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Friday, August 15, 2014

Card by Card Review of TEC - Phase 1 (Good Enhancements, Covenants, and DAE)

Welcome to part two of my complete set review of the recently released "The Early Church" Redemption expansion. Today, I'm going to cover anything you could possibly play on your hero in battle (and the fortress).

Fortress

Widow's Tables - This card is really good.... if you omit the phrase "during battle". Oops. It's still not terrible (mostly because Nicanor isn't terrible - assuming they fix Nicanor's poor wording of course), but it's not what I would consider good (at least not yet).
5/10

Dual-Alignment Enhancement

Gamaliel's Speech - Love this card. It sucks that it's in Clay, but since it's in Gray too, I doubt anyone will even notice. If anything, this card is a little too good. It's so versatile that there's really no reason not to play it.
9/10

Covenants

Scroll of Isaiah - This is interesting. At first glance, it seems really good (and it is), but it also gives your opponent an out to negating your convert indirectly. Jury is out on playability, as it's pretty meta dependent (heavy balanced deck meta makes this card bad, heavy offense leaning meta makes it good).
6/10

Good Enhancements

Coming of the Spirit - Ehh. Gaining the brigade is nice, but the Holy Spirit is basically not going to be played in a deck with enough purple to make this card worth it. I don't like it.
4/10

Deception Exposed - Standard CBP discard battle winner with a chance to double up with Peter (who will never get initiative to play it). Nothing special, but isn't bad.
6/10

Gentleness - Some nice widespread protection from discard is never bad. Negating play abilities is cool. But I'm not sure what space your deck will have for this card since it doesn't really help you win the battle.
5/10

Goodness - The usefulness of this ability capped because of the deck building restrictions of T1. In T2, this is really good, but this is a T1 review, so this card is bad.
2/10

Joy - I like Joy. There's a hero out there to abuse this card. I'm not sure which on, but there's something. It's kind of a bit card that I'm not sure will get played much, but I like it.
5/10

Kindness - I love this card. Let's bomb the world, Greece, here comes the Thunder! The immunity isn't bad either - instant grain belt and bombing on the same turn seems good to me.
7/10

Miracle at the Gate - Just another vanilla battle winner. Negate the EC, try to win the battle, hope they don't negate. Nothing special, nothing terrible.
5/10

Narrow Escape - Hmm. There's some tricks you can use with this card, but it seems super situational. I don't think this has enough playability, but there's definitely a combo here.
4/10

Peace - This is a super, super good card. Forcing toss onto a defense is super good because no defense really ever wants to toss anything. If you can find a good hero for this to go with, you have a good deck to start messing with.
8/10

Peter's Sermon - "Regardless of Protection". Sign me up for this one!
10/10

Patience - Surprisingly, I like this ability at face value. If there was a consistent way to get it out into your field, it'd definitely be good. This is probably more of a T2 card, but it's still got potential.
6/10

Peter's Vision - Just gives you site access and negate an annoying soul. I don't see it getting much press.
3/10

Preaching at Pentecost - "If this mid-tier dominant you don't really want to play is in play, do cool stuff". I'll pass.
4/10

Speak with Power - Withdraw isn't the best ability, but at least it's hard to protect from.
6/10


Hopefully Sunday I will be able to finish up with evil Characters, evil enhancements, and sites. I'm pretty excited for that one!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Card by Card Review of TEC - Phase 1 (Heroes and Dominants)

Welcome back all! After a year off from Redemption for a variety of reasons, I am back and ready to write about cards. Let's get right to my card by card review of Redemption's newest set. I'm going to piece this one out a bit. Be on the lookout for Part 2 (Good Enhancements, Sites, Covenants, DAE, and Fortresses) hopefully Friday, with a Part 3 finale tentatively planned sometime Sunday!

