A Sight To Behold

Time for a trip to the past, a few months back. Remember the Global Escalation tournament? I never got around to finishing my write-up. But now I have, for posterity, in case anyone wants to take this monstrosity of a team along.

Now, imagine that you get invited to a special tournament. Would you run something fun? Something crazy? Something powerful? Something flexible?

My choice: All of the above. Prepare for…

A Sight To Behold

Format: Global Escalation (modified for CR Game Room’s invitational tourney)

The Team:  Behold the insane Beholder garbage.

Alright, make sure you have the above link opened. Most of the cards here have more than one use, and there are multiple strategies this team will use to win. For the most part, rather than discussing individual cards, I will discuss combos.

Preliminary note: whenever I discuss purchasing actions, assume I use Red Dragon’s global to discount. Likewise with expensive characters and the Kree Captain global.

Let’s start with the most reliable strategy: Beholder + Bifrost rush. Turn 1, buy Black Widow, PXG (twice if going second, ideally). Turn 2, buy Bifrost, PXG x 3. Turn 3, activate Bifrost, buy Beholder , activate Bifrost, field Widow, field Beholder, field a sidekick or 2, attack with everything. Imprisoned captures your opponent’s stuff, Front Line (and Widow’s when fielded effect) buffs yours, generally ends up being game over (or bringing your opponent to 1 health so that it’s game over the following turn).

Now, there are other ways to get to 20 damage. If your opponent doesn’t have characters fielded, you can bypass Beholder entirely with the same order, and instead buy up Widows, activate Bifrost, and co-ordinate things so that your widows buff your characters as much as possible. It’s possible to get to 20 damage with 3 Widows (1 rolled, 2 purchased on T3) and 2 sidekicks.

And there’s a third T3 strategy: Front Line rush. T1, buy Widow, T2, buy Front Line, T3, hope to roll Widow, Front Line, and a crapton of sidekicks.

When you move to T4, there’s another possibility. You can go for Angel Dragon rush. Angel on T1, Bifrost on T2, buy Front Line on T3 (probably buy a 2nd Angel, field your 1st Angel to field the second one with Bifrost), then on T4, buy a Red Dragon, field something to field the Dragon, and activate Front Line. Front Line triggers twice thanks to the Dragon, your Angels get unblockable and +6A each. That gets out of control in a hurry.

And those are just the obvious strategies. When going up against control strategies, mixing it up, using Widow to buff Angels that have been made unblockable by Bifrost is a good way to whittle down the opponent.

Now, for some tech to keep in mind before I go further:

-Bifrost’s global comes in very handy, either when buying Bifrost or Angel. Don’t forget to use it.

-Black Widow’s global and Imprisoned are my two main forms of removal. Imprisoned is tricky to use, as it prevents me from relying on Red Dragon’s global or his Breath Weapon (lest I give my opponent back his characters). Use with care.

-If you consider running this team, do not swap Angel for common Yuan-ti! Angel is superior in almost every situation for this team. He’s easier to purchase (thanks to Bifrost’s global), has more defense, and Attune is a detriment if you already capture your opponent’s stuff with Imprisoned (since you can’t hit your opponent with Attune damage; it would end Imprisoned’s effect). Plus, if Wonder-Ring shows up, they can redirect Attune to your own stuff.

-Doomcaliber Knight is there for one reason: Dealing with Blink/Static Field’s global. Static field in particular shuts Beholder down, and for my other strategies to work, I can’t have the Static Field global stopping them. Doomcaliber is thus a must.

And that’s it for the strategy behind this team.

This time around, every match was recorded. I’ll thus skip the usual game-per-game commentary. I’ll link to each match and provide some brief notes rather than a full breakdown.

As a reminder, this tournament worked using a Double Elimination format. If you lose two matches, you’re done. Until you do, though, you’re still in.

Game 1:

Not much to say here: I was overly sleepy and did stupid misplays, but the team was overpowering enough for me to win. Still, the sheer beatdown from this match led to the Ministry of Dice essentially describing me as the Dice Masters equivalent of Voldemort. I bet you they wouldn’t have the guts to feature me on their podcast. 😉

1-0

Game 2:

This was against Ben, who was a really tough matchup. Between Ronin, Rarecrow, Static Field, it’s almost like he expected my team. And C Hulk gives him a win condition that’s easy to set up once his control pieces are in place. Even then, though, Bifrost gives me so many options I gave him a rough fight, but some missed rolls on my end gave him the opening he needed to win.

