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The End of An Era

by Allen Gould, Metamorphosis Lead

13th April 2018

Welcome to Metamorphosis, the 63-card conclusion to the First Edition Age of Backwards Compatability, and the last set containing conversions of Second Edition cards. But before we get to the introductions, let's define a few terms for folks who may not have lived through the history. (I promise - shiny new cards will be coming.)

An explanation of terms

When we talk about "backwards compatible", these are Second Edition cards that have a colored bar in the bottom left corner, marking that they were declared by Decipher as legal for play in First Edition games. They look like these:

Of course, 2E cards don't perfectly translate across - they don't have classifications or subcommands, some of the skills changed names (and they have way more room for wordy abilities), and what "your core" anyway? So there's pages of conversion rules to explain all the details on how to make these cards behave properly in First Edition games. For the most part it works, but there's always been some friction when the two games have taken different directions.

That leads us to "conversions", which is the process in reverse - taking those Second Edition cards and turning them into proper First Edition cards, on 1E card templates and 1E wordings. The fidelity between the two versions can vary widely, from near-perfect to just preserving the theme, turning these:

into these: 

Once the conversion has been made, the old Second Edition version is errataed to match the new converted game text.

Meet the People on the Team

Here's the folks on the design team:

Allen Gould - This is my fourth design (and my first lead), and my background in rules and errata meant I was motivated to get this done.

Charlie Plaine - Charlie likes to join new leads on sets, and I was glad to have him - he's a deep well of knowledge and tricks on all aspects of design. This was his seventeenth First Edition design.

Jason Drake -  This is Jason's fourth design, and along with good design chops he brings some serious gameplay skills to the table. 

Jon Carter - Because this set has to put a lot of verbose 2E cards onto smaller 1E templates, I asked for someone from Rules to be on the team to help give us a handle on what shortcuts could and couldn't work, and fortunately I got the Rules Master himself. This was Jon's first design.

And of course, the folks on Rules, Art, Creative, and Playtesting were invaluable as always in making this set the best it could be. Special thanks go out to Jorn Engstrom (admiral-mogh), who came out of retirement to work on the images for the converted cards. Without Jorn, there would be no Metamorphosis. Thanks Jorn!

Picking and choosing

There was no lack of sources of information for us to look at - we had lists of cards that have appeared in deck lists (both short- and long-term), lists from players.. I even had a binder with printouts of every backwards compatible card ever that I browsed through. There were no lack of suggestions to be found, that's for sure! 

And since no-one wants to read me yakking on about theory, let's look at some actual examples. 

Eleven of Ninety

This sees a fair bit of use in Borg decks, the drone doesn't already exist in 1E, and the special ability maps pretty closely to Masaka Transformations, so this came across fairly closely. Swap to the subcommand, bump the stats to match 1E Borg standards, replace the wordy skill with a special download. In all, it feels like a proper 1E card now.

Katherine Pulaski

This time, we have a 1E version of this card, but it's never seen much use (mostly due to that nasty restriction box), so it's no surprise that players gravitate to a better persona. But it's not always great for the game to just make strictly better versions of cards, so these cases get a hard look. In this case, we decided to go ahead, but made sure to leave "U.S.S. Enterprise" off the lore so that there's a compelling reason to use either version. Genetronic Replicators was suggested early as a close match for her text skill, and to prevent making Yet Another Fed Double-MED (and to reflect her existing 1E sensibilities) she swaps one for a SCIENCE, which makes her an interesting alternative to the existing bridge crew docs.

Patient Schemer

On the other hand, Jo'Bril's 2E version is pretty much just the 1E version with some extra bling attached. It's a lot harder of a sell to claim that old Jo wasn't "good enough". So we took the extra game text and made it a verb (which would have needed to be offloaded anyway), and expand the concept to allow a deck to be built around those pesky assassins that just won't die.


Another category was filling out teams that exist mainly in backwards compatible cards, but for one reason or another haven't been covered and aren't slated to be visited in upcoming sets any time soon. I'm being deliberately vague as to not spoil the surprise, but Intuition doubles for one of teams plus closes a broken link for Deanna Troi, and it's always nice to get a win-win. Some teams don't appear (or will only appear in part) because future design teams want to use those stories or characters in their sets. 


And lastly, because a lot of the "teams" tended to be Federation, we made a point of finding cards of other affiliations to convert, and Leosa may be my favorite due to how her lore (irrelevant in 2E) comes across to give her a very quirky set of traits for a Ferengi.

There are plenty of other stories to tell and cards to show, so sit back and enjoy your Metamorphosis!

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