Star Trek: The Next Generation ® Customizable Card Game (TM)

Alternate Universe Collation Problem

Following is a letter from Warren Holland, CEO of Decipher, Inc., discussing a collation problem with the Alternate Universe cards and Decipher's solution. The letter was first published online in December, 1995, about one week after the release of Alternate Universe.
Dear valued customer,

Last week, Decipher received the long-awaited shipment of Alternate Universe(tm) cards from our manufacturer, Carta Mundi. As a routine quality control measure, display boxes from different pallets and case packs were randomly checked. All the cards tested were beautiful! We found no problems of any kind with the Rare and Uncommon cards, however, we discovered a small aberration in the Common card collation which we wanted to bring to everyone's attention. While it is not likely to pose a problem for many consumers, it did not meet Decipher standards or expectations. The question for us was... should we ship the product?

The Issue:

The Alternate Universe(tm) expansion contains 40 Common cards, 40 Uncommon, 41 Rare and 1 Ultra-rare... for a total of 122 cards. Each 15-card expansion set contains 11 Common, 3 Uncommon and 1 Rare card (or sometimes 1 Ultra-rare instead).

Since each expansion set has 11 Common cards from the total of 40, this means Common card duplication is expected in many single packs. Rare and Uncommon cards have no such problems. In preparation for this, Decipher and Carta Mundi spent months developing and revising a computerized collation model to limit multiples in each pack. We developed a sorting method that would ensure that 93% of all expansion packs would contain no multiple Common cards. It was a nice system. Decipher arranged cards on the press sheets using this model to ensure our collation goal would be met. Unfortunately, we learned that Carta Mundi made a mistake and did not follow this system, instead using a standard collation method as in Magic and earlier Star Trek(r) products. This erroneously placed some Common cards side by side and resulted in duplication far beyond Decipher standards. (Note: duplication refers to multiples of the same Common card being in one pack... the total number of each Common card manufactured was not changed, so a particular card's rarity is unaffected by this issue.)

The Dilemma:

We were thus faced with a choice... to ship or not to ship? Although this collation did not meet our expectations, we knew the issue would be moot once a consumer purchased about $20 worth of expansion sets (a common consumer purchase)... at which point they would have all the Common cards. The issue is also moot for anyone purchasing a box of Alternate Universe(tm), since the average Common card distribution is random and normal over this number of packs. It is single expansion pack purchasers who may or may not be dissatisfied. One option for us was to destroy the print run and reprint the entire set from scratch. To their credit, Carta Mundi offered to re-manufacture the entire Alternate Universe(tm) production at their expense. However, there have been so many delays on the shipment of Alternate Universe by Paramount that we found it difficult to force our customers to wait an additional three months for product.

The Decision:

While the Common card duplication was a disappointment to us (multiples occur in about a third of all packages) we think the overall issue will be minor for most purchasers. We also felt customers did not want to wait another three months for product. We decided to ship as planned. Alternate Universe(tm) shipments began to retailers and distributors on Thursday November 30, 1995.

We also decided to solve this issue for any customer who is dissatisfied. Decipher has instituted a card exchange program: any player who gets multiples of Common cards is welcome to send the duplicates to Decipher Customer Service, P.O. Box 56, Norfolk, VA 23501-0056 and we will gladly exchange them FREE for an equal number of other randomly- selected Alternate Universe(tm) Common cards.

Other than the issue above, the Alternate Universe(tm) cards are wonderful and we think you will be very pleased. Thank you for your incredible patience and support. If you have any complaints you would like to discuss with us regarding this issue or any other topic, you can contact us online at or via phone at (804)664-1131.

Warren Holland
Chairman & CEO
Decipher Inc.

TM & © 1996 Decipher Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TM & © 1996 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Used under authorization by Decipher Inc.