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Design Spotlight: Second Edition Bajoran

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

22nd November 2017

The Bajorans were created to provide lots of conflict and drama with Starfleet. "We wanted to create a new group of aliens which would cause [...] continuing conflict for our people to deal with," explained Executive Producer Michael Piller, who created the species along with fellow Executive Producer Rick Berman. (TV Zone, Special #29, p. 10)


Bajorans were one of the six (6) original affiliations that debuted with Second Edition, although they didn't get their own starter deck. Out of the original six affiliations, Bajorans provided the best access to the discard pile, a theme which has carried through their entire lifespan in the game. Bajorans really hit their stride around the time of Necessary Evil, and were one of the first affiliations to get a Phase II revamp. If you like cards that let you give extra value to your discard pile, then you are in for a treat.

Bareil Antos (Esteemed Vedek)

At a Glance
Here's a quick look at the [Baj] affiliation:

Bajoran [Baj]
Nouns 131 Cards (119 Personnel, 12 Ships)
Verbs 32 Cards (20 Events, 12 Interrupts)
Missions 40
First Appearance Second Edition (2012)
Recent Appearance The Nth Degree (2017)
Appears In TNG, DS9 and Voyager
Doesn't Appear In Enterprise, TOS, and Movies

The defining strength of the Bajoran affiliation is their access to their discard pile. In the show, Bajorans have a deep spiritual side which has a distinct reverence for the past; in game, this is manifested as access to the discard pile. Bajorans aren't the only ones that can do this, but they are the best. 43.5% of the [Baj] cards have the phrase "discard pile" in their game text. The Borg affiliation, who are the second best at manipulating the discard pile, have "discard pile" in five affiliated cards. Five!

As I'm sure every CCG player of all time, will tell me, a mechanic at a high volume doesn't equate to the mechanic's power. While true, Bajorans in Second Edition have the best discard pile retrieval cards in the game. Bajorans can add a personnel from their discard pile to the mission attempt, or return any card to hand as an order or during the Play and Draw cards phase. Aside from retrieval, Bajorans can use the cards in their discard pile as a resource, prevent event from being played, gaining skills and attributes, and more.

Though it is a major theme for them, Bajorans are more than their discard pile. They are one of the best affiliations in the game at micro teaming missions. If you are unfamiliar with micro teaming, it is attempting missions with the smallest number of personnel possible in order to minimize or eliminate the opponent's dilemma draw. Bajorans are outstanding at micro teaming, due to their high volume of high Integrity personnel combined with an "easy" set of Integrity missions. For example, Bareil Antos (Esteemed Vedek), Benjamin Sisko (The Emissary of the Prophets), and Opaka (Kai of Bajor) sum up to 28 Integrity, which is enough to solve several missions. Add in an extra body to cover skills, and you have a four Bajoran micro teaming powerhouse.

Of course, Bajorans aren't all spirituality and integrity; they are more than willing to roll up on an enemy and punch them in the face. After all, the Bajoran Resistance was formed out of the Cardassian occupation of their homeworld. Bajorans are tertiary in ground combat, behind Klingons and the Dominion. They have a couple of powerful Assault cards and can put together some nice Strength when they need to. Related to this, Bajorans now have the ability to play Artifact equipment without having to complete a mission first. This is one of the few truly affiliation specific-mechanics in the game. It was added as an experiment, the success or failure of which hasn't been determined yet.

It's not nearly all sunshine and rainbows for the Bajorans, as much as I wish it were. One of the trade-offs for having such frequent and reliable access to the discard pile is that Bajorans lose access to traditional card drawing and downloading mechanics. Oh, they have a few cards that download specific cards, but most of their extra card access comes from their discard pile. That makes a card like Dukat (Pah-wraith Puppet) so devastating to the Bajorans. (I've written at length about why this particular card is a Bad Thing, but in short: this ability is good. There should be affiliations that are good at attacking the discard pile - Cardassians, for example. This Dukat's ability, at this cost, on a personnel that can go in 90% of decks, is what makes it a Bad Thing.)

It's not that common to have an affiliation that has a major deficiency in a particular attribute, but Bajorans really have trouble with Cunning. They only have five (5) distinct personnel with Cunning of 7, and only one that has anything higher than that. They do make up for with with good Integrity and good Strength, but Cunning is probably the most common dilemma attribute in the game.

And speaking of attributes... let's talk about Bajoran ships. In a word, they are awful; I'm pretty sure I've heard any number of "colorful metaphors" inserted before the word awful, too. Over the years, I've seen lots of new and aspiring designers pitch card after card to give Bajorans better ships because it seems like such an obvious weakness. Well, it is - intentionally. Think about it: in the show, Bajoran ships were old, out of date, and scraped together to fight the Cardassians. They didn't need to be fast, they needed to have weapons and shields so they could blow up Cardassians without themselves blowing up. Additionally, Bajorans have a lot of in-region missions, which gives them a natural movement advantage. In short, "crappy" ships are both thematically and mechanically relevant.

Bajor (Blessed of the Prophets)

Looking Ahead
I'm firmly of the opinion that "early access Artifacts" was a win for the Bajorans. I'd like to see Bajorans get more cards that reward players for having Artifacts, especially early in the game, and some more Artifacts to go into their decks. As fun as it is to have a small Bajoran Resistance group running around with a Varon-T Disruptor and the Stone of Gol, murdering people and scoring points, it would be nice to see some more variety.

Bajorans should also double down on their discard pile proclivities. I'd love to see Second Edition designers make more cards that allow Bajorans to use the discard pile in interesting ways. This is design space that a lot of designers fear, but it doesn't have to be that way. There should be powerful, affiliation specific cards and mechanics and there should be powerful, affiliation specific counters to those. 2E has a good safety net, so I remind designers to not be afraid of something "because" it might be bad. (This was a hard lesson for me to learn when I was actively designing as well.)

Finally, last but not least, Bajorans have a lot of keywords; many of them have a religious aspect to them. Faith hasn't been really explored in Star Trek, but I think it should be, and especially so in our game. What does it mean to be a Vedek or a Kai or a Prylar? How do they interact? Where do Orbs fit in? These are all great hooks for future designs to hook into, and I can't wait to see what they might do.


Full disclosure, in hindsight: I love Bajorans. They've been my favorite affiliation in Second Edition for a long time. I started playing Bajoran decks when Borum (Selfless Hero) came out in 2003's Energize, and really didn't stop playing them until Starfleet caught my eye in 2006. I'm sure anyone from the old Columbus, OH play group could tell you tales about my Bajoran decks.

Bajorans are fun, they play differently from most other affiliations, and let you make some cool decisions both when building your deck, and when playing the games. I hope I've succeeded at giving you a level headed review of the Bajorans, because they are multi-faceted and a lot of fun to play.

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