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Strategy Articles

The Road to Worlds: San Diego Masters

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

17th November 2016

First Edition San Diego Masters winner Michael Van Breemen
Title: I don't care
Deck Archetype:
Play Engines: Protect the Timeline, Deep Space Station K-7, Nanoprobe Resuscitation
Draw Engines: Duck Blind, Process Ore: Mining
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists
See also: This is the first Protect the Timeline deck based out of Sherman's Peak in this series.

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

Because I don't like dealing with dilemmas so I prefer cheating through them which this deck is able to do to most dilemmas. Other decks that I considered using were a T'Ong drop deck, various treaty achievement-based decks; pretty much any achievement that I don't have was a consideration at one point or another.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Hoping to face - non-interactive decks. Hoping not to face - interactive decks (I wasn't really sure how I was going to deal with that specifically, usually just improvise as per usual)

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?
My Worlds deck was similar but it focused on a two-mission win in an ideal setup but it also required me to get to the AQ. It has its benefits and its downsides. However, as I looked it over again, I thought that it might work better in the AQ with a guaranteed (barring Computer Crash) of both Process Ore: Mining and Duck Blind on turn 2 and 1 respectively. Gave me more unique personnel than the MQ version as I had to add more universal MQ personnel to help with the ratios but allowed for a more skill-based diversity as well. Plus, no hassle with the Bajoran Wormhole either.

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, just as a lark, put in Vulcan Nerve Pinch into my tent (two of my personnel special downloaded it) for a couple of reasons. It allowed me to pass I Hate You without being stopped (I had Music), solving a mission in one go. However, I don't know whether I'd do that again but that was pretty sweet.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
In my game against Thomas, it would be a combination of Classic Communicators and Christopher Pike as it saved my ship with 90% of my people from destruction from V'Ger (No Empathy, only skill remaining on other side was Anthropology, special downloaded Christopher Pike and used a Communicator to get the Computer Skill) Then, used his attribute boost to get past Gomtuu (using a second Communicator) and the Strength requirements at Investigate Anomaly.

Against Ken, it was all of the Classic equipment (Medical Tricorder to get Medical and Exobiology, Phasers to get past Berserk Changeling, keeping people from dying to Denevan Neural Parasites, Tricorder for more Science) and the one Minister with a TOS icon who appeared the turn I needed him to pass Executive Authorization.

In games in general - Jean-Luc/Nanoprobe kept getting me person after person from the discard pile, often discarding them with Process Ore: Mining to get them into play

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Not really.

My Commentary:
So, we've seen several Protect the Timeline winners in this series, but so far they've all be Starfleet decks. In recent weeks, I've covered the main reason to use the NX-01 and crew with that card, so, why might one branch out? Well, it turns out that turning up the brightness on your card borders opens up a whole lot of possibilities. Yes, you lose the ability to report non-aligned personnel for free, which I've mentioned is decidedly not nothing, but alpha quadrant federation decks that don't care about property logos have a secret weapon: Jean-Luc and Nanoprobe Resuscitation.

Nanoprobe Resuscitation, when used as a play engine, can report all manner of personnel at interrupt speed, even if those personnel cannot play for free by other means. Sounds great, but it hadn't been that heavily used until recently for several reasons. You need a personnel on top of your discard pile (that you don't have in play if they're unique), which had historically been difficult to reliably arrange - before we got Process Ore: Mining. Then, you've got to be able to get a compatible Communications Subcommand icon personnel in play, but Jean-Luc and his Security skill have you covered. Add to its relatively recent improved ease-of-use the fact that its "free" personnel aren't being played "for free" and you've got a winner for decks who are limited by Protect the Timeline and/or New Arrivals.

Of course, it is not that TOS is without its own perks to recommend it for use with Protect the Timeline. The personnel are skill-rich, and as Michael notes in his commentary, also benefit strongly skill-wise from the very powerful TOS equipment. Dilemmas with equipment requirements are popular for stall-based strategies, since so few decks run a wide variety of them, so that these Classic Tricorders and the like also supply valuable skills is sometimes just icing. Additionally, many of the personnel (particularly the Mirror versions which Michael is including with Crossover) special download these equipment, allowing you to dial the exact skill you need, mid-attempt.

