Welcome back everyone! I’m super excited and humbled to have claimed the title of the first ARG Circuit Series Champion this past weekend in Fort Worth, Texas! It is truly an honor to have had such an amazing year this far and I’d like to share my experiences about the weekend here with you.
Up until the week before the event, I didn’t actually think I was going to be able to attend the event. I’m a full time college student in my junior year at the University of Georgia. I did my best to make a schedule that would be flexible and allow for travel such as planning lecture classes that could easily be missed on Monday and Friday and leaving the more important major coursework for the middle of the week. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that I will be able to attend the next Circuit in Columbus as I have exams on that Friday and Monday. Also like any other college student, money is a big problem for me, but with some help from Alter Reality Games, I was making an unexpected trip to Texas.
While I had been regularly attending locals since Toronto, I hadn’t had anything to truly practice for and thus my list remained more or less the same. This is what I settled on:[ccDeck="Main Deck"]3 Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos:3 Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders:3 Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms:1 Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon:3 Dragunity Dux:2 Dragunity Phalanx:1 Dragunity Arma Mystletainn:3 Upstart Goblin:3 Sacred Sword of Seven Stars:2 Cards of Consonance:3 Dragon Ravine:2 Terraforming:1 Book of Moon:1 Gold Sarcophagus:3 Reckless Greed:1 Return From the Different Dimension:1 Solemn Warning:1 Compulsory Evacuation Device:1 Raigeki Break:2 Vanity’s Emptiness[/ccDeck] [ccDeck="Extra Deck"]2 Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack:1 Number Eleven Big Eye:1 Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger:1 Hieratic King Dragon of Atum:1 Scrap Dragon:1 Stardust Dragon:1 Thought Ruler Archfiend:1 Colossal Fighter:2 Crimson Blader:1 Dragunity Knight – Gae Dearg:3 Dragunity Knight – Vajrayana[/ccDeck] [ccDeck="Side Deck"]1 D.D. Crow:2 Maxx C:2 Electric Virus:3 Mystical Space Typhoon:2 XYZ Encore:1 Bottomless Trap Hole:2 Divine Wrath:2 Skill Drain[/ccDeck]
Since I already explained most of the deck in my tournament report from Toronto, I’ll mostly focus on what changes I made from Toronto. In the main deck, that was only two cards. I cut [ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Trap Stun[/ccProd] for [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd] and Compulsory Evacuation Device. I felt that Trap Stun was a lot more important in an undefined meta where I would be likely to face a plethora of different decks. Not that the meta has really taken hold and I believe there are a clear cut top 3 decks (Dragunity, Dragons, and Spellbooks) Trap Stun seemed unnecessary. I cut it for [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd] as an extra defensive card that would work versus an already established field. This was important as I felt more people would use more Maxx Cs. This meant that [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd] could pose a huge problem and drawing a Compulsory when I already had been under [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd] could be huge. Raigeki Break over Bottomless served that same purpose as it was better vs an already established field. I also felt that as the meta began to become more defined, people would tend to play more Vanity’s Emptiness. This gave me another main decked out to Emptiness.
The side deck changed a ton from Toronto. Only 5 of the 15 cards were the same. The first addition was D.D. Crow. While I only sided it vs Regular Dragons some of the time, I felt that it would be very important in the mirror match. Even if you open the wombo combo versus the mirror match, they could simply Blader lock you if you did not also have a defensive card to back it up. Having a single D.D. Crow in my deck allowed for me to search it off of Gae Dearg during the combo.
The next addition was [ccProd]Electric Virus[/ccProd]. This again was just for the mirror match. It allowed me a chance of breaking up a wombo combo of theirs, even when backed by defense.
I went ahead and added the Bottomless to the side deck. I wanted it in several matchups when I was going first and could increase the likelihood of drawing it before they had an established field. There were also several key matchups were it would prove to be better than Compulsory such as Blackwings.
