by Terence Jason Dorman, Constructed super-scrub
Gen Con began rolling again on Friday, this time kicking off with two Cash Drafts. I wasn’t able to participate in the Cash Drafts myself as I was busy with a World of Warcraft event, but I did have time to bounce back and forth between the two tournament areas and see that fellow Team Hopper members Matthew “Moxless” Kucklinca and Nick “Lowercase” Dorman won the two events and earned themselves first round byes in the Constructed Nationals.
Once my WoW event wrapped up it was time to write Friday’s article and get my deck ready for the National Constructed Championships.
Before I explain what I was thinking with this deck and how the combo works, let me show you the list.
52 Pick Up
Greed x2 (Starting)
Gus VanBaymaven x3
Ceremonious Groomer x4
The Billionaire x4
Fired Hand x4
Extravagant Contusion x4
Prestige Inversion x4
Karmic Cake x3
Limited Liability x3
Subordinate Demotivation x4
I Drink Your Milkshake x4
Pant Swipe x2
Recollection Bazaar x3
Misappropriation Machine x3
What the Hell Does This Deck Do?
The deck is literally meant to do nothing until it can initiate its combo all in one turn. Until the deck is set up, all it does is sit there and kill the opponent’s characters while taking as little damage as possible. Building up resources and keeping your hand plentiful is key as kill cards and Fired Hands can get expensive over time.
The combo is a bit convoluted by extremely fun and heartbreaking if you pull it off. Here are the steps:
1. Have four Deception threshold and two Obsession threshold.
2. Pitch a Gus VanBaymaven to your discard pile via Fired Hand.
3. Play Misappropriation Machine.
4. Use Misappropriation Machine on your turn to take something from your opponent’s Discard Pile (what you take is irrelevant).
5. Allow your opponent to take his turn.
6. When it is your turn again, play Recollection Bazaar.
Optional 6.5. If you feel your opponent has a kill card or some way of destroying the following combo, play a Limited Liability.
7. Play The Billionaire.
8. Using The Billionaire, use your Misappropriation Machine (that is under your opponent’s control) to give your opponent control of your Gus VanBaymaven.
9. Using The Billionaire, use your Gus VanBaymaven (that is under your opponent’s control) to give your opponent control of your Recollection Bazaar.
10. Using The Billionaire, use your Recollection Bazaar (that is under your opponent’s control) to put all of your opponent’s resources into his hand.
11. Kill whatever he has left on the table (if you haven’t cleared the board before doing these steps).
12. Swing with the Billionaire for however many turns it takes to reduce your opponent’s influence to 0.
13. During those turns, make your opponent put the one resource he plays for turn back to his hand.
Yes, it is an extremely lame combo, but it can work. It relies on the fact that none of the characters in the deck end up in the Discard Pile when they are destroyed (except for Billionaire, who you aren’t playing until you are comboing, and Gus, who you want there anyway AND don’t have the threshold to play), so your opponent literally has NOTHING to use the Misappropriation Machine on except for the Gus VanBaymaven. As such, it is likely it will sit there until you can combo with it, and they aren’t likely to destroy it as it isn’t having an effect on the game once it is under your opponent’s control.
Why I Chose to Play This Deck
Because I’m an idiot.
Also, I absolutely love The Billionaire (it is my favorite card in the game) and am always looking for new ways to “break” him. I had this idea for a while but it was impossible to do until VayBaymaven was released in Seed 2, so I tried other variants that included Hungry Hungry Idol (use the Machine to give them the Idol, pay 1 resource to cause them to lose 1 influence) and Ass/Randolph von Macovawitz Spitoon III, Ltd (use Ass to give them Randolph, use the Randolph to destroy their resources). In hindsight I should have gone with the Hungry Hungry Idol version as it is MUCH easier to do (although more expensive resource wise), but I really wanted to style out in this tournament.
I also thought this deck would perform well as I was expecting a much more aggro-heavy metagame. As we will see in my round for round report, I was completely wrong, and most of the decks in the field were slow decks that didn’t do much. There was also a lot of Rogue in the field, which completely messed me up as I made errors in deckbuilding that left me susceptible to Rogue tricks.
My errors from deckbuilding stemmed from the fact that I built this deck last Tuesday, less than 12 hours from when my crew and I were to hit the road for Gen Con. I played maybe 5 games with the deck before the tournament and, had I had a little more time, I probably would have figured out how to splash Warlord or Elitism in as a way of handling items.
