Well, you all knew that was coming. With how things went last weekend in Memphis, of course I had to do a write-up. It was a heck of a weekend, after all. So let’s recap Worlds 2022, which I like to call…
The Canadian Invasion
So before we get to the good stuff, I want to give a shout-out to jourdo, my training partner for Worlds. He couldn’t make it to Worlds himself, but he gave me a lot of his time (even to the point of being sick of Barry Allen) to make sure I was prepared. Thanks Matt, you’re a lifesaver.
We practised with multiple different strategies and teams, tweaking all the while. And by the time I went to Memphis, we agreed on the following 3 options:
This team’s design was focused on 3 things: ram, ramp and removal. Ram (Barry/Beast/Starro) being characters to slam into the opponent, ramp (Sinister/Phoenix/Wolverine) giving me the energy to get there, and removal (Robin/Tombstone/Slingers) to get opposing characters off the table. (with Front Line being a secondary win con if Barry gets shut down) Simple, but effective.
Definitely a more aggro Master Mold team than I ended up with, but the core is there. And yes, I was already using Villainous Pact as a key to my win condition during testing. It made all the difference when it came to getting a win against Barry.
With damage that’s hard to stop, he was the dark horse of the three teams. Damage certainly took more time to build up, but as long as I could withstand the initial rush from Barry or Master Mold, he always had a fair shot at victory. I had D’Ken in this one to stop the big aggro teams long enough to hopefully outlast them (so yes, I was already seeing it as an option before US Nats – just wasn’t sold on using it with Master Mold at the time).
What we noticed is that any of those three teams could beat the others, but that Barry was the least reliable of those teams. It was powerful, but it was the most vulnerable to bad rolls. Just not quite championship level.
This is where we became a bit…sneaky. We agreed I would run my B(arry) team for US Nats, and use that to gauge the meta. And I’d use the results to choose what team to run at Worlds.
And so I did. I won’t give too detailed a breakdown of US Nats itself, but I got a 3-2 record after Swiss (losing to Arge and to the eventual finalist Andy – no shame in that), made Top 8, and lost to Arge in my Top 8 match. He had a solid off-meta team that used my Barry against me (with R Mister Mind) and could pivot to Starro/Front Line very easily. I gave him a tough fight (especially when I used Tombstone to shut off Mister Mind), but he eventually got the win. Hugely deserved his Top 4 spot, hats off.
Here are the main things I took away from US Nats:
Barry can win, his attacks do plenty of damage, but it can backfire easily if I don’t roll enough sidekicks. So top 8 was a more than acceptable result considering this.
Both finalists’ teams ran D’Ken on their Master Mold teams, which means I could expect to see him at Worlds. D’Ken severely hurts Barry teams (moreso than Master Mold), so if there was any doubt in my mind, it was official: no Barry at Worlds for me.
So with this in mind, I went back to the hotel to prepare for Worlds. Do I go Thor or Master Mold? I tested both against each other extensively, and finally decided to go with Master Mold for one reason: consistency. Thor relies strongly on getting enough bolts T2 to do Dark Phoenix’s global AND purchase Thor, and he needs me to roll lots of sidekicks. Both of these are unreliable.
So Master Mold it is. With that said, I made a few tweaks from my original plan…
My Worlds Team: Mid-range Mold.
Ok, now let’s do a proper breakdown of my actual Worlds team.
Let’s start with the ramp engine. Villainous Pact is there (in part) for the global, which helps me ramp and churn. Mister Sinister essentially recycles any energy I have into sidekicks and dice in Prep. And Dark Phoenix helps turn those sidekicks into discounts to help me purchase the dice I need.
Villainous Pact isn’t just there to ramp though. It’s also there for the win condition. I am using Master Mold to generate 5/5 tokens to charge into my opponents, and Villainous Pact allows me to bypass the inevitable wall of blockers that my opponent will generate thanks to their own Master Mold and the Sinister global.
I am leaning heavily into removal though. Slingers’ global is the one I’d expect to use the most as it doesn’t require a purchase. Tombstone is there primarily to stop Wonder Woman, whereas Robin is just useful removal in general. Robin’s global is also crucial – paying 1 energy to field Master Mold at all levels is a huge energy saving that really adds up over the course of the game.
I also went for Black Widow (where I was going to use the uncommon Psylocke). To be honest, she wasn’t super necessary, but with Master Mold being the “meta” pick, giving my Master Mold and tokens Overcrush just isn’t that appealing. I still wanted a 2-cost mask (since I need mask energy for my globals), and she was the most logical fit.
And now we get to the two other cards I changed from my original plan. After seeing both finalists use the rare D’Ken in US Nats, I decided to do the same to stall out the opponent. What’s great is that he’s essentially immune to most removal, as his ability just requires him to be in your Used Pile. I already had him on my Thor team, so I had him with me and I had plenty of practice using him. I put him in as a replacement for Turk Barrett, who is great against sidekicks (and thus against Barry teams)…but not so good against Master Mold.
