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Friday, September 16, 2016

No-Limit Klingon Hold-'Em for Star Fleet Battle Force

The latest poker craze, as we all know from watching the Travel Channel, is "No Limit Texas Hold-'em", a game where everybody has two cards and uses these with five "pool" cards face up on the table to build their hand. The game is popular because it is possible (although hardly easy) to calculate the percentages of winning or losing a given hand.
It is possible to play a variant of this game using the cards from Star Fleet Battle Force.
No-Limit Klingon Hold-'em is based on the same basic concept. Everybody has two ship cards; the weapon cards are then dealt in the center of the table and the winner is the player who can launch the most powerful attack using those cards and his two ships. Not knowing what ships others have makes the odds harder to calculate, but that is just what makes it fun.

To prepare for No-Limit Klingon Hold-'em, take a standard deck from Star Fleet Battle Force. Put the 36 ship cards in one stack (some players discard the six or twelve smallest ships; some discard all of the carriers) and set aside the Player Order cards which are not used at all. From the Action Deck, remove and set aside the following cards:
    Damage Control
    Erratic Maneuvers
    Reinforce Shields
    Tractor Beam
    PF Flotilla
    Planet-Based Fighters
    Klingon Mutiny
    Prime Team
    Legendary Engineer
    Legendary Gunner
    Wild Weasel
    Electronic Counter-Measures
    Electronic Counter-Counter Measures
    Organian Ceasefire

Each player starts with a stack of chips. It isn't important how many chips you use as long as every player has the same number. Around 50-200 chips is probably a good amount, but you can use whatever chips or other tokens you have. A typical set of poker chips includes three or four colors, so if you designate these as one, five, ten, and twenty-five Credits, it should be possible for everyone to have a good pile to start with.

The Dealer duty rotates clockwise between players. The player who is the current dealer could actually deal the cards, or you could have a non-playing dealer handle the cards while the player who is the honorary rotating dealer is designated by a special marker or token known as "the sun." A player who is "on the sun" is the nominal dealer, even if a neutral dealer is actually handling the cards.

For each hand, the player to the right of "the sun" makes a small blind bet (before cards are dealt). If each player has 200 Credits, then five Credits would be about right for the "small cloaked bet". The player "on the sun" then makes a bet equal to double this amount - the "large cloaked bet" -- and then either deals the cards or signals to the neutral dealer to do so. When each player is eliminated, the amount of the "small cloaked bet" is increased by an amount equal to its original size. After the first player is eliminated, the "small cloaked bet" would raise to 10, and to 15 after the second player is eliminated. The "large cloaked bet" is always double the size of the "small cloaked bet".

Play begins when the dealer hands out the ship cards. He shuffles the Shipyard Deck and deals each player two cards, face down, one at a time. The players then examine their own cards (but obviously not those of their opponents). The player to the left of "the sun" then either matches the "large cloaked bet" or "disengages" by discarding his ships. Players who "disengage" are out of that hand but (if they still have chips) will be in the next hand.
Each player may "call" the current bet, "disengage", or "raise". No player can make more than two raises in each round. Betting continues until all players have matched (and not raised) the current high bet or have "disengaged".

The Lock-On is next. The dealer shuffles the Action Deck and deals three cards face down in the center of the table, then turns them all over (with a flourish). The act of turning the cards over is known as "the Lock-On". Players then examine the three dealt cards and compare them to their ships and see if they have a good match of weapons to ships. (Hint: If, at this point, none of the dealt weapons match either of your ships, you probably want to "disengage" unless maybe you are holding a ship with a plasma-R and one of the exposed cards is an enveloper.) Players then, in turn starting to the left of the "sun" and proceeding clockwise, place bets. Each player can either match the current high bet, raise the bet, or "disengage". No player can make more than two raises in this round. Betting continues until all players have matched (and not raised) the current high bet or have "disengaged".

The HET (High Energy Turn) is the next step. The dealer takes the Action Deck, discards the top card, and then turns over the next card and places it beside the three cards of the HET. Another round of betting (as above) ensues.

The Overrun is the final step. The dealer against takes the Action Deck, discards the top card, then turns over the next card and places it with the three cards of the HET. Another (final) round of betting (as above) ensues.

The winner of each hand is the player who can assemble from his two ships and the five weapons/action cards the strongest attack. Each ship can use any of the cards (and both ships can use cards), but each card can only be used by one of each player's ships and a given ship can only use as many cards as there are weapons. For example, if a player had one Klingon D7 (with two disruptors) and one Romulan SparrowHawk (which has no disruptors) and five disruptor cards were placed in the center of the table, he could use the two biggest disruptor cards but the other three would be wasted. In such an unusual case, victory would probably go to a player who had two disruptor-armed ships.
The overload, scatter-pack, and enveloper cards double one weapons card of the relevant type, but there must be a card for them to double for them to be effective. For example, if one of the five pool cards is an Enveloper but no plasma torpedo cards are in the pool, then the Enveloper is meaningless.
Carriers (if used) count each fighter symbol as six attack points and do not need a card to launch an attack. Because of this, some players remove the carriers from the deck. Cloak and web symbols have no function, and range limits (a major factor in Star Fleet Battle Force) are ignored.
 If you're holding a pair of frigates, you need two heavy weapons, two phasers, and a double card to have a 50-50 chance!

from Captain's Log #28, Copyright ADB, Inc. 2004