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Design Spotlight: First Edition Klingon

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

10th September 2017

“Our gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them a millennia ago. They were... more trouble than they were worth.” - Worf

Overview
The Klingon Empire, the oldest foe of the Federation, made their debut in Premiere back in 1994. The affiliation represents the empire from the earliest encounters (Enterprise's "Broken Bow") through the far future. Klingons have a few natural subdivisions, as the Federation does, with cards focused around [TNG] , [OS] , [CF] and [22] . However, the Klingon Empire's affiliation shares quite a few traits in common, no matter which era(s) you choose.

At a Glance
Here's a quick look at the Empire of Kahless:

Klingon [Kli] [KLI]
Nouns 528 Cards (3 Facilities, 197 Personnel, 48 Ships)
Missions 113
First Appearance Premiere (1994)
Recent Appearance Broken Bow (2017)
Signature Skill OFFICER (71 - 36.0%)
Attack Restriction NONE (Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime)
Appears In Enterprise, TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Movies
Doesn't Appear In N/A
Council of Warriors

Strengths
If you're looking for a fight, the Klingon Empire is the affiliation for you. Klingons are one of only two (2) affiliations without any attack restrictions; they can fire upon anyone at anytime. On top of that, Klingons are well equipped to do so: over half of Klingon personnel are leaders!

Leader - A leader is any personnel with the Leadership skill or the OFFICER skill or classification. In most cases, a leader is required to initiate battle. (For more information, see the Glossary's leader entry on page 41.)

With so many leaders, it's no wonder Klingons are so good at starting fights - even against other Klingons. In addition to their abundance of leadership, Klingons have reliable ways to get access to more ships and more weapons so they are good at fighting in space and in hand-to-hand combat. The affiliaton is also the one most likely to gain other benefits from battling, even if it's an internal struggle for power.

Klingons also can gain a lot of benefits when acting honorably - at least for most of the affiliation. There are always those that act without honor, but as a whole, a Klingon player will gain more benefits than not from stocking a lot of Honor in their decks. To go along with their proclivity for Honorable combat, you'll find quite a few Klingons with above average INTEGRITY and most with above average STRENGTH. And while the Klingons don't have great skill diversity (see below), they do have quite a deep bench in terms of the skills they do have. A savvy Klingon player can focus on Diplomacy, Honor, Leadership, OFFICER, and SECURITY missions and put together quite a powerful mission solving crew.

Finally, as an occasional ally and frequent enemy, Klingons appear in every Star Trek sereies in some fashion or another. This means that no matter when or where in the galaxy the game takes us, there is a good chance Klingon fans will find something for them to explore. 

Weaknesses
I believe the most significant weakness of the Klingons is their lack of diversity. Outside of a short list of skills, it can be quite difficult to find playable personnel with additional skills. As an example, there are only twenty (20) [Kli] MEDICAL personnel across all of the eras and quadrants available; that's 10.2% of available personnel. Similarly, it can be difficult to find Klingons with CUNNING>8 (13.8%) versus STRENGTH>8 (41.1%). And if you're looking for species diversity, that's fairly rare as well: there are only twelve (12) [Kli] personnel that aren't Klingon, although there are few more that are part-Klingon. 

A different issue for the Klingon Empire is that, while they are qutie fond of battle, they don't have idea ships to do so. Of course, there are some bigger Klingon ships, but over three-quarters of Klingon ships have WEAPONS 8 or less. Of course, this doesn't stop Klingons as they make up for smaller ships with lots of matching commanders, and the previously mentioned abundance of leaders. It does tend to push Klingons to attacking in groups, which can tie up extra resources for a Klingon player; not to mention, it can leave single ships vulnerable to counterattacks.

Jadzia Dax (Blaze of Glory)

Looking Ahead
Klingons are the second most popular affiliation in First Edition, so it seems as if they are on the right path. I suspect there are a lot of reasons behind their popularity, but most boil down to the fact that Klingons are cool! That, and people like blowing things up. I don't think we need to spend a lot of time tinkering with what Klingons can do, but we should spend some more time adding options. We've been exploring with leaning into Klingon's love for battle, by experimenting with more rewards for battle. Quite a few of the backwards compatible Klingon cards are in this space, and I think we'll be importing some of that as we develop more Klingon cards.

In particular, I feel Klingons would be a great place for some "monster hunting" cards that encourage players to hunt down self-controlling ([Self]) dilemmas. You'll see a new Klingon personnel in this winter's Project Sinterklaas that explorese this theme. 

Additionally, I expect us to see more "Honorable Objectives" for the empire. Council of Warriors isn't a great card, but it's very on theme for Klingons; I'd like to see more similar (but better balanced) options. I can forsee cool objectives themed around getting your honor back, exploring your faith, or sending a loved one to Sto'vo'kor

Conclusion
Klingons have been a part of Star Trek almost as long as the Federation, and have been just as popular. Both in the show and in the game, players have gravitated to Klingons and it seems unlikely that will change any time soon. With their dedication to combat, mostly honorable, it's a sure bet Klingons will be picking fights in First Edition


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