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Thunder Road: Blinded by the Light

by Mike O'Shogay, Freelance Writer

8th February 2013

Spock

I have heard many times that there isn't enough deck analysis and deck breakdown out there for players. 'Why did you use this card over others?' and such... With this article series, I plan to take a deck that I have built and breakdown the choices that I made for each card in the deck with some dilemma theory and examples included. I think all of this is good for newer players and players looking to get into more competitive Second Edition. Even if my decks are terrible, at least my reasoning is out there.

A little about myself…I’ve played Star Trek: CCG since First Contact for First Edition, all the way through the current day for Second Edition. We played casual in our play group for most of the time. During the Continuing Committee era, we got more competitive and started going to tournaments.

As for what I have accomplished…not a whole lot really; took 1st place on day 1 of NA Continentals in 2009, and placed 2nd or 3 rd in some of the largest Regionals from 2010 - 2012. Is that good enough? Probably not, but I’m all there is right now for a complete deck breakdown.

Why listen to what I have to say? What have I accomplished? You might be asking yourself. Well, I’m putting out the reasoning behind the card choices I make, which I haven’t really seen done on this website before.

ROMULAN DISSIDENTS

The deck I am breaking down in this article is an Interrupt Busting Romulan Deck. This can be a very effective deck but don’t get me wrong, it’s not entirely optimized. It’s a Romulan Dissident deck, and as such, only has Romulan icon personnel in the deck.

This deck can take down any deck too reliant on using interrupts to its advantage by simply eliminating the key cards. This can be money in a meta that uses a lot of interrupt based skill cheaters, or where opponents like to play interrupts to enhance their dilemma pile’s effectiveness, or even help against some of the Maquis decks out there that run a lot of interrupt based disruption.

THE DILEMMA PILE


This dilemma pile tries to strip specific skills to get the most effectiveness out of the walls in the pile.
The strength of this pile, if it played correctly, is that you can put minimal dilemmas under a mission and still stop your opponent from completing the mission. My general rule is; if you can make an opponent attempt a mission three times in order to complete it, then you will win the game as you intend to complete each mission in fewer than three attempts.

There are a couple of big weaknesses to this type of dilemma pile. The first is: you must be a very good skill tracker in order to play this effectively. You have to know what skills the opponent’s personnel have and how to use the dilemmas you draw to strip away the skills that are required by the wall dilemmas. A little trick I've learned over the years is to not concentrate on the skills but instead on the personnel. I can keep track of which personnel are attempting a mission easier than trying to remember which skills the opponent’s personnel have. This can be difficult or even impossible late game if an opponent has enough personnel to attempt twice. Having played for so long I can remember what skills are on which personnel. The other weakness to these piles is dilemma pile disruption like Reyga, Young Scientist; Navaar, Experienced Gift; or Chakotay, Bridge Between Two Crews.

Let’s break down the dilemma pile into 4 Major types of dilemmas: Walls, Multi-Stop Filters, Filters, and Utility/Meta Choices.

WNOHGB

WALLS

Where No One Has Gone Before

Gomtuu Shock Wave

Greater Needs

Excalbian Drama

Conflict of Interests

Dignitaries and Witnesses

Infinite Diversity

The walls are the backbone of this dilemma pile. Where No One Has Gone Before has an attribute requirement on both sides of the dilemma and by setting it up with any number of multi-stop filters, the opponent doesn’t stand a good chance of passing it. If they fail, the dilemma is placed in their core instead of going under the mission.Gomtuu Shock Wave and Conflict of Interest both are great at stopping Treachery based affiliations such as Romulans, Ferengi, Cardassians, etc… Plus as an added bonus if you stop them. The former is placed on the attempting ship while the latter has a possibility of returning to your dilemma pile.

With an Uninvited in hand and an opponent attempting a planet mission, you can pull an auto-stop almost out of nowhere with Excalbian Drama. Against the aforementioned Treachery based affiliations you probably don’t even need to discard for it.Greater Needs is another excellent dilemma, much like Where No One Has Gone Before, requiring an attribute on either side of the dilemma. If they fail, this dilemma also doesn’t go underneath the mission, it goes on their ship.

With a multi-stop filter, like Personal Duty, Dignitaries and Witnesses can stop an opponent cold since all but one Leadership/Officer are stopped. Since there is no General or Admiral without Leadership or Officer, a combo ofPersonal Duty +Show Trial(assuming they have no Medical) +Dignitaries and Witnesses is almost a guaranteed stop. Infinite Diversity is a swiss army knife wall. It’s whatever skill they don’t have that you need it to be.

