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Warp Speed! A guide to Voyager sealed deck play: for beginners, by a beginner.

by Danny Nuttall, Guest Writer

13th June 2011

After returning to the STCCG last December, I stumbled across the TrekCC website and, like so many others, was struck by a number of things. Firstly, I couldn't believe that the game had continued for so long after I had long given up with it (way back in 1996 after QC was released); secondly, there were a ton of expansions I had completely missed and even a second edition of the game; and, finally, following Decipher's decision to discontinue supporting STCCG that a band of devotees had filled the void, taken the game forward and developed new expansions whilst facilitating organised play.

Very impressive indeed.

Since December I've taken an awful lot from the community. The player locator has allowed me to get involved with local players on a live basis here in the UK; the exploits of Nava, Timo and Scox have opened up the possibility of playing online (with many more players than would have been possible otherwise), and I've learnt a great deal from numerous chatroom and forum discussions about the STCCG world at large.

Coincidentally, Nava presented me with a perfect opportunity to play STCCG online as well as write about my experience: the February online tournament he organised was to be a sealed deck event (always my fave), Voyager (sweet! learn about some new cards), and Warp Speed (quick, simple, and not as painful for my opponents to endure whilst waiting for my next bungling play!).

One observation I did make, particularly regarding the First Edition of the game, is that a lot of the content of TrekCC and its forum discussions are at quite an advanced level. Not all, of course, but certainly most. And that is perfectly understandable – after all, it stands to reason that the majority of 1E players who frequent TrekCC have been involved with the game for quite some time and that most players who are actually taking up STCCG in recent years have opted for the more streamlined Second Edition.

It's time, therefore, to give something back.

I will try and help address the slight imbalance in First Edition material available on TrekCC. For the game to go on from strength to strength, new players need to be acquired at a reasonably regular rate and former players need to be enticed back into the fold.

I hope this two-part series helps, even if only in a small way. This article will discuss the construction of the deck, explaining the choices that were made and the thought processes behind them, whilst covering the subtleties of Warp Speed play which need to be taken into account when making your own decks. The second article will report on the tournament itself, detailing any changes that were made to the deck between rounds, the turning points in match-ups, and how the deck interacted with cards my opponents had chosen to play. These articles will hopefully stand apart from others as they are written by a beginner, for beginners. There are no face-saving edits at all; all my mistakes, as glaringly obvious as they might seem to some, are included. What better way is there to learn than from another person's mistakes?

From Pool to Deck – The Selection Process

On to the card pool - Nava emailed me the following cards to select from (side note – you might find it useful, as I do, to have the cards physically in front of you. I pulled the cards from my collection, which made it far easier for me to build my deck, rather than flicking back and forth between cards on LackeyCCG. Just an idea; one that I'm pretty sure reflects a very personal quirk with my own brain!):

Dilemma:
  • Civil Unrest
  • Crisis
  • Female Love Interest
  • Hanonian Land Eel
  • Male's Love Interest
  • Gravimetric Distortion
  • Navigational Hazards
  • Common Thief
  • Hazardous Duty
  • Kazon Bomb
Equipment:
  • Engineering Kit
  • Transporter Control Module x 2
Event:
  • Lower Decks
  • The Big Picture
  • Ancestral Vision
  • The Next Emanation
Facility:
  • Kazon Outpost
  • Nekrit Supply Depot
  • Vidiian Outpost
Incident:
  • Containment Field
  • Handshake
  • Kazon Collective
  • War Council
Interrupt:
  • Beyond the Subatomic x 2
  • The Gift
  • The Phage x 2
  • The Power
Mission:
  • Contact Resistance x 2
  • Stop Bombardment
  • Tak Tak Negotiation x 2
  • Liberation
  • Inversion Mystery
  • Answer Distress Signal
  • Reinitialize Warp Reaction
  • Salvage Operation
Objective:
  • Boarding Party
Federation:
  • Dr. Fitzgerald
  • Stadi
  • Mortimer Harren
  • Tuvok
  • Ayala
  • Thompson
  • Marla Gilmore x 2
Ferengi:
  • Dr. Arridor
Kazon:
  • Corez
  • Halok x 4
  • Maniz x 3
  • Narret x 2
  • Rabek x 4
  • Ril x 2
  • Saldin
  • Tersa
Non-Aligned:
  • Paxim x 2
  • Dr. Neria
  • Magistrate Drang
  • Nimira
Vidiian:
  • Nirata
  • Sethis
  • Thaden
Ships:
  • U.S.S. Equinox
  • Kazon Raider x 2
  • Kazon Shuttle x 3
  • Vidiian Interceptor

