What's up guys? This is the last article I'm going to be able to write before I leave for Japan and this week I'm going to talk about my experience in Kansas City 2 weekends ago. Collector's Cache hosted a 1k tournament using the Worlds banlist and rules (60 minute rounds) to honor and help Tyler Tabman and myself test and help us understand the worlds meta. 1st place would get $500 in store credit, and the rest split between 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Tyler and I knew this tournament wouldn't be a very good representation of the meta, since everyone except ourselves and our friends wouldn't have the time to test as extensively as us. We also figured people just wouldn't care, and yolo the tournament with decks like Final Countdown, Six Samurai and Dark World. Decks that look good on the surface but all terrible picks, had the people that ran them would've realized if they had actually tested. Although, we found this out through early testing so we figured other people would as well and we decided to play Gravekeeper's at the event.
My fiance's sister lives in KC and she wanted to visit her, so I take her along and we both leave for Cedar Rapids on Friday and meet up with Ben Wagner and Dalton Bousman. Ben tells me that he's playing Dragons and Dalton's obsessed about the Six Samurai matchup. I try to convince him that he doesn't have to worry about it too much but he still insisted on dedicating 8 side slots to it. We decide to just chill and have a good time and just leave for KC in the morning. Dalton falls asleep early while Ben and I stay up til around 4. We get up and leave on time and get to Tyler's at around 5.. while he's just getting up. We go grab some food with him, then come back and play ping pong, watch Law and Order and play 06 Apprentice Monarch format. Pretty good way to test for the tournament, huh? 9 o'clock rolls around and Tyler suggests Applebee's since their wings are half off. Yolo! We meet up with Deaton, Jesse, and a whole bunch of other people and head home with Deaton.
When we get there Dalton and I try an idea we had been talking about in the car - Flamvell. The ability to turn Firedog and Rekindling into Stardust Dragon and Steelswarm Roach was very appealing since that is an incredible lock in the worlds format. We put it together and realize it isn't as good as we thought so we quickly resort back to GK. Dalton, Jesse and myself theory everything out and come up with a pretty solid build. All of our builds differed, but this is what I played:
3 Gravekeeper's Commandant
3 Gravekeeper's Spy
3 Gravekeeper's Recruiter
2 Gravekeeper's Descendant
1 Gravekeeper's Guard
2 Malefic Stardust Dragon
3 