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The Road to Worlds: Winning Deck Analysis, Week 5 (Second Edition)

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

1st May 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.

The first Second Edition Regional of the weekend was in the Andoria region. Nat Kirton triumphed in the Roseville, MN event with this deck:

Title: Korean B-Boy Purgatory
Headquarters: Caretaker's Array
Deck Size: Medium (45-59)
Deck Archetype: Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Small (20-29)
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.25
Agonizing Count: 2
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 8%

Nat and Kris had an opportunity to sit down and chat, and this is the result:

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
Voyager is a strong mission solver that I have had both past and recent success with that I felt would have answers for both the speed decks we are known for in Minnesota and the occasional interactive deck I might see. I strongly considered playing the Ferengi speed deck that I have also played over the last two years, in addition to Deep Space Nine attribute denial, which I also have had some success with in the past. However, I ultimately settled on Voyager because the Ferengi have trouble with playing the “long game,” and I didn’t have enough time to get comfortable with the new DS9 cards in Strange Bedfellows.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
After practicing leading up to the event, I was not looking forward to playing against Dominion with their new tricks; however, I did not think there were going to be any truly bad matchups.

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 played Voyager extensively over several years and felt like it was still the strongest deck to play right now. The only thing that was reinforced or learned this weekend was that the build needs a third copy of Finding Our Way.

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 The Long Journey Home for the first time because it provided an additional way to beat Dominion point loss. However, it was never relevant over the course of 5 rounds so I am on the fence as to whether I would use it again.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Liberate Photonic Servants. Including it dropped my Agonizing Encounter number down to just 2, and solving it downloads Revised Chakotays (and of course Minuet). It also gave the deck the ability to go to 105 points solving 3 missions, which was very helpful against slower new Dominion point drain decks.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I <3 Minuet.

My Commentary:
Since Nat doesn't check his Private Messages very often, Kris was largely been my intermediary for communicating with him. As such, when I first got my hands on Nat's decklist, I shot Kris the following message: "It sure isn't a Nat Kirton decklist without at least one Minuet in there, is it?" Now, Minuet isn't a terribly flashy card on the surface - 5-5-4, 2 skills, and an ability that has to stop personnel who are in on a mission attempt. Here's the catch: you can stop personnel who are already about to have something else happen to them. Sure, that personnel will still get killed or placed on top of deck or whatever, but as long as something bad is going to happen to a personnel in an attempt, Minuet becomes a minimum of 6-6-5 with four skills for only one cost, which is much more palatable.

Voyager is an excellent deck type to choose when inserting strong non-aligned personnel like Minuet. Other than the abilities on the Chakotays or the Voyager itself, there's not a lot of incentive to stick to actual Voyager-icon personnel in the deck. As such, a trio of Maras show up here; they use the same fuel as the aforementioned Chakotay, and supply some of the kill prevention that the Bridge version lacks.

Moving over to the dilemma pile, alongside the perennial Voyager favorites like Well-Prepared Defenses are a couple of rare gems in One Step Ahead and The Launching. Equipment is slightly more common than it used to be, but is usually easier to track than skills, and has a tendency to either blow up or be sold for counters. On the other side of the equipment requirements are double doses of rare-for-dilemmas skills like Physics and Transporters. But, unlike their persistent cousins Breaking the Ice and We'll Never Know, the skill requirements are more diversified and the cost of the dilemmas is a cheap zero. Synergizes well with the three Machinations in there, huh?

Once again, I was very excited to see an uncommon card in the list, only to have the player's feedback say they'd probably drop it in the future. The Long Journey Home is a card you tend to see either three of or none of, and to see a lone copy is really cool. I definitely like the idea behind it: There are some match-ups where you can expect to see no event destruction (let alone prevention), and there are some dilemma piles that just cannot handle a deck that solves four space missions (especially when there's a Harry Kim to turn the Where No One Has Gone Befores into blanks). I guess in this case, there wasn't enough overlap, but fortunately taking the chance on the one slot in the deck didn't cost Nat the tournament.

 

Part One of the Cardassia region double-header took place in Melbourne, FL. Daniel Matteson claimed the top honors using:

 

Title: The Damned Stand Ready
Headquarters: Founders' Homeworld, Contingent Refuge
Deck Size: Large (60+)
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Large (50+)
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.46
Agonizing Count: 2
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 24%

Daniel took some time away from training his tribbles prodigy progeny to tell me this:

4mg Zofran STAT!

