Tempoing to 1st at KMC New Holland

cvhThis past weekend was my first chance to play in a Kaijudo Master Challenge in season three. Preparing to travel up to New Holland, PA with Carl Miciotto, Spencer Swan, and Theodore Wadley to meet up with teammates Dave Pendergrass and Corey Gaudreau, I knew the KMC was going to be difficult. Northeastern KMCs have been typically matched by very few locations in terms of attendance and overall player skill.

My decision to play a tempo deck of some sort came rather early in the brainstorming process with my team, though I only settled on the final build two days before the event itself. After qualifying with large, four-civilizaion ramp decks in seasons one and two and having other success with similar decks, I felt it was time for a change. I'd usually go back a week or two after the event and wish I had played a smaller, more consistent deck. Hindsight is 20/20, so despite any temptations leading me to other decks, I was intent on playing tempo for my first event of the season.

For a while, I had a build of Megabugs with two copies of [ccProd]Blinder Beetle Prime[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Rain-Cloud Kraken[/ccProd] that I quite liked against just about everything, but LWD was something I was determined to make work. Seeing Thomas Lamont take it to an invite in Louisiana was reassuring. I enjoy LWD tempo so much in comparison to other decks because while it has very few matchups that are absolute blowouts in its favor, it didn't seem to have any bad matchups across the board, and is able to adapt either the offensive or defensive roll fairly easily.

In talking with Spencer about the deck, I had told him of some of my results across the board with the various incarnations I tested. I hadn't lost a match to a Pile (5-civ ramp) deck yet, and I expected a lot of those in PA. Aggro, like light/fire, was pretty bad, as was Megabugs. Dragons appeared to be slightly in our favor, though it was one of the tighter matchups. When it all came down to it, we settled on cutting all the level nine creatures we were thinking about running in favor of two [ccProd]Vicious Squillace Scourge[/ccProd]s to evolve off our Chimeras and Leviathans, which we already felt were good in numerous matchups. The Vicious were really the only notable difference between our build and previous LWD tempos, but they made quite a difference, giving us a reliable answer to [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] as well as an almost insurmountable threat in just about any matchup we could summon it in.

Below, I'll leave the deck list as well as a video of me explaining specific card choices, for those who would like a more in-depth analysis of it.

[ccDeck=LWD Tempo]3 Aqua Strider:3 Cyber Scamp:3 Lost Patrol:3 Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow:2 Mesmerize:1 Logos Scan:3 Keeper of Laws:3 Piercing Judgment:2 Screeching Scaradorable:2 Rusalka, Aqua Chaser:2 Bone Blades:2 Vicious Squillace Scourge:2 King Neptas:3 Lyra, the Blazing Sun:3 General Finbarr:3 Terror Pit[/ccDeck]

Though I didn't actually get any testing with Vicious in before the event, Spencer played Corey in a best of five match and won 3-1, assuring me that Vicious was good in that matchup as well. It seemed like we had enough strong theory behind the list for it to do well, so I was comfortable playing it.

In the first round, I was paired against a Water/Fire aggro deck. I definitely wanted to avoid aggressive decks as much as possible since they are always a scary matchup for tempo, and my round one opponent was intent on beating my face in with [ccProd]Emperor Neuron[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Emperor Dendrite[/ccProd] along with a slew of fast fire cards. Although I went down to zero shields game one, I was able to stabilize and attack for game when he didn't have another evolution, and game two went smoother in my favor.

Match Record: 1-0
Game Record: 2-0

Round two saw me paired up against another aggro deck, this time Light/Darkness/Fire, but my first bad misplay of the day came before we even dealt our shields and hands. In a moment of weakness while shuffling my opponent's deck, I decided I was too lazy to pile shuffle and that his deck felt like well over forty cards, so I assumed I was up against five-civ "pile" control. In my opening five, I saw no level two creatures, but I had a [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd], so I opted to take second after winning the die roll in hopes that I could draw into more options and make [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] really hurt him. As it turned out, I was up against an double-sleeved aggro deck, so all that planning was for naught. He wound up opening pretty poorly and drew into his third Stormspark Blast within a few turns, and I was able to take game one.

During game two, I was able to see much more of his deck. Besides a pretty standard Drakon lineup, he was running some saucy cards like [ccProd]Baron Burnfingers[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Kronax the Brutal[/ccProd]. The most devastating play he made in game two was using Kronax to turn Baron into a slayer, ramming it into my Lyra and breaking his own shield, which turned out to be a [ccProd]Return from Beyond[/ccProd] to return the Baron to the battle zone. Multiple Barons saw play that game and I just couldn't safely deal with all of them. Game three was tight, as the games usually are against aggro, but I was able to closely take it in the end after dropping something like three blockers, hoping he couldn't deal with enough of them, and then going in for game. [ccProd]Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow[/ccProd] was a definite MVP for its ability to play defensive and offensive roles in these matchups.

Match Record: 2-0
Game Record: 4-1

At this point, I was 2-0 and feeling good, but I took my first loss in round three to Tyler Hine's Light/Water "Alex Blue" Cyber Lord tempo. Game one was pretty much in my favor the whole time, but game two I was never able to really stabilize in the face of his evolutions. In order to have any hope of winning in game three, I was forced to take a gamble and hope for a Shield Blast, knowing that if I could stop his attacks, I'd be able to win, but if not, I was just going to lose. [ccProd]Piercing Judgment[/ccProd] wasn't there to save me, and I took the loss to put me at 2-1.

