I figured a good way to start this off would be an explanation of what happened at nationals. It is all really simple and I understand the precautions that had to be taken. I entered the tournament, and played the first three rounds, with sixteen cards in my extra deck. I was registering very last minute, and Ned Salkavitch had just given me a Giant Hand to use for the event. I scratched off one of my extra deck cards, and replaced it with Giant Hand, but had completely forgotten to take the card out of my extra deck. I was very lazy, and did not take time to count my main, side, or extra at any point. I think everyone can learn from this, and should just always take time to make sure their decks are correct.
This introduction is only relevant because of how greatly it impacted my deck choice for the weekend. Going into nationals, Mike Steinman and I had talked a great amount about the meta, and what we would expect. Lightsworn, Sylvans, and Dragons all seemed to be popular enough, that Geargia players would play cards that favored those match ups. Kuribandit, Artifact, Traptrix (KAT), only really had two particularly difficult match ups. I think one was Geargia, and the other was the mirror match. Of course, when someone can stick a Felgrand, or Stardust Dragon against you turn one you have a difficult time, but so do most decks. Geargia decks would be more prepared for those decks, giving us a pretty good chance to take advantage of them, so we expected it to be a relevantly simple tournament. I ended up getting dq’ed while undefeated, and Mike took his only loss of the weekend in top 16.
After leaving nationals, I assumed I would want to just play the same deck at the Arg Championship. I didn’t play much in between the tournaments, and just expected everything to fall into place. I arrive on Friday and enter the player’s Championship. The bracket is finalized, and I find out that I am paired verse Larry Musgrove. He ends up playing Bujins, a very difficult match up, and sweeps me 2-0. There was no real contest. The next round I play against Jordan Winters. I end up realizing I had my deck messed up in the middle of the game, and have to concede once I realize it. Game two was really confusing as well, but in the end he wins 2-0 as well. All confidence in this deck at this point was ruined. He was playing the hands, and they were too difficult to deal with. I realize at this point that I cannot play this deck for the Championship. If I wanted to play it, I would have to play the hands for the mirror match, something I did not want to have to conform to.
I walk around to see what everyone else is playing, and every other table has some sort of H.A.T. deck. I start trying to come up with a counter for it. Brandon Wigley and I had been playing the same deck. He also went 0-2 in this tournament, and had the same drive to find the deck that would give us the best chances of winning the five thousand dollar grand prize. We spent a few hours figuring everything out, and came to the conclusion that Geargia was probably the best pick. This deck would have a great H.a.t. match up, and we would probably avoid playing mirror matches. Although I had never played this deck before, I thought the risk was worth it.
After deciding on the deck, selecting the cards that would fill in the empty spaces was the most difficult thing to do. Here is a little insight on how we came to those conclusions.
2 Cardcar D – We decided we would need something to make up for the loss of the strong openings with geargiagear, and the lack of summons now that Mk-2 wasn’t going to be used. When you don’t open Armor, you no longer have geargiagear to get things flowing, so this was just a draw card to help get to the engine.
1 Geargiano – Although we opted not to use the geargiagear, or mk-2, this card still seemed way too good to cut. Setting up a floating Gigant is probably one of the strongest stand alone plays that can be done in this deck.
3 Upstart Goblin
1 Dark Hole
1 Book of Moon
2 Soul Charge – We contemplated on using the third copy of this card, but did not want to weaken our early game draws. You almost always want this card, but you just can’t afford to have it in your opening hand.
3 Artifact Sanctum – This seemed to be one of the best trap cards in the game. We wanted more traps, and this just looked like the card to get the job done. I think it was really good whenever I drew it. The only downfall to it was the fact that you could open dead Artifact Moraltachs.
2 Breakthrough Skill – Helps protect your field verse artifact cards.
1 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Solemn Warning
3 Wiretap – This seemed really necessary. Although it’s not very good verse Sylvans, it helps push through your plays verse the H.A.T. decks and that was what we expected to play against the most of.
3 Fiendish Chain
1 Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare – This was supposed to be a Needle Ceiling, but I clearly can’t seem to ever get anything right. I was filling my deck list out in the middle of the night, and just accidently wrote down the wrong card. I don’t think it ever came up where the Needle Ceiling would have been better, so it all worked out.
1 Call of the Haunted – Has some synergy with moraltach, and is kind of like a mini come back card in a lot of games. A third soul charge seemed like too much, but this card can interact on your opponents turn kind of like a trap card sometimes, so it seemed worth throwing one in.
