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The Road to Worlds: Minnesota and Online Masters

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

28th September 2018

Second Edition MinnMasters winner Nat Kirton
Title: It's Just This Little Something I Threw Together Called: Fruity Cocoa Cinnamon Sugar Frosted Honey Marshmallow Berry Waffle Pops, With Clusters 2.0
Headquarters: Ferenginar, Financial Hub
Deck Size: 44 Cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 20 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Legacy
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Armus, jadziadax8, and Hoss-Drone.

My Commentary:
Ferengi made up three of the ten decks played at MinnMasters, and placed first and second overall. So, what's good about Ferengi right now? Let's take a look at a few reasons:

They have some bad attributes!
Adopted Authority is everywhere these days. Using an affiliation that is persistently bad in an attribute, often even despite boosts is very valuable. I played a deck with Ferengi recently, and it was nice watching Adopted Authority stop one and go under. This "strength" is also part of why Cardassians have been so dominant recently. And, come to thing of it, it is a strength that the weakest Ferengi attribute is Strength, because that is for sure the best attribute to be bad at. It shows up on very, very few must-pass dilemmas, and when it does, Ferengi are often naturally better at the other requirement.

Ferengi have obscene amounts of resource generation!
I mean, it's obviously good to be able to spend more than your normal seven counters in a turn. Decks that can do that win! One specific but not necessarily obvious way in which getting a resource advantage is good is that this deck, this speed deck, this blazing speed deck has an average personnel cost over 3.5. In a world where people are teching against DS9 Rainbow with In Development (and the like), it is really useful to only have 6 of 24 personnel in the deck with a cost less than 3.

They aren't blue!
Moral Choice is still everywhere, and I've even been seeing Occupational Hazards show up more frequently. Being good at not being the Federation is a useful skill these days, and let's just say that the Ferengi are really good at not being the Federation.

It never hurts to suck up to the boss!
The Enemy of My Enemy is a really good interrupt that's getting a lot of attention these days, but nothing cheats you through a skill-wall like Rule of Acquisition #33. It's just the best.

First Edition MinnMasters winner Jason Tang
Title: The Unstoppable Finest Crew: EZ Mission Version 1.2.1
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Attention All Hands, Finest Crew in the Fleet, Holodeck Door
Draw Engines: Continuing Mission, Kivas Fajo - Collector
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists
Victory Correctly Predicted By: karonofborg13.

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

I didn't have time to build something completely new, so I had to choose something proven and mostly assembled. I was sick of playing my Cardassians at high-level events, and my No-Draw Borg would have been too hard to relearn after a sleep-deprived week. My TNG Feds had performed well, and they were fresh in my mind, so they got the pick.

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 other solvers because I felt I could keep pace. I also hoped to face light battle, since I had enough tricks to defend myself and didn't have any vulnerable draw engines like Duck Blind.

I didn't want to face armadas or anything that could beam through my shields. Stop First Contact probably would have been bad, and I hadn't made any special dilemma preparations vs. Borg. I also didn't want to face a functioning James Heaney crazy brew since there's almost no way to prepare for it; you just have to hope that it self-destructs. (It did not.)

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 was my 6th tournament with this deck since I built it last year. I played it in the Online Masters so I had some recent practice with it.

This tournament I learned that adding a second Herbert in place of a second Lopez was definitely the right call, helping me pass Jol'Yichu both times I encountered it. I also learned to be more aggressive with Make It So's unstop, using it early to keep momentum going and encounter dilemmas as early as possible. If you try to save it for something big, you might never get to use it. In fact, I almost cut the second copy of Make It So for this tournament because I wasn't getting much mileage out of it in Online Masters.

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?
Most of the Tent is situational, like Equipment for various dilemmas, and Captain's Log for ship battle. Madam Guinan is the only way the deck can pass Quantum Leap or Q Gets the Point, A Missing Day was for countdown dilemmas like Friendly Fire, and Kevin Uxbridge was for random nonsense. I didn't use any of those three, but I don't think I'd cut them. I do think Q's Tent in the draw deck is underrated, though I guess I didn't prove it this time since I only played it once. It got Res-Q to retrieve Commander Data so I could solve Salvage Borg Vessel. I think Q's Tent for Res-Q would exceed a lot of people's expectations, in that no one would expect that anyone actually does that in 2018.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
I have to say Make It So, since it's the centerpiece of the deck. It gets you Captain's Orders for extra solving power and defense, and the unstopping ability is like getting a free turn. Honorable mention is Starbase 247 for the Spacedock download for quick repairs and enabling Construct Starship. Special shout out to the U.S.S. Enterprise for just being a sweet ship.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
The deck was designed to counter dilemmas common in my local metagame, for example The Arsenal/The Cloud, Virus/Spaceborne Entity, and Garbage Scow/Mission Debriefing. This is the EZ Mission Version, implying that there is a version with different missions, but I haven't played that other version yet.

My Commentary:
Never turn your back on a Breen Continuing Mission Federation deck.

