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Design Spotlight: First Edition Federation

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

3rd September 2017

“All those rampant holograms and warp core malfunctions and accidentally-traveling-back-in-time incidents? That doesn’t actually happen to anyone else; it’s literally just Federation vessels that go off the rails like that. And they do so on a fairly regular basis.” - The Tumblr Community

In First Edition, the Federation affiliation encompasses the entirety of the United Federation of Planets. Beginning with the UFP’s formation in 2161 and through all of the many far-flung futures, and including several alternate universes in between, the Federation is by far the largest group brought together into a single affiliation. Though multiple attempts have been made to subdivide the affiliation, including the CC’s own The Next Generation and Emissary expansions, the affiliation as a whole still shares several characteristics discussed herein.

At a Glance
Here's a quick look at one of the game's original affiliations:

Federation [Fed] [FED]
Nouns528 Cards (8 Facilities, 443 Personnel, 77 Ships)
First AppearancePremiere (1994)
Recent AppearanceThe Terran Empire (2016)
Signature SkillENGINEER (112 - 25.3%)
Attack RestrictionALL (Attacking is Prohibited)
Appears InTOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Movies
Doesn't Appear InEnterprise

The Federation is the affiliation most willing to go everywhere and do everything, often unapologetically and to a fault. Exploration is a wide-ranging concept with varied representations in First Edition: card drawing, downloading, peeking at seed cards, and traveling to and attempting missions. As part of their desire to explore all corners of the galaxy, the Federation is one of the best equipped affiliations to enhance their travel, either via increasing RANGE or in hopping quadrants.

Along the same lines, the Federation is the affiliation with the best access to missions. There are twice as many [FED] missions are there are most other affiliations; the only exceptions are Klingon and Romulan, who rank highly due to their early appearances in Premiere. But aside from the number of affiliated missions, the Federation is adept at expanding access to missions either with treaties or via alternative access.

The Federation also has the volume advantage. As the main characters of four out of the five television shows and all of the movies, they have the “hero” and “point of view” attributes on their side. The stars of the show are skilled, talented, and charming; in game, the Federation has great access to skills of all kinds. Finally, there is a far superior volume of material available to the Federation than to other affiliations, and their central nature to Star Trek ensures there will never be long before new cards are released.

The most obvious and probably most serious drawback to the Federation is their inability to go on the offensive. With few and far exceptions, a Federation player can’t initiate battle and thus is unable to take advantage of an opponent if opportunity strikes. While it is a very flavorful implementation of the UFP’s moral code, it is a distinct disadvantage for the affiliation in game. Similarly, the Federation’s sense of honor limits their access to the in-game mechanics available to the affiliation. You’ll rarely see a Federation card engage in assassination, capture, or thievery, and lack of access to those mechanics does limit some options for the affiliation.

The diversity of species available to the Federation is a double-edged sword, as the same diversity is antithetical to consistency of attributes. For a more homogeneous affiliation, such as Klingons, it’s easy to recognize their higher STRENGTH. And while there might be a plurality of humans among the Federation, the fact is that humanity represents a “baseline” of attributes in First Edition. This means that the Federation doesn’t have one “strong” attribute, and that makes some deck building synergies more difficult.

Looking Ahead
The First Edition design team knows that the Federation’s inability to battle is often crippling. We’ve discussed, and at times tried to implement, some mechanics for the Federation to help them deal with this weakness. While some offensive options exist to allow for battle, those aren’t particularly true to the Federation’s ideals. But if there is one truth to the affiliation from the show, it’s that the Federation is very good at avoiding fights. We have dabbled with this kind of mechanic before, notably with Contain Boarding Parties, and expect to do more in the future.

Along those lines, how about a trivia question? The designers first explored this theme of "tactical battle evasion" for the Federation when developing Warp Pack: Emissary. We had a particular character in the file, known for both his steely resolve and diplomacy, that would have been central to this theme for the Federation. Who was this character, the father of this barely-explored Federation theme? Feel free to guess, and we'll give you the answer in our next First Edition Spotlight Series Design article!

Aside from addressing the battle-related vulnerabilities, expect to see more cards that cater to the Federation’s strengths as outlined above. If the Federation is supposed to have the best general mobility and best access to missions, more cards that fit into those themes will be coming down the pipeline.

As the “face” of Star Trek, the Federation is the most ubiquitous affiliation and the one most dedicated to the goals of exploration, diplomacy, and peace. Though they have many different factions in game, they all share common goals, strengths and weaknesses. As the “main characters” of the universe, the Federation will always be central to First Edition.

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