After playing in this weekend’s constructed qualifier I’ve got a few thoughts to share and some advice to give to those of you out there that are still on the grind. However, why don’t we first hash out the details of my run.
- I entered the tournament with a pretty vanilla R/W build. I’ll post the decklist and afterthoughts regarding it at the end of this article.
- For me the tournament began at 2AM, I had just spent the last 6 or so hours teaching board games & hosting a party with only an hour of rest between that and the tourney. In short I was already pretty tired. The tournament was 8 rounds + top 8 so this was likely to be a long night.
- I lost in round 1 against Mono-Blood. My hands were pretty lackluster and they had the hand disruption to throw me off course.
- After losing round 1 I went on to win the next nine rounds! I faced Mono-Blood one more time and the other eight matches were either against Mono-Ruby or R/W Ramp.
- If you’re already a step ahead, then you’ve done the math and realized that put me into the finals. Two players enter, and one of us was claiming a ticket to the finals and a chance at $40k!
- I Lost Game 1 of the finals, largely due to me not testing enough in the week prior.
…three or so turns into game two I lost my internet connection…
Internet did not come back for another 30 minutes. I would say, “Pause and let that sink in a little bit” but it is currently Tuesday afternoon and I’m just barely finally coming to terms with what happened. I was in a stupor pretty much all of Saturday and had multiple nightmares that night about it all. I’d been robbed and lost the chance to even play in the finals which I’d worked so hard to get to.
Before going on with my actual thoughts and advice for those of you out there I’ve got one last earnest thing to say (I’ll probably say it again in this post). Sure I lost game 1 of the finals, but anything could have still happened. Ultimately though I am really trying hard to maintain a positive mindset and not be upset about it, but that is easier said than done. So with that said, I’m going to try to shine the best light I can on my experience but if ragey-Funktion rears his head hopefully you’ll let it slide.
This is just going to be another hodgepodge list in no particular order as I often tend to do; some of it might apply to me more than it does to you but I’m sure you’ll find something useful.
“Playing the best deck”
When deciding what deck to bring into a tournament there are always going to be a variety of choices you have. I wasn’t alone in thinking that R/W Ramp was the deck to beat; it is a pretty consistent deck that can win abruptly and deal with a variety of threats. It wasn’t the only deck out there though and honestly I hadn’t really settled on playing it until about 36 hours before the tournament began. I’d been really considering Mono-Ruby as well as a few team brews that didn’t quite catch on for me. R/W was the “best deck” and I think with a few small adjustments it still is. However, playing the “best deck” comes with some drawbacks; everyone already has you on their radar and they will either be
- Playing the same deck (expect many mirror matches) or
- They will playing a deck that they think can consistently beat yours.
Bringing a new deck has the benefit that you’re going to catch some players off guard and get a few free wins, but the new deck might not be tuned as well as it could be. All in all, I’m extremely confident that “playing the best deck” was the right call last weekend.
Play healthy and keep your head in the game
I lost round one and still made it to the finals! Right after I lost initially I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll get some sleep tonight after all.” That was the last time that sleep even crossed my mind, as soon as round two started it was time to focus and put in work. You can’t let your losses distract you from the task at hand.
R/W is an easy deck to pilot, there were a few decks that I had been considering but moved away from because I wasn’t confident that I was going to be able pilot them well over the course of the night when I’d otherwise be sleeping. Playing a strong deck is important, but if it is so fiddly that you’re going to make errors over the course of an eight hour tournament then you should definitely look at your other options. If I was playing during regular waking hours I might have played something else, but probably not in this particular case.
If you’re playing in one of the middle of the night tournaments I REALLY recommend that you don’t drink any energy drinks, you’re going to get all jittery and crash. Just drink lots of water, maybe have a healthy snack and be sure to get out of your seat in between rounds. I made sure to stretch every chance I got, but exhaustion was still setting in towards the end. I gotta admit that I accidentally F10’d my 2nd turn away during one of the top 8 games.
Know when to take chances (especially with R/W)
I did pretty well for myself, despite the heartbreaking disconnect. I am trying hard to still give myself credit for what I did accomplish even though it ultimately doesn’t matter much. I didn’t lose a single mirror match and I think a lot of that goes into knowing when to pull the trigger with R/W. Often times you’ll find yourself on something like turn 4 with 5-6 resources available and an Eye in hand, and there’s nothing else for you to do that turn, but you’re still not sure. My gut tells me that with R/W the worst thing you can do is waste a turn, your goal should be to spend as many resources as you can. Sometimes this even means playing a Crocosaur into an empty board or shuffling away an Arborean Rootfather
Respect your opponent’s ability to win the game
In game one of the finals it came down to a board state where my opponent had no resources open and had just performed an alpha-strike to bring me down to two life. I had two choices:
- Play Crocosaur to kill the opposing two Azurefate Sorceress‘s, either of which would have killed me from his Tetzot activation. However, my opponent still had quite a large hand and there was a decent likelihood that they had access to either a Burn or Crackling Bolt. Either of which would have guaranteed I was dead even if I Croc’d.
- Play Eye of Creation for x=4. There were still four Rootfathers in my deck, any of which would have guaranteed I won that turn, as well as two more Crocs which would have left me in the same position as option a. The odds that I hit even one of those cards was right around 60% and there were still 1-2 other cards that might have made a marginal difference
I went with option b) and rather than finding a Rootfather I revealed four wild shards. Kismet laid down the gauntlet on this one.
The moral of the story? The previous turn I had swung with my Wrathwood Mastermoss to try and bring my opponent within kill range, they ended my turn by playing the first Azurefate followed by the second on their start of turn which buffed the Mesmeric Hypnoscientist that just untunneled as well. In hindsight I didn’t respect that Hypnoscientist enough and I should have left the Mastermoss back so that I’d have a second troop available and been able to block something.
I’m not advocating that you play extremely safe, that is one of the worst mistakes I see people make. What I am saying though is the moment you fail to respect what your opponent might have in hand is the moment that you might have missed something incredibly relevant.
Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight
I was a little reluctant to make this claim, so I reworded it to be somewhat less barbed. There is a thread on the forums pointing the finger at the ruby damage gem. If you look at many of the different decklists though that isn’t the issue, nearly all the decks are doing something broken. Whether it is Mono-Ruby which is capable of pulling off a turn 2 win, the Azurefate/Phenteo deck that buries the opponent’s deck all in one shot, the Azurefate/Ruby deck that deals an absurd amount of damage in the blink of an eye or yes even the boogieman of the format R/W with its variety of available ways to accomplish doing something broken.
The current Hex meta is extremely fast paced. It is like playing Goldeneye where everyone has the Golden Gun and the first player to acquire a target just wins. In this format you only need to shoot your opponent once in order to kill them. However, not every game is going to end that way; sometimes it will be a long drawn out slugfest that just ends with a Burn being directed your way. Regardless, if you look at the decklists people are using you’ll notice that a majority of them are trying to wield a shiny gun straight out of a Trinidad James music video.
Maintaining balance in TCGs is no joke and my main concern is what happens next? Will set 4 bring some cold water to pour over this explosive meta?
… and lastly…
Comcast can burn in Kog’Teptl’s raging lava!