Climbing (Almost) To The Top

Hey everyone,

You knew this one was coming. With the crazy weekend we had last week, of course I couldn’t pass up the chance to do a write-up. However, I will take a different approach and do a deep dive into Worlds itself rather than discuss the weekend as a whole.

Before I discuss Worlds, though, here’s a summary of the other competitive events of the weekend from my perspective:

-10/10: I brought a Collector team without Nobby (should’ve brought SR Boom Boom, but I left her home). I didn’t like the pace of my team. It went poorly, as I finished 2-3.

-Global Escalation: I brought my infamous Beholder garbage. Finished 4-1 despite a number of people actively building their team to counter mine. My only loss was against Patrick, aka Shadowmeld, due to some insane, unfathomably lucky rolls on his Pyro/Manticore combo. I finished 3rd overall, right behind Ben and Nick.

-I skipped Pauper to draft, because I was on Sunday’s Preview Draft, which was a blast. I got the rare Black Widow in that draft, which is insanely good. The other “normal” drafts I did allowed me to round out my set of animated X-men promos (thanks to some trades). Huzzah!

And without further ado, let’s talk about the real reason you’re here, shall we?

Climbing (Almost) To The Top

The Team:  Fist Weenies Are Best Weenies.

Hold up a minute, I hear you say. Isn’t that jourdo’s build from his own article? Almost, but not quite.

You see, the two of us practised together and came up with the final build together. Like him, I didn’t want to run Iceman, even though I had an Iceman team ready to go. He came to me with the Wong+Atlantis idea and the first version of the build. I had literally just run a similar build in the latest Two Team Takedown (minus the Widow), so we started testing together.

The core of his initial build remained intact: Use Atlantis for ramp, alongside Wong, who counts as a sidekick due to the Ally keyword. Field Wongs and other sidekicks until you draw all of your dice, then purchase Widows to hopefully field them and deal way too much damage with a metric ton of characters. Then, use Supreme Intelligence to Prep Atlantis on the opponent’s turn and do it all again.

With the initial build, we started to test it against some nasty Collector and Iceman teams. And piece by piece, we tweaked. We both quickly agreed on GDM being essential, especially against Collector. He even agreed to use Shriek (which is saying something; this is jourdo we’re talking about). And we went for Haymaker because we wanted that global on an action to free up the character slot originally held by Hulk.

At some point, we had Atlas on the team for the global. It had been very effective for me in the Two-Team Takedown, after all. But we had trouble against Iceman; the race for damage was very much a toss-up. To fit in a response to Iceman, we decided to take out Atlas and replace Insect Plague with Resurrection.

In the slot we just freed up, we tried Mimic (too slow) and Nova Corps Uniform (fantastic, but reactive; by the time the Uniform hits, most of the damage is already dealt). Then, I blurted out “Sam Wilson” while brainstorming and it was a light bulb moment. We tested with her, and there was no question: she was in. Using the energy from missed Atlantis rolls, I could get Shields easily to prevent Iceman’s damage. And if the Iceman team brings Clayface, even better!

But now, we get to where jourdo and I took different paths. I didn’t like keeping Resurrection on the team. After all, I was giving Iceman the chance to hit the field on Turn 3, reliably. I much preferred the idea of using Supreme Intelligence to set up Atlantis T3, without giving my opponent the chance to set themselves up as effectively. So while jourdo kept Resurrection, I swapped it back out for Insect Plague.

And so, the final build was ready. Was I ready? Debatable. Especially since the two tournaments on Friday left me mentally wiped.

But on I went to Worlds anyway. So let’s get to the games!

An important caveat before I begin, however: A ruling was made in advance of, and during, Worlds. The ruling was that if my characters were sent to the Used Pile by an opposing Green Devil Mask on my turn, they’d go straight to Used and would not go Out Of Play. This helped the team recover from a GDM trigger tremendously. However, during the tournament, they found that the ruling was incorrect. They continued to apply it until the end of the tournament for consistency, but it was stated clearly that the interaction would work differently in future tournaments. So if you run this team in the future, remember that GDM sends things Out Of Play if you trigger an opposing GDM on your own turn. This did not impact the result of most games, though it did impact Round 5.

