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The Road to Worlds 2011, United States (West) National Championships Review

by James Hoskin, Director of Organized Play

22nd January 2011

The College of DuPage in Illinois saw not only the United States (West) National Championships, but also a warm-up event the day before and a cool-down event the day after.

National Championships Review

Friday 14th JanuarySaturday 15th JanuarySunday 16th January
6:30pm: Side Event
Second Edition
(Race to the Alpha Quadrant)
College of DuPage
Building M, Room 165AG
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn
Illinois 60137
United States
[Results]
10am: 2010 United States (West) National Championships
Second Edition (Standard)
College of DuPage
Building M, Room 165AG
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn
Illinois 60137
United States
[Results]
12pm: Side Event
Second Edition (Virtual)
College of DuPage
Building M, Room 165AG
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn
Illinois 60137
United States
[Results]

Race to the Alpha Quadrant: Eight players participated in this warm-up event on Friday evening. The home state, Illinois, was represented by five players, while there was one player each from Florida, Michigan and Virginia. Neil Timmons (ntimmons) describes his surprise appearance in the introduction to his tournament report. Beating Neil is never an easy prospect, and that prospect was reduced even further when Neil started playing his [TOS] Original Series "surprise" ship destruction deck. Blowing up his opponent's ship was enough to win the first two rounds, and it came down to his game with Al Schaefer (ltkettch17) in the third round to determine the winner. Even though Al protected his ship, and had a perfectly timed The Dreamer and the Dream force Neil to discard his hand; Neil's James T. Kirk (Original Thinker) was the key to the game. Neil used him to power through his final mission attempts, to win the game and the tournament.

2010 United States (West) National Championships: 21 players from nine states helped to make this the biggest United States National Championships in the Continuing Committee era. The biggest representation came from the "home" state, Ilinois, with seven players; while five players made it from Minnesota. Iowa and Ohio were represented by two players each; while Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan and Virginia had just one representative each.

After two rounds, competition was so fierce that only three players; Al Schaefer (ltkettch17), Jared Hoffman (Mugato) & Neil Timmons (ntimmons); had two full wins. There was also three more undefeated players; Charlie Plaine (MidnightLich), Kris Sonsteby (LORE) & Edward Pigman (jindrak); but each had one full win and one modified win.

Round three saw these six players face off against each other; with Neil's [Bor] Borg beating Al's [Baj] Bajorans, Jared's [TNG] Cadets beating Charlie's [Bor] Borg and Kris' [TNG] Cadets beating Edward's [Car] Cardassians. After lunch, those three undefeated players became two, when Neil beat Jared. That resulted in the fifth round match-up between the last two undefeated players: Kris and Neil. Neil won that game, and then beat Charlie Plaine in the final round for good measure to be crowned the 2010 United States (West) National Champion. The rest of the top four finishers were Kris Sonsteby (LORE), in second place; Michael van Breemen (The Ninja Scot), in third place; and Mike Harrington (Ajnaran), in fourth place. Congratulations everyone!

At the time of writing, the tournament's results page includes 16 of the 21 deck lists, and four tournament reports. It shows that the most popular affiliation was [TNG] Next Generation, used by five players. Next in line was [Bor] Borg, used by three players. Two players used both [Car] Cardassian and [TN] Terok Nor decks; while nine players played an affiliation that no one else did. Of the 21 decks, just one of them was dual headquarters - [Dom] [DS9] Dominion / Deep Space 9. This all resulted in a total of 13 different affiliations being represented across all decks. Just Earth Space 9, [Fer] Ferengi and [NA] Non-Aligned were not represented. The "not-an-actual-award" Award for the best deck name goes to Edward Pigman (jindrak) for his [Car] Cardassian deck titled "Cardassian justice fruit pies".

Virtual format tournament: Six players hung around for this warm-down event. Two each from Illinois and Iowa, as well as one from Florida and one from Virginia. [Voy] Equinox was the most popular deck, used by half the field. Over four rounds, two players emerged as contenders: Neil Timmons (ntimmons), playing [Dom] Dominion; and Michael van Breemen (The Ninja Scot), playing [Car] Cardassian. It was Michael's victory over Neil in the second round - Neil's only loss of the weekend - that separated them, and Michael won the tournament. You can find his virtual deck list here, and his tournament report here.

