Playtesting RI OTK at Gen Con 2012
by John Westcott
You might be asking yourself why I would pick this title and the answer is that is exactly what I was doing at the National Constructed tournament.
Prior to Gen Con, I played Hampuse's version of the RI OTK deck once against a live opponent and played it solitaire about four times. I knew how to run the combo and a little bit about how to answer problems that the deck might face.
I was originally going to play a deck of my own creation but when I play tested it against mono-Warlord, it was just bad and needed more tuning.
Approximately thirty minutes before the constructed event, I decided to run the RI deck to see how far it could go. I honestly didn't expect that much as I think there are a lot of natural answers to an RI OTK deck.
Prior to deck registration, I made two card changes to the deck and that was to take out two A Blazing Zero and put in Hilarious Refrigerator Alarm. I was also going to put in a third win condition with Gideon and Siege Machine, but decided against it last minute. The other point of note here is that I had a bye first round due to winning an earlier draft.
See all the decklists from Gen Con here:
Top 4 decks
Round 1: Bye
Round 2: Jeff Millegan (Ass) - Win
I was concerned about this match up because I know Jeff runs I Drink Your Milkshake! and Essence of Deception, which if he has both early, stops the deck cold.
Sadly, my memory isn't serving me well in terms of exactly what Jeff played, but the RI combo went off within 3 turns.
I played 0p3r4710n 1337 H4x0r5 and, after playing Cantankerous Claywork, Jeff responded to me playing one of the items in the combo by using the Resource ability of his Faction. Playing the resource triggered his Crest of Deception, bringing the life of the Claywork to 4. Jeff responded again with Strangulate, but I had a Tactician Vacation in hand and resources open to play it. I terminated Strangulate and finished the combo, swinging for the win.
Round 3: Vince Chuan (Ass/Auction House) - Win
I had learned from scouting around a bit that Vince was playing Auction House, but I didn't know that he was also using Ass. I was again concerned about Auction House since it would force me to play my Cantankerous Claywork and the only way for my deck to kill it is to use Bask Bile.
I never saw Auction House hit the table, however, and I was surprised when Vince played an Ass. I wasn't worried about Ass since I would just combo off in response to Vince's end of turn and then swing for win on my turn.
I am again hazy on the exact timing of the turns, but I used the RI combo and Vince used I Drink Your Milkshake!. I thought Vince would go for my Cantankerous Claywork, but when I searched my deck (via Invent or Crest of Obsession), I noticed that he took Bask Bile.
The game didn't go more than 4-5 turns and I played H4x0r5 into Claywork and the rest of the combo, and Vince responded with a tactic (I want to say it was Dry Gulch) but I again had Tactician Vacation. Vince was under the impression that Tactician Vacation did not work as intended since the rules text “Your opponent cannot respond to this card” is not active until after your opponent has a chance to respond. A judge was called and it was ruled that Tac Vac does indeed work as intended and you cannot respond to it. There may be errata coming to make “your opponent cannot respond to this card” a cost so that it works properly without a judge call.
With the rules issue resolved, I again attacked for the win. It should be noted that had Vince knew the ruling for Tac Vac, he would have taken Claywork instead of Bile and the game would have gone very differently with me trying to draw my deck and Writ/Bile for win.
Round 4: Matt Kucklinca (Banker/Warlord) - Loss
My ability to effectively play the RI deck started to decrease during this match due to lack of sleep. Long story short, the match went five turns. Matt had two Erotic Assassins between turn one and two. I had a face down Hilarious Refrigerator Alarm on turn one or two and a Crest of Obsession with the RI combo in hand and two resources open. I chose to play a an Obsessive Compulsion, reducing my available resources to one.
The next turn (two or three), Matt plays a Plunging Shriever and destroys my Crest (I realized immediately my 3p1c play mistake since I could have left 2 open and used HRA to stop Shriever). I played the RI combo on turn three or four (I had to use a card to search for the Crest that I let get destroyed), at which time Matt had two Erotic Assassins and one Plunging Shriever.
I used Invent on my turn (again three or four, I'm not sure which) to search out my OTK pieces and the needed counters since Matt was playing Warlord. At this point my memory has a blank spot. I remember trying to use the OTK combo, and Matt countering with A Blazing Zero, which I countered with A Blazing Zero. Matt then drew a few cards and again countered with ABZ (again if memory serves, which it doesn't). Matt swung for win on his next turn as I didn't have a Limited Liability in hand.
I apologize for the lack of cohesiveness to this particular part of the report but it is the best I can do. I know that if I had not made the play mistake with HRA and letting my Crest get blown up, I might have won the match, but I could still see it going the other way.
Round 5: Nick Dorman (Banker/Warlord) - Win
During the first two or three turns of the game, Nick ramped resources and I kept waiting for him to play something. Perhaps he was flooded with resources because he played quite a few. I was gathering pieces for the RI combo during the first two/three turns.
