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The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 2

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

14th 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.

Week two of the Regional season brought us a Chicago double header and the San Diego First Edition event. Maggie Geppert won the Deep Space 9 Second Edition Regional even though no one including Maggie picked her to win in the predictions thread. Later that day, Thomas Vineberg won the Risa Regional for the second year in a row. The second half of the Chicago events wrapped up on Sunday with Corbin Johnson taking the gold in the Deep Space 9 First Edition Regional.

Second Edition winner Maggie Geppert
Title: Ooooo Shiny (Orbs)!
Headquarters: Bajor, Blessed of the Prophets
Deck Size: 63 cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 40 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.11
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 9.8%
See also: Maggie says that she adapted her build from a similar one by Oliver Thust. This is his most recently posted iteration.

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

Honestly, because it's the only one I have put together. This semester has been very busy for me, so I just haven't been able to devote any time to deckbuilding or playtesting. If I had time, I was thinking of building a Relativity deck for achievement purposes.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was hoping for slow decks, as microteaming works when you outrun your opponent.

I was hoping that I wouldn't face any decks that would require me to destroy events or prevent interrupts, because this deck doesn't have anything in it to do that. Also high on the list is Casey Wickum's TOS deck, which he ended up playing. Casey is a master skill-tracker, a skill which he uses mercilessly with Infinite Diversity and Rapid Progress. He combines this in the deck with Coordinated Counterattack, keeping people from gaining the skills they need to get around those dilemmas. My deck has a number of well-known skill gaps and no ways to gain skills, so this would be a big problem.

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 yet played this deck in a full tournament, though I had played it a couple of times and knew generally how things should work. During this tournament, I learned that the Xhosa is sneaky good. Beforehand, I would have said that the Orb Transport Vessel is the better ship because its attribute boost works all the time, not just moving in and out of the Bajor Region. However, I realized that the Xhosa's ability to subtract 1 from the range required allows a 6 range ship to move to a 2 range mission and back to Headquarters on the same turn. This is an advantage usually only enjoyed by ships with range 8 or higher.

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?
Insurrection was a very useful card in my game against Al. It stopped his Klingons several times at Investigate Alien Probe. It had been a dead draw in the other games I've played with this deck, as I hadn't seen any missions that it could target. My game against him would have been very different if I had not drawn and played it on his first attempt. Brian also had several missions that were Insurrection eligible, but I didn't draw it against him in that game.

A card that exceeded my expectations was Bajoran Gratitude Festival. I haven't played Bajorans often, and have almost always gone with Bajoran Resistance builds, so I haven't explored their relationship with the discard pile very much. I hadn't realized how big it could get and how fast that can occur. Therefore, I didn't think I'd have the fuel to make use of the Festival to its full value. Those extra card draws were always handy, especially for putting more useful things in the discard pile!

I would leave out the Horga'hn and Tox Uthat in my next iteration. I think I put them in to try to get an equipment achievement, then got distracted and never followed through on it.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Bareil Antos, Esteemed Vedek is by far the most important card in this deck. His integrity boost to Bajorans is key to getting the smallest teams possible at those large missions. With him, I could complete Denorios Belt, Locate Celestial Temple with three personnel. If you throw in the Enterprise-J with him and some other heavy hitters, you can do Off-World Raid and Aid Lost Colony with four personnel.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I will give all credit to this build to Oliver Thust. I was working on my own Blessed Bajor build back in January, but ran out of time to test it (is anyone sensing a theme here?), so I found his deck and modified it with some cards that I felt would be important. There are a lot of great cards in here that I probably would have just passed by in my boxes; so thanks to him for teaching me some new tricks.