Dominants

The Blinding Light - The most important thing to remember with Dominants is the dominant cap in T1. To be honest, I don't see this card seeing much play due to that cap. It's a cute card, but look for it more as a combo centric card as opposed to receiving actual competitive play.
3/10

The Holy Spirit - Another situational dominant, The Holy Spirit is significantly stronger than The Blinding Light, mostly because Coming of the Spirit can play it from deck or discard, and it is the prerequisite for one of Clay's battle winners. The new fruit of the spirit cards are also fairly strong. I see the Holy Spirit being played marginally, and is an lock to be played with the dominant clay offense that someone will popularize. I don't think it's actually that strong though.
5/10

Heroes

Ananias of Damascus - I think it's pretty indisputable that Paul is one of the best heroes in the game. Ananias brings Paul from the depths of unplayability to at least fringe usage. That's enough. Negating sites is almost just a bonus. Very playable card that will struggle to find usage until someone finds the right deck balance.
6/10

Angel of Deliverance - Combos with various cards that can create captured heroes, but mostly a filler card. I don't see this getting much play as it's a very reactive card to capture, so if you want to counter capture you are better off with something like Blue Tassels.
3/10

Angelic Visitor - This is a very good card, probably one of the best in the set. Peter is a key cog for Disciples, and most every centurion is at least moderately playable. Searching for those key heroes AND protecting them from discard and capture will never be bad. We've seen this for almost 3 years now with various Bulletproof Judges.
9/10

Barnabas - Barnabas is a great example of having too many abilities. Each of his abilities is individually playable, but not too great. Because there's three of them on one card (with CBP) to boot, Barnabas is a very good hero instead of a playable. I wish Redemption would stop putting so many abilities on each hero. Barnabas can only get better when Phase 2 releases a playable Mark as well, so be on the look out for him in the future.
7/10

Cornelius - This card is good in a deck you aren't thinking about - The Garden Tomb! Easy site access with his banding to Peter, and he negates a lot of stuff to boot. Fringe Hero in most decks, but definitely playable. Still suffers from too many abilities syndrome though.
6/10

Ethiopian Treasurer - I guess the ability is good. It's the sort of card you are going to play in your deck because you sort of have to, but that you won't ever actually use because he's going to force to you rescue with him instead of a good hero in order to activate the abililty.
4/10

Faithful Priest - I forsee this card being vastly underrated. I don't think if many people will be playing it in various lists, but if you play Teal, Clay, or a Jerusalem Hero, I don't see why you wouldn't. It's the type of card you always cut from lists until you play it, and then it's really good.
7/10

Liberating Angel - This card is about silly combos. It's not good.
1/10

Mary, Mother of Mark - This is a really interesting card, if only because adding identifiers is cool. I'm not sure how actually playable it is though. I can't see many scenarios where I want to rescue with her. I like the concept though and support it existing.
5/10

Mattias - CBN access to Authority of Christ and Reach of Desparation (which are both in the most common deck Matthias should get played in) can't possibly be bad.
7/10

Messangers of Joppa - The ability is good enough, but it has 51/50 written all over it. It's only good, it's never great, so expect it to get added to a lot of lists at first, then cut out because it's not as good as everything else and you can only play so many cards.
4/10

Nicanor - I'm really glad this has a qualifier, because this ability is REALLY good. I wouldn't be surprised to this guy, another deacon, and a clay TC enhancement or two splashed in decks this year. This ability is off the wall good.
9/10

Nicolas of Antioch - Nic has gone from being a valuable card people seek for its rarity to a card that will be pretty easy to attain. Neither printing is very competitive.
4/10

Paul's Disciples - Will only be played by Josh Kopp. Welcome to Paul combos.
3/10

Peter - Another hero that lends itself to comboing, I see Peter being widely played. In fact, I'd probably bet money that this is the best printing of Peter currently. Look out of this juggernaut. There's just too many decks and too many ways to make things Clay for this to not be incredible. Easily the best hero in the set.
10/10

Phillip the Evangelist - An excellent bit hero. His playable depends on how scared you are of Magicians and artifacts, or how playable Phillip's Daughters is. A good weapon for Clay to have even though it probably won't see a ton of play.
5/10

