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The Road to Worlds: UK Nationals

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

7th December 2015

It's the weekend of the Australian National Championships! To distract you momentarily from hitting refresh, looking for results, perhaps I could offer you a look at the UK Nationals decks and winners:

First Edition 2015 UK National Championships Winner Stefan de Walf
Title: Ridge to Ridge
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Emblem of the Alliance, Bajoran Resistance Cell, The Regent's Flagship, Quark's Bar, Blood Oath
Draw Engines: Study Divergent History, Bajoran Resistance Cell, Historic Coming Together, Renewal Scroll
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists
See also: The only other Klingon/Bajoran post-Crossover deck I could find was Kevin Jaeger's deck that won the MN Masters warm-up event.

Stefan's Commentary:
Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?

I love playing Bajorans and I love playing Klingon, so finally playing both seemed like a good thing to do. The deck offers a lot of flexibility and speed so I thought it might perform well. It was the only be deck I built, but I thought about reusing one of the other decks that performed well for me in the last tournaments like the Fed or T'Ong drop deck.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
The only thing I really did not like to face was something that is big on capture. I also didn't know how the deck would do in a straight speed match-up. I hoped to face decks with only a small number of ships so I could decimate them with my space dilemmas and Klingon armada. I was very surprised to not face another mirror deck... I also expected a lot of Quantum Incursions flying around. I was extremely happy that it never came up in any of my games although I think most of my opponents packed it. I heard the stupid horror story about the card deciding some of the other games.

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 have a lot of experience playing Bajoran. I did not know how well the mirror stuff can be worked on and how well the skull matrix [I left this typo because more decks need to have a "skull matrix" -Lucas] would be for solving. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that they do quite fine and I was able to cut through dilemmas in a way I did not expect.

This is my first Mirror winner post-Crossover. Why go with a Klingon/Bajoran treaty deck instead of a more dedicated Mirror deck?
I did not see much benefit to including the Cardassians. Bajorans and Klingons bring a lot of good stuff in the mirror universe and by concentrating on them I was able to utilize their alpha stuff like the great Bajoran access point to the alpha quadrant via DS9 and Bajor and especially the two Klingon mission specialists which allow me to assure two card draws from Study Divergent History from the first turn on.

Blood Oath's ability to fetch ships at the cost of a card draw is strong - do you have a way to get a second Blood Oath personnel out early, or is it enough of a side-strategy that you can comfortably wait until a second is drawn?
One of the guys can be downloaded by Defend Homeworld, the other one by Going To The Top. I voted to draw into one and then download the other. Normally this would work very well. Only in the game against Peter did I need to waste my Defend Homeworld download for a resistance personnel and did not manage to draw into Kang. However, it wasn't my main strategy anyway but rather a nice add-on.

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 the Bat'leths because I was expecting some mirror match-ups or personnel battles but somehow that never came up. I would still include them, though. I don't know why I dropped the Infirmary, that came back to hurt me. I need more sources of reportable alpha science to travel through the wormhole.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Study Divergent History is huge, leading to two draws from turn one without to much cost. Disgraceful Assault is a sick card when used in combination with ship battle since you always get the damage and kill from the tactics which then often leads to falling the second condition and being stopped and extremely vulnerable. In one match I was able to finish off a ship with my freighter after it was damaged and stopped by DA.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Not about the deck but thanks to all the guys that made the tournament great once more. UK events are awesome! Whoever is not going to Worlds next year is going to miss out on a lot of fun.

My Commentary:
While the winning First Edition decks from this past weekend don't look very similar at first glance, they both have something pretty powerful in common: neither one relies on a primary draw engine that costs a whole card play. Being able to avoid using something like Handshake or New Frontiers, or even the powerful Temporal Shifting that the mirror factions have access to, grants decks a huge degree of flexibility about how they play out their cards. Even in a deck like this one, where most cards are free anyways, there's still a benefit to freeing up the card play. I've certainly played games where all my people for one engine seem to be at the bottom of my deck, and I'm stuck playing out personnel from just a couple of my available play engines. When the card play isn't taken up with a draw engine, you have the chance to play down cards from play engines you're already utilizing that turn, without dropping your speed too much.

Of course, a big part of what makes this possible is Bajoran Resistance Cell. The Cell is a perennially popular play engine, for the obvious reason that it is also a draw engine. There's not much that the non-Klingon KCA-icon personnel could bring to the table to make it worth using the Alliance Treaty over the two-seed-slot-costing Bajoran/Klingon Treaty. The draws from it can come online early, and then, once the Espionage cards run out, Study Divergent History should be at full power. Study Kira's Thigh is another drawing powerhouse, and unlike Duck Blind or Ancestral Vision, you don't need to spend many resources protecting the personnel who activate it. Stefan's use of Mission Specialists to set up the History draws is quite clever - I'll have to keep that one in mind.

