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The Road to Worlds: Australian Continentals

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

14th July 2016

First Edition Australian Continental Championships winner Matthew Ting
Title: Disappearing Bajorans
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Play Engines: Bajoran Resistance Cell, Chamber of Ministers, Quark's Bar
Draw Engines: Bajoran Resistance Cell, Habit of Disappearing, Study Divergent History
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists, Dabo
See also: Corbin Johnsons also won with a Bajoran Habit of Disappearing Solver this year.

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

I didn't want to bring my Borg assimilator deck again, it's a brutal deck which just destroys unprepared players. We haven't had the opportunity to play any 1E in Sydney lately so I didn't want to bring a NPE deck.

I really wanted to run KCA to at least get the achievement, but I really couldn't bring myself to play an affiliation at a high level tournament which can be completely screwed over by Quantum Incursions. That left trying Bajorans with Habit For Disappearing, since non-[1E-DS9] Bajorans can do everything.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I didn't want to face any particularly fast solvers, particularly 2 mission win TNG decks which are probably the top competitive choice right now. I was packing Disruptor Overload in case someone tried Genesis Device tricks.

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 variations on Bajoran / Federation, Bajoran / Terran Empire. This deck was probably closest to a Bajoran cargo run deck I played a while back. The new draw engines (Habit of Disappearing, Study Divergent History) combined with Bajoran Resistance Cell just put the deck on steroids.

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?
Every card in the deck is there for a particular reason, Habit of Disappearing allows room for more situational cards (I only need to grab them from the discard pile when necessary).

Linguistic Legerdemain did much better than I expected, it was key to my win over Chompers by locking out a mission for 4 turns in a game where I was probably 2-3 turns behind due to Homefront + terrible draws on my part.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
The combo of Habit of Disappearing / Souls of the Dead / Study Divergent History gives ridiculous hand extension. For example, being able to play Going To The Top, recover it, and play it again on opponent's turn was massive.

I'd also nominate Attractive Antiquities as working even better than I hoped. A wall requiring Integrity > 60 can be brutal for some affiliations.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Bajorans have always been a strong affiliation, Habit of Disappearing just gave them yet another engine which can be stacked to everything else. Having a "cost" (the card discards) which is actually a benefit (fueling discard pile manipulation), without any affiliation reinforcement, doesn't seem like a great idea for the future.

My Commentary:
I've already spoken at length about Habit of Disappearing - the most recent commentary can be found in last week's Regional Wrap-Up. This deck is an example of all those things I was talking about. However, while I generally feel sympathetic to concerns about First Edition needing more affiliation flavor, I think that this deck is not an example of generic gameplay. This deck is a great example of a deck working uniquely because of the the affiliation it is composed of - it's just a little unusual that the lynch-pin draw engine has Terran Empire icons on it. I'm sure that Disappearing will be used in plenty of non-Bajoran decks (like Stefan Slaby's Voyager deck), but here we get to see cards like Souls of the Dead really shine.

I think we should also pay some attention to the other newer seeded draw engine - Study Divergent History. I'm surprised this is the first time I've seen it outside of a Mirror deck. I guess it is a little harder to set up (it needs Assign Mission Specialists to guarantee the "fodder" early enough), and in the Alpha Quandrant you still need to move those personnel from an outpost to a Nor or a Headquarters (you can't just plop them on a ship). That said, as Matt notes, it is incredibly flexible, considering that it is not just an end-of-turn draw. Easy set-up, flexible draws, winning recipe.

I definitely do agree with Matt that Bajorans in First Edition definitely do have all the tools. They've got good skill coverage, the most flexible play engine in the game (I shouldn't have to name it), and a skill-rich free-report-pool for their Headquarters. They have a native, universal, free-report AU-icon personnel, and while they don't have native Empathy, that Treaty: Federation/Bajoran is pretty easy to get your hands on. And hey, Nors are pretty handy to have around even without We Need You Here. They even have a whole region to themselves, great for hiding in. They may not have a stranglehold on the game, but they're never a bad pick for a major event.

Second Edition Australian Continental Championship winner is also Matthew Ting
Title: Romulans Sensing Things - At Continentals
Headquarters: Romulus, Patient Stronghold
Deck Size: 60 cards
Deck Archetype: Control Interference
Dilemma Pile Size: 51 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
See also: Well... there's also the version of this deck that Matt won a Regional with.

