It was like a V:TES convention for me. Now, three tournaments or whatever is kind of conventionlike in the first place, but as I played until 1:30AM or whatever in Pleasanton before the qualifier weekend, it was very conventiony.
So, I get into Pleasanton about 8PM, start playing about 8:30PM. Played two games, both times with the same predator. First game, I play my awesome Jyhad-only (library), Toreador, Victoria Ash makes an appearance, Business Pressure-Disarming Presence 4cl deck. It’s all good when I have so many masters to play that I have to wait to play the broken Elysium: The Arboretum – not so much broken because the group plays it as written but because the combat deck I play against all of the time is Camarilla. My prey is playing the deck and punking his prey, who is playing Celerity/Fortitude; my grandpredator is playing Nos vote, and my predator is playing some Gangrel/! thing. I call Rumors of Gehenna at some point which my grandpredator doesn’t like as I choose myself and my prey and I play Business Pressure and Disarming Presence, nobody cares about tapping, so everyone votes, but my prey and my grandpredator spend a bunch of pool to counter each other and it fails, though I could have played Telepathic Vote Counting to take it back into my hand. Eventually, my grandprey and my predator die. I die. Nos win in an untimed game. Discarding a Minion Tap was probably not a good idea on my part as my guys were pretty much always fullish.
Instead of playing my other Pleasanton-oriented deck, which was another Presence vote deck, I play a cut down version of my Elisabetta deck, 67 cards after making it 4cl. I bring out Mylan, my prey takes it and that’s kind of game as he gets 6 minions in play. I sit at 1 pool for 4-5 turns but don’t really feel that threatened by my predator who is playing the same or similar Gangrel/! deck. Across the table, the Aus/Cel/Pre?/Obf? deck keeps getting blocked equipping and doesn’t use Greta’s ability enough. I don’t really remember doing much cool, though I did rush some with Steely Tenacity with Forestal. I draw Failsafe a turn too late.
My alarm wakes me up. I have a great internal clock for waking up, so this almost never happens. Not only does it wake me up, but I don’t realize it’s my alarm for a while. I felt like crap. So, off to play two tournaments.
Tournamet #1, Round 1:
Ian (Nagaraja w/Obt) -> Dan (Trem w/ Talbot’s Chainsaw) -> Mike (Malk 1/2 Prank Parity Shift) -> Sean (Miller Time) -> James (Corrupt Construction)
James puts Fame on my Kanimana right away, it never triggers, going away when he’s eventually ousted. I have nothing but Nagaraja in my uncontrolled, so even though I get Obtenebration from Lilith’s Blessing, I keep not bringing out a second vampire. I do block Talbot’s. Mike keeps playing Pranks which only cost James pool and guarantee Sean getting a VP as he chooses a single number for everyone every time and hits James every single time rather than just giving him 4 pool. Dan is tooling. I have Anarch Troublemaker in play from turn 1, The Erciyes Fragments in play, give up on Descenting into Darkness and pay 3 extra for Raful. James’s Corrupt Constructions never come my way. Dan doesn’t draw a wake, so I oust him with Troublemaker plus bleed for 6.
This brings up a rather important point, something I just don’t get about how people build decks. If you have enough wakes in your decks, I will never oust you. Yet, I oust people reasonably often.
Game times out as Mike bloats off of Pranks, Sean is only a halfway threat to me, and I choose not to get ousted.
