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The Road to Worlds: American Nationals

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

27th October 2016

First Edition American National Championships winner Nathan Miracle
Title: The Burns and Allen Show
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Play Engines: Protect the Timeline, Seat of Starfleet
Draw Engines: Study Divergent History
Bonus Point Mechanics: The Warp Five Program, Assign Mission Specialists, George and Gracie
See also: Here's a link to the original Klarhauser deck, which looks to be a stripped down relative of this deck by Paddy Tye.

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

In Block I can build my own decks easily, but I get bogged down in all the options in Complete. I wanted to use some cards from the 50th Anniversary set, so I looked for recent decks using those cards. First I considered Stefan Slaby’s Launch the Voyager, but with a 103 card draw deck I knew I could not get the deck prepared in time. Instead I opted for Johannes Klarhauser’s “McKay visits San Francisco for some kinky whale stuff with George.” I added dilemma combos (realizing too late that I had two copies of Kobayashi Maru Scenario, leaving me with 29 actual seed cards) and hoped for the best.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Federation Flagship: Recovered would save me from one ship destruction, but I hoped not to face a deck which could blow up my back-up ships. Fortunately nobody seemed quite so intent on ship destruction. Conversely, I hoped to play against decks with few ships, because my dilemmas had the ability to destroy some ships.

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 to this tournament, I had NO experience playing this deck. I finished sleeving the deck in the wee hours of the morning before the tournament.

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?
With such a thin draw deck, I do not believe the deck had room for many situational cards. I did find Mr. Sisko somewhat situational, since I needed to play Going to the Top to get him into play. Since I had a free seed slot, I might add Crossover to play unique non-aligned Mirror personnel.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Protect the Timeline makes everybody in the deck a free play, and Study Divergent History gives you two extra card draws each turn. The deck relies on both cards, so they will have to share a co-MVP spot.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Protect the Timeline deserves its spot on the watch list. It should not make cards like Lore a free play at Seat of Starfleet.

My Commentary:
Alright class, I'm going to assign a little required reading for you. There was a recent thread on the First Edition gameplay boards, questioning why Protect the Timeline was already on the watch list. And, like most required reading, I'm going to assume you didn't read it and summarize it anyways. Protect the Timeline was intended to be a card for thematic decks, rewarding them for sticking to personnel who are native to a particular time location. But because Seat of Starfleet is a headquarters (the only one that plays on a time location, it has some built-in reporting capabilities. What's relevant here is that it makes any Alpha Quadrant Non-Aligned personnel a valid play for the Starfleet time location, which in turn means that Protect the Timeline allows any such personnel to report for free.

Nathan makes his position clear in his commentary: he'd like to see a change to Protect the Timeline that disallows these sorts of hi-jinks. I originally opined in the week 13 article that covered Paddy's deck that, while unintended, I thought the interaction was cleverly found and boosted the use of cards that I'm frankly nostalgic about. Seeing this deck take down a major event does give me some pause; perhaps now that Starfleet is getting some cool new toys, this interaction could be adjusted. But maybe it's just a good deck, and losing the beefy Non-Aligned guys would knock it down too far? I just don't know

So, let's examine one of those new toys: The Warp Five Program. First off, the mission specialist ability makes Seat of Starfleet also the only headquarters that accepts mission specialists. The rarity of one-skilled personnel in the narrow Starfleet affiliation makes that text seem custom-tailored for settting up Study Divergent History for some easy draws. That's great for an affiliation which doesn't have a high density of free plays, and often wants to use its card play on personnel in order to keep up with faster decks, since many draw engines monopolize that card play - but not this one. On top of that, you get mobile reporting (just ask Bajoran players how nice that is), and a bonus ten points for going space first. There's just one catch: you have to stick to one main ship (which can be backed up with shuttlepods and Federation Flagship: Recovered). Is it worth it?

Well, I don't know, it sure sounds nice, but here's some more watch-list-related required reading that touches on a related topic.

Second Edition American National Championships winner is also Nathan Miracle!
Title: Oo-De-Lally
Headquarters: Mouth of the Wormhole, Terok Nor
Deck Size: 50 cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver/Mill
Dilemma Pile Size: 30 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Attrition with attribute reduction sub-theme
See also: Well, we haven't exactly been overrun by speed Terok Nor Dissident decks this year, but this deck is spiritually similar to the DS9 Rainbow deck that we've seen a lot of over the last year.

