by Terence Jason Dorman, recently found to be a decent Limited player
After my fantastic performance in the National Constructed Championships and my runner-up finish in the Patron Booze Draft the day before, I decided to relax my Spoils brain a bit and play in a WoW event (which takes much less thought than Spoils) during the day and only play Spoils at night.
This ended up working in my favor as, by the time the National Limited Championships were ready to start, I was all fired up to play Spoils. I was also hoping to repeat my strong performance from Thursday’s Second Edition Sealed Deck tournament, maybe even doing a bit better though.
Placing better than Top 8 (or even making it to Top 8 for that matter) would be much harder in this event, though, as an extra couple of top players from back in the day turned out for this event. These players were Bin Chen, famous for his Writ/Bile/Gold Summit/Torture Apparatus deck from Gen Con 2007, and Bari Gonzalez, who has been a Gen Con staple for the past number of years as well as the anagram namesake of A Blazing Zero.
Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me at this event.
The tournament began with the twenty sitting down to register and pass their Sealed pools. Bari and I, who have known each other for years, had some fun tossing our Sealed packs back and forth between us. This turned out be absolutely meaningless as, after the passing of the sealed pools, we ended up getting each other’s pools. To add even more hilarity, the pools were very similar in their contents and we both ended up with similar three-trade decks.
12 Man Brunch of Doom
Lugubrious Finger Trap
Ectological Hazard Suit
Ritual of the Ominous Urn
Dandy Day Trader
Subsection 5, Paragraph 12
Manifold Quasi-Modal Steamwork
Horsemajig of the Apocalypse – Famine x2
Horsemajig of the Apocalypse – Pestilence
Horsemajig of the Apocalypse – War
T Force 5 megabrutemajig
Barbaric Rifleman x2
The Thought Process and Final Deck
Similar to Thursday’s pool, I was very happy with what I was given and had the same initial reaction. In fact, my response to this pool was nearly identical: Gearsmith was weak, Arcanist had a lot of tricks, and Banker/Rogue/Warlord were full of beats and removal. As such, I basically attempted to recreate my deck from Thursday night as I was successful with it and figured I could repeat that success with a similar build.
I immediately opted to start two Greed resources as a turn one Erotic Assassin is strong no matter which format you are playing. Also, my Banker characters provided a decent early game curve with Assassin, Dandy Day Trader, Mafia Lawyer, Nasty Butler, and Pervasive Bodyguard. Banker also provided me with two kill cards off the bat in Irresistible Bribe and Brummagem Jewelry, which certainly isn’t a kill card but can definitely act as one in most games.
When I set up my character curve and all the cards I wanted to play, I quickly found that I had too many cards to fit into a 45 card deck. Similar to my dilemma on Thursday, I had to begin cutting cards to get down to 45. I ended up going with a 47 card deck again, which was extremely dangerous as I was only running 10 resources in my deck. If I didn’t mulligan properly I could very easily get threshold screwed, so that was something I always had to be wary of.
Talking after the tournament with fellow Team Hopper member and National Constructed Champion, Dan Sotelo, he picked out two cards from the deck that he would immediately cut: Fwing! and Befuddling Beggar. I started laughing when he pulled these two cards out as they were the last two cards I added to the deck. It was nice to know that my bottom choices were his top cuts, but I still should have cut them in the first place rather than running a 47 card deck.
Here is how my deck looked after all my deliberating:
Greed x2 (Starting)
Dandy Day Trader
Barbaric Rifleman x2
Round One vs. Rob Yeager (Arcanist/Banker/Rogue)
I was confused when I saw this pairing as I was convinced the Yeager who beat me in the Patron Draft the night before was named Mike. Turns out it was Mike and that my opponent for the first round was his brother. Confusion averted.