Sean -> Matt (Multitaskmites) -> Ian -> Ira (Akunanse vote)
I don’t believe in hitting one’s prey hard early. It engenders table hate, causes one’s prey to wall up (and often whine), and uses cards that could have been used to lunge. I hit Ira early. I know his deck, I know how his decks work, I know that I have to give Sean some room both because this is 4 player and because Ira and Matt are far better players. I hope that Sean recognizes what I’m doing, but as I expected, I neither topdeck some bleed to take Ira below 4 pool nor do I get any help containing Ira. Sean pounds Matt’s pool down. Ur-Shulgi tries to bleed me some but isn’t achieving much even with Pentex on my Raful. My Bartholomew gets Banished, which is kind of annoying, so I only have Pentexed Raful and Forestal (completely different draw). Speaking of completely different draws, Sean gets out Anneke and starts blocking meaningless actions, like Thetmes getting Retain the Quick Blood and my going anarch with Forestal … across table. Matt, with like no pool, tries a bleed of 7 and I don’t bounce with Auspex, don’t bounce with Dominate, don’t bleed reduce with Friend of Mine a *second* time … I just Archon him. Sean doesn’t oust Matt when he has plenty of chances to finish him off. Anneke gets a Pulse only to immediately burn from Matt’s Fear of Mekhet (Ira discards his). I had given up on trying to oust Ira once he got back up to 8 pool, so Ira kills Sean who doesn’t have wakes since he blocked those other actions earlier, has no problem with Matt, I can’t last the 5 minutes I need to time out and either get into the finals with 2 VPs or do a rolloff for the finals with 2 VPs. I did first turn discard Shadowed Eyes, so who is the real winner?
Pretty sure Ira was top seed. I know the order of play was Mike, Brandon (THA), Ira, Robert (Ahrimanes vote, I think), A.J. (Tzimisce wall). Brandon gets ousted, game times.
I played my only pickup game of the weekend. I play the Jyhad 4cl deck from above. I first turn Info Highway, Victoria Ash, call Rumors for only myself, bring out Anson becomes that’s funny, Minion Tap Anson for 8 and Giant’s Blood because that’s the way I roll, put Elysium in play with my prey playing a Cam deck because that’s the way I role, tap my prey’s Tara with Consanguineous Condemnation + Disarming Presence combo because that’s the way I successfully bleed at no stealth with Legal Manipulations. My predator and grandpredator fight a lot as my predator is Baali intercept and my grandpredator is some sort of Lasombra fight deck. My prey’s Ventrue Law Firm deck with two non-Ventrue in play doesn’t put any meaningful pressure on his prey’s Salubri deck until late. Salubri get a couple VP, and I clean up.
Point #2. People worry way too much about how good their decks are. I was in a dominant position at all times with a 4cl Jyhad library deck that has only 4 votes that can do pool damage and 8 bleed cards (with obviously zero Aires of Elation).
Point #3. Don’t need new cards to compete.
Qualifier, Round 1:
Joel (Laz & Friends) -> Ira (Ira … Rivers & Alexandra) -> Andy (Dem stealth bleed) -> Gerrentt (Cock Robin & Friends) -> Ian (Anarch OBF antivote)
Joel kept punking Ira … Rivers, containing Ira. Andy kept getting punked between Cock and Ira, being contained. I actually thought about helping him, but I knew his deck too well to do that. Gerrentt did a bit to me, mostly with annoying Tiers of Souls, which slowed down my tooling up. But, I was mostly free to do what I wanted, Joel not rushing me that much and not hurting me when he did. I got out a lot of guys. Joel ousts Ira without expending too many resources in what is a crushing beatdown. Andy is at risk, but I oust Joel with Monkey Wrench and stuff. Andy ousts. I arrange my turn so that Mylan can Computer Hack oust Andy with my last action.
Ian -> Dan (!Trem Gargoyle) -> A.J. (Pre/Vic) -> Ira -> Ian T. (Valerius)
This was awesome. I kind of ruined it in the end, but it now goes down as one of the *those* games. After an hour, I had played two cards. I had three cards in my ash heap: Old Friends (discarded even though I had it in hand when I bled before my prey got up a vampire), J.S. Simmons, Delaying Tactics (discarded). Wait, J.S. Simmons hadn’t been discarded? Ira tried playing J.S. and he got blocked. I tried playing J.S. and I got blocked … playing mono Obfuscate … by my predator!!! I had also played a Villein in that first hour as my second card played, I think. Averaging a card played every 30 minutes or so …
Why? My prey had rush with Tupdogs. My predator blocked my actions that he never should have tried to block, so I was content to only take actions nobody cared about, like hunting. So, and this does make some sense, I think like only one of my actions got blocked after J.S. for about an hour, again, by my predator, who had Alexandra behind him. I got a Camera Phone and bled for 1 without it a couple of times – nobody blocked.
