Saturday, 30 April 2011

Silverpine (UK) Realm Championship [16/04/2011]

HOLIDAY to ICELAND: condensed into one convenient picture
I awoke on Saturday morning feeling somewhat delicate. Jetlag will do that to you - that and staying up playing videogames until 1am when you really should know better.

Being on holiday until Friday morning, I'd had little time for sleep, let alone testing or innovation. I'd had a whole Wednesday evening prior to going away to test some new tech in my good old Koo'zar build, and it would be fair to say that it was a turgid evening, me registering very few wins and not feeling much consistency in my deck.

Regardless, I soldiered on, rejigged what I'd cut for said tech and hopped in the car.

Witch Doctor Koo'zar

3 Dispel Magic
4 Shadow Word: Anguish

4 Rosalyne von Erantor
Onnekra Bloodfang
4 Broderick Langforth
4 Bloodsoul
4 Shadowfiend
2 Trade Prince Gallywix
4 Ruby Flameblade
4 Ruby Enforcer
4 Uruka the Cutthroat
4 Twilight Vanquisher Knolan
4 Babagahnoosh the Grumpy
3 Sava'gin the Reckless
4 Cairne, Earthmother's Chosen

2 Talisman of the Horde

For Great Honor

My tech was originally three copies of the talisman, but having drawn it far too often in my test games, dropped it to two to try and avoid diluting the deck too much. If your opponent knows about it they can still play around it but there are few, if any, better options that fit in this deck for that purpose.

Bumped into Julian on the way to the venue, we dropped by Burger King for a terrible breakfast (that wasn't the original intention), and did the usual pre-tournament stuff.

Round 1: vs Duncan Tang playing Jeremiah on a horse

What I really wanted was someone who I'd never heard of as my first round opponent; instead I got someone who can play the game and that made me sad. Despite his best efforts to convince me we were just sat here for the judge briefing, we were told we could start playing and I started throwing my deck all over the table in that manner I call 'shuffling' again.

The game itself was pretty uneventful - he made a Dreadsteed and I lanced it with Shadow Word: Anguish, leaving the resource open to bluff completing one of the (now three) quests in my deck. I'm beginning to think that there'll be the option to run this deck with no quests in eventually, if another appropriate Stash card is printed - Shadowseer Calista would be perfect for turn 3 double Shadowfiend before flip shenanigans, but unfortunately she's the wrong faction.

So, umm, yeah. I made angry men. [1-0]

After the game we traded for some bits with our newfound spare time. I could listen to Duncan say 'Three Greaves' all day.

Round 2 vs Julian Harse playing Triton Scimitar and Extracts

"We came all this way..." This always seems to happen. Travel to event - get paired with someone who lives down the road from you with whom you play every week. I'd been hoping to avoid Julian for other reasons though - he's playing my least favourite card, Extract of Necromantic Power, and even with my tech this was still a bad matchup for me.

I drew a hand of one Talisman and six other cards of varying relevance and kept. Julian had the Extract on his first turn as I'd hoped not to see, but no second one; I dropped a Rosalyne followed by a Ruby Flameblade, then something along the lines of Shadowfiend - Flip - Talisman - Babagahnoosh, popping the Extract and allowing boatloads of damage through. [2-0]
Everyone knows what a DK deck
looks like. Instead here is a picture
of Baldur's Gate, in Reykjavik

Round 3 vs David Sutcliffe playing Erondra Scimitar and Extracts

Oh goody - more extracts!

Once again I kept a hand containing a Talisman, but was surprised to see a distinct lack of the trinket for the first few turns. I ended up rowing the Talisman with two Uruka in hand and deciding to go for it - playing one of the Urukas and discarding the other to Babagahnoosh's effect.

Dave spread his six cards out in front of me. "The most you can do is... two." I chose ally, and hit him for four. "Agh, no - I lied!", he told me whilst untapping and Corpse Explosioning away most of my board, removing my dead Broderick from the graveyard. He'd rowed an ally, so the other Uruka only did three damage. And then the pain started - first one extract, then two. Dave started recruiting allies and when my board eventually died, it left him at 28 damage, much the same as a particular game during the Zapped Giants Open.

There were no protectors and no tricks - I simply needed a generous dose of luck from my deck to survive. There were three Ruby Enforcers left - the only card that could attack immediately and be able to get through the Extracts.

I got something that wasn't a Ruby Enforcer, and lamented my decision not to discard both Urukas, as that would have been fatal. Playing it felt like the right thing to do as guessing card types is such a gamble at times, but this was a pretty nasty beat to take. Smart play rowing the ally. [2-1]

Round 4 vs Johnny Buchanan, playing Druid Abberation Rush

Tim Batow's Chaigon Steelsight aggro deck is by rights not as fast as Koo'zar, but it can give Koo'zar a difficult time thanks to Ring of Trials. This wasn't what was running through my mind to begin with though - when he showed me Lanthus I expected Ashnaar/Gift instead of the Ring of Trials that hit the board on turn 1. Having my Shadowfiend Hibernated shortly after wasn't ideal either.

I went all-in without a Babagahnoosh, and on my fourth turn topdecked a Talisman, which did a great job destroying the Gift of the Earthmother that'd just hit the lone Loriam Argos on the field. A slight Avatar of the Wild misplay probably saved me - with two cards in hand Johnny dropped a 1/1 Avatar and killed one of my guys; he seemed pretty annoyed afterwards, and I'm guessing realised playing the Gift on it would have been a great idea.