But if I’m using D’Ken, I also want a way to stop him. The obvious way to get a die out of the Used Pile is to use Mutation, but my opponent could use it too. Instead, I went with Typhoid Mary, replacing Hulk and his “+1A” global. I can field her, blank D’Ken, and charge in. Sure, my opponent can force her to attack, but I’m not trying to keep her on the board during my opponent’s turn. I just need her to hit the board on my turn at the right time. And with the Sinister global, sure, you can force Mary off the board, but if I manage my bag right, she won’t be gone for long.
If you haven’t already seen the recent trend in the meta, here is how the first two turns typically go (going first): T1: Use Villainous Pact’s global, hold the other two energy to use Mister Sinister’s global on the opponent’s turn (result: 2 dice in Prep, 1 sidekick in field). T2: use the Dark Phoenix global to KO that fielded sidekick (and ideally another), purchase Master Mold. Ideally use the Villainous Pact global before using the Dark Phoenix global so that you don’t waste energy.
So yeah, you won’t purchase any character on T1 so that you can get your big guy on T2. It’s currently a common play style for Modern that leads to fast and furious matches if you’re not prepared.
But in this case, I was prepared. As ready as I could ever be. On to Worlds itself.
So in a meta where I expected to face tons of Master Mold and Barry, of course my first match was against…SR Wonder Woman. This was Patrick (Shadowmeld)’s team, with SR Harley, SR Wonder Woman, and all kinds of off-meta shenanigans. I got early damage with Master Mold until Wonder Woman brought my token onslaught to a screeching halt. I got Tombstone and Villainous Pact to deal with Wonder Woman and blockers, respectively. He missed a SR Harley that would’ve massively hurt, and on the following turn, Villainous Pact rolled and I had enough characters on the board to win. I got the win, but he certainly made me work for it.
I followed that up with my second non-Master Mold matchup against Jocestitch’s Thor team. This was the classic matchup I’d seen in testing: can Thor hold the token onslaught back for long enough to win? Well, not quite. She certainly made the most of things, but my damage output was slightly quicker. I eventually won, but with Jocelyn’s expert piloting of her Thor team, she got me down to 6 life before I got the win. A few lucky sidekick rolls and she would’ve won.
My next match was against Lucan. My first Master Mold mirror match of the day. He didn’t have D’Ken, but ran Mutation as a counter against him. With him not having D’Ken, I tried to set up a big attack for the win with Villainous Pact. And on the turn where I drew Villainous Pact, with enough characters on the board to win…it missed. The following turn, Lucan took advantage, used Villainous Pact himself alongside Mutation to swap his sidekick out for a R Brainiac, then strategically picked off my characters that could block. He won.
Pete Hicks was my opponent this time, and it was another Master Mold team, this time also running D’Ken, but with no counter to D’Ken. To be honest, by that point I was running low on energy. This was, as all those mirror matches, a match where one missed roll could prove fatal. I forget the exact details (Pete, if you read this, please feel free to elaborate on anything I am forgetting), but I managed to edge him out for the win.
From that point on, after each game, I started to rest between rounds. Legitimately lying against my bag, closing my eyes, and putting my brain on sleep mode. Felt necessary as my sleep was far from ideal the night before.
I finished Swiss against Dana (General Nemesis), who, so far, was undefeated for a second day in a row. He had the same team he’d run in US Nats. Very similar build to mine with a few differences. And this was the chess match you’d expect, with stressful back and forth action. And yet again, it came down to one roll. On one turn, I rolled Typhoid Mary, Villainous Pact and Master Mold. If all 3 rolled, I would win. If one missed, I was screwed because he’d hit me on the back swing. I missed Typhoid Mary. He won on the following turn.
After Swiss rounds were done, I made Top 8 with my 3-2 record, no doubt because my only losses were to the #1 seed (Dana) and the #5 seed (Lucan).
When rankings were announced, I went to General Nemesis and told him, “don’t lose until I beat you”. Was I overconfident? Maybe. But here’s the thing: despite my 3-2 record, I felt this team could do well. My losses were both the result of missing one die roll at a crucial time. The team was good enough to win, my piloting was good enough to win. I just needed to put it together for one good run.
And after yet another nap, thus started the…
First up, fellow Canadian Petrus (unknownforce), who’s actually a player from my area. Solid player who never got recognition at high-level tournaments. This was a mirror match of Master Mold + VP + D’Ken. This was a close match, where he did one unfortunate misplay during game 1. After we’d both been building walls, he needed to buy D’Ken, but only realized that…after rerolling the only shield energy from his initial roll. I won the following turn thanks to Villainous Pact. 1-0
The following game, there was no misplay on either side, which made this a closer game. But bag draws went my way, and as a result, I got the better of the Master Mold duel 2-0.