I sided two [ccProd]Divine Wrath[/ccProd] against Spellbooks. This was a change from[ccProd] Effect Veiler[/ccProd]s that I played in Toronto. With only a couple exceptions, I was only siding the [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd]s against the Spellbook deck. Divine Wrath seemed like a better option as it could hit [ccProd]World of Prophecy[/ccProd] and actually deal with the card, remove [ccProd]Spellbook Magician of Prophecy[/ccProd] from the field so they can’t [ccProd]Spellbook of Fate[/ccProd], and hit any hand traps that they side in.
The final change in my side deck from Toronto was the inclusion of two copies of [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd]. This was my catch all card that [ccProd]Needle Ceiling[/ccProd] was in Toronto. It was good against all the deck I’d rather not play against such as Constellar, Evilswarm, Hieratic, Infernity, and Karakuri.
I don’t think there are very many main deck changes I would make to the deck. The engine would almost certainly remain the same. People asked me after Toronto if I would main Maxx “C” and I told them no. I maintain this thought. Maxx “C” is a defensive card. I don’t want to have to cut cards that are in my engine for more defensive cards. If I do that, I’ll draw multiple cards that all essentially do the same thing more often. If I have 2 defensive cards in my opening hand, I can only have 4 combo cards and the deck wins by using those combo cards. I think it is much better if I have 1 defensive card and 5 combo cards or even 0 and 6. Then, I can more effectively use my combo cards to draw into a defensive card.
The side deck will inevitably change with the meta. If the meta shifts toward more Dragunity Rulers after the event, the side deck will need to adapt. What this will look like is uncertain.
The only thing I think I should have done for this event differently is include an [ccProd]Infestation Terminus[/ccProd] and something else over the [ccProd]XYZ Encore[/ccProd]s. Since I am already siding [ccProd]Electric Virus[/ccProd], I could cut the number of cards specifically for Evilswarm by 2 if I simply add 1. I hadn’t thought of this until Frazier said something to me about it after the event. Electric Virus was a relatively last minute decision and the thought never crossed my mind. Ultimately, they would both yield a similar result against Evilswarm, but would take up fewer spots in my side deck.
Now let’s get on to the actual report!
The journey to Texas began after I got out of class on Thursday afternoon. I packed my belongings and headed home for the evening. The airport is a 2-hour drive from the University of Georgia, but luckily, my home lies directly in the middle. With an 8 am flight, I decided it would be a good idea to give myself the head start and just go home for the night before.
I woke up super early, showered, packed and got on the road just in time to hit Atlanta rush hour! I still made it to the airport with relative ease and made my flight with no problems. I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, so I slept the entire plane ride. I had a short layover in San Antonio and then another 40 minute flight before arriving in Dallas. There my second family, the Leveretts, picked me up from the airport (they had driven in the day before). Momma Leverett, young Benjamin, and I picked up some food and brought it back to young Zachary, Brandon Wigley, and Desmond Johnson at the hotel. Brandon has been suspended from competitive play for the past two years and this was the first event he had been able to participate in since that time. Words could not describe his excitement. I was excited for him as well! It was great being able to stay at an event with my best friend again!
Later that day we went to see the movie Prisoners. I actually found the movie to be very prolific and excellent filmmaking. Afterwards we headed to the card shop Epik to hang out with friends. We had no intention of actually competing in their tournament, it was just an opportunity to see everyone before the actual tournament. Dinner afterwards and a short drive back to the hotel and it was time to get down to business! We headed to the lobby to discuss card choices and sidedecking in relevant matchups. After a good theory session, we were content with our choices and ready for bed.
Morning came quickly, but I was ready to go. I took what must have been an hour long shower to get me in the right mindset. We were out the door by 8 am and at the convention center shortly thereafter. The event hall was great. There was tons of coverage of the event and reporters running around everywhere to make sure that everything was going just the way it should. I helped look for a couple cards for my friends, wrote my decklist, sleeved up and round 1 was shortly underway!
