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The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 8

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

26th May 2016

Second Edition Massachusetts Regional winner Len Neidorf
Title: Excess Political Correctness
Headquarters: Caretaker's Array
Deck Size: 44 cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 40 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Very Standard Attrition
Average Draw Deck Card Cost: 2.64
Agonizing Count: 3
Odds of Passing a 3-Skill-Dilemma Legacy: 5.7%
See also: The draw deck here is Robert Dawson's 5 Space Voyager build. Other versions include Alexey Korolev's and Greg Hodgin's midrange options, and Vladimir Vrbata's control variant.

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

You recommended the deck to me. I've been a little out of the loop, so I asked him which decks were doing well recently, and he sent me four different versions of the all-space Voyager build. I liked Robert Dawson's version best, so took his draw deck and replaced his dilemma pile with one I recently built for a different speed deck.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I hadn't given any thought to this before the tournament.

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 never played the deck before this tournament, so I learned something new every game.

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?
Mortimer Harren's usefulness far exceeded my expectations. There were many times his ability to exclude commanders from random selections made the difference between solving and failing a mission attempt. Every card in the deck showed its usefulness at some point, though - nothing struck me as a waste of space.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Homeward Bound is obviously the MVP. Runner up is Chakotay, Steadfast Commander.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
It's a very good speed deck. Fun to play and difficult to stop once it gets going. Thanks to Robert Dawson for building it.

My Commentary:
Len and I had some discussions about this deck before and after the tournament, comparing what we thought would work well, and what actually worked well. While I was sold on new-Chakotay going into the event, Len still had reservations about giving up the known-to-be-effective stop prevention version. Experience with the deck obviously won Len over: he named Chakotay as a runner-up MVP. The thing with the new one is that, while you're not preventing any stops, over the course of a game you're both getting a free personnel boost worth of stats shaved off mission attempts and creating opportunities to microteam with low attribute requirements and Running a Tight Ship. He's kind of an attribute boost and dilemma choke all in one convenient package, without needing to spend additional resources throughout the game. I definitely don't mind seeing Revised Chakotay in the larger 5SV decks, but I think that Steadfast Commander is the way to go for your non-Holographic Chakotay.

An interesting choice in the construction of this deck is the relatively high density of Treachery personnel compared to most Voyager decks. Len and I were both concerned about it, especially with the popularity of An Issue of Trust. Mortimer doesn't protect most of the Treachery personnel, so that's often going to be a one-dilemma stop. The other side of the story surfaced when we played against each other. Adopted Authority is particularly rough on 5SV with its blanket attribute boost (Thirst for Knowledge) and several naturally high-attribute personnel (Neelix, Forceful Janeway, Morik). Adopted Authority bounces when it gets its double stop, and when you're attempting to solve four missions, that means you're going to keep running into it... unlike An Issue of Trust. In that scenario, those Treachery personnel become a lot more valuable, making Adopted a much less certain quantity. And then there's still Marla Gilmore, who can potentially wreck Trust once you've solved a mission; I definitely get why all those Treachery personnel are in there now.

Concerningly, going in to our Regional, I had thought that 5 Space Voyager would be a decent if not favorable match-up for the new Dominion. I've been running 3 Moral Choices for about a year now, and with Our Death is Glory to the Founders to back them up I figured I would be in a good position to deal with the all-space onslaught. Now, I admittedly went a bit too experimental with my dilemma pile, but I am definitely back to the drawing board in figuring out how to deal with 5SV. Kris had a lot of success online with his TOS Aid Legendary Civilization deck, so that's definitely one direction to try; I'd imagine TOS battle would also deliver good results. But what I need is more data, so I'm going to need more people to beat 5SV this season. Get to work!

First Edition German Nationals winner Peter Ludwig
Title: Chula: The rapist
Deck Archetype: Forced Defend Homeword Activation Combo
Play Engines: Chamber of Ministers, New Arrivals, Bajoran Resistance Cell, Bajoran Raider, Quark's Bar, Defend Homeworld
Draw Engines: New Arrivals, Bajoran Resistance Cell, Study Divergent History
Bonus Point Mechanics: Just Like Old Times, Dabo
See also: Nope.

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

This deck relies on the opponent running into a card that transports a personnel to Quark's Bar, mostly Chula: The Way Home and a subsequent Q-Flash with The Issue is Patriotism, triggering Defend Homeworld at Quark's Bar for a mass download of almost the entire deck.

