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GenCon 2014, Part II

by Johannes Klarhauser, Kaiser

16th September 2014

This is part two in the series. For part one, see here.

Disclaimer: I am writing this article about three weeks after GenCon and purely from memory, so apologies for any mistakes or missing details.

Thursday, 14th August

Ah, sleep. The great leveller. From the mightiest pharaoh to the lowliest peasant, who doesn't enjoy a good night's sleep? I must have been in bed by about 3 am local time, and awoke some time between seven and eight. Not too much sleep, but still more than during periods of heavy grading at school, ha! Jason was already busy stirring his coffee, while the amazing Scotsman appeared to have entered hibernation. Everyone of us wanted to play in Day 1 of 1E today, so we made sure everyone was awake in time. Strangely enough, what took the longest in the morning was getting Niall dressed. He had decided to wear his Khan outfit from TWOK, but the Starfleet emblem necklace had taken some damage on the trip, so we spent part of the morning trying to get some tin foil to repair it. The hotel staff were very helpful there, and I headed over to the gaming halls beside Khan Noonien Singh and his "Ceti Eel", which he was happy to show...

Registration was handled expertly by Chris Lobban (Maelwys) and Andrea (Kamala), who deserve a huge shoutout for their amazing work the entire weekend! Charlie did the usual pre-tournament procedure and explained that there were more than 30 players, but only the top eight would advance to Day 2 on Saturday. In a star-studded field with no less than four world champions (reigning champ Stefan Slaby, Michael van Breemen, Ken Tufts, David Bowling) and several high-profile players I knew from online tournaments like Jeremy Huth, Derrick Marsh, and Ryan Sutton ("Whatcha gonna do, brother?!"), in addition to all those I didn't know, making the bracket seemed out of the question. Still, I wanted to do as well as possible. My personal goal was to go no worse than 3-3 and make the upper half of the field.

1E World Championship Day 1, Round 1 vs. Joseph Martin (Itar18)Oo-mox - you're doing it wrong!
Deck: Unfortunately, there is no decklist available for Joe's deck, and my memory fails me entirely here.
Game Summary: Hooray, a new face! Also, I need to apologize for forgetting what Joe was playing. I was concentrating heavily on my side of the table, as this was the first time playing my deck and I wasn't really paying enough attention. I remember that during the seed phase and early turns, Joe used both Continuing Mission and Reshape the Quadrant to get certain cards into play, but the details escape me. I had a pretty good start, with all of my missions together. DS9 was seeded at Characterize Neutrino Emissions, an early downloaded Gallatin let me use the Science Lab to peek at the first dilemma, and the Espionage card draws were running from turn one. Even Leeta > Dabo was out early, so after clearing and solving my space mission, I had enough points to get through a Dead End and reached 100 points within very few turns. By this time, Joe had a sizeable crew in play and had scored five points from my Love Ship dilemma, but couldn't get through the Medical Crisis before time was over.
Moment to Remember / Forget: Getting to know my own deck, e.g. finally realizing during the game why Stefan had included 2E Odo (Constable) in his deck over the 1E version (Leadership allows to swap him with Borum, turning him essentially into a free play), and that Winn Adami > Diplomatic Contact grants unlimited probe rigging for Dabo! (Macias soon was my favourite for this.)
Game Result: Full Win, 100-5.
Tournament Standing: 1 Win, 0 Losses (4 VP, +95)

