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The Road to Worlds: North American Continental Championships

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

6th August 2015

This is it: the last major event before the World Championships are held this September in Parmatta, Australia. From now, you've only got about a month and a half to fine-tune your designs in anticipation of the main event. So, without further ado, let's take a look at the winners from the North American Continental Championships at Gen Con!

On Friday, the two-part First Edition Continentals were held, drawing sixteen players. Daniel Matteson won the first half, but Ryan Sutton took the rematch to win day two, which was held in a new round-robin format. Ryan used the same deck for both parts of the event, and it looked like this:

Title: "Good Tea. Nice House." (source)
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Federation Flagship: Relaunched, Bajoran Resistance Cell, They Call Themselves the Maquis, Son'a Observatory, Insurrection, Free Orion Slaves
Draw Engines: Handshake, Bajoran Resistance Cell
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists, Matthew Dougherty, Kira Taban

Ryan's Commentary:

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
I was really up in the air as to what deck I was going to use in the beginning but the closer GenCon got the more I was sure I was going to use what I did. I considered using TNG Federation, TNG Klingons (Legit-side), Borg, DQ Mash-up, and a couple different Genesis Device decks. I ended up choosing the Ent-E / BRC / Son'a / Maquis / Baku because I felt that the reliability of the deck was way above all my other choices. It is only a few cards different other than dilemmas from my Orlando Masters deck. I was ultra familiar with the deck because I have been working on the core deck fundamental for probably 2 years.

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 face decks that were slower than mine for solving and single ship (2 ship-ish) decks as my dilemmas were geared to work better against that type of deck. I did not mind interaction at all, as I was prepared for it. I really hoped not face Genesis Device decks as they, if played properly, can move very quickly with little dilemma solving numbers. I also did not want to play against Kazon Battle. I was able to beat Kazon Battle in Orlando, however, the spaceline favored me in that game which helped a ton. Of course, Borg is always a scary thought as Assimilation and Stop First Contact could have been pretty nasty to my deck.

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 did have a lot of experience playing this deck as I played a very similar version of it at Trek Masters Orlando and I had played a similar deck a few years ago in a regional before Maquis was released and added to the deck. As for what I learned about the deck this time: I found that if I hesitated in any way because of being scared of a dilemma combo that could potentially be under a mission, it caused me to loose. I hesitated in Day One against Daniel and it cost me the game. I also hesitated against David and it cost me the game as well.

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?
This is the first time I have played in an OTF event since In the Zone was banned. I was very concerned with loosing the ability to slow my opponent if I was ahead. So I included Mission Debriefing for the extra added safety net of keeping my opponent from completing multiple missions in one turn. It worked well in every game. I also had Computer Crash in my deck which was very handy in a couple of games. However, it is something that I would possibly leave out depending on my dilemma strategy.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
As I had 3 Deanna Troi (FC) in my deck, she was ultra handy in unstopping my away team in almost every game which was essentially like having another turn within a turn. I was really happy with the deck. I made no changes between Day 1 and Day 2. I was ultra confident in my deck and the only cause of angst Daniel was not because of my deck it was because I had bad luck with my spaceline and I hesitated. I knew that if I didn't hesitate against Daniel on Day One I would have won. So essentially I felt like I just needed to play better to win as all errors were via me and not my deck's fault at all.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I just want to thank all the CC Volunteers at the Events at GenCon. It was a blast this year! We honestly have the best community in all of Gaming! Counting the days 'til GenCon 2016!

My Commentary:
As Ryan notes, this deck is quite similar to his Orlando Masters deck, one which I already covered in week 3 of the Regional Season. I have to say, I'm honestly quite surprised that we haven't seen more like it. I suppose it is possible to tech against a Federation treaty deck like this with cards like Admiral Cartwright and The Devil; we saw a fair amount of those show up last Regional season, leading to Federation-free free-report-salad decks like Johannes' from German Nationals. That said, a deck that only uses one Bajoran and one Federation play engine (out of six) isn't affected that much by Treaty Destruction. In fact, I'd go so far as to say thay, with six play engines and Handshake for draws, you could very easily play an entire game without utilizing a whole engine.

Part of why I'm surprised that we haven't seen that much of this deck type is that, in a world where Kobayashi Maru Scenario and Your Galaxy Is Impure are very popular, quantity of personnel is going to beat quality. And as I mentioned in week three, it's not like personnel quality is actually low in a deck like this. He's got answers to most popular dilemmas - Quantum Incursions is answered by three Trois and the Handshakes to find her, and adding in the Orions supplies a large number of AU-icon personnel (and I can only imagine that Vina's dial-a-skill was permanently set on empathy). Meanwhile, Blaze of Glory Ro Laren eats Spatial Rifts, and Harad-Sar can download the Leadership-heavy Navaar after Personal Duty stops all the other Leadership. There's even a whole pile of equipment, including hand weapons for Denevan Neural Parasites and Transport Inhibitors to block bloodthirsty Jem'hadar.

Beyond that, I don't have much else to say that isn't just a retread of my week 3 article. There are some new dilemmas, like Combo Scow to combo with Mission Debriefing, and the Personal Duty/Friendly Fire combo shows up twice but otherwise I'm seeing several of the same equipment-related stall dilemmas from last time (Ferengi Bug, Invasive Procedures). I am also a fan of seeing Computer Crash, since it doesn't affect a free play salad deck much, but it can cripple decks that require a more intricate set-up. Perhaps interestingly, this is the first time I'll finish a Continental-level deck review without asking: "is it broken?" about any particular element here. Instead, the story here is the raw speed; if you want to discuss that, well here's the forum thread for you.

