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GenCon 2014, Part III

by Johannes Klarhauser, Kaiser

19th September 2014

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

Friday, 15th August

The familiar sound of coffee being stirred was again the first thing I heard this morning, so Jason was awake. Actually, for all I know it might have been something completely different, though if it was, I don't want to know. Niall, who was still out around 4 am, was there, but as far as I knew he didn't intend on playing in an event that morning, so no need to to wake him. Before falling asleep, I had gone through my options for Day 1 of Second Edition. Of the five competitive decks, I eliminated [TOS], because the dilemma pile is still a bit too unstable. The Klingons I played in the WCT event were successful, but with the amount of Self-Replicating Roadblocks I had seen on Wednesday, relying on TT/ACE seemed risky. [TNG][DS9] relies on a generic dilemma pile, just like the [Fer] deck, so in the end it was [Voy] again. The ability to play six-cost dilemmas for free, eight-cost dilemmas reliably, and the event support to protect shortstacked missions for another turn or two made this deck superior to alternatives. Also, it is easily the deck I know best, and if you're in for a looong tournament, having something that you could play in your sleep is important.

Registration started, I handed in my decklist, listened to Charlie's speech (more than 40 players? Good thing I didn't rely on my double-bye and play the unknown Ferengi craziness!), then went off and did some supply runs, getting coffee for Nick and Darrell, went for breakfast, then strolled through the gaming areas and the exhibition halls. I made mental notes of stuff to buy or to try out later, and took some photos. Since the two byes mean you are missing two game reports, here are some photos of characters of various degrees of scariness instead - can you name them all?


It might come as bit of shock to you (no, not the photos), but apparently the tournament was running a bit late - who would have thought? Still, Charlie, Chris, and Andrea always kept on top of things and had the new pairings out as soon as possible, and I haven't heard any stories of wrong pairings and the like. So, time for me to enter the tournament, my fifth 2E World Championship overall!

2E World Championship Day 1, Round 3 vs. Stephen Lee (grendelX)Keeping Federation decks honest since set 14!
Deck: [Rel] Relativity; no deck list available
Game Summary: It's Stephen Lee again! Stephen impressed me mightily when we played in Australia, two years ago. He had Cadets then, now it was Relativity and I felt bad for re-playing Voyager. I'm a one-trick pony, alright. Now, Relativity is a very potent faction, very hard to keep in check with all those Federation allstars, and can be extremely fast. What was important here was to get an idea of the size the deck, because that would influence my dilemma play. It looked like a rather slim build, closer to 40 cards than to 60, so I made my decision to attack his deck when the opportunity was there. That meant I sacrificed/discarded some cards I would normally want to play early in order to draw into the things I needed: Janeway to download Hindrance, an equipment, and Grav-Plating Trap. Plus: as much dilemma manipulation as possible. The first couple of mission attempts I was able to stop with one or none (Accelerated Aging works wonders against Anthropology missions). Stephen decided not to replicate his first Temporal Transporters; when he had the second in hand and attempted, I burned Hindrance and I think an UD, too, and got what I was looking for: good stoppers, Naked Frozen People, and most importantly, Dreamer. I think I also had the counters to get an extra kill from Shocking Betrayal in this play. Stephen lost a lot of resources at this point, and without enough Anthropology in play, he had to go to a different mission. I had my Grav-plating Trap ready for another Temporal Transporters or Tacking into the Wind, I'm not sure that I actually used it. All of my dilemma draws seemed to fall in place, what remaining personnel Stephen had in play I was able to take out with He Wasn't Nice, Secret Identity, I might even have landed a second Tsiokovsky Infection. By the end of the game, poor Stephen had only five personnel left in play, no hand, and no deck. I felt sorry for him and apologized for getting all the right cards at the right time. At the same time, it was good to see my dilemma pile work so well.
Moment to Remember / Forget : Hitting Stephen's full hand with The Dreamer and the Dream was hands-down the deciding moment in this game.
Game Result: Full Win, 100-0
Tournament Standing: 1 Win, 0 Losses, 2 Byes (12 VP, +300)

