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Conversions: An Analysis - Genesis (Part 1 of 4)

by James Cream, Staff Writer

23rd August 2013

I was a frequent loiterer on the Decipher message boards around the time that the Second Edition set Genesis was being announced. At that time, it was being marketed as 'a set that will equally appeal to players of both games'. While we could start a lengthy thread on the strengths or flaws of the Genesis set, one thing is quite clear: it is a Second Edition set first and foremost and only a First Edition expansion as an added selling point.

Occasionally, I have seen the statement that this set was bad for 2E, and it was certainly overpowered, but its effect was even stronger in the game that it wasn't designed for. The cards that were powerful in 2E were stupid abusive in 1E, and those that were underpowered were overpriced binder fodder.

The Genesis Effect

But all that has changed since the Continuing Committee started converting Second Edition Backwards Compatible cards. With the release of Homefront IV, we have seen conversions of eight of the twenty-seven cards in the Genesis set (more than a quarter), giving it the current best BC/converted-BC ratio of any Second Edition expansion. This article will take a look at seven of those already converted Genesis cards (Borg Queen’s Sphere having already been convered in a Resistance is Futile Article.)

The Genesis Effect

The Genesis Effect was originally an Event in its Second Edition form. In that game, this card can be played on a mission. Then the player names a dilemma, if that dilemma is encountered while attempting the mission then it is nullified. The reason why this works in 2E is that the opponent gets to choose which dilemmas to give upon each mission attempt. If the player uses the Genesis Device on a mission, then they can be certain that whatever dilemma they have named won’t be played.

But it worked very different in First Edition. For one, the dilemmas are chosen for each mission at the beginning of the game. As such, this Event was much more powerful there. What’s more, there are many ways for a player to find out what the problem dilemmas under the mission are. Scan, Full Planet Scan, and Zephram Cochrane’s Telescope are currently banned in the OTF format but can still be used in the other formats. Science Lab and Ocular Implants are still viable in all formats. The simplest way to find out what dilemmas are under the mission would be to attempt it until a difficult wall was encountered. Then simply play The Genesis Effect on the next turn to overcome it.

The ability to eliminate one dilemma for the cost of a card play is huge, mostly because it will likely destroy the combo under the mission. The converted version fixes this by requiring that the mission has not been examined. This means that it has not been scanned or attempted and the dilemmas are still unknown. As such, the player using this card will need to successfully predict a common dilemma or simply have a dilemma that they really don’t want to face.

But this card didn’t just get neutered, it also was upgraded to an Incident. Now it cannot be countered or destroyed.

The effect will be had.

Kirk OT

Original Thinker

James T. Kirk, Original Thinker was one of the big problem cards in First Edition before his conversion: he could be bounced to hand to overcome a dilemma. This is pretty huge considering that, as an Admiral, he could play for free to the Office of the President or be Downloaded to his ship with Ready Room Door. Combine this Kirk with The Genesis Effect to eliminate two dilemmas per turn. Upon conversion, his ability was made into a Special Download (i.e. a once per game free play) of The Genesis Effect – a brilliant move by the designers as they were essentially the same thing.

Skill wise, his conversion was by the book. Of his four skill dots in Second Edition: Diplomacy, Leadership, Honor x 2, and Officer; the latter became his classification and the others remain. He retains his Command Star, the Second Edition Original Series Icon converted into the First Edition Classic Films icon, and the Second Edition Past icon became the First Edition Alternate Universe icon.

The most interesting thing about this conversion is that his title changed. He is now called Admiral Kirk, which is the title used for his persona in The Motion Pictures expansion. In fact, this Kirk has many similarities to the older Admiral Kirk: they are both from The Wrath of Khan, they shared all special icons including a Nemesis Icon which notes Khan as his nemesis, and both are personas of Captain Kirk. What makes the two Admiral Kirks different are the skills, the Special Downloads, and the Stats.

Prior to conversion, this Kirk had a pretty pathetic 7 Integrity, 6 Cunning, and 6 Strength. Compare that to his TMP version with 8 Integrity, 9 Cunning, and 7 Strength and we see that he was severely short changed. This was rectified upon conversion with his stats increasing by a total of 4. He now is on par with TMP Admiral Kirk, though they are distributed as 9 Integrity, 8 Cunning, and 7 Strength. This means that he won’t be fooled by a false God even while distracted.

The final change to Kirk upon conversion is the second Special Download, of the interrupt Khan! This was wholly unexpected and has no counterpart on either the Second Edition or The Motion Pictures versions of Admiral Kirk. However, it is very thematic. That card has yet to be converted, so currently this Kirk can Special Download a 2E card.

