This Strategy-Note article was written by openCards user Hoss-Drone and was published first on "The Continuing Committee (trekcc.org)" at Sep 3rd, 2010.
Recently, Nathan talked about traditions in the game. Well every tradition starts with a first time and as far as I'm concerned, I started a new tradition of writing an article predicting the decks that I thought have the best chance of taking worlds a little more than a year ago.
I'll give the same (top 5) caveats for this article as I did for the previous article:
- I am not predicting any one particular deck will win. I'm simply stating that based on my observation of the current meta, which decks are currently the strongest, all things being equal.
- Individual skill and the specifics of which cards are in the deck mean more than the deck and will have a greater impact than the deck. However, its still true that a deck can carry a player (or lose for that player) in specific instances.
- I'm basing my opinions on decks I’ve personally seen played in front of me, played myself, have seen a deck list with results that impressed me, or am anticipating doing well after Peak Performance.
- The decks I link are either the exact deck I’m referring to or a close approximation of the deck that would do well. I usually imply or openly state this fact.
- If I knock on a deck that doesn’t mean it cannot or will not do well, I just don't think any builds I've seen up till now can get it done. If you build a better version then good for you and good luck.
Now that's out of the way, I get to spring the surprise. This article will not just be about the decks like last year. I'm also going to make some wild predictions about who might show up with each deck and I will ALSO make a prediction of my Top 5 contenders to win worlds. My Worlds Fantasy Team, if you will.
So, as is now Tradition, let's start again with the Top 5 decks that are good, but probably won't make you world champion this year.
- Neil's Reigning World Champion Deck
I know there are probably quite a few of you out there that think I'm crazy right now. I have my reasoning though. First would be the undeniable sports logic of statistics. No deck in the history of the game, either First Edition or Second Edition has ever repeated. None. Caleb's DS9/TNG deck almost did it but that is the closest any deck has ever come to accomplishing the repeat. The second and third reasons that I don't see it repeating are more practical. Design seems to have a policy of doing what it can to hamper the current "powerhouse" deck and realistically, if it is the current powerhouse deck, then everyone who shows up to worlds dang well better be prepared to beat it. Reason number four is my personal opinion that there are too many tools in Peak Performance that, if used, can stop it. The new Malcolm Reed and Jonathan Archer kick it in the nuts. The Klingon stone card cracks down on Mara and Kruge. Borg assimilation is the most viable its ever been. The list goes on. The final reason I have for it not repeating is that unless Neil or Ben run it, there probably will not be anyone with the desire or experience to play it to its full potential. Neil has said openly he doubts he'll play it. That's probably a smokescreen, but unless he wants a never ending ribbing from the rest of us in the World Champ's club, he'll play a different deck.
- Cardassian Central Command
I really do like what this deck can do but it just has too many bad match ups right now. Besides taking it in the rear from any kind of interactive strategy, it can find itself way behind against anyone nullifying interrupts. When this deck works it can really work. When it doesn't work, it's a bad deck since the opponent just needs to throw down the standard dilemmas of An Issue of Trust, Personal Duty, Miner Revolt, Gomtuu, etc and do its thing. So if you are in day two playing this deck and your opponent plops down Athos IV or Founder's Home world, I'd probably start thinking about where you are going for your consolation beer.
- The best ..... or next best TOS
The one and only thing I'll say is that when Vladamir Vrbata and John Corbett place high in Continentals day one with a TOS deck and then CHOOSE NOT TO PLAY IT ON DAY 2.........well, that pretty much speaks for itself as far as I'm concerned right now. You either have confidence its your best deck for best of 3 single elimination or you don’t.
It's nerfed people. Don't play it outside of side events. You've been warned. You'll have to look for another deck that someone else already thought of to steal without giving credit to them. Maybe even go romulan style and claim you came up with the idea first all evidence to the contrary.
- The best of Voyager and/or Equinox
Between the temptation someone might have to play the Klingon slaughter deck, including Neil himself, the viability of Borg assimilation right now, the lack of new toys in Peak Performance, the existence of Transport Crash Survivor, the likelihood of seeing someone play Romulan or Maquis disruption in Europe (very likely imho), and the current state of the game vis-à-vis dilemma pile strategies......well, lets just say that Voyager is catching it from all sides as far as I can see. Not to say they don’t have solid, very playable decks out there since the linked deck prove that.....I just don't see them doing anything at worlds this year. Again, I'll just point to the results of European Continentals.
So at the end of the day, its not looking good for Cardassia, the Delta Quadrant, Mot and Worf, or the Original Series. Just leave them at home.