1 Compulsory Evacuation Device – We agreed this card was just the best worst trap we could play, and needed on last filler card. It helps dodge the fiendish chains, and breakthrough skills. It is also a one card out to a lot of random syncrhos, and xyz’s, that may have been hard to deal with if not for having this card.
2 Dimensional Prison – Once again, just another card to counter the meta that we expected. Instead of having to make a field in defense to play around the hands, or summoning monsters like Utopia, you could just set one of these, and make normal plays that are usually significantly better.
1 Ally of Justice Cycle Reader – This was pretty obvious for Bujin and Lightsworn. You only need one because you can recycle it with Gigant.
1 Dimensional Fissure – I have a fascination with flood gate/ blow out cards. I sided this in nearly every match.
3 Mystical Space Typhoon – These replace the wiretap when you are playing vs Sylvans or Dragons. They helped trigger the Moraltachs a few different times as well and that seemed like a pretty cool application.
1 Mind Control – This was an easy out the hands, and then as well as the best card to draw in the mirror match if it were to ever come up.
1 Macro Cosmos – This is pretty much the same thing to me as Dimensional Fissure. It is good to beat the hands, and then also is really good vs Water, Dragons, Lightsworn, Sylvans, etc.
1 Needle Ceiling – This was supposed to be the second one we would have vs the soul charge match ups, along with the obvious Infernity match up. I ended up only having this one copy.
2 Deep Dark Trap Hole – I really like this card in all the match ups that the flood gates go in against, along with prophecy. They are just more bottomless’s which is never really bad.
1 Acid Trap Hole – We decided we would side one other card for the mirror match.
2 Maxx "C” – I really wish I had three copies of this card. It came up a bunch of times where I was hoping to open one. I drew it at the right times, but with three I could have just made the odds greater.
1 D.D. Crow – This contradicts the flood gates, but is really good when you don’t have those up already. I also put this in vs artifacts to stop the beagle plays.
1 Dimensional Prison – Prison was for the hands. It is also for Dragons if that match up ever came up.
1 Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk – Makes your monsters big vs sylvan, and helps control their grave in a lot of other match ups.
1 Diamond Dire Wolf – This is the go to card before you soul charge to clear a backrow. Also is very relevant in the mirror to hit armors.
1 Evilswarm Exciton Knight
1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
1 Number 106: Giant Hand
1 Cairngorgon Antiluminescent Knight – Helps make sanctum better if your opponent has a graved breakthrough skill that they are going to use on your moraltach that comes out. You can just use this and make breakthrough target it.
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Number 101: Silent Honor Ark
1 Daigusto Emeral – Makes dead sanctums live along with giving you the chance to draw a trap or soul charge in some games where its your only chance at winning.
3 Gear Gigant X
1 Number 39: Utopia – This helps break the attack barrier that geargia has, where cairngorgon is usually the biggest monster in the extra. It also stops your opponents from attacking with the hands if you don’t draw prison. I also think this is pretty good if you get in a spot where you are going to time to help control how the attacks go.
1 Evigishki Merrowgeist – This was really good against the hands. I also found myself playing around my opponent’s soul charges with this. If I saw Myrmeleo, I would summon this as my generic rank 4 and put myrmeleo back. It plays around Dionea and Soul charge and the hands all by itself. Only difficult things to play around at that point were nightmare and sanctum.
Tyree Tinsley was at the ARG booth about to get cards for a K.A.T. list. He had been sick for the past week or so and was still in pretty bad shape. I was trying to get cards as well, and did not want to see him make the wrong choice. I know he is a trustworthy guy, and we decide to give him the list as well.
I get my two round byes and get to rest a bit longer than usual. We head to the convention center to turn in our deck lists, and decide to go get something to eat since we had hours before hour actual first round would begin. Round three comes around and I sit down to wait for my opponent.
Round 3- My opponent tells me that he is a Magic the Gathering player. We roll off and I am pretty sure he wins the roll and takes first play. He sets three backrows and ends his turn. I draw three artifact sanctum, one artifact ignition, wiretap and arsenal in my opening hand. I set sanctum and wiretap and pass my turn. He draws, sets another and passes back. I don’t remember what I draw but at this point he losses with me never seeing anything but trap cards. We go to side deck and I have no clue what he is playing. I decide to just side in Mystical Space Typhoons because I only saw a bunch of backrow. Game two starts, he goes first again, and opens secrets. He does prophecy things and passes turn with a Magician face up, a fate set, and a tower on board. I open two mystical space typhoons, dark hole, and a geargiarmor. I remember just having perfect cards to beat what he had as long as I hit the fate on the first try. I do end up blind spacing, and hitting the fate. I get to do 1100 damage and set a mystical space typhoon for his tower. I win this match really quickly.
