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James Heaney (BCSWowbagger)
Tournament Report - 1E
2013-03-10 - 12:00 PM
FerengiForce of Nature (or, The Ferengi Tribble Patrol)
In the final chapter of the Weekend of First Edition, we returned to the Source on Sunday, gathering to play the game from which all other forms and formats flow: OTF Full Constructed. I came with a particular mission: to survive the onslaught promised me by one Matthew Hayes at our last meeting, in December, as revenge for the pasting I had given his Ferengi at Archer IV Rubicon III.

Obviously, I couldn't play Klingons a second time in a row, but I knew there was a strong chance my archrival (yes, arch!) would attempt to engage me in armed conflict. Might he even run the legendary Ferengi Battle Deck I had so feared in November? With these considerations in mind, I put together a Ferengi deck (hoping to trip him up on battle restrictions) with a lot of combat-ready ships (in case that didn't work) and enough cards to slow down any combat convoys he might choose to send my way while my fleet developed. For defense, I included a 40-point mission (Runabout Search) with Strategic Base, but that was cut on the last minute for space. I kept the mission, because I'd teched for it, and, frankly, I wanted to try out a dual-icon mission, which I'd never done before.

Matt had been very clear the last time we met that what he objected to was being excluded from the game and forced to play "solitaire", as he had (arguably) been in our last game. Being forced to work harder, though? Not a problem! So I made a deck as full of interactive misery as I could find -- the environmental quartet of Q-Net, Subspace Warp Rift, Atmospheric Ionization, and Gaps in Normal Space. (Distortion Field was dropped because it's mainly just annoying, not helpful.) I seeded tribbles (sadly, I don't own enough tribbles for the Find Cyrano Jones achievement). The Nexus would lurk under my 40-pointer. Shades of Gray was out, with devastating combos hiding beneath space missions. Ferengi Ambush was lurking on my planet missions, along with some friendly neighborhood Access Denied to make everything a bit more horrible for everyone. Matt could feel free to come after me -- but he'd have to catch me first! Meanwhile, my Ferengi would be out solving missions and -- if the opportunity arose (Ferengi Ambush!) -- fighting battles, scoring points, and giving me card draws with Ferengi Military Operations.

Once again, strongest kudos must go out to Director Justin Kaufman, who, when one of our expected players did not show up, volunteered to sit out in order to save us all from the bye. CC, you should make this guy an ambassador yesterday.

Round 1BorgMatthew HayesMW (+57)
Inevitably, I faced my archrival in the very first round. Nothing too scary in the initial seeds -- a Battle Bridge door would be practically de rigueur, given the threats we'd exchanged since November -- and then he pulls out the missions. First one Space, then another Space... then another Space... oh, shoot, he's playing the Borg / Harness Particle 010 deck they've been talking about on the forums! I asked for confirmation; Matt gave it to me.

This I had not prepared for -- not one bit. I had believed the Borg too slow to succeed in tournament play, and, while the HP010 thread on the forums changed my mind on this somewhat, it had started only a week or two before the tourney. Surely nobody would have had time to assemble a deck based on it in such a short time! And now I had been proved wrong. And he had tactics, which could only mean Borg Cutting Beams galore. Ferengi battle decks are one thing; Borg Tac Cubes are quite another. I went to ground.

Matt successfully stranded my Runabout Search mission on the far end of the spaceline, separated from the nearest mission by three Space missions (total span from mission to mission was something like 25). Then he put a Transwarp Network Gateway on the spot, just in case I got any ideas about attempting it. Wincing from my utterly broken dilemma combos (I only had 15 dilemmas to begin with, and now had to defend ten missions with them), I built my outpost at Acquire Surplus Ships, in a narrow strip of spaceline that included Salvage Borg Ship, Save Stranded Crew, Observe Stellar Rebirth, and Acquire Surplus Ships. This alone looked terrifying, because the gametext on Salvage Borg Ship could permit Matt to report Borg Cubes right next to my outpost, but, lucky me, he seeded his own copy, blocking the report-with-crew gametext. In fact, I had unwittingly thwarted his plan to use that text, since he could no longer access it even with Trilithium Weapon (which he had seeded in a Cryosatellite under Space #7). He They Will Be Coming'd himself to the opposite end of the spaceline, with five Space missions between my bit and his bit. With an average of one dilemma per mission, I knew he could get rolling fast -- very fast.

