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Emissary: Explorers

by Charlie Plaine, Emissary Lead Designer

3rd December 2013


I'll admit that one of the advantages of being a lead designer on an expansion, as I was for Emissary, is that you get to push for some things you'd really like to see. Mostly leading a design is a lot of work, because you have to make sure you're meeting your expansion's goals, delivering a fun and balanced expansion of cards, and monitor and adjust to the play environment. And it's rewarding work in and of itself, but sometimes you get to put something in for yourself. For me, the cards from the Deep Space Nine episode "Explorers" were my little something.

If you don't remember the episode, it's the one where Ben Sisko builds a replica of a Bajoran lightship based on eight century old blueprints, and attempts to pilot the ship to prove that Bajoran explorers made it to Cardassian space long before developing warp drive. On the way, Jake uses the opportunity to bond with his father and joins him on the journey. It's a quiet, character episode about a father, a son, and their different desires for their lives; it's also one of my favorite episodes.

I knew when we were working on early versions of Emissary that we would be putting in a lot of cards for new and existing deck types, and rightfully so. I thought it would be nice to also put in some extra cards too, that didn't necessarily fit into one specific deck but could be used in a lot of different decks. Thus, the idea of capturing some cards from one of my favorite episodes was born.

The Baraka is Ben's Bajoran lightship, and is converted from its original form from the Second Edition Tenth Anniversary Collection originally released in 2004; eighteen (18) cards arranged in pairs of ships and their matching commanders. A different pair of these cards was available in brick and mortar game stores each week with the purchase of Second Edition product. However, only a few of these cards were backwards compatible, so there was very little reason for a First Edition player to buy 2E product to get them. Given that they were from our early-seasons time frame, these were ideal candidates for conversion. (Don't worry, you'll see Ben on Friday - or if you or your TD requisitioned a release kit, you can see him in there!)

Converting ships from Second Edition to First Edition is especially difficult because of significant template differences. Almost every Second Edition ship has game text, and there is almost no room for such on the 1E template, especially once you add in the standard special equipment. This meant that the Baraka's ability to trade in 5 points for RANGE +10 wouldn't fit on the card. And especially in First Edition, where you can go into negative points, this ability would be quite valuable. But we've learned a few tricks over the years, and found a way to preserve the ship's ability via a special download of a new card: Shipwright.


Shipwright is a two part event that represents both the game text of the Baraka and her matching commander, Ben Sisko. The first part comes straight off of the original Benjamin Sisko and grants all of your [Baj] ships a permanent RANGE +1. It's cumulative, too, so you could stack a few of these up and have quite a bit of RANGE available to your Bajoran fleet. The second part of this event will cost you five (5) points, much like the original ability of the Baraka, but grant your ship with a Solar Sail RANGE +10 for the turn. You'll note that the Baraka itself has a Solar Sail, making it the perfect target for this event. I wonder if we might make any other cards that would take advantage of this special equipment...

I'm looking forward to building a deck that helps Ben build the Baraka, team up with his son, and verify a legendary journey. By the way, Ben Sisko provides 75% of the skills needed by that mission, just needing someone to read the maps for him. Recreating "Explorers" is one of many, many things that I'm looking forward to once Emissary releases on Friday... what are you looking forward to exploring?

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