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The Road to Worlds: Manchester Masters

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

30th March 2017

Quick note: Regional season begins next week. Last year, I ran a predictions contest in the forums, and I'm doing it again this year. Go vote for the winners!

First Edition Manchester Masters winner Niall Matthew
Title: The fisting of Mona Lisa
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Play Engines: Always a Chess Game, Attention All Hands, Cybernetics Expertise
Draw Engines: Let's See What's Out There, Continuing Mission
Bonus Point Mechanics: Romulan "Reunification", Assign Mission Specialists, Parallax Arguers, Mona Lisa (sort of)
Victory Predicted By: Armus

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

I won't lie, work has kept me very busy recently. So, I had no choice but to go back on something I played previously online. I chose this one because it has a lot of bits going on which the UK players wouldn't expect from me, like the 6 planet strategy. I also really enjoyed using Persistence of Memory to Reverse Mona Lisa, I wanted to cause havok with it once again. If I had time to make a new deck, I would've went for Starfleet Terran Empire with the Contender Objectives.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I hoped to face a good Alpha Quadrant solver so I could make the most of the Let's See What's Out There card draws from opponent's missions. I was also hoping the opponent would play 40+ point missions, and that's exactly what I got in every game. The only type of deck I didn't want to face was an all Delta Quadrant deck, because it would slow my draws a lot.

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 played it once online almost two years ago and managed to at least do all the tricks at once in the event. It played out even better than I expected, apart from the massive skill holes that I forgot to fix. I also removed Getting Under Your Skin because it doesn't work with the Referee Events.

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 Persistence/Mona Lisa combo to cause a 25 point loss to the opponent would be pretty useless against Borg. Plans of the Tal Shiar was so versatile in letting me bypass HQ: Defensive Measures when stealing missions.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Aaaargh!!!!! I have the choice of Persistence of Memory, Romulan 'Reunification', Plans of the Tal Shiar, or Parallax Arguers. I'll go for Parallax, the opponents denied me points most of the time, but it helped me go through my draw deck via Let's See What's Out There pretty quickly.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I go for fun at the end of the day. If I can't make my opponent laugh during the game, then I've failed. I managed to steal at least one mission per game. (One of them was an opponents Quash Conspiracy mission on my first turn), use Romulan 'Reunification', got to blow up Mona Lisa. The only thing I didn't get to do was to blow it up twice as I had 2 copies of Persistence seeded, along with a Reclamation in the deck (But now realise it wouldn't work twice because Mona would go to the point area. Maybe if I seed another Mona next time as well. After all, there are plenty of planets to choose from in the deck.)

My Commentary:
I feel like, every time I see something really surprising and fun in a First Edition deck, it comes in the form of an artifact. With the proliferation of powerful seeded verbs (events, incidents, etc.) in the mid to late Decipher years, and effective counters available for the most obviously powerful ones, artifacts have seen a significant decline in use. After all, why spend a seed slot on a card you find stuck behind a Dead End, when you could add more play engines, draw engines, or jumpstart cards that you are guaranteed to be able to use? I certainly thought there wasn't any reason to do so, until I saw Jason Drake's 2014 Worlds-winning Cyberbiologists deck in action. He used an artifact I'd never seen in action (Blade of Tkon) to gain an advantage I'd never considered (moving a distant mission that likely got a weaker dilemma combo). Cool.

And now we have Niall and Persistence of Memory. Speaking of "never considered", I really have no idea what it means by "reversing" Mona Lisa - I certainly would never have guessed that it has anything to do with making the opponent lose points, as Niall's answers indicate. Let's see what the glossary has to say: "If destroyed, the opponent of the player directly causing the destruction (if any) loses points". Ah, okay, so then Niall just disruptor overloads the painting (kaboom), and there you go. Your opponent needs most of another mission to win the game. That's definitely worth a seed slot and deactivating Continuing Mission (DaVinci doesn't play nice with it).

Also really fun is the inclusion of Vulcan - the Federation-only version at that. Speaking of likely to draw a weak combo, not only does it only have the Federation icon, it also has a Vulcan personnel as a requirement in a sea of clearly Romulan missions. But once Niall has Sela and either Spock and/or Tallera, he can swing by and score 10 points with Romulan "Reunification". Then he's just a Plans of the Tal Shiar download away from an easy and unexpected solve! I really need to go through the binders before I build my next First Edition deck; there's a lot of fun stuff out there that needs to see the light of day.

Quick note: Regional season begins next week. Last year, I ran a predictions contest in the forums, and I'm doing it again this year. Go vote for the winners!

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