Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy Christmas, New Year, whatever else

Oh hi!

I've been pretty busy this past few days with the usual festive real-life nonsense, so I'm just going to drop in with a quick roundup of what's been going on in WoWTCG land over here.

Chase the Can

On the 22nd of December we chased some cans at Chimera Ripley! Owing to the success of the demos we did the week previous with the Class Starter Decks, we enforced a Class Starter only theme to the tournament. Unfortunately none of our demoees turned up, but we had a turnout of seven plus one of our regulars who came along to donate cans despite being unable to play due to Christmas errands.

I dug out my Horde Priest that had been so flaky back in the Spectral Safari days, taking me to a not entirely convincing 2-2 finish; this time things were much better, I finished first with a 3-0 record and took home four of each promo card for my troubles (Blade of the Empty Void and Life-staff of the Web Lair).

I took the cans to the Arena Church food bank in Ilkeston, about seven miles from Ripley. I was feeling pretty rough in the run-up to Christmas with a cough and cold, hadn't shaved for a couple of days and felt generally a little under the weather; this must have been pretty obvious as when I got there, the staff asked me if I was there for the food bank, before sitting me down with a form to fill in to claim some food for myself...

Post-Christmas Battlegrounds

There were only four of us for the Battlegrounds between Christmas and New Year, so we decided to get one final use out of The Reason for the Season for the year and play some Classic. Unfortunately I'd spent a bit of time preparing a deck for us to play Arena with, so I dug something else out of my bag, chucked Reason and a new card from Worldbreaker in, and went to work:

Tilly Fiddlelight

4 Lady Bancroft
4 Hurdan the Everlasting
4 Adam Eternum
4 Crusade Engineer Spitzpatrick
4 Dimzer the Prestidigitator
4 Shadowfiend

3 Signet of Manifested Pain

4 Divine Fury
4 A Taste of Divinity
4 Lesson of the Light
4 Mist of Corrosion
3 Tuskarr Kite

4 Eye of the Storm
4 Light Within the Darkness
4 Tabards of the Illidari
4 The Reason for the Season

I'd given a similar version of this to Josh for the Feast of Winter Veil event, and he piloted it to a 2-2 finish, which was pretty good for something I'd thrown together a couple of nights prior. I'd tweaked it a little, removing the Merciless Gladiator's Raiment and Searing Light, replacing them with Divine Fury, and adding in The Reason for the Season (which I didn't complete once!). I faced two opponents - a classic Grennan Stormspeaker Shaman burn deck, and a Ringleader Kuma deck that was tuned for Arena play.

The deck was largely built around the fact that Priests tend to suffer a little with card draw, but with the release of Tilly, the first Gnome Priest hero, you can now play Dimzer the Prestidigitator - enough to give any deck a little gee-up as the game goes on.

What I didn't expect was how relevant Tilly's flip would be - it costs 3, and gives allies in your party Mend 1. When you're churning out a Signet token every turn and pushing Hurdan the Everlasting back on to the field as often as possible, the flip works really nicely to let you keep pumping those tokens out without having to worry too much about your health total.

The deck was a moderate success. Having the curve top out at 5 means you can remain aggressive throughout the game, and it is pretty easy to deal with an early onslaught thanks to the Signet and Lesson of the Light, which works not only with your tokens, but also your standard one and two drops.

Unfortunately, no matter how I tried, there were two cards I really struggled against: Feral Spirit, and Nathanos Blightcaller. Nathanos was easy enough to deal with, but obviously involves sacrificing three cards/tokens just to kill the spawn of one; Feral Spirit could be dealt with by a Divine Fury and two Signet tokens, but even then, it's not ideal. Somewhat depressingly, the answer lies in the Blue Man Group - Mikael the Blunt.

I'm already playing Eye of the Storm, so with a little cutting, Mikael would fit right in and likely alleviate the two problems I came up against.

The draw issue was largely moot - I rarely ran out of cards, in slower games I was able to churn out a token and Kite it immediately, Dimzer worked as expected and the Adam/Spitzpatrick draw engine will normally net you two or three cards, not to mention giving you the option of not removing Adam in preparation for a five damage beat to the face.

Some tweaking is required, but this performed much better than I expected it to. I finished 1-1 after failing three times in a row to deal with Feral Spirit (double Feral Spirit on one occasion).

Chimera Championships 2011

This came as something of a pleasant surprise to hear about - next year, the two Chimera stores are running an inter-store WoWTCG championship, with monthly qualifiers and a final to be held at some point at the end of April. The first qualifier is on the 8th of January 2011, the entry is a fiver and there's prize support in the form of one pack per player, various EAs and free entry to any Chimera sessions for a month to the winner.

More information can be found on Facebook.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Worldbreaker Release #2: Once More With Feeling

Today I was in Sheffield at Patriot Games, to take part in another Worldbreaker release party thing. After yesterday's lackluster performance I'd come prepared - having been raised on a diet of Scourgewar block limited play, where you generally need some sort of bomb to get far, yesterday's performance had shown that the synergies between your cards were much more important this time round.

