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Matter of Time: Pivotal Destiny

by Kris Sonsteby, Staff Writer

20th February 2013

It’s just a sign of the times… Going forward in reverse…

As the countdown to Matter of Time’s 2/22/13 release date ticks ever closer to zero, today another piece to the puzzle is revealed in the form of a dilemma; Pivotal Destiny. And just as one would expect from an expansion promising a central theme of alternate futures and parallel universes, so should we as players of Star Trek CCG: Second Edition anticipate reliving days gone by as we press forward into the great unknown. With this in mind, it is not surprising that a card as dramatically titled as Pivotal Destiny both alters the design landscape of the present, while simultaneously harkening back to our game’s past.

Pivotal Destiny

Those of us who have been around from the very beginning have seen countless affiliations rise up and fall down the metaphoric power curve, survived the seismic shift in “best practice” mission attempt order from planet first / space last to space first / planet last, and bore witness to the recent rebirth of several formerly cast aside strategies. Since the changing of the guard from Decipher, Inc. to The Continuing Committee, numerous antiquated ideas have come to the forefront; assimilation, battle, and capture just to name a few. While the success bred by these three deck types has led to specifically crafted counter measures or outright errata, another creation, the infamous 2-mission win build, has yet to be dealt a proper check and balance. That is, until Matter of Time hits the streets and Pivotal Destiny comes into the fold.

As many of the historians out there will recall, 2-mission win decks ran roughshod over a number of Regional Championships last summer. Early victories by [Kli] and [TNG] players created an atypical setting in which many participants were either trying to win their respective events by solving only a pair of missions per game, or were conversely aiming to beat those folks who were. While there were isolated instances of these creations falling flat, overwhelmingly the 2-mission win designs experienced a windfall of success, triumphing in communities such as Georgia, Minnesota, and a mixed bag of other locales, most notably in Germany, where the eventual victor spotted his opposition an entire round’s worth of victory points and still came out on top. Following this golden age, steps were taken to dilute the potency of these concoctions. Yet none of the previous courses of action will impact the build to as great a degree as Pivotal Destiny, a 2-cost planet dilemma who’s elder brother arrived eleven sets and just over four years ago.

If we were to hop in former Second Edition Lead Designer Brad DeFruiter’s mythical Way Back Machine and revisit early 2009, our tour guide would point us in the direction of Causal Recursion as a prime example of meta adjusting design in motion. As he would likely note, this diamond in the rough is a 2-cost space dilemma created specifically to encourage people to start using bigger point total missions, while also subtly making early game mad dashes to space a bit riskier. No doubt he would cite historical references for why such a card was made, most likely reiterating how 3-mission win micro-solvers had dominated high-level play at the time; earning top honors at Nationals, Continentals, and even Worlds. Upon returning to the present, we as time travelers would quickly realize how much the backdrop has changed, as current era competitors must not only prepare for the micro-solvers of old but also the 2-mission win behemoths of today.

Enter Pivotal Destiny, a thematic younger brother to Causal Recursion which similarly moves to the opponent’s core after it is faced and likewise demands penance in the form of an additional 10 points to win the game. However, unlike its senior this junior family member does not have any built-in requirements allowing the encountering player to remove cards from their discard pile to avoid the repercussions, instead it simply insists that they solve three missions or deal with the consequences. And as the evidence from prior high-level events held in Canada, Denmark, and England suggest; forcing a 2-mission win deck into the uncompromising position of working through an extra mission or earning a total beyond 100 can often lead them down the path of modified wins or full losses, depending on the current game state and the all important timing of such a maneuver.

You see, timing truly is everything in Star Trek CCG: Second Edition; whether we are discussing popular deck designs from 2003, 2009, or 2013, each build is largely dependent on the environment in which it was created and the tools that were available in that moment. Now with Pivotal Destiny granting players a weapon against opponents’ intent on abusing one of several versions of everyone’s favorite Enterprise, unsurprisingly the moment Matter of Time becomes tournament legal, the conditions will once again change. Of course, the great sages among us whom have lived through similar times would expect nothing less, having learned long ago that as our game moves steadily into the future we typically do so with an eye set firmly on the past.

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