As most of you know, I went to Canadian Nationals last weekend. As most of you also know, it didn’t exactly go as I’d like. Despite how the weekend ended, however, I wanted to do a recap of the various tournaments, the teams I ran, and how things went. I may not go in as much detail as usual on a match per match basis, since I actually ran three completely different teams between the qualifiers and Nationals.
Please note that for every match, I will give the first name of my opponent, and you can see all of the team lists from the various tournaments here: Clickey clickey
Enjoy; we’re going to be here a while.
We had 10 different players show up for qualifiers (we expected more, but there were various scheduling conflicts).
For the first qualifier, I ran the team I dislike the most in this meta: SR Yuan-ti Pureblood. I’m not trying to shame those who run it; I simply dislike the play style, and it feels excessively strong. Here is the team I ran: SR Yuan-ti
By now, everyone knows how this works. SR Yuan-ti, Pseudodragon and Xandala, buy actions, deal 4 damage per action purchased, win. Elf Druid acts as a third Attune character, either to add damage or to make things harder for my opponent during the mirror match.
Improvised Weapon, Kobold Trap and Bat-Signal serve as cheap actions to purchase in order to trigger this ability. Resurrection serves for ramp and bag control.
Where this build is unique is in the last two cards. I went for Shriek: Dark Empathy (rather than Sonic Beam) to deal with the mirror match. If I blank all opposing characters, then my SR Yuan-ti’s effect will not trigger any Attune from opposing characters, which opens the way for massive damage.
R Danger Room is there for the global, which serves a double purpose: get my Shriek off the field to re-field her, and get opposing Shrieks (or other control villains) off the field. In a pinch, buying Danger Room to deal the last few points of damage is not out of the question.
Now, as to how the games went. (This will be shorter on a game-by game basis since there are so many to cover)
-Game 1 was a Yuan-ti mirror match against Nick. It was streamed and recorded. You can watch it here: Game 1. The short version: My Yuan-ti out Yuan-tied his Yuan-ti and I won.
-Game 2 was also a Yuan-ti mirror match, but against Jocelyn, who was using Wonder Woman: Reflections, Magic Missile and UC Kate Bishop as defensive tools. Lots of tricky maneuvering in this one, but some bad rolls on her end gave me an opening, and I got in way too much burn damage in one turn. I won.
-Game 3 was against Ben. He was running a team very similar to what was eventually his Nats team. It’s, by design, made to hurt Yuan-ti. And oh boy did it ever. He rushed me down with dragons, and I simply couldn’t keep up. He Shrieked my Xandala on the last turn (so she could get KO’d), softened her up and used his Gold Dragon’s massive Breath Weapon. He won.
-Game 4 was against Robert, who ran an interesting C Hulk build that used SR Mister Miracle and actions for ramp. Interesting as it may be, however, Yuan-ti was simply too fast. I won.
The tournament then went to a Top 4 cut, with single-elimination 2-of-3 matches. My top 4 match was Jocelyn again. The first 10 minutes of the round were recorded and streamed here. Unfortunately, we then had a power outage, so you can’t see the rest. I won game 1 shortly after the recording ended. Game 2 was some more Yuan-ti mirror back and forth, until I got my Shriek. When I fielded Shriek and blanked her Attune, this gave me the opening I needed and I won either that same turn or shortly after.
On the power outage: it was long, dreary, and sweaty. We repeatedly ran out of water as people made sure to stay hydrated. It lasted a couple of hours, and included the Top 2 match.
Speaking of that Top 2 match, it was Yuan-ti against Yuan-ti again. This time, I was up against Petrus, who was using a build that was less built for speed, and more for the longer game. It was a very interesting match, with lots of strategic back and forth. He held back on damaging me for a while as he tried to keep my field lean. It eventually paid off, as I missed rolls, he took advantage, and he eventually won the match 2-0 (sorry for lacking on specifics; it was really hot and my memory of the match is a bit hazy).
