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First Edition Errata w/Ban and Watch List Updates

by Charlie Plaine, Director of First Edition

2nd March 2020

The Sheliak

Good morning, and happy Monday First Edition fans. Today is the 1st Monday of the Month, which means that it brings new errata and tournament format updates. As you may be aware, our long-serving Errata Manager, Matt Zinno (commdecker), has recently retired. But the game marches forward, so all of the various departments of the game - Design, Rules, Playtesting, and Errata - got together to work on an update for you today. While there are errata, ban list changes, and more in this update, it's the result of cooperation from the entire Department of First Edition.

That being said, this update is a pretty large one. Four (4) cards are receiving errata, two (2) are being added to the Official Tournament Format (OTF) Ban List, and one (1) is coming off the Ban List. In addition, we've rededicated ourselves to using the Watch List and as part of that program, we're adding eleven (11) cards to it. Here's a quick summary of the changes if you don't care to read the details:

If you do care to read about the origin of these decisions, then we have a lot to cover; please read on to get started.

First Edition Errata Updates
We have four (4) errata for you today, although one is simply a missed version of a previously errated card. The Wake of the Borg was updated in February, but while we updated the original Blaze of Glory version, we missed the Referee Reprints version. This is now fixed, and both versions should appear with the newly updated text.

Last July, a discussion about the special ability of Anhaica began on our Rules Questions forum. After discussion, it was determined that his special ability as printed was not working as intended. Today's errata to this personnel brings him in with both the rules of the game and the designer's intent. His special skill now only triggers if he is present with a different [Maq] personnel. This means that multiple copies of Anhaica don't trigger each other and you'll need someone like Ro Laren present to give them their extra skills. Both his Federation and his Non-Aligned versions are updated.

During development of The Neutral Zone, the Design Team realized that the Premiere mission Strategic Diversion should be included in the Neutral Zone Region. Other than adding the region to the lore, there are no other changes to this mission. However, it will come in handy with the upcoming release of The Neutral Zone.

Classic Communicator

Finally, we're happy to introduce a new and updated version of The Sheliak. This dilemma, originally from Q Continuum, has been on the OTF Ban List since its creation. This errata turns this dilemma into an official [Self] dilemma, and comes out now to dovetail onto the self-controlling dilemma theme from The Cage. At the same time, the most egregious problems with the cards have been fixed. We're happy to reintroduce this card to the game, and eager to see what effect it will have on the current game.

Official Tournament Format (OTF) Ban List Updates
First, the good news: with the newly updated gametext, The Sheliak officially comes off the Ban List. The card is legal in all OTF tournaments effective immediately (except online tournaments already in progress). Unfortunately, we're also adding two cards to the ban list as well: Classic Communicator and Five-Year Mission. These bans are the smallest impact changes the Department of First Edition felt we could make to address the power of [Fed] [OS] decks without eliminating those decks as competitive options.

Classic Communicator is a very powerful form of skill gain, especially when combined with four (4) personnel that can special download the card. We recognize that this card isn't specifically the problem, but rather the combination of the rules around the card, special downloads, and the number of personnel who can access it via suspending play. We will be considering a number of angles to address these problems and hope to return this card to the game soon.

Five-Year Mission has proven to be an easy draw engine for [OS] decks that also enables a loophole in allowing non-[OS] personnel to enter play without cost on opponent's turns. While this ban does not address that problem, it will mitigate the drawing power of [OS] decks with the smallest amount of impact. There are plenty of other drawing options available to these decks, and removing this card from the pool allows us to address that power and find time to properly fix the card. Our goal is to test errata to the card and return it to the pool with top priority.

First Edition Watch List Updates
The Watch List has been a woefully underused resource, and today, we begin the process of revamping how we use this tool. The Watch List is designed to bring extra attention to the cards and how they are used, both in competitive and casual play. Cards on the Watch List will get extra scrutiny from our Design, Errata, Playtesting, and Rules Teams. It is likely that some kind of action will be taken to cards on this list in the future, but not certain. We'll be explaining more about how we decide to watch cards in the future. For today, we're making quite a few changes:

Eliminate Starship

First, we've removed three (3) cards from the Watch List. Temporal Benefactor was previously issued errata to address its power level, particularly in regards to free downloads of powerful cards. One of those cards was Disrupted Continuum which was exceptionally powerful when it could be downloaded directly into play. Now that this interaction has been corrected, both cards are no longer in need of watching and are removed from the Watch List. Similarly, Distant Control was added to the Watch List in March 2018 with fears that the rules questions around the card would break it. While it still has rules issues to sort out, it has not broken the environment so we are removing it from this list.

