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The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 7

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

19th May 2016

First Edition North Carolina Regional winner Nathan Miracle
Title: Hail to the Regent
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Play Engines: The Regent's Flagship, Emblem of the Alliance
Draw Engines: Process Ore: Mining, Historic Coming Together, Pride of the Fleet
Bonus Point Mechanics: Historic Coming Together
See also: We haven't seen any other Block winners yet, but if you're looking for a Complete card pool version of the Regency 1 deck, you might try Stefan de Walf's.

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

I always have trouble settling on a specific deck, so I considered practically every option available in Block. At one point I had even partially built a deck based on Center of Authority, but the straightforward nature of The Regent's Flagship won me over. With only four non-dilemma seed cards, I believe I made the right choice.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
My deck did not particularly interact with my opponents, so I did not have a deck which I was hoping to face. TNG Klingons have rotated out of block, but I feared somebody might still put together a battle deck.

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?
About a week prior to the tournament, Scott Baughman (Neelix) and I had a practice session. In that game, I used his version of The Regent's Flagship, which both gave me a basic idea of how the deck should work and highlighted some things I wished to avoid (notably universal missions). Other than that one game, I had never played a KCA card in my life.

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 Mr. Sisko's Interceptor primarily because I thought it would be funny to have Julian Bashir fly around with it in Federation mode. Instead it allowed me to "redship" my space mission late in the game, mitigating the risks to Regency 1. In future versions of the deck, I will probably add an Alliance Freighter or two for the same purpose. In one game, the Interceptor's attribute bonus even made a difference against a fellow KCA player.

Mirror Dagger made the cut only because Marauder can download it. In most games it fed Process Ore: Mining. During the first game I realized Crossover: An Invitation served no purpose as The Regent's Flagship already allowed Kira Nerys and Julian Bashir to report to the ship. I will exchange that card for Treaty: The Alliance in future builds. I will also take out one dilemma and replace it with Assign Support Personnel to help staff Regency 1 on turn 1.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Without a doubt, Historic Coming Together wins most valuable card. Taking Charge allowed me to download it at will, and with four planet missions I had the option of picking whichever mission suited the personnel I had already drawn. At times I drew six cards in one go, so I had no trouble drawing through my entire deck.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
After playing my Regent's Flagship deck, I do see a few places it could use improvement. But overall I was very impressed with how the deck operated in Block.

My Commentary:
Twenty-six dilemmas! The Four on the Floor achievement (awarded for seeding >24 dilemmas) is usually not something that's at stake in a constructed format. Even in block, there are so many non-dilemma cards vying for those seed slots; play engines, draw engines, Nors of various flavors, kick-starters like Assign Support Personnel.

In part, this deck avoids many of those temptations through succumbing to them anyways, but not needing to seed them. Play engines that are downloaded with Reshape the Quadrant aren't uncommon, but ones that are downloaded by a mission (like Emblem of the Alliance) are quite rare. Likewise, The Regent's Flagship starts quite a download chain, unaffected by Containment Field due to that card's absence in Block format. In addition to downloading Regency 1, it can fetch Regent Worf (one of the favorite images I've submitted as part of the art team) in place of a card play. He can get a draw engine (Pride of the Fleet), but also Taking Charge. The Fedora can then start downloading both Nathan's MVP Historic Coming Together, and also the draw engine Process Ore: Mining (powered by a whopping 12 Geologists).

The other side of the heavy dilemma count is simply a play-style choice. For example, I believe that, every time I've covered a Thomas Vineberg deck, this topic has come up. Some players simply prefer to be in a position where they can more reliably block the opponent from solving, even if that means that they are doing so at the expense of their own resources. Dilemma combo effectiveness certainly seems to have non-linear, upwards curve as you increase their size. You can do nasty things with two card combos, or you can block redshirt attempts, or you can stall for a few turns, but doing more than one of those things is pretty rare. Bump it up to a four card combo, and now you can do all of those things, often in multiple ways due to the synergistic effects between the dilemmas in the combo. Nathan has enough dilemmas here for four four-card combos, and two 5-card combos. Imagine what you could do with that!

Second Edition North Carolina Regional winner... also Nathan Miracle
Title: Notulans Atlanta Masters
Headquarters: Romulus, Seat of Power
Deck Size: 50 cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 50 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Chula Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.22
Agonizing Count: 4
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 4.94% (probably the highest I've seen for a Chula pile)
See also: Nathan mentions his original Greenback Dollar deck in his commentary below.

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

I meant to build a new deck for this Regional tournament. As late as Friday night I intended to use Terok Nor Dissident mill, but some playtesting reminded me of why that deck sees so little play. I'll save it for a local tournament. Well past midnight of the night before the tournament I printed out a small Bajoran solver, but I did not have time to cut and sleeve both the Bajoran deck and my 1E deck. As a result, I ended up grabbing an already prepared deck which I have used many times in the past, most recently at Atlanta Masters (as the suggests, with a good degree of success.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Notulans typically jump out to a fast start, so any type of slower deck creates a favorable match-up for them. The Reman Mines allows the Romulan Scout Vessels to outmaneuver engagement decks, but none of my opponent wasted time playing Maneuvers in this tournament. On the other hand, since Notulans can complete missions with four (or in one rare case, three) personnel, Transport Crash Survivors hinders me somewhat. Seeing three (or more) 40 point missions can also spell trouble, as it opens up my opponent using Slightly Overbooked and Unfair Terms, and the vast majority of my personnel fall victim to those 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 first built Notulans (then titled Greenback Dollar) in December of 2013 for Nationals in January 2014. It took me to 3rd place with a 3-1 record, losing only to 2nd place finisher Casey Wickum. The Dignitaries and Witnesses-based dilemma pile could not stand up to Security Drills and TOS's naturally Leadership-dense personnel. Since that day I have tinkered with the deck, switching out dilemma piles entirely and modifying the draw deck and missions as new cards become available. The name changed to Notulans when I decided the deck worked better with NO Romulans, but one could reasonably say I am more familiar with this deck than with any other.