1E World Championship Day 1, Round 2 vs. Niall Matthew (sexecutioner)I wish I could open my eyes that much when Voyager is on
Deck: [Bor] Borg deck titled Borg Against Humanity
Game Summary: It's Niall! Uh oh... Niall knew my deck, as he had played against it twice in London a few weeks before, which did not bode well. To start, he seeded Eleven of Seventeen on his outpost to nullify any Computer Crashes that might thwart the masterplan of the Collective. The dilemmas I had under his three delta quadrant space missions worked well enough to stall Niall for several turns, and he also seemed to have a substandard opening hand (no Borg Queen, I believe). I had big trouble fending off Borg decks in the past once they got going, so I attempted aggressively. Insurrection was soon nailed shut by a combo setting up Undetected Beam-In / Post Garrison. My Deep Space Nine was seeded in space again, to spread my facilities out in case Niall came to assimilate Bajor. If I remember correctly, I saw a Brain Teaser by way of the Science Lab there, so I stayed away from that mission, too, to keep my Dabo points, if I remember correctly. I had to go after my Demilitarized Zone Region space mission then, which I completed after some heavy setbacks by dilemmas (The Cloud among others). I was barely able to limp to the next mission, with the Son'a Battleship damaged and Son'a temporarily unavailable to prevent the attribute penalty. In the delta quadrant, Niall's scouts by now had successfully established a gateway for 25 points, and he was on his way to the alpha quadrant. A successful assimilation of Bajor would certainly turn the tide in his favour, but he didn't get another turn. I was able to complete a second mission to secure the modified win. Great game!
Moment to Remember / Forget: Not using Panel Overload when Niall reopened his Spacedoor. PO was one of the Referee cards I had never seen played before, I wanted to cut it originally. I asked Stefan, who built my deck, about the idea behind it, and he told me he used it to good effect in three of his games at European Continentals to slow down Spacedoor engines. When the time was there to use it, though, I was too busy looking at my own personnel in play and trying to figure out how to play out my next turn, I promptly failed to realize I should have used PO.
Game Result: Modified Win, 74-25
Tournament Standing: 2 Wins, 0 Losses (7 VP, +144)

1E World Championship Day 1, Round 3 vs. Kris Sonsteby (LORE)You know you might be in trouble when your only ship in play runs on wind
Deck: [Rom] TNG Romulan deck titled This is the Time...to Show Them Everything
Game Summary: Finally, I got to sit down to play against Kris in person. In our online games, the overall record was a bit in my favour, but I knew full well that some of those games could easily have gone the other way. Kris was running a TNG Romulan deck with Cybernetics Expertise, but a lot more battle-oriented than the version I had played last year. I knew this might be a problem, as many of my dilemmas required skills his deck could easily provide, and being caught out in the open might well be a problem with his 11 Range warbirds patrolling the spaceline. Kris called it in the mission phase that the spaceline layout might give him the edge here. My Insurrection came last and was isolated from the rest of my reporting locations. But that was not the main problem: in the first 20 cards, I could not find a single Handshake, so my draw engine never took off. I had several turns where all I could do was play one personnel, draw one card ("Son, when I was your age, the best we could ever hope for was play one, draw one...if we were lucky!") The Maquis I could report were immediately slaugthered by the Romulans and some generic androids, because in addition to the draw engine cards, all my ships kept hiding from me, too. No Ship, no Hidden Fighter in hand by turn six, I believe, so all I could was download Ru'afo > Injector Assembly One and try to make do with that. I misjudged (or miscalculated), and one of the warbirds quickly relieved me of my only ship and crew in play. Meanwhile, Kris was steadily making progress on his missions. By the time I eventually saw a Handshake and got my card draws running, all I could do was solve one mission to at least get on the board and salvage some differential out of this decidedly one-sided game. Competitive though the game was, it was a very friendly affair. Kris supplied a huge bag of trailmix to make sure I wouldn't run out of energy over the course of the day; thanks for that, Dad! ;-) Kris' tournament report can be found here.
Moment to Remember / Forget: Desperately trying to limp to Bajor with the Injector Assembly One and its Range of four. I don't know what I was thinking trying to leave it open to be shot down. I really don't.
Game Result: Full Loss, 35-100
Tournament Standing: 2 Wins, 1 Loss (8 VP, +79)

