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The Road to Worlds: First Edition Winning Deck Analysis, Week 7

by Lucas Thompson, Freelance Writer

14th May 2014

It's crunch time, we've got the most densely-packed part of the regional season hitting us now. I had some downtime earlier, but after 4 weeks of 1-to-no deck articles, it's time to buckle down. This weekend brought us two decent-sized regionals, and a couple very interesting winning decks.

 

The 5/10/14 1E Qo'noS Regional in Oliver Springs, TN was won by Ryan Sutton. He used a First Contact Federation/Resistance/Son'a deck titled "The Line Must Be Drawn Here - This Far No Further !".

 

Deck Stats:
Play Engines: Federation Flagship: Relaunched (26% of the deck), Bajoran Resistance Cell (11%), Son'a Observatory (7%), Insurrection (6%), Free Orion Slaves (6%)
Draw Engines: Handshake, Bajoran Resistance Cell
Percentage of deck that plays for free (or is downloaded reliably): 72%
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists
Unique Dilemmas (to be updated as the season progresses): Flash Plasma Storm, Matriarchal Society, Shore Leave, Talosian Cage, The Whale Probe (5)
Non-Dilemma Seed Cards: 14

 

Ryan Sutton's Commentary:

Why did you choose the deck that you used ? What other decks did you consider using?
Last month at the Sector 001 Regional I played Borg and I accidentally seeded an Assimilate Species which was not a seedable card, which we believed at the time was an auto-loss via rules. After a little research the next week, it turned out it was just a miss seed since it was a Hidden Agenda and not a card seeded as a Hidden Agenda. So Borg had left a bad taste in my mouth and I wasn’t feeling super confident in playing them this Regional, as it was my home region Regional. I highly considered playing them, but I had played Borg the last two tournaments and I thought that it was time to move on to something else. I knew some of the players would expect me to play Borg as I had 100-0'd everyone except the auto-loss game when I had played the last tournament. Players would more than likely be tech-ing against Borg. More importantly, I knew Matt McClain would be attending the tournament and he had just recently blew up a Borg Tactical Cube, so I knew he would bring tech to blowup a regular cube. (Turns out I was right, I made a wise choice) I considered playing Delta Quadrant Equinox, Finest Crew in the Fleet, Legitimate Leader of the Empire, and a couple other decks. All of which I thought were good. However, I finally settled on a Enterprise-E / Bajoran Treaty deck that I have been working on for a while knowing that had a ton of tricks up its sleeve for dilemma busting. I felt like, in the current game state, when teamed with the Bajoran Resistance they were very good. The combination would yield me the card draws I needed to move fast enough to solve against fast solvers. I am not a player that doesn’t like to have the option to battle my opponent, so it was stepping outside my comfort zone to play a Federation Deck.

Finest Crew, only older

What sort of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
One deck that I hoping not to face was the six Kobayashi Maru Scenario deck with Dejaren and Ferengi Ingenuity topped with Access Denied. That is a very tough combo for this deck as it is not as prepared for it as other decks. HoodieDM did 4 Kobi(s) which was tough on this deck as I feared loosing my MU Bareil. I felt like this deck was prepared for most of the current dilemma strategies and common combos. With that said Neelix (Scott) really changed my opinion of that after playing him. He killed my entire crew twice with his combos. They were not at all what I was expecting. His game was a true come from behind victory. The dilemma that I was fearing most was Executive Authorization. I only had one way to pass it and that was Paul Porter’s Special Download of the PADD. I did encounter this dilemma in my game against Scott, which would eventually lead me to deck out to get to my Paul Porter who was my next to last card via the usage of my Handshakes.

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?
I had never played Enterprise-E since returning to the game. So I had no experience playing this deck in a tournament game, nor had I ever played against a deck like it. I had played it 3-4 times against Arcanthas (Jeremy Norris) just to test it out and make changes as I felt necessary.

One thing I learned about this deck is it is a comeback machine. It recovered very well from disaster. After Scott killed every person I had on the table twice it still was able to rebound and churn out the win.

