By Karl Horn
So here I sit, having never ever written a report for anything in my life (outside of school, of course), and I’m wondering, “Man, what should I write about?” I feel obligated to do something since I won a PC (I won a PC? Really? I still don’t believe it . . . ), but I have no idea where to start.
Really, this all started back at PC: Indy, where I managed to scrape into Day 2 at 7-5 despite not having playtested at all. My roommates for the trip, Heath Scheiman (one of the owners at the store where I game) and Ben Weinburg (a gamer at said store) told me that me that an aggressive GLEE build was the best deck out there, so I took their word for it. All I did to get ready for Day 1 was quibble over a few cards with them. In retrospect, I can’t help but wonder what I was doing throwing out suggestions when I had not played a game with the deck in my life—maybe that’s how I ended up with Coast City in my deck. (To be fair, I did win the games where I flipped it up and got to keep G’Nort behind my best dude.) I started 5-0 on the day but didn’t pick up my seventh win until round 11. Oh, well—I still made it to Day 2.
The drafting began, and I thought to myself, “Undefeated to make Top 8, huh? OK, let’s just make some money.” The goal for the day? Make as much money as possible. I went 2-1 in the Avengers pod and then reeled off five in a row only to face Craig Edwards in the last round and lose a game I should have won. Still, I was pretty happy to be taking home $2,900 (at the time, the biggest paycheck I had taken home from any gaming event) for 25th place, especially considering my lack of testing leading up to the tournament. Actually, I only got $2,850, as Heath and I agreed to a split since we were seated at the same table. He finished right behind me, so I shipped him the $50 (after apologizing profusely because I should have won the last round) and all was well.
After Indy was out of the way, some talk about So Cal was thrown about, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to make the trip or not. It was a few months away, and it was taking place around my girlfriend’s birthday. I thought I was done, so I told everybody that I was out. It was rough, because Heath was going, Ben was in, and Prosak was back in town and was obviously going as well. I kept getting asked and saying no, until one day, Heath said, “Buy her an iPod for her birthday so you can go.” Pure genius, and might I add—Best. iPod. Ever. I could already see myself gaming in LA.
The following week, I started testing, or at least, I intended to start testing. You see, I game all of one night a week. The tournament schedule at the local store alternates weekly from Constructed to Sealed Pack/Draft. Afterwards, another draft is usually held, so by the time that it’s over, it’s 1 or 2 a.m. and everyone is ready to leave or has done so already. Needless to say, that doesn’t leave much time to test Constructed. I must admit that all the drafting left me feeling confident about Day 2—I even went so far as to say that if I could muster at least an 8-2 record on Day 1, I would be looking at the Top 8.
So, since I was suddenly planning to go, I was faced with another dilemma: What should I play? As long as I’ve been gaming, I’ve liked decks that control the game, ultimately winning by playing game-ender or somehow getting into a situation that the opponent just can’t deal with. Prosak told me that New School (Maybe Old School New School now? At any rate, the NY version.) was still good. It seemed like a deck that I would enjoy playing, so I started to fool around with it. For those of you who don’t know me (pretty much everybody), Constructed formats are less than appealing to me because I only like to play decks that I will have a good time with. I abhor Sentinels and have never been a fan of aggro, off-curve strategies. Even Titans, Prosak’s deck of choice, which I put in the category of aggro-control, is just not my style. As far as deck choices go, New School seemed like my best option short of some sort of Gamma-Doom build, and that deck just didn’t seem plausible to me. It’s really all about live, live, live until (hopefully) turn 8, (sometimes 7), when you can Gamma Bomb as much as you need to. New School might seem the same way, but at least you’re doing it with characters and being somewhat proactive about it. New School also seemed much more consistent, because it lets you tutor a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, the deck can run out of gas, but then again, what deck doesn’t occasionally do just that?
I wasn’t yet sure that New School was going to be the deck, but I started tinkering with it to see if I wanted to make any changes. The deck that I started with was pretty much the NY version with Silver Surfer instead of Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria. Sadly, I had to start our by goldfishing with the deck—Prosak yells at me still because he insists goldfishing does nothing to help you prepare. I agree that you really need a live person to play against to see how a deck runs, but what I really wanted to do was narrow down deck choices/card slots. I found that I almost never wanted the early Boris, Personal Servant of Dr. Doom—he just sat there until turn 4 when his text finally turned on. I cut it down to three, then two, then finally tried it out with one and found that one was the right number for me. Boris was only a tutor target for me in the games I played, and I never had a game where I thought, “I wish I had drawn Boris.” Also, I wanted to be able to curve out against decks where I feared Flame Trap. This was much harder to do with Boris taking up so many slots. He was a dead card if I wanted to go the curve strategy, and I thought there were enough times that I would want to do this to warrant cutting down to one copy. This also led me to add an extra Entangle, as I would want to draw it occasionally rather than having to tutor for it every game.
