Tyler Tabman’s YCS Philadelphia Top 16 Report: A Take on Final Countdown

How’s it going guys, I don’t think many of you know me so I’ll take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Tyler Tabman and I’ve been playing this game for about 3 years now. After starting to attend YCS’s May of last year and after 3 YCS Bubbles I got my first YCS top at YCS Chicago with Gravekeepers! Proceeding this, I took Final Countdown to YCS Philly and went undefeated in Swiss ending in 1st place taking the deck all the way to top 16 to get my second top - back to back. I know many of you have been very curious over this deck and how it did so well, and I will try to address most of what I can in this article. First off I’ll go over the tournament report, followed by some deck analysis, reasons for playing it and so on, lastly finishing the article off with defending the good name of people who play these “Cheesy” or “Unfair” decks. I can’t really tell until it’s actually posted, but this article seems VERY long, so be forewarned.

Here’s my report, read it all before you hate.

Before the event:
After my top with Gravekeepers, I still felt like the deck was a good meta call considering it could consistently stand up to rabbit and dragons, with a fairly decent Inzektor matchup. However, I soon realized this would no longer be the case with the release of two cards in GAOV: Cardcar D, and Inzektor ladybug. Cardcar D would allow my opponents to gain too much advantage for me to fight back, and Inzektor Ladybug created way too much versatility for the Inzektor deck. Having to account for a first turn Tiras Keeper of Genesis as well was more than I could handle – forcing you to keep in suboptimal cards such as Gravekeeper’s Guard or Compulsory Evacuation Device just to stand a chance.

With nothing really else to go on, I desperately turned to Inzektors myself, finding Safe Zone and Call of the Haunted along with Inzektor Ladybug a very strong deck of choice. Alas, I found myself not being able to win more than 60% of the time vs Dragons or Rabbit, or even the mirror for that matter. Wednesday at locals I sit down and tell a fellow local and friend Jesse Choate my dilemma, his reply is “Play countdown, it won Argentina nats, here’s the stuff”, and proceeded to throw down a bunch of commons and rares on the table. It seemed like a good deck in theory, why not! I go home and look up the decklist to the guy who won in Argentina, I find that the decklist could be a lot better then what it already was – and if he won nationals with that, why couldn’t I do just as well after making some improvements?

The way the meta was forming, it looked like Inezktors, Dragons, and Heros would more or less be an auto-win with Dino Rabbit being the only true contender. Decree is the only thing in other decks that can stop me, so 3 mst’s and a heavy should handle that nicely, and just pray I don’t play against Samurais or Karakuri! After basing every card choice on theory alone with literally 0 playtesting, I ran around all day Friday and Saturday morning to pick up the missing pieces from my deck (which are very hard to find when it’s all old commons and rares). I made sure to write down and keep my lifepoints this time to help better recall my matches – but honestly with countdown not every match was very interesting!

To start off, here’s my decklist
Monsters: 9
3 Cardcar D
3 Swift Scarecrow
1 Sangan
1 Morphing Jar
1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
Spells: 16
3 Final Countdown
3 One Day of Peace
3 Gold Sarcophagus
3 Upstart Goblin
3 Pot of Duality
1 Dark Hole
Traps: 15
3 Threatening Roar
3 Waboku
3 Thunder of Ruler
3 Frozen Soul
3 Hope for Escape
Sidedeck: 15
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Heavy Storm
3 Lava Golem
3 Golden Ladybug
3 Secret Barrel
2 Poison of the Old Man
Extra deck: 2
1 Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Elemental HERO The Shining

Round 1: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. ( Chaos Dragons)
Game 1: I stall for 20 turns – Dragons have no maindecked answers.
Life points : 8000-6000-5000-4000-3000
Game 2: He sets a monster and 3 backrow. A clutch heavy storm turn 1 saves me the game as I hit an Eradicator Epidemic Virus which would have been trouble next turn!
Life points: 8000-6300-4700-2700-1700
Record : 1-0