My Commentary:
I have a rule of thumb when it comes to including Transport Crash Survivor: if I can't take as much advantage of its absence as a Bajoran player could, I use it. And since I don't really think anybody can abuse its absence as much as the Bajorans can, I'm almost always using it (as long as there's no Crom or K'mtar stopping me). Two of Maggie's opponents weren't using it - TNG Integrity and Klingon sword decks can both pump the attributes pretty high while attempting low attribute requirement missions. Not using TCS in those decks is probably the right choice... right up until you're facing off against Bajorans, the affiliation that can microteam a >38 requirement mission.

Even with Transport Crash Survivor in the mix, Bajoran decks like this one (and Vineberg's deck from last year) that use Denorios Belt can at least avoid its effects until their second mission. That's good, because it is the single most common card across all decks on the website, and the power of an integrity-based deck fluctuates greatly depending on whether or not it is in play. Making it so it doesn't affect one of the three missions that the deck intends to solve smooths out the variability of the deck's performance. That means solving two 40 point missions in a bonus-point-light affiliation like Bajorans, but that's where Maggie's friend Bareil Antos comes in.

Another thing that Bajoran solver decks I've tried in the past have lacked is card advantage. That's where Fajo's Menagerie comes in. This deck has a pretty wide spread of artifact equipment, and the Menagerie can translate those into free draws. The draw deck cost curve here is reasonably low, allowing it to generally take full advantage of those extra draws - in general, draws decrease in value as the average cost of your deck increases. In a deck like my Georgia Masters deck, I wanted all the cards I could get because I could basically dump my hand every turn. A deck like the Romulan Kill/ALC deck is more interested in generating counters in order to dump the expensive, powerful personnel like Donatra. Maggie's deck is somewhere in between those two decks, where a drawing 3-4 cards 2-3 times per game with Menagerie supplements the counter gain of cheating high-cost people into play with Accession nicely.

First Edition winner Thomas Vineberg
Title: Tourism Authority of Bajor (Parallel Universe Branch)
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Play Engines: Center of Authority, Emblem of the Alliance, We Need You Here
Draw Engines: Process Ore, We Need You Here, Supplant Opposite, Renewal Scroll, The Intendant's Quarters, Study Divergent History
Bonus Point Mechanics: File Mission Report, Study Divergent History, Dabo
See also:

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

I wanted to use a Nor, as I like to have the versatility of dial-a-skill or dial-a-ship available. Plus, Quark’s Bar is a great mini-play engine and points engine. And I’d been meaning to try some of the new KCA cards ever since Crossover came out. This particular deck was under construction for a long time; it went through several iterations, starting with an attempt to combine KCA with An Important Victory (for the Rebellious Servants). That morphed into a very Ferengi-heavy contraption that wanted to get Zek to Mirror Quark’s Bar and start doing Ferengi Conferences. By the time I’d run into the limitations of those, Through the Looking Glass had released and given a big boost to the Center of Authority deck with Greater Glory of Cardassia (old-fashioned Ore Processing just got a lot better). So I went that route.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Not so much a deck as a card - I tried to prepare somewhat for Quantum Incursions, but KCA really struggles with Empathy and AU. I finally gave up on the AU completely, and had a few random Empathy and Supplant Opposite (for more Empathy) in there. Still, it was close to a lockout most of the times I faced it. On the other hand, I went out of my way to be more than prepared for the popular Medical Crisis, with a ton of MED/Bio, but I didn’t see any this tournament.

As far as decks, I didn’t want to be the next victim of TK’s capture/kill everything deck, but I assumed it might show up. I figured this was about as good a defensive setup as I was going to get for that, being based at a homeworld, behind a wormhole, having quick access to hand weapons, with a Battle Bridge and a bunch of low-staffing Alliance Interceptors that can both land and have formidable stats in the Bajor Region.

Despite the extra help from Greater Glory, it would have been a challenge to face Terran Terok Nor, but I didn’t think it was likely.

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’ve played a lot of decks with Nors and a lot of KCA, pre-Crossover, but this was my first time using them together with the new cards from Mirror block. I did a lot of test drawing and editing, so by the time I actually played it went mostly as expected. It fared slightly worse against the Quantum Incursions than I’d expected, and didn’t have a good answer for DNA Security Scan, which hadn’t been on my radar.

