Friday, 25 October 2013

Data Vs. Sulu: A Critical Review

TLDR: Sulu is amazeballs

I think it should be pretty clear who I think is the winner here, but let's delve into these fantastic defensive upgrades.

Data- Action: Place 2 {EVASION] Tokens beside your ship and reduce our total attack dice by 2 this round. You cannot perform an [EVASION] Action this round, even as a free Action. 

Sulu- ACTION: Add 2 to your Agility for the rest of this round. Each time you defend this round, you may convert 1 (Battle Stations) result into a (Evade) result. 

Both are three pt federation crew members. 

There are a few things you want to consider when adding crew members:

1. Is the crew member mainly passive, or do they require an action to activate?
2. If they require an activation, is it better than one of your stock actions i.e. is it worth paying X points to give up your regular action to use this upgrade?

Number 2 gets to the heart of the upgrade issue. Most of the time, activation upgrades require you to forgo your action. Unless you want to jam Picard or Martok into every single build, you're going to have to ask yourself this question in every instance where you're thinking of adding a crew member. 

When asking the question in relation to Data and Sulu, your answer will vary, but it will more than 50% of the time be yes if you need the ship to stick around, and it needs a defensive boost. 
When reviewing the cards, it should immediately spring to mind that the designers thought that Data was a bit too good for what he did. Data breaks two of the fundamental rules of the game:
1. You can't perform more than one action per turn; and
2. You can't perform the same action twice per turn;

Data is therefore a very interesting card. His ability comes with drawbacks, in the form of 2 less attack dice. Data isn't an upgrade you want to use every turn, and is most useful in a situation where you aren't going to be attacking this turn. 

Sulu, on the other hand, has no drawbacks. Unlike Riker and Counter attack, both of which only can be used once per turn in response to one attack, Sulu can be used against every incoming attack because he boosts your passive agility for the turn. Furthermore, you get the added benefit of getting to turn a battlestations into an Evade. Essentially, you get half of a cloak, plus dice manipulation.

Data, on the other hand, gives you two evades, but they are only good against two hits. Suppose you have two Enterprise D's, both captained by Picard, one with Data and one with Sulu. Both are facing down more than one Klingon attacker. Data is going to cancel out two attacks, and get 1 agility dice for every attacker that fires on him. Assuming each Klingon ship is going to hit you for 5 dice, it's 1 dice for every ship, +2 evade tokens. Sulu, on the other hand, gets 3 dice for every attacking ship, and a mini battlestations during every attack. Oh, AND Picard can use his action to get another evasive maneuvers token. 

In the scenario above, Sulu is way better than Data. The scenario above, btw, is the scenario that every Federation Commander is afraid of right now. 

IMO, Sulu is a better choice over Data at this point in the game. For 3 pts, no drawbacks and the issues raised above, Sulu is a better buy.

I have no idea why Data has a downside and Sulu does not, especially given how close in time they were released/developed. Sulu is my first choice for defensive upgrade. The first time your opponent runs into him, he'll do a double take. It's that good. 

I'd love to hear from the individuals who thing that Data is better than Sulu. Send me your thoughts!


  1. I figured this out and Data is actually gives more evades than Sulu when rolling 3 or fewer dice. Sulu, on average, will give 2+ evades at 4 defense dice or more (including the 2 Sulu gives), with the chances of that [battle stations] -> [evade] going up the more dice are rolled. So on the E-D or similar 1 Agility ship that can't cloak, take Data. On anything that cloaks or has 2 Agility, take Sulu.

  2. HOLY A COMMENT! Thanks for pointing that out Dave.
    My issue with Data is that he's great in a one ship v one ship game. If you're anticipating that there is going to be more than one ship firing on your D (like in the OP scenarios), I'd always rather have Sulu.

  3. Data might be slightly better on ships that have really poor Agility (eg DS9 and the Jem'Hadar battleships), although Sulu is still pretty close unless he's up against Scans or some other Agility debuff. Main reason to take Data is probably the uniqueness issue - if you're playing a two-ship fleet durability may be your first concern, Data is probably the second-best defensive crew at the moment and you can't have Sulu on both ships.

    Well, until the Mirror Universe version of him comes out, but I doubt that one will be very dodgy. Too busy hitting on Uhura and trying to assassinate Kirk in that universe to do much fancy piloting. :)

  4. Another thought, Sulu's benefits all disappear immediately if he's disabled. Data, on the other hand, adds those two Evade tokens immediately, and they wouldn't vanish if he was disabled - but the attack die penalty would. If you can find a way (Martok?) to grant an extra action to a ship with Data and, say, Captain Sulu (or some other disable-own-crew-upgrade effect) you could get Data's bonuses without paying the penalty in the attack phase.

    Bit of a corner case, but it's another small bonus for him that's likely to get better as more disable effects appear. Sadly, you can't use both Data and Captain Data (from the Southerland) at once, so there's no potential for that combo disabling Data while scrubbing cloaks.