The pivotal moments in the game were oddly in the midgame. My prey had Famed Velya and punked it repeatedly. Matteus calls Banishment, not targeting Velya, not targeting his prey, not targeting his predator, not targeting me (what did I care?), but targeting Ian T.’s second vampire. It passes, leaving Ian fairly helpless to do anything. On another turn, my grandprey had Velya and Matteus up and decided to play Festivo dello Estinto with Velya empty and Famous. That was not wise as it guaranteed that either his prey or his predator would block. Ira was actually low on pool after bringing out Alexandra, like 5 pool. Then, Matteus calls KRC, which a torped Velya can’t help pass. If Velya had somehow hunted or Change of Targeted and A.J. had something more brutal than KRC, Ira might have been in a world of hurt. Dan gets A.J., Ira gets Ian, I start playing some cards bringing my card per minute average (well, minute per card) way down to 27 minutes a card and, then, to under 10 minutes a card as I die. Ira wins easily.
There was much discussion after this game about my building a deck that tries to win off of playing no cards. Not to be confused with my building decks that try to make zero decisions in the game – 20 Ascendance, 50 Earth Meld, 20 The Embrace is the prevailing idea. Of course, it was the finals which contributed to this line of thinking.
Ian -> Sean (fat Toreador) -> Robert (Ahrimanes vote) -> Ira -> Joel
Joel was top seed. Ira tried to talk Sean out of bringing out Alexandra. Ira wrecked Robert and ignored the Haven Uncovereds Joel threw backwards because Joel didn’t use them. Joel beat my guys down sometimes, often enough for me to track how many cards in my ash heap were played.
I don’t know how much time into the game it was, maybe between 45-60 minutes, but I think I had around 5 cards in my ash heap and none of them had been played. Maybe. I played two cards that give stealth the entire game, neither to give stealth. I played superior Spying Mission and Swallowed by the Night to make a rush meaningless. I had zero actions blocked. If Joel didn’t punk and then oust me on his turn, I might have ousted my prey with a topdeckable Monkey Wrench. Robert was Sean’s bitch, going down to 1 pool, playing a DI on Ira and asking Sean whether he wanted him to tap Tshwane or not to continue being his bitch. Ira contested Alexandra! Sean ousted Robert. Joel didn’t die, so Joel won on a time out.
The lesson with my deck? I think an obvious lesson is that even playing mono-Obfuscate bleed where I don’t defend (except against votes) and have nothing better to do than stealth bleed my prey out of the game rapidly, I can find a way to play any deck passively. I got annoyed by my predators doing things to my minions when all they had to do was bleed me, which I had pretty much zero defense against. Of course, it worked. Both times my predators messed with my minions significantly, I got ousted, though one of the times wasn’t by my predator. Furthermore, my predators in both cases never ousted my preys, so my spite arguably worked. It was highly amusing to do nothing with a deck that can only go forward since I didn’t have any bloat, either. And, the deck did do what it was supposed to – the only opponent with no vote cards won.
Hung around a bit to talk, no late night pickup game for me though, so I go home.
Don’t feel as crappy but more just exhausted, so I get a late start on the day, have to lie down for a while after I get up, and proceed to hit every frickin’ red light on the 15 minute-ish drive to Andy’s.
Draft. I try to joke about it to seem less arrogant, but I’m a way better draft player than constructed player. I don’t screw around in draft. I know how to draft. And, yes, I was the second ranked limited player in the world for nearly a year and had won 5 straight limited events, including one in the DC area, playing with Josh Duffin and Matt Morgan. Might have even won the next event I played with them if someone hadn’t passed Matt a Mbare Market, giving him two(!!!), and if my grandprey in the finals had trusted me a bit better so that I could oust Josh (my prey, his predator), which I almost did anyway before Matt’s horde of minions rose up. Not that I’m as good as I was, as I don’t really enjoy draft anymore.
