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The Road to Worlds: Australia and GenCon

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

25th August 2017

Second Edition Australian Continentals winner Robert Dawson
Title: I have not played in over a year and I do not trust myself to make a good deck so I am just going to tweak this one a bit and hope for the best.
Headquarters: Caretaker's Array
Deck Size: 43 Cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 43 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Armus, monty42.

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

As the title suggests, I haven't been keeping up with 2E recently and my deck building skills are a little rusty. Being a little time poor I tweaked my deck from the 2015 Nationals and went with that.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Anything involving ship battle would have been difficult here. Hash was playing exactly that and Destroyed my Voyager in our first game, stalling me for 4 turns while I rebuilt my crew and giving him the game.

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 this deck plenty of times, but this was the first after the Homeward Bound errata. This affected gameplay a little, having to keep three Voyager personnel unstopped meant that I was attempting missions twice per turn instead of four times. At one stage I had two ships at separate missions with three Homeward Bounds in hand and with the original text could have attempted missions eight times in one turn.

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?
I ended up splitting my crew between Voyager and the Delta Flyer in the Final Confrontation against Hash, knowing in advance that he'd try to destroy one or both ships. That is half the reason it's there though.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Easily the Delta Flyer. When Hash blew up Voyager in our second game the Flyer had half my crew on it, and was able to rendezvous with a second copy of Voyager and two high cost crew members at Caretaker's Array on the following turn. What could have stopped me dead in my tracks became a mild inconvenience.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Nothing more to say other than it was great to actually play the game again.

My Commentary:
Since Rob last won a major event with this deck, I have had the experience of printing this deck out, trying it, giving it to Len, and losing to him at last year's Massachusetts Regional while he was using it. It's a good deck! I tried making my own version for this year's Jersey Reunion tournament, and learned some new things about why this deck was better than mine.

First, I tried to use 2x Field Studies instead of 2x At What Cost?, figuring that Steadfast Chakotay's attribute shenanigans plus some dilemma choke would buy me more than just a turn of counters. The thing is, while I drew Field Studies in all three games, I never got a chance to use it - the only mission that I ever ended at while incomplete was my first, due to Homeward Bound's ability to help me drill through missions all in one turn. As a result Field Studies often languished in my hand, while Robert's better choice of At What Cost? would have seen easy use in every game, building up essential mission solving resources.

Second, I cut down to two Christenings in a Voyager deck that has very few core events. Every game in which you don't draw a Christening or a Voyager in your opening hand (plus your first draw) in a slim version of the five space solver is a game in which you're likely to waste most of your first 6-7 counters. That's a deficit that's hard to come back from. Bulkier Voyager decks (and ones that lean more heavily on the old Chakotay) will have plenty of core events so that first turn won't often feel as wasted, but a speed deck like this one really wants to come out blazing with a turn one Voyager drop.

It's interesting how little choices like those can make big difference in deck optimization, especially in more streamlined decks like this one. As deck sizes have ballooned since the latter Decipher years, it has been easy to lose sight of how much those micro deck building decisions can matter.

First Edition Australian Continentals winner Robert Dawson
Title: Ribbed for my Pleasure
Deck Archetype: Interference (Battle)
Play Engines: The Kazon Collective, Home Away From Home
Draw Engines: Surprise Party, The Traveler: Transcendence, Handshake
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists
Victory Correctly Predicted By: edgeofhearing, LORE.

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

I've always wanted to try a Kazon battle deck, and I figured this was my only chance in the near to medium future, with the Perth play group currently completely inactive. I actually built this deck a couple of years ago and only tweaked it a little for today, but this is the first time it saw play. I'd also like to try a TMP deck and a new Voyager Fed deck, but the Kazon deck was a clear front runner.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was hoping to face another Delta Quadrant based deck and Pete delivered there. Destroying his Equinox on turn 1 was fun. As far as decks I didn't want to face - a mirror match up would have been distourous had I not gone first. Anything with a significant presence in the Mirror or Gamma Quadrant would have been very slow.

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?
Barring some Warp Speed shenanigans in the early 2000s this was the first time I'd ever played Kazon. The lack of Transporters didn't affect me much, as I almost always had either Voyager or the Tsunkatsi Ship on hand for beaming. The one time I didn't have either I had a Kazon Fighter to land my away team on the planet.

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?
I twice found myself clearing out my own dilemmas stealing 40 point missions - always fun having to face your own The Higher The Fewer but it was for a net gain of an easy 30 points.

I also put a Kazon Fighter aboard a Kazon Raider aboard a Kazon Warship (with Defiant Dedication Plaque and maching commanders for all three) and then launched the Raider from the Warship and the Figher from the Raider to get my a crew across the Alpha Quadrant spaceline to attempt a mission in one turn. That was fun.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Tie between Leader of the Sect and Voyager as the deck wouldn't work without either.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
This deck was a lot of fun. I've been playing this game for 16 years and had never destroyed an outpost before. Today I got at least one in every game.