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using? I really wanted to try out the new Dominion cards in Strange Bedfellows, and despite other occasions in which I've tried new cards just for the sake of trying them, this time I really believed they had a strong chance of winning. I had also considered a Cardassian capture deck (that went winless in the Orlando regional the next day), and also considered replaying my Bajoran artifact solver that took third place at Trek Masters: Orlando.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face? I was hoping to see decks containing low-range ships, to take full advantage of Crippling Strike. (This only ended up working once, against Ted Reebel's mirror Starfleet.) I knew I didn't want to see whatever Sean O'Reilly was playing as he always has a few tricks up his sleeve! (Sean ended up playing a mirror match, which meant there was lots of Mobilization taking place all game!)

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? As this is a new decktype, I've never played it before. I've played Dominion in 2E only once before, a month ago in a local event, which I won, though that was pre-Strange Bedfellows and was a netdeck of an Alpha Quadrant strength solver.

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? As I said before, the Crippling Strikes were the most situational and they bought me a turn against Ted, but most of my opponents had ships with high Range and the Strikes were irrelevant. As for the dilemma pile: I used almost the same dilemma pile as Amber Van Breemen used when she won an event a week ago with a similar deck. It was a standard attrition pile with a quirky secondary strategy of stopping Security personnel ahead of a Mutinous Guests. It didn't work very well (it didn't for her, either) and I would strip out that theme and streamline the dilemma pile if I played again.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck? Mobilization Points - that card is insane! (The dilemma "excluders," Remata'Klan and Arak'Taral, are right behind.)

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck? Thanks to Amber Van Breemen and Joel Skon for their designs which helped inspire me to play this deck, and thanks to Amber for additional deck advice!

My Commentary:
I have to say, I cannot help but read Daniel's deck title in the voice of the Dark Cultist. Priest is my favorite class in hearthstone, so I certainly hear that phrase uttered frequently. The reference may be simply referring to the Dominion as the damned, though gameplay wise, Amat'igan essentially gives all adjacent Dominion personnel "Deathrattle: summon a Unique Jem'Hadar from hand." Either wise, this reminds me that I wanted to start asking people to explain cryptic deck titles, so I'll do that going forward.

This deck uses many of the classic Dominion tricks; Odo to prevent stops/kills, Our Death to stop verbs, Crom to get the exact personnel you want, and selection avoidance from Remata'Klan and Arak'Taral (I am eventually going to memorize which Jem'Hadar capitalize the second half of their names). I like seeing three Shrouded in Lights showing up to support the selection prevention guys - with it, you make it much more likely kill piles will miss with things like All-Consuming Evil, or you could pass An Issue Of Trust with no stops yet still pass the Honor requirements on Whisper in the Dark. Also appearing to help mission attempts are three copies of Self-Replicating Roadblock, which does a good job at protecting the "heroes" in the deck (like Odo, Remata'Klan, etc.) from Secret Identity.

I haven't seen much of Friction since the heyday of the Terok Nor Weyoun lock-out decks of the Peak Performance days, but after seeing it here I'd expect to see it more. Mobilization Points strongly encourages a Jem'Hadar-heavy build - and while you'll still need some non-Jem'Hadar, getting a guy or two stopped stopped for a turn, the speed bump you'll hit will be nothing compared to the one the opponent will have to deal with. I advise caution though: Friction is mandatory while Crom is not, so Friction will deactivate his battlecry ability.

Like Nat, Daniel also ended up disliking a tech card, in this case Mutinous Guests. However, I've got a suggestion: how about Center of Attention? It's another 3-cost, non-bouncing wall, but it kills a Treachery personnel and it's a dual dilemma. Perhaps the flexibility to play it at planets might make the difference?

 

Stefan Slaby fought in the Borg region event held in Wien, Austria, wherein four out of seven decks contained a Jem'Hadar. He emerged victorious using:

 

Title: Your Death is Boring, Like the Founders
Headquarters: Caretaker's Array
Deck Size: Large (60+)
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Large (50+)
Dilemma Pile Type: Chula + Damage (Tillman)
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.5
Agonizing Count: 2
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 2%

Stefan, a former world champion, had this to say about his deck:

Marshmallows anyone?

