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Director of First Edition
By MidnightLich (Charlie Plaine)
 - Director of First Edition
 -  
Nemesis
#522074
Hello everyone,

Back in April, The Neutral Zone was released. I'd like to host a discussion with all of you about that expansion: what worked for you, what didn't work for you, and any lessons you want the Department of First Edition to take from it. I invite you to be honest, open, and critical - but respectful - as you do discuss this expansion and its cards. And I urge everyone else, including the volunteers who worked on the expansion, to be doubly respectful to others. Criticism is, after all, how we grow.

Here are some questions just to prompt discussion. Feel free to answer them, ask your own, and let the discussion take us to interesting places. But let's keep our responses on topic, okay? We have plenty of other places to bring up other topics.

1) What was your initial impression of The Neutral Zone?
2) What is your impression of the expansion now?
3) What are your top 3 most favorite cards?
4) What are your bottom 3 least favorite cards?
5) Which card had your favorite image?
6) Which card had your least favorite image?
7) Which card had your favorite creative treatment (title, subtitle, lore)?
8) Which card had your least favorite creative treatment?
9) Which card has surprised you as you've used it?
10) Which card has disappointed you as you've use it?
11) What's the #1 thing that was done in The Neutral Zone you want to see again in future projects?
12) What's the #1 thing that was done in The Neutral Zone that you do not want to see again in future projects?

Thanks!

-crp
 
By Klauser
 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
#522275
On the plus side, I am thrilled that The Cage and the Neutral Zone expansions even exist! I'm an old-school TOS fan and have been waiting for almost 20 years for further development of this franchise in the game. Thank You!!

Note: Most of my comments that follow are conceptual instead of play tested because I've only run a couple of test games with a local player.

- Excellent work on the Dilemmas and Missions!!

- Solid job overall on the Romulan-specific cards. I would have liked to see an alt version of Keras or Commander Charvanek, but they're in TWT so no big deal. Personally do not care for Bird-of-Prey, Mk II title (this is original BOP) but get why you did it because of Enterprise-era BOP. (That, and I know I'm a notorious TOS chauvinist).

- A TOS Romulan Outpost would have been very problematic (not to mention a serious problem for the art department) since it was never seen during TOS.

- I don't particularly care for idea behind Creatures Of Duty, but understand exactly why it was necessary - no (other) females or VIPs from TOS to work with - and appreciate the developers problems here.

- Don't care at all for the Earth Outpost, particularly since you had several exterior shots of Starbase 11 from the series (Court Martial and The Menagerie I & II) to work with. I also get why you did this within the confines of the "Neutral Zone", but meh...

- The card that most surprised and pleased me was The Squire's Rules. Excellent card, and kudos for the out-of-the-box thinking here.

- Other non-TOS cards that surprised me were Community Leader and Primary Turbolift. Very, very nicely done - simple clean mechanics that directly addresses fundamental problems with DS9 and Ferengi play mechanics.

- On the down side, Hard-Working, Happy Androids - Uggh ... really do not care for the Cravic/Pralor call back for what I had hoped would be TOS-specific android play engine.

- And on a related note - no NAL ships? None?? Granted, most TOS ships you could use as Non-Aligned are smaller compared to Frd/Klg/Rom mains (Fesarius excepted of course), but they were there for development - Mudd's Class J freighter, Eymorg or Medusan transports, etc ...

Overall, again I am thankful the CC put the time and effort into giving TOS some more love in the game, and look very much forward to the next expansion.
Last edited by Klauser on Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By geraldkw
 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
1E American National Participant 2020
#522356
1) What was your initial impression of The Neutral Zone?

Yay, Romulans stuff!

2) What is your impression of the expansion now?

Seems like a lot of cards are really good. Hopefully this doesn't turn into power creep. Most of the dilemmas are great or good, TOS Rom seem very good.

3) What are your top 3 most favorite cards? Primary Turbolift, Strategic Sector(mainly for Bajorans), Experience Bij!(Borg need some kind of dilemma that at least messes with them)
4) What are your bottom 3 least favorite cards?
Creatures of Duty (shaky trek sense and honestly TOS Rom probably fine even with that weakness), Not Programmed to Respond(should be nullified If away team contains [Holo], they don't need help),
5) Which card had your favorite image?
Breach Detection Grid

6) Which card had your least favorite image?
Ensign Tamara(probably entirely a source material problem)
7) Which card had your favorite creative treatment (title, subtitle, lore)?
Dr. Brown

8) Which card had your least favorite creative treatment?
N/a
9) Which card has surprised you as you've used it?
N/a
10) Which card has disappointed you as you've use it?
Community Leader seems disappointing but I haven't tried it yet. I'm not sure it does anything for a Ferengi deck, it just gives other DS9 decks access to the bar and staff. Maybe I'm wrong, I'm going to try it and hope it does more than is apparent.