I'd come along with my man Steve, who unfortunately has to work Saturdays so is unable to join in at Chimera. We strode in at 11am only to find the tournament wasn't starting for another hour, so went and got a coffee and lamented the fact that we've both got varying degrees of man flu (his worse than mine). One Toffee Nut Latte later and we were back out in the -5C chill on the way back to the store.

Today's tournament was a slightly more modest turnout - six! The scene in Sheffield died around the time when Upper Deck lost the WoWTCG license last year, and hasn't really recovered. Patriot run monthly tournaments which have varying turnouts depending on whether a local group of players from Doncaster turn up or not, but it was good to see some old faces again from when the game was more popular in't Yorkshire.

Halfway through opening my first pack, someone starts whooping in the background. Mottled Drake Loot then. Here's my rares:

Mana Shift, Onslaught, Grim Campfire, Devout Aurastone Hammer, Kentro Slade, Korialstrasz

After flicking through those first two packs and finding Mana Shift and Onslaught (and a Lil' XT Loot) I was expecting to be in for a long day. The following four ended up making it in to my deck though - how fortuitous to open two pieces of equipment that can be used by exactly the same classes! That removes one awkward choice from proceedings. I remember reading how good the hammer was in a feature match from DMF Los Angeles, so was pretty keen to put it to use if possible.

Even better, the three classes I was ever likely to play after sorting my abilities were Druid, Priest and Shaman. I ditched Shaman due to a lack of direct removal, despite having Nature Resistance Totem; I then had to choose between the Priest's ability hate in Oppress and semi-removal in Psychic Wail, or the Druid's heal in Flourish and the double Entangling Roots (which proved useful when I saw it yesterday).

Having opened a Terina Calin I was sorted for equipment hate, so I decided to adopt a refined version of yesterday's strategy, picked up a Flourish, two Entangling Roots, the equipment, and said hello to my old friend Arturius.

Arturius Hathrow

2 Entangling Growth

Grim Campfire
Devout Aurastone Hammer

Ruby Flameblade
Ruby Skyrazor
Ruby Blazewing
Emerald Tree Warder
Emerald Wanderer

Garet Vice
2 Loriam Argos
Bella Wilder
Terina Calin
2 Alister Cooper
Kentro Slade
Aresha Thorncaller
Marcus Dominar
Pixla Darkmist
Wazix Blonktop
Nightstalker Austen
Furan Rookbane
Bayner Cogbertson

Locked Away
The Key to Freedom
The Witch's Bane
2 The Essence of Enmity
The Torch of Retribution

Four relevant rares in a Sealed pool! ...well, three, but looking at yesterday's pool, I'm not sure why I left Kentro Slade out. He's a decent (if effectively blank) four-drop due to his five health - there's very little, if anything, in the four-drop slot that will kill him outright, so he will do some damage before he goes. When cutting my pool I was a bit more ruthless with the Dragonkin - yesterday I had the Skinned Whelp Shoulders, today not so. This meant I could cut out cards like Emerald Soldier and Lifewarden, who offered little to my deck that a blue ally couldn't do better.

I gave Steve a hand building his deck, and he eventually went with Horde Shaman, having opened an Exxi the Windshaper and a couple of bits of removal. I was just helping him cut a few cards out of his deck when the first round pairings were called, and we were to play each other first.

Round 1 - vs Steve, playing Goblin Shaman (1-0)

"So now you've just built my deck for me, what's a good hand?" came from over the table. "Do you have a two-drop, and do you curve upwards from there?" was about the best I could offer - a good two-drop is pretty crucial as you can generally trade quite favourably from there if you can keep curving. A 3/2 can still kill some four or five drops.

I drew my opening hand and found a lot of low-cost guys and the hammer. I snap kept, though I made a punt for failure early on by seeing Steve's 2/3 on turn 2, and playing a Ruby Flameblade "because that has Assault 1 and will kill it herp derp" before realising my mistake. Thankfully I was able to push board presence with the hammer and the two Loriam Argos in hand and eventually reached a point where I was holding three five or six drops and had no immediate need to play any more resources, so I had a steady stream of dangerous things ready to go.

Game two saw me draw the hammer again, so this time I did it properly - T2 Loriam, T3 Hammer + Loriam, and a couple of turns later I clear the board of danger and drop a Korialstrasz. Before you know it there are whelps everywhere and my friend is not my friend any more.

Round 2 - vs Man who used to TO at Sheffield, playing Draenei Paladin (2-0)

My opponent had been told he had paired upwards in this round - as there were only six of us, someone had to. My opponent had lost his previous game despite pulling a nice thing in Vigil of the Light, so I was preparing to tread carefully around that, and wasn't rushing in to anything.

This time I had both the hammer and the campfire in hand - was I finally going to be able to get some use out of my flip? Alas, no - after mitigating early ally pressure and replenishing my hand with Zuur, I set up camp only for my opponent to decide to withhold his army and drop Big Scary Weapons instead. It wasn't quite what I had in mind, but it did save me the three resources required to flip. He dropped a Terina who broke my hammer, but I respond with Korialstrasz, which is enough to get a concession.

