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Design Spotlight: Second Edition TNG

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

7th September 2017

“I was very clear about what to expect. Star Trek: The Next Generation was going to be an utter failure and I would be on my way back to England within a few months. I could make some money for the first time in my life, get a suntan and go home. - Patrick Stewart

Overview
One of the finer decisions made by the Second Edition designers was splitting up the Federation into sub-affiliations, predominantly by series. Next Generation was one of the a faction that would consist of the characters and stories from the eponymous series and subsequent movies. Since their inception, [TNG] decks have been built to solve missions and overcome dilemmas. Recently, their identity has expanded into sharing their knowledge and experience with others.

At a Glance
Here's a quick look at the Next Generation sub-affiliations:

Federation - The Next Generation [Fed] [TNG]
Nouns106 Cards (92 Personnel, 14 Ships)
Verbs17 Cards(15 Events, 2 Interrupts)
Missions99
First AppearanceSecond Edition (2002)
Recent AppearanceZero Hour (2017)
Appears InTNG and Movies
Doesn't Appear InTOS, DS9, Voyager, or Enterprise

New Life

Strengths
TNG is the quintessential Federation sub-affiliation in Second Edition, dedicated to peaceful exploration and working towards everyone's mutual benefit. Many of the TNG personnel are higher cost, which means they tend to be skill and attribute dense - ideal for solving missions and getting past dilemmas. As one of the Federation flavors, they get unfettered access to the "digging deep" ability. With a nice suite of good personnel and good ships, TNG is built to solve missions.

Digging deep - The ability of a personnel to gain skills in specific situations, representing their ability to draw on personal strength. All affiliations have access to the ability, but most are restricted to doing so after paying a cost. However, the Federation can dig deep without a cost, i.e. William T. Riker (Number One).

But it's their "sharing is caring" philosophy that translates into mechanical advantages. These mechanics, based on the Federation ideals of peace and cooperation, reward both players for participating in approved activities. For example, a card like Common Ground allows a TNG player to get one of the higher cost personnel into play at a discount, at the cost of allowing the opponent to do the same. Similarly, a card like New Life rewards players for attempting missions and gives an extra benefit to the TNG player even when an opponent does so.

Weaknesses
The Federation’s honor and trust, big parts of their “sharing is caring” philosophy, is also the root of their biggest mechanical flaws. You will rarely see a Federation card that initiates battle, captures an opponent’s personnel, or freely destroys events. The Next Generation sub-affiliation are particular sticklers for the rules of “fair play.” As long as the opponent is “playing by the rules,” there is very little a TNG player can do to disrupt their play.

TNG doesn’t get access to much in the way of event destruction or event and interrupt prevention. Likewise, the sub-affiliation doesn’t have access to a lot of “cheater” cards, in particular at interrupt speed. Most of the tricks for TNG tend to be up front, on the personnel, ships or events that are in play. This is a good representation of the flavor of the above-board, honest TNG moments from Star Trek, but it is a clear mechanical disadvantage.

Looking Ahead
As the game moves forward, expect to see TNG embrace the “sharing is caring” and something for everyone mechanical philosophies. These might seem like drawback mechanics on paper (giving your opponent something to get something), but there is a lot of power in the ability to control when those gifts are given.

A more subtle benefit of these types of mechanics is that they encourage opponents to “play by the rules” that TNG wants. For example, New Life only rewards players if they are attempting missions; time spent doing other things denies the both the resource. This is an area we’d like to play around more in, giving the TNG sub-affiliation (and the Federation in general) some “sherrif” powers. For example, perhaps TNG can get an event destruction/prevention card, but only for “rule breaking” subsets of cards. We’ve poked around in this space, but haven’t fully explored it or committed to it yet. Personally, I like the idea of TNG decks having some power to regulate decks that aren’t invested in peaceful exploration.

Conclusion
The Next Generation was my first Star Trek series, and retains a special place in my heart. The original introduction of the game was as the Star Trek: The Next Generation Customizable Card Game. TNG will always be core to the game, and to Second Edition, as will most of the Federation sub-affiliations. I think TNG has carved out some solid design space for themselves under the umbrella of the Federation, and plays differently than most other affiliations in the game. If you’re a fan of TNG, or of the types of mechanics discussed above, then the future looks bright for you.


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