Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Quality Overhaul With The Star Trek CCG When "Deep Space Nine" Debuts!

The Good: Some great and intriguing images, Great use of material, Powerful cards for players, New Rulebook.
The Bad: Game continues to get more complicated and some of the playability is sacrificed
The Basics: With "Deep Space Nine," the Star Trek CCG gets more complicated, though the set is a great presentation of the material from the show!

Anyone who reads my plethora of reviews (and I am not quite misguided enough to believe that is a large segment of the population or anything!) will come away with the distinct impression that I am a bit of a fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. That is not an erroneous impression, either. That series is the one I return to most for entertainment, enlightenment, comfort and appreciation for cinematic process. In many ways, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the most bold of the Star Trek series and it took the most risks and developed the characters best in the franchise.

So when the Star Trek CCG finally made it to an expansion set that focused on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I was pleased to see that they took it seriously enough to give it a full expansion, almost as extensive as the Premiere set (reviewed here!) that established the game with the range of the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe. Available in both starter decks and booster packs, "Deep Space Nine" made for an excellent game, even though it further complicated the game.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game "Deep Space Nine" set was the fifth full expansion set of cards sold in boxes created by Decipher to continue the Customizable Card Game. Players saw the game as a strategy game that is like a Role-playing game with cards. The players got to use characters, vessels, and scenarios are all already conceived by others. The original concept was to find a way to make play socially acceptable for an older audience and it generally worked. Collectors saw this as another thing to collect to show their love of Star Trek and while the cards have very different images from the trading card releases, many collectors were turned off by how small the images were and how much space on each card was given to game-related text.

"Deep Space Nine" is a 277 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented involving the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, specifically the experiences of the crew of the space station Deep Space Nine as they dealt with the conflicts and complications resulting from the Bajorans and Cardassians! The set consists of 80 common cards, 80 uncommon cards, 100 rare, 16 starter deck exclusive and one Ultra Rare cards with the most popular characters and scenarios being given rare status and the background supernumeraries filling out the more common cards. This set offers a new opportunity for fans and collectors to collect some of the most interesting and significant recurring characters in the franchise.

The 277 card set features 4 Artifact (cards featuring unique devices, such as a Mysterious Orb), 37 Dilemmas (cards featuring challenges the crews faced), 3 Doorways (cards representing passages, like the Bajoran Wormhole), 11 Equipment (cards featuring generic, mass produced devices in the Star Trek universe, like a Bajoran PADD or Cardassian Disruptor Rifle), 22 Events (cards featuring long-standing challenges or concepts in the overall Star Trek universe, like a treaty between the Federation and Bajor), 9 Facilities (cards that illustrate originating locations of major races), 20 Interrupts (cards featuring phenomenon that quickly turn events, like the sudden appearance of a Protouniverse!), 28 Missions (cards featuring basic plots from the series', these are used to create the "board" for the game), 12 Objectives (long-standing goals for players which establish alternate goals of the game, like plans of the Cardassian secret police, the Obsidian Order), 100 Personnel (30 Bajoran, 31 Cardassian, 13 Federation, 6 Klingon, 15 Non-Aligned, and 5 Romulan characters from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), 4 Q Dilemmas (cards for beefing up a Q side deck), 16 Ship cards (4 Bajoran, 6 Cardassian, 3 Federation, 1 Klingon, 4 Non-Aligned and 1 Romulan), and 12 Sites (locations on the Deep Space Nine space station). This set introduces Deep Space Nine and other than the game-constructed station represented by the Site cards, it is mostly just an expansion of the previously established game.


At its most basic level, this is a board game where one constructs the board and pieces out of a selection of cards. The starting purpose of the game is to get 100 points, points most often are derived from completing missions by thwarting dilemmas using the unique attributes of your ship and crew. "Deep Space Nine" is a complicated CCG and while it is enjoyable for those who have played the game from the beginning, it offers some intriguing new bits that keep playing the game fresh and new. For those just starting with this set - which is possible as the starter decks for the "Deep Space Nine" set do have rulebooks - this is a stifling and complicated game to learn as some of the card types even seem to work in similar ways - like Events and Objectives. It is very easy for players of all ages to get confused and frustrated with all of the mechanics and side decks involved in playing this game to the fullest that it can be played.

"Deep Space Nine" adds only one new card type, the Site cards, and two new Affiliations - the Cardassians and the Bajorans. The Site cards essentially add extended headquarters and allow for personal combat in a different setting. This takes some getting used to and the whole establishment of a station seems to distract from the spaceline missions and the goal of the game.

