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The Road to Worlds: Russian Nationals

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

14th October 2015

The fourth annual Russian National Championships were held on October 11th in Moscow, Russia! Andrey Gusev took first place, making it his first major event victory in the Continuing Committee era. Like the 2014 Russian Regional, this event was held in the experimental Delphic Draft format. This mode combines a set of 5 preconstructed starters (virtual starters this year, transwarp starters last year) combined with randomized boosters made from a carefully selected pool of cards intended to work specifically with those starters. Three boosters per player are passed around until they're gone, and then the championship begins!

So, this Delphic Draft looks like a fun and interesting format. I see that the options for virtual starters this year were Romulan, Bajoran, DS9 Earth, Ferengi and Maquis. Did you have any choice in which starter you got? Were the Romulans the ones you wanted? Were there any decks that you didn't want to get?
We got decks randomly. The starters were known in advance and when I looked through them before the event I remember I thought to myself - the Romulans looks solid, probably the best one - with Donatra, Ptol x3, Data, Karina, Viceroy, Bird-of-Prey x3 and Uninvited. But I cannot say that I wanted this one in particular; I actually hoped to get some play achievements since I still have to play Bajor or DS9 Earth. I had played a couple of tournaments with Ferengi and Maquis already, and picking any of them would be a step closer to play 5 achievement. Basically, I was looking forward to the event no matter which starter I received.

Comparing the deck you finished with to the Romulan virtual starter, I see you picked up a good number of useful cards. What were your drafting priorities? Were you going for tough dilemmas, solid personnel, or easy missions first?
After getting the deck and looking though it closely, I thought that I should concentrate on getting more 6+ cunning personnel, second space mission and more events for Karina. So sometimes I left good dilemmas in favor of good personnel or missions.

Of course, drafting isn't just about getting what you want; its also about keeping your opponents from getting what they want. Were there any cards that you drafted just to keep them out of other players' hands?
I think I never took a solid card for other affiliation. Every time I looked at the cards I either saw a bunch of solid cards for me (and they actually made me blind for other cards in the booster) or there were no really good cards left in it.

Even some cards that you intend to use when drafting don't make it in the final deck. What are some tough deck-building decisions you had to make? Did you make any changes during the event?
I cut all [Rom] Klingons and that made room for other personnel I drafted. Also, I added events and that meant I needed to remove some interrupts - that was not an easy choice. I had second copies of some good unique personnel and it was tough to decide whether to include them or not. In the end, the deck contained only Tal and T'Rul in double, for their abilities, and that proved to be a very good choice. Once the deck was finalized before the first round it didn't see any further change - it performed well and won games.

The event doesn't end once the deck is drafted and built, you still get to play it! What was the deck's toughest match-up? Did you find any surprising strengths or weaknesses of the deck through playing it?
No particular bad match-up. I think the weakest part of the deck was the dilemma pile - I hadn't drafted any really good dilemmas (except maybe Miner Revolt). I did add some low cost dilemmas and there were already some low cost ones in there which worked well with Uninvited. It also increased the chances to get something useful from the top when I got draw 1/spend 1 on dilemmas - it worked twice (out of two such cases!). Also, in one game I used 'Geordi'/Undercover Resource combo to get additional counters and make my opponent's life harder.

Do you have anything else to say about the deck or your experience playing it?
Well, before the event I thought that Romulans were probably way better than any other starter (from the 5 picked). After the event, I know that is true but only if you can: A. remove all Klingon staff and substitute with good Romulans or N/A, B. take all Cunning missions, and C. throw in more events and good dilemmas. But this probably could be said about any other starter too, so it's not that obvious. Romulans have more really good cards in the starter than any other affiliation we had though.

Thanks Andrey! Definitely an interesting sealed format to keep an eye on if you're looking to run a draft event of your own. I'm interested to see what (if any) changes we'll see if and when there's an event that uses it next year. And when that event happens, you'll hear about it here on... The Road to Worlds!


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