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Strategy Articles

My Road to Worlds - Part I

by Jeremy Commandeur

7th September 2011

Several people contacted me to ask if I was going to write up a tournament report for the 2011 World Championship and provide a recap. It seemed easier to just write an article rather than email/PM back everyone individually. The purpose of this article is to chronical my journey to World Champion and to provide some insight and perspective on high level organized play, not to brag or show off. If you don't like it, feel free to complain anonymously on the internet. :-)

This article is broken down into three parts:

  1. Deck Design and Lead Up to the World Championship - This gives some insight into my process and how I prepared for Gen Con. It also recaps a bit of several regionals and Continentals. If you don't care about this kind of meta-game info, skip to part two.
  2. How the Deck Works - First turn set up, scoring strategy, engines, dilemmas strategy and countering popular decks.
  3. Round by Round Recap of World Championship Games - This includes the two additional games of the top four play off.

Part I - Deck Design and Preparation

Back in April-May my local player base started preparing for con season. We primarily play Revised here in Northern California. Over the past five years I have helped more than a dozen different new players learn the game via Standard, Revised and OTF. Revised has consistently been the easiest for new players to pick up, so it replaced Standard as our local default format. For the competitive season, we switched our events over to OTF.

My plan for Regionals/Con Season was as follows:

  1. Santa Barbara Regional - OTF, 4-7 hours drive south.
  2. Concord Regional - Revised (later switched to OTF). One hour north by car.
  3. Oregon Regional - Revised. 7 hours north by car.
  4. Local Regional - Sealed Deck. I was the tournament director and as a personal rule I don't play in my own high level events.
  5. 1E Continentals in San Diego - OTF. Judge/TD, again not playing.
  6. 1E World Championship at Gen Con. OTF
As I planed to play in both OTF and Revised regionals, I needed to build decks for both. I also played in a Standard format tournament in May so I got lots of practice in different environments. Revised would be easy for me as I already had a lot of strong decks in that format. The trick would be building for OTF.

A handful of local 1E players meet up about once a week to play Trek. You may know some of them from the boards or articles they have written, Stephen Lee (GrendelX) and Chris Castagnetto (Moggle). The others, Tim Meng, Michael Fernandez, Herman Chan (ClonedWhyMe) and David Holtmann (OorylQrygg) are mostly just lurkers. :-) I planned to meet up with Chris and/or Tim once or twice each week to get in some additional practice games. A heartfelt thanks to the local gang for support practicing and preparing.

To put my deck design strategy in context, here is a bit of 1E history. I played 1E on a weekly basis during the "dark days" when the game declined and died off. The downward slide started with Voyager and then accelerated sharply with Holodeck Adventures. By the time Motion Pictures rolled around, there was hardly anybody left to buy the game and when TMP sold very poorly, Decipher decided to cancel the game. Inflation/escalation was driving the game to collapse. Skill inflation, attribute inflation, dilemma/flash inflation, hexany, and wildly out of control under-costed downloads. I continued to play the game every week from Holodeck Adventures through when All Good Things finally released around two years later. In my opinion, that time frame was the worst ever for the game. Downloads, especially in the Delta Quadrant defined the competitive environment.

OTF has no Shape Shift Inhibitor. At the highest competitive level, that defines the entire format. Delta Quadrant Federation or Hirogen decks (with Vidiian support) have won EVERY World Championship and major event for the past 10 years. The Delta Quadrant has dominated competitive events since it was released. A competitive DQ deck will consistently mass download into 10-12 personnel on turn one.

To prepare to face the super fast DQ I built a "control" deck to test against. Its a 32 card Hirogen/Vidiian deck. The ideal first turn looks like this. Start with Ayala and Angello Tessoni as mission specialists. Play Marika for free on the Equinox via Home Away From Home and download the other Borg triplets (Lansor and P'Chan). Download Penk via Defend Homeworld and use him to download Hajur. Download Dr.T via Temporal Micro Wormhole. Download Dr. Nydom (MEDICAL, Biology, Honor) via Assign Support Personnel to the Equinox. Report Kes and/or Tanis for free to Liberation (I play two copies of Kes). Report a Hirogen Alpha for free via Hirogen Hunt. Report a Vidiian for free via their incident. Presto! 12 personnel and an 11 range ship in play on turn one. I knew that with no Shape Shift Inhibitor to cost downloads, any deck I built would have to be fast enough to keep up with this kind of download fueled start.

In order to be competitive, every deck I built would need to be based primarily around downloads. Play engines and draw engines are slower and less efficient than downloads, so they would be included only for back up.

