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Star Trek Customizable Card Game

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game is, as the name implies, a trading card game based on the Star Trek universe. The name is commonly abbreviated as STCCG. It was first introduced in 1994 by Decipher, Inc, under the name Star Trek: The Next Generation Customizable Card Game. The game now has two distinct editions, though both forms of the game have many common elements.

Standard Elements

The central goal for a player of STCCG is to gain (usually) 100 points, primarily by completing missions. This is done by bringing personnel, ships and equipment into play, then moving an attempting team to a mission. Once a mission attempt starts, the personnel will encounter dilemmas which will hamper them in some way; often if the personnel have the right skills or attributes they can avoid certain dilemmas' effects. Once the required dilemmas are passed, the personnel still active in the attempt (not "stopped") must have the skills and/or attribute totals required by the mission to pass it. If the mission is passed, the player scores the printed points.

Other aspects of the game increase player interactons: ships and personnel can battle, or otherwise affect each other; cards like events and interrupts can alter the environment for one or more players; and points can be scored using methods other than mission solving.

One of the most attractive themes of the game is the differences between affiliations. These are groupings of ships and personnel based on the major interstellar powers of the Star Trek universe, and most decks will be based around one, or perhaps two, of these groups (though first edition in particular allows the use of many).

First Edition

What is now known as First Edition among players is the original conception of the game, through various designers and iterations. As mentioned above, it was first licensed only to cover Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the first three card sets were limited to that show's universe. As such, the only affiliations created were the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans, plus a placeholder for other groups called Non-Aligned. This narrow scope caused little attraction for players, and it was felt that only five more sets could be released before running the full course of available material.

In 1997, Decipher announced that a wider scope had now been licensed for the game: DS9, Voyager and the TNG movies would be soon providing cards, thus the game's name was shortened to the existing title. The First Contact set arrived late that year, based on the eponymous film; that set introduced the Borg affiliation, among other new concepts.

This was soon followed by several sets based on situations in DS9; these introduced affiliations for the Bajorans, Cardassians, Dominion, and Ferengi, along with enhanced systems for battling and capturing. The era of these expansions is considered by many players to be the 'golden age' of First Edition.

Two more sets featuring Original Series cards came next (when that property was added to the license), followed by sets drawing heavily on Voyager which introduced new, but smaller, affiliations. It was after this that the game began a serious decline in popularity and sales.

The last two sets, based on the films and on holodeck scenarios, did not sell very well at all; this led Decipher to take a serious look at the game's future.

First Edition's problems

Some of Decipher's big concerns included the complexity and bloat that the game had built over seven years; there was no balanced 'cost' system for cards, causing stopgap and complex systems to be added to the game over time. As well, the game had embraced many different and not fully compatible ideas over time; this made for long, corrective rules documents and a steep learning curve for beginners. Clearly, the future of the game was in doubt.

Initial ideas

At first, the game designers sought to introduce an entire new game based on Trek; it would be simpler and be targeted to beginners, while the original game still produced expansions, but on a slower schedule. This concept was abandoned when the sales figures showed that the original game could not continue on its own merits.

Second Edition

The solution was to reinvent the original game along the basic lines, still allowing 'complex' gameplay but avoiding complex rules and concepts. The standard card types and gameplay would remain, allowing some cards to still be used with the original cards (these are known as backward-compatible). However, many cards central to the new form of the game would only work with the new rules and setup. Thus, Second Edition was launched in 2002.

As the game was essentially starting from scratch, but with the hindsight of seven years' work, the first 2E set was able to cover a lot of ground. As a result, five affiliations debuted in that set (compared to three for the original), though it could be counted as six through a unique new system of dividing the Federation affiliation into groupings based on the shows' casts. The focus of the 2E sets has been on characters and situations in TNG and DS9, though 'supporting' cards have images and concepts drawn from every part of the canon Star Trek universe.

The game is now doing well, and many older players have embraced the new approach. Second Edition's fourth set is due for release in February, 2004.

Set History

(I use numbers 1 to 20 for full-size card sets and 51+ for products that added less than 50 new cards.)

First Edition

F01 Premiere: 363 cards basic set. Introduced the game as such. Was plagued by a lack of good Dilemma cards that could be used for any mission and a slow play mechanism. This led to extremely limited play styles. Only the Federation was truly competitive. Card types were: Personnel, Ship, Outpost, Event, Interrupt, Equpiment, Artifact, Dilemma, Mission. Most (in)famous card: HorgaH'n (lets you take double turns after having solved a mission)

F51 Warp Pack: To compensate for the problem that Starter Decks of the game were often unplayable, this product was given away free. It was a 12 card pack with mostly missions. Most of its cards were from Premiere or later reprinted in Alternate Universe, one only appeared in the 2 Player game. Most famous card: Montgomery Scott (from "Relics").

