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Flashback'd: Shades of Gray is Coming!

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

25th March 2011

"Commander Riker is invaded by an alien parasite. It's attacking his brain and nothing can stop it. Can anything save him from a tragic death? Find out, next time on Star Trek: The Next Generation"

The Continuing Committee is proud to announce Shades of Gray, the third full First Edition Virtual Expansion from The Continuing Committee. Shades of Gray will be released online at https://www.trekcc.org on Friday, April 15th, 2011.

Flashing Back
I'm sure that some of you out there are ready to lynch us for even considering basing a virtual expansion on such a terrible episode. But the name is really more appropriate that you might think; much like "Shade of Gray" was a flashback episode, it's our hope that Shades of Gray will help you "flash back" to an earlier era of First Edition.

As we discuss in Episode #21 of An Hour With TCC, our market research last year revealed an astonishing number of players in the community that never kept up with the game after the early expansions: Premiere, Alternate Universe and Q Continuum.

Armed with that knowledge, we set out to design a virtual expansion that would allow those players with boxes and boxes of white-border cards to join the modern meta game. I'm proud to present Shades of Gray as the result of that effort, and if you don't mind a little bragging, I think we've knocked it out of the park.

Our primary goal was to find a way to make many of those "PAQ-era" cards useful in the modern game. After all, why would anyone use Armus - Skin of Evil when they could use Denevan Neural Parasites? Well, unless you gave you a reason...

All-Consuming Evil is just the tip of the Armus iceberg, as you'll find not one, but two new Armus dilemmas to help you build a wickedly powerful set of Armus dilemma combos. Or, if you're more a gambler, you can bet it all on the High Rollers!

And just to feed your addiction to the casinos, you'll get a new Royale Casino dilemma in Shades of Gray too! But while Armus is poised to become a serious threat, and playing the slots is always fun, we'll be sending you scrambling to your binders with the new dilemma mechanics in this expansion. So if you've been holding onto your copies of Two-Dimensional Creatures, Nanites, Birth of "Junior", or Shaka, When the Walls Fell, it might just pay off on April 15th!

However, Shades of Gray is poised to flash back to more than just out-of-date dilemmas. The design team went out of their way to provide new uses for older cards; cards that haven't been used in over a decade. When was the last time you put a copy of Rishon Uxbridge in a deck? Even if you might have wanted to protect a key event, it's rarely worth the card play in the modern game. Well, now there's someone that can go get it for you!

Rishon is just one of several cards that provide new uses for old cards. Have  you ever used Canar? Would you, if you could grab with a special download? How about the Ophidian Cane? In two weeks, make sure to check the front page for Jason Robinette's article on the new reason to stock the three physicists... did I say three?

More Goodies For Old Decks
In addition to giving you reasons to dig out old cards, Shades of Gray aims to give a little bit of something to a lot of the decks that have been born with our existing virtual expansions. Dr. Phlox will provide a quality printable personnel for the Starfleet decks, as well as a boost to any Klingon deck, not just those working on Augments.

But it's not just Starfleet and Klingons that benefit from the new cards. Two new green-skinned ladies join the game, as well as a green-blooded V.I.P. that fills quite a few skill gaps for the Empire. And guard your valuables, as a quartet of privateers join the game for the first time to menace their opponents.

Outside the 22nd-century, you'll be looking at the Alpha Quadrant in new ways with some of the cards you'll find in Shades of Gray. The 2010 First Edition World Champion, Andreas Rheinlander a.k.a. Dukat, has created a card that will bring new life to a deck that hasn't seen much play since its release. Meanwhile, don't miss Dan Hamman's upcoming article on the new options available to one of the most underplayed factions of the Federation.

Repairing What's Broken
If you listen to Section 31 today (Episode #106), then you'll quickly learn that Shades of Gray closes at least one of the broken links that currently exist in First Edition. In fact, once the design team realized that they had some space, they realized that they could close quite a few of the open broken links.

The final week of spoilers, starting on April 11th, will focus on the cards that close these holes in the fabric of First Edition. For you speculative card list makes, we can definitively tell you know that we don't close all of them. But I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the ones that made the cut, as they all offer some very interesting options to a variety of decks.

A lot of hard work, time, and energy has been put into Shades of Gray to make it one of the most fun, dynamic and exciting virtual expansions ever created by The Continuing Committee. Shades of Gray has been a labor of love for everyone involved, from the design team to the Rules Committee and from the proofreaders to the play testers, and we're all eager to share the fruits of our labor with you.

Shades of Gray will be available for free digital download on Friday, April 15, 2011, and will be legal in all TCC's sanctioned events as of Friday, April 22, 2011, ready to shake up most of the First Edition regionals. For more information about this upcoming expansion, stay tuned to trekcc.org!

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