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The Road to Worlds: Winning Deck Analysis, Week 4

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

23rd April 2015

Welcome back for another season of The Road to Worlds. Around this time every year, we have a three-month stretch where each region of play for the various Star Trek card games gets to have its "big dance." Whether the players of your locale are rated 1800 or don't know their rating, whether your nearest regional attracts 4 players or 40 players, once a year everyone brings their best decks and competes for their regional title. I'm here to celebrate with the winners, ask them what they think, and analyze their decks.

We've had a busy weekend, and it was mostly on Sunday at that. However, there was one Regional held on Saturday; a First Edition Regional in Auburn, Washington (Ferenginar Region). It was won by Michael Van Breemen with a deck called:

Title: TED
Deck Archetype: Avoidance Solver
Play Engines: Halkan Council, Terran Rebellion HQ, Bajoran Resistance Cell, Hidden Fighter
Draw Engines: Temporal Shifting, Bajoran Resistance Cell
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists

Michael had this to say about his deck:

Just don't set it down next to your coffee

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
Because I didn't have a win with Terran Empire yet and it gave me multiple ways to avoid battle which is what I was expecting. Honestly, there wasn't any other deck that I had thought about playing.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
There wasn't really anything that I hoped to face against. I just didn't want to face battle.

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've played it a few times before, I just made it smaller but added a second ship for the MQ in the ISS Constitution (which would get me Gaffney for more Astro) and put in Chekov (again, more Astro) as I was expecting to see Spatial Rift. The other part for the extra ship in the Mirror Quadrant was to protect against Outgunned so I could leave both ships at the Terran Empire homeworld.

The only thing new was that I accidentally had 5 planets instead of 4 planets and 2 space. As a result I sometimes solved all five planets to avoid trying to do that lone space mission which did mess with people's combos but solving five missions is still... five missions.

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?
Not particularly.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Multidimensional Transport Device. Without it, the deck simply doesn't work at all as I have no way to leave the Mirror Quadrant without it.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Just three more 1E affiliation win achievements to go...

“Teleport

My Commentary:
Well, I'm very glad that Michael got back to me in time, because I was about to waaaaay over-analyze the 5:1 Planet to Space mission ratio. I mean, it could work; with no space missions, your opponent will likely just seed those 2-5 space only dilemmas under your planets, behind some appropriate dual or planet dilemmas so that you don't know what missions just have tissue-thin defenses. But if there's a space mission there, well they'll go and seed all those space dilemmas there where they can actually be faced, and you'll know which of your planets got short-seeded. So, a potentially reasonable strategy... if you had some reliable source of bonus points that could make it so you'd only need to solve three of your five planets. But, as Michael notes, solving five missions is still... five missions.

Solving planets only does, however, contribute to an overall strategy of avoiding the opponent. Your crews are a lot more vulnerable when they're on a ship and getting hit by Gomtuu or Cytherians or the like, but down on a planet they really only need to fear an assault from some shock troops, and most of the popular interference decks these days tend to go light on the troops in favor of the fleets. If more personnel combat-oriented interference decks rise to popularity, this deck could even try to squeeze in a Bareil, who could download some Transport Inhibitors on a whim.

So, wait, you say, how does a deck do without ships? Well, Michael alludes to this decks ship independence in his notes, but I'll spell it out here. Multidimensional Transport Device is incredibly flexible in this regard; with it, you really only need a ship or two in the mirror quadrant in order to hop between the Bajor Region and Halkan Planet. From there, the transport device can allow your away teams to hop back and forth, from planet to planet with ease. Should a dilemma like "God" require a ship to appear in the alpha quadrant, Hidden Fighter can provide one for free. Even aside from the avoidance benefits (which seem to have been unnecessary with the line-up of other decks in this particular tournament), being so easily mobile can definitely win games.


