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Design What If: Second Edition Kazon

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

6th June 2018

"The series' co-creators originally conceived of the Kazon as contemporary Los Angeles street gangs. Jeri Taylor recalled, "We felt with the Kazon we needed to address the tenor of our times and what [...] was happening in our cities and recognizing a source of danger and social unrest. We wanted to do that metaphorically." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 151)

Overview
One of the things that Maggie wanted to do when we brought back the Spotlight Series was to make sure that it extended to cover all of the affiliations in First Edition. The original Spotlight Series was just on the Second Edition affiliations back in the day before the CC really supported 1E. I was 100% behind this idea for two reasons: first, because I'm always in favor of equality between games. Secondly, I thought it would be a lot of fun to do "what if" articles during those weeks, examining what they might look like in 2E. Let's get into it, and fair warning: this might get weird.

2E Kazon - What If?

The Assumptions
My personal stance on adding new affiliations or sub-affiliations is that it should only be done if the addition can bring something to the game that can't be done already. For example, I have no desire to see Kazon added to 2E just to create a differently colored template; I want Kazon to be able to print something to the game that can't be done in any existing affiliation. But that being said, for these "what if" articles, I'm assuming that adding the affiliation (or sub-affiliation) to the game has already been decided. You won't be seeing debate about if it's a good idea, but discussion about how best to implement the new addition.

I'm also not planning on doing a lot of card design here, because there are quite a few different ways that a design might go. I don't want to post a bunch of cards or ideas here and create an expectation that those will be what happens, should the Kazon ever be added to Second Edition. My goal is to keep things at a high level, although I reserve the right to drill down to the card level if I feel it's necessary.

Finally, I want to make it explicitly clear that these exploratory articles are not indicative of any plans. Again, we have no plans to add any new affiliations or sub-affiliation to Second Edition. This article is just a theoretical exploration of what might be, should that ever change. Kazon aren't planned for 2E, but this article looks at what they might be like if they were.

Affiliation vs. Sub-Affiliation
The first question that would need to be answered is if we're adding the Kazon as a full affiliation or as a sub-affiliation of another, likely Non-Aligned. As a new affiliation, they would get their own card template and color (likely based on the First Edition one) as well as a new affiliation icon. Assuming they had their own headquarters, they would only mix with other affiliations if multiple HQs are used (except for [NA]).

If not an affiliation, the Kazon would be a sub-affiliation. Sub-affiliation technology (icons like [TNG], [DS9], and [TN]) exists and is proven to work well, and even has been printed on [NA] personnel (see Vic Fontaine or Neelix). The sub-affiliation model would involve creating a new Kazon icon, and then putting it on [NA] cards in the second icon slot. Cards like Culluh, Tierna, and the Kazon Warship would be Non-Aligned, but sport the Kazon icon. A card like Seska would be [Car] affiliation, but sport the Kazon icon.

There are pros and cons to each approach. As an affiliation, you have the support to restrict where Kazon can play - to their headquarters. If they're a [NA] sub-affiliation, then they can report to most HQs as Non-Aligned personnel. On the other hand, as Non-Aligned cards, there is already support for them in game - specifically, missions. If we created Kazon as a new affiliation, they would need a lot of missions with their icon, or some special allowance to let them do other missions.

If I was going to make Kazon right now, I'd make them as a sub-affiliation. Knowing what I know about their available image pool, I think I'd like to avoid risking a repeat of the mistakes of First Edition. When there is a smaller image pool, it's going to be easier to build a sub-affiliation, that can work in multiple decks out of multiple HQs, than it would be to build a new affiliation from scratch. I think it could be done, but I haven't done a full analysis of the pros and cons; if I had to pick now, it would be a sub-affiliation. You can do almost everything with a Kazon icon that you can do with a Kazon affiliation, so that's where I'd go.