So hey, I made top 2 in the qualifier, and thus I qualified for Nationals (1 of 4 players per qualifier made it, rounded up, with any qualified player passing down his qualification to the next unqualified participant). So out with Yuan-ti, and on with something more fun.
This time, I went for a completely different approach, but something that is still strong and can put up a good fight. This is the build I went for: Dum Dum Bifrost.
The win condition is fairly straightforward. Field sidekicks, use Jubilee to hurt my opponent when I field sidekicks, use Dugan who gets bigger thanks to sidekicks, and use Spider-man who forces my opponent to block my sidekicks so Dugan can punch through. Professor X allows me to reliably field sidekicks to make the whole thing work.
For control, I returned to the usual Shriek, and added Blob as well as Storm (with Mutation’s global) for further control and removal. Storm was particularly important due to Green Devil Mask, which I’d identified as a weakness of the team.
I also used R Bifrost in this. Now, this isn’t the first time I used Bifrost’s action, and the idea is the same here: use it not as a jackhammer, but as a way to quickly pivot between strategies. A surprise Blob on turn 3 can wreck many a Yuan-ti.
Create Food and Water serves for churn and bag control, as well as guaranteeing a sidekick in the used pile for Professor X’s global. This is especially important if I’m trying to use Bifrost to field a character.
As for how the matches went:
-Game 1 was against Ben. He switched to an interesting Collector team. I got his collector out of the way quickly, Blob’d Nobby, and started setting up. I used his own Blackbird global to shut down Magic Missile when relevant. While he had a strong team, mine was just a bad matchup for him. I won.
-Game 2 was against Nick and his Yuan-ti team again. Remember when I spoke of surprise Blobs? Well, it worked here, turn 3. I shut down his damage long enough for Jubilee to soften him up, and then I rushed him down for the win.
-Game 3 was against Petrus and his Nobby team. Interestingly enough, no Collector. While there were interesting control pieces, he was giving me tools that helped me with Malekith and Billy Club’s globals. And I took advantage. The round was recorded and you can watch it here: Game 3. I won.
-Game 4 was against Jocelyn’s SR Yuan-ti team. Sadly, I didn’t get to do my Bifrost shenanigans quickly enough to shut down Yuan-ti in that game. It’s a small window of opportunity, and I missed it, so she won with Yuan-ti shenanigans.
The tournament then went to a Top 8 cut. As I was first after Swiss due to tie-breakers, all of my matches were put on stream.
-My Top 8 match was against Robert, and you can find it here: Top 8. The cliff’s notes if you don’t want to watch: on game 1, I Blob’d his Shriek quickly and started building a big field, swinging with Dugans when I could. He eventually got Hulk out, but by then it was too late to help him. I got Spidey on the board with tons of sidekicks, swung in and won. Same plan in game 2, and while he used Magic Missile on my sidekicks a fair bit, I still managed to set up and win before Hulk could do any real damage.
-My Top 4 match was against Ben, and you can find it here: Top 4. A rematch of Game 1, and an unfortunate matchup for Ben. I Shriek’d Collector early and swung aggressively with Dugan and sidekicks, in a way that left little wiggle room for him. That was the game plan both games, and it was quite effective against his build. I won 2-0.
-My Top 2 match was against Jocelyn, and you can find it here: Top 2. In short: in both games, Bifrost didn’t get drawn/didn’t roll at key times, meaning my control was not set up at the right time (I’d either get Shriek or Blob, but never both at the same time). She took advantage of the opening this gave her and Shrieked my control, proceeding to Yuan-ti me for the win. She won 2-0.
So I finished Top 2 again. Not bad for a non-Yuan-ti team!
And after that, my brain was fried, I went home, and tried to rest enough for Nats itself.
I’ll start this by linking the team I used: X-men
Now, you’ll notice there’s no Shriek. This wasn’t by design. This wasn’t me trying to show off by being off-meta, or try to show that Shriek is not essential. The reason why Shriek wasn’t on my team is simple.
I forgot my deck box at home.