My match with Rob was a great one that easily could have ended with either of us getting the win. I came out strong with some tough characters and high speed, which he counteracted with kill cards and Covert characters. I couldn’t seem to find any of my kill cards to deal with his Covert so I ended up eating a lot of damage from a Kinky Asp. Thankfully, I had both my Extortify and Nasty Butler in my hand at the same time to recover twelve of my influence. Add in the extra five I gained when he played Irresistible Bribe on my Dock Sentinel and my Faction regained a total of seventeen influence.
The seventeen influence granted me enough time to build my resources, increase my hand, and take control of the board. Rob ended up in a very sticky situation as he had only Covert characters on the board and neither of us could block attacks from the other, but I was outputting more damage. That changed, however, when he revived the Kinky Asp (for what felt like the fourth time) and had enough Covert damage on board to kill me in two turns if I couldn’t find an answer.
I didn’t find any answers on my first turn following the re-played Kinky Asp, so I simply plugged through for damage and brought him down to ten influence, which was exactly the total amount of damage my characters could do on the next turn. He took his turn, brought me down to nine influence, and started drawing cards looking for ways to stop my attack. He eventually stopped drawing when he had only four resources left, so I figured he had to have some trick in hand to stop me from winning.
It turns out that he did have a trick in his hand, an Air Travel. When I attacked with my Erotic Assassin, Rob attempted to make it Covert so that he could block it with one of his many Covert characters. Unfortunately for him, though, I had been holding on to my Tactician Vacation for quite a while and played it on the Air Travel, which left him with only two resources open and no way to stop me from winning.
Overall a great match and one that easily could have been won by him had the cards been a bit different.
Round Two vs. Bin Chen (Banker/Gearsmith/Rogue/Warlord)
I was dreading this pairing as the word around the tournament was that Bin had a godly deck. The rumor was that he had absolutely tons of removal and strong three life characters, both of which would be problems for my deck. Regardless of my concerns, though, I had to play Bin and deal with whatever insane deck he happened to build from his pool.
Playing Bin was a pleasure as he was one of the few “old school” players left that I never had the opportunity to play against. The pleasure ended there, though, as Bin completely stomped on me. The stomping began when I mulligan’d aggressively and ended up getting a little threshold screwed, which prevented me from stopping his early game plays in efficient ways.
By the time I was able to mount a decent defense, Bin was ready to mount an even bigger attack, which included a One-Legged Hopping Pogo Bear. In case you have never played First or Second Edition Limited, OLHPB is an absolute bomb in the format. He was effectively a nuke in our game as I had no item removal in my deck, meaning the OLHPB was never going away unless Bin made a play mistake (which was unlikely to happen).
The game ended a few turns after the OLHPB hit the table as it made it nearly impossible for me to block efficiently. Not only did he have more characters on the board than me, but one of his characters (the bear) wouldn’t die no matter how I blocked it. It was simply a matter of attrition at this point and there was no way I could stop it.
Round Three vs. Ricky Hahn (Banker/Warlord)
Round Three was rough for Team Hopper as it saw most of us get paired against each other. I think all of us were 1-1 at this point except for Yackel (if I remember correctly) and I know that Dan and Moxless got paired together as they were sitting next to us.
My game with Ricky was a bit of a messy one as we both kept dropping unexpected bombs on each other. At one point Ricky had a Arena Quarter Finalist, Menacing Mauler, and Wyrmfang Deathskull on the table. The only reason he wasn’t beating my face in was because he generally had no hand and my characters were high speeds. Ricky tried to rush me so hard that he sacrificed hand and resource advantage, which I used to mount a strong defense and stack my hand full of kill cards.
The tides turned when I used my Catastrophic Betrayal to take his Raging Bask from his discard pile and throw it into battle with my Hasty Sarcophyle. That tipped the damage output in my favor as it became increasingly difficult for Ricky to block. He did have some absolutely monster characters, but he didn’t have enough men on the board to handle my army of speedy small guys.
