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Strategy Articles

The Road to Worlds: Week 13

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

29th June 2017

First Edition Beccles Bloodbath Regional winner Paddy Tye
Title: Oh Jeremy Korvek!
Deck Archetype: Battle
Play Engines: Hall of Magistrates, Emblem of the Alliance
Draw Engines: Operate Dilithium Gulag, Pride of the Fleet
Bonus Point Mechanics: Klingon Imperial Court, Assign Mission Specialists, Arbiter of Succession
Victory Correctly Predicted By: scox, sexecutioner, Armus, and (the day of the event) The Ninja Scot.

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

Well, as one of the designers on Broken Bow, it will come as no surprise to find me using the 22nd Century Klingons. They were kind of “my baby” during development, and I penned a fair few articles on them during the release. But it may be more of a surprise to see me use in some kind of bastardised hybrid rather than in its purest form.

One factor was that I’ve been a fan of the KCA/Regent’s Flagship setup since Crossover – using it with the T’Ong drop in my Worlds deck last year. At the time, I’d been working on the release of the 50th anniversary set, so I’d been really wanting to have Reunite Legends available then too, for a free Kronos One/Chancellor Gorkon.

Another factor was my competition – mainly Alex Dixon, one of the top UK players and an expert in speed solvers and 2-mission wins. I’ve had a decent history of being able to beat Niall “sexecutioner” Matthew when I need to, but am frequently outpaced by Alex’s speed solver decks – and if I wanted to beat him I’d need to drastically change up my tactics and run more of an interference approach and stop him getting to his missions.

So combining these factors, I created this hybrid of battle and capture, but also retained the ability the get a 2-mission win myself. The synergy worked really well, as my main KCA free play (Korvek) had awesome skills for some of the newer dilemmas like Transporter skill for Ghost of (Miley) Cyrus Ramsey and non-OFFICER Archaeology for both passing Quantum Leap AND solving Hunt for DNA Program (a mission I’d never really used before as 3 Archaeology is normally a tough ask).

Ultimately, my choice was heavily steered by all of these factors, although I had a spare TNG Fed deck with me, I wasn’t really considering any other options.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was hoping to face Alpha Quadrant decks to make captives / battling easier. I actually faced 2 KCA opponents, so had to use more turns to move my fleet through the wormhole into the Mirror Quadrant and back again – pushing me up to the time limit in both those games, only getting a modified win over Gary, and needing the final turn to get enough points against Lofty for the Full Win.

I’d hoped not to face a Delta Quadrant solitaire player as I had no way to get there so would have to pass up on those 15 points for captives from Klingon Imperial Court, but between Battle at Narendra II, Hunt for DNA Program, mission specialists and Arbiter of Succession I had up to 115 points available for a 2-mission win (which would hopefully outpace a delta deck trying to reach 140 points).

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 experience using the Regent’s Flagship previously at Worlds in London, and had previously helmed a Kazon battle fleet back in it’s prime. I was also pretty familiar with the 22nd Century Klingons and their mechanics having worked on them during the design of Broken Bow.

I’d never really used capture mechanics before – due to it often being fuel for draws, but therefore hard to achieve from turn one (hence why we designed Prisoner Archer). However, once I was in motion (and moving up and down the spaceline with my armada) it was easy to gather up 3 captives from dilemmas/Klingon Bounty/Skalaar’s Captured download in all 3 of my matches (including an amusing moment where I captured Alex’s own Prisoner Archer and then set him to work on my side of our shared mission). Even without the 22nd Century specific Search and Seize (which would normally be a powerhouse of that decks capture mechanics).

My previous use of Regent’s Flagship / Kazon battle had both been in larger decks, and this was a much leaner animal, making it easier to draw into key cards like Martok (weapons boost), a well-timed Khan!, Arbiter of Succession or my other big ships.

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?
Khan! didn’t see as much use – as bonus points wouldn’t get scored anyway if I could keep my opponent’s from solving missions! But it was critical at one point to stop Alex getting 10 points from his own Arbiter of Succession – which would have pushed him over 50 points to get past a well-placed Dead End. I never got around to using my own Arbiter of Succession, but this still could have been handy if I’d encountered more point loss or a Delta Quadrant player.

