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The Road to Worlds: NA and EU Continentals

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

20th July 2017

First Edition North American Continental Championships winner Kevin Jaeger
Title: Where is that &!$@@=#!$$!!!
Deck Archetype: Interference: Capture/Battle
Play Engines: New Arrivals, Internment Camp 371, Reward from the Founders, Dominion War Efforts
Draw Engines: New Arrivals, Deyos
Bonus Point Mechanics: Training Ring, Torture, Victory Is Life
Victory Correctly Predicted By: edgeofhearing, kingmj4891, Hoss-Drone, prylardurden, scox, Caretaker's Guest, JamesValEson, Armus, and sexecutioner.

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

- I had not played the Dominion deck for awhile and I felt like it was time for its turn in the random rotation. I was also interested to find out if the peekaboo dilemmas from Broken Bow were going to be as good as I thought they would be in how well they worked with this decks strategy. I was not disappointed……even when they failed to hold up in rd 5 of day 1 against ken – because that only happened due to a great play by Ken.

- I had brought with all my currently built/recently played decks – snipers, smoke and Borg. Though they were only day 2 options if I felt like I needed to audible. The plan all along was to play Dominion day 1 then preferably swap in the upgrades and only switch decks if I really felt like it was needed. After day 1 I figured Ken was going to switch decks, I knew that Kris would but didn’t know if Jeremy would have a second Borg deck option to switch to or not. Normally, that would have meant that I should switch also as to not give any advantage but ultimately, I decided to just stick with the same deck with the simple modifications because I had confidence that this deck can play against anything and be in the game.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
- Really the only two things it doesn’t want to see is 22nd Century San Fran Time Location and the Celestial Temple Time locations as capture and/or battle are not allowed but those are really obvious. Its not a big fan of facing decks with a headquarters but you do have the ability to post a garrison there and force them out regardless of a Genesis Effect naming dead end.

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?
- Silly question. I did learn that even though it’s a complicated deck, I’ve played it enough and understand it well enough that I was able to play it effectively even after a grueling 10, 12, or even 14 hours of gaming.

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 day 1 variant uses Historical Research with the Guardian of Forever as a way to easily time travel while also serving as a tempting target for a Borg deck to clear out for me or a non-Borg deck to seed with a bad combo thinking they might steal it. Ultimately, hopefully, neither deck actually gets to that point and I can just do it myself if I want. The day 2 variant eliminates that because I assume the opponent now either knows they can't accomplish that OR they know that they can and I don’t want to hand over 40 free points in a 4 person swiss format where any loss mostly ends your ability to win the title. So then in the day 2 variant the Subjugate Planet objective becomes situational because I can attempt and complete escape gulag for 35 with Hogan. In both versions, the Stolen Cloaking device is some really hot tech that is really amazing in some match-ups and pointless in others. As Jeremy Huth found out in day 1, the cloaking device allows me to walk right up to his cube, beam over a strike team to kill and capture then cloak the ship so he can't just drop a guy and retaliate. That guy specifically becomes the Tachyon Drone and no one else.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
- Normally I would say something like Invasive Beam in or what not but I’m going to be very specific that if it wasn’t for one card in particular, I don’t beat Kris day 2 and he and I would have ultimately swapped who was 1 and 2. That card was VR Headset. Kris had a vorcha full of guys at a space mission early with its 7 shields and a stp on the table. When I walked over with my Jem’hadar Warship Kris chose not to stp the ship because he calculated that the odds were really good I could not reach 15 weapons. 9 base + 3 for Captains log + 2 from a tactic (knowing that the last versions of this deck only played with a max +2 from a tactic) = 14. He forgot or didn’t know that the VR headset also adds a +1. If I don’t knock his ship out in one shot that game goes sideways for me.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
- All glory to the founders.