Neil Timmons Interview

Q: With a few days to go before the tournament, you hadn't pre-registered. Was this a last minute decision to attend, or were you always planning the "surprise" appearance?
A: I was totally going with the "surprise" factor. As in my tournament report, there were only two people who knew I was coming... and my wife was one of them. I didn't pre-reg, because I didn't want people to know I was coming. "how could they be jamming our signal... if they didn't know we were coming." heh.

Q: What decks were you expecting to face at Nationals West?
A: I expected [SF] Damaged Archer Starfleet, and I expected that we headed back to the regular mix of decks. I figured I would hit a [Bor] Borg deck, I am always wary of running into a version of my own [Kli] Klingon deck. And [TN] Terok Nor, I was deathly afraid of [TN] Terok Nor.

Q: You played [Bor] Borg at Nationals East, Worlds Day One and now at Nationals West. Would you say it is currently your strongest deck?
A: I don't think it is the "strongest" deck I have, but it is definitely the most versatile. The [Bor] Borg deck I have is the deck that has the most tools, is able to come up with those tools, and generally able to handle the widest range of problems that people throw. The idea behind the bigger decks is that you come with a "full play book" so if you need a tool, you have it. In my mind right now the [Bor] Borg have the best tool set.

Q: What qualities does your [Bor] Borg deck have that made you want to play it at Nationals West?
A: It's super fun. I get to take guys away. It's fun to make all the moving parts work. And it's generally a fun mess of cards to shuffle. I wanted to play it at Nationals because I was hoping to run into an Archer/Legacy deck, and I wanted to see how well it was able to do. I was also really excited to see people drop Pitching In with Locutus in play... and that happened a whole bunch, so I am taking advantage of people using the new dilemmas.

Q: You're still running a Tragic Turn dilemma pile, despite the threat of Damaged Archer. Was that a concern?
A: Of course I was worried. But then I am worried about any dilemma pile I bring, because no matter what you bring, there is always ways to break it. So given a choice of bringing a dilemma pile that is pretty good but has weaknesses, and a dilemma pile that is great but has weaknesses, I chose the "great" one... and if I run into Damaged Archer? Well, oh well. Then we just see which deck is faster.

Q: Did you make any changes to your deck in preparation for Nationals West?
A: I did actually. I took the data I had gathered from Germany, and I played the deck in the tournament the week before and made some deck edits based on those games. Most notably, I took a Reborn out (which bit me, but what can you do?). I added Assimilation Techniques, an extra Third (Neonatal Drone), and a third copy of Grav-Plating Trap. The rest of the changes were minor.

Q: In the first round you faced Joshua Sheets. When he placed Earth (Humanity's Home) on the table, what was your first thought?
A: "Alright. Here we go...."

Q: Of course, he only had one Delphic Expanse mission, so you must have been relieved that that you were unlikely to face the Damaged [SF] Starfleet deck?
A: Well, I was excited to try this deck against a Delphic Expanse deck, so I was sad I would not get to test it, but yes, I was happy I did not have to deal with Damaged Archer. I was much more relieved when he played Evil Archer on turn three. I do believe I downloaded an Uninvited in preparation for his first mission attempt. Just in case.

Q: In Josh's tournament report, he mentions that he feels that he gifted you a mission and let Locutus score at least 30 points. How was the game from your perspective?
A: He totally gifted me a mission. He gave me Secret Identity, which allowed me to pull Locutus out of my deck, then he gave me Gomtuu Shock Wave that Locutus busted with his 2 Diplomacy and scored 10 points for his trouble. That was the defining moment of the game, where I all of a sudden went up 45 points, took away his "do a space mission first" points, and started chewing on my planet mission with bonus points and an assimilated personnel. In short, yes he gifted me a mission, and it was so huge that is darn near gifted me the entire game.

