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The Road to Worlds: Online, Orlando, and MA

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

8th June 2017

Second Edition Online Regional winner Nickolay Korotya
Title: Big Money Talks v 4.5
Headquarters: Romulus, Seat of Power
Deck Size: 76 Cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 28 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Kill
Victory Correctly Predicted By: None (to be fair, it is tied for the largest competitive field so far this season, and preregistration is required for online events).

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

Romulans are one of my favorite affiliations - my first STCCG deck was even based on a Romulan starter received as birthday gift ~15 years ago. I thought about other decks, of course, mainly my Relativity & cheesy stuff like Jagerbomb. But I haven’t played Romulans for almost 2 years, so I decided to try and see how they fare nowadays.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I hoped not to face Bajorans/DS9 with the Pacify Warring Factions mission, which makes consume/ACE kill pile pretty much useless. I was also wary of lightning-fast decks like Jagerbomb, which may outpace relatively slow Romulans (especially with luck on their side and bad luck on my side). However, Romulans are pretty strong & versatile affiliation, so I knew that even in those "bad cases" I have a chance, with some luck.

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 a previous version of this deck on 2015 European Continentals, and other similar big Romulan decks before that, so I didn’t have any groundbreaking revelations. I confirmed my suspicions about unstable play of consume/ACE kill pile even in "ideal" situations (when the opponent doesn’t have much kill prevention). I was also reassured that big and somewhat slow Romulans are still pretty strong.

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 think we can call Outlining the Stakes and T'Auethn, Obedient Centurion situational cards in this deck. I used Outlining the Stakes two times (in five games) to solve a mission, so it was pretty useful – but that was expected.

I was not so sure about T'Auethn, but decided to try him. And I was quite surprised with his performance: vs. Michael’s Relativity I was able to remove Kirk OT from the game, which obviously helped me with my dilemmas. And vs. Oliver’s Maquis. T'Auethn was one of 2 personnel with Law, which was much needed to “solve” Strange New Worlds – and he appeared just in time when I needed to solve it.

As for non-inclusions, it’s NO for Romulan deck itself - Romulans have so much good personnel, events and interrupts; that you actually have to choose great cards NOT to put in your deck. Otherwise you will have like 300 cards in it. And it’s definite YES for most consume dilemmas and ACEs – kill pile archetype needs serous "reshuffling", so it will perform with more stability.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Romulans have so many great and game-changing cards, so it’s not easy to answer this. I think the most valued card is good old Getting Under Your Skin – as it helps to get extra points which are then liberally spent to help the Green Guys overcome various obstacles.

Faithful Reader has a question for you: are there any Zero Hour cards you would like to have included in your deck?
I would think about adding Dragon's Teeth & Flashpoint - these could work both in kill pile and a usual attrition one. Catastrophic Quip could be useful vs fast decks. (The Romulan events and ship look interesting, but they require a special deck based on them.)

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
It’s nice that Big Romulans are still pretty much competitive even after big nerf back then.

My Commentary:
It's funny to look at a decklist when it loads and fist think that there's no dilemma pile, only to realize that the deck is huge and the pile is tiny so it is much further down the page than usual. And that's actually a pretty common occurrence in a Romulan deck that uses Aid Legendary Civilization and a kill pile. Kill piles want to be small, in order to increase the odds of hitting All-Consuming Evil on a consume - they're slightly larger these days due to the threat of Terok Nor dilemma mill decks, but still rarely above 35 cards. Which is nothing compared to where Romulan draw decks run - with all the Tals and Viceroys running around, deck sizes under 70 are very rare. There just isn't an incentive to run a small deck when you can download what you need, and have room for cool tech cards like Sense of Obligation as well.

Speaking of tech cards, it is nice to see Gav and Secret Agenda in Nickolay's list. Skill generating cards like those have been absent from the other Romulan decks this season. I understand why: if you look at the skill lists on those decks, there aren't big skill holes to target. But with the rising popularity of the variable skill walls (particularly in the online meta), the ability to conjure a skill you happen not to have played yet is invaluable. This is a role that was once filled by Navaar before her nerf, so there is still some variability in what can fill this slot in Romulan decks. If you're looking for another option, Silik sees some play in these decks. He is cheaper and has decent skills to start with, though his ability has some counter-synergy with Ruwon and Karina.

I should also note that this deck is unusual in that it is actually a combination of two major Romulan archetypes: the Aid Legendary Civilization killer and the Gamma Quadrant solver. Gamma decks have historically eschewed Legendary since one of their key solving tools (The Die Is Cast) doesn't work there, but realistically Gamma solvers usually have all the other solving tools that Romulan kill decks do. Might as well have access to the best of both quadrants if you're planning to use a kill pile anyways!

Second Edition Orlando Regional winner Sean O'Reilly
Title: DS9 multi-affiliation multi-species
Headquarters: Mouth of the Wormhole, Deep Space 9
Deck Size: 42 Cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 37 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: edgeofhearing, prylardurden, KillerB, Monty42, and (the day of the event) Fritzinger.