Yep, I’m serious. After all of the preparation, all of the time studying the meta, preparing teams, testing teams, I forgot my deck box at home. Thankfully, other players were kind enough to lend me most of the missing pieces. But no one has spare Shrieks. On the spot, since I was in complete panic mode as I was putting things together, it didn’t hit me. But as I was playing in round 1, I realized just how crazy it was (you can hear Shahin refer to this on the recording).
With no Shriek, well, no Dugan. That team needs Shriek as a control option. And I wasn’t going to run Yuan-ti; I simply don’t like it. So on to another team I had in the toolbox: X-men.
This team was made especially to make Yuan-ti’s life miserable. It’s very similar to the team I ran a couple of weeks ago.
Most of my comments from that article would also apply here. Bishop + Sunfire serve to shut down Attune, Jean Grey and Storm (helped by Mutation) for control and removal, Jubilee for damage, Knowhere to “progress” along my purchase curve to avoid having to pay 5-6 for those expensive characters, and Resurrection for ramp.
Clearly, Cosmic X-23 wasn’t on this team, and neither was Shriek, for obvious reasons. In go Professor X and Billy Club. Both serve to help me field sidekicks, use Mutation’s global, and just make the team flow better.
So as I saw the team, my perspective was: I can still hurt Yuan-ti, but without Shriek, my window of opportunity is tiny.
And on I went.
This game was recorded, and you can find it here: Round 1
This game went around as well as I could’ve hoped. I used a new approach: I went second, bought Knowhere T1, fielded a sidekick, T2 Sunfire (with a fixer so I had energy left for Res). then, T3, field Sunfire, swap Sunfire for Bishop. T3 Bishop makes Yuan-ti’s life substantially harder. Then, I bought Storm and swapped her for Sunfire on T5. With my control set up, I used Jubilee to soften up my opponent and eventually got his life low enough that I could swing in for the win.
For this round, I was up against another Yuan-ti team, this time Christine’s. I missed some early rolls in this one, and she got me down to 2 life. But then I got the Sunfire + Bishop lockdown on the board. And she never got those last points of damage in. Like the last game, I got Jubilee in, softened my opponent up, and eventually swung in for the win.
2-0 (wait WHAT?)
For this round, I was up against Ben and his dragon team. In this round, I made my biggest misplay of the tournament. I didn’t go for Sunfire early enough. Sunfire would actually make his dragon’s life really difficult if I got him on board. But by the time I realized this, it was way too late in the game and he was punching me in the face for way too much damage. He won.
This time, I was up against Jocelyn’s Yuan-ti team. My dice stopped cooperating with me in this game. I missed critical rolls (including a key Bishop and Knowhere roll that would’ve allowed me to set up the Bishop + Sunfire lockdown) and she made no mistake in taking advantage of the opening. She used her crazy Yuan-ti shenanigans and won.
From there, we had a Top 8 cut, and I was seed #5, matched up against Petrus’ Yuan-ti team in my Top 8 match.
Oh boy, and I thought my dice refused to cooperate last round. To be fair, though, both of us had absolutely horrible rolls (he couldn’t roll his Xandala to save his life). I missed my opportunity to set up control time and time again, and odd rolls prevented me from using Resurrection, making my bag control horrible. He also used his own Billy Club expertly to make my life harder in this regard. Despite his rolls, he managed to eventually get some Attune on the board and he won game 1. Game 2 went similarly, and he won the Top 8 match 2-0.
And that’s how my Nats experience ended (not counting a fun draft I did after). I’m going to be kicking myself for a while for forgetting my deck box at home. I still think the core of this team is very strong against Yuan-ti, and with Shriek as a stop gap until the main control is set up, I think it’s able to keep Yuan-ti at bay very well. Heck, with Sunfire + Bishop, it could even hit Ben’s dragons team pretty hard! But it didn’t take me any further than Top 8 this time.
To be honest, I’m glad to be going back to fun casual events. Now, I’m looking forward to Avengers Infinity in a couple of weeks. Let’s keep on rolling!