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The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 13

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

28th June 2018

Second Edition Massachusetts Regional winner Matt Zinno
Title: Westworld
Headquarters: Mouth of the Wormhole, Deep Space 9
Deck Size: 55 Cards
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 51 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: BCSWowbagger.

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

When I was first planning for this tournament, I thought I'd bring one of the decks I'd been building recently, either [22] [Kli] or [22] [Rom]. Then a reminder email brought up the fact that it was a 2E tournament. Ok then. This time of year is busy with end-of-year recitals, and playoffs, and the like, so I dug up an old deck I'd played before that was fun ... a Terok Nor mill deck that I'd played online in 2016. Then I decided I was going to bring my sons to this tournament as well. I ended up giving that deck to one of them to play, since he's been playing Magic and likes mill decks there. Now for myself, I instead dusted off this deck I'd played in 2014. It's fun, and I have experience playing it. The personnel have good attributes, and they're good at skill cheating and stop/kill avoidance. I didn't have thoughts of winning ... take a look at my previous 2E record, and you'll see I didn't think I was in that class.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I really didn't give it any sort of thought like that. But in retrospect, I'm glad I didn't face any battle or capturing decks. Solver decks are a game I understand, and I know how to play against. (I don't mean I always win, just that it's a game I understand.)

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?
Yeah, I've played it before. This time ... just have fun, it's a game!

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 certainly stock several, but only a few of them got used. Gateway I stock only for the personnel download, and by nature that's useful in roughly half the matches. Signs of Sentience is in case I need some event destruction, and that happened in one game. Some others didn't get used, like Juliana (can be saved by either Ira or Rayna) and Bustling (one of many ways to try to make sure to get Soong out early). I might drop those if I play this again. And one that certainly exceeded expectations was Unbelievable Emergency, which got stronger against so many dual-HQ decks.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
I think I'm expected to say Noonien Soong, seeing as how he's mentioned in the opening-play strategy. Yes, he gets [Rom] Data in play, and is convenient for playing people directly to the ship, and for filling my hand with more androids. But where you really need power is in mission attempts, and for that reason my answer is Lore. He has great CUNNING and STRENGTH, can't be stopped by dilemmas, and provides skills for two of my solvable missions. And his high cost doesn't (usually) bother me, since I'll manage to play him for free on the third turn of my Energize.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
The 2014 version was for a Traditional tournament (and so, combining "Traditional" and "androids", I titled it with a droid quote from Star Wars). For this version, I looked at some recent android decks to see what virtual cards should be added to it. And so it got a title based on "modern" androids (though I don't watch the show).

My Commentary:
A bunch of the cards in any given Second Edition Android deck are going to always be the same. Soong, Graves, STA, Lal, Lore, B-4, Ruk, Tainer, these guys always show up in multiple. Energize is common due to the high cost of many 'droids, and Blue Match is a nice back-up. Staffing is light on Androids too, so the ships are usually some variation on Mercenary Ships and Olarras.

The first place where you usually see some deviation is the Data choice. There are a lot of Datas, but only one plays to the Non-Aligned headquarters of choice: Deep Space Nine. Sure, you could play them somewhere else, but the advantage of being able to use a one-span headquarters vastly outweigh a couple of extra skills on Bruce Maddox.

But fortunately, Soong's text allows you to choose from more than just the one non-aligned Data, even when using DS9. Not that Loyal Brother is that bad, it's just that he's not the one you want if you want to run an event-light deck like Matt's. He's picked Romulan Data, who has a couple nice advantages: his ability is pretty useful against predictable piles, he's reasonably cheap as far as Datas go, and he's not Federation so you're not at risk of being hit by an errant Moral Choice.

Perhaps most importantly: he's one of two Datas with Transporters, which shows up on the Android-centric mission Follow Homing Beacon and doesn't show up on any Androids besides those two Datas (though I've dialed it up on Lal a few times personally). That's where you hit divergence point two: what missions are you using? Android skills are pretty narrow, and don't line up well with many missions. Matt's got Elude Federation Forces, which is a common choice as one of the few missions they can do without help, and has opted for Mining Survey as the third.