Q: Round two saw you paired with Michael van Breemen. Given his reputation for building gimmick decks, what were you expecting when the pairings were announced?
A: I was expecting his consume Tragic Turn pile, but other than that, I expected him to attempt missions with 30 personnel on turn five. I even told him "I expect you to do a mission with 30 personnel, I get to draw/spend 0/0, and if I leave my HQ, I die."

Q: In Michael's tournament report, the impression he gives is that his deck couldn't handle the Borg. How did you feel the game went?
A: I was excited to see his dual headquarters. The Dal'Rok, Final Adventure and A Royal Hunt kept hitting double time when he would attempt a mission. I feel that it was less to do with his deck design, and more to do with his dual headquarters that really helped me rip a large chunk out of his deck. I believe his plan also was to use Distant Exploration to score his extra 10 points, and the [Bor] Borg are able to destroy those very easily. I was able to bust his dilemma pile with a well-placed Knowledge and Experience and go on to win the game.

Q: In round three you played Al Schaefer. How was your game against his micro-teaming [Baj] Bajorans?
A: I had Transport Crash Survivors in play, so there wasn't much micro-teaming going on. He also went to a space mission first, so I was able to catch him on his ship and get lots of his guys. Then he went to a planet because he was out of dudes with the right skills for his space mission. Basically Transport Crash Survivors saved me from micro teams. I was proud of myself Jedi mind-tricking a dilemma combo: Back Room Dealings, Occupational Hazards and then Pitching In. I chose not to stop Locutus, but to stop Basso Tromac for Back Room Dealings, so I could use Locutus for Occupational Hazards and eventually stop him for Pitching In to score 20 points with him.

Q: Jared Hoffman was your next opponent in round four. You were both undefeated at this point. Did you feel the pressure starting to mount?
A: I usually feel the worst during my first game. I missed my Historical Research download in round one. Lost the coin toss, just didn't download a personnel. -sigh- By the time I was to Jared, I was in a rhythm, I was comfortable with my deck in my hand, and I was ready for a sit down knock down battle. Jared is a good player, so I always have good games with him.

Q: Talk us through your game with Jared and his Cadets?
A: I was kind of excited. Borg are usually pretty good against Cadets. Casualities & The Dal'Rok usually hit those guys pretty hard. Also their mission is pretty hard. I mean it requires lots of attributes. The first thing he did was drop Ohhhh! Nothing Happened! twice, and took out a Tragic Turn. Then, when he attempted his space mission, I played the second copy, and consumed the third! Ugh! But, I was able to catch him at his space mission for a couple attempts and kill off enough of his cadets that he had to rebuild those specific personnel before he could complete. He was able to play an In a Mirror, Darkly to get his personnel back. However, while he was rebuilding, I was able to bust through his dilemmas to complete my missions.

Q: Round five saw the two remaining undefeated players face off against each other. You versus Kris Sonsteby. Having just defeated Jared's Cadets, what did you think when you saw Kris was playing Cadets too?
A: I fully expected him to play Borg, but Cadets it was. I was hoping it was going to be a similar game to Jared, where he just throws guys at missions and I kill them. That is sort of what happened. He ran straight into Tragic Turn / Necessary Execution which kills lots of personnel and does not stack many dilemmas. While he was rebuilding, I was breaking through dilemmas. The climax came when I fanned out five personnel for Show Trial, and he had a 1 in 5 chance to pick Locutus. He did, so I scored the extra 5 points I needed to win the game. It was very dramatic.

Q: Kris' tournament report implies that you were lucky to beat him. How did you feel the game went?
A: I feel like the game went very badly from my side of the table. My first Quintessence took away two copies of Grav-Plating Trap and my Assimilation Techniques. Ugh. Then another Quintessence took away two ships (there are only six in the deck) forcing me to Quintessence for a ship. Double ugh. But I was able to recover, get guys in play and go attempt missions. I caught a lucky pull when he chose Locutus randomly out of 5 targets, but it felt like my luck was regressing back after leaving me so badly earlier in the game. As lucky as it was that he picked Locutus, it was equally as lucky that I did not have a loaded Grav-Plating Trap when he played his In a Mirror, Darkly, without that he would have been "very" crippled and most likely not able to finish his missions.