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 had some situational interrupts that didn’t see much play. Shrouded Assailants were replaced with Quinns at the last minute - as it happened no one was playing Handshakes anyway. I only used one Quinn during the tournament, but I appreciated having them there. I also had some battle defense cards that never saw play; again, they were definitely worth having available had it come to that. Thine Own Self was for use on Duck Blinds or Mining, but surprisingly no one was playing those.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Lots of choices, but I’ll say Intendant’s Quarters. With the Intendant’s personal extra draw, possibly the best place to use the already-strong Study Divergent History. The number of personnel of various classifications who can report or download there is very helpful too. Without it, the number of needed sites on the station to play everyone you might want to could become unmanageable. Plus, it’s just a fun, thematic card.

Runner-up would be the Alliance Interceptor - single staffing requirement, 9-8-6 stats in the Bajor Region (which all my missions were), downloadable at will to Docking Ports, and built-in, free landing capability! Awesome. Only the lack of tractor beams kept it from being the sole class of ship in the deck. Perfect for cross-quadrant expansion too: take one out early through the wormhole, land it safely on AQ Bajor, then beam back and forth at leisure with Multidimensional Transport Device.

On the seed side, Buried Alive might be my favorite dilemma ever. So many possibilities. Also, I was pleased with how well the A New Game-enhanced Chula combos worked.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I enjoyed playing this deck, would play again.

My Commentary:
Having reviewed a couple of Thomas' decks at this point, I'd say he has a fairly distinct personal style of deckbuilding. Usually this means that, while I'm looking though his deck for the header of this section of the article, I'm saying things like "yes, but were are the play engines" and "that's a lot of dilemmas!" This year's deck has moderated itself somewhat in the direction of including more seeded play engines and not using as many four dilemma combos, but it definitely still has that Vineberg feel to it.

I mean, look at all those draw engines! The drawing capability of the deck has the potential to vastly outstrip the playing speed. To a speed player like myself, the imbalance feels uncomfortable - I'd rather just play what I get and throw those personnel at missions and see what happens! Thomas is clearly a more methodical player and deckbuilder, and to him it is more important to have a variety of play choices available to him. Between the draw potential and We Need You Here, no wall dilemma should hold Thomas back for long; he should almost always have the answer by the next turn at the latest.

The next point of interest about his deck is positively heartwarming to me: there are no Referee cards. Skipping out on Q's Tent: Civil War is rare enough, but players who would do that would generally still seed Tribunal of Q and stock the most essential Referee-icon cards in the draw deck. Doing so had become a bit more common after the change to In the Zone, but I personally could not even imagine doing without any Referee cards until the recent change to OTF format. Including General Quarters and You Are a Monument in the OTF rules has made it possible to skip Referee cards altogether. You're still taking a chance in doing so; for example, who knows when you might suddenly be facing an Space-Time Portal drop deck and wishing for It's Only a Game? But with GQ and YAaM in the rules now, it's a reasonable risk to take, and speaking as someone who likes seeing new deckbuilding trends, this is an exciting time to be watching deck lists.

First Edition winner Corbin Johnson
Title: Moving Parts III: Out of the Zone v3 - GIVE ME GENESIS!!!
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Play Engines: Bajoran Resistance Cell, Chamber of Ministers, Quark's Bar, We Need You Here, Orb of Wisdom
Draw Engines: Habit of Disappearing, The Celestial Temple, Bajoran Resistance Cell, We Need You Here, Quark's Bar 
Bonus Point Mechanics: The Genesis Device, Dabo, Rescue Personnel, HQ: Return Orb to Bajor, Kira Taban
See also: This is the first Habit of Disappearing-based deck for this series. However, if you just like the play engines, you have plenty of decks to choose from. Maybe try Michael Van Breemen's Georgia Masters deck?

