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Promos Without Borders

by Charlie Plaine, Director of First Edition

21st October 2019

Keldon Advanced Groumall

Today, I'm happy to officially announce a project we've been working on for nearly a year: full-art, borderless promo cards. These gorgeous foil cards feature artwork that extends all the way to the edge of the card, giving you an unmatched version of some of the games most popular ships. Our first wave of these amazing promos consists of thirty-six (36) ships, with eighteen (18) for First Edition and another eighteen (18) for Second Edition. Programming Note: Currently, the expansion page for these 2E promos is a bit of a mess. Because the collector numbers are different that the database is expecting, it is taking some extra adapting to get right. It should be fixed in the next week or so.

These promos will be slowly made available over time, because they are much more difficult to produce than regular promos. For now, we'll be making them available through contests here on the website and on our social media; more details on this below. Eventually, they'll be made available through other means to make sure everyone has a chance to get their hands on these incredible cards. We're still working on the technology and the details, so stay tuned.

To make these promos as special as they are, we decided to add a new rarity identifier for them: B, for Borderless. You'll find them in their own promos lists on the 1E and 2E sections of our website. You'll notice they're divided into two groups of nine promos each. For 1E, 1 B - 9 B are one group while 10 B - 18 B are the second; for 2E, they are 1 B 1 - 1 B 9 and 2 B 1 - 2 B 9. This numbering is for our own convenience, and will let us do different things with each set of promos if we choose to do so in the future. It also makes printing and reprinting easier. But in the mean time, let me tell you a little bit about these cards came to be:

Defiant U.S.S. Defiant

These cards were born in the mind of Lucas Thompson (edgeofhearing), who made some on his own and shared pictures of them back in January 2019. After that post, I was contacted by our Art Director, Johnny Holeva (jjh), who felt that these were cool enough to try doing officially. Dan Hamman (SirDan), our Warehouse Manager and chief promo manufacturer, agreed to try them and see if the workload was manageable. We decided to prove the concept with two cards, the classic Enterprise-D for 1E and the Diplomatic Envoy for 2E. Our printer, Jeremy Benedict (flrazor) was able to make them work and look amazing. Johnny felt the project was doable, Dan felt the extra work was reasonable, and everyone who saw the mockups was wowed. The project was a go. Ross Fertel (Faithful Reader) and I came up with lists of promos, Lucas sourced and made the images, and Johnny built the files.

I reached out to Lucas and he agreed to answer some questions about this project and the process of making virtual cards. Here are my questions and his answers:

What was your original inspiration for making your own borderless Trek cards?
I got the idea from the Magic subreddit. I went there when I was trying out the online version of the game, but I kept going back for a while after I stopped playing because the altered cards people make for the game and post there are gorgeous. Now, for that game, making a full art card of your own requires a different skill set - since you need to use the physical card as a base, you've got to have some serious painting skills to expand the image beyond the border. Sometimes, these inspiring artists would basically recreate the whole card, like they did with these Tolkien-inspired lands.

Kitara Vedek Assembly Transport

Fortunately, because this game is fully printable, making full art Trek cards requires skills that I actually have. I realized that, for virtual cards, I could crop down to just the templates, and stick a high-resolution picture from the show behind them. I needed to make the image a little bigger than a card, so I could trim off the edges after adhering them to a real card and not have a border if I'm a little off.

Why do you think ships make good choices for borderless promos?
In my opinion, it's beneficial for any vanity card to be one that is face-up for most of the game. Both players should get to enjoy their pretty cards! Personnel and Equipment, once they reach play, tend to spend a lot of time face down - Interrupts are often briefly shown, then retreat to the discard pile or are removed from the game. And dilemmas are almost always face down, sometimes never showing their faces! That's not to say that those card types should never get the full art treatment, they just haven't been a priority for me.

Events (and in First Edition, Objectives and Incidents) spend more time face up, but I find they aren't always as iconic, and the portrait layout of the cards often means that the images I'd want to use won't necessarily adjust as well to that format as ship images would. I poked around a lot at making a borderless version of Always a Chess Game, and for the image to be as striking as I wanted I found I'd really need to adjust the templating significantly.

Missions are theoretically a good choice - they're face up a lot. But First Edition Missions are basically full art already, so the difference wouldn't be as striking. And Second Edition Missions would also require a lot of messing with the template - the information on the cards are just so spread out compared to other Second Edition Templates. I'm a huge fan of the show's matte paintings of planetary landscapes though, so I've made a few landscape-formatted Headquarters with those shots for my own use.

