Monday, March 26, 2012

Simple Repack Theatre, Vol. 5-Enhanced First Contact, A Cool Concept That Makes Borg Unstoppable!

The Good: Some intriguing concept images, Borg Overlays make the game MUCH easier to play!
The Bad: Repacked with more previously released cards
The Basics: Assuming alternate conflicts between the Borg and other major races, these sixteen cards make it easier for players playing Borg characters to defeat their opponents!

Perhaps feeling like they had truly shafted their loyal customers with the release of the "Starter Deck II" product, Decipher did something uncharacteristic with its next release. Stalling between the major release of the "Deep Space Nine" CCG set and the next major expansion, "The Dominion," Decipher tried to unload its excess inventory and it did that through repackaging its stock - usually "Premiere" and trying to find new ways to resell it. With "Starter Deck II," it created an unsatisfying dump job that provided loyal players and collectors only four new cards and a stack of sixty that most already had. So the next stalling set was another repackage job, but this time Decipher took one of its more popular releases and repackaged it.

Thus Enhanced First Contact came to be!

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game Enhanced First Contact set was the sixth limited exclusive expansion product, falling neatly after the fifth full set of cards created by Decipher to continue the Customizable Card Game. Players saw the game as a strategy game that was 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.

Enhanced First Contact is a 16 card set focusing on characters and scenarios implied by the Borg menacing the galaxy and in Star Trek: First Contact. The set consists of 12 premium rare cards and four transparent overlays that play on other cards (see below) and this is essentially a concept set, which was pretty ballsy of Decipher. It is also one of their few Star Trek experiments that truly worked out! This set offers a rare opportunity for fans and collectors to experience a more powerful vision of the Borg, the cybernetic villains from Star Trek: The Next Generation and the film Star Trek: First Contact.

The 16 card set features 1 Event (cards featuring long-standing challenges or concepts in the overall Star Trek universe, many of which alter gameplay - like Borg appearing in a system), 5 Incidents (cards that . . . good question, see below), 4 Overlays (cards that effectively assimilate opposing personnel!), and 6 Borg Personnel.

The Enhanced First Contact cards were released as one of four packs packaged in draft boxes that contained four packs of "First Contact" CCG cards (reviewed here!). The four different packs of Enhanced First Contact cards were clearly differentiated by a window in front that showed one of the four key Personnel cards. Each of the sealed packs revealing an identical Personnel card contained the same other cards. So, for example, all of the sealed packs that had Gowron Of Borg showing had the same Overlay and other cards in it, but had a different selection of exclusive cards from the packs that had Bareil Of Borg visible. Behind the pack of exclusive cards, there were always four unopened packs of "First Contact" CCG cards. The Enhanced decks (later on Decipher would coin the term draft box for repackages of older product fronted by new exclusives) came in packages of twelve, with three of each exclusive pack per box.


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. The Enhanced First Contact set is only a supplement and cannot be played on its own. Fortunately, the decks come with unopened packs of "First Contact" cards

Enhanced First Contact adds a two new card types, but unfortunately did not include a rulebook to explain how to use them! The card types that premiere in this set are the Incident and the Overlay cards. Incidents - rulebooks from subsequent sets inform - are essentially cards that stick around and alter either characters or situations. To a non-player, the difference between Incidents, Objectives and Events may seem miniscule and more confusing than playable.

The Overlays, though are a blissfully simple card type to understand. These clear acetate cards allow Borg Personnel to be created without straining the imagination. When a Borg plays a card that assimilates an opposing player's Personnel card, the Borg player may now simply lay the overlay card over it and suddenly, it is Borg Affiliation and has all of the skills necessary to share with the hive the knowledge and experience from the assimilated character!

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.

Rule Changes

The basic rules for the Star Trek CCG are covered briefly in the review for "Premiere" (reviewed here!).

There are no rule changes for the Enhanced First Contact set, though it might take some time to learn how to use the Incident cards and most people played them like Events (most of them have explicit directions on them for how they are to be played.


Players, collectors and fans of the Star Trek franchise will appreciate the image quality and creativity of the four main Personnel cards. Digitally altered images of four of the most popular recurring characters make them into Borg Personnel! They are Bareil Of Borg, Dukat Of Borg, Gowron Of Borg and Tomalak Of Borg. These cards make the Borg as near-invincible to the Bajorans, Cardassians, Klingons and Romulans, respectively as Locutus Of Borg made the Borg lethal to the Federation affiliation!

In addition to the four popular Personnel concept cards, which still draws fans and collectors to this set, the release has the overlay cards. These are exceptionally popular to players at it is a clear visual aid for who has been assimilated and exactly what skills they now possess! The Overlays take the guesswork out of attributes as well.


Enhanced First Contact represents a nice balance between playability with its player-friendly cards and collectibility with its intriguing use of popular characters for the concept cards! Collectors will find this a ridiculously easy set to assemble and therefore all they truly have to get excited about is the content of the cards. With only sixteen cards over four packs, this is an easy set to assemble, yet because it was not produced in huge quantities, it remains one of the harder Star Trek CCG releases to find. Its value has remained high since it was first released and singles from this set average in the $5.00 range!

Enhanced First Contact cards were not reprinted or re-released in any subsequent products, which further enhanced their value!


Enhanced First Contact is a repack with style and flair. While dumping leftover "First Contact" packs (these things tend to devalue shortly after a film leaves theaters), Decipher made a strong incentive for players to open up to playing Borg characters by creating the concept cards that give the other players genuine reason to fear them! And the images look good, even though they are clearly CG-altered versions of cards from prior releases.

Still, it's a fun idea and looking at the quality of them, one wishes there were more!

This set culls material from Star Trek: First Contact, reviewed here!

This set was preceded by "Deep Space Nine" (reviewed here!) and "Starter Deck II" (reviewed here!) and followed by the Star Trek CCG full expansion "The Dominion" (reviewed here!).

This is a trading card series I proudly sell in my online store. For my current inventory of these cards, please click here!


For other card reviews, please visit my Card Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the card reviews I have written.

© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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