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Thunder Road: Dancing in the Dark

by Mike O'Shogay, Staff Writer

6th August 2013

Mr. ElimI 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.

This opening might sound familiar... that’s because it is. I subscribe to the old comic book adage; “Every comic book is someone’s first comic book,” and as such I’ll start each article the same.

WHO DOESN’T LIKE THE MIRROR UNIVERSE

I’ve said on many occasions that there are many ways to play this game. In my first three articles, I went over Romulan Dissidents (very much a casual deck), Maquis Interaction (very competitive build), and Dominion Speed Solver (another competitive build). This time, I will be going over a deck that I reviewed in one of my blog entries. It is a Cardassian/Bajoran Mirror Universe build using all the fun tricks they have available to them. It also utilizes one of the most powerful and underplayed personnel in the game…Elim Garak, Crafty Underling

This is a deck that I would consider for local tournaments. It’s not really a deck that I would expect to win a regional with or even a higher level tournament because it’s very susceptible to a lot of commonly played dilemmas and even to a lot of the current decks in other metas. Considering it’s a Leadership/Treachery build, it gets hit hard by some of the strongest dilemmas in the game; like Personal Duty, An Issue of Trust, and Gomtuu Shock Wave. It’s also a two Headquarters deck, which opens it up to incidental hate. 

CovenantLuckily, the deck packs two copies of Krim, Thoughtful Tactician and a full set of one of the strongest interrupts in the game; Covenant. While the deck only has four different Bajoran personnel with Treachery, at least one other personnel can gain from it; Odo, Efficient Overseer, who also helps fuel a lot of the deck. While this deck doesn’t contain any copies of Benjamin Sisko, Man of Two Worlds, it certainly wouldn’t hurt the deck to toss him in. Dukat, Pah-Wraith Puppet is also a very large concern for this deck, as he can almost completely shut down the deck’s main strategy. 

The deck is a very high costing one, but with Energize and Surprise Party in the deck the counters can go a long way. Most of the 4 cost personnel in the deck can be played at a discount or even played for free like Kira Nerys, Resourceful Prisoner. The true power of the deck lies in the card synergies and how almost every card melds with each other. 

THE DILEMMA PILE

While I normally would go over the deck’s dilemma pile, I’ll instead review my current dilemma pile, post-Iowa Regional, and make necessary changes to it; including the addition of the awesome Reflections dilemma, which fits perfectly with this deck.

In the last article, I went over the changes that I made in gearing up for The Invasion of Iowa by the North Dakotans, Minnesotans, and Illinoisans for the Iowa Regional. Since I haven’t played in a whole lot of casual games, I was thoroughly unimpressed with a few of the changes that I had made. First off, I was finding that if my games were running long my dilemma pile would lose a lot of steam late game - I had removed too many of the multi-stop dilemmas. 

Second off, I had taken out Agonizing Encounter in favor of a second copy of Timescape, due to me not running Transport Crash Survivors. Since I am now running Transport Crash Survivors, two copies of Timescape aren’t necessary. Instead, I opted to remove the second copy of Timescape in favor of a second copy of Coolant Leak, which was a very relevant multi-personnel stopper in every match. This also gives this dilemma pile more staying power.   

Thirdly, while The Captain's "Guest" can be money against Borg, Bajoran Resistance, and even Cadets, I never found this dilemma to be relevant during the entire tournament. Even after looking at the results of Regionals of what was being played worldwide and what wasn’t; Bajorans and Borg were low and cadets had almost completely fallen off of the map. Since I’m trying to keep the skill to non-skill dilemma balance in the dilemma pile, I am going to add one copy of Reflections, which can be a massive stopper for space at the bargain cost of 2.

ReflectionsWith this deck, there can be a lot of Alternate Universe Personnel out. Although there are only eight different Alternate Universe personnel in the deck, thirteen out of the twenty-three personnel in the deck have the Alternate Universe icon.

THE INSURRECTION ISSUE AND IT’S TERRIFYING

With the addition of Reflections and Coolant Leak to the pile, the deck needed another way to filter out specific personnel. I had removed He Wasn't Nice and had many situations where I missed it being in there. Besides just removing personnel, it gets around all the Non-skill cheating of Reyga, Young Scientist and Donatra, Honorable Patriot, since it costs 0 for purposes of these cards. Another good side effect of running a copy of He Wasn't Nice is that this one dilemma can kill every copy of a Non-Unique personnel sent to attempt the mission.