The Top 5 decks that will make a huge impact at worlds this year and could make you the next world champion.
- Starfleet Delphic Expanse
I pretty much flat out declared in my article a week or so ago that I see this deck getting it done. I stand by that opinion and I'm going ahead and just laying it out for you right now. There will likely a top player in the final confrontation with this deck. I'm completely serious. I just don't see how all the top players going to worlds will be able to resist playing a deck with access to A Sight for Sore Eyes + At What Cost + In a Mirror, Darkly, low cost personnel who report directly to a ship ala voyager, can avoid random selections, have tricks for pushing through stops, can avoid battle, have the best doctor in the game now and are not Federation affiliation. Best yet, the event that enables it is nuke proof AND opens up every mission in the game! I mean...COME ON....SERIOUSLY!
This deck has been rearing its head again having come in second place at both North American and European Continentals. As a European original, I fully expect some of the most prolific players of this deck to play it. I don't need to go on a strategy session about this deck. We all know this deck and what it can do by now. I'm not certain how Peak Performance is going to affect this deck but I do not think there is anything in the deck that obviously hurts it besides the interrupt hate. Reality though, most Borg decks are never so fragile as to suffer one or even two interrupt cancellations and lose. Especially in a best two of three format. Also, I just think it would be poetic if Johannes can pilot this baby to a title and avenge the demons. If he can do it, I'll send him a six pack of beer. The problem this deck faces in my opinion is overcoming the hurdle of deck number three in this list.
- Maquis Disruption
Following Peak Performance there is going to be a new found surge in Maquis showing up. Allegiance + Organized Terrorist Activities + the standard maquis jank is going to be a major pain in the taint for everyone. I feel confident that a certain European Continental Champion will try to extend his deck's winning streak PLUS I have the sneaky suspicion that a certain Brit on the design team won't be able to help himself. Not to mention that If were a betting man, my money is on the current reigning world champion playing his brand of Maquis disruption. I think personally, that piloted by the proper player or players, this is a solid deck. Tyler proved he knows it, its the deck that I think Neil feels is his "next best" so I can see him playing it and James just likes maquis so there are three players right there all with the knowledge and wherewithal to climb the standings with this style of deck.
The Achilles heal of this deck though is that maquis disruption only really works when the other side is not busy disrupting back. If its a disruption vs. disruption matchup, this type of disruption often fails since it doesn’t utilize the sort of "trump move" or "total board control" that say, an assimilation or Klingon slaughter, or Romulan FSE deck utilizes. That type of a game grinds to a slow moving "who blinks first loses" type of a game with ultimately, the Maquis deck HAVING to blink first since its disruption is usually only fleeting and not permanent. So I have to put two cards back on top of my deck....whoopity doo...I'll just go ahead and Far Seeing Eyes all your mission skills.
As you can see from the link, I rocked assimilation during regionals this year. What I can tell you is that the only thing that stopped it from completely dominating was my one badly timed mistake followed that opened the door for a 1 in 9 chance bad luck. Take those away and the deck would still be undefeated in play testing and live games. In the here and now, Peak Performance brings us Unrelenting which only helps the deck. Best of all, this is exactly the sort "board control" that Maquis, Dominion, Klingon slaughter, and FSE do not want to face. You can't FSE if the transtator drone is blowing it up nor if the deck is already depleted. Kruge has no one to capture if you choose to sit on your hands during the staring contest. You can assimilate infiltrators with ease. Maquis shenanigans wilt to Borg efficiency and standard countermeasures like the Transtator Drone and Tactician Drone. Against speed decks there is no place to hide and you simply do not care if your opponent knows what you are doing. The invasive drone boards your ship anywhere. Abduction paired with the Harvest Drone, Reborn and Unrelenting are not battle nor are they death. So any and all battle countermeasures like the new Malcolm Reed, Resistance Tactics, Escape, Emergency Transport Unit, and Phlox are completely ineffective. This deck is the meta-balancing police deck. Its only real bad matchups were nerfed by Transport Crash Survivors or are dealt with by A Few Minor Difficulties. So yeah.......if someone wants to take this deck and roll with it then be my guest and just remember where to give credit. :)
- Terok Nor Ruling Council
Time for the second annual dark horse selection. This is a deck that I can see just coming out of nowhere and finding a way to win. Terok Nor in the current meta may have some bad matchups generally speaking, it may have problems and it may be completely outgunned in the championship game but if the player who brings it plays it really well and it gets some luck.....well, you never know. I really, really, really do not want to count it out before anyone has had a chance to fool around with it. I guess what I’m predicting is some kind of Bustling with Activity + Representative Odo + At What Cost? + Ruling Council speed deck. I can easily see a deck who's opening moves are usually turn one bustling with two jemmies and a Bajoran with bustling discard to download Odo. Turn two Odo at plus five to score points, download some cards then At What Cost? to play a ship and a personnel. Turn three play three more personnel and attempt a mission. On turn four you could play three more cheap Terok Nor personnel, attempt with the people at the mission already, and if you do not complete you can play Ruling Council to unstop them and re-attempt and maybe even another Ruling Council and do it again if worse came to worse. Either way, on turn four you could have a mission completed and be moving onto your next mission to attempt with seven or ten people and possibly holding yet another Ruling Council in hand. Turn five play Feast on the Dying and draw back your Ruling Councils for either option A or B as desired. An easily doable two mission win deck with unstopping and multiple attempts per turn on individual missions which theoretically should be a solid deck as long as the particular build can successfully dodge interaction.
