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Will of the Collective VIII: Never Broken

by Charlie Plaine, Director of First Edition

21st October 2020

Examine Morality

Ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary friends - it's time to buckle up, because we're about to go on a ride. Will of the Collective, the community-driven design program, is coming back to First Edition! If you aren't familiar with Will of the Collective, it was originally created for Second Edition and gives all of you the chance to work with design, creative, and art to create a new card. First Edition first got to join in on the fun with the 3rd incarnation in 2010, which designed Harcourt Fenton Mudd. After a long gap, Will of the Collective IV returned in 2018 and led to the creation of Joran. Our last 1E version was Will of the Collective IV, which took place in early 2019 and led to the recently released Examine Morality and Yarnek. And now, I'm happy to officially announce that Will of the Collective VIII is back, giving the First Edition community their fourth chance to make 1E cards.

(For those of you counting along at home, Will of the Collective I, II, V, and VII were exclusive to Second Edition.)

So far, we've made three personnel (Harcourt Fenton Mudd, Joran, Yarnek), and a mission (Examine Morality). That means there's plenty of card types out there we haven't touched, even if you take away the unusual, semi-retired, and complex options. And our initial plan was to pick one of those card types and build the entire process around it - but someone had a brilliant idea. Dan Hamman (SirDan), a regular First Edition designer and Balance Team co-lead, suggested we work together to close a broken link. And that, my friends, is exactly what we're going to do. In Will of the Collective VIII (WotC8), you'll be closing a broken link!

What Was Broken
What, you might ask, is a broken link? That's a great question. In terms of First Edition, a broken link is a reference to a card that does not yet exist in 1E. It might be a special download of a card we haven't printed yet; for example, Elaan from A Private Little War downloads I Love You. But if you go searching, you'll find no such card called "I Love You" - this makes her download a broken link. This is the easiest category of broken links, as they are cards that are named but don't yet exist. Closing this broken link is as simple as making the named card.


Another category is for groups of cards that only have single members. For example, if you look at the tactic Breen Disruptor Burst, you'll see it gets a bonus if there is a Breen ship firing. But if you go looking for Breen ships, you'll see there is only one option. Thus, there is a broken link implied here because there isn't more than one Breen ship in the game. Making another Breen ship would close this broken link. It's also possible for a card group to have no members, which is the case for Suliban Cloaking Device. This equipment plays for free on a Suliban ship, but there are no such ships in the game.

Finally, the third category of broken links are based on lore references. One example is Tavek, who's lore names him as captain of the Nyran. Since there is no ship called the Nyran in game, this is a broken link. Persona references also count here - since the dual-personnel Sergey and Helena name Sergey Rozhenko and Helena Rozhenko as personas, not having those personnel in game makes them broken links. Romantic partners also count; since there is no Alrik personnel, named by Kamala, you can't make them a couple and thus he is a broken link. To fix any of these broken links, the appropriately name cards would need to be created.

Forum user jrch5618 maintains a thread on our Gameplay (1E) forums with a list of all of the known broken links. This is a great resource, both for everyone in the community but the department as a whole. I won't lie - we've used it more than once when looking to decide if we can close a broken link. He also covers some broken links that will be very difficult, if not impossible, to close. It's fascinating reading, so I hope you'll take some time to look it over - especially before we kick off this process!

Will Be Made Whole
Now that you know a little bit more about broken links, I hope you're as excited as I am to work to close one of them! Before we can get started, we need to set up some ground rules and help to manage expectations. Right now, by our count, there are over seventy (70) broken links. Even if you filter out the ones that are pretty much impossible to close (we never see Samantha Wildman's husband, Greskrendtregk), that's still way too many choices. Ironically, it gets more and more difficult to make progress when there are too many choices.