That's where most of the rest of the optional cards come in: filling in the mission skills for the 3rd mission. A little bit of Pran Tainer here, some Nydrom there, and Tolian Soran to taste. As a bonus, there's a little DS9 fun - True Ferengi Quark gives you a blank check download, Kira gives you a generic ship download, and Mardah provides a little discard retrieval.

First Edition North American Continental Championships winner Kevin Jaeger
Title: Strike this mother...... out!
Deck Archetype: Interference (Assimilation)
Play Engines: We Are the Borg, New Arrivals, They Will Be Coming
Draw Engines: We Are the Borg, New Arrivals
Bonus Point Mechanics: Add Distinctiveness, Harness Particle 010
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Prylardurden, Hoss-Drone, LORE, Armus, and BCSWowbagger.

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

I have around 7 or 8 different decks that I had worked on over the off-season. Most of which got played over the course of the regionals season. So when it came to early planning for the championship season I made the decision that I would have a deck specifically prepared for NACC. For a long period of time I had just assumed it would be a deck that I would just run both days assuming I made the cut but the closer we got to the event date, the more I became convinced that I should probably play whatever speed solver deck I felt most comfortable with for day 1. When Kris and I were discussing strategy he also strongly felt that I should go with a solver for day 1. I think a lot of people are just used to seeing me bring the Janky curveball that giving them the fastball is the changeup. What happened at MN regionals definitely played a big part in my decision-making. People were tech’ing very heavily for my Dominion deck so I felt like that might be a non-starter for a choice.

So for Day 1 it came down to either running the smoke deck or the Starfleet/Vulcan deck. I went with smoke because of my familiarity with it and how well it can be adapted to the meta. Plus Nanoprobes always buy you flexibility in case you run into trouble. I had put in the Genesis Effects following ND as my surprise answer to Enemies of the State. I had also meant to put in the Daniel’s > Out of Time tech but when things came up in the personal life, it didn’t happen. The next iteration will continue to next level and find a way to put in Temporal Benefactor in order to get even more access to dial a skill functions, the Daniels tech, and Timepod Ring/Disrupted Continuum shenanigans. Since I have the time now, I might also experiment with taking it away from Fed/Klingon and trying it with Fed/Romulan.

Day 2 then became academic about what I was going to play – that is, the deck I had specifically prepped for it. Building and playing with the Minefields and with Enemies of the State during prior events was partially for research purposes to explore what it was good at and what it was bad at. Along the way it became clear to me that there are plenty of deck options out there to deal with both, but Borg just crush EotS with Adapts and assimilation while having the ability to gain a constant end around the minefields with Transwarp Hub and Transwarp Network gateway. The plan was to use Undetected Beam in to d/l a green drone (along with the usual red drone suspects), then play the TNG on top of the mission and instantly be on top of a minefield player who wasn’t expecting it. On top of all that, Borg just walk past most of the popular dilemmas out there right now. The only sticking point was going to be the knowledge that both Huth and Sheets would be there and almost undoubtedly playing Borg themselves. The last changes the deck went through were to have strategies in place for the Borg mirror – which definitely paid off as Jeremy found out rd 3 of day 2.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Smoke wants to just get into a straight solver v solver game. Makes the lines of play a lot more straightforward. It really doesn’t want to face aggressive Borg because everything gets convoluted but that’s partially what the Genesis effects were put in to deal with – Vagiscows from a Borg player. It also doesn’t like having to use the Nanoprobes to get STP back instead of a peep but being prepped for the Borg matchup meant I was defacto partially ready to face down the drone minefields.

The Borg deck wants to face an opponent that bottlenecks themselves. Luna MACO is the posterchild of this – If I know after missions are seeded where you will be reporting personnel you’re gonna get 4 card combos in that neighborhood and I can calculate where I need to be on turn 2 for the Transwarp Conduit play turn 3.