 

The Second Edition Championships on Saturday, which drew twenty players, had a similar format. Phil Schrader won the first day after only losing to Jeremy Benedict, but it was Nick Yankovec (who did not lose a single game on day one) who came out on top on day two. He used a New Dominion deck for day one, but for the round robin he used this:

 

Title: Gamma and Green - Nick SMASH!
Headquarters: Romulus, Seat of Power
Deck Size: Large (60+)
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Medium (35-49)
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.20
Agonizing Count: 2
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 5.3

Nick's Commentary:

Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?
I built two decks for the NACC. A New Dominion solver and a Romulan The Die is Cast Gamma deck. I didn't have too much luck with either at the European Championships, so refined them, and more importantly, modified the dilemma piles. I briefly considered Cardassian and new 5 space Voyager, but was very inexperienced with those. So now I had two decks, one for the Qualifiers, and one for the Finals. But which one to play for each tournament? Get Chris Lobban to randomly select a deck turned out to be the perfect way of choosing!

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I guessed that Jeremy and Darrell would continue using their Dominion decks. I'm not much of a skill tracker, but as Dominion have been my go to affiliation since Call to Arms, I can skill track those in my sleep. Darrell had been using his kill pile all weekend, so ensuring Ruwon was in the attempt, I was happy I could beat that. Actually the deck I was most worried about facing was Phil's Romulan deck. I was worried a mirror match up would come down to a coin toss and the opening hand. I even removed all interrupts for this reason. As it happened, Phil changed to a Ferengi deck, which was a surprise, but I'd studied that deck previously. I did get lucky against it, though.

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 first saw a similar Romulan deck played in Denmark, by Loke. He never posted a deck list, so I built a similar deck from memory. It was based around the new Stakoron missions and The Die Is Cast. I played it in a local with moderate success, and then completely failed with it at the European Continentals. But I knew that there was something in this deck, so persevered with it, working strongly on the dilemma pile. I also broke it down to the basics, and then built it back up, modifying the third mission, and changing personnel to suit.

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 changed my dilemma pile slightly between the Qualifiers and the Finals, adding in one more copy of Adopted Authority and 2 copies of Artificial Ability. Who said Unnatural Selection doesn't have any good cards, eh? And as I previously said, I removed all interrupts as I suspected Phil would also be playing Romulans.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Now that's a hard question to answer... Against Darrell, definitely Ruwon, but generally it came down to two cards - the Stakoron missions. The +1 to dual dilemmas makes a HUGE difference to the way dilemmas are chosen and played.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Not about my deck, no. Although Phase II is making a huge impact, keeping the meta changing, and generally making every major tournament very different. And I would also like to state that the three games I played in the final were probably the best games I have ever played, against the greatest and nicest guys in Trek.

My Commentary:
Like our First Edition winning deck, this is another deck type that I'm surprised to have seen so rarely in this year's regional season. Nate W won the Chicago Masters event with a Romulan Gamma Quadrant deck, and that's it. I suppose that Romulans received errata to several powerful cards at the start of the season, so there was a perception of the affiliation being weakened. However, the errata issued were of the incremental variety and did not actually take any tools away from the Star Empire, and only slightly reduced the strength of this powerhouse faction.

What's interesting is that, like New Dominion, Gamma Quadrant Romulan is also new ground for people to make their mark on. It's not like some of the favorites from last season; Nate's DS9 solver and Slaby's Romulan ALC decks were both built on older cards and, when netdecked, they've largely been copied whole cloth aside from a handful of tech cards. When you look at Nick's GQ Romulan build and compare it to Nate's or Phil's from day one, you can see that there isn't a standard framework yet. You don't see any of the damage marker bluff from Nate's deck here, and there's none of the Fajo's Menagerie tech that you see in Phil's deck.

What you do see is a collection of very high quality personnel, with incredibly potent abilities, prepared to bust through missions with the help of The Die is Cast. Karina, Ruwon, and Donatra (made cheap with Energize and At What Cost? with reliable bonus points) all devour dilemmas; the ability to also chew through the deck to keep people unstopped and make dual dilemmas cost +1 is icing. We see Romulans using Die is Cast more than Cardassians in part due to the Bird of Prey's incomparable range, and Nick's got Expedient Opportunity to make the Bird as mobile in the GQ as it is in the AQ.

Another similarity to our First Edition winning deck is that neither Nick nor I are going to call any one element out as potentially overpowered. Romulans have lots of great tools, but at this point no one part of their arsenal stands out as above the curve. Furthermore, now that Navaar has (finally) seen errata, Romulans do actually have a disadvantage in that they have very limited options for dial-a-skill. Sure, their personnel have very long skill lists, so it's not exactly like they have skill holes (though Honor and Medical seem to be weak points on average for GQ Romulans), but if you're looking to tech against them for the World Championships, there's a potential Weak Spot.

 

That's it. There are no more major events before the World Championships. Have we already seen the winning decks? Or will someone get ahead of the meta and break out something completely new? Only one way to find out...

 


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