Prochurus - I don't hate it, but I don't love it either. I'm not super high on Widow's Tables (yet). If Tables gets better, so does Prochurus. Negating sites has been a common theme this set, but it's certainly not a bad ability to have.
4/10

Reassuring Angels - It's Angel with a Secret Name! But for Disciples! With Clay! Yeah, this card is really good. There's just too much you can do with it. Thaddeus just got even more ridiculous, to be quite honest.
9/10

Rhoda - A fun bit hero that stops some key battle winners, Rhoda will be played in any clay offense you build unless I'm missing something obvious. There's just no reason not to.
8/10

Simon the Tanner - I LOVE this ability. However, it's completely and utterly unplayable except for some stupid combos. This is a defensive card, not an offensive one. It won't get played much, nor should it.
2/10

Stephen - Get read for some serious Rhoda into Stephen action. That combo has great synergy, plus CBN enhancements. 7/7 helps to balance it out, but Stephen is still probably the best RA option for Clay most of the time.
8/10

Tabitha - I initially thought this card was really good, but upon thinking about how far away the game has shifted from repeated playing the same super good, target all enhancement, Tabitha is really just another card. There's probably some way to make a strong use out of it though, so I wouldn't sleep on her.
5/10

Timon - And Pumba. The ability is ok. Another card that seems like it gets defaulted into your clay deck, but what does that really say about Clay?
6/10

Widows of Joppa - Oh boy, a completely splashable Mayhem and Vain Philosophy counter! I bet no one plays this at all and it doesn't even matter!
2/10


That about wraps us up for tonight folks! Sorry, I don't have to endurance to just plow through these cards like I used to! Westy and I have also talked about maybe tossing a video up sometime in the upcoming week so you can get some combined thoughts as well if you like video formats, so be on the lookup.

-Olijar

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why Smaller Decks are Better

My good friend Chris, who is currently staying with me, recently wrote an excellent article detailing why 57 card decks might be viable.  It can be found here.  57 card decks is one of many topics Chris and I have been discussing while he’s been here, and while I agree with his points, I’d like to give the disadvantages for 57 card decks as well.

Larger decks require more lost souls.  While this can technically be an advantage as well, as some lost souls have fantastic abilities, I would argue that it’s largely a disadvantage.  The point of the game is to rescue five lost souls, and using souls like the N.T. and Female Only is a great way to stall out your opponent.  More lost souls means there’s more of a chance at drawing the souls you don’t want.  This is particularly noticeable at the end of the game, when all of your souls are on the table.  Having one less lost soul can make the difference between your opponent winning the game and losing it.  Perhaps you played Confusion to discard your opponent’s Son of God, and with Burial or the Exchanger, you can manipulate your souls to only have N.T. and Female Only.  This can force your opponent to rescue with un-ideal heroes, or perhaps not be able to rescue at all.

Larger decks mean there’s less of a chance at drawing cards you want.  This is generally the largest reason given for smaller decks.  In a 50 card deck, Son of God occupies 2% of your deck.  In a 57 card deck, that number shrinks to 1.7%.  In other words, there’s a greater chance of drawing Son of God earlier in a smaller deck.  While Olijar is much more adept at giving specific statistics, this is general common sense.

More cards just aren’t necessary.  Two out of three of the arguments for larger decks Chris used are so you can include more speed, more defense, more dominants, and/or more soul generation.  In other words, more options is better.  However, smaller decks have proven time and time again that they are just as capable of winning with less cards in the deck.  Sure, larger decks can do well, but it isn’t necessary.  Let’s look at a history of nationals winning deck counts.  The rule changes that occurred in 2012 was the large reason behind the meta shift we currently see today, and the reason behind the magic number 57—which allows for 8 dominants while still keeping a relatively small deck.

                1st    2nd    3rd
2013  50 50     Unk
2012 52 51 57
2011 51   51     50/70

The 2013 third place person, Justin Sangillo, was playing a Disciples/Gray deck, and was likely at 50-52 cards, although is unknown because he never posted his deck.  It’s clear that historically, larger decks have not done as well.