Carol M.

Carol Marcus and David Marcus

One argument that I have seen against the conversion of Carol and her son David is that we already have those characters in First Edition and don't necessarily need another version of either. Another point against being that they should not be Non-aligned. I agree, for the most part on the first point, but not on the second. To me it seems unfortunate that the original versions of Carol and David were Federation affiliated, as the Federation already have the majority of good personnel.  Whereas, if they had been made Non-aligned then these skill monsters would be available to the affiliations which could really use them. 

While it is true that Carol and David were working for the Federation in the second Star Trek film, I wouldn't necessarily call them Federation affiliated. David in particular, as he is portrayed in the film, would willingly work for anyone who would fund his project; and like many Hollywood scientists, he doesn't think about the possible repercussions of his invention, he just wants to prove that he can do it.

(Side note: the LfL version is such a good representation of David Marus from the film that he is even willing to work with Khan, assuming that Khan has come up with the funds to back a research proposal. This is due to his Lore having a metion of Khan per the requirements of Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Cold. Thanks to Stu Marsh for pointing this out!)

I would argue that David Marcus would certainly have worked with any affiliation willing to put up the costs and was actually reticent to work with the Federation. Carol, on the other hand, showed some ties to the Federation and a moral fiber which would indicate, to me, that she wouldn't work for just any affiliation. But still she is a scientist and needs funding to continue her work.

David Kirk

The point being, if only one version should exist for each, then it is the Life from Lifelessness ones over those from TMP. As another unfortunate implication of hindsight, David Marcus was clearly aligned with the Federation in Star Trek III. Had his persona from The Motion Pictures used an image from that film, then not only would the affiliation be more justified but we would have two clearly distinct personas for the character. Instead, we have two personas of each of these characters from the same film, were one is most likely to be seen in a Federation deck while the other likely to be used outside the Federation.

Skillwise, the conversions of Carol and David are quite straight forward. Each had a skill of Science promoted to classification and retains all other skills, with David's Programming skill being equitably exchanged for Computer Skill. Both have gained their era icons, while having their 2E Past Icon converted to an Alternate Universe Icon.

But in all likelihood, these cards were chosen for early conversion to fix their respective broken abilities. Far from being overpowered, David Marcus was made a cripple by his special ability. To balance the seemingly incongruent cost of 1 with 7 skills, David has a penalty in Second Edition. Every time he gets stopped by a dilemma, the player controlling him must either destroy their event or lose 5 points. The main problem with that being, in First Edition he costs just as much as anyone else (and could play for free nowhere) while Events are generally expensive. Upon conversion, he simply does not have this drawback (he's cured!).

Carol's ability remains unchanged in function, instead simply being converted to First Edition wording. I was rather surprised by this, as I thought it was ripe for abuse: forcing your opponent to draw cards they don't even want just to boost your personnel's attributes - but what do I know?

Harry Has Issues

As occurred with Kirk, the stats have been overall increased to bring them more inline with the First Edition standard. David's stats are higher than they were on the original 2E card, with the Cunning and Strength each increasing by 1. But they are still much lower than his TMP version. This actually fits well with my argument above, he has retained his low Integrity from the 2E card (of 5) and has one lower Cunning as compared to his TMP persona. This corresponds with how he was portrayed in the second Trek film, while the high integrity Federation version (who has apparently also learned a life lesson) would work far better as a version from Star Trek III.

Carol's stats are almost brought into line with her TMP version, with both Strength and Integrity now matching the older card. But the Cunning is not nearly as high, only having been raised by a single point, persumably to offset her special ability. If the opponent maintains a large hand, then the new Carol is the smarter of the two. But if they have no hand at all, she gets a bit ditsy.

The Caretaker’s “Guests”

This might be the most straight forward conversion of them all. The wording of the card was simply changed from that used in Second Edition to that of First Edition. This shouldn’t be surprising as this card was not particularly over or underpowered. In addition to the template change, it has a small lore (due to the wordy gametext) and a whole new image.

I am of the opinion that this image is an improvement on the original. It just seems more menacing. Still, it would be nice to get a version with the First Edition template AND the original image – perhaps in a future Supplemental or Homefront expansion. When this dilemma was first converted, a solid combo of this followed by Artillery Attack was rampant until someone pointed out that the use of any special download or discarding a Q the Referee for a copy of The Juggler, would foil the set-up.

