Space. The Final Frontier. Doctor Who would disagree of course, but let’s not start that argument. It’s my great pleasure to pop this article up for my good friend Kieren. He’s been pushing a large number of tabletop games for many years now up and down the east coast of Australia. He’s heading up this way in November and would like to share yarn with you about the upcoming Star Trek National Championships happening up here in Brisbane on November 17th. For the record, I loved Voyager, it was the only Star Trek I watched in entirety. <Duck>
Star Trek 2nd Edition TCG-A newbie guide and overview
Hey Avid Gamers,
I have had the pleasure of playing and demoing a HEAP of games over the last 9 or so years, and of all of them, the strongest, most fun constant of them all is Deciphers Star Trek 2nd edition CCG. I am not really that much of a Trekkie (so I’ve seen all of TNG, and bits of the others, and I don’t like Voyager), its the game mechanics of this game that keep me coming back to the deck lab time after time, event after event, year after year. And the goobers who play are also pretty cool, which helps.
So just after MTG had reinvented the way game designers thought games should be made, Decipher decided to jump on the band wagon. I remember playing MTG at City of Sydney RSL back in the day when Star Trek 1st edition was released. I hadn’t seen much of the show at that stage, and didn’t think too much about it. Eventually power creep took hold, and as more expansions came out, more and more broken combos were discovered, more errata was required, until even the Decipher people said enough is enough, and canned it. Luckily, they had learnt from their earlier 1E mistakes, still had the TREK licence, and set about taking all the good from the first game, and improving it for a second. They “reset” the game with a similar, but different system.
Second edition, or 2E, was the result. This is the game that I think is one of the most balanced systems I have seen, has the most room for creative deck building, and fits the chosen genre (ie Trek) the best.
Players have 2 decks: A draw deck where all their space ships, crew, equipment and tricks live. When its your turn, this is the deck you use. Both players also have a Dilemma Pile. This is the deck you use to try to “stop” your opponent completing missions when its their turn. Both are independent, though the best dilemma piles tend to work better when they have some connection with your draw deck.
The object of the game is to be the first player to score 100 points. You score points by a variety of methods; however completing missions is the most common (you must also complete one space mission and one planet mission to win the game). You can also score points by attacking your opponent, having captives, playing cards from your draw deck, but doing the missions (you usually need to complete 3 to win) is the main way. During your turn you have 7 counters to spend (these are like 7 mana in MTG terms). You get 7 each turn, and you must spend them all if possible. Roughly, red shirts cost 1-2 counters, important guys/gals to an affiliation (The Borg Queen, Jean Luc Picard etc) cost 3-4 counters, and ships cost between 5-7. You can spend 1 counter to draw a card also, as many times as you like, however the max hand size is 7, so you have to manage the urge to drawing a card vs the counters left to play them without having to discard at the end of your turn. Usually it takes 4 or 5 turns to have enough dudes and a ship they can fly in play before you are ready to do missions.
SO this is where things start to get interesting. To complete missions you need to meet that missions requirements. Missions usually have a few skill requirement (eg: Medical, Leadership, Acquisition, Science) as well as an attribute requirement (either Integrity, Cunning or Strength). So after you’ve built up a team, and a ship to fly them, go for it. As the average attribute on a goober is 6, and the average mission attribute requirement is around 33ish, you normally need to attempt a mission with 6-9 guys. Some will get “stopped” by your opponent, some may even get killed, however, once all your opponents dilemmas have been faced, if you still have alive and “unstopped” guys at the mission, they can try to solve it.
As the game goes on, obviously the more guys and ships you play help you immensely. It will come that you can have 2 or even 3 attempts at missions on the same turn, nearly guaranteeing your success. Once all your guys are stopped (and they are stopped if they fail a mission attempt), and you have nothing else to do, its your opponents turn, and its up to him or her to play guys and ships, and you to use your dilemmas to stop them!
That’s the basics, and with oodles of cards to choose from, the deck building possibilities are near endless. As I suggested earlier, the game play and game mechanics suit the flavour of Star Trek seamlessly. Here is some background and flavour as to how the different affiliations work.
