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The Road to Worlds: Koblenz and San Diego Regionals

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

4th May 2017

Second Edition Koblenz Regional winner Benjamin Liebich
Title: Back to Bajor
Headquarters: Bajor, Blessed of the Prophets
Deck Size: 38 cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 30 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Chula Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Danny, KillerB, Armus, TReebel, and Resistance-is-futile

Benjamin's Commentary:
Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?

I've experimented with a lot of different decks over the winter. This is still my go to deck when it comes to competitive play. It is an evolution of the deck I played at this regional last year and also at worlds. Everything I wrote about it before still applies but I've made one decicive change to it. I switched my space mission from Denorios Belt to Amnesty Talks. This way I no longer have to score bonus points to get to 100. This change makes it a little slower overall but the more I was playing it the more people were just going after my bonus point guys getting me into all kinds of trouble.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
This deck usually handles itself quite well against all sorts of decks so I wasn't really worried about anything in particular. The one thing this deck does not like is TCS (or A5A, as the kids call it these days) since it takes away it's main advantage which is the micro teaming. Unfortunately every single one of my opponents did run TCS so I really had to do it the hard way.

Prior to this tournament, did you have much experience playing this deck (or decks like it)? Did you learn anything new about it when you played it this time?
I've played versions of this deck at every major tournament last year so I can really play it with my eyes closed. But there is always something to learn. This was the first time I really combined this deck with a Chula pile and it worked a lot better than I thought.

Did you use any situational cards (cards that you wouldn't expect to be useful in every game)? Are there any whose usefulness exceeded your expectations? Were there any that you wouldn't include if you played the deck again?
The Manheim Effect is a fantastic card to support the Chula Pile. Continously getting Chula: The Game back so your opponent has to deal with multiple copies at every mission is just priceless. I'm still a bit on the fence whether or not to include Bridge Officer's Test. It's very powerful if you can use it, but there wasn't a single situation in this tournament where I could use it so it just became dead weight.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Covenant! Covenant was critical in winning two out of the three games. It's ability to boost a personnel's attributes until the end of the Turn was crucial in completing my final missions. Note from Lucas: Covenant has received errata to only last until the end of the mission attempt, but it appears that only the image for the physical card has been altered.

My Commentary:
This deck is clearly an update of Benjamin's 2016 Worlds Bajoran deck, which itself is an update of a deck he has used at many major events. We looked at a version of it when he won last year's Koblenz regional with it - since then, he's made some significant changes that I'd like to take a look at. Benjamin called out the addition of The Manheim Effect in his interview, which (along with the addition of Uninvited) adds some powerful dilemma pile synergy. The most commonly used dilemma pile synergy card, Unexpected Difficulties, is notably absent, but that's likely related to the switch to a Chula pile. Chula piles tend to run heavier on dual dilemmas (or, in this case, are exclusively dual) and are slimmer, and benefit less from being able to mulligan your dilemma draw than they do from being able to recur or fetch The Game.

This version is also much smaller than Benjamin's regional version, while still having room for all these verbs. That's only 19 personnel in a 38 card deck. That's a ratio that only Bajorans can pull off in the game today. It is not unreasonable for a kill pile, even one without draw deck support, to kill off 19 personnel before you solve three missions. In a deck like this one, not only do you have the not affiliation-specific Tacking Into the Wind, there are also more flexible cards like Souls of the Dead, which can have a huge impact against a non-kill deck by recurring verbs too. Or the Orb of Prophecy and Change, which doesn't increase your overall personnel volume, but will keep your heavy-hitters like Bareil and Sisko cycling back into play every turn. I wouldn't mind seeing a copy of the Xhosa too though, since it does a great job at putting the chump you swapped out for Opaka back in the mix.

I do really like Bejamin's decision to switch to a strategy where bonus points are not essential for reaching 100. I've run into Dominion Gamma solvers and decks with the Phoenix too often recently, and seen too much personnel removal in piles to trust in Solbor to get me to 100. I'm glad to still see him here, he's a necessary tool for fighting against those cards, but I wouldn't want to count on him (and Kira) to get me there every single game. This appears to be a much more resilient deck.