Game 2 and the hammer eludes me! My trusty campfire has reported for duty though so I dutifully trade all my allies for a few turns, drop the campfire, and the opposing allies dry up again. Big Scary Weapon is back shortly after, and the hammer turns up for duty too; this time Terina snuffs out the campfire and with it, any hope of doing funky things with my flip. Eventually I am able to drop Bayner Cogbertson and it doesn't take long for the damage to rack up.

One round to go then - I go to perform some recon on the two decks I might be playing against only to find them finished, and my fellow Druid making his way over to my table.

Round 3 - vs Matt Cooper, playing Troll Druid (3-0)

Matt has, to the best of my knowledge, been on the WoWTCG scene in Sheffield for a while. I remember he was the first player I faced at the Fields of Honor preview - the first time I'd played Sealed, and back in the day when I had to double-check that damage on allies was permanent - and he offered me biscuits before beating me senseless. In a way I was out for revenge.

He had a sealed pool that was alarmingly similar to mine from yesterday - Earth and Moon, Ysera the Dreamer and Kentro Slade! I only found out about this the hard way after something of an epic battle during our first game. I had managed to build up a small board presence but on my fifth turn with the hammer in play I make a misplay. I play the campfire, and then facepalm as I am short of resources to play Zuur; Matt proceeds to drop Mahna Lightsky and I'm kicking myself as Zuur, along with whoever he fetches back, will be a bit useless now. So I dig for allies.

It doesn't help much. The campfire is more of a pile of ash, my allies are largely useless, but I'm able to drop a couple of protectors and cross my fingers. The next turn, the campfire fizzles out completely with the help of Drizzie Steelslam and we find ourselves at a stalemate - a moment where we need the big guns. The MVP.

Bayner Cogbertson. Matt's reaction is to pick the card up to see what it does, and concludes "Oh hi, I am fat."

Bayner doesn't last long - an Entangling Roots to the face leaves him useless, and Kloxx Dedrix enters the field to stop me from trying anything funny - and I'm left puzzled as to where to go next. Thankfully Matt is happy to sit behind his wall of Protectors, and passes back to me. So I dig some more, and this time, recruit the real MVP - Aresha Thorncaller. Thanks to Mr. Cogbertson over there who isn't going anywhere any time soon, Aresha will have Nature Resistance for approximately... forever. Splendid. With two protectors on the field now it's looking slightly better for me - my Marcus Dominar can eat Matt's Drizzie Steelslam, and the remaining three resources I have go towards my own Entangling Roots on Mahna Lightsky. Matt brings Dorladris Spellfire and Earth and Moon to the table and passes back.

Pixia Darkmist jumps off the top of my deck and gives my Hero Protector, which I put to good use getting in the way of Dorladris - meaning I take five to the face. I'm looking a little haggard right now on about 15 damage, and with Earth and Moon out I had to clear the board before something bad happened. So, on my next turn I get to work, trading my allies in, getting rid of the pesky Kloxx, and dropping Wazix Blonktop on the table. With my remaining three resources I hold my breath and complete The Essence of Emnity, lay out the top five cards of my deck, and look for something that's going to help me finish this game.

I take Ruby Skyrazor - on my next turn, all my allies will be Untargetable. This spurs Matt into action - he clears my board up as much as possible with Wrath and Sura Lightningheart, and sets out to draw some cards with his remaining quests. One card in particular makes him grin. I don't like that, and at that point I had no idea what it was.

I make my board untargetable, finish off my own remaining quests (completing Locked Away for 5, and drawing The Key to Freedom from it), and pass back.

Matt plays Ysera the Dreamer after counting his resources a few times. Steve looks over my shoulder at this point, having won his final round and wondering where I'm at. "You're boned," he tells me. I scan the board, and tap Aresha.

Ysera was carrying five static attack thanks to Earth and Moon, and only Aresha was carrying Nature Resistance, so I needed to tread carefully. Thankfully I still had a (heavily damaged) Marcus Dominar on board so could keep the two of them ready and just hope Matt is unable to get his hands on something that would kill either of them. Thankfully my next couple of cards were Korialstrasz and Ruby Flameblade - two further allies later and I do some counting, before offering "Attack you for 43?" in conclusion.

We have 15 minutes left, and given my last performance I'm hoping that we'll get munged up in the mid to late game. Matt has different ideas, playing Zakis Trickstab on turn 3, Earth and Moon on turn 4 and taking me out in about seven minutes while I frantically scrambled to find an Entangling Roots. It was the next card I would have drawn.

Four or five turns in to the final game and I'm one damage behind, and time is called. I kept a reactionary hand featuring lots of low-cost allies and both Entangling Roots. I take the calling of time as the perfect moment to slap an Entangling Roots down on whatever Matt had on the board, and some irrelevant ally; he plays a protector, I roots that too and attack for victory.

I stride out of the Organised Play area with my chest puffed out and claim my zero packs of prize support and my lovely new playmat which I gave straight to Steve as six playmats is quite enough thank you very much, and disappeared into the freezing night to get a cup of tea and boast about my achievements to the women.

They didn't care.

