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Your Trial Will Be Broadcast to All of Cardassia

by Corbin Johnson, Assistant Card Designer

20th November 2013

And you have no idea what that shape is until it is completed.

Articles of Jurisprudence

First Edition’s card types can be separated into two general categories: Nouns and Verbs.  Nouns are things like Personnel, Ships, and Equipment while Verbs are things like Dilemmas, Events, Incidents, and Objectives. The crux of the First Edition game lies within the Nouns (reporting cards and attempting Missions), but it is within the Verbs where the magic of the game exists. Verbs allow the game to make its fundamental gameplay exponentially more complex, interesting, and hopefully: more enjoyable.

When a new card is designed, many masters have to be served. Some of the things that design considers when a new card is produced include: making sure the card isn't broken, ensuring the card doesn't escalate the game, ensuring players will want to play with it, ensuring the card's gameplay intent is clear, considering the non-obvious implications (unforseen interactions), and ensuring that the many gameplay formats which the card can be used in are considered. In general, the possible problems that these factors can generate for any new card are much more difficult for Verbs rather than Nouns. However, generating a well-received Verb is personally more rewarding than a well-received noun (The riskier the road...)

In general, Verbs are cards that allow players to do fun things in the game. In light of how popular the Achievement program has been, it is clear that players aren't always interested in winning games anymore. Instead, many players enjoy both being able to recreate Star Trek in their games and also showing off crazy card combinations and interesting deck designs that are cool and/or off the beaten path. So what does all of this mean for Emissary?

To ensure the Verb design space could get explored, we approached Noun design in a novel way. For Emissary, we reviewed our design processes from previous expansions and figured that, instead of making new universal personnel to fill skill gaps, we could try to reprint existing personnel as well as leverage Second Edition Backwards Compatible (2EBC) cards as much as possible. This helped us to ease some of the burden on playtesting and allowed for our team to explore the Verb design space more. Nouns can be less interesting to design from a bottom-up approach. Typically, in designing Nouns, skill matrices are used to find holes against the recently designed dilemmas and missions (although those card types do not have to be created before the personnel always - which can lead to some very interesting last-minute design)!

The Cardassians did not get their due in The Next Generation block. I previously worked on Cardassians in Engage but focused on the Noun side of things to be certain that we had a playable Cardassian starter and affiliation in the Block format. My design for Cardassians at that time relied on trying to make capture an integral part of their gameplay. But I feel it fell short mostly because the room to try to add an entire affiliation and include interesting capture cards in a single expansion simply was not there. Capture could in theory be expressed solely through Nouns (without which there would simply be no playable affiliation); but the decision to utilize reprints and 2EBC cards as much as possible, for reasons previously mentioned, meant that the room for Capture to shine wasn’t quite there. Additionally, it wasn’t until The Sky’s the Limit that Cardassians really became a playable affiliation in Block with the inclusion of Taken Prisoner. I am content with how the TNG Cardassians eventually turned out but I thought we could do a better job in Emissary.

Internment

For my contribution to Cardassians in Emissary, I wanted to ensure that they got some fantastic Verbs. Each Verb created with the Cardassians in mind was designed with the intention of appealing to and instigating novel deck design concepts from players who have experience with them, while also enticing new players to try Cardassians for the first time. My hope is that Cardassian capture will now have additional rewards unique to the affiliation that can be fun in block but also useful in constructed play.

In particular, Cardassians now are able to take a cue from the Hirogen playbook and utilize the skills of a captured personnel unjustly on trial with Articles of Jurisprudence. This new incident takes a somewhat bottom-up approach to give players additional incentive to capture personnel by allowing each [Car] law personnel in play (note the lack of a [DS9] icon in the gametext) the skills of a captive on Cardassia Prime and give a much needed attribute boost to all non-Honor Cardassians in play. The huge reward that this can yield will hopefully entice players to try their hand at capture. For those worried about your opponent playing in a far-away quadrant, your fears will be addressed by another Verb from Emissary, Internment, which should make that less of an issue. Articles of Jurisprudence also allows all Capture players the reward of card draws for all of your hard efforts, which will hopefully make Capturing your opponent’s personnel just that much sweeter. My hope is that when players think of torment to force upon their captives that Articles of Jurisprudence will now join the famed trio of Interrogation, Brainwash, and Torture (if only we could add it to the list of things that can be downloaded from Holding Cell Door…)

Also, the Cardassian Nouns in this expansion were designed to be useful with the Verbs that could make use of them in the future. Future-proofing this block was a primary concern and additional steps used for the first time in this block will hopefully make it cohesive and deliberate in its design. It is my hope that the Cardassian Nouns and Verbs in the Deep Space Nine block have synergy that makes the affiliation interactive and viable in many different deck offerings (including ones playtest and design could never have dreamed up!)

Players will hopefully be able to take the basic outline of their old and new decks and utilize the Verbs in this set to create new and interesting opportunities that were not there before. Articles of Jurisprudence should be an exciting addition to many Cardassian capture decks, but hopefully it will also give incentive for other decks to consider adding a little Capture flavor.

 

 


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