Qualifier Weekend Report

And, so, we had the 2009 San Francisco Bay Area region qualifier weekend for the North American Championships this past weekend.  Saturday morning’s tournament had 12 people – stupid 4 player tables with all of their 4 playerness. 

Round 1
Kevin (Oliver Thrace rush) -> Nick (!Nos rush) -> Ian (Ur-Shulgi Has No Presence, Tupdog version) -> Jeff Y (Sunbane, New Coke version – mummy deck)
Nick brought out Ox which meant I brought out nobody until I was ready for beatings, Nick’s claim of stealth bleed being easily ignored.  Kevin had some frustration at my lack of participation in the game as Jeff built up minions of the vampire and ally sort.  Nick brought out Beast and combat ensued between the two rush decks with Oliver coming out ahead.  I finally brought out Ezmerelda, Tupdog, quickly followed by Augustus.  I was given grief from Kevin for hunting with Augustus when he had 10 blood, but I was choked on Voter Caps and that was just the morally correct thing to do and Ezmerelda had 11 blood, so hunting there would have been suspicious.  Jeff put Repo Man in play and I tried to get Kevin to nuke him before he went searching for pain (for me).  After Repo did his thing next turn for a Sport Bike, this produced one of the funniest exchanges of the weekend as Kevin and I talked about how Repo was the most dangerous minion in play and that it was already too late.
I was able to fend off Nick enough that his tussling with Kevin was far more game affecting.  With Nick about to go under and with Jeff about to move forward with his horde of minions, I bled for three with Augustus and Reins of Powered Jeff and Nick out of the game.  Nick did not spite Kevin by choosing his 7 cap; Jeff spited me by choosing no one, giving Kevin 12 pool, taking Kevin up to 18.  That actually wasn’t so bad for me as I had Augustus and Sutekh online and about half of my deck’s combat cards in hand.  But, though I had seen Kevin’s decklist, I had forgotten he had Disarms in his deck and didn’t double dodge in an Oliver vs. Augustus throwdown and Augustus was Graverobbed.  Sutekh was punked shortly afterwards.  Being action poor, I could never get rid of the Mob Connections which screwed me and which should have been burned by someone long before it did.  Not that I was necessarily favored in the endgame, but it could have been interesting instead of a quick blowout.
I was learning that this version of my deck had master problems as I had as many as six in hand at one point but was loath to discard anything good except a Direct Intervention (when I had a Sudden in hand).  I was able to Barrens away Giant’s Blood, which I had been sitting on for most of the game, after Kevin used Inconnu Tutelage to get his right before Nick played it.
Round 2
Ian -> Ira (weenie Laibon vote) -> Steve (bleed untap) -> Kevin
Oh … yeah.  At least Steve was a great threat to Kevin.  On the other hand, Steve was also essentially impervious to Kevin’s deck given his draw, so Kevin didn’t just go backward.  I kept Ira under control votewise and got some bleeds through with Ezmerelda and later Sutekh due to Monastery of Shadows, but things went downhill steeply as Ira put Carlton in play and stole my Monastery, I didn’t want to or couldn’t get off votes to refill Sutekh, and Kevin kept going forward constraining my ability to operate.  The most minor stuff gave me problems, like Kevin bleeding me for one when I had four pool and a Tupdog up.  I could have blocked and not have had three actions to try to oust Ira, which would have been better than what I did do which was not block and be unable to call either Anarchist Uprising or Ancilla Empowerment in my hand.
Random stuff that happened included my Life Booning Kevin hoping I would gain a little bit of time to get some major damage through against Ira while Steve was still across from me only to have Kevin go forward and not oust me because Sutekh can play Spectral Divination at superior.  Steve took him out shortly after and the game timed out as I went into bloat mode and Ira built his army way too late.  In theory, I could do 11 or 14 pool damage to Ira in a turn to oust him, but I lost the ability to pass votes with Steve’s Loki’s Gift, the inability to get the edge, and with lacking the stealth to get actions through except the one turn I Pentexed Carlton.  It would have been far better for Steve and me to quickly kill our prey and Steve to win the endgame as that would have gotten both of us in the finals, but that scenario was only reasonable using out of game considerations.