A Second Edition Regional in Cape Town, South Africa (Neutral Zone Region) started the marathon that Sunday, 4/19 was to become. The winner, Daymon Watt, used a deck handed to him by his Tournament Director (Fritz Meissner), but was adapted from a deck run by Nicholas Yankovec, and looked like this:

Title: Alpha solver + Mobilisation Points
Headquarters: Founders' Homeworld, Home of the Great Link
Deck Size: Medium (45-59)
Deck Archetype: Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Medium (30-49)
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.15
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 4%

Since Fritz has helped Daymon with his choice of deck, I solicited feedback from both of them. Here's what they had to say

“Fancy

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
DAYMON: The deck I used was my Jem'Hadar solver deck. I've had the most experience with this deck and found the simply mechanics and sturdiness of the deck made it playable against a greater spread of decks.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
DAYMON: I was hoping to face decks that had high cost dilemmas to try get the most out of War of Attrition and Edan'Atal. And I was also quite ready to face decks with a lot of kill dilemmas with Amat'igan, Founder Bodyguard and Odo, The Great Link's Savior. I was hoping not to face any decks that could make use of my deck's lack of certain skills, such as Medical or Intelligence; and as it happens I got hurt badly in one game by Rogue Borg Ambush.

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?
DAYMON: The thing that I learned the most was adapting my use of Crom to get the skills that I was after.

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?
DAYMON: One card that I will mention is The Manheim Effect, I've never really utilized it to full effect before this tournament.

FRITZ: In his game against me Daymon's Manheim Effect fetched the dilemma that stopped my final attempt with the game hanging in the balance.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
DAYMON: The addition of Mobilization Points was huge. It allowed me to get troops for cheap cheap and then spend a turn purely on my last minute addition of Jem'Hadar Warship and it's additional 2 range over the attack ship (which gave me a lot more flexibility, when my other ship was bombed by Gomtuu Shock Wave).

FRITZ: Extra ships and range are also good against crippling strike, that was important in our game :).

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
DAYMON: This deck is not super frilly or difficult to understand, and I think it makes for a nice deck for beginners to be able to battle against a bunch of different styles without becoming completely irrelevant. It allows you to steadily build your personnel, solve missions and at the end of the day get points for the win. As the arrogant first would say: "I am the First. And I have declared victory.

“Weyoun's

My Commentary:
As noted above, this deck is largely copied from a recent iteration of Nick's Dominion strength solver, with three Mobilization Points and an additional ship added to the deck. Since Nick started playing with the basic engine in 2012, it has been adapted to a variety of other decks by other players. It's easy to see why too; Crom gives allows a great deal of both flexibility and reliability. In a 53 card deck, you can still be pretty certain that you can attempt with the same initial team in each game. Furthermore, once you've taken a look at the opponent's dilemma pile with the initial attempt, you can customize your crew with Gelnon, who can add either Amat'igan versus a kill pile, or Arak'Taral versus an attrition pile.

Both of the changes made to this deck are ones I support wholeheartedly. If there is one primary disadvantage to this deck, it is its lack of speed. The personnel, while skill-rich and have high attributes, are expensive, and even with the cost reduction on the Subek-somac the ships tend to not be terribly cheap either. However, this deck already has a fairly high concentration of unique Jem'Hadar, so reducing their cost with Mobilization Points helps out a great deal with the deck's speed. I would, with the addition of Mobilization Points, recommend adding Remata'Klan back in to the deck; he adds some more selection avoidance, good skills, and MP makes him cheaper.

Likewise, the addition of Jem'Hadar Warship (and, as Daymon recommends, the replacement of the Attack Ships) gives the deck some more answers to popular dilemmas. Now, the Subek'Somac makes it hard to land a Gomtuu Shock Wave (but not impossible) and any reduction of 2 range makes it impossible to fly home without Astrometrics Lab (alternately, Expedient Opportunity). And, of course, Gomtuu is not the only way to reduce range; most engagement decks love Precise Attack for this very reason. Additionally, the Warship will pass the often popular Outclassed, and no amount of selection avoidance would have helped there. Previous iterations of Nick's deck have stocked Special Modifications, presumably for the purpose of passing Outclassed with an attack ship, but it has since vanished - I imagine the second command star requirement may have been too high for a Jem'Hadar-heavy deck.