11) What's the #1 thing that was done in The Neutral Zone you want to see again in future projects?

Support for lots of deck types.

12) What's the #1 thing that was done in The Neutral Zone that you do not want to see again in future projects?

???
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By Takket
 - Delta Quadrant
 -  
#522407
i think TNZ may need more time out in the wild... don't know about all you but my play group has basically suspended operations because of covid and it will likely still be some time before we see a lot of meaningful data on TNZ.
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By Smiley (Cristoffer Wiker)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#522588
1) What was your initial impression of The Neutral Zone?
As the second expansion in the TOS-Block, I was thrown off by the lack of focus and the shift towards the location of the Neutral Zone instead of seeing it through the lens of the Original series. Much of the cards in the set where not from TOS and many did not focus on the Neutral Zone. And the cards where so complicated that I had to re-read then multiple times to actually get what they did.
All in all, it felt like a split set.
2) What is your impression of the expansion now?
Mostly the same. Most of the cards I will probably never be able to play or don't want to play. I was expecting a focused set on the TOS Romulans but got something else.
3) What are your top 3 most favorite cards?
Creatures of duty - This is a good card that makes then stand out and feel a little bit different from other affiliations/sub-factions.
The Squire´s Rules - A card that changes the game - literally! It's a wonderful piece of design and a great card for players who don't want or can't get the time or know-how to build dilemma combos a way out but still get enough time to play the game.
Primary Turbolift - This is a nice card that helps players with Nor-decks.
4) What are your bottom 3 least favorite cards?
Any of the 500 copies androids - I don't think it's a good idea to add a restriction that's just there for laughs.
Test for weakness - I'm not a fan of giving opponent control of cards that might not be the most thematic.
Emnian disintegration protocol - Dilemmas like this are so hard to parse.
5) Which card had your favorite image?
It's a toss-up between Shuttle Crash, White rabbit and Long love the empire really.
6) Which card had your least favorite image?
Primary Turbolift is not that good looking really.
7) Which card had your favorite creative treatment (title, subtitle, lore)?
S'Salk - his lore is just funny. =)
8) Which card had your least favorite creative treatment?
No specific that I wan point out,
9) Which card has surprised you as you've used it?
The squire's rules - how easy the game now feels and how I wish the game would be this easy to actually build decks with this card.
10) Which card has disappointed you as you've use it?
Shape-shift: Fluidity - now it's too easy to set up a Cafe deck with the dominion. And that deck type did not need the help.
11) What's the #1 thing that was done in The Neutral Zone you want to see again in future projects?
Find card that make the game less complex like the Squire's rules card made deck construction less of a hastle. This was a great card.
12) What's the #1 thing that was done in The Neutral Zone that you do not want to see again in future projects?
Don't use a restriction box on a card that has no real meaning. I confuses players for no good reason. It could well have been something you just put in the lore.
 
By Klauser
 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
#522656
Smiley wrote:
12) What's the #1 thing that was done in The Neutral Zone that you do not want to see again in future projects?
Don't use a restriction box on a card that has no real meaning. I confuses players for no good reason. It could well have been something you just put in the lore.
Good point. That was my first reaction as well ...
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First Edition Rules Master
By BCSWowbagger (James Heaney)
 - First Edition Rules Master
 -  
President
Community Contributor
#522664
This set's been out since April, but I digest very slowly. I feel like I've only just in the past week worked enough with the dilemmas to render a verdict on them. The rest of the set still bears more exploration. So consider this still very preliminary.

Also, my impressions are unfair, because I had behind-the-scenes knowledge of the set and that undoubtedly influenced my feeling after the set came out. Paddy and Niall can probably skip reading this whole thing, because they've heard it all before.
1) What was your initial impression of The Neutral Zone?
Moderate disappointment.

Q Who? seemed to really nail the feeling of TNG Borg through a powerful mix of mechanics and restrictions that beautifully echoed the story-based feeling of the terrifying, faceless, relentless Borg of "Q Who?". Playing them is unlike playing anything else (even other Borg), and their cards force you to play them differently. Q Who? was the CC's biggest affiliation-flavor hit in years, undoubtedly doing a better job marrying story and mechanics than my own work on The Cage.

I hoped that TOS Romulans, crafted by the same design team, would end up in the same place, with a powerful mechanical identity rooted in the story of the honorable border-fanatics we saw in TOS.

I didn't feel TNZ quite got there. There was a clear effort to tie mechanics to story in Test For Weakness, but it didn't make TOS Romulans feel all that different from everyone else. It's kinda "bonus point farming" -- something a lot of affiliations can do -- followed by "okay, now that's done, here's a good solver affiliation with new colors!"

The Neutral Zone was good, restoring an ancient Romulan flavor feature to its full glory, and I appreciated the work that went into doing that. Strategic Sector is a very nice juicy card that talked me into going with an all-Neutral Zone deck recently (rather than the more traditional 5+1).