I eventually played the combo turn three or four. I think Nick might have played a Dwarvish Grimalkin between turns two and four. At some point, Nick and I had a battle of counters where I ABZ'd his ABZ and played a Day of the Tentacle (looking to get rid of his Tac Vac if he had one). When I looked at Nick's hand, he had some tactics that I don't remember particularly caring about, but what surprised me was that he had a Samuel Gristwalter (SG) and a Framptle Tromwibbler.
Now granted, if SG was on the board, I would have searched for an Inhibit to be able to swing for the win but if he also had a Framptle, that would be a different story. I'm still not sure what he was planning (my brain was so addled by this point) and I don't remember seeing a Yurt in his hand, but it could have been there. I chose to put SG face down. I then played H4x0r5 into the OTK and swung for the win.
Top 4 – Round 1: Dan Sotelo (Mono Arcanist) – Loss
After starting the match with Dan, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was running a mono Arcanist deck and had made it into the Top 4. The short of this match is that Dan's deck pretty much naturally countered the RI deck because of discard effects, Quotidian Misfire, Eccentric Inquisition, and looping recursion of tactics.
Dan played Eccentric Inquisition (EI) three times against me and pulled out a lot of the combo pieces. He had an HRA, Writ of Reclamation, Research Investment, and other tactics pulled out by EI. He played Quotidian Misfire when I tried to draw and played it when I used Invent, forcing me to pick cards I wanted to put into my discard pile. He then played a Ritual of the Double Monkey, forcing me to put two cards into the Discard Pile.
During all of this he was swinging in for bits of damage each turn. I pretty much felt like my deck was a barrel full of fish and Dan was the fisherman. I don't remember everything he pulled out with EI but it was enough. I scooped after four to six turns when I realized that the recursion would not stop because he had an Inadequate Wand, Witty Worm, and Wanton Wizard on the field.
Now I am 100% sure that Hampuse would have done a better job than me since he has played the deck more and it is his deck in the first place. The deck also wouldn't have made it that far (potentially) if Vince had realized Tac Vac works as intended.
Mono-Arcanist (at least Dan's version) feels like a natural counter to the deck, although maybe I could have played around it and I just didn't/haven't realized how. It could be that Dan just had everything he needed, which is fine, but I still believe that even if he didn't, the deck would give RI OTK a run for its money. I am also 100% sure that I made LOTS of play mistakes, most of which I am currently unaware of. When I say I was play-testing, I really mean I was play-testing.
Some people feel that the RI combo will have a negative impact on the game and new players and that may be true, but the extent to which it will affect the game is not that clear. The thing about RI combos is that they can be countered and played around. The person facing a RI deck still gets to do stuff, unlike the Meat of the Mountain deck and the Emergency Obfuscation deck.
MotM and EO were banned because they caused not only a really negative play experience, but in the case of MotM, your opponent sat there for 30 minutes and did nothing. In the case of EO, the opponent does nothing and you have to switch sides of the table which doesn't work logistically in tournament settings.
You can't ban every card combination that is not pleasant to play against. Ass decks are boring but you can play around them. Control and counter decks are extremely un-fun for the person being controlled, but those aren't going to be banned.
It is not fun to lose the game in three-five turns but that doesn't mean that all deck types that can win in three-five turns should be banned. One turn kill decks aren't necessarily bad if they are happening on turn three and, if it is something in the metagame, you can meta against it. If OTK is happening on turn one or two consistently then that is far worse.
The version of RI OTK that I played uses a three card combo to go off. The likelihood of that happening with consistency in response to the end of your opponents second turn before the start of your third turn is not that high in my opinion, but again, I don't have nearly as much experience with the deck as Hampuse. I don't think the deck/combo has really seen enough high level competitive play to make a judgment call on banning.
Final words: need more data.
John Westcott's Gen Con decklist
- Tournament Faction
- Resources (24)
- Elitism x6 (2 starting)
- Rage x3
- Greed x3
- Obsession x10
- Characters (2)
- Cantankerous Claywork x2
- Tactics (42)
- 31337 x4
- All-Nighter x4
- Obsessive Compulsion x4
- Ameliorate x4
- Research Investment x4
- Invent x3
- Dark Awakening x2
- Hilarious Refrigerator Alarm x2
- 0p3r47i0n 1337 H4x0r5 x2
- Writ of Reclamation x2
- Limited Liability x2
- Tactician Vacation
- Day of the Tentacle
- A Blazing Zero
- Bask Bile
- Shriever Attack
- Hammer Smash
- Cock Block
- Items (11)
- Epiphany Ball x4
- Crest of Obsession x4
- Pepper of Insanity
- Luteoderm Goliath
- Unbearably Heavy Shoes of Teleportation