Another change I made was to bump the copies of Robot Sentry up by one, because the card is just that good. I wanted to run four because I always wanted to draw one (assuming, of course, that my opponent hits a 2-drop), but in the end, I couldn’t find the room, so I was content with three.
Cloak, Child of Darkness? RUJK?! (Say the letters rather than try to pronounce it if it doesn’t make any sense.) No, he was really in there, if for no other reason than to have an alternate 4-drop if my opponent had Null Time Zone for my Reign on turn 4. I never played him in the tournament (OK, you got me—I played him in the game where I drew no Signal/Ride or Doom and no Alfred until turn 6 . . . and then lost), but that was why I included him in the deck.
Silver Surfer over Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria was Prosak’s idea—maybe you read about it in his article a few months ago about New School. I wasn’t convinced initially, but after some testing, I found that I, too, liked the Surfer. In Prosak’s words, “You have to think for another turn if you don’t have evens.” What it came down to was that Silver Surfer allowed me to have a lock with either Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man or Shimmer after turn 8. Basically, what my opponent does doesn’t matter, because I always have the initiative and all his or her dudes are always exhausted, which means no attacks back. This, coupled with the fact that the deck naturally prefers odds for Psimon on 7, will just win most games. Also, I never want to replace my Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius, especially when he’s equipped with a Power Compressor.
I added another generic team-up card simply because the only time I ran into trouble was when I didn’t hit an early (before turn 4) Marvel Knights character. Adding the team-up increased my chances of being able to use the silver bullet characters, which would let me pull out a game without having dead cards like Midnight Sons pollute my resource row. Sounds pretty lame, I know, but it happens more than you’d think. It’s like Lacuna randomly being amazing because you don’t have to have the team-up to use Glorious Godfrey (GG) or Robot Sentry, activate Alfred, or turn on Dr. Doom’s text. Yes, in those instances, I could search the team-up out if I had Lacuna in play, but a lot of the time, you don’t have a card that you want to discard until much later in the game. Millennium was the spare team-up of choice because I hate having to search for the team-up with Alfred. At least this way, if I have to do it, I get to draw an extra card.
Wait, only one extra team-up? Well, yes, this was how I originally built the deck. For me, the final piece of the puzzle was Thing, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing. Believe it or not, he’s amazing, and here’s why. He’s a 7-drop that has good stats, he doesn’t have loyalty, he’s another Fantastic Four guy to discard to Surfer if I don’t have a team-up (it’s happened a couple of times . . . seriously), but the biggest reason is that he’s good against off-curve strategies that win the die roll and choose odds. On turn 7 in these matches, you can’t just rely on the “replay Doom, Mystical Paralysis, Mystical Paralysis, tutor for Reign of Terror, Reign your guys” plan. So, Thing is the answer. He Reigns your opponent by himself, and he’s a big dude besides. Sadly, I could not play him in the Top 8 because I misregistered my deck with four copies of Marvel Team-Up and no Ever-Lovin’ Blue Eyed.
Alright, at this point, I had a deck, but was it the one I would play? I was tempted by Avengers after being frustrated with New School pooping on itself. Avengers may not be the best deck out there, but it’s simple and straightforward to play, and I love having split-cards in the deck. By this I mean the cards that go both ways—Heroes in Reserve, for example, can be a Savage Beatdown or a Nasty Surprise! The same can be said for Avengers Mansion. I playtested my Avengers deck a few times and found that it also gave me a fair number of bad draws, so I decided that if I was going to be playing a deck all day, I might as well enjoy it. New School it is! This let me play my favorite cards: Dr. Doom, Reign of Terror, Alfred Pennyworth, and Dr. Light, Arthur Light . . . does it get any better?