In order to make room for this, I am removing Insurrection. Now, I believe this dilemma has single-handedly changed how people build decks - much like Agonizing Encounter did. I have found this dilemma to be surprisingly not useful. But is it really that surprising? I mean if people are not playing missions that Insurrection hits, then it is a dead card in the pile. Even if I draw it on their one mission at which it does work, it may or may not stop them for an extra turn. If it doesn’t then you just wasted a dilemma and gave them an extra one, thereby making their later attempts easier at a different mission.

Similar to what Transport Crash Survivors did for Goval, Follower of the One, I think Insurrection has pretty much made people cut back on low attribute missions. In doing so, it has made itself a less effective dilemma, and as such I am removing it to eliminate the mostly dead draw from my dilemma pile. This game is mostly cyclical and if all of the sudden low-attribute mission strategies become popular again, then this card will, once again, be an extremely good include.

MISSIONS

Unlike the other decks that have been featured in my article series, this deck is unique in that it is a dual Headquarters mission deck - with both Bajor, Gift of the Prophets and Cardassia Prime, Hardscrabble World.  It is also a very formulaic deck. The goal of the deck is to minimize the dilemmas that can be given, while also being able to pass through skill dilemmas with ease. This deck uses Transport Crash Survivors since it cannot realistically complete any missions with five or less personnel. Since this stops the opponent from micro-teaming missions, it becomes a hindrance to them alone.

ContaminatedFirst things first, attempt and complete Assess Contamination. For this deck, it is a very easy mission.  To pass the 2 Anthropology requirement, this deck has ten personnel (seven different personnel with Anthropology).  This mission also requires Law which is found on nine personnel (five different personnel with Law).  Also keep in mind that Bareil Antos, Petty Thief, Elim Garak, Crafty Underling, and Kira Nerys, Resourceful Prisoner all have both Anthropology and Law; so you only need two of these personnel together to meet the skill requirements. At any time while attempting the mission, you can discard an Alternate Universe card from your hand to give Elim Garak, Crafty Underling a second Anthropology, thereby allowing him to meet all of the mission’s skill requirements alone.

After you complete Assess Contamination, the next step is up to you. You can either start attempting Eliminate Sphere Network or you can do one of two other things. First off, since this deck will end with you scoring 110 points if everything goes as planned, you can use Krim, Thoughtful Tactician in order to remove all copies of either Personal Duty, An Issue of Trust, or Gomtuu Shock Wave from the opponent’s dilemma pile. This deck is susceptible to all three. See what personnel you have out and figure which one hits you the worst at that moment and then remove it from the game. The second thing you can do is to play Favor the Bold on Assess Contamination which make you lose 5 points and returns all dilemmas beneath it back to the opponent’s dilemma pile, but this also allows you to attempt and complete it again.

If your opponent is playing a decent amount of non-skill dilemmas with a cost 1 or more, this mission eats those piles for breakfast. It makes them either overthrow dilemmas just to get their strategy to work or it can sometimes let you automatically pass their dilemmas because they can’t come up with a good combination to stop you. So attempting this mission twice can be quite powerful. Also: this mission is amazing against Legacy piles. 

So, to keep track of your points: completing Assess Contamination nets you 35 points,  losing 5 points with both Krim, Thoughtful Tactician and Favor the Bold nets you now a total of 25 points,   recompleting Assess Contamination nets you 35 more points putting you at 60, and finally completing Eliminate Sphere Network will net you your last 40 points putting you at 100.

THE DRAW DECK

This deck relies on being able to draw into certain cards like Favor the Bold and Krim, Thoughtful Tactician. There are a lot of tools here to allow you to do this. With at least one personnel with 6 cost, Julian Bashir, Rebel Captain, and a lot of personnel with 4 cost, These Are The Voyages should always at least net you one additional card while also letting you filter through your deck. While not the same as These Are The Voyages, Jadzia Dax, Soldier of Fortune lets you cycle your hand which helps you move through your deck as well - provided that she is also randomly selected by a dilemma.

Mr. BashirWhile not truly cycling, Obrist, Temporal Tactician can help you early game provided you start the game with him in your hand. If you have a bad opening hand, he will let you mulligan it. At the cost of discarding him, you can basically redraw your starting hand minus one card.  He is also a very good personnel with mission skills, costs 2 with good attributes, has a command star icon, and most importantly of all has the Alternate Universe Icon.

Optimism is also a good way to help filter through your deck. This deck boasts a lot of duplicate unique personnel and events. By discarding them those duplicates, Optimism lets you both cycle and feed the deck’s synergy.

