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Conversions: An Analysis - The Next Generation (Part 5 of 6)

by James Cream, Staff Writer

1st June 2012

For the most part, backwards compatible missions are not very problematic. Most of them have harder requirements than missions designed for First Edition. Though, there are also the occasional Second Edition (2E) missions with some benefit gained upon completion which can have a distinctly different or altogether abusive effect when used in the wrong game.

But overall, my issue with the use of Second Edition BC missions in the former edition is that they make the spaceline look less aesthetically pleasing. More than any other card type, I would like to see all the 2E missions converted just so that I never have to see a wrongly formated mission disrupting my lovely stretch of space again. This isn’t such an unobtainable hope as there really are not really that many Backward Compatible missions. At least not when compared to other card types. There were only ever 42 BC missions made, and only two had been converted prior to this year. Luckily, 7 more converted missions are in the newest First Edition expansion; The Next Generation. I analyzed Encounter at Farpoint in the first article of this series, the remaining six converted missions will be discussed here.

Amnesty Talks

In its original 2E incarnation, Amnesty Talks appeared in the Second Edition Premiere set and was fairly average for a mission in that game. It had an average range of 3, an average point value of 35, and it was able to be completed, fairly easily, with 6 personnel. However, its requirement of four skills and a reasonable attribute level made it harder than most First Edition missions. Given that there was no real incentive to using this mission, it was unlikely to occur in the older game.

The converted version differs little from the original. It is still a 35 point space mission with a Range of 3, and it may still be attempted by any crew (a rather rare occurrence on a non-universal 1E mission). So the only real change is the requirements.

Both of the original optional requirements remain with all four skills but both have lost the attribute requirement. What’s more is that a third optional requirement has been added, the mission can now be completed by Marouk alone.

To me, these rather minor changes have turned an almost useless mission into one that I might build a deck around. The weakness of requiring attributes for a mission is that it makes the mission that much harder to solve after an away team has been wiped out. This requirement of getting six more personnel into play to complete wouldn’t be much of an issue in itself. The issue arises when one considers using it over the pre-existing First Edition missions (especially those from Premiere) which can be solved with one to three personnel. But that weakness is no more.

Much more in line with the missions of 1994, Amnesty Talks can now be completed by a single personnel. One that is nearly a given for any Non-aligned deck (in order to bust Executive Authorization) but otherwise rarely sees play.

A real benefit of the mission is that it requires four skills to complete. This means that I can score up to 20 points from Assign Mission Specialists. Although one should note that In the Zone makes it unrealistic to plan for more than a three mission specialist solve. Still, a 50 point mission could well be the foundation of a quick win or perhaps exactly what is needed to bust a well-placed Dead End.

Investigate Destruction

The recently converted mission with the most resemblance to its original form is Investigate Destruction. This is one of the few Second Edition missions which did see play even prior to the release of the new expansion as it is a Neutral Zone Region mission. Because it can be attempted by either affiliation, it can easily be tossed into a Federation or Romulan Neutral Zone deck. Originally appearing in the Strange New World set, it is the only Neutral Zone Region 2E mission to be made Backwards Compatible. This also means that all the missions for a Neutral Zone deck are currently compliant with my aesthetic taste (perhaps I’ll have to build one…)

Fitting for the theme of the expansion, this mission commemorates the first encounter of the crew of the Enterprise-D with the Romulans and the first ever appearance of a D’deridex class ship in a Star Trek show (see: The Neutral Zone).

Between the original and converted versions of this mission, there is only one change; both optional mission requirements have lost their attribute level. As with Amnesty Talks, this makes it more comparable to First Edition missions.

Treat Plague Ship

This is one mission that I hate to see across the table in Second Edition. It is the lowest point value mission in that game (tied with Caretaker’s Array), and quite possibly the easiest to complete. Completion of the first mission is seen as a major milestone in 2E and it allows the player to play a number of cards which are otherwise unplayable as well as benefiting 20 points to spend on powerful cards. All of this and it can be done as early as turn 1 as it only requires 2-3 personnel to complete.

But as a 1E mission, it has never been much of anything. With a pathetically low point value of just 20, a player could come out with a negative score after completing this mission. There are simply better options to be had. Most First Edition missions with a point value of less than 30 only have one skill requirement (and certainly no attribute requirement).

Upon conversion, Treat Plague Ship has been made considerably better. Unlike the preceding conversions, it actually retained its attribute requirement (which is so low that it can easily be met by two personnel in the former game) and instead dropped the requirement of Medical. As Matt Zinno pointed out to me, the other requirement of discarding a Medical personnel present was simply reworded to fit 1E. Because the 1E rules require that anything meeting the mission requirements must be present, the statement that the Medical personnel discarded needs to present would be redundant.

Treat Plague Ship was further improved by reducing the required range to 2 while increasing the point value to 25, but what really impresses me is the new game text. The mission now rewards a player for using it in the same deck with Plague Planet, a bit of a storyline nod.

Really the only things that have stayed the same after conversion are the image and the affiliation icons.

Salvage Borg Ship

Released in the Call to Arms Second Edition set, Salvage Borg Ship was part of the introduction of The Borg affiliation to that game. However, with the exception of theme it has little to do with the Borg affiliation. In the original form, it’s a straight forward planet mission with a span of 3 and a point value of 35. In terms of 2E, the requirements are par for a 35 point mission.

There is one thing which sets it apart from most 2E missions (and all 1E missions) as it can be attempted by anyone –> even the Borg. (Note: to those who have only played one of the games, The Borg can attempt missions in Second Edition. They can’t in First Edition).