Vs Jonny Nagel, Piper Burn
Man! Was this tournament starting off with a bang! Round 1 starts and I have to play against my friend and well respected player, Jonny Nagel. He’s got 7 premier event tops and is certainly a powerhouse.
Game 1: Before the match, someone had mentioned to me that he was playing Dragons. He went first and simply set a backrow. I made a [ccProd]Scrap Dragon[/ccProd] play and popped his set [ccProd]Scapegoat[/ccProd], thus reinforcing the idea that I was up against Dragons. On his next turn, he activated [ccProd]Pot of Duality[/ccProd] which quickly proved my assumption to be incorrect. It was revealed that he was playing a burn deck that consisted of [ccProd]Mystic Piper[/ccProd] to maintain advantage, a trap card that dealt 2000 damage at the cost of discarding 2 cards, and [ccProd]Volcanic Shell[/ccProd] to fuel both of these. It seemed to have a ton of synergy with one another. Unfortunately for Jonny, he was never able to really get going. It got to the point where he activated [ccProd]Ojama Trio[/ccProd], which I opted not to[ccProd] Solemn Warning[/ccProd]. Instead I pushed for game and he summoned [ccProd]Battle Fader[/ccProd]. I briefly debated, but he only had 2 unknown cards so I decided to Warning it with the idea that even if one of the other two cards were a [ccProd]Swift Scarecrow[/ccProd] or Battle Fader, he’d be in a rough position. It wasn’t and I took game 1.
Game 2: Because he played so many stall cards, he didn’t play many cards that could actually break up plays. This meant that I could do my combos unopposed. This allowed for me to set up a loop with Scrap Dragon and Red-Eyes Darkness Metal where I could use Scrap Dragon to destroy itself and one of his cards, then use Red-Eyes to revive it and pop a second card. This proved to be very detrimental to a deck like his and I amassed too much advantage for him to survive.
Vs Dino Fist
Game 1: I don’t think I played this game correctly. He activates Tenki and gets Gorilla. He summons Gorilla while I have Solemn Warning and [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd] set with [ccProd]Dragon Ravine[/ccProd] on the field. I decide against using either trap as him popping Solemn Warning would be completely okay as Gorilla being face up is essentially irrelevant as I’ll just kill it the following turn. Then if he hits my Break, I can chain it to his set (something I was likely to do at the end of the turn anyway). And lastly if he hits my Ravine, I can just overpower him with Dragons. He hit my Ravine, but had multiple traps to back it up which ran me out of Dragons and he ended up taking game 1.
Game 2: I open a less than average hand, but his hand is also weak. He opens 4 monsters which puts a lot of pressure on me and my poor hand so I end up eating a lot of early damage. Eventually I’m able to get the ball rolling and overwhelm him.
Game 3: I start this game off with infinite backrow. He gets out an [ccProd]Evolzar Laggia[/ccProd] which I intend to [ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd], but when I use Bottomless he chains [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd]. I draw for my turn, flip [ccProd]Reckless Greed[/ccProd], summon a Dragon and run it over. Then Dragons and [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] were too much for him to handle.
Game 1: He wins the dice roll and uses [ccProd]Pot of Duality[/ccProd] into double [ccProd]Black Whirlwind[/ccProd]. He summons Bora which fetches him Kalut and Blizzard and he sets some backrow. I make a [ccProd]Dragunity Dux[/ccProd] play which he stops. He swings for 1700 the following turn. I make another play which he stops, but I had drawn [ccProd]Return from the Different Dimension[/ccProd] to potentially steal the game. I debate whether or not I should summon back Blaster, but decide against it as I know he has Kalut to simply attack over it. Next turn he summons Shura and I Warning it dropping me to 4300. Bora swings and he drops 2 Kaluts for game. In retrospect, I probably should have summoned Blaster. I was losing the card advantage battle to double Whirlwind and my win condition was going to be Return. Summoning it would have made sure I didn’t die until that happened.
