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Design Spotlight: Second Edition Klingon

by Charlie Plaine, Chairman

13th September 2017

“Gene Coon primarily modeled the Klingons, metaphorically, on contemporary Russians, making the standoff between the species and the Federation representative of that between the Russians and the Americans during the then-ongoing Cold War." -Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 139

Klingons have been a recurring power in the universe of Star Trek since "Errand of Mercy," near the end of the first season of Star Trek. In Second Edition, they debuted in the eponymous expansion with a suite of cards and a starter deck. Klingons were the original masters of combat in the game, but have developed into a mission-solving powerhouse.

At a Glance
Here's a quick look at the Klingon affiliations:

Klingon [Kli]
Nouns130 Cards (110 Personnel, 20 Ships)
Verbs25 Cards(17 Events, 8 Interrupts)
First AppearanceSecond Edition (2002)
Recent AppearanceZero Hour (2017)
Appears InEnterprise, TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Movies
Doesn't Appear InN/A

Kamarag (Passionate Orator)

Klingons have been a powerhouse for most of the lifetime of Second Edition. While there have been a few key cards behind their best performances, they have a solid core of attributes and skills that make them formidable. Like their First Edition counterparts, they have generally high Integrity and high Strength; additionally, Klingons are very inspiring of each other in the form of attribute boosts, pushing their attributes even higher. In Second Edition, attributes are king; this means Klingons are often at the top of the pile.

Klingons also have referential access to their discard pile, with cards like The Promise. Klingons don't get access to recover cards from their discard pile, but their culture's love of stories manifests in abilities that count or reference cards "in the past." Here are some examples:

Klingons are also pretty good at fighting; and by pretty good, I mean they have access to some of the best battle cards in the game. They have access to both Assault and Maneuver cards, and do well with either method of battle. Additionally, they get a lot of "add-on" effects when they win combat, including extra kills, bonus points, and unstopping their personnel.

Klingons are powerhouses because they have good personnel, many that have discounts, with high attributes. They don't have a lot of skill diversity (10 Medical vs. 28 Security) and lack many high Cunning personnel. They also tend to have a lot of skills that appear on popular filter dilemmas, i.e. Leadership for Personal Duty and Honor for An Issue of Trust. Species diversity, while not as homogeneous as some, is an issue.


Klingons also suffer from a bit of the "master of none" problem. They have a little bit of a lot of different mechanics and abilities, but aren't laser focused on any of them. Even their battle cards, which are a particular strength, don't focus on combat or engagements, instead splitting between the two. They have a little bit of event destruction (especially since Korath was nerfed), a little bit of discard pile retrieval, but not really enough to build a deck (or theme) around.

Klingons aren't typically known for their depth of skills, but they are about to get a first in the upcoming Second Edition expansion, code name Project Ashur. The Klingon affiliation will get the first Second Edition personnel to have both Honor and Treachery. Who do you think it will be? Check back next week for the answer!

Looking Ahead
Klingons didn't really get a makeover as part of the Phase II block of expansions, and that's largely because they didn't need much. Klingons have always been strong, and for most of Second Edition design, we've avoided giving powerful affiliations much. However, that isn't to say that we haven't thought about Klingon's flavor and how we'd treat them. I suspect you'll find, as a running theme in these articles, that playing into an affiliation's strengths is what the future holds; Klingons are no exception.

I feel the "tales from the past" flavor on cards like Grilka and Leskit is a wide space for Klingons to grow. Reverence for the past in 2E often manifests in discard pile mechanics (see the Bajorans), and it's a good fit here. Klingons that get bonuses based on what is in the discard pile is a fruitful concept, especially when paired with cards that discard cards.

And of course, any time battle is explored, you can expect to find the Klingons there.

Klingons are as "OG" as Star Trek gets, and I'm glad they have remained popular and powerful throughout the history of Second Edition. There's been no shortage of mistakes in how they have been treated, but the affiliation still has a lot of potential for future design and storytelling. Qapla'!

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