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The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 5

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

5th May 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.

First Edition Virginia Regional winner Brian Sykes
Title: Respect mah Centah of Authoritah!
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Play Engines: Center of Authority, Emblem of the Alliance, Quark's Bar, We Need You Here, ,
Draw Engines: A Better Alternative, Supplant Opposite, Process Ore, We Need You Here, The Intendant's Quarters
Bonus Point Mechanics: Dabo, Cytherians, Off-Zel Vase
See also: This is the first winning KCA nor-oriented deck we've seen.

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

Being a lover of achievements, and a player that doesn't play 1e on a regular basis, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to secure some 1e-specific achievements that I didn't yet have. Between casting and affiliations it was either going to be KCA or one of the Delta quadrant affiliations.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I really wanted to PLAY (read: not get blown up and sit around twiddling my thumbs) so I opted for a station based at a Homeworld in a hard to get to quadrant. I also wasn't super teched for Borg, but I always throw in a copy of In the Pale Moonlight because unless they're running Brunt of Borg, they have to adapt past it which at least buys me a turn.

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 never played a KCA deck of any kind before. Prior to the Mirror Block sets, I considered them darn near unplayable. Fortunately, I had a few experts in my corner giving me advice on both deck design and play strategy. There's no way that either my deck design or execution would have been as good without their help.

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?
The seeded Alliance Outpost was in there for a few personnel who couldn't report to my sites and for its ship repair capability, which I ended up not using (my ships were either unscathed or outright destroyed). It also was there to provide a landing spot for another situational card: Rescue Captives. If I had to do it again, I'd trade the Alliance Outpost for a Neutral Outpost seeded at my Alpha Quadrant space mission. That change will give me a place to download Garak or Soto with Defend Homeworld to assist in dealing with Quantum Incursions.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
The Dynamic Duo of Overseer Odo and A Better Alternative is what made this deck go. The multiples of Odo meant I was usually getting him AND The Intendant into play on turn one, which usually allowed me to play someone else for free to set up the party in The Intendant's Quarters (giggedy!). Between the Odo/ABA cross pollination and the Intendant's Quarters "cross pollination" I was drawing 6 cards a turn early game, which was enough to keep my hand full and get my sites and any Q the Referee downloads up and running. Honorable mention for MVP goes to the Alliance Interceptor, which could make it out to Test Warship, trip the Cytherians, and make it back to Disrupt Alliance all in one turn.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
As I mentioned earlier, I had some high quality help in the preparation phase, and I'd be remiss not to mention them here. A big thanks and mad props to the following players:

Matt Ting, for collaborating with me on the Odo/A Better Alternative cross pollination concept.

Jason Drake, for helping me fine tune, and for the whole Cytherians/Off-Zel Vase short quadrant two mission win concept.

Thomas Vineburg, for the critical advice on how to actually play the deck. His San Diego regional win a few weeks ago showed me this deck type could win consistently if built and played correctly.

My best performances in Star Trek tournaments (both editions) have been accomplished using others' ideas and integrating them with my play style (as opposed to starting from scratch and doing it all myself) and this result is no exception. Having experienced players that are willing to share their knowledge and advice is part of what makes this community great, period.

My Commentary:
Personally, my experience with the First Edition Mirror Quadrant extends no further than last week's local block draft tournament. I will, however, jump right on board with singing the praises of A Better Alternative. We've seen many alternatives vying to displace Handshake as the draw engine of choice in recent years, with varying levels of success. ABA is, in my opinion, the best of the lot through a combination of simply having the right power level (you only spend your card play on it once, then it fuels the rest of the game), the right level of restrictiveness (you need unique DS9 Cardassians to use it), and the right amount of affiliation flavor. Now that Ore Processing is back, ABA is better than ever; all those extra copies you stocked in order to draw it early are now discard fodder and can be removed from the game before drawing back through your deck post Isomagnetic Disintegrator.

I'm also a fan of Brian's use of many copies of Overseer Odo here. Historically, the Overseer has been a prime Defend Homeworld download due to his Security and his ability to get Ore Processing up and running without spending your card play on downloading it. But, with A Better Alternative as your primary draw engine, stocking nine copies of him no longer seems like such a bad idea. Just pitch the extras for your Alternative draws, and now you no longer need to dedicate an early turn draw to a Q the Referee or worse, a seed slot to a Defend Homeworld.