I thought there were glimmers of an amazing mechanic built around Engage Cloak, but it didn't materialize (pardon the pun).

The androids just aren't very interesting to me. Despite "conducting upgrades" being kind of a new spin on an old trick, they mostly just play and solve. I know that's not a fair criticism, because I know how hard the team worked to make them do something cool and original (both during The Cage and during The Neural Zone), and I know how hard all those ideas -- many of them very refreshingly original -- got shot down, often by me!

Counterbalancing my disappointment with the affiliation flavor, however, was my pleasure at the success of The Squire's Rules and all the [D] dilemmas that came along with it. That is such a good card, just because it takes a big cognitively expensive part of the game and makes worrying about it optional.

Imagine I just spent three paragraphs singing the praises of Squire, to counterbalance my earlier grousing. There's only so many ways I can say, "What a great idea, good work."
2) What is your impression of the expansion now?
Eh, kinda the same, but, to be fair, I've only seen most of the cards in the set played once or twice. I still haven't seen Long Live The Empire! in action (the card I was most excited about), because nobody else wants to build No-Hand Starfleet except me, and I haven't gotten around to it yet.

I'm surprised by how strong some of the dilemmas are. I 100% underestimated Shuttle Crash out of the gate, not realizing that it has much the same effect as Skeleton Crew AND has further requirements and filters on it. Ditto Nuclear Disarmament, come to think of it. I knew immediately that Experience BiJ! was a solid dilemma, and I have not been disappointed in that assessment.

While strong -- perhaps too strong for my taste -- I'm glad there's nothing in the set that turned out outright broken the way Misinterpreted History is (just my opinion). Eminian Disintegration Chamber feels like the strongest overall, but we'll see.

Squire has proved better in practice than I expected. It punishes microteams more harshly than I first considered, so now I often go into missions with 10 people instead of 8. This may be bad strategy. (I am not a good player, just a good deck builder.) In any case, Squire being actually pretty good was a surprise, but not an unpleasant one.
3) What are your top 3 most favorite cards?
The Squire's Rules - great idea, as many have said. Wonderful way to introduce the game to newbs, if you can get them to understand the complex text (sorry, Rules' fault). Then maybe they can graduate to Let Me Help

Experience BiJ! - it's so rare to come up with a solid new idea for a dilemma, but you found it here

Primary Turbolift - I'm not a fan of the draws, but the reporting function is so crucial to making Nors work that I can't believe we got away without it for all these years. It's an instant staple, and not in a way that makes Nors broken. Instead, it makes Nors feel right in a way they never have before.
4) What are your bottom 3 least favorite cards?
Test For Weakness / Earth Outpost - T4W for reasons already mentioned; Earth Outpost for complicating T4W in a way that didn't add to the mechanic and, thus, to the flavor-feeling of the faction.

Community Leader - Primary Turbolift removes substantial complexity from Nor play; I think Community Leader adds a lot of it back. You end up with Nors that have SO MUCH TEXT on them.
5) Which card had your favorite image?
The Neutral Zone. I'm a sucker for maps, and that one is such a classic.
6) Which card had your least favorite image?
Community Leader, because every time I see it I think of Quark laughing "COMMUNITY LEADER?!" back at Sisko, so naturally I expect the image to be this.

That's hardly fair, though.
7) Which card had your favorite creative treatment (title, subtitle, lore)?
Tricyanate Poisoning - the primary merit of a creative treatment is that it takes a raw, bluntly-explained mechanic and explains to players why that mechanic does what it does in terms of the Star Trek universe. That can be quite easy -- it's simple to imagine a dozen stories for the text of Poor Quality Workmanship -- but I remember looking at Tricynate in Rules Review and thinking, "Man, I have no idea what Creative is going to come up with for this, because that effect makes absolutely zero in-universe sense." They hit it out of the park, by finding one story in all Trek that slotted in perfectly. Awesome.

The "Limit 500" Androids - because I love that. It's a weird quirk that flows directly and naturally out of the story. Really makes them come alive for me.
8) Which card had your least favorite creative treatment?
Dividius, for technical reasons. (Don't ask.)

Dr. Brown, because I hate fun.
9) Which card has surprised you as you've used it?
Already answered. There's still a bunch of these I haven't used yet. If I gotta pick one, Imma go with Strategic Sector, a card I thoroughly overlooked until I needed it for a deck and Orbin pointed that fact out to me.
10) Which card has disappointed you as you've use it?
Probably Creatures of Duty, which is just such a blunt instrument for solving the problem it solves. Great image, though.

I've avoided using other cards that I expected to disappoint me.

