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Allegiance: Fuel For the Fire

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

23rd November 2009

"Starfleet regulation three, paragraph twelve. In the event of imminent destruction, a Captain is authorized to preserve the lives of his crew by any justifiable means." - Captain Rudolph Ransom

Last Friday, we showed you some teasers of all the different teams that you'll get access to when Christmas Day rolls around and Allegiance is released. One of the larger and most interesting teams is that of the Equinox. Originally from Star Trek: Voyager, the Equinox was a Federation ship pulled into the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker. Unlike Voyager, however, Captain Ransom and his crew sacrificed their morality in order to find a way home.

The crew's willingness to do anything to get home is reflected in their abilities: with just a few exceptions, all of them will sacrifice points to enable their game text. However, if that were that, then the crew might be called selfless. Instead, they found a selfish way to get ahead, enabled by their ship:

[Fed] 4 •U.S.S. Equinox (Determined to Get Home)
[Cmd] [Stf] [Stf]
[Voy] Nova Class
While you do not command a headquarter's mission, you may play this ship at Caretaker's Array. While this ship is at a [DQ] mission, you may play [Voy] Treachery personnel, [NA] personnel, and equipment aboard this ship. When you are about to lose 5 points to use the ability on your [Voy] personnel, if you do not command U.S.S. Voyager, you may discard a Nucleogenic card from hand instead to pay that cost.

So, instead of losing precious points, you can sacrifice an alien creature, which are represented in game as cards with a new keyword: Nucleogenic. Sacrificing a Nucleogenic life form (by discarding the Nucleogneic card) will protect your score and enable your abilities. Of course, if Captain Janeway and the U.S.S. Voyager are hanging about, you'll have to mind your manners and won't be able to sacrifice the alien life forms.

There are two Nucleogenic cards in Allegiance, and they're both interrupts:

[Int] Attack the Crew
Nucleogenic. While your personnel present with three [Voy] Treachery personnel is facing a dilemma, you may discard a card from hand to make that personnel attributes +3 until the end of that dilemma.
[i]"How many lives would it take to get you back to the Alpha Quadrant?"[/i]

As you can see, the interrupts work as fairly traditional "cheaters" for the [Voy] personnel, as long as you're tolerant of your shady colleagues and their influence on your crew. Attack the Crew will get you a minor attribute boost, while the other Nucleogenic card will give you a little extra skill:

[Int] Spacial Fissures
Nucleogenic. While your personnel present with three [Voy] Treachery personnel is facing a dilemma, you may discard a card from hand to make that personnel gain a skill from a Treachery personnel present until the end of that dilemma.
"I think you know the reason we're under attack. These aliens are trying to protect themselves from you."

Notice that - like the Equinox crew themselves - these interrupts aren't limited to just an Equinox deck. If you're using U.S.S. Voyager, there are a number of [Voy] Treachery personnel that can report aboard, so you can use Attack the Crew and Spacial Fissures as "cheaters." Likewise, you can report many of the [Voy] Treachery personnel to Athos IV, allowing you to "cheat" with your Maquis deck, too.

The idea that the Equinox crew would have to "burn" resources has been associated with their cards since early, early versions of them. Originally, however, the keyword was called "Fuel" (which led to a lot of design team jokes about gas and making things go) and appeared on a cycle of events.

The problem with making the Fuel cards events was that they inherently made the traditional Voyager deck, featuring Chakotay (Bridge Between Two Crews) and Revised Chakotay (Imposturous First Officer). We felt that Voyager really needed a workable "B-strategy" and didn't want the Equinox stuff to help the traditional Voyager any more than we had to.

So, our first solution was to give each of the Fuel events a "lash back" that hurt you when they were destroyed. Then, we allowed the Equinox crew to remove a Fuel event from the game instead of losing 5 points, and thus avoid the lash back text. When that didn't work out, we tried making the Fuel events very, very high cost, and then gave them a discount if you played the Equinox.

Eventually, it was Brad that suggested that Fuel cards become cheater interrupts, and the crew had to discard them to activate their game text. Thus, the version of the "Fuel" (now Nucleogenic) cards you see above was born. From that point on, testing and development focused on making the abilities good but not too good.

The problem became apparent that testers would use both the Equinox and the Voyager, giving them the best of both worlds. We didn't want the two strategies to be very compatible, as it made both strategies either too good, or too weak. Finally, the elegant solution of putting the "no Voyager" restriction on Equinox herself was proposed, tested, and finalized, making both design and story sense, and finishing up a very cool new deck type for the future of Second Edition.

Stay tuned later this week as we continue to feature the Equinox cards and mechanics that will appear in Allegiance. And don't forget to stop by trekcc.org on Christmas Day (December 25th) to download your copy of Allegiance!

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