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Weekly 1E Roundup - 24 JULY 2019

by Charlie Plaine, Director of First Edition

24th July 2019

Welcome to the Wednesday 1E Roundup, a weekly column looking back at the past week in the world of First Edition as well as a preview of the week ahead. If you've got an event coming up and you'd like to be featured in this column, feel free to contact me at cplaine@gmail.com or on the forums via PM to MidnightLich.

The Big News

I'll be hosting my third Office Hours tonight starting at 6PM Pacific time. Streamed live on YouTube, this hangout will be time where anyone can join me to talk about anything related to 1E. If nothing else, it's time for me to sit and work on the game and for you to see what's coming down the pipe. I hope you'll join me live for this session - check the forums for links to join the call.


The Big Chair with Kevin Jaeger (Hoss-Drone)

One of the most talked about and anticipated events of the past year was the Masters Series in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Hosted by Kevin Jaeger (Hoss-Drone), this event was a Cube Draft in which players drafted cards from a curated pool to build their decks. If you haven't heard the term before, the "Cube" is just the box of cards that make up the format; usually, it's filtered into "packs" that are then drafted.

To celebrate and spread the word about this cool format, Kevin has agreed to be the first interviewee in my new segment, The Big Chair. In this interview, Kevin talks about the origins of the cube, the evolution of the rules and the card pool, and advice for players looking to put together their own cube.

How much experience with cube events did you have prior to deciding to make a 1E cube?
I have played in one or two Magic cube events and I've helped a friend put his cube together for Magic, so I was somewhat familiar with the process. Truly though, the real insight in designing the cube came from my experience with 2E design and the research that I did related to that in how to do CCG design. My expectation with designing the cube and how it would relate to my knowledge of designing a set was met. The nuts and bolts of designing a set (or a block) and designing the cube were, in my opinion, fairly in lockstep. The considerations of themes, cycles, offense and defense, actions and counters, strategies and counters and the overall balance of it were very much the same. I just had the benefit though of being able to save time of actually having to have cards be playtested. That part was already done essentially. More on that in a later question.

Speaking of, what was the impetus behind your decision to build a cube?
One of my local players, when we were trying to teach him how to play 1E, was pretty discouraged early on. 1E is just become too complicated to teach. You can try to teach a new player 2E, then work them up to 1E (a strategy I've had some success with) but not all players are going to respond to it positively. As the case with this local player, he couldn't make the mental leap to 1e because he wasn't seeing the motivations and reasoning behind the decision of "why am I playing with card x?", "why did I do y?", and "how do these things fit together again?". It was simply too many moving parts. There is still a big enough chasm between 2E and 1E that its still not easy to get some players to figure it out. So my thought was - "this player likes to do drafts. He likes limited formats and he responds well to them. Maybe there is something there." In addition to that, my thought was that Official Tournament Sealed Decks (OTSDs) and other physical product is more or less becoming scarce to impossible to find, and certainly at a reasonable price for many things. Since I too enjoy limited formats I decided that I could kill multiple birds with one stone - I could put together a limited format for 1E that was sustainable, I would have a limited format with which to use to teach newer players, I would be able to try it with that one player in particular to see if it helped, and it would allow me to run a tournament format where I didn't have to spend dozens of hours trying to build a new deck for - one of the best aspects of limited/draft formats.

How many revisions did it take before you were happy with the final cube?
I really didn't do any revisions. The knowledge I gained from my experience helping my friend put together his Magic cube and the mathematical guidelines that Magic players use when putting them together I just ported over to mine. That's why there are 5 affiliations in the cube - I could just port the math that Magic's 5 colors use when they calculate Magic cube's and Magic sets. Now granted, I did have to extrapolate some things when doing my cube because obviously 1E is a different game. But the first problem that got a solution was how to make sure everybody had a playable deck no matter how good or bad that drafted. One of Magic's strengths in limited design is that as long as you aren't a complete moron, you can put something together that is at least functional. So goal 1 was making sure that was the case for this cube. So the solution was easy to see - have essentially a starter pack for everyone that wasn't drafted. 2E and 1E have already used that template, it was nothing insightful on my part.

The parts I take pride in though are 1. that unlike OTSD, you are guaranteed any treaty you would need. 2. everyone is on the exact same footing with their seed deck (i.e. - everyone will end up with the same number of dilemmas drafted) 3. You have options for missions because every pack everyone gets has a mission and 4. you still get some flair b/c you'll have a unique pre-set combo that you can choose to use, choose to draft around... or not. Bottom line is that once I figured out the math for what I needed for everything, it was just a matter of going through my collection and finding what I needed that fit the bill. The only real revisions I would say happened were around exactly how many top tier dilemmas would be included so that the likelihood of everyone drafting at least 1 and capping out at prolly 3 would be statistically likely.

I know you've posted the rules for play, but would you make any changes after running the Masters?
3 changes, all of them anticipated. The first would be to eliminate the Borg deck from the options of draftable special combo packs and ponder adding one or more new ones in their place - as new sets come out, design puts out new engines and those are great as preset combos for the cube. The second would be to go through all the missions again and change some of them. We got quite a few more new missions since I put this cube together and many of them would be great to add in and allow me to pull out some of the duplicated missions in the cube. I like the idea of missions being only ever a 1 of in the cube - really lends itself to feeling like you are playing in a unique universe like in the show. The third is related to that - I would go through all the new personnel and verbs that have come out and maybe see if any can go in. I might also go through the dilemmas as well. The beauty of a cube draft is that you get to constantly curate it, mold it and shape it how you want it as new sets come out.