Nevertheless, even though I got zero Monkey Wrenches, zero Anarch Converts, passed most bleed cards and almost all Zip Lines, didn’t draft Assamites even though that was my preferred KMW strategy, and banked my deck on my two Mata Haris, I played 33 cards in my deck rather than the minimum 30 (with 1 recursion) because there was nothing to cut. For one thing, it helped that people didn’t realize how import An Anarch Manifesto is when drafting Twilight Rebellion. Second, I wisely didn’t try to draft a deck that Laecanus would fit into since he hates me and causes me to always lose. Third, people rare draft. Fourth, people often don’t know how to draft. Sure, I passed Garibaldi, which is insanely good. But, I got passed Failsafe(!), which made me incredibly happy as I now play Failsafe in most of my decks*. I got passed King’s Rising. I’m pretty sure I got passed Club Illusion. I got passed My Enemy’s Enemy. My first library pick? Tumnimos. By the way, we drafted vampires first.
* Friday night, after the game in which I sat at 1 pool for a bunch of turns, I commented that it’s really hard to play the game at 1 pool … but, at 2 pool, there’s a lot of things you can do. Failsafe is my way to get off of 1 pool, which happens far too often.
Of course, the real strength of my deck, besides pool gain, was Aksinya Daclau. Mata Hari really wasn’t that important, the only cards I needed her for were Waters of Duat, Black Sunrise, rushing with Steely Tenacity.
Andy -> Ian T. -> Eric -> Ian (I think Andy is the starting player)
In my opening hand, I have Failsafe and King’s Rising. It would have been hilarious to end my game on turn one with bodacity, but I only play the Failsafe. Mata Hari comes out, gets Tumnimos and Waters quickly. Andy and I keep up in minions. Eric threatens my pool with Steely Tenacity and stuff. I let Eric know that if I’m still at 6 pool, I’ll bring out another vampire. I stay at 6. I bring out Aksinya to go to 2. I defend well. I pop Failsafe, later play King’s Rising. Andy’s Anima Gatheringed Joe Boot Hill, btw, also encourages me not to go forward. Eric plays Constant Revolution, which actually ends up being his death both because he taps a guy to do it when he’s low on pool and Ian has obvious offensive potential and because it causes me to randomly lose Con Boon which I was thinking of using to give him pool. Eric goes for the 5 bleed, which I bounce, of course, but I stupidly didn’t try to block first as he had a Zip Line, so I actually have to tap a few more guys to oust Andy, Eric dies. I outminion Ian and had dropped Club Illusion for extra beats.
Gerrentt -> Eric -> Dan -> Ian
It doesn’t make sense that I’d go last twice, so in the previous game, maybe Andy wasn’t first. Anyway, Gerrentt brings out Convert, bleeds, gains like 5 pool from the Edge. Dan doesn’t bleed me forever, though his deck is full of bleed. I get Aksinya much earlier but don’t have my pool gain. Gerrentt amasses a ridiculous number of dudes. I bounce a 2 bleed at stealth. Dan tries a real bleed of Force of Will Monkey Wrench 6 at 1 stealth which I, of course, bounce, putting Gerrentt into kill range. I keep hoping Eric will oust Dan as I’m not nearly as scared of Eric’s deck; he doesn’t do that, but he kills Mylan with Keystone Kine, which I was all happy about. I sweep.
Mike -> Sean -> Ian -> Gerrentt -> Matt
I’m top seed, winning a flip against Matt. I’m fine with being behind Gerrentt. I’m fine with having the only player without a brutal aggro deck (I don’t count) being behind me.
The game was actually quite interesting, involved, strange, and surprising. Let’s see. My predator brings out Lorrie Dunsirn! Wow, what a terrible choice. I transfer 1 to each of my three 5 caps rather than Mata Hari and know Aksinya is on top of my crypt since she’s upside down. If my predator, who I knew had Aksinya in his crypt didn’t bring her out, I would have decrypted, but he brought her out. Matt lent Gerrentt The Rumor Mill to stop my getting An Anarch Manifesto, which he regretted when Gerrentt got Heart of Nizchetus, which Matt was far more concerned about than I was. In fact, Matt was incredibly worried about me all of the time, which I think was mostly due to my being top seed and because he knew I had cards like Failsafe and King’s Rising, rather than knowing my true power. He lent Rumor Mill to Gerrentt later to stop me from getting a Sport Bike, and Gerrentt proceeded to get a Pulse of Canaille. Gerrentt put out Twilight Camp and Crypt’s Sons – damn, what hot rares!