My Commentary:
Like Robert's Second Edition deck, this one is also impressively streamlined. It is streamlined to the point that, as a battle deck, it is actually smaller than most recent versions of Ken Tuft's ubiquitous Kazon Solver, and certainly smaller than most of the Kazon battle decks we've seen. Which, despite their explosive initial appearances, we haven't actually seen in the top spot of big tournaments in the last year. Part of that is due to no longer being able to carry Kazon Voyager aboard Warships (thus avoiding Wormhole stopping penalties due to Make It So), part of that is due to the Outgunned errata, and part of it is just due to the other options out there for powerful interference decks. Kazon are still a force to be reckoned with though, as any of the Australians who got outposts destroyed last weekend can attest.

I'm particularly interested in the draw engine choices. Surprise Party is largely shunned because of the up front draws it gives to the opponent, but it finds a place to shine in a battle deck. Once your outpost is gone, it often won't matter anymore if you get a couple extra draws. Likewise, The Traveler: Transcendence is often excluded since it is easily reflected with Mirror Image, but I've been seeing more and more decks using Kivas Fajo - Collector anyways, even when that card will give those draws right up front (and likely give away more draws than a Traveler over multiple turns of playing it).

Handshake is also really surprising to see in a slim deck. Often you see the full package of a fistful of Handshakes in a deck with several The Powers and Mutations and about a billion other cards that can easily be discarded in order to feed the deck's hungry, hungry draw engines. In this deck, there's just not that much that I'd be happy to discard! I suppose you won't necessarily need all the ships or Ready Room Doors, and then there's the "draw if you have fewer cards in hand" function too. This is probably another case where actually playing the deck and getting a feel for it is very valuable in figuring out how it plays - after my experience with adjusting Robert's Second Edition deck, I'm going to err on the side of trusting his judgement.

First Edition GenCon Masters winner Michael Moskop
Title: The Premature Assimilation Tour
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Federation Flagship: Relaunched, Nanoprobe Resuscitation, Launch the Phoenix, Free Orion Slaves
Draw Engines: Handshake, Temporal Investigations, a href="http://www.trekcc.org/1e/index.php?cardID=3749">Federation Flagship: Renewed
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists, Phoenix, Launch the Phoenix
Victory Correctly Predicted By: edgeofhearing, LORE.

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

My wife and I just recently had a baby, so I have not had a lot of time to do any deckbuilding. I wanted to play something that I knew well and could throw together easily. I've played in a lot of tournaments with the Enterprise-E crew and feel comfortable with them, so it was a natural choice. I was considering 22nd Century Klingons since I got to the final table with them at Nationals a few months ago, but again, I haven't had the time to work out the kinks that I felt during that tournament and the deck was not ready for another go just yet.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Honestly, I was hoping to face other solvers. I've played Enterprise-E enough to know that once the ship is staffed and attempting, I can win the race to 100 points because the Enterprise-E crew have so many built-in answers to common problems like Geordi's Ocular Implants and Troi's unstopping. I was hoping not to see a whole lot of interaction, especially battle. I was teching against it though by having the Battle Bridge side deck for some added defense and Starbase 247 with its Spacedock for repairs.

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?
Oh yes. Like I've said, I really love the Enterprise-E crew and have played many versions of this deck. This version though is different than how I have played them in the past. I used to play them with Bajoran Resistance Cell, but I nixed it and changed up the missions due to the recent errata. I also am notorious for building huge decks with a lot of personnel redundancy but thanks to some advice from Jason Beyer, I cut the copies of the personnel in the deck down to mostly one copy per character except for the really big guns. That change was a big one for me and definitely a learning experience.

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?
Seeding two copies of Computer Crash was definitely a situational choice. I've actually never used that card before, but after being pummeled in the last round of Nationals with the MACO Encounter/Sleeper Trap/Sniper combo, I wasn't going to let that happen to me again. I didn't see that combo during this tournament, but those Computer Crashs did come in handy. I was able to keep Sean from downloading Tribble Bomb for several turns and kept Charlie from starting his "Emperor Tests." In terms of removing anything, I think I will be changing the missions around again next time I play this deck. I had the thought in my head that I could try to make my opponent think I was playing Starfleet or Romulans, but I don't think it worked/mattered.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
There are a lot of great cards in this deck, but for this tournament in particular, I'd have to nominate Anastasia Komananov. The download of Smoke Bomb is just so clutch. In the final game against Adam, it saved my entire crew from being killed by a Subspace Fracture and basically won me the game. And you're guaranteed to get her in play because she can be downloaded by Noah's Mountain Retreat! That Russian spy was definitely the MVP.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I think I've said enough. I just had a lot of fun and want to thank all of my opponents, and extra thanks to Charlie for running the tournament. This was my first "big" tournament win and it was cool to have that experience at Gen Con.