Round 2: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. (Inzektors)
Game 1: After using both of his Mystical Space Typhoons turn 1 in the endphase, I’m able to comfortably set one trap stall at a time without fear of getting blasted by MST and attacked for game. Although I try to hurry it along my opponent takes a very long time per move and the game goes past 20 minutes.
Life points: 8000-6000-4000-3000
Game 2: I activate countdown with 17minutes on the clock, so even if he takes 2 minutes per turn (8 of his turns x 2 = 16 + 6 turns for time = 22) I should still be able to win. I don’t remember the facts of the actual game, but I know I had this game won the entire time, however he was somehow able to stall out a good 15 minutes on only turn 12. I couldn’t risk him taking another 2 minutes for next turn so I quickly scooped up the game and went to my sidedeck with 2 minutes on the clock.
He never presented his deck so the match went to a draw. Oh well.
Life points: 8000-6000-5000
Record: 1-0-1

Round 3: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. Joe Bogli – 2011 Worlds Qualifer (Chaos Dragons)
Game 1: Once again, chaos dragons is my easiest matchup, especially game 1. I believe I get off a pretty big hope for the escape in the game considering my low life points.
Life Points: 8000-6600-4800-3800-1800-800
Game 2: I believe he hit something with reaper turn 1 which got me kinda worried, but he couldn’t capitalize much. He got out Dark Armed at some point, but I had more cards then he had darks in the grave anyway so I was able to comfortably fill up my backrow and win the game.
Lifepoints: 8000-7700-5700
Record: 2-0-1

Round 4: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. (Chain Burn)
Game 1: He’s playing chainburn.. I obviously lose. I actually came somewhat close to winning this game because he dead drew a bunch of cylinders and dimensional walls. But I lost on like turn 16. First game one I lost all day until t16!
Lifepoints: 6000-5000-4200-1400-0
Game 2: I knew chainburn would be hard so I made sure to side properly, 2 poisons and 3 ladybugs. I opened with a ladybug, eventually drew a second and there was no way he could deal 14000+ damage. A triple just deserts play for 6k just brought me back to full. He actually sided into inzektors and took out some generic stuff, so I had to deal with the threat of inzektors attacking/otk PLUS the constant threat of being chain-burned. Very scary matchup.
Lifepoints: 8000-8500-9000-7000-7500-9200-10200-11200-12200-13400-14400-8400-9400-10400-8000-9000
Game 3: We started the game with about 3-5min on the clock and I knew it would be a grind and obv would have to win in time. He has a bunch of burn + inzektors but if I could get a ladybug loop going quick I could take it. I turn one Gold Sarc for ladybug and he couldn’t put on much pressure. I was able to get off 2 secret barrels for 1800 then 2200, and after drawing the second ladybug it sealed the victor in time. I actually had gorz in hand too on his last turn in time which could of reflected some of the burn damage if I needed to.
His lifepoints (since it’s relevant) : 6200-4000
Record: 3-0-1

Round 5: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. Christopher Flores – 1st place SJC Durham (Dino Rabbit)
Game 1: I don’t really remember much, other than he didn’t open rabbit so I was fine.
Lifepoints: 6000-4100-2200-1200
Game 2: I’m in complete control the majority of this game and have 3+ stall cards by turn 8 or so plus dark hole and some other stuff. He has a zenmaines and scrap dragon. Next turn he goes laggia, I lava golem zenmaines and laggia, then dark hole. I dead draw another countdown and something else for 2 turns so I really need to draw another stall in a turn or two. I Gold Sarc for scarecrow. He has 3 backrow on turn 13 and I heavy. Next turn he draws, uses avarice, goes into dolka and sets 2. He flips decree unfortunately, after I used my heavy the turn before. I set a scarecrow, draw a trap, and he drops BLS to finish me next turn. We have like 45seconds on the clock so I side quickly.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000-5000-100-0
Game 3: I reveal ladybug turn 1.
Lifepoints: 8500-9000-9500
Record: 4-0-1