Why the decision not to use errata?
So one of my first thoughts I had after deciding to do this was that if I was going to spend the money and invest the time, I was gonna make sure that the whole thing accomplished two primary objectives: 1. be simple so that it could/will be a way a newer player could better learn or understand the game while also 2. hitting all the nostalgia buttons for existing and old dinosaur players like myself. I viewed these goals as entirely compatible if not necessary. I anticipated (and after 5 events now, I feel I'm right) that the biggest issues with most problem 1E cards is that they only overpowered when you can design entirely around them, they are easily repeatable (i.e. - you can play with 10 Temporal Rifts or Rogue Borg, etc), you can play multiple of them at a time (i.e. - your deck has Black Hole AND Rogue Borg AND Tox Uthat/Supernova AND...) and your opponent can't plan for all of thm so they just get overwhelmed. So the plan was and is - there are still two things that were not allowed - Rogue Borg Ambush and The Devil. Rogue Borg functionally breaks the game by acting as both offense and defense and control and aggro and is flexible. No card should ever do that. The Devil broke the fundamental idea that people should have a functional deck. Since you need a treaty to function in this limited format, The Devil would give 1 player a huge advantage at making their opponents deck non functional. 1E cards have a habit of doing that in general, but in this format, I prioritized fun.

So that's why there is no errata versions. I can control the negative play experiece (NPE) factor via the cardpool for newer players (i.e. - Wormholes are in the pool, but no non-AQ locations), but I had to hit the nostalgia marks for older players and being able to use original printings of Borg Ship, Q, Wormhole, etc. allows us old players to relive glory days but in a safer environment where everyone knows ahead of time that x, y and z strategies are out there, but so are the counters, make sure you draft them.

You've also posted the card pool. What advise would you give to players playing in this cube for the first time?

My advice would be to make sure you understand what strategies are in the pool. Temporal Rifts are in the pool, but so are many copies of Quinn and Alternate Universe Door. Wormholes are in the pool, but so are Quinn and Amanda Rodgers and drafting them yourself defensively (plus, no non AQ missions are allowed so you can never get stranded). Tox Uthat/Supernova are in the pool, so if you see one, you probably want to draft it since you don't want to take the risk someone else gets it or draft Quinn so you can counter the Supernova. There is a decent amount of recursion in the pool, so don't rely on kill dilemmas.

The other advice would be to be mindful of what dilemmas you AREN'T selecting during the dilemma draft portion, because that's likely gonna be what you face! :)

How about for veterans - any hidden tricks?
There are some, but if you are a 1E veteran, you don't need me to point it out. They should see them.

Any advice for anyone out there that is looking to build their own copy of your cube?
Lots of it, too much to post in an answer here. So if you are putting one together, just shoot me a message and I'm happy to answer them. What I will say is that for maximum fun just follow the following guidelines:

Would you make any changes to the card pool before another big event?
See my answer above about changing some of the missions, dilemmas and personnel just to keep things fresh. Other than that I've been very happy with the ratios of strategies to counters. Nobody has said that they felt that the more powerful strategies felt way overpowered.

Upcoming Championships
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
American National Championship
GenCon 2019
Friday, 2 August
OTF Complete Constructed
Wien, Austria
World Championship
Friday, 9 August
OTF Complete Constructed
Upcoming Tournaments
Roseville, Minnesota, USA
Sunday, 28 July
OTF Complete Constructed

Tournament Reports

There were no First Edition events last weekend. To date we've only been able to feature registered tournaments here because I've never been contacted by anyone to inform me about their casual or kitchen table games. I'd love to feature all of you in this column, just send me an email or a private message, and I'll be happy to advertise your event or games to the world in a future column. My contact information is at the bottom of every column each week.

In order to promote all forms of play, we're launching a new program designed to encourage everyone to play 1E the first weekend of each month. We'll be starting officially the first weekend of September, from Friday, September 6th through Sunday, September 8th. You can play a tournament, a casual game or games or just get together to build decks and talk trek. Stay tuned for more details, but start making plans now!

Tournament Previews

Hosted by James Heaney (BCSWowbagger), the only tournament scheduled this weekend is in Roseville, Minnesota. With three players pre-registered, this event looks to be taking place no matter what, and will be a fun prelude to the two championship weekends that will follow. Namely, we've got the American National Championship in two weeks at GenCon, in Indianapolis, Indiana. We've got three (3) players, myself included, is pre-registered to play First Edition on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium! That will be memorable, and no doubt there will be more, as we're running quite a few events at the con. Don't worry if they say they are sold out; we can almost always accommodate more players than listed.

The week after that will be the big dance, the World Championship. Currently boasting twenty (20) pre-registered players from six (6) different countries and three (3) continents, this event looks to be the biggest and toughest of the year. Almost half the field ranks in the Top 20 players in the world, including Meinhard S. Rohr, Jon Carter, Alex Dixon, Johannes Klarhauser, Michael Van Breemen (The Ninja Scot), Robin Honeycutt, Paddy Tye (KazonPADD), and Justin Ford (Resistance-is-futile). This is going to be an event for the ages. No doubt Meinhard will be a heavy favorite for the event, as the highest rated player, but Jon Carter is right behind him; both will be hungry after recent defeats at Kaiserfest and North American Continentals, respectively. The real question is, will Borg or Khan make an appearance?

Short Takes (In Other News)

That's all for this week's roundup of First Edition news and events. For more news, you can follow The Continuing Committee on Facebook, Twitter, or bookmark our front page. News about upcoming First Edition projects can be found in the most recent Project Status Update from March 2019. My next office hours will be on Wednesday, July 24th at 6 PM Pacific. If you've got an event coming up and you'd like to be featured in this column, or if you have comments about this column's content, feel free to contact me at cplaine@gmail.com or on the forums via PM to MidnightLich. Until next week, may you expand your power in the universe and live long and prosper.

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