Though not the same as deck filtering or cycling, Surprise Party is almost always an auto-include. In this build there are a lot of high cost personnel around, SP makes the a difference by allowing you to play two 4 cost personnel in the same turn. With as high cost as the deck is, Energize is almost an auto-include as well. Besides just letting you discount your personnel, the cards that decay on it can feed the deck’s synergy as well. 

SYNERGY, SYNERGY, SYNERGY

Having stated before about both Optimism and Energize feeding the deck’s synergy, you are probably wondering to yourself what that could possibly be…Well it’s complicated and this deck has a lot of moving parts. 

Since this deck has a lot of low range ships, I am using Astrometrics Lab. This is also another card that really adds to the deck’s synergy. By discarding a card you can boost a ship’s range by 2 as long as you have an Astrometrics personnel on board. There are five Astrometrics personnel in the deck and with all the card filtering it shouldn’t be that hard to find one. 

Now we have three events that can discard cards, so what do they feed?  They feed two of the strongest Bajoran cards printed Basso Tromac, Smug Subordinate and Covenant. First off Basso Tromac, Smug Subordinate lets you remove any card in your discard pile from the game when he’s attempting a mission. Whatever the cost of the card is he gets a boost to his attributes equal to that card’s cost. 

Covenant does something similar but different and better. First, it’s an interrupt and isn’t sitting in play. Second, it can give its boost to any Treachery Bajoran, of which this deck has five (if you give Odo, Efficient Overseer Treachery that boosts the number up to eight).  Thirdly, it can be used three times in a mission attempt, assuming you have all three in hand. Lastly, it can only remove Bajoran personnel but it gives the Treachery Bajoran all of the skills and attributes of the Bajoran personnel you removed from your discard pile. 

Mr. OdoWith a healthy amount of Anthropology and Leadership personnel in the deck, Dukat, Anjohl Tennan also feeds on your discard pile by removing personnel with those skills from the game to get an attributes boost of +1.  It may not seem like a lot, but sometimes completing missions comes down to that one or two extra Cunning. He is also a Treachery Bajoran affiliation personnel for Covenant and , what’s more: has a hefty chunk of dilemma passing skills. 

Provided that you have an Alternate Universe personnel in your discard pile along with Kira Nerys, Resourceful Prisoner, at the start of your turn you can remove that personnel in your discard pile from the game to place Kira Nerys, Resourceful Prisoner at your Headquarters mission - which means she has potential to be a free personnel in this deck. In addition to having Treachery and the Alternate Universe icon, she has a lot of skills to help pass dilemmas. Between her and Bareil Antos, Petty Thief, they have a combined twelve different skills to be used towards Transport Crash Survivors - if absolutely necessary. 

MORE CARDS TO FILL YOUR DISCARD PILE

I have only briefly touched on Elim Garak, Crafty Underling. This personnel is one of the strongest personnel printed, but his scope is extremely limited. By discarding an Alternate Universe Icon card from your hand he can gain any skill. Also by discarding, you can help feed the rest of your deck by setting up some of the aforementioned cards above. 

His ability is probably the most efficient skill gain ability on any personnel. Now it requires you to have Alternate Universe cards in your hand, but unlike Navaar, Experienced Gift your opponent doesn’t know what’s in your hand and cannot confidently give you skill dilemmas. Unlike Silik, Chameleon, Gav, Diplomat, and Navaar, Experienced Gift you can do this multiple times while facing a dilemma. 

Elim Garak, Crafty Underling is so good he will probably eat every copy of Secret Identity and for this reason I am using Telle, Macet's Aide.  This personnel is good in his own right, but I usually keep him cycled in my deck for just this occasion. Though he has some good dilemma skills, I’d be lying if I said that’s the reason I use him. His dilemma manipulating ability can really screw with a dilemma stack, sometimes even causing overthrows and misplays. 

While not discarding personnel, Odo, Efficient Overseer puts personnel in your discard pile in a different way…by killing them. Whenever he kills a personnel, he can gain a skill that’s on a 4 cost personnel in your discard pile until the end of the mission attempt. Don’t have the skill you need but you have plenty of the attributes? Then, just kill your personnel and gain the skill you need - as there are plenty of 4 costers with mission skills to choose from.

So someone discards your Elim Garak, Crafty Underling. Whatever will you do? Winn Adami, Kai of Bajor and Bareil Antos, Petty Thief to the rescue. Winn Adami, Kai of Bajor lets you discard a card from hand to place a non-Bajoran icon personnel from your discard pile on top of your deck. Unless the opponent is actively removing cards in your discard pile from the game, you should be able to recycle what you need. Bareil Antos, Petty Thief also does something similar but instead lets you exchange a 4 cost personnel from your hand with a 4 cost personnel in your discard pile. 

