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The Road to Worlds: Winning Deck Analysis, Week 14, Part 1

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

1st July 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 Edition Regional in Palm Bay, Florida (Cardassia Region) kicked off the last weekend of this Regional season. Daniel Matteson won his second Regional event, again on home turf, with this deck:

Title: Something Needs Tinkering?
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Federation Flagship: Relaunched, Bajoran Resistance Cell, Son'a Observatory, Insurrection
Draw Engines: Bajoran Resistance Cell, Handshake
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists

Daniel had this to say about his deck:

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
I went with the deck I felt I had the best chance of winning with. I didn't run Maquis in my build, which might make the deck not as fast, but I'm not as familiar with that faction and was worried I wouldn't play the deck as well. I never really considered any other decks; anything else I might have played would have been for achievements and I wasn't angling for those.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
With In the Zone banned, I was a bit concerned about Robert McGinty's Delta Quadrant decks as they are a specialty of his and he's pretty fast with them. Fortunately, he didn't bring one this time, opting for TNG Romulans instead. I was most concerned about Sean O'Reilly's Borg Stop First Contact deck that he took to a previous Regional. I tempted fate by playing Federation and didn't really tech against Borg; my hope was that he would get an unlucky start and I could outrace him (which was what happened).

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 played this deck with different dilemmas in a recent online event. I swapped in the newly popular Quantum Incursions and the recently unbanned Spatial Rift and Your Galaxy is Impure, among other things. I can't say I learned anything new this time around - except that drawing three Espionage cards in your opening hand is bad.

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 never expect to solve Insurrection (I assume Dead End) but I actually managed to solve it twice this tournament - though once I had to solve through the traditional method instead of Collect Metaphasic Particles because The Nexus had blown up my Injector Assembly One! If I play this deck again, I'd consider Maquis (possibly instead of Bajoran Resistance) and I wouldn't play Dr. Ma'Bor Jetrel; he was only there for achievements.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Geordi La Forge. Ocular Implants are one of my favorite dilemma cheating strategies right now.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Not much else about the deck itself; I just wanted to add a public thanks to everyone that came out to this and all my Regional events on the Space Coast.

My Commentary:
This deck spiritually similar to Ryan Sutton's Orlando Masters deck. Both utilize stacking alpha quadrant free play engines, and both use many of the same ones - what is different here is that Daniel uses fewer engines. Doing so has an obvious weakness; with fewer engines, that increases the likelihood that you won't be able to use the maximum number of free plays each turn, which negatively impacts your deck's speed. However, four engines isn't bad, so are there any disadvantages to including that fifth engine?

Well, let's look at the Maquis, which Ryan used and Daniel didn't. Right up front, using the Maquis costs an additional seed slot, which are at quite a premium. One seed slot can represent an extra jumpstart download, battle protection, a draw engine, or even just an extra dilemma to make sure your killer combo hits. On top of that, using the Maquis forces the use of a somewhat specific mission, rather than using a mission that would perhaps work better with your mission specialists, or give battle protection. It can also be as simple as not wanting to spend the time in-game to get all your personnel together, since it is very possible that your Demilitarized Zone or Badlands mission will be far away from your Son'a/Baku at Insurrection. Bajoran Resistance personnel don't care what planet they play to, and Relaunched just need a Federation-icon mission, so they're more flexible, but I can easily imagine an aggressive player seeding a few missions (and an outpost) between Ruafo and Chakotay.

The Enterprise-E personnel are also the all-stars of the bunch - they've got tools like Geordi's Ocular Implants and Troi's unstopping skill. Thus, adding in the Maquis also somewhat dilutes the pool of personnel. Every time you're digging for Empathy for Quantum Incursions, and you get Torres instead, that's slowing you down. That said, having a larger volume of personnel in play will also help against something like Kobayashi -> Impure -> Incursions, so it's really a matter of finding your preferred balance of strengths and weakness. This deck was right for Daniel, Ryan's was right for him; what's right for you?


