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Punishment Box

by James "RedDwarf" Hoskin, Staff Writer

27th January 2009

The final card to feature on "Tales from the Raise the Stakes design team" is a remake of a First Edition dilemma. Why was a remake necessary? Who picked it to be remade? And, is it any good? Literally none of these questions are answered below. Instead, for the final time, you are reminded that codenames have been used for no particular reason in this unrelated and fictional story:

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, three musketeers were designing an expansion for an unnamed customizable card game. One day, they were joined by d'Artagnan, who was looking to fulfill his greatest dream of becoming a musketeer himself. Athos, Aramis and The Porthos had already decided that one of the initial themes for the expansion would be dilemmas that play to your core (like Inferiority), so d'Artagnan decided to impress them with some ideas of his own. Unfortunately, he didn't have a single original idea, so he decided to look at some First Edition cards for inspiration. He chose the Deep Space 9 expansion at random, and looked at the images stored on his computer. After randomly scrolling through them, he came across Punishment Box, "Pup" and "Subspace Seaweed" and found his inspiration. d'Artagnan pitched the new Punishment Box as a dilemma that would be placed in the core and stop one Officer personnel each turn. The new Pup would be similar, but would stop one Engineer personnel, while the new Subspace Seaweed would be placed in the core and reduce the Range of all ships by one.

One concern raised early on was the potential of having multiple copies of both Punishment Box and Pup in your core, and how devastating that could be to a deck. Consequently, only one of the ideas made it through the first cut. After that, the dilemma had to be completed by adding requirements. Aramis came up with the fantastic idea of destroying an equipment, and Athos added the skill requirements of Engineer, Honor and Leadership. The group also decided that the dilemma should be Planet only, and the highly-classified costing formula decreed that it should have a cost of four.

With the basics in place, the other cards were focused on to get them ready for the playtesters. Shortly before that happened, though, each musketeer gave card-by-card comments, and the group discussed any last-minute changes they wanted made. Punishment Box resulted in three comments: "The requirements are still too easy, but anything bigger just jacks up the cost of the dilemma," "seems overcosted," and "high cost, easy requirements and no effect on the current attempt." The final comment also came with a suggestion that the dilemma should stop an Officer personnel before being placed in the core, and the musketeers agreed to make this change.

The comments from playtesters seemed to show that the dilemma was too easy to overcome: "used four times and missed each time" and "only hit after removing enough personnel with a filter" were the comments that stood out, so the team tried to make the requirements stronger without having to raise the cost of the dilemma. Their idea was to require that the Honor and Leadership be provided by the same personnel. The majority of personnel with both skills have a high cost, so this also fulfilled the musketeers' aim to encourage players to use more high-cost personnel in their decks. With positive feedback on these changes from the playtesters, the card remained untouched from then on.


The moral of the story: It's "one for all and all for one" when it comes to designing cards.

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