Using A Better Alternative also leaves your card plays open for more reliably using Supplant Opposite as a supplemental draw engine. In most decks, your card play is a valuable resource that is, by necessity, spend on either drawing cards with Handshake or something similar or on ships. In this situation, not only are the draws taken care of by ABA, but half of his ships come into play free at his Docking Ports, and the other half can be downloaded with Hidden Fighter. Instead, he's free to spend his card play on Kira in a Purple Dress (sure to be the subtitle of the next 2E Kira), netting a free draw while he's at it.

First Edition The Netherlands Regional winner Enrico Evink
Title: Khan rules the dominion
Deck Archetype: Midrange Interference
Play Engines: Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Cold, Dominion War Efforts
Draw Engines: Temporal Shifting, Deyos
Bonus Point Mechanics: Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Cold
See also: Yeah, right.

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

Good question, the answer is that Oscar (Weyoun7) talked about making my open format 200+ cards "Revenge is a dish best served cold" deck from 2011 suitable for OTF play during the last tournament but that it did not seem to work, so I accepted (in my head) that challenge to make an OTF revenge is a dish best served cold deck. So I tried and made one that was finished just before midnight the night before the tournament. I did consider some other decks but had insufficient time to take those past the drawing board even though I noticed the deck had some major weak spots and likely would only get MWs.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I hoped for headquarters/alpha quadrant decks and I hoped no one seeded or played the "HQ: Defensive Measures" nor played Klingon or Kazon as then the stealing of personnel would not make my ships/ away teams safe from battle.

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?
No experience, new deck build on an old theme but beyond the objective and the secret compartment it is a whole new deck

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 did manage to use the "No Kirk the Game's Not Over" just once (after I changed the mission value of Rem's Cardassia Prime to zero, to eliminate his Headquaters). Unfortunately it was Quinned, but still it was a cool card to play (after the bonus points were secured).

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Four cards that worked brilliantly together: Ceti Eel together with Khan, Invasive Beam in and Jem'Hadar Warship. It was so much fun to go "skill shopping" at the opponent's crew.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Yep this deck really relies heavily on getting the skills from the opponent; with a Borg player I would have been in a though spot to score any mission points at all (as they do not attempt missions). The combination with Temporal Shifting is a fun one but save from Oscar most were sufficiently prepared with [1E-AU] cards against it. Also memo to self to steal Terok Nor earlier next time (I really waited till 15 min before time before I realised I could have taken Rem's main points (Dabo) and Cycle (Ore Processing) / report engine (I Really Like This Office) away by simply beaming in my Dominion computer skill (along with a major away team) to ops.

Also as a final note it seemed to me that the new dilemma "Disgraceful Assault" is way too strong, combined with a battle deck with only "Maximum Firepower" it is sure to block the transporters afterwards the Tarellian Plaque ship hits (as no medical can beam over) and everyone dies (or alternatively any damage card with "Abandon ship"). Only reason Rem was saved (while everyone else hit and lost their entire crew (including a big Scimitar from Arjan) was not meeting the unless part (which then leads to a opponent's choice kill). I would recommend that this card is looked at again.

My Commentary:
(Note: due to failing to send the interview until late in the week, this review was written before Enrico's feedback was received.) Well now, this is quite the treat. No Bajoran Resistance Cell? Yes please! Only two play engines? Even better! Khan? I'm sold! Harcort Fenton "Harry" Mudd? Four whole copies of him? You had me at hello.

So yes, Khan and the Reliant flying around and serving up some Revenge. Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Cold doesn't show up all that often due to the "discard all other personnel" clause. You can only play one Eel per turn, and Revenge only gives one free play, so how can it keep up with modern 4+ free play behemoths? Well, part of it is that you can always steal some of those personnel from decks that have too many with your Eels, and you can get to them with the Dominion's Invasive Beam-In. That's why, when you do see Khan decks, they tend to be paired with the Dominion in one way or another.

