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The Road to Worlds: Winning Deck Analysis, Week 7

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

14th 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 Vandros IV Second Edition Regional in Dessau, Germany started off the weekend. It was won by Sascha Kiefer using a deck called:

 

Title: Fast,faster...timetravel
Headquarters: Prevent Historical Disruption
Deck Size: Small (35-44)
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Medium (30-49)
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.4
Agonizing Count: 4
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 2%

Sascha offered this commentary:

I decided to play a bare minimum 35 card future deck. I considered playing a Dominion deck with the new HQ as a mission solver, but because of the long driving time and a lack of sleep I had chosen the well known Relativity deck. I have played many versions of it, and after the release of the Metron Arena mission, I thought that I would be able to play the 35-card version again, because kill-piles plus Dukat have always been my nemesis with that kind of deck.

So the plan is to start your first attempt on turn 2 with 6 personnel, solve Investigate Massacre and Avert Danger ASAP, and go for victory with the Explore Mysterious Structure space mission. I think actually there is nothing faster in mission solving than this, usually you are too fast to get in trouble with battle decks.

A lucky capture from Gul Evek can ruin your day, or getting hit with the much, much more evil Greeter Needs on your Relativity - or, as it has happened in the Regional, getting hit with it on both of my ships. In my 35-card deck there are no unnecessary cards. The cards with the most range are my 3 Tacking Into The Winds, which are also my MVP-card. Also, the Tampering With Time event is still very strong.

My Commentary:
We've seen another Relativity deck this season, but this one was made in a completely different style. Instead of filling up the deck with copies of Chakotay, Revised Chakotay, and an Original Thinker, Sascha has instead relied on a Relativity deck's ability to recur personnel to design a deck with what is probably the minimum number of personnel possible. I mean, I've seen successful Relativity decks that have a similar design philosophy, but even then a mere 17 personnel is basically unheard of, and I like it. Running so light on personnel allows you to stock a greater number of useful events (like Tampering With Time) than you'd typically expect to see in a 35 card deck.

I mentioned the choice between Christening and Tacking Into the Wind last time we covered Relativity, and I'm not surprised to see Tacking here. As Sascha mentioned, it is a card with a lot of range, and with that slim personnel selection, I'd imagine that this is one of the few decks out there that would likely need all three functions in any given tournament. What surprised me a bit at first was the presence of the three Christenings, but it makes sense: this deck really cannot afford to discard four cards on turn one. Fortunately, with 9 out of 35 cards being either the Relativity or a way to download it, there's a mere ~10% chance of failure... before additional cards are drawn.

To get an idea of what to do when you don't get a Relativity or a downloader, I asked Sascha a follow-up question:

In the scenario that you do not have the Relativity, Christening, or Tacking in your opening hand, what is the plan? Do you go ahead and pitch four cards to download your ship, or do you start drawing?
Well that's an ugly scenario, but it happens 1 out of 40 games or so. In that case I draw up to 3 cards and hope for one of the cards you mentioned, so I might be able to play 2 personnel on my ship first turn. It played out that I lose one round because of that, but also I can start an attempt with more personnel on turn 3 that way. More importantly is to get your hand on a These Are The Voyages ASAP to put your Tackings under your deck in case of a Dreamer. Elsewise you could be wiped out by a killing pile.

Thanks Sascha! Indeed, drawing three more cards brings the chance of failure down to ~3%, which is definitely within acceptable limits. Of course, this is all discussing a worst-case scenario; most of the time, you'll be dropping a 0-cost ship (no other affiliation can do that) in addition to some skill-rich future-icon personnel.

 

Meanwhile, at the Omarion Nebula First Edition Regional in Leeds, UK, Paddy Tye crushed an uprising with:

 

Title: David Cameron's True Blue Tory Live Child shafts the SNP up the back passage
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Finest Crew in the fleet, Attention All Hands, Holodeck Door
Draw Engines: Continuing Mission, Holoprogram: Cafe Des Artistes
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists

Paddy had the following to say about his deck:

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
Going into this regional, I knew there would be at least two relatively new players to the tournament scene at the event, and I didn't want to do anything that might discourage them, so I set aside my "molesting" Kazon battle deck and my "annoying" Tribbles/Hero of the Empire deck, and instead focused on speed solvers. One option was my old favourite of Legitimate Leader of the Empire with Klingon Death Yells and IKS T'Ong drops that I used at UK Nationals last year. I'd also been working on a Dominion deck, and there's always Bajoran/Maquis "free report salad" decks which are very strong.

