranks of your empire and is what is causing all your troubles. As long as it is "hidden" it is considered inside your homeworld. It starts as disguised. While disguised any changling sabotage effect happens in the system it is in be it the homeworld or other system. By spending clues you can expose the changling flip it over to changeling side. There you have two options. Remove the changeling by force by invading the system it occupies or spend resources to move the changling outside your empire. Still if outside your empire the changling may have a chance to redisguise itself and find its way back to your systems. (note: a Federation Disguised changeling cannot affect a Klingon controlled system and visa versa). If you have successfully removed or exiled all your disguised changelings from your homeworld and achieve level 5 ascendancy you have won the game.
Supremacy Victory The rules are still the same control all three homeworlds. However the Dominion homeworld is hidden inside the Gamma Quadrant and is not really a system as the founders call the great link their home. This could be on just about any system in the gamma quadrant. If a player holds both homeworlds and the great link they have achieved supremacy victory.
the great link This homeworld is actually hidden among a set of "core" planets in the system. By spending clues you may find out where it is not. If you invade a core system place 4 Jemhadar ships in that system and innate a space battle. If you won then you may immediately start an invasion without spending any additional commands. Check to see if the planet is the great link. If not then immediately place a fleet of 10 Jem'Hadar ships in that system. The Changelings prove to be slippery, when ever an unsuccessful invasion has occurred or 2 core systems have been investigated reshuffle the link cards.
Dominion Victory If at any time both players lose control of their homeworlds the Dominion is declared the victor. That includes a homeworld trade (i.e. Romulans capture Quonos and Klingons control Romulus).
So that is the rough sketch of the 2 player variant w/ Dominion NPC. What do you think of it? Let me know what you think a Dominion NPC would be. Coming up next week the Dominion as a playable race in a 3+ player variant.
I really like this idea. Having a pure 3 three player game is a little infuriating for me and I would love a NPC / playable expansion.