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The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 1

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

7th April 2016

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.

We kicked off this Regional season with a Second Edition event in the Delphic Expanse and a double-header in Ferenginar. Kenneth Tufts took both titles in Washington state, defending his first place First Edition rating, and pushing him into second place for his all-time Second Edition rating. Alexey Korolev added to his recent thunderous online performances with a resounding victory at home in Moscow. Let's take a look at their decks:

Second Edition Ferenginar winner Kenneth Tufts
Title: Brown like poop.
Headquarters: Founders' Homeworld, Contingent Refuge
Deck Size: 50 cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 38 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2
Agonizing Count: 2
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 8%
See also: We had a wide variety of winning New Dominion builds last year; here are ones from Joel Skon, Daniel Matteson, Andrey Gusev, Tobias Rausmann, and Sascha Keifer.

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

Really, haven't you learned yet? Of course I chose it for achievements! I figured it would also be a bit of a counter to possible decks I might face, like Relativity or Rainbow Dash DS9, or really anything that likes to lean heavily on events or interrupts. I only had so much time to prep as being able to make it for 2e was a bit last minute (I had to get an extra day off work). I had DS9 Rainbow Dash with me as well because I knew I would be short on sleep and that deck is like this one easy to play and fun while being fairly solid.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I didn't really care what I faced, there was nothing specific I wanted to hit, I was generally comfortable with anything. I always hope to not face Maquis or really annoying Romulans, not so much because I fear them but because the games just tend to get annoying and less fun, when neither player can do anything much for most of the game.

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 had not played new Dom yet, but have played against Justin and Amber's versions before both of which I looked at before building this as cheat sheets to remind me of key cards so I did not have to look though everything. I didn't really learn anything I didn't expect from the design process, it pretty much ran as intended.

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?
Not really, unless you count general counter-spell type cards, Spiteful Strategy, Grav Trap, and Death is Glory, but they were basically useful in every game to varying degrees, I definitely would not cut any of them if playing the same version as they are kind of half the reason I chose Dom, I like counter-spells to stop people interfering with me.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Explicit Orders was a champ, while all cards work together to wards victory, it really allowed me to pull off some early solves or avoid bad dilemma effects several times.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Adding a 3rd Explicit Orders would be good plan :)

My Commentary:
That "see also" list up there? I think that, if you want to win a Regional this year, you need to have a plan for dealing with New Dominion decks. Of course, it is one thing to say that, and another thing to actually formulate such a plan. The basics are simple: have a route to at least 110 points to play around the Headquarters text - and another 5 wouldn't be a terrible idea since so many versions run Torga IV as one of its missions. Also, it would behoove you to be prepared for a bevy of interrupts, though predicting exactly which ones can be dicey.

Perusing the decklists linked above, you'll notice that there's actually a high degree of variability in exactly which interrupts the New Dominion decks run. Crippling Strike is very common and encourages the use of 9+ span ships (or 1-span headquarters) - I've seen some decks even dig A Long Road out of the binders to keep playing CS over and over. And yet, you could go to the trouble of playing a high cost ship and then be up against one of those New Dominion players who instead runs heavy on the mission helpers, like Explicit Orders or Dominion Hierarchy or Shrouded in Light. Or you could run many interrupt prevention cards, and find them blocked by an opponent who runs 3x Our Death and 3x Grav-Trap, like Ken does.

In teching your dilemma pile out for Dominion, we can take a page from Ken's own pile here. As nice as they are in most games, there are no copies of The Weak Will Perish - killing one for one under is not usually enough to slow down a deck with a high attribute to personnel ratio. But speaking of ratios, there's something else to see here: eight space dilemmas in a 38 card dilemma pile would have been unheard of a couple years ago. And three Personal Duties would be severe overkill - but that space Stakoron mission (and 5 space Voyager decks, which we'll get to next) heavily encourages the use of non-dual dilemmas, and has that troublesome double Officer requirement. Just be weary of that Explicit Orders!

Second Edition Delphic Expanse winner Alexey Korolev
Title: Hot Rod Gang
Headquarters: Caretaker's Array
Deck Size: 62 cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 35 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.13
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 0.5%
See also: Robert Dawson won the Second Edition Australian National Championships with a different version of 5-space Voyager.

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

I chose this deck mainly because I wanted to play it in real-life tournament with physical cards - after long months of playing it online. I seriously considered playing my new TNG deck (because everybody was expecting me playing Voyager), but that deck just was not ready in time.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was pretty sure that I would face several low-interaction solver decks with standard attrition dilemma piles, and I was quite ready for them. I also expected one Maquis denial deck - I played against it in a side event and had huge problems (80-70, closest game in whole weekend). I hoped nobody would play the weenie TOS deck with Aid Legendary Civilization and a kill pile - that deck totally destroyed my Voyager deck in recent online tournament. But the only player who might play it didn't show up.

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?
Actually, my second 2E deck back in 2012 was all-space Voyager (with Long Journey home). And I've played 20 competitive games with my current build - but all these games were online. You know, online 2E and real-life 2E are slightly different games and I had to adapt to new environment. For example, Field Studies was much less effective in real life than in Lackey.

