Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Star Trek CCG: Second Edition Premiere -The Reboot To Try To Win Back The Fans Works!

The Good: Some interesting images, Decent rulebook makes it easy to begin, Easy to understand
The Bad: Finding players is a pain.
The Basics: With its first Star Trek Second Edition CCG release, Decipher created a reasonable game that is fairly complex for players and decent for collectors.

As the Star Trek CCG progressed, it became far more complex and involved than players, collectors and even the manufacturer had envisioned from the beginning of the production. Players were frustrated by the ever changing and increasing card types that were not in the spirit of the game they had begun playing originally, collectors were frustrated by trying to track down foil cards that were exclusive to tournaments and more or less impossible to come by and the manufacturer, Decipher, Inc. seemed to be getting frustrated with how to keep the buying public interested. For sure, there were untapped concepts, but the last few sets before they decided to reboot were more popular with collectors than with players and they realized they needed to try something different.

Decipher's solution was a controversial move that resulted in a great amount of debate among fans and players, collectors and investors. Ultimately, though, Decipher chose to tear it down and start again from the beginning. Responding to criticism that the game had become too complex, Decipher released Second Edition - Premiere, with a simplified game mechanic and the promise that the new format would be well worth the while of the players.

Collectors and investors became curious after a time and they came back, though many reluctantly. And the Second Edition thrived even while Decipher went through severe financial crisis'. Star Trek and The Lord Of The Rings products sustained the company and rebuilt it, and for the Star Trek half of it, it is doubtful that that could have been done without the aid of the reboot. Decipher gambled, ultimately most all of the collectors and players won. And it starts with Second Edition Premiere!

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game Second Edition Premiere was the first set of cards created by Decipher to introduce the rebooted Customizable Card Game. For those unfamiliar with the concept, CCGs are basically a late-teen oriented product designed to capitalize on the youthful desire to play with the acknowledged maturity of the target audience. The initial idea of the customizable card game was to allow young adults and adults to play in a way that was as free and imaginative as playing with action figures, but without the stigma of being a twenty-five year-old zapping a friend's toys with mouth-created sound effects. The result is something that is a midpoint between the freedom and creativity of action-figure free play and the structured rules and rigidity of a board game.

Players might prefer that I describe the game instead as a strategy game that is like a Role-playing game with cards. The break here is that the 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.

Star Trek Second Edition Premiere is a 415 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Nemesis. Released following the premiere of Star Trek: Nemesis, this card set utilizes material from all seven seasons of both shows and the film, presenting a well-rounded concept of the Star Trek universe in the Star Trek: The Next Generation time period. The set consists of 121 common cards, 121 uncommon cards, 121 rare cards and 52 starter deck exclusive cards, with the most popular characters and scenarios being given rare status and the background supernumeraries filling out the more common cards. Actually, the exception to this prior general rule is that there tend to be alternate versions of key characters who are granted more common status. So, for example, in the Second Edition "Premiere" set, there are two Jean-Luc Picards, one for driving the Argo, one for commanding the Enterprise.

The 415 card set features 60 Dilemmas (cards featuring challenges the crews faced), 12 Equipment (cards featuring generic, mass produced devices in the Star Trek universe, like phasers and tricorders), 47 Events (cards featuring long-standing challenges or concepts in the overall Star Trek universe, many of which alter gameplay - like being stuck in a labor camp), 28 Interrupts (cards featuring phenomenon that quickly turned plot events on Star Trek: The Next Generation, like the use of a Quantum Slipstream Drive), 66 Missions (cards featuring basic plots of episodes, these are used to create the "board" for the game), 173 Personnel (22 Bajoran, 22 Cardassian, 41 Federation, 25 Klingon, 37 Non-Aligned and 26 Romulan characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Nemesis, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), and 36 Ship cards (3 Bajoran, 7 Cardassian, 7 Federation, 7 Klingon, 4 Non-Aligned, and 8 Romulan). This set, unlike the first edition is more balanced, even if it does have a minor bias toward the Federation and assumes most player and collectors are most interested in the Federation and the StarFleet heroes they (presumably) watched for years.

This set establishes a very basic and broad sense of the Star Trek universe as characterized by Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, though there are a smattering of cards from Star Trek: Voyager and even "Star Trek;" with things like Dilemmas.

The combo boxes, like this one, are the ideal way to purchase the Second Edition Premiere cards because this allows the buyer to get both the higher proportion of rares from the booster packs and the starter deck exclusive cards and rulebook from the starter deck. In many ways, this is the best of both worlds!


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 Star Trek Second Edition Premiere set establishes the game with seven types of cards with innumerable sub-texts and divisions to them. The basic idea is to assemble a sixty card deck (for beginners), lay out the board (spaceline) and play against an opponent. The nice thing about Second Edition is that the seven card types remain consistent through the entirety of the game, from beginning to end. So, while new affiliations will be added, all of the important pieces to playing the game are in play from the very first Second Edition set.