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

After play a Jaeger-bomb deck in Palm Bay, I wanted to play something different but still something that was pretty fast. I decided to base my deck on Phil Schrader's "Make America d8 Again" deck, but make a few changes to suit the Orlando environment. I don't play DS9 often and had yet to earn the Common Cause achievement so I figured, even if I don't win at least I'll get some achievements.

In the draw deck I added these cards from Phil's original design: Krim, Thoughtful Tactician (to get rid of Chula: The Game), Ezri Dax, Resourceful Counselor (as kill prevention and a card draw with Enrique Muñiz), Vic Fontaine, Vegas Crooner (card draw with Enrique Muñiz, Integrity of 7, Anthropology, and to allow my opponent spend one less on dilemmas), and Essential Regrets (to overcome a dilemma about to be returned to my opponent's dilemma pile).

The only other decks I thought about were Bajoran Resistance battle and Dominion strength. I am glad I chose neither of those because one of my opponent's was using 5-space Voyager which would have made combat pretty much useless.

Having dilemmas (especially Adopted Authority) that can return to my dilemma pile instead of being overcome was huge to forcing my opponent encounter more dilemmas than they wanted to - one more reason Essential Regrets is such a good card.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I figured I would face either a Chula or Infestation dilemma pile and was prepared for it (and I was right) . I did not want to face a capture, assimilation or discarding deck as any three of those could really hurt me.

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 no experience playing this deck at all before the tournament. About all I had done was test draw my opening hand about 10 times before the tournament. The power of Enrique Muñiz can not be understated. Pretty much every turn I got a free card draw by playing a different [DS9] species (there are 9 non-Human ones in the 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?
Common Enemy turned out to be key in one game. My crew hit The Weak Will Perish and Quark got selected. I did not want him to die, so I pumped him up twice with Common Enemy so get the dilemmas to be overcome and then saved him from dying with Ezri Dax. The next dilemma was Chula: The Precipice. By saving Quark I had 9 personnel left so that got overcome. I ended up having 5 personnel left at the end of my attempt - and the attribute bonus I gave Quark allowed me to solve the mission.

The Clown: Go Away was also key against the 5-space Voyager deck. I bounced at least 3 personnel back to my opponent's hand and forced him to attempt with a large crew - instead of a microteam. That allowed me to earn at least a modified win (having solved a planet and space mission), though I ended up with a full win.

I also didn't expect to use Holding Cell in every game, but because of the extra card draws I was getting from Enrique it was easier to play and the pain of paying 4 cost wasn't so bad. I used it to take hold of Brunt, Jonathan Archer and Revised Chakotay.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Enrique Muñiz. I got lucky because in all four of my games I went second. So in the three games I didn't get him in my opening hand, I used Gateway to download him. In my first game I got Enrique and Quark in my opening hand. It's just sick to be able to download any personnel you want and then draw a card and download any card from your deck you want.

Faithful Reader has a question for you: are there any Zero Hour cards you would like to have included in your deck?
As a matter of fact, yes! I probably would have included a copy of Unfamiliar Etiquette to get rid of my opponent's Unexpected Difficulty (or force them to stop their entire crew or Away Team). I would not have included the L.M.H. Mark I in this deck because I already had a [DS9] Hologram in it and my missions were more Anthropology-related.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Not once did I attempt Protect the Escapees. The missions might have been easy, but I used Krim in 2 of the 3 games my opponent was using Chula: The Game so I needed the extra 5 points from Torga IV, Strained Negotiations.

Another reason to include Vic Fontaine in the deck is there are multiple copies of Quark, Martok and T'Rul in the deck. I can use the extra copies as discard fodder and then get one copy back next turn using the Xhosa.

Finally, I want to thank Rick and John Kinney for giving me probably my toughest games mentally since I played Nicholas Yankovec to a true tie [NA Continentals, 2015 -Ed.]. Both of the Kinneys deserved better fates than they received (3rd and 4th place in the tournament) based on how they played against me.

My Commentary:
A quick note: while Sean copied this deck from Phil, this deck was originally popularized in the Pacific Northwest, with (I believe) Ken Tufts being its creator. Ken's is the most copied version of the deck, but Michael Van Breemen also won worlds with it, albeit with a kill pile instead of the standard attrition pile. Perhaps not relevant to your interests, but I enjoy keeping track of that sort of thing.

When you see people tech cards into this deck, it's common to see some sort of kill prevention get added. Phil preferred the Sao Paulo, Sean prefers Ezri. Often weenie decks don't have to worry about death - that's the benefit of your personnel coming into play fast and furious, they're easy to replace. But this deck runs very slim in order to increase the chance of drawing the Common engine components, so it has a higher risk of being ground out by the 6 and 8 cost dilemmas than other speed decks. It's a tech choice, based on what you expect to see other players bring.