Round 6: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. (Heros)
Game 1: Turn one he solemns countdown, putting me in terrible shape. My hope for escapes and frozen souls are dead, and now I need another countdown. I’m at 3800 and Gold Sarc for countdown, I consider Gold Sarcing for 2 of them to play around bribe just in case, but realized I couldn’t pay 4k so if he had bribe then he had bribe I guess. He didn’t have it and he wasn’t able to clinch an endphase MST on me.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000-3800-1800
Game 2: He didn’t have solemn this time and it went pretty smooth.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000-4100-3100
Record: 5-0-1

Round 7: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. (Chaos Dragons)
Sorry the rest of my matches vs chaos dragons are going to be pretty boring. I don’t remember much.
Game 1: Countdown > Dragons
Game 2: See game 1
Record: 6-0-1

Round 8: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. Andrew Martin – Ended up getting 2nd place (Chaos Dragons)
Real nice guy, glad he did as well as he did.
Game 1: I resolved a Cardcar D and drew into another. He made a bounzer knowing that bounzer is the only thing in his deck to remotely stop me. Unfortunately it didn’t matter and I had a lot of other stall cards.
Lifepoints: 6000-5000-4000
Game 2: I turn one Gold Sarc for countdown to his set monster. I hated wasting stall cards when I knew it was a ryko or I’d get lyla’d, so I thought for once I’d chance not setting it. Of course I get punished for it and he drops me down to 400 so I scoop having no win condition.
Lifepoints: 8000-400
Luckily game one went quick enough that I could scoop game 2 and actually win with countdown g3. I could of tried stalling out g2 so g3 would go into time, but I knew we could have a fair g3 so opted to let the 20minutes left on the clock play out.
Game 3: He didn’t even play a monster until his 3rd turn and couldn’t draw decree.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000-5000
Record: 7-0-1

Round 9: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. (Chaos Dragons)
Game 1: Nothing too special happened.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000-4300-3300
Game 2: About the same, I showed him a few stall cards around turn 14 and he scooped. He didn’t side decrees so he kinda gave up when he saw he was playing me lol.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000-3500-2500
Record: 8-0-1

I was ranked 4th at the end of day one and I knew who I was playing round 10 since we were the only x-0-1’s left and there were only 2 other undefeated’s. This was the best I’ve done at a YCS so I was pretty excited to see how my next 2 rounds went. Even though ranked 4th, I wouldn’t top actually if I lost my next 2.

Round 10: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. (Chaos Dragons)
Game 1: It came down to me topping dark hole, a dead countdown, gorz, then Gold Sarc almost all in a row when I needed a stall card badly around turn 12. I top another Gold Sarc and cry.. then Gold Sarc for a second one day of peace. He has 2x pulsar, Red eyes, and a tour guide. He goes into leviathan, and attacks.. I almost had a heart attack. I drop gorz and he can’t kill both the token and gorz with 2 pulsars. Had he gone ANYTHING other than leviathan, or even went into bounzer I would of lost that game.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000-5000-2500
Game 2: I turn one Gold Sarc for scarecrow. He goes tourguide and I cry on the inside. He goes gigabrilliant and I just let out a huge sigh of relief. Next turn he goes into another tourguide! And yet, goes for leviathan.. thank god he never went leviar. He flips decree but I dig for mst after stalling with a one day of peace and duality/scarecrow ect and proceed to win.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000-3900-1900-900
Record: 9-0-1

At this point I’m guaranteed to top and so is my next opponent (who’s 10-0), but I really wanted to win – coming 1st in swiss with countdown would be awesome.