Worldbreaker Release results

It's been a bit of a funny week - Worldbreaker released on Tuesday, but due to a cockup with distribution, retailers didn't receive theirs until the day after release. My friend and I had ordered a few boxes through Firestorm Cards, and being an online retailer, the delays had a knock-on effect; the parcel was with UPS to be delivered on Friday, but...


Thanks, UPS!

That was Sealed practice out the window anyway - and to date, the cards haven't arrived. However, practice or no practice, I was attending two release parties this weekend - one at Chimera Ripley on Saturday, and one at Patriot Games in Sheffield on Sunday. Sealed is my favourite format and despite my first few attempts at playing the format (Fields of Honor Sneak, Realm Championship 4 Open) being an utter disaster (last and second-last respectively), it's been the format I've overall been the most successful with, following a Realm Championship qualifier win and a decent amount of release event win/runner-up finishes. I was a little dismayed by the lack of practice, but arriving at Ripley in plenty of time, finding out the parking is free for Christmas and cracking some quality rares certainly helped me feel a bit more confident:

I'd promised myself that if I opened a Master Hero that I wasn't going to include them in my deck - I've seen people play Kel'thuzad to devastating effect in limited, but Alexstraza and Ysera don't have nearly as much of an immediate impact on the game, so while a pleasant surprise to see peeking out of my first pack, Ysera was put on the sidelines.

Kentro Slade didn't get played as I was overflowing with four-drops in the Alliance, though amusingly I had all the pieces to make him workable - Venerable Mass of McGowan, Etched Dragonbone Girdle, Swift Hand of Justice, Ysera. A five-card combo in a thirty card deck didn't seem like a particularly sensible idea though!

Venerable Mass of McGowan isn't so good without something to stash, which left the remaining three. I reckon Seeping Shadows will be a nightmare in this format - milling is always powerful in limited due to the half-size decks, and Worldbreaker brings with it very little by way of ability removal. Jhuunash is a monster at any point in the game, and Earth and Moon is devastating if your deck contains enough Arcane and Nature damage.

I was a little disappointed with my ally pool - Alliance was very low-end heavy, and the Horde had lots of scary-looking gaps in, but after taking a peek at my class abilities (2x Fear vs Earth and Moon and Entangling Roots) I picked Alliance Druid and resolved to simply overpower my opponents with big numbers rather than trying to stall them. I ended up with the following.

Pairings are called and I sit in between two other Druid players, one of whom also pulled Earth and Moon. After not seeing much play in Scourgewar block, it's proving quite the popular choice, likely down to Entangling Roots - it's no-nonsense, difficult to remove, and instant.

We're playing best of one due to time constraints, so opening hand is vital...

Game 1 vs Josh, playing some cards (1-0)

Josh is a youngster who seems to play just about everything going, and he certainly knows his stuff. I can't remember exactly what he played, but I do remember seeing a Mottled Drake in his deck. I pulled a ridiculous hand and curved out nicely with the Worgen crew and the game was over in a few minutes. Taking a quick look through his deck he'd committed the #1 Limited Error: Playing the class with the most abilities.

Game 2 vs Nik, playing some other cards (2-0)

Every month or so I travel to Birmingham to play boardgames and stuff with a couple of friends who I met through the TCG. Nik is one of those friends and as a result this was a must-win for fear of mockery. No particular details but it was pretty even until I managed to drop a five-drop for three turns in a row, then Earth and Moon; after that I had the upper hand and wasn't about to let it go. Nik probably called me names as a result. <3

Game 3 vs Pukey, playing Alliance Druid with Earth and Moon (2-1)

Two wins in and I was just getting in to the swing of things. The Druid player I mentioned earlier was now sat opposite me and it was shaping up to be a pretty even matchup. I started off aggressively with T1 Worgen, T2 Worgen, T3 Earth and Moon into Big Numbers, but it wasn't long before the opposing EaM hit the table and his hero went facedown.

This was where I started to struggle. Contained within my deck was precisely zero healing, and also zero hate for equipment or abilities (none in the Horde either). Pukey dropped a Lockjaw and immediately got to work being nasty - each turn he could pay 2 to heal something using the Lockjaw, and ping an ally for 3, enabling him to refill his hand whilst keeping control of my board for a low price. 

The game effectively ended when he dropped Koeus, killing my Earth and Moon. I continued to drop allies but they were merely fodder for his flip, and I was left to lament not attempting to rush out while I had the chance earlier.

Game 4 vs Jack Fejer, playing Alliance Death Knight (2-2)

"I'm only playing one Death Knight ability," announced Jack as he sat down at the table, before showing me a copy of Unholy Ground, followed by a copy of Frenzy, proving once and for all that he doesn't really understand numbers. I was pretty surprised to be facing Jack as he'd been steamrollering everyone else in his path, but he'd lost his third round to his missus, who was also playing Druid. Unholy Ground just didn't come up for him that game.

It did in this one. Turn four, to be precise, at which point he told me he was going to make me sad, before trading all his allies away only to be replaced with stinky Ghouls. And that was that really!