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 both of these decks and/or variations of these decks quite a bit. I learned a lot about what the Borg deck is capable of during the deckbuilding phase. Every time I gave it a problem, it was able to come up with a simple answer.

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?
Day 1: The Genesis Effects in the smoke deck were the definition of situational, they went in to deal with EotS and Vagiscows but ended up being used to call a Medical Crisis against Ken day 1 when I couldn’t cover it and felt it coming at Narendra III. It forced him into using his disrupted continuum probably earlier than he would have liked but more importantly it, when it turned out I was right, it kept me on pace. Nothing in the deck really surprised me with how well it did.

Day 2: The borg deck has loads of situational cards – Establish Tractor Lock, Orbital Bombardment, Post Garrison, the Borg Outpost, Harness Particle 010, the Omega Particle, the second copies of Masaka, Assimilate Species and Change of Plans, the +2 weapons drone, the Adapt: Allocate resources > A Willing Companion, Stone Knives and Bearskins, etc. Its definitely an expert level deck and I would not recommend playing it until you’ve become a Borg expert. Sequencing and timing with the deck are absolutely critical and both of those require that you approach every game, every situation with, ironically for the Borg, a very open mind as to what you need to do in that situation. Although, now that I think about it, its not ironic for the Borg since its basically a constant exercise in adapting to the situation. Vs Kris priority 1 was nuking his outpost with Gowron then hunting down Regency 1. Vs. Ken it was just making my way to Police Trade Route and getting a counterpart and TNG posted there so I could bounce around the spaceline. Vs Jeremy it was staffing the cube with the tractor lock drone in order to literally grind the game into going nowhere. (A true tie in rd 3 meant I was untouchable.)

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Day 1: Genesis Effect and Borg Nanoprobes for co mvp.

Day 2: The Transwarp Drone and Four of Fifty for Co-MVP.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I’d just to say that both decks showed how versatile they can be in how they are constructed which allows you to adapt them to the meta which I think is of utmost importance when it comes to deck selection for a major event. It also doesn’t hurt that I felt like I got good opening draws in all 6 games with the quintessential nut draw vs. Jeremy.

My Commentary:
Kevin said something in the Continentals scheduling thread that really helps explain what is unique about his Borg deck: "I play Borg in a way that is different than the other guys and it serves me well because I don't follow a script. Most other Borg decks usually end up on a script and that makes seeding dilemmas easier and staying ahead of their clock much more doable."

To that end, there are a lot more Objectives in this deck than I normally see in First Edition Borg decks. Kevin's not just going to harness a particle and then assimilate the homeworld he stocked. He can scoop up all your people, make one of them a counterpart, and then assimilate your homeworld, for example. Or he can blow up your ships using either Eliminate Starship or the multiple Gowrons he has stocked. A Change of Plans may no longer download Post Garrison, but that doesn't mean you're safe from it with five copies of it appearing in the draw deck.

That's a lot more flexibility than you see in your normal Borg decks. I was complaining once to Steve C, a local player and Borg veteran, that I've never once won against Borg in First Edition. I now have, but it was against Josh Sheets, and it was because he seeded They Will Be Coming and a Mirror Quadrant mission, so it doesn't really count. Anyways, Steve told me that I've just got to identify the Borg game-plan in the seed phase and interfere with it, like stocking Selok as a mission specialist so I can steal Earth against a Stop First Contact deck, or generally burying the headquarters mission that my opponent plans to target.

What gets you against this deck (and its player) is you just can't do that. He's got two headquarters missions so it is harder to bury both - I suspect Bajor is there because it is one of the more common AQ non-40 point headquarters missions. That means Kevin can assimilate it after abducting his Bajoran counterpart from you. And if you've correctly buried Qo'noS and are playing some headquarterless build, well then you've got nowhere to hide and Kevin can just add your distinctiveness to the collective. You will be assimilated.

