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Trek World Tour Conclusion 2: The Calm Before the Storm

by Fritz Meissner, Traveler

27th October 2015

I arrived in the land of Oz after more than 24 hours in the air, but with plenty of time to recover from jetlag. I was staying in a spot rented from "Grace" via AirBnB (cost-saving pro tip #1: Use AirBnB for half the price of a hotel!) within 10 minutes walk of the venue. After I arrived, I went off to a nearby grocery store (cost-saving pro tip #2: avoid restaurants!) to find sufficient supplies to allow uninterrupted hibernation. In a moment of I'm-so-tired-I'm-awake, I popped into the TrekCC chat to find Americans awake with daylight outside. At home, I am firmly in the middle of the world time-zone wise, used to only seeing Americans at the start of their day when my own is at its end. I confided in Charlie, Jay, and Jordan my 5 space plans for world domination, including the tale of my Kassel training (see last the previous part of this series) and briefly pondered the possibilities of the 2E cool format, as I did not yet have a deck printed for that. Jay started telling me something, but I realised I was too tired an...

...d woke up in darkness to the sound of someone Australian (I could tell by the volume) saying, "Oh, is there someone in there!?", presumably about my occupancy of the room that formerly held the other tenant's shoes, th...

...en woke up again at 4 am to the sound of recycling containers screeching as the collectors scraped them along the road outside. It wasn't that my body thought it was a different time so much as it didn't know what time is, so I did a bit of admin and had a couple of test games playing both sides in LackeyCCG. My deck hadn't magically gotten worse since I last tried it.

I didn't do much with that first/second day, just found a place to print a few cards (including Alsuran Sector which I had accidentally left behind in Kassel) and scoped out the venue and the nice park next to it. Somewhere in the haze, I had been chatting with Justin Ford who was waiting in the airport in Vancouver. He decided he wasn't going to sleep after getting off the plane, so we made plans to meet up for some tourism about an hour after he would land. Also, Australian wildlife is from a different planet:

There's something different about this pigeon

The early tourism is a bit of a blur: somewhere between meeting up with Justin “sleep is irrelevant” Ford on Wednesday morning - an hour after his flight from Vancouver - and Sunday, we caught the botanical gardens, the Opera house, Harbour Bridge, Manly “Island”, the Blue Mountains, and Darling Harbour, plus a whole lot of walking through the city centre, street markets, skyscrapers on water, and so on. I have too many pictures to show them all here, I hope you'll be satisfied with this Kangaroo:

From left: Prawn, Octopus, Kangaroo

On Sunday, Justin headed off to Brisbane for the zoo and a warmup tournament / Dillon-Van Breemen family grudge match, while I was doing the Sydney warmup at Good Games Burwood. I wasn’t going to give anyone a chance to scout my Voyager, so I went with the fast, simple Cardassians I used in London and German Nationals.

I arrived late but was impressed to see a game store full of trek players. With several Sydney regulars MIA, it was mostly new players. It was also a chance to put faces to some forum names: Kieren / Honest (who went undefeated on the day), Mathyas / Stoovie, and Daniel Waller / Walzo who handed me my only loss of the day. Daniel beat me with 5 space Voyager in a game which hinged on him excluding 3 captains with Mortimer Harren, when I expected Personal Duty to stop a lot of people. The fact that Voyager could win against the very focused, fast solver I was playing left me confident in my own deck choice for Worlds.

It was more tourism Monday and Tuesday, including the world famous Bondi beach:

...and an evening meal with Mike and Sam plus the various travellers. I met Stoovie’s long-time Perth rival and recent returnee to the game: Danny Powell for the first time; and the other North Americans and chat room regulars: The Van Breemens and Ken Tufts.

Live long and take selfies

Then on Wednesday it was the beginning of the real thing. Months of buildup and years of dreaming about the Star Trek CCG World Championships were not disappointed when I was presented with my World Champs pass plus SWAG.

Infinite Diversity Draft

We started the week with an Infinite Diversity draft, in which I misunderstood a few things but lucked into a decent deck anyway. In the mission pack, I saw Genesis Planet and completely misunderstood it. I’d read about it but never played it, and in general the only cards I know well are those which have been tournament staples in the last two years. I thought I could solve it twice (and you only need two solves in ID), so I planned to draft hard for those skills, plus some extra 5 point tricks to fuel the Genesis explosion.

The second mistake was due to hearing the draft rules for mixing personnel and forgetting how Finding Our Way works. I could play my voyager personnel for extra at the Borg HQ, or I could play them to Voyager for the normal price, so I figured I might as well draft anyone. During the second pack, conversation around the table made me realise that I wouldn’t be able to download Voyager with FOW if I used the Borg HQ. I was a bit flustered by this, but despite being indecisive for the next pack I stuck to Non-Aligned and Voyager personnel from there on. Mostly, I came out with the skills I wanted in spades, except for Biology where I only drafted two personnel (I suspect I wasn’t paying proper attention). To get points for Genesis Device I had two copies of The Orion Underworld, Raise the Stakes and Croden, Dissembler.

