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Welcome to Hard Time

by Richard New, Lead Designer and Nathan Miracle, Assistant Designer

29th August 2016

“Hello, Miles. Welcome to hell.” – Ee’Char, “Hard Time” Deep Space 9

Denevan Crystals

Knock, knock! A plate of food slides into your room, which is a dirty and stone-walled cell in the center of a massive prison. You’re a criminal; a bad guy. How’d you get here? Treason? Espionage? Impersonating a foreign dignitary? Spreading disease? Stepping on a plant when your current area was designated a punishment zone? The reason for your incarceration in the Star Trek universe could be as endless as the expanse of space.

We give you Hard Time, the thirty-eighth Second Edition expansion, scheduled to be released Friday, September 9th, 2016. Hard Time touches on the underbelly of the Star Trek universe with forty-five (45) new virtual cards for your deck-building pleasure. As always, the set is tournament legal one week after release, on Friday, September 16th, 2016.

Hard Time began with the intent of evolving past the recent set focus on two specific affiliations. There are a few factions could benefit from some refocusing or other enhancements, but the untouched factions pretty much have established and unique identities. (It is important to note, however, that this is not the end of Phase II. Affiliation identities will still be a focus as well as cultural enforcement.) This set focuses on the problems, both the people and the lifeless hurdles, often featuring less savory stories. Before we dive into the underworld, I'd like to introduce you to the team that helped create Hard Time:

Richard New [The Guardian], Lead Designer
Designer Profile: Richard New

Hard Time is my first lead design assignment and my sixth design posting in general. I look forward to seeing the community’s response to the team’s efforts.

Charlie Plaine [MidnightLich], Co-Lead Designer
Designer Profile: Charlie Plaine

This expansion is Charlie's seventeenth 2E project, and his second as a co-lead designer. Charlie is moving into more of a support role for most future design projects, so this is going to likely be one of his final Second Edition projects.

Nathan Miracle [GooeyChewie], Assistant Designer
Designer Profile: Nathan Miracle

Hard Time is Nathan's third project as a Second Edition designer, and as usual, he's knocked it out of the park. As someone who plays the game quite frequently, his insight was very helpful.

Jeremy Benedict [flrazor], Design Intern
Designer Profile: Jeremy Benedict

Jeremy Benedict joined the team as part of our Internship program. As a member of the highly competitive Minnesota play group, Jeremy's experience became invaluable in helping the expansion achieve its potential.

Filuz

I can’t say enough about the good work each of these guys did. It would not be the same set without them. However, we listened intently to our play testers, pestered rules with wording issues, and gave a very difficult set of requests to creative and art, who, as always, went above and beyond to make an imaginative and gorgeous set. And all of them deserve recognition for their efforts.

And that doesn’t even touch on the volunteers that make this site and community work every day. All of them deserve positive recognition for their offerings, big or small, whenever life allows them. I hope that you value our volunteers as much as I do and would be willing to give the Continuing Committee a donation. Those donations keep the community working for you! So, really, you’re the most important volunteer of all!

Something Worth Going to Prison
“I’d do it again!” A common sentiment for quite a few that populate prisons; it doesn’t quite ring true for characters like Quark, who would much rather affix the addendum, “…only in a way that wouldn’t get me caught.” If he hadn’t succeeded in getting Odo off his back, he might very well have gone down for smuggling Denevan Crystals through the station. This newest Commodity aides the Dominion and Ferengi side action by inducting an entirely new crop of personnel into their decks: Smugglers. Of the twenty-four (24) currently in the game (and there will be more, but you’ll have to wait for a future article), only eight (8) have Acquisition. (Kind of makes you wonder what they’re in it for…) By smuggling this Commodity into the opponent’s core, the rest of the Smugglers can now take advantage of Felicium or Tulaberry Wine, making a wider array of Commodity decks possible and giving future designers a core of personnel from which to start.