Real Agony

MULTI-STOP FILTERS

Personal Duty

Picking Up the Pieces

2X Pitching In

In Development

2X An Issue of Trust

Agonizing Encounter

So you drew your wall, now you need to stop enough personnel to allow the wall to stop the mission attempt. These multi-stop filters do just that.

The two first almost auto-includes in every dilemma pile should be at least one Personal Duty and at least two An Issue of Trust. These are probably two of the top five dilemmas in the game. There are so many Leadership/Officer based affiliations like Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians for Personal Duty. There are also so many Honor/Treachery based affiliations like Ferengi, Klingons, and Cardassians for An Issue of Trust. These are the two best multi-stop filters in the dilemma pile and, when paired with any wall, can stop an opponent. In Development is another one of those cards like Personal Duty and An Issue of Trust that punishes certain personnel, but in this case instead of punishing skills it punishes personnel for their cost. Against low cost speed decks, this dilemma can almost always be given on its own and still expect to stop the opponent.

Picking Up the Pieces does for planets what Personal Duty does for space. There is a smaller amount of personnel it hits but some decks revolve their skill packages around Programming missions (like Ferengi and Romulan decks tend to do), in which Picking Up the Pieces shines brightest. Pitching In is almost always a dilemma that stops 2. With a lot of the Non-Skill Dilemma hate out there this easily outclasses Old Differences. With the chance of it becoming a 1 cost dilemma against some of the quicker decks out there, like Cadets, it really helps punish those deck types. Most of the time Agonizing Encounter only stops two personnel, but there are cases where it hits three or even four personnel. This dilemma can be pretty average or really good.

Romulan Kirk

FILTERS

The First Duty

Pillage and Plunder

He Wasn't Nice

Show Trial

2x Secret Identity

Honorable Pursuit

After you determine which multi-stop filter and walls you need to give, you have to sometimes finish the job that first filter couldn’t do. So you just give a one-stop filter to remove that last skill needed for your wall, or remove that one extra personnel so they don’t meet the attribute requirements.

For this deck I chose The First Duty and Pillage and Plunder mainly due to the fact that the skills they require are kind of exotic to certain affiliations and giving a 1 cost dilemma to possibly kill a personnel is a pretty good trade. They are both Persistent and they both work well with An Issue of Trust, removing possibly all of their Honor with the former and Treachery with the latter. Show Trial, much like the previous two dilemmas, can combo well with the multi-stop dilemmas and also will some of the time stop two personnel, should you be behind in the game.Honorable Pursuit is only in the deck as it combos well with An Issue of Trust and also bounces back to your dilemma pile if they don’t stop a personnel with 2 Honor.

Secret Identity and He Wasn't Nice serve the same purpose; removal of problem personnel. Their primary function is to get rid of personnel like: Reyga, Young Scientist, Navaar, Experienced Gift, or Chakotay, Bridge Between two Crews which can wreck this pile. They can also strip skills if you need them to.

Timescape

UTILITY/META CHOICE

Coolant Leak

Moral Choice

Insurrection

Timescape

The Captain's "Guest"

2X Hard Time

Polywater Intoxication

These are the dilemmas which either didn’t fit into an above category or where put into the dilemma pile as a meta choice.

First, let’s start with the utility dilemmas which are all pretty much self explanatory. Hard Time is another of the best dilemmas of all time. Instead of stopping, for just a 3 cost, it removes one personnel from the attempt and makes the opponent have to replay, and repay for, that personnel in order to get them back.Timescape is another dilemma that combos well with Uninvited and should be found at a copy number of at least one or two in all dilemma piles, as it stops multi-attempting. If you need to just stop one more personnel, i.e. the opponent can complete the mission with the five personnel you didn’t stop…give them Polywater Intoxication, they drop down to four personnel and then it returns to your dilemma pile.

The next group of dilemmas are ones I use due to their strengths against the deck types which occur frequently in my local meta. There are a few Borg decks, so The Captain's "Guest" works really well against them. Almost all the Borg have the Drone keyword, so a 2 cost dilemma that stops 3 is insane. There are also a few Starfleet decks in our meta, so I’ve found Coolant Leak hits them pretty hard. It seems a lot of their good personnel have Engineer as a skill. This dilemma also works pretty well against Cadets, since most of those cost 0 or 1. There are a lot of Federation decks in our meta so Moral Choice is a no-brainer. It’s another 2 cost dilemma that stops 3 if the conditions are met. Insurrection is the epitome of a meta card. If you face a lot of decks that run low requirement missions, then it’s a must to run. Once the local meta shifts to larger attribute missions, it’s a dead card. It’s also one that I always use to monitor what people are playing.