Round 11: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. (Inzektors)
Game 1: I drew pretty good with at least one scarecrow and one day of peace. I think he used an endphase MST at one point but I had the scarecrow.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000
Game 2: I drew 2 scarecrows and one day of peace. It was pretty shaky after he used solemn, but luckily I didn’t dead-draw anything so I had the 2 scarecrows to protect me from his endphase ragieki break and MST. Out of all the people I played this weekend he was probably the most knowledgeable on what to do vs countdown decks. I just happened to have all the answers, props to him.
Lifepoints: 6000-5000-3200
Record: 10-0-1

Yes! 1st in Swiss! Having bubbled 3 times before and then finally winning on the bubble at Chicago, I never would of thought I would top going undefeated. It felt pretty good but I knew there was still all of top32 ahead of me.. I almost wanted to lose r11 knowing I’d be placed against somebody who barely made 32nd, and thus would probably something rouge that would beat me. WHAT DO YOU KNOW, I go against probably the ONLY person who happens to maindeck 3 confiscations! Not really, but he played inzektors with 3 smoke grenade, so close enough!

We talk about how it really comes down to the draws, and if he doesn’t draw it I win and if he does he wins. I pretty much agree, there’s not much I can do to that type of hand disruption at the wrong time.

Top 32: Tyler Tabman (Final countdown) vs. (Inzektors)
Game 1: He wasn’t able to put on any pressure and after resolving some +1’s my hand consists of 3 one day of peace AND 3 scarecrow. I ended up setting cardcar D because there it was pretty useless… he scoops by turn 14.
Lifepoints: 8000-6000-4400-3400
Game 2: He solemns my countdown turn 1 and it’s all downhill from there. I’m able to survive for another 10 turns or so but I can’t get enough resources back and lose fairly swiftly.
Lifepoints: 6000-5700-3200-2200
Game 3: There’s about 5minutes on the clock so obviously I sided into “win in time”. As soon as he saw that I sided into lifepoint gain he instantly stared down the clock. I ended up getting a secret barrel off and that sealed the game once I revealed scarecrow and one day of peace.

Top 16: Tyler Tabman (Final Countdown) vs. Oliver Tomajko (Dino Rabbit)
Game 1: He opens laggia sets a few. I Gold Sarc into countdown and set threatening, which gets MST’d. He goes second rabbit into dolkka. Next turn I draw another countdown... great. I use it to bait laggia’s negation and it works. I use dark hole – but he has the lance for dolkka. I have a hope for the escape play and another countdown so I could stall out another 10+ turns probably, but my life was too low to use the 2nd countdown so I scoop no longer having a win condition.
Lifepoints: 8000-5600-3600-1700

Game 2: I open countdown and stall cards so I’m pretty confident I have this game. Around turn 10 however he flips up decree after summoning dolkka, and hope is looking pretty bleak. I use my one day of peace, have to set both my scarecrows, and don’t draw an out as I get beat down around turn 16 or so. It was a good run.

Thought it was kinda funny how I get 1st out of 1501 people, and end up losing to probably the youngest person there (11 years old). Definitely not mad about it though, he’s a smart kid and a good player. If I was going to lose I knew it would be to Dino-Rabbit.

For my decklist, I thought everything was pretty much solid. The only things I would change is cardcar D for either battle fader or jar of greed, cardcar d got hit by warning AND veiler, while fader would only be subject to one, and jar of greed (or legacy) wouldn’t be hit by anything. I don’t really know which at this point. Other changes would be probably main 1 lava golem and move gorz to the side. Other than that, everything did it’s job pretty well, including the side deck.

Now, to the second part of this article! I could separate them but I don’t think this is very stand-alone.
So first off, you need to know how to play the deck in order to be successful with it. I’m not saying somebody can’t ignorantly go into a tournament and beat you, but to actually top that event – they need to know what they’re doing. Rulings such as frozen soul and thunder ruler you need to make sure you know before the event. As Frazier Smith said “It takes skill to BEAT it maybe but certainly not skill to play it”. While his statement has its merits, I certainly disagree. Being the person playing countdown, you must for one know how to beat your own deck, and then play around the holes that they might exploit. For example, one could say it takes ‘skill’ to conserve your MST until the right time in the endphase. Well in the same manner, I recognized that players would conserve their MST’s vs me and so I would have a few options: 1) Set thunder ruler/frozen soul combo if I expect an MST, 2) Conserve my scarecrows for ONLY MST’s, keep setting one until they MST, use scarecrow and repeat, and 3) Bait MST’s with dead countdowns or double-set when I can bait it with hope for the escape. It’s not that I’m saying any of these plays are terribly complicated, but I certainly had to think about almost every play I made. One wrong bluff or read and I lose the game. And that’s EVERY turn.