Conversely, I’d not included Prepare the Prisoner (assuming people wouldn’t stock Rescue Captives) but I don’t think I’d risk that again. Given I didn’t actually use Prosecutor Orak’s Internment download to move captives around, I might just change that up to fetch Prepare the Prisoner instead.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Korvek. Given the deck title and his "DNA Program Hunting skill set" it would be wrong to not nominate Jeremy Korvek (FYI - the deck title is a spin on Jeremy Corbyn's recent rise in popularity in the UK, where supporters have been chanting "Oh Jeremy Corbyn" to the music of White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army"). While getting the "One" ships (Regency and Kronos) out from the get-go was crucial to menacing opponents and preventing them getting to their missions, it would have all fallen apart if I couldn’t have used Korvek as pretty much my entire KCA free report mechanic – often ensuring that ship was mobile / into the wormhole by end of turn one.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Fear the Empire! Also, don’t underestimate the power of Quantum Leap! It locked Alex out at a key mission.

My Commentary:
Klingon-based decks are getting harder and hard for me to read these days. Regency 1 in particular has been... promiscuous, showing up in all sorts of decks - pure KCA, Klingon/Bajoran treaty, T'Ong drop, etc. This deck isn't even one of those decks; it feels a bit like the Klingon version of the Federation Alpha Salad, but it doesn't need interrupt permission for attacks. Sure, you lose the free reports from The Regents Flagship when mixing it with non-DS9 factions, but you can still report to the ship and use the dial-a-leader text in that case. Oh, and a seedable ship is nothing to sneeze at, particularly one with 10-10-10 stats.

What is interesting to me is that I believe that this is the first deck I've reviewed here that is using Reunite Legends in order to fetch a Klingon ship. I often see it used to get the Nanoprobe-activating Admiral Kirk (via the Enterprise-A), but just being able to spend a seed slot on a ship that can staff itself is very powerful. That may be all that this deck uses it for, but any deck that can use Reunite Legends without needing a specific personnel from its download (and has an alternate means of staffing the ship it gets) gains the ability to special download a personnel mid-mission attempt. Being able to do so takes the teeth out of many dilemma combos. Normally, Personal Duty leading into Friendly Fire seems like a tough combo to beat, but not if Chancellor Gorkon can just materialize mid-attempt.

Other than the seedable ships (including the Raptor/Klingon Bounty combo that can be downloaded with Scout Encounter*), we've got some other hallmarks of a battle-oriented decks. We've got another five ships in a slim 46 card draw deck, which means the fleet will do plenty of growing throughout the game. What makes that possible is another hallmark of battle decks - it relies on draw engines that don't cost a card play. That's often a major rate-limiting factor for battle decks since ships typically cost a card play too.

*Just one more reason to include a defensive Computer Crash in your solvers.

Second Edition South Africa Regional winner Fritz Meissner
Title: Union Jack Sleeves for the Invader from Distant Lands
Headquarters: Founders' Homeworld, Contingent Refuge
Deck Size: 39 Cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange Interference (Battle)
Dilemma Pile Size: 46 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: edgeofhearing, LORE, Armus, jadziadax8, and Johannes Mette.

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

I fully expected to play a big Cardassian capture deck that is really a bit beyond my abilities as a player and would see me losing a lot, but it's fun to be stretched. Then the new engagement cards in Zero Hour really energised me, especially new Weyoun. Since then it's been a case of iterating over something new (most nights in Lackey ever since the spoilers started coming out) rather than choosing.

I started with a two mission solver with a lot of tricks. Hostilities Unleashed wants matching commanders, so that was Dominion Dukat, new Weyoun, plus the points Tenak'Talar (gives me two mission win), and Dominion Defiant plus Kudak'Etan. More matching commander flavour: Defiant Dedication Plaque and How Would You Like a Trip to Romulus. Those big ships need cheap gold stars, I went for NA mooks and all AQ missions since FH Contingent Refuge isn't that good when you're only solving one GQ mission - and then I could use Gelnon. Make the ships cheaper with Zefram Cochrane and Smiley O'Brien, stop them with Draz to fetch more Maneuvers, use their high cunning for Delta Pavonis! In all a pretty fun deck with a bunch of cards that don't see much use, but unfortunately assembling all the moving parts took too long. I could tell that already while testing in Lackey, and a poor showing in our warmup confirmed it.

I untangled the puzzle over the next three weeks. The Dominion lacks draw (I'm not going to give the speed decks in my meta extra draws with Keevan) and I couldn't use Crom, so more consistent meant smaller. Ditch the matching commander theme and swap in cheaper ships because: I'd rather battle with Dominion Defiant than use its ability, plus it's hard to staff; the Tenak'Talar is too easy for my opponents to dodge and avoid giving me points; one battle per turn is too slow, I need two engagements to keep up with normal solving or have a chance of blowing ships up. Smiley and Zefram turned out to be false economy: I wanted their staffing icons more than I wanted to leave them at home for the ship discounts. Now I had less reason to play the old HQ and swapping Jem'Hadar in for NA brought back the phase 2 tricks: Mobilisation Points, Teplan Prime, Stakoron, Spanners. Suddenly solving three missions doesn't seem so hard.