From a cursory glance, it was pretty obvious that this was a fairly unusual pool of cards for a Voyager sealed deck. My Vidiian selection was very poor indeed; only three of the blighters from 84 cards. The rare Ferengi didn't help too much either. It's highly likely I'll need to run a dual affiliation deck anyway, so a decent personnel card from a third affiliation was a bit of a waste.

Never mind - it's not all doom and gloom. What I lack in rabid, disease-ridden flesh-heaps of the Delta Quadrant, I more than make up for with crazy-haired, faction-ridden psychopaths. The three Vidiians are heavily outnumbered by eighteen Kazon personnel cards, and there's even a Kazon Collective incident to boot. Likewise, there are five Kazon ships to just a single Vidiian equivalent. That makes a pretty strong basis for a Kazon deck.

More specifically, I can consider myself positively blessed by the presence of *FOUR* Halok cards. For two reasons, he's great. Playing cards for free and therefore having both card advantage and speed advantage over your opponent is powerful in any STCCG format. In Warp Speed, Halok's download ability is particularly useful as downloading from your hand still gives you an extra card (as you draw up to seven at the end of your turn) and negates the inconvenience of drawing cards you'd rather download.

Mission & Personnel Selection

Similarly, if there are a few skills we need to complete missions which are few and far between in our deck, Halok's ability allows you to 'thin' the draw deck and increase the probability that you will draw into those choice personnel cards. For example, in this pool there were only two personnel cards with Diplomacy (Tersa & Magistrate Drang) and Inversion Mystery is quite an attractive proposition, as Halok covers both Engineer and Astrophysics all on his own – and I've got four copies of this bad boy!

In the end, however, I opted against Inversion Mystery. Both Stop Bombardment and Reinitialize Warp Reaction could make the most out of my four Halok cards, and the other skills needed to complete those missions were plentiful amongst my personnel, whilst Diplomacy wasn't something I had in abundance.

As a general rule, with standard sealed deck events, I try to have at least four of every skill I need to complete a mission within my deck. If a mission has a double-skill requirement, I'll try to have at least five personnel carrying it within my deck. Warp Speed is slightly different in this respect. Your deck only has to be twenty cards, so you can probably drop to three of a skill and four of a double-skill. Allied to this is the fact that you will draw your deck much more quickly than in a typical sealed deck game. Although I only had two personnel with Diplomacy in my pool, I would have been fairly happy to run with that and attempt Inversion Mystery, but I think I had stronger options with this particular pool of cards.

If you do run with only two of a skill you need to complete a particular mission, keep your deck as close to twenty cards as possible in order to maximise your chances of drawing one of them. You needn't worry about getting them killed as you can 'regenerate' once per game for free – so, with any luck, those dead and buried diplomats will be back to solve your mission-related problems.

If you are lucky enough to get a Salvage Operation as I did, play it. Why wouldn't you? Don't forget that your opponent cannot attempt any of your missions in Warp Speed games and you are not trying to get all three skills to maximise your score. You simply need to complete a space and a planet mission to win (if you do get all three, that's merely an added bonus in case of a time-out or both decks running dry). Salvage Operation also has the tendency to draw some attention from your opponent when it comes to seeding Dilemmas. After all, if you rock up to this mission with a lonely Engineer, you could be half-way to victory very quickly. Knowing this, your opponent is likely to make this mission a target for at least three of his Dilemma cards in order to make it as difficult as possible.

