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Are You Ready?

by Thomas Vineberg, Lead Designer

14th March 2016

Imperial Intimidation

“Almost a century ago... James Kirk accidentally exchanged places with his counterpart from your side ... Our Terrans were barbarians then, but their Empire was strong.”

In our previous installment of First Edition, we visited the 24th century Mirror Universe, where conflict raged between the powerful Klingon-Cardassian Alliance and the rag-tag group of Terran rebels and former slaves opposing them. But 100 years earlier, the ancestors of those present-day insurgents were themselves the cruel rulers of a fearful galaxy. With the release of Through the Looking Glass, a 54-card virtual expansion, the Terran Empire has its day in the sun.

“Not our universe, not our ship. Something parallel."

Whereas the Reactor Core mechanic gave us a ready-made method of differentiating the various KCA and Rebel factions into stand-alone entities, the Terran Empire presented some slightly different challenges. 

To start, we knew that we did not want to rely on Temporal Vortex as a method for bringing the 23rd century crew onto the spaceline. It has always been an awkward fit to have entire factions’ ability to reliably leave their reporting location depend on the Referee mechanic. Nor did we want to have to introduce Q the Referee to the Block format.

Next, while the Terran Empire already had some very high-quality personnel and abilities, they would need at least some increase in reporting speed to make them competitive with other affiliations on their own. At the same time, we did not want to make this faster reporting easily stackable with other engines. The goal was a limitation in the same spirit, though not the same mechanic, as what we saw with Continuing Mission and Reshape the Quadrant. 

As these problems were shared by multiple Time Location-based factions, there seemed to be an opportunity to address them simultaneously. So, while we reserved the option to prepare a narrowly targeted solution for Terran Empire alone, we started “big.” Testing feedback was positive, and the result is a card that should open up exciting new deck options not only for the Empire, but a number of other factions based in different eras; more on this in a forthcoming article.

Farrell “How many enemies have you simply wiped out of existence by the touch of a button?"

That’s not to say that the Empire won’t have some unique abilities of its own. The distinctive Tantalus Field effect makes a new appearance in the set, for a rather different purpose. As with the artifact, it’s a card that is available to anyone sufficiently determined, but in whose use the Empire’s scheming ruffians may have the edge.

“Regrettable that this society has chosen suicide." 

Continuing the block’s focus on Objectives, you'll find a number of new ones here, including this representation of the mission of the I.S.S. Enterprise. Simply brandish the massive firepower of your heavily-armed flagship, and your targets may hand over what you want without firing a shot. You can also bring your new subjects under your direct control... but beware of resistance among unwilling slaves.

"I command an Enterprise where officers apparently employ private henchmen among the crew, where assassination of superiors is a common means of advancing in rank.” 

As you might expect, to survive in this brutal environment, Imperial officers have picked up some disreputable skills. Interestingly, they also have a particular aptitude for using equipment - not only the frightening Agonizer, but a plethora of powerful, skill-boosting 23rd-century phasers and tricorders. The personnel in the set were designed with those abilities in mind - and they provide a few skill boosts of their own, as seen here. In this universe, everyone who’s anyone needs a bodyguard - but today’s V.I.P. may be tomorrow’s unlamented casualty, so they’d best enjoy their status while their opportunistic entourage is still at their side.

“What is this? Everything's all messed up and changed around, out of place.“

There’s a lot of Imperial blue among the personnel in this set who round out the affiliation as a stand-alone entity. But you’ll also find some of our prime-universe heroes who have fallen victim to transporter accidents, wrong turns in the wormhole, involuntary “recruitment", and even ill-conceived business ventures gone wrong. Once there, most of them want nothing more than to leave. A new objective in this set will give your wayward personnel an added incentive for finding the way home. 

Dangerous Derelict “Hello, Quark. It's me, your Grand Nagus. You'll never guess where I am!”

Of course, there are also those who are content to sit back and wait to be rescued. Such is the case for this new version of Zek. Why the heck would you want to get your own personnel captured? Here’s part of the answer: if the Nagus gets into trouble on his latest far-flung “business safari” (with his long-suffering man-servant in tow), well, there’ll be a reward for those intrepid (or foolish) enough to come retrieve him. (His one-time Oo-mox partner might have more nefarious reasons for wanting to be in a holding cell).

“Asking a Ferengi to play a Cardassian game is like asking a Klingon to chew with his mouth closed.”

Of course, given the alarming experiences of Kirk, Sisko, and company, we’d also understand if you’d rather not venture into the Mirror Universe. While Block support continues to be an important part of set design, we also made it a point to include cards for a wide variety of decks in the full environment. Dilemmas, again, were a priority: among others, you’ll find dilemmas that become most effective when combined with specific deck choices; new options for the Dyson Sphere door, even new Q-related dilemmas. 

“...Right now the changeling could be anything or anyone on this ship."

You’ll also find enhancements for many different deck types, in and out of Block. Whether your deck venerates the glory of Cardassia, the magnificence of the Ferengi, the deviousness of the Founders, or the resilience of the U.S.S. Voyager crew, there’s something for you. 

Once you step Through the Looking Glass, there may be no going back...

(Release date: March 25th, 2016. This expansion is not yet rated.)

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