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The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 11

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

15th June 2018

First Edition Austrian Regional winner Stefan Slaby
Title: All Hail Her Majesty, Empress Admiral Temporal Agent Commander T'Pol I. Long May She Reign!
Deck Archetype: Fascinating
Play Engines: Museum of Kyrian Heritage, Home Away From Home, Full Complement of Shuttles, New Arrivals, Nanoprobe Resuscitation, Holodeck Door
Draw Engines: Ancestral Vision, New Arrivals, Process Ore: Mining, Holoprogram: The Voyager Encounter, Declare New Sovereign
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assert Authority, Betray Captain, Consolidate Power, Declare New Sovereign, Assign Mission Specialists
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Me, Latok, LORE, Armus, pfti, prylardurden, bosskamiura, Hoss-Drone, jadziadax8, DarkSabre, Fritzinger and The Ninja Scot.

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

Well, I wasn't really planning on winning this one. I'd already earned my bye at last year's Nationals. Instead, this deck was built for the little Timmy in me...

I've wanted to use Declare New Sovereign since I first saw it. Of course, with the homeworld requirement, that card had been strongly faction-locked, and I'm not too keen on actually playing a [MQ] faction. Plus, solving a specific mission involving a specific personnel made the whole thing slow, risky, and unreliable... kudos to everybody who did this the intended way. But now there's Empress, so both shackles are off, and I'm finally free to establish an empire wherever I please!

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Again: I wasn't actually expecting to win this. Kazon would have absolutely wrecked me. Any kind of event destruction or interrupt prevention would have slowed me down, as would have many more specific interference cards. At only 12 seed slots for dilemmas, I was also expecting to simply lose to the dilemma ratio a lot: an [AQ] 2-mission win deck with 18 dilemmas faces only 4 of my dilemmas for the win while I have to face 9 of theirs. This is simply not a deck you take to a competitive environment, expecting to win.

However, I had to face (almost) none of the above. Julius' amazing new [NA] [1E-TNG] deck was going for the [AQ] 2 mission win, but walked into my Disrupted Continuum trap, losing a ship with around 10 good people to "God". Alex played his powerful deck from last year's continentals, but against only [MQ] missions I could go for the 2 mission win myself. And Martin always tries new and interesting decks that unfortunately need more than the 4-7 turns competitive games last these days.

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?
Well, I have a lot of experience with [DQ] decks, including [Fed]. I like the new mission Conduct Perilous Trade and its time location Museum of Kyrian Heritage, these not only save you a seed slot for the ship, but also replace Ocampa Planet with a significantly better mission.

I was amazed how well this deck can recover from certain bad starting hands. I crowned my Empress twice on turn 3 and once on turn 4 (for lack of a commander to kill on turn 2). And on two of those games, I've had starting hands with NO playable personnel (but got lucky with the combo pieces instead). Starting with 40 reliable bonus points, and having the best drawing engine in the game, was more than worth it.

However, I quickly regretted my decision to cut [Ref] cards. I've missed at least Containment Field, Mirror Image, and Obelisk of Masaka.

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?
Disrupted Continuum is absolutely bonkers. Players will take time to learn how to properly play against this. Instead of having to predict where your opponent may make themselves vulnerable to a particularly punishing dilemma, and putting the right dilemmas there in advance, you can just wait for it and spring the trap anywhere. Preferably when they already know the dilemma under the mission, and prepare specifically for that. So far, most people seem to have used Disrupted Continuum either to give them a third copy of their favorite lockout-style dilemma, or for instant Cytherians (which don't do much in a split quadrant game). The Second Edition player in me sees much more potential in using the replacement more interactively.

Daniels with his special download of Out of Time is also pretty amazing. He's the only general purpose dilemma evasion I can think of that doesn't even stop you. There and back again. An auto include, as long as you're planning to do a mission with a corresponding time location (which [DQ] just got) and have a way of reporting him.

The Revised crew themselves haven't really convinced me yet. Between their low (for [DQ]) skill density, their unhealthy reliance on holodecks and Holo-Projectors (which they can download only once), and how rarely Holoprogram: The Voyager Encounter's swap actually does something useful in a 5-turn game, I don't feel they're worth the trouble. The cheating potential of their special downloads for other personnel, Reflection Therapy, and Fitting In sounds good on paper, but in reality I often had the necessary personnel in play already (just not there), or could only cheat one skill when I would have needed two.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
How dare he, suggest that any card could be more valuable than Her Majesty, Empress Admiral Temporal Agent Commander T'Pol I? Off with his head!

