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Conversions: An Analysis - Emissary (Part 1 of 5)

by James Cream, Staff Writer

27th November 2013

One of today’s spoilers is of the new block legal Miles O’Brien, which got me thinking about all of the wonderful things that the Cardassian Union has supplied for its people over even the harshest years.

Kira Meru

Kira Meru

Nerys’ parents have long been on my Second Edition (2E) conversion wish list. The episode, “Wrong’s Darker Than Death or Night” is one of the best of the series as it forces the viewer (and Major Kira) to consider that perhaps collaboration with the enemy was not such a horrible thing – or at least that perhaps the people who did so had valid reasons for their choice.

But Decipher never got around to giving us these characters (or very many [AU] Deep Space Nine era personnel). The Second Edition, on the other hand, received very good representations of the elder Kiras, and both were backwards compatible. However, they were also in the two hardest to acquire sets.

The original Kira Meru was a Rare from Necessary Evil. She only had three skills (Anthropology, Exobiology, and Geology) and pretty mediocre stats (5 in all fields) but had the reasonable cost of just 1 to make up for that. What made her worth the rarity was the special ability; she could gain a skill from any [Baj] personnel in the discard pile for the cost of 5 points.

When using her Second Edition card in the First Edition, she was still a pretty solid. While she did not report for free at any of the game’s reporting engines, she could be acquired for free with I’m a Doctor Not a Bricklayer. As in 2E, the First Edition (1E) Bajorans don’t have any trouble putting personnel in the discard pile and more than likely they got there for having a skill that the opponent was screening.  As for the 5 points to gain the skill, that can be easily paid for by a healthy gambling habit.

Still, I’m quite glad to see her converted as she looks just great on the old school template. The three skills stay the same, and she gained the classification of CIVILIAN, quite expectedly. Her 2E past icon was converted to the 1E past icon: [AU]. Interestingly, she didn’t get the gross conversion increase in stats of 3, and only went up by one Integrity and one Cunning.

The only two major changes are her affiliation and special skill. She is now a dual-affiliation personnel, as she can collaborate with the Cardassians (try pulling that off without a second HQ, Second Edition players!) The special skill was converted to a special download of the card Comfort Women, as we’ve seen done on many previous cards.

Now here is where I would say that I assume that the Broken Link “Comfort Women” is just an Interrupt which allows a personnel to gain a skill from a [Baj] in the discard pile for the cost of 5 points, but actually that card exists. Now it isn’t backwards compatible and so cannot be downloaded into a First Edition game with the neu-Kira Meru, but we have already seen quite a few non-BC Second Edition  cards converted to the former game. It seems likely to me that a Comfort Women First Edition card will add skills, not to Kira Meru but to a Gul taking advantage of her abilities.

Gul Darhe’el

Darhe'el

Another great example of the Second Edition getting a personnel that First Edition missed out on in its original production run. But in this case it was not a personnel that I had secretly hoped to see in an upcoming expansion. Gul Darhe’el appears so briefly in the episode “Duet”, and only in a video replay during Odo’s investigation, that I did not think it was even possible to get a personnel card representing him. Certainly once I saw that Second Edition could get one, I wanted it and this was one of the earliest chase Backwards Compatible cards of that game.

Even as a Second Edition card misplaced into a different game, Darhe’el could report for free. As a Gul he is one of dozens of solid personnel who report for free to the Central Command. He had six skills, including Cardassian standards like OFFICER, Leadership, and two Treachery; but he also had a couple less common skills in Geology and Exobiology. The stats were mostly in the flavor of 2E pathetic, with just 6 Cunning and 5 Strength, though 1 Integrity always has its uses. As he is a Gul, he has a Command Star to command his own Galor and since he never existed in the era of the show, he had the 2E past icon.

What made the 2E Darhe’el worth tracking down and putting into a First Edition deck, as is true of most any 2E BC personnel cards that get used, is the special ability. This is a built in draw engine which rewards a capture strategy, in this case a ‘discard one to draw two’ each time a personnel is captured. This could then be stacked with the First Edition card Fajo’s Gallery to potentially get three draws per unique person captured.  

The conversion of Darhe’el starts out pretty straight forward but then takes an interesting and exciting turn. He retains his Command Star and has the 2E past icon directly converted to an [AU]. He retains all of his five non-classification skills, but rather than moving his skill of OFFICER to the classification box, he has become an ENGINEER and lost the ability to OFFICER at all. Story wise, this makes a lot of sense, as we never got information regarding Gul Darhe’el commanding anything other than a Labor Camp, and skills like Leadership, Geology, and ENGINEER would come in quite handy for that appointment. This is also a very well received surprise as ENGINEER is incredibly useful while OFFICER is already on the majority of Cardassian personnel (well certainly any of those that see play.)

Like Kira Meru, Darhe’el has only found two more total attributes during conversion. He has a single digit boost to both Cunning and Strength while his Integrity remains at the much deserved 1 (and I still find rather generous.) The most interesting aspect of the conversion of this card is the conversion of his special skill to a download of an already existing First Edition card. His ability was very similar to the Blaze of Glory card Fajo’s Gallery, so instead of making another card that did the same thing (and could be stacked) they simply gave Darhe’el the ability to download that classic card - another brilliant and unexpected move by the design team.

