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The Star Trek CCG Encyclopedia of Collecting

by Charlie Plaine, Board Member

23rd March 2024

In general, the community of Star Trek players are collectors. Many of them are players with a deep love of Star Trek. And these traits tend to inspire a love of lists and information. So, as the world slowly started to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and idea was born. The product of years work and multiple collaborations the Star Trek Customizable Card Game Encyclopedia of Collecting was born. Authored by Paul Hansell, this document covers the entire history of printed Star Trek CCG products, from the original First Edition through Second Edition's What You Leave Behind. Clocking in at over 400 pages, the encyclopedia is an absolutely must have for anyone interested in the history of our games. We at the Continuing Committee are absolutely thrilled to host this document and make it available for everyone for free. We will host updates as the author makes them, and keep the document freely available as long as they wish us to do so. All of this information will live at https://www.trekcc.org/encyclopedia/.

To celebrate the hosting of this wonderful document, I reached out to Paul Hansell, the author, with some questions about the process. The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What gave you the idea to create an Encyclopedia of STCCG? In the credits, you mention a similar document made by the Star Wars Player's Committee. Was that your only inspiration, or were there other things that made you want to do this?

The whole concept started back in early 2021 when I put together an Excel database of all the known cards and collectables for the games (both 1E and 2E). This original database totaled set completion and presented collectors with completion rates for each set and an overall completion rate for their whole collection. I also included some trivia and collectors info about the set. After completion I shared it with the Facebook group, and it was after the second update (to correct some bugs and add more info) that I realized collectors like myself didn't have a "central" source of information about collecting the game.

A few weeks after trialing some ideas I stumbled across the SW:CCG Collecting Encyclopedia and I was 'heavily inspired' by their layout and approach.

How long did it take you to finish the first draft? How long have you worked on it to get it where it is today? Did you suspect how long it would take when you started it?

The first draft followed 10 months later in April 2022, and was uniquely focused on 1E. At the time, I only had experiences and knowledge about 1E, having only collected and played 1E). This first draft was shared with the Facebook group and was greatly received, and led to many asking when I was going to move onto 2E and complete the "story".

In March 2023, I released 3 more files to Facebook group: an updated 1E document, the first draft of the 2E document and a combined/merged document for both games. Eventually I realized that you couldn't tell the "story" of ST:CCG without both 1E and 2E; so, I opted to only focus on the merged document, and in November 2023 I released the current revision of the Encyclopedia.

How did you go about getting information and images? You mention Brian Sykes and Franky De Rick were big assets; were there any other folks you talked to that you particularly want to highlight?

A lot of the information and images were gathered from extensive internet searches and digging through eBay, Market Place and other such sites. In particular, the old Decipher site thanks to the Wayback Machine was also a gold mine. The CC forums and the Facebook group contributed as well

With regards to specific people who helped, if I put a list of names, I am sure I would miss someone. It is fair to say that lots of people (mainly from the Facebook) helped and contributed with everything from advice, sharing trivia, sharing images and photos from over the years and much more. The best thing for me to say is: "thank you to everyone who contributed and supported me while I put this encyclopedia together".

What was the most difficult thing to track down? What did you find out that most surprised you? What did you think was true that turned out not to be?

Simply put, print sheets. Some images were very easy to find; however, quite a few have proven to very elusive - especially for 1E. For some I have had to fall back on to written descriptions seen by people back-in-the-day. Those are the ones marked as unconfirmed in the encyclopedia.

What surprised me the most when pulling all the info together was the material for Project Trek (the early 2E Test platform) as it reinforces how "narrow" the original plan for 1E was from Decipher. It showed how much the game had grown and bloated, so much so that they were willing to almost start again; it also (from a timeline standpoint) marked the beginning of the end for 1E.

Keep in mind the timescales of this: when it originally happened, I had just moved out of home (early 2000) and didn't have access to the web. I missed most, if not all of this when it originally happened, and I relied on magazines like Scrye and Inquest for my CCG news.

With regards to what did I think was true, but turned out not to be, that would have to be information around the Enterprise Collection. I had always believed (probably after being told it by someone at Space, Myth & Magic; my local gaming shop) that it was an actually 2E set with 1E graphics. I thought that was reinforced by some of the font types and layouts (you would have thought the inclusion of the Tactic card would have swayed me but it didn't!). In reality it was very nearly the opposite: the Enterprise Collection was a purely 1E endeavor, and was supported by (and released hand-in-hand with) To Boldly Go, which had a significant amount 1E compatible Starfleet personnel and ships, making Starfleet a viable and playable 1E faction.

I was really taken by your message on Page 3 - "I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together." As someone who has put a lot of time into things that don't pay the bills, I can relate. What parts of this project did you find most enjoyable?

The part I enjoyed the most was compiling the images together for the 'cascade' of cards down the side of the pages. This allowed me to revisit some fond memories I have of playing the game with my friends down at the local gaming store. It also let me immerse myself in stuff that I hadn't really looked at before, specifically Second Edition cards and sets.

What do you hope readers enjoy about the encyclopedia? What do you hope they take away from the document?

My hopes for the document are several to be honest. I hope that it can help people finish off their collections and help them catalogue it in whatever way they feel best suits them. I hope that it helps introduce new and/or returning players to the rich (and sometimes hidden) history of the game, starting with the early days of the Star Trek The Next Generation CCG and how it evolved into the Star Trek CCG and then into Second Edition and all the bits in between. Lastly, I hope to preserve all the information in one easily accessible place for the future.

What things are still missing that you'd love to find? What is the "white whale," or the thing you think will be most difficult to get?

As mentioned earlier, the "white whale(s)" of this project have been un-cut/print sheet images. I have been able to track down some images via extensive internet searches and "previously sold" listing on various sites as well the generous support of several members of the Facebook group who shared photos of sheets they owned. I even reached out to printers themselves (Teagle & Little and Carta Mundi) with no luck. So, print sheets remain the biggest "unfinished" part of the whole project.

You mention that the CC's website was a resource for you, as well as the Star Trek CCG Facebook group. What kinds of things did each of those sources help you with? Was there anything on either the CC's site or the Facebook group that you wished had been easier to work with?

Simply put, both the CC and Facebook group helped with the "human element" of the whole endeavor. What I mean by that was people sharing their observations and history of the game helped me to flesh out the history and validate the information that I had gathered and helped separate opinions from facts. This was doubly important when validating the whole debacle around Star Wars CCG cards in Trouble With Tribbles boosters.

As well as providing useful facts and observations, the people also provided useful feedback on how the document was structured and helped it grow into what it is today.

With regards to what I wish had been easier to work with, it would be the amount the of digging through threads and conversations to unearth facts and trivia that could have potentially been lost. This is also one of the primary reasons for making the encyclopedia; to put all these bits information in one place.

The CC is more than 15 years old now, with no plans of stopping anytime soon. We're thrilled to be hosting this document. What do you hope people that find this in 5 years take away from it? 10 years?

Simply put, that it helps answer any questions they may have about collecting the game and helps give a true understanding of the history of it, while being hand-in-hand with everything the CC produces around how to play the game.

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game Encyclopedia of Collecting was born, created by Paul Hansell, is available now at https://www.trekcc.org/encyclopedia/.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article misspelled the author's last name. It has been corrected.

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