As this game had also gone incredibly quickly, we had a rematch. Now I knew the main win condition, and knew that I couldn't destroy it - so I needed to take an aggressive approach.

I didn't win that either - every Worgen I had was thrown at his face and I was two damage short of the kill. Unholy Ground is an absolute monster.

2-2 placed me about half way down the field, nowhere near the big prizes - I took my 'Sympathy Pack' (Chimera like to give all participants a prize) and cracked a Boomer. Not too bad. After this was the Feast of Winter Veil, which I would rather not talk about in depth as I finished 2-2 in that as well, getting humped by my own backup deck (a shoddy Gnome Priest I threw together a few days before) after running out of cards and seeing all four Snipes and Both Kel'thuzads in the bottom ten cards of the deck, and Mike from Birmingham, who destroyed my Pappy Ironbane with a Betrayer of Humanity - and then three turns later I was dead, having milled through half of my deck looking for a card that would save me. 

I shouldn't have lost to either deck - I was playing the updated version of my Snipey Idiot Hunter and on paper both of the decks I lost to should have succumbed pretty easily, but them's the breaks :) I did have fun slowly taking a Gift of the Earthmother Druid to pieces with it though.

I gladly took my sympathy pack, containing another Boomer, and left the store via the cash desk having purchased an entire box of Worldbreaker as it was discounted. Oops.

Today's escapades to follow...

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Some nonsense about Worldbreaker

I have to admit I've been finding it a bit of a slog going through the Worldbreaker spoiler in preparation for writing this - there's 270 cards to go through and half way through the list you've forgotten the ones you wanted to look at to begin with!

After a bit of a lazy weekend, I took another look at Magic Workstation - a program that lets you play card games online. I've been saying for ages that the trial version doesn't let you play online - turns out I was wrong, I just hadn't figured out how to do it yet. With that, I jumped into a Worldbreaker sealed tournament that Tinytode from the official forums was running to get a bit of a handle on some of these new cards.

It's not quite the same as opening six packs of Worldbreaker - I got sent my random list of cards only to find out that I'd got three Contagious Poisons, which would have been lovely if I had also received any weapons or methods to give my hero ATK/Assault! My other rares were Rolan Phoenix, Repurposed Lava Dredger and Onslaught. I ended up playing none of them, sticking with Rogue anyway for the two copies of Bully and a Gouge. It was either that or Warrior, where I had two Execute and three Etched Dragonbone Girdles, but I decided it would be best not to dilute my deck too much and stuck with the class that had some simple removal.

I'm not going to post the whole decklist as nobody cares about a 4/3 with no text, but will elaborate on a few of the cards that stood out to me over the four rounds played.

My pool contained two Kerzok Plixboom, and he was the card that swung me into Horde, despite opening a Rolan Phoenix and three Zuur* on the Alliance side. Long-range cards have historically been underpowered due to the fact they effectively damage 'for free' but Kerzok is really rather good. Sure, he's fragile, but especially in limited, drop him on an empty board and your opponent won't even be able to take him out with an ally with Ferocity; it's removal/direct damage or face having all your allies eaten for free.

*Rolan and Zuur were my biggest Nature allies; recurring guys that attack for 3 didn't seem like a particularly earthshattering gameplan, but after playing some rounds, you really can't ignore the fact that he gets you a card when you play him, even if it just ends up face down in your row.

Onnekra Bloodfang has been talked about a lot - the lovechild of Bloodsoul and Offender Gora, and looks like a baby. Great on your first turn in limited but not so much during the rest of the game, when you really want the flexibility to be able to attack allies too.

Ceraka is incredibly dangerous in limited - one of my games tonight finished with me running a few weenies into my opponent on turn 5, dropping Ceraka, flipping a quest and letting them see whether they could deal with it before I burned them for 12 the next turn. Oddly enough they couldn't. I see her as a good finisher in an Orc deck, though how viable an Orc deck is these days remains to be seen...

I had very few Emerald Dragonkin in my pool, but the Ruby ones were a funny bunch - dropping Ruby Stalker and Ruby Flameblade on turns one and two was pretty strong, but a Ruby Enforcer on turn three is just a ferocious dude with one health. If your Flameblade didn't make it to turn three then it might be a ferocious dude with one health that can't kill much. From the three-drop onwards, the Ruby Dragonkin provide desirable effects with the drawback of below-average stats. They really help bolster an existing board of allies - even one ally can gain a lot from a Ruby companion - but topdeck one on an empty board and you may find yourself wanting.

Traxel Emberklik is one of the reasons you may find a late-game Ruby Dragonkin lacking. This guy is hard to kill and will generally get in for two or three pings before getting eaten. I lost a game to a Priest playing two of them - Mend 1 and Lockjaw meant I didn't manage to kill either, and felt compelled to concede when I was staring down a field of two ready Traxels and was holding three allies with two health. (Yes, yes: 'Worgens, lol')

Quests were generally crap - Challenge to the Black Flight is usually a Pay 2 Draw 1, though I did manage P2D2 once. Cleansing Witch Hill is great if you can get it, and The Essence of Emnity is the only one of the search quests that's worth playing in limited. Quest selection will probably make or break a lot of decks at the upcoming weekend's events - if you open a selection of quests that search for abilities and equipment you may be in for a long day. Any Quest you can complete for 2 is pretty much a must-play, and A Matter of Time is deceptively playable - it's three to draw a card at minimum, and if Everfrost can see play in a DMF-winning deck (albeit partly due to it's added power, which helped avoid Mages being able to fish anything useful out of their graveyards with Flickers from the Past), then you can certainly make use of this in a format where cards are so hard to come by.