1E World Championship Day 1, Round 4 vs. Derrick Marsh (HoodieDM)Doctaaaarrrrrri!
Deck: [Car] Cardassian deck titled And we'll let it burn, burn, burn
Game Summary: Derrick and I had also played online. I think I was expecting to see Earth and whales and the Phoenix, but he laid down Cardassia Prime, Kressari Rendezvous, Insurrection, Characterize Neutrino Emissions, as well as a mirror quadrant mission and Aid Fugitives in the gamma quadrant. With two shared missions, his only "open" space mission was Kressari, so I stacked that with five dilemmas, and put some good dilemmas and the Dead End under Cardassia. I wasn't sure about Aid Fugitives - was it only there to relocate Hippocratic Oath? Hm. Oh, and there was Storage Compartment Door side deck. I despise Tribbles in 1E, mostly because they clutter the table so much that I regularly lose track of which Tribble is where having what effect. Also, they can be a royal pain when you try to do missions. Still, I got off to the better start. Derrick didn't have a ship for a while, so his attempts where limited to Cardassia. He made his way through some of the dilemmas, but eventually hit the Dead End. Meanwhile, with Tribbles slowing down my personnel (and Thine Own Self making some of my guys disappear), I made slow progress at Bajor. I had worked my way through a Medical-combo until I hit Medical Crisis, but failed it twice. Eventually, I cleared the mission, but I was unable to solve. Derrick had a ship in play by now, and had moved over to Kressari Rendevous, but was stopped by The Cloud and other assorted dilemmas. In the end, Derrick couldn't clear a mission, while I eventually had enough skills in play to solve Alter Records despite some Tribbles attrition. I had 30  points from Dabo!, so with a second mission, the Full Win was in reach, but time was called before that. Hard-fought battle, good stuff.
Moment to Remember / Forget: Dropping the Dr. McCoy I had just drawn with Mutation via Temporal Micro-Wormhole to nullfiy the Medical Crisis that had surgically stopped the one MEDICAL who also provided a Biology for the requirements on subsequent attempts. It felt cheap, it felt dirty, but it got the job done.
Game Result: Modified Win, 65-0
Tournament Standing: 3 Wins, 1 Loss (11 VP, +144)

By this time, I had reached my goal of getting three wins, but with two of those being modified wins, I felt I still needed to get another win somehow to end up in the upper half of the field. Top 8 seemed unlikely with only one FW so far.

1E World Championship Day 1, Round 5 vs. Lucas Thompson (edgeofhearing)
Deck: [Rom] TNG Romulan deck titled In Defense of Turtling
Game Summary: New player! Lucas, the man with the charts, surprised me with an all-planet Romulan deck. I was able to cut off some of his missions with my Region, and loaded one of them with all of my misseeded space dilemmas. Lucas also had an oldschool Q's Tent, so I had to be wary of redshirting. Other nice pieces were the seeded Blue Alert to land his ships, the Bynars 10 and 01 he downloaded to counter Computer Crashes, and the Holodeck Doors to grab the Barash Icon characters via a Treaty fetched with Ambassador Tomalak. Overall, I was happy with the dilemma combos I was able to place, now I just had to hope that Lucas wouldn't build an outpost at his isolated mission. Looking at his decklist, I have a feeling I managed to avoid those of his dilemmas that would have given me most trouble. I don't remember which set of missions I attempted/completed, but my deck did exactly what it was supposed to do, churn out personnel and hit missions hard and fast. Another great, fun game against a classy opponent! Lucas' tournament report can be found here.
Moment to Remember / Forget: Watching Lucas debate which mission to attempt when he said something to the effect of being scared of running into Denevan Neural Parasites. I was fairly sure DNP was under a different mission, and was about to say, "Don't worry, no flapjacks here" when Lucas cleared the wall and proceeded to reveal the next card - it was indeed DNP. I was convinced I had put it next door. Turns out I was running two copies and both missions in question had it.
Game Result: Full Win, 100-0
Tournament Standing: 4 Wins, 1 Loss (15 VP, +244)

1E World Championship Day 1, Round 6 vs. Dan Hamman (SirDan)Huh, look at those sorry nerds wasting their time playing cards
Deck: [Fed] non-TNG Federation deck titled Historical Poker Game
Game Summary: After my win against Lucas, I was somehow back in the race for Top 8. I had one more VP than Dan at this point, and it looked like if either of us could take a Full Win in this, they would have good chances of making Top 8, while a Modified Win would probably not quite suffice to reach Day 2. Dan's decklist includes an explanation of his general strategy and also a list of his dilemma combos. I remember hitting the Punishment Box / Crisis / Dignitaries and Witnesses dilemma combo at Insurrection, which took some time to get through. OFFICER was in play early on thanks to downloads of Gallatin with the Observatory and Kira Nerys via Defend Homeworld, but it took an extra turn until I had enough Leadership at that location. Once I had solved Insurrection and triggered the double turn on Collect Metaphasic Particles, a space mission was cleared down quickly (I think I hit the combo including Chula: The Game and Ferengi Bug). I don't remember whether I completed a third mission or went round the corner with Dabo! points, as by now the games have all started to blur somewhat. Dan successfully brought a pair of whales to the 24th Century for 15 points, but my dilemmas did a good job of keeping him from solving a mission. Let it be known that Dan is a great guy to play against, which is true of everyone from the San Diego group that I met at GenCon.
Moment to Remember / Forget: Actually completing Collect Metaphasic Particles. It's an over-the-top card, and consequently Insurrection is a natural target for Dead End, so I hardly ever actually attempted it. Getting to pull it off and doing the double turn was A Cool Thing.
Game Result: Full Win, 100-15
Tournament Standing: 5 Wins, 1 Loss (19 VP, +329)