Round 1:

I started the day with a match against…Ben Scott. Yes, seriously. In a meta where aggro was not the most obvious target, he built a team specifically to stop aggro. Well, dangit. It doesn’t help that I couldn’t get fists to save my life in the early game, so he really had little to worry about from my end. He got his ramp going, and I couldn’t get my own ramp to work or stop his ramp fast enough. He built up a ludicrous amount of energy, and leisurely set up some massive Green Lantern damage, keeping masks to keep my army of characters at bay. After a couple of big Green Lantern attacks, he won.

0-1

Round 2:

Next up, I played against Mike P and his team of aggro rush, which uses Dreadnaught and Madame Web to deal with blockers, allowing his other characters (e.g. Batiri Battle Stack) to sneak through. He could tell that I had the faster team, so he tried an interesting strategy. He used Shriek on my Black Widow, was going to use Madame Masque to stop my own Shriek, and then he was going to field Scarlet Witch to throttle Atlantis. Problem is, on a crucial turn, Madame Masque failed to roll. I then Shrieked his Shriek, got my Widow back, and from there, he had no time to recover before I got the whole Atlantis+Wong train going. I won.

1-1

Round 3:

Onwards to…Golems? Yep, that’s right. Chris Z, from CR Game Room, decided to charge in with Golems and their instant-win goodness. This was a matchup between my two teams from the Two-Team Takedown. Honestly, Black Widow’s global really hurts his team. He never got to set up the combo, as I would constantly put him in a bad place (be forced to attack, or use the self-KO effects to get stuff off the field and try to re-field them later. Had he gotten the three pieces on the board, it would’ve been game over. But as it is, i took a lot of damage from forced attacks to keep his field lean, after which I crashed into him with large numbers of attackers when my combo fired off. I won before Golems could happen.

2-1

Round 4:

This round, I went up against Henry C and his Corrupt team, the whole Tabaxi Rogue+Sage combo. That was an interesting game. He saw that he could not win a race for damage, and decided to slow the pace down by using the rare Tomb Guardian. Problem is, that slowed him down too. The game turned into a slog, but I was still dealing more damage than him. With a few more turns, I could’ve won (he was at 5 life after turns), but time was called and after both time and turns, neither of us had won. This was thus a tie.

2-1-1

Round 5:

I then faced off against Nick W’s Green Lantern team. This one didn’t have quite as much ramp, but Static Field and GDM were still a pain. I feel kind of bad, because this was the game where the GDM ruling had the most impact; I recovered from a GDM roll by immediately fielding a sidekick and got the whole engine going again. His team honestly deserved a better fate. But we played it as ruled, and he simply could not get enough masks to stop my steam train of Widow-fueled weenies. I won.

3-1-1

Game 6:

Next up, against Henry Z and his Iceman team. He brought me Clayface, which this team loves. Honestly, this game is a bit of a blur as my body was messed up (see below). I remember doing lots of random misplays because of forgetting what he was blanking with Shriek. He was very kind and understanding throughout. Still, his team was exactly the kind I had prepared for. I slowed down his damage and rushed him down with Wongs for the win, that much I remember.

4-1-1

Ok, so I climbed back from 0-1 to a record that pushed me into the Top 8. Phew!

By that point, I was already pretty tired, and knew that it was only going to get harder from there. It also didn’t help that I ate a big meal before Round 6 and somehow messed my body up stupendously. (Seriously, my mind was going a mile a minute and I was all over the place. I hadn’t eaten since the morning, and suddenly ate a big meal. Baaaaad idea, never doing that again)

With all this going on, I did something that many surely found odd: to settle down and conserve energy, I withdrew from social interaction and got a bit of shut-eye between rounds. I assure you, everyone, I would’ve loved to chat in normal circumstances, but I was tired to an insane degree.

Let’s see how that turned out.