The Federation: The Next Generation:
As Jean Luc Picard, Ricker and Data cruise through the galaxies, they find themselves solving puzzles and keeping their honour in tack, rather than blow things up. They are very versatile game play wise, very strong dilemma busters.
The Federation: The Original Series:
So you have Kirk, Spock, McCoy and a bunch of hot sixties chics in short uniforms-what could go wrong? Not much. Their guys are a little faster, but a little lighter skill wise than their TNG friends, but play with similar flexibility. LOTS of virtual card (ie FREE) deck options with these guys, the deck I played at 2010 Worlds.
The Federation: Deep Space Nine:
The cool thing about these guys is that a lot of other affiliations have DS9 icons allowing them to be played at DS9 also-Cardies, Bajorans and Ferengi the most prevalent. Once again good on the solving, but because they are at DS9 travelling between quadrants is easier for these guys.
The Federation: Voyager:
So I don’t like Voyager much, Janeway just annoys me for some reason. But some people do, and these guys game wise are quite powerful. They don’t have a HQ as such, and instead have a trick that allows them to play directly to their ships (representing that they are stuck by themselves). As a result, they come out fast, and have tricks with Chakotay that drives people spasmo.
Dukat and his guys are vicious, and the best thing is they know it. As in the show, these guys are all about capturing and interrogating your opponents guys to receive game play benefits, and they are good at it.
As in the show, there are 2 factions of Klingons, goodies and baddies. Whichever way you go, the goodies and baddies have 1 thing in common-they are good at fighting and killing your opponents dudes or blowing up their ships (with their guys on board).
I would say these guys are the strongest affiliation in the game, however the decks tend also to be the most skill intensive and complicated. Once they are rolling, they are near impossible to stop. They have a strong combination of dilemma busting, skill sharing (as the BORG do), tutoring (called downloading in TREK) and assimilation tricks (ie you go and steal your opponents guys and use them to solve your missions). The Borg Queen and Locutus are close to being broken, but in context of the show, so they should be!
One of my favourite affilations and the biggest challenge to deck building and playing. I think I like them so much because Quark reminds me a lot of my former business partner…anyway, these guys stash loot (cards) beneath their HQ Ferenginer to receive game play benefits. Their guys are great, but stats wise very little compared to other affiliations-can you believe they have low strength and integrity, but good cunning??? They are great, but require a lot of latinum…
These sneaky, underhanded spies and power gatherers are experts at manipulating the game state to their advantage. Good at manipulating your opponents hand and deck to their game play benefit.
The guys from Enterprise are the MTG goblins of the game-they are very fast and have a few real good tricks, and are rewarded for their rapid exploration of space. T’pol is so frigging hot its not funny, which makes Starfleet one of my favourite affiliations to play.
These guys are torn between spiritual enlightenment and busting out of the Cardassians savage occupying grip. Plus they have their own internal power struggle to get through. Game play wise they have plenty of options, using cards in the discard pile is their schtick.
I haven’t seen past series 2 of DS9, so I’ve only got a vague feel of what these guys are about-dodgy dudes (The Vorta) control honourable warrior guys who fight great (The Jem Haddar) in the name of the Founders (shapeshifters). Game play wise these guys are VERY strong and under used, they have good counter spell type things and big, fat crazy guys.
Sprinkled within all this is a host of many, many unaffiliated dudes who can join up and be played at any HQ (other than the Borgs Unicomplex, because that’s how they roll), so if your team has a weakness in a certain area, you can hopefully find a random loose cannon to help you out.
Brisbane is in November hosting the 2013 National 2nd Edition Championships November 17th at Good Games Spring Hill (for all you old school players 1st Ed is on November 16th!). If you’d like to try the game beforehand email myself firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in contact with the amazingly cool Mike Garvey who will meet up at a mutually convenient time and he will give you a demo. If you like the game I will mail you a deck FOR FREE for you to use and tinker with as you desire-and remember you can download the last 11 or so sets FOR FREE at the below website! The TREK community in Brisbane play monthly, and are a good bunch of guys.
For more details, including THE BEST player rankings system of any CCG, go to www.trekcc.org
Take it easy, keep shuffling, whatever game you play.
– Kieren Otton