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
With only one small practice tournament between the release of Strange Bedfellows and the regional, the meta was hard to predict. I knew there would be some Dominion decks, and people teching against them. I thought the strongest options against Dominion would be: Jem'Hadar (unaffected by Friction, profiting off the opponent's Mobilization Points); TOS or DS9 (both have lots of interrupt prevention, DS9 has the stopping Defiant as a possible combat defense). However, I personally don't like to play any of those three factions. Instead, I decided to tune my trusty Voyager battle deck for the new opponents, and also prepared a new Romulan deck. But after some testing, between the Viceroy errata and Spiteful Strategy I found the Romulans too unreliable, so I stuck with Voyager.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was hoping not to face too many copies of Spiteful Strategy (a horrible card that wrecks my entire way of playing this game, regardless of affiliation. It should at the very least be unique; I don't think I've played a deck that works against this card since the Necessary Evil expansion came out). I was also hoping not to face anybody doing combat with Invasive Transporters (as I had no defense for that, other than Emergency Transport Units and Grav Plating Traps); or people teching against engagements. 1-2 copies of the undercosted Crippling Strike on the turn of my attack could have been... crippling. and with the spanner equipments reducing the new missions to a single skill each (who the hell thought that would be a good idea?), Fajo's Menagerie is everywhere, so I was afraid of Exocomps. (I once blew up a Relativity through an Exocomp with a dilemma and three engagements, but that's expensive and takes a long time to set up...)

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?
Same old.

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 swapped my backup mission for Destroy Transwarp Hub so I would be able to vary my mission points vs. Dominion. I don't like how the new HQ forces everybody to do that, while also devaluing pre-existing similar cards (the Phoenix, point loss dilemmas) that were much harder to pull off, but that's where we are now.

I added three copies of Firestorm specifically to combat Spiteful Strategy (large scale event destruction is against my religion, but shuffling them back is permitted on Sundays...), but they pulled their weight in every single game.

I also added Artificial Ability against Jem'Hadar, and Swashbuckler at Heart against all their interrupts. Artificial Ability is great to force their ship into a damage dilemma or their Vorta into a Whisper in the Dark, but I never saw Swashbuckler when I had both the need and the counters for it.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Tied between: Firestorm, U.S.S. Enterprise-J (the one game where my opponent ignored all the cards that hurt him, and just destroyed all my Js was also my only timed game), the battle cards (destroyed three ships, the other two opponents went to die at planets first), Navaar, and Security Drills.

Surprisingly, the Chakotays were useless. I barely saw them, and when I did, they didn't pull their weight. The best use I found for two copies was putting them on Security Drills to pass Breaking the Ice.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Doing Destroy Transwarp Hub against three Dominion players was tough. And it might have been worse if any of the Dominion players would actually have bothered to count my attributes. I made attempts fishing for overcomes that could have been stopped by a single Hard Time. I like to have three 40+ missions, but adding a 35 pointer and doing 40-40-35 instead of 50-40-20 would have been a much better option.

With Klingons, Borg, and Romulans weakened by errata, I'm running out of stuff I like to play. however, the "Coming Next" from Strange Bedfellows sounds exciting. I hope there'll be something that brings sexy back to the Borg. And I would love to get more new cards before the continentals, as the currently emerging meta feels rigged against my playstyle.

My Commentary:
The body of Steven's deck looks much like the version he used in day one of the World Championships last year. Sure, there's a bit more personnel diversity, but all the high points are there: Chakotays, Navaars, lots of events and some Emergency Transport Units; basically, the kinds of things you want around to solve missions while playing a Voyager deck.

The dilemma pile holds some pretty cool surprises though. I mean, it is already a treat to see a damage pile, especially when paired with an atypical faction. If you see TOS Earth hit the table, fear of battle should be on your mind; Voyager decks are more typically worried about being attacked themselves. But the Voyager itself is actually a pretty beefy ship (that can half-staff itself for free when you play it) and those Delta Fliers and Equinox are also pretty cheap to play and staff, so it can be easy to destroy a ship once you've tagged it with a damage dilemma.

