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Achievements: The Return

by Rogue Shindler, Achievement Master

24th March 2015

UPDATE: Despite plans reported last week, achievements will not go live tonight. SirRogue is traveling, Maelwys is about to leave in business, and while the release is ready to go, we don't want to put it out there while no one is here to man the store in case anything goes wrong. New achievements will release NEXT Monday, March 30. In the meantime, enjoy the release article below with scads of spoilery info in it!

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Achievements are back! And while her Community namesake might balk at how tardy Project Annie was delivered, I don't think she can argue with the A+ work put in by the achievements team. It's not a race or a competition, it's about what's the quality of the work. Okay, who are we kidding? With Annie, everything is a competition (at least to her), so we've added a few new feats to help her judge who's "winning." But we'll get to that...

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PAST PROLOGUE

Let's start with the big one: the most common question I get when the topic of new achievements comes up is whether or not they will be retroactive; meaning, if I've already played something that qualifies for achievement X before X comes out, will I still receive that achievement?

It's a concept we've gone back and forth on in design discussions. Yes, if I've already played something, it would be nice if I got credit for it; I'm a visionary! But it also raises more questions: how far back should they be retroactive? Should all achievements be retroactive to the start of the system, so we all get credit if we've ever played this theme deck? What if I didn't really mean to play that deck and I earn it on accident?

Eventually, we opted to only make a few specific types of achievements retroactive. Anything that was time-specific such as a release feat or event feat (Regionals, etc); OP achievements that continue a format pattern that should have existed as formats shifted (i.e. Block); achievements that have been amended to adjust for related or companion achievements have also been made retroactive.

Everything else (which is most of the new achievements) will start fresh upon release. In the end, we felt it would just make the general idea of achievements less fun if the bulk of them were already achieved as soon as they came out. In addition, retroactive achievements that start out as earned become gold for everyone who starts with them on release day, which is usually a large group, which devalues the recognition of that gold. We decided it would be more fun for everyone to have a plethora of new goals with each release, and make those new gold achievements mean something. And hey, if you've already played a deck type highlighted in a new achievement, you've got a leg up on the competition! Your previous experience with that deck may give you a head-start to command star gold!

OP: BUILDING BLOCK

One of the first threads we picked up iwas the continuation of the Block format achievements. The TNG Block achievement was slated with a timer set to expire with the release of Emissary (the first set in the next block). Since then, a new Block era began, and a new achievement will go with it. This is one of the few that will be retroactive to the release of Emissary, though any block tournament will be enough to work you up to the cumulative Block player achievements.

In addition to expanding other OP achievement families, we are adding a 2E counterpart to the Talos tournaments, creating a family of Return to Farpoint series achievements to match. These were actually set to release when that tournament series started, but fell victim to our system delays, so these will likewise be retroactive to the start of that tournament series.

DILEMMA EXPANSION

Annie brings 1E a few new dilemma themes, including Empor Nor- and gender-related combos. And don't forget, if your 1E themed-dilemmas need a little help, Quantum Incursions only seeds like a dilemma, but counts as a doorway! Continuing the 2E set-based dilemma pile themes, we've added achievements that limit you to dilemmas from Call to Arms, another to dilemmas from Necessary Evil, and one that combines dilemmas from Fractured Time and Reflections 2.0. We also sneaked in some 2E Chula!

PULLING RANK

As you may recall, our last major release added a new category of achievements called Feats. These were designed to celebrate particular occasions and recognize bizarre or unusual accomplishments. They are not worth any points, but they are worth bragging rights! We've refreshed our feats to include the 2014 and 2015 road to Worlds as well as the recent release of The Gamma Quadrant.

We've also got a few new feat groups. As some of you have noticed, the Achievement Standings have gotten somewhat out of control. Particularly for new players, it can seem daunting, if not impossible to even consider catching up. To alleviate this, we will be revamping the achievement rankings. The current lifetime standings list will remain, but we will also be adding periodic ratings for two new ranking systems: Overachiever (for the player who earns the most achievements in a given time period) and Gold Digger (for the person who earns the most gold achievements in a given time period).

Starting on April 1 (no joke), the system will begin tracking for 2015. The next day, the player with the most achievements will earn Overachiever, and the player with the most new gold will earn Gold Digger, both of which come with their own forum badges. But there is no time to rest on your laurels (especially not after one day)! The rankings will be re-assessed each day, and what's here today could be gone tomorrow. Both of these feats will continue to be up for grabs, able to change hands as often as daily. Not until the end of the quarter (June 30 for Q2) will there be any permanent awards. At the end of that day, the Q2 rankings will be locked in and the current leaders will earn permanent feats (and badges) for Q2 Overachiever '15 and Q2 Gold Digger '15 (we'll be skipping Q1 this year). On July 1st, we begin again! Each quarter will have it's own leader feat and badge, and on New Years Day, we'll find out who earns the year-long award for Gold Digger and Overachiever 2015.