I chose to combine it with the Bajoran Raider drops, because all the ships and non-aligned personnel are not just dead draws then, but are actually useful. In this way, I was able to make a report with crew almost every turn, plus one random free guy. This allowed me to go solving missions even before the opponent triggers Defend Homeworld. As long as the opponent's don't see it coming, I think it is a quite strong deck at the moment. The choice of personnel is naturally better in the online version of the deck, which can easily have a 300 card draw deck. I had to reduce it to 115 cards, since this is exactly the height of a stack of cards I can still shuffle with my hands :)

I had this one printed out and ready and also the Mercenary deck I played at the Regional the day after. So it was just a matter of choosing the order to play them in. I saw the 2 decks as roughly equally strong and went for this one first.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
The main issue of the deck is not really the opponent's deck type, but whether or not he sees The issue is patriotism coming or not. I was just hoping people would not have a lot of counters against that in there (DS9 not at Bajor, Anij, Amanda Rogers, Quinn, ...). As it turned out, Stefan saw my deck coming and actually brought every possible counter imaginable and easily defeated me.

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?
This deck type has only recently become a viable option for high level events thanks to the introduction of Q-uality Time, so naturally, I had no experience with it. Something I learned is that even though I thought once the mass download triggers the match is over, it is quite possible to fail getting to 100 points even with 60 guys out (mostly due to lousy planning on my side).

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 mass download of The Issue is Patriotism allows for the use of several cool situational cards that can be downloaded along with the rest. The one that saved me a game here was the U.S.S. Dauntless with Quantum Slipstream Drive which got me back in the game after Kaiser relocated my Bajor to no man's land with a sneaky Blade of Tkon. The second one worth mentioning is Anastasia Komananov. She can go aboard the U.S.S. Dauntless (holodeck) and in an emergency, her download of Smoke Bomb allowed me to risk space mission attempts with > 30 crew members.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
This is clearly The issue is Patriotism, since the deck doesn't work without it.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
It is certainly a very special deck type. As soon as you get the mass download, the game is practically over. In case the opponent knows how to avoid it or has counters, I am in big trouble. I think I won't risk playing it again soon (or will I? :D ).

My Commentary:
So, in last week's predictions thread, when I called Peter Ludwig a "perennially creative deckbuilder"? This is exhibit A. Such a deck was forseen by Matthew Ting upon Q-uality Time's reveal in March, but actually bringing such an experimental deck to a highly competitive National event and winning with it is quite a feat. But then again, this is brought to you by the guy who won continentals with a Maquis Computer Crash deck two years ago, and used Recruit Mercenaries to keep his score low in order to repeatedly play Surprise Amity and then blank all those negative points with a self-seeded Altonian Brain Teaser in the Regional the next day. That's good stuff.

So, this time around, we've got a deck that forces the opponent to trigger Defend Homeworld by hitting them with The Issue is Patriotism. It's not that simple though - before that part happens, you've got to get the opponent's personnel present with yours. The classic means has been to use Chula: The Way Home to relocate opposing personnel to an occupied Quark's Bar at Bajor. Before Through the Looking Glass was released, this combination could only be used at two missions due to OTF seeding rules. However, we now have Q-uality Time and A New Game to proliferate the triggering missions, and things like Edo Probe and Dead End to block the few remaining missions without the combo. Then, your opponent pulls the trigger and BAM, you've got a billion personnel and ships in play.

Of course, as Peter mentions, this whole set up isn't foolproof. What he doesn't mention are what the weaknesses are. The easiest thing to do seems to simply beat The Way Home, though that means having an incredibly high average integrity. Not so easy without some teddy bears, so you might also consider stocking some interrupt denial in order to nuke The Issue is Patriotism. There aren't a whole lot of powerful interrupts out there, but having the ability to also cancel the stray Outgunned might be worth it. Then there's also stocking the ability to drop your crews out of the mission mid-attempt, which is a rare but incredibly powerful ability when dilemma combos have become so predictable. Kes (downloading The Gift) and Anastasia Komananov (downloading Smoke Bomb) are the most reliable ways to do so; if you can find a way to fit them in your deck, I'd highly encourage you to do so.

First Edition Munich Regional winner Stefan Slaby
Title: Forever Blue
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Home Away From Home, Full Complement of Shuttles, Nanoprobe Resuscitation
Draw Engines: Habit of Disappearing, Ancestral Vision, Process Ore: Mining, New Arrivals
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists
See also: This is definitely our first Full Complement of Shuttles winner, and you'd have to go pretty far back to find a DQ Federation winner. This is the second time we've seen a non-Terran Empire deck using Habit of Disappearing though; Corbin Johnson used it in his Bajoran deck to great effect.

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

I only really considered the Hirogen/NA deck I played at the German National the day before, and this Voyager deck I ended up playing. Full Complement of Shuttles finally brings back the blue DQ cards that have been binder fodder pretty much since the introduction of Hirogen in The Borg. Kudos to the designer(s), I'm loving it!

