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Graceful Recall

by Charlie Plaine, Return to Grace Lead Designer

9th March 2014

Planned Provocation

A few weeks before we started spoiling Return to Grace, we gave the Ambassadors a little preview information about the expansion. Did you talk to your local Ambassador in the weeks leading up to Return to Grace? This is something we're going to do more of, so plan on checking in with your Ambassadors every few months. Here's what we shared:

Return to Grace
A 54 card Second Edition expansion, coming March 2014

- The expansion is discard pile themed
- The Bajorans and Cardassians feature heavily
- A new headquarters mission
- Two new keywords
- A new dilemma pile theme

As you can see, we've given you details on almost all of the items on that list except we've only spoiled one of the two new keywords: Orb. Well, today is the day we give some attention to the second of the new keywords: Recall. Here is how Recall looks (you can see it on the right in today's spoiler, Planned Provocation):

Recall: X. (While this event is in your discard pile, you may play it from your discard pile at cost +X, then remove it from the game.)

With that said, here are six facts about this keyword, and it's debut card:

1. Planned Provocation is the only appearance of Recall (so far).
Unlike Orb, which shows up on three (3) cards in Return to Grace, Recall only makes a single appearance. After we'd decided to keyword the mechanic, we did have it on another card. However, we decided it was out of place for that affiliation and removed it, leaving it on a single card.

2. Recall was made a keyword for future proofing.
We had a lot of debate about how - and if - we should turn this mechanic into a keyword. Several testers and designers asked why we were making a keyword for a single card. I hold the belief that using keywords is a good thing; in most cases, keywords don't add any complexity to the game while adding extra flavor or mechanical space. In this case, we chose to make a keyword in order to let use reuse the mechanic in the future.

3. Recall was made a keyword to speed up play.
Let's say we hadn't used a keyword for Planned Provocation. Here's how it might have looked:

To play this event, you must command three [Rom] personnel. While this card is in your discard pile, you may play it at cost +1, then remove it from the game. Choose an opponent to discard the top card of his or her deck. If that card was an event or an interrupt, you may draw a card. Destroy this event.

As you can see, it's only marginally longer - nine (9) characters - with the keyword. The keyword also makes it easier to understand the card (and future cards that use the mechanic) once you understand how it works. Once a player learns what Recall means, he or she can just skip the rest of the italicized text; without the keyword, players would have to read through most of the text each time a similar card was played. In addition, having a specific keyword on these cards at the start of the text box makes it easier to find them in the discard pile. This will speed up play, especially when players use cards like Karl Jaeger and Dukat (Pah-Wraith Puppet). It also reduces the number of things opponents that don't care about your discard pile have to track, which will further reduce complexity.

4. The "Recall cost" is variable.
You'll notice that the example above uses "Recall: X", while Planned Provocation itself has "Recall: 1." This is because Recall has been designed as a variable mechanic, much like Consume. Because so much of this mechanic is being left open for future proofing, we didn't want to "lock in" a specific Recall cost. Making it a variable does add a little complexity to the mechanic, but felt like a reasonable amount of complexity in exchange for more mechanical depth in the future.

5. Recall is not a [Rom] only mechanic.
Although it appears on a [Rom] event in Return to Grace, Recall is not tied only to the Romulans. As mentioned in Phase II and the Discard Pile, we do think the Romulans will be able to use this mechanic particularly well, and it will probably show up on more [Rom] cards than not, but it is not a Romulan-only keyword.

6. Planned Provocation is the start of a long-term plan to expand "milling."
Planned Provocation has its origins in Project Martha, actually, where we've been working on Terok Nor - including Dissident Discard. I was looking to make "milling" (discarding from the top of the deck) a strategy that goes into multiple affiliations, and Romulans seemed like a great choice. In fact, they already have several discard options, just very few from the deck; the notable exception is Continuing Committee Hearing, which was part of the inspiration for expanding "milling" into Romulans.

I hope you've enjoyed this look at Planned Provocation and the new Recall keyword. One of the goals of Phase II is long-term planning, where we take long views at the various mechanics and the affiliations and build up the "affiliation guide" over time. Giving Romulans access to milling, even just a card at a time, is part of the realization of these goals. Making a new keyword available gives us a tool we can use in the future, whenever and wherever it's needed, to ensure that Second Edition has the tools it needs to thrive.


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