But in the end I opted for TNG Feds. They have some great tricks - like getting Sergey and Helena out for Holoprogram: Cafe Des Artiste draws, downloads of Barash-icon personnel, and Miles O'Brien and Anya's special downloads. The deck is pretty damn fast with draws from Duck Blind, Continuing Mission and the Cafe. It plays and draws better than the other decks I was considering, and there's a fair bit of redundancy between the play engines (i.e. the Barash-icon personnel are also free reports with Finest Crew in the Fleet, and Universal personnel who report for free using both Attention All Hands and Finest Crew in the Fleet). It also has some good battle protection via Evade Borg Vessel, Strategic Base, and Starbase 247's download of a Spacedock.

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 a mixture of basic solvers from most, and some crazy shenanigans from Niall, so speed would be essential. I knew I had fairly good protection vs battle, albeit Outgunned would still be a problem. With the recent errata to Your Galaxy is Impure, I knew that Kobayashi Maru/Your Galaxy is Impure/Quantum Incursions would be a tough combo to beat. Fortunately I knew I had the capacity to beat it.

I didn't want to face any 2E cheese - and it turns out Niall was stocking some!

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'd played the deck a month beforehand at Grimsby and was confident in it's abilities to bust through missions. I'd also played it the weekend before on a visit to my old home town, and running up against my friend Lofty's Your Galaxy is Impure / Quantum Incursions combo made me decide this was the best of my available options as it could cover all 6 of the requirement options on Quantum Incursions - and Holodeck Door could download me some of the tougher requirements - Empathy on Commander Troi, multiple AU-icon personnel, and double Physics on Albert Einstein.

While playing the deck this time, I think the one dilemma that gave me the most issue was Chula: The Game - the Feds don't do Greed! I also should have used Miles O'Brien's download of Near Warp Transport to pull my people out of danger... instead of just forgetting and letting people die! Whoops!

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?
It was a fairly lean deck for reasons of speed (which frustrated Niall as he couldn't use In For A Trim to discard things from the deck - something which is awesome against the much overused Handshake).

However, I did stock one copy of the recently fixed Loss of Orbital Stability - and it got me a one turn delay on Niall moving to attempt a mission - which can make all the difference at times.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Holodeck Door. It essentially added a third free report, downloaded a key draw engine (Holoprogram: Cafe Des Artiste) and got me the key skills for the dreaded Kobayashi / Your Galaxy / Quantum Incursions combo.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Niall was not happy with my choice of a blue affiliation and blue card sleeves given the Conservatives (whose party colour is blue) winning in the UK election!

Also, as is required in the UK, many beers were consumed!

My Commentary:
Continuing Mission is the card that lured me back to First Edition, and Finest Crew in the Fleet was the focus of the first deck that I wanted to build after coming back. All those white-border premiere bridge crew were already binder fodder when I stopped collecting after The Dominion, and would continue to be so until The Next Generation came out thirteen years later. I guess what I'm saying is, if I were looking for a deck to recommend to a returning player, I'd look no further than this one.

Paddy already covered a lot of the topics I wanted to address when reviewing this deck. I agree that Holodeck Door is a fantastic play engine, and it works particularly well in Federation decks because most of the potential targets also play for free elsewhere. Additionally, it is one of the few remaining stackable free-play engines available to TNG decks, along with Androids, Headquarters, and Scientific Diplomacy. I hadn't thought of using it to also download the holoprogram though, so in my mind it just got even better. Of course, when you're using the cafe, Sergey and Helena are shoe-ins, not just because they are a one card romantic pair, but because they can special download Nikolai and his super rare Federation treachery. Even before the Cafe came out, those two were the premiere Support Personnel download for TNG Federation decks, but now they're simply unparalleled.