WARP CORE ON THE DANCE FLOOR

A few of the achievements that are overdue for a revamp include the Continuing Mission affiliation-based TNG achievements. Initially, it was expected to have only one warp core card associated with each affiliation, so that engine was required for its related TNG affiliation achievement. With the release of additional engines for the Klingons and Romulans, however, it became clear that those should be separate achievements, and have been retroactively split to become so. There will now be "Legitimate" and "Illegitimate" TNG Klingon achievements, as well as "Chess Game" and "Underground" Romulan TNG achievements (other requirements remain the same). All changes and additions are retroactive to Engage, so if you have played these before, you should gain the appropriate achievement.

CASTING CALL

We continue to celebrate versatile and talented actors of the Star Trek universe with a new cycle of casting achievements. The first performer we'll recognize is James Sloyan. While his credits only include four different characters, the roles are so disparate as to be truly impressive. His cards span four different races and affiliations, all of which had major impacts on one or more characters on TNG, DS9, and Voyager. The personnel must be played once each in a different deck, including only ONE of his characters and NO others.

The other actor we included was perhaps the most popular suggestion for this achievement type: everyone's favorite android, Brent Spiner. Between the various versions of Data available, Brent already has an impressive number of options to play, but that doesn't begin to cover the impressive guest spots as other characters like Lore, Arik Soong, and Noonian Soong, as well as other characters Data has portrayed on the holodeck, or has copied from Data onto the holodeck (see "A Fistful of Datas"). As such, we were forced to divvy Spiner's catalog of characters into categories for some sub-achievements. Only one character from each sub-achievement is needed (one Fed Data, one holo-Data, etc), and then earning each sub-achievement gets you to the full collection achievement.

THEY CALL THEMSELVES...THE MAQUIS

Perhaps one of the biggest things to happen in the 1E scene since our last release is the addition of the Maquis. They are a unique faction, in that, while they can be played all on their own, they can also pair up and worm their way into other affiliations. To recognize their breadth of diversity, we've created a whole cycle of mutually exclusive Maquis achievements, awarding each of the major ways of playing with the Maquis: TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Maquis-only. Each of these deck types also now qualifies for the existing "Maquis Player" achievement family, which was previously available only to 2E players (because they were only ones with a recognized Maquis "affiliation"). This should help open up Maquis to the 1E-only players, and make the multiple play and win achievements more attainable now that they are included in both editions.

INFINITE DIVERSITY

Along with all the new families of achievements and category upgrades, we will naturally have new deck-building achievements of various themes. Klingon Treachery joins Second Edition, the Gatherers try making a comeback, some decks try staying close to their home region while others can't even stay in their own quadrant. We have several new achievements matching the themes of our most recent sets, like Species 8472, Paranoia, and Bluegills in 2E, not to mention Ferengi searching for Where Opportunities Are Made, the Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order perform some Joint Operations, while the Dominion plies you with Hollow Hospitality in 1E. Also...

Wait, what's this? Hmmm, I thought I picked up a neutrino surge on our achievement sensors, but now it's gone...

TRIBBLES

 

Nature takes its course, and the tribbles just keep breeding, so we've bred some new combinations of tribble achievements to keep you busy. Just beware the Klingons on their great Tribble hunt!

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NO 'I' IN TEAM

I also want to shower some credit on our achievements team while I have the floor. While the achievement system is a glorious idea, it would be nowhere without the constant efforts of our Chief Programmer Chris Lobban (maelwys). He wears all the programming hats, so we're thankful that he makes time for achievements to be one of them!

We've had an artistic transition in the off-season, and I'd like to give Erik Cupers (tusculo) a big thanks for all his work pulling art and putting together icons for so many years. Life has caught up with him, forcing him to give up volunteering his time with us, but I'm very grateful for all the time he has put in! Thanks, Erik!

With Project Annie, we've welcomed a new icon designer, Andrea Heywood-Lobban (Kamala). She has done a great job stepping up to fill the position, and patiently endured me rewinding to explain when I reflexively used piecemeal shorthand I'd established with Erik. She's picked up the reigns quickly and I think you'll appreciate her great work on this set!

Finally, we'll celebrate by paraphrasing a song by a different Annie: "Achievements come out! Tomorrow! Better your bottom lat'num that tomorrow... there'll be gold!" (Okay, it's a week away now, but I couldn't resist leaving the joke in!)


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