Anyway... if you're asking for my 2nd MVP, exluding the whole Empress chain... I'd probably go for Temporal Benefactor. With Launch Bay and one [SF] shuttlepod in the deck, you can reliably download Disrupted Continuum and Timepod Ring in ANY non- [Bor] deck. Which, in my opinion, makes these 1-2 seed cards significantly more valuable than 1-2 extra dilemma slots.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I've had a lot of fun playing this deck!

The [1E-TNG] and [1E-DS9] cycles were a bit of a disappointment for me because all their interesting abilities were tied to having those icons, which are going away as soon as you report anything else, which completely blocks these cards from inclusion in other decks (and blocks those decks from including other interesting cards), and pretty much ensures that I'll rarely, if ever, use them.

The [22] cycle on the other hand does not use such strong faction-locking mechanics too much, and I'm glad. Although I shudder to think what Temporal Benefactor can do in the kind of deck that it's actually intended for; one that can actually report some of the downloadable agents, and share skills with more of their personnel. I think that card was made a bit too strong.

My Commentary:
Yup, that's Temporal Benefactor in that there Delta Quadrant Revised Federation deck that seeks to crown an Empress. Fortunately, there's plenty of other fun stuff going on, so I don't have to dwell on Benefactor. Stefan's already said most of what I have to say about it at this point anyways in his interview.

That's a lot of play engines! Even more impressive, one of them is New Arrivals! Now, that means that you're not really using all of them every turn, but Holodeck Door, Nanoprobe Resuscitation, and Full Complement of Shuttles can all be stacked on top of the single allowed free play per turn. The Door downloads, the 'probes simply "report" (after being rigged in the discard pile by Process Ore and Admiral Kirk), and the Shuttles report with crew, so none of them technically count as a free play, while still getting multiple people into play per turn.

There are also a lot of draw engines! That means that, especially by the time Declare New Sovereign activates, you can probably just forget about the draws from New Arrivals and spam with Home Away From Home/Kyrian Museum. Four cards per turn just for stopping someone can make you reckless like that. And that's after the Empress-crowning chain filled the "Bonus Point Mechanics" field in the deck summary with more cards than I can remember including there for years.

I'd like to point out that Stefan has included a detailed "how to play" in the strategy section of the decklist, which I'd recommend checking out since this deck looks like a blast to play. Stefan is right that there are some decent counters to this deck out there, but if you're having this much fun, who cares if you lose a couple games. And if one of the winningest players out there has a bit of Timmy in him, I think we probably all do.

Second Edition Fargo Regional winner Kris Sonsteby
Title: Grow up Peter Pan... Count Chocula!
Headquarters: Earth, Humanity's Home
Deck Archetype: Draft
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Latok, LORE, prylardurden, pfti, Hoss-Drone, jadziadax8, and Armus.

Kris' Commentary:
Do you have much experience with this particular draft format?

I’ve played in dozens of sealed deck events over the years, but only a few of those have been of the Cube Draft variety. Last year, our host Matt Hayes went a bit overboard with the amount of packs we drafted, so this year it was very pared down. While it still felt like there was a fair number of wasted picks being taken around the room due to the wide range of affiliations nobody seemed interested in playing, I think by next year’s event all the kinks will be worked out.

What tough choices did you have to make when building your deck?
Having nabbed Earth, Humanity’s Home and then Secure Strategic Base early on, my toughest decision was during the draft itself – stay the course with Starfleet despite the lack of affiliated personnel I was seeing, or bail out and try Borg. For the first 30 minutes or so, I ended up exclusively taking Non-Aligned cards and just had to keep the faith that the Starfleet peeps would eventually come around. Luckily, I snagged a good core of Non-Aligned All-Stars like The Pendari Champion, Electrifying Favorite and James Moriarty, Awakened Nemesis to supplement what would end up being a decent albeit expensive Starfleet group headlined by A.G. Robinson, Prototype Captain and Danika Erickson, Well Read.