With five wins, I did a lot better than expected. Now the waiting for the final standings of Day 1 began. Did I make it into tBracket for 1E Day 2he Top 8 and get a chance to play in the bracket on Saturday? Turns out I did, fifth overall, as can be seen on the tournament details page. In hindsight, I think my loss in round three might even have been beneficial, as it steered me along a course on which I dodged the other six players who made the bracket in addition to Kris and myself. The #5 seed, of course, meant that it would be a win-or-go-home game on Saturday, without the second chance that the Top 4 get. My opponent would be Jeremy Norris, who, to the best of my knowledge, I had never played before. Nor was I able to connect the name with a handle on the boards. I wasn't too bothered about that, though, as I had already exceeded my expectations.

All happyhappyjoyjoy for the time being, I sat down with Mike Harrington now to play the final confrontation of the WCT event that we couldn't finish the night before. Switching from 1E to 2E after six rounds was strange, I hope I didn't sneak in any illegal card draws at the end of my turns...

WCT Champions League event, Final Confrontation vs. Mike Harrington (Ajnaran), #13 seedIt's space JENGA!
Deck: [SF] with mostly [AU] elements and a splash of [NA] allstars
Game Summary: Mike is one of the players whose decks I regularly study. I had never met him before GenCon, but have been a big fan of his designs. He surprised me with what looked like Mirror Starfleet with some choice non-aligneds (e.g., the boy from The Blue Lagoon, Dirty Nel, etc.)  that made for a very nice skill and attribute mix. The real beauty though was in his dilemma pile, which combined Chula: The Game with other Chula dilemmas and some more common dilemmas for very efficient combos, e.g., Chula: The Game > Chula: Pick One to Save Two > Where No One Has Gone Before, a six-cost combo that, without interference, takes out at least two personnel before demanding high attributes. Moral Choice or Unfair Comparison would do the same trick, but they rely either on a dedicated dilemma pile or on a Federation opponent. Needless to say, that combo hit, and my Klingons were watching from the sidelines for a turn. At one point, I showed my hand to Nick Yankovec in disbelief, as I a had full hand of seven non-personnel cards and couldn't draw people to save my life. The turning point came when this awful hand actually worked in my favour: Mike played Reflections on my next attempt in space, and with most of my verbs in hand, the dilemma fizzled and I completed the mission. From this point on, I was able to use all those interrupts and events to good effect, burning them to prevent stops with Old Man Worf or Relentless. My own dilemmas did a solid job at stalling Mike's attempts, and I came back to take the win.
Moment to Remember / Forget: Flipping nothing but personnel from the top of my deck when Reflections was played. I hated it so much when that happened to me when I played [AU] designs, I think this was the first time I found myself on the other end.
Game Result: Full Win, 100-40 (?)
Tournament Standing: 4 Wins, 0 Losses; First place. Yay!

So that turned out alright. I managed to win this thing for the second time now, after Sydney 2012 (that year, it was a Draft), and again grabbed that last-minute double-bye that can be so valuable. Thanks must go to MVB, from whose 2013 Worlds Day 1 deck I took the core of the deck, and Stefan Slaby for the advice on which deck to play. As I said, the man knows his stuff.

The day was far from over, though. I don't remember what happened in which order, but my tournament record tells me that I must have played in two Tribbles event that night, and I vaguely remember a very late dinner at Steak'n'Shake with the UK and Jersey crews that included some moments of awkward silence and heated debate. The ordered Banana Milkshakes would certainly have helped to cool the tempers a bit. IF said Milkshakes had actually arrived...

Check back later this week for part III of the series!

 


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