Between the Cafe and Starbase 247, the 20th Anniversary Collection was very kind to TNG Feds. Even just having a second seedable Federation Outpost is nice, but the fact that it is significantly beefier shields-wise is great. What really sells it is the Spacedock download - instant repairs makes the location the next best thing to a homeworld. Sure, you can still get Outgunned there (as Paddy mentioned), but a homeworld wouldn't protect you from that either. You know what can't be Outgunned though? A phase-cloaked Pegasus, that's what, and there sure is one of those here. Just stay away from asteroid fields and mutinous crews.

 

Joshua Sprung came out of retirement and swept the field at the Qo'noS Second Edition Regional in Jackson, Michigan.

 

Title: Buckets of Blood v3.0
Headquarters: Qo'noS, Heart of the Empire
Deck Size: Small (35-44)
Deck Archetype: Battle (Interference)
Dilemma Pile Size: Medium (30-49)
Dilemma Pile Type: Attrition with kill focus
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.48
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 0.2%

Joshua had some information to share about his deck:

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
I chose “Buckets of Blood” because it is simple, fast, fun, and was most recently played - which is very important since I’ve been rusty…

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
This deck thrives on slower, more intricate, strategies being used by other decks. The combination of speedy solving, and “oops you attempted that mission too early” dilemma pile makes a nice combination. I’d hate to face a dilemma pile that matches mine… big trouble if they are packing chump-killers…

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 earlier versions of the deck in about four tournaments before. After playing each time, I cut out cards from the deck, slowly honing both the draw and dilemma decks to be increasingly more efficient. Each time I played, it got a little better, this time I only saw a few cards I would change, so I know I’m getting close!

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?
Equipment Malfunction ended up being clutch a couple times, took out any ETUs… and Swashbuckler at Heart took out any chances for Escapes, letting my dilemmas reign terror! Shall We Not Revenge? will be the first on my cut-list, it just never comes up and I think it’s a remnant from an older version of the deck that just didn’t get phased out yet. As cool as it is, Once More Unto the Breach will likely be cut too, the stars have to align to make it happen. Spatial Interphase is also very situational, and so many players run skill-heavy personnel that it rarely works, even if it is free for me.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Toral, Arrogant Child is always useful a perfect target for many dilemmas that select leadership or treachery, he fetches a guy, and only costs 1. The Dal'Rok is always played if possible, it just works so well following my other dilemmas.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
It’s fun, give it a try! Also, I posted more detailed commentary in my tournament reports, if you want more info.

My Commentary:
So, perhaps even rarer than a deck with only 17 personnel is a 40-card interaction/interference deck. When building such a deck, some sacrifices must be made, of course; for example, there are none of the popular interrupts you might at this point expect to see in a Klingon deck. But Klingons have always had an advantage in the small-deck area since they've got so many powerful abilities already baked-in to their personnel. Since a small deck needs to have some base amount of personnel just to solve missions, if those personnel already do things like gain skills (see: William T. Riker), then the pressure to include skill-gain verbs (like The Promise) is somewhat lessened.

In this case, those mission-solving-oriented interrupts have been replaced by two battle cards showing up in triplicate: We Will Not Surrender and All-Out War. As Joshua mentioned, those two cards activate each other - All-Out War needs points in order to play it and Surrender gives those points. Of course, there are three 40+ point missions in the deck, so in a pinch, two Surrenders could set up a two-mission win.

I believe, though, that the primary reason for the presence of those 40+ point missions is to support a general killing subtheme in the dilemma pile. Unfair Terms and Spatial Interphase are both quite effective kill dilemmas, and with three 40+ missions they come at the cheap cost of free, but without the Consume strings attached that you often see on cheap kill dilemmas. These dilemmas are supported by a variety of other popular non-Consume kill dilemmas, ones like Unbelievable Emergency or The Dal'Rok. If there is one other dilemma that would fit the theme of the pile that I'd recommend adding, it would be The Weak Will Perish - it is another consume-free (guaranteed) kill dilemma, one that is likely to not go under the mission, and it would increase the ratio of skill dilemmas in the pile.

 

That'll do for this week, come back next week for a look at winning decks from Regionals in the New Bajor, Vandros IV, Andoria, Ferenginar, and Kazon Collective Regions. In the meantime, Daniel's Regional Rundown is where it's at.

 


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