Only one Ring of Trials activation probably did me a lot of good though as when left unchecked that shit gets nasty. [3-1]

Round 5 vs Felix Tillyard, playing "The same deck he's been playing for about a year, with a few tweaks"

If there's one thing that I dislike as much as the Extract, it's Squall Totem. Having played a bit of Zaritha myself, I know all too well how easily it can deal with decks like mine with the one-two punch of Squall into Mikael.
Really good in Zaritha, so I heard

I mulliganed into yet another Talisman but was without the Shadow Word, which wasn't ideal. I opted for Ruby Flameblade on turn 2 and started to pile the damage on incrementally, playing around the threat of Mikael; by my third turn I was with one card in hand, no Baba though and wary of running my whole team in one go until I could get the kill.

That time never came - Mikeal hit the board and took out a couple of my guys, followed by a Voice of Reason; the Talisman took out the voice before it had chance to activate, but still couldn't quite squeak out the kill, and when a second Voice hit the board I watched Felix's damage total slowly decrease, and eventually scooped. [3-2]

Round 6 vs Jack Fejer playing Dalronn Fel Trade

"So do you know what this deck does?" Jack asked me before the game. He'd been going on about some sort of 'Nexus' deck which was on, then not on due to a discrepancy in the OCR, then on again, then off...

Phylactery of the Nameless Lich + Ymirheim Chosen Warrior + Fel Trade + King Varian Wrynn

Jack dropped a Deathcharger on turn two, I lanced it, dropped my team, and he ripped a Mikael off the top, then a Ymirheim Chosen Warrior, then it was curtains.

The matchup is pretty even - on a good day it's perfectly possible to outrush this deck but if they get two YCWs out things start to get difficult. [3-3]

A disappointing end to proceedings, though three rounds of draft promised to be interesting - after the last Realms draft abomination, I was keen to make amends and had been practising. I took my seat in pod 3, Julian to my right, Lammy (King of Aggro), Ross Silcock (likes losing in MTG Quarter Finals) and Marko (A Scotsman - all Scots are good at WoWTCG) also on the table. Strangely all the pods were of seven people - Cryptozoic Tracker Dun Goofed.

I opened a load of shit, so first-picked an Emerald Wanderer. I got passed a Boomer of all things, so picked it and attempted to force Hunter; nothing came in the next two packs, so I took two more Emerald Wanderers in lieu of any playable quests. The Hunter cards dried up from there on, so I picked up a few Warrior bits, hatedrafted an Aurastone Hammer and another rare, and moved into Alliance with two Aresha Thorncaller, who proved pretty pivotal.

Typically, Pack 2 I opened a Trade Prince Gallywix. He got passed to Julian while I took a quest, attempting to wheel a Chaotic Rush. He later informed me that he did indeed take the Gallywix as the free fiver was too much to resist! A Gutbuster came round a few picks later almost cementing me as Peter Hottelet but it took the second Gutbuster in pack 3 to seal the deal. Following that I got passed two Stakethrowers. Weirdest draft pod.

It turned out that almost all of us had gone for the Alliance as evidenced by allies like Jezziki Shinebog and Kerzok Plixboom wheeling twice on a regular basis!

My deck was quite ability-heavy, running three Thunderous Challenge, a Chaotic Rush, two Execute, a Raging Shout and a Crushing Strike.

Round 7 vs Lammy playing Druid

I don't remember exactly how this match went, but we were 1-1 when the game went to time. I'd Gutbuster'd him out in the second game after attempting to do the same in the first only to be thwarted by a Savage Bear Form, and the third had been going for about six turns, me just establishing the Gutbuster/Flip combo as time was called.

Lammy dropped a couple of allies, and I had nothing that could cope with them - other than my trusty Gutbuster. I attack and take a load of damage, and am unable to reduce the deficit enough before the end of the game. Had there been extra time I would have easily been able to seal the deal with my double Emerald Wanderer and Furan Rookbane in hand, but it wasn't to be. I did have something of a misplay in the final game - I had an Emerald Wanderer in play under an Entangling Growth, who was fulfilling the role of 'another ally' for Aresha Thorncaller's power; when she eventually bit the dust I completely forgot to sacrifice it using my Etched Dragonbone Girdle to draw extra cards, though I don't think anything relevant was in the next few cards of my deck anyway. I really needed a Chaotic Rush or Thunderous Challenge, but I only realised at the very end of the game when I was frantically drawing cards, much to Lammy's amusement.

Afterwards he mentioned how lucky I was to draw the Gutbuster each game. I rifled through my deck and showed him the second one.

"Oh man." [3-4]

Round 8 vs Bye

Byes in hour-long rounds are boring. I did some trading and played some Zelda. [4-4]

Round 9 vs Phil Craker playing Death Knight

Out of contention for the top 8 I was feeling pretty gutted - I had really good tiebreakers thanks to having played Felix and Dave, but I think it was an outside chance of me making top 8 from pod 3. Those more familiar with finishing at the top end of tournaments may be able to inform me otherwise though. Either way I was convinced my draft deck wasn't that bad and wanted to see it off with a victory.

Phil was pretty fed up and didn't really want to play but after some gentle persuasion we sat down to get on with it.

He must have wondered why he bothered as both games I flipped, resolved a Gutbuster, then a Chaotic Rush, and he had no way to deal with that set up. [5-4]

5-4 was, in the end, good enough for 14th place - one above Lammy, firmly establishing me as #1 Aggro Player in the UK*. My aim was Top 16 for the four foil King Varians that were on offer for those finishers, but after the couple of not-quite-but-nearlies I had, the extra win wasn't entirely out of the question. Maybe next time.

Big ups to Tyma and co for running a great event, and to everyone I played against, and to Tom and Neil for making Top 8 at their first major WoWTCG tournament.

*not true

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Quick Realm Championship Update

I finished 14th on a 5-4 record. Disappointed not to eke out the extra win for a chance at Top 8 but there's always next time. Full report to follow!