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The Road to Worlds: First Edition Winning Deck Analysis, Week 6

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

8th May 2014

Welcome back, we (I) had a couple weeks off due to some weekends without regionals, but we're back today with the winning deck from the first block-format regional of the season.

The 3/5/14 1E Andoria Regional in Souix Falls, South Dakota was won by Kris Sonsteby. He used a TNG Klingon deck titled "Be the Hunter and the Hunted... Keep Your Target in Your Sight". His tournament report can be found here.

Deck Stats:
Play Engines: Legitimate Leader of the Empire (35% of the deck), Attention All Hands (20%), Scientific Diplomacy (15%), The Great Hall (20%, 13% not including Gowron)
Draw Engines: Continuing Mission, Let's See What's Out There
Percentage of deck that plays for free (or is downloaded reliably): 75% (68% not including Gowron)
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists
Non-Dilemma Seed Cards: 8


Kris Sonsteby's Commentary:

Why did you choose the deck that you used?
Considering my First Edition renaissance started a year ago almost to the day of this event, I had been strongly leaning toward running a Legitimate Leader of the Empire design of my own creation for quite awhile to see if I could catch lightning in a bottle once again. While I wavered a bit on my choice once the most recent wave of errata came down, ultimately I stuck to my guns and simply re-engineered what I was working on based on previous experiences in the Block environment.

What other decks did you consider using?
Having put a fair amount of time into familiarizing myself with the new set, I can truthfully say nothing else I came across really fired on all cylinders for me the way this build did. Combining four free play engines in to one deck often led to mission attempts on turn three or four with a pretty beefy away team, and with Medical Crisis now rotated out of Block the number of truly powerful dilemmas in the format can be counted on one hand. Since honorable Klingons tend to breeze right through most of those select few, Legit Leader was a pretty obvious choice.

I see you've come for your holistic energy field massage!

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
In light of Design’s errata fueled mandate that everyone start playing Deep Space Nine, I fully expected to see at least one if not two Gamma Quadrant exploring opponents on the day. As such, I doubled down on Founder Secret, packed a Linguistic Legerdemain, and made sure to toss in a Chula: The Dice at the last minute. Since all of these dilemmas are pretty solid against non-Klingon opponents, I banked on dodging a mirror match and if it came down to one I just presumed I would find a way to muscle my way to victory by returning to my battle roots.

Prior to this tournament, did you have much experience playing this deck (or decks like it)? Did you learn anything new about it when you played it this time?
Running Minnesota’s resident 1E evangelist Dan Van Kampen’s Legit Leader creation last year in our local OTF Regional definitely set the tone for how I approached this year’s South Dakota Block event. As I played through that tournament I quickly realized how vital a big draw engine like Let’s See What’s Out There was to fuel your hand for the bevy of free plays, and having partaken in several events since then with the various TNG factions I have begun to realize how good a card HQ: War Room is in any format. Taking Dan’s concept and adding the Scientific Diplomacy personnel suite while also keeping The Great Hall group initially made coming up with a slim mission skill matrix tricky, but I eventually settled on a set I could live with. And while I can’t really point to anything in particular as being learned specifically in this event, it does feel like the hard knocks I took back in December didn’t go to waste as the theories I formulated shortly thereafter seem to have been proven this go ‘round.

Did you use any situational cards (cards that you wouldn't expect to be useful in every game)? Are there any whose usefulness exceeded your expectations? Were there any that you wouldn't include if you played the deck again?
Unlike a lot of folks, I’m not the type of player to stock a card I may only use once every couple tournaments, so if it wasn’t something I intended to put into play each and every game it wasn’t going to make the cut. Every once in a while this approach comes back to haunt me, but I guess I would much rather change gears mid-game when the moment calls for it than get bogged down drawing situational cards that are largely superfluous to the match I am in at present. That said, Kahless and Duras both passed copies of Forsaken on their own throughout the day, and considering each guy was only included as an additional free report to Qo'noS, I was pleasantly surprised to find them useful in those spots.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Apart from Gowron and Legitimate Leader of the Empire? Hmm… I’d have to say in this specific tournament the nod probably goes to Lethean Telepathic Attack. I slid it in behind a Founder Secret and in the first two games it stopped the attempt cold, while in the third game it shut down Odo long enough for Linguistic Legerdemain to trigger a big countdown.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Nope, nothing else to add about the deck but I would like to give a shout out to the South Dakota crew for being such a great group of guys to game with, and to Big Kev in particular for rejuvenating the First Edition scene out there. It was a blast, boys!