Game 2: I open the wombo combo ending with [ccProd]Hieratic Dragon King of Atum[/ccProd], [ccProd]Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack[/ccProd], [ccProd]Stardust Dragon[/ccProd], [ccProd]Solemn Warning[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd]. He scoops as soon as I flip my first trap.
Game 3: He begins with summon Shura, set 4. On my turn I activate [ccProd]Gold Sarcophagus[/ccProd] to which he chains [ccProd]Imperial Iron Wall[/ccProd] effectively ending the match. I describe the events to Frazier after the round and he questioned keeping in Sarcophagus against a deck that can side Wall, but realistically I didn’t have enough to side in and I was already taking out all the cards I could, all of which were worse than Sarcophagus so I don’t believe I should have sided it out.
This match is very eye-opening. I think I should have lost game 3, but game 1 was very winnable. I misplayed and it likely cost me the entire match.
Vs Taylor Wallace, Dragon Rulers
Game 1: This was one of those games where I had a read that his set was Return, but I couldn’t have played around it. Surely enough, it was and I lost when he flipped it.
Game 2: This game was payback for game 1. I had my Return. I activated some card and chained Return to it, to which he attempted to activate [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd], but I explained that he couldn’t since Return was resolving in the middle of the chain. I now knew where the Torrential was and could [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd] it and continue with my play.
Game 3: He made an all out play which left him summoning Tidal and Vanity’s Fiend hoping that I had no outs. I had an out, but not a good one (Compulsory) and then put him under [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd]. I was unable to kill him the following turn and he was able to push back thinking that my Crimson was gone, but I brought out a second one to give me dominant control.
Vs Dragon Rulers
Game 1: I win the dice roll and open with the wombo combo, but he has Maxx “C.” I stop his play and continue with mine, only to be met with a second Maxx “C.” The following turn I’m met with an [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd]. The next turn he messes up and has [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Star Eater[/ccProd] on the field with me not able to survive if I take both attacks directly. He attacks with Crimson first and I take it and then before he attacks with Star Eater I flip Return to stay alive. If he had done it the other way around I would have to flip Return to stay alive and have been put under Crimson Blader, effectively ending the game. When he didn’t do that I attempted to push back, only to be met with a third Maxx “C.” I had a play that would play through Veiler and Scarecrow if he drew Veiler after a certain point, but only Veiler if he drew it early enough. Sure enough, he drew it early and I had to push for game, but was not met with Scarecrow.
Game 2: Again, I am forced to run through a gauntlet of hand traps, but ultimately I’m able to establish my field and take the game.
This match debunks a very common misconception that the Dragunity build is especially weak to hand traps. Passing is usually not that big of a deal.
Game 1: I win the dice roll and get the ball rolling quickly. I open the wombo combo and [ccProd]Reckless Greed[/ccProd] into another Reckless and eventually [ccProd]Return from the Different Dimension[/ccProd] for game. Realistically, he should have scooped earlier to keep his deck a secret.
Game 2: He starts the game off with Thunder King. I have 3 different colors in my hand, but can’t lose that much ground to get over it so I end up eating a lot of damage. I attempt to Raigeki Break it, but he has [ccProd]Forbidden Lance[/ccProd]. He reinforces the combo with [ccProd]Prohibition[/ccProd] on [ccProd]Dragunity Dux[/ccProd], taking away 3 outs. Eventually I can summon a Dragon against no sets to kill it. The life points stood my 100 to his 10100. I hope that he cannot overcome my Blaster for the last 100. If he is unable to I have double [ccProd]Reckless Greed[/ccProd] ready to dig for outs. I draw into [ccProd]Return from the Different Dimension[/ccProd] and hope to steal a victory using Redox to stall for the turn. Sure enough, he can’t kill me and Return seals the deal.