I went 2-2 in the end, which after building my pool was two wins better off than I thought I'd be at the end of the event. Cards that let you draw and cards that let you destroy equipment are going to be very important in Worldbreaker sealed; Master Heroes may as well be a face-down resource in your deck, and the Goblins are definitely a match for the Worgen.

Best of luck next weekend!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Imp Lord Posing Pouch

In six days from now, Core as we know it will be no more. Cards from March of the Legion, Servants of the Betrayer and The Hunt for Illidan will no longer be legal for play in the Core format, as Worldbreaker will be unleashed upon us.

Over the past few weeks I've been bidding farewell to some of my favourite decks of the last year - I've hid in bushes and sprung traps on the unfortunate with Shaii, paid Diane one last visit before careering in to battle like a madman, and now...

Some tiny guy with a huge mouth and an alarmingly bulging crotch.

If there's one thing I've learned whilst playing this game, it's that nobody ever expects you to play Pinprik. He's fragile, one-dimensional and taking him to the party is very much a gamble - but get it right and it can pay dividends.

Let's take a quick look at what makes him so different to any other hero then. First off, he has a piffling eight health, but to counteract that, he is Elusive - he cannot be attacked by allies. He also has some pretty crazy deckbuilding restrictions:

You can include only neutral quests, any abilities that deal fire damage, and any [Fire] allies. You can't include cards with reputation or text restrictions (like Fire Hero Required).

So. ANY abilities that deal fire damage. That means you can play Warlock, Mage and Shaman cards in the same deck. ANY [Fire] allies - so Horde, Alliance and pets/neutral, providing they don't have any text restrictions.

And just to reiterate - he's Elusive. Can't be attacked. Doesn't seem like such a bad deal now.

I first built a Pinprik deck in the run-up to the UK's fifth Realm Championship. I'd had the idea after a blog post on the old, now defunct Upper Deck blog mentioned Pinprik and provided a sample decklist that had probably never been tested. It consisted almost entirely of cards that cost 1, and the result of this is that you would run out of cards by your third turn and then have to spend resources drawing more; not exactly efficient.

I took a Classic version to a Realm Qualifier and lost every single game, but by this point I was starting to have ideas. I eventually chopped and changed everything around and, satisfied with the new efficiency in the deck, put it to one side and went to work on something a little less silly for me to play in the Realm Championship.

In the end the Realm Championship was cancelled as a result of Upper Deck losing the game's license, though Rob Hooley, the UK's head of Organised Play, went ahead and ran the event anyway. My 'serious' deck wasn't setting the world on fire, and the archetype of Death Wish Warrior was starting to gain momentum, so I figured that I would take my little friend (in his Pokémon deck box) for a spin as there would be some very favourable matchups, and results be damned.

I eventually finished 3-2 and experienced the full Pinprik spectrum - one automatic win (no direct damage), one automatic loss (Silvermoon City), one game that wasn't really close and two that were very close indeed.

Since then I've refined the deck a little and continued to have mild success with it - I piloted it to a 2-1 finish at the Zapped Giants Community Open II Core section, and brought it to tonight's Battlegrounds as my final foray into Core, eventually going 3-2, winning a match I shouldn't really have won (Kil'zin) and losing a match I really should have won (Feral Druid... with double Hurricane).

Imp Lord Pinprik

4 Noxel Shroudhaggle
4 Routeen
4 Waz'luk
4 Anders Blankheart
4 Brodien
4 Dread Infernal
2 Flame Bender Ta'jin

3 Cremate
4 Fire Blast
4 Immolate
4 Incinerate
4 Incendiary Totem
3 Fireball

2 The Blood is Life
2 Forces of Jaedenar
3 Falling to Corruption
3 A Tale of Valor
3 Orders from Lady Vashj

The deck is pretty simple. Kill them with fire before they kill you with anything. Noxel is hilarious if you can get him on the table in your first turn, and if you're facing an uphill struggle you should really think about mulliganing aggressively for him. Routeen lets you ping away even if there are opposing Protectors on the table, Anders and Brodien are both Elusive and direct damage is usually directed straight at the hero, and Dread Infernal is a great way of pumping damage out - he has an impact on the field immediately and even if he dies, he'll often take someone with him.

The only issue with the above list is the quest lineup. Back at 'Realms', A Tale of Valor hadn't been released, and I've found it to be pretty hit and miss. Previously I played the following:

3 The Blood is Life
4 Forces of Jaedenar
3 Falling to Corruption
3 Orders from Lady Vashj

The problem with A Tale of Valor is that you never quite know what you're going to get. The Blood is Life does require you to sacrifice an ally, but that's what Dread Infernal is for...

