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A Time to Stand

by Tyler Fultz, Lead Designer

11th April 2016

"These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission - to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."

Purpose is everything. The Starship Enterprise and her crew wouldn’t have compelled us as fans if they hadn’t been on a mission- sailing bravely into the unknown. The missions that the heroes of the shows and films undertook drove the Star Trek franchise- and the centrality of missions to the Star Trek universe drives the expansion we’re unveiling today.

We're excited to announce that A Time to Stand, the thirty-sixth Second Edition expansion, will be released Friday, April 22nd, 2016. A Time to Stand 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, April 29th, 2016.

A Time to Stand, at its core, is about missions – and bringing their diverse characteristics to light. Both Maquis and Starfleet, the two affiliations getting a refresh in this expansion, have a wealth of new cards interacting with missions. But there is so much more, as the set focuses on underused characteristics like the Nebula keyword, span and regions– and that’s only the beginning! Before we synchronize our watches and begin the mission, I'd like to introduce you to the team that helped create A Time to Stand:

Tyler Fultz [DJstormtrooper], Lead Designer

Designer Profile: Tyler Fultz

A Time to Stand is my second design in the lead position and my fourth design overall. I led the team through the design and playtesting phases. We kept a very tight thematic focus on this expansion, and I am very proud of our team and the amazing work we were able to accomplish.

Keith Morris [Foreman], Assistant Designer

Designer Profile: Keith Morris

A Time to Stand is Keith’s fourth design project. He is one of 2E’s best and most prolific designers. His insights often provide crucial solutions to vexing problems. You’ll see his creativity on many of the cards in the set, especially our dilemmas.

Daniel Giddings [Danny], Design Intern

Designer Profile: Daniel Giddings

A Time to Stand is Danny’s first design project. Danny was chosen to intern on the team due to his prolific work on the Dream Card boards. Danny was tireless with his work for this expansion and it shows through in the final product.

John Corbett was also a part of our design team early on, but had to drop due to real-life commitments. You’ll see his mark on several 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 ought 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!

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

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 GraceA Time to Stand started out no differently, and we decided early on that "mission characteristics matter" would be an interesting design space to explore. We really challenged ourselves to make cards that keyed off of missions in novel ways.

Missions have a lot of variables to play with: points, type, region, quadrant, span, requirements, attemptability, completion status, what’s beneath them, at them etc… so it wasn’t hard to generate ideas. We knew we wanted to promote missions that were underused as well as encourage players to think differently about mission order. The question was: where can we get the biggest bang for our buck?

In examining the most underused missions in the game, it quickly became evident that span was a factor. There has long been little incentive to use a 4-span space mission (and certainly not a 3-span planet!) while there was no penalty for including a 2-span space mission or a 1-span planet. In A Time to Stand, we’ve included a suite of dilemmas and verbs to try and change this calculus. The most basic of these dilemmas is Brave Words which provides a straightforward incentive to include higher span missions in your deck. It’s just one part of a cycle that will make you think more carefully about the span of your missions.

Another goal of the set was to promote mission orders other than S-P-P- particularly S-S-P or S-P-S. Both of these benefit from the span encouragement mentioned above. Some of the new [SF] cards in A Time to Stand will also encourage S-S-P. However, we felt that S-P-S warranted an explicit carrot and it took the form of Gamma Erandi. This mission recognizes that you’ve undertaken a rare mission order and rewards you with better requirements. There’s more in the set, like Nebula encouragement and the sole survivor of a cycle of “Reflections 2”-style personnel, but I can’t spoil everything here…

We Must Protect This House!!

We knew when this project began that tackling Maquis in Phase II would be a difficult project. Doing so began with confronting an uncomfortable truth: Maquis were the worst designed affiliation in the game. Decipher saddled these poor colonists with a bunch of unattemptable missions and the need to play an expensive cancellable event to complete them. Furthermore, when we really discussed it, For the Cause wasn’t thematic either. Why would the Maquis, a group of rag tag fighters, use the same set of requirements at every mission? They should by their very nature be adaptable and flexible. The one-skillset idea would be much better suited to an affiliation associated with homogeny and domination. We think this is why the Borg later received this mechanic in the form of Expand the Collective. We arrived at the realization that we would need to sideline For the Cause to move the affiliation forward.