Did you find that your deck had any surprising strengths or weaknesses through the course of playing it?
I expected the game text on Jupiter, Test Experimental Engine to be strong in a format chalk full of small dilemma piles and was not disappointed. Charles Tucker III, Chief Engineer was also helpful in turning skills I was short on, such as Archaeology, into Engineer here or there. The only real obvious weakness for me was the lack of 1-cost personnel which seemed to be a recurring theme amongst all the attendees. It sure felt strange playing a mid-range solver that was slow out of the blocks in a sealed event, but my dilemmas managed to keep me within striking distance.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
U.S.S. Enterprise A, Chariot of God gets an honorable mention as it put me over 100 points in two of my games where an opponent scored a space mission before me, but without a doubt T’Pol, Overbearing Observer was the MVP on the day. She flat out won me the game and the tournament against Kevin Jaeger, as I blanked an Honorable Pursuit and then a copy of Distraction before passing Forced Into Labor to win it in come from behind fashion at Survey New World.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Not really, but I would like to take the opportunity to thank Matt Hayes for his hospitality and to all the local and traveling players who came out. Getting eight guys together for a sealed format Regional is definitely an impressive feat, and it went off without a hitch thanks to the coordinated effort of the trio of T.D.’s on hand. Both the North and South Dakota folks are always great to play with, and I’m hopeful we can all look forward to Draft Day at The Animal’s house again next year!

First Edition Fargo Regional winner Kevin Jaeger
Title: 9 kinds of smoke
Deck Archetype: Solver
Play Engines: Federation Flagship: Relaunched, Hall of Magistrates, Nanoprobe Resuscitation, Holodeck Door
Draw Engines: Finally Ready to Swim, Temporal Shifting, Temporal Investigations
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists, Kir'Shara, Arbiter of Succession
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Me, Latok, LORE, Armus, pfti, prylardurden, bosskamiura, Hoss-Drone, monty42, BCSWowbagger, jadziadax8, DarkSabre, Fritzinger, and The Ninja Scot.

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

I had been having health issues all week so I went with a deck that I could play on autopilot with fewer opportunities for making mistakes.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I wasn't concerned about this. My only concern was that I was going to be playing 1e, on not enough sleep, through a migraine, after a long day of 2e draft. I had barely enough brain power to make 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 2 prior iterations before, the deck goes through minor to moderate tweaks each time to adjust to meta considerations. This time I also played a dilemma strategy that would require very little thought. I learned that I wasn't a fan of the new dilemma strategy though. It's not that it didn't work at all, but Mark showed how it could/would be attacked by an opponent. He does that a lot for me though, shows the cracks in my ideas so by the time a major event comes around, I've sealed them up.

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?
As I said before, this deck operates entirely on situational decisions. The use of Smoke Bomb and The Gift are dependent on my opponents' dilemmas. Some games Deanna uses her ability, some games she doesn't. Ditto for Vic Fontaine.

This version goes for the 2 mission win on the back of AMS, Kir'Shara and Arbiter. I would like to say Kir'Shara exceeded expectations but that would be a lie, it's been a known power card for awhile.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
For this event, Vic Fontaine gets the MVP nod as I needed his download to find a transporter skill to pass Mark's Jol Yichu at Narendra III.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
First 1e player to reach 2000 rating! Woohoo!

Big thanks to my protégé and testing partner Mark Muston for helping me find the cracks in my 1.0 versions of decks in order to get them ready for serious play. Huge thanks to my brotha from anotha motha Kris for the many, many strategy discussions. Shout out to everyone in the Andorian meta for playing hard, providing quality competition and pushing me to stay sharp.

My Commentary:
Between this deck and Stefan's from this week, I'm prepared to say that reports of Nanoprobe Resuscitation's death have been greatly exaggerated. N'Rana could certainly cause some trouble against these decks, but even in the rare event that someone includes her in a deck, they've still got to draw into her and play her. At that point some of the Nanoprobes will have already been used, and the 'probe user may still find the point loss acceptable for a time or two. In fact, since the 'probes go to the point area, N'Rana kind of boosts them, since you won't cover your discard pile with Nanoprobes after use anymore.

Now, you may ask how Assign Mission Specialists plays into the two mission win (per Kevin's interview) when one of the specialists he downloads is a Greed specialist. None of his missions require Greed, and he's only packing one copy of Specialists, what gives? Well, sometimes I forget that Nanoprobe Resuscitation isn't just usable as a play engine of personnel. It can also get key verbs back, including an Assign Mission Specialists that you discarded at the start of your turn. He can do that and replay it after 'probing it, then pull out Kathleen Tonell and Norah Satie for more skill coverage.

