(Metagame Archive) Interview: Adam Prosak

By David Spears

Ah, Adam Prosak. Quite possibly the most loved player on the planet, Adam made a name for himself playing Titans better than anyone in the world. The things he can make those kids do . . . He might be using his skills from his day job—he’s a schoolteacher in the real world.

Because of my bad memory, I don’t remember where I first met Adam, but we fast became great friends. I can’t think of anyone better to spend a weekend with while playing Vs. System. He’s lively, sincere, and funny. And his tournament record is nothing short of amazing: a Pro Circuit Top 8 and six $10K Top 8s, including two wins. No one knows if he can play anything but Titans, but let’s give him a shot and see if we can learn something from him.

If you could be a Vs. character for Halloween, who would you be?

Infinity Man! I don’t follow comics or anything, but I think it’d be sweet if I could tell everyone I was “Inf.Man.” I hope the comic character isn’t really pathetic, ’cause then everyone would make fun of me. It’d either be, “Ha ha, you’re an obscure comic book
character,” or “Sideways 8 man is so lamz0rz. Worst. Character. Ever.”

You are known for your rule of four when deckbuilding. What are some other things to which you adhere?

I try to break the rule of four whenever I can, either by playing card manipulation (search effects, USS Argus, Birthing Chamber) or by playing redundant cards (Crime and Punishment does roughly the same thing as Savage Beatdown). After that, my decks have to play defense well and maintain board advantage well. I’m not talking about random defensive plot twists like Acrobatic Dodge, but I am talking about powerful off-initiative plays such as Mystical Paralysis or Terra. In terms of board advantage, I love direct stuns and Finishing Move. I have a general distaste for playing fair in combat.

What changes would you like to see made to the Pro Circuit?

Rounds take way too much time. It’s the players’ fault for not playing fast enough to finish one game in an hour (not exaggerating) and the judges’ fault for not giving severe penalties.

That being said, my biggest complaint is the amount of time it takes (Day 1 especially). That means I think the Pro Circuit is being run very well. I just wish Day 1 didn’t take twelve plus hours.

What cards would you like to see made?

Cards that work well on off-initiative turns.

These days, the ATK pumps in Sealed play are so strong (and by comparison, the DEF pumps are so weak) that it’s almost impossible to fail an attack. Especially in Sealed Pack. DC Origins was so much fun to draft simply because you could crush someone almost every turn with Tag Team, Circle Defense, or Shape Change, only to get blown out yourself on your next initiative.

In Constructed, conventional wisdom says that the single most important thing a team could have was a character search card. I think it’s defensive tricks that make or break a team. You need to play on every turn, not just turns that you have initiative. Without defensive tricks, it’s very difficult to come back from a game that you’re behind in.

What team would you like to be stronger?

Definitely the League. I love some of the cards they have; just none of them seem to work together. I wish there was more synergy. The location-based theme is tough to pull off since you need to draw the exact amount of locations you need.

So, how’d you start playing Vs. System?

There were two PCQs that I played in when the game first came out. The first was concurrent with another event I was attending; the second was at my local store. I barely knew the rules during those two events (one of which I won!). I decided to actually test before Comic Con SD ’04. I was fascinated with the 4-drop Doom/Tech Upgrade/Fantasticar sequence until I got repetitively bashed by Brotherhood. I ended up playing Brotherhood to a third place finish, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

What’s your favorite part of playing Vs. System?

Definitely gaming. I like gaming, no matter what the game. I’m definitely the best Apples to Apples player I know, and I’ll wager Cold Stone Creamery on almost anything.

As for Vs. itself, I love the game because the better player generally wins. You get punished for mistakes and rewarded for making tough plays. When you play a game on its highest level and invest a ton of time into learning the game, you don’t want luck to be the ultimate deciding factor.

Do you have a Vs. arch-nemesis?

