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The Evolution of a Virtual Card (Part Two)
by Duane Bruun

Author?s Note: Some of the virtual text listed or hinted at in this article may change over the course of the playtesting process. As such the final release of the Virtual Set #5 cards may differ from the information represented in this article.

Last time, we took a look at some of the initial workings of the Virtual card creation. Now we will take an in depth look at a few cards that got the most attention and some that never even made the final cut.

Many people?s first interest went toward the cards that were going to assist the Jedi training objective: Mind What You Have Learned. Two integral cards to the success of this objective were the only LS character cards from Dagobah: Son of Skywalker and Yoda. Son of Skywalker (V) was extremely powerful and a bit too easy to get down. Here?s the initial game text that was unveiled:

Son Of Skywalker (V)
D4 F8
[P2] Deploys free to Dagobah. Training Destiny + 1. Once per turn, \/ a card with 'training destiny' in its game text. Immune to attrition = # of Jedi Test completed.

The free deploy on SOS (V) was just gravy on the game text. Being able to take various cards into hand that can enhance and speed up Jedi tests was going to make an impact on the playability of the objective. It was determined that in order to make a more balanced card, SOS (V) would only get a negatively modified deploy cost instead (-2 to Dagobah as can be seen on the spoiler). Another issue with most training decks is how to deal with early drains that can cause the loss of integral cards to training decks. Yoda?s Hope (V) was designed to take care of that issue in spades:

Yoda's Hope (V)
Deploy on Yoda. Whenever you complete a Jedi Test, you may retrieve Force equal to the Jedi Test's destiny number, and that retrieval may not be canceled. You retrieve no Force from Save You It Can. Immune to Alter.

As I stated in the last article, Yoda?s Hope never made it to the play testers. Rather, the text was transferred to Yoda himself and run thru the machine. A few changes were made as well in the eventual card. Many expressed the concern of the retrieval not being effected by any means, so Secret Plans got the green light to stop the retrieval. Another concern was a hungry Dianoga popping up and eating our favorite green Muppet (no, not Kermit). As such, Yoda (V) was born (please note that there is final text being added that will deal with restrictions on force retrieval from your objective):

Yoda (V)
P3 A7 D3 F9
Once per turn, may \/ Yoda?s Glimmer Stick. While mentoring, training destinies are +1. Whenever you complete a Jedi Test, you may retrieve Force equal to Test?s destiny number (may not be cancelled except by Secret Plans). You retrieve no Force from Save You It Can.

Another possible problem was voiced on how DS Senate and Watto decks were being targeted. Scrambled Transmission was getting a lot of scrutiny. It seemed to be too powerful and could effectively shut down the major functions of the two objectives: Political Effects for Senate and the Force loss from the flip side of the Watto objective.

Scrambled Transmission (V)
Opponent may not look at or remove cards from your hand (except with Monnok). Once per turn, you may cancel one Political Effect or face down card (from You're A Slave?). Once per game, /\ Grimtaash. (Immune to Alter.)

The first revision to the card added a Force loss association with the card canceling text. Made sense when dealing with Political Effects, but not much of a trade off when it comes to Watto decks. As such a bit more rework was done and the final version would look something like this:

Scrambled Transmission (V)
Deploy on table. Opponent may not look at or remove cards from your hand while you hold < 13 cards. Once per turn, you may peek ay any face down card just placed on table, /\ Logistical Delay, or lose 2 Force to cancel a Political Effect. (Immune to Alter.)

One major discussion revolved around two cards that were designed to help stop blind searches of the reserve deck (aka Poor Man?s Tracking. No offense meant, I use it too). Cards were created that would make players think twice about looking for that Docking Bay when they know for a fact that they have pulled all of them. It was meant to penalize people who abuse the search functions of certain cards, when a little tracking skill could accomplish the same objective.

Apology Accepted (V) / It?s Not My Fault (V)
Play if opponent unsuccessfully attempts to /\ or \/ any card (with less than 10 cards in their Reserve Deck). Opponent must lose 3 Force. (Immune to Sense.)

Seemed pretty nasty. This type of card has evidently been tested before at Decipher and never made it off the cutting room floor. It has previously been dubbed ?Stop Frikken? Cheating?. As stated before it?s main use was to make a blind peek at the Reserve deck have a chance of coming back to bite you. In early games, it became apparent that this card was not going to have to wait until late game to see play. If the opponent was running a deck with huge activation, a person could easily have fewer than ten cards in their Reserve deck early in the game. An unsuccessful search for Mara?s Saber could cause serious repercussions.

One initial thought was to make many of the ?Matching? effects (Squadron Assignments, Blaster Rack, Alert My Star Destroyer?) or Objectives immune to the cards. Another suggestion was to make the Interrupts target Life Force rather than the Reserve Deck. Doug even rewrote the card and reduced the penalty and the adjusted the card so that it only effected an opponent with less than five cards in the Reserve deck. Even that would not help these cards see light. Many thought that it was only hurting the moderate player who needed this option to assist in their tracking and it would only drive people away after having the dreaded ?Negative Play Experience?.

I personally liked the cards and hope they get revisited in the future. Many good points were made that show these cards can be analogous to Monnok/Grimtaash. When the threat of Monnok and Grimtaash are there, you make sure to keep your hand size at 12. Likewise, if you have fear of looking blindly at your reserve deck, you can either not look (duh!) or keep at least 10 cards in your Reserve Deck.

All in all, the playtesters do a wonderful job running the cards thru their paces and making sure that there are no Operatives out there in the Virtual sets. There were a few late additions to the testers, mainly additional Bounty Hunters and matching ships, but the testers took them in stride and no real problems arose. The IG-2000 text was shifted to Punishing One and Dengar and Mist Hunter were added to the mix.

Why the late changes? Because the Player?s Committee will be bringing us something we?ve long been promised, but never seen delivered from Decipher. Back when Death Star 2 was introduced, we were promised a Shadows Of The Empire expansion. This fall, the PC will deliver. Many of the bounty hunters played key roles in the book, so a Virtual IG-2000 and Zuckuss may be just around the corner. Will we see some help added for the Black Sun organization? How might Leebo look with new text? Can Guri get any worse?

Just when you were excited about this new virtual set, I?m going to make the wait for fall even worse!

Previous Articles:
Evolution of a Virtual Card (Part One)
Interview with Doug Taylor (PC Advocate - Virtual Card Designer)
Interview with Eric Olson (PC Advocate - Virtual Card Designer)
Interview with Andrew Howard (PC Advocate - Tournaments)

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