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Contender or a Pretender? World Championship Deck-Building Strategies

by Nathan W, Staff Writer

29th March 2011

In a recent forum thread, I read a post by Star Trek 2E legend Kris Sonsteby (LORE) as he shared some advice on championship-level deck building theory when he wrote, "I want a set of four [missions] that can be done with one attribute and require no more than seven, preferably six, different skills." While I had always considered "easy" missions as a nice goal to aim for, I had never expressly quantified how well a set of missions fit with one another. So I examined this statement further. Were all the game's top players using this hidden formula, and had I just missed it during my playing career?

I examined Tobias' Rausmann's (garetjax) recent Starfleet - Delphic Expanse Worlds championship deck; and realized he didn't follow Kris' instruction. But had he used Spatial Reconfiguration, he could have. To me, this meant Tobias put significantly less stock in honing a fine set of mission requirements, instead passing on the potential unreliability of using this event. One explanation is that these championship-level deck building practices completely rely on the type of deck being constructed. Another is, simply, that Kris and Tobias play in entirely different parts of the world and "think Trek" differently.

With these questions in mind I set out to reveal the secrets of championship deck building. That is, what separates a deck from being a 'contender' for a World championship from a 'pretender'? To ensure an accurate representation of the global community, I asked a few select players from around the world to participate in a survey designed to gain some insight into the thought process top players go through when designing and testing a new deck. These players are:

I selected participants who had recently won a World Championship or Continental Championship and were active community members, or a previous champion with a long-standing track record of solid deck design and gameplay in the CC-era. Without further ado, the results of my survey:

1. What differentiates a deck from being a 'contender' from a 'pretender'?

2. You have a new idea for a deck. How do you quickly determine if it can reach 'contender' status?

3. What is the first thing that goes into your deck?

4. At what point do you consider missions? How do you choose missions?

5. At what point do you consider your dilemma pile?

6. What is your ideal skill matrix?

7. What is your ideal attribute matrix?

8. Do you have any types of cards you always include?

9. How important is the 'surprise factor' when designing a 'contender'?

10. In how many turns should a speed solver expect to win the game against another solver?

11. How soon should an interactive deck's strategy be in place?

12. Your favorite person in the world wants to start playing Star Trek, knows all the rules and general strategies, and asks you for one piece of advice on building a deck. What do you tell them?

13. Your mortal enemy wants to start playing Star Trek, knows all the rules and general strategies, and asks you for advice on building a deck. What do you 'forget' to tell them?

14. You just won Worlds. Describe your next 24 hours.

15. You just lost the championship game at Worlds. Describe your next 24 hours.

A special thank you to all eight participants! To see the un-edited responses from all participants, as well as nine questions and answers that didn't make the final cut – check out my blog here.

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