Top 8

I began the top cut against Jacob and his Canary/Danger Room/Kree Captain aggro team (with Fixit in it to boot!). That matchup was bonkers. He used The Blackbird as global hate. If you’ve never played against it in a big competition, the game becomes very cerebral when two global-heavy teams face off with this card in the mix.

It was a very interesting and very even matchup. On the one hand, he had lots of things he could shut down to really hurt me. On the other, I could just as easily use my other tools (shut down Supreme Intelligence, and I’ll use Widow’s taunt global and Prof to field a sidekick, for example). I frequently used my life as a resource, gambling that it would be worth it to get a specific character off the board at the cost of a few life points.

It didn’t work that well in the first game. He got the advantage quickly, as I missed my bag fixing. He shut down my Prof global at very opportune times, limiting my ability to take advantage of Atlantis. I kept a board presence to block his attacks, but that played against me, as it just buffed his Kree Cap as he eventually swung in and won game 1.

Then game 2 happened. It was far more tense (for both of us!), as missed rolls on each side led to odd openings. I started realizing that shutting down Blackbird was often the better play, as I could not give him the flexibility to shut down a global that hurt him. A couple of times, he wanted to shut down Sam Wilson to ping characters off with Magic Missile’s global, but I’d shut down Blackbird the turn before, so I could protect my characters from his madness. I used Insect Plague here and there for damage, and eventually won Game 2.

Game 3, I felt much more in control, and regularly used Blackbird on itself to limit my opponent’s options and keep mine open. Using his own Magic Missile to thin out blockers, I built up attack after attack. He dealt a lot of damage, mind you, but in the end, I outpaced him and barely got the win.

However, out of the frying pan and into the fire…and a rather cold fire, as it were.

Top 4

And here we go, the matchup I’d been steeling myself for. Here was Rob and his Iceman team, coming in for the Can Nats rematch. It was almost identical to his Canadian Nationals team, with one key difference: Mimic was out, replaced by Songbird (cheaper removal, gives bolts…not a bad choice, to be honest). This team can punch you in the teeth really quickly if you let it, and it can pivot into the longer game with relative ease.

And this, ladies and gents, is why I threw in Insect Plague. After some damage from an initial rush, I pivoted to doing damage with Insect Plague+Wong. Each Wong going through got my opponent within range of me doing lethal damage. Since he did not have Static Field (instead relying on Magic Missile), Wong had a much easier time going through; all I needed was to make sure I’d save shields to counteract any bolts saved up by Rob.

Likewise, when he would have Iceman on the field, I would often have shields saved up to prevent my opponent from damaging Iceman, with a fist often available to use Widow’s global and get him out of the way. With no Resurrection global, I had the advantage on bag control with my Atlantis + Supreme Intelligence combo. As such, Iceman leaving the field often gave me a turn or two of respite during which I could set up an attack or do more damage.

Both games followed that pattern, with me often having to figure things out on the fly and plan for multiple outcomes (with less bag control, his draws were very unpredictable, so I had to be ready for anything). In the end, I managed to pull out the win against a solid team that, had it beaten me, would likely have won it all. Solid games from Rob, and hats off to the top Iceman team in the tournament.

Which left only one match to go…

Grand Finals of Worldliness (Top 2)

And my opponent for this one is…Ben. Aww, crap. Not that team again. Those were my exact thoughts when I realized what the matchup was.

The matchup was recorded for posterity for all to see Ben kick my butt.

The long and short of it is: it ended up just like the first game. Ben generated tons of masks, I didn’t shut down his ramp quickly enough, and even though I did roll fists this time, it did not matter. He set up and shut me down for the win. I did manage to hold on for quite a while (that game 1 took forever), but even though I got some hits in, it was not enough, and Ben won the day in two games. Congratulations to him!

Post-Mortem:

You know? I am not disappointed at all with my Top 2 result. I put my best foot forward and took this team to its limits. Would I have liked to be crowned World Champ with it? Probably. But this is, quite literally, the next best thing.

-This Modern meta was very, very odd. A lot of teams teched against Iceman and brought slow win conditions, resulting in a ton of ties in Swiss. In this context, a team that just rushes and punches you in the face can, and did, surprise some people.