Even with the various new hotnesses out there, TNG Federation decks can always sneak up on you and score a win. Depending on how you build them, you have access to the tools to deal with pretty much everything. Long before 22nd Century decks were nuking Alternate Universe Icon dilemmas with Timepod Ring, TNG decks have had access to the Guinans. And, while Fajo Guinan might play for free in this deck, Non-aligned Guinan has that AU-icon for dealing with Quantum Incursions, making her the pick for Jason's Tent.

And, speaking of Quantum Incursions, TNG Federation decks are among the best for dealing with that doorway. They've got free-play AU-icon personnel in the form of the Barash crew (who play for free both with Finest Crew and Holodeck Door), and have multiple free-play Empathy (Commander Troi and Daniel Kwan in this deck). Add Navigation, Physics, Science, and Security to taste and you're not going to care what the dice roll is.

Notable here is that this is the first time in the five years that I've done this article series that I've seen a deck stock Q's Tent. The loss of end of turn draws is just too brutal for most decks, but TNG decks in general don't have easy access to the various end of turn draw engines out there. In fact, playing a tent will usually only lose the deck one draw, assuming you play the Tent after you've played your Kivas and your Continuing Mission draw personnel for the turn. In turn, giving up that draw gives you the flexibility to draw just the tool you need, when you need it. Guinan when you are facing down Quantum Leap, A Missing Day if you that Friendly Fire is blocking the last mission you need, that sort of thing can be game winning. And hey, if you win the game, you won't care if you lose that one draw.

Second Edition Masters of the Universe winner Greg Dillon
Title: Relatively Easy (Online Masters Edition)
Headquarters:
Deck Size: 41 Cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 36 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Attrition
Victory Correctly Predicted By: None.

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

I ended up picking Relativity because it's easy, I know it well and I didn't think I'd win the tournament (I predicted Oliver Thust actually, who I beat in the last round) with any deck I picked so fast games are good was the plan. I considered using Romulans, Starfleet or a Ferengi counter barf deck that won a Regional earlier this year. It's to bad I didn't use my Joaquin/Kaza'kime deck now that it's not possible.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I didn't really hope to face any type of deck except slow ones I suppose. I hoped not to face battle decks or anything with strong event prevention like Equipment Starfleet also Chula Piles because the deck is poor against Chula without Chakotay.

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 tonnes of experience with Relativity and specifically slim fast builds like this one, I built one 3 years ago and did a write up on every mission and card in the draw deck, which I've updated for this version. I learned that there is less Exobiology in the deck than I would've guessed and that having two Pest Controls in the core isn't really as bad as I thought it would be.

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 don't always attempt Stakoron Strait but according to Oliver and Sascha it's effect stopped me from getting hit by The Dreamer and the Dream against both of them, and I stupidly had 3 Temporal Transporters in hand against Sascha. B'Elanna rarely gets used but getting rid of a Gomtuu Shockwave to not be stranded in the Gamma Quadrant as I had to do against Oliver is pretty useful. I'm going to take Jake Sisko out, I just never play him and I even said this in my write-up 3 years ago "if you have no one else, play him", not great.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Kirk is pretty hard to beat, without him you're just playing a solver with pretty good attributes and a narrow skill set. Just being in play he completely changes the game, you don't have to use or even have him in the attempt and you'll get huge benefits.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
Nothing more about the deck but I'd like to thank Kris for putting on both online Masters tournaments as well as all of the people who volunteered to be available for rulings as secondary TDs and everyone who participated. I'd also like to thank TK for starting the Dojo series again, I think it really revitalized the online scene (tournaments and casual play) and we probably wouldn't have had a Masters without his amazing effort.

Thanks for doing this series as well Lucas, I like seeing what people play and how they see it. I often try out decks because of your articles like the Ferengi deck I mentioned.

My Commentary:
I feel like I spend a paragraph writing about the decision to use three copies of Tacking Into the Wind and Christening every time I write about about a Relativity or Voyager (or Equinox) deck. Of course, there's a reason why I write about it every time, and that's because it is a really important decision that will greatly impact the kind of start you get. Tacking feels like it really should go in every Relativity deck, because, unlike Christening, it is less of a dead draw later on. But, in a deck as focused on speed as this one, being able to essentially add three more copies of your 0-cost ship (via Christening) is very valuable, and likely worth filling your deck with a few cards that you'll discard to Replicate Temporal Transporters later anyways. Lots of other decks would love to have a 0-cost ship, and if it is in that opening hand you can just start dumping the personnel on it without needing to draw up after using the Prevent Historical Disruption text.

Greg calls out the absence of Chakotay in his commentary, but that's not unusual in this sort of slim Relativity solver. I was actually more surprised at some of the other natural Future-icon personnel who didn't make it in. The Vintner didn't make it, but (though he has the somewhat rare for Relativity Diplomacy) he actually fails to get in pretty often on account of that weak 5 cunning. More surprising was Bevery (Picard) Crusher - she shows up all the time, and is a beast at Evaluate Soliton Wave. On the other hand, this deck already has plenty of Leadership and Officer, and those skills, along with her Honor, are liabilities to Personal Duty and An Issue of Trust. Maybe it is time to reconsider her as an auto-include for Relativity decks.

