Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Fairly Lame Adversary Makes For A Stunted CCG Set With "Rules Of Acquisition"

The Good: Some interesting images, Good introduction of the Ferengi and commerce, No significant rule changes.
The Bad: Game is becoming ever more complicated, Players tend not to use this set!
The Basics: Based on a problematic Ferengi, "Rules Of Acquisition" was an unchallenging set that would have appealed to collectors, if only it had been a challenge to collect!

Sometimes, collectors and players of CCGs come to a cross purpose. Collectors become bored with cards that focus on the game and want something that more accurately represents aspects of the series they are interested in and players just want good cards to play to keep their game interesting. It is, therefore, easy to see why Decipher would want to do a set that focused on the Ferengi; as the gaming card company expanded their Star Trek CCG set into more of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine storylines and characters (this is the fourth set utilizing primarily DS9 characters) it would have seemed neglectful for them to leave out the Ferengi. After all, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Ferengi had a b-plot that was carried through all seven seasons.

The problem is, while the images offered a great deal for collectors to get excited about, the set was remarkably devoid of anything to make the series more collectible and while players might have initially enjoyed the shake up that came with adding the mercantilistic Ferengi into the mix, they remain one of the less-liked adversaries in the Star Trek franchise and the novelty of playing that affiliation quickly wore off for players.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game "Rules Of Acquisition" set was the seventh full expansion set of cards sold in boxes created by Decipher to continue the Customizable Card Game. Players saw the game as a strategy game that is like a Role-playing game with cards. The players got to use characters, vessels, and scenarios are all already conceived by others. The original concept was to find a way to make play socially acceptable for an older audience and it generally worked. Collectors saw this as another thing to collect to show their love of Star Trek and while the cards have very different images from the trading card releases, many collectors were turned off by how small the images were and how much space on each card was given to game-related text.

"Rules Of Acquisition" is a 130 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented involving the Ferengi, specifically the experiences of the crew of Deep Space Nine in dealing with them the many times delegations of Ferengi arrived on the station! The set consists of 40 common cards, 40 uncommon cards, and 50 rare cards with the most popular characters and scenarios being given rare status and the background supernumeraries filling out the more common cards. This set offers a new opportunity for fans and collectors to collect some of the most interesting and significant recurring characters in the franchise.

The 130 card set features 3 Artifacts (cards featuring unique devices from, strangely most are from Star Trek: The Next Generation, like the Phased Cloaking Device), 9 Dilemmas (cards featuring challenges the crews faced), 9 Equipment (cards featuring generic, mass produced devices in the Star Trek universe, like a Ferengi Distruptor or Gold-Pressed Latinum), 8 Events (cards featuring long-standing challenges or concepts in the overall Star Trek universe, like the Rules Of Acquisition), 3 Facilities (cards that illustrate originating locations of major races, in this case mostly the Ferengi), 10 Incidents (cards that feature extended challenges to personnel, like hiring bodyguards), 2 Interrupts (cards featuring phenomenon that quickly turn events, like receiving a transmission), 7 Missions (cards featuring basic plots from the series', these are used to create the "board" for the game), 3 Objectives (longstanding goals for players which establish alternate goals of the game, like establishing a trade route or managing a forced labor camp), 59 Personnel (2 Bajoran, 2 Cardassian, 6 Dominion, 4 Federation, 35 Ferengi, 1 Klingon, 7 Non-Aligned, and 2 Romulan characters mostly from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), 13 Ship cards (2 Cardassian, 1 Dominion, 1 Federation, 7 Ferengi, 1 Non-Aligned and 1 Romulan), 2 Sites (locations on the Deep Space Nine space station), and 2 Tactics (cards representing the use of special starship weapons, like the Ferengi Energy Burst). This set introduces the Ferengi affiliation in full (there had previously been a Facility in the "Starter Deck II" set, reviewed here!), though their appearance did not alter gameplay significantly.


At its most basic level, this is a board game where one constructs the board and pieces out of a selection of cards. The starting purpose of the game is to get 100 points, points most often are derived from completing missions by thwarting dilemmas using the unique attributes of your ship and crew. The "Rules Of Acquisition" set continues the game with the thirteen types of cards introduced since "Premiere" (reviewed here!) and expanded on up through the "Deep Space Nine" expansion set. The "Rules Of Acquisition" set also utilizes the two new card types introduced in "Blaze Of Glory" (reviewed here!), the Incidents and Tactic cards. The basic idea is to assemble a sixty card deck (for beginners), lay out the board (spaceline) and play against an opponent.

"Rules Of Acquisition" does not add any new card types, but it does have one new Affiliation. The new affiliation is the Ferengi and there are Ferengi Personnel and Ferengi ships in the "Rules Of Acquisition" set featuring Ferengi from both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Playing them is the same as playing any other race and there is no real change to the game with playing Ferengi, save side play involving the exchange of currency (and points) like money.