Vs Billy Brake, Dragon Rulers with Blue-Eyes
This game I get my second feature match of the day.
Game 1: I don’t recall this match that well, but I believe it was defined by Emptiness.
Game 2: I draw lots of Dragons here which are really the only bad hands that the deck gets. He pulls pretty far ahead early and takes it.
Game 3: I get him into a bad spot where he is forced to summon Blaster searching Tempest and [ccProd]Sacred Sword of Seven Stars[/ccProd] away the Tempest. He almost stole the game with a Return that he drew, but I drew Emptiness for my turn and take it back.
Game 1: I open a strange hand and decide that it would be better to make Gae Dearg backed with Raigeki Break and search out Dux since I didn’t have [ccProd]Dragon Ravine[/ccProd] than an 8. He summons [ccProd]Summoner Monk[/ccProd] and I Break on the summon. Unfortunately he has [ccProd]Foolish Burial[/ccProd] to send Stygian which summons another [ccProd]Stygian Street Patrol[/ccProd] that he Monster Gates into an [ccProd]Infernity Archfiend[/ccProd] hit giving him the loop. He ends with 2 Breaks and an [ccProd]Infernity Barrier[/ccProd]. I make a push through all 3 and put myself back in a winning position until he top decks [ccProd]Infernity Necromancer[/ccProd] the following turn.
Game 2: I open with lots of sets and Dragons. He summons [ccProd]Armageddon Knight[/ccProd] and I [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd], he [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd]s, and I use a second [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd]. I then summon lots of Dragons that don’t bounce under the Drain and take it.
Game 3: I breathe a sigh of relief when I see him start with [ccProd]Pot of Duality[/ccProd]. I make a play that gives me Gae Dearg to search D.D. Crow. He summons[ccProd]Summoner Monk[/ccProd] and looks at his graveyard, so I Crow the [ccProd]Stygian Street Patrol[/ccProd]. Sure enough, I was right and it was a monster in hand, not a spell and I take it.
Before they post the round they post standings. I’m in 6th place and there are only 10 x-1s. This means that with a cut to top 16, all x-1s can draw and make the cut since intentional draws are allowed in the tournament. Every x-1 or better does this.
I finish 5th after swiss. The top cut is stacked with big name players like Fili Luna and Billy Brake. I look to see who is in 12th as that will be my opponent and it is none other than my friend Desmond who is playing the exact same deck that I am.
After day 1 we go to Chilis to grab some food. Desmond and I begin to talk about a potential prize split. We agree that if I win, I will get $1000 as I wanted to use the money to go to Italy and that’s how much the ticket cost and he will get the remaining $550. If I get less than first, we keep it at that percentage.
I wake up early and we head over to the venue. We get deckchecked, take a photo-op and resleeve. Since I do not have to play my top 16 match, I am able to scout out the competition and get a good look at what my opponent in top 8 will be playing. I watch Paul and Carlos’ match and get the ins and outs of their side. I also make my rounds around the top cut seeing what everyone else is played with, focusing on my side of the bracket.
Vs Carlos Medrano, Spellbooks
Game 1: I win the dice roll and start out pretty strong with [ccProd]Scrap Dragon[/ccProd] and some sets. He uses [ccProd]Temperance of Prophecy[/ccProd] and the game is over when I flip Emptiness.
Game 2: I am in a relatively good position and flip [ccProd]Return from the Different Dimension[/ccProd] to ensure that I have enough advantage that he can’t recover, despite not being able to kill him that turn.
Vs Jordan Pollack
Game 1: He opens very slow with only a set monster, but has 2 Maxx “C”s to keep him in the game. After the second turn of not being able to combo, he is able to resolve 2 [ccProd]Accumulated Fortunes[/ccProd] putting him at 7 in hand to my 4000 something life points. I press on and get hit by another “C.” I decide that with him having 7 cards I have to win as he could easily do that many life points. Unfortunately I forget that a part of the [ccProd]Accumulated Fortunate[/ccProd] Chain was [ccProd]Threatening Roar[/ccProd] and he gets 3 draws before I attempt to attack for game and am quickly reminded. He’s able to kill me soon afterwards.