Kurdon Kurdon

Ships just hit all the right notes: they're iconic, their shots in the show tend to work with the card orientation I'm using (and are usually exciting action shots), they're face-up while they're in play, and the ship templates have a decent amount of space that can be cut for an extended image. They also tend to be the more expensive effects shots from the show, so the artists working for Paramount tend to have already put a lot of work into making the imagery pretty.

What makes a good source image for a borderless ship?
There are a few things I'm looking for. I generally need the source material to be pretty high resolution. Since a lot of the image from the show/movie is going to show up on the card, I need the third (or so) of the image that includes the ship to stand up without zooming in much. I also prefer dynamic action shots that pop out of the card and/or shots that have something more interesting in the background than just a starfield.

Now, I don't necessarily need for the shots to be laid out just like a card. Very few shots from the show have the subject of the shot in the two fifths of the image. Fortunately, my limited Photoshop skills include moving stuff around, so that maybe a space phenomenon that appears to the right or left of the ship might appear beneath it instead.

This discussion actually brings up a problem I've had with attempting to make full art personnel. While a nebula is pretty easy to shift to a different part of an image, personnel images tend to need me to fill that space with much more distinct things like legs and desks which are much harder for me to make up.

I.K.C. Rotarran I.K.S. Vor'cha

What are the different factors that go into picking a good 1E ship image vs a 2E ship image?
It's not terribly different to make an image for a First Edition ship versus a Second Edition ship. However, First Edition normally has smaller images than Second Edition does, but once you cut out the useless space in the template, the image actually becomes slightly bigger. That can become a problem if I need to confabulate much of the bottom part of an image. Then again, the center of the subject of the image ends up being a bit lower on the First Edition template, so I don't need to confabulate as far down from the subject. It's just a little less forgiving in First Edition.

Of this batch of promos, which ones were the hardest? Which ones are you most proud of?
The Second Edition Excelsior was definitely the hardest one. I loved the "inside spacedock" shot because it made for an interesting, unusual background, and it was a great resolution because it's from the movies. But the movie shot does not extend very far below the ship, so I had to do a lot of manipulation to generate something realistic looking in the bottom of the picture. Generally, I took textures from other parts of the shot, and from other spacedock shots from the same scene. Fortunately, it is a Second Edition card, so the templating limited how much I needed to create a bit more than if it were First Edition.

Because it was the hardest, I think it's also the one I'm the most proud of. In addition to ones that were hard to create, some were hard to find a source for. Ships from the Voyager series in particular don't have many clear shots (and very limited high resolution options), and fewer with anything interesting going on in the background, so I often found myself leaning on promotional shots for them. But the Vidiian Cruiser actually came from an actual episode and has an actual interesting thing going on behind it (even if it too explodes a few seconds later in the show), so I'm pretty proud of that one.

Hunting Vessel U.S.S. Relativity

What do you hope people get out of these, once they are out in the wild?
Same with any pretty card: I hope that having said pretty card encourages people to build decks with that card, to take those decks to events, and play with other players so that those players can also enjoy the pretty cards. Because what's better about shiny cards than enjoying them with other people?

Also, while I've focused a lot on my own work in this interview, I'd be remiss if I didn't call out Johnny Holeva's hard work. Picking and manipulating the image is just part of the process: Johnny has done some amazing work adjusting the templates to show off those images. When I did my own work with the templates, the choices I made were based on what would be easy to do. The choices Johnny made in his work with the templates were based on what would look the best, and it shows. I was on the art team a few years ago, and it was great to work with him again.

Starting today, we'll be offering a small number of promos through three channels: First Edition contests on this site, Second Edition contents on this site, and through social media. Through the 1E and 2E contests, participants will earn the chance to win a random borderless promo for the respective edition. Different contests will have different entry methods and rewards, but our goal is to give away at least two (2) borderless promos each month. Through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Discord, we'll be giving away promos for both editions. Our Director of Communications, Daniel Matteson (OKCoyote), and our Social Media Manager, Austin Chandler (Darksabre), will be working hard to make sure opportunities are available for each social media channel.

In fact, we're getting started right now with two contents. You can win one of the first nine (9) First Edition promos or win one of the first nine (9) Second Edition promos starting today. There are six (6) different ways to enter: provide your TrekCC handle (one entry), visit our Facebook page (one entry), visit our YouTube channel (one entry), follow us on Twitter (one entry), tweet the contest link (one entry), and visit out website (up to one entry per day of the contest). You can only win once in each contest, but the extra entries will give you better odds of winning. The contest is open now through Halloween, October 31st, 2019. We'll announce the winners next Monday on November 4th.

For now, these contests will be the only way to get these promos. But we will be adding new ways to get them to players as we move forward, increase our technology, and add more resources. We will continually be making these promos and making them available, but we want them to be something that players are excited to get for a long time to come. We hope you'll enjoy them as much as we've had fun making them.

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