Round 4 (Nizar Sarhan) – We get a youtube feature match. He opens Draco, Felgrand, Scrap Dragon game 1 and there were no outs imaginable game 1. Game 2, my thought process was really complicated. I open armor, macro, 2 sanctum, and maxx “c”. I set three and armor and pass. He draws, and before I can macro, he tries to trade in. It is clearly right to shot gun macro because of all the draw cards in his deck. He sets one backrow and ends. I draw flip armor, it doesn’t get skill drained, add arsenal and summon it. I attack, and no malevolent catastrophe is activated. At this point, I think the only read I could have is royal decree or wing blast. I think about game one and how he used his cards. He destroyed everything, and then went for damage. I assumed if I dire wolfed the set, he would make a read on a soul charge, or sanctum, and if I didn’t he would just be sure I had no follow up play. This ensured me that if he were to have an out, decree, or whatever, he would end up popping the traps that were already set. I set 2 armors and pass. He end phase flips decree. He starts playing draw cards, and then I maxx “c” on the first special which I believe is soul charge. He makes Heliopolis and blows up the 2 armors and macro. I draw compulsory for turn I believe. At this point I have 3 sets. I don’t want to clog my backrow because then he could just let 5 stay set and win. I can only set 1 and at this point have to decide if I want to set the third sanctum, or the compulsory. I opted to set the compulsory, because I was sure he would think that if anything were a sanctum it would be the newest set. He had to detach to make a dragon live, so I knew something would get destroyed. I pass turn and surely enough he destroys the new set. This kind of upset me for a minute because I just thought way too much, and came to conclusions he would never come to.
Round 5 (Alex Medina)– Alex is running Sylvans. I have hardly any experience playing against this deck. I know that it is supposed to be a hard match up for Geargia though, and so I am expecting back to back losses. He doesn’t open any combo, and I have armor traps both games. There is one point where he sees my warning, and doesn’t make a felgrand to play around it. The next turn I am able to 101 one of the trees, and pop the other that has miracle fertilizer on it with dire wolf, and swing over the princess. This was game one, and he was maining breakthrough skill, and that made my wiretap useful as well. The very next turn he draws a blaster, and is able to pop my warning. He also has soul charge, and when he uses it, I used bottomless traphole to banish all of the important targets. Although I thought the match would be difficult, I end up luckily pulling out a 2-0 win. He was probably the nicest guy I played all weekend, figured that is worth adding in here as well.
Round 6 – I play against lightsworn. Game 1 he summons Jain turn 1, along with setting a backrow. He mills a wolf and puts it in defense mode. If I remember correctly I summon arsenal and accelerator, swing over both, and then get geargiano, use its effect to get back arsenal, and make rhapsody to banish both. I set prison and something else and end. He needle bug nests for 5 and hits things, I don’t remember too well. I draw soul charge into gigant and just win the game the next turn. I lose game 2 to too many rainbow kuriboh. Game 3 I open arsenal accelerator again (yes I drew really well again) I add cycle reader, and just recycle it every turn until he finally just losses because he can’t play.
Round 7(Brandon Ball) – This one gets really complicated. There is a feature match so I will not go too in depth on the match. The crazy part is, that not only are we friends, but we have played at least 3 times in the past in premiere events. All three matches we have played, he was piloting geargia, and he would be again this time. We get deck checked, and they come back to tell me that I forgot to decide deck from the last match. Once again, this feeling of uncertainty overpowers my usual confident attitude. I have never played a mirror match before, and he is probably the worst person to be taking my first shot at it with. The game loss could not have come at any worse time. My opening hand game 1 had a moraltach and geargiano in it, and at that point I lost all hope. Somehow I end up pulling out another 2-0 win, but watch the feature match to find out how!
Round 8 (Kevin Klein) – He is playing H.A.T. I think this is pretty much going to be easy because it is the match up that we prepared for the most. Our game 1 ends up going back and forth, and he is able to stall on hands for a really long game 1. We reach about 3 minutes left on the clock and he plays a soul charge for 2 level 5s and a myrmeleo. He destroys my backrow and can just make an unbeatable field at this point. I can’t scoop because we don’t have enough time to start another game, so I end up just taking the second loss.