2E World Championship Day 1, Round 4 vs. Michael Van Breemen (The Ninja Scot)And it hit every time.
Deck: [TOS] TOS two-mission win deck titled What happened to Scotty?
Game Summary: Michael was using TOS Earth and Dyson Sphere, so I was expecting a two-mission strategy. Unfortunately, his bonus points would most likely come from Tallera and the U.S.S. Enterprise-B, two cards I couldn't attack with Grav-plating Trap or Tacking Into the Wind. Furthermore, they do not even have to be involved in the mission attempt, so no targetting them with dilemmas either. That meant I was looking at a deck that only has to do two easy missions (Cunning >32 and >34 respectively) to win, and would have up to 15 points to burn on things like Field Studies on top of that (maybe more if Mission Accomplished was also in the picture). So, I had to run. Except that I couldn't. My deck did pretty much the opposite of what it did in the previous game. With no Energize and mostly duplicates of personnel, it was a slow crawl, and when I finally got to the point of attempting missions, Michael returned the favour from our WCT event game, and got all the right consumes with his Tragic Turn pile. Conversely, my own dilemma pile apparently was still on a high from shutting out Relativity/Chuckles/Kirk that it simply took the day off now. What stops I could get came at very high costs, and with my otherwise speedy draw deck doing its best Prince Valium impression, I couldn't even give MVB a good practice game. At least I made calculating the differential easy for the judges.
Moment to Remember / Forget: Getting humiliated by two ACE consumes (random ones, not set up) to the final dilemma in a combo that had already killed lots of guys. I'm not sure there even was a target left for the final kill. I'm not going to blame everything on unfortunate draws, though; if you know Michael, you know that he will methodically make the right calls to snipe off the important people like Revised Chakotay or The Doctor in the correct order. It's what he does!
Game Result: Full Loss, 0-100
Tournament Standing: 1 Win, 1 Loss, 2 Byes (13 VP, +200)

2E World Championship Day 1, Round 5 vs. John Corbett (KillerB)The Daddy-Pants of Starfleet
Deck: [SF] Starfleet deck titled Darrell's Early Bird Special
Game Summary: Hey, it's only KillerB! Actually, no, KillerB and John are two different beasts. If you haven't met John in person, you only know half the story. And you have been missing out, GenCon without John, for me, would have been much less fun. Also, he's a heck of a good player. He brought Damaged Archer to the table, a good call now that he also poops on Hard Time, and more importantly, has Roadblock to protect him. John had cut my deck, and gave me probably the best opening hand I had all day - Voyager with good people (I think it was Chakotay and The Doctor), and an Energize as icing on the cake. I think I even had a Tacking to blow up the first A Sight for Sore Eyes John played. With that kind of start, I had a versatile crew out soon, and beat John in the race for a space mission by completing Instruct Advanced Drone on the first try, then I got stopped on the planet. John responded in kind; with Archer protected by SRR, he also made short work of my dilemmas (I didn't rely overly much on non-skill random selection dilemmas, it just happened that I had drawn the two most useful ones, Hard Time and Adopted Authority, and the other cards just couldn't filter out enough people.) It was a fast game, with both of us making good use of the abilities we had at our disposal, and dilemmas didn't seem to do much on either side of the table. When I had my two big missions in the bag, I did the usual end-game routine of attempting big with one ship, and a crew of four aboard the Delta Flyer for Caretaker's Array, while John had to play honest and couldn't get through his last mission. In hindsight, parts of this game probably looked like two muppets throwing largely useless dilemmas at each other to an outsider, but I think it was actually a great game of Trek that would likely have gone the other way with a slightly worse opening hand for me.
Moment to Remember / Forget: Completely blanking on Williams. John had just played him, and I'm familiar with what the card does. When I worked out my dilemma plan, I considered his stop-prevention for attributes, but for some reason I completely failed to take into account his skills for John's attempt at Investigate Anachronism. John decided not to use Williams to let one of his Anthropology guys go on, and I figured I was good, I think I even said "you don't have the Anthro" when John checked mission requirements. Yeah, so that backfired.
Game Result: Full Win, 100-65
Tournament Standing: 2 Wins, 1 Loss, 2 Byes (17 VP, +235)