I still use this dilemma in order to remove a problematic personnel from the away team if they could nullify the follow-up dilemma, such as Dr. McCoy or Guinan. If the guest is very good, one could still Juggle the opponent’s deck.

Spock

Trainee Instructor

The recent conversion of Spock, Trainee Instructor which appeared in The Sky's the Limit is quite similar, in methodology, to that of James T. Kik, Original Thinker back in Life from Lifelessness. So much so, that I suspect this Spock as being a holdover which simply filled a spot in TStL due to a card not making it through playtesting (this theory fits with the title of that previous expansion, which is very much Genesis related.)

While this Second Edition backwards compatible Spock was never a problem in terms of power level, it has been a thorn in the side of many players due to the literal meaning of his keyword making him the matching commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise (D) from Premiere, rather than the Starship Enterprise from The Motion Pictures. This was also a former issue of Original Thinker Kirk. With the conversion of both of them, it is a fully resolved issue.

Like Kirk, the Genesis Spock's icons were all transfered to their First Edition equivalents, with the Past Icon becoming an Alternate Universe icon and the TOS faction icon becoming a Movie Era TOS icon. He retains his command star, but has lost the Earth icon, which had no First Edition equivalent.

The attributes have been rectified in the transfer, gaining him a total of 5 more stats across the board. They now are exactly the same as his The Motion Pictures persona. The skills also follow the standard formula, with Officer moving up to classification and Mindmeld being added simply because he is a Vulcan. This means that Spock still has an impressive six skill dots. While that is pretty good even for a First Edition main character, it pales in comparison to his The Motion Pictures persona - who holds the current record at nine skill dots.

But to me the brilliance of this conversion is in the special ability. The unconverted version stated:

"When a Damage card is about to be placed on your ship that this personnel is aboard, you may kill him to remove it from the game instead."

Genesis Planet

That ability already exists in First Edition on the card The Needs of the Many. So, not surprisingly, the ability was replaced with a special download of that Interrupt.

Genesis

The most recent Genesis card to be converted is the only mission in the set; Genesis Planet - and man is it gorgeous!

As conversion go, this is one of the more drastic overhauls, and yet - it still manages to maintain the intent of the card. It remains a 35 point planet mission in the Alpha Quadrant and retains the hefty span of 4. But it is no longer attemptable by anyone (unless you consider that most affiliations have an Espionage: X on Federation card). Instead, it now has three affiliation icons; Federation, Klingon, and Romulan. This change sits a bit weird with me. In general, I am against the prevalence of the Any Affiliation text, as it has always been rather rare in First Edition and more often than not occurs on universal missions. But the change to having affiliation icons means that these select few can seed an outpost here. An outpost on the Genesis Planet just doesn't seem right.

I'm also not entirely sure I understand the choice of affiliation icons for this one, unless it is simply to do with the location of the mission. In the film, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Federation and Klingons showed interest in the planet while I don't recall any mention of the Romulans. Still, it seems that the Cardassians and maybe Ferengi would be just as interested in strategic weapon testing.

The requirements have remained mostly the same. The mission still has a massive attribute requirement (explaining why the Non-aligned are not interested) and an impressive four different skills (in two different combinations). But the level of those skills has decreased, now any skill which was previously required two-fold is reduced to just one. Meaning that it is still likely easier than the Hunt for DNA Program.

Genesis Space

The mission gets one addition: it is now in the Mutara Region. There are currently no other Mutara Region mission, but I am hoping that this foreshadows one representing the Mutara Nebula.

The mission also gets one reduction: it no longer has any special gametext allowing it to be blown up and converted to space mission.

Because that was offloaded onto a whole new card: Unstable Matrix. The biggest benefit of this change is another amazing image, though I'm sure saving space on the original template for that awesome image also played a huge part.

The text of Unstable Matrix function just like the text of the original mission, though using First Edition wording. A player can still choose to lose 5 points to convert the completed Genesis Planet to a space mission. As it is immune to Kevin Uxbridge, it cannot be destroyed (he also had trouble destroying the 2E BC card's gametext) and since it seeds, it will always be on the mission (also just like the gametext). This does mean that the cost of using the Genesis Planet has increased by one seed slot, however.

On a side note, this might be the first time we get a mission in First Edition which represents something which happened in the past. Normally, missions occur in the present - which is defined as the period between 2364 (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1) and 2379 (Star Trek: Nemesis). Whereas, the Genesis Planet only existed during part of 2285. This I take to be the reason why The Dominion have no interest in it.


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