Then again, there are only nine Eels in the deck, and those can easily be used up on all the non-Khan-related personnel Enrico already has. What then? Solve missions? Only if he has to. Secret Compartment provides a potentially easier way to "earn" the Genesis Device, with the tinkering of Mr. Mudd (and some crash prevention from 10 and 01). Once you have the Genesis Device with Khan aboard the Reliant, it's time to accumulate 30 points per turn just for staying alive (and with wormhole missions to everywhere, that task just got easier). If he can then solve a space mission, the Magic Carpet Ride can even whisk him away to some quiet planet.

Of course, it is much easier to hide from an opponent who isn't there. According to Arjan's tournament report, he'd managed to blow up Enrico's Jem'hadar Warship, but, lost the upper hand once he attempted a mission. See, Disgraceful Assault damages the attempting ship no matter what, and Enrico's battle bridge side deck is filled with nothing but Maximum Firepowers. That tactic disables transporters, so, when your crew faces the Tarellian Plague Ship, no one can beam over and everyone dies. It's cool that there's a reason to use the single dilemma over the combo version, right?

Second Edition Michigan Regional winner John Paul Veasey
Title: go for silver (and other stuff)
Headquarters: Prevent Historical Disruption
Deck Size: 58 cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 32 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.21
Agonizing Count: 2
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 9.2%
See also: There are other Relativity decks out there, but this one's in a league of its own due to the achievements it qualifies for.

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

I took a page from Ken Tufts playbook and looked for some achievements to target then looked for a deck that could handle a few different ones. The openness of [Fut] [Fed] was great for what I had in mind. I have a few other related achievements that I looked to build around but this one came together easiest.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was hoping to face slower tempo decks so my speed could be a big part of my advantage. The #1 card I did not want to face was Greasy Dukat since I couldn't use his counter-mission as part of my meta package. It turned out most of my opponents couldn't use him in their deck. Engagements had me slightly concerned. Also Maquis and Romulan that could seek out the weak points of my deck and remove them.

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 do have a pretty good amount of experience with and against Relativity so that helped me in building and playing the deck. I did learn the importance of having backups and alternate options due to some of my missions having rare skills which limited my solving options a few times.

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?
Well some of the cards needed for Silver age player achievement were a bit of a stretch to get into the deck but they all had uses and saw some play. Not much exceeded any expectations I had. Miracle worker was a bit better that I though at cycling the deck and helping get rid of doubles I drew into. A few dilemmas underperformed (Swashbucker, Tactical Disadvantage) but that may just been matchups and luck.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Probably Juel Ducane since he is vital for two of my missions and a big part of a third (and I need to solve two of those three on my easiest path to 100). The fact he can bring back another character from the discard is a great bonus.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
The meta mission achievement turned out to be tougher than I thought and there are probably a few more missions that could be added to the list since the achievement first debuted. As a player who came into 2E from playing 1E I like the feel of the deck and the open ability to make the deck do almost anything you want.

My Commentary:
Sometimes, it's a pain when people win Regionals with achievement heavy decks, lots of sifting through card lists, figuring out what unused cards to what and so forth. Then there's the need to add to the spreadsheet all the entries for the dilemmas no one else is using! But then there are achievement decks like this one with lots of good but under-used cards - these decks just give me stuff to write about, which is always appreciated.

This deck wasn't even obviously an achievement-focused deck immediately. Off the top, I noticed Assess Contamination, but that's a damn powerful mission, perhaps even more so these days. Its use fell off some after The Oracle's Punishment hit prevent-and-overcome cards hard (and this particular one harder), but Oracle itself is becoming rarer so this mission is becoming safer again. Skill dilemmas are somewhat more common these days - even thought the dilemma pile here isn't an achievement pile, it is still almost 50% composed of skill-requiring dilemmas - but that still means that half this skill-heavy pile can't be used without throwing a blank first when choosing dilemmas for this mission. When Relativity decks can also use Data and Kirk to bust through dilemmas with attributes and abilities, all of a sudden that >40 requirement doesn't look that high.

When Relativity came out, there was a lot of commotion about the faction needing to use The Play's the Thing in order to keep people in play. Well, what ended up generally happening is that the most competitive (and thereafter most prevalent) versions would just stick to primarily future icon personnel, and just use Temporal Transporters for personnel who wouldn't likely stay in play long anyways, like Kirk or Luther Sloan. As a result, it is a downright joy to see The Play's the Thing in John's deck, though he was somewhat forced into it through the silver age player achievement. That said, what better deck to go for that achievement in than a Relativity deck? There are Feds in every set, and boy it is fun to see Thomas Riker in a deck that won't necessarily make you rage-quit!