Both decks I considered are very similar in playstyle, and differ only in the details. Both throw lots of high quality personnel into the fray quickly, and both have cheap access to unlimited ships and multiple methods of cheating around dilemmas. The Hirogen excel in cunning and strength, and have multiple strong ships that spread out your personnel and tend to discourage attempts to battle even when the opponent might be able to. They also have easy access to more holograms (especially with Kejal's download of Holo-projectors). The Federation excels at integrity and cunning, has access to far more Mission Specialists (making a 3 mission win easier), and a greater selection of AQ personnel to add. Their ships might be weaker, but all are landable.

One of these days I'll have to get back to the Alpha Quadrant; but currently I'm still willing to pay those 40 points for the peace and quiet of being 70,000 lightyears away from most opponents... I actually considered the less-tried Voyager deck to be the weaker (but more fun) of the two decks, and decided to play it on the tournament that was less important to me. Figures that I ended up winning this one. 8)

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I hadn't put too much thought in it; but I was hoping not to face an all-in interactive lockout deck that could take my voyager away early. I was also afraid of anybody with a potential 2 mission win and 24+ dilemma slots. (I'm only playing 13 dilemmas/QIs + Homefront and KMS, so that would be the kind of matchup where I would have to face approximately 3 times the dilemmas my opponent faces. Not fun.)

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 have a lot of experience playing DQ solvers, although FCoS specifically is new. Well, this is really not specifically about my deck... but I did learn one new thing: When you're playing against Johannes Klarhauser, all your methods of cheating around dilemmas or looking at dilemmas haven't showed up yet, and you're having 20+ personnel in play and are getting impatient, red-shirting the least-interesting planet mission in your deck (you know, the one worth 30 points that's least likely to have any interesting dilemmas under it), while your main reporting location is still in orbit of said planet with all your other people aboard it... That's this game's equivalent of standing atop a mountain in a thunderstorm wearing your tinfoil hat and shouting "all gods are morons". No matter how unlikely one is to be there, this kind of action will simply make a god appear to punish you.

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?
In the game against Peter Ludwig's freakishly good Surprise Amity deck, Mezoti was shining brightly. SA stops all of my personnel whenever one of my mission attempts ends (if I'm ahead in points); so it wouldn't really matter how few or many of the 30+ personnel I had in play I'd attempt with, I'd only get one mission attempt per turn. However, Mezoti can unstop (all) my Borg present with her once per turn, and I had 8 Borg in play a that point, which got me a reasonable second mission attempt each turn.

Long story: To be honest, I still shouldn't have won that game. I was way too far behind. I got lucky, it was the first game of the day, and Peter hadn't realized yet that, while his Altonian Brain Teaser nixed the approximately minus 70 points from his played Recruit Mercenaries for the purposes of winning the game, putting him at 80 points for that purpose; for the entirely unrelated purpose of Surprise Amity's gametext those points still counted... So we both believed him unable to play SA at that point when actually he could have stopped me at any time. I used that perceived window to pull off an epic turn past the 75 minute mark, where I cleaned three missions from dilemmas without solving, then solved the first of them while staying behind him in points, solved the second to take the lead (which got everybody stopped), then used Mezoti to unstop a team of ex-Borg who solved the final mission for the win!

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Probably Nanoprobe Resuscitation, supported by Habit of Disappearing and Process Ore: Mining. In earlier incarnations of my Hirogen deck I used to seed Holoprogram: 221B Baker Street on table, just to be able to put a personnel on top of my discard pile whenever I liked. These two are so much better, they give me almost the same control over the discard pile, but instead of reducing the number of cards in my hand, both work to increase it!

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Forever Blue!

(... you know I'm talking about the subcommand icon. :P )

My Commentary:
I find it interesting that both of this week's First Edition constructed deck winners didn't use any card-play consuming draw engines. You know, the Kivas Fajos, the Handshakes, the Let's See What's Out There. That class of card used to be found in almost every competitive deck since Continuing Mission was nerfed down to a single draw. Yet here we have two decks that completely avoid those cards, largely in favor of play engines that take up the card play instead. End of Turn draws do offer the least planning flexibility - you won't know what you'll be playing next turn until after you end your order phase. In these cases though, the flexibility gained in freeing up your card play is easily worth the planning constraints.

In particular, the various ship-drop play engines essentially require you to forgo the card-play draw engines, which accounts for some of their past unpopularity. Sure, it's not uncommon to see and IKC T'Ong splashed in here and there, but decks based on the Type 18 Shuttlepod or the Bajoran Raider, for example, are quite uncommon. Hidden in the relative safety of the Delta Quadrant though, Stefan has managed to stack three seedable draw engines, including the brand new Habit of Disappearing. We've seen the self-milling done by that engine used to great effect in Corbin Johnson's Bajoran deck already, and Stefan's got another cool use for all those discards. Delta Feds have a bunch of communication subcommand icons, which activates the play engine aspect of Nanoprobe Resuscitation. Which, in turn brings us back to draw engines; when only one of your play engines actually plays cards for capital F Free, it's time to drop a New Arrivals in there.