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?
In the current game state, Headquarters are super strong! I knew that most people would be using them as at least one of their free reporting places. That is why I included Homefront. I remember when playing after the Trouble With Tribbles expansion released in 2000 how great of a card it was to speed decks. I had played it in the last two tournaments and it worked great to slow down the speed solvers such as the Office of the President / K-7 / Bajoran Resistance Cell deck from the Ferenginar Region. That is an extremely good deck however when Homefront is seeded on Office of the President it almost shuts it down completely. I knew that if my opponent wash’t playing with an HQ I would lose a seed slot but it would be worth it to me to take the risk to slow down those speed HQ decks.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
That is a tough question. Each Game had its own VIP card/cards. In my game against Scott, It is definitely tie between Edo Probe and The Higher... the Fewer. Scott lost 28 points total to two Edo Probes and a The Higher the Fewer. Without those cards Scott would have more than likely won.

In my game against Nathan, Homefront was VIP as it shut down the exact deck I had been testing against from Ferenginar. It shut his free report at the Office of the President down which brought his deck to a halt.

In my game against Derrick, Transport Inhibitor(s) were the VIPs. I caused him a lot of trouble beaming down to his HQ and 22nd Century Earth with 2 T.I.s and blocking him from beaming up from his only place to report. In our previous tournament, he played the Phoenix to 22nd Century Earth where it was protected by the anti-battle clause at that time-location. A clause I watched and thought... dang that is good but how could it be bad for a player. I immediately thought of the T.I.s and keeping a player from beaming up from a HQ on a planet and no way for my opponent to battle the people on the Planet or in the HQ. Without Daniels it would have completely locked him out of doing anything the rest of the game. In Derrick’s report he talks about how I spent a ton of time getting the T.I.s there. I did it for this exact reason. I wanted to lock him out of acquiring any one he played for the rest of the game.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I really enjoyed playing this deck. Thanks to not giving up, I was lucky to get the Regional Championship after some crazy games with some great 1E players.

 

My Commentary:

Let's start today with excerpts from the tournament reports from two of the three players who faced Ryan:
"Ryan was not playing Borg today. It was a pretty unexpected deck."
"Ryan and I were playing for the final. I was expecting Borg from him."

Now, there are a few deck building choices that say to me that, unlike his opponents, Ryan made the meta call that he would not be facing a Borg deck. The first is Homefront. Each prior non-Borg deck we've looked at in this series has used a homeworld, and this card effectively shuts down HQ free reports for the majority of competitive non-Borg decks. Exceptions include: Ryan's own deck, the second place deck from this tournament, and the other winning deck we'll be looking at today. That said, the Security requirement on Homefront is easier for some decks to get than others. The Bajoran/Son'a deck that had two entries in the top four decks of Worlds last year usually plans to use Defend Homeworld for a first-turn Resistance personnel, and you'll also often find an Odo in the Q's Tent, perhaps just for such an occasion. That's a lot of downloading though, so it may still take a few turns to get those Security personnel out.

I don't trust you

The second "I bet no one else will play Borg" choice is Ryan's decision to use multiple gender-related dilemmas, including two copies of Matriarchal Society. The combination of MS with Shore Leave and Talosian Cage can give many popular and powerful decks headaches, in a limited number of seed slots (which is important when you're running a full 14 non-dilemma seeds). However, of those three dilemmas, only Shore Leave won't be a complete walk for the Borg, assuming I understand Borg gender-ignoring correctly. Add these gender dilemmas to the Edo Probes and the The Higher... The Fewer, and Ryan might've been in some big trouble if he'd had to face the Borg. Fortunately, Ryan made the right meta call here, and it paid off.

This deck represents a couple firsts for this series: it is the first deck that uses Handshake as a draw engine, and it is the first one that stocked a startling 5 play engines. Handshake is one of the big two generic "card play to draw X now" cards along with Kivas Fajo - Collector. Handshake may require you to dump three cards every time you use your card play on it (which I have come to understand is the primary function people use it for), but it has several advantages over KFC if you have the larger, more redundant draw deck to support it. It can net one more draw over its older cousin, it cannot be destroyed with Kevin Uxbridge or Quinn, and it cannot be reflected by Mirror Image to give your opponent draws too.

Due to the use of Handshake as a draw engine, like last week's deck, I suspect that this deck doesn't generally make use of all five free plays on most turns. Having recently tried using Handshake myself, I discovered that, even when you have the option to use all your free plays and dump that fresh hand, it isn't necessarily the best choice to do so. Handshake and your normal end of turn draw will add 5 cards per turn, which could fuel all the engines if and only if Handshake were your only card play every turn... and with Handshake as a primary draw engine, if you take the bait and dump your hand all the way too often, you'll find yourself spending some uncomfortable turns just drawing up enough to fuel the next Handshake. For three turns of the game, however, Ryan gets extra draws from Bajoran Resistance Cell, which I imagine made those first turns of the game more dense in free plays.