Game 2: My opening hand consists of 2 [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd]s which are used to hit several key draw cards on his end. I then resolve a couple [ccProd]Reckless Greed[/ccProd]s on my end and I take the game.
Game 3: Game 3 was one of the most intense games I’ve ever played. He Dualities into [ccProd]One Day of Peace[/ccProd], summons [ccProd]Wattcobra[/ccProd] and attacks directly searching[ccProd]Wattgiraffe[/ccProd]. I summon [ccProd]Thought Ruler Archfiend[/ccProd] the next turn to give myself the 1000 life points back. It then allowed me to do things like use field spell over field spell to discard and send random cards to grave just to have fewer cards. I am at 2700 and don’t want to leave 3 monsters on the board to lose to Just Desserts so I make[ccProd]Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack[/ccProd] and pop my own monster. He is under [ccProd]Reckless Greed[/ccProd] and only has Giraffe and 1 unknown. He attacks for 1200 and sets [ccProd]Secret Barrel[/ccProd]. Thankfully I used so many cards the previous turn that he can only put me at 300 and I win the game.
It was later pointed out that I had used [ccProd]Scrap Dragon[/ccProd] to kill my set Reckless and his set Secret Barrel, which he chained. Somehow, I, my opponent, the judge, and the commentators missed the extra 400 from my 2 draws. If you’ll recall, I won the game at 300, so it theoretically would have been the difference, but I drew [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] on the final turn of the game. This would have allowed me to chain MST to his Secret Barrel destroying a card of my own and leaving me with 100 life points and still having won the game.
Vs Scott Page, Dragon Rulers
It all came down to this. I was just 1 match shy of the finals in Toronto and now I had a chance to redeem myself.
Game 1: I could tell that I was in a weak position and thought Scott might have a [ccProd]Return from the Different Dimension[/ccProd] set. Because of this I tried to push for as much damage as possible hoping to have him flip it on my turn as opposed to his turn where I would outright lose. Unfortunately, it was [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd] and he was able to stop my play and easily take the game by setting up an Emptiness lock the next turn.
Game 2: Scott drew completely unplayable this game. I start the game with the theoretical God hand of [ccProd]Dragunity Dux[/ccProd], [ccProd]Dragunity Mystletainn[/ccProd], and Vanity's Emptiness unopposed, but I sided out Red-Eyes so I can’t go crazy. I still opted to search out [ccProd]Dragunity Mystletainn[/ccProd] before I summoned Dux as a very neat mind trick. If he doesn’t know I have Mystletainn, he’ll [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd] the Dux, but my intention was to simply make a level 8 that turn. Because of this, I searched Mystletainn before summoning Dux. This way, if he has Veiler he’ll save it to Veiler the [ccProd]Hieratic Dragon King of Atum[/ccProd] and get more value. He didn’t wind up having Veiler, but I thought it was a neat play regardless.
Game 3: Once again, Scott opens less than optimal. My engine gets going with a couple of [ccProd]Sacred Sword of Seven Stars[/ccProd] then a [ccProd]Stardust Dragon[/ccProd] with [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd] and Emptiness set. He summons Blaster and I Book which lets me [ccProd]Crimson Blader[/ccProd] him. A second set Emptiness and the game is sealed.
And just like that, I had done it. For the second time in three events I won. It is really an honor to have competed with such high caliber players this weekend and to have done as well as I did. I hope you all enjoyed this report. We’re only a few short weeks away from the next ARG Circuit Series in Columbus Ohio so I hope you will all help this series continue to grow as it is legitimately good for the game. Until next time, play hard or go home!