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Strategy Articles

The Road to Worlds: Worlds 2019

by Lucas Thompson, Ambassador

21st August 2019

Second Edition World Championships winner Kenneth Tufts
Title: Cardies 1.2
Headquarters: Cardassia Prime, Hardscrabble World
Deck Size: 75 Cards
Deck Archetype: Speed Solver
Dilemma Pile Size: 35 Cards
Dilemma Pile Type: Wall-heavy Attrition

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

For Day 1: I also had Relativity with me, but had always been leaning towards the Cardies.
For Day 2: I really only planned on this deck and I didn't really consider any thing else because IMO nothing fits my play style and has the power level of Cardies, the Rom lock-out deck is right up there with Cardies for current power level IMO, however for 2e it's not my style.

What sorts of decks were you hoping to face while playing your deck? What decks did you hope not to face?
Over all I had it teched to face most anything, some match ups are closer then others, a REALLY fast deck with Kirk type people could be bad if it gets a really good start/draws, and Rom lock out is always a concern as it's a strong deck. I had good stuff for the mirror match so was a little less concerned about that match up then some other high end decks, however Cardies always can pull stuff off so it's always going to be a scary game.

What ended up being your toughest match-up? What made it difficult?
Toughest match up was Greg's Rom on day one, his have the MOST resources devoted to messing you up, and he is a absolute master with that deck, I was very lucky to get a win in that game, as my turns were just done-go for the last 11ish min of that game, my dilemmas just barely held him off long enough to get a mod win (honorable mention to the other Rom decks of course).

And second place to the MVB mirror match, to start day 2, games against MVB are always a beast and both of us know the deck very well, I won a turn before he would get a win having gone first so very close 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?
Emergency Transport Unit, Escape, Reprogrammed, Uninvited. ETU and Escape were champs this event due to the Rom lock out and lots of kill dilemmas. Reprogrammed would have only really been key against the mirror match, but I'd keep it for that match for sure still. Uninvited as a singleton was just never in my hand at the right time, however its still worth it IMO for that one off fetch and gain one more turn effect. I'd keep all of them for sure.

What would you nominate as the MVP card from your deck?
The MVP this event was a joint effort of ETU, Escape, Crell, as so much kill dilemmas/TR guns. This was event specific MVP, as normally it's a combination of the cheaters.

What was your best play of the tournament?
I'm not sure only one play was my best, but I guess it would have to be setting up a super turn against Greg where I could kill the event that lets ships follow me, and max out Casualties of Bajor, with Mila in play to try and stop Entanglements, that set up lead to two missions in one turn.

Do you have anything else you'd like to say about your deck or your experience?
Alright it's Cardies yet again at a high level event top end: it's been over a year and they are still tearing things up, they were great before Enemy of my Enemy now they are rocket fuel, with just coverage for everything, the whole package. You already tended to have to over throw dilemmas due to Central Command, now with EomE, and Casualties of the Occupation even if I don't have them then my opponents have to over throw so many dilemmas to try and prevent the solve on the very first attempt that latter attempts are just not that hard to solve.

The top end of 2e Worlds was filled with Cardies and Rom lock out decks, both are easily argued as too strong, the Rifle tended to tip Rom over the edge, I feel Enemy of my Enemy and Casualties of the Occupation are what took already top end Cardies and pushed them to a peak that is too high for any one decks in 2e. I hope with many top finishes at high level events for a while now both can be looked at.

My Commentary:
The prevailing narrative coming out of Worlds 2019 is that currently Second Edition events are dominated by two main decks: the Cardassian deck that Ken Tufts played (and won with; Michael Van Breemen also played a version of this deck), and Romulan Lock-Out decks that Greg Dillon played. In addition to Ken's interview (presented above), required reading on the topic also includes these forum threads: one on Romulan lock-out decks and one that started out just about Tugat and came to encompass Cardassian decks as a whole. I think also worth noting are Relativity Speed Decks; MVB won day one with one, just like Jon Carter did on day one of the North American Continental Championships. Perhaps not as sturdy as either of the other decks, but certainly capable of blow-out wins.

Having been doing this series for a while, I can confirm that when those decks are brought to an event, they tend to win. It is perhaps a confounding variable that it also tends to be the same people playing those decks who also tend to win; as Kevin Jaeger is right to remind us when he is interviewed, looking at the deck is only part of figuring out why the person won the event. Gamesmanship still matters - though, when these familiar players win with these familiar decks at a major event with so many other quality players, it ratchets up my level of concern that these decks are further over the curve than I'd like in a healthy meta.

Interestingly, even among those that agree with me that these decks are over the curve, there isn't necessarily agreement on what (if anything) should be done about it. Ken made an impassioned plea above for the errata team to take a look at elements of these deck, and, while Greg hasn't voiced a position on altering cards in these decks recently, he has historically been against the issuing of errata for power-level-adjustment purposes. Instead, it would be the job of power creep (the same power creep that made these decks possible) to pump up other decks until they could compete.

Power creep tends to be a dirty word (phrase) in our community, in part because of how brazenly Decipher used it to try to boost sales during the years when they had the Trek license. Many people who played First Edition when the Voyager expansion came out were incensed at the level of power creep the Delta Quadrant affiliations displayed - huge download chains, play and draw engines that encouraged you to get multiple copies of rare cards, play engines that also served as universal treaties, easy missions with huge point values... it was easy to get quite disillusioned with the concept of power creep.

That said, the DS9 block of sets in First Edition (during the Continuing Committee era) isn't well regarded, and I believe that's due to the absence of power creep. The affiliations in that block weren't that much less powerful than those of the preceding TNG block (especially after the errata to those factions), but they were more complicated to play. In fact, some of the most celebrated sets in our games' history were also guilty of giving the power level of their games a significant boost: Necessary Evil on the Second Edition side, and The Next Generation on the First Edition side.

Why do we like some power boosts and dislike others? That's a great question, and I think answering it is necessary for leading both games forward. Looking backwards, the most popular power boosts tend to be (a) incremental, rather than transformational, (b) as evenly applied as can be accomplished, and (c) mechanically interesting. Necessary Evil (the set, not the card) hits all of those notes quite well: old strategies weren't completely washed away by it, it gave decent boosts to most existing affiliations, and, probably most importantly, it boosted styles of play that were languishing at the time, causing players to value different things in the game.

Does that mean I think that these decks, these titans of the current play environment shouldn't receive errata? Well, generally speaking these decks are the result of pretty unpopular power creep: they haven't been incremental, or evenly applied - and only the Romulan deck was really a boost for a different play-style from previously powerful Romulan decks. I don't think I'd object to some gentle power-level errata, like changing the Rifle to not work at an HQ or making the Casualties of the Occupation user use Bajor. But I've also come around to the idea that some gentle power creep is probably healthy for our games, and might make the idea of playing new decks a little more exciting.

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