Obviously the deck has some drawbacks, namely the difficult matches against anyone playing a reasonable amount of direct damage, and anyone playing Silvermoon City - which is a guaranteed automatic loss. It is slightly galling that Worldbreaker brings with it two new cards that would be perfect for a Pinprik deck - Searing Pain, which could frequently deal 6-8 damage, and Cleansing Witch Hill, which is the only card Pinprik can currently utilise that will let you flip an opposing location.

Alas, Pinprik and his junk will soon be banished outside the walled garden of Core. This is perhaps not the saddest loss though, as over half of the above deck also rotates out with him. There is always the option of playing Classic, where our little friend can make use of Blistering Fire, Flame Shock and the aforementioned Worldbreaker cards... but that's for another day.

If we lie low for a while, people will stop expecting us... and that's when we're the most dangerous.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Worldbreaker Full Spoiler is up

Daily Metagame have had the full Worldbreaker spoiler up since yesterday, and now their server isn't getting hammered quite as much as it was yesterday, you should maybe go and take a look!

I've had a quick look myself and need to spend a bit of time combing through it before I start picking stuff out to discuss. It's been pretty busy recently as BlazBlue Continuum Shift came out on Monday (£20 in HMV, also in two for £30 promotion) so I've been playing that a little bit too, and shirking blogging responsibilities in its place. Hopefully I'll be able to put something up this Sunday.

I'm helping run a WoWTCG Demo Day at Chimera Ripley on Saturday - if you happen to be in the area then drop by and say hi! We're demoing on the 11th December 2010 from 10:00 until approximately 16:00, and if that whet your appetite there's also a glut of other events coming soon:

  • 15th December, Battlegrounds (Classic) 20:00 - 22:30
  • 18th December, Worldbreaker Release (Sealed) 10:00 - ~14:00
  • 18th December, Feast of Winter Veil (Worldbreaker Core) ~14:00 - 17:00
  • 22nd December, Chase the Can (Class starter decks, entry cost is 4 cans of non-perishable food) 20:00 - 22:30
  • 29th December, Battlegrounds (Worldbreaker Core) 20:00 - 22:30
More on January's events when we get it - there will likely be a Realm Qualifier to look forward to but no dates have been finalised yet.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Worldbreaker Previews - Collection of Epics

The Darkmoon Faire Los Angeles has begun! Round one is being played as I type and Cryptozoic are teasing out the odd new preview in their picture feed on Facebook. Most amusing is they have someone dressed as Alexstraza playing a custom deck featuring lots of non-previewed cards - if you win you'll get your photo taken with the Red Dragonkin Aspect herself and earn a spot on the WoWTCG website as a Dragonslayer.

Which reminds me - the new website is due to launch soon - it looks excellent.

Anyway. A quick catch up on the official previews, starting with the Red Aspect herself.

Alexstraza the Life-binder

I've had a couple of days to mull this one over and after the initial feeling of it not quite living up to its Green cousin, I've come back round to seeing the potential again.

I've heard a lot of people complain about her method of play - costing one less to play for each ATK amongst allies you have on the board. Master Heroes usually hit play around turn 10, and there's been plenty of suggestions that if you have 15ATK on the board at that point you're already likely to win.

I don't necessarily disagree with that but I think there's more potential in this card. I've been discussing a draft decklist with a friend and it has the potential to be crazy. We're going to get together and have a play around with it next week so you should probably expect noise about it here!

Ysera the Dreamer

That's right - two Master Heroes in one set! Not only that, they're both available to all classes and reputations.

Ysera's payment oddities are not quite as easily-abusable as Alexstraza's, especially if you play a location. In a 'normal' deck you're not likely to see her before turn 10/11, but this is where the Green Dragonkin come in to play. Their effects revolve heavily around your resource row, and a couple of the previewed ones, Eranikus and Emerald Lifewarden allow you to lay extra resources, helping you become Ysera much quicker.

On paper, without building a deck around Ysera, I feel Kel'thuzad is a better fit for the classes that can use him. However, anything with even a smidge of resource acceleration in will love Ysera to bits.

I probably don't need to mention it, but Reawakening is clearly the tits in this situation too.

Avatar of the Wild

Never mind the Master Heroes though. Dual class abilities are Epic in Worldbreaker, and if the other, unpreviewed ones are anywhere near as good as this, we're in for a pretty exciting ride.

This card is perfect for filling in those gaps in your curve. It's however big you want it to be and it is always angry.

This card will also probably cost lots of money, and you will almost always want four of it...

Vigil of the Light

This card has a very important distinction from other similar cards that don't carry a purple tag at the bottom.

"Put target ally from your graveyard into play."

No mention of resources, or any other restrictions. Just grab an ally from the bin and put it on the table.

I've seen people talking about using this for a Turn 6 King Varian Wrynn... but why stop there? Turn 6 Xi'ri anyone?

Realistically Varian is the ideal card to aim for in this circumstance, and the major benefit it has over something like Ancestral Awakening is that not only does the lucky ally enter play with no damage, it will also get fully healed each turn.

