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Face of the Enemy

by Tyler Fultz, Lead Designer

30th October 2015

In the intro to every Star Trek television series, no character was ever shown. Space, and the ships that sailed it, took center stage. This was no accident. Ships are central to the Star Trek universe and they have become synonymous with the people that helmed them. The images of the Enterprise, a Romulan Warbird or a Borg Cube leave no doubt in the mind of a viewer what those ships stand for. It is from this certainty that Face of the Enemy emerges. Today we're excited to announce that Face of the Enemy, the thirty-fifth Second Edition expansion, will be released Friday, November 13th, 2015. Face of the Enemy will bring forty-five (45) new virtual cards to players all across the world, and will be legal for constructed play one week after its release, on Friday, November 20th, 2015.

Face of the Enemy, at its core, is about ships – and bringing their diverse characteristics to light. Both Romulans and TNG, the two affiliations getting a refresh in this expansion, have new cards targeting their underused ships. But there is so much more, as the set focuses on underused characteristics like shields, class, staffing, and the Cloaking Device keyword – and that’s only the beginning! But before we hop in our vessels (or “whessles” for you Russians), I'd like to introduce you to the team that helped create Face of the Enemy:

Tyler Fultz [DJstormtrooper], Co-Lead Designer

Designer Profile: Tyler Fultz

Face of the Enemy is my first design in the lead position and my third design overall. I led the team through the initial design and playtesting phases of Face of the Enemy before pulling back to focus on development of the upcoming Project Crichton. I am very proud of our team and the amazing work we were able to accomplish.

Charles Plaine [MidnightLich], Co-Lead Designer

Designer Profile: Charles Plaine

Face of the Enemy is Charlie’s sixteenth Second Edition design and his ninth as a lead designer. This being my first lead design, Charlie stayed on as co-lead to assist and guide the team through the process. His insight is always invaluable and his role as sensei to the team helped us greatly.

Nathan Miracle [Gooeychewie], Assistant Designer

Designer Profile: Nathan Miracle

Nathan joins the design team for his first full expansion after getting his start with the 20th Anniversary Collection. His experience as a playtester and frequent player made him an invaluable asset to the team. You’ll see his mark on many of the cards.

Ben Hosp [bhosp], Design Intern

Designer Profile: Ben Hosp

Face of the Enemy is Ben’s first design project. Ben was chosen to intern on the team due to his excellent performance in previous Make It So competitions. His quirky, outside-the-box thinking produced some ingenious insights and great cards.

But designers tend to get all of the credit as we introduce new expansions, and I think that's really not the way it aught to be. Design is important, but I would be completely and selfishly remiss if I failed to mention the hard work of the dozens of volunteers that work on Second Edition. Kudos to all of our play testers, rules guys, creative team members and our Art team. All of our volunteers do so much work and all deserve significant recognition for making this game thrive.

If you appreciate the hard work of all of our volunteers and enjoy having this website available as a hub for our community, we encourage you to make a donation to our operating costs today. Without the support of our community, this site wouldn't exist!

Keeping It Classy

You might have noticed there's been a bit of a pattern to our Phase II expansions so far in that they all have a "something matters" theme running through them. We wanted to make sure we had a way to offer thematic cards for players that weren't interested in the main two affiliations the expansion focused on, so if you weren't a fan of Bajorans or Cardassians, you could still enjoy the "discard pile matters" cards in Return to Grace. Face of the Enemy started out no differently, and we decided early on that "ship characteristics matter" would be an interesting design space to explore. We really challenged ourselves to make cards that keyed off of ships in interesting ways.

Spock

The good news is that ships have a lot of characteristics to draw on; the bad news is that for most of the game’s history only a couple have really mattered- namely range and cost. The primary question was: “how do I get a ship with 8 Range at the least cost?” There’s a reason why the U.S.S. Excelsior, a humble ship with no gametext from Set 1, is still the most used card in [TNG] decks. We knew Face of the Enemy was going to need to change this calculation. The problem was that making dilemmas to punish these ships was very difficult. Nearly every possible configuration of requirements created collateral damage for affiliations that have to rely on weak ships (like [SF] or [DQ] [Kli]). While the set ultimately does have a couple dilemmas to make the opportunity cost of weak ships higher, we necessarily settled primarily on incentivizing bigger ships.

The first and simplest idea was to create personnel that gained bonuses while aboard certain underused ship classes and several of our off-affiliation cards for the expansion fall in this category. We also wanted to help affiliations that relied on big ships through cards, like Nog, that made them less onerous. The final thing we did was to zero in on ships with “four or more staffing icons” as a group. This had the pleasant effect of assisting our two chosen affiliations (flying the Sovereign and D’Deredix respectively) and allowing us to make exciting cards like Pulling Rank. The net effect should be to give players reason to judge ships on more than just range/cost ratio.