To close, I'd also like to add some praise for The Manheim Effect. I recently played with a deck that uses this engine, and I was terribly impressed with the TME's performance. It is a recent trend in attrition pile construction to include a lot of "hard answer" dilemmas like Moral Choice or Accelerated Aging; dilemmas that might not do much against some decks, but will absolutely devastate some others. With TME, you really only need to draw those dilemmas once in the appropriate match-ups, and then you can recycle it for attempts on subsequent missions. Sure, Alvera Tree Ritual hurts, but I've seen decks omit it out of fear of The Viceroy, and the opponent still needs to draw their one copy for it to be effective.


The second Second Edition Regional on Sunday occurred in... Laindon West? Or Basildon. Maybe it was Essex? I don't know, there are several parts of that address that could be a city or town (in the Omarion Nebula Region). Anyways, it fell upon Tournament Director Nicholas Yankovec's birthday, and was won by a Mr. Slade using the following:

Title: Relativity 1.3
Headquarters: Prevent Historical Disruption
Deck Size: Large (60+)
Deck Archetype: Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Medium (30-49)
Dilemma Pile Type: Unfair Comparison
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.1
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 8%

The good Mr. Slade was the first to respond to my queries, and had some insights to share:

“I

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
I went with Relativity (with the 50 point Aid Lost Colony) and an Unfair Comparison Pile. Compared to most players, I'm a relatively new player and I've recently realised how *very important* the dilemma pile is. It's nearly half of your deck so you should spend a lot of your time building the dilemma pile. My original intention was to use a Legacy pile but I went with Unfair Comparison because it requires less thinking during the game and to be honest, I'm a terrible skill tracker. With the new Dominion Headquarters and the Phoenix, Aid Lost Colony means I can get 110 points from 3 missions. Relativity decks tend to be relatively similar but I got the Aid Lost Colony, Investigate Massacre and Investigate Alien Probe mission inspiration from a deck online.

I believe for a big tournament, I should play with a deck I am are familiar with to reduce my mistakes, so I could have played Klingons, Bajorans or Starfleet but I felt Relativity would work well for me.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was expecting to face Dominion so Aid Lost Colony helps there, Flare of Rage seems good against Dominion too. I was expecting to see a Romulan deck too; I only have one interrupt in the deck and I've done well against Rommies with Relativity.

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've played Relativity at quite a few high level events and I've got a fair bit of experience with Unfair Comparison piles too. I generally made good decisions (due to playing the deck often). I added one Cluttering Irrelevancies which was a nice surprise card.

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 didn't get any use out of Leonard H. McCoy, Remarkable Man. If I drew him early, I planned to go straight for Aid Lost Colony which is quite tricky to solve without the Enterprise-J. He didn't work out for me.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
MVPs were Kirk and Unfair Comparison. Kirk was very strong, enough said really. I faced Secret Identity many times but I generally did okay on my mission attempts. Why don't more people play Unfair Comparison? It costs 2, it stops 3 people and you get to see the next 3 dilemmas.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Ohhhh! Nothing Happened! helps this deck too. Moral Choice, Insurrection and Necessary Execution hate on me so it's good to get rid of them.

“The

My Commentary:
Well, it's definitely a good thing that this deck included a route to 110 points; in three rounds, it was matched up against decks using the new Dominion Headquarters twice. Regardless as to what deck you play, having a good idea of what you might come up against is invaluable. Most decks have the flexibility to swap out certain cards in order to help specific potential match-ups. In this particular case, it was the mission selection that saw the shake-up, but other possible "tech-cards" could include things like Luther Sloan, Man of Secrets. Luther provides the invaluable Intelligence skill and some potent event destruction, while the Cluttering Irrelevancies used in this case can provide the Intelligence and more as a surprise. Which one you choose to use can vary based on what you expect to face.

