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The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 6

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

12th May 2016

Welcome back for another season of The Road to Worlds. Around this time every year, we have a three-month stretch where each region of play for the various Star Trek card games gets to have its "big dance." Whether the players of your locale are rated 1800 or don't know their rating, whether your nearest regional attracts 4 players or 40 players, once a year everyone brings their best decks and competes for their regional title. I'm here to celebrate with the winners, ask them what they think, and analyze their decks.

First Edition Grimsby Regional winner Andrew Mark Alcock
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Legitimate Leader of the Empire, Attention All Hands, The Great Hall
Draw Engines: Handshake, Continuing Mission
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists, Arbiter of Succession, The Genesis Device
See also: Kris recently won with an updated version of this deck.

Andrew's Commentary:
Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?

I hardly ever play 1E nowadays, and had only played one other small tournament in the last 12 months. I only played in this tournament to make up the numbers. I have very little idea on how to build 1E decks in the current environment and have no one else to practise against, so I looked through some Affiliation HQ decks to try and find one that I could reasonably understand how it played. Kris Sonsteby's Truffle Shuffle deck fitted those requirements so I built that deck except for a few differences in the dilemmas.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
As I said I hardly ever play 1E nowadays so I had no idea what sort of decks I'd be facing. During the course of the day I came across many cards that I'd never even seen before!

Prior to this tournament, did you have much experience playing this deck (or decks like it)? Did you learn anything new about it when you played it this time?
I'd never played the deck before this tournament, not even a single practise game. I just tried to work out how it played sat at home in front of the TV the night before. Obviously I was to learn quite a bit about it during the course of each game that I played.

Did you use any situational cards (cards that you wouldn't expect to be useful in every game)? Are there any whose usefulness exceeded your expectations? Were there any that you wouldn't include if you played the deck again?
The main drawing mechanism seemed to be handshakes, but I was barely able to use more than one of these to draw cards each game, so that may be a potential flaw in the long term viability of the deck compared to other draw mechanisms currently available.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
An oldie but goodie that worked particularly well on this occasion was Cytherians. Not always effective but in this particular tournament it served me well.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Thank you Kris!

My Commentary:
So, the big difference between this deck and the version Kris won with recently is the use of The Genesis Device versus big missions protected with HQ: Defensive Measures to secure the two mission win. Let's start with that. Using Genesis comes with some drawbacks; you've got to earn it, and that means you've got to complete a specific mission first. One of my personal weakest areas in 1E is mission seeding and reading a completed spaceline. I stare at the missions, try to figure out where my opponent is likely to go, and where they're going to expect me to go. If you can figure that out, you can have a better shot at putting Genesis where you can solve it first. If, like me, you can't, you'll just bang against a wall while your opponent skates through your easier combos.

But, let's say you can, what does The Genesis Device offer? Well, a whole free mission, that's what. Now that In the Zone is gone, there's not much that will stop you. Altonian Brain Teaser, the nuclear weapon of two mission win prevention can't do anything; Genesis doesn't generate bonus points. It is such a large amount of points in one place that even point loss techniques like Edo Probe won't do much. Let's say you solve a 35 point space mission, and one of the 15-mission-specialist-point 35 point planets. You can blow through Edo Probes at both missions, accept the point loss, and still win with 100 points. Sounds good to me.

That's not even mentioning the potential offensive use of this card. Blanking an opponent's mission points can be devastating, but needing to set it and wait until the start of your next turn (and have it go off before the opponent solves) means that you need to use some foresight. The easiest thing to do is have them fail Friendly Fire or Linguistic Legerdemain, then swoop in and Device the mission before the timer runs out. Or maybe you've successfully read their mission strategy, and their first mission is cleared down to a Dead End. Bam, now they've got to clear a whole additional mission. Add a little No Kirk, the Game's Not Over, and then I'd say that the game is pretty over.

Second Edition Dessau Regional winner Vladimir Vrbata
Title: Somewhere, along this journey, we will find a way back.
Headquarters: Caretaker's Array
Deck Size: 80 cards
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 52 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.1
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 9.2%
See also: This is our fourth distinct 5-space Voyager winning deck this year. For a slimmer version, there's Robert Dawson's, and in between that deck and Vlad's you'll find more midrange builds from Alexey Korolev and Greg Hodgin.

Vlad's Commentary:
Why did you choose the deck that you used? What other decks did you consider using?

I stopped playing ST 3 years ago and had no intention of coming back but some family and health issues made me recently rethink that decision. Honestly, up until Wednesday I had no idea that any territorial events are in the area, therefore when I found out, what to play was an easy decision. I was not considering any other deck but was not sure about the number of cards in it. Most of the Voy space decks tend to run a very limited amount of cards (usually around 60). Secondly, I was not sure about the right version of Chakotay, therefore both of them made it into my deck-list.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Actually, I had no expectations at all. One of the reasons why I came to Dessau was to take my mind off the problems and hang out with my friends. Playing ST was a nice addition, and I didn't really care about other decks or strategies. Because of the mission selection, there was only one deck that would ruin my strategy - The Dominion and its new HQ. Loosing 15 points would force me to attempt 5 missions. Given the fact that one of my missions was Eliminate Sphere Network, that prospect was not very promising.

Prior to this tournament, did you have much experience playing this deck (or decks like it)? Did you learn anything new about it when you played it this time?
When the set containing the Voy space cards came out, I built the deck of my own and spent some time testing it at home; but never really tested it against anyone else but my own Dilemma Piles.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Despite having only one copy in my DP, Becalmed surprised me with how effective it could be - against the Dominion and Klingons. I managed to stop three personnel every time I used it. As for the draw deck, I would name the newest version of Chakotay. In the Voy space deck, he is slightly better than the oldest version.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
The basic idea of the deck is sound and, given the lack of practice, I was quite satisfied with the performance. That being said, the deck needs minor tweaking and would cut it down a bit.

My Commentary:
We've seen enough variants on the 5-Space Voyager deck by now that I think that I know what my next target for a visual representation of average deck contents will need to be. This version definitely has some inclusions that set it apart - the first thing I noticed was the use of Trellium-D, Grav-Plating Trap, and Eliminate Sphere Network. Most of the other 5SV decks we've seen here have relief on Amanda Rogers for their prevention, given that the card that most needs her protection (Homeward Bound) also only comes on-line after you've solved a mission. That's not all you're likely to need prevention for, and Amanda's need for a solved mission means that Grav-Plating Trap is going to be most powerful in the early game where you need it most. Once that first mission falls, 5SV really starts snowballing, and prevention may no longer be as essential.

If there is a misgiving that I have about A Time to Stand, it isn't any finicky rules issue, it's the pro-high-span-mission theme. Sure, high span missions are very under-used in this game... most of the time. But those DQ space missions are definitely an exception these days, given that there's a powerful deck out there that uses 4-5 of them. Now, it's still possible we'll see new decks crop up that use those old missions for the first time in forever, but what is certain to happen is the boosting of already strong strategies that use high span missions.

Case in point, Brave Words is a very powerful dilemma that should go straight into every 5SV deck. You would have to work very hard to design an all-space mission set for Voyager that wouldn't naturally have a higher span than a Headquarters deck with a couple planets. This deck has a span total of 15... no non-Voyager winner this season has a total higher than 14 - and that was Mr. Veasey's referee mission set. Well-Prepared Defenses has long been a Voyager staple, though it has become less reliable lately due to the popularity of Relativity. Relativity decks won't be competing with Brave Words. But even so, Vlad had room to include a copy of Defenses too. Be prepared.


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