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

I don't think I've ever built a 2E deck I enjoy playing as much as this one, I love all the tricks and shenanigans it can do. I also had a Dominion solver ready to play, but I'm fairly bored of playing that as it's just a simple efficient solver. Same deal with a 5 space Voyager deck, it's efficient but boring.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Fast solvers are always a problem if they can get going before I can get set up. Kill piles always scare me. My deck does well against other mid-range solvers as soon as I figure out what trick they're trying to pull off, then shut it down.

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 played pretty much the exact same deck at 2015 Australian Nationals without much luck, but won our local regional with it. It also did better than I had expected at Continentals Day 1, and I figured I'd just play it again. I guess what I learned is that the deck is probably better than I ever gave it credit for.

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, you were disappointed I was considering swapping Tenak'talar out for Phoenix after regionals. I still think that's probably the right choice, but I kept Tenak'talar since it's more fun. Plus I managed to trigger bonus points from Tenak'talar on Day 2! I even managed to set up Tenak'talar + solved Nelvana III, Compelling Threat + Insurrection to boost mission requirements by 19.

Most situational card was Brainwashing. It's pretty much a scrub card but I love it. I'm constantly looking at opponent's hand so I can time this well, but it was the game winner in the final against Shane. Shane didn't have Biology in play which he needed for a mission. I Brainwashed Chalan Aroya to make his life harder, who went on to get stopped by a dilemma letting me take Power Shift back to hand from discard (it had been Grav-Plating Trapped earlier). That Power Shift clinched the win.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Sensing A Trap. I don't understand why this card isn't played more often. It gives your opponent a hard choice: play their normal game and give me lots of points, or play around it and deny themselves key cards. It's a win either way.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I'm sure there's going to be commentary that nobody played 5S Voyager at Australian Continentals. I'm fairly confident this Romulan deck can handle it, without a single Homeward Bound ever being played. Ultimately nobody played 5S Voyager because we didn't want to see it, not because people thought it couldn't win. The top 8 ended up all playing different affiliations, largely based on affiliations we just enjoy playing. I think that's the most important thing here, we all had a great day! Romulans certainly didn't benefit as much from Phase 2 as Dominion or Voyager, but what they did get is still pretty fun.

My Commentary:
I reviewed this deck a few weeks ago, and the changes since then aren't big - just +1 Tacking Into the Wind, -1 Alidar Jarok. And yes, I am pleased to see that the Tenak'talar stayed, even if I couldn't really fault Matt if he'd wanted to switch it to the Phoenix. Either ship creates a point differential between the players, and the Phoenix is more reliable. On the other hand, the Tenak'talar has more of an in-game psychological impact. Especially in an elimination bracket scenario, swings of 10 points can be huge for threatening a modified win. That, in turn, puts pressure on the opponent to get out there and score points, potentially forcing them right into your grasp.

Interestingly, I didn't remark last time on the absence of Imperial Entanglements, or any specific synergy cards in the dilemma pile - and I like both decisions. Imperial Entanglements is fun, but Romulans have few specific benefits for running heavy on Interrupts - and for events, plenty of encouragement. You don't want to be too verb heavy in any deck, so with Matt's decision to run most of the classic Romulan event suite I'm comfortable with the decision to leave out Entanglements. That's not to say I don't think the card has its place, but I think it works best in a non-Getting Under Your Skin deck. Some players also opt to swap it out for the other interference interrupts that Ting runs, so your mileage may vary.

But the other decision that meshes with the absence of Imperial Entanglements is the aforementioned lack of synergistic dilemmas. Many New Romulus decks I see run cards like Unsound Logic (Assassins) or Once More Unto the Breach (cloaked ships at the missions) - both of which makes it very valuable to have specific cards at the mission that the opponent is attempting. Entanglements helps makes that happen, and is insurance in case you get a slower start against a fast opponent. However, that only works a maximum of three times, and the opponent already has plenty of reason to dodge you, so I've found that even by the midgame those dilemmas stop being as reliable as I'd like. Matt made the choice here for the most stable performance from his deck, and it seems to have worked out well.


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