My Commentary:
When making predictions for this event, I not only predicted that Kevin would win, but that "He'll probably win once again with a card that nobody uses but will suddenly seem very powerful. If I had to pick a specific card from this deck, I'd have to go with something like Phaser Burns - it has been around forever, and goes two for one with cards that your opponent has used resources to get in play at interrupt speed. That's kinda cheating though, since the card isn't exactly new to the deck, and with all the other powerful lock-out stuff going on it isn't like you're really going to zero in on that one card as the architect of your demise.

No, it isn't a particular card; today, it is a whole affiliation. You know what was the last time I covered a Dominion deck in this article series was? Yes, it was 2015, back when Kevin won the Minnesota Masters with a prior version of this deck. It's not entirely clear to me why the Dominion isn't seeing much high level success, other than that it is simply not being played much overall - when a card like Deyos, one of the best draw engines in the game, has only been in 11 recent decks, people just aren't playing Dominion.

I suppose it has something to do with how complicated it is to just play Dominion, let alone a Dominion deck with as many moving parts as this one. While many other affiliations just have play engines that you seed and then you play a card for free on your turn, the Dominion often makes you jump through hoops like playing Young Jem'Hadar and then swapping them later. This deck forgoes that play engine in favor of the combined draw and play power of New Arrivals, but that adds the wrinkle of needing to work around only getting one free personnel per turn (fortunately, the Dominion has Dominion War Efforts to help with that). In any event, even without the capture/assault parts of this deck, Dominion are complicated enough to warrant a (fantastic) five part article series on the basics of playing them.

Second Edition North American Continental Championships winner Kevin Jaeger
Title: We put in practice and Discipline, no giving up no giving in. We are Matchfit and here to win.
Headquarters: Unicomplex, Root of the Hive Mind
Deck Size: 62 Cards
Deck Archetype: Interference (Assimilation)
Dilemma Pile Size: 36 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Unfair Comparison
Victory Correctly Predicted By: edgeofhearing, monty42, prylardurden, Fritzinger, and Johannes Mette.

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

- For day 1 it’s a Simple answer: after a 14 hour slobberknocker with a very complicated 1e battle deck I was only ever going to play a deck that was simple, fast and was something I could play while on autopilot. Since I know my namesake deck better than the back of my own hand it was an easy call to let it carry me over the hump. There were no other options.

- For day 2 it became a very tough call. I had brought 5 decks with me – Jaegerbomb, Borg Assimilation, Maquis Tempo, Dominion Infiltrator, and Relativity. After the woodshed beating my dilemma pile took from Jeremy Huth's Androids what I would do was strictly in the air until the top 4 were announced because I wasn’t about to validate the definition of insanity and try to do the same thing again expecting a different result. While waiting on the final tabulation I was already leaning towards moving to the Borg, Infiltrators or Maquis Tempo in order to switch up my strategy. When top 4 were announced and Jeremy was not in I decided to go Borg since (1) I figured the other 3 would try to switch to an option to beat Jaegerbomb expecting me to stick with it. (2) Three mod wins gets you there and the Borg deck can pull out mod wins having access to a 50 point single mission and One with the Borg bonus points. And (3) I have played 2e Borg so much over the years that it would also be something I could pilot while exhausted. (Though I didn’t prove that and there’s more to that story)

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
- Day 1 I didn’t care what I was going to face. It was just a play this fast deck and see who gets there first.

- Day 2 I didn’t want to face Greasy Dukat or TOS Sisko because they make the borg deck have to work twice as hard. Kris had both and Ken had the latter.

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?
- Day 1: I think I might have played my namesake deck a few times.

- I’ve played 2e Borg almost as much as I’ve played 1e Borg. So I definitely know how to play them. Problem was that after a 14 hour 1e day and at that point 10ish hours of 2e meant that I still ended up making a load of mistakes. Not decision errors, actual “you cant do that” errors. Against Ken on turn 1 I thought I had a staffed Locutus' cube, I only had 4 guys – caught myself, had to undo it. Later that match I declared I would Unrelenting his Sisko, obviously can't do that so nothing happened. Several times I declared something I could do and had the card in my hand then proceed to show the wrong card. It was embarrassing. Moral of the story is I learned that I play terrible while sleep deprived.

