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The Light Show, Part I

by Charlie Plaine, Director of First Edition

27th November 2023


"From this point on, you will enjoy no privilege of rank, no privileges of person. From now on, I will refer to you only as human. You have no other identity."
- Gul Madred, "Chains of Command, Part II"

Welcome to part 1 of our two-part introduction to Showdown: Four Lights, the latest First Edition virtual expansion. Today, we are thrilled to start showing off some of the 35-new virtual cards in Showdown: Four Lights. This first week will feature Cardassian spoilers, and next week will feature Federation spoilers, including part 2 of this article. All of this will culminate in the release of this expansion on Monday, December 11th, and it will become legal in all formats the following Monday, December 18th.

Before we talk about the cards, we must take a moment to thank all of our volunteers that helped make Showdown: Four Lights a reality. Without the efforts of all of our designers, playtesters, creative volunteers, rules team members, artists, proofreaders, and writers, there would never be any First Edition products for you to enjoy. Please make sure to share your appreciation as you discuss these cards, for they wouldn't exists without the hard work of dozens of volunteers. Let me introduce the designers that worked on both the new cards and the pre-constructed decks you'll soon be playing with:


Niall Matthew [sexecutioner], Co-Lead Designer
Designer Profile: Niall Matthews
Niall earns his 2nd credit as co-lead designer with Showdown: Four Lights, and his 6th overall design credit. Niall has a keen insight into interactive play, such as capturing, and made sure the team kept the Cardassian cards "on brand."

Paddy Tye [KazonPADD], Co-Lead Designer
Designer Profile: Paddy Tye
Paddy hits 2 significant milestones in his design career with Showdown: Four Lights: his 5th lead role on a design, and his 10th First Edition design credit! Welcome to double digits, Paddy! He has always done great work, keeping things grounded in reality.

Dan Hamman [SirDan], Assistant Designer
Designer Profile: Dan Hamman
Dan is a legend in the Department of First Edition, and he joined the Showdown: Four Lights team to bring in his experience. As one of the architects of Continuing Mission (and thus the entire [TNG] experience), his insight in developing [TNG] [Car] themes was invaluable. Dan notches his 19th 1E design today, setting him up for a huge milestone next year.

Charlie Plaine [MidnightLich], Assistant Designer
Designer Profile: Charlie Plaine
I've written a lot about my work in 1E design, so I'll spare you from reading most of it again. My role on Showdown: Four Lights was mostly logistical, with a small dash of design consultation.

Again, big thanks to all of our volunteers working in the Department of First Edition. Without you, we wouldn't be here at all.

Secret Prison

Out of the Box, Ready to Play
The original premise behind Showdown: Four Lights wasn't based on the new cards. Instead, our aim was to create a pair of decks that would be designed to play well against each other. These wouldn't be starter decks, but pre-constructed decks using more advanced cards and strategy. The secondary goal was to make these decks such that a decent player could take them to a local Modern tournament and do "okay." Our vision was that if a player had a buddy and they liked to play occasionally, they could pull these decks off the shelf and get in a good game.

To help make the decks, we planned to make a very few new cards, in the 4-6 range, to make things a little bit more exiting. Which would have worked with our original theme of Vulcans vs. Andorians, but that theme proved to be a lot more difficult to work with and we had to move on. As soon as we started working on Federation vs. Cardassians, it became clear we needed more. So at that point, we upped the number of new cards to around 12-18 and decided to fully flesh out [TNG] Cardassians. Eventually, we upped the number again which is how we ended up at 35... but that is a story for part 2 of this article.

Defining The Next Generation Cardassians
We started out by defining what we knew about Cardassians, and what we knew about the overall [TNG] design space. Cardassians like to capture their foes and use them as either leverage or as a source for information. [TNG] decks tend to gain benefits from being at their opponent's missions. One of the only [TNG] [Car] cards, Taken Prisoner, hit both themes. But, a classical problem with a capture deck is that, without a captive, your deck frequently under-performs. For example, one of the new personnel you'll find in Showdown: Four Lights is Ansomah, a universal personnel with SCIENCE-classification, Stellar Cartography, and Archaeology. He also has a special skill that gives him 2 more skills while the [Car] player has a captive.

We originally tried out a lot of different ways for Cardassians to start with a captive. We tried out a person you could seed as a captive (Jean-Luc Picard, if you're curious.) We tried a facility that allowed you to download a captive on your first turn. We tried a combination of the 2 ideas. They all ran into 2 specific problems: there are all sorts of rules complexities around capturing your own personnel; and having a seed-phase captive pushed some cards into the "too good" space. We ended up being much more subtle in how we set things up and pushed some of the early game capture into the Federation deck. (It'll make sense when we get to the cards involved during Federation week next week.)

Admiral Kennelly

Of course, we liked the idea of having a [Car] version of Picard. So we tweaked our original card, and though he evolved some during testing, he survived the entire process. He appears in Showdown: Four Lights as Human, a human-species, Cardassian-affiliation version of the JLP persona. As a captive, he is a CIVILIAN-classification, has typical Picard skills and a high INTEGRITY. Because he never broke, he prevents your forces from fighting the [Fed] if he's around. Plus, it keeps up the tradition of having a Picard in every [TNG] affiliation.

We also liked the idea of a capture-friendly facility. Secret Prison lost all of the abilities to download a captive, but it did keep a Brig, giving the Cardassians an OUTPOST with a Brig. It has lower SHIELDS than normal outposts and it must seed at Celtris III (Bioweapon Ruse), but it is a [Car] facility with a matching commander, which is cool.

While the majority of our content is pulled from "Chain of Command, Part I" and "Chain of Command, Part II," we couldn't develop a fully-fleshed out [Car] [TNG] faction without pulling from other sources. Happily, doing so allowed us to create some characters that could appear in both decks, as [Car] / [Fed] dual affiliation personnel. Admiral Kennelly, from "Ensign Ro," is one of those personnel. He's a V.I.P.-classification with a [Cmd] icon, attributes of 4-7-7, and both Treachery and Leadership. He gains conditional skills based on the icons on the mission he's at, either [FED] or [CAR]. If you keep him at missions with both the [FED] and [CAR] icons, he turns into a 5-skill monster with an attribute bump - pretty cool!

That's all for now. Please join us for Cardassian Week, featuring mostly [Car] spoilers from Showdown: Four Lights. Check our social media and the website for additional spoilers and content, and don't forget to check back in next Monday for Part II of this article. Showdown: Four Lights will release on Monday, December 11th.

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