Q: You faced our honorable chairman, Mr Charles Plaine, in the final round. Before sitting down to play, did you bow before him or show some other mark of respect?
A: I didn't bow, but I do believe I said "and now I face the mighty chairman... Charlie" I should have bowed. He deserves it for all of the work he does for us.

Q: Charlie was playing [Bor] Borg. His solver versus your assimilator. How was the game?
A: I won the Quintessence battle. That means I was able to get my Quintessence and Two of Nine (Transtator Drone) out before he could, so I could cancel his copies of Quintessence, forcing him to have to play the game on a draw basis while I played with Quintessence. It is very difficult to recover after losing that battle. Despite being crippled in that way, he played a very difficult game, and I believe I only won because I had Shocking Betrayal in my dilemma pile and I was able to catch him at his mission and kill a lot of personnel because of it.

Q: Running the gauntlet and coming out with six full wins saw you being crowned the US Nationals West champion. As you already held the US Nationals East championship, this makes you the undisputed 2010 US National Champion. How do you feel about being the first player to unify both titles?
A: It feels pretty good. There are a lot of skilful players that play this game. Many styles and many different approaches. My hat is off to each and every player who takes the time to build a deck and the pride to bring it to a tournament. I am happy to be part of a community with so many great players. I am lucky to be the winner of this tournament, but it means more just to hang out with a great bunch of people. Thank you to everybody who came out and participated. And, thank you Josh for gifting me my first mission

Q: This win sees you back at the top of the rankings. Do you care about that sort of thing? Or is it playing the game and having fun that matters?
A: You don't have to ask me this question. Ha-ha. I am not a ratings whore. No seriously... I'm not. Just because everybody else disagrees with me doesn't make them right. Ok... maybe I am a casual ratings whore. Yes, I am excited to be back up on top. I was on top for so long, that it just feels right. Like the order of things. Ha-ha. Honestly, playing the game and having fun is the most important part. I got yelled at this weekend because I wanted to play a 4th round in the Friday night tournament, I wanted to play extra games on Saturday, a final confrontation, and wanted to talk trek at the Tex-Mex place. All I want to do is play trek and talk trek, and apparently for some reason some people get tired of that.

Q: Even though you won all your games, did you leave the tournament thinking "I need to improve my deck"? Were there any cards you wished you had included in your deck, or any cards which you found superfluous?
A: I always think of ways I can improve my deck or improve my play. No matter what happens, I always take time after the tournament to analyse what I did, how I did it, what I was using and how I was using it. I have already identified some cards that need to go in, and a few cards that need to come out. My current goal is to try and edit the deck down about ten cards to make it a bit more streamlined. 90 is a bit big if I can do the same job with 80.

Q: Do you have anything else to add?
A: I only want to rave about how awesome the people are who play trek. I had an absolute blast hanging out with a really great bunch of people. The spoilers that Charlie brought look super awesome, and I really do think this is the best set that the Continuing Committee has come out with so far. I am really super excited for Extreme Measures and I can't wait to start putting some of those cards in decks! Thank you again Maggie for running a really awesome tournament!

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Neil.

Byes

The following players have won a Day One Round One bye into the 2011 Continental Championships:

• Kris Sonsteby (LORE), runner-up at the 2010 United States (West) National Championships
• Michael van Breemen (The Ninja Scot), 3rd place (bye handed down) at the 2010 United States (West) National Championships

These bye winners have been added to the list of current bye winners for the 2011 Continental Championships and the 2011 World Championships here.

2011 Regional Championships

The application process for the 2011 Regional Championships will be announced on Wednesday, 26th January. Applications will be accepted from that date. Don't forget to check back here on Wednesday to find out how.

Also, don't forget to check out the Changes to Regions for 2011 article, to see if your Region has been changed. You can suggest names for the new Regions too. Find out how in the article.

Have an opinion about this article? Post it here, or contact the author!


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