The new version was sleek, 35 cards plus Mobilisation Points and Party Atmosphere that pay for themselves almost instantly. It could battle hard from turn 3, and solve well against the resulting reduced dilemmas.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I knew pretty much everyone else was playing speed decks. I was hoping not to face anything with big ships, but I had my Tillman dilemmas. Event destruction against my early maneuvers would really break up the rhythm. There was one deck with all of that in the field, but I didn't face it.

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 online with a TOS battle deck that epitomises everything I didn't like about battle in 2e: either ruin their game by continuously blowing up ships, or lose badly if you can't land 3 damage markers early. In any case, that taught me about damage dilemmas and how important it is to have the right stuff in play when they hit. The anti-dilemma theme that Weyoun and Delta Pavonis boosted in Zero Hour is a very different sort of battle (to me, much more fun), but the principle of timing remains.

I messed up early staffing a few times in this tournament - I need leadership and officer in my battle crew so that I can use Precise Attack or The Dominion Will Prevail. There's no guarantee which I'll draw so I have to be ready for both.

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?
Founder Instigator! In my first game it stopped Robin from getting his Starfleet HQ bonus at a stage when I was worried about time and the bonus would have put him ahead.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
The Dominion Will Prevail. Battle-enabled crop dusting gives my opponent a tough choice: give me Delta Pavonis for free, or give me dilemmas at a mission where it is already very difficult to stop Dominion.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I've only really been playing live tournaments in the printable era and I only have real cards from a small number of sets. This is the first deck I've played since January 2014 where I had a significant proportion of the right real cards to use (having procured a lot of Call to Arms and some crucial VPs) instead of just printing the whole thing. Secretly satisfying :).

My Commentary:
It really didn't register until I read Fritz's interview answers that Delta Pavonis means no Crom. Unlike the other personnel that encourage certain types of missions (like K'mtar or Tain), Crom encourages the use of missions that the Dominion actually likes to solve. Strength Diplomacy missions (K'mtar) are rare, and Intelligence missions (Tain) tend not to be the most efficient missions that Cardassians have available, but Crom provides an incentive to use any and all Strength missions, which are already the Dominion's best missions. What I'm saying is: it would take one hell of a mission to get the Dominion to stray from Crom.

For Fritz, Delta Pavonis was that mission. It's not hard to see why: while Strength may be generally the Dominion's best attribute, they aren't exactly slouches at Cunning. And if you're getting free dilemmas underneath, who cares what attribute the mission requires? Now yes, the dilemmas aren't exactly free, but when the number one space dilemma is Gomtuu Shock Wave, there's plenty of reason to run a few damage maneuvers. Also, the Dominion already has access to a maneuver that places dilemmas under missions: The Dominion Will Prevail. Previously, when I've seen this dilemma in use, it has often been in dual Headquarters decks to guarantee the dilemmas go under a mission you'll complete - something to consider if you're planning on trying out a similar deck.

One tactic for avoiding getting your ship blown up is to avoid space missions. Even if your ship does get tagged with one of the rarer planet damage dilemmas, losing an empty ship at a planet is much more tolerable than losing a full ship at a space mission. Furthermore, planets more often have that sweet two span, easy to drop off a crew and fly back home. One hitch with that plan: battle decks love Necessary Execution, and this deck is no different. It's damned if you do, damned if you don't, lose a ship or allow all your best personnel to die anyways with few dilemmas under each time.

Second Edition German Nationals winner Sascha Keifer
Title: "Heghlu´meH QAQ jajvam!"
Headquarters: Qo'noS, Heart of the Empire
Deck Size: 46 Cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 47 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Armus, Monty42, and The Ninja Scot.

Sascha's Commentary:
Well, I have already said a lot about that deck, I still stand for its adapting powers, even with a really bad starting hand. The cards you need to adapt are just a few for any scenario (like 2 Emergency Transport Units or 3 Bridge Officer's Tests) or drawing into one of your 2 At What Costs to speed the whole thing (or search process) up. In addition, with Klag, Jean-Luc, and Riker you can compensate for nearly in any situation with a few cards without losing too much of your solving speed power. Like I said before - it is the best all-arounder I know so far.

The core of my dilemma pile, the returning dilemmas, has been a clear mispick. I can't remember if I got a proper use out of any of them. But the "standard" dilemmas like: In Development, Becalmed, An Issue of Trust, and Intimidation managed to save me, most of the times.

The best card for me has to be Riker in that tournament, without him I would not have been able to win the final confrontation, he is even better than Security Drills when it comes to triple a skill, especially with those Transporter and Archaeology dilemma-walls out there.