You must also judge the meta. I called this deck a meta call for a reason and I stand by that reason. I knew beforehand that the meta would consist of heros, dragons, dino rabbit, and inzektors. If I happened to play wind-ups or samurais, then so be it – I’ll take the loss. Dino Rabbit was probably the hardest out of the 4, but it was by no means an auto-lose matchup. However, the most popular deck – chaos dragons – was almost surely an auto-win matchup. If I took this deck to YCS Atlanta with wind ups and Rabbit running rampant, there’s ABSOLUTLEY no way I would have topped. Chaos dragons had changed the meta, and it happened to be one that favored a deck such as Final Countdown.

Those are two of the reasons I believe success with Final Countdown (and decks such as chain burn) should not be discredited. Unless of course they only top once it might just be a fluke, but don’t be so quick to judge. Next, playing this type of deck should not be frowned upon at all. If EVERYBODY played them, then a quick change of your sidedeck would turn those matches into easy victories. Either prepare yourself or risk the off chance you’ll play one – don’t get mad at the person for playing a deck, it’s just a card game guys. Given that I knew how to play the deck and I saw it was fit for the meta, why would I not play it?

Kristopher Perovic (Creator of Diamond Dude Turbo) sums everything up very nicely in his reply to Nizar
‎”Nizar, two things: 1. it takes some skill to know when to set dead Countdowns, Frozen Souls, etc. and bait removal. You have to know when to summon and bait Warnings so as to make sure Faders go through, depending on the build. (Tyler Tabman ran 3 CCD, Gorz, Hole, and MJar whereas I use 3 Metaion 3 Fader.) In this regard it really is all about outplaying your opponent. No one could have had success at PA with Countdown if they didn't do this. You also have to be patient enough to save Scarecrows and One Day of Peaces until the final turns. You also have to be aware of the card pool and rulings, i.e. Thunder of Ruler is cool to set next to a Frozen Soul, etc. In short, I think that it's about as much of an auto-pilot deck as Rabbit is, for what it’s worth. Nothing is complicated about summoning a Rabbit t1 in my opinion…”

That covers the base of the ‘skill’ argument, and the next part of his response justifies playing this type of deck extremely accurately, in my opinion.

“… 2. You can give your opponents a fair chance all you want and that's your right when you decide what to run for yourself. But to be honest, for me, I think that's a stupid mentality and I would never want to do that. If I could have a 90% win-rate against Dragons/Inzektors, why should I settle for anything less? Because they aren't going to shake my hand? That didn't stop me from playing DDT when everyone else was playing Monarchs, and it shouldn't have stopped Tyler from running Countdown.”

To emphasize the last part “That didn't stop me from playing DDT when everyone else was playing Monarchs, and it shouldn't have stopped Tyler from running Countdown.” I could not agree with this more. You’re always trying to get the edge on your opponent when you go into an event. Nobody goes into an event thinking “How can I beat my opponents successfully while still giving them a fair chance?” Triple Gateway sams, cat sabers, fish OTK and so on are all examples of decks that take almost no interaction with the opponent maybe 50% of the time. Just because my win condition isn’t attacking, doesn’t mean my deck is any more ‘unfair’ then any of the ones I listed.

In short, I gave you guys my tournament report, brief explanation on card choices and some insight on how to play the deck properly as well as my reasons for playing the deck. If you have any questions feel free to ask away. That’s all I got for today, I know it was long so congrats to you if you read through it all. I hope all of you enjoyed it, stay tuned ARG readers and remember, play hard or go home!