4 Alfred Pennyworth
4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius
4 Dagger, Child of Light
3 Robot Sentry
2 Dr. Light, Arthur Light
1 Glorious Godfrey
1 Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man
1 Cloak, Child of Darkness
1 Psimon, Dr. Simon Jones
1 Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd
1 Boris, Personal Servant of Dr. Doom
1 Thing, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing
4 Reign of Terror
4 Wild Ride
4 Mystical Paralysis
4 Midnight Sons
3 Marvel Team-up
2 Press the Attack
1 Power Compressor
I think I’ve gone on enough about the deck, so let’s move on to the PC. If you’re looking for detailed match descriptions, sorry to disappoint—I don’t do that. In fact, I throw away the score sheets as soon as I’ve used up all the slots. I’m way too lazy to keep track of notes while I’m in a match and then transfer all of that into a report. If that’s what people are looking for, I might start in the future, but, for now, this is what you get.
Minor detour here—I can’t rightly go into the PC section until I recount our lovely trip to California.
After searching some online sites for the cheapest airfare we could find, Prosak the Master finally managed to book us some roundtrip tickets for about $200—off to a good start already! Unfortunately, because my girlfriend’s birthday was on Wednesday, we could not leave until Thursday morning. Our flight was at 9:30 a.m., which wouldn’t have been too bad, except that it took off out of Indianapolis, which is about a two-hour haul from Cincinnati. Factor in the time change, wanting to arrive at the airport about an hour early to be safe, and at least one person of the four invariably being late for our early morning rendezvous, we set our meet time for 6 a.m. We definitely left at about 6:30.
Despite the half-hour setback, we made good time to the airport with no major drama. At the airport, we saw Mark Slack, Sammy Gilly, and Dair Grant. We checked our bags and moved on to the security line. Wait . . . a line? Yes, a freaking line about 50 people long at 8:30 in the morning on a Thursday. Perhaps that’s a common occurrence, but I was certainly not expecting it. Fortunately, it moved pretty quickly and would have been even faster if Prosak didn’t hold us up with his Super Security check. I guess that’s the price you pay for being a thug.
We made our way to our gate and waited for the flight to start boarding. They called our rows, so Ben immediately went. Heath, Prosak, and I decided to chill for a while, thinking that we would wait until everybody else got seated. We sauntered down the hall for all of two minutes, but when we made our way back to the gate, it was closed! One of the flight attendants was outside finishing up whatever it was that needed to be done and let us on. I guess we won’t be doing anything before our next flight takes off.
We made it to Houston a couple of hours later and boarded the next plane, which was bigger and slightly more comfortable—instead of feeling like I was sitting on a rock, it was more like a hard wood. The captain informed us that the flight would be about three and a half hours and that there would be a complementary in-flight movie. Yeah, it was free to watch, but if you didn’t happen to bring headphones, it set you back $5. Luckily, Ben found some headphones in the seat pouch in front of him and lent them to me, since he had the ones that came with his iPod.
The movie was mildly entertaining, but it was made much better by the fact that I would have had absolutely nothing to do if it weren’t on. This flight seemed much longer than the last, probably due to the fact that we had already spent two and a half hours in a plane. Finally, we arrived at LAX.
In the baggage claim, Prosak made a call to his buddy Niles and asked for an ETA, as he had said he could provide us with a ride to the Con. I’ll make a long story short—after about an hour of waiting, we decided we’d split cab fare to the site. Niles’s alibi? Something to do with burning cows on the highway causing a traffic jam.
Catching a cab was no problem, but the ride was. I didn’t think it could get any worse than the plane, but boy was I mistaken. You know how riding in the back seat of a car kind of sucks, especially when there are three people and said people are fat? Alright, Heath is skinny, but Prosak and I, not so much. Well, I discovered that in a taxi, this is only amplified. Sadly, there were no burning cows to be spotted. I mean, bad beat for the cows, but man, what a story!
Forty-five minutes later and $25 poorer, we arrived at the convention center. It was a nice-looking place and all, but really excited me was the hotel. You see, I haven’t stayed within walking distance from a Con in ages, and I had forgotten how great it is. Not only that, but we checked into our room and found it was on the Concierge level—you need your passkey just to be able to go to that floor! And oh my, The Players’ Club. Free sodas (pop, as we say in the Midwest), bottled water, hors d’oeuvres (man, I just spelled that right without having to spell-check . . . I swear!), cookies, and breakfast! Without a doubt, this was the best place I had stayed at for a Con. Thank you, Heath, for being in the Marriott Players’ club!
Now, back to our regularly scheduled event—the PC.