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?
- It's Continentals. There were no cards in either version that didn’t have a purpose. Even if it was situational and I never used it these were more or less final versions of the deck for the current meta.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
- Day 1 I would go with Data: Battleship Officer. Against both Kris and Nate I solved ALC when normally you would think I couldn’t but Data makes it so I can solve with 5 and that’s a lot of pressure for an opponent when they know that if they fail, the bomb goes off.

- Day 2 the MVP is Biological Distinctiveness. The super hot tech for this version of the deck is putting 3 of my opponents guys onto it, then with Enterprise J I can solve Pegasus and Restore Errant Moon with 5. With K&E help and Pegusus already having 1 or even 2 dilemmas underneath already from the Multiplexor Drone the deck is pretty unstoppable at Pegasus.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
- Day 1: The deck is not broken and there are things out there that can deal with it. Preposterous Plan does not need errata.

- Day 2: Resistance is futile.

My Commentary:
The theme for the North American Continental Championships this year is: I get to talk about affiliations that don't often win, but this week Kevin played them. Borg winners in Second Edition aren't quite as sparse as Dominion winners in First Edition - there were several Borg decks in this article series last year, including one of Kevin's. However, one of their most powerful tools, Knowledge and Experience, got hit with errata late last year (it it now removed from the game upon use, limiting the ability to retrieve it and reuse it), and this is the first we've heard from the Borg since then.

Well, it turns out the rumors of the Borg's demise were, in fact, greatly exaggerated. While Knowledge and Experience can no longer be recycled ad nauseum with Three of Nine, blanking three dilemmas per game is still very powerful. Additionally, the Borg got a powerful new tool for assimilation decks in Nine of Seventeen, which ultimately has a similar function, but toned down. He still gets dilemmas under your missions without them having any effect on you, but at least your opponent hasn't spent dilemma counters in an active mission attempt on those dilemmas. He's also balanced by needing to place those dilemmas under a 50 point mission, but with Destroy Transwarp Hub out there, you don't even need the mission to be hard.

The ease of Destroy Transwarp Hub was not enough to pull Kevin away from the alpha quadrant though, and for good reason. Annexation Drone's 5 points are essential for setting up assimilation with Reborn, speed with At What Cost?, or all of the above with You've Always Been My Favorite. In a larger interference deck like this one, being able to get all the tools you need when you need them is essential, and has been harder since the Quintessence nerf from days of yore. You've Always Been My Favorite, while not repeatable and more vulnerable to event denial, is actually more flexible than Quintessence ever was; it's surprising that there have been only four recent decks that use it.

Second Edition European Continental Championships winner Stefan Slaby
Title: Knowledge Shift
Headquarters: Romulus, Patient Stronghold
Deck Size: 65 Cards
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 50 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Chula Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: edgeofhearing, monty42, Armus, prylardurden, Hoss-Drone, Fritzinger, Bosskamiura, JamesValEson, Johannes Mette, LORE, and The Ninja Scot.

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

For 2E day 1, I was confident that 5 space Voyager battle would get me qualified. It's no longer over the top, but still quite good, and I know the deck well enough to play even in a sleep-deprived state.

My preparation efforts were focused on 2E day 2, where I wasn't sure what to expect. After some deliberation, I got a bit worried about dilemma piles... locally, the size of a dilemma pile used to tell me a lot about what to expect: 30 something meant an ACE killer pile, a pile around 40 cards would be focused on certain walls, and anything bigger would be a standard attrition pile. But lately I've seen both bigger hybrid piles with lots of killing power, and (while researching the pre-registered german players) much smaller attrition piles. Mis-judging the opponent's dilemma strategy can cost you multiple turns, so I decided to go with a deck that has a way to probe the opponent's dilemma pile before attempting. Romulans were my first choice for this (because of Ptol, and numerous other strengths), but I was also considering TNG (maybe Preposterous Plan) with Field Studies and/or Worf, Security Detail Leader, or Klingons with Delta Pavonis.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
2E day 1, I honestly would have expected more people to bring defensive cards against my battling, or maybe to battle too and kill my Voyager in turn. But nothing like that showed up. Johannes Mette battled only for points and overcome dilemmas, and I believe my toughest match was against Josef Lemberger's Bajoran micro-teaming deck, which went planet first (but had a hard time against my A5A/TCS and Delirium).

