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Warp Pack: Emissary

by Charlie Plaine, Warp Pack Emissary Lead Designer

11th April 2014

Surprise!

Trust the Prophets

The Continuing Committee is pleased to release Warp Pack: Emissary, a mini-expansion joining the Deep Space Nine block and available immediately, for free, via download at trekcc.org, Warp Pack: Emissary features six (6) new First Edition cards specifically designed for the block format, but they will no doubt find their way into decks in every format. These cards are released and available today and will be legal in one week - on Friday, April 18th.

Please take a moment and consider making a donation in order to thank the many dedicated designers, testers, artists and other volunteers that worked on bringing you this expansion. You can donate any amount to The Continuing Committee via The Promenade. Donations of any amount ensure that we can continue to provide you a top-notch website and customer support for years to come.

What's the Deal?
I'm sure you're asking yourself - what's going on? Why aren't I reading all about Project Boomer and the Maquis? What is the point of making an expansion of just six (6) new cards when we could be getting full expansions? We're going to walk you through the history of this little set of cards, but first let me set your minds at ease: Warp Pack: Emissary is not a replacement for the second expansion of the block. Project Boomer is coming soon, and this mini-expansion is just a supplement to the block, not a replacement.

But why make a supplement? It all started because we realized there were some decks that had significant problems in block after the release of Emissary. We wanted the Regional season to have as many competitive options as possible, and it was pretty clear that some of the decks inspired Emissary didn't have the "oomph" to get it done. We also didn't want to wait until later expansions to address some of the bigger issues, and thus was born the idea of a mini-expansion we could put out quickly to address the issues. We got design, creative, and rules to sign off on the idea of putting something out off-cycle and quickly, and we were off to the races. 

Let me take a minute to introduce the design team for this expansion:

Lieutenant Ballard

Charles Plaine [MidnightLich], Lead Designer
Designer Profile: Charlie Plaine
Warp Pack: Emissary is the 9th First Edition product I've worked on. Because of the unique nature of this product, this design was very collaborative and much less traditional. However, I was tapped as the one to "make the calls" when it came down to it, and thus earn the lead credit.

Dan Hamman [SirDan], Assistant Designer
Designer Profile: Dan Hamman
As Dan is the lead for Project Boomer, his involvement in designing and developing Warp Pack: Emissary was invaluable. Dan was able to help us figure out what we needed now, versus what could wait until later. In addition, he was the only designer on this team that didn't also work on Emissary, and gave us a valuable outside point of view.

Thomas Vineberg [Exon], Assistant Designer
Designer Profile: Thomas Vineberg
Thomas also worked with me on Emissary, and was the member of the team most pushing the rest of us out of our comfort zones. Thomas' insight really helped get to the core of issues we were confronting, and had some great ideas that will shape the future of First Edition design.

If you aren't aware, this entire team is made up of designers that live in San Diego - something done quite intentionally. Most of the design for Warp Pack: Emissary was done in face-to-face meetings around Dan's kitchen table, and the local proximity made that practical. This isn't something we're going to do often (it's not good to have too few different meta perspectives on a team), but the quick nature of this project made it a necessity.

We Need You Here

Taking advantage of our local proximity, the lion's share of the work for Warp Pack: Emissary was done around Dan's kitchen table. We started by making a list of all of the problems we were aware of in the current game state, found from our own experiences, from reading tournament reports, forums posts, and tester feedback. Once we had a list of problems, we started designing cards to address those problems. Some were combined into single cards; others we knew we could delay until later in the block. In the end, we had a dozen or so cards to send to testers. (Note, it was in this same meeting that we started the process for the most recent errata, giving us another tool to address the problems we'd identified.)

After several weeks of feedback, we returned to Dan's table to review the data and make adjustments. At the end of this second meeting, we'd ended up with six (6) cards that addressed many of the critical issues of the current game state - especially in block format. Many of the cards we designed that didn't end up here in Warp Pack: Emissary will be tested with other upcoming projects, including the final expansion of the block, Project Apollo. But for now, let's take a look at each of the six (6) cards in this mini-expansion and talk about what they are designed to do.