As I told you before, I don’t take notes, and I really don’t want to try to dredge up all of the matches from memory. I will, however, bring up a few things that stick out.
By far the coolest thing I did on Day 1 was win on turn 6. That’s right—New School got the turn 6 kill. It came against the Both Guns Blazing deck piloted by Billy P. My guys were actually bigger than his, and I was able to attack each turn and keep his character count low. Really, this matchup is all about Doom. It’s really hard for that deck or similar ones to deal with him if you’re doing anything else at all. I just remember Press the Attack on Spider-Man for the win, putting him exactly to 0. He thought he was going to go off with Rigged Elections on the next turn, but I had the initiative and would have tutored up Psimon for the win. His deck auto-scoops to that guy, but then again, a lot of them do.
To give you an idea of how unfair Doom is against that deck, I’ll go over my last match of the day against Matt Oldaker. He was playing his team’s newest crazy concoction, a A Child Named Valeria lock deck with Scarlet Witch, Eldritch Enchantress for the win. Child is another of my favorite cards, but decks containing it pretty much scoop to anything with Doom in it. It is a card, though, that a lot of the decks in the environment just can’t deal with. If you can get the engine going, your opponent just looks at you for the rest of the game until you win.
Our match started out with each of us playing an Alfred. I rolled my eyes at the thought of another mirror match, but to my chagrin, I found out it was not when he tutored for a Utility Belt, a card that totally wrecks me, on turn 2. Because of the Belt and a Fizzle on his part, my plays for turn 1–4 were Micro-Chip and Alfred. I was pretty sure I was going to lose that game, as I wasn’t drawing any more tutors or Dooms. On turn 5, I played GG to go with my Alfred. On turn 6, he burned me for a ton, but I finally drew a tutor, and the good Doctor made his appearance. I played two Reign of Terrors from my hand, and he was left with two guys. On turn 7, I flipped Midnight Sons to team up with Fearsome Five and played a Bat-Signal. In a last ditch effort, Oldaker asked, “Shimmer?” But I got Psimon, and he promptly scooped.
As for other match-ups, I was 3-0 against Avengers and 2-0 versus Squadron. Melissa Gold ◊ Songbird, Sonic Carapace is not so good against me. I like the match-up against the aggressive Squad decks because they don’t have the nightmare cards that I was getting wrecked with in our playtesting: AIDA and Foxfire. (On a side note, I really think they should errata the earlier team-ups to be actual Team-Ups.)
At the end of Day 1, I was really happy to be at the 8-2 that I had set as my goal. The downside was that I had the worst tiebreakers, but that wasn’t nearly as important as getting to where I wanted to be. Unfortunately, Prosak whiffed, but Heath and Phimus were into Day 2 at 7-3. They both played Curve Sentinels (man, I hate that deck).
Topping things off, we were done with Day 1 by 6:30. That was amazing—good job, UDE. My roommates and I hoofed it over to Outback and were later joined by our judge buddy Prakash Madhav, who Head Judged the $10K. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and our room.
I’m at table 2 to start the day, and honestly, I’m feeling pretty lousy. I’d been thinking about that if I made Day 2 at 8-2, I would be looking for Top 8. Well, there I was, and man, I wish I hadn’t said that to everyone. I had a gloomy outlook for the day because I was thinking “Now that I’ve said it, I’m going to scrub out.” Nothing to be done about jinxing myself now—it was time to just draft and play some cards.
I opened my first pack and didn’t find what I was looking for: something ridiculous that I could commit to. The best cards in the pack were Hawkeye, Leader by Example; Iron Man, Tony Stark; and the 2-drop Melissa Gold ◊ Songbird. I ended up taking the Hawkeye, which was probably a mistake. His text and stats seem so good, but I’ve never had a chance to test them out. I almost took Tom Thumb so that I could try to force Squadron Supreme and possibly try out the equipment deck that Prosak was so enamored with. If I had, my deck would’ve been insane, as the Squadron cards were underdrafted. My next picks were Amenhotep followed by Heinrich Zemo ◊ Baron Zemo—I figured he’s good by himself and I would leave myself open to Faces of Evil if I got the cards for that. Beetle, Armorsmith came to me seventh, I believe, so I snagged him and started looking for the low-drop characters to fill out the curve. Of course I didn’t get a Faces, but the real problem was that I didn’t get any team-ups. I passed a ton of them in the first two packs, and to be quite honest, all I really needed was any generic team-up. Of course, pack 3 contained none from any opens. I was pretty furious, but my characters were insane, and I had two copies of Heinrich Zemo. The plan: draw lots of dudes and Heinrich Zemo for the win. It got me to 2-1. I lost to Neil Reeves because he had Wonder Man; I’m pretty sure that’s the only card he could’ve had to beat me. He only got my 1-drop with Wonder Man, but it was enough that I couldn’t team attack for the stun, which allowed him to keep both of his guys for the next turn (his initiative).