This is a very complex customizable card game, but it represents a level of gaming sophistication designed to appeal to younger adults and actually challenge them, which is a decent idea given the thematic complexity of the Star Trek universe. The problem, of course, is that most people who would be most stimulated by this game do not have the time or effort/interest to learn to play it. As a result, the mid-teens that basically run the CCG players world seem to have had mixed impressions about this game.

Anyone who has played the initial game will have no problem incorporating the new cards into their deck. But the truth is, players quickly rejected the Ferengi. No one (generally) plays a Ferengi deck. Why? They are not formidable fighters, they are not explorers and they are tough to win the game with. Playing Ferengi decks tends to be challenging in an unsatisfying way as the game mechanic does not truly support the nuances and fun that the Ferengi represented in the Star Trek franchise. Instead, players tend to avoid Ferengi decks because the Ferengi (in the game) are not as smart as the Federation, not as strong as the Klingons or Dominion, not as cunning (in useful ways) as the Romulans, not as skilled as Bajorans, not as menacing as the Borg and not a vicious and clever as the Cardassians. The result is a deck that looks good, but has limited playability for the serious players. It's tough to find a player who will play with someone playing a Ferengi deck almost as tough as it is to find someone who wants to play a Ferengi deck. I've seen players playing Borg decks refuse to assimilate Ferengi!

Rule Changes

The basic rules for the Star Trek CCG were revised in the "Deep Space Nine" expansion and are covered in my review here.

The rule supplement that comes in the box is easily one of the shortest yet, which makes sense because there is one easily-played Affiliation added with little new content or gameplay alterations. The rules supplement simply clarifies that Ferengi can't battle one another (unless directed to by a special card), how to play variable attributes, and how to use the phased cloak. The only true rule changes in this set is that Jem'Hadar are no longer compelled to kill themselves if a Founder dies and Dual-Icon Mission must now be declared as either effecting a ship crew or an Away Team.


Players, collectors and fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation will appreciate the image quality of the characters and scenarios from episodes featuring the Ferengi. "Rules Of Acquisition" introduces the Ferengi and allows players and collectors a chance to get a collection of cards featuring some of the most significant characters in the Star Trek franchise, which does make the game a bit more interesting. The most popular Ferengi are present, including Rom, Nog, Ishka, Grand Nagus Zek, Brunt and (finally!) a Ferengi Affiliation Quark. The set had a great focus on the non-aligned characters as well and there is a card of Arandis (who was played by Vanessa Williams!). Fans who have had trouble tracking down a copy of the U.S.S. Defiant will be thrilled by the Defiant-Class U.S.S. Sao Paulo!

In addition to the popular Ferengi characters, there are some wonderfully obscure ones that make the set interesting, most notably Grand Nagus Gint! Gint appeared to Quark in a dream and he was played by Max Grodenchik (who plays Rom regularly) and the card is just a treat for fans of the show (especially considering that Max does a ton of conventions each year, so most Trek fans who travel the convention circuit are always looking for something rare and different for him to sign).


"Rules Of Acquisition" represents a strange problem; it is perfectly playable, but does not appeal to players and it has some great images and provides a wide variety of personnel and ships and visually exciting cards that are available nowhere else, but there was no challenge to collecting it. Without any ultra rares or foil cards, this became the easiest set since "First Contact" to assemble and it lacked the popularity to encourage collectors to purchase it! Indeed, Decipher did not overproduce the "Rules Of Acquisition" product and after it was originally released and the die-hard collectors purchased it, it simply stagnated in the marketplace. There is nothing hard to find and with boxes having 30 packs, a master set requires a second box; with ideal collation, with there being one rare per pack, a collector may end up needing only twenty rares after opening a single box! This is essentially a two-box set and in those boxes everything is very evenly distributed (save the Uncommon cards, I've noticed), making it easy to collect.

The cards come in packs of 9 cards that feature one rare, three uncommon and five common cards. This means that even with a box of thirty packs collectors should be able to assemble even 2 - 3 common sets and usually one uncommon set. A full master set takes two boxes and that would leave collectors with a few leftover sets and rares to trade or sell off!

"Rules Of Acquisition" cards were never reprinted or re-released in any other forms. It's a rare instance where the availability and subject matter conspired to underwhelm!


This set has some wonderful images, but it was produced well beyond demand, making it easily available in the marketplace. The cards are wonderful for getting signed by the actors (one of the pride and joys of my personal collection is an "Ishka" card from this set signed by Cecily Adams before she died) but it's not a strong enough set to recommend to either card game players or card collectors.

This set culls material from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, reviewed here
and Star Trek: The Next Generation, reviewed here!

This set was preceded by "Blaze Of Glory" (linked above!) and followed by the Star Trek CCG expansion "The Trouble With Tribbles," reviewed here!

This is a set of gaming cards I sell in my online store! Please check out my current inventory and make purchases by clicking here!


For other card reviews, please be sure to check out my Card Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the card sets I have reviewed!

© 2012, 2009, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission!
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment