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The Road to Worlds: Regionals Week 5

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

3rd May 2018

Second Edition Inaugural Hall of Fame Online Regional winner Michael Van Breemen
Title: BajCar
Headquarters: Bajor, Gift of the Prophets and Cardassia Prime, Hardscrabble World
Deck Size: 50 Cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 70 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Everything
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Me, bosskamiura, Fritzinger, Honest, Armus, Hoss-Drone, LORE, pfti, The Ninja Scot, and GooeyChewie.

Michael's Commentary:
Why did you choose the deck that you used?

It's for an achievement that I don't have (Dual HQ - Cardassian/Bajoran)

What other decks did you consider using?
Any achievements that I don't have which, admittedly, are getting fewer and fewer to find on the 2E side.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck?
Decks without much interrupt/event destruction, no Provoke Interstellar Incident.

What decks did you hope not to face?
The opposite of above.

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 had tried a Baj/Card deck before with many of the same mechanics but the new Cardassian (Surjak) and new event (Casualties of the Occupation) makes getting this that much better (play Ranjen Koral to get back a card from the discard pile, kill him with Surjak, remove him with Casualties for more attributes.)

Did you use any situational cards (cards that you wouldn't expect to be useful in every game)?
Nope.

Are there any whose usefulness exceeded your expectations?
Ranjen Koral and Casualties. In one game, I played the same two Central Commands a combined total of six times which is just insane.

Were there any that you wouldn't include if you played the deck again?
Nope, although I'd consider using Death's Shadow.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Central Command because it's just super strong, especially in a format without Personal Duty, Gomtuu, WNOHGB or Issue of Trust.

My Commentary:
Anyone who looks at The Central Command as just a tool for use against An Issue of Trust is missing the bigger picture. It is very easy to build a strong Cardassian deck that is heavy on Treachery and Officer, and in such a deck, TCC is Neral, Bridge Officer's Test, and Relentless all in one package. Mila is the only Cardassian without either skill in this deck, but she fills the important role of protecting TCC from most forms of prevention, while having the flexibility to be used offensively when you're up against an opponent without interrupt denial.

The Bajoran package in this deck is here mostly as fuel, but a couple of the cards are possible to see in play. Ranjen Koral's utility is obvious - you want to play TCC as often as possible in a TCC deck as you can - and Michael calls out the synergy with Surjak in his interview. Bareil's use is a little sneakier. Like Intendant Kira and the B'tanay, he's got that Alternate Universe icon to feed Crafty Garak, but he can also help keep the TCCs up and running. That milling cost of three cards isn't super relevant in most Cardassian games, but when you're playing it more than three times, it can add up. Tacking can refuel your deck, but what if it gets milled? That's where Bareil comes in - if he makes it and Tacking doesn't, he can rescue the Tacking for you.

Like most Cardassian decks, this one is vulnerable to dilemma piles that do something besides stop your personnel. People have been picking Cardassians for Hall of Fame events because they're going to be better in a meta that lacks An Issue of Trust, but there's more to the story. They're also good because you're playing in a meta without All-Consuming Evil. It's not the only way to play a kill pile, but it is the way we're used to playing a kill pile. Might be worth investigating other options next time you're looking to make a Hall of Fame dilemma pile.

Second Edition Kassel Regional winner Johannes Mette
Title: mixed sausage plate
Headquarters: Mouth of the Wormhole, Deep Space 9
Deck Size: 42 Cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 37 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: pfti and Honest.

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

I chose this deck because the other 6 decks were not really finished yet. After Steve won with Bajoran Resistance, I did not want to play my version of the Resistance. I have always played a new deck since the start of the league. I actually wanted to play TOS battle for the regional, but I do not like the deck yet. It was not ready. I wanted to further customize this deck, but when the cornerstones are together it already works. So I took this deck.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Oh that's easy. I was hoping nobody would play with Alpha 5/TCS. I also hoped that nobody would play with the new Dominion HQ. With the mission setup you get into trouble quickly. Although Alpha 5/TCS would not have been as bad as the new Dominion HQ.

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've only played this kind of decks at one tournament and a few rehearsals so far. It is very strong for little cost. That's why I did not want to play against this kind of deck. I first learned to appreciate the Xhosa in this tournament. Supporting T'Rul …

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 would have thought that Sfreett, Deadly Flower gets better in the deck, unfortunately, she has completely gone down there. The rest of the deck was completely out of the box. I would definitely add a stronger ship in the next game. Or at least the U.S.S. Ganges, One of the First ;-).

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Common Enemy, Common Enemy, Common Enemy! It's always scary how good this card is. I've been using CE well in any Common DS9 game so far. Unfortunately not in my common TNG deck.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Everything is already said about these decks. On this way I want to thank my mother, my father, the grandmas, the grandfathers, the postman, the brewery, the Rewe around the corner... and the pubs.

My Commentary:
Brian pointed out in the predictions thread that I'm on strike with regards to reviewing this deck. Well, he's right, but I'll use this opportunity to discuss something else. In the same post, Brian referred to this deck as a "Lego Set" deck, and I'm not sure he's right.

Now yes, he coined the term (I believe), but my understanding is that it refers to decks that build themselves with just the new cards from a single set. In my mind, Damaged Starfleet really embodies this definition, even above other Starfleet decks. You just put all the Damaged cards in a deck, with really the only missions you can use, and then you're playing a good deck. Done! Even the Starfleet cards from A Time to Stand, which more commonly gets the Lego Set appellation doesn't fit the definition as well. With that group, if you include all the tricks from the set (as most people did when the new stuff was released), you'll probably lose since they are all so win-more in nature.

Rainbow DS9 is even less Lego in nature. It uses the "Common" cards from Strange Bedfellows as an engine, but I've seen all sorts of effective decks that use the engine to fuel different sets of cards. The problem here is one of those effective decks is above the curve, won a World Championship in the hands of a good player, and is being netdecked often. Because we're seeing the same netdeck over and over, it can feel like it builds itself, but really someone smart (Ken Tufts) built it and tested it (with the Seattle group) and proved it (via Michael Van Breemen) for us. The problem in my eyes is that it keeps winning in a variety of different groups despite ample opportunity to tech against it.

In short, yes I am sick of reviewing it, but let's not take away from the the creative process that led to it.

Second Edition Virginia Regional winner Phil Schrader
Title: I Spew My Fluidic Goo All Over Your Face
Headquarters: Earth, Lush and Beautiful Home
Deck Size: 50 Cards
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 36 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: 8472
Victory Correctly Predicted By: LORE, KillerB, bosskamiura, jadziadax8, prylardurden, Armus, Hoss-Drone, The Ninja Scot, and Marquetry.

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

I hadn't played the 8472 deck in a while and thought it might be fun. Similarly, I don't think my opponents put me on it before the tournament, so I thought I might go for some shock value. Also, it gave me a good opportunity to brush up on my skill-tracking abilities. The only other deck I'd seriously considered playing was Ferengi, but I chose to use a deck with more interactive components (TOS Sisko/Worf, 4-Cost Scotty/Decker, and Skill-gain Prevention).

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
The main decks I hoped to avoid were Cardassians, Klingons, and Ferengi. Cardassians and Ferengi make all-stop walls sad and Klingons eat up 8472 dilemmas. I did not get to face him, but once I saw Ben was playing NeuTN I realized I should add it to the list.

While I didn't play against any pure versions of those three affiliations, I did play against a Triple HQ deck (James Self) that utilized the two Klingons I hate most - K'mtar and Chang - as well as high-strength Dominion personnel. Surprisingly, this was the only game in which I pulled off the 8472 alternate win. In my other two games I actually earned traditional, three-mission wins.

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've had a lot of experience with this deck. I've piloted previous iterations of it to Top Seed Day 1 wins at two US Continentals. I didn't really learn anything new, aside from how to play around specific personnel who make 8472 dilemmas sad. I also got a bit better at skill tracking and did not find myself needing to use the "select a stop" dilemmas nearly as often as I have had to in the past.

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?
James presented me with an amazing and challenging game for this deck. This was the first time I found myself using He Wasn't Nice, which I used to kill K'mtar when I had 11 dilemma counters to use (thanks to Endangered) to setup a successful Charismatic Mimic. On a later turn, I used a similar ploy with Caretaker's Guests to swap Chang for K'mtar to set up Dubious Decoy. I've never had to maneuver so much around personnel that I found it an enlightening experience for me and reminded me why I actually include He Wasn't Nice.