At this point, I was up to tenth place, which put me back at table 2. Phimus was there with me. This time, I went with my favorite archetype, mostly because Squadron seemed to be underdrafted at most of the tables from what I was hearing. Phimus had the most absurd Squadron deck I’d ever seen in his last draft, so I figured it was my time to give it a go. I started taking Avengers and Squadron cards in an attempt to force my favorite team combination. I like it because the team-up makes your guys reservists, and a majority of them are reservists anyway. I started to get worried because after two packs, my deck was pretty atrocious. Somehow, it paid off, because I got some gifts in pack 3, including a fifth pick Black Panther. I went 2-1, with my loss coming at the hands of Hans Hoh.
I looked to see where I was seated for the third draft pod and discovered I was finally at Table 1. I was slightly intimidated for the first time, because there was only one guy at the table that nobody had heard of—yours truly. Before things got going, all the others were chatting at each other, and then Dave Spears looked at me and said, “I don’t recognize you. Who are you? Are you good? Well, you must be decent, you’re at Table 1.” I just shrugged rather than saying what I wanted to say: “Actually, I’m pretty awful.” Oddly enough, after that, I was pretty relaxed. It was at that time that I just told myself to draft a deck and try not to 0-3, because that would be embarrassing.
First pick I saw Hawkeye, Clinton Barton and slammed it. I believe next was Carol Danvers ◊ Warbird, followed by Eldritch Power. From the get-go, I was into my favorite deck, and I was pumped. Things started slowing down, however, and I was worried because either Neil or Dean was cutting me off. It was fine, though, because in the next two packs I was just getting gifts. Supply Line came to me eleventh in pack 2 along with a late Airskimmer and other goodies. Pack 3 made me a little antsy because I thought I was going to get cut off again, but evidently, there was plenty to go around. I think Dean and I were the only drafters in Squad, and he couldn’t snatch all of it, so I was fine feeding off the leftovers. The end result: I had the best deck out of the three pods so far. Finally, I was excited to play.
Round 14 was my first feature match ever in a big event against Eugene Harvey. I didn’t know Eugene, but I’d heard that he didn’t really talk a lot and that he tended to play slowly. I didn’t want to rely on hearsay, though, and commented on how I though it was slightly warmer in the Feature Match area and that I wish I’d packed more than t-shirts to wear because I’d been freezing so far inside the Convention Center. I’d also seen him shivering during some of his matches and thought it would be a nice icebreaker. Sure enough, he told me that you learn after going to so many events to pack warmer clothes just for the site. Immediately, I felt better and was thankful for his genial attitude.
This game was pretty tough, mostly because I didn’t draw any of my Squadron guys. As a result, I sat with Panacea Potion and Supply Line in my hand the entire game. I finally played a Squadron character on turn 7: Arcanna. This wasn’t the greatest, because Eugene underdropped, but she was still a really huge body that he had to deal with. On turn 8, I played another 7, while Eugene, who was drawing off the top of his deck with no cards in hand, was forced to play off-curve again. I was able to live to turn 9, when he scooped because I had more guys to play.
The next round yielded another feature match for me, this time against Dave Spears. From what I gathered, his deck wasn’t very good, though it seemed fine against me, mostly due to the fact that he had Wasp in the hidden area so I couldn’t lock it down with Haywire and followed up with Natasha Romanoff ◊ Black Widow, Super Spy, so he got to keep both of his guys. My deck loved me in this match, though, and I drew the absolute nuts. On turn 4, I played Hawkeye and attacked his two visible characters. He didn’t swing back with Wasp, and on turn 5, he recruited Charcoal to my Nighthawk. He ran Baltag into my Hawkeye, which I activated to stun Wasp. Charcoal flew over to hit my Captain America, Steve Rogers, who I had used to reinforce the last attack. I had my team-up and the Eldritch Power for the mutual stun. I did some quick math and found out that I couldn’t quite kill him, but I was able to put him at 3 and Potion my Hawkeye. I drew my next two cards, put a resource down, and discarded to get Skymax back from my KO’d pile. Dave extended his hand and congratulated me on making Top 8. At this point, I wasn’t sure I was in because I didn’t even pay attention to the standings, but I was pretty happy and thanked him.
