Every so often friends will ask me if I still play Star Trek CCG, and I think to myself: “Hmm… how long ago was 2002?” That’s right, it’s been just about ten years since I’ve enjoyed the game that I once spent most of my summer job money on at the local comic store. Yet, just like that, one week turned into one month, which in turn turned into one year and now… one decade. So the real question here is not if I still play the strategic juggernaut of all card games, yet, why did I stop playing?
As I recall, the last set(s) that I purchased was Star Trek CCG: The Motion Pictures and Holodeck Adventures. Each cost me $18 per booster box, and I kick myself every day for not purchasing several cases of The Motion Pictures since they sell for nearly $300 a box today. That’s beside the point, though. Needless to say, none of those cards saw any action at all other than being photographed and placed on eBay to be sold for cash that would later be used to satisfy my Yu-Gi-Oh addiction. I’m kidding.
When new sets came out, circa 1996-1998, I was so excited to see the new cards. I’d open a new pack with the anticipation of something extravagant, as if Jean-Luc Picard himself was going to step out of the plastic casing that contained the cards, hand me a genuine Star Trek uniform and an autographed Picard action figure. I really didn’t expect such shenanigans to occur, but the point is: that’s really how great these sets were.
Later on, however, the sets became bloated, burdensome, and even annoying. The gameplay became so long that I recall some games staring at 7:00PM and ending at 10:00PM. I became disenchanted with the direction of the game, and, from what I’ve read, so was Decipher.
I frankly didn’t understand the need for Objectives, Tactics, Incidents, Locations, Tribble Cards!?!?… and whatever other damn card-type they decided to concoct for the new sets. Star Trek CCG at first was a delicious cake with three to four layers of goodness. Now? It’s a cake with every imaginable flavor of frosting, sponge and fruit mixed in together.
So, how can we get that delicious cake back without having to spend money on purchasing more cake (Star Trek CCG 2E sets). Simple. Delete some rules, cards, and get back to the basics. Simpler is always better and, most importantly, “funner”.
Set It Up Right from The Beginning
First thing to do is to agree with your opponent about which timeline to play in, or which quadrant to play in. It may not be that big of a hassle to have one player in the alpha quadrant and one player in the gamma or delta, but remember that we’re trying to streamline this game. Reporting your cards for duty and staffing your ships takes long enough, the last thing you need to do is jump through a pair of doorway cards (e.g. such as Wormhole, Transwarp Network Gateway or Bajoran Wormhole) just to get into the other quadrant, and once those doorways get nullified you’re stuck. Is that fun? No. It’s stupid. The only exception would be is if you and your opponent decide to play a “Voyager” or “Deep Space Nine” themed game, then having two separate quadrants would be integral to the plot of the game.
Captain Kirk vs. the Borg?
Movement between timelines can prove to be just as cumbersome and pointless. Time travel in movies is great, in real life it would be exciting, but in the card game… it’s not and it’s problematic. Pick a timeline and stay in it. If you’re championing an Original Series Kirk and Spock themed deck it could turn awfully catastrophic to face a fleet of three Borg Cubes with your Enterprise-A.
Finally, keep your deck size small and load up on Dilemmas. Having a 250-card deck is easy because of the vast number of cards and card-types available to you and, plus, there’s really no rule forbidding it. Consider this, though: The quality of your strategy will always supersede the quantity in your deck. Fact.
Imagine your opponent playing an Event card and you’ve stocked your deck with an Interrupt that counters its effects beautifully. Now, imagine that happening more than 10 times in a game. It can happen especially if you’ve got a nicely bloated 173-card deck.
As far as Dilemmas are concerned: the more Dilemmas you seed the more fun you’ll have. You only need to reach 100 points to win the game, so make your opponent earn every point. Besides, the point of Star Trek Customizable Card Game is to complete missions and earn points.
Delete The Following Cards and Rules
Remove the following card-types from your deck: Incidents, Tactics, Locations, Tribble and Trouble cards, and, unless you’re playing the Borg affiliation, get rid of Objectives. This should narrow your deck down to a nice manageable deck size. Also, by doing this you allow yourself to concentrate on, what I think, are the more exciting parts of the game: mission completion, away-team battles, and ship-to-ship battles (without Tactics).
How about side decks? I’ll leave this up to you but my personal recommendation is to only allow a “Q” side deck or no side decks at all. You don’t really need them and I don’t see them as having any sort of positive impact on the game at all. At the end of the day, though, it all depends on how badly you want to use side decks.
Unless a card has the “universal” symbol, only have one copy in your deck. Rules allow for up to four copies of “unique” cards in your deck and only one in play. I think this is dumb. If Picard gets killed then he’s dead and the only way to bring him back is with a card like “Regenerate”. Mourn his loss and move on. The newest Star Trek movie taught as a valuable lesson with the definitive destruction of Vulcan: “There’s no reset button.” This “rule of one” keeps your deck size low, which I am a very big proponent of, and forces you and your opponent to constantly have to reformulate your strategy if an instrumental card in your deck gets sent to the discard pile.
Ignore this rule: “You may seed Q-icon dilemmas under missions only when you have previously seeded the Objective card Beware of Q, or if the card’s text says it may be seeded (such as Hide and Seek).” Replace it with: “Treat these cards as you would any other Dilemma and place Q-icon dilemmas under any mission since the Q-Continuum transcends space and time and, thus, virtually has no limits.”
For now that’s it. I’ll have more tips on how to streamline Star Trek CCG, bring it back to the basics, and make it less complex.
Ask yourself this: Would I be more willing to play this game time and time again if I knew it would be a 45 minute “joy-fest” or a three hour juggernaut?
I found that, much to my delight, when I limited the game to a few sets (Premiere and Alternate Universe or The Borg and Voyager) and to the original card-types (Events, Interrupts, Artifacts, and Doorways) it was, well… absolutely fun and exciting. In the time-span that I’d normally play one game, I played three and each time it was better. It was beautiful in it’s simplicity and as exciting as much as it was entertaining, which in fact is the purpose of any card game.
Get back to the basics and have fun!