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Strategy Articles

US Nationals West

by Kevin Jaeger, Player's Representative

21st November 2008

In lieu of an actual tournament report, this article is going to focus on something more important: evaluating and bettering yourself and the deck you chose to play.  I could write about how each game went down, but that is less important than (1) evaluating the deck I played, (2) evaluating how well I played, (3) evaluating the meta, and (4) thinking about how to adjust.

I built the deck that I played at US Nationals West because I wanted to see if Reyga could get the job done in arguably the most challenging place to play Trek in the world. I also just wanted to play Ferengi in a major tournament. It helped that after winning Worlds I didn't feel I had anything to prove.  I had no false arrogance that I or Reyga was going to walk in and just own the place.  I knew ahead of time that the real test was going to be whether or not Reyga could stay step for step with Federation Speed and Borg power.  I felt the deck was good, but I didn't know if it was good enough.

The answer I got was mixed.  The deck went 3-3. Every game was close.  Each win was by one or two turns at most and each loss was by one or two turns.  At least one loss was only because I chose the wrong personnel to bring on a mission attempt.  However, Reyga ended up being less of an impact than I would have thought.  In six games played, he only prevented a dilemma (at least one) in four of them. In those four games where he prevented a dilemma, he only prevented more than one dilemma twice.

As a bowler and a lawyer, I have the instinct to analyze what just happened as soon as it's over (and to adjust in the next game).  The moment the tournament was over I'd already come to some conclusions about how both I and the deck performed.

Conclusion #1: The exact deck I used needs to be smaller.
Reyga was fine. The ratios in the deck were fine, the additional interrupts were great, but overall the deck was too big to draw consistently and too big to adjust instantly to the opponent.  Game five was against an Escaping Detection/Sela deck and it just didn't have the nimble agility to adapt quickly enough.  Bigger decks are not hokey as a rule (see Johannes' Day 2 Euro-borg), but with Reyga it seems to matter.  The next iteration of the deck will need to be 50 cards or less.

Conclusion #2: Reyga will not get used a ton.
So there's no need to feel compelled to have him in play before attempting missions.  In several of the games, I waited an extra turn to set up, feeling that the power and stability gained offset the wait.  That was not always the case.  On numerous mission attempts, Reyga was a non-factor and instead, standard cheating would have been sufficient.  In two games, I used Rule of Acquisition #33 more than I did Reyga.  The next iteration of the deck will contain less set up for Reyga and more standard cheating.

Conclusion #3: I chose and played the wrong strategy for completing missions.
Gomtuu and battle are the deck's biggest concerns, and so I chose to go planet first before coming back to space.  The trade-off was that to avoid the crushing blow of Necessary Execution meant I needed Reyga on the table to threaten my opponent and keep him or her from playing it.  No early Reyga equals the same problem as going space first equals lost time.  The next iteration of the deck will need to be more 'space first'-oriented and be able to handle Personal Duty/Gomtuu.  The best mission selection for Ferengi means that 100 points on three missions will be difficult.  The deck will also have to have easy access to non-mission points.  That shouldn't be too hard to do though.

Conclusion #4: My performance was adequate.
I don't feel that I made any critical errors that were avoidable.  Picking the wrong personnel to bring along when guessing the likelihood of facing Gomtuu versus Where No One Has Gone Before, picking Gomtuu as more likely, and then actually facing Where No One Has Gone Before is not something that was a fault or failing - it was bad luck and good play by my opponent.  I can't think of anything I did that outright lost me games.  I remembered to stay on task with each of my deck's tricks.  I only say my performance was adequate (and not great) because deckbuilding is part of my performance...and there was room for improvement.  As the saying goes in bowling: "Half the game is played before you step onto the alley. Ball selection, drilling pattern and your mental game are half the battle."

I'm sure this is not exactly what you thought you would be reading, but it's not all fun and games.  Sometimes you just have to sit down and think about how to do better next time.  No excuses, just sit down and evaluate.

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