The First Edition Risa Regional in San Diego, California also had a repeat victor. Thomas Vineberg has now also won his local First and Second Edition Regionals, and this time he used this deck:

Title: The Alternative Factor
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Play Engines: I Miss This Office, Ekoor, Docking Ports, Quark's Bar, Weapons Locker
Draw Engines: A Better Alternative, Surprise Party
Bonus Point Mechanics: Dabo

Thomas shared the following thoughts about his deck:

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
I wanted to try an affiliation that hadn't yet won a regional this year. "The Gamma Quadrant" gave DS9 Cardassians a powerful new draw engine that I wanted to try. They already had dial-a-skill abilities, free ships, free SECURITY (with Ekoor) and nice selection (for a DS9 affiliation, at least) of AU personnel for the ubiquitous Quantum Incursions. A few tournaments ago I had a lot of fun with a Nanoprobe-fueled Federation all-stars deck, so I might have used that again if I'd not had time to make a new deck.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I felt reasonably well prepared for most decks. The big exception would have been a match-up against a Bajoran/Federation DS9 deck - I tried to prepare for that to some extent, but I would most likely have suffered due to loss of the Nor downloads. I managed to avoid the one player, Matt, who was, in fact, running DS9. Also, someone who was prepared to aggressively take over the station on turn 1 would have been a problem (luckily, I went first in every game). I didn't really think about it, but perhaps I should have been concerned about Maquis with my mission selection, as Rogue and I managed to duplicate a brutal 3 missions in our game (including all of my planets - ouch).

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 played I Miss this Office in a sealed deck once, where I found it very strong, and once in a constructed form using Cargo Runs for draws. One thing I did this time that I had not before was make sure to always shop in the Promenade and also get Dabo set up, if possible. With so much going in the discard pile there was always fuel for bets; Promenade would often let me see what was on top, and if I got going early enough the points really started adding up - saving me a whole mission in one game.

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 included Automated Security System in case of hostile takeovers, but never had to use it. I also thought I might be able to capture some people with Investigator Odo or Ilon Tandro and use Interrogation to get bonus points from Break Prisoner, but the opportunity only came up once - either people were in different quadrants, or had too many big Klingon or Romulan ships to risk going onto their side. I included just one equipment aside from hand weapons for Mila to download, Medical Tricorder, and it did end up winning me a game by giving me a third MEDICAL for Medical Crisis. Dabo was a late addition, almost an afterthought, but it turned out to be an excellent fit for this deck.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
A Better Alternative! It's got to be one of the strongest draw engines in the game; it really turbo-charges DS9 Cardassians. The only downside is there's no way to seed or download it, so I used a lot of copies of it, which sometimes resulted in hand clogging (it can't cycle itself). Mutations helped, but next time I might add in Process Ore as well for additional discard-to-draw power. Runner-up would be Oran, any skill on demand - especially good against Quantum Incursions (albeit, the one time I actually hit it, it kept coming up 2 Empathy, the only requirement I can't pass). On the dilemma side, old standby Barclay's Protomorphosis Disease can still clear the board very effectively.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I often play relatively large decks, but this was big even for me. This may also have been the most copies of a single card I've ever put in a deck. Also, the Naprem is an excellent choice for making a covert foray into Klingon space to retrieve a prisoner.

My Commentary:
Finding a balance of play engines is really the theme of this week's First Edition Road to Worlds decks. Not long after I'd seen Thomas' deck, I had to send him a follow-up question:

Why no Central Command?

Good question - the free plays are a nice complement to IMTO, and it would have been good as a backup facility if Terok Nor had been commandeered early. I did consider using either it or Nano-Biogenic Disarmament as an extra play engine. Ultimately, though, my determination to have 4-card dilemma combos took precedence. For better or worse, I have a tendency to sacrifice play engines, draw engines, and various safety measures if it means I can squeeze one more dilemma in. As a result, I often get out of the gate more slowly than average, but I am OK with that as long as the dilemmas are doing their job.

That's exactly what I'm talking about - when building (or even stealing) a deck, play to your strengths. The more careful, methodical player might prefer this style of deck. There's only one major play engine, complemented by a number of minor ones, and a very powerful draw engine. This type of deck isn't a free report salad deck by any stretch, it is one where you have a decent size hand and always have a choice of what you want to play each turn. In addition, you've also got We Need You Here to dial-a-personnel, so you're probably at most one turn away from finding what you need to beat any given dilemma combo.