Match Record: 2-1
Game Record: 5-3

Though taking a loss that early was a little irritating by itself because I knew I couldn't afford another, the main worry I had was that there was so much aggro and tempo there. It appeared I had made some miscalculations in assuming everyone would be flocking to giant control decks and dragons. On the bright side, I hadn't been paired up against Megabugs yet, which was good because [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] was the last thing I really wanted to deal with.

Of course, that feeling of relief was short-lived as I then found myself paired up against bugs in round four. Steve, a friend of Dave and Corey, was running the deck, and it sucked knowing that one of us would be essentially dead in the tournament after the round was over. I don't remember many specifics from the match other than it being a real grind. [ccProd]Vicious Squillace Scourge[/ccProd] came down for me in games one and three, which were the two games I won; [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] delivered the beatdown in game two. I was extremely pleased with the performance of the card and knew I probably would've suffered a 0-2 creaming if I hadn't included it, but was instead moving on to round five still very much alive in the tournament.

Match Record: 3-1
Game Record: 7-4

I knew I needed to win round five, and hoped I'd be able to just intentionally draw in the sixth round. Round five finally saw me play against a "pile" control, against someone who's name escapes me. Both games were in my favor throughout, though there was a time in game one where I feared I might run out of steam. I drew into [ccProd]Vicious Squillace Scourge[/ccProd], slammed it on [ccProd]Screeching Scaradorable[/ccProd] on turn five when I was on the play, and prayed I didn't hit a [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd]. Vicious broke all of his shields before Lyra kept it tapped, and when I summoned [ccProd]Cyber Scamp[/ccProd], he didn't have a way to deal with both creatures safely. I wound up taking the match 2-0, proving to myself after five rounds that yes, my deck could actually defeat the deck it was intended to beat!

Match Record: 4-1
Game Record: 9-4

In round six, I was up against another [ccProd]Eternal Haven[/ccProd] deck ran by Mike Zeits, though this one ran significantly less cards and no Fire section. I had been a little anxious upon realizing I couldn't safely intentionally draw into the top cut, but was admittedly more confident when I found out I was paired against Haven. I'm a fan of smaller decks, but not having to worry about [ccProd]Major Ao[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Drill Storm[/ccProd] made things a lot easier for me. I opened pretty well each game, and was even able to bluff by not searching my third [ccProd]Cyber Scamp[/ccProd] in the face of spells until [ccProd]Toxic Fog[/ccProd] finally killed the first two. The deck did what it was supposed to yet again and I was headed to my eighth top eight after a pretty rocky first few rounds!

Match Record: 5-1
Game Record: 11-4

Top 8: vs. Ryan Valentino (LWFN Dragons)

Valentino made the call of including a six card Nature section for this event, which I am personally a fan of. A Shield Blast [ccProd]Oathsworn Call[/ccProd] at nearly any point can basically just win the game against a tempo deck such as the one I was running, but he unfortunately ran into the one major downside: the possibility that you can wind up drawing a bunch of dead cards. He saw a good portion of his Nature section each game, while I remember curving out nicely in game one and having a turn three Lost Patrol to stymie his double [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd] aggro plan in game two. This match was over absurdly fast as he just didn't get the hand or shields he needed to combat what my deck was able to do.

Match Record: 6-1
Game Record: 13-4

Top 4: vs. Matthew Robinson (LW Cyber Lords)

Carl, who had unfortunately been eliminated from the event in top eight after getting paired against Light/Fire aggro, recorded this match as well as the final match for his YouTube channel, so I won't talk too much about them here. However, something that was key in this match that didn't really come into play against Tyler was that I was forced to play against additional Shield Blasts, since Matt was splashing Nature for a full set of [ccProd]Oathsworn Call[/ccProd]s. Other than making a misplay in game one that could very well have cost me the game if I didn't have a Shield Blast, things worked out in my favor and I was able to take the match 2-0.

Match Record: 7-1
Game Record: 15-4

Finals: vs. Tyler Hine (LW Cyber Lords)

My final match in the tournament wound up being against my round three loss! If anything, I felt a little more prepared going into the matchup after watching the deck between rounds and playing against Matt, but it was still a very tight match nonetheless. I won't spoil any individual plays, but I wound up taking the match in game three to secure not only my invite to the Summer Championship, but my flight as well!

Match Record: 8-1
Game Record: 17-5

It felt good seeing the deck play out like I hoped it would, right down to the rather unexpected [ccProd]Vicious Squillace Scourge[/ccProd] call. Looking back, I think it was the right deck for the event. I also expect to see a good amount of LWD Tempo in future KMCs this season; it is, after all, a very solid deck. Fortunately, The 5 Mystics just released to shake the meta up, and in a week, we'll have some fresh results to analyze! I'll personally be attending KMCs in Raleigh, NC, and Roanoke, VA next weekend, and I hope to come back with some great results to share from myself and my team. It will certainly be an exciting weekend for Kaijudo, so stay tuned, and remember: Play Hard or Go Home!