-Let me summarize the current Modern meta in four team types:

  • fast burn teams (Iceman), that beat anti-aggro but are rushed by aggro
  • slow control teams that counter burn, are hurt by GDM but are versatile otherwise, though their lack of speed hurts
  • aggro teams (Wong, Canary), that rush burn teams but are hurt by anti-aggro control
  • anti-aggro control (Lantern), rushed by burn teams but strong against aggro

As you can tell, nothing can beat everything. At some point, matchups will strongly influence the results of a match. In Top 4, had Rob faced Ben and I faced Troy, the final result could’ve been very different.

-Samantha Wilson was an absolute beast. Not just against Iceman, but against Magic Missile in general. I didn’t realize, at first, how useful she would be at protecting my win condition, but she was absolutely essential to keep my stuff alive.

-On my debate with jourdo about Resurrection vs Insect Plague: there is no “right” answer here, as which is better is dictated strictly by matchups. I still prefer the fact that I don’t give bag fixing to my opponent (which especially helped against Rob L), but against Ben, that Resurrection global would’ve been so helpful.

-Not having a straight counter to Static Field was a pain, but it was manageable in most matches. After all, very few teams can generate the metric ton of masks needed to hold my team back. Ben, with his Mimic ramp, was the only one who could manage it.

-In hindsight, could I have replaced Insect Plague with Nefarious Broadcast? I thought about it, and I think it would hurt as much as it would help. It would shut down any Haymaker buffs, and it would clog my bag if I didn’t win on that exact turn. With me relying on drawing Atlantis and Wong, I don’t need extra dice floating around. If I found a spot to fit in Wonder Woman: Child of Clay, though, she would help tremendously. I simply couldn’t think of a card to swap out for her, honestly.

-jourdo told me, as we were testing, that he could not put Atlantis in a team without Supreme Intelligence. After playing it, I concede that holy heck does that global help. It makes the team so darn quick and allows for a relentless assault.

Overall, I love this team, and had a tremendous time at Worlds. I know jourdo discussed his overall impressions of the weekend, and I’ll spare you another novel on that topic. But there are a few thoughts I want to share.

First of all, as I stated on stream, a big, BIG thank you to my wife for allowing me to go to Memphis. I have four kids, the youngest of which is two years old; this trip required a crazy amount of coordination and a lot of work to put together. I will always be grateful for the fact that my wife was willing to let me go on this crazy adventure. Andrea, I love you.

Next, a big thank you to the Wizkids staff and the streaming team (DMArmada, Ross, and Ryan). You guys ran a great event. Special shout out to DMArmada, who often had to make tough calls on the spot, but did a fantastic job of it overall. Thanks for all of your hard work.

Third, this is the last time I ever run Yu-gi-oh stuff at an official event. Seriously, for the Global Escalation event, I had to run back to the hotel after I left my UC Doomcaliber Knight die there (I did have access to a Doomcaliber, but it was the common, and thus had the wrong collector’s number). And that was AFTER I had already dashed back to pick up my AI Black Widow dice. Yes, seriously. The next day, I checked my team four times to make sure everything was in order, and I dragged my Zen Bins with me to the exhibition centre just in case.

I should also mention that trades during Worlds were flipping awesome. I managed to complete the X-men Animated Series promos AND I got my hands on the ever-elusive Rigorous Training!

Also, special thanks to Nick (Jackalopespam) for noticing I was supposed to win a factory set for my Top 2 finish, and to Patrick (Shadowmeld) for bringing it to the judges’ attention. Thanks to you guys, I am the proud owner of a Yu-Gi-Oh Dice Masters factory set. Can’t let Ben have all of the fun! (seriously though, really happy with it)

But finally, thank you to everyone at Worlds, all of the people I played with or even just chatted with. Finally meeting you guys in person was terrific. This was a weekend to remember. I don’t know when I’ll get to do this again, but you can be sure I’ll try my darnedest to make it next year. In the meantime, everyone, thanks for the memories.

 

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