Brad seems to think Ruling Council is the card from Peak Performance that will have the biggest single impact while I think its going to be Spatial Reconfiguration. I guess we'll see who is right, if either of us. It will probably come down to just how prepared for interrupts and disruption people are at worlds this year.
Top 5 people I think will likely be playing in the Championship game at Worlds this year.
Keep in mind everyone, that this prediction is just my friendly opinion and not some kind of indictment for or against anyone’s playing ability. These are just the people who I think, assuming they show up, who have shown time and again they can get to the head tables OR they are someone who is operating at peak performance right now.
- Vlad Vrbata
Outside of this year, he's won the biggest tournament of the year on his continent multiple years running. Many people who play in Europe that I've spoke to have openly said he's the best they've ever played because "he doesn’t make mistakes." Was his third place finish at EC's a fluke, a portent of a downward slide, or simply a cunning fox laying low and holding his best for the bigger tournament?
- Neil Timmons
He says he's going and when you're the reigning champion you are automatically on the list. Will he play Klingon slaughter or will he rise to the challenge of defending his title with something else besides his crutch deck? Does he have what it takes to play in the European meta? How different is that meta and will it even make a difference? Will he get close but succumb to jet lag like Johannes did in 2008, will he flame out and not make it past the quarterfinals or will he prevail and become the second player to go back to back? Are the rumors true that he was contacted by Barack Obama about a photo op as reigning world champion but it was cancelled in favor of the New Orleans taints....er I mean 'aints...I mean I mean faints.....whoops, I mean I hate those gold and black pricks and you didn’t deserve to win because the Vikings were clearly the better team and we were robbed by Roger Goodell, the referees and a rigged outcome......AAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!
- Johannes Klarhauser
Johannes came within a Barber's razors edge of winning it all in 2008. After a year off from the World Championship stage will he avenge his mistakes and bad luck and emerge victorious? Will he buckle down and get serious just because there's a six pack of beer on the line? Since 2008 Johannes performance record has been solid but not elite like it was right before the 2008 championship. That being said, if his skills can be re-sharpened to that elite status and he brings the right deck, he's the most dangerous player in the field. He is easily the second best player I have ever played personally (at the time I played them) right behind Caleb Grace.
- Tyler Fultz
Tyler came up big recently at European Continentals. He's looking to keep the momentum going and ride a wave to eternal trek glory. The problem is that outside of EC's Tyler's a relative newcomer to the big stage and will have to work through his way through a lot of veteran big game experience from the Czech, British and fellow German players. Does he have what it takes? To his credit he was a pioneer of the Subliminal Vacation deck and his Maquis deck certainly fought long odds to win EC's so there must be something there. If he plays Maquis again will it have the potency? Will he keep the title in the hands of someone with U.S. Citizenship?
- James Hoskin
My respect for fellow members of the writing team continues. While James has been waning here in regards to tournament placing in the last year, its unclear if that has more to do with a lack of preparation, a lack of desire, or waning skill. What I do know is that not that long ago James lost in the semi-finals to the eventual world champion three years in a row. That's an impressive bit of infamous trivia but it proves that if James buckles down, gets prepared for the weeks leading up, and puts his game face on come tournament time, he will be right there in the top four.
That’s all there is for this year's 2010 Worlds Prediction Show. I've talked about the five players on my worlds watch list, my predictions for the top five decks at worlds and the five decks that while good, you should just leave at home if you have a serious desire to win worlds. Good luck to everyone attending worlds this year!