While I'm listing this deck as a speed solver, it should be noted that the deck is pretty flexible when it comes to battle. The very powerful Recency 1 is seeded, and can get its commander on turn one through a download built-in to its related play engine (The Regent's Flagship). That's one Ready Room Door away from being a 12-13-13 behemoth. Only the most aggressive decks out there would want to trifle with that, and even then would take heavy losses. Even if Blood Oath's cheap K'Vorts don't come online until later, opportunity attacks are easy when you can leap across 3-5 locations in a turn. Of course, they are even easier when Disgraceful Assault is lurking. Yes, I expect to see more decks like this one popping up.

Second Edition 2015 UK National Championships Winner Mr Slade
Title: Relativity 1.7
Headquarters: Prevent Historical Disruption
Deck Size: Large (60+)
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: Medium (30-49)
Dilemma Pile Type: Unfair Comparison
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.23
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 7%
See also: It's hard to throw a tribble without hitting another Relativity deck on this site, but here's my review of version 1.3 of this deck, and here's Mr Slade's tournament profile, where you can see and compare 6 different versions of it.

Mr Slade's Commentary:
Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?

I considered building a new Bajoran (I like their discard pile tricks and assault devastation) or Borg (they also have some new tricks) deck. Having not played since the European Continental Championships, I decided to use a Relativity deck. I thought it would be better to play with a deck/dilemma pile I knew inside out rather than something new. I play Relativity a lot so I was worried about being meta'd against but so be it. I had a choice between the Stakaron Relativity and the one I played. The Stakaron one has interrupt prevention but I was concerned that people had been building their dilemma pile specifically against these missions.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was worried about playing against Dominion and Crippling Strike. I added Exceed Engine Output. Nobody played Dominion but if they did, I was planning to get USS Wells in play too and to move as soon as possible (bait them into playing it).

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 added Resilience but faced no battle decks. I didn't add Emergency Evacuation because I don't think its good enough at 2 cost. I was ruthless in cutting the deck down to 60 cards E.g running 1x Anthony Braxton instead of 2 in my previous deck.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
I kept my Unfair Comparison dilemma pile which again performed great even though I chose badly a couple of times. So glad Voyager needs 4 missions to win. My MVP this time was The Trail Never Ended which was awesome (for cycling Identity Theft against Nick).

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
On the train ride up, we were talking about Worlds in London. We're very excited to be hosting it and welcoming our Trek friends from around the world. Also, a big shout out to everyone who made the journey this weekend, including the 1E players who we missed.

My Commentary:
I'm surprised that I haven't talked about another Unfair Comparison pile since the last time I covered this deck. I suppose that it's a pile that regulates its own popularity, since it weakens significantly in the mirror match. In such a match-up, the faster deck, the one that attempts first and sees the opponent's dilemmas first, has the advantage, since then you'll know if your own Unfair Comparisons will hit (there's a similar effect with Legacy piles). Back when this pile was hot, I imagine more than a few players got burned by whiffing with an Unfair against another player using the same pile, and haven't looked back.

It's a shame, because it's still a good pile. Being able to stop three for two cost is incredibly powerful (even Chula decks are happy to stop three for four cost), and really helps set up the more expensive dilemmas like Whisper in the Dark or Where No One Has Gone Before. A faster deck, like this one, is a great deck to pair up with Unfair Comparison. The Temporal and Q events in the draw deck do a lot to support the slimmer pile, with things like Hindrance and Vacation from the Continuum to further stall the opponent. And, as Matt mentioned, The Trial Never Ended works really well here to recur Unfairs or any other card which is particularly good in the match-up you're playing. I, too, have noticed that Identity Theft is a good tech dilemma against Romulans, particularly in an event-heavy deck that can't afford to starve the Viceroy.

I like seeing a copy of Resilience here; Voyager, Equinox, and Relativity decks have always been a little too hard-countered by engagement decks for my taste. I wouldn't be surprised to see this card become a staple in these decks, though it can't completely replace cards like Exocomp or Geordi LaForge. Requiring the fourth damage marker buys time - most engagement decks are set up to either (a) apply two dilemma markers and battle with one ship or (b) apply one dilemma marker and battle with two ships... in the early game. In the late game, four markers shouldn't be a problem - but a Headquartersless deck making it to the late game versus an engagement deck should at least give that player a chance at winning.

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