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?
None of the cards in the draw deck are situational, but a few of my dilemmas only worked against certain decks. Causal Recursion hurts a lot of 35-35-30 decks; Discommendation works best against Klingons (though I did use it against Cardassians just for a stop at one point); Anachronistic Deviation fails completely against players sticking entirely to a single time period (though looking back, I could have killed Shran, In Archer's Debt in one game - opportunity missed!). I included Back to Basics just in case I came up against a kill dilemma pile, but nobody killed enough of my personnel for it to matter.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
One of the beauties of Notulans is that no single card needs to be the MVP. If pressed, I would probably name Toq, because his skills help out at every mission, he can help me cycle through the deck and he has 7 Strength, all for 2 cost.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Green Klingons were never the most popular "team," so players tend to overlook them. Don't.

My Commentary:
I had the opportunity to face this deck at the Atlanta Masters event back in February. I recall having a moment, looking at a handful of dilemmas, and realizing half of them weren't going to do anything. Attempting with 1 Leadership/Officer, 1 Honor/Treachery, a non-Federation crew, and personnel that have an attribute <5 and a strength >6 means that a large proportion of modern dilemma piles are going to struggle. If I hadn't been tracking, (I also noticed his deck's Diplomacy deficiency), no amount of speed would have been able to save me.

It does my heart good to see such an honest solver win a Regional. I believe that this deck's strength lies not in some wombo-combo, nor in a bevy of powerfully synergistic verbs, nor even in the abilities of its personnel, but in a carefully constructed balance of personnel, skills, and costs. It solves missions not because it the player discarded cards with a certain trait at the right time, but because the skill matrix and attribute to requirement ratio means that it just escaped your grasp. It is not only honest, it keeps opponents honest; I love it when we can't just throw "skill" dilemmas like An Issue of Trust or Personal Duty without thinking about it.

Other things I like to see... Starbase 718 is a great tech choice for a deck that doesn't want to run Transport Crash Survivor, but also doesn't plan on solving with Integrity. Since it is a second 30 point mission, you'll probably need to make the call that you're facing a kill pile early on, but those decks tend to announce their presence these days through the use of Aid Legendary Civilization. I've been noticing Occupational Hazards making a comeback too; when players are more and more often running three Moral Choices (or, I imagine in Nathan's case, he wanted to use an anti-Fed card that requires a skill) Occupational Hazards is looking good as a candidate for the Hard Time/The Weak/Dal'Rok slots. Of course, the real joy for me personally is seeing a winning deck that runs Chorgan, Leader of the Gatherers.

Second Edition Ohio Regional winner Ross Fertel
Title: Bajor returns
Headquarters: Bajor, Blessed of the Prophets
Deck Size: 50 cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 30 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.42
Agonizing Count: 4
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 7%
See also: If you like this deck, you may also enjoy Maggie's deck from week 2.

My Commentary:
We've got plenty of the popular New-Bajor tricks here; Accession has been predictably prevalent, and Fajo's Menagerie with the Orb equipment is a great source of card advantage. I'm always thrilled to see Mond in the mix, since he is still my favorite Phase II non-unique personnel with an affiliation-flavor ability. Simple, to the point, and he just begs to be built around. The early copies are great for switching to the discard pile using Orb or Prophecy and Change, and then the third copy is a 9-9-9 powerhouse without honor. That's so huge in a Bajoran solver to have an Integrity tank that doesn't have the liability skill that's normally tied to the attribute (Akorem Laan is also great for this purpose).

One trick I don't often see is Spiritual Exploration and Borum. I haven't tried it personally since, on paper, it doesn't generate much of an advantage in counters, at least by today's standards. Also, I've found that, post-Accession and Orb of Prophecy and Change, it's actually fairly rare for me to need to resurrect two personnel in one turn - at least the type of expensive personnel who you'd want to use this trick on. That said, there are many strategies that I've dismissed due to napkin math, only to find that they are quite effective when you're actually playing the game. Being able to rebuild your mega-crew after a Tragic-wipe all in the same turn, that sort of thing, maybe that makes it worth it.

Speaking of cards that I should give a try, I'm eyeing Artistic License over on the dilemma side of things. I've shied away from it because three cards under without killing anyone is a steep price to pay, but on the other hand it is really hard to beat 2 (or more) stops for only 2 cost. I'd imagine it's just a matter of making those stops count. Now, in this pile, I'd imagine its primary use is as a late attempt blocker, hitting multiple people for low cost. I'm envisioning a more evil plan, in the type of pile that that runs three copies of Where No One Has Gone Before and uses low-cost multi-stops like this one to routinely send the opponent on trips. Fun!


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