As for the new Affiliations, they do not alter gameplay, they simply offer players a new group to play as, each with their inherent strengths and weaknesses,

This is a very complex customizable card game, but it represents a level of gaming sophistication designed to appeal to younger adults and actually challenge them, which is a decent idea given the thematic complexity of the Star Trek universe. The problem, of course, is that most people who would be most stimulated by this game do not have the time or effort/interest to learn to play it. As a result, the mid-teens that basically run the CCG players world seem to have had mixed impressions about this game.

Anyone who has played the initial game will have no problem incorporating the new cards into their deck. Indeed, "Deep Space Nine" is a fan favorite because it offers a lot of options, which shakes up the game in a pleasant way for those used to playing it.

Rule Changes

The Star Trek CCG is revised in a 40 page rule booklet, so one might imagine how many rules there are in this game. The essential rules involve establishing a deck of cards to play and how to arrange them on the table.

Essentially, the game is played by laying out missions on the table to establish a "board" with players laying out the missions, then the opposing player sliding Dilemma cards underneath the Missions for when the opposing ship lands on the card. In order to win the points on the mission card, all of the obstacles represented on the Dilemmas must be overcome.

Ship movement is guided by its attributes, which is a numerical rating of its Range (movement along the spaceline), Shields and Weapons. Personnel cards are given basic scores of Cunning, Integrity and Strength to define them, as well as individual attributes that are unique to each character, like "Treachery" or "Exobiology." These requirements are often needed to qualify for missions and determine which Personnel cards the player plays to try to meet the mission requirements!

The rulebook also describes how to apply the Event and Mission cards and offers a general idea of how to establish the station using Site cards (though it is a little vague on what the point of it is). This is the first time the rules have been concisely and thoroughly rephrased since the first set was released.


Players, collectors and fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine will appreciate the image quality of the characters and scenarios from episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The personnel cards and ships remain the most sought-after cards, as they usually are. And that makes a lot of sense with great cards of Benjamin Sisko, Odo, and Plain, Simple Garak! Most of the characters are represented in this set and some of the cooler ships, like the Klingon Bird Of Prey Cha'Joh show up here!

But with choices like Kira Nerys, Jadzia Dax and Dukat, it's hard to say what the true highlight of the set is. The common wisdom would be that it is the Ultra Rare, the U.S.S. Defiant card featuring a look ahead at the next set and one of its premiere cards. It's a cool card, the only one in the set with a white border as it is a preview card, but it's not the true high point of the set.

For my money, I'd go with the Deep Space Nine/Terok Nor card. This double sided card features images of the space station around Bajor and in its spot near the wormhole. It is a clever concept that allows players to change who controls the station! It is very cool and the images and rarity of the card is great!


"Deep Space Nine" is a challenging set for collectors because of the Ultra Rare U.S.S. Defiant card, which averaged one in every six-box case. It's a tough card to find and it is usually the one that prevents collectors from assembling a complete set. In addition to the tough chase of the Ultra Rare, the fact that there are 100 rare cards in the set demands that the collector buy at least four boxes just to complete the set! As well, collectors must track down at least one starter deck (likely three if my experience has taught me anything!) because there are sixteen mission cards that are unique to the starter decks. Unfortunately for fans and collectors, those missions are randomly inserted in the starter decks and there is no way to determine which ones are in a given deck!.

While Decipher did not overproduce the "Deep Space Nine" product, much of the set was dumped as collectors simply tore through cases looking for the Ultra Rares (they still retail $35- $50 in the secondary market!) and the starter deck exclusive cards. The cards come in packs of 9 cards that feature one rare (or the Ultra Rare!), three uncommon and five common cards. This means that even with a box of thirty packs collectors will be lucky to assemble even one common sets and it is improbable that they will get a complete uncommon set without at least two boxes. A full master set takes about four boxes (with luck) and that would leave collectors with a lot to sell off! They would still need to track down a few starter decks.

"Deep Space Nine" cards were never reprinted, though they were rereleased in the "Second Anthology" boxed set. Because of the very popular subject matter and the difficulty in completing sets, this continues to be one of the best Star Trek CCG expansions.


This set has some wonderful images, and the appeal of assembling an entire command crew make enhances the value of this set, making it a highly prized set for collectors and players alike. Players will enjoy the chance to branch out with a greater selection of their favorite characters, collectors will enjoy the images that cannot be found anywhere else and investors will be generally pleased that this is one of the more solid Star Trek CCG investments! (Players of the game who enjoy playing it are likely to enjoy this set even more than I did!)

This set culls material from the first six seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, reviewed here!

This set was preceded by "First Contact" (reviewed here!) and followed by the Star Trek CCG repack "Starter Deck II" (reviewed here!) and full expansion "The Dominion," reviewed here.

This is a set of gaming cards I sell in my online store. Be sure to check out my current inventory by clicking here!


For other card reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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