Mistake three I only realised during my first round game against Michael van Breemen. Quadrant rules are ignored in ID Draft, but we decided that this shouldn’t affect Voyager’s game text. My only Delta Quadrant mission was Caretaker’s Array, so it was like playing with a normal HQ: I had to move back there to report personnel using Voyager’s text. Later on in the tournament it was ruled that the ID quadrant rules also made it possible for Voyager personnel to report anywhere, I’m not sure what the “right” answer is.

In any case, I was off to a decent start, I think solving Genesis Planet with Raise the Stakes out just after MVB got his first (his Borg were loving the attribute boost from Raise the Stakes). Then my misunderstanding. I spend the 5 points to blow up Genesis Planet and start giving MVB his dilemmas back. He says, “No, they stay there”, and I can’t believe my luck. Surely it wasn’t that powerful, why isn’t it in every deck!? There were 6 or 7 dilemmas under, and I (thought I) could solve again with 6 people. So thinking I had won the game, I announce my attempt, and MVB asks: “What are you doing?”

Of course I was despondent once I understood that the mission can’t be solved again (and indeed, why would it?) but I noticed Colony Preparations on my spaceline which overlapped nicely in skills with Genesis Planet. Of course I had picked missions for overlapping skills, but I’d basically forgotten it in the Genesis hype. I lost that game but won my other games due to the solid mission skill redundancy and a lack of really punishing dilemmas in the format, while my opponents were slowed by not drawing ships or mission skills. Not having an HQ at all made one or two dilemmas fizzle, too.

We ended the draft pretty late and took a brisk walk to Mike Nugent’s home / car, then a lengthy drive to Sydney central for the cool tournament, or “Trek in the Pub”. The drive was a good chance for conversation with Mike, Perth Danny and Mathyas. I noticed a great quality about Mathyas for a volunteer organiser: he always stops to ask, “What do you think?” rather than ploughing ahead with his own opinion.

Cool Tournament

I’d had to print out something new because nothing I had brought from home was “fun”. I went with Jem’Hadar combat, which counts as fun because nobody is using it in “real” tournaments. On Tuesday, I had assembled a bunch of cards which had some really fun 1E-type synergy: Invasive Transporters gets my Jemmies onto my opponent’s ship, then goes to the bottom of the deck. Limara’Son initiates combat then goes to the discard pile. Kar’takins add extra kills and then go to the bottom of the deck. Weyoun, Scheming Negotiator can put Limara’Son on the bottom of the deck too, then Yelgrun brings them all back into my hand. Since Yelgrun kills people, I can play the guys who are only really there for “when you play this personnel” effects more than once: Luaran, Gelnon, Crom for drawing and downloading power. Great for setting up the moving parts.

I was still cutting cards in the car and at the pub, which by all appearances was quite a trendy place in the centre of Sydney. Still, no-one blinked an eye at the table of 15 or so nerds mucking about with cardboard pictures from Star Trek.

In game one against Danny Powell’s Cardassians, I found my moving parts easy to set up but not so good at killing. What gave it some semblance of effectiveness was the Tragic Turn pile that I paired it with. I felt dirty bringing TT to a cool tournament, but it was the only pile I had with any synergy for my Jem’Hadar. Fortunately, and despite slaughtering his first crew, Danny was still able to grab the win, and I had my fun with playing Crom after downloading Crom with Crom. Plus, I got a few Jem’Hadar and some weapons onto his ship.

Then game two was about the most fun that can possibly be had in a game of cardboard Star Trek characters. Mike Nugent and I answered the question that has puzzled philosophers since ancient times. In a fight to the death, who would win: genetically enhanced human super soldiers led by Khan Noonien Singh, or bred for battle Jem’Hadar?

At first, the Jem’Hadar looked like they had it sewn up: they brought their blades and superior numbers to Khan’s hood on Ceti Alpha V, killing Khan and Joaquin. That's more or less game over, or so it seemed! Arrogant in their superiority, the Jem’Hadar failed to keep their eye on the big picture. Rumours of Khan’s death had been greatly exaggerated, and the superior sleeper awoke. Likewise his Superhuman Lieutenant. With a mission solve and ship the superhumans braved the stars and once again found themselves cut down, but again Kahn came back from the dead. With a willingness to pay any price for victory, Kahn blew up an entire planet to leave Jem’Hadar bodies floating in space amongst the asteroids. Victory by KO and massive coolness points to Mike Nugent!

Game three was against Craig Giblett’s TOS ship battle. TOS ship battle normally wants the opponent to get a damage marker from dilemmas, but of course I wasn’t interested in solving. Craig decided to go solving since I wasn’t going anywhere and got his personnel killed by Tragic Turn and then his ship occupied by Jem’Hadar. He managed to blow up my troop transport ship and parked his occupied ship at his headquarters, but I was able to send a second crew for a bit of intellectual distraction and solve more missions than he could.