To make things easier and more manageable, we've curated the list down to fifteen (15) options. In order to make that list, we took a look at several different factors. First, we eliminated any broken links that are currently being closed by a card in a design file, or that might be closed by projects on our schedule. For example, we have a set in design - Project Solo - that will be touching on all the TNG Movies, including Nemesis. For that reason, we left Reman Disruptor Rifle off of the list for WotC8. Kosst Amojan, the CC's oldest broken link, was left off as well, because a card with that title is currently sitting in a design file. Now it's possible these cards will be cut, but given there was a reasonable claim on them, they were easy to leave off the final WotC8 list.

The second reason we used to cull cards from this list was complexity. While it might be fun to make a new 2154 [S] time location, Time Locations are a complex card type that takes a lot of skill, time, and energy to make. That didn't feel like a good fit for a community-driven process like Will of the Collective. Please understand, this isn't saying that you in the community can't do complex work. Making a time location is just a lot of management, a lot of testing, and isn't something that would end up fun. We want Will of the Collective to be fun, so that's why we focused on cards that will lead to fun choices.

Finally, we cut cards from the final list if we felt they might tie the hands of future design. This is the reason why you won't find Shran on the curated list, even though he's a popular character and you guys would do a fantastic job on him. But the truth is, we haven't decided how to make him internally yet. It's possible, even if it's unlikely right now, we might make an Andorian affiliation - but we don't want to commit to that right now. And even if we don't make them a full affiliation, they might end up with a faction icon like [TE] or [KCA] - but we don't want to commit to that yet, either. And while we could just make a [NA] Shran, doing so cuts off a lot of options for you to chose from. So we decided to avoid restricting ourselves, and disappointing you, by keeping him off the list.

Even with those cuts, we still had more cards that we wanted, so the final step was to spread it around different card types and affiliations/factions. We're left with a cool list of fifteen (15) cards for you to pick from. We chose fifteen (15) because the number of poll options our forum software supports. We hope that you'll take a look at the list, and vote for the options that you think will be fun.

Let's get started, shall we? Click here to see the options and vote!

Harcourt Fenton Mudd

How This Works
Will of the Collective VIII will be held entirely on our forums, using our forum software to conduct votes and allow you to submit ideas. There are two types of steps that will happen during WotC8: nomination steps and voting steps. In nomination steps, you'll be asked to submit ideas for the card's title, lore, image, or decisions about the card's game text. You do this by posting a reply to the nomination thread. Often, there will be limits to how many submissions each user can make, so please check the thread for details. Nominations will remain open for a few days to give users time to think or to account for different time zones.

After a nomination step comes a voting step, in which you are all invited to decide from the submitted options. Please note that, during nominations, there may be a need to curate those nominations if there are too many choices, or for reasons relating to the ins-and-outs of card design. We also reserve the right to reject offensive or inflammatory options, as unlikely as that may be. But you'll always be informed about what's happening, and why, as we craft a card. This year, we'll be trying a new voting method: approval voting. Unlike traditional majority/plurality voting, in approval voting you can vote for any number of nominations that you like, or approve. If there are five (5) options, and you like three (3) of them, you can vote for each of those three. The winner is the option with the most votes of approval. In the event of a tie, all tied options will proceed to a standard majority/plurality vote where each of you can cast a single vote to determine the winner.

We'll post an estimated schedule once we determine which card we will be making. Typically there will be alternating nomination and voting steps as we move through the process, although it's possible we need to have multiple nominations or multiple votes in a row. In any case, you'll be given clear notice and instructions on what is happening and when, until we've finished the process and have a "final" card. At that point, the card will go through the normal development process, getting testing and refined as needed. Minor issues like grammar, rules wording, and small issues will be dealt with internally, but any larger issues will be brought back to the community for discussion and the final decision. After all, this is your card! We don't know when the card will be released, except that we'll find a good home for it and get it out to you as soon as we can.

We can't wait to see what comes from this process. I've had a blast running Will of the Collective each of the last two years, and I'm really excited to do it again, especially considering the difficult year that has been 2020. I know many of you hate broken links, so I'm hopeful that you'll thrive given the chance to close one permanently.

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