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

I filled up an entire page of possible deck types for 2E. In the end I settled on a Terok Nor Dissident mill deck because I had never played one in a tournament before, and I felt like it might actually make for a good meta call. Some of my games confirmed that thought.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Small, fast decks like the DS9 Rainbow deck or Jaeger Bomb have trouble standing up to a mill deck. Cardassians do a lot to run through their own deck as well, between Enabran Tain’s draws and costs of discarding cards from the top of the deck. Phil Schrader played the Rainbow deck and Michael Shea played the Cardassian deck with the new Seska, and Jake Sisko and Morn helped me tremendously in both games.

Huge decks might avoid a deck-out against Terok Nor Dissidents, but discarding cards can still mess with them by discarding random cards. My biggest fear was Bajorans, which actually prefer to have cards in the discard pile. Maggie Geppert gave me a run for my money late in the tournament with such a deck, but her dilemmas failed her once when Dead Weight stopped nobody out of nine personnel at Rigel X and again when Common Enemy pushed my personnel past Ardent Predator at Kelvas V.

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?
While I have never played a Terok Nor Dissident deck in a tournament before this point, I had at least played some test games with similar builds. I at least knew how the deck should run. I did learn not to focus so exclusively on milling out my opponent, concentrating instead on actually doing missions while using the mill as disruption.

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 Flaw in the Plan as a way to kill my unique dissidents and play new copies. I ended up never killing my personnel with it, but did kill a last-turn Kira Nerys against Phil. Survey New World was supposed to serve a similar purpose, allowing me to attempt with a single personnel and place that personnel beneath the draw deck. That strategy never came into play, so I think I would have been better off with an easier mission.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Jake Sisko and Morn did most of the heavy lifting in terms of discarding personnel, but Leeta gave out key attributes boosts. Since I won four games by completing missions and one by double deck-out, I would have to give the MVP honors to Leeta.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Never underestimate the element of surprise! I owe three or four of my victories to the fact that players were not prepared to discard a bunch of cards.

My Commentary:
Now this is quite a treat. While in hindsight you can draw a pretty straight line from a DS9 weenie deck using the Common cards to this one, it certainly took some clever thinking for Nathan to get here in the first place. The average personnel cost (factoring in the "when you play" discards) comes out to about the same low value between the two decks, which means that the draws and counters from the Common cards grant the same powerful boost I've talked about in the past (the value of free draws is inversely proportional to decreasing average card cost). All those discards do mean that the deck needs to be quite a bit larger though, which breeds inconsistency, and while DS9 solvers have been a thing competitively in the last few years, I cannot think of another time that a Terok Nor dissident deck has taken a major event (pre- or post-Decipher collapse). So, why dissidents?

Well, remember how Moral Choice recently challenged Hard Time's reign of terror as most popular dilemma? Yeah - even though the DS9 deck is a rainbow deck, it is still significantly more vulnerable to one of the most popular dilemmas out there (Jake is the only federation personnel in the deck). And while this deck is weak to An Issue of Trust (as all dissident decks are), so is the DS9 Commons deck, so that's a wash. Perhaps more relevant is that your speed deck match-up, particularly against a deck as slim as the DS9 commons deck, becomes much, much more favorable once you add in the milling effects of the dissidents. When your 38 cards deck only has two ships (and one of those ships is your recovery plan against kills), you're playing a dangerous game against a deck that can mill through your deck pretty fast.

I would imagine, on the other hand, that switching to this deck does not appreciably improve your toughest match-up: a control deck with 40 point missions and a bunch of events. The 8 cost dilemma skills are thin (0 Transporters, 2 Exobiology, and cunning as a weaker stat), and the "cost reduction" from the discard text doesn't do the deck any favors against Slightly Overbooked and Unfair Terms. That said, if you're not expecting that sort of deck, this one has a good shot at being the one you're looking for. And hey, Unfair Terms is planet-only, and this deck does have those beefy Vulcan Dissidents, so if they come out by the time you're done with space, you can engineer some pretty cost-heavy planet attempts. Either way, it's probably worth trying this deck out just for the joy of playing a competitive Terok Nor Dissident deck.


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