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First Edition and The Future: Part II

by Cristoffer Wiker, First Edition Brand Manager and Charlie Plaine, Chairman

7th November 2015

Almost four years ago, The Continuing Committee published an article called “First Edition and The Future,” in which we outlined the reasoning and mechanics behind our shift to block design and block-based Organized Play. Now that we are in the midst of the third block of that three block plan, it’s time to revisit the concept of that article and share our plans for the next three years with you.

Voyager

Errata and the OTF Ban List
One of the most important things to happen to First Edition in the past four years is the creation of a dedicated Errata Team. This team consists of one designer, one member of the rules committee, and three members of the public, all of whom will rotate occasionally. The team is primarily tasked with monitoring the current state of the game, and then making adjustments where and when necessary. They also maintain the OTF Ban List and the Watch List, so that people are aware of what is being looked at.

Their secondary function will be working on fixes to cards on the OTF Ban List. All of these changes will be subject to play testing, as well as rules and design review, but it should, over time, lead to steady progress on returning banned cards to the card pool. Our goal is to find ways to retain the spirit and essence of the cards, since they will be playable in all formats, but remove the problem interactions from such cards. This is a goal with a wide range of difficulties, and we’ve come to realize that there are some cards that simply can’t be restored in a way that preserves their spirit. Hopefully, as we get the ban list down to just these cards, we can have a more extended discussion with the community about how to proceed.

Block is Shifting, But Staying
One of our original promises was to run a survey/review of the block paradigm between the second and the third year, to determine if it would continue forward. Well, as you might have guessed, we have decided to continue the block structure for another three-year cycle. However, we have been making changes to how we structure the expansions and will continue to do so, based primarily on your feedback.

One of the most common requests is for there to be more non-block expansions, and for there to be more off-theme cards in the block expansions. A prime example that is frequently referenced is Kazon Voyager from The Next Generation block’s Engage. We moved away from cards like that during the Deep Space Nine block, but will be returning to including similar cards in the Mirror Block and beyond. We will also look for opportunities to create non-block expansions, when and where they make sense on our production schedule. There are only so many resources that can be dedicated to new First Edition cards, but we will constantly be looking for places to add more non-block content.

Dead End

The Core of the Issue
One of the issues design has continued to run up against is selecting reprints for the blocks. Under the current model, every expansion in the block has to commit to the reprints they need before the first expansion releases, so they can be included in the supplemental file. Once that window is passed, there is very limited opportunity to reprint more cards, and the second and third expansions might find themselves unable to fully explore themes they might have otherwise. To address this issue, and to cut down on the overall workload associated with reprint expansions, we will be making changes to how we manage reprints moving forward.

We will no longer be releasing Homefront-style expansions, nor will there be Supplemental expansions associated with the first expansion of future blocks. In fact, we will be replacing the entire concept of the “Core Block” with a “Core Reprint List.” This list, much like the one that is automatically generated and available on the front page now, will be a list of all of the cards that are allowed to be used in block that don’t appear in a block expansion. How will this be different for the players? Hopefully, it won’t be. For example, right now the following expansions are legal in block:

When we switch to the Core Reprint List, the list will look like this:

Of course, since we will no longer be making Supplemental files, the number of expansions will further decrease as we rotate the blocks.

Moving to the Core Reprint List will provide a lot of advantages to the design team. Firstly, and most importantly, we are no longer beholden to keep all of the cards in the early Homefront-style expansions in Block forever; we have the option to rotate out any card that is problematic. The ability to remove cards due to interaction issues is going to be a huge benefit to the Block card pool formats.

Secondly, design now has the option to include reprints with each expansion release, instead of requiring the second and third expansion of the block to commit to reprints 6-12 months before their release. This greater flexibility does come with some extra complexity, but we will be working with our web design team and the community to find ways to present the information in as friendly a manner as possible.

Our current plan is to maintain roughly the same number of cards on the Core Reprint List as are in the Core Block + Supplemental files now, and ideally only update the list with the release of Block expansions. We will be rolling out this change no later than the first expansion of Block 4, and quite possibly sooner, technology permitting.

The New Three Year Plan
So, with all of that discussion out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the article. Much as we did originally, we’ve laid out a three year plan for the next three blocks. All of this is subject to change, and the information here is just a rough sketch. With that in mind, please allow us to walk you through our plans for the next three blocks.

Block 4: The 22nd-Century Block a.k.a. the Triforce Block
The first year of this second cycle will start a tour through history as we explore many stories, themes and mechanics from Star Trek: Enterprise. For the time being, we will be continuing to use the model of a larger expansion followed by two smaller expansions.