The deck is so tight as it is that I can't think of anything I'd remove. The goal is to keep it at 50 cards and it's very hard to do that. One thing I'd like to do in the future is experiment with Gangster Kirk, since drawing 6-7 cards when my opponent solves a mission sounds very appealing to a deck like this where counters are at a premium.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
It's a toss up between Lance Cartwright and Endangered. Lance's Intel saved my butt in two games and Endangered is just pure gold in this deck once Terrasphere 8 is solved.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I'd always thought this deck would have serious trouble solving missions beyond Terrasphere 8. Winning two games the normal way with this deck has changed my opinion a bit. There may not be a ton of the skills needed for Northwest Passage or Sha Ka Ree, but there's enough.

My Commentary:
Last week I briefly mentioned the tools that TOS decks have at their disposal that keep the opponent honest - things like Sisko for interrupt prevention and Coordinated Counterattack to stop skill gain. Those tools are supplemented here by Staffer Worf for event prevention and Endangered to make sure you've got plenty to spend on dilemmas. This suite of control tools is part of why TOS is such a natural pairing for 8472 decks. So much of your game plan hinges on your dilemmas firing on all cylinders, so it is extra important to make sure that the opponent doesn't do anything to interfere with those plans.

Specifically, the lynchpin dilemmas we're trying to get to hit are the one-stop walls like "Rapid Progress." Many 8472 dilemmas, if they work right, aren't actually doing anything to stop the active attempt - I'm thinking here of the ones like Dubious Decoy or On Guard. You'll want to spend as little dilemma cost as possible on actually stopping the attempt so that you can slip as many of those other dilemmas in as possible. This is one of the slimmer 8472 piles I've seen, at a mere 36 cards - Phil is right to fear Terok Nor dilemma milling decks. As a result of the smaller size though, he's more likely to draw what he wants when he wants it. It's one thing to have the plan to slip in Decoys and Guards when you block their "Progress", but you've got to draw those dilemmas at the same time first.

8472 is the quintessential anti-interference deck. There aren't many interference decks that are effective enough to stop a deck from solving a single mission, and they also tend to be the decks that are least capable of cheating around the 8472 dilemmas. Borg in particular have a tough time with the "stop a personnel with 2 X" dilemmas, because none of those skills are ones that Borg can interlink - which, given that the Borg had a tough time with species 8472 in the show, is unlikely to be accidental.

First Edition American National Championships winner Michael Van Breemen
Title: BajCar
Deck Archetype: Planet Lock-Out
Play Engines: I Miss This Office, Chamber of Ministers, Central Command, Bajoran Resistance Cell, Quark's Bar, Docking Ports
Draw Engines: Handshake, Bajoran Resistance Cell, Temporal Investigations
Victory Correctly Predicted By: The Ninja Scot, after preregistering with one hour left to go.

Michael's Commentary:

My Commentary:
This was not a particularly fun deck to play against. Fortunately, Michael is fun to play against, and we had a good time, but man, planet missions are no fun for the unprepared. Michael's plan is to wall-off two planets with Enemies of the State and 10 Integrity Tadims and Aris. Then, when you find the planet without Enemies, he'll replace the last dilemma using Disrupted Continuum with... Enemies of the State! Needing Integrity>30 on three personnel is tough for any deck, but it was impossible for me. In fact, only one player at the tournament had any sort of solution, which we'll get to later.

The other frustration is that I hate-built a TNG Romulan Minefield deck (aside: don't do this), and this deck is very carefully built to be completely unaffected by it. Romulan Minefield plays between two missions, and all but one of his missions were next to a Doorway. He has two Mirror Quadrant missions (next to the wormhole), one Gamma Quadrant Mission (next to the wormhole), Bajor (inserted next to the wormhole), and two Cardassia Region missions. As long as he gets one of them next to the wormhole, he can insert Cardassia to be the one next to it, and never attempt Kressari Rendezvous.

He was also effectively defensive against decks that weren't mine. Jon met with frustration when he discovered that his Snipers wouldn't be very effective with both of Michael's planet missions being homeworlds. On the other hand, his Snipers also provided him a solution to Enemies of the State (once he remembered that Michael could only download the dissidents once per turn), so they weren't completely wasted, but it required a significant change of plans.

In terms of the rest of the deck, I find that the general opinion on the forums is that Reshape the Quadrant decks are underperforming compared to TNG or Enterprise-era decks. Even if they're right, the main exception in my mind are Cardassian/Bajoran treaty decks. They have the best personnel output capabilities of any groups in that era, while also having a wide skill base and a good mission selection.