I got really lucky in the last games of the tournament to finally have the opportunity to sit at the final table and win the whole thing, especially Oliver and Ben would have been, at least, equally fitting national champions.

My Commentary:
The biggest changes between this deck and the one Sascha won a regional with are in the dilemma pile, so we'll start there. The biggest shift is to bouncing skill wall dilemmas (like Dignitaries and Witnesses and Dangerous Liaisons) from standard attrition favorites (like Intimidation and An Issue of Trust). I'm still calling this a Standard Attrition pile - that seems to still be the primary goal of the pile. An Issue of Trust and Intimidation are still there and in multiple, they're just no longer maxed out. It's just that there's an option now to stonewall a faster deck that is running light on skill-cheating options.

If you're going to tech against Klingons, Discommendation (Klingon Moral Choice) is an obvious pick, and sure enough there's one here for the field of four other Klingon decks. Perhaps more important are the three copies of Becalmed, as close to a guaranteed cheap 3-stop as it gets against our friends in red. Even better, Klingons (with Provoke Interstellar Incident) are one of the more likely factions to have a low-span space mission, so you are almost always going to be paying only 2 cost for those three stops. That's essential when you're trying to fight an affiliation that can threaten to solve 45 point missions with 5 personnel.

It's cool to see the switch to the classic K'mpec from Energize. He has slightly worse skills (I keep finding myself drawn to the virtual one for Diplomacy and Law), but he can still use Bridge Officer's Test, and that ability has aged well. When he was new, speed was king, so 3 cost for his skills and attributes was a tough ask. Also, decks were smaller then, without much reason to go above 40 cards, so a simple cycle ability wasn't as appealing. But nowadays, a 46 card deck like this one seems almost petite in comparison with many other ones we've looked at in this series. Yet, even at 46 cards, a cycle ability like K'mpec's can make a big difference. In particular, there are several cards that can burn 5 points, but they're blanks until the first mission falls - I can see Energize K'mpec being quite useful here.

First Edition Austrian Regional winner Stefan Slaby
Title: me shoot you die
Deck Archetype: Battle
Play Engines: Federation Flagship: Relaunched, They Call Themselves the Maquis, Nanoprobe Resuscitation, Holodeck Door, Holoprogram: The Office of Dixon Hill
Draw Engines: Process Ore: Mining, Kivas Fajo - Collector, Federation Flagship: Renewed
Bonus Point Mechanics: Process Ore: Mining, Assign Mission Specialists, Holoprogram: The Office of Dixon Hill
Victory Correctly Predicted By: LORE, prylardurden, Hoss-Drone, and scox

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

I built this deck for two reasons:

  • I had read the Road to Worlds article about Chris Deitz' deck last month, and absolutely loved the core idea, using the great First Contact crew offensively.
  • I've been a bit frustrated lately, playing a lot of complex decks with 13-16 dilemmas just to have my AQ opponents burn through a meager 4-5 of my dilemmas for the win. I wanted my dilemmas to see more action. I wanted to seed four dilemmas per mission, if possible at all.

I thought these two goals should be compatible, because the core idea of that deck requires only a few seed cards: Battle Bridge Door, Federation Flagship: Relaunched, They Call Themselves the Maquis, Make It So!, Defend Homeworld (to ensure an early Jean-Luc), an outpost (which could be on a mission II). I'd get to seed fewer defensive cards, and fewer downloads and card draw engines, but ultimately the sheer amount of dilemmas, and the battling, should help set this off... Plus, the main weakness of the original deck were non-AQ solvers (which couldn't be battled), and some extra dilemmas should help slow them down.

In the end, I had to settle for 22 dilemmas, which was still awesome! My plan was to put Dead End and Quantum Fissure under the opponent's most remote space mission (and stay within range late-game to block it with a ship, if neccessary), which leaves four dilemmas everywhere else. However, on a surprising number of games we had one shared mission, which made the choice even easier where to put only two dilemmas!

Anyway, when I started to build this deck I wasn't sure whether it'd work out. My backup plan was to just bring one of my trusted DQ decks: Voyager or Hirogen...

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Obviously, I was hoping to face lots of tame AQ speed solvers that I could slow down AND blow away. Non-AQ decks could have avoided the battling entirely, but would have to do 140 points against 22 dilemmas and Mission Debriefing, so that didn't really worry me.

Interrupt prevention could have helped avoid my battling temporarily, but with Nanoprobe Resuscitation it's easy to retrieve a prevented Incoming Message: Attack Authorization and use it once more, so that didn't really worry me.