Second Edition North American Continental Championships winner Kenneth Tufts
Title: StarFleet Hazardous Material handling evolved.
Headquarters: Earth, Humanity's Home
Deck Size: 53 Cards
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 30 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Kill
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Me, monty42, Marquetry, and Latok.

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

Prior to the event I considered several decks, Cardies are always a good choice have been top tier for a long time, Rainbow Dash because it's relaxing to play during a big weekend of Trek, Relativity same thing, new DOM for a good strength solver that also has some interference and double counter-spells, Starfleet because they are strong and I'm practiced with them and the 'new' Trellium dilemma is still a strong card.

In the end, with the recent addition of Enemy of My Enemy to the already strong Cardies I picked them as one of my decks, and went with the same SF draw deck from TCM last year where I placed second, and upgraded the dilemma pile to mass murder but with out the consume side to it. I did not yet know which would be day-1 and day-2 deck, but those were the two I brought, on the day I was feeling the Cardie while insanely strong at solving has less stuff to break opponents plans up and I wanted the SF double counter spells available for day-2 to break peoples plans.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Day-1: I wanted to miss kill piles and double counter spells, as they are the harder match up, the EomE helps for sure against kill, IF you can get them through.

Day-2: I was fairly cool with most any thing, the deck has lots of tools, I mean I'm always happy to not have to deal with MAQ on any given day, and I'm definitely stronger against non mass kill piles, but over all, I'm happy with this deck in all match ups I've played it so far.

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?
Day-1: Cardies I have played several versions before, even the specifically tossing yellow off affiliation personal tech, the games went about as expected.

Day-2: The draw deck is the same as my TCM version so lots of practice there, the dilemmas follow the same goal lots of death, just bit of a swap to putting less under the missions. It all went about as expected.

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?
Both decks are fairly lean, having gone through several revisions prior to the event, nothing is really situational in either deck. both ran pretty much as expected.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Cardies: EomE is a power house it closed the one big weakness they had, less defense against kill now most of the time who cares if the people die, I can just regrow them and solve any way.

Starfleet: It's a combo deal really Hazardous Materials for the cheap huge kill range, and Lustful to make sure the kills stick through things like Escape OR EomE from opponents Cardies.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Both were fun to play for me, not sure if opponents would agree, they both can be frustrating matches in different ways.

My Commentary:
I don't think I've had a chance to review this Starfleet variant, though I've been following it since I first saw it amongst the decks at last year's Texas Chainsaw Masters. Rather than focusing entirely on solving, this deck aims to get some Trellium out as early as possible, fueling the dilemma Hazardous Materials from Dead Stop. It would suck to not get the Trellium in time, so we also see Fajo's Menagerie here to help get it. Now there are six slots that represent an early Trellium, and the draws from Fajo's, Trip, and Henry Archer (and the cycling from Nel Apgar) can help you get there too.

One of the big changes from Ken's last version to this version is the addition of more equipment beyond the Trellium. Part of the reason is obvious - he can get more kills from the Damage half of Hazardous Materials that way. The other perk is less obvious, but it is important to note that this Starfleet deck lacks A Sight For Sore Eyes/At What Cost?. That particular source of resource advantage is gone, but with six non-hand weapon equipment available, the draws from Fajo's Menagerie can be a suitable replacement.

Needing to fit in a second Delphic Expanse mission means that Transport Crash Survivor Alpha 5 Approach doesn't have a spot. However, as Ken mentioned in his interview, his pile does less consuming than it did before by using dilemmas like A Taste of Armageddon instead of The Clown: Guillotine. That matters because, while this pile is still getting the kills, it'll be less susceptible to the microteaming that Alpha 5 seeks to prevent.

The result of including those two Delphic planets is that the mission plan has a sort of branching paths scenario based on whether or not this deck is the first one to complete in space. If you pick up those ten points, then you're in luck down the road: you can stay in the Delphic Expanse and have mobile reporting and protection from Damaged Archer. If not, you're stuck going to Terra Nova. That said, being stuck solving a Cunning>28 35 point mission is not exactly the end of the world.

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