My Commentary:
I'm starting to sound a bit like a broken record here but... those First Contact Federation personnel are pretty good! Troi, Make It So, Ocular Implants, these are all really good cards, all in the same sub-faction. It's also quite satisfying to see them paired up with Protect Historic Encounter - using these iconic characters is just more fun when you're also using them to perform iconic actions like saving the day by Launching the Phoenix! There should also be bonus points for actually playing Magic Carpet Ride when you take off.

Computer Crash is one of those cards that we've seen show up at irregular intervals in this series. When we do, it usually isn't just a single copy, it's multiple backed up by multiple copies of Nanoprobe Resuscitation. I've listed Nanoprobes as a draw engine here due to its historical use in decks like this (after all - Jean-Luc is awesome with it), but its primary use here is likely as a means of extending the rolling download blackout. Like Michael says, it isn't just useful against the Sleeper Traps, but it can block whole play engines by preventing the turn one download of Telak or the aforementioned Jean-Luc. It's even better when you can block a whole draw engine by stopping the download of personnel by a Son'a Observatory or I'm a Doctor, Not a Bricklayer!

I'm enjoying seeing the Various Holoprograms pop up in Enterprise-E and Delta Quadrant decks. Recently we've seen Dixon Hill's office a few times, but now we get Noah's Mountain Retreat. Not only is it fun to add versions of the DS9 cast to a TNG-centered deck, but while the card does not generate any free plays, it has some dial-a-skill functionality (which has been quite powerful in cards like Officer Exchange Program). Michael sings the praises of Anastasia above; I'll chime in with the pro-Secret Agent Julian Bashir chorus: who doesn't want all your personnel present to be protected from capture?

Second Edition GenCon Masters winner Phil Schrader
Title: Plowing Through Your Delta Regions v3
Headquarters: Caretaker's Array
Deck Size: 61 Cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 42 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Unfair Comparison
Victory Correctly Predicted By: edgeofhearing, Fritzinger, prylardurden, Armus.

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

I chose Equinox mostly because it's an affiliation I have played in a while and the new cards got me excited again. I also suspected no one would expect it. I also thought about playing Breen-Dominion, but I just liked this one more.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Any traditional deck or ACE pile was what I was 'hoping' to catch. I really did not want to face DS9 Rainbow since I'm tired of seeing it and testing against it went 50/50.

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 Equinox a few times in the past, but I recently did well with this deck a few weeks ago at the Team Jersey Reunion. The only new thing I learned was that Pressing On bounces Voy emblem people as well as Nucleogenic. Also, it was today I realized how much Pressing On ruins ACE.

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?
Pressing On is the only really situational card, but I'd never cut it. Also, Delirium was amazing at keeping my opponents from solving for one extra turn.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Delirium would have to be the MVP. I got 2 out in every game and I think it's what gave me the time to win most of them.

My Commentary:
Since I lost to this deck in Jersey, here are some Equinox cards (and traits) you, like me, may have forgotten about:

Equinox Doctor shows up pretty often in Voyager and Hologram decks simply as a high-cunning source of good skills, so it is pretty easy to forget that he's also awesome. Pressing On is not the only source of kill prevention for the evil Voyager folks, but that's not all he's good for: all types of command-loss can be prevented by him. For example, if you forget he's there (and/or what he can do) and try to play Secret Identity to filter someone else (say, maybe Marla Gilmore so you can use An Issue of Trust), he'll keep that personnel in the attempt and your opponent still gets to download someone and add them to the attempt.

I also managed to forget about Noah Lessing (and I was even using him in the Voyager deck I was playing that day!). He is one of the most cost-efficient dial-a-skill personnel out there, since he's only about one counter over cost for his skills and attributes, and if you're playing Equinox, his ability is very inexpensive to use. Equinox has very few natural skill holes (aside from the obvious honor), so Noah can be a nightmare for the decks with dial-a-skill walls.

Equinox also gets a pass on some other popular dilemmas. In addition to Marla crushing An Issue of Trust, Noah breezing through "Rapid Progress", and the Doctor turning Secret Identity into something that helps you, cards like Adopted Authority are almost never going to hit two stops and the bounce. Noah will always threaten to create an Intelligence for Rogue Borg Ambush, but now there's purple Seska with her native Intelligence skill available to them. Don't count on hitting them with Outclassed or Alternatives to Fighting now either, since the new James Morrow has a solution to those options as well.


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