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The Road to Worlds: Texas Chainsaw Masters

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

14th November 2017

First Edition Texas Chainsaw Masters winner Kenneth Tufts
Title: The Wisdom of Surak is Great and vast 1.5
Deck Archetype:
Play Engines: Protect the Timeline, 22nd-Century ShiKahr
Draw Engines: Finally Ready to Swim, IDIC: Wisdom of Surak, Live Long and Prosper, Temporal Investigations
Bonus Point Mechanics: Seek Hidden Reliquary, Ressikan Flute, Drought Tree
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Himself, rsutton41.

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

Well I had two decks I was considering this one, A tweak of the one from last week, and my next iteration of a Scotsman's MACO deck. I had made more significant changes to this one, and was leaning towards it, to learn more how the new stuff works and see if my experiences with the power level was a fluke, IMO it was not. The final decision was made the night before when it was indicated that one or more other people might be playing the same, or tweaked versions on Niall's MACO deck, so I chose Vulcans to avoid to many full 6 mission over lap games.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Like last time, heavy interference/battle could be scary, but with my level of dilemma cheating options, and a safe hidey-hole to try and one turn missions from, I would still have some hope against them. What you always hope to face with this deck is skill walls and limited to no battle capability.

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?
A earlier version a week ago ;p
After the last event MVB and I were talking and he asked why I was not two mission win, I said something about limited mission options and duping with Kurtis' version. He suggested the new flute Tech and I was born-again.

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 only really situational card I added was holodeck door, it was never needed today but I still think it is well worth the investment of one deck slot.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Tempered Advancements was the MVP today, honorable mention to IDIC:WoS for it's crazy skill cheating. It single-handedly led to my victory in the game against Jon, when his Cardies who were in massive sniper blinds suddenly found them selves sopped unable to Battle and I cruised by them to solve two missions in one turn for the win.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I will again say this is a important deck to watch out for in the next year or so as the players try to adapt to it, and possibly take in to consideration when building decks, ie fewer skill walls, more weird-stuff-to-pass dilemmas.

My Commentary:
Well, this is a very familiar deck, isn't it? However, it is far from the same, in some key ways, so there's definitely plenty to examine here.

The biggest change is the switch to the two-mission win, using a forty-point space mission. Now, my sources tell me that The Inner Light does not make it so your opponent can use any affiliation to attempt it, but for any Klingon opponents, those are not particularly difficult skills to come up with. Be prepared to do some defensive dilemmaing, especially since Klingon decks have a tendency to be the aggressive sort that Ken reminds us are a tough match-up for this deck.

What a two mission win buys us (among other things) is some help against those aggressive decks. Burst-solving two missions after hiding at your Time Location is a much, much more doable plan than solving three. Ancient Vulcan ships aren't exactly speedy either, so it is much easier to make sure that you can reach the missions you need from Vulcan. That means doing some tactical mission seeding, possibly making it more obvious which missions you actually intend to solve, but increasing the likelihood of reaching the Parvenium Sector in one go.

Tempered Advancements caught my eye even before Ken mentioned it. Even on the surface of it, being able to gum up the works by stopping that personnel that has that skill your opponent needs to solve this turn is very tactically useful. But after reading his report, I'm even more impressed. After having my Computer Crash blocked by Quark's Rods four out of five rounds at Worlds, I'm half tempted to use this myself, even in a non-Vulcan deck.

Finally, Alien Conspiracy joins the dilemmas this time, and it seems like a good card to use in this deck! With enough dissidents, that's two choice kills, and that's more than enough to set up some very nasty walls.

Second Edition Texas Chainsaw Masters winner Matt Kirk
Title: It Aint Broke...
Headquarters: Earth, Humanity's Home
Deck Size: 56 cards
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 31 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: None (though, to be fair, he didn't preregister until after the thread went up).

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

I had played the older version of the Starfleet deck using the card from A Time to Stand at Orlando in Worlds Day 1. While I only had marginal success with the deck at that event, a newer version of the deck took first place on Day 1, making a few key substitutions and streamlining the deck overall. Since this event was barely a month after Worlds, I figured the meta would be pretty close to the same even with Nth Degree and Dead Stop available. I also brought Rainbow DS9, Borg Speed, and Romulan Discard as options to play on Saturday. But after seeing some preliminary action in the Team event and the impromptu Friday night 2E gig, I felt like Starfleet was the right choice as the most bulletproof deck to make it through six rounds.