Missions form the board for the game, known as the spaceline. Dilemmas represent the obstacles that opponents place at each location. The rulebook clearly defines what each deck must possess in terms of numbers of the card types. But basically, one starts by laying out a board, stacking obstacles under the missions, assembling a starship and its crew and traveling along the spaceline drawing cards and trying to overcome obstacles to gain points.

This is a fairly 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. Many, however, like it better than the First Edition because it is less complicated. As well, many seem to enjoy that cards have a "cost" to them, adding a sense of risk to playing many of the better cards.

It takes a great deal of time and energy to learn the game, but once one has played a few hands of it, it is a pretty easy concept for an adult to master and the challenge becomes staffing ships and being creative (and lucky) about how the cards from one's hand are used.

Rules/Rule Changes

The rulebook for this game is thirty-six pages long; it's not so much the function of a review to rehash all that as it is to evaluate it. The rules are (mostly) very clear, though the game becomes rather complex and convoluted when it comes to alternating between the more board game-like mission-oriented point-scoring game and the more role-playing game-like space battle portion where players may attack opponent player's ships. Rulebooks are obtained in the Starter Decks for the Star Trek: The Next Generation Premiere sets.

The rulebook clearly establishes the rules of the game, especially as far as deck size and the creation of the game mechanics. It is also clever enough to attempt to appeal to an adult audience by establishing rule extensions, like suggesting that as players become more advanced, they may increase their deck size (it establishes the essential proportion needed), play to more than 100 points, and prohibiting duplicates of unique personnel along the whole spaceline (so, for example, if one player with a Federation deck is playing a Federation Affiliation Worf, another player playing a Klingon deck could not play a Klingon Affiliation Worf - this is not an issue in this series as all of the characters are given only one affiliation or loyalty).

Basically, there are rules that govern completing missions and earning points and rules that govern how opponents may initiate combat with one another. The rules are fairly clearly laid out in the rulebook and most adults will not have difficulty understanding and applying them. As well, each card contains text that informs the player what the card is intended to do, so there is not a lot that players need to memorize.

The rulebook also has a full color spread in the middle illustrating how to lay out a playing field for the game. This is very handy and makes it exceedingly easy to start the game.


Players, collectors and fans of the Star Trek franchise will appreciate the image quality of the characters and scenarios from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Premiere set features the entire main crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E, including Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Data, Counselor Deanna Troi, and Lt. Worf. The set also features the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E as well as several popular recurring guest characters like Sela, Lursa, B'Etor, and Gowron. Moreover, the Second Edition Premiere set includes the entire Federation and Bajoran contingents assigned to space station Deep Space Nine, like Captain Sisko, Kira Nerys, Odo and Dr. Bashir. Recurring characters like Nog, Garak and Martok also appear in this set! This set powerfully establishes most of the biggest characters and scenarios in the Star Trek universe and it does so with larger images than the First Edition cards had, which is a key selling point for this reboot.

This set features the Scimitar, the ship utilized by Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis. It is a virtually invincible ship and definitely one of the key selling points to this set. Between that and the Admiral Janeway card, the Star Trek: Nemesis themed cards truly did seem to inspire players and collectors alike.


The Second Edition Premiere set has generally good collectibility. While packs pop up in virtually every Second Edition repack, there are no truly bad cards in this set. Moreover, with the combo box (combining the booster packs and the starter decks), fans found the master set of 415 cards attainable.

Despite the necessary preponderance of Mission cards required to facilitate play, the fact that none of them are rares helped to bring collectors back to the fold, as they did not need to worry about opening packs and being disappointed with a rare card that was more of a player's process necessity.

The cards come in packs of 11 cards that feature one rare, three uncommon and seven common cards. Out of a combo box, because it also includes the starter decks, collectors ought to be able to assemble at least one common set and two starter deck exclusive card sets. A full master set takes four combo boxes with ideal collation, though six-box cases often yielded a complete master set (though it left one with enough duplicates to trade).


This is the logical starting point for players, and collectors seemed to warm to this set after they overcame their initial resentment over having to restart their collections. Despite how frequently packs and starter decks of Second Edition Premiere ended up in things, this set never felt mass produced and it seems like Decipher wisely never flooded the market with all that it had of this product.

Ultimately, this is an average product, with a little edge above the average line for the way it engages players - once they are taught to play. I'd recommend it for players who have friends who are looking for something different to play, and recommend it for collectors as well.

This set culls material from:
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Nemesis

"Second Edition Premiere" follows on the heels of the ending of the First Edition products, which ended (at the time) with All Good Things . . . (reviewed here!). This set was followed by the Star Trek Second Edition CCG expansion "Energize" (reviewed here!).

This is a set of gaming cards I proudly sell in my online store. Check out my current inventory here!


For other card reviews, check out my Card Review Index Page for an organized listing!!

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