MISSIONS

Investigate Massacre
Transport Crash Survivors
Khitomer Investigation
Military Exercises
Romulus, Seat of Power

When you go to select missions for your deck there are many things to consider: ‘what affiliation is being played?’, ‘what is the Agonizing Encounter count (how many missions do I have with a common skill as to reduce effectiveness of this popular dilemma)?’, ‘what is the lowest amount of skills I can have between my attemptable missions (although fewer skills on your missions means your skill set is a lot smaller on your personnel base)’, ‘what kind of dilemmas does your meta play’, and ‘what types of decks does your meta play’. I always choose missions before I choose personnel. It is then possible to make personnel choices based off the mission set, although certain decks demand certain personnel, as is the case for a Bajoran Basso Tromac, Smug Subordinate/Covenant deck or a Goval, Follower of the One deck.

This deck runs one meta mission; Transport Crash Survivors, as there are a bunch of micro team decks in our meta right now (such as Dominion, Bajoran, Dissident Borg, and even Mirror Starfleet.) Investigate Massacre is a very easy mission for Romulans to complete. Three Romulan personnel have both Diplomacy and Science:Charvanek, Neutral Zone Commander,Spock, Celebrated Ambassador, and B'Etor, Romulan Conspirator, meaning that you only need two of these together to meet the skill requirements of the mission. This deck has nine total personnel with Diplomacy (if you count both copies of Spock, Celebrated Ambassador) and seven total personnel with Science.

Khitomer Investigation has skill requirements that are very easy for a Romulan deck to meet; with requirements of Programming, Security, and either 2 Honor or 2 Treachery. This deck has seven personnel with Programming, eight personnel with Security, and eight personnel with Treachery, including two personnel with double Treachery. Military Exercises also has very easy mission skills for Romulans, requiring Leadership, 2 Officer, and Security. On the downside, this means that with fourteen out of the twenty-six personnel in the deck having either Leadership or Officer, it gets hammered pretty hard by Personal Duty . On the other hand, this deck only has twelve different personnel with Honor or Treachery so it doesn’t get hit as hard by An Issue of Trust and also has Neral, Seasoned Politician to at least reduce the effectiveness of that popular dilemma by excluding the Treachery personnel.

Data"

The Draw Deck

This deck has 3 significant themes running through it: Dissident Romulans, Past Romulans, and Intelligence Romulans. Do you have any themes running through your deck? The likely answer is no. In my experience, most competitive decks sacrifice theme for efficiency. Instead, running personnel such as Silik, Chameleon and Dukat, Pah-Wraith Puppet for their obvious utility or Tolian Soran, Renegade Scientist, Sigmund Freud, Father of Psychoanalysis, and Julian Bashir, Rebel Captain for their obvious cost/attribute ratio. Does theme make the deck non-competitive? This answer is also no. While less consistent than most of the super competitive decks, you still have luck, skill, and gamesmanship on your side. All of which are intangible and contingent on the player instead of the deck build.

DISSIDENT ROMULANS

Spock, Celebrated Ambassador is the leader of the Dissidents. With eleven Dissidents in the deck, his ability should be active most of the time. Not counting himself, there are only four non-Romulans in the deck meaning that Spock gives his bonus to most of the personnel that he will be spending time with. Besides that, when combined with Jean-Luc Picard, Bearer of Ill Tidings and Deanna Troi, Major Rakal they account for 23 Integrity towards overcoming Gomtuu Shock Wave. The deck also runs the other high powered Dissident: Data, From the City of Rateg who, combined with Spock, Celebrated Ambassador, can lead an opponent to having to make the tough choice of whether or not they give you a Secret Identity.

Donatra, Compassionate Patriot, Tal'Aura, Impatient Senator, N'Vek, Soldier of the Underground, Suran, Ambitious Commander, and 3 copies of Noram are all Dissidents and are in the deck to help fill the skill gaps for the mission set which I have selected. This deck also boasts two of the 7 cost ships that the Romulans have: Soterus and Valdore. Why am I using these 7 cost ships? Theme. Simply put, where else am I going to get to play these two awesome ships. They are the Dissident ships from Star Trek: Nemesis and as such belong in a Dissident deck.

