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The Grand Prix Convention 2007 - Part Three

by Johannes Klarhauser, Staff Writer

31st March 2008

In the semi-finals, Jens Beilstein was waiting for me with his slim Dominion deck. It's basically a good old-fashioned Strength solver, relying on the U.S.S. Defiant (Commandeered Warship)'s ability to move dilemmas from mission to mission. With no events other than Machinations, Jens' deck was fast enough to keep pace with my Bajorans. I attempted first, but was stopped cold by a Tactical Disadvantage. And another one on my second attempt.

Meanwhile, Jens had fully staffed his Dominion Battleship, and attempted in space. I tried to track his command stars and Engineers, but unfortunately I was never able to get Jens in trouble by filtering out those personnel. We took turns stopping each other's mission attempts: Jens machinated for a Gorgan (discarding a spare Battleship), I played a lone Personal Duty. At one point, I tried to move my Phoenix (Risen From the Ashes) to Acquire Illicit Explosives, but Jens played an Our Death is Glory To the Founders to cancel my Quantum Slipstream Drive. Jens then completed his first mission, used the Defiant to move dilemmas to the Alpha quadrant, but I stopped his crew, and was even able to put a Skeleton Crew on top of Survey New World. On my turn, I played Kira Taban, which gave me five points and allowed me to go for the much easier mission Protect the Escapees instead of Historical Research. Integrity >25, compared to Integrity >33, is well worth the risk of running into another Tactical Disadvantage.
When I attempted Protect the Escapees for the second time, Jens played a combo ending in Where No One Has Gone Before. I had only four unstopped personnel left, but thanks to Dark Secrets my crew had the attributes to overcome this key dilemma. However, all my Engineer personnel had been stopped, so it was Jens' turn again. He attempted Survey New World, and I managed to stop him once more, although I had to play three dilemmas in order to do so.
With Survey New World almost done, and the Defiant standing by to shuffle two dilemmas, Jens was as good as guaranteed to win on his next turn, so I had only one option left: I played Vedek Assembly to recycle my Quantum Slipstream Drive from my discard pile, then burned a These Are The Voyages and all my remaining counters to draw through the rest of my deck until I had the interrupt in hand. Jens had no Our Death left to counter it a second time, so I moved the Phoenix with Tolian Soran aboard to Acquire Illicit Explosives. Jens now would have to complete four missions to win. I attempted Protect the Escapees again and completed it, then moved on to Transport Delegations. I attempted with a crew of nine personnel.
Jens threw everything and the kitchen sink at me, including The Dreamer and the Dream, but thanks to a Stricken Dumb and some lucky random selections, I dodged most of the stops. However, the last dilemma was Outmatched, and Jens consumed four dilemmas to make it Cunning >55. Even with a recycled Dark Secrets in hand I couldn't pass it, so my team was stopped. But with ten dilemmas beneath the mission now, and In the Pahwraith's Wake in hand to destroy the last Machinations in play, I was confident that I could take home the win.
It wasn't to be, though. Jens auto-completed Survey New World, shuffled two dilemmas to his third mission, and attempted with three. With only one to draw, I had to give him that mission as well. Stuck on 100 points, Jens then moved his Battleship to his fourth and final mission. Now, the tournament ended as it began: I was let down big time by my dilemma pile. I drew anything but the one dilemma that I needed. Psychokinetic Control was nowhere to be found, which meant that Jens was able to play two copies of Dominion Hierarchy to generate the mission skills I had filtered out.
As in the quarterfinal against Sonny, this was a very exciting match, and in the end it came down to an extremely close decision; but if a player manages to complete three missions in one turn, he has definitely deserved to win the game, so props to Jens Beilstein for his clutch performance!

Jens went on to win the Grand Prix main event. In the finals, he outmaneuvered Christian Zipper's Klingon battle deck. Christian had previously upset the top-seed Tobias Rausmann in the other semi-final to earn a spot in the final confrontation.

Tournament #5: Orbital Shift

I wasn't able to play in this one, but from what I've heard it was a very fun format. Will Hoskin and Thomas Schneider came in first and second, and received “best player” and “best deck” honours respectively.

Tournament #6: Dangerous Missions Draft

By now it was around midnight, but there's always time for just one more tournament, right? I'm not exactly a big fan of the Dangerous Missions Draft format, it always seems a bit bland to me, but the tournaments can still be fun. After a win in round one, I was paired against Will (again!). This time, I came out on top, mainly because Will had drafted even worse dilemmas than myself. In round three, I played Thomas Schneider for the win, and by now the lack of sleep and concentration was evident on both sides of the table.
Questionable highlights included Thomas playing a Rogue Borg Ambush, convinced that I didn't have any Intelligence, even though he had examined my away team the turn before with a Secret Identity and commented on how lucky I was to draft an Intelligence personnel. However, the honour of “worst play of the day” has to go to myself, for playing a Molecular Mishap on Thomas's second mission. This play was bad in so many ways, I feel embarrassed even now: first, Thomas' missions added up to 75 points, so losing five points didn't matter; second, he had the skills to pass both sets of requirements anyway; third, I never actually wanted to play Molecular Mishap, I wanted to play Unknown Microorganism, but for some reason I put the wrong dilemma back under my dilemma pile (probably because Thomas had the skill for that, too). Behind the unbeaten Thomas and Tobias, I finished third in this tournament and went to bed at 4am.


