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Strategy Articles

Deck Building 101 - The Basics, Part 1

by Stephen Lee, Staff Writer

26th January 2009

So, word on the street is our local tournament director (TD) and First Edition Director, Jeremy Commandeur, has a slew of offerings and events to celebrate 15 years of Star Trek Customizable Card Game (STCCG) in 2009. That means it's time for a deck building primer.

Our December First Edition event was a Standard Format giveaway tournament. Decks played were donated to Project Transwarp and will be given to new players. My conundrum was not having enough cards to build a competitive deck. What to do? Instead of going through all the freebie boxes, I bought 10 Voyager starters from eBay for $10.80 (that includes shipping and handling).

Why Voyager? Because the Voyager expansion (and to some extent The Borg expansion) was meant to be a starting point for players new to the STCCG and the cards were strong in comparison to those from earlier expansions. Any new or returning player interested in playing First Edition could pick up cards from Voyager or The Borg and be instantly competitive. Also, Voyager starters are dirt cheap.

Each starter has two rares. These were the pulls:

Restore Victims x3
The Swarm
Maxwell Burke
Tuvok x2
Dr. Telek R'Mor
Seska x2
Arturis x2
Caretaker's Array
Vidiian Boarding Claw

That's pretty bad. Three of the same unique mission, a Ferengi and possibly the worst Kazon Maje ever- but not a total loss. Double Arturis and Tuvoks work with Delta Quadrant Spatial Scission and Dr. Telek R'mor works with Temporal Micro-Wormhole. Let's start building our deck.


First things first: mission selection will provide the blueprint for what to build. The objective is to create a focused mission set and win by doing only two missions (one planet and one space). Of the almost two dozen missions to choose from, three require Astrophysics + ENGINEER (Inversion Mystery, Reinitialize Warp Reaction and Stop Bombardment) which can be done by Federation mission specialists Ayala and Leah Brahms. That's 45 points per mission. Throw in Organ Theft for the last 10 points and it's a Federation/Vidiian Speed Solver we're building. The last three missions will be Answer Distress Signal (ENGINEER + hologram bonus points), Assist Cooperative (ENGINEER) and Liberation (for Caretaker's Array and Tanis).


Almost as important as good mission selection is a good draw engine. A good draw engine gets two or three cards from the draw deck into your hand every turn, in addition to your end-of-turn card draw. Since we pulled a Chakotay, I will donate an Ancestral Vision and another Chakotay for a seedable engine that can draw up to three cards at the end of my turn.

Click here for Jeremy's in-depth draw engine article.


Now that we have our missions and draw engine set, we can envision how a turn sequence will play out, and the personnel that are needed on the table to start the game. The first priority in personnel selection is "free plays from hand," not downloads. A deck heavy in personnel downloads will be hampered by Shape-Shift Inhibitor. Our MEDICAL Vidiians play for free to their Outpost with The Vidiian Sodality, and Federation personnel with Staff icon play for free to Home Away From Home, so they're in. I will add the U.S.S. Voyager to seed at Caretaker's Array and Joseph Travis for Assign Support Personnel and Ancestral Vision.

Click here for superdave's reporting article for more free play options.

The remaining personnel should complement the free plays and ensure our crew meets the requisite skill check. A skill check makes sure the crew has three to four of each classification except CIVILIAN or VIP; has two to three of each skill needed to solve missions; has enough Command and/or Staff icons to staff ships; and can pass Executive Authorization, In the Pale Moonlight and Matriarchal Society. The skills to check can vary and are largely dependent on meta-game, so flexibility is key. A good rule is to add a skill cheater (K'chiQ; Suna and Relection Therapy; Martia, Duplicitous Chameloid; or Vina, Orion Slave Girl) for those dark times when most of your crew is dead and one SECURITY is the difference between winning and a long afternoon.


Ships should be easily accessible, easily staffed and have a Tractor Beam. Easy. For this deck, we'll add the U.S.S. Intrepid, Vidiian Interceptor, and Jeremy donates the Delta Flyer.


Excluding the draw engine, "verbs" are your recursion, deck manipulation, denial, counters, dilemmas, hidden agendas and other support to (1) make your deck go, (2) make your opponent's deck not go, or (3) a little of both. Every deck can use recursion and denial, so in goes Nanoprobe Resuscitation and Quinn. The remaining verbs will be referee counters and various support.


The seed deck sets the play environment with missions, quadrants, dilemmas and outposts. Some general rules: First, use a Q's Tent to extend the draw deck by storing all download cards and referee counters. The tournament is Standard Format, so Q's Tent will be seeded. Also, keep non-dilemma seeds low. 18 to 21 dilemmas are preferable for most decks. We will play it risky with 17 dilemmas.

Combos are nice, but be flexible. Your opponent's missions won't always be balanced for your combos to work. (See game two of tomorrow's tournament report for an example.) Our dilemma selection is roughly two-thirds walls and one-third filters. Wall dilemmas set up conditions your opponent's crew must meet to overcome them, and filter dilemmas separate and divide the opponent's crew to maximize the stopping power of your walls.

Our deck so far:


Temporal Micro-Wormhole

-Q's Tent
(2)+Joseph Travis
(3)Bio-Neural Gel Pack
(4)Vidiian Harvester
(5)Fair Play
(6)Lower Decks
(7)-Shape-Shift Inhibitor
(8)The Big Picture
(9)Blue Alert
(10)-In the Zone
(11)Organ Theft
(12)+Space-Time Portal
(13)-Temporal Vortex

Answer Distress Signal
Assist Cooperative
Inversion Mystery
Reinitialize Warp Reaction
Stop Bombardment

+Ankari “Spirits”
+Dead End
Gravimetric Distortion
+Friendly Fire
Implication x2
Kazon Bomb x2
Lack of Preparation x2
Navigational Hazards
Spatial Rift x3
The Swarm

+Ancestral Vision
Delta Quadrant Spatial Scission
-Q the Referee
The Vidiian Sodality
+Assign Support Personnel
-Defend Homeworld

Vidiian Outpost
Caretaker's Array
+U.S.S. Voyager
Home Away From Home
Assign Mission Specialists
+Leah Brahms


Arturis x2
+Chakotay x2
Dr. Telek R'Mor
+EMH Program
Magistrate Drang x2
Maxwell Burke
Noah Lessing x2
+Revised Neelix, Hedgehog Ops Officer
Rollins x2
+Seven of Nine, Reclaimed Drone x2
Telari x2
Tuvok x2
William Telfer x2
+Delta Flyer
U.S.S. Intrepid
Vidiian Interceptor
Nanoprobe Resuscitation

+ donated
- virtual reprint

How did the deck do? See Part 2 for the tournament report!

stephen lee
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