Jerax

Jerax

Man! All of this in depth analysis has tired me out a bit. Let’s just ease back and coast through a couple straight forward conversions. Another fine example of: ‘hey, how come they get all the cool cards,’ Jerax is from that one episode where Garak gets all stabby.  First Edition had yet to see either of the sleeping Cardassians from “Empok Nor” actually in the game as playable personnel. Bonus Cool points if you download Jerax with Sleeper Trap.

The Second Edition version of Jerax is a Glinn with three skills (Biology, Geology, and Security) and stats of 4 Integrity, 5 Cunning, and 7 Strength - the last being actually somewhat decent for a change. He is otherwise uninteresting as a universal background mook with a Staff Star.

Upon conversion, the one classification skill gets upgraded to the box and the two skills remain making Jerax a Support Personnel. He is still a Glinn, still universal, and still a staffer. The skills have increased by the expected total of three, with Cunning up by one and Strength up by two. The most impressive stat is certainly the Strength as he has now joined Dakol as the best options for Sleeper Trap. Given an HQ: War Room and a Lower Decks in play (and assuming that we are talking about one of my decks, that is certainly given) and the choice of a Cardassian Disruptor Rifle as the downloaded gun then both Jerax and Dakol will bring Strength 16 to the inevitable fight. Expect the weak to get picked off early.

Jasad

Yet another converted card from the Genesis 2E set, Jasad is one of the odd cards in that set to have nothing to do with the films: Star Trek II and III.

The Second Edition version of Jasad was a version of the existing First Edition persona.. As both reported for free at the Central Command, one was left with the tough decision of which to stock in the deck. I tended to opt for the original as he could also be a download with Assign Support Personnel + Dominion War Efforts if his skills became en vogue.

Jasad

Still, the 2E card was nothing to simply pass up. He had very distinct skills compared to his 1E counterpart (Intelligence, Treachery, Navigation, and OFFICER) which could make the decision of which to use based on skill holes in the deck (again: the old one more often than not). Both were universal (not that anyone ever used more than one of either) and had a Command Star but the original card had much better stats: Integrity 5, Cunning 6, Strength 8 as compared to Integrity 4, Cunning 6, Strength 6. But still, the special ability might convince one to play the Genesis version.

Before conversion, Jasad had the ability to boost the attributes of his ship +1 for each Punishment or Capture card that the player had in play up to an unlimited level. This certainly had the potential for abuse. Though it would take some work or hi-jinks to get this going, his ship could be 20+ across the board.

Upon conversion, Jasad is still universal, still a Gul, and still holding onto his Command Star. He has retained the skills of Treachery and Navigation while having the OFFICER upgraded to Classification. Intelligence was not directly converted to Obsidian Order (which has no storyline basis) but instead Physics – to match his original version. This, to me, makes him more useful as there are plenty of Cardassians with Obsidian Order (including a Support Personnel). His stats have followed the standard conversion process and increased by a total of three with these distributed one each to Integrity, Cunning, and Strength.

The only really big change is his special ability. He still has the ability to boost the attributes of the ship that he is on, but only by two and due to being in the Gamma Quadrant rather than for controlling a bunch of events. This is a pretty big shift but does seem to fit his appearance in the show better as his interest was in the wormhole (or lack thereof). It still seems slightly odd to me, as he never did get to see the GQ (on screen) but it certainly fits one of the themes of Emissary.

Makbar

Not one of my top picks for conversion, as First Edition already has a Makbar who is one of the best Cardassians in the game even if she does require a card play. I wouldn’t pass up Law x 2, Cunning of 9, MEDICAL, and the possibility of doubling Extradition (an already awesome dilemma) for much of anything.

The Second Edition version of Makbar does manage to retain the MEDICAL and a paltry one Law, while also still having Anthropology and Treachery. Like her First Edition version, she is unique and has no staffing or special icons at all. Her stats are considerably worse as her Cunning has gone down by two while the Integrity is increased by one, just putting it into the ‘low but not low enough to be useful’ range.

Makbar

The only reason to ever consider using the backward compatible Makbar over her Deep Space Nine version is the special ability, and that’s not nearly as useful in the older game as it is in the streamlined one. She forced the opponent to discard the top card of their deck (once per turn) when the player had a captive in their brig. While having a captive is nothing special for Cardassians, the requirement of getting that captive to the brig (pre-Internment) is a bit steep and the effect is not that impressive. A First Edition deck is far less likely to be hindered by losing a few cards as compared to a Second Edition one, though both games can make use of Kotra and this Dukat.

The converted Makbar does manage to be a bit more useful, but she’s a pretty drastic change from the Second Edition card. Her stats are now identical to the Deep Space Nine version and she now has Law x 2 and Treachery x 2 – both of which are very useful in Block, but all other skills were lost. She remains unique and special icon-less, but has regained her status as a V.I.P.

