“A Scout is never taken by surprise; he knows exactly what to do when anything unexpected happens.”
While helping a friend play Traveller after his Kickstarter rewards arrived, I was asked about card ratios, i.e. how many of each card type to slot into a deck. For that and other reasons, Jeff and I thought it would be a good idea for me to touch on basic deck construction.
With customizable card games, returning to basics is something that anyone can do. I occasionally remind myself of basic deck construction for a CCG I have been playing for 20 years and have built a 1000 decks for.
I was playing a four-player game using the Type S Scout preconstructed deck and got inspired by how I had all of the infrastructure to tackle contracts that are normally difficult for the Scout to successfully resolve.
Before getting to the deck list, let’s go over the process I used to build this deck.
Pick an idea and commit to it without be a slave to it.
The idea was a simple one: be able to complete that the Type S Scout, with its single multi-capability, could not do natively. As an additional feature, the deck would only use cards available in the Scout and Free Trader preconstructed decks, as I wanted to start where the most players could engage.
I first started with . I was looking for as much ability to get additional capability tokens, which is actually not all that easy with the Scout due to the limited number of slots for .
Modular Hold is my top priority. Yes, I put in a LSP Multi-Phased Array and a Luxury Suite because I don’t tend to be a fan of overly focused decks [an article for another time], but I expect the Modular Hold to give the most return.
Stellar Anomaly Log is a key piece of a more common Scout archetype – the / Scout deck [let’s refer to this archetype as the 4S]. I include it here as a way to make use of the slot and because this deck is all about racing quickly to 20 and any sort of additional generation is worth considering.
SureShot Missile Turret struck me as the most efficient way to have more , knowing that moving the Scout’s of 1 up to 2 was going to be crucial for dealing with and for being an irritant to anyone who might want to pirate me. The of 2, cost, and even the ability to remove a corsair (which I used in its inaugural game) all fit with efficiency for how this deck wants to play.
is the card type that most competes with itself across all ships. As a general rule, whatever is most limiting makes sense as a place to start with deck building.
Frontier Shipping Co. is a bit of a risk as this deck really needs to win fast or it will be threatened with bankruptcy. The other organization, Rhal’Kais Syndicate, is also not quite amazing for this deck. Both serve as additional token options for a deck that doesn’t want to get stalled due to lack of resource tokens.
I wouldn’t say Advanced Solutions, Inc. or Finch and Cho, CPAs are bad choices, just not as in my mechanical theme of producing more tokens.
Llaegzko’s “Surplus” Outlet got more of a nod over Starship Graveyard for trying to get the infrastructure set up earlier over “recovery”. Admittedly, when I play Scout decks, I so often burn through my decks that there are usually cards I want to return to play very quickly.
Yuryehke, Aslan Trader may be the most pure representative of this deck’s theme. Where gaining tokens for often requires guessing or having been stalled out, this deck will often know it needs additional capability tokens just to resolve a , regardless as to what the end up requiring. Also, with the current card pool, getting rid of a is more difficult than getting rid of an , so Yuryehke isn’t likely to go away.
Finally, on to … no, wait, not yet.
Before getting to , I wanted to look at what skills would be my main ones for scoring and for dealing with associated with the I wanted to run.
This deck wasn’t so easy to put together. I was looking for high (taking into account) with reasonable , at first. When I still had a good number of slots that needed to be filled, I branched out to not quite as ideal / combinations. I tried to avoid with low , normally a good answer for Scout decks to the hard to complete other ship decks often like to run, in part to be different but ended up putting some back in to fill out the deck.
Universal World Profile Update isn’t just a prime for the 4S archetype but should be an easy 4 for this deck with the added bonus of being a little more costly for slower ships. Opportunistic Raider should be an easy unless an opponent goes out of the way to mess with the SureShot Missile Turret.
Normally, Witness Relocation is not great for the Scout not so much because it’s that much harder to resolve than the Universal World Profile Update but because it’s so easy for other ships to resolve. Here, however, we plan on having multiple capability tokens.
