Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Adventures of Bubble Boy: A Regional Report

It was supposed to be easy.  After all, the big fish were playing for fame and glory on the ARG circuit series.  That should have left only the minnows to compete for national invites at the Norcross Regional.

There were 428 minnows. 

Still, I had a sense that this tournament was going to be different.  Call it a 6th Sense.  That’s right, campers.  I pulled a Six Sense from 1 box the night before I left for Norcross.  It was a sign … and omen … and I was going to break through the bubble. 

Rd 1: Dark Worlds; lost die roll; X, 0, 0
My first round opponent was a regional rookie who played Dark Worlds.  This gave me a slight shiver since I had lost to the deck the week before at locals … and that deck was piloted by a kid who could barely keep their head above the table.  Think disembodied hand saying “Bounce Broww, summon Grapha”. 

Sure enough, I take a first game loss.  The kid was so unaccustomed to playing that he was packing up his things and moving on to the next round.  Not so fast Broww Boy.  I was able to initiate him into the world of Gearakuri spam in the second game.  Game three was won on the backs of Abyss Dweller and Debunk.  Record 1-0
Six Sense Count:  Resolved once, milled 2 

Rd 2: Reptile Worms; won die roll; X, X
Worms?! Really?  The deck was played by Dave  B, a very decent guy and a good player.  He did tell me that this was a deck that a friend dared him to play.  Why not? He already had his invite.  Minnows indeed!

Playing against a deck that you don’t know … at all … is a challenge.  Rogue decks will exploit this ignorance and put pressure on their opponents. The ignorance leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to misplays.  In fact, the biggest error I made in game 1 was not searching for Fortress when I normal summoned Gearframe after it and Gigant X were both wiped off the board by Torrential.  I was distracted by this odd deck and put off by my misread of a Torrential.  I didn’t even think about my search until after the turn was over.  In desperation, I picked up my Gearframe and hoped to read the following:

When this card is normal summoned, you MUST for the love of God search for a Machina monster and add it to your hand.  Failure to do so will result in a repairable game state error.  

It doesn’t say that.  Nevertheless, the lesson is a good one.  When faced with a rogue deck, slow down, breath, and be careful about overlooking the stuff you already know.  Record 1 -1
Six Sense Count: Resolved once, milled 4.

Rd 3: Watts/Hunders; lost die roll; X, 0, X
From Worms to Watts .  Great, I was in Minnow Anti-Meta land.  As I watched my life points get slowly nibbled away, I realized I had made a huge mistake. I didn’t put Effect Veiler in the side deck!  On the ride to Georgia, several friends of mine agreed that E veiler was not a particularly great card this format. E Dragons pretty much shrug the card off. However, most decks have some form of effect negation.  Geargias usually play Fiendish Chain, a card that I dropped so that I could avoid playing more than 10 traps.  Trap heavy decks fall easily to Decree.  My strategy is fine if E Veiler is kept at close distance.  Sitting in a binder in the hotel room is NOT close.  

I did get the second game thanks to the dragon buddies, Scrap and Stardust.  I lost the third game to Constellar Omega.  Record 1-2
Six Sense: Not drawn

Rd 4: Chaos Dragons; won dice roll; O, O
I was in definite trouble.  The only way to get an invite was go undefeated in 6 rounds – sure.  Fortunately, my round 4 opponent was not too difficult.  He played an unusual build of Chaos Dragons that included cards like Red Eyes B Chick.  Most experienced players would dismiss it but he was proud of his deck and eager to show me the combinations after the duel was over.  I gently tried to tell him the odds for pulling a three card combination, but I didn’t want my numbers to get in the way of his enthusiasm. The fact is we are all proud of our deck choices, often to our detriment.  Furthermore, many of his choices were made out of necessity. He didn’t have access to many of the top cards. 

Sure, he wasn’t going to win today.  Perhaps, by giving him a few minutes to talk about his deck I was able to give him a Yugi-worthy moment.  Record 2-2
Six Sense: MST’d in the end phase

Rd 5: No Show;
It’s a cheap win … but it gave me the chance to eat dinner.  At 7:00 PM, I’d take it.  Record 3-2

Rd 6: E Dragons; won dice roll; 0, X, 0
Finally, the deck I was waiting for.  The fellow was a knowledgeable player but a little sloppy.  I could easily see several E Dragons and a Six Sense while he was shuffling … and I don’t try to look.  Knowing the archetype your opponent is using before the duel begins is quite helpful. Don’t let others know what you are playing. 