Didn’t play, didn’t much care, went next door for Chinese food, ate a lot to compensate for lack of food and lack of sleep.  Ira won with the only oust I believe.  I was fairly displeased at my mediocre play in this tournament.  Maybe playing a deck with a lot of decisions was not wise for the first tournament after getting less than 4 hours of sleep.
So, the qualifier.  Gained four players, lost Ira (qualifier rules prevented him from legally playing) to make three tables of five.  Sweet, five player tables, the way the game was meant to be played – slowly.
Round 1
Steve (new Cam vote) -> Jeff K (Malk94 w/ Ashur Tablets) -> Ian (Harbingers of Suck 3) -> Brad (!Ventrue vote) -> Nat (Ani/Aus)
This game pointed out well why I can never be a great player.  I got ousted.  I was the only one to get ousted.  I had way, way more fun than I did in either of the two games above.  Winning and fun just don’t have any correlation with me.
To make a long story short, who am I kidding – I’m never short, though Jeff was not remotely hurt by the results of this game, he got one of the two absolutely horrendous matchups he could have gotten.  If my deck is designed to do anything, it’s designed to survive bleed.  Except, I didn’t draw a bounce card all game; that happens when only 10% of your deck is bounce.  I survived about 70 minutes of relentless bleeding with Eyes of Argus, Carlton, Shaman, Blood Dolls, Eagle Sight blocks by Nat on at least two bleeds (one that got bounced to me).  If I didn’t have to sacrifice a vamp with two Blood Dolls and three blood to Antediluvian Awakening to survive a bit longer, I might have been able to draw into bounce and stabilize.
Round 2
Ian -> Steve -> Brandon (FoS bleed) -> Nick (Maris Shambling Hordes) -> Jeff Y (slightly modified version of mummy deck from first tournament)
*argh*  This whole table was set up horrendously for me.  Steve as my prey sucks as his deck bloats.  Brandon as my grandprey sucks because his deck just goes forward and is fairly easy to oust.  Jeff as my predator sucks because his deck doesn’t bleed for much, removing my best offense – bleed bounce.
I salvaged 1.5 VPs in what was a painful game.  Mostly painful for Nick who got pounded by Brandon.  Somewhat painful for Steve who thought he had Jeff dead with a Neonate Breach that I desperately tried to block only for both of us to realize that Jeff would only take 1 pool damage from it and who got ousted somehow.  Somewhat painful for Jeff who achieved a lock in the game when time was called.  Of some pain for me as I had to keep trying to figure out how to keep Brandon alive and didn’t think ousting my prey was ever feasible until it happened.
Round 3
Henri (Saulot) -> Nat -> Ian -> Brandon -> Kevin (Baseball Bat/Forger’s Hammer)
With Kevin not playing a real deck, Brandon could smash him long time.  With Nat trying to play my game [style] and my trying to play my game, we took away Brandon’s Fragment of the Book of Nod, contested his The Barrens, and Nat Eagle Sighted to keep Kevin alive which set me up for two VPs.  Nat regretted later trying to save Kevin.  The game timed out as I hung in with hardly any pool left due to having lots of defense and Nat having not so much offense.  Game win with 4 VPs meant trip to finals.
Andy (newMalk stealth bleed) -> Jeff K -> Jeff Y -> Brandon -> Ian
This was amusing in that it was four of the “South Bay” players and Kuta in the finals.  The game seemed like it would be stupid as neither Jeff Y nor Brandon were prepared to defend against the bleed monster that was Kuta.  But, Kuta’s Gilbert got Pentexed by both me and his predator and Andy repeatedly nuked Kuta’s masters with Santaleous’s special to slow him down.  Brandon was clipped by an Archon Investigation.