Part of the reason behind the lack of success is that not a lot of good players play decks larger than 52 cards.  This is because top tier players recognize the advantages and disadvantages, and will only play a larger deck if they’re confident it’s the right play.  This was the case for me in 2011, where I employed both the use of a 50 and a 70 card deck.  However, when I build a deck the night before a tournament, I always go with 50-52.  While this isn’t exactly a reason to play a smaller deck, this is a pattern among top players, and is important to recognize.

So to answer Chris’ question: are 57 card decks viable?  Yes.  Larger decks have always been viable.  However, are 57 card decks the best play?  I’m going to say no, but ultimately, it’s your initiative.  What will you play?

-Westy

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lock Decks

Post Nationals Depression continues, and I’m still fiddling with random ideas, but for the most part not even touching Redemption. I’ll work a bit more on some YouTube videos, but if you haven’t seen any of my Aug/Sept ROOT adventures, you can check them out here, where I use a rough Gates of Samaria deck to go a mediocre 3-3 in ROOT. The key here is that I had a lot of fun, and that’s what Redemption is all about. Some of the most fun decks I’ve ever played were lock decks, and I spent most of my early career of Redemption trying to make them work. Lock decks are a fairly common and powerful archetype in other TCGs, and a lock deck even won the Pokemon US National Tournament this past summer. Lock decks come in a variety of forms, but they all share one goal: to make it impossible for your opponent to win. Lock decks tend to be challenging to play, as one mistake can cost you the game, and make for extremely strategic games on both sides. Many people claim that it’s not fun to play against these sorts of decks, but I find that with correct deck building and smart play, they lead to some of the most fun games I’ve ever played. Site Lock: Probably the first deck archetype that comes to mind when I mention lock decks are Site Lock decks, which were fairly well known up until the Disciples expansion. Site Lock decks seek to use Sites to prevent heroes from rescuing, and contain cards that attempt to remove any site access cards the opponent may have. The reason these decks completely died out with the release of the Disciples expansion was Fishing Boat, a set-aside fortress that grants site access. At the time, there were no cards that could discard it, and it was played in ~30% of top decks. However, this is no longer the case; Assyrian Siege Army is the premier set-aside fortress discarder, and can also take out artifacts and sites that may grant site access. Additionally, Fishing Boat is no longer guaranteed to be seen in the top decks. With Site Lock being dead for years, many people have dropped extra site access, and rely on 1-2 cards and a multitude of heroes, allowing you to take the competition by surprise and come out on top. Unfortunately, Lost Soul generation is a very common strategy in aggressive decks, and while you may be able to keep all of your lost souls safe in sites, your opponent can pull out another one of your souls or create one of their own to rescue. You need both sites and a substantial defense to fend these rescues off. Pale Green, Brown, and Black tend to be the best Site Lock defenses, and offensive choice depends heavily on the defense, but Genesis can use Jacob’s Dream to steal a Site from your opponent. Many people have said Site Lock is dead, but that sort of thinking will only aid in its rise to victory. Soul Control: While this is technically a lock deck, and not a control deck, Soul Control just sounds so cool, and John Earley threatened to steal all my Bucklers if I didn’t use his name for it. Soul Control seeks to remove all lost souls from your deck or land of bondage, making it impossible for your opponent rescue 5 lost souls. This is accomplished several different ways. Burial, is of course the obvious card to use, but you can also discard lost souls from the top of your deck using cards like Jephthah in combination with Washing Hands. Discarding isn’t the only way to rid your deck of souls though. If you use cards like the Wanderer Lost Soul or Nebushashban to exchange lost souls with your opponent, you can then shuffle their souls back into their deck with a card