The biggest change is that of her Special Ability, which is gone and replaced with a Special Download of any Punishment card. That’s a huge improvement. But let’s be honest: the Emissary Makbar is a whole new card which just happens to qualify as a conversion of a 2EBC one - a development which I wholly approve of. But let’s not waste time on that and look at what exactly Makbar can get a player for free and without any wait or shipping cost:

·   Ensnared – Ironically, one of the best cards that neu-Makbar can fetch is absolutely useless to her. This cornerstone of the TNG Cardassian deck does not work if Makbar is in play, thereby creating a divide by zero event.

·   Prison Compound – This conversion of a Necessary Evil Rare which appeared in the 15th Anniversary Collection allows a player to score a point for each skill dot on each of their captives. This card could be stocked in the Q’s Tent and pulled out at just the right time to put the player over 100 and win the game, or over 50 to bust a Dead End, or even just to make a few extra points toward that 50 a turn limit on In the Zone (especially if said additional points puts one on 50 exactly).

·   Awaiting Trial – This unconverted card from the Second Edition Premiere set allows a Cardassian Player to draw one extra card a turn for having at least one captive. This could be quite useful if set up early game and has no detriment to still being a 2E card (i.e. will not discard Reshape the Quadrant) since it is a verb.

·   Psychological Pressure – Another unconverted 2E Event, this Rare from the Call to Arms set is a stable of many Second Edition [Car] capture decks as it forces the opponent to discard cards from hand whenever they want to use skills to overcome dilemmas, if those skills appear on a captive. This card is particularly powerful in OTF when combined with a Capture strategy. Unless this appears as a conversion in Emissary, I expect this to be a particularly powerful card in the coming months which then sees a rushed conversion in DS9-2.

·   Shared Delicacy – An unconverted 2EBC Interrupt, one could stock quite a few of these in the deck (as they play for free) and simply use Makbar’s Special Download on this if the situation merits it. It does have a lot of requirements to being played: three Guls AND a captive - meaning that a standard Cardasian deck won’t be able to use this until at least turn 2. This card is actually that most similar to Makbar’s original ability as it forces the opponent to discard cards, though they have the choice of one (known) card from hand or three (unknown) cards from the deck. As mentioned before, this would pair well with Kotra.

·   Articles of Jurisprudence – A brand new Punishment card from Emissary, this is actually the new Cardassian draw engine. Its second function allows a player to draw cards for each captive they have (Max: 4) for the cost of a card play. Well, assuming that Makbar didn’t just special download it for free. This seems the most likely target in Block, were draws are worth their weight in Latinum. Alternatively, the first function could allow your Cardassian Guls to dial a key skill off a captive (presumably through interstellar sanctioned interrogation techniques) as needed for dilemma busting or mission completion.

and

Labor Camp

This Second Edition backwards compatible card was formerly in my Top 10 most broken 2EBC cards needing immediate conversion. In its original form, this could net a player 10 points every turn for just having a captive (anywhere) and leaving a single Cardassian personnel exposed on a planet. This benefit adds up quick.

Labor Camp

Now it should be noted that the pre-conversion Ensnared allowed a player to get a captive of choice from anywhere in play and placed them in a 2E style ‘Brig’ in the ‘Core’ (per conversion rules) such that they were impossible to rescue. It should also be noted that the lone Cardassian on the planet could be on Cardassia Prime where they would be protected by Stratagema. In other words, the only way to counter this is with a Kevin Uxbridge or equivalent.

In fact, at our Seattle Regional 2011, Roxanne Barbour won a game by just completing Cardassia Prime (with the For Cardassia! bonus) while never having left home. (Dead End? Seriously people still use that old card?)

But even without a quick and dirty way to capture people, this card was powerful. Ten points a turn for never leaving home is not too shabby for an affiliation which only managed to take second at worlds in 2012. Let’s see how it got converted.

Well first off, it is now an Incident – so the Cardassian player won’t have to worry about any friends of Kevin eliminating their fine source of bonus points. Second, it cannot play at Cardassia Prime and as such can be countered by simple battle or assimilation. Rather, it needs to be played where a Labor Camp could be (it should be noted that this is also how it works in 2E, as Cardassia Prime counts as a Headquarters Mission and not a Planet Mission.) Thirdly, the points have been reduced to 5 per turn, so one cannot reasonably plan on getting more than 30 bonus points from this strategy.  

But there are even more benefits! It can now be utilized by the Ferengi (they could use a boost eh?) which makes Trek sense. It can also be played at an Ore Processing Unit, which again makes Trek sense. Besides that, I already have Cardassians in the Ore Processing Unit -> they’re processing the ore.

But since there were at least two people left who were not convinced that this was a great card for a great affiliation, there is one more benefit: it can play for free if one chooses to play it on a planet with a Forced-labor Camp. There you go with that Trek sense again, First Edition designers, making cards do what one would expect them to do.

Send Off

Until more 2EBC cards are revealed. Make sure to stop by tomorrow for a delicious Thanksgiving treat. Perhaps you will get a chance to try a rare delicacy or hear a traditional song played while you enjoy the holiday.


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