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Strategy Articles

The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 4

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

26th April 2018

Second Edition Qo'noS Regional winner John Walchle
Title: Doing the right thing when no one is watching
Headquarters: Earth, Lush and Beautiful Home
Deck Size: 40 Cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 40 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Attrition

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

I like the versatility of the TOS sub-affiliation. With the optional abilities you can play it as a speed deck or trigger them as needed depending on what you’re playing against. They’re skill dense, have cheap ships with 8 Range, and draw quickly. I had also built a Hologram deck, a DS9 Common deck, and a TN Dilemma Eliminator deck.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
As a speed deck with smaller ships, I was hoping not to see the more interactive decks - battle, capture, assimilation, discard. Aside from that, I felt pretty good about keeping up with other speed decks, and outracing other strategies.

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 TOS off and on since their inception, but this is my first regional with them. I definitely learned how to play against kill piles. The DS9 crew and Tuvok that play to the ships are money against destaffing. And having multiple ships out when you constantly need to restock crews and away teams is critical.

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?
Most of my situational cards were dilemmas, like Moral Choice. With a small draw deck, I kept to just the essentials. The Enterprise-B allowed me to do the 3 30-point missions if I got it out early, or could give me some extra points against Dominion, Phoenix or Causal Recursion without completing an extra mission. Chula: The Dice worked well for me on the dilemma side. Unconventional Consideration has become much less effective as more affiliations get cheap Intelligence personnel – I don’t think I ever played it.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Probably Sarek – contributes to every mission skill-wise, and 8-7-7 attributes. I think in every game I used the 7-cost Enterprise to download and play him.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Joel Skon and I played our decks for the tournament over lunch the Thursday before regional. He usually played a Chula pile with lots of stops and few dilemmas under the mission; I was ready for that. Instead he switched to a kill pile, which wiped out my crew at least twice. So I made some changes – Escapes, Self-Replicating Roadblocks, an extra ETU, and duplicates of some key personnel. I also tweaked my other decks to boost kill prevention, and built the TN deck to thin out a smaller kill pile. Late Saturday Joel let me know that something came up and he wouldn’t be able to make it, so I stuck with TOS and removed the extra cards to keep it moving quickly. And what did I face at the regional – three rounds of kill piles! Practicing against a kill pile did help me know how to better play against them, but I had a day full of The Clown: Guillotine/ACE combos.

My Commentary:
This is a Good Guy deck. We don't see enough Good Guy decks these days. Part of the reason for that is Insurrection, a dilemma that addressed a real problem in the game, also disproportionately hit Integrity-based decks hard. And what few Insurrection-proof Integrity missions were out there tended to require lots of skills that only show up on integrity-poor personnel. Ba'ku Planet (Safeguard Civilization helps ease the pain, being immune to Insurrection, requiring skills that show up commonly on high-integrity personnel, and having a good attribute to point ratio. It fills a similar purpose in TNG and TOS decks as Torga IV does in DS9 decks, and tends to be part of the layout when you see a Good Guy deck these days.

It helps that TOS feels like a Good Guy affiliation to play. They're not big on surprises, with most of their personnel abilities activating in the play phase. They're very up-front and honest about what they can do - if you lose, well, they tried to warn you! And abilities like Sisko's interrupt prevention and the skill-gain prevention on Coordinated Counterattack help keep the opponent honest too. That's not to say they don't have a few tricks up their sleeves should the going get tough - Driven is a fantastic skill-cheating interrupt, which is even more useful with Dereliction of Duty lurking around the corner all the time these days.

I was playing a test game with TOS, and I was really impressed with how impactful Ilia can be, especially in a tight 40 card TOS deck like this one. A lot of recent discard pile retrieval tools stipulate that the targets must be personnel, ships, or even equipment, but Ilia will shuffle two (or more!) of anything back when you play her for full cost. Now, in a larger deck, that probably won't do much, but in a slim deck like John's, she can make a huge difference.

John's deck also has a characteristic that I haven't seen as much recently, but can be very impactful if your opponents tend to go space-first exclusively - he has twice as many space dilemmas as he has planet dilemmas. If your opponents are going space first, you'll optimally get a chance to filter a bunch of those dilemmas out before they head for planet missions, and often you get more bang for your dilemma buck out of those first mission attempts. Think about it - how often do you go out to your first mission before you have a hand or core full of cheaters? It's by the time you're on your second or third missions before most of your deck's tricks are up and running. By going heavy on space dilemmas, John's trying to hit you hard in the early game, when it counts the most.

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