Round Four vs. John Westcott (Arcanist/Banker/Rogue/Warlord)
I was excited to play against John as he was one of the volunteers for the weekend and one of the few players who I had never seen play before this weekend. He also finished in third in the National Constructed Championships the day before so I definitely expected a good match.
Sadly, John’s deck turned on him from the moment the match started. To say he got screwed by his deck would be an understatement as he never had anything he was looking for. His hand lacked resources (and therefore threshold), his curve was too high, and his best opportunity to block my characters came from a Plodding Brute.
His opening was dwarfed by mine, which started with an Erotic Assassin, Mafia Lawyer, and Reluctant Hiree (which eventually lost all of his tokens). I didn’t have to apply too much pressure to him as he simply couldn’t get anything going, having to eventually block with the Plodding Brute just to prevent a couple of points of damage.
I hate to say this as I love competitive matches, but this one was really one sided in my favor. John’s deck certainly was a solid one, I just think the CCG gods turned their back on him in this particular match.
Round Five vs. Vince Chuan
Robert, the Head Judge, posted standings before the fifth round, so Vince and I quickly realized that we didn’t have to play our match and could just draw in to the Top 8. He was 3-1 as well so we simply drew to guarantee our spots.
The Top 8 Draft
Everyone on Team Hopper, as well as most of the Spoils crowd in general, were shocked to see that I made another a second Top 8 draft in one weekend. This one would be a much tougher challenge for me, though, as it was loaded with even more top players than the event on Thursday had.
Here are the seeds:
Seed #1: Bernie Makino
Seed #2: Dan Sotelo
Seed #3: Jesse Fisher (my eventual opponent)
Seed #4: Bin Chen
Seed #5: Kevin Holdson
Seed #6: The guy who was clearly cheating to get this far, me
Seed #7: Vince Chuan
Seed #8: Joe Yackel
Pool and Deck
Sadly, I managed to come home without the deck registration sheets for the Top 8 draft. I’m sure somebody has them so if you do please shoot me a comment or email so we can arrange me getting a hold of them and updating this article.
From what I can recall, I drafted a Gearsmith/Warlord deck that focused on rushing and beating as quickly as possible. I could do it via Warlord characters (two Bloodcurdling Bulldozers) or Gearsmith (Nodes, 6331fy 31f) and a decent amount of removal. I also managed to grab two Scouts, which I was happy about, as well as a copy of big bodies in Raging Bask and Really Big Barduse.
The only problem with my draft was that my deck was extremely inflexible. I counter drafted a few cards (Heist Planner and Misappropriation Machine come to mind) and a couple last picks weren’t for my trades. As such, I had exactly enough Gearsmith/Warlord cards to fill out my deck with ten resources in deck and two starting. Thankfully, the two starting Gearsmith resources were all I needed for my Gearsmith cards, so I didn’t have to worry about getting threshold screwed.
Top 8 vs. Jesse Fisher (Gearsmith/Rogue/Warlord)
Jesse and I joked that we should just draw the match in the beginning and get it over with. Sadly, drawing doesn’t work in the Top 8, so our match had to have a winner.
This was one of those games where neither of us could properly attain board position. We both had an equal number of characters, meaning attacking was almost out of the option. I tried to shift the tides in my favor with a Micromajig Shipping Container, but he put a Subversion Matrix on it to nullify it’s impact on the game.
The Subversion Matrix put me into lock down mode as I didn’t want the Container to die before I could dig and find my Hammer Smash. I found it and dealt with the Subversion Matrix, then deployed both of my Bloodcurdling Bulldozers, which caused Jesse to say “I apparently just lost control of the board.”
This was apparently true as I didn’t have to worry about tricks as Jesse was, generally, keeping his hand low in favor of dropping many men on the board. The problem, however, was that a majority of his characters only had one life, meaning my two Scouts and Horsemajig of the Apocalypse – Famine made it very difficult for him block without taking damage or losing a lot of characters.