Round 9 (Ned Salkovitch) – Feature match for the third time this weekend, and it sets in that I must have been playing against some pretty decent players throughout the day to be getting this many features. You can watch this match on youtube for the play by play. The only real important thing that happens in this match, is him having wiretap, and malevolent catastrophe set on the first turn I attack, I got blown out very quickly that game, but end up pulling out the match in game 3.
Round 10 (Pierce Crawley) – First round of day 2 and I am paired up against one of my friends. He is playing infernity, and we have already been joking back and forth all weekend about who’s deck is better. I don’t remember who won the die roll, but regardless, within a few turns he trap stun and combos me. This was the worst way to start off a day where I know I won’t top even at x-3 because my tie breakers are pretty bad. The next game I open trap cards, and he doesn’t trap stun. I end up winning that game somehow. Game three is the only game that really mattered. He opens a combo, and I open maxx “c”. This is the first time I wished that there was a second needle ceiling in my deck. I draw like 12 cards, and the very last one is a needle ceiling. I get really confident at this point, and when I play it on his turn, it is pretty much a total blow out. I felt bad, but he ended up topping any way at x-3, where I wouldn’t have, so it worked out the best it could have.
Round 11 – I played against another H.A.T. player. His tie breakers were amazing, and I was pretty sure he had no way not to top. I on the other hand, had to win to ensure the top. The match was very back and forth the entire time. The only thing that really stuck out from me this match was at the end of game 3. I have a dimensional prison that has been set nearly the entire game, and I have one accelerator in hand. I top deck a machine to make Gigant, but opted to put it in defense mode. I set my dead in hand soul charge. He flips call in end phase, targeting the new set, and at this point I am one hundred percent sure that he has a read on traptrix traphole nightmare. On his turn, he has to decide whether to exciton, swing over gigant and then use the effect to blow up my field, or use daigusto phoenix, swing over, and then use the effect. He has the monster in hand to make the rank four, and actually goes for the daigusto, attempts to attack over my gigant, and the dimensional prison seals the game.
Top 32 (Eaton Gao) –This match was on livesteam you can go to twitch to watch it.
Top 16 – My opponent is the “fire king guy” everyone is talking about. I have never met him, or seen him before, but I do know that it seems like a very silly match up for geargia. This was the first time I wished I could go back to firefist days, and pop my own bears, to keep onslaught dead. Gears play so much differently, and have to keep a monster on the field to get anywhere in the match. Game one I set armor and bottomless and pass. He draws, plays tenki, gets a bear, and summons it. I respond with bottomless, and he activates a lance to keep it from dying. I figure its top 32 at this point and that nothing I do will help me win this game at this point, but I go ahead and try anyway. I simply state, “800 attack right?” and he responds with, “Yea attack for 800.” I stare blankly for a minute, and then flip my armor and get my search. He hits himself in the head and gets all upset with his self. He pops the armor after I get my search, and sets his spell and trap cards. I won’t go into any more details on game 1, I end up losing it even after this huge swing of momentum in my favor. Game 2 I end up winning without any real fight, I make standard plays and he draws subpar. Game 3 is where things get pretty unbelievable. I saw his deck list and knew he was playing fairy wind, so after he sets three, I don’t play the dimensional fissure I have in my opening hand. He has myrmeleo, with a bottomless set and then 3 other unknowns. I also have a d.d. crow in hand, which helps make the decision on holding the dimensional fissure. When I draw for turn, I draw an mst off the top of the deck.
Top 8 (Roman Weldon) – At this point in the tournament, I could not have been more happy to play against a H.A.T. deck. When they hand me his deck list, I chuckled and made a comment about how I remember playing something really similar at nationals. He laughed and told me that he actually just tweaked the deck that Mike Steinman topped with at the WCQ. I feel really confident because this is the deck that we built our deck to beat. This is another feature match, where I don’t have to get into too many details. He basically draws every out he needs, and I lose with no opportunity to even try. I do misplay at one point and don’t make a 101 a turn earlier, and I realized it just a little too late. I still would have lost either way to his soul charge he plays, but a misplay is a misplay. I get knocked out of the tournament by my easiest match up, and it was probably my least favorite way to be beaten in any tournament.