Now, I say "relative safety of the Delta Quadrant", but that is the quadrant of the Kazon. You know, the affiliation that is synonymous with outpost destruction on turn three. Well, Stean has not left himself defenseless here. Full Complement of Shuttles has a built-in ship stat boost, and it is a play engine that will naturally generate a formidable fleet. Even without that boost, there's that seeded Expert Pilot. Voyager, being headquarterless, doesn't benefit from the recent addition of Ouclassed to Strategema, but it has several double Navigation personnel to activate Expert Pilot's protection. That said, you don't need to be facing an aggressive opponent in order to benefit from the Pilot's range boost; should be fun zipping around that short Delta space line, dropping shuttles like you're not 70,000 lightyears from home.

Second Edition South Dakota Regional winner Kevin Jaeger
Title: Reunification Cube Draft Bajoran HQ w/ Klingon treaty

Note: A thorough explanation of this tournament format can be found in Kevin's tournament report.

Your new draft format looks fun! Were there any affiliations that you were hoping to get for your randomly assigned HQ?
I was kinda hoping to get feds and then hope to have voyager as one of my two starting ships. With the no faction rule it meant Voyager could drop any two personnel for you. As it turned out, Robert in my pod got the feds and was doing just that.

Could you tell me something about your draft priority? Did you go for broke on personnel with skills for your missions, or did you generally find drafting powerful dilemmas to be more important?
I personally feel that it's take a good dilemma first. But I did have to make a conscious effort to make sure I had plenty of nav and science for my space mission since Bajorans and Klingons struggle with those skills.

Dropping faction icons from verbs sounds like it could create some interesting new effects. Did you get any such cards, and if so, how did they perform?
I got five year mission to make any card cost -1 for me and I used aggressive solutions once in my game against Aaron who had 1 mission that was clearly an "off" mission. So I got value there once. Other than that I could just use them as Worf fuel if I needed. What I saw from other people: Aaron dropped Disadvantage Into Advantage early and Rob was doing the aforementioned Voyager move.

Of course, drafting isn't just about getting what you want; its also about keeping your opponents from getting what they want. Were there any cards that you drafted just to keep them out of other players' hands?
I rarely defensive draft. I can tell you that I was never sure of what Rob and Keith were drafting in our pod so I never felt the need to do it.

Did you find that your deck had any surprising strengths or weaknesses through the course of playing it?
My weakness was having to do a third mission BUT my strength was being able to micro team two planets so it all balanced out. Another strength was I had some powerful surprise dilemmas - especially Necessary Execution which was the deciding factor against Kris.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Necessary Execution

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Nothing to say about the deck. Just that this format was actually quite fun. I suggest people give it a try... and if you do, thank your tournament director who organizes it. It took me three weeks to get the cube organized :)

First Edition South Dakota Regional winner Robert Petersen
Title: Interfering Romulans

You're the only player in the tournament listing with only one affiliation icon by his name. Was that part of your deckbuilding strategy, or did your card pool naturally lend itself to a single affiliation?
The format of our sealed event was OTSD + 3 booster packs of Reflections with all cards working as written. After taking a look at my card pool I knew my strength was in dilemmas and interrupts. And while I had the three way treaty, I really wanted to be able to steal opponents' missions when possible. So I forced myself to rely on Non-Aligned personnel with every Romulan I had access to.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was hoping to go up against decks focusing on micro-teaming and speed. If I could get my opponent to make mistakes with their mission attempts, I felt confident I could take advantage of the space line. What I was hoping not to face was large numbers of ships that would put my limited number of personnel at risk.

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?
With the format being Open, I used Temporal Rift for the first time. As well as Palor Toft- Alien Trader and the Neural Servo Device. I was able to use the servo device twice to throw one opponent's crew into a dilemma I knew they would fail at, and another time just to move the crew further away from their missions as a stalling move.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
The MVP for this desk has to be Temporal Rift. Every first time I played it, the opponent's Space Time Portal would nullify it. However I had a Palor Toff and Res-Q which both were used to pull the Temporal Rift back to hand so I could play it two more times. Locking a ship up so I could go in and complete a mission steal was essential.

Mission theft often plays a big role in open format OTSD. Did you have any plans for theft prevention and/or doing some stealing of your own?
Atmospheric Ionization, the Borg Cube and Sheliak dilemmas and Thine Own Self were all means of trying to control the spaceline and where my opponent would go.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
It is hard to predict what to expect going into a sealed card pool. No matter the deck, there are always strengths and weaknesses but I felt this deck was able to adapt by stalling and interring with my opponents more than trying to out-speed them.


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