F02 Alternate Universe: This 122 card set addressed the Dilemmas problem, adding a substantial number of those that could be used anywhere. It added the Doorway card type. A suitably large group could still pretty much overcome any Dilemma. The set's focus was the episodes happening in a different timeline or in the past. Most famous card: The Future Enterprise (first Ultra-Rare card, 3 times as rare as a normal card)

F52 Two-Player Game: Released in two versions, this was an introductory way of playing the game with only planet missions, very few Dilemmas and premade decks. Was sold in two variants, Federation and Klingon, differing only in three bonus cards. The other 125 cards were identical. 21 new cards. Most famous card: Mogh (the first card done in computer graphics).

F03 Q-Continuum: Based around the mischief of Q, this set included the concept of Side Decks, extra stacks of cards from which you could draw under certain circumstances. This became a predecessor to downloading and was the first time you could exercise any control over what you would draw. Made the Romulans very competitive. 121 cards. New card types: Q-Event, Q-Interrupt and Q-Dilemma (all only played from a side deck). Most famous card: Q's Tent (allowed you to access any card from a 13 card side deck and helped many decks of the time)

F53 First Anthology: This was a boxed set of 2 Starter Decks, 6 booster packs and 6 preview cards to appear in later sets. Its only notable addition was Dr. Telek R'Mor from Voyager, a card to make Romulan space decks incredibly fast and strong.

F04 First Contact: This 130-card set introduced the Borg as an affiliation. As a collective, these did not solve missions but Objectives (a new card type). They also had the power to assimilate Earth in the past, massively damaging a Federation player. A mechanism called downloading allowed easy access to specific cards in your deck. Some rules were massively redefined at this time to stifle abusive strategies, but three new ones emerged and dominated the scene. Borg and Federation shared as best affiliations. Most famous card: Borg Queen (extremely versatile and a Must Have for the Borg)

F54 The Fajo Collection. Highest price per card for any product, this set of 18 special cards in a binder was available only through direct order from the manufacturer. It was limited to 40,000, however no numbers above 15,000 have been seen on the market. Most cards had a serious graphical twist. This product also incorporates the only card that was created after a design a player of the game made, the Black Hole, later to become abused in several nasty strategies. Most famous card: Locutus of Borg.

F55 Official Tournament Sealed Deck: To help Sealed Deck tournaments, this box included 5 booster packs (4 Premiere, 1 Alternate Universe) and 20 fixed premium cards. Among those were 6 missions, 6 dilemmas and a few others. It was very playable out the box and the best starter product in the game. If you consider trying out First Edition, this would be your stepping stone. Today, it often sells for $2 on conventions. Most famous card: Reflection Therapy, adding one skill of your choice to any personnel.

F05 Deep Space Nine: Moving away from the Next Generation crew, this set focused on the Bajoran and Cardassian affiliations. It introduced Sites and Headquarters and added a lot of complexity to the game. It also provided counterstrategies to two of the dominant concepts at that time, but not to all of them. Cardassians had a way to do massive card-drawing and enjoyed their run as a good affiliation, along with Borg and the still viable Romulans. 276 cards. Most famous card: The U.S.S. Defiant that was secretly added as an ultra-rare preview - it would later be released normally in The Dominion.

F06 The Dominion: Introducing its namesake affiliation, this set fleshed out the Deep Space Nine strategies and generally achieved good play balance except for a few issues. This set approximately marks the turning point in the history of the game as from now on, sets would nearly always introduce more problems than they fixed. Its best cards were Dilemmas, the Dominion became one of the strongest affiliations. 130 cards. No really famous cards in this one.

F07 Blaze of Glory: The one set to sell out the most quickly, this one completely revamped battle rules for both planets and space. It also added Tactic cards, a way to make space battle strategies stronger. Consequently, Klingons became rather strong by playing in a way that would care about killing off the opponent first and then solving any missions. 130 cards. The only set to have had 18 of its cards subjected to a foil treatment - these metallic versions were exceedingly rare. Most famous card: Battle Bridge Door, the space battle enabler.

F56 Starter Deck 2: This was a basic premiere starter deck with 8 cards added: 6 missions, 1 outpost and 1 event to make all affiliations become one. Allowed out of the box play, but did not add much strategy to the game.

F08 Rules of Acquisition: The Ferengi expansion added this affiliation as well as several small strategies, but it was the one set with the least contribution to the game. 130 cards. Added Writ of Accountability, a card to specifically counter a half dozen abusive strategies. Gameplay was very balanced at this time.