SO MUCH UTILITY

XhosaEvery deck needs some utility cards, or role-players. This deck boasts a few of high attribute personnel to help you complete your missions and get past dilemmas. Julian Bashir, Rebel Captain is pretty much the gold standard for efficiency. He is a 3 cost most of the time, has 8 Cunning, a Command icon, and a good amount of common mission and dilemma skills. 

Zefram Cochrane, Ready to Make History, while also having a good amount of mission and dilemma skills, also has a 7 Cunning and can discount your ships while he is in play - at the cost of stopping him. While most of the time being a 7 Integrity, 7 Cunning, and 7 Strength, Laas, One of the 100 also has some very good mission skills for this deck. If he’s paired up with Julian Bashir, Rebel Captain change those 7’s into 9’s, which is crazy efficient for a 3 cost personnel. 

In an effort to help reduce the overall personnel cost of the deck, I opted to put Razka Karn, Scavenger into the deck. He has mission skills, he has Acquisition for Transport Crash Survivors if I need to complete that mission, and a 6 cunning all for a 2 cost. Just to get one last Alternate Universe Icon personnel in the deck, I decided to add Ezri Tigan, Soldier of Fortune. She has a 6 Cunning, numerous mission/dilemma skills, and a Command Icon all for the very low cost of 0. 

If you go the long game with a kill pile, Tacking Into the Wind can help you recycle any personnel that you haven’t removed from your discard pile. It can also destroy an event, or help if you need to download a ship.

While the Xhosa Sponsored Transport is also very efficient for its cost due to the ability to subtract from required range. It can also put a personnel from your discard pile on top of your deck if it’s staffed at the beginning of your turn at a Non-Headquarters mission. Since the deck has a decent amount of good events that need to be protected, it only makes sense to put a Talnot in the deck. I have many ways to discard cards from hand and it is very easy to make your events indestructible.  Then to fill out the rest of the deck’s ships: a single copy of Bajoran Scout Vessel. What else is there to say, it’s just a ship that really does nothing else for the deck, other than be a ship. 

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END

I plan on writing this as a series and as such I will be going over a lot of different decks I have together from Maquis Disruption with a Tragic Turn Kill Pile, Starfleet At What Blast, more Romulan shenanigans and even one or two traditional decks. For some of the decks I use the same dilemma pile but will always detail something 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.


Discuss this article in this thread.



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

Decklist

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Missions
Headquarters
1U152•Bajor, Gift of the Prophets
1U153•Cardassia Prime, Hardscrabble World
Planet
23V27•Assess Contamination
Space
21V14•Alpha 5 Approach, Transport Crash Survivor
14U53•Sphere 41, Eliminate Sphere Network


Draw Deck (45)
Event
1C752x Astrometrics Lab
13U273x •Energize
17V282x Favor the Bold
12U282x •Optimism
0VP872x •Surprise Party
25V161x Tacking Into the Wind
13C373x These Are The Voyages
Interrupt
14R473x Covenant
Personnel
Bajoran
13R472x •Bareil Antos, Petty Thief
10R532x •Basso Tromac, Smug Subordinate
4R1021x •Dukat, Anjohl Tennan
13R481x •Kira Nerys, Resourceful Prisoner
4R1042x •Krim, Thoughtful Tactician
13R503x •Odo, Efficient Overseer
4C1071x •Razka Karn, Scavenger
1U2281x •Winn Adami, Kai of Bajor
Cardassian
13R533x •Elim Garak, Crafty Underling
16V331x •Telle, Macet's Aide
Non-Aligned
13C921x •Ezri Tigan, Soldier of Fortune
13C931x •Jadzia Dax, Soldier of Fortune
13C941x •Julian Bashir, Rebel Captain
13R951x •Laas, One of the 100
26V451x •Obrist, Temporal Tactician
8R901x •Zefram Cochrane, Ready to Make History
Ship
Bajoran
1C3821x Bajoran Scout Vessel
4U1781x •Talnot
24V412x •Xhosa, Sponsored Transport
Dilemma Pile (30)
Dual
10R22x An Issue of Trust
26V21x Conflict of Interests
23V32x Coolant Leak
6P21x Dignitaries and Witnesses
6P62x Hard Time
17V61x He Wasn't Nice
21V31x In Development
22V61x Infinite Diversity
28V21x Ingenious Jury-rig
14C71x Moral Choice
22V82x Pitching In
18V51x Polywater Intoxication
3U262x Secret Identity
15V71x Show Trial
2C252x 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
13C171x Reflections
21V91x The First Duty
7R151x Where No One Has Gone Before


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