63P Contain Boarding Parties
One of the biggest flaws of any deck attempting to use Deep Space 9 was the ease in which the station could be commandeered. Outside of block format, this could be combatted somewhat with Strategema, but in block it was extremely difficult to avoid losing your station early. Originally, it was designed as part of a larger mechanic to help the [Fed] defend against these early hijinx, but this card ended up the only survivor of that mechanic.

64P Trust the Prophets
A big problem that we had identified for decks based on Reshape the Quadrant was the increased number of seed cards required, especially when compared to Continuing Mission. This meant that as we were designing cards to help [DS9] decks, we needed to look for ways to reduce the number of required seed cards. You'll notice we used a similar download trick on both Contain Boarding Parties and on this card, Trust the Prophets, the former allowing you to download Sisko 197 Subroutine and the latter to download The Celestial Temple. Speaking of The Celestial Temple, we wanted to "fix" the problem that it hurt a player to seed the station at the mouth of the Wormhole itself, and so used this card to allow the Prophets to "bless" the station's presence at their temple's gates.

Riva

We also took the opportunity to combine cards, and implemented one of the most requested abilities for Here By Invitation decks: the ability to "Ops download" [Fed] cards to the station. Here's a fun bit of design trivia: this card was called "Sisko's Influence" during testing. I love the name and story given to the card by the Creative team, but I think "Sisko's Influence" was a great encapsulation of the card's mechanics and story.

65P We Need You Here
Let's face facts: Nors are expensive to use. In the era in which they were created, games were slower and there were more turns, and the ability to "dial" a personnel was extremely powerful. But in the modern era, it's a lot bigger pill to swallow that you can't draw any cards in exchange for a specific personnel. Aside from that, it can be very limiting to only be able to use six (6) Sites; while possible to stock more in the deck and play them, it's hardly an efficient option. We Need You Here is our solution to the complexity and expense of using Nors; after all, we want players to use Nors!

In order to use this card, you'll need to seed Commander's Office as one of your sites. However, you'll notice that since We Need You Here is a Captain's Order, you don't have to spend a seed slot on this card if you don't want to. You can get it with Ready Room Door, or with the download of Commander's Office itself if you' d like. But once you have this in play, you get one "free" Ops download each turn. You also get the ability to turn a draw into an extra site, giving your Nors even more options. This card will help [Car] decks using I Miss This Office as much as it will help [Baj] / [Fed] decks, and we can't wait to see it in action!

66P Herbert & 67P Lieutenant Ballard
Lest you think all of our efforts at our kitchen table meetings were directed at [DS9], take a look at this pair of universal [TNG] [Fed] personnel. One of the side effects of the erratum to Attention All Hands was that a premium was put on personnel that "double dipped," or could report for free either via Attention All Hands or their affiliation-specific [WC] card. When we took a look at this, we realized that decks based around Finest Crew in the Fleet were at a severe disadvantage. These two personnel were designed to give the flagship a few more free reports and cover some of their skill gaps.

Contain Boarding Parties

68P Riva
Finally, we realized we'd created a bit of a dearth of Diplomacy for the [TNG] decks - especially Ferengi - with the recent errata to Gozar. (If you're reading along in order, you'll note that his errata also was part of the attempt to address the "double dipping" problem from the opposite end of the spectrum.) Since the [Fer] had lost a universal Diplomacy, and it wasn't a skill that was terribly common to the Klingons and the Romulans in block anyway, we thought a new [NA] Diplomacy personnel would do nicely. I'm not sure who suggested a quick and dirty conversion of Riva (Respected Mediator), but it fit the bill perfectly.

So that's that - six (6) new cards designed specifically to address some of the biggest problems in First Edition (and especially in block). Warp Pack: Emissary is also a celebration of the game's 20th Anniversary, and is one of our gifts to you; a gift in the form of new cards! We hope these cards will whet your appetite to try something new and different for your Regional decks, and give you a taste of what is coming for the rest of this block and future block. The cards in Warp Pack: Emissary will be legal one week from today, on Friday, April 18th. Until then, we're eager to read your thoughts!


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