I haven't used I... Have Had... Enough... Of You!, and never expected to, but I am a bit surprised that I haven't seen more of it in the environment.
11) What's the #1 thing that was done in The Neutral Zone you want to see again in future projects?
12) What's the #1 thing that was done in The Neutral Zone that you do not want to see again in future projects?
Hm... I liked, a lot, what the Squire and associated dilemmas represented: a way to allow players who don't like or don't have time for a certain portion of the game to easy-mode it, without ending up overpowered or drastically underpowered. It would be interesting and perhaps quite lovely to apply that approach to other parts of the game. ("You must attempt missions with 8 random personnel," say.)

As for the thing I want to see done differently in future... I'd like to see affiliation flavor closer to what was achieved in Q Who?, where mechanics both derive from story, are integral to the faction, and make the faction play unlike anything else in the game. That's no insult to this Design team, which produced both sets!

***

I was supposed to be actually doing something the last 90 minutes, but procrastinated with this instead. Thank you for the opportunity!
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Executive Officer
By jadziadax8 (Maggie Geppert)
 - Executive Officer
 -  
Grand Nagus
Donor
2E American National Second Runner-Up 2020
1E Deep Space 9 Regional Champion 2020
#522672
BCSWowbagger wrote:The androids just aren't very interesting to me. Despite "conducting upgrades" being kind of a new spin on an old trick, they mostly just play and solve. I know that's not a fair criticism, because I know how hard the team worked to make them do something cool and original (both during The Cage and during The Neural Zone), and I know how hard all those ideas -- many of them very refreshingly original -- got shot down, often by me!
I like them so far. They have a lot of skill gaps, so Lal and Not Programmed to Respond are absolutely crucial to the deck.
BCSWowbagger wrote:Eh, kinda the same, but, to be fair, I've only seen most of the cards in the set played once or twice. I still haven't seen Long Live The Empire! in action (the card I was most excited about), because nobody else wants to build No-Hand Starfleet except me, and I haven't gotten around to it yet.
Challenge accepted!
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First Edition Rules Master
By BCSWowbagger (James Heaney)
 - First Edition Rules Master
 -  
President
Community Contributor
#522768
KazonPADD wrote:Myself and Julius both played decks using it!
I need to get you guys to move to Minnesota so your cool decks can be in my playgroup.
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Executive Officer
By jadziadax8 (Maggie Geppert)
 - Executive Officer
 -  
Grand Nagus
Donor
2E American National Second Runner-Up 2020
1E Deep Space 9 Regional Champion 2020
#522781
BCSWowbagger wrote:
KazonPADD wrote:Myself and Julius both played decks using it!
I need to get you guys to move to Minnesota so your cool decks can be in my playgroup.
You play online. The whole world is your metagame.
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Director of Organized Play
By LORE (Kris Sonsteby)
 - Director of Organized Play
 -  
Alpha Hunter
1E North American Continental Champion 2019
1E The Neutral Zone Regional Champion 2020
W.C.T. Chairman's Trophy winner 2014-2015
#522784
BCSWowbagger wrote:I need to get you guys to move to Minnesota so your cool decks can be in my playgroup.
Agreed. Although we in MN have not been together in ages either. Stupid COVID. :?

Not to hijack this thread, but I am pretty much following FFG. If they are not comfortable opening up to gamers, I don't think we should try to meet in person either. It sucks, but that is the World we live in today.
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By sexecutioner (Niall Matthew)
 - Gamma Quadrant
 -  
Counterpart
1E European Continental Semi-Finalist 2019
1E British National Runner-Up 2019
#524000
After playing in the US Nationals, I faced Eminian Disintegration Protocol and Tricyanate Poisoning. Both Dilemmas are HOT!
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By SAM2000
 - Delta Quadrant
 -  
#524004
I wonder if Five Year Mission is a good thing. It moves the game away from Time Locations and makes it easier to play [TOS] decks without time travel. Is this a good or bad thing?

In a way the time travel mechanic and issues is a counterbalance to how good [TOS] Fed and [TOS] [MQ] Fed are.
 
By Klauser
 - Beta Quadrant
 -  
#524321
SAM2000 wrote:I wonder if Five Year Mission is a good thing. It moves the game away from Time Locations and makes it easier to play [TOS] decks without time travel. Is this a good or bad thing?

In a way the time travel mechanic and issues is a counterbalance to how good [TOS] Fed and [TOS] [MQ] Fed are.
IMO, the Five Year Mission approach is a great thing - assuming it's an all- [TOS] format. Makes the game less complex.

Your point about how over-powered the [TOS] Fed and [TOS] [MQ] Fed are is a fair one - and still needs to be adjusted.

When the [TOS] cards were released in Tribbles and Mirror, Mirror expansions, many of the cards were overpowered to accomodate the relatively few [TOS] cards Decipher released. Look no further than the main characters and equipment cards.

I'm glad to see the CC has started down the road of normalizing [TOS] cards.

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