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Anyone Want a Second Chance?

by Richard New, Second Chances Lead Designer

26th May 2023

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."

-- Maya Angelou

The Continuing Committee and the Department of Second Edition are excited to show you Second Chances, the latest expansion to 2E. Consisting of seventeen (17) cards and set to release in two weeks on Friday, June 9, 2023, this expansion will be slowly revealed over the next two weeks with various articles, in-depth analysis, and behind-the-scenes information about the making of these cards. We'll go in depth on the first such card(s?) here, but don't forget to check out our social media channels for additional spoilers.

Meet the Team

But before we get to the conceptual basis of the expansion, dozens of your fellow community members deserve appreciation for their work in making sure this expansion comes to you at the high quality we've come to expect. Dozens of testers, rules consultants, story volunteers, art creatives, and proofreaders have made suggestions that have turned the original(ish) concepts into the cards you will see. It always seems trite to try and sum up my gratitude in a sincere and pithy way, so I just hope that everyone that takes part in an effort to make the best possible product knows that I value them greatly and I owe them much. If you have the inkling to congratulate someone on a job well-done, I highly encourage posting your positive reactions or contacting the leaders of the various teams to let them know of your satisfaction. And, if you have a complaint, we're always looking for constructive criticism, but keep in mind that nobody sets out to make a bad decision.

Without further ado, let me introduce my Design Team for Second Chances:

Michael Shea [The Prefect], Second Edition Art Manager
Designer Profile: Michael Shea
Michael was set to be my co-lead designer back when this project began, which was before I took the post of 2E Design Manager and before he took the position as Art Manager, which precipitated his leaving the project. He was instrumental in choosing some of the original cards for the expansion and laying out reasons for some of the ideas that I don't think would have sparked my imagination as much. I'm sure it was frustrating seeing the project to which he had attached himself go in directions that he might not have picked, so I'm excited to see more of his thoughts as we go through release.

Charlie Plaine [MidnightLich], Director of First Edition and Second Edition Designer
Designer Profile: Charlie Plaine
Charlie did me a huge solid by "coming out of retirement" for this one. Hell, he gets a literal second chance with a bunch of stuff in this experience. After Michael's departure, I didn't want to be the sole designer, as regardless of feeling confident in my experience, it's always good to have someone check your work; and Charlie's superpower is not being tied down by past decisions. Even toward the end of the project, everything was up for grabs. He speaks in "why nots" when most of us speak in "whys" and it was great to have that energy on the team. The project wouldn't be the same without him. His presence brought a definite role reversal for the two of us from previous projects, but it was a real blast working with Charlie again.

Cut Files Punch-Up

When I first started designing, I was given a pdf containing a bunch of Decipher-era card ideas that had been scrapped for one reason or another. Some of them caught my interest and I couldn't imagine why they had been rejected. When we transitioned to our Utopia Planetia card design generation program, it revolutionized the way and speed at which we could produce our playtest files. As a result, a lot more ideas made their way into the system. Some were immediately scrapped and some were eventually cut for numerous reasons, but being that the data (including the design history) was easy and efficient to save, a Cut Files project was created and old card ideas were often placed there to inspire or warn future designers. As always, we could probably do a better job making notes on why something didn't work or looking through the garbage when coming up with ideas for new sets, but the resource exists and our Design Bible aided by institutional memory often overcomes the zeal in repeating past mistakes.

Still, the Cut Files weren't just a minefield of warnings. Pockets of cards were filed under "Almost Works" or "Needs More Testing" and thus always hinted at the possibility of being resurrected. I believe that the original idea of Project Justice (as Second Chances was originally called) was to take unfinished material from All Our Yesterdays (originally Project Bruce), Apocalypse Rising/Heroes and Demons (originally Project Clark and expanded to Project Connor), and Caretaker (originally Project Diana; you see the theme?) and release an expansion to cap them all off. I can't really speak to the others, but with the exception of today's spoiler and perhaps one other, All Our Yesterdays didn't really have cut cards that I would have much desire to put through the ringer again. Many of the other cards originally proposed had no real testing under their belts either and had probably been scrapped for good reasons. We delved into the even older areas of the Cut Files to fill out the roster. What other cards sparked ideas and could be reworked or updated to serve their intended purpose?

I'm excited to show you what we found. But, as I mentioned, notes on the testing of these cards and rationale for their cutting were not always included in the card files. We had to do research into the Playtesting boards and find references to the cards in question. Sometimes, that institutional knowledge came roaring back and the reasons for putting the monsters back in their cages were only too obvious in hindsight. I tried to leave notes as to why those particular genetically-engineered tribbles were locked away. Sometimes, however, the playtest notes simply led to creative solutions, like scaling down effects so that costing could be a little easier to pin down or adding restrictions to effects to carve out simple and Trek-sense exceptions that could otherwise devastate very specific decks.

Two Second Chances in One

Klingon-Occupied Outland2268 Deep Space Station K-7

Today's spoiler is a new Temporal mission. The front side, Klingon-Occupied Outland, features the U.S.S. Defiant returning the Bajoran Orb of Time to Bajor. I imagine the player sneaking aboard a la Barry Waddleor perhaps forcing a mid-journey confiscation of the Orb of Time by force in order to cause a disruption of the timeline. In this case, that's represented by the back side of the mission, which in 2268 Deep Space Station K-7 was the death of Captain Kirk at the hand of a Tribble Bomb. The effect on the timeline is that one of the opponent's personnel, your biggest headache in the game, is out of commission. Against specific decks that rely on one personnel, it can be devastating. Imagine no more Borg swapping with the Queen or an embargo on skill sharing via Klingon Riker or shenanigans from a number of elite Starfleet Commanders being a thing of the past. This mission makes the opponent treat them as if they are blank. And if the opponent's deck isn't relying on a specific personnel, you can always deprive them of a skill horse or a high-cost personnel on which they spent solid counters. Of course, if the opponent is hungry enough for that personnel back, they can always send a team back in time to prevent the assassination, but that's also likely a drain on resources.

I was proud of this card back in All Our Yesterdays and I'm glad to present it to you now. What caused it to be cut back then? Khan. It was felt that it would be unfair to be able to deprive a player of their only means of attaining a ship through naming (pre-errata) Joaquin. The other ways of devastating Khan decks, while they still had no responses, were probably rarer and thus a little more palatable. Khan decks had often been used as reasonable examples for unintended side effects, so this was just one more nudge toward taking another look at them. In any case, now that Khan decks are not solely reliant on a specific side character, we brought this back with only slight changes in the gametext. We raised the requirements on the front slightly and Proofing helped us with the wording. In the end, this was one of the easiest cards to shepherd to its release.

I hope you'll enjoy the next two weeks of spoilers and articles. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more spoilers ahead of the expansion's release. And don't forget to visit the Gameplay (2E) forum where the design team will be answering questions as you have them. All of this will be building up to the official release of Second Chances on Friday, June 9, 2023. We hope you're as excited to see these cards and we are to show them to you. And I'll see you across the table.

Speaking of, other things I see:

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