2E World Championship Day 1, Round 6 vs. Nat Kirton (Nate Jeezy)In Germany, we call is
Deck: [Rom] Romulan Wariness deck titled A 30% Chance of Catastrophic Success
Game Summary: Nat is someone I was very much hoping to get to play, I had seen some sweet designs of his, and his record is pretty impressive. He turned out to be a super nice guy, and brought a Romulan deck to the table that was refreshingly different from the other [Rom] builds that have dominated the scene for a while: a slim, 45-card build around Wariness. Now, only about a third of my pile actually does random selections, so I wasn't too concerned when Nat dropped it, but then again, there is also Donatra, so that's more potential blanks. Like in my previous game against John and Daddy Archer, not being able to use two or three of the seven or eight you get to draw made a huge difference. I needed to put three dilemmas under just to stop Nat's first mission attempt (when I put three under with this pile, I usually expect to land either several kills, eliminate a superstar with Secret Identity, or to get a Dreamer to go). By the time this happened, I had already completed Instruct Advanced Drone and had started on my planet mission. So after mopping up Reestablish Neural Cooperative, I had a decision to make: Nat had three dilemmas under Commandeer Prototype, so there was a good chance he would complete his mission the next turn and download the Phoenix, so do I attempt Caretaker's Array and hope to complete it in one go for the win? (I had only one ship in play, so couldn't double-team it, but I might still stop Nat's next attempt, or he might have drawn the Phoenix and not be able to download it.) Or, do I accept having to get 10 more points and fly to Transport Crash Survivors and start working on that mission? I opted for the attempt at Caretaker's. I was stopped with two under, and of course, Nat proceeded to take command of the Phoenix and so forced me to score 110. On my turn, I played the Delta Flyer to be able to report new guys and fly them in, then abandoned Caretaker's Array (it didn't seem worth trying to score the mission and risk having people stopped) and moved to Transport Crash Survivors. I think I attempted with 10 or 11. Nat played some filters, I busted out whatever stop prevention I had left. With no wall dilemma to stop me, the skill counting began. I had enough.
Moment to Remember / Forget : Completing Transport Crash Survivor on the first attempt. We counted up the skills on my personnel ("Ok, here's Janeway, so that's eight. Halfway there..."), and if I remember correctly, we hit 16 when I had three more guys left to show. When I scooped up my cards, I realized that I might just have been able to show the full set of all 23, since all the freak skills are available somehow (Acquisition on Neelix, Telepathy on Kes, Intelligence and Law and Weyoun); I would have needed Navaar to generate Geology, though (and maybe I considered one of the guys that had been stopped before).
Game Result: Full Win, 100-30
Tournament Standing: 3 Wins, 1 Loss, 2 Byes (21 VP, +305)

2E World Championship Day 1, Round 7 vs. Stefan Slaby (Winner of Borg)The Doctor wasn't in this time.
Deck: [Voy] Voyager battle deck titled Blasting Our Way
Game Summary: Ah, the world champion! I could think of easier matchups now... Going into this game, my record against Stefan stood at an abysmal 0-5. Twice he had eliminated me in the bracket of Continentals, last year he handed me a loss in Day 1 of Worlds. Pretty much all of my games against Stefan so far have ended in disaster for me, and, looking at my head-to-head record, he remained the only person I had played at least three times and never beaten. We sat at the top table now, with Stefan still unbeaten, and we flipped the exact same set of missions. I know Stefan likes to play Voyager with a battle twist, while I usually have a bit more dilemma manipulation in my event slots. The majority of our personnel are largely identical, though whereas Stefan normally has duplicates of a very limited number of different personnel, I like a bit more diversity (I count only 14 different personnel in his deck compared to 19 in mine). I've had bad draws against Stefan in the past, this time the cards were not stacked against me: twice I was able to destroy an Energize before he got to use it (the first with Tacking, the second with a Grav-Plating Trap), and so I was able to build my crew faster and was attempting first. Suspecting the battle build, I kept trying to keep as many bases covered as possible, and used Navaar preemptively to always have enough Diplomacy (Gomtuu), Astrometrics, and Navigation (Quantum Filament) around. Prefix Codes could have been dangerous, but with the Voyager personnel's stop-prevention abilities, it's not easy to have enough counters to play it and protect the mission at the same time. I don't remember too many of the details, but I was able to bring the game home. Stefan completed one mission, at my last attempt I think I beat a Quantum Filament via Security Drills to complete Caretaker's Array.
Moment to Remember / Forget: I should actually read cards. We had the same missions selection, so we both had 170 points total worth of missions. I never used Well-prepared Defenses when I drew it in this game, because I didn't realize it actually worked on a tie. Suffice it to say that I felt ever so slightly stupid when Stefan blanked my Chakotay with it.
Game Result: Full Win, 100-40
Tournament Standing: 4 Wins, 1 Loss, 2 Byes (25 VP, +365)

