Interview: Steve Silverman

zack hineI recently had the opportunity to sit down with my friend Steve Silverman to chat about Kaijudo. Steve came in 2nd at this weekend’s Kaijudo Master Challenge in Tennessee piloting Greed Dragons. In fact, the top 4 was completely dominated by members of our local play group, Team SBK, all playing virtually the same deck! Brian Durkin took the title of KMC Tennessee champion, while Rob Wolinsky and Ryan Valentino rounded out the top 4. Read on to hear what a top player thinks about the current metagame.

Zach Hine: Hey Steve, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me to talk about some Kaijudums.

Steve Silverman: No problem.

ZH: So, to start off, how was the trip to Kentucky? How was the venue?

SS: The trip was pretty long. It was supposed to be a 12 hour car ride, which was bad enough, but it turned into like a 16 hour car ride. So that was pretty miserable. We didn’t get lost or anything but there was traffic and we stopped a bunch of times. Also, we had people who smoke cigarettes in the car so they were having, like, constant nic fits (laughs).

ZH: (Laughs) Sounds like quite the crew. You had 6 people in the car, right? 

SS: Yeah. We had plenty of room. We had three rows in a minivan we rented and the back row was pretty good. Like, we sat 2 – 2 – 2 so that was fine. The venue was this really tiny store – we called up the store owner and we were like “how many people can you fit?” And they told us a large turnout for them was like 15 or so, which is just stupid. They only normally had one table set up in this store which holds like 6, and they were like “well we can put up a second table!” (laughs). Like, this is not the best place to have a tournament that expects a decent amount of players. Luckily the guy realized this from people calling, and he booked a hall in a hotel nearby, so it turned out fine.

ZH: It sounds like they were surprised that people would drive so far for it. 

SS: Yeah, when we called we were like “we wanna pre-register over the phone,” and he was like “oh, I don’t even know why Wizards gave this to us, we’re a smaller store.” People kept calling though, so it’s good it all got worked out ahead of time, and the people running it were pretty cool.

ZH: Nice. So let’s get to the tournament itself. 24 players, right? 

SS: Yeah, 24.

ZH: What kind of decks did you encounter? 

SS: There were 5 rounds of swiss. All the people there seemed to have pretty real decks; like, I didn’t see any starter decks or anything. First round I played against the Red Rush deck.

ZH: Oh really? So to all the people out there who see the Greed Dragons list and think it’s weak against rush, how was the match? 

SS: Yeah, I mean, I don’t even know why people are saying that. They’re like “well they must’ve just gotten lucky and had nice shield blasts.” Seriously, do the math – almost half our deck is blasts, and we’re playing all the good removal spells. Having 2-3 in shields is very common.

ZH: Right. I can see a timely shield blast or two just turning the whole thing around for the deck.

SS: And the thing about the Red Shame deck is, there’s certain draws where they win no matter what you do. Like, if they win the dice roll, choose to play, and then go guy, guy, turn 3 Evo double breaker guy, you’re not winning that game. I mean you could be playing blockers, but then you’re making your deck bad against the rest of the field. You just need to hope they don’t have the absolute nuts and you’ll be fine. Honestly, no offense to my opponent, but this match wasn’t really close. Game 1 was a joke. Game 2 he drew well and had me to 0 shields on turn 5, but he had no hand and I also had no shield blasts the entire game. So I was like “oh well, it happens, I guess we’ll just go to game 3.” But he still needed to draw a fast attacker to finish me off and he couldn’t do it. He just ran out of gas so it was over pretty quickly after that. He kept blanking, and then when he did play a creature, Moorna just took control of the board. Bottle didn’t go off this game or anything. He just ran out of threats.

Round 2 I played against Dark SaberBolt. A lot of people are hyping it up, but it’s not very good. I hadn’t really played against it that much except a few times here or there during testing, but we wrote it off pretty quickly. It’s an OK deck, but, again, the games weren’t even really close. Game 1 he ran into two shield blasts early and it was just a blowout. No Prickle-B or Gilaflame in this one. Game 2 he was setting up to [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd] me and I just played accordingly and eventually he couldn’t deal.

ZH: Yeah, I talked about that deck in this matchup in my article last week, and they really need to flood the board with creatures in the first 4 turns to have a shot.

SS: Exactly. Their hands have to be really good to be able to beat someone who actually knows what they’re doing. So that match wasn’t even close.

Round 3 was a mirror match against Rob (Wolinsky). We knew it was going to happen; we were all winning our games. I was luckier than him in this one. He was playing the one [ccProd]Crystal Memory[/ccProd] like (Brian) Durkin was, and I was playing the 2nd [ccProd]Veil Vortex[/ccProd] in its place. I told him he was bad (laughs), but that actually didn’t end up mattering in this one. I won the die roll, so the matchup is already in my favor right there, and my draws just got there.

Round 4 I played against another one of our friends, so we just intentionally drew since we knew we were both in.

Round 5 I was playing against the WDL Dragon control deck, but I was playing for my civilization and I don’t really fear that deck so I played it out. Really, this would’ve been true for any of the “not our” Dragon decks (laughs). Game 1 he played blockers, which made me smile because I knew that was wrong (laughs). Game 2, I thought he was going to drop a [ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd] on turn 6 and make it a game, but he decided to just drop 2 blockers instead and I knew that I won right there. He was going to have to skip mana drops or not play anything, and he was playing a lot of dead blockers, so I knew it was just really bad for him.