In this iteration of Steven's damage pile, we see the Chula suite rear its ugly head, to what I believe is great effect. One way to play with Chula is to use its low-cost stopping potential to stop attempts with very few dilemmas under a mission. Afterall, The Game -> The Chandra -> Hard Time targets 4 personnel for stops/removal for only 7 cost, which would be overkill for most 7-personnel attempts. Put some damage dilemma in the place of Hard Time, and you've got yourself a target!

As for Mr. Slaby's concerns about his playstyle being targeted, I have this to say: take it as the compliment that it is. After you won Worlds 2013 with Romulan/ACE/ALC, similar builds won every continental in 2014 (and only lost Worlds 2014 because people specifically teched against it). Your builds are very dominant on the world stage - if the design team weren't making tools to use against the best decks in the world, I'd say that would actually be a bigger problem. You're only seeing these answers showing up because you're one of the best deckbuilders in the game.

 

Part two of the Cardassia region double-header was held in Orlando, FL. There was no sweep though, as Joseph Bazemore won with:

 

Title: All-Star Treasure Hunt
Headquarters: Earth, Cradle of the Federation
Deck Size: Large (60+)
Deck Archetype: Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Medium (30-49)
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.57
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 13%

Joseph was happy to share his experiences with this brand new deck type:

I read a funny comic about ships pointing at each other this weekend

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
I wanted to build a deck using Strange Bedfellows, and I figured everyone was already going to play Dominion. Since I like the weird decks, using Loren III suited me.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck?
Didn't really matter to me, as long as they didn't battle me to death. It happened anyway, but I survived.

What decks did you hope not to face?
Short list...Dominion, Borg, Klingon, Maquis.

Prior to this tournament, did you have much experience playing this deck (or decks like it)?
I've tried Federation/Borg decks before, but this one worked better.

Did you learn anything new about it when you played it this time?
I learned that some of the new cards that should have helped me, didn't. Common Purpose and Profound Discovery just took up space most of the time. I'm sure there's better ways to use them. Got my Phoenix commandeered by Kruge once...yeah, that was great.

Did you use any situational cards (cards that you wouldn't expect to be useful in every game)?
Besides what I've mentioned, Orb of Time was hit or miss.

Are there any whose usefulness exceeded your expectations?
Not particularly.

Were there any that you wouldn't include if you played the deck again?
I would definitely make it smaller. Probably remove Profound Discovery.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Probably Loren III, since it inspired the whole deck. Big props to Jean-Luc Picard, though, for his ability. I used him and How Would You Like a Trip to get copies of the Enterprise-E into my hand to power Tactical Disadvantage.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I'd like to see someone else take a shot at this decktype. I'm sure it could be improved. If you don't get the different affiliations out quickly, then Common Purpose is worthless.

My Commentary:
I've gotta say, this deck looks like fun. Not just because it get so many different affiliations working together, but because it takes so many of those cards from the metaphorical binders. Arctus Baran is not a bad card! He's got good skills and decent attributes with a highly specific ability, but he doesn't get used much because of the volume of strong Non-Aligned personnel out there and the move to doing space missions first (there are few good Acq/Anth/Arch space missions, and fewer that want a low-integrity personnel in your deck). But here, he has a chance to shine, downloading Orb of Time even if you go attempt one of those space missions first.

Or hey, there's Taris! She's got great skills, and the ability to look at your opponent's hand can provide valuable intelligence. Sulu and Maxwell may not have needed Loren III in order to be played in this deck, but their flexibility to be played at either the headquarters or in the field gets their valuable skill lists into play. Indeed, Sulu actually brings even more flexibility in his ability to report to the Excelsior (also downloadable with How Would You Like a Trip to Romulus?), and move that secondary ship around more easily.

Now, Ocett and Nu'Daq may not have been binder fodder, but it is great to see them work together. Not only are they the most thematically appropriate Archaeology Commanders, but their abilities are game-changers in the Cardassian and Klingon decks in which I've played them before. Need another Central Command? Ocett has you covered. Is the Promise more than pulling its weight in this particular match-up? Nu'Daq's got your back. Having them in the same deck is double the utility; I kinda wish we had a Galathon that had an ability in the same theme. Of course, then he'd be available to Romulan decks, so I guess that it's okay that we don't.

 

Phew, okay, that's it for this week. Be sure to enjoy Daniel's Regional Rundown, and join me next week as I cover another approximately 1 billion events :)

 


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