Friday, 15 November 2013

Christopher Pike- A further study in Mediocrity

How you look after getting beat by a Pike List- Oh the Embarrassment!

Continuing on with our look at the cards that come out of the USS Constitution Expansion, I'm going to look at Christopher Pike, and why he's not so hot. Hint: Multiple Crew Upgrades are usually not that great.

Christopher Pike works as follows:

Christopher Pike (Federation/USS Enterprise Expansion) 
Captain Skill: 6
All of your (Crew) Upgrades cost -1 Squadron Point.
Cost: 4
Elite Talent Upgrades: 1

Okay, a relatively straight forward captain skill. Every Crew Upgrade costs one less point than it normally would. The TOS Enterprise has 4 crew slots- the Enterprise D, Galaxy Class and the Khazara have 3 slots. The rest either have 2 or 1. If you pack 4 crew onto the TOS Enterprise, you're going to get a savings of 4 points. Pike pays for himself on TOS Enterprise. His best ability is that when you run him to his max savings, he costs nothing. 

So, Federation wise, because you want to build him towards maximum savings, the cheapest you can make Captain Pike and his entourage is 10 pts. Go and take a look- that's as cheap as it gets. You now have 4 crew members. 

Why wouldn't you want to max out on your crew upgrades, or any other upgrades for that matter? The answer involves an examination of Utility over Efficiency. There's a difference between building for Utility and building for Efficiency. An Efficient build is one that uses every point of the list every turn, given good piloting. An example of this is a 100 pt Klingon Attack Build- you can build this list so that it exploits every single possible upgrade, every single turn. If you can use 100% of your list points, and your opponent on any given turn can only use 75% of her list points on any given turn, you're essentially playing a 100pt list against a 75 pt list- guess which one is more likely to win?

On the other hand, a utility build seeks to account for every possible scenario in any given game- sure you're probably only going to get a 75% usefulness every turn, but your build will have taken into account the given turn's variables, and will have an answer- This turn, you can Sulu against incoming fire, next turn, you can Tactical Officer to get maximum damage, the turn afterwards you can fly away and use Miles O'Brien to boost your shields back up. 

A utility build is must harder to fly than an Efficiency build. It's harder to fly because you are forced to make more decisions per turn, in order to utilize your upgrades effectively. A Klingon Attack Build just needs to make sure that Martok can give an extra action to Gowron so that Gowron can keep his cloak and his ability up. The Utility build has to decide if it wants to use or save Uhura, if this turn is the turn you drop the Corbomite Maneuver, if this is the turn that you reenable Worf. 

Cautious players flock to the utility build. I encourage everyone to start with an efficiency build and work in elements of utility into their list as they find cracks. Your first few builds should be efficient so that you can learn the simple mechanics of the game, and not get bogged down in decision making. It's a good way to learn the game. 

So, back to Pike. Pike is a captain for the Utility Player. Typically, the savings that you'll see will not be worth the utility you've purchased- utility hits the action wall pretty quickly- and unless you're buying passive abilities, which either include bonuses to standard actions (which means that some of your passive abilities will not be in play depending upon the action that you take) or discard abilities (one time use abilities better be pretty good and relevant to your build). 

Unless you're building an amazing list, one that is going to take Utility to the next level, I'd stay away from Pike. The point savings are minimal, and there are only a handful of crew upgrades that can really give you the synergy you need to pull it off. You're only going to be getting one action, and Pike does nothing for you except give you the ability to take yet another upgrade- something you won't need after you have 4 crew members. 

If you have an amazing Pike build, let me know. I'd love to be educated on this topic!


  1. I think Pike is waiting for just the right ship and crew-member combo. If you can, as you say, load up with passive abilities and get them at a discount, you're ahead of the game. At this point I just don't think the right combination exists...unless you simply want to use him to save yourself the faction penalty when recruiting out-of-faction. But in that case, why not just use Khan?

  2. I also don't think that the crew upgrades are good enough to justify Pike at this point.

  3. Pike flies with the Excelsior crew cards quite well - they're already cheap and making them even cheaper doesn't hurt. Throwing away a 1-point Rand to do Engage or Counter Attack as a free action is a bargain, as is disabling Lujor when he only cost you 1.

    He's also a cost-efficient card, which helps save some points for expensive crew (or photons) throughout the fleet. He may not be first-rate like Picard, but he's certainly better at what he does than the very similar Thot Gor. Discounting crew (who can generally be useful in combination with one another) is better than discounting weapons (where the only real combo is Energy Dissipator + Photons - still too expensive even at -2 points).