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 various solver decks that wanted to microteam. I had originally included Investigate Derelict in my build to reduce Trellium-D's cost to 0, but I received some timely advice to go with Alpha 5 Approach instead to keep the microteamers honest. This proved to be instrumental in keeping the advantage in most races.

I did not want to face any heavy interaction decks. Nick Yankovec's Dominion deck slowed me down with all three Crippling Strikes, and even that was enough to hold the deck to a Modified Win. While the deck handles resistance from the opponent's dilemma pile relatively easily, it has next to no defense vs any kind of assimilation or battle strategy (one of the reasons I added a couple Grav-Plating Traps to the Lustful Distractions for more permission).

I also did not want to see Tragic Turn-based dilemma piles. While the newer Starfleet folks have ways to mitigate stops, they will keel over and die if Phlox gets picked off against a kill dilemma pile. I added two ETUs and Escape as insurance against the worst of it. Happily, this also led me to include Grav-Plating Traps, which I was looking to pair with Trelliums. Since I went with ETUs, I felt like I could still add two GPTs.

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 my share of Starfleet, but I've never had this level of success with them. The deck plays very consistently, and it's not easy to slow down once it gets going. One of the key additions in this version of the deck was found in the old-school Malcolm Reed, Weapons Expert. His ability would then set up both Novice Mediator Archer and T'Pol, Overbearing Observer at Jupiter for early mission attempts, with their abilities greatly diminishing incoming dilemmas' effectiveness.

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 didn't need the Grav-Plating Traps in every game, but they were invaluable when I needed to keep certain cards out of play (and to kill opposing cheat interrupts). Shared Hallucination was also my most effective dilemma of the day - I had seen it do well for me before, but it held up in critical spots vs. three different opponents. And since I had added Alpha 5 Approach back in, I had no need for the three Skeleton Crews that were mistakenly left in the dilemma pile (I should have subbed in 3x Dereliction of Duty).

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
I think I'd have to give it to Gannet Brooks, as she snuck me past a key Accelerated Aging combo from Ben Hosp in Round 4. After that, I felt like I had a real chance to win the whole shebang.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Big thanks to Lucas Thompson for playing the deck at Worlds Day 1, and for his insightful advice on how to improve upon the existing SF shell.

My Commentary:
The new Starfleet tools from A Time to Stand are very powerful, but present an interesting deckbuilding challenge. While they're all good, you simply cannot use them all, since most of them (to varying degrees) require you to already be completing missions to be at full effectiveness. You've got to draw the line somewhere, or you'll just have a hand full of mid-to-late game tools while your opponent has already won. You need some cards and mechanics that will do something for you, whether you are ahead or behind.

For this deck, the line is, for the most part, drawn between the cards that require dilemmas under missions versus the cards that require completed missions. Archer is the easiest of the new tools to activate (and one of the most powerful), so yeah, plenty of him to go around. But, as tempting as using Dangerous Missions Trip with Ripple Effect to get a bunch of free counters is, Captain's Log Trip has that rare Starfleet Archaeology and skill cheating and that ability that is active on your very first mission attempt. That said, Accumulated Knowledge might as well require a completed mission, but the effect is just too powerful to pass up (and is very playable on an At What Cost? turn with a few under Jupiter).

Now, John advertised this deck as copy-paste, but if you add 11 cards to a 45 card deck, I'm prepared to call the deck your own. And there's some important stuff that has been added! Matt calls out the anti-kill stuff (important when Dereliction of Duty can help kill piles shut off those pesky anti-kill personnel abilities) and Grav-Plating Traps, but just as important are the additional cycling tools. If you're going to add that many cards, it's a good idea for four of them to be These Are the Voyages and AU Bashir. That way, you can dig for what you need (like a Dukat versus Bajorans or a Shran versus a slower match-up) more easily, and throw that Fitting In back if it looks like you aren't going to need it.


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