I had a great board setup in the end:  Heart of Nizchetus and Tasha on Solomon, Bowl of Convergence and J.S. on Babalawo, Zygodat, no Carlton because Jeff Y wanted Carlton more*, Tshwane, Heidelberg.  I could move through 5 cards a turn with Heart and Babalawo, which I did repeatedly at the end.  Andy almost got Kuta, but Kuta had all the Deflections he needed to weather the pivotal turn and finally took out other Jeff.  I screwed up badly by playing a Blood Doll instead of Heidelberg, which like many screwups in this game was good rather than bad as instead of taking out Andy immediately he survived another turn to put more damage on Kuta.  I ousted Andy the next turn.  Brandon brought out Ogwon to try to have enough in play to oust me but predictably got taken out right after.  The endgame was exciting as Kuta had to bleed me at 4 stealth on his first action, 3 stealth on his second action, and use Elder Impersonation (when at 3 stealth) on his third action to take me out the turn before I was going to take him out.
So, actually, as much of a letdown as the result was (I’d rather get annihilated than come close to winning and failing), it was a really good game, one of the best I can recall and far superior to most finals games.  As I didn’t play nearly as badly as I did in the first event and the games were rather fun, it was one of the better tournaments I recall.
*  I bring out Carlton.  Brandon tries to Set’s Curse him.  I block.  Jeff Y Set’s Curses him so that he can play his own Carlton, which may have cost me the game as Carlton didn’t do anything meaningful for him which pretty much just meant spending 2 pool for no effect and it kept me from having an extra defense, or it may not have mattered at all as Carlton can’t generate more than 1 intercept in my deck and I didn’t really need him while Brandon was still around.
And, then, there was Sunday.  Only 7 players because of the lameyiosity of the local playerbase.  … so, time to break out a joke deck.
Round 1
Henri (!Salubri Laibon wall) -> Ian (Best Card Quality Ever) -> Nat (Ass Black Hand) -> Ira (EuroBrujah) -> Steve (Ass vote)
Henri got ousted.  I attribute that to blocking me too much.  I failed to oust Nat because I didn’t cycle on Ira’s last turn.  Steve somehow got the only VP while never having any game, Reckless Agitation and a deal with Ira being kind of helpful.
Round 2
Kevin (Nos Prince breed/boon) -> Henri -> Eric (Pot/Pro rush) -> Ian
Ira figured out what deck I was playing**.  Amusement was shared between Nat, Ira, and me.  I bled Kevin like mad because I knew he was the threat and that was what I had in hand early in the game, unlike the previous game where I didn’t draw much bleed until late.  Eric couldn’t punk my dudes more than once.  Henri crushed Eric’s.  I got Henri down on pool even after he ousted Eric, but I ran out of Majestys.
**  On the newsgroup, someone came up with stats for the top played cards in the TWDA over some period where On the Qui Vive made the list.  I forwarded that to our list.  Kuta put together an 88 card library based on the distribution of the 14 most played cards in the game and noted that Arika has all of the disciplines.  I put together a 90 card version and, of course, played with x3 J. Oswald “Ozzy” Hyde-White, x3 Louis Fortier, x3 Anarch Convert, x3 Tupdog.  No reason not to Blood Doll and Minion Tap Tupdogs when you have eleven of the former and four of the latter.
Round 3
Steve -> Eric -> Ira -> Kevin -> Nat
Lots of trying to keep Kevin’s deck under control.  Lots of blah.  None of what happens ends up mattering, which is typical in 4-7 player tournaments.
Henri wins tournament.
Fairly unstressful weekend, quite unlike last year’s qualifier weekend where I was really tired of playing by Sunday.  Really should have more people in these tournaments, though.  Looks like next year will not see a Sunday event as people lack the interest and intestinal fortitude for 20 hours of cardflopping.
Next post:  my decks.

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