2E day 2, I wasn't sure what to expect, and just hoped not to face too much event destruction. Of course, Josef had prepared for me, and brought a Dominion deck stuffed to the brim with Our Death is Glory to the Founders, Grav-Plating Trap and Vorta Discipline. Luckily for me, he was expecting me to play Voyager again, and had optimized his dilemma pile against that.

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?
5 space Voyager battle is pretty much my signature deck now, nothing new there.

I've had quite some experience with Romulans, too, but not with the Stakoron missions (which I actually despise, but apparently am not above playing myself at major events). This particular deck is a new build, and I learned about a few skill holes... It went well enough, but my next build may be harder to stop! :) On the other hand, I was quite surprised how well the deck performs at missions even when you don't get bonus points first.

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?
Dragon's Teeth wasn't quite as good as I thought it would be. Personally, I tend to have full hands, but the Voyager deck can reduce hand size while facing it by putting Fed cards on Security Drills. Many opponents simply kept fewer cards in hand.

On the other hand, the single copy of Shran, In Archer's Debt in my 85-card Voyager deck did a surprising amount of work. I guess Ingenious Jury-rig has gone somewhat out of fashion?

The recent success of Klingons in Kassel's meta has led me to add two copies of Discommendation to my day 2 dilemma pile. Of course, my day 2 opponents were both playing Dominion, and I never faced Benjamin Liebich (who actually brought Klingons) on day 2. Artificial Ability would have been a better choice.

To my surprise, Chula piles and lots of copies of Personal Duty made Charvanek, Neutral Zone Commander one of the best performing personnel in my day 2 deck.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
In 2E, Delirium has joined A5A/TCS's status as a staple for me, thus I'm calling it out for both decks. Between the Stakoron missions, various flavors of micro-teaming, and now Klingons battling for overcome dilemmas, I wouldn't want to play a major event without Delirium to compensate. Admittedly, it does nothing against 40+ missions, but those decks have become quite rare, and will give you ample dilemmas to work with anyway.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Nothing else about my decks. But, with your permission, I'd like to use this spot on the front page from an organizer's point of view to ask all the regulars who didn't show up this time: What could we change to make you show up at next year's major event(s) again? Was the date too early, or the announcement too late? Are you tired of Vienna, and want a different city to visit? Was the (basically two-day) schedule not to your liking? Would you prefer different day 2 formats, or different side events? Should I win less and leave other players a trophy? :) Please PM Julius Melhardt (Clerasil ToB) or me (Winner of Borg) with your feedback!

My Commentary:
Often, when you see a Romulan Gamma deck in this series, it'll be listed as a Midrange Solver. That's not only because those decks often lack the passive interference of Aid Legendary Civilization and a kill pile - perhaps because Gamma solvers lose ALC, people tend to also not use classic Romulan control cards like Far Seeing Eyes. Remove two cards from the deck when you're not also removing all the cards that enter play may just seem less powerful. Far Seeing Eyes is also well known as a lock-out enabler, but even if it just removes two copies of Bridge Officer's Test, your dilemma pile just got a whole lot better.

Of course, there's only one copy of Far Seeing Eyes here, that's not enough to make this a control deck. I'm also eyeing the dilemma aiding cards like Delirium, a card that I too heartily recommend. I personally wouldn't put it in just any deck, but when I'm making a control deck, something slower that needs to put the brakes on the opponent, that's where I'll look first. The best part about it is, unlike all those other events with people being choked on them, this card doesn't get destroyed every time you use it. You just passively get that extra counter and draw every single time your opponent attempts a mission.