The first game was the old Trap Stun Geargikuri spam.  This combination is fun and relatively easy to pull off. However, this deck doesn’t recover well. If you go in for the kill, you’d better kill them.  A Swift Scarecrow and a Dark Hole can leave your resources spent.  

I lost game 2 to Return from a Different Dimension.  What goes around, comes around.  

Game 3 was won on using Stardust to protect Imperial Iron wall. Record 4-2
Six Sense: Not drawn 

Rd 7: Spellbooks; lost dice roll; 0, 0
This duel was easier than it should have been.  I don’t consider myself particularly adept at playing against Spellbooks.  Quite frankly, I get a bit lost in all of the activation conditions.  As a result, I am somewhat at the mercy of the opponent.  Fortunately, this complexity also causes problems for the Spellbook player.  At any rate, the deck seems to have more than its share of dead draws. 

Game 2 was an easy win thanks to Iron Wall.  Record 5-2
Six Sense: Not Drawn

Rd 8: Gadgets; lost dice roll; 0, X  Draw
This was the only unpleasant duel of the day.  Since my readership is somewhat less than expansive, he probably won’t read this post.  Still, I do want to be fair.  We were both tired and both of us were playing on the bubble. 

That said, I was a bit put off from the outset. He was the oldest player I faced, which will be a subject for a future entry. He dressed in a Clemson orange tee shirt and hat, played on an orange mat, and had orange card sleeves. Now, I love my university.  I have dedicated my life the UNC, but I don’t garb myself, my family, and my dog in Carolina blue.  Nevertheless, I could push past the ACC rivalry.  Then I went to cut my deck after he shuffled it, which prompted him to call a judge. Really?! Don’t you read my blog?  Six minutes wasted and we hadn’t even started to play.

He opened with a Goldfish and I dropped Maxx C, which led to another disagreement. He said that I had assented to the summon and I couldn’t draw for the Gadget he played. Fine … whatever.  The game dragged on a bit, but I finally won after he took the Maxx C challenge and lost.
Game 2 was another slugfest.  He garnered a lot of +1 card advantage by going into Gear Gigant. I lost a Star Eater by attacking into Gear Gigant that was backed up by Limiter Removal.  That was a huge loss since Star Eater is a -2 synchro monster.  The decision to summon it and attack was reasonable; the odds of this one card are low. I don’t regret that play but I do regret not scooping the game.  By this time, we had 7 minutes left. If I scooped, I could have began game 3 by going first. I would have risked a lost but I would have avoided a draw.  Though topping with an X-2-1 record is possible, I would have been much better off going into the final round X-2. 

Of course, I really, really, missed Effect Veiler. Record 5-2-1
Six Sense: Not Drawn

Rd 9: Geargia; lost dice roll; X,0,X
So it’s close to midnight and I am at table 24.  A win and my chance to get an invite are good; a loss and I’m going to be one sleep-deprived salty player. I was hoping for E Dragons, instead he flips up GeargiaArmor. 
Believe it not, I haven’t played in a mirror match.  The deck hasn’t been that popular.  

For those of you who want to know the secret of beating Geargias ... here it is:

Play Effect Veiler or Fiendish Chain on Armor. 
Play Maxx C or Vanity’s Emptiness when you see a tuner hit the board. 

Right … I didn’t have Effect Veiler. 

I lose the first one by getting OTK’d by the cards I love. The result is not all that surprising.  I suspected this was going to come down to a who-went-first decision.  I did have help in the second game, a game I probably didn’t need help with. But that’s right – Six Sense gives me 6 cards at 12:30 in a game I probably would have won anyway.  

The third game was a play-Trap-Stun-win-match and just like that I was out of contention.  Record 5-3-1
Six Sense: Resolved for 6 cards. 

The final tally: 20 duels. I was 6-2 when going first; 5-6-1 when going second. Six Sense was drawn 4 times (20%), resolved 3 times, and gave me cards once.  I learned the value of keeping cool, scooping when your odds of winning are slim, and don’t forget E Veiler.   

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