If you're looking for an achievement to chase yourself, and none of these ones are doing it for you, may I recommend the Silver Age Dilemma achievement. It is slightly less restrictive than the draw deck version that John scored here, and there are a lot of great dilemmas out there that just barely don't make the cut but whose unexpectedness could really make a difference. Have fun!

Second Edition Virginia Regional winner Neil Timmons
Title: 2014 Masters in Maryland! I won't play, oh crap, 2 people bailed, we are at 15 people. I need a deck, what did I bring with me to Baltimore???
Headquarters: Romulus, Seat of Power
Deck Size: 65 cards
Deck Archetype: Control Interference
Dilemma Pile Size: 40 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Kill
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.4
Agonizing Count: 2
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 1.7%
See also: This deck is unchanged since its last use at the Maryland Masters.

Neil's Commentary:
Why did you choose the deck that you used?

I haven’t touched trek cards since approximately Masters in Maryland! I went to the basement to see what I had. Due to my new heavy schedule I don’t have a lot of time to make trek decks.

What other decks did you consider using?
I considered building a Starfleet download/battle deck, but I didn’t have time.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck?
Small, slow, non-battle.

What decks did you hope not to face?
Big, fast, battle

Prior to this tournament, did you have much experience playing this deck (or decks like it)?
Yes. I built this for 2013 Continentals to silence the critics that were saying our game was stale and there were only 3 good decks (Borg, Klingon, Maquis). I have played it at Continentals, Continentals, Worlds, Masters & Regionals.

Did you learn anything new about it when you played it this time?
I learned how hard a complicated deck is to play when you don’t do anything but read the cards the night before.

Did you use any situational cards (cards that you wouldn't expect to be useful in every game)?
Not really.

Are there any whose usefulness exceeded your expectations?
No, but I expect high things from At an Impasse and Gal Gath’thong. Keras isn’t bad either.

Were there any that you wouldn't include if you played the deck again?
B’Etor should come out, she never gets to use her ability. I should lose 1 Secret Agenda, I should add a Disruptive Presence back in (or two).

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Gal Gath’Thong.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I have shifted gears in my world, I am a real estate investor now and I don’t really have time to play trek. However Alex, Sykes, Sheets, Phil & BenHosp were all coming so I had to make an appearance. The one thing that always has been the case is the people who play this game are really great. It was awesome to sit down to play Trek and board games with those guys, we had a great time. I did manage to win all 4 of my trek games, then win Puerto Rico and win Power grid “We will have so much winning, you will be tired of winning.” Huuuuuge shout out to all of those really great guys, it was great to see them. I can currently be found at www.KestrelPropertiesLLC.com but it is just a placeholder until I can get more content online. If anybody wants to talk cap rates, ROI, and tenant screening, I hang around the www.biggerpockets.com forums as well.

My Commentary:
Neil's Romulan Discard deck is a pretty unique case, in a lot of ways. Few decks have as many major titles as it does to its name: MD Masters, 2nd place 2014 Worlds day one, 2014 North American Continentals (and 2nd place at the 2013 NACC). And even fewer decks with those sorts of credentials are never netdecked. Really, if you've seen this deck out in the wild and piloted by someone other than Neil Timmons, I'd like to know about it.

The reason you don't see it very often is it is a very high skill ceiling deck. Like, you can keep pouring more and more player skill into it, and it will keep performing better and better. But if you're even a little out of your depths with it, it is just going to be a disaster. How hard do you try to draw into the Gal'gathong? What do you name with Keras? Do you name anything with Keras? Do you think you have an opening to prevent a player from ever playing a ship? When would At An Impasse be most devastating? Do you go for a few piecemeal kills with your pile, or is it time to shoot for an everything-under-total-party-kill?

Another strike against this deck is that, while I don't have much personal experience in the matter, I believe Maquis decks do much of what this deck does, and they do it more easily. Discards are certainly potentially more devastating than returning cards to the top of the deck, but when the end result is pretty similar in the majority of games, it doesn't matter that much. And, while the Defiant is harder to staff than the Gal Gath'thong, it is much more convenient as a ferrying ship when boosted with Thomas Riker. Clear Ultimatum and Secret Agenda are both decent cards, but it isn't hard to see why they're more difficult to use as effectively as Alarming Rumors and Cascade Virus.