The above three paragraphs are basically an overview of what NOT to do to prepare for a Constructed tournament. Three days before the event was to take place I had the following problems:
1. No deck
2. No playtesting experience with the deck I had in mind
3. A desire to play style over consistency/efficiency
4. An inaccurate interpretation/expectation of the metagame
5. Insufficient amount of time to amend the above four problems
Problem #3 isn’t really a bad problem to have as creativity is always good and I ALWAYS favor playing original decks over net-decks/copied decks (so much so that I never do it and encourage other players to follow suit), but players who lean towards the creative side must know in advance that creativity, coupled with a lack of playtesting and tweaking, could lead to disastrous results.
Speaking of disastrous results, please read the following.
Round One vs. John Prather (Gearsmith/Rogue)
I wasn’t happy to see a Rogue deck during round one of our five round event (with thirteen entrants that would cut to Top 4) as I knew when I registered my deck that I would have a serious problem with Roundalicious Breasticles and a potential problem with Martial Artist. Thankfully, Prather’s deck didn’t contain any Martial Artist’s, but it contained what felt like 40 Breasticles.
The game was extremely slow due to the fact that I was not drawing the cards I needed at the right time. It felt like I was always drawing what I wanted the turn before, meaning I was never in the right position to make the moves I wanted. Plus, I was tired from yesterday’s Sealed Deck event and the morning’s WoW event, so my brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders.
At one point, Prather had two Breasticles in play (with infinite tokens effectively), which meant I could not deploy a Billionaire unless I had another one to play for when he stole the first one. This got me into the mentality of drawing a second Billionaire (which I did not do for some time), even though I was able to bait one of the Breasticles with a Fired Hand that I played.
Once Prather only had one Breasticles, all I would have to do is drop The Billionaire and use his Breasticles to take control of the Billionaire that I already had control of. This would destroy the Breasticles and leave me open to combo out as described above. The problem, however, was that I was stuck in the mentality of needing two Billionaires (which I obviously didn’t) and my frustration with how I was drawing didn’t allow me to think clearly.
The game go to a point in which I was ready to combo out, but, sadly, time was called. Even if I did combo out, which I could have, I’d still need eight turns (at that point) to do fatal damage to him.
Round Two vs. Bernie Makino (Arcanist/Banker/Gearsmith/Warlord)
I wasn’t thrilled to be paired against Bernie as he had previously mentioned on the forums that his list had the potential to start another “should we ban this card?” discussion.
As it turned out, the card in question was Research Investment (which I expected as that is one of the two cards that I personally feel need errata to prevent power level problems) and Bernie had put together the very old school Reality Shift/infinite bounce/infinite resources/win via infinite Dragon’s Strategys deck.
Being a slow deck myself, I knew I’d have a problem with his deck as I’d be allowing it to take his time. I did draw an I Drink Your Milkshake! pretty early and was able to see the combo before he hit me with it, so I was able to prepare as best as I could.
The problem arose when I couldn’t find another Milkshake to really start shutting down the combo. I did eventually find another one, but it was too late in the game to stop his backup plan of “deploy every character in my deck and swing for the win.” The first Milkshake shut down the Dragon’s Strategy combo, but his use of Writ of Reclamation allowed him to get back in the game easily.
To say this was one of the most boring and tedious games of The Spoils I have ever played would be an understatement. I am never in favor of the argument for having time clocks (like chess) for card games, but I would have loved to have one here just to compare our numbers. The game went to time and, over the hour or so we played against each other, I honestly felt like I only used 15 minutes of them for my actions. I’m not saying that if I had had more time I would have won as I don’t think that is true at all, but I do have to say the game was incredibly boring.
Watching Bernie play his deck (once it was all set up) must have been what people who fell victim to the old E.O. combo felt like when it went off. I just sat there watching him play the game by himself (I did have opportunities to do things, obviously, but since I knew the combo I knew it would be meaningless to do so) and was trying to figure out a way to prevent him from winning. I knew i couldn’t combo out ever against him, and the Writ of Reclamation recycling (which I didn’t expect as I didn’t see any when I Milkshake’d him the first time) meant I effectively couldn’t kill his characters.
As I mentioned before, the game went to time. It was clear I could not win, but it was definitely possible for me not to lose. On the last turn of the game (which was his) he was swinging with all of his characters for the win. I managed to top deck (literally) one of the three remaining Limited Liabilities in in my deck with only 2 resources left open (i.e. it was the last possible card I could draw to find the LL and play it) to prevent him from winning. He didn’t have any Tactician Vacations or A Blazing Zeros in his deck, which I find very strange, and the game went to a draw.
Needless to say, Bernie was very disappointed with the top deck. I was just glad the game was over.