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

I chose the deck I brought because I had played a Genesis 2 mission win deck twice in the past locally and won both times. I had retired it after some complaining from the locals about how good it was and decided to spruce it up a bit and bring it back. I spruced it up by adding two key cards to the deck: Habit of Disappearing and several copies of Souls of the Dead. The synergy between the two cards is amazing.

As far as other decks considered: I was contemplating bringing a deck I'd built around the new card "Renewed Spirit" and "Habit of Disappearing" but my playtesting of it proved it to be fun but not competitive. I has also considered bringing my deck from regionals two years ago (Bajorans with lots of draws and lots of counters) but found that deck not quite ready either.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
What was I hoping to face? I was hoping to stay isolated and avoid interaction. What was I hoping to not face? Mirror matches (and have to fight for DS9's resources) or any deck capable of shutting down the linchpins (destroying the Genesis Device, shutting down draws from Morn, The Celestial Temple...) or anyone playing discard pile denial (Klingon Painsticks, Fire Sculptor or Burial Ground). Super fast decks probably would do well against this deck. I felt like I could probably sneak around an armada deck. QI would probably shut me down fairly quickly too.

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?
Prior experience? Yeah I feel like I had a good grasp on the Genesis Device two mission win aspect and the Bajorans. The only thing I was worried about was possibly having issues recovering cards discarded by HoD (it's a very new card!) but it turned out to not be an issue. In fact, HoD is probably my new favorite card. This deck taught me to consider in future decks to try to get as much Synergy as possible from all of my play and draw engines. I'm usually more interested in forcing something to work rather than find an elegant solution. In this case, HoD fits in perfectly with the SotD and Bajorans. In fact, it feels almost like it was designed for the Bajorans!

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?

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Habit of Disappearing or Souls of the Dead.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Advice to all players old and new: The discard pile can be a valuable resource.

One more thing: I didn't see "The Juggler" in any of the three games. I'm surprised I didn't because a trick of the deck was to use Souls of the Dead to put a card on top of my deck and then use BRC to draw two cards (essentially allowing me to draw any card in my discard pile).

My Commentary:
Reading Corbin's commentary about his use of Habit of Disappearing reminded me very strongly of discussions of the Hexany. Those threads both link to an article on Brad's old site, which is sadly defunct. However, the wayback machine has my back, and after some digging, here's Olav's original article. Yes, it's a long article; the short of it is, during First Edition's Dark Ages, there was a technique using six interrupts that could be used to build perfect hands. In Olav's own words, the Hexany is a "card selection engine" which could mean "you often ended up with more cards in hand" and it's "strength lay in the fact that those cards were more often than not the *right* cards for the situation."

There's a reason why most of those interrupts are banned and/or the targets of errata in the OTF format. After all, an engine that fills your hand and fills it with exactly the correct cards seems to defeat the purpose of playing a game with a randomized deck, right? So, at first glance, it seems problematic that Habit of Disappearing fills your hand, while also filling your discard pile with cards that you can just reach in and grab. The thing is, you can't just reach in and grab them anymore, in part because the Hexany interrupts are gone. Souls of the Dead, while strong in this scenario, is balanced by placing the cards on top of the deck, thus slowing down any potential combo. It also can't just be placed in any deck, you've got to be playing enough Bajorans to get three of them out routinely. I'm very happy to see ways in which it feels different to play different affiliations in First Edition, even if it is for the already wildly popular prevalent Bajorans.

In any event, I believe that the ability to fetch the right cards for the right situations is a major strength of this deck. It does appear to have a lower personnel to turn ratio than most decks, but I see over and over examples of having the right personnel being better than having the most personnel (see also Thomas Vineberg's deck from this week). With the Genesis Device's ability to create two-mission wins and the Bajorn's natural ability to turtle at their HQ, I would call this the solver version of a Habit of Disappearing deck. However, it sounds like Corbin (and others on the forums) have more ideas of what to do with this new tool, and I'm excited to see what they come up with.

 


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