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The Road to Worlds: Regionals 2019 Week 6

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

9th May 2019

Second Edition Austrian Regional winner Stefan Slaby
Title: Tonight, We Rule In Hell
Headquarters: Ceti Alpha V, Forge Settlement
Deck Size: 60 Cards
Deck Archetype: Control Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 50 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Hybrid Chula Attrition

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

We had a 2 day gig, and I'd already earned my bye, so I was simply trying to have fun at saturday's regional, reserving my stronger deck choices for the more prestigious national on sunday. I didn't have too much time for deck building that week, so for the "fun" deck I went with Khan, something that has limited personnel choices so it's quick & easy to build, and also something I hadn't played yet. Once more I have to say: I wasn't expecting to win this one.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I was hoping not to face anything that could lock me out entirely. No other hopes or fears, as I wasn't planning on winning anyway.

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?
Haven't played "pure" Khan yet, only used them once in an Equinox hybrid. I've seen it played a lot by others though, so there wasn't too much left unknown. I did learn that I had always misread Moment of Triumph, as I was expecting it to prevent interrupts as well.

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?
Survival of the Fittest is a weak counter to some decks that can really mess you up. It didn't see any use that day, but I wouldn't cut it. I'm really not a fan of Lethal Wound, but since this faction has no stop prevention whatsoever, it would have been stupid not to include it. Space Seed already looked awesome in theory, but outperformed my wildest dreams when it took control of Dukat, Prefect of Bajor and Crell Moset, Notorious Exobiologist just like that.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
That would have to be Ohhhh! Nothing Happened! There's so many dilemmas that hurt Khan: Necessary Execution. The Seen and the Unseen. The Clown: Go Away (especially at the first mission). Zero Hour. Combined with some knowledge of your opponents' dilemma preferences, ONH handles all of them. And if your opponent plays some odd dilemma pile, you can just remove key pieces of that.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
The Khan faction has definitely grown since their inception in Unnatural Selection. It was fun to play, but of course To Rule in Hell is still heavily flawed. There are several loopholes that could take you out of the game entirely (e.g. Sela, Mysterious Operative orbiting Ceti Alpha V, or Adapted to Service Us taking away To Rule in Hell) and numerous dilemmas that hurt you more than others. This is no deck I'd bring to a major tournament, expecting to win. Also, I still have no idea why anybody would bother to do a 4th full-difficulty planet mission when they can just blow up their 3rd instead?

Finally, last week Kevin Jaeger opined that Second Edition was getting stale. I'm curious about your thoughts that topic these days?
I wish?

What I'm trying to say (with much more swearing in my head) is that I liked the game a lot better 6+ years ago, before "phase 2". I've said this before. Realistically, this is a game played by a few hundred enthusiasts around the globe, most of which have been playing it for 10+ years and stayed with it because they liked it as it was. Why do you keep changing it so much then?

Don't get me wrong, I like getting new cards, new content. I don't mind new strong cards as such either. One of my favorite expansions ever was Raise the Stakes, which had numerous strong cards. But not much I would term "game changer". (Maybe Bridge Officer's Test, which I didn't mind because I never liked walls. But not much else.) I would have liked for the game to progress forward from that point, introducing new factions that give us new content, but don't have much impact on how our old favorites play. Give us Kazon, Vidiians, Hirogen, Vulcans, Xindi, whatever. I've read that designers don't want to add a new faction that doesn't add to the gameplay? New factions don't have to bring new gameplay, the gameplay was fine for a long time. All they should have provided was new content within the existing framework.

Instead, we keep getting variations on the same content, with changed gameplay. Almost none of the "soft rules" I knew about the game 10 years ago are true anymore. Depending on your opponent, planet dilemmas may be completely useless, as may space dilemmas. Dual dilemmas have a good chance now of being too costly (at Sunday's national 4 out of 7 players used those stupid Stakoron missions, myself included). I used to know what to expect in a skill dilemma pile; now there is a huge pool of strong skill-based dilemmas (many of which only have a skill tacked on because somebody doesn't like Donatra and her likes). Your full win at 100 points used to be safe as long as you had a defense against the Phoenix (and some esoteric dilemmas), now there's a HQ that takes away points. And there's counters for almost any game element I can imagine, things that used to be untouchable. A counter to stop prevention. An event to keep ships in play with three damage markers. A faction that can play artifacts without solving a mission first. Several effects that take out key personnel, no matter where you try to keep them safe.

Recently, I find myself dreading the release of each Second Edition expansion more than looking forward to it. But to answer your question, I definitely wouldn't call it stale.

My Commentary:
As recently as week 3 we took a look at another Khan deck. It was similar, but different in some key ways. Let's dig in!

Off the top, I tagged Nick's Khan deck as a "midrange" deck, and Stefan's deck was labelled as a "control" deck. Admittedly, the terms are more wishy-washy in Trek than they are in some other games - there's no cost "curve" to fill out like a midrange deck might - but the place where I start in Trek is in the verbs. Nick's verbs are (a) less numerous and (b) less focused on a specific goal. Some help cycle, some help improve his solving ability, some throw wrenches at the opponent.

In contrast, Stefan's verb-based tools are much more focused on taking control of how the opponent's side of the game goes. Delirium (a favorite card of Stefan's that I've grown to appreciate too), Lethal Wound, Ohhh/Keeping Track, and Moment of Triumph are all aimed at hindering the opponent's game plan, and most show up in multiples. He's also got cycling cards and a lone Bridge Officer's Test, so it's still a judgement call to put this deck in the "control" column and Nick's in with the "midrange" decks, but my feeling is, sitting down to play these decks, I'd be more apt to sit back and respond with Stefan's deck than Nick's. And that's what I'm aiming for with the categories: trying to capture in a couple words the general playstyle of the deck.

