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Cal Hudson (Convincing Recruiter) and Javert (Maquis Flagship)

by James "RedDwarf" Hoskin, Staff Writer

14th January 2009

Last week, the third episode of "Tales from the Raise the Stakes design team" focused on Romulan cards. This week, it is the turn of the Maquis. As usual, codenames have been used to confuse you in this unrelated and fictional story:

In 2008, a crack design unit was sent to prison by a Cardassian tribunal for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from the maximum security labor camp to the Maquis underground. Today, still wanted by the Cardassians, they survive as designers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The Raise the Stakes design team.

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, Murdock was sitting in a psychiatric hospital daydreaming about the Maquis. He loved playing as them in an unnamed customizable card game, and was always thinking about new ways to use the small pool of existing Maquis cards to create the ultimate deck. Everyone he talked to thought he was a nut for liking the Maquis so much. In fact, many people thought that he was committed to the hospital in the first place because of his constant droning on about the Maquis.

Meanwhile, Hannibal was putting together a design team for expansion #17, and he asked Face to break Murdock out of the hospital, so that the team could work together. It was a good job, too, because the Maquis were being overlooked by the rest of the team. Murdock corrected this by immediately pitching an idea for Kurt Bendera. Hannibal was quick to reject it though, because the only time Kurt got shown was when he was dead and "dead people don't make good card images." Murdock preferred to think of it as a challenge for the art team.

The pitching process took a small delay during August when Face and Murdock flew to Indianapolis for the World Championships. The B.A. didn't make the trip because he "ain't going on no plane, fool" and no one felt like drugging him. While there, Murdock decided to tell Face what he really thought about the Federation Treachery personnel pitched by Face. It wasn't that they were bad ideas, it was just that Murdock knew that the expansion only had so much room for personnel and that there would be little or no room for Maquis personnel if Face's cards made the cut. Murdock thought that there needed to be more new Maquis personnel because "most of the cool tricks require the Maquis icon." Hannibal and Face must have subsequently had a chat about Murdock's comments, because two Maquis cards appeared in the design files shortly after the World Championships. Cal Hudson was an artifact personnel with four skills and no ability, and the Javert was an empty shell of a ship.

The design team needed to give abilities to the two Maquis cards, so they did what they do best. [begin musical montage] They took bits of old cards found in a shed and fused them together with tools to create two new cards [end musical montage]. Cal was given an ability similar to For the Cause, while the Javert was given something similar to Stalling for Time and also something that gave the Maquis icon to all Federation personnel on board.

Playtesting was about to begin, but that didn't stop Murdock from trying to make the Maquis abilities bigger and better. He wanted the Stalling for Time ability on the Javert to work for any non-ship card. Hannibal politely told him that "returning dilemmas (in your core) to hand would be messy," while The B.A. added to the conversation with "shut up, fool."

A couple of weeks into playtesting, there were concerns that mission attempts could get into trouble if Cal was stopped, so his For the Cause ability and the Javert's ability giving the Maquis icon to Federation personnel were swapped. Murdock then pointed out to the team that Cal had four fewer skills than most of the other artifact personnel in the expansion. Predicting that Hannibal would ask him which skills to add, he jumped the gun and suggested that Cal be given Diplomacy (because "you can never have too much Diplomacy"), and Exobiology, Law and Physics (because "no other Federation Maquis personnel have those skills.")

An eight-skilled Cal was given to testers the following week, but a few days later he would end up losing one skill. Hannibal didn't mention why Cal lost his Exobiology, but Murdock suspected that it was either due to costing issues, or story issues. Either way, Cal survived the remaining six weeks of playtesting without any further changes.

The Javert was still to be the subject of the design team's attention. At a time when Murdock was away from his computer for a week, Face suggested removing the Stalling for Time ability from the Javert because "having two unrelated abilities seems forced." Murdock would have objected to this, but he was out of the country and didn't know about it. Curiously, even though the ability was removed from the ship, its cost didn't change.

A couple of weeks later, there was feedback from playtesters saying that completing two 50-point missions with the For the Cause ability on the Javert was too good. Hannibal agreed with them and added a condition to the ability so that it would only work for missions worth 40 or less points. The playtesters then commented that they were using the ship with non-Maquis personnel (especially Androids), so another condition was added: the corresponding Commander must be aboard the ship.

Once playtesting finished, all that remained was the final card titles and lore. Face was very helpful in suggesting them once he had got back from returning Murdock to the psychiatric hospital. Hannibal loved it when the plan came together.

The end.

The moral of the story: If you really want to cut something related to the Maquis, wait for Murdock to leave the country. :evil:

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