At this point, I was ready for the last round to start up. I didn’t bother to check
standings, but I was pretty sure I was in. The last round pairings went up, and I was paired against Michael Dalton. We sat down at our table, rolled the die, and started playing. This one wasn’t even close. I can’t remember ever getting beaten as badly as I did in that match. I’ll tell you this much: I scooped on turn 6 after he played Mystic Summons for his 6-drop. He had his 4, 5, 6, and two concealed 1-drops while I had . . . drum roll, please . . . Rick Jones.
Fine, I’ll tell you how it went down. On turn 4, he had the initiative; a team-up for Masters of Evil and Thunderbolts; and Hawkeye, Melissa Gold ◊ Screaming Mimi, Yellowjacket (hidden), Dallas Riordan, Mayoral Aide (hidden), and Nathan Garrett ◊ Black Knight, brought back courtesy of Hard Sound Construct. He attacked and stunned my 3- and 4-drops. He then exhausted his Yellowjacket to Stolen Power my 4-drop and then played Hero’s Demise from the grip. OK, I just got wrecked, but at least I would have the initiative next turn, right? I played Scarlet Witch, Mistress of Chaos, who was holding the fort with Rick Jones. Care to take a guess what his 5-drop was? He recruited Paul Ebersol ◊ Techno, Man of Metal, getting back Hero’s Demise. And that was the beating that I received on the last round of Day 2. What a way to go out.
If you’ve ever been in position to possibly get ninth at a cut to Top 8, you know what I was going through. Not only that, but this time it was for the PC. It’s funny how things you say come back to haunt you. I distinctly remember saying, “If I get ninth at the PC, I’ll be like, ‘Man! That sucks!’ and then do a happy dance because I just pulled like seven G’s.” Well, I can tell you that that was not at all the case as I waited for about half an hour for the standings to be announced with my guts churning. I mean, I was pretty sure I was in, since I was third going into that round and I had just lost the first seed, but there’s always that doubt in the back of your mind that gnaws away at you. Maybe it was compounded by the fact that I tend to get X+1 place when the cut is to Top X.
Finally, they start announcing the seeds. I hear, “Fourth place . . . Karl Horn,” and a handful of people go nuts while the rest of the crowd is like, “Who is that?” Whew, Top 8—I got in. I’m playing on Day 3. So now what? Let’s go eat! My roomies and I decided that Buca sounded pretty good, so we made our way over there for dinner on me. I did my best to consume all the food we ordered, but in the end, I came up short. We just got way too much for the four of us to even stand a chance.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel and . . . went drinking? Playtested matchups? Memorized decklists? No, absolutely not—I was exhausted, and I crashed. Adam, Phimus, and Heath went back down to the site and were nice enough to test a little for me. It was at this time that one of the bystanders watching the testing asked, “There’s a 7-drop Thing in the deck?”
I woke up the next morning, and Adam informed me of the Thing situation. We headed down to the tournament site and went about the process of trying to get my physical decklist. The judges were having some problems finding it, so I went in search of a Marvel Team-Up just in case I had listed my deck as it was on the website. I made my way over to the vendor’s booth pick up the card.
In the time while I was gone, my list was found. Prosak had lingered behind to look at it in my absence, and upon figuring out that it was different from the actual deck I was playing, he informed Paul Ross of the mix-up. Paul told him that because it was the Top 8, they could not retroactively give me a game loss. Because I was not checked on Day 1 (where I would have received a loss), I would not be penalized, but I would have to play the deck as it was on paper. Prosak then relayed the bad news to me, and I made the change. Bad times—that was my favorite addition to the deck, but I would not be able to play it. The deck was still fine; I would just have to remember that I didn’t have Thing to bail me out.
I started off my day with my quarterfinal match against Hans. The first thing he asks is if I want to negotiate any kind of split. To be honest, I was taken aback and replied that I hadn’t really even thought about it. I guess that’s something one should consider at that point, but all I was thinking was that I would be walking away with at least $7,500, probably more, so splitting didn’t really interest me.