Round Three vs. Dan Sotelo (Arcanist)
I absolutely dreaded this match-up as Dan and I had been playtesting together for the past two months (obviously I was using other decks) and I knew how powerful his deck was. To be perfectly honest, I think Dan’s deck was the strongest in the tournament and possibly one of the strongest decks in The Spoils right now.
We started our game and I didn’t go a turn before making a play mistake. Normally it wouldn’t be one, but it was a huge play mistake considering I knew exactly what was in Dan’s deck almost card for card. I then took a few minutes to think about it and realized there was literally no way for me to win the game. Dan knew my deck inside and out and knew exactly how to counter it. I couldn’t combo out on him because he knew the timing of the cards and could easily stop it, and I couldn’t rush him to death because my deck only contained twelve characters that can attack for damage.
Basically, no matter how I approached the game, there was no way for me to win. We played another five or six turns after we discussed this together and it become increasingly obvious that my assessment was right. Initially he was arguing against my notion that it was impossible for me to win, but then soon saw that my theories were correct.
Round Four vs. Joe Yackel (Gearsmith/Warlord)
It was a shame that I had to get paired against two Team Hopper members in a row, but that’s just what happens when six of us (eight if you count charter members Vince and Vivian) in a thirteen person event.
This game was very sad for me as Yackel’s deck was primarily a rush deck and, for some reason, I couldn’t counter it. I build the deck to handle rushes, which it does well, but I just didn’t have any of the pieces. I had no kill cards and couldn’t find a Fired Hand, which would have completely destroyed his majig rush, and that put me behind in influence really.
I started to stabilize a bit when I popped an early Pant Swipe on him and was able to grab a Deadly Striker, Noble Sacrifice, and Dark Awakening from him. The Striker was a great deterrent as I could finally block effectively, and the Dark Awakening made it possible for one kill card (that I was still looking for) to act as two.
Sadly, Yackel drew into a Dragon Archer to take out my (his) Striker before it could become an issue. He then had too much board presence for me to fight back against and, a few turns later, I succumbed to the onslaught.
Round Five vs. Jeff Millegan (Rogue)
I knew going into this match that it would be a long one as it was common knowledge that Jeff was running an Ass deck that was very similar to the build he played in last year’s Nationals. As such, I knew I would have time to set up my combo as neither of us would be playing characters (him especially), but I was extremely nervous about I Drink Your Milkshake!.
If he drew a Milkshake before I did then it would really come down to whether or not he could figure out the combo by looking through the deck. It turns out he did draw it before me and managed to steal a Billionaire of mine. I don’t know if he did this because he figured out the combo or not, but it was the right pick.
As much as I hate to say it, we literally did nothing during this game except jockey for position so that neither of us would be taking damage from the Hollow Moose that he played. I was also trying to combo out on him, but it was increasingly difficult to do so as he played a Tremor Engine early in the game and that put extra characters in my discard pile that normally wouldn’t be there.
The game went to time, as I figured it would once he Milkshake!d one of my Billionaire’s. We played the game out for fun and I ended up winning because he ran out of cards to sacrifice to his own Hollow Moose, but the results slip still said the match was a draw.
As you can imagine, I didn’t make the cut to Top 4 with my three points and stellar record. Four other players did make the cut, however, and here is what happened:
Dan Sotelo defeated John Westcott (Research Investment OTK)
Matthew “Moxless” Kucklinca (Banker/Warlord Monty) defeated Nick “Lowercase” Dorman (Banker, Warlord)
Dan Sotelo defeated Matthew “Moxless” Kucklinca to become the new National Constructed Champion!
I was extremely glad to see that three members of Team Hopper managed to make it to the Top 4 with the rest of them (excluding myself) finishing in the Top 8. I was obviously disappointed in my performance as, like I mentioned earlier, I favor Constructed over Limited and consider myself a better player in the former.
I think my main problem was that the majority of the decks were built for slow games (with a few notable exceptions) and I prepared my deck for handling rush decks. Had I played a different portion of the field (against Vivian’s Rage Sligh, Ricky’s Rage Rush, or a better match-up against Yackel’s deck) I might have done better, but that just isn’t how the dice fell.
1st – Dan Sotelo
2nd – Matt “Moxless” Kucklinca
3rd – John Westcott
4th – Nick “Nicky-poo” Dorman
5th – Vince Chuan
6th – Joe Yackel
7th – Ricky Hahn
8th – Jeff Millegan
9th – John Prather
10th – Vivian Chan
11th – The Worst Constructed Player in the U.S.A., me
12th – Joshua Kern
13th – Bernie Makino
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