In all this was an incredible night of Trek with a bunch of new faces and a great meal. Trek in the Pub gets a big thumbs up from me.

First Edition Worlds

I hadn’t played First Edition since 2003 and I didn’t have a deck, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from getting the most out of my Ultimate World Championships pass! Justin Ford offered me his Mirror Quadrant deck earlier in the week but my eyes glazed over while we discussed it. Fortunately he pointed me to Ken Tufts’ “loaner” deck which he brings to every event in the hope that another player will pick it up. In the morning before the tournament, Ken explained all the free reports and draws in his TNG/AMS deck. My proudest moment of the day was me bringing up Scorched Hand before Ken did; in fact most of the cards in the deck (apart from the Continuing Mission stuff) were out before I quit First Edition.

I apologise in advance for the lack of details, I’m out of practice. Game One was against Greg Dillon playing Starfleet, and he basically explained his whole deck in the process of winning. There was barbering, so that was cool (5 points!). I was slow and I’m glad he got the full win out of the game. It would have been a poor showing to mess with the record of one of the top contenders because I wanted to have a 1E lark.

Game Two was Craig Giblett again, and I’m afraid to say the dangerous combination of my confidence from being a “long-time player” plus Craig’s newness to 1E lead to some seriously dodgy misuse of cards that I didn’t actually properly remember after 12 years. Numerous single person redshirts despite seeding a Q’s Tent: Civil War; a Secure Homeworld download of Roga Danar to a ship instead of an outpost; and forgetting that my already-damaged U.S.S. Galaxy should have been destroyed when I failed Gomtuu Shock Wave. Fortunately Craig still won, and we wouldn’t have known any better had Ken Tufts not been watching and pointed out my mistakes at the end of the game.

After lunch, Shane Brierly was looking for a deck to join in mid-tournament. I’d had plans to drop after round three anyway, so I ditched a round earlier so that Shane could take over the deck, and I’m sure he did better than I would have. With a small amount of guilt over the possibility of messing up someone’s strength of schedule, I left the venue to go visit some South African friends who now live in Sydney.

Cube Draft

Friday, while the top 8 First Edition players battled it out, another Australian favourite side event took place: Kieren’s cube draft. This format is much closer to normal 2E than ID draft is, with the same win conditions as complete. The only difference being that dual dilemmas go back to the dilemma pile after a solve, but in my games even that didn’t seem necessary.

In my opening pack, I saw some good Cardassians so I focused on them with the thought of possibly splashing some Dominion. A few picks later, I saw some really strong Dominion cards come past me for the second time and I realised that they were under drafted in my pod. I switched to Dominion exclusively and came up with a really solid single HQ Dominion deck. I had missions with good overlap: a major in Leadership, Navigation, and Security plus a minor in Exobiology, albeit in different quadrants. I had all of the skills I needed, with an unusual mix of Dominion personnel that made me strong against dilemmas the Dominion would normally struggle with. Nobody remembers that the jug has Physics!

Wins against Kieren and Amber van Breemen put me at the top table against MVB in round three. Michael had exploited - to devastating effect - a quirk in the psychology of trek drafting. When opening packs, the memory of Decipher packs stuck with me. Accordingly, I assumed that Ferengi would be few and far between. They’re only really from one set, right? Further, Ferengi rely on lots of tricks, and those tricks aren’t available in limited, right? Wrong on both counts, and while it seems most of us ignored them completely, Michael drafted what was basically a constructed-ready Ferengi deck. My basic deck with good attributes, decent skills, and immunity to Instigate Dissension was no match for the Ferengi tricks.

One other highlight that sticks out was the mirror match against Harshana Randeni’s Dominion which was even more focused than my own, with four strength missions plus Crom and Mobilization Points. He was playing for the full win with the last turn after time, and had two ships with personnel to solve. I hit him with Mutinous Guests, which stopped his first crew and pushed the second ship to a planet where they were out of range of the mission. Play of the day to hang on for a mod win!

Cube draft feels like a really solid format. I’d love to see this format be made part of more competitive events, even multi-format qualifying for Worlds elimination. The skill in drafting really beats the randomness of normal sealed competition.

MVB ended at the top of the standings and with that won the two-round Words bye that traditionally comes with the WCT event at worlds. I finished third and consoled myself with the thought of more Trek. The tournament had ended late-ish, so all the surrounding restaurants were closed except for a South African favourite: Nando’s!

I couldn't resist

Five months away from home and I wasn’t going to ignore the opportunity. I convinced the North Americans to join me and regretted it a few minutes later when we discovered how average the chain’s food is in Australia. Whatever health law it is that prevents Nando’s REAL sauce from being used in Australia needs to be repealed.

Back home, I was up a few hours deck checking and making one last addition to 5 space for the next day: Original Thinker Kirk for the inevitable Secret Identity picks on my other really strong Fed personnel. Then nervous sleep before the biggest day of my Trek career.

Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment of Fritz's Trekabout: Second Edition Worlds!

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