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Virtual Format Play

by Torbjörn Lindquist, Freelance Writer

12th November 2009

Some of you have seen my posts about how possible it is to make decks in what I call the Virtual Format. Just recently, the format got included in the tournament system, and in the deck builder. For those who missed out on this, you might ask, "What is the virtual format?" Well, it's a format where all cards available in the format are available for printout from this site. The four printable sources of cards are: 1) Virtual expansions, the main source, 2) Errata file, a couple of very nice cards here, 3) all missions and 4) lastly some printable Virtual Promo cards. And The Continuing Committee has announced that tournament prize virtual promos shall be printable half a year after they have rotated out of the prize card cycle.

In the Favor the Bold questions and answers discussion, I asked if the developers thought it would be possible to build decks out of only virtual cards at the end of 2009. Brad didn't think so. After the release of Raise the Stakes, we had a small tournament with Virtual-only decks Sweden. This tournament was very fun, even though at the time the decks were very limited. Would they stand a chance in a non-Virtual only tournament? Probably not. But perhaps in the meantime, the format could function as a standalone. After this, I started to lobby for this format to be included in the system, which happened very recently.

You have to think differently when building a Virtual format deck compared to making standard decks. Some cards in the virtual expansions will be bad in this format, even if it's awesome in standard. Further, thoough this format lacks the proper support, other cards that are not so good in standard will be very nice in Virtual format. I know this format is not for everybody, but I think it is good for two types of players: 1) new players in areas where it is difficult or even impossible to buy cards locally, 2) players who like challenges when it comes to deck building, and don't mind making a new deck for each tournament. So, now I challenge the player groups out there, try to have a Virtual format tournament. Virtual format should not replace standard, but it's a great way to have a break from the normal play.

So what's the main difference between Virtual format and standard? For one, the big Borg are not an issue, since there are way too few ships and personnel available to complete missions consistently. And even though Kruge is in the errata file, there are no Damage events to fuel this World Championship-quality strategy. No Tragic Turn and not even a Back to Basics hit the dilemma piles. But dilemmas like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? in the errata file and those like Instigate Dissension and He Wasn't Nice in the virtual expansions, ensure the dilemma piles are not to be taken lightly. And with Personal Duty, Caretaker's “Guests” and The Clown: Bitter Medicine each winning a vote for being part of Things Past in the 15th Anniversary Collection and therefore being available in Virtual format, the dilemma piles just got nastier.

So, what affiliations can be played in this format? The most potent affiliation right now in Virtual format is Romulans. They got loads of nice personnel, and in the latest addition in the 15th Anniversary set, they got Data, the Viceroy and Romulan Impersonator, which makes them even harder to face. Also, Dukat in the 15th Anniversary collection will help feed Wariness. The Original Series and The Next Generation got quite a good selection of personnel, and they have access to the Original Thinker, making it possible to bust through dilemma selections. Maquis don't have that a good selection of personnel yet, but they can be a nice supplement to an Original Series deck, being able to use the Maquis Defiant for some nasty disruption. Deep Space 9 can play both the Earth headquarters and Mouth of the Wormhole, and takes a slightly different approach on each. With the U.S.S. Centaur, they have access to an 'easy to staff' ship, too. Klingons also have some nice personnel. They have access to almost every skill in the game, but only on one personnel for most of them. The Dominion got a lot of interesting cards in the 15th Anniversary set, sucha s Dominion Battleship, Friction and Founder Architect... but still they need something more to really be competitive in this format. There are eleven skills where they have at most one personnel contributing. A dual-headquarters deck with some Cardassians for Tenak'talar might be nice. So five to seven headquarters are playable on their own in this format at the moment, and two or three more can be used in dual-headquarters decks. I think this will be a nice introductory format, and it will grow stronger over time. And since the meta in Virtual format is so different than in Standard format, there are a different set of challenges to face in both deck building and playing. I, for one, think new challenges are refreshing, and might even make you think of combos you would normally have missed out on, that can make it into your standard decks.

To make it even easier to start out, I made four virtual starters. One each for Klingon, The Original Series, Romulans and Deep Space 9. These decks are made with the minimum number of cards in each pile, just like the original starters. They are also designed to play reasonably well against each other, and I have excluded some cards that I think might be too advanced for these decks, as -- by design -- the decks should be easy to use for new players while still giving a good view of the different aspects of the game.

Good luck building your new Virtual Decks, and playing them in tournaments. Why not make your next tournament a Virtual format?

-djl-


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