My Patience Has Limits is another card in the same vein as Far Seeing Eyes, with that classic Romulan flavor: remove the problem before it becomes a problem. Control isn't just about keeping the opponent's draw deck in check, it is also useful to run cards that diminish the effectiveness of his or her dilemma pile. Ohhhh, Nothing Happened! is another, similar option for Romulan control decks, but while it has that core event synergy, it can also simply come out to slowly to have a significant impact on the game. In the meantime, you just need to have drawn one My Patience Has Limits, and you can remove all three copies of Chula: The Game that your Ptol scouted.

First Edition European Continental Championships winner Stefan Slaby
Title: Superior Complexity (Confused Kirk Edition)
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Nanoprobe Resuscitation, Hirogen Hunt, Home Away From Home, Holodeck Door
Draw Engines: Handshake, Ancestral Vision, Process Ore: Mining, Temporal Investigations
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists
Victory Correctly Predicted By: kingmj4891, Hoss-Drone, and prylardurden.

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

There wasn't much time left to prepare something fancy for 1E, so I simply took my Hirogen deck from last year's Nationals and adapted it to the missing Habit of Disappearing. Luckily, Star Trek 50 has already provided Reunite Legends, which any non-Borg deck with an outpost can seed to quickly get Admiral Kirk (who discards one card to draw one).

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was obviously taking a huge risk with two non-Aligned stealable missions, and hoped not to face any opponents that could reach the DQ (without at least being stopped and becoming attackable).

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?
My Hirogen deck has a gaping skill hole: Archaeology, which the new omnipresent Quantum Leap requires either twice on non-Officers, or on three personnel. And Madam Guinan (who could nullify it) never showed up. I ended up having to use Rituals of the Hunt in two games to add Archeology (and had to wait multiple turns for Julius Melhardt to actually report one).

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?
Players came prepared and brought some copies of Amanda Rogers, so my usual crutches Anastasia Komananov and Kes ended up underperforming.

I'm really glad that I brought referee cards to 1E, especially Containment Field; Alex Gutmann's mirror quadrant Federation deck can generate a crazy amount of skills with all those TOS special downloads, but his card draws are rather limited and CF ended up preventing a game-deciding special download when he ran out of hand cards.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
I'm going with the mission Restore Victims. It is worth a whopping 55 points (plus potentially multiple mission specialists), which enabled me to easily do 100 points with two missions (or 140 with three); its requirements are incredibly easy for my deck, but incredibly hard to muster for somebody planning to steal it. And to put a cherry on top, Talaxians report for free there.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
(see above)

My Commentary:
Stefan makes a good point about referee cards. I've been getting lax myself; my last couple First Edition constructed decks have abandoned them altogether. That's probably too risky, especially when, even if you want to use the old Q's Tent, you can just stock a few of the essentials in your deck and ref-cycle them. And even though the most impactful referee cards have been rendered moot by rules, and including them won't be as huge a game-swing, there are still thirteen potentially relevant cards you could put in the old tent. They won't win the game on their own, they could give you an edge against just the type of deck where you'd need one.

As for Habit of Disappearing versus Admiral Kirk, I think Kirk is probably better for decks like this one than Habit ever was. Habit was at its best with heavy discard pile manipulation, in decks like Bajorans with Souls of the Dead and Lasting Peace. But for decks that plan to just use it to fuel Nanoprobe Resuscitation, it felt... inflexible. You couldn't control which card would end up on top of your pile, and it could easily end up being a verb (like Resuscitation) that would block your play engine. In a deck with both Process Ore: Mining and Admiral Kirk, though, you get to set up resuscitation with just the card you want for both your turn and for your opponent's turn.

I noticed that Temporal Investigations (a download from the new Temporal Conduit) also found a spot in this deck. The other potential conduit downloads are (very) situational - I could see an aggressive deck like Kevin's Jem'hadar wanting to be able to download Stone Knives and Bearskins. Most decks, however, would be looking to get the most benefit out of Temporal Investigations. Afterall, I can think of one very popular reason why people would want to report a decent number of AU-icon personnel, and Stefan is seeding two copies of it under his opponent's missions.


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