Affiliation Themes & Mechanics
As I said above, if we're going to add a new affiliation or sub-affiliation like the Kazon, I want there to be something that they can do that is unique to the Kazon. With eighteen (18) affiliations and sub-affiliations in Second Edition, that's a tall order. It's even more complex if we do go the sub-affiliation route, because this group will technically be playable with any HQ (except Borg and the more recent variations on classic headquarters). There are ways to deal with that, and the nature of a card game will push you to play compatible partners for the Kazon, but it does make it tricker.

But let's assume that we've worked that out, and there won't be abusive combinations. What identity can we give the Kazon that makes them unique? I would start out by listing out characteristics of the Kazon; this will give us an idea what type of mechanics they will best fit. Here's a few characteristics off the top of my head: aggressive, resource poor, scavengers, distrusting, fractured. My next step would be to find existing affiliations that capture some or all of the characteristics listed for the Kazon.

Aggressive affiliations suggest battle mechanics, which lend themselves to the Dominion and Klingon affiliations; resource poor implies either prior waste, which suggests Cardassian, or lack of reliable access to downloading. That doesn't map specifically to an affiliation, but it's an interesting mechanical note. Scavenging, to me, suggests the discard pile, and whenever you talk about the discard pile in 2E you should mention Bajorans. An affiliation that is distrusting, at least flavorfully, could be the Maquis or Romulans, but neither of those feels right for how the Kazon are distrustful. Fractured suggests something like DS9 or Terok Nor, where a sub-affiliation is made up of multiple different affiliations, although that doesn't directly map to Kazon sects.

Looking over the list, the next piece of the puzzle is to look for mechanical overlaps. The biggest one to me is the discard pile: Bajorans are at the top of that mechanical piece of the pie, and Klingons are second. As both of those affiliations were on our list, we might want to explore giving the Kazon a scavenging-themed discard pile mechanic. Those two affiliations also overlap in some combat mechanics, which could help give Kazon an aggressive edge. Both have Treacherous sub-themes that could fit Kazon's distrusting nature. While a hybrid affiliation that explores space that overlaps between the Bajoran and Klingon isn't completely unique, it's a great launching off point for mechanical exploration. For example, here's an idea that might lead to bigger and better things:

When you play this personnel, you may remove two cards in your discard pile from the game to take a personnel or ship from your discard pile into hand.

I imagine this mechanic, scavenging, to be a signature of the affiliation, where the Kazon turn their discard pile into either access to their deck or in-game bonuses. It could be defined as a mechanical word, so the above ability could be "...you may scavenge to take a personnel or ship from your discard pile into hand." A cool benefit to this mechanic is that the Kazon would pair really well with affiliations that put a lot of cards in their discard pile. Cardassians, for example, with their frequent discarding of cards from the top of their deck, would be a great match mechanically, and flavorfully as well.

Lighting-Round Questions
How do we represent the Kazon sects in 2E? While this might be a natural fit for 2E's keyword mechanic, I will argue that we should not implement the sects. While I don't mind an affiliation specific keyword now and again, adding several to one affiliation seems to be a little much. There are only a few that had more than one personnel, meaning we'd be adding a lot of keywords that would rarely get use. In Second Edition, gameplay trumps flavor and I believe the gameplay would be better without having Ogla and Nistrim keywords.

Would Kazon be a Delta Quadrant affiliation? As a sub-affiliation of Non-Aligned, that would be difficult to enforce. I could see some small bonuses, Voyager-style, as a tertiary theme, but with so few [DQ] affiliations available, it would be frustrating if it were anything more. However, if they were a proper affiliation, then absolutely.

Conclusion
I hope you've enjoyed this theoretical discussion of what a 2E Kazon affiliation might look like. Once again, to be crystal clear, there are NO plans for them to show up any time soon. But I don't know what the future holds, or what things might look like the next time the Spotlight Series comes around. Perhaps these Voyager villains will find a home in Second Edition; in the mean time, it's been fun to think about! What kinds of things would you like to see in a 2E Kazon affiliation?


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