F57 Second Anthology: Like the First Anthology, this was a collection of decks and packs with 6 cards added, however the 6 new cards here were premium and would not become available anywhere else. Still a good value to pick up today as they are often sold cheap.

F09 The Trouble with Tribbles: Introducing the Original Series cast, this set also added Tribble and Trouble cards and brought back the Ultra-Rare rarity. From now on, every set would have one Ultra-rare card. Gameplay ideas introduced in this set mostly became viable only with the next set, but the Federation was re-strengthened to be the best affiliation. Klingons also gained some ground. 131 cards. Most famous card: Dr. McCoy, one of the two strongest Ultra-rares in gameplay.

F58 Enhanced First Contact: These were small boxes with 4 First Contact packs and 3 premium cards each. Brought the Borg back to tournament level quality. There are 4 different boxes and you see which one you get, thus allowing to shop for any specific premium card. Most famous card: We are the Borg, a tool to make the Borg extremely fast.

F59 Reflections: Sold in normal packs, this set added no new cards whatsoever. Instead, it contained random cards from older sets plus one foil-treated metallic card in each pack.

F10 Mirror, Mirror: Drawing both from the original series episode and its DS9 cousins, this expansion added flavor and strategy to the Original Series, making decks based on using the mirror universe extremely strong. 131 cards with mostly personnel (the most personnel heavy set in the game) were added. This set brought about one of the most degenerate strategies ever, needing about 10 copies each of 4 different rare cards, heralding the age of the money player. While strategies focused on a single card always flourished during the ages, this set made it worse. Most (in)famous cards: Mr. Nog, Mr. Rom, Mr. Quark and Mr. Brunt - fetching each other over and over, these got your entire deck into hand and then to play in a single fell swoop.

F11 Voyager: First of the Delta Quadrant sets, this one introduced all the main cast from Voyager. It also brought in two new affiliations, the Kazon and the Vidiians and a number of degenerate strategies. By this time, the game's development had become a race between the players discovering new abusive plays and the developers trying to test and remove those. With over 2,000 cards to check, the developers lost this race. 201 cards, thereof about 30 reprinted from earlier sets. Most famous card: The Pendari Champion (a character played by The Rock from WWF, the least collected and wanted Ultra-rare in the game.

F60 Enhanced Premiere: Just like the earlier enhanced product, this combined surplus packs with some premium cards and sold them as a new product. 21 premium cards, quite a few made it into tournament decks, especially the dilemmas. Most famous card: Male's Love Interest & Radioactive Garbage Scow, a dual dilemma that revived the Garbage Scow strategies of old, extending them to planet missions as well.

F12 The Borg: While named The Borg, this set rather introduced the Hirogen affiliation. It also added to the Borg that had been pushed of the play scene by several good speed cards that could be used by anyone but Borg. Other than that, it was a solid but unspectacular offering. 131 cards. Most famous card: Your Galaxy is Impure, a Dilemma that is a core part of many disruption strategies and has made mission attempts much harder (neededly so).

F13 Holodeck Adventures: Originally planned to be the 4th set, this one got pushed back to #13 in the release order. It added lots of non-aligned support to all decks, including the strong Sherlock Holmes and Dixon Hill versions of the Next Generation Bridge crew. However more impact was generated by the extremely versatile deck manipulation strategy provided by two Interrupt cards: Data Keep Dealing and All Threes. Together with some other cards, these created a way to practically play from a stacked deck, always draw the card you needed and use the discard pile as a resource. Overused, this strategy allowed several first turn wins. It has partially been stopped by newer cards but still remains strong and even casual players use it, in a more moderate fashion. 131 cards.

F14 The Motion Pictures: The last full expansion added scenes and characters from the 8 as of yet not covered movies to the game (Nemesis was not out at that time). It did relatively little to alter gameplay. The Baku were not in this set, but the Son'a were (as non-aligned, just like the Baku would be in All Good Things). No really outstanding cards.

F99 All Good Things: Released about a year after the last full set, this boxed set had a starter, 10 Reflections boosters and 41 new premium cards, all of which filled holes in the game as there had been cards referenced on other cards but not actually made. With the long time since the last release, All Good Things did an extremely good job fixing abusive strategies, resulting in a mostly balanced ultimate play environment. Many First Edition players do not use the backwards compatible cards (which are often weak compared to the older cards) and the game holds together very well as a completed entity. Most affiliations are competitive (the only one that truly is not is Kazon) and there is a variety of strategies that would be able to keep the game alive for many years, making the problem finding players. All Good Things was sold out before release through preorders and boxes are extremely hard and expensive to get today.

Second Edition

S01 Second Edition Base Set

S02 Energize

S03 Call to Arms

S04 Necessary Evil (coming soon)

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