PAST ROMULANS

Past Romulans like to abuse one thing…your opponent’s hand. What better way to abuse it than to give them more cards using Plasma Energy Weapon. Yes you give them cards and the ability to cycle. But don’t worry, the Romulans have ways to turn this against them.

Keras

The most blatant ways in this deck are Clear Ultimatum and Secret Agenda. When either is combined with Deep Hatred it will eliminate all copies of whichever interrupt you discard from their hand and deck. Perhaps you don’t like that Knowledge and Experience your opponent is holding; no problem, all of them are gone. With twelve Leadership personnel in the deck, Secret Agenda can easily clear an opponent’s hand that is full of interrupts. If they aren’t playing many interrupts, Secret Agenda can also be used as a limited skill cheater against dilemmas. Clear Ultimatum can also be used to pitch events like At What Cost?, which is a card that can put this deck at a severe disadvantage if played early enough.

With all the interrupt discarding in the deck, Subtle Influence is a no-brainer making them have to discard an interrupt just to use an interrupt cheater. Reman Subterfuge, while it doesn’t interact with Plasma Energy Weapon, is just a good way to nickel and dime your opponent to death. Making them waste a counter every turn just to keep up with it. At the cost of 3 counters once for you: it is insane.

Plasma Energy Weapon is not the only way to make the opponent put extra cards in their hand. Keras, Creature of Duty does this and is also a way to target specific cards which you suspect an opponent is running, only to make them discard it. Alternatively, you can just remove the offending card from the game with T'Auethn, Obedient Centurian. Together, Keras and T’Auethn can target and eliminate any non-ship card from an opponent's deck. Another use for Keras is to make the opponent download an interrupt that you are certain that they are running, as a set up for Tal, Alert Subcommander. If Tal is in play and you play your Charvanek, Neutral Zone Commander you can download Nanclus, Co-Conspirator while you’re at it.

Okay, that’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it down:

Tal, Alert Subcommander lets you download a personnel once a turn when you play a personnel so long as your opponent has an interrupt in hand and as long as the cost of that personnel matches the printed cost of the personnel you just played. So Charvanek, Neutral Zone Commander lets you reveal your opponent’s hand and if they have 3 or more personnel she costs 0 to play. Since Tal, Alert Subcommander refers to printed cost, so long as your opponent has an interrupt in hand, you can download another 3 cost personnel such as Nanclus, Co-Conspirator. He, then, lets you use his order to boost his Cunning and Strength +1 for each personnel in your opponent’s hand. If their hand has a Federation personnel, he also gains any skill.

The big thing to keep in mind with Plasma Energy Weapon is that it doesn’t have to be activated unless you want it to. If you do activate it and make your opponent discard a card or remove a card in their hand from the game, then they have to still put 5 cards back to their deck. So if they have 4 cards, you activate Plasma Energy Weapon, they draw 5 cards putting them at 9. Next, you play Secret Agenda discarding 2 Interrupts and then you play T'Auethn, Obedient Centurian removing another card in their hand from the game leaving them with 6 cards. Which means they have to put 5 back, granted: it’s their choice, but it will leave them with 1 card in hand at the start of their turn.

INTELLIGENCE ROMULANS

Besides being an awesome character on Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and a double agent for Section 31, Koval, Chairman of the Tal Shiar boasts good mission skills and a 7 cunning for 3 cost. He also punishes the opponent for playing more than one headquarters. Mendak, Duplicitous Admiral is also a 3 cost, 7 cunning personnel. But as a bonus, he is an Admiral which can help auto-pass Dignitaries and Witnesses. While Rekar, Tool of the Tal'Shiar’s ability only works for Transport Crash Survivors, he is a 4 cost personnel who only costs 3 counters to play, most of the time, since there are six other Intelligence personnel in the deck.

Lovok

Ruwon, Intelligence Analyst can help get you over the mission requirements if you come up just short of completing. A lot of times when you might not otherwise complete a mission that +2 cunning can help push you over. Lovok, Tal Shiar Colonel is in the deck to help fill skills. But as a bonus, he gives you a way to defend against a battle deck strategy. This deck also boasts 2 copies of a now outdated Romulan ship: D'deridex Advanced. While not even close in power level to a Bird-of-Prey it still is a pretty good ship in the right deck with the right support for it.