Liberals, Socialists and Communists

[TNG] came into Phase II with a fairly robust thematic grounding. We knew that as a Federation affiliation their emphasis would be on mission solving and that the “sharing is caring” mechanic expressed by cards like Disadvantage Into Advantage and Temba, His Arms Wide would be central. Making cards that expressed this was not terribly difficult. Early cards (one named Utopia) gave points to whoever was behind while others punished players for doing things besides solving missions- these cards were straightforward and fit the theme. What became clear after a short time, however, was that we were building [TNG] up to be a gimmick deck. Players could use Guinan, Listener and cards like Preposterous Plan to score points and then lose them quickly to be the “poor” player when Utopia came back around. It felt like tax fraud and didn’t have the generous, honest vibe that [TNG] is supposed to give off. So something new had to fill the gap.

In The Next Generation, the crew of the Enterprise only visited Earth a few times, but it was clearly a paradise in which war, poverty and disease no longer existed. The overriding narrative was that this had been achieved through people putting aside their individual goals and focusing on the good of humanity. While this action had been expressed in [TNG]’s cards in the past, the mechanic was now presenting problems, as described above. The insight that solved our problem, and led us to the next thematic place for [TNG], was to have them care not just about actions, but about results. [TNG] wants to see everyone succeed and prosper. From this insight, we derived a cycle of personnel and an interesting new event, Zalkonian Storage Capsule. ZSC would give the [TNG] player a carrot not just for offering a bonus to the opponent (ala VIP Welcome) but for the opponent actually using it. Cards like Garvey (he’s not the only one!) would then reward you for your opponent’s good performance. In total, we developed a suite of [TNG] cards that should encourage the [TNG] player to share in their opponent’s success like never before.

The Mean Green

Prior to the release of Extreme Measures, Romulans had long struggled to break into the top tier of organized play. Their low integrity and abundant Treachery made them generally easy prey for modern dilemma piles running the ubiquitous Gomtuu Shockwave and An Issue of Trust. It wasn’t until Extreme Measures that Romulans were given the power tool they needed to shoot through dilemma piles and start winning tournaments. This trend only continued with the release of Strange Bedfellows and The Die is Cast. The problem was that while Romulans were good, they were far from their thematic roots.

Imperial Entanglements

Romulans, as originally conceived by the designers of 2E, were meddling tricksters who wanted to show up at your missions and ruin your plans as evidenced by cards like Sela, Mysterious Operative and Vreenak, Tal Shiar Chairman. As a design team, we quickly decided that this is the theme we wanted to return Romulans to. However, we had to be sure to hit a “green” sweet spot mechanically. The game already has mechanical space carved out for Combat and Engagements, as well as Infiltration. We didn’t want to directly replicate these on [Rom] cards. Our solution was not to create [Rom] cards that prevented the opponent from taking action, but to simply raise the cost of them doing so to the point where the opponent might give in to Romulus’ whims. Implementing all this was going to entail resurrecting the largest and most underused ship class in the game- D’Deredix. This led directly to the development of the new [Rom] HQ, Romulus, Patient Stronghold. This HQ gives you incredible new utility for your D’Deredix ships. Getting back and forth to opponent’s missions is easier, as is moving between them, making cards like Blind Spot very useful- all supporting the goal of being there to mess with your opponent when their mission attempt happens.

Many of the other Romulan cards in the set support the goal of returning Romulans to their thematic roots. The “here to mess with you" theme is wholly embodied in a powerful new interrupt, Imperial Entanglements (props to the creative team for snagging a card name from a Star Wars LCG set!). This interrupt allows your D’Deredix to metaphorically “decloak” from your draw deck and harry an opponent’s personnel during a mission attempt. Just like in The Next Generation, a Warbird may now be waiting in the ether prepared to disrupt your mission attempt.

What’s Distinctive, Big and Oft-Requested?

Our final goal for the set was to create some large, iconic ships to support the set’s focus on ships. If you think that defining “iconic” isn’t the pretext for a big ol’ nerd fight, you would be wrong. If there’s one thing the design team agreed on, it’s that everyone on the design team saw different ships as “iconic.” Being a DS9 fan, I thought of certain ships as noteworthy, while others on the team wanted ships from TOS episodes I had never seen to take their place. The result was that we had to greatly scale back our ambitions in this category. We decided several ships could not actually be the ship cardtype (Botany Bay), while others were deemed not large or iconic or both (Naprem, Enterprise-A). What remained were a few tried and tested ships that met our criteria. The one I’ll share today is an unexpected version of a certain U.S.S Enterprise-E… but there are more to follow that are sure to have players excited!

Staring Across the Neutral Zone

Face of the Enemy aims to make players rethink their ship choices and use more of Star Trek’s iconic ships in their decks. With forty-five (45) new cards, Face of the Enemy also reinforces the Next Generation themes of equality and teamwork and returns the Romulans to their uniquely meddling behaviors. I can’t wait to see how Face of the Enemy changes the shape of the game when it releases on Friday, November 13th!


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