He won the die-roll and chose the odd initiatives, which was a bad beat for me because I wanted those, especially since I wanted to play Psimon on turn 7 before he could recruit and I didn’t have Thing anymore to make him pick up everybody except for Golden Archer and Albert Gaines ◊ Nuke. Nothing could be done about it, so I drew my cards and we started up the match.
The game was a close one. He missed his drop on turn 1, but afterwards, his deck did what it wanted to—beat down fast and hard. However, I was able to keep myself alive, search for the Power Compressor, and stall the rest game out until Psimon hit play. Once that happened, it was just a matter of time.
On to game 2. I had a less than stellar draw where I was unable to tutor up a Robot Sentry to halt his Shape, so he unloaded on me on turn 2. I think I took 17 points of endurance loss. On turn 3, still no Sentry, and I was at about 14 already. Turn 4 came around, and I played Doom. His recruit was Archer from the resource row, replacing it with the last card from his hand. I responded, making sure to say “in response to the recruit effect,” by returning Alfred to my hand to get Reign and Reigning his Shape. He let this resolve.
About a minute later, after some staring at the board, I saw something that I couldn’t believe I was witnessing. Looking over at the judge, I knew that he’d seen it, too. He went over to the other side of the table, looked at what was in Hans’s hand, and then looked at the face-down card. He then went over to consult with the other judges.
Hans’s explanation was that he thought the replacement was part of the chain and that he could put Shape down instead of his Answer the Call. After much consulting, the judge came back and issued the penalty of DQ without prize. Hans appealed, and after more deliberation, Paul Ross upheld the decision. I made sure it was alright to pick up my deck, collect my things, and storm off.
I wasn’t looking forward to my semifinal match against Dalton. I hadn’t tested the matchup at all and didn’t want to play against another deck that had Doom in it. Not only that, but I wasn’t really sure how to proceed with the match. I had to go with the “curve after turn 4” option, because 7-drop Thing just houses me. He’s going to own me anyway, but I can at least lessen the pain if I curve out. Basically, the plan is to live long enough to boost Dr. Light.
If you want the specifics about the match, you can find them in the PC: LA coverage. Game 1 went pretty much as according to plan until Dr. Doom, Victor Von Doom hit the table. I wasn’t teamed-up with Fearsome Five at this point, and I wouldn’t be unless I could get the 6-drop stunned . . . and I was worried about Diabolic Genius. Fortunately for me, he left Doom unprotected on turn 8, and I was able to team attack with Dr. Light and Psimon and flip my team-up. A boosted Dr. Light on turn 9 got the scoop.
Game 2 was pretty rough, as I missed on turn 1 and had no Marvel Knights to play in the first three turns, which meant I could not hit Glorious Godfrey because I had no way to flip my Midnight Sons. Predictably, Dalton wrecked me with Flame Trap, which was basically the game at that point unless he missed horribly on the next few turns.
Game 3 did not go so well for him, as he had Boris as his only play through the first three turns. Once again, my deck went off like clockwork all the way through turn 8, when we had Silver Surfer wars. My board position was perfect, so he scooped.
Oh my god! Finals of the PC! Please don’t let it be another Common Enemy deck—that was not a fun match. I already had a pounding headache from the last one.
After a brief respite from gaming, I find out that Sohnle was the winner of the other semifinal and that I didn’t have to slog my way through another CE matchup. While this sounded good and all, the fact of the matter was that I was now faced with yet another deck that I hadn’t tested against at all. Obviously, my Doom and Reigns were excellent against him, but I wasn’t really sure what to do afterward or what initiative I wanted to have. I went in with the plan of taking the odds so that Psimon would just lock the game on turn 7.
Dean won the die roll and chose evens. Woot! I didn’t even have to win to get the initiative I wanted. On games 1 and 2, I got excellent draws and was able to stall the games for Psimon and the win.
For game 3, Sohnle took the odds since the evens didn’t exactly work out for him the first two. My draw this game was sub-par, but I still should have won. Remember me saying I never read cards? True to form, I didn’t read Personal Force Field, and it cost me the game because I didn’t think I could use Dr. Light to stun Mr. Fantastic, Stretch. I’m sure everybody who is reading this knows what it does, but I’ll go ahead and explain it anyway. It gives the equipped character +3 DEF and reinforcement, and says that that character cannot be the target of plot twists. Well, I thought it couldn’t be targeted, period. Hee haw! I should probably start reading cards, eh?