I got started immediately, attempting on turn one because I had played Quark instead of the Husnock Ship (I didn't need it! My mission was not dual-icon!). Fortunately, I found the dilemma combos under Acquire Surplus not all that compelling. Matt had (rightly) believed that was not my first choice for an outpost seed. My Ferengi were able to bypass Hanonian Land Eel (narrowly, thanks to Morta's disruptor), The Higher The Fewer was not too painful here on Turn 1, The Caretaker's Guests sent Quark back to my draw deck, and then... well, I hit Artillery Attack, and that killed just about everyone. But still! Not bad for the first turn! I waited a bit, teched up, drew to the Treachery, and solved with a few mission specialist points. Meanwhile, Matt was getting his cube staffed... and very slowly starting to make his way down the spaceline. He had just erected an outpost with Construct Starship. I slowed him up with Gaps In Normal Space.

Now with a good head of steam, I flew over to Observe Stellar Rebirth and attempted. We were able to beat back Emergent Life-Form, but there's nothing you can do against Cytherians. My big Husnock Ship, with its terrible range and all my heavily-replicated equipment, was flying into the Space expanse, where a Borg Cube was lurking in wait. At this point, Matt played Power to the Weapons. Oh dear. I let that horror play out in slow-motion for a few turns... until he let his Cube exit his outpost and slip into the high-range, low-movement space between his end and my end of the spaceline. Then I went back over to Observe Stellar Rebirth and (though I could not complete it) reattempted, hitting the last seeded card there -- my own The Nexus.

This, ultimately, saved the crew of the Husnock Ship, though not the ship itself or the valuable equipment on it. Although I was not able to destroy the Borg Cube, it was forced to retreat, burning a pair of Transwarp Network Gateways to do it. The Husnock Ship flew into the Nexus, and its personnel returned to home base -- where I had completed Observe Stellar Rebirth and been steadily working on Salvage Borg Ship. Unfortunately, the bottom seed there was Executive Authorization... and he'd just eaten my PADD. Frame of Mind had converted one of my Ferengi (inexplicably) to the VIP and Civilian skills, but meh.

I spent the next several turns dealing with The Nexus, which had now entered my neck of the woods, while Matt scouted his outpost mission with Harness Particle 010, where he faced (and easily overcame) Null Space and (I believe) Scientific Method (though the latter, I recall, cost him a turn). He picked up the Cryosatellite and Kurlan Naiskos underneath, but lacked the necessary VIP and Civilian (aha! said I to myself: Hence the Frame of Mind!) to use it.

By now, time was ticking down quickly. Blocked at Salvage Borg Ship, I could not attempt Save Stranded Crew because I had earlier sent down a two-man team that hit Edo Probe and abandoned the attempt. I had to move on to Runabout Search, which I did with a Husnock Ship, a D'Kora Maurader, and a B'Rel -- I assumed I would lose at least one of the attempting ships. (I would have, too -- Cytherians lurked there a second time.) Matt, meanwhile, had to use his badly-hobbled strategy as best he could, and was probing away (unsuccessfully) at his Outpost mission to stop the Omega Particle from blowing him to kingdom come. Neither of us resolved these situations before time ran out. All-in-all, a pretty fantastic game. Though he ultimately did not score, Matt agreed -- there was a great deal of give-and-take, a lot of very clever play, and no serious cheese (although I do agree with the CC forum that missions without point boxes should not be scoutable). Our archrivalry will thrive in regionals, and -- like all great villains -- Matt has promised that while I may think I'm "all that", he'll be back to get me... next time!

Round 2FederationKevinFW (+60)
Kevin was running an all-DQ Voyager deck -- which made sense, because he now owns most of the Voyager set. Since You Are A Monument is now easy-peasy to get into play, he was pretty much planning to go for 140 points from the get-go. And his Turn 1 mission team was pretty good! Janeway, both Wildmans, and two mission specialists (I think Ayala and Joe Carey), all went after the outpost mission (the Ocampa homeworld), where I had seeded Kobayashi Maru scenario and not yet got the matching Access Denied online. Janeway got eaten by KM Scenario, and his team hit Ferengi Ambush and got massacred (while I scored 10 points and drew four cards). I used my next turn to get Access Denied up, with the frustrating Ingenuity / Picking Up The Pieces combo beneath. Retreating, Kevin tried to attempt Assist Cooperative, where he got tied down by Ferengi Ingenuity and Dejaren for quite a number of turns. I harassed him with tribbles in the meantime, but this had very little practical effect.

Meanwhile, in the Alpha Quadrant...

I was off to the races with my original deck plan. Ferengi Outpost at Runabout Search was doing just fine, then struck Navigational Hazards. This marks just the second use of Navigational Hazards in non-sealed tournament play in the CC's "Recent Decks Using This Card" list. During design, I specifically decided it was so unlikely I'd hit it that I'd be better off ignoring it... then ended up including Prak in my deck anyway to get me a third DaiMon and a way around Observe Stellar Rebirth. So now I needed two of my three Praks. One was in the DQ, with no hope of retrieval. I had two more, somewhere in the deck, but they weren't coming up.

