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Trilithium Weapon - A Design Story

by Dan Hamman, 1E Design

19th October 2012

Designers like themes. Themes are fun to play with. One of the themes we've been teasing at ever since the release of Shades of Gray is delving back into the PAQ era. In Shades it was beefing up Premiere-era Dilemmas, in The Next Generation it was those "weak" personnel. While working on Engage, we thought about missions. But missions in the PAQ era still tend to be staples, so enhancing those missions was not the idea.

But what about the weird ones?

There are a few missions from way back when that have always intrigued. For some reason, they have differences on each player's side. Perhaps they were there to balance out relatively easy requirements? Warped Space has a big five range on the owner's side, but the opponent can skate by the one span. Compromised Mission has a Federation icon on the opponent's side - perhaps a danger when missions could be stolen and Federation was the popular play? Maybe it was just a funny quirk to match the title?

We knew we wanted a good number of missions in this set; it would be good for block. Thomas Vineberg came up with the idea of mirroring Alternate Universe's two oddball missions by making it the theme: Many of the missions in Engage have different text on the owner's and opponent's sides.

In this era of OTF and Fair Play, mission stealing is largely circumvented. We've purposefully made missions that have a big upside stealable as a downside. But we wanted to try something else, perhaps less drastic than losing a mission. The proposed idea was to give the opponent a boost, and what would be thematically better than to give them a bonus if they were using some obscure PAQ card?

Each of the seven missions that match this theme in Engage will offer a bonus to an opponent who happens to be playing with some of these. Players must evaluate: is the easy mission Legal Appeal worth the risk of the opponent getting a free drop? Is the benefit of completing Investigate Dead Planet worth the risk of enhanced Crystalline Entities?

We thought this would make for some interesting choices. Then we decided to take things one step further. Since we were putting all these interesting things on the other sides of missions, was there some way we could make more use of them? Could we bring it all back around and allow players to solve Compromised Mission as the Federation?

And so, Trilithium Weapon was born. It started out as "Fajo's Gallery Chair" because of the spinning component of it, but Story eventually gave us a more thematic idea. It plays just like the card Revolution from the Star Wars CCG, with a few limitations: It can't be used offensively to lock out a mission, and it can't be used on a Mission II's because that would be a rules nightmare! It is a "use as equipment artifact" and therefore a block-friendly target for Ferengi Commerce Operation.

So what devious Soren-like plans can you make? Want to 'pollute' your opponent's side of the spaceline? Spin a Warped Space and your fleet will have a speed advantage. Using Maquis ships? Let them get their hands on this star-stopping artifact, and you can drop them with a few crew members at Assist Damaged Vessel... and the revolved mission fits them well. Even the Borg can get into the act with Salvage Borg Ship and Investigate Incursion.

And how about the Federation? Change history and let Geordi La Forge escape by rotating Abduction Plot. It turns into a light reporting engine - assuming you have enough shuttles - and a pretty easy mission if you bring in another ship. Perhaps the refit Federation one in this set? Solve a planet mission first to grab the artifact, and then go for easy points.

The new missions in Engage should provide an interesting strategic layer when choosing your starting six. If Open Block is your thing, there are even more things to consider, as many of these missions have not only alternate text on the opponent's side, but also alternate affiliation requirements. Look out! Ensign Sito can solve one by herself.

Set a course: Engage will be released on November 2, 2012!

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