I'll also join in with Thomas' praise of A Better Alternative as a draw engine. It only takes the turn's card play when you initially play it, which is essential in a deck that uses We Need You Here. After that initial card play use, you can pitch those extra Ekoors (you did download him early to be an addition play engine, right?) in order to draw three cards, and still use your card play to pull exactly the personnel you need to beat that Medical Crisis combo. It even gives a bit of that old-school Cardassian Ore Processing feeling, creating waste in order to get a benefit.


The Ferenginar Region's second event of the weekend was a First Edition Regional held in Burnaby, British Columbia. Kenneth Tufts became the only four-time regional champion when he took the title with this deck:

Title: OTF - Resiting the Terran Empire 4.2
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

Ken offered these insights about his deck:

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
I chose it because of achievements. Did you really expect me to say anything else to that by now? I didn't really consider anything even this deck; I had no deck ready as of Saturday night. We didn't wrap up until after midnight from that day's events so I grabbed a deck that I could do some VERY quick modifications on to update it a bit and still earn at least a play X-times affiliation hit.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I had no opinion on what I would face (at a Vancouver regional you expect a bit of everything), this deck has proven it self time and time again against all deck-types so I figured I'd just roll with it.

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?
Tons: I have won a masters with a previous iteration and several other events. I can't remember if I ever hit a regional with it before or not, but it had a 5 tournaments 5 wins record, so it's seen a bit of everything, now it's 6 for 6.

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?
Yup: Loss of Orbital Stability (LoOS), Docking Procedures, and Preparation, for example. In some games each one was useful. When I look at all the times over the game I played Preparation (at least once in each game), there was only one time that it made a BIG difference: when I found the obvious Hippocratic Oath lead-in to a med combo. Other times I just ended up hitting the mission anyway with no change to the attempt versus going in blind - a couple times I ended up waiting a turn to be able to pass a big wall that would have just stopped me anyway if I had attempted instead of looking at it.

A couple times I pulled off the one turn Docking Procedures next turn LoOS combo that bought me a couple turns of breathing room, but as you can see with only 3 of each in the deck they were just there for some situational use.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
No one card stands out as the MVP.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Yeah, losing your treaty when a large portion of certain skills in your deck are on your Bajoran Resistance personnel sucks when you realize you built this deck with NO back up treaty plan... Yes Bajoran Resistance Cell is good, but it can go horribly wrong, that game could have been VERY VERY hard if I had not been planning to solve mostly my opponents missions thanks to 40 point goodness, and our duplicated mission where I seeded a downloader dilemma combo so it does nothing to me but would have hurt him a lot.

My Commentary:
Remember that time that Ken was talking about a deck that is built to beat the Kazon armada? This is that deck. You get everywhere you need to go with Multidimensional Transport Devices and Hidden Fighters, and you're further protected by the Goddess of Empathy when you've got to solve a space mission.

Like the other decks this week, this deck isn't exactly overloaded on play engines. It has enough to keep up with other speed decks, but in the place of those additional engines, that's where you've got the utility it needs to avoid the battle. If you added something like the Son'a or the Nanobiogenic Weapon people, not only would you need to risk battle just to gather them, but it would dilute out essential anti-battle tools like the aforementioned Goddess of Empathy.

Like Thomas' deck, this one also uses an uncommon but powerful draw engine. Temporal Shifting has the lightest requirements of any of the "card play to draw 3+" card engines. For example, Kivas Fajo - Collector can be reflected, Handshake needs a large enough deck size to handle pitching three cards at a time, and Let's See What's Out There/New Frontiers both need personnel at a mission where they can't be played. Temporal Shifting just needs you to be able to discard an AU-icon personnel - and even has the flexibility to be played offensively on an opponent who is unlikely to have an AU-icon card to discard.

Because of the strength of the draw engine relative to the number of play engines, this is also a good deck for the type of player who likes to have a hand with multiple play options available. Interrupts like Docking Procedures and Loss of Orbital Stability play right in to this play style, as they can be held until the correct opportunity to stall your opponent optimally. Now, when I'm playing First Edition, I like to revel in the fact that I don't really need to carefully track everything my opponent is doing, so this type of deck isn't really for me. But it might be for you; I encourage you to examine your own technique. If it matches with one of these decks, print them out and give them a spin - you might find something you love to play.


See you tomorrow with the Second Edition winning decks!


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