1-1

And thus I went down to the…

Losers’ Bracket:

From here, any loss and I’m out. I started off against Peter Jezik and his Satchel team.

The Mera global is an interesting counter to this build, but it doesn’t stop everything. His damage output was slower, but he had everything to stop me going for the big rush. I went for a slower, methodical attack, which led me to a 2-0 win.

2-1

Next up, I went up against Chris Clubb, whose Mjolnir team is so awesome it even inspired a copycat.

His team’s more consistent, mine’s faster. I won 2-0, but in both cases, he was set up to wreck me the following turn. Fantastic team, deserved a better fate.

3-1

Up against Shadowmeld, who ran Wonder-Ring, an archetype I expected to see more of. Thankfully, Beholder + Imprisoned bypasses that.

He had other nasty stuff, chief among them Blackbird, which messed with my ramp, but I managed to play around it. I just remained the aggressor the whole time, and it worked.

4-1

I then went up against Zack, of James and Zack fame.

Neither of us had much defense against the other (and what he did have didn’t really roll), so it was rock ’em sock ’em dice masters, and a critical missed roll (so bad we had to bleep out his reaction!) led to me winning 2-0.

5-1

And now, for the Losers’ Bracket final, a rematch against Ben.

Like the previous match, this was a coin-toss. Any crazy good or bad roll would define this. And sure enough, in Game 1, a crazy lucky roll won it for him, while the same is true for me in Game 2. In Game 3, the opening was there after a missed roll on his end and I went on to the finals.

6-1

And there you have it. From the depths of the Losers’ Bracket, I made it to the…

Grand Finale

Time to go up against James Blore, who also ran an incredibly aggressive team. Now, because he was undefeated, the rules are simple: he only has to win one match to be champion, but I have to win 2. Neither of us has any defense against the other. It’s pure aggression everywhere.

I’ll just let the video speak for itself on this one.

Post-Mortem:

So close. Soooo close.

Ok, there’s no way around talking about this team without talking about Global Escalation as a whole. Now, as a reminder, with this format’s current rules, cards with a global (other than Relentless and Swords of Revealing Light) cannot be banned.

With this in mind, look at this team build, and look at what cards have globals. So, if this was an official event where Wizkids would ban the winning team’s stuff, how many cards would I lose?

Two. Angel and Imprisoned. That’s it.

Sure, Imprisoned would be a big loss, but there’s a fair amount of other board wipes (Crowd Fighting, for example) that could be nearly as effective on Turn 3. As for Angel, with a similar ability about to become a keyword in the next D&D set (look at the keyword “Obscure” in recent spoilers), I have no doubt he’ll become easy to replace.

So unless Wizkids changes how they approach this format, this team or a variation thereof will likely be a competitive fixture if Wizkids decides to go back to this format in competitive events. We’re talking about a team that reliably wins on T3 or T4 with built-in removal and multiple different strategies that can win on T3. That is insanely fast, and even against high-level opponents, it’s proven to be incredibly hard to stop.

A while ago, Wizkids said of Global Escalation: “we reserve the right to ban additional cards if there is a demonstrated need to preserve the health of the format.”

I’d say this team, and others, shows that there’s a need to preserve the health of the format, at least from a competitive standpoint. Wizkids has intervened, in the past, to stop situations where the game could end reliably on turn 3. I hope they do likewise here. I’m not 100% sure what card I would ban, but Doomcaliber seems like the most likely candidate, as it’s the grease that allows for that T3 swing. Were it not for him, this team could never win on Turn 3. Mind you, I would also ban Imprisoned…because I hate that card. With a passion.

Now, please don’t misunderstand my comments here: if you want to play the format casually and have fun, good for you. I merely hope that Wizkids intervenes so that this format, which has a fair amount of potential, can continue to be viable from a competitive standpoint.

As for how I feel about my team itself, my opinion depends on what part of the team I look at. For Beholder…honestly, it was entertaining to see how quickly it could win, but as a rule, I don’t like teams that can wreck on T3 before the opponent can react. It was effective, but not as fun. However, whenever I would have to pivot to Angel, Red Dragon and all that jazz, I loved it. Sure, it wasn’t as competitive, but it was a heck of a lot more fun.

And while it may sound like I’m a bit negative on the GE format, I really liked participating in this tournament; it was a great opportunity, and I’m grateful to the guys at CR Game Room for having me. I’m sad I missed their Modern Two-Team Takedown, but I’ll do my best to make it to their next one. You should sign up too. Who knows…you might end up facing me. No Beholder this time, I promise.

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