So after – you guessed it – another nap, time for…
My next opponent was Jon, aka JaDato. He ran Master Mold without D’Ken, quite skillfully might I add. Unfortunately for him, game 1 was a catastrophe. He could not buy Master Mold at all on T2, and on the following turns, he simply could not afford to purchase Master Mold as it would leave his field way too empty. I knew I had no threat of a back swing, so I just put my foot on the gas and kept up the Master Mold train until I won.
Game 2 was more competitive, as he got his engine going better. However, I was going first, and got a big swing on turn 3. He had control pieces to slow me down (notably the R Jimmy Olsen that double-blocks), but I used Slingers to get them off the board. This gave me the edge I needed to eventually win the game and the match 2-0.
After this win, I yet again laid on my bag for a rest. This time for a little while, as the other game went fairly long. And eventually…
“Knock, knock” I open my eyes, and Jocestitch said: “You have an opponent.”
Top 2 – for all the marbles
And of course that opponent was Dana. I guess I was, quite literally, asking for this. But that wasn’t going to be an easy match.
Game 1, he went first, and everything went smoothly for him. I missed a couple of rolls (notably Master Mold), he didn’t, and he steamrolled me to victory.
Game 2 is where the chaos started. I went first, and both of us had bad first rolls. Good enough to buy Master Mold T2, but with no energy left over for either of us. That was a bigger loss for him, as his advantage for going second (better bag control) was completely negated. With a lucky roll, I quickly got to attack him for 13 damage before D’Ken was purchased, completely negating D’Ken for the game. From then on, I just kept up the pressure and quickly won.
Now, we get to game 3. He went first, and this time, rolls were perfect on both sides to start. I was on the back foot at first. Dana was the aggro, and I was defending myself with D’Ken. A couple of big attacks later, I was quickly down to 6 life, with Dana still at 20. It looked like Dana was on his way to a quick win, to cement his domination of the weekend.
And then…the tide turned.
You see, from the start of that game, I kept near-perfect bag management, in no small part thanks to going second. Lean on purchases, heavy on globals. Dana, on the other hand, had to make compromises on bag management to keep up his offence. He was also heavy on globals, but used less ramp. This caught up to him when I had a Master Mold + VP attack lined up the next turn…and his D’Ken was stuck in the bag. In a desperation move, Dana rerolled a lvl 3 Master Mold to get the energy needed to purchase a second D’Ken. While that worked, he was stuck with Master Mold in his used pile, 7 dice in the bag, and a depleted field.
That was the opening I needed. I used as few characters as possible to deal 7 damage to him for 2 turns, until he was at 1 life (I dealt him 5 damage on a previous turn with a Sentinel token). He then drew Villainous Pact, and needed to also draw Master Mold (on top of fielding a D’Ken) to get enough characters to win…and Master Mold stayed in the bag. He simply didn’t have enough characters to sneak his damage through. I won on the following turn.
Thanks to this, I am, somehow, a World Champion. Still feels weird to write. But I’ll take it.
-Before I go any further, I should point out: we were only 5 Canadians out of the 20+ participants in Worlds. And yet we were half of the top 8 in Worlds, and each Dice Masters event where a Canadian participated was won by a Canadian (Dana won US Nats, I won Worlds, Petrus won Pauper). Major kudos to my compatriots, great job everyone!
-Honestly, that Finals match against Dana felt like I was dancing on a razor’s edge. While I’d like to think Typhoid Mary gives me an edge, getting around to buying her was rough due to the importance of bag management. Honestly, that match-up is a toss-up, plain and simple.
-As for the team itself, what is there to say? Master Mold’s damage output is ridiculous, Sinister and Dark Phoenix give excellent ramp that is arguably too good. I’m not shocked that the team did well, I’m more shocked that I did.
-It’s quite funny that two cards that bailed me out at various points during the day were cards that I was not sold on back when they were released – R Tombstone and R D’Ken. Proof that you shouldn’t rely too much on a first impression.
-For people asking why I was using U Dark Phoenix, I liked the guaranteed direct damage from her “when attacks”. But let’s be honest: it didn’t matter. Had I bought Dark Phoenix, it would’ve been because I was massively, massively screwed.
-One big sticking point: a lot of people pointed out how many globals get used, and how good global hate is. In fact, several of my opponents had a Pip, a Jean Grey or even a Lilandra on their team. But I haven’t seen one purchased during my matches in both Nats and Worlds. It’s simply too hard to purchase those when the meta is so fast.
-A few people who deserve massive thanks: my wife Andrea for letting me fly out to Memphis again, my mother in law who flew in to help with the 5 kids (!), jourdo again for being my training partner, and not to forget, thanks Troy for that Master Mold. As you can see, I made good use of it.
So now that I’m world champ, how does it feel? I mean, now that I don’t feel battered down by going from airport to airport all day, it feels pretty good, not gonna lie.
Next step: get some rest, then brew for the 20×20 Two-Team Takedown event. Hope to see you all there! And no, I won’t run Master Mold. Promise. So tell me: how many of you can we expect to see at the TTTD?
Let us know in the comments below, on our Socials (@dmNorthTV), or join the conversation on our Discord.