A Federation Flagship: Relaunched deck has the advantage of being able to report directly to a ship (along with the Resistance Bajorans they love to show up with, who can report to any planet), but have the disadvantage of being a juicy target for battle. The Enterprise-E from Chain of Command is a tough to kill target, but with plenty of other ship attribute boosts and deadly space dilemmas out there, an untimely destruction can happen. Ryan prepared for this possibility by seeding a Federation Flagship: Recovered, and taking advantage of the "any other Enterprise" clause. Yes, you cannot directly download another Enterprise E, but the Chain of Command Enterprise-D is a valid target and can fetch another E with its download of Wall of Ships. All of a sudden a ship loss can turn into a pair of other nice ships.

While the Bajoran Resistance Cell engine has appeared in this series before (and will again, I'm sure), this is the first time we've seen the various non-aligned Alpha Quadrant non-TNG play engines appear. Both are tied to a specific location which means that any opponent that also uses that engine will duplicate a mission with you, opening up a location for mission-theft. Both missions are under 40 points though (unlike the TNG tertiary engines), meaning that they are somewhat safer to use if your opponent isn't also using them. The Son'a/Ba'ku engine offers a couple downloads, free-play ships, and some interrupt denial through Anij, and as such is the more popular of the two used here, but the Orion free plays are nicely skill dense and include the powerful and rare (in First Edition) skill cheating from Vina.

 

Intermission!
I just killed an enormous wasp. I hate wasps. Like, it was tough to hear the buzzing of that giant, grotesque monster over the pounding of my heart, that's how intense my fear of wasps is. But I bundled up in my winter jacket, got my bulky winter gloves on, and went hunting. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the trusty Swiffer thing that I'd used last time I'd needed to kill one at home, as it seems to have been replaced by other (clearly inferior) less wasp-fatal cleaning aparatus in the interrim.

I tried my luck with a dustpan that was clipped on to a broom, as that presented the best flat-object-on-a-long-stick option that I had. I scored what looked like a direct hit, but the wasp was perched on some ceiling tiles that lift up into the ceiling, and my strike was insufficient. I'd dropped the broom too close to where the wasp eventually landed, so now I still had a live wasp and no weapon.

In distress, I cast about the house looking for a new excalibur. Finally, my eyes alighted on some retracting window blinds, still securely in their package: a long, narrow (but flat!) cardboard box. A smaller impact zone, but the wieght of the blinds would provide a more solid strike. I steeled myself again, and returned downstairs. The wasp had settled again on another of the treacherous ceiling tiles, but I only had one more shot before I had to head to work.

I lined up the shot... and a miss, actually hitting the neighboring tile instead. But the wasp didn't move. Perhaps I'd wounded it the first time? No time to think, I had to take another shot while it arrogantly stood its ground. A hit, a solid hit! It lifelessly dropped to the table below, seeming to shrink in size as its implied menace diminished. It was vanquished. I feel much better now.

 

The 5/11/14 1E New Bajor Regional in Rotterdam, The Netherlands was won by Enrico Evink. He used a Hologram/Resistance/NA TOS deck titled "OTF Try-out".

 

Deck Stats:
Play Engines: Lewis Zimmerman/Holodeck Door (22% of the deck, +6 targets of Holodeck Door in the Q's Tent), Bajoran Resistance Cell (14%), Deep Space Station K-7 (9%)
Draw Engines: Guardian of Forever, Bajoran Resistance Cell
Percentage of deck that plays for free (or is downloaded reliably): 80%
Bonus Point Mechanics: Hero of the Empire, Assign Mission Specialists
Unique Dilemmas (to be updated as the season progresses): Artillery Attack, Dal'Rok, Distracted by Thoughts of Home, Friendly Fire, Linguistic Legerdemain, Personal Duty, The Caretaker's "Guests" (7)
Non-Dilemma Seed Cards: 13

 

Enrico Evink's Commentary:

I never forget a face

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
I wanted to play with something I hadn't played before. I always look for a nice combination so thought the Hero of the Empire would be nice together with the Bajoran Resistance (and lots of Gantt) to travel there and for the card draw engine (Guardian of Forever). I considered a Borg (They Will Be Coming) speed solver and an Enteprise / Temporal Shifting deck. I did build the Enterprise one but found it to be too unreliable.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Prefered any alpha deck (as then Hero would work) disliked Delta and Borg decks (as they do not attempt alpha missions). Also, with the Borg I really needed my Lewis Zimmerman to keep the deck (free plays) going but he was also one of the few people who could be assimilated.