But, for a competitive player like Neil, that slight edge provided by the advantage of discards over returns to deck means that this deck has a call that is hard to resist. Now, while I'm a player that has sat down across from this deck, and has had his entire deck in his discard pile (except for Evek) by the end, I can still admire its brutal efficiency. And hey, it's nice to see that there are some Romulan decks that don't run Getting Under Your Skin, right?

Second Edition Queensland Regional winner Ben Dillon
Title: Starfleet Regional
Headquarters: Earth, Humanity's Home
Deck Size: 79 cards
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 29 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.28
Agonizing Count: 4
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 10%
See also: Our last Starfleet victor was J at the end of last season, but that was long before the new Starfleet toys came out.

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

Basically Greg (Latok) and I had an argument over the power level of one of the new cards in the latest expansion. I decided to prove a point by playing with the card.

I was initially going to the same Romulan deck I've played for the last couple of years, but I will give A Time to Stand some credit for making Starfleet appealing for the first time since the Nathan Samuels erratum.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was expecting Greg to play Maquis, which I think would have been particularly difficult, so I'm glad he didn't want to annoy our inexperienced player. The other two players are fairly inexperienced so they generally stick to quick solvers which I was fairly confident of stopping with dilemmas.

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 little experience playing Starfleet, I played a couple of games when the Nathan Samuels deck was around. That lack of experience, coupled with the new cards from A Time to Stand, is what I will blame for the poor deck building that resulted in my deck. Having now played the deck I can say there is a lot of improvement to be made by cutting the bad cards and using some I may have overlooked.

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?
The whole reason for building and playing this deck was Respect in Diversity. I will say now that it would probably be the first card cut. It rarely triggered and didn't justify the space it was taking up in the deck.

The new Jonathan Archer, Novice Mediator and T'Pol, Overbearing Observer, especially Archer, ended up being much more powerful than I was expecting. Archer's ability can be triggered quickly using Malcolm Reed, Weapons Expert and is extremely helpful for getting the right personnel through to solve missions. Accumulated Knowledge synergised well with Gorgon while also providing a very strong effect for getting through missions.

Due to my poor deck building a lot of the deck needs to be scrapped but top of the list is definitely Respect in Diversity.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Noble Intentions is the card I like the most in the deck. It probably isn't the best card, but coupled with cheap non-humans from Nathan Samuels, it enables the download and play of Malcom Reed, Weapons Expert every turn to enable some of the new Starfleet cards to work.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
While building the deck I found it odd that the most 'Starfleet' ship (I feel) is the Columbia. I would like to see a more interesting Enterprise that fits 'Starfleet' but isn't just a team based gimmick like Enterprise, Damaged Starship.

My Commentary:
Three Gorgons and three copies of "Rapid Progress" might seem like overkill for a sleek 29 card dilemma pile. However, with easy access to interrupt denial in the form of Lustful Distraction and Grav-Plating Trap, Starfleet decks naturally have more control over the opponent's ability to cheat around these walls. Many of the biggest nukes for these dilemmas, like Bridge Officer's Test and The Central Command are interrupts, and once the opponent loses access to those cards, mission solving can slow to a standstill.

But that's old tech, what's new? Well, Gorgon has only recently become a desirable card in a Starfleet deck thanks to the new Accumulated Knowledge. In the recent Card of the Day thread for Nadia Myers, Brian Sykes was lauding that particular card's effectiveness, particularly in combination with the Non-Aligned Morik. Morik doesn't show up in this deck, but Malcolm Reed, Weapons Expert does, and he's an essential part of reducing its cost from the initial staggering 8.

The new mission at Jupiter, Test Experimental Engine, is another great way to get those dilemmas beneath a Starfleet-icon mission. Accumulated Knowledge isn't the only reason why you'd want them to continue to stack under a completed mission though. T'Pol, a rare stop prevention card for a "good guy" affiliation, would love to see a variety of costs of dilemma show up beneath just any SF mission. She doesn't care about the dilemmas being under the mission she's attempting like Archer does, but her greater pickiness about the type of dilemma underneath means it's a good thing if more keep showing up turn after turn.


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