One thing I made a point of talking about with Nick's deck is that I'd generally expect Unfair Comparison when sitting down across from a Khan deck. And, against Stefan I'd be surprised, because he doesn't run any copies! Now, from the opponent's perspective, that's not going to change much about how you attempt missions: you still need all the 8-cost dilemma skills, and your own Unfair Comparisons aren't going to hit reliably against Stefan. The big difference is that Stefan is not longer running a dilemma that might be unreliable if his opponent were running high-cost dilemmas. Instead, he's got the Chula package for some cheap stops, which, depending on your meta, might be the more consistent call.

Their missions are exactly the same though!

Seeing Point Blank Strike in Nerdo's deck below just reminded me that I didn't actually see any maneuvers in Stefan's deck! Even his Starfleet and Voyager decks run some damage maneuvers, so it truly is remarkable that this one didn't (though not unexpected from a deck that can't play a ship before it solves a mission).

Second Edition Austrian Nationals winner Nerdopolis Prime
Title: Cunning Brutality
Headquarters: Founders' Homeworld, Contingent Refuge
Deck Size: 51 Cards
Deck Archetype: Interference (Ship Destruction)
Dilemma Pile Size: 25 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Chula Attrition

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

Actually I have the mission to play each and every affiliation at least once before I dig more into competitive STCCG play. Thats why I chose Dominion, they were just next in line. The other deck I considered was my TNG deck which got utterly destroyed at the Regionals - shame on me!

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I always hope to face decks which have deck ideas I have never considered. Its so much fun to see new ideas rise in our hobby. Based on the threat to my deck I hoped not to see speed solvers with lots of bonus points. So I preferred slow decks so I can build up properly.

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 decks like this one before, but that felt like millennia ago. I discovered new ways how to evade dilemmas and rediscovered old ways I used over a decade ago, but simply forgot about.

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 had some answers up my sleeve when it came to mission solving and dilemma evasion, so most of the time it went according to the plan. Only during play I saw that Vortas were very important and I had too few of them so I had to exclude them from random selections using Jem'Hadar and Founders (what a shame) as a meatshield. The Stakoron missions exceeded my expectations because I thought they would be just annoying, but it turned out that they saved my day several times. I wouldn't include the Defiant. Its just too expensive for this kind of deck and there were no really tough ships out there.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Crom. He made it possible to download the right personnel (Founder Leader (downloading another founder), a Vorta and Remata'Klan or Arak'Taral depending which of both I already have in my hand). And then of course Dominion Hierarchy which made mission solving way easier.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I build it in about 30 minutes on the evening before going to Vienna and missed one crucial thing. Normally I go for intuition and then pimp up my deck. This time I had no time to "make it better" - I guess I should trust my intuition instead of improving the deck and discarding my initial thoughts.

Finally, last week Kevin Jaeger opined that Second Edition was getting stale. I'm curious about your thoughts that topic?
I must say there are strategies which yet have not been tried in 2E. We are a rather small community, so its very likely there is more hidden somewhere waiting to be discovered. We are just to few to say everything has already been tried. Thats why I always homebrew my decks and never go for net decking.

As the final words in this article I would like to thank the Austrian community for being an awesome bunch of fellow hobbyists. Especially I thank Julius and his wonderful wife Sabrina for their hospitality during the tournaments. And of course many thanx to their dog Atzo who let me sleep on "his" couch and allowing me to wake up with all my limbs still attached.

My Commentary:
Speaking of Point Blank Strike, I found it surprising to see it in this deck (which is a treat, I love surprises in the deck review business). Usually, I see a deck using the new Dominion HQ, and when it only has an event or two, I check to see which of Mobilization Points or Spiteful Strategy that event is. The two are usually exclusive, and because Dominion decks have so many powerful interrupts (many of which show up in this deck), there often isn't space for more than one or two different events.

So, again, a treat to see that space taken up with Point Blank Strike and, sure enough, we've got some other interesting choices that are related to that card. First up is the Kaza'kime, the ship you can destroy to download a damage card and place it on an opponent's ship at the same mission. Even just flying around in that ship should cause some your opponent some hesitation - you don't roll out in a ship like that if you don't have a way to blow up your opponent's ships too. The dilemma pile is very slim and also contains a damage card: Molecular Reversion Field.

That damage dilemma is remarkable in itself, since (a) it has such unique requirements, ones that you can't simply overwhelm with a lot of personnel and (b) it has a very unique damage effect. Most damage cards reduce ship attributes; some kill personnel, but only this one reduces the number of counters you have to spend each turn. In fact, there are very few cards that do that at all: Karemman Fleece and Tribunal Sentencing. It's an extremely powerful effect that compounds heavily the earlier it's up and running.

The dilemma pile seems well-suited to setting up the Field too: in contrast to Stefan's pile, this one goes all-in on Chula dilemmas. Piles like this one can reliably stop personnel for a lower dilemma cost than the average pile, which really helps set up finisher dilemmas like Reversion Field and Where No One Has Gone Before. In addition, the natural combo of Field + The Clown: Bitter Medicine means that the opponent needs more than just two beefy-attribute personnel, especially if Nerdo's a good skill tracker and those personnel share a common skill. The possibility of thumping into that seven-cost combo that puts no dilemmas under the mission, and can't be overwhelmed with sheer numbers and reduces the counters you can spend each turn is truly intimidating.


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