ZH: The builds of that deck that I’m seeing just seem to have a strictly worse endgame than Greed Dragons does.

SS: Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Top 8 was the WDL deck again and it was just another joke matchup. He played blockers, which is basically the same as me asking “would you like to discard a card?” And he was like “sure” (laughs). And then top 4 was all Team SBK.

Editor’s Note: You can watch the top 4 matches on SexyDreamPirate’s YouTube channel here:

ZH: So it’s safe to say Team SBK made a pretty big impact on this tournament. How about the other KMCs from the weekend? Did you see any of the other decks that did well?

SS: I mean I didn’t look too much into them but I saw people are still running WFL Dragons but they aren’t playing the [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd]s and [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd]s, which is incorrect. And the WDL deck is played a lot but, like, you 100% need to be playing Fire. I don’t think people are playtesting correctly.

ZH: Yeah, I’m inclined to agree. I’ve been championing this deck (without giving it away before this tournament, of course), but people are really reluctant to accept it as legitimate, being that it plays cards from all 5 civilizations. Do you think you impacted the metagame, or do you think people are still going to have reservations?

SS: I mean, I hope we didn’t impact the metagame (laughs). I’d love to be able to keep beating the other decks. This is definitely the best deck right now. I mean, we tried to build other decks, and like, a lot of the decks that beat Greed Dragons lose to everything else. They just play so many cards to deal with the late game that they’re bad against the more aggressive decks. Like, every single card in the Greed Dragons deck is inherently insane. You have six real kill spells, all your shield blasts do something good, and you play 6 of the best two creatures in the game. People just run out of answers eventually. Especially with people refusing to accept that [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd] is a staple right now. Like, you only have three [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd]s and you’re not playing Infernus yourself. What are you going to do to beat my Infernus? Freeze him with Lyra and just hope you don’t swing into anything? It’s just not consistent.

ZH: So let’s say Greed Dragons does take off and become more popular. Would you change it going forward?

SS: Try to get it closer to 40 cards for the mirror match, just so you’ll draw your better cards faster. It’s tough to make it 40 with all the colors but you want it as small as possible. You shouldn’t be worried about decking out. People that are decking out are not attacking correctly, so like, try out different things while you’re playing before you write this deck off. I’m not saying just attack recklessly into a bunch of shield blasts, but just be aware of how many cards are in your deck and create a correct line of play. “OK, I have to attack this guy now or this will happen,” stuff like that. A lot of times it will work out for you if you build this deck right.

ZH: Right. For anyone out there who doesn’t know, in this game you lose as soon as your deck is empty. So when you have 2 cards left in deck at the start of your turn before you draw, you need to win that turn or you deck out.

SS: Yeah. Another thing people don’t realize about this game is that after a certain point, card advantage doesn’t really matter. There’s not a [ccProd]Wrath of God[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd] effect in this game. Big creatures are just inherently better if you can make your deck work with a late curve. If I have out two Infernus, it doesn’t matter if you have 4 more cards in hand than I do. Like, you won’t have enough mana to kill them both, and you won’t even have enough mana to kill one and then also play another threat. And then you take [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd] out of the equation and you just lose. If two of those cards in your hand can’t kill a 9-drop Dragon, they’re not real cards. Congratulations, you [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd]ned and you have a big hand, but it doesn’t matter. There’s only a select few cards in the game that actually kill Infernus, and you need to play them right away, so wasting mana to do other things like draw cards gets you nowhere.

ZH: Speaking of Infernus, I’m sure you’ve seen the reveal of Infernus the Immolator from Clash of the Duel Masters. People are flipping out over this card!

SS: That card’s just straight unfair (laughs). I really hope there’s some kind of rule about playing Monarchs that makes him less ridiculous. I watch the TV show a little bit, and it’s pretty good. It’s a pretty fun show to watch if you have some free time. But anyway, in the show the Monarchs are the Lords of each civilization, so I feel like a rule that restricts you to only playing cards of that creature’s civilization in your deck would make him fair. I mean if that’s not the case, and you can throw him into our deck, he just instantly becomes the new best creature. He makes the best card in the game even better too.

ZH: You talking about poppin’ bottles?

SS: [ccProd]Bottle of Wishes[/ccProd]! If you think it’s a luck card or you think it’s gimmicky, I’m sorry but you’re not playing right (laughs). It’s the best card in the game. Hands down, not even close. And it only gets better as this game gets more cards because the things you can hit off it just become more and more outrageous. The 9-drop [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd] guy (Squillace Scourge)? This new Infernus? Too good.

ZH: Agreed. So even if better aggro creatures come out in Clash, the addition of these new finishers still makes Bottle where you want to be, right?

SS: Yeah, there’s just going to be more ridiculous things to Bottle into. Even if there are new small creatures, if the Bottle does crack early on turn 2 or 3 or something, you could just lose right then and there.

ZH: Pretty scary to think about. Control isn’t going anywhere. Alright, final question: what’s the next KMC you’re planning to attend?

SS: Our team’s going to the one in Poughkeepsie in two weeks. I mean, since I got qualified it’s not essential to go to a whole bunch more –

ZH: – but you need to go so you can scoop to me!

SS: Yeah, I gotta help my friends get there (laughs). Like, to me, half the fun of card games is traveling around and seeing a bunch of different places, and being able to go with your friends is a lot more fun than going by yourself.

ZH: Absolutely. Alright Steve, thanks for your time!

Until next time, Play Hard or Go Home!