like Death of Unrighteous, leaving yours in their land of bondage. Alternatively, you can put those lost souls to the bottom of their deck with Hormah, or exchange for a Captured Hero and then use I am Redemption to return it to territory. The deck has received a lot of help from a shifting metagame due to the I/J starters, as previously Soul Generation was primarily done by using the Hopper lost soul, or evil characters like The Amalekite’s Slave or Assyrian Survivor. Although these cards still see play, the more common soul generation are cards like Samaritan Water Jar, Fishers of Men, and Gideon’s Call, which merely accelerate the drawing of your lost souls, and don’t actually help in the long run against a Soul Control deck. Gray and Pale Green work best for Soul Control, and a Hormah is a pretty key addition as well. The offense can be a few different things, but Judges are the ideal choice because of Jephthah. There are many creative ways to get rid of these souls, but be careful, because a simple Death of Unrighteous can shuffle all the lost souls you gave to your opponent back to you. Hand Lock: Currently, this deck does not exist, but it has won a National tournament before. I am, of course, referring to the Sin in the Camp deck, originally built by Clift Crysel back in 2007, but piloted by Gabe Isbell to a T2-2P first place finish at California Nats in 2009. This deck seeks to rid your opponent of having any cards in his hand, ever. A similar breed of deck would be Hand Control, which has won Nationals in T1-2P in both 2008 and 2013, but the decks are distinctly different because Hand Control still gives your opponent a chance to play cards. Because of the Sin in the Camp deck, its unlikely Hand Lock will ever return, as SitC was given an errata to one per territory, and I doubt the playtesters will print another card like it, but you can perhaps do a soft lock by ridding their hand of cards and then setting up SitC, limiting them to 2 cards per turn, and then using The Generous Widow or other cards to discard them every turn, but they still have the opportunity to use draw cards to gain a hand back. I really don’t mind that this deck will never return, but I also don’t think the Sin in the Camp errata is necessary anymore when Covenant With Death currently shuts it down cold, and many other cards can be added to help beat it. I only had the displeasure of playing against it once, all the way back in 2007, and I just sat there and passed the entire game. This is the one lock deck that I think creates negative player experience. These are the three types of lock decks in Redemption. There are other types of locks, but they really don’t function like a standard lock deck. Examples of this would be Hero Lock (ridding your opponents of heroes) and Deck Lock (running your opponent completely out of resources). The reason I say they don’t function like standard decks is because these goals are very late game and depend in part on your opponent, whereas the others set up the lock as soon as possible all on their own. In future, we may have some sort of Hero lock, where you put a good multicolor card in your opponent’s territory, play Broken Cisterns, and have Plagued with Diseases active, but currently this is very difficult to accomplish. Currently the only way would be to use Seven Wicked Spirits to exchange with one of their characters, band to SWS, exchange with Saul, convert Saul to Paul, paralyze Paul with Palsy, place Broken Cisterns in territory, which will then decrease any hero they put in their territory by */8, and they can’t even attack with Paul. The main issue with this is that they can still put heroes directly into battle (Goliath helps solve that problem), and of course */9 and greater would be fine, as you can’t activate Plagued with Diseases without killing Paul. However this is still a soft lock and is completely unreasonable to pull off. In future, however, decrease could do something along these lines, and is something to keep an eye out for. Again, I think the metagame is ripe for a Lock deck to come out on top, just like Hand Control accomplished last year. People are moving more and more towards balanced lists, accelerating souls instead of generating them, and are dropping cards that are used solely for those matchups. With a good deck build and skillful playing, you can come on top at your next tournament with these decks. -Andrew