Second Edition San Diego Regional winner Thomas Vineberg
Title: K.N. #16: Raise the Stakes
Headquarters: Bajor, Blessed of the Prophets
Deck Size: 95 cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 55 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Fritzinger and Marquetry

Thomas' Commentary:
Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?

Still working on using every Kira in the game, but I'd been holding on to "Lela" for a special occasion since she's one of the better versions. Didn't really consider any other decks this time.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I felt like the deck was both fast and resilient, and would probably do okay against most possibilities. The one thing I didn't have was any bonus point mechanism, which burned me against TK when he forced me to a fourth mission with the Phoenix.

Prior to this tournament, did you have much experience playing this deck (or decks like it)? Did you learn anything new about it when you played it this time?
Yes, I had quite a bit of experience with similar decks. It has a lot in common with those, though the mix is slightly different. The Hosts and Rite of Emergence were a nice addition, adding "any skill" dialing to the big attribute boosts from Covenant and Dukat. I'd used Lifeless World and Ranjen Koral many times, and those are strong on their own, but combined with Alenis Grem and Lela, almost anything important is virtually guaranteed to be accessible when you need it.

On the dilemma side, I enjoyed experimenting with Pattern Loss and Undue Influence. Couldn't always get them to line up with the dilemmas they matched with, but when they did it worked well.

Did you use any situational cards (cards that you wouldn't expect to be useful in every game)? Are there any whose usefulness exceeded your expectations? Were there any that you wouldn't include if you played the deck again?
Hidden Resource, maybe. The range bonus came in handy more often than I had anticipated. Most of the others are pretty tried-and-true staples.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Kira Nerys, of course. On the dilemma side, Timescape won me games against both TK and Nate.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I'm shocked to see that no one else has used Symbol of Devotion recently. Download any personnel and recur Ranjen Koral? That's an auto-include for me.

My Commentary:
I love when there are cards that one player (particularly a good one like Thomas) considers an auto-include, but the community at large doesn't seem to give it a second thought. With the recent increase in how long cards are considered to be recently used, I looked though my decks to see if there are any such cards that I use, and the few cards that were underused we things like Karemman Fleece. I totally get why that's underused, not many people go all-in on commodities (though doing so is nice in combination with Zero Hour).

In any event, here we've got a regional-winning deck with not one but three copies of a card that no one else has used in the past 12 months. I can tell you why I personally don't use Symbol of Devotion: it is very slow, in an affiliation that is not know for its blazing speed. You have to draw and pay for a Bajoran religious leader first, then place that person you payed for on the bottom of your deck (where you may never see that particular copy again) in order to download a personnel that I've probably already drawn.

Which leads us to the reason why Symbol is more valuable to Thomas than it is to me (and, from my experience in this series, most people who play Bajorans): I tend to build smaller decks. When your deck is a sprawling 95 cards, suddenly it becomes much more valuable to be able to slow down to get just the card you need than it would be if your deck were only 50 cards. And Thomas is right that some Bajoran religious leaders (I wish there were a shorter way to list all those keywords) have very powerful "when you play" effects (like Ranjen Koral), which can lessen the sting of needing to remove that personnel from play.

A similar theme runs through some of the other underused cards in this deck. Invocation of the Kosst Amojan (used by only two others) doesn't really grant any card advantage, and doesn't tempo out any high value personnel like some other Bajoran retrieval cards do. Instead, like Symbol, it grants a slower flexibility, either downloading a specific, needed personnel, or retrieving essential personnel who you'd like to play again (rather than sneak into play), like the aforementioned Ranjen Koral.

Online Regional Update: On the Second Edition side of things, we've got three players heading into round four undefeated: Tyler Fultz, Andrey Gusev, and Michael Van Breemen. Tyler will face Andrey this round, while MVB is paired down with Nickolay Korotya who is at 2-1. There will be a fifth round, so there is still a possibility that there will be no undefeated players, and all of the six players sitting at 9 victory points could still be in the mix to win it.

In the First Edition Regional, there are only two players heading into round four undefeated: Jon Carter and Matthew King, who will face off this week. This tournament will also go to five rounds, so there's also a chance for any of the 9 victory point players to win here as well.


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