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The Road to Worlds: American Nationals

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

8th August 2019

Second Edition American National Championships winner Jeremy Benedict
Title: Another Triumph For The Seedless Watermelon
Headquarters: Founders' Homeworld, Contingent Refuge
Deck Size: 50 Cards
Deck Archetype: Midrange Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 37 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Attrition

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

Kris suggested that my Dominion deck would be something that the current meta might not be adjusted to right now, and it's always been one of the most well-rounded decks I've played with plenty of ways to adapt to whatever my opponent is playing.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
I try not to worry too much going in and keep an open mind so I don't get overconfident or tilted, and just stick to what works. That said, I know that massive kill/assimilate against a deck without any serious death prevention is going to be rough, and I thought I had ways to deal with Nothing to Lose but forgot my skill gaining came with an attribute boost that meant nothing would stop it from working.

What ended up being your toughest match-up in the event?
I was more worried going into my game with Richard after seeing what his deck did last year and his first opponent's relatively quick concession, but Eric came with the heavy kill and assimilate that I was most worried about. It was an epic game from start to finish and I had to adapt my tactics significantly to avoid giving him early and complete control of the game.

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?
Tacking Into the Wind got rid of many potent events, and Our Death is Glory to the Founders is always great to have in my pocket for dealing with surprise interrupts. I include a copy of Jem'Hadar Ambush in case of point-drain or penalty cards (Phoenix, Causal Recursion) but never had to use it in these games. Everything else was carefully picked and massaged in over the years I've been playing this deck, even with the changes to missions and strategy I made for this iteration. I hadn't used Stakoron missions before in this deck, but the cost increase effect was more of a boon than I anticipated.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
Odo, The Great Link's Savior always breaks up attrition dilemmas, and with the ability to drain any points I give my opponent it doesn't have much drawback in most cases. I like to say that when you think there's one big personnel to worry about in a Dominion deck, as soon as you try to get rid of them a more dangerous one will show up and make you change your plans entirely.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck?
I had a great time playing against everyone, and putting a new strategy in with a deck that I was familiar with ultimately was the right call and kept me focussed on being flexible with whatever came up. While I've played this deck or a version of it a lot over the years, I'm always finding new ways to play it and keep it fresh with new cards and ways to counter other new ones. Most of all, it was really freaking cool to play Trek on the field of an NFL stadium under the bright lights - that's an experience I'll never forget.

My Commentary:
I don't see a lot of talk about mission selection in New Dominion decks, but it isn't automatic. There are a few decision points that can influence what else you're putting in the deck. The first of which is to decide whether to go with both Stakoron missions, or just Stakoron Strait (the space one). The Strait's skill requirements are much easier to meet with a generic set of strong Dominion personnel, but the planet one (Stakoron II) requires some trickier skills. If you're going with Stakoron II, as Jeremy has, you're almost certainly going to be packing the Spanner Equipment (also present in this deck). Of course, the alternative to Stakoron II is typically Torga IV, which has lighter requirements out of the deck - the hardest part is typically including enough good Vorta to meet that requirement.

The second point is what to do with mission number five. Some decks go for a meta mission - either Alpha 5 Approach (Crom doesn't work) or Provoke Interstellar Incident (Crom does work). Other decks choose to put a mission they might be more likely to solve in that spot, which branches out into some other choices. Of those decks, some opt for a 3-planet build, and just put whichever of Torga IV or Stakoron II that they didn't use in the first place - that's more common in decks that picked Stakoron II in the first place, since it is easier to shoehorn Torga in.

However, the Maquis decks are out there, and Our Death Is Glory to the Founders can only prevent events, not destroy existing ones, so it is more common to include a solvable space Gamma Quadrant mission. Torga decks may be slightly more likely to go for Stage Covert Fleet in that fifth spot - it gives those decks the flexibility to choose the point loss on Torga and still win in three missions (while also keeping Crom active). Those skill and attribute requirements are steep though, so what Jeremy has done here is he has picked Rescue Prisoners of War. It's a cunning mission, so Crom is out, but those skill requirements are much much easier and it has one other perk that no other space mission can supply to a Gamma Quadrant-based deck: two span. With any other space mission, Dominion decks are stuck playing another ship or using the high staffing requirement Dominion Battleships if they want to get reinforcements at their first mission. I like Jeremy's choice a lot, and may steal it for myself.

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