2E World Championship Day 1, Round 8 vs. Kenneth Tufts (Worf Son of Mogh)A, B, C, D, E, F, G, can't use An-thro-po-lo-gy
Deck: [Rom] Romulan deck titled Big Mean Green 1.1
Game Summary: With one loss so far, I was already in the bracket for Day 2. Without any modified wins, I also was confident that I would  be in the Top 8 and get that insurance policy no matter the outcome of this last game. I had heard that some of the big guns had lost games, so I didn't really know who else was high up in the standings at this point. It was Ken Tufts who sat down at the top table with me, and it turned out he had beaten, among others, Jared, Kris, Neil, and MVB so far. What the hell was he playing? A year ago, I was able to fend off his rocket ship gimmick deck; this time, he brought Romulus with Assess Contamination, Commandeer Prototype, and a small dilemma pile. I knew this spelt trouble. On my first mission attempt, I was able to limit the number of casualties with The Doctor, an ETU, and by showing the skills for an 8-coster from my remaining three guys (I think I went planet first, because I couldn't draw into a Programming). Ken did the things Romulans do, generating points, burning points, only occasionally hindered by some event destruction on my part. My big break came when I hit Ken with a Dreamer at Commandeer Prototype. He lost multiple copies of At an Impasse, but most importantly, his hand was empty now so I was free to play the events that I had been holding back without giving him the chance to grab stuff with The Viceroy. Also, he couldn't get out an Uninvited now, so I proceeded to complete my planet mission. It looked like the game might go to time, so I decided to try and get planet/space as soon as possible, and opted for Caretaker's Array instead of Instruct Advanced Drone. This was risky, as it pretty much meant I wouldn't be able to win before time was up, because it was impossible to reach 110 points with three missions. I took some casualties at Caretaker's Array, but I was able to complete the next turn. Meanwhile, Ken had completed Commandeer Prototype and had the Phoenix in play. Time was called on his turn, I believe. The score was my 60 to his 30, so everything was possible. Ken had a shot at the Full Win by doing two missions; doing one would likely give him the Modified Win, or set us at a True Tie if I could force him to burn some bonus points with Power Shift; or a modfied win for me in case I could stop his attempt. Ken could choose between Aid Legendary Civilization and Assess Contamination. He went for the latter and attempted with everything he had. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the dilemmas I had drawn. Barring a Bridge Officer's Test, an Outmatched would do the trick. It turned out I didn't need it, but I played it anyway as an insurance policy (see below).
Moment to Remember / Forget: Ken attempted at Assess Conamination. Donatra was not around, I think I had removed her with Secret Identity at the previous mission, so that was one less thing to worry about. Ken might be able to BOT around the Outmatched I had, but I started my combo with Hard Time, which as a non-skill dilemma was of course immediately eaten by Assess Contamination, to make sure Accelerated Aging would go on the mission. With the first-listed skills blanked, Ken's people couldn't provide the 2 Anthropology to complete the mission. Beating a former 1E World Champion with a decidedly 1E-style dilemma was certainly one of the high points of GenCon.
Game Result: Modified Win, 60-30
Tournament Standing: 5 Wins, 1 Loss, 2 Byes (28 VP, +395)

http://www.klarhauser.de/bilder/gencon07.jpgAt the end of looong tournament (I feel for those who had to play eight rounds in a hall with questionable air conditioning), I was at 7-1, earning the #1 seed in a bracket for the first time ever. My first opponent the next day would be John Corbett. The other people in the upper half of the bracket were Geoffery, Will, Phil, Neil, Stefan, and Tyler, so no matter the outcome of the first game, I would be in for tough games all the way. The final standings can be seen here.

When everyone was done studying the bracket, the Teams Jersey and London went out for dinner, I can't remember the name of the restaurant. Good burgers, good beer, good talk. At this point I wasn't sure what to play Day 2; I'm not sure John had made his decision yet, but deck choices weren't discussed overly much. Instead I had to explain, for what felt like the tenth time that day, why I was wearing a green and yellow jacket that said BRAZIL. I don't know! Because it bloody freezing in the gaming hall? I have no idea when or why I bought that thing, all I know is, it does its job. (Should I mention that I felt the need to show my patriotism by revealing the black, red and gold of a different piece of clothing I was wearing? I probably shouldn't.) After dinner, we went back to the convention center to play some more Tribbles. I sat down at a very friendly table with Tiffany, Chris, Sean, Stephen, and Eric, who took the win with more than a million points. Back at the hotel, I wanted to go to bed and get a bit more sleep this time, but instead ended up playing Spartacus with John, Neil, Brian, Dan, Phil, Nick, maybe somebody else? I wasn't really following things much any more, instead I just tried to sabotage Sykes for the rest of the game after he had given one of my gladiators a hard time (sentenced him to death? I don't remember). I teamed up with Neil to destroy Brian, but of course Neil stabbed me in the back when he had the chance to win the game. I kind of saw it coming, and I apologize to the rest of the players for playing like I did. Of course, it also meant I finally had an excuse to go to bed. With two brackets for me tomorrow, anything between a very short (three rounds if I lose every game) and a very long day of Trek (nine games max) was possible.

Check back next week for part IV of the series!


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