Tournament #7: Farpoint Draft

After a nice breakfast, I headed to the tournament area in the morning with a smile on my face. After all, I was assigned TD duties for this tournament, and wouldn't have to concentrate as hard as the others today. Four rounds of drafting plus four rounds of playing can be tough.
When registration was completed, it turned out that we had 19 players, so I was asked to play in order to avoid a bye. Oh well…

I got a TNG starter deck, and in my Energize booster I found an Investigate Maquis Activity, one of the best mission you can get for this deck. My biggest problem was a shortage of Diplomacy personnel, and a lack of decent dilemmas.

In round one I was paired against Jens Petritzki. Jens played a DS9 starter and attempted first, but I kept on top of his Cunning and Engineers, and stopped him with only one or two dilemmas most of the time. Meanwhile, my crew completed Investigate Maquis Activity on their second attempt with four personnel, and went on to work on the remaining missions. With the help of Worf's dilemma scouting ability, I won this game without too much trouble.(+3, 3 total)

My next opponent was Lars Flitter with the Dominion. He stopped me five times on my first mission, thanks to a healthy mix of (un)lucky random selections and good skill tracking. However, he only had a Range-seven ship out for most of the game, and was consequently losing a couple of turns while he was picking up reinforcements. That gave me enough time to complete my three mission before Lars could bring the Klingon side of his deck into the game. (+3, 6 total)

Before the third round, I was a bit worried because I was still playing a basically unchanged starter deck. Investigate Maquis Activity was a great boost, but my personnel selection looked much like it did at the beginning of the tournament. The most important card I had drafted so far was a Stir Crazy, which effectively bought me one additional turn each game. My dilemma pile was horrible. A Secret Identity was the best I had managed to get; decent walls where nowhere to be seen.

In round three, I played Ulf Benjes. Ulf had received the Romulan starter, an affiliation he knows in and out, so he knew exactly what skills he had to draft in order to optimize his deck. I'm not as familiar with the Romulans, but I toyed around with them a bit when the Gal Gath'thong was huge, so at least I was able to keep track of the skills and attributes of the Remans that are in the starter deck. Again, this was a very close match, and it came down to a coin-flip win for me; Ulf could have auto-completed his third mission on his next turn.(+3, 9 total)

In the final draft period, I made the most adjustments to my deck. I drafted, among others, Data (Battleship Droid), William T. Riker (Battleship First Officer), These Are The Voyages, several TOS people, and Earth (Lush and Beautiful Home), which I used to replace my originial headquarters in order to benefit from its “spend one, draw two” gametext (I had never used a backup affiliation so far, only non-aligned support; for the final round, I switched to Federation + Federation).

Before the final round, three players were unbeaten: Will, Tobias, and myself. Will played Tobias, and I was paired down and had the pleasure of playing Sonny again. Like Ulf, Sonny had received a familiar affiliation – Borg (with non-aligned as his backup affiliation). In my opening hand, I had Data and These Are The Voyages. I played both to draw six cards and Set Up a nice hand for the following turn. Sonny struggled a bit in the beginning, but then completed his first space mission quite easily. But just like the day before, my luck with dilemmas beat all statistical probabilites (e.g., picking the only possible two-cost/two-cost/one-cost personnel selection in a team of eight with Aftereffects). In the end I won the game before Sonny was able to pull off what would have been the play of the day: two Transwarp Drones aboard the Phoenix…(+3, 12 total)

With four Full Wins and 12 points, I finished second of 20; Will Hoskin kept Tobias Rausmann at bay and secured another tournament win.

Unfortunately, I had to leave immediately after the final round, and was therefore unable to watch the traditional AWARDS ceremony, where players are honoured for outstanding contributions to the STCCG community.

The next day, I was happily surprised to hear that I had managed to earn the highest victory point total over the entire weekend. Tobias Rausmann came in second, followed by Will Hoskin. So, after third places in 2005 and 2006, I finally managed to “win” the Grand Prix Convention. (The trophy arrived by mail a couple of days later.)

Another unexpected honour was the “Favourite Player of the Year” AWARD that the participants of the convention gave to me. I don't know why anybody would vote for me of all people – but THANKS! – and apologies to the 2005 winner of this award, (the incredible) Thomas Vorwerk, in whose mighty company I shall forever feel ashamed.

Finally, thanks to everyone who was there for exciting games, congratulations to all the tournament and AWARD winners, and to Thorsten Wanek for running yet another brilliant STCCG event! Looking forward to next year – see you in Celle!

Johannes Klarhauser
(Dabo Girl. Thief. Vedek.)

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