Meanwhile, back in my world, it was pain. Mike conned Sean into rushing Mata Hari, which really didn’t affect me since I had no plans to go forward for the first 1.5 hours of the game, anyway. Sean also kept tapping Aksinya to do things, which was nonsensical as everyone knew Mike had two Monkey Wrenches. Mike contested Louis Fortier with me, which was probably accidental, so he spent all of the rest of the game trying to kill me as his grandprey, well, at least, put me down to where he could take Sean and me right away. So, I tried to kill him back. Mike cut deals with Matt to contest Crypt’s Sons with Gerrentt, so he was contesting 2 cards for a while.
It was hilarious. Sean kept hurting me with rushes or bleed of 4 or Perpetual Care for 4, but all I did the entire time was try to figure out how to keep him alive and keep his predator under control. As I expected, Matt finally lunged and took Mike out, something anybody should have expected given that Matt and I were tied with 7 (out of 8) VPs. Gerrentt was free, though, to Pulse bleed on Matt. I Power of Alled a Patsy that would have killed Sean. Fortunately, Matt had called a Peace Treaty when I was at 3 pool, so I kept my Baseball Bat and gained 4 pool from Failsafe, making me unkillable. I played King’s Rising, which was when two of the observing Haases knew I was going to win. Sean died. I ousted Gerrentt. When I contested Toby with Matt with about a minute left, Matt conceded in a very sportsmanlike move since he was dead on my turn.
Spend half the game contesting a 5 cap in limited? Have a grandpredator trying to kill me? Have a predator unwisely use his actions to maximize damage to me? Explain to my predator that keeping Aksinya untapped would do more pool damage to me than he could do by taking actions with her? Not ever bring out my Aksinya who pretty much gave me two table wins? Wait about 100 minutes to bleed my prey for the first time? Of course, my prey would concede in the endgame with 1 minute left. What other choice did he have? What other choice did any of my opponents have? Oh, right, they could have done less pool damage to me – that would have screwed me …
Thank yous for:
Brandon – Running everything, getting phat loots for the events.
Matt – Not stalling to win even though I would have been cool with it as Mike’s plays annoyed me and Matt would have been a worthy victor. I think it’s great that players like Matt, Jeff Thompson, etc. display such sportsmanship. I try to live up to those examples.
Out of town players – Mike, Matt, Robert, James – great to have people from other regions.
Mid-East Bay players – Dan, Sean, A.J., Joel – great to have players still playing in that area and willing to make the trek. Sure, Ian came from further, but one would think a lot more Berkeley and SF players would have made it out.
The rest of the players – games don’t work unless you have opponents.
Haas household – Andy, Eric, their dad – for hosting, having food and drink available, putting up with a bunch of gamers, especially crazy people like Robert.
Forgetting anyone? Hope not.
Well, that was exhausting. It was great, though. Now, off to see if I own 20 Jyhad The Embraces, so that the deck can be Jyhad-only, as well.
x1 Louis Fortier
x1 Paul Forrest
x2 Mata Hari
x1 Aksinya Daclau
x1 Club Illusion
x1 King’s Rising
x1 Sermon of Caine
x1 Trophy: Safe Passage
x1 Warning Sirens
x1 Fee Stake: Corte (all players were allowed to add these three)
x1 Fee Stake: Los Angeles
x1 Fee Stake: Perth
x1 Undue Influence
x1 Waters of Duat
x1 Zip Line
x1 Command of the Beast
x1 Burst of Sunlight
x1 Song of Serenity
x2 An Anarch Manifesto (thought I had 3)
x1 Baseball Bat
x1 Sport Bike
x1 Consanguineous Boon
x1 Conservative Agitation
x1 Exclusion Principle
x1 Black Sunrise
x1 My Enemy’s Enemy
x1 Power of All
x1 Steely Tenacity