Two (2) cards are remaining on the Watch List: Obsession and Enemies of the State. Though Obsession has been on the Watch List for nearly a year, we want to renew our commitment to keep an eye on this card. In particular, cards that play on an opponent's ship such as Memory Wipe are of particular concern. For these reasons, we were not comfortable removing the card from this list, and thus renew it. Enemies of the State remains on the list not only because it has a temporary ruling and confusing rules corner-cases, but we are concerned about the dilemma's power level.

Okay, that's talking about what's coming off the list and what's staying on. Let's talk about the eleven (11) new cards that we're adding. We'll start with our concerns about Borg battle decks. We've heard lots of public outcry about the power and speed of a Borg deck that is designed to eliminate an opponent, sometimes as often as the 2nd turn of the game. One example would be Kris Sonsteby's (LORE) deck from last year's North American Continental Championships. We are aware of the power of these decks and the concerns from the community, but have not been able to identify a satisfactory solution to cleanly address the issues.

As the goal of the Watch List is to provide additional data and attention to cards in this (or similar) situations, so we're adding four Borg-related (4) cards from this deck that are likely actionable to the watch list: Seven of Nine (The Borg), Eliminate Starship, Gowron of Borg, and Nine of Seventeen. Seven's ability to provide triple staffing to a ship was essential at the time of her design, but with Borg having had a lot of new engines to speed them up, she may be a contributing factor. Eliminate Starship and Gowron both allow Borg to initiate battle when they ordinary couldn't, and are obvious targets. Finally, the Multiplexor Drone makes a single Borg ship overwhelming to a fleet, and we have discovered there are inconsistencies in how this card is played. We will be watching these cards closely and will act decisively when we feel there is a clear and correct course of action.

Holoprogram: Cafe des Artistes

Even though two cards have been banned to address the power and speed of [Fed] [OS] decks, we are unsure if the two cards will be sufficient to curb their power to acceptable levels. For this reason, we're adding several other key [OS] -related cards to the Watch List. Classic Tricorder and Classic Medical Tricorder work in the same space as Classic Communicator, but are more limited and do not appear to be as egregious in their use and power. Out of an abundance of caution, these equipment are added to the Watch List. The Final Frontier was designed to be analogous to Sherman's Peak and Protect the Timeline, but has completely supplanted that option as a deck choice. Finally, out of concern that [OS] ships have been inflated beyond the abilities of other deck that could be competitive, To Boldly Go is also added to the list.

Much discussion has been had about the current speed of the game, and it is a concern the Department of First Edition largely shares with the community. A very likely culprit for some of this is the proliferation of cheap, effective, and repeatable drawing engines over the past several years. Two have appeared in a very high percentage of fast decks since their addition to the game: Holoprogram: Cafe des Artistes and Study Divergent History. These draw engines are added to the Watch List in the hopes we can obtain more data about the effect of these drawing cards (and other, similar cards) on the game's state.

Finally, Breen Disruptor Burst is added to the Watch List. This tactic is used nearly twice as often as the next most popular tactic, and has been used in forty times more decks than the median tactic. It's unclear if this tactic is just that much better than the others, or if there are other reasons for this card's popularity. But when the numbers skew that far towards a particilar card, it is worthy of attention.

Conclusion
Our goal for the Watch List is to force ourselves to be attentive to potential problems in the game. We've always done that, but now we have a tool that makes us accountable to both ourselves and to you, the players and members of this community. We plan on using the Watch List liberally as the game ebbs and flows, to make sure our attention is focused where it needs to be. We hope you'll help us by submitting deck lists and tournament reports as well as posting discussions on the cards involved. Your feedback is, and will continue to be, invaluable.


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