Second Edition San Diego Masters winner Thomas Vineberg
Title: The Assassination of Jadzia Dax by the Coward Geordi La Forge
Headquarters: Romulus, Seat of Power
Deck Archetype: Sealed

Thomas' Commentary:
What can you tell us about your drafting priorities? Did you go for tough dilemmas, or was getting solid personnel more important to you? Or were there some killer verbs that you were looking out for?

Dilemmas were definitely the top priority at the start, as well as dilemma enhancers (I believe my first draft of the event was Surprise Snag). About halfway through, I had to remind myself that I did need some personnel, to convince myself to let some tantalizing dilemmas past.

Of course, drafting isn't just about getting what you want; it's also about keeping your opponents from getting what they want. Were there any cards that you drafted just to keep them out of other players' hands?
I’m not much for “counter-drafting” solely to mess with opponents. Even if I wanted to, I doubt I’d know what they were looking for. I figure if I draft what’s best for me, that’s keeping good cards out of opponents’ hands anyway.

Even some cards that you intend to use when drafting don't make it in the final deck. What are some tough deck-building decisions you had to make? Did you make any changes during the event?
The hardest decisions for me were what missions to play. With draw deck and dilemmas, virtually anything remotely useful went in. In constructed format, it’s typical for me to play 80-100 card draw decks and 60+ dilemma piles. So, in sealed format, even including 90% of what I drafted results in a deck that feels tiny to me. I made no between-rounds changes, but in retrospect, I should have made one - swapping the equipment and one interrupt for more events, even useless events, just so I could fuel Data, Loyal Brother and Taul. As it was I didn’t have one in hand several times I’d have really liked to.

The event doesn't end once the deck is drafted and built, you still get to play it! What was the deck's toughest match-up? Did you find any surprising strengths or weaknesses of the deck through playing it?
I stumbled on a strategy that was a bit risky, but fun. I’d seen a few Quite a Coincidences going around, but didn’t draft any - I’m pretty sure the one I got was handed to me as a last card. Towards the end, Geordi La Forge, Sleeper Agent came my way, and I decided to go with it. The plan was two 30-point missions + kill a Diplomat for the ten bonus points (I had a 50-pointer and a 20-pointer as backup, but really didn’t want to go that route). I needed to have the two cards available when my opponent brought Diplomacy to a planet, but didn’t necessarily want to play them in advance, lest I give away the game. I also needed to be able to get back and attempt a mission after carrying out the assassination - no time to spare in this format. It was an entertaining challenge watching for Diplomacy to enter play and trying to make everything line up so I could pull off the scheme.

One of my best 2E turns ever came in the game against Charlie. When he finally played his first Diplomacy personnel, Klingon Dax, he had several dilemmas under his planet. I was sitting at a 3-span space mission, in a Romulan Scout Vessel. Next turn, Geordi, who I’d been holding onto, had to play at my HQ. I had nothing solved while he was making good progress; I didn’t dare lose a turn not attempting anything. It didn’t seem to add up until I realized that Astrometrics Lab could stack with Quantum Slipstream Drive, getting the range to 13 - enough to go home, grab the assassin, go to his mission and off poor Jadzia, then get back to Sensitive Search, which I managed to solve on the first attempt.

I was fortunate enough to draw into both cards I needed in all but one game, against MVB. In that game I’d gone through all but maybe 6 cards in my deck and had not seen Quite a Coincidence. Unfortunately, he was now close to solving his planet mission. If I didn’t stop him that turn, I wouldn’t be able to conduct the assassination at all. I decided to risk playing a Surprise Snag to boost my odds of stopping him - sure enough, next card in the deck was the event, which went to the discard pile. With only 60 points, I was forced to trudge on to Treat Plague Ship.

Do you have anything else to say about the deck or your experience playing it?
It’s been a long time, but I recall being somewhat indifferent to the original Infinite Diversity format. I found this version of it enjoyable, competitive and fairly well-balanced. It’s cool to see lesser-used cards get a starring role - The Trial Never Ended was huge in this format; even a card like Shinzon, Romulan Praetor was an unexpectedly big deal for his 2 Treachery and cycling ability.

Draft is fun, games are fast, and you never know what might happen or what random cards could change everything. Good times!

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