Speaking of skill coverage, sometimes you don't need it. Even in a deck that uses the most flexible play engine in the game in order to play the best of the best, I see two copies of The Genesis Effect. That's a great answer to a lot of the nonsense dilemmas that I've been complaining about lately. And, unlike Computer Crash, there's no seedable card that can just block its effect. It's an incident, and nothing's going to stop it from doing its thing, other than your own actions of course. It requires a good knowledge of what's out there in order to use it effectively, so, well, keep up with The Road to Worlds!

Oh, hey, and this is a deck without Temporal Benefactor! Yeah!

Second Edition Northern California Regional winner Richard New
Title: Proving Our Meddle 1.2
Headquarters: Romulus, Patient Stronghold
Deck Size: 62 Cards
Deck Archetype: Interference
Dilemma Pile Size: 29 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Kill
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Me, Latok, LORE, prylardurden, pfti, bosskamiura, Hoss-Drone, Armus, monty42, and The Ninja Scot.

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

I’ve been fiddling with and adjusting this deck off and on for a little more than a year. I really didn’t consider anything else for very long.

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 a variety. My meta is pretty heavy with solvers, so I’d still like to test this deck more against the gamut of possibilities. See what other holes I can plug up.

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?
Like I mentioned, I have played this basic build several times. I was definitely more consistent this time around with my Imperial Entanglements crew as I had cut a bloated section of the deck that never panned out, sacrificing choices to increase my play speed. I also added in Enabran Tain, which pairs nicely with Imperial Entanglements for a “soft kill” and works as a nice deterrent for just attempting in order to try to get some dilemmas beneath a mission. Anything to waste a turn.

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 the interrupts (minus IE) are pretty situational. Secret Conspiracy is a last ditch effort and Warp Speed Transfer can be a game-saver if I’m patrolling with the wrong (right?) guys. Some dilemmas are pretty situational. I like having the option and I’m pretty sure I’ve played every single dilemma left in the deck at least once, so they all fit their uniquely polygonal holes, like that wooden children’s toy. I think everything got used about as much as I would expect, including, in this tournament, never. I might remove some copies of some dilemmas. For instance, I like Archaic Snare’s interaction, muddying the opponent’s choices, but I probably only need one.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Unsound Logic. Taking out two choice personnel (or even sometimes just one), can set up just about any other horrors I have planned for my opponent.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
It’s still a work in progress, I guess.

My Commentary:
I love a good New Romulus deck! The classic Romulan Getting Under Your Skin-type of deck is a well-tested and well-performing machine, so you've got to have a bit of an adventurous spirit to try something new - and having tried this type of deck, I can say that it is a lot of fun. In fact, back when I first tried a Romulan lurking deck, I believe I based mine off of one of Richard's designs (though I added some ship battle stuff).

I got a chance to witness the power of Harried and Harassed along with Parallel Course when I was in Atlanta for Nationals, and I'm looking forward to trying it myself the next time I play Romulans. It's bad enough to stare down a T'Met packed with people like Enabran Tain and Retaya, knowing that if you try to run away, a dilemma will return to the pile (and another might die due to an Archaic Snare). You're likely to need to do that anyways; on account of the kills/captures from Retaya, Unsound Logic, and Tain, you'll probably need reinforcements after a failed attempt. Worse is that, even if you try to go somewhere else, Harried and Harassed will pop up and put that T'Met right back in your way.

Unsound Logic and Harried and Harassed are pretty tied to this draw deck, but the rest of the pile looks like a good kill pile - and there's no Tragic Turn or The Clown: Guillotine. Those two have been the centerpieces of kill piles for so long that it feels like we've lost sight of the fact that there are other ways to do it. This pile likely works particularly well in this deck because of the effectiveness of Unsound Logic and the extra counters from the T'Met (many of the dilemmas involved are pricey), but would probably still be a good starting point if you're looking for an alternative kill pile.

But my favorite card to see here is definitely Shadow Operation. That's a card that I remember seeing when it was initially revealed and thinking "that can't possibly ever be useful." I'm glad to say I was wrong. While, at the time, the investment of getting a ship and crew out to an opponent's mission just to get a 3 cost personnel for 1 cost, Face of the Enemy gave us just enough good new tools for lurking Romulan decks that I think the balance has tipped enough for this card to finally be useful.


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