I decided to run over to Observe Stellar Rebirth to get some dilemmas cleared while I waited. I knew Kevin never ran Lack of Preparation, so no worries there. Surprise! He was running Lack of Preparation! So much for that -- and the ten points I'd won in combat! I spent the next many turns drawing and drawing for Prak, using normal card plays to throw Gaps, Q-Net, and Subspace Warp Rift on the spaceline in...


Kevin had lost a diplomat to Dejaren, and could no longer pass the Q-Net (I had no idea; I was just throwing stuff out there). He was finally able to close the deal on Assist Cooperative and headed over to that one space mission that looks like a giant ringed planet but turns out not to be. Here, he struck one of my more lethal combos, starting with Null Space, which damaged Voyager, killed somebody, and dealt Quantum Torpedo damage... which prevents the ship from attempting space missions. Kevin had no way of repairing Voyager, so he was stuck for the rest of the game. (I thought he'd go for planet missions, but he couldn't get past the Net and did not tell me so.) Fortunately, the game did not last much longer, because...

Meanwhile, in the Alpha Quadrant...

I finally found my two Praks. They were, respectively, the fourth-to-last and second-to-last cards in the deck. So we trounced the rest of Runabout Mission for a cool 50 points with mission specialists. Observe Stellar Rebirth tumbled quickly thereafter, and then we were on to Acquire Surplus Ships. The only thing that could prevent us from a full win was Kevin's deck size -- only 30 cards to begin with, it was now dwindling fast, and mine had been exhausted on the search for Prak. But my Ferengi boys pulled it off with two Away Teams for the game, defeating Implication with two Sunads as the last dilemma.

All told, a pretty nifty game! No direct interaction going on, but two speedy solver decks running in parallel made for interesting play.

Round 3CardassianFederationJason TangFW (+100)View opponent's Report
Jason was using one of Matt's extra decks, since putting something together over the weekend would have been a bit of a challenge. This was a Cardie capture deck with Forced Labor Camp over at Sarthong Plunder. I was surprised by the number of facilities it seeded (3!), but I suppose the idea was to make it easier to find and bring back my captured personnel. I had the first turn and attacked Runabout Search immediately, bypassing a now-fruitless Extradition and some Chula before hitting Friendly Fire, which stopped me dead for a couple turns. I sat on it, drew out some personnel, and completed immediately thereafter, grabbing Quark on the download and (oops!) activating The Nexus, which ended up at the far end of the spaceline, where neither Jason nor I were doing anything interesting. Fearing he'd try to make trouble for me, I put up a Subspace Warp Rift, a Q-Net, and nearly a Gaps in Normal Space on the one mission between his HQ and my outpost. He did not try to cross the line.

For the rest of the game, Jason just worked to get out enough personnel to attempt missions (and overcome my combos -- he struck Ingenuity / Dejaren with Access Denied as well as the (Un)Scientific Method combo before the day was out. I was a bit hesitant to attempt Salvage Borg Ship for a while, since Jason had seeded an outpost there, and plus I'd put up all those nasty barrier cards in the way, but I got over it once I had 18 personnel and the Nexus was past me (in the middle of the spaceline) and started racing toward Jason (who was mostly working from one end of the spaceline). Two teams attempted it, and, between the two of them, we solved in two turns for the full win. The solvability from this group was just too fast.

Closing Thoughts
It took a long time to put this deck together. I wanted it to be all-universal (though I eventually made a concession to Quark), to move at lightning speed, and to be able to overcome any dilemma we could possibly face. At the same time, it had to be able to put out a respectable amount of firepower on demand, especially once my Strategic Base was gone. The huge number of seeds I wanted to use forced me to refine my dilemmas to a very fine, very sharp point. I had a spreadsheet with probability distributions and dilemmas I was weak against (such as Navigational Hazards!) up for weeks while I revised and refined, and agonized about dilemma combos in the car. But it seems that all this thinking paid off. The Ferengi played very well indeed... even though their original purpose (annoy, harass, and outpace Matthew Hayes) evaporated the moment he played his first Borg card!

A good day all around. In fact, that's a bit of an understatement: I love this game, and, for all the love I give to Block, Full Constructed is what this game is and it is a beautiful and astonishingly varied environment to play in. Look at the four radically different decks we brought to play today! Couldn't have asked for better. Next time, though, it'll be Regionals, and everyone will be bringing their A-games. Oh dear.