When the Common cards were revealed, I recall people worrying that Secret Identity (one of the most popular dilemmas out there) would be too oppressive on the deck type. The thing is, removing only one personnel at the cost of putting one dilemma under the mission is a really bad deal against a deck that can easily maintain an average output of 4 or 5 personnel per turn. That's where Essential Regrets comes in as a very interesting tech card, since it basically gives you the same deal that Secret ID does: it puts a dilemma under your mission at the cost of a card you've drawn. The difference is that Regrets does so more cheaply (no counters get spent), it's a surprise (your opponent thought they were going to bounce a dilemma), and it can potentially neutralize a skill wall that would otherwise repeatedly give you headaches (like Dignitaries and Witnesses or Dangerous Liaisons).

First Edition Massachusetts Regional winner Matthew Zinno
Title: Historic Coming To Regionals (II)
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: The Regent's Flagship, Emblem of the Alliance
Draw Engines: Historic Coming Together, Pride of the Fleet
Bonus Point Mechanics: Historic Coming Together, Assign Mission Specialists, Kira Taban
Victory Correctly Predicted By: edgeofhearing, TReebel, prylardurden, scox, commdecker, and (the day of the tournament) Armus and The Ninja Scot.

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

Often, I'll experiment with something new for a tournament, and sometimes I'll even chase after achievements I don't have. For a Regional tournament, I don't want to do that. Instead, I want a deck which I know well and which will play well, often even one that I've won with before. The main one in my head for this was this Regent's Flagship deck. I played an earlier version of it in a Crossover release tournament, and refined it for this Regionals season. A different idea I briefly thought about was a TNG Fed deck based on Cafe Des Artistes; I've played that before and almost won. But I had already spent time preparing the KCA deck for the Online Regional, so it's the one that was ready for Burlington.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I suppose I'm fond of facing decks with a lot of moving parts, because they frequently take a while to get moving, and this deck can hit the ground running. As for dislikes, I'm always rather disappointed to have a mirror match with duplicated missions, because it throws my plans (and dilemma combos) for a loop.

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?
This was my third time playing this deck, up to small adjustments. The second time was just last month, in the Online Regional. I had already decided that with all the draws I get from Historic Coming Together, I don't really need to boost my draws in other ways, like extra end-of-turn draws or even Mirror Image. I now realize I don't even need to invest in Pride of the Fleet. I would still include it, since it's a special download, but I can probably skip the helper cards that are meant to help it succeed, like Target Weapons and even Captain's Log.

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 think my only successful uses of situational cards this time were Lasting Peace and Souls of the Dead, which got some needed people back from the discard pile. I almost had a chance to use I'm a Doctor, Not a Bricklayer to nullify Horta, but it wasn't in my hand at the time. Most of my situational cards didn't see use (including Oof and Rescue Captives) -- but some of these are just because such things are dependent on the particular meta. Medical PADD and Kukalaka would have been particularly helpful in the Online Regional (so I added them after it), but I didn't need them this time. And since the tactics mostly come out from dilemma encounters onto undamaged ships, I probably should also reduce the high-hull tactics (Crimson Forcefield) in favor of more kills.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Definitely Historic Coming Together. This is a card that rewards you for doing missions, with both card draws and bonus points, and doesn't delay the rewards until you solve the mission. It gives them to you up front, during your first attempt!

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
It's fun! And I'll give some thanks to Rogue, who tried this deck type himself and suggested removing Dominion War Efforts in favor of more personnel who would play for free with either Regent's Flagship or the Emblem.

My Commentary:
Sitting across from this deck, I was surprised to see the mission specialists were both Mirror Quadrant folk. After all, we've seen Study Divergent History in decks that never plan to leave the alpha quadrant, just because Divergent is such a low-investment, easy to use draw engine. Not only were Matt's specialists both from the Mirror Quadrant, I discovered that he didn't even seed Divergent at all. I was shocked, and couldn't think of how his deck could possibly have enough draws. Turns out, Historic Coming Together is preeeeetty good. Using it (downloaded with Taking Charge), Matt scored 15 easy points (should make up for most point drain), in addition to getting 3-5 draws (without a spent seed slot!) on each of his early turns.

Lasting Peace also really impressed me in our game. Dilemmas like Rules of Obedience and Quantum Leap have created an environment where it is pretty easy to try to deplete certain skills, encouraging a bit of Second Edition's skill tracking. It won't always be the same skills that you deplete, but if you have a good idea of what skills are in play and on what personnel, you can try to target something on the fly. That is, you could if your opponent can't just shuffle those personnel back into his or her deck at interrupt speed. I've used Isomagnetic Disintegrator a lot, and I've always wished it (a) didn't cost a card play, (b) didn't ditch your current hand, and (c) didn't bring back all those verbs that helped you draw through your deck the first time but now just get in the way of top-decking what you need. Lasting Peace solves all of those problems at the cost of the draw (which aren't that essential if you aren't ditching your hand).

One thing I'd note if you're considering netdecking this deck: pay heed to Matt's plan to change up the Battle Bridge Side Deck. I think Matt put 4 damage markers on me throughout the game, but only killed one personnel. Then, while I was watching his round two game with O'Connell, he whiffed several times for kills there too. I don't think the dilemmas that dealt the damage ever failed to do so, so that part of the dilemma strategy was perfectly effective.


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