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July's Balance Team Update

by Charlie Plaine, Director of First Edition

6th July 2020

Welcome to the First Monday of the month, July 6th, the day that the Department of First Edition issues balance updates. Typically, this includes the release of errata, updates to the OTF Ban List, and changes to the Watch List. We've got several changes today, so let's jump right into things with all of the information you'll need.

Errata Updates
First, we're releasing six (6) new errata, all equipment cards. Classic Communicator, Classic Medical Tricorder, Classic Tricorder, Mission Briefing PADD, Vulcan PADD, and Vulcan Tricorder are all received updated wording today. The issues with these equipment were first identified with the [OS] equipment; particularly, the power of having these equipment be downloadable in the middle of a mission attempt and immediately allowing the player to select a skill. This gave most of these equipment a dial-a-skill power level greater than the game should allow, and thus necessitated this change. Classic Communicator, as the worst offender, was added to the ban list in March 2020. Since then, our Rules Team has been hard at work finding ways to address the power of these cards.

In fact, they succeeded last month and we prepared to release errata to the three [OS] equipment for June's update. However, there were two last minute concerns. First, that other equipment used the same wording as the original wording of the [OS] equipment, and these would function differently. Secondly, there were concerns about how the updated wordings on these equipment worked with them in multiple. It was complex enough we decided to hold off until these issues could be worked out.

As you can see, the first issue was addressed by changing the wording on similar equipment - Mission Briefing PADD, Vulcan PADD, and Vulcan Tricorder - to mach the new wording devised for the [OS] equipment. This wording preserves most of the original function, without allowing them to be immediately used when downloaded into a mission attempt. These cards can still be accessed via special download ([DL]), but now require executing an order to "turn on." Downloading them into a mission attempt no longer allows them to be used immediately.

The second issue was much trickier. As Rules Manager James Heaney (BCSWowbagger) described it to me, "This isn't a balance concern, but a weird rules issue. Because the cards are not cumulative and only work once each turn (and, like 1 Tribble, that means once each turn period, not once each turn per copy), having multiple tricorders present in the same crew or Away Team creates some very strange rules situations. Decipher tried to fast-talk its way past those situations in their respective Glossary entries." In order to avoid such fast-talk, we have opted to make all of these equipment Unique - only one copy per player in play. While this is a functional change, it eliminates all questions about how these work and the need to rely on glossary entries to understand them.

Editor's Note: We're a little behind schedule getting the images for this month's errata loaded into the system. Please expect those in the next day or so; we'll update this post when they are live. Here is the updated text for these six (6) cards:

Classic Communicator
Once each turn, one of your [OS] personnel present may add a skill from one of your other compatible [OS] personnel at same location until end of turn. (Unique.)

Classic Tricorder
Once each turn, you may select ENGINEER OR SCIENCE OR Geology OR Physics. Until re-selected, your ENGINEER- and SCIENCE- classification [OS] personnel present gain that skill. (Unique.)

Classic Medical Tricorder
Once each turn, you may select MEDICAL OR Biology OR Exobiology. Until re-selected, your MEDICAL- and SCIENCE- classification [OS] personnel present gain that skill. (Unique.)

Vulcan PADD
Your [22] personnel present are CUNNING +2. Once each turn, one of your personnel present may add a skill from your ship's special equipment here until end of turn. (Unique.)

Mission Briefing PADD
Once each turn, you may select Anthropology OR Biology. Until re-selected, your OFFICER-classification [Ent-E] personnel present gain that skill. (Unique.)

Vulcan Tricorder
Once each turn, you may select SCIENCE OR Biology OR Geology. Until re-selected, your ENGINEER- and SCIENCE- classification [22] personnel present gain that skill. (Unique.)

OTF Ban List Changes
Fortunately, this means that the Classic Communicator is now removed from the Official Tournament Format (OTF) Ban List. With this errata, the card returns to legal OTF play immediately.

However, there are two recent additions to the ban list. While our Errata, Rules, and Playtesting teams have been hard at work on the dilemma Enemies of the State, we are not quite ready to issue updated wording. But the dilemma remains incredibly powerful and difficult to deal with, especially in combination with battle avoidance like Smoke Bomb. For these reasons, we are adding the card to the ban list effective immediately. While this change won't be in effect the in-progress American Nationals, it will be in effect for August's (Not a) World Championship.

Access Archives, a mission from last year's The Cage, was given an emergency ban in June to remove it from the pool for upcoming high level tournaments. This isn't a change, we're just being thorough and repeating the announcement today.

Watch List Changes
With errata to both Classic Medical Tricorder and Classic Tricorder, these cards are both removed from the Watch List. We are making the decision to add Smoke Bomb to the list, as it has demonstrated the potential to be problematic. Not only is it a tool to avoid dilemmas (though only in combination with Anastasia Komananov's download), it offers repeatable battle avoidance. The worst offender is with Enemies of the State (which is now banned), but there may be others. Thus, the card is going onto the watch list.

Regular updates to errata, the OTF Ban List, and the Watch List are scheduled for the First Monday of each month. The next scheduled update is Monday, August 3rd, 2020.

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