Something else you should consider - actually, something you should never consider, to be more accurate: in Warp Speed rules you can seed either two or three mission cards. Unless there's an extreme reason for only playing two, always seed three. Firstly, it dilutes your opponent’s dilemma cards as they have to be spread across three missions instead of two. Secondly, if you come across a particularly nasty Dilemma which cannot be overcome, it's good to have a mission you can fall back on in order to try and win the game outright. Finally, your opponent will almost always have three mission cards; if you only opt for two your opponent will be able to place two of their missions side-by-side making it easier for them to attempt both in a single turn. That is not good, my friends, not good at all.

As I conclude this section, I want to highlight two key points. To me, mission selection and matching up with your available personnel is the critical stage of deck building. It's fine pulling three bridge-crew cards and feeling like you're invincible, but unless those bridge-crew personnel can actually help you with the missions, they're mostly useless. In my pool, for example, I had a Tuvok. Sure, he's nice, but for all the things we've discussed so far, I'd rather have a single Halok, never mind four!

Don't think of this process as being one-way, either. You can't solely let your missions dictate which personnel to include, or vice versa. All these things need to be considered in a rather symbiotic fashion, as the strength of your deck's personnel and the ease with which they will be able to complete missions will depend on how well you have considered them all together.

To complete my chosen missions, I relied on the following shady characters:

The other point I'd like to make is that the skills you need, and even the personnel types that you include in your deck, need to be taken into account much more than the missions you have selected. Your opponent's cards also need to be considered and knowledge of the Dilemmas you are likely to face (especially common and starter-only Dilemmas) is important. As such, you need to complement your 'mission' personnel with a 'support' crew, as I call it.

For Voyager sealed, three words spring to mind – leaders, security and women. This isn't Friday night on the town, lads - it can't just be women, women, women. Just as we do before our 10th beer takes effect (the author does not advocate playing STCCG, or piloting a vessel of any kind, whilst under the influence of alcohol), we need to select the people we 'go with' as carefully as possible. A lot of common/starter Dilemma cards are there to ensure that we consider gender equality when putting our deck together. What we learn from playing the game should not be limited to the STCCG world - there are life lessons to be learned here, gentlemen.

Matriarchal Society and Female's Love Interest will crop up plenty of times, so be prepared and consider how you will cope with both of these. Together they create a scenario where you're damned if you include female personnel, and you're damned if you don't. Matriarchal Society is a particularly nasty headache for those decks without Federation help, as the Kazon and Vidiian affiliations include relatively few of the “fairer” sex (I feel it is only right to qualify 'fairer' when taking Vidiians into account).

More than most other expansions, Voyager's Dilemmas have a heavy Security requirement and also like to test our leaders. Considering the 'leaders, security and women' mantra, I plumbed for the following shifty people to form a support crew:

Completing your main deck

This is probably the easiest part of deck building for Voyager sealed. It's not often you'll have a lot of space for other cards, but try to include those which can be downloaded for free to good effect. Because of the man of the hour, Halok, I went with an Engineering Kit and a Transporter Control Module. The module may become important at some stage, for either a Kazon Outpost and Kazon ship. Having Equipment at hand is also an easy way to pass the common dilemma Common Thief unscathed. As an insurance policy, I also included a Kazon Raider and a Kazon Shuttle in the main deck, just in case the ship I seeded was destroyed or permanently stopped. Drawn together, they might also offer me greater mobility.

The only other card I included (and I welcome comment on this) was The Phage. I had no Maje to seed and abuse the free cards you can play via The Kazon Collective, whilst it is far easier for your opponents to play an extra Vidiian medic for nothing using The Vidiian Sodality. I included both copies of The Phage in order to take out key personnel for missions and slow my opponent down.