My Commentary:

While it might seem obvious to some, the first card that I had to stop and think about when I looked at Kris' deck was the seeded Ferengi Trading Post. I mean, he's not playing Ferengi, he's not seeding a ship there, what's up? Well, since Scientific Diplomacy doesn't make TNG personnel compatible with your facilities (See Matt Zinno's excellent article on compatibility), it's in there to be the outpost he seeds at Host Metaphasic Shielding Test. Several of the eligible personnel wouldn't be compatible with a Klingon Outpost, but the Ferengi Trading Post works just fine. Now, some decks can just use their Attention All Hands download to get a ship there on the first turn (which are made compatible with your SciDip personnel), but Legitimate Klingons are the TNG faction that usually can't afford to do that. Usually, that first turn card play is spent on either (A) playing Gowron or (B) downloading Gowron in place of the card play in order to activate the Legitimate Leader free report. Note that playing him for free to The Great Hall just won't cut it; a Gowron at your homeworld doesn't activate the Legitimate Leader free report for the first turn, which isn't preferable in a deck where 35% of it uses that play engine.

Welcome to the people sitting awkwardly museum.

In a full card pool legal deck, TNG Klingons have some alternatives to Let's See What's Out There for a draw engine, like Kivas Fajo - Collector and Handshake. Neither of those are available in block though, and Duck Blind has rotated out, so its only "competition" in this format for a TNG deck is Surprise Party. Fortunately, in block, LSWOT is more reliable, since you won't be facing a completely non-Alpha Quadrant deck (yet), so you are going to be able to reach an opponent's mission without stocking quadrant hopping cards in your deck. Tying up four of your personnel at an opponent's mission may seem rough, but in a deck that has a whopping four free play engines, the ability to draw four cards at the cost of a card play makes the burden of that sacrifice diminish greatly. Interestingly, LSWOT's greater reliability in block format means that TNG decks are more easily able to fuel four engines than they are in a full card pool tournament.

It is worth noting though that, in this deck, I doubt Kris was generally playing four personnel (assuming the card play is LSWOT or a ship) every turn. Scientific Diplomacy can only give a free play to a potential six turns of the game, and most of the time The Great Hall only grants three turns worth of free play personnel (though the HQ free plays are not to be overlooked, as I almost did). In his commentary, Kris mentions that even putting that many personnel that qualify for those engines forced some interesting deck-building choices in terms of building his skill matrix. Additionally, those engines take seed slots, so what makes it worth it if you're only potentially gaining three turns of the full four personnel? In my opinion (and I suspect Kris' too), the answer is flexibility. Adding that fourth engine increases the likelihood that the personnel you have are the ones you can play. Even if you never play more than three personnel per turn, having the fourth engine means you're much less likely to have turns where you can only play two for free.

This deck appears to be more of a solver, with only three ships, though when you're playing Klingons, a surprise attack is always an option. On the flip side, when it comes to avoiding battle, Klingons and their Cloaking Devices (handy when you're counting on extra draws from LSWOT) are also very good at that. Scientific Diplomacy also grants some battle immunity (which I forgot about in my last tournament) by allowing you to play a Ferengi and a Romulan, protecting the ship they are aboard from crews and away teams of the same affiliation. I suspect the offensive and defensive ability of the deck is inspiration for its title.

Kris mentioned the effectiveness of Lethean Telepathic Attack, and I've got to agree with him there. Even without the personnel disabling, stopping an away team for a turn is great. This dilemma is especially effective in block where the only faction that is likely to pass it are the TNG Feds, and they've got many alternatives to look to for the non-empathy skills on Daniel Kwan. While Virus is a popular card to put after Spaceborne Entity in block these days, if your opponents have begun running around with tons of Computer Skill to counter it, you might want to consider LTA as an attempt stopper instead. The surprise factor may be enough to overcome the fact that it doesn't reduce the ship's shields, since a Virus that doesn't hit doesn't help. In this case, I suspect Kris chose to put it behind the attribute-heavy Founder Secret to avoid having it discarded to a red-shirt attempt.

That's it for this week, I'll be back next week with the winning decks from the three regionals scheduled for this coming weekend - after these last few quiet weeks, the next couple weekends will be a writing marathon. In the meantime, if you want some great audio commentary of the regional season (including predictions and the like), check out this thread for links to the Road to Worlds podcast.


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