K.I.S.S.
We also listened to certain members of the community, who desire simpler personnel as the mortar between main character bricks. Several affiliations will get a 1-cost personnel with skills that fit missions or strategies, often with a keyword to boot. For instance, Filuz could be very useful at a suite of forgotten missions. With his Treachery and higher than average Cunning for a Klingon, he fits well in a No Peace in Our Time deck. Or, with the High Council Member keyword (the cheapest available and the first non-unique), he can be grabbed by Guidance of the Council for Gowron to exploit. He also brings an easy Intelligence (again, the cheapest in the affiliation and only the second non-unique) to an affiliation with little of that skill.

We also have unique personnel that are simply skills, attributes, and keywords, but you'll have to wait (or scroll down, I suppose) for Nathan Miracle to spoil one below.

Not all of the personnel, that I would consider simple, have no ability at all. I know some would disagree, but I believe the idea is the important aspect of a card, not the number of words it takes to express it. Even so, we tried to keep words to a minimum in this set. Dar, for instance, adds the missing skill of Archaeology to the Holograms (and he isn’t the last) and has the simple Hologram text from other members of Iden’s ragtag crew.

Dar’s Calling

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.” – Sun Tsu, The Art of War

One of the first design goals of the set was to make dilemma piles a little less homogenous. In a game with between nineteen (19) and twenty-two (22) headquarters from which to start (depending on how you count) having few dilemmas that were “affiliated,” that is, worked well with a specific pool of other dilemmas, seemed like a shame, especially as those dilemmas are often guilty of creating new dilemma piles. There are several cards in Hard Time that will hopefully allow players to hammer their opponents right in their weak spot. I mean, how often do you check your deck to make sure you bring along the skill of Archaeology? Enter Underlying Influence. Being planet-only shouldn’t slow down this dilemma. Of the pitiful ten (10) dilemmas in the game that currently require Archaeology, only one (1) is a space dilemma. These are often underpowered or overlooked dilemmas that will add some interesting effects from filtering to tossing personnel in a number of different places (as long as those places aren’t on the table), to simple walls.

Underlying Influence

With a dilemma pile split nearly in half between planet and space, you can fill the other half with one of several options (Chula, Damage, something else we might have up our sleeves) and keep your opponent guessing what is in store. There is also another benefit to building a pile that takes advantage of a card like this: namely, that it counteracts cards that hurt dual dilemmas, like the popular Stakoron missions, or making a Romulan player overpay for Ptol. Of course, we’ll see how this month’s errata pans out for 5-space Voyager, but if that’s a concern, there are already some answers available.

We also have a couple of cards for the draw deck that make playing a specific dilemma build a little easier. I'm really excited about another personnel with similar text, but for now, let me show you Verad. He effectively downloads Skeleton Crew onto three of your opponent's missions, reducing the need to start the game with Alpha 5 Approach or simply waste a dilemma draw on them. And unlike the aforementioned mission, it's up to your opponent to prevent you from microteaming.

Sibling Rivalry

“Technically, you are correct. I do not have a brother. … I have a half-brother.” – Spock, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

As you have seen, we were on a mission, of sorts, to provide a carrot to complement the anti-dual stick. In that course, we decided it might be a good idea to visit polar (non-dual) dilemmas from the past and provide a counterpoint. Planet and space pairs have been in the game from the beginning, include Pursuit Just Behind//Explosive Decompression and the infamous Whisper in the Dark//Tsiolkovsky Infection. One such dilemma is Hard of Heart. In case you might not see a similarity, here’s a hint: this dilemma was play tested under the name “Ardent Planetor.”

We also did space versions of previously released planet dilemmas. Silent Witness, for example, even has story from the same source material, to make the connection easier to recognize.

Not all brother dilemmas simply copy the text and swap out some skills. Some are a little more complicated. Journey to the Past started as a mirror version of Where No One Has Gone Before, which you can still see in the requirements. The limitation of three personnel came late in the process to prevent some timing confusion. On the whole, I am confident that even though this card boasts seven lines of text, players can use previous experience with its intended brother to quickly acclimate to the text without being overwhelmed, illustrating my earlier point. (Even though, this is the only card in the set without lore, so if it’s still an unacceptable travesty, it’s the only one you must endure.)

Now, undergo a What Would Brad See list from my fellow designer, Nathan Miracle:

Verad

 

 


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