I added to his problems by deploying a Raging Bask, which on his own is a threat. Add in the wealth of characters I had, which still included the Shipping Container, two Bulldozers, two Scouts, and others.
At this point it simply became a matter of attrition as I attacked in parties that made it extremely difficult for him to block. I pumped through for a decent amount of damage each turn, choosing to never overextend as I feared a retaliation. I don’t know why, but I had this sick feeling that he had some sort of crazy double Dragon Juice or Strength in Numbers (which I should have remembered wasn’t reprinted in Second Edition) trick up his sleeve, so I always help back characters to block.
On his last turn Jesse declared an attack and made it pretty clear he just wanted to see how much damage he could do before I killed him on my next turn. He ended up having one Dragon Juice (so I wasn’t totally wrong) and brought me down to nine influence, but that obviously wasn’t enough to beat me and prevent my onslaught on the next turn.
Top 4 vs. Vince Chuan (Arcanist/Banker)
It was kind of a shame that the Top 4 pairings saw me face off against the only character member of Team Hopper while the other two Top 4 players, Bin and Bernie, faced each other. In a perfect world, Vince and I would have been split up against the two of them and hopefully meet in the finals, but unfortunately it was not to be.
Vince was to my right during the draft so I knew that he was playing Arcanist/Banker. I also knew that Vince favored control decks over rush, so I had a strong feeling that, if I was able to sustain a rush against him, I would be able to lock down the game.
Also, I know myself well enough to know that Vince is a better player than I am. If it came to a situation where we were both trying to out-maneuver or out-control each other that I would likely come out on the losing end. As such, I set my game plan to one that would prevent that situation, even if it was a more “death or glory” approach.
The beginning of the match really made it appear as though my strategy was leaning towards “glory,” but I knew not to count Vince out. Vince is one of the players who knows that losing influence (to the point where I had him 25-9) does not mean you are going to lose, and he used that to his advantage. He was able to weather my rush and start building his hand up, allowing him to regain control of the board while my aggressiveness was beginning to fade.
The highlight of the match, for me, was when the game was starting to even out. Vince, who has never been a player to mince words or hide his thoughts, complimented me on my play and said that I got much better since last year (which was the last time we had a chance to play each other). This was nice to hear even though I was losing the game, and it made me feel good about my performance for the whole weekend.
The game effectively ended for me when he played a Gold Summit and drew the rest of his deck, bringing his influence back up to 29. At that point I knew there was no way I could get 29 damage through his wall of characters and stacked hand. Even if I could kill his characters (which I probably could since they were weaker compared to mine), he would simply redeploy a cast of characters and/or kill off mine. To save time, he showed me two Resurrection Technicians and I extended my hand in defeat.
Other Top 4 Match:
Bernie Makino defeated Bin Chen
Ecstatic! Even after my performance on Thursday, I never would have expected to make the Top 4 in the National Limited Championships. It definitely made me feel good to “return” to the game and do well after taking a few years off to be Judge of Great Justice. Although, come to think of it, I really need to improve upon my Constructed game.
Also, the Blarg will return to it’s regular programming tomorrow as I’ll be posting the latest installment of From the Judge’s Chambers. It’s going to be a Gen Con thoughts post so be sure to check back and read about how I think Gen Con went from a judging and volunteer standpoint.
1st – Bernie Makino
2nd – Vince Chuan
3rd – Bin Chen
4th – Apparently a Limited Player, me
5th – Dan Sotelo
6th – Jesse Fisher
7th – Keven Holdson
8th – Joe Yackel
9th – Nick “Lowercase” Dorman
10th – Matt “Moxless” Kucklinca
11th – John Westcott
12th – Michael Yeager
13th – Ricky “I’ll break your hand” Hahn
14th – Bari “A Blazing Zero” Gonzalez
15th – Anson Quach
16th – Matt Davis
17th – Robert Yeager
18th – Joshua Fern
20th – Matt Fons