After losing the game, I decided to take a break. I had been gaming for quite a while now, and I just needed a little time to regain my composure.
A few minutes later, I sat back down at the table and chose the odd initiatives again. My draw was insane. I hit Alfred and was unsure what to tutor for because I had almost everything I could possibly need. Sounds great so far, right? It’s about this time that I learned that I did want the even initiative in this matchup. Like I said, everything was looking amazing, and I got my ideal draw . . . so what went wrong? Turn 6 is what happened—he just went off with Stretch and Thing, Ben Grimm. He was able to throw his equipment at my 1-drops, which just wrecked me. I was able to use them in response, but I really wanted them on the table to power my Dr. Light. He drew lots of Flamethrowers, and I could do nothing to stop the burn.
Well, that was certainly an eye opener. As far as I could see, aside from a horrible draw on my part, that was pretty much the only way he was going to beat me, so I vowed that I wouldn’t let that happen. This time, I switched it up and took the even initiatives so that I could stun Stretch with Dr. Light.
I presented my deck and looked at the top four cards. Here they are: two copies of Alfred, Robot Sentry, and Power Compressor. Dear lord, what do I do? I once again have turn 1 Alfred but no plot twists, and even if I do draw one, I might not be able to use him until turn 3. But if I draw a team-up, I should be fine, as both the Sentry and Compressor are amazing against him. I agonize over the decision for a while and decide that I can’t keep it. $40,000 is on the line and I don’t want to lose because I kept a hand that could have been nuts. I mulligan into another great draw and things go exactly as planned. Turn 6 comes around and I hurriedly tutor up Dr. Light and use him immediately to stop any Stretch nonsense. I also have two Press the Attacks to stun more of his guys and counter any attempted equipment.
Turn 7 was his initiative, so I was still a little nervous, but I still had Dr. Light to stop any potential burn from equipment. He drew into his one Dr. Light, Master of Holograms and recruited it. He then spent another resource point to attempt to put a Flamethrower on it. I responded by exhausting my Doom and discarding a card to Entangle to exhaust his Dr. Light. The reason I did this rather than going for the immediate stun is because he had a copy of Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards in his KO’d pile with Invisible Woman, The Invisible Girl already in play, and I was afraid that if I tried to stun with my Dr. Light, he would simply activate his in turn to bring back Reed and flip a A Child Named Valeria to prevent the stun. By using Entangle first, I could respond to his Dr. Light activation with my own, ensuring the stun. Surviving this turn was the game, as I was able to recruit Psimon on my initiative next turn to keep him from playing any more characters.
Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I won, but I still can’t believe it really happened. I’ve actually started reading Vs. System websites and looking at my picture almost every day, and every day I’m shocked to see that it’s still there. If you made it through this whole report, I’m both honored and disbelieving. This thing is like 8000+ words! Sorry about that—stuff just kept coming. The last thing I will do is a props section. Not sure if people still do that, but in my day that was the norm, and I’m sticking to it.
- Neil Reeves, for cheering me up after the quarterfinals.
- Phimus Pan, for being there and making me look forward to the trip even more than I already was. Way to go with those Ahabs! Oh, and you owe me Betrayals, suckah! Here’s to more good times in Atlanta (raises his cup).
- Adam Prosak, for testing with me even though he already had his deck ready. Also, for being back in Cincy (you should stay after you graduate!) and being a gamer extraordinaire. I definitely enjoy gaming more since you’ve been back and I’m better at it because of you. By the way, we knew Prosak way before he had his Vs. success and were his friends before there was such a thing as “barns.” Oh, and thanks for believing in me more than I believed in myself. The day might come where I don’t think of myself as a “hee haw,” but I wouldn’t count on it.
- Heath Scheiman, for the iPod suggestion and the amazing hotel room across from the tourney site.
- Prakash Madhav, for letting me borrow cards (yeah, I still don’t have the complete deck) and going out to a celebratory dinner after I won.
- Ken Hagen, for being another person to have confidence in me even though I can’t muster it in myself. You’ve always told me that I could and should be doing this and I appreciate it. You really need to find that new job so you can game with us more often. Wish you could’ve been there.
- Jason Hager, Matt Oldaker, and Anthony Justice, for rooting me on in the Top 8. OK, maybe you were cheering for the deck, but most of the people I knew had left, and it was still good to have some support. Thanks for the deck, too. I’m glad I could take it down with New School.
Done . . . no, really . . . peace out.
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