Maquis had issues other than the albatross that was For the Cause. Since I combined the Maquis and their disruptive tricks with Aid Legendary Civilization in 2010, Maquis have been borderline broken. Their level of counter denial simply exceeded what many decks could produce, leaving many players with nothing on the board mid-game. We knew that in the shadow of Maquis disruption, we couldn’t give that strategy many more tools and we would have to choose a different way.

In the 2E universe, Maquis are an affiliation on the borderline between the mission solving good guys (mostly Feds) and the interactive bad guys (Klingons, Romulans, Borg). In the CC era, they have trended more towards the interactive (bad) side. We felt the meter needed to move in the opposite direction and better represent the “freedom fighter” aspect of the Maquis and their inner [Fed]–ness. We choose to do this by expanding on the “connected to the land” theme that was introduced in Unity. The primary result was the new Maquis HQ: Qatal Prime. This new HQ serves as a DMZ home base for Maquis more interested in solving their originally intended missions (in the DMZ) than existing Maquis staples like Aid Legendary Civilization. We also gave them a new thematic event which can hopefully right the wrongs made in the creation of For the Cause. There are lots more Maquis cards coming in A Time to Stand, but these two form the mechanical backbone of their new strategy.

Too Many Chef Rikers in the Galley

Starfleet, as an affiliation, has long suffered from profound thematic confusion. When originally introduced in To Boldly Go, their mechanical theme was novel and interesting: go to space first. However, Decipher quickly betrayed this theme by making Necessary Execution two sets later. This dilemma was so strong that it essentially introduced an unwritten rule into the game that “everyone goes space first.” While this had positive effects, like curbing the use of the ubiquitous Investigate Maquis Activity, it left Starfleet thematically adrift. While [SF] subsequently received a strongly themed mirror faction, it would take until the release of The Undiscovered Country for the core [SF] faction to get a theme again. Species Diversity was a good one and reflected the Enterprise Season 4 push towards the founding of the Federation. That theme severed the community well for years.

Enter Peak Performance. This expansion introduced the Delphic Starfleet team which not only turned the meta on its head (remember “Archer is God and Sean Hawkins is his prophet”?) but further muddied the waters for [SF] thematically. This team was extremely powerful and had basically nothing to do with existing [SF] cards. Since that time, [SF] decks have largely existed as a hodgepodge of competing themes and mechanics built on top of one another.

We felt our task as the design team for [SF] in Phase II was not only to navigate this maze of mechanics and teams, but to design cards that would help to unify them as a faction. Figuring out this problem involved nothing less than forming an excel matrix of existing mechanics/flavors and seeing how we could tie them into something overarching. The theme we settled on was learning. In the show, the crew of the Enterprise doesn’t know a whole lot and they clearly want to learn more about the galaxy humans inhabit. In 2E, knowledge takes its most basic form as dilemmas under missions. So, a lot of the cards for [SF] in A Time to Stand will key on overcome dilemmas, the most basic of which is Accumulated Knowledge. There are also cards that will help you gain that knowledge faster, like Jupiter. The idea behind these cards is that they be accessible to all [SF] archetypes and will weave a common thread through them. Whatever version of [SF] you prefer, you’ll find something helpful in A Time to Stand.

I’m buying Phase II shots for everybody!

Many of the game’s sub-tier factions suffer from poor mission selection. Recognizing this, our final objective for A Time to Stand was to create some solid missions that could help these struggling affiliations and factions express their core identities. Betazed is one such mission. It rewards the Terok Nor player for going all-in on the dilemma milling theme introduced in Balance of Terror. Another is Deep Space Station K-7, a powerful mission that will help infiltration decks worm their way onto the opponent’s side of the board. There’s more to come that will give significant boosts to your favorite factions!

Let’s see what’s out there…

A Time to Stand aims to make players rethink their mission choices with the aim of expanding their gaming universe. With forty-five (45) new cards, A Time to Stand helps the Maquis reconnect with the land and gives Starfleet a core theme of seeking and accumulating knowledge. I can’t wait to see how A Time to Stand changes the shape of the game when it releases on Friday, April 22nd!

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