Conversions: An Analysis - Mirror Phlox
"If you're angry now, just wait."
This Card-Review was written by James Cream and was published first on "The Continuing Committee (trekcc.org)" at Nov 22nd, 2016.
One of the things I am most excited to see, both in this expansion and the next, is a good number of long awaited conversions. Mirror Starfleet, featured here in The Terran Empire, and Starfleet proper, to be featured in the next First Edition expansion according to the publicly released plan, represent a bulk of the cards still left unconverted.
And I'll say this, I am not at all disappointed with the number of conversions in The Terran Empire.
Phlox, seen at left, is one of the more powerful cards in the Second Edition's mirror Starfleet faction. Not only is he an absolute skill monster, but his special ability could allow a player to significantly counteract the number of personnel that the opponent retains in play. The only trick to keeping that ability going was to maintain an empty hand.
And let's be honest, it is not that hard to get an empty hand in 1E. Simply utilize a card which punishes you with a 'draw no cards this turn', such as Ready Room Door played to download a matching commander to the ship, and then utilize a Q the Referee to fetch an Obelisk of Masaka to get Masaka Transformations and empty the hand. this is so easy, that I suspect that the only reason we didn't seen more players abusing Phlox is that the empty hand was too big a cost to spend.
Still, it has me a bit concerned. If the First Edition designers want to make the 'no hand' strategy work for Mirror Starfleet in the older game, they will need to give them cards which overcome the inherent disabilities (and boy did they!) which would in turn make cards like Phlox and D'vela too powerful -> unless properly playtested and converted.
That conversion is today's card of the day and we can see it just to the right. Looking at him, he might be the most different of the converted personnel cards to date.
Unconverted Phlox, Sadistic Physiologist had an impressive eight skills! The Medical skill has, not surprisingly, been upgraded to his MEDICAL classification and Exobiology x 2 remains, as does Biology and SCIENCE. But the skill of Engineer is gone altogether and replaced with the slightly less useful Physics. I suspect that this was done to fill a skill hole in the affiliation. I had assumed that the Phlox was given Engineer as a result of designing the torture device that he used on the captured Tholian. Why he has Physics, I am much less certain.
But much odder, he has lost both levels of Treachery. Given, he wasn't at all coy about how intended to abuse his patients. But still, I always thought of him as one of the bigger villains of the series. To match this new, completely upstanding, version, he has an upgraded Integrity. Originally, it was a dismal 2 but the converted version is a fairly average 5. New Phlox won't be passing any In The Pale Moonlight dilemmas. Sounds like I'm going to need a new bastard for my regular universe Starfleet build.
The Cunning increase from 6 to 7 is more on par with what we've seen in previous conversions. but the Strength remains unchanged at 5, presumably because they spent all his conversion points on the Integrity.
The icon conversions are mostly expected. The 2E past icon became the 1E Alternate Universe icon, the 2E Alternate Universe icon became the Mirror Quadrant icon, and he gained both a Terran Empire icon and a 22nd Century icon because he belongs in both groups. But the interesting change is the loss of a Staffing Star. I assume this is because the Terran Empire icon is often used in place of a staffing star in staffing Mirror Universe ships. So, it's not a loss as much as a conversion.
Of course the least surprising part of the card is the fact that his special ability was offloaded onto a whole new card, which can be fetched by a Special Download. This is unsurprising because the 1E template is just not spacious enough for a wordy ability (especially when the personnel has a lot of skills). This new card is called Will You Kindly Die? and it is not a broken link. In fact, you won't have to wait at all to see what it does: it's the other card revealed today.
At first glance, its a fairly straight forward conversion. Since the card is an Event, it can be countered through various means. That's something it was fairly immune to as a personnel text. It also has to be activated by the played (during the order phase of their turn) as a 'may' action and only does anything if the opponent has universal personnel in play. But the first big change is apparent in the use of the word 'discard' instead of 'kill' meaning that a whole slew of cards which might be able to save the victim simply won't work.
But of course the real big difference is the countdown icon. While the 2E card would continue to hit every turn for the whole game (assuming that Phlox remained in play and the hand remained empty) the new 1E version is going to kill two people only before promptly leaving play. To keep this up, a player would need to not only keep their hand empty but also replay the card every couple turns. I can only suspect that his ability was indeed shown to be over the curve in play testing as that's a pretty big neutering.
Which just makes me think that I really, really want to keep this ability going turn after turn. Perhaps Phlox is not the only sadist about.