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?
Completely new deck so nope no experience with it before :)

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?
I thought about including a Zefram Cochrane (just in case a Borg player wanted to change time) but opted against it (in hindsight, I should have included him - would have been fun).

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Lewis Zimmerman hands down, free hologram every turn as well as 2 computer skill

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Yep. If you use it, don't forget to add the tribble side deck like I did :)

 

My Commentary:

I initially had a great deal of trouble parsing this decklist. I didn't even notice the Resistance Cell until I was looking for card plays and saw the Bajoran Espionages. It just doesn't look like most decklists I look at, which is always fun for me. I like a good puzzle.

I don't trust you

Well, we've got holograms here, a whole bunch of them. They represent several different affiliations and even quadrants. But Children of Light is among the seed cards, so they can all work together, and a seeded Quark's Isolinear Rods can fetch Lewis Zimmerman to be played with Temporal Micro-Wormhole for compatibility. If I understand correctly, using QIR advances you out of the card playing phase, so his free plays (and quadrant rule avoidance) won't start until turn two, but he's got back-up. Each Holodeck Door represents a potential Hologram free-play as well, in addition to the other two play engines present.

Even if you have to wait a turn to play them for free, and they need Holo-Projectors to be functional on a planet, Holograms still have plenty to recommend their use. They don't die through conventional means. Denevan Neural Parasites, Kazon Bombs, Barclay's Protomorphosis Diseases? No problem, they just reactivate the next turn. Borg Servo? That's nice, but Holograms can't be assimilated. Cardassian Traps or Processing? No thanks, being removed from their Hologram friendly area will just deactivate them instead, to come back next turn. One must be careful though: if those holograms are on a planet and the opponent nukes the Holo-Projectors with a Kevin Uxbridge or a Quinn (which I do not see an answer to in Enrico's deck), all the holograms on the planet get erased. Now, sure, I didn't know that until I looked at the glossary in order to research this article (I would have assumed they just get deactivated), but it is a thing to be cautious about.

Hero of the Empire makes an appearance here, though as Enrico notes he failed to bring his tribble side deck (which the Tribble Bomb requires) so it seems the deck was already good enough without it. Successfully killing Kirk with it though presents huge headaches for an alpha quadrant (again, non-Borg) opponent, potentially forcing a four mission game while also pumping his own missions (except Historical Research and Intercept Maquis) up by a respectable 10 points. This deck has no way to download Barry Waddle reliably (unless the opponent seeds a Nor), though he is included in multiple in the hopes of drawing him early. Multiples of non-hologram personnel aren't so bad in a deck that stocks a Holoprogram: 221B Baker Street in the Tent (accessible with a Holodeck Door), which can easily make him part of your unkillable hologram force.

The only other non-hologram personnel who are stocked in multiple are Gantt and Li Nalas. Li's second copy would likely find its way onto the holoprogram, and I was thinking Gantt might see the same fate, until I realized what he was being used for. The primary draw engine for the deck is The Guardian of Forever, and the requisite Historical Research isn't really a high-priority mission with its lack of a Klingon icon. However, as I've noted once or twice or a billion times in this series, Resistance personnel can show up at any planet and Gantt has Anthropology, making him a great guy(s) to send on trips through the Guardian. Such trips would be hindered if he were a hologram unless there were a Holo-Projectors on the planet AND a Holodeck Door on the station, though against an aggressive opponent I can imagine a scenario in which doing so might be worth it.

Included with the holograms and Resistance personnel are some TOS-icon personnel, but necessarily only the Non-Aligned ones (so they'll remain compatible with your holograms). They don't have the flashy equipment downloads of the Federation TOS personnel, but they've got good skills, good attributes, and, in a pinch, they can (re-)activate your holograms. Some even command big ships like the Fesarius (stronger and faster than the seeded Husnock Ship), though those will take a Holodeck Door in order to house the deck's holograms.


As it seems that the third regional for this weekend has been postponed, it looks like we are done for this week. See you next week for the hundred billion regionals, which I may need to break up into multiple parts (expecially considering my own local 2E regional is also next weekend).


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