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The Road to Worlds: Manassters

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

1st March 2018

Second Edition Manassters winner Brian Sykes
Title: Capturing Hearts and Minds - Manassters 2018
Headquarters: Cardassia Prime, Hardscrabble World
Deck Size: 50 cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange Interference
Dilemma Pile Size: 40 cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Skill Wall Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Me, Armus, Fritzinger

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

With the current Hall of Fame List getting rid of An Issue of Trust, Personal Duty and Gomtuu Shock Wave, I thought Cardassian might be a good addition to trot out. During the Hall of Fame Balloting Process, which I had to trust, I was also looking at an event-heavy Maquis build and five space Voyager. But when Moral Choice didn't get inducted, I was worried about the marginal disadvantage presented to any of the Fed builds.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I had answers for walls, skill dilemmas, and attrition dilemmas. What I didn't have a good answer for was a lot of kills, so I wasn't too thrilled about the prospect of facing something like a well built 8 point pile.

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?
It's weird. I'd played Cardassian a few times before so I knew the basics, but I seemed to always play them in bracket tournaments, which meant I hadn't played them in a sustained, multi-round environment. Looking back at my six games, there were some moves that I didn't make that a more experienced player would have. For example, Playing Central Command to unstop 2 or 3 people on an initial filter to cause Polywater Intoxication to play at full cost and overcost the wall dilemma. That's definitely something I'll remember for the future.

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?
I didn't use too many situational cards because I was trying to keep my deck as tight as possible. I did run more of a Swiss-army-knife style dilemma pile simply because I didn't know what to expect.

What deck-building adjustments did you make when building for Hall of Fame format?
I had to go relearn space dilemmas. With Gomtuu out I added in V'Ger and with the ship count in my deck, Tactical Disadvantage made a nice add. Outclassed still has enough good matchups as to be worth using, and with my capture theme, I added a copy of Any Methods Necessary, which I think caught several people off guard, as it hit all three times I played it.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
The Central Command, and it's not even close. That card got me more missions than I can count. With the main Cardassian filter dilemmas out of the way, the ability to use it against walls is almost unparalleled.

On the Dilemma Pile side, Becalmed was a game winner against Neil, Ben, and John, the former because I was able to jujitsu Chakotay, Freedom Fighter's ability and have it hit basically all [Maq] personnel.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I'd be remiss if I didn't give a hat tip to James 'Unjustly Banned' Hoskin. His use of [AU] cards and Elim Garak, Crafty Underling for skill gaining was something I had never used in a Cardassian deck before and it came in real handy against BenHosp's Archaeology/Transporters pile.

Also, this deck was supposed to be a two Mission win, but I only pulled that off in one of my six games. Everybody was smart enough to use what event destruction they had to keep that off the table. Fortunately Metron Arena is the planet version of the really easy Kressari Rendezvous so doing the third mission didn't usually prove to be much of an issue.

Finally, I just want to say how great it was too get out and play some high level competitive trek against a quality field. Mad props and big thanks to Ben Hosp for hosting Manassters and to John "The Process" Corbett for his sponsorship of the weekend!

My Commentary:
In one of the Manassters discussion threads, there's some discussion of Brian's decision to run a Cardassian deck without Tain. One other recent Cardassian Capture deck is Stefan Slaby's; that one does use Tain. I don't think there's necessarily a right answer, but I definitely agree with Brian that the best reason to not use Tain is to get access to two missions in your headquarters region. Even just using Kressari Rendezvous gives you considerable mobility, and having a planet mission too (one on which you can run a Labor Camp), really helps grease that round-the-corner engine. And how many times have you been out in space with one ship in play, when you've needed to play reinforcements for the solve? This deck can fly home, fly back to Kressari, solve, fly home again, and still fly back out to the next mission. I do like Naetor's suggestion (using Deliver Evidence in his Tain deck), seems like a reasonable compromise option.

Brian's capture options in this deck are quite stripped down too, and I like the cards he's chosen to keep. Evek is, of course, a given - he's the easiest way to activate your punishment cards, and has the potential to remove problem personnel before your opponent even draws them. I believe I've read a tournament report some time ago wherein Evek captured the nemesis of capturing herself, Number One. Ensnared is also a great capturing option - the ability to pick off problem personnel is helpful for setting up your dilemmas in more way than one. Pick the right person with Ensnared (like a Luther Sloan versus Federation), and your opponent will have fits with Broken Captive.

I, too, tend to lean towards Labor Camp over Prison Compound when choosing between the two. Labor Camp definitely has more potential to generate a two mission win. That said, Brian mentions that he had difficulty keeping it in play (he only won one game with two missions solved), since it needs to stay in play all the way until the start of your next turn in order to score you some points. Prison Compound, on the other hand, has a lower point ceiling, but is less likely to be blocked. Many fewer verb prevention options will hit an event that has an effect as soon as you play it, so that's probably the one to go for if you're going to rely on those round the corner points more heavily.

First Edition winner Austin Chandler
Title: MACOs 1.0
Deck Archetype: Solver
Play Engines: MACO Training Camp, Protect the Timeline, Military Assault Command Operations
Draw Engines: Finally Ready to Swim
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists
Victory Correctly Predicted By: None

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

I had actually wanted to run a variation of a TNG Deck that I'll still be working on. However my son got sick (8 months old this month!) and took time away from my deck building. I decided to copy Justin Ford's deck. http://www.trekcc.org/1e/decklists/inde ... ckID=17447. I declined to modify it because I felt it ran very nicely even while it missing some essentials.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I had hoped not to face Borg or Vulcan. I knew that there would probably be other Starfleet decks and I normally tend to shy away from using Starfleet but had been wanting to give MACOs a go for awhile.

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 played Starfleet casually several times and tested the deck extensively for a few days to make sure it drew and played the way I had wanted.

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?
Not that I could think of.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
MACO Training Camp.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I would say that for anyone wanting to play Starfleet this is a great deck to base a framework off of and run with it. I would add in the cards that can be downloaded that aren't included: Such as Raktajino & Timepod Ring. Regenerate or Isomagnetic Disintegrator would be highly useful because it came down to an almost deck out against John Corbett with his KCA Mirror Deck & got near close against Ben Hosp's Starfleet Deck.

A major weakness for this deck is the lack of science classification and got hammered badly and squeaked out the final win by the skin of my teeth. I played Ben in the final round and just squeaked the win because of his dilemma combos focusing heavily on science.

What I do like about the deck is that for many of the cards one can go full brute force against dilemmas. I look forward to tweaking it in the future.

My Commentary:
I'm relieved to not be writing about Syrranite Vulcans again, but MACOs were approaching that level of dominance before the Vulcans stepped in and took the spotlight. There is a very healthy discussion of the MACO decktype going on on the forums; I highly recommend checking it out. One point the thread (and LORE in particular) makes about Starfleet decks in general is that they tend to be weak against battle. MACOs are even a bit more vulnerable, lacking the protection of the Time Location-based Headquarters facility that other Starfleet builds have access to. It's true that simple being based at a Time Location provides some protection, but the proliferation of Temporal Conduit as a soft draw engine is likely to eat into that protection.

It has become very rare for me to be in the position of reviewing a deck that doesn't have an obvious route to a two mission win. Vulcans with the Katra and Kir'shara had it easy, but we've also seen lots of the Genesis Device and Mission Specialists, and even high point missions protected with HQ: Defensive Measures. It almost feels like a red flag that a deck is good enough to blast through three whole missions and keep up with two mission decks, but really I'm just happy to see a three mission deck meet with success.

Part of the popularity of MACO decks is probably not just due to their effectiveness, but how differently they are constructed from standard decks. It isn't common that a deck I review has only one draw engine card in the entire deck, and it is a seeded once per turn draw card. But this deck only needs to refill the two free plays per turn, and that one seed card with the normal end of turn draw handles that just fine. Instead of the standard free report salad of other deck, MACO Training Camp allows the player to download Military Assault Command Operations in place of the card play (so it doesn't have to be in hand and doesn't need to be redrawn). Depending on the MACO-density of your deck, that can be worth another 1-3 free plays per turn, and they don't even need to come from hand. It's a very different deck-building challenge from most other decks, and I'm not surprised people have flocked to it.


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