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Treating Post-National's Depression

Ahh, September.  National’s was a month ago and the forums are quieting down.  Normally we have a new set to look at and start testing, but we received the 2013 set early, and have already had the biggest tournament of the year to settle the 2013-2014 metagame.  We just saw all our friends at Nationals, and we have to wait an entire year to see some of them again.  This begins what I (and the Pok√©mon community) like to call Post-National’s Depression.  It’s times like these when I honestly don’t even feel like playing Redemption, and it’s why there’s been very little activity on RMG recently.  However, there are ways to combat PND if you get creative.

1.   Invent new ways to play the game.  Although Gameplay Variations is among the least popular forums, there have been a lot of types (such as Type Ban or Type 3) that have gotten enough attention as to be played online.  I would like to suggest you be a bit more creative than just changing how decks are built, but actually change the gameplay.  Make players discard two cards in order to play a dominant, or perhaps players draw a card every time an evil character gets a block.  There are tons of things you can do to experiment with gameplay that will results in hours of fun.  Sometimes a change of pace is all you need.
2.   Create new cards.  This is really just another way to reinvent the game.  The main issue with this is most of the community is online, but Gabe recently showed me that RTS actually has a Card Expansion Creator built by GamerX.  Additionally, with Lambo’s card creator, it’s easier than ever to think of new and exciting ideas that you can print out and test on your own.  It was amazing the crowd that gathered to see Reanimation (a zombie version of Redemption, where the evil characters attack to eat brains) get played at nats.  If you really want to make the game new and exciting, you’ll really have to be creative and shake up the way we think about the game.
3.   Start a Redemption project.  This can be as simple as my 32 person Hamachi network, or it can be more complex, like Lambo’s card creator.  This often brings excitement, and improves Redemption as a whole, potentially for the rest of its existence.  You can combine this with #1 and host an online gameplay-variation tournament.  Chris had a great way to draw people to his tournament by offering monetary incentives.  March Madness and April Fools and how it kept people involved in Redemption for 2 months, and I hope for its return in 2014.  However, the best Redemption project you can start is a playgroup.  This expands the player-base, lets you meet new people, and ultimately increases the chance that we’ll get an expansion every year.  It’s even possible to make money, albeit difficult.
4.   Build rogue decks.  This is currently what I’ve been experimenting with.  Redemption has a very large card pool, and there are a lot of untapped potential for decks.  Many people wrote off hand-control as being a thing of the past, but it just won Nationals.  The metagame has shifted and really opened up the possibilities to fun new decks.
5.   Post controversial threads about improving the game.  Yes, this is a joke, but only partially.  The Top Cut thread was very interesting and had me thinking about the possibilities.  Last year I posted a thread about changing the structure of the Elder system, and it brought about a lot of good discussion.  Unfortunately, a lot of these threads end up being just that—discussion.  However, I was thrilled with Top Cut being implemented this year, and it’s great to see that Rob is willing to listen to the player-base.  RMG has a few ideas of its own that we will propose throughout the year.
There are also things that Cactus could do to help beat PND; as previously mentioned, in past this has been combated by releasing a new set, but this only delays the issue.  While it’s fun to test the new cards, it really isn’t that hard to catch up on things towards the summer, and we saw that this year (though there was a bit of a time crunch with the 2013 Set only being legal a month before nationals).

1.   Have large tournaments throughout the year.  The simplest solution I can see would be Fall/Spring States, Winter Regionals, and Summer Nationals.  This means that you have to playtest throughout the year, and it brings excitement while spreading your card game costs throughout the year.  As far as I know, there is no date restriction on tournaments, and yet we only see the big tournaments in the summer.  Yes, I’m proposing having State Tournaments twice a year, but this is chiefly due to needing something each season.  It could be that each State gets 2 tournaments, or each state may choose only one.  I understand that school will be in session during this time, but Bill Voigt’s T2 Only Tournament is hosted in March, and has been very successful.  The main issue would be a set metagame after Regionals, but that’s where #2 comes in.
2.   Release sets throughout the year.  This is what many other TCGs do, and it works fairly well.  I know what you’re thinking, “But Cactus doesn’t have the money for that, Westy!”  Yes, that’s true, we can’t release 4 full size boosters per year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t divide the sets.  The 2013 set, for example, could have released the starter deck and then the tin after nationals (or even January 2014), and FooF could have released 5 tins at a time.  This allows Cactus to release a subset and then generate revenue for the next subset, while still allowing for the same size card-pool at nationals.  It also gives the Elders the opportunity to let the metagame settle just enough to shake it up with cards like Scattered and Foreign Wives.  However, this ultimately succumbs to the same delaying issue that any new set has without #1.
Post Nationals Depression is probably one of the greatest enemies of Redemption.  It’s very easy to end the summer off on a high note at Nationals, and then shelf your cards while you adjust back to a fall school/work schedule—and then never pull those cards back off the shelf.  I love Redemption, and I honestly don’t ever see myself quitting the game while it still lives, but I hate to see people leave from a natural lull in the game.  Redemption needs to grow, but it also needs to keep the current players interested throughout the entire year.  With a bit of creativity and some help from Cactus, we can beat PND.