ODDS & ENDS

Every deck needs some sort of filler. Some utility cards to do things that the other cards in the deck cannot. Sent Back is one of the few ways for Romulans to get rid of Events that are already in play, which they historically were never able to do well. Now if your Borg opponent plays all 3 copies of Unyielding, you have a way to stop those shenanigans before it gets too out of hand. Besides Spock, Celebrated Ambassador, B'Etor, Romulan Conspirator is my favorite Romulan personnel of all time. She is one of the few Romulans that have the ability to pseudo-stop prevent. With her out it is dangerous for your opponent not to deal with her first because of her unstopability. Cretak, Supporter of the Alliance is in the deck and acts almost as a 3rd D'deridex Advanced because she can download one.

Don’t want to move back home before attempting your mission again just to get that 1 personnel? Now you don’t need to. Just play Telek R'Mor, Astrophysical Researcher right to your ship. Plus he’s a 6 Integrity to help with Gomtuu Shock Wave. Neral, Seasoned Politician is in the deck - need I say more about him? Any deck with some amount of Treachery should run him. Dilemma evasion is one of the most powerful abilities in the game and he does it well .

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END

All in all, the deck works pretty well, though it is far from an optimized build. Dropping one or more of the themes, putting in Non-Aligned personnel, dropping the overall cost of the deck, or removing some of the disruption in favor of more mission solving abilities are all ways this deck could be improved upon in order to make it more competitive. Not all decks have to be optimized and not all decks need to be optimized. There are lots of ways to play this game and first and foremost should be to have fun.

I plan on writing this as an article series and as such I will be going over a lot of different decks I have built, like Maquis Disruption with a Tragic Turn Kill Pile, Starfleet At What Blast, more Romulan shenanigans and even 1 or 2 Traditional decks. For some of the decks, I use the same dilemma pile. But I will always detail something unique about them; such as combos, theory, or even examples of different types of dilemma piles like a Tragic Turn pile.

For any suggestions, questions, or concerns please PM. Deck List can be found Here.




This deck is currently eligible for the following family or families of achievements:

Decklist

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Missions
Headquarters
1S195•Romulus, Seat of Power
Planet
1U179•Investigate Massacre
1S183•Khitomer Investigation
Space
21V14•Alpha 5 Approach, Transport Crash Survivor
1U186•Military Exercises


Draw Deck (42)
Event
4C462x Deep Hatred
12U292x •Plasma Energy Weapon
8R381x •Reman Subterfuge
22V151x Sent Back
19V61x •Subtle Influence
Interrupt
7C383x Clear Ultimatum
22V242x Secret Agenda
Personnel
Romulan
4R1651x •B'Etor, Romulan Conspirator
12R1061x •Charvanek, Neutral Zone Commander
1S3561x •Cretak, Supporter of the Alliance
13R991x •Data, From the City of Rateg
6P581x •Deanna Troi, Major Rakal
1R3571x •Donatra, Compassionate Patriot
8R911x •Jean-Luc Picard, Bearer of Ill Tidings
12R1071x •Keras, Creature of Duty
4R1681x •Koval, Chairman of the Tal Shiar
1R3611x •Lovok, Tal Shiar Colonel
6P591x •Mendak, Duplicitous Admiral
1R3641x •N'Vek, Soldier of the Underground
14U1061x •Nanclus, Co-Conspirator
16V431x •Neral, Seasoned Politician
1C3653x Noram
13U1001x •Rekar, Tool of the Tal'Shiar
3R1971x •Ruwon, Intelligence Analyst
7R1132x •Spock, Celebrated Ambassador
1R3711x •Suran, Ambitious Commander
12R1081x •T'Auethn, Obedient Centurion
12U1091x •Tal, Alert Subcommander
1R3721x •Tal'Aura, Impatient Senator
1R3751x •Telek R'Mor, Astrophysical Researcher
Ship
Romulan
1U4092x D'deridex Advanced
3R2081x •Soterus
1R4151x •Valdore
Dilemma Pile (30)
Dual
8R11x Agonizing Encounter
10R22x An Issue of Trust
26V21x Conflict of Interests
23V31x Coolant Leak
6P21x Dignitaries and Witnesses
6P62x Hard Time
17V61x He Wasn't Nice
22V51x Honorable Pursuit
21V31x In Development
22V61x Infinite Diversity
24V61x Insurrection
14C71x Moral Choice
22V82x Pitching In
18V51x Polywater Intoxication
3U262x Secret Identity
15V71x Show Trial
18V61x The Captain's "Guest"
2C251x Timescape
Planet
12C51x Excalbian Drama
24V51x Greater Needs
2U171x Picking Up the Pieces
21V61x Pillage and Plunder
Space
3R121x Gomtuu Shock Wave
1R421x Personal Duty
21V91x The First Duty
7R151x Where No One Has Gone Before


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