Seat of Starfleet

Project Courage
Expected Release August/September 2016
Lead Designer: Dan Hamman [SirDan]

This block will begin with an in-depth look at Starfleet and the 22nd-century Klingons, with both affiliations getting new starter decks. Potential themes to be explored will be the founding of the Federation, the dangers of space exploration, and the MACOs.

Project Power
Expected Release December 2016/January 2017
Lead Designer: Charlie Plaine [MidnightLich]

After one of the longest teases in history, this expansion will continue exploration of the 22nd-century and introduce the Vulcan affiliation. The Vulcans will be the first affiliation introduced to the game in the virtual era, and the first overall since Starfleet in 2006.

Project Wisdom
Expecte Release April/May 2017
Lead Designer: Corbin Johnson [Corbinq27]

We will close out the block with an exploration of the rest of the 22nd-century, including Romulans, Ferengi, and a host of other species. It is possible this expansion will not include a starter deck, but that decision will be made as the team gets underway.

With the release of Project Courage (Block 4 Expansion 1), the Deep Space Nine Block will rotate out of the Block format card pool.

Block 5: The Original Series Block a.k.a. the Babylon-5 Block
Moving on from the 22nd-century to the 23rd, the second block of this plan will dive into the rich and interesting space of The Original Series. Our tentative plan is to continue with the same model, where we will debut the block with a larger expansion and follow it up with two standard size smaller expansions. However, if we were to make a change, this block would be the earliest it could happen.

Captain Koloth

Project Delenn
Expected Release August/September 2017
Lead Designer TBD

The first expansion of this block will, appropriately, begin with a focus on the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire, recreating their epic struggle as depicted in Star Trek. An [OS] Federation and an [OS] Klingon starter (probably without Tribbles this time) will be featured as well.

Project G’Kar
Expected Release December 2017/January 2018
Lead Designer TBD

The second expansion of the TOS block will focus on other enemies of the Federation, most notably the Romulan Empire, and will likely introduce a third starter deck for the [OS] Star Empire.

Project Londo
Expected Release April/May 2018
Lead Designer TBD

Finally, we will conclude exploration of the 23rd-century with the final expansion of the block. If a starter is included, it will likely focus on the criminal elements of the galaxy and be focused on the [OS] Non-Aligned affiliation.

With the release of Project Delenn (Block 5 Expansion 1), the Crossover-block will rotate out of the format.

Block 6: The Motion Pictures a.k.a. the Original Trilogy Block
Completing our journey through time, the third and final block of this three year plan will explore the ten (10) Decipher-era movies and advance the timeline back to the 24th-century. The block structure here will follow whatever was done for Block 5 (currently, a large expansion followed by two smaller expansions.) Please note that all of this, being so far out, is extremely tentative and subject to change.

Starship Enterprise

Project Hope
Expected Release August/September 2018
Lead Designer TBD

The first expansion of this block will be based on the original series movies and the [CF] icon, and include cards for the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan factions. The starter decks for this expansion are currently planned to be based around the [CF] Federation and a to be determined faction.

Project Empire
Expected Release December 2018/January 2019
Lead Designer TBD

This expansion will develop themes introduced in the previous expansion, and is planned to introduce another starter deck, possibly Non-Aligned. This expansion will also likely lay down groundwork for the Next Generation movies and the next expansion.

Project Return
Expected Release April/May 2019
Lead Designer TBD

Almost four years after originally planned, we will be returning to Star Trek: Nemesis as the focus of an expansion! The Remans, dissident Romulans, and the crew of the Enterprise-E was originally planned as the focus for the third expansion of the Next Generation block, but was pushed back for developmental and thematic reasons. What better place to bring them back than in the motion pictures expansion? This expansion will include a starter deck for the Remans (Romulans).

With the release of Project Hope, all of Block 4 will rotate out of the block format, leaving Block 5 and Block 6 to co-exist.

Conclusion
So there you have it, a rough idea of our plan for the next three years. We were all very attracted to the idea of taking a temporal tour, so to speak, advancing from the 22nd-century back to the modern era. There is also great synergy between each of the overlaps, allowing Mirror Starfleet of Block 3 to mingle with our Starfleet in Block 4, the Klingons and Romulans of Block 4 to mingle with Block 5, and the Federation having great overlap between Blocks 5 and 6.

We will constantly be monitoring feedback on the forums, in tournament reports, and more as we firm up and develop these plans, so that we can be sure we are reacting to your needs and desires. Our plan is to repeat a “progress and direction survey” in between the end of Block 5 and the beginning of Block 6, much as we did earlier this year, to help us again gauge the success of the block paradigm.

In the meantime, we’ll keep working on making more and better dilemmas, increasing the number and type of off-theme cards we make in block expansions, and doing our best to make sure First Edition is strong, stable, and growing - but most of all, that it’s fun. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this article - we’ll be eagerly awaiting your feedback.


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