X-Boat Route Review is great … Hostile Psionic Coven is … harsh. Makes me want to run Deshaun Jasso, but there was a limit to how many cards I could put in the Captain’s Deck. Gravimetric Probe Retrieval has a huge potential payoff, where Rika Honami covers 2 possible . Though, even with of 2, I had an idea that it would be very expensive to pursue this . Plus more potential for stymieing me, which could be painful.
A lot of token requirements either in the contract or in the . Four Buccaneers, so getting that 2 is essential for me and my opponents.
Still likely not enough, especially given how redundant I went and how Freelancer allows you to get around the normal limit. Flexibility in Aminah’s and George’s cases, while focus in Flint’s and Rika’s cases.
Looking for more skills, ways to gain skills even if temporary*, and a little bit of messing with my opponents because you can’t win the race if someone else crosses the finish line first.
* Keep in mind I don’t need to just think about my game but how my opponents may put out that require more skills.
How ironic is it that I look at last?
Well, maybe not so much given that I’ve played with our cards as much as anyone not from the future. I know Freelancer, Just a Little Longer …, Calling in a Marker, Bwap Advisors, and Consultant Call are going to be fixtures in the deck. What was really interesting was how I cut one of the Calling in a Markers because this deck should not struggle as much with that just require an additional token. And, how much I got excited by Glitch in this deck.
Glitch can be played after using, say, Modular Hold, allowing for double use. Probably won’t be used with SureShot but could be. Can also be used with Luxury Suite (this may be less intuitive, aka more surprising).
The Prepared Scout
Type S Scout
1x Down the Main // Myriad Difficulties
2x Dwarf Planet Survey // Electro-Magnetic Interference
2x Gravimetric Probe Retrieval // There’s Always Something
1x Group Package // Unexpected Booking
2x Humanitarian Evacuation // Buccaneer
1x Reach for the Stars // Firmware Update Errors
2x Red Zone Prospecting // Vargr Raiders
2x Smuggler’s Run // Crooked Customs
2x Stellar Luminosity Study // Buccaneer
2x Universal World Profile Update // Opportunistic Raider
2x Witness Relocation // Wanted!
1x X-Boat Route Review // Hostile Psionic Coven
1x Frontier Shipping Co.
2x Llaegzko’s “Surplus” Outlet
1x Rhal’Kais Syndicate
1x Starship Graveyard
2x Yuryehke, Aslan Trader
3x Aminah Darzi, M.D.
3x George Zamepiimaakha
3x Rika Honami
3x Bwap Advisors
2x Calling in a Marker
3x Consultant Call
2x Just a Little Longer …
2x Predatory Tactics
3x Body Pistol
2x Cognition Wafer
2x Panacea Autojector
1x Inspired Oration
1x Lost and Found
2x Remember That Time …
1x LSP Multi-Phased Array
1x Luxury Suite
3x Modular Hold
3x Stellar Anomaly Log
3x SureShot Missile Turret
Now, this deck is definitely aiming at addressing a Scout weakness rather than a Scout strength, even if it does run a lot of expensive , feeding into the Scout’s special ability. This is a deck that fits in more with the other ships rather than trying to push a agenda hard to cut off other ships from easy scores.
Still, in terms of rough card ratios, this strikes me as not that unusual. Another deck might run fewer and definitely more ; 15-18 is the number I give people for what expect with much of the time. On the other hand, I think this deck is still light on , certainly light on flexibility of , so maybe cut a Stellar Anomaly Log for another . Take out some of the duplicates in for more diversity to get more flexibility from Freelancer. Maybe drop a Modular Hold or Frontier Shipping Co. for a third Yuryehke.
And, be aware that this deck is very expensive to operate. While extra tokens are coming from permanents, those permanents cost to use.
In a future installment, I might come back and update this deck with cards from the rest of the available card pool. With a modest sized card pool, I view Traveller as having a vast number of possible builds due to the relatively low number of restrictions on putting together the two decks.