The main OTF decks I built and started testing were as follows:

  1. Federation/Cardassian. Downloads with Dominion War Efforts/Assign Support Personnel, AMS, Defend Homeworld, Temporal Micro Wormhole, Son'a Observatory, Wall of Ships, Enterprise(s) and Empok Nor. Federation Flagship, and Androids for back up.
  2. Dominion/Cardassian. Downloads with Dominion War Efforts, AMS, Defend Homeworld, Temporal Micro Wormhole and Ultimatum. Homefront (for the second function) and Central Command for back up.
  3. Bajoran/Cardassian. Downloads with Dominion War Efforts, AMS, Defend Homeworld, Temporal Micro Wormhole and Quark's Isolinear Rods. With Garaks Tailor Shop, Quarks Bar, Chamber of Ministers and Resistance Cell for back up.
  4. Dominion. Downloads with Dominion War Efforts, AMS, Defend Homeworld, Temporal Micro Wormhole, Son'a Observatory and Ultimatum.
  5. Dominion/Romulan. Downloads with Dominion War Efforts, AMS, Defend Homeworld, Temporal Micro Wormhole and Son'a Observatory. Homefront, Romulan HQ, and Drone Control Room (Time Location) for back up.
  6. Klingon. Downloads with AMS, ASP, Defend Homeworld, Temporal Micro Wormhole, Son'a Observatory, Blood Oath and some 2E BC cards. The Great Hall and I.K.C. T'Ong for back up.
  7. Cardassian/Vidiian in the Delta Quardant. Downloads with Dominion War Efforts, AMS, Defend Homeworld, Temporal Micro Wormhole and various DQ personnel. Home Away from Home, Vidiian Sodality, Crell Moset, Liberation and Restore Victims for back up.
  8. The DQ Hirogen/Vidiian baseline control deck outlined above.
Every deck was based around downloading personnel. Play engines and draw engines were secondary to optimizing for downloads.

With a variant of Hexany (Smooth as an Android's Bottom, Beyond the Subatomic, Mutation, Nanoprobe Resuscitation, Remodulate, The Power) legal in OTF; Downloads + Hexany seemed like the way to go. I decided to go with the Fed/Cardassian deck first. Androids work well with Hexany because Cybernetics Expertise lets you retrieve the androids you might discard with Smooth.

I took the Federation/Cardassian deck to the Santa Barbara Regional and it went undefeated. Find the final deck list and report here.

However, several of my games in Santa Barabara went to seven turns, and one game even went to eight turns. I knew that a fast download based DQ deck should win in 4-6 turns. I was concerned that my decks were still too slow.

With a regional win under my belt, I decided to try and play deck that was based more free reports and a little less on downloads In the Concord Regional to test downloads vs free reports. That choice was a mistake and my Bajoran/Cardassian deck got destroyed. Special thanks to Rich Joakimson for making sure the event happened. Find the results here.

Oregon was up next. Tim Meng and I drove up to Oregon to play Revised. I played a 30 card Enterprise E/Son'a deck based around free reports and Tim played a Bajoran deck based around free reports and abusing Out of Time/temporal agents/Renewal Scroll to draw cards. After a very close game with Ken Tufts, and a challenging matchup against Roxanne Barbour, I lost only to Tim. Ken was playing a DQ Fed/Vidiian deck with a good chunk of downloads. Roxanne was playing DQ Hirogen/Vidiian. However, the fact that they both had to pay for thier downloads because of my Shape Shift Inhibitor meant my AQ free report deck could keep up with the DQ. Thanks to Manny Diaz for running an awesome event.

Ken and Roxanne Barbour drove all the way down from Canada to play 1E. I hadn't seen either one of them in years and we went out to dinner afterwards. It was great to see them both. A very warm shout out to my friends from the not so warm Northwest!

Finally, I ran the 2011 North American Continental Championship in San Diego. Find the results here.

Stephen Lee went undefeated with DQ deck that would downloaded into 9-10 personnel on turn one. Steve easily rolled through all of the decks who depended more on free reports and less on downloading. He was also playing a lone computer crash to try and mess with downloads at a crucial moment in gameplay. His deck list is posted with the tournament results (see above).

Steve's victory confirmed that any deck that wanted to win the World Championship would have to be based around downloading lots of personnel. With no cost tagged onto downloads via Inhibitor, download decks had been slicing through all other deck types for at every OTF tournament I attended (including local events).

At the Continental Championship, Ken Tufts had a clever old school deck that was very disruptive. He was playing a Dixon Hill Business Card deck with Fajo's Gallery. He had to give up his regular card play to play the business card as an event, but in exchange DQ decks that rely heavily on unique personnel were disrupted. If you have a download heavy deck, and Ken goes first, you need to be able to download a universal personnel otherwise your download mass dump is put "on ice".

At Continentals I discussed Klingon decks with Ken. We both had Mah Nlv decks that we had been tinkering with, trying to make fast enough to keep up with the DQ. I had built a Blood Oath version, and a Cybernetics version that would get five Cybernetics out on turn one. Earlier in the year, I had also built and played a proof of concept Blood Oath deck that could consistently put out 35 weapons in the AQ OR DQ on turn one. With no Shape Shift Inhibitor to cost Blood Oath downloads, may players are caught off guard when their outpost is hit turn one and destroyed on turn two. The Klingons are my favorite affiliation and my conversation with Ken renewed my faith in playing them at World's.

With high level events confirming the download decks dominate everything when Shape Shift Inhibitor is removed, my deck options for the World Championship would be limited to the five affiliations that can mass download personnel:

I put my focus into making three decks work: Romulan/Dominion downloads, Cardassian/Vidiian downloads and Klingon downloads. I resolved to play Klingon mass download with the Cardassian/Vidiian deck for backup. I still couldn't get the Romulan deck to work right (it had too many free reports and not enough downloads). I figured if I was going to lose to DQ/Download decks I might as well lose while playing my favorite affiliation.

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