I guess the only thing I didn't want to face were all-out interactive decks, as my resources and my battle abilities were still rather limited, and could easily be outpaced by a dedicated battler.

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 previous experience with elements of this deck was pretty much limited to the Enterprise-E crew and the DQ personnel and Nanoprobes. I had very little experience with many of the other elements (and learned a lot), including:

  • Buried Alive dilemma combos (where I totally overestimated how many people would be brought on the attempting ship later)
  • Ship battle in the AQ (I seeded interleaved spacelines, which is generally a good idea for interactive decks, but totally underestimated required range on the long term, and ended up spending lots of turns just moving around myself)
  • Holoprogram: The Office of Dixon Hill (which did a lot of work, often deciding the winner of timed games with its points!)

I also came to regret cutting Reed Alert! and Expert Pilot, the two extra range would have made numerous small differences, and the immunity to Loss of Orbital Stability would have come in handy once, too.

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?
Penk and the Tsunkatse Ship were unnecessary most of the time, but really shone in the game against Julius, where a ship that could battle repeatedly without restrictions came in handy!

Holoprogram: The Office of Dixon Hill was absolutely great. It does give a lot of choice to the opponent, but early on both choices are good for you. Late game you might run out of useful cards to play.

I haven't managed to make Abandon Ship! work... I was planning to combo it with Disgraceful Assault (ensuring a damaged ship), but totally underestimated how many attempts would be stopped by the 2 SECURITY and Transporter Skill requirement...

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?

Hard to say; there are several great cards in it. The U.S.S. Enterprise-E and Incoming Message: Attack Authorization are obvious centerpieces. Nanoprobe Resuscitation does a lot of work, bringing in extra personnel (some of which couldn't be played otherwise), and recycling key cards like Kivas Fajo - Collector or the Incoming Message: Attack Authorization...

But today I'll settle for Make It So!. It (indirectly) downloads multiple essential captain's orders (also saving a seed slot for Mission Debriefing), can unstop both main ships once, and can download Quantum Torpedo in a pinch!

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Seeding four dilemmas under most missions (and having Mission Debriefing out) was a great experience, I can only recommend it to anybody who thinks games take too few turns these days! (Fair warning: It does create a lot of modified wins, though.)

The deck as I played it is still a bit unreliable; probably too big (like my decks always seem to end up). I've had one game where I didn't draw any geology personnel or Kivas Fajo - Collectors for several turns, running out of cards to play on turn three for a while... Another game I never drew any of the Incoming Message: Attack Authorizations, and had to scrape by without battling (except for a lucky non-Aligned only attack). Yet another game my opponent let me play each card I used for The Office of Dixon Hill, and I kept running out of useful cards to play. Ended up using Nanoprobe Resuscitation for it, often retrieving another copy of itself just for the extra draw...

P.S.: Habit of Disappearing, you are sorely missed.

My Commentary:
Remember those hallmarks of battle decks that I referred to in my review of Paddy's deck? This deck doesn't have them, and that's cool. There is only one seeded ship, and it starts damaged. There are only two other ships in the draw deck (in addition to the Penk/Tsunkatse Ship combo). And the main draw engine: Kivas Fajo - Collector, which requires a card play. Yet, with three copies of Incoming Message: Attack Authorization, there is little doubt as to what this deck is up to (no good).

This situation is possible in part due to how beefy that seeded ship can get. The only limit to the boost that the Enterprise can get is the number of EE-icon personnel in the deck - so +8/+8. EE-icon commanders also don't discard Make It So when they use it, so the ship-boosting captain's orders (Captain's Log, Tactical Console, etc) flow freely. Make It So also reduces the cost of battle for an EE-icon ship, since once per game you can unstop the whole ship (assuming you don't want to use that ability to blast through a mission).

I'd also like to draw attention to Stefan's use of Holoprograms. I've seen The Office of Dixon Hill show up in Stefan's Hirogen decks - once Cryus Redblock is in play, it is basically a Parallax Arguers that is reusable as long as you have cards to fuel it. Now yes, the holoprogram doesn't download Cyrus itself, but that's fine, the Holodeck Doors can do that for you. What I haven't seen before is 221B Baker Street, and I wasn't sure at first what it was being used for. I finally though that it might be a way to fuel Nanoprobe Resuscitation, but he's already got Process Ore: Mining for that. Fortunately, Stefan was happy to clear that up for me:

Process Ore: Mining can be blocked by opposing personnel, 221B cannot. 221B can also seed the discard pile during the opponent's turn, now that Habit of Disappearing has been rendered unuseful. Usually, 221B is the last thing I get with a Holodeck Door, though. I think I really used it in only half the games.

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