-Westy

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tips for a Successful National Tournament


Nationals is just over one week away, and there’s precious little time for all of the final preparations.  I constantly find myself caught off-guard by how close Nationals sneaks up on me, and this summer has gone particularly quickly due to work and having two previous Redemption tournaments within a month of nationals.  In addition, the latest set has been tournament legal for about a month, and there are a lot of things that have changed that time hasn’t sorted out yet.  Maybe this is your first Nationals, and you aren’t quite sure what to expect, or how to make the best of it.  I’ve been to seven National Tournaments, and developed a quick checklist so you can be fully prepared for Nationals.

1. Have your deck(s) ready.  By ready, I mean built, tested, sleeved, and if you have to transfer any cards between decks for different categories, write it down.  I may be the biggest offender of this, as I’ve gone to the last two tournaments with a completely untested and unbuilt deck, as well as convincing at least two people to switch their decks right before the 2012 National tournament, but I can’t stress this enough.  At MN States, I forgot to add Moses to my Judges/TGT deck.  It may not have made a huge difference at that tournament, but it could have been detrimental with just a few more rounds.  It can be silly mistakes like this that can cost you at the top tables.

2. Be confident.  Never count yourself out of the running.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone up against a great player and been extremely nervous about it, and end up making misplays because of it.  With a good deck, a strategic mind, and a bit of luck, you can beat anybody—I guarantee it.  Just last week at MW Regionals, a relatively new player dealt me my only loss of the tournament in the first round.  Now don’t go to the complete opposite end and be arrogant either.  Just have fun and take each round as it comes.

3. Be social.  My first National Tournament in 2005 is probably the least favorite of all of them because I did nothing but hangout with my local playgroup.  It’s natural to want to stay with the people you know, and nerds are often more introverted than most, but I guarantee you that being more outgoing is the way to go.  That said, also be respectful to others and don’t cling to people.  2006 was a much different year, as I knew very few people who traveled all the way to New York.  I was forced to meet new people who I had previously only encountered online, and people like Kirk Dennison and Ben Arp graciously put up with my middle school behavior.  I later reconnected with them in 2008 and Kirk to this day is one of my favorite people to see at a tournament.  So don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people, ask their forum names, and get some of the legends to sign your Que card.  I’m not saying to complete ditch those you know, but do go out of your way to meet new people.

4. Take care of yourself.  Eat, sleep, and Once again, I break this rule all the time, and only got two and a half hours the night before MW Regionals.  The difference with Nationals is that it takes place over several days, and by the end of it you will be completely exhausted and it won’t be fun.  This past week I slept 13 hours the night after MW Regionals, and at 2011 I carried around a quilt and pillow and slept between rounds due to lack of sleep.  You need to take care of your body, and sleep and Perkins are a few necessary ways to do this.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Deck Architect: Abomination of an Abomination Deck

It's time for another post, and today I'm going to step back a bit form the abstractions I've been posting lately. Rather than discuss theory, let's look at a deck I've been using recently. It's 10-4, but probably should be 11-3 except that I can't play it right! I used it to a 3-1 record at PA states.

You will quickly notice it's a heavy defensive deck, but it's built a little bit more complex than that. The goal is for the deck to set up as quickly as possible - specifically to begin taking souls as soon as I possibly can. You'll notice some unique choices because of that.