Potentially great with Spirit of Stormrage too. A 0/12 Untargetable that gets healed fully each turn, that can search out other silver bullets (of any type!) in your deck is very, very tempting.


It exhausts shit and makes you dangerous - and it costs 1! I don't know much about Warrior decks but you can't argue with something like this.

Summoning Portal

Being able to tutor any ally out of your deck for 2 is very reasonable. Being able to tutor Hesriana out of your deck for 2 is very unreasonable, and I hate it already.

This will enable Warlock midrange decks to run less hate - something like Warlock Orcs for instance, could probably get away with running one Cromarius, one Munkin and a playset of this, with the added benefit that you can always pick out that elusive fat guy that is hiding from you towards the end of the game. It still effectively adds 2 to the cost of anything you search out with it, and being an ability it is open to being interrupted by more than just Mages, but being able to search out the best possible answer to Weldon Barov at a moment's notice is not to be sniffed at.

That's your lot then - I'm not sure whether there's going to be an official spoiler but hopefully we'll see most of the remainder of the set in the event coverage.

Keep an eye on it! Coverage can be found on Facebook and the Crypto Blog/Website thing.

Elements' Fury

It's been a funny few days. In the UK we're not exactly adept at dealing with inclement weather, and snow is probably our country's Achilles heel. Our roads and public transit system are somewhat clogged and unreliable, most of the country's schools are closed, but I did get to work from home for a couple of days.

I returned to work today, and after an uneventful 45-mile drive I pulled in to the car park at work... and promptly beached the car on a foot of snow, resulting in needing to be pushed out later.

The local FLGS also had to close for a day or two while our local councils decided whether to bother gritting around there, and as a result we had to skip Battlegrounds for a week, so I have no Core best-of to fall back on this weekend. Diane did me proud last week though - 3-1 for first place on tiebreakers in the end, one game against a Warlock DoT deck which left me with one damage to go before I made the kill, and against a deck somewhat similar to mine that was designed to double-strike and play powerful allies rather than my quad-strike/Red Bearon concoction, where I pushed all 28 damage through in one turn.

So anyway! I'll catch up on some of the previews later, today saw Ysera and Alexstraza round off a pretty decent set of previews in anticipation of tomorrow's Darkmoon Faire Los Angeles, where players will be cracking Worldbreaker packs to play sealed with. Trick is, other than the previews and the FAQ document that was posted today, nobody knows what else is in the set. It's going to be an interesting weekend.

One thing I did want to comment on before I go into the previews is that the hero sheet has been released, so we finally know what new race/class combinations we're getting! The pdf file has changed locations a couple of times, but:
  • Worgen / Troll Druid
  • Human / Undead Hunter
  • Dwarf / Orc Mage
  • Tauren Paladin
  • Gnome / Tauren Priest
  • Worgen / Goblin Rogue
  • Dwarf / Goblin Shaman
  • Worgen / Goblin Warlock
  • Blood Elf Warrior
The flips on the new heroes are all static, much like the old Arena Grand Melee heroes; some are better than others though. The Tauren Priest's three-cost Mend 1 isn't exactly enviable but the following are pretty decent:
  • Rekwa Proudhorn, Tauren, Paladin, Retribution: (2) >> Flip Rekwa. Back: Damage that Rekwa and allies you control is unpreventable
  • Caleb Pavish, Worgen, Rogue, Assassination: (2) >> Flip Caleb. Back: Caleb deals 1 Nature damage to Target hero.
  • Grizlik Sparkhex, Goblin, Warlock, Demonology: (2) >> Flip Grizlik. Back: You can control an additional Pet.
  • Peter Hottelet, Human, Warrior, Arms: (4) >> Flip Peter. Back: When you strike with a Melee weapon, you may add a +1 ATK counter to it.
I'm pretty impressed with these four - the Paladin one speaks for itself, and the Rogue's is a static DoT. The Warlock is a little more difficult to quantify - being able to control extra pets is generally strong due to their crazy stats compared to normal allies, but Demonology has forever been the least-loved Warlock spec and trying to balance the right number of pets in your deck can be a deckbuilding nightmare at times... having the ability as a static flip power rather than on a fragile ability is definitely a plus though!

Peter's is probably the most interesting at this moment in time. Bear in mind you strike with a weapon before damage is dealt, this flip being active will power up any weapon with ease. My mind wanders to Jin'rohk all too often in situations like this, but a friend pointed out something potentially scarier - a Warrior with daggers! A pair of Whispering Blades of Slaying could hit for six with the flip active, and from then on, it would just get messier.

There isn't a huge amount of Core-legal stuff granting Dual Wield to Warriors at the moment, but you never know what Worldbreaker brings. Even a simple Krol Blade imitator would benefit immensely from this flip, or what about an Edge of Oblivion that never runs out of tokens? It's a shame the flip costs 4 but in the right circumstances it could be devastating.

Hopefully we'll see something amazing tomorrow - I'm really excited to learn about the rest of the set so will be keeping a close eye on proceedings tomorrow.

For now, to bed - the snow has begun to fall once again.