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The Many Shades of Gray

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

1st April 2011

When we announced Shades of Gray in our article called Flashback'd, I said this about the new dilemma mechanics in this virtual expansion:

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!

The idea of making older cards better with new cards is not a new idea in the realm of CCGs; it's not even a foreign idea within First Edition. While not an original concept, it was one that captivated the minds of the design team, and thus became a foundation upon which Shades of Gray was built.

The cycle of cards based on the eponymous episode were based on a single concept: find thematic groups of PAQ-era dilemmas, and make them better. The earliest revisions were all like Brutality (which you'll see Saturday) - they doubled or tripled the requirements of a weak dilemma, like Nanites. As they were tested, dilemmas were added and removed to adjust the power level of the cards, but the cycle of events remained popular.

I think these cards really blossomed when Jason, our lead designer, pushed his team to find ways to make them different from one another (instead of all just doubling the original requirements.) There was some resistance to this idea, but as it was developed, it was clear that it was a good one. Thus, we now have "boosters" that add skills to dilemma, others that stop you for using skills (much like the Second Edition card, Overwhelmed), and even others that just make dilemmas do more damage.

My personal favorite aspect of this cycle of "boosters" is that it's a proof of concept - testing the waters, so to speak. Should this prove to be a popular and effective mechanic, it's something we can bring back in future virtual expansions. And we can tie it into the theme of those expansions, too. After all, hasn't Sisko had to face his own "Shades of Gray"? Janeway? Archer? We can revisit the mechanic and the story in the future, and find ways to boost some of those weaker Deep Space Nine dilemmas or even some of the limited backwards compatible cards.

The "booster" cycle of events in Shades of Gray provide new opportunities for old cards; after all, that is the core theme of the set, flashing back to what came before. What kinds of fun combos can you find with these new cards? Head over to our Gameplay (1E) forums and pitch your ideas!

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