Upon conversion, the number of affiliations who can attempt the mission is significantly reduced. Now, only the Federation, Romulan, Klingon, Cardassian, and Ferengi can attempt the mission. Other groups could certainly use an Espionage card and the Borg can always just assimilate it. Like most of the other converted missions, it lost the attribute requirement.

There are three other changes to the mission. First, the span was increased to 3. This makes sense as few missions have a span of less than 3 in First Edition while in Second Edition 2 is the most common span for a planet mission.

Second, there is a brand new gametext under the mission requirements. It is now worth 10 more points when the opponent is playing Borg. It also has a bonus for the opponent; if they are playing Borg this mission can act as a place to report personnel (though thankfully not for free).

Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, it has gained a Region. Unlike the original version, the converted mission is now in the Argolis Cluster Region. This makes it a broken link.

Host Metaphasic Shielding Test

The picture on this mission has always annoyed me. It’s just too damned bright -> as though I were driving a shuttlecraft into the sun. But it is absolutely stunning in its new First Edition form. I’m not certain if this is an effect of the improved resolution or if it is due to the larger screen cap (perhaps both). It is certainly a testament to how great the art team is.

This might also be the mission to change the most upon conversion; it’s a whole new card.

What stayed the same:

The name.

What changed:

In addition to the far superior image, this mission got a complete overhaul. Originally just one of the filler missions from 2E Premiere, Host Metaphasic Shielding Test by Flying a Federation Type VI Shuttlecraft into the Corona of a Star and Coming Back Out Alive (Achievement Unlocked: new longest 1E card title) was a straight forward 35 point space mission which could be attempted by anybody (except the Borg, oddly enough). Upon conversion; the point value was increased to 40, the span to 4, the number of affiliations which could attempt it was reduced to only Federation, Klingon, Non-aligned, and Ferengi (those seen in the episode), the attribute requirement was removed, and special gametext was added.

In effect, Host Metaphasic Shielding Test went from being just some random mission which might have the skill requirements to warrant it being tossed into a deck to the cornerstone for a deck. From what little I have seen of Block play, it appears to be the most popular mission available.

The decision to change the list of affiliations who can attempt the mission from anyone to four specific affiliations has an obviously intentional effect; it allows the player to seed either Husnock Outpost, Federation Outpost, Ferengi Outpost, Ferengi Trading Post, or Klingon Outpost there. This then allows the player to utilize the gametext on Scientific Diplomacy as a free reporting engine for personnel.

What truly makes this mission a brilliant design is that the player can reenact the events of the episode to net a 50+ point mission solve. Given that Dr. Christopher can net 5 points off Assign Mission Specialists when helping to solve the mission and Dr. Reyga could net another 6 points from Scientific Diplomacy if he were to have an untimely end while attempting the mission (him or any other personnel who plays for free here as only Beverly lack Science). Then as a bonus, the special gametext on the mission nets the player Metaphasic Shields.

The weakness of this mission is that it can be stolen in OTF and is very enticing to steal in other formats as well. What’s more, everyone is stocking it and those few who aren’t have certainly prepared to steal it. Luckily, one can have a theft prevention device installed outside of block.

Avert Solar Implosion

It is rather obvious why this mission was chosen for early conversion: that image is awesome. Avert Solar Implosion is one of the few Second Edition missions which truly look great, though not surprisingly, it looks better in First Edition.

Over the course of conversion, this mission has also had a high number of changes. The mission value stayed the same, but the span has been increased from 2 to 3 (like Salvage Borg Ship above). The number of affiliations who can attempt it has dropped from anyone (except the only affiliation that can’t attempt missions anyway, keep being ironic 2E gametext) to only Federation. But most interestingly, the mission requirements got a First Edition style overhaul.

In its previous form, this mission had two sets of requirements. The first set allowed it to be completed using Archaeology, Geology, Physics, Science and a Cunning > 34 while the second set allowed it to be completed with Anthropology, Honor, Leadership, Officer, and Strength >38. In an unexpected turn of events, the second set of requirements remains the same and even includes the attribute while the first set is gone altogether. Due to the disappearance of optional requirement set one, the second set moved up in position and we have an all new second set of requirements: James T. Kirk + Jean-Luc Picard.

Both of the new 1E requirements make quite a bit of Trek sense. We saw Kirk and Picard solve this mission in the film. We could also assume that a large group of people who included an officer, a leader, an anthropologist, and a person with an honorable character could have achieved the same (though I’m more convinced that the muscle would have been the deciding factor). But what happened to the first set of requirements?

Well after considerable research, I have developed a theory: it moved onto an Objective. Here we have another fundamental difference between the First and Second versions of the game. In First Edition, when two different groups are attempting the same mission while having very different goals, one of those has their requirements on an Objective. As an example, we have Insurrection which has requirements printed on the mission which represent those of the Federation in the film while the alternative requirements employed by the Son’a are found on Collect Metaphasic Particles. Alternatively, Second Edition missions represent all of the groups which are attempting to complete it on a single card. This often occurs as an alternative requirement listing far below the primary requirements as seen on another Backwards Compatible mission: Evade Dominion Squadron.

From this one could infer that, had Avert Solar Implosion appeared in The Motion Pictures expansion, it would have had a set of requirements for the Federation on the mission while another set for Dr. Tolian Soran on an Objective. This theory also explains why the list of affiliations who can attempt the mission has been reduced, as everyone else will have to use the Objective (given that we ever see it).

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