Surprisingly, I don’t. It used to be Jack Garrett, but I think he conceded the rivalry. He basically ran the grade school inspired “I won a $10K, I now retire as ultimate champion” play. I’m still steaming.

I don’t consider this a rivalry, but Jack and I definitely make fun of Josh Wiitanen for not having a $10K trophy. He’s still steaming.

How do you prepare for high-level events?

The last time I got a good night’s sleep before a $10K (Origins), I missed Day 2. Most of the time, I just spend all night driving to the event.

At PCs, I try to unleash the gamer in me by playing a few games of whatever. Speaking of which, Vs. definitely needs some alternate formats where games take less than five minutes.

Any advice for aspiring PCQ players?

Look on http://web.archive.org/web/20070418015944/http://www.ude.com/op or your tournament organizer’s site to see when it is. Then get in your car (or make friends with someone with a car, or ask mom) and drive to the tournament site. Register for the tournament, and you have moved from the ranks of aspiring PCQ player to actual PCQ player!

What’s that? Oh.

You mean you actually want to win one? That might require winning lots of games of Vs. System. In my experience, there is usually an elite crowd of gamers in whatever city you live in. They’re the people that play on a regular basis and always end up doing well as a group at the local events. These groups (at least the ones I’ve been a part of) are anything but exclusive. I like playing Vs. system, you like playing Vs. system, so . . . game?

Basically, if you can find a group of players that play on a regular basis, you’ll play enough so that you’ll have a significant edge when it comes to familiarity with the game. Knowing what to expect is half the battle. Don’t worry about what metagame decks you think will show up or the kid next you that opened the five best rares in the set.

Tell us a little about you personally. What is life like outside playing TCGs professionally?

I just recently moved from Phoenix, AZ to Cincinnati, OH. While in Phoenix, I worked in a high school with special needs students. Thanks to Vs. System and the Pro Circuit, I could afford to complete my degree where I started at Xavier University. When I complete my degree in computer science, I plan to go back to teaching. It’s good fun. My goal as a teacher is not to surf VsRealms when I should be teaching.

Ihatepants? What’s that about?

What’s that about? It’s my VsRealms name. Back in high school, I was watching The
while signing up for mIRC (a chat program). The episode where Homer says “Hey, Krusty, don’t you hate pants?” was on, and thus the legend was born. I do not in any way, shape, or form dislike pants or similar clothing items. I do not wear kilts.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Do you like the dual format used at the PC?

It’s different from PCQs because the field isn’t split by the dual format. Now, there are PCQs with Constructed Swiss and Draft Top 8 . . .

What do you think the metagame will look like come November?

Stop trying to barn tech, Dave!

I have claimed that you are the best Titans player on the planet. Is this true, and if so, what’s your edge?

Yeah, I mean, Nick Little is the best Common Enemy player on the planet. Just because you’re the only one stupid enough to play a given deck doesn’t mean anything.

I haven’t seriously tried to learn another deck. Every time I play Titans, I learn more about the deck. I’ve been playing the deck since the first PC LA almost a year ago. Since not many other people have played Titans as much as I have, I’m much farther ahead on the learning curve, and Titans is one of those teams that you can always learn something new about.

I suppose you will be playing Titans at So Cal, then? Not worried about the effects Null Time Zone has on that deck?

I don’t want give away too much about my testing for the PC. I guess that we can just see how Orlando goes. NTZ makes you work a lot harder for your wins. Some games are just too easy when you can play Teen Titans Go!

Who’s a better player? Someone that is naturally gifted and just picks up the game and plays enough to keep up with the metagame, or someone that works his or her butt off day in and day out to excel? I’m not sure where to place Adam. He definitely works hard to be good at this game, but he has the skills to be one of those players who can wing it. I expect to see him at the top of the field some day soon at the PC. He will do so by outplaying his opponents at almost every turn. He likes to talk about the game, too, so show him your deck and solicit his advice.

Just make sure your deck doesn’t have anything less than four copies of a card. He hates that.


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