Completing your seed deck

Without a Maje to use as your Warp Speed seed card, the next obvious choice is a ship. You're instantly mobile and don't have to include multiple ships in your draw deck in order to ensure that you can always move from location to location.

I chose the U.S.S. Equinox here as it already has transporters (you can, of course, get around this problem by seeding your planet mission first, for your outpost to go on, whilst having two space missions to avoid the need for transporting your Kazon personnel). However, the Equinox made me a little more versatile and also allowed me to use the lore text of both Thompson and Marla Gilmore for extra range. I very nearly included a second Marla Gilmore, rather than Tersa, in order to make the most of this (I still might after the first game or two; I'm not particularly convinced I've made the right choice at the moment).

The last thing to choose is your Dilemma cards. With only seven slots of the seed deck left (after ship, outpost, and incident) and only ten Dilemma cards to choose from in my particular pool, it wasn't the hardest selection process.

As a rule, try not to have more than three Dilemma cards which can only be seeded at only a planet or space location. You can have three space-only and three planet-only Dilemmas, but not four or more of either. For example, if you have four planet-only Dilemmas and your opponent rocks up with two space missions, that means you might have to spread your remaining Dilemmas pretty thinly - sure, it might be harder for them to complete their solitary planet mission in order to win, but they can be half way to victory with ease and may even play to win on points by completing both of their space missions.

In the end, I chose not to go with Gravimetric Distortion as I think it is too easy to solve. The other two that failed to make the deck were Crisis and Civil Unrest. Both are actually reasonable Warp Speed Dilemma cards and are likely to stop your opponent for a turn at least (very useful in such a fast environment). However, both were planet-only Dilemmas and I had a plethora of those, the strongest of which was the rare Hanonian Land Eel. In order to make the most out of the slippery one, I tried to ensure my opponent encountered both Male and Female Love Interest cards first, reducing the likelihood that they could get past the Eel, and thus diminishing their away team by three members.

Generally speaking, Dilemmas that can stop your opponent for a turn are powerful in this format, but I wasn't blessed with a particularly good selection here and had the added problem of too many planet-only Dilemma cards.

So, after all this, my final deck was:

Dilemma:
  • Female's Love Interest
  • Hanonian Land Eel
  • Male's Love Interest
  • Navigational Hazards
  • Common Thief
  • Hazardous Duty
  • Kazon Bomb
Facility:
  • Kazon Outpost
Incident:
  • Kazon Collective
Mission:
  • Stop Bombardment
  • Reinitialize Warp Reaction
  • Salvage Operation
Ship:
  • U.S.S. Equinox
Total Seed Deck = 10 cards (+ 3 missions)
Equipment:
  • Engineering Kit
  • Transporter Control Module x 2
Interrupt:
  • The Phage x 2
Kazon:
  • Corez
  • Halok x 4
  • Maniz x 3
  • Narret x 2
  • Ril x 2
  • Tersa
Non-Aligned:
  • Nimira
Federation:
  • Mortimer Harren
  • Tuvok
  • Thompson
  • Marla Gilmore
Ships:
  • Kazon Raider
  • Kazon Shuttle
Total Draw Deck = 23 cards

Over and out

I hope you have enjoyed my first-ever contribution to the articles section here on TrekCC and, if so, make sure you catch part two. Many of the deck building strategies I have discussed here are applicable to First Edition decks generally, particularly the symbiotic selection of missions and personnel. In the future, I hope to follow the two Voyager Warp Speed articles with an exploration of other environments- from a beginner's perspective, of course!

If you have any comments or queries, I'd be delighted to hear from you. Please PM me, catch me in the chatroom, reply to the thread I have started to follow this article (in the 1E Gameplay section), or email padihampredator at hotmail dot com

It's good to be back; let's all support those who show an interest in taking up or returning to this great game.

Regards,
Danny (aka nuttersuclan)


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