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?
Just before the tournament, I put second copy of Cluttering Irrelevancies and two copies of Unexpected Difficulties to the deck (because I was expecting speed solvers and dilemmas like Unwanted Guests and Rapid Progress). These cards helped me against Oleg Ryzhikov's Ferengi in my first game, but were rather useless afterwards. Overall, I feel I need to cut this deck to 50-55 cards, but not sure which cards to keep and which to remove.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
It's a very hard choice because there are lot of excellent cards. Field Studies and Homeward Bound are the linchpins of this deck, but Janeway and Tal Celes had won me a game against Andrey and Anastasia Komananov did very well against Dariya. But I think that two MVP cards for this tournament were Mortimer Harren, Reclusive Genius and Tactical Disadvantage.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I think all-space Voyager is one of the best solvers in the game right now, but it should have (and really has) huge problems with any high-interaction decks or against kill pile.

My Commentary:
Five space Voyager wasn't around for last year's Regional season. I posit that, based on its success at local events in the intervening months, we'd have a similarly long "See Also" list if it had been available at that time. Based on that information, I'd say that, if you want to win a Regional, you should also have a plan for beating 5 space Voyager decks. Well, hopefully a plan other than "solve a planet and space and go to time."

Fortunately, as I mentioned in the first deck review on this page, you can tech for both match-ups in some similar ways. Running heavy on space dilemmas, particularly on things like Personal Duty can go a long way in both cases. The ability to nuke interrupts, especially in ways that can't be countered by Amanda Rogers, Grav Trap, and Our Death is also at a premium against both decks - I'm looking at you, Swashbuckler at Heart and Benjamin Sisko, Command Staffer.

While cards like Artificial Ability won't do as much against Voyager as it will against Dominion, there are plenty of other ways to help you against Voyager in your dilemma pile. The obvious way is to run 2-3 Moral Choices, like I'm seeing in most winning decks these days. Add in a Shocking Betrayal if you yourself are playing Federation for some more fun. The classic anti-Fed Rogue Borg Ambush won't do much good here on account of being a planet dilemma, but there's more. I've even seen decks run 2 or 3 Timescapes, which would have been unheard of outside a 70+ card pile, but can be a huge help against Homeward Bound.

That said, teching with dilemmas will only get you so far. If a Voyager deck starts knocking down missions, dropping attribute requirements with Chakotay, choking your dilemmas with Running a Tight Ship and Field Studies, outright blanking them with Inversion Mystery, it's probably time to start looking forward to the next round.

First Edition Ferenginar winner Kenneth Tufts
Title: OTF - Drink, feast, gamble and be youthfull forever - Care Bear version
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Bajoran Resistance Cell, Chamber of Ministers, Son'a Observatory, Insurrection, Quark's Bar, Docking Ports, Klingon Restaurant
Draw Engines: Bajoran Resistance Cell, Renewal Scroll, Miss Sarda, Not a Legal Expert
Bonus Point Mechanics: Dabo, Kira Taban
See also: Ken last used this deck to win the American National Championship.

Ken's Commentary:
What achievement - oh, I see, no kill dilemmas. I knew you couldn't possibly need any more wins with Bajorans. What other decks did you consider using?

I was originally considering several possibilities that focused on cards from the newest set, but with getting Saturday off last minuet and having to build 2e decks as well I ran out of time to build a totally new deck so took a quick look at what I could do with a quicker modifications and with a new dilemma achievement option I went with that as something I could do quickly so I had time to build my 2e side events decks as well.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
The Bajorans are a pretty good spread of coverage in ability to deal with what they face so I don't really ever hope to or not to face any thing specific.

Did you learn anything new about this deck when you played it this time? How did the lack of killing dilemmas work out for you?
I know the deck inside and out by this point so did not really learn anything new. The lack of killing dilemmas was not an issue because although I could not kill personnel, I could blow ships up really good between damage dilemmas, "God", and battle options with the battle bridge door.

In terms of situational cards, it looks like you added an Ablative Armor. Did you end up using it? Any regrets about going back to half and half Renewall Scroll/Kivas Fajo - Collector?
It was useful in my game against Justin's battle deck so yup used it and it was worth it. The swap back to half and half KFC/Renewal was better as in a couple games I started with low Bajorans and needed the KFC to get started, later game I could toss some KFCs with the scrolls so they did not get mirrored.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
The deck doesn't really have any one MVP in this version, but to name a card I'll go with DS9; it allows two partial free play engines (Bar and Cooks), and some free ships all while being able to be safe at my home-world.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
It continues to be a deck I find very fun to play, just an all round Swiss army knife of a deck, but it's only just barely winning games. Every game today was VERY close and a hard fought victory.

My Commentary:
I'm going to cop out here, and recommend that you review one of my previous commentaries on this deck - the most recent one is from the American Nationals. You can also review the interview from last year's World Championships - like that time, I've just added the questions about the changes in the deck to the interview. Enjoy!


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