Cards in deck: 56
Lost Souls: 7
Lost Soul (can't be prevented)
Lost Soul (deck discard)
Lost Soul (female only)
Lost Soul (N.T. only)
Lost Soul (Site Discard)
Lost Soul (site doubler)
Lost Soul (Wanderer)

Dominants: 7
Angel of the Lord
Grapes of Wrath
Son of God
Christian Martyr
Destruction of Nehushtan
Mayhem
Vain Philosophy

Fortresses: 3
Herod's Temple
High Places
The Garden Tomb

Sites: 4
Golgotha
Caesarea Philippi
Lystra
Chorazin

Artifacts: 6
Chariot of Fire
Darius' Decree
Gifts of the Magi
Holy Grail
Lampstand of the Sanctuary
Magic Charms

Heroes: 7
Jephthah
The Generous Widow
Watchful Servant
Hur
Ethiopian Treasurer
John
The Magi

Hero Enhancements: 3
Feast of Trumpets
Meeting the Messiah
Authority of Christ

Evil Characters: 12
User of Curious Arts
Lot's Wife
Simon the Magician
Emperor Galba
Emperor Tiberius
Emperor Vitellius
Foreign Wives
Scribe
Antiochus Epiphanes IV
The Winged Leopard
The Goat with Horn

Evil Enhancements: 8
Ashtaroth Worship
Abomination of Desolation
Joseph in Prison
Stone of Thebez
Wrath of Satan
Balaam's Disobedience
Heavy Taxes
Namaan's Chariot and Horses



Let's start with my offense. Obviously in this style of deck, Watchful Servant is the main hero and champion of soul rescuing, but if you look deeply, he's actually not even my best hero. That distinction lies with The Generous Widow. If she rescues with Abomination of Desolation active, I get to discard 3 resources of my opponent at the cost of 2 of my own (which are usually recurable with Chariots of Fire in my case), plus some times I get to draw 4 resources with Gifts of the Magi. She also helps my opponent deck out faster so I can use the glory of the Watchful Servant.

Another interesting choice is The Magi. My thoughts are simple - I need to keep up, and Gifts of the Magi does that for me, and The Magi give me a second out to Gifts. Playing AoC for an early rescue isn't bad either. Hur acts as a way to draw with Gifts and triggers Abomination, so that seems like a good add too. Feast of Trumpets is more nuanced though - it's the only way to discard a Nazareth if my opponent has decked, which matters in some strange circumstances if my opponent has some rare cards that could ruin my win conditions.

Jepthah, Holy Grail, Meeting the Messiah, Ethiopian Treasurer, and John are simple - I want souls fast, and The Garden Tomb is usually good at that.

This doesn't really fit in any category, but the overall focus of the defense is a lockout. This can occur several ways. I have a soft hand lock out (Galba, Heavy Taxes, Generous Widow), a soft Abomination lock via discarding everything, a soft site lock out (4 sites, 2 in neverused Red + limiting souls), and a harder hero lock (tons of discard/removal + Asheroth Worship). The many options I have let me react accordingly to the game and offer both long and short term solutions.

I'll just address some of the uniqueness of the defense. If you have questions about a general Greek subset for Abomination, comment and I can explain that more. I chose Romans as the primary subset of the defense because of several factors 1) they are protected by Caesarea Philippi/Chorazin/Golgotha 2) Heavy Taxes is absurdly good 3) they let me play NHC (which is primary super broke on Antiochus). The rest of the defense is primarily just the best characters that fit in the NT theme in my brigades. Scribe can play every enhancement, Simon can hold a Charms protected from discard as well as mess with Disciples/TGT, and Users is Simon 2.0 and can play any enhancement in the deck. If I play this deck again, I would try to fit in a Proud Pharisee, but I'm not quite sure what I'd cut. Disbelieving Sadducees isn't bad either but I'd never be able to find space for him.

Enhancement choices were simple. Effectively destroy all my opponents heroes. There isn't really a ton to say here. I don't feel like I was missing anything. Scattered is ok but I'd rather kill heroes than underdeck them, so it wasn't worth a slot.

The last area of substantive discussion is the dominant selection. I would love to have New Jerusalem in here, but I couldn't figure out what to take out. Angel and Grapes are too clutch with TGT, Mayhem and CM help me lock players out, Vain helps me block super well, and Destruction of Nehushtan solves too many problems. I just couldn't figure out where the NJ belonged.