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Tales of Utopia Planetia: Clandestine Search

by Charlie Plaine, Director of First Edition

13th June 2019

Clandestine Search

We have some web-based design software that we use when creating expansions that we call Utopia Planetia. Our Chief Programmer, Chris Lobban (Maelwys), wrote the application for us so we could track version changes and automatically generates PDF of files for testing. It's really changed the way we work. It's also made it possible for me to share the journey of a card with you, from initial Version A concept to finished product. Today, I'd like to walk you through the design journey of Clandestine Search. Please note that some revisions or discussions have been removed to protect privacy, or to reserve ideas that we might find a home for in the future.

Let's start with the initial version of the mission. This is how the mission appeared when it was first entered into Utopia Planetia (UP), before we officially made the first version of the file. This was on February 27th, 2018.

[P] clandestine rescue
Planet 892-IV: Learn the fate of the crew of a crashed freighter without unsettling primitive native society.
SECURITY x2 + Leadership + Anthropology
[NON] [BAJ] [VUL] [30]
[SPAN 3]

The card remained unchanged for a few months, until May 15th, 2018, when the keyword "23rd century" was first added to the mission. That must have been right the design team decided to use that as a hook for missions. A few weeks later, on June 6th, 2018, there was a little discussion about the mission's value and affiliation icons:

MidnightLich: Do we want to make this a 25 point mission? Random idea: can we add a [Rom] reference? Since they were based on the Roman empire, after all.

Orbin: Adding [Rom] sounds good to me. Were we going to make a "score bonus points if..." card for this mission? If so, we should move it to the 25 points range.

BCSWowbagger: Definitely make it attemptable by Romulans. I would also add "OR a Praetor" to the requirements, so any single Romulan Praetor can come in and solo the mission.

For quite a bit of early design, we had a "trope" card that wanted players to attempt four (4) missions. We also had a bit of push in the file towards 25-point missions, and these forces briefly intersected. Our plan was also to have a separate "Native: " card for each mission, which would let you report personnel native to the planet and give you points for solving it. This would eventually combine into the singular Preserver Obelisk. That left the mission looking like this:

[P] clandestine rescue
Planet 892-IV: Learn the fate of the crew of a crashed freighter without unsettling primitive native society.
SECURITY x2 + Leadership + Anthropology
* +10 if your Praetor helps solve.
[ROM] [NON] [BAJ] [VUL] [25*]
[SPAN 3]

The mission stayed basically the same for quite some time; we made small changes as to how we were marking the missions as "23rd century" - trying icons, other keywords - before ending up back at the lore hook. On September 26th, 2018, we added the "System 892 Region" keyword to the mission, pairing it with a space mission. This addition only lasted about a month, disappearing by the end of October; the space mission we had matched with this planet would become Seek Remnants.

It was around this time we had feedback that, while the bonus for using Romulans was flavorful, the mission didn't fit well into tester's Romulan decks. We took a look at the skills and decided to see if we could make them better fit existing decks so this mission could find a home in such decks upon release. We'd also abandoned the 25-point mission themes, so we wanted to find a way to make the mission generally more attractive.

Orbin: I would like to remove the praetor bonus and move it to an optional OR bonus instead.

That comment was on October 24th, 2018 and turned the mission into it's almost final form:

[P] clandestine rescue
Planet 892-IV: Learn fate 23rd century stranded S.S. Beagle crew.
SECURITY x2 + Diplomacy + Computer Skill + (Anthropology OR Treachery x2 OR Praetor)
[FED] [ROM] [NON] [BAJ] [35]
[SPAN 3]

On November 26th, 2018, the rules team pointed out it should be "a Praetor" rather than "Praetor" in the requirements. Creative gave the card it's final title and lore on January 17th 2019, and that was a wrap for this card. I hope you've enjoyed this journey through a card's history, and that you'll find a place to use this mission when The Cage releases on Friday, June 21st.


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