There's another excluded card I'd like to point out, this time on the dilemma side of things. Remember earlier in this article when I spent a paragraph praising Ferengi for being good against Adopted Authority? It isn't here! That's definitely a dilemma that many of us have been tossing into our piles thoughtlessly, often in multiples, and maybe we should be reconsidering that choice. This deck is actually the first deck I've reviewed since July that would have any difficulty with Adopted Authority. I'm not saying that Adopted is necessarily bad, but if it isn't helping you beat the decks that are winning, should you be using it?

First Edition winner Michael Van Breemen
Title: I Don't Want to Battle
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Play Engines: Home Away From Home , Full Complement of Shuttles , New Arrivals
Draw Engines: New Arrivals, Process Ore: Mining, Ancestral Vision, Temporal Investigations
Bonus Point Mechanics: Assign Mission Specialists, Process Ore: Mining, James T. Kirk
Victory Correctly Predicted By: Latok, bosskamiura, and The Ninja Scot.

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

I chose the deck because I didn't want to deal with battle. I wanted to stay in my own quadrant, solve my missions and win the game. Plus, it's just a simple solver which is my personal preference when playing 1E anyway.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I didn't want to face battle (but I did from Jon) or two mission win decks as I have to solve three missions at least but other than that, I didn't have any particular preferences as to what other people were playing. Generally, people stayed in their quadrant and I stayed in mine, especially since I figured that most people would be playing the 22nd century cards. As long as I can get a ship dropped every turn with two people and a freebie, I figured that the games would be competitive at least.

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 built a deck like this for Amber around last year because she likes Voyager and I thought it would be competitive for her. I didn't learn anything new so much as reminding myself what some of the cards do (like the +3 ship attributes with Full Complement of Shuttles affects all ships in the DQ, not just the DQ ships.

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 have any situational cards in the deck so much (other than Narrow Escape which could've been used in one game but The Gift turned out to be a much better option) but even Narrow Escape made for a handy Process Ore: Mining card or, if necessary, a download of a shuttle. I think I used every card in the deck (other than Ref cards) at least once or twice.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
The Co-MVP's of the deck were Kes/The Gift and Reunite Legends/USS Enterprise-A/James T. Kirk. Kes/The Gift dealt with all kinds of nasty space dilemmas, getting out of combos with the greatest of ease and, against Jon, relocated the ship away from his Raptors to the other side of the spaceline, netting 15 points from Cytherians in the process. Also, can help me prevent a space mission solve so that I can get my Kirk points (why attempt with Kirk if you don't have to. He never died all tournament.) Reunite Legends gets the Enterprise-A into the DQ, getting Kirk whose 9 Integrity with Honor fuels Ancestral Vision for the beginning but, more importantly, gets me five points for each mission he helps solve which gets me my three mission win (plus some Mining).

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
If I were to play this again, I'd consider adding a Kir'shara (if I was worried about another DQ opponent since I have two steal-able missions) and/or a Space-Time Portal (either to return an attempting ship in case of bad things or returning the Enterprise-A to hand so that Raptors don't have anything to shoot at/fly by.) That's about it.

My Commentary:
This is the second time recently that I've seen the Museum of Kyrian Heritage used not as a play engine, but an alternative to Caretaker's Array. Last time it was Alex Dixon's Hirogen deck, and he used it for the Equinox and a place to play Curator Quarren; this time it is Voyager, and there isn't a Quarren to be seen. This time, it is just a way to only spend one seed slot on Voyager instead of the two that Caretaker's requires. That's not to say that having a Time Location to hide at doesn't have its advantages, but you would normally have to balance those advantages against the loss of Ocampa free reports.

In this case, though, the Ocampa free reports wouldn't be very useful. Michael is using New Arrivals as a seeded draw engine because one of his main play engines, Full Complement of Shuttles, doesn't actually play anyone for free. Though on an abstract level the personnel you report with crew come into play at no cost, the words "for free" aren't used, so Full Complement won't break New Arrivals. Liberation's Ocampa free plays would though, and there just isn't enough Ocampan diversity to justify doing so. In a deck like this one, you'd much rather have the draws in order to play a shuttle with crew again every turn.

One advantage Full Complement and Home Away From Home has in a deck with a Museum start is that you never need to go back to the Time Location again. Sure, you can if you need to hide, but you don't have to, since both play engines dump people directly to the ship. Anyone who has needed to set up a daisy chain of ships across the spaceline just to ferry people from their Headquarters to the mission they need to solve can see the advantage there.

The main thing that appeals to me about this deck, though, is its size. Forty card First Edition winning decks are extremely rare these days, which makes it all the more impressive to see it here. I've always appreciated the art of minimalist deck building. If I ever decide I really want that Good Casting: Armstrong (Lansor) achievement, this is where I'll look.

 


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