One of the first decisions you'll face when building a Relativity deck is whether to use Tacking Into the Wind, Christening, neither, or both. Both cards greatly increase the odds of a turn 1 ship without pitching four cards from hand (a decision that can be very hard if you get a starting hand full of important events), but both bring different benefits. The up-front cost of Christening is much lower, though it becomes a dead-draw later on. Tacking's first-turn four-cost is roughly equivalent to discarding 4 cards (without the resource loss), but is significantly more useful in the late game, providing personnel recycling and event destruction. In this case Mr. Slade has made the decision to only use Tacking, giving up some potential early speed for greater late game utility and draw consistency.

Though Unfair Comparison piles lack the Persistent dilemmas that make Frozen By Fear/Flare of Rage cheaper, those are still good dilemmas at full cost. Five cost to remove two personnel from the game is a good deal, and their presence helps soothe the absence of the 6-cost 40-point-mission-related dilemmas. Aid Lost Colony would reduce the cost of those workhorse dilemmas to 4, but inserting another 40+ point mission in this lineup would be hard. In addition to the "headquarters mission", Metron Arena is an essential piece of Dukat-prevention for Relativity. Of course, if two out of three opponents are running Dominion, those 6-cost dilemmas wouldn't do much for you anyways. Another good meta call here, it's no surprise that this deck and player pitched a no-hitter.


As slaves to chronological order, we're going to hop back to the continent we started on, and indeed back to Auburn, Washington (Ferenginar Region) to check in on their Second Edition Regional results. This time Kenneth Tufts won (though lost a belt in the process) with this deck:

Title: TOS Solver
Headquarters: Earth, Lush and Beautiful Home
Deck Size: Medium (45-59)
Deck Archetype: Dilemma Avoidance Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Large (50+)
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 1.9
Agonizing Count: 2
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 8%

“There

My Commentary:
You may notice some similarities between this deck and the most recent iteration of Michael Van Breemen's "Where's Tainer?" deck. It has been Michael's go-to deck for big events for the last year, as evidenced by this very thorough and insightful article by Mike Harrington covering it's debut in the 2014 Regional season.

As for how the deck plays, the abbreviated version is this: Solve planet first for 50-55 points using the Enterprise-B and Tallera, then make Dyson Sphere easy with 1-3 Field Studies. Trellium-D and Grav-Plating Trap help ensure the presence of a variety of card types in your discard pile on the turn you solve the Dyson Sphere, nearly guaranteeing a two mission win where you rarely face dilemmas at the second mission.

Now, Ken has made some revisions to the deck, so lets dive in there. The biggest and most obvious change is switching from a kill-oriented dilemma pile to a standard attrition dilemma pile. Now, this is not the type of deck that does much to support a kill pile (like running Aid Legendary Civilization), but a kill pile essentially gives the deck a fairly fixed timer on its games. An All-Consuming Evil pile like the one Michael runs will usually stop the first attempt at each mission, but once the opponent rebuilds, the second attempt will be much easier (hence the addition of Uninvited to later versions of the deck). Decks that rebuild faster do shorten the timer somewhat, but Michael can count on a certain window in which to complete his two mission win.

Switching from a kill pile to a standard attrition pile makes the timer more variable but will improve some match-ups; the speed decks that would rebuild fastest against the kill pile are more likely to flounder against a pile with cards like Slightly Overbooked and Unfair Terms. On the other hand, slower control solvers like the Ferengi deck that John Corbett (likely) used will be better able to cut through the non-skill dilemmas with Reyga and the skill dilemmas with Rule of Acquisition #33... once it gets up and running.

The other changes to the deck are likely concessions to the use of an attrition pile. Kill piles run smaller and are less likely to need an Unexpected Difficulties to dig for a deck-specific answer (like Moral Choice). Likewise, kill-piles get little benefit from blocking skill-gain through Coordinated Counterattack. Otherwise, it appears Ken went with the old adage, "if it aint broke, don't fix it" and it definitely worked well for him.


Finally, we wrap up with an event in the Qo'noS Region, held in Mount Vernon, Ohio. This Second Edition Regional was swept by Joel Skon, and here's how he did it:

Title: My Deck Needs No Introduction -- Your Deck Don't Even Function
Headquarters: Founders' Homeworld, Contingent Refuge
Deck Size: Medium (45-59)
Deck Archetype: Speed/Interference Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Medium (30-49)
Dilemma Pile Type: Chula
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 1.9
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 1%

Joel helpfully told me this about his deck:

“He's

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
With the new expansion out I wanted something that would play well against both DS9 and Dominion, since this deck can get 110 points (with Eris and Torga IV) or 100 (losing 5 points at Torga to make my opponent lose 5.) I also had a TNG deck that could handle the Dominion point loss and a DS9 deck with all their new toys.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was not wanting to face the new Bajoran kill deck or a Dominion Kill deck (or really any kill deck,) I knew I could take on DS9.

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 have been testing this deck since the set came out, I knew it pretty well when I brought it to the tournament, I decided that I could drop some of the dilemma helpers for a future deck, and I would tweak the dilemma pile as well. The only think I noticed that Crippling Strike didn't work against TN or DS9 since they have a 1 span headquarters mission.

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 added 2 Uninviteds and 2 UDs to help with my dilemma pile and NEVER used them once, I would probably cut them in the future.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Crom was certainly my MVP, thanks to his ability to grab the three people I needed to get started.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
The boost that the Dominion got in this expiation was amazing, I believe that this is one of the best current decks. I believe it needs some more kill protection but other than that its perfect.

Finally, some random chance affecting outcomes in a CCG

My Commentary:
I'm glad we covered the Dominion deck that has been the standard pre-Strange Bedfellows first, because that lays the groundwork for analyzing the new hotness. When you're using the new Dominion HQ,, you're stuck with all Dominion-affiliation personnel, but that's not a big deal - due to synergy with cards like Crom and Amat'igan, the classic version already tended to prefer to stick to only Dominion personnel. However, the new HQ also incentivizes the use of gamma quadrant missions, so Gelnon is out. As I noted though in my review of Daymon's deck above, though, Mobilization Points fills some of the same role as Gelnon. It speeds the deck up, perhaps more so than Gelnon does, but it doesn't help with the mission attempt customization (other than by freeing up counters to be used to draw for what you want).

Using the new HQ opens up some of what I call "passive interference" options. Other examples would be a TOS solver using Aid Legendary Civilization with personnel who have cost reduction and a kill pile to interfere with the opponent, or a Romulan deck using Commandeer Prototype to download the Phoenix. In this case, for every gamma quadrant mission you solve, you essentially download half a Phoenix. Joel has also added the mission Torga IV, bringing the possible point reduction all the way up to 15 - more than most decks account for. However, in all likelihood the reduction will be lower due to the points that Odo gives the opponent in return for busting dilemmas like Pitching In or Polywater Intoxication.

The Subek'somac is also gone, but with it are all the 1-cost events for use with Turan'Ekan. His skills were more useful for the alpha quadrant missions anyways, and being able to thin out the deck helps make up for the absence of Gelnon. In he meantime, that opens up space for some stalling interrupts in Crippling Strike and Uninvited.

Since this is the first winning deck to use a Chula pile, I'd like to talk about that some. Chula piles are essentially attrition piles - you stop people until there are too many dilemmas underneath a mission, and then they solve. However, getting a Chula: The Game atop a mission on the first attempt (by digging with Uninvited or Unexpected Difficulties as needed) effectively minimizes the presence of dilemmas that are placed underneath. I've found that once I get two copies of The Game on a mission, I'm better off abandoning that mission and facing a pile with only one The Game rather than facing a series of three-stop two-cost Pick One to Save Twos.

With or without the Chula pile, this deck looks fast, robust, and reliable. I would not be surprised to see decks similar to this one popping up in the remainder of the Regional season.


That's all for today! Next week will be even busier, so I may need to split it up by edition. Also, Daniel's had a busy week, so no required listening. Have fun, all.


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