Second Edition American National Championships winner Lucas Thompson
Title: Indisposable People
Headquarters: Mouth of the Wormhole, Deep Space 9
Deck Size: 76 Cards
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 45 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Overwhelmed/Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: monty42, bosskamiura, jadziadax8, prylardurden, BCSWowbagger, and Hoss-Drone.

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

I wanted to play the sort of slow, controlling deck that Qatai and Environmental Contaminants would be good in, and Androids jumped out at me as just that sort of deck. They take a while to get rolling, but are tough to stop once they do. I'm usually more of a speed deck player, so it took a good deal of effort to repress the panic that starting so slowly can cause. I remember specifically Mr. Shea attempting Kressari with 9 when I had exactly one personnel out - Lore.

I worked on a TOS Q's Planet deck too, but it just wasn't coming together. Then there's the Risa achievement deck I made for the Thursday warm-up event, which ended up better than I expected it to be, so I strongly considered taking the Emergency Transport Units and Grav-Plating Traps out of the android deck and throwing them in the Risa deck. I also had my Starfleet deck from worlds, which is probably my most well-rounded deck, but (a) it has a tough time with the attribute reduction decks that Will likes to play and (b) I just didn't really want to play it again.

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 mostly midrange, honest solvers, and the skill-based dilemmas that androids just chew right through. Really only Dereliction of Duty is going to stop droids from busting through most wall dilemmas, and Graves and the naturally high android attributes put a lot of pressure on attrition piles.

I hoped not to face interference decks - I included a copy of Rescue Captives largely because of how brutal capture is on androids. I could always use it to fuel NA Data, and almost did so even when I had some people in the brig due to a Sylvia. Turns out the main thing I had to fear were fast decks that didn't have personnel with an attribute>6, and just a bare minimum of Honor/Treachery/Leadership/Officer.

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've played androids before, but usually without the whole event package (and some other version of Data). I generally found Data's unstop cost to not be too onerous, and his cost was a real help given the general slow speed of the deck.

I've never played this particular Overwhelmed/Attrition hybrid pile before, and it turned out definitely be the weakest part of the deck. I'd probably stick to either a pure Overwhelmed pile (and just accept the bad Terok Nor match-up) or a Standard Attrition pile with a few 8-costers thrown in.

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 tried out Crowd Control as just a 0-cost core filler, and that's all it ended up being. It would only have even been relevant in one match (my last one), and it came out way too late to have made a difference. I'd still consider it in a Klingon Council or Romulan Control deck, since I'd be able to download it when necessary, but it probably would have been better as another Q event for Vacation from the Continuum.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Definitely Vacation from the Continuum. I threw it in on a whim since I wanted to try Catastrophic Quip, and man did it carry its weight. being able to draw a bunch of extra dilemmas when many of them cost zero due to events in your core is amazing.

Honorable mention goes to Emergency Transport Unit. It's not even situational in an android deck - even if you don't have stuff to nuke with Grav Trap, and your opponent isn't killing your people, it is plenty effective as a way to keep Lal around after using her ability.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
More than anything, I wanted to give a shout-out to Shane's deck (which I faced and lost to in round 4). When I sat down across from Athos IV with an Android deck, I was pretty sure I was going to lose, but when I did it wasn't for the reasons I expected. I don't think I've ever looked at Learning Curve since it was spoiled ("Oh, 4 cost event, next please"), but he very effectively used it to fuel a Maquis weenie deck - up to 6 free draws a turn is really nice for low cost decks. And if you use your removal on it, you'll be sad when Biogenic Weapon hits a mission that is buried in Infestations.

He mostly used the Infestations to set up things like Programmed Compulsion (high attribute decks could otherwise overwhelm Infestation without Alpha 5 Approach) and Sylvia (synergizes well with Learning Curve). The low cost of Infestation also helps set up Inferiority, which also helps prevent microteaming from hurting too much. Great guy, fantastic and unexpected deck, I'll be picking him to win the next Atlanta event.

Chris O'Connell (who traveled with me) and I had a great time down in Atlanta, thanks to the hospitality of Michael Shea and the rest of the Atlanta players. We'd be more than happy to make a repeat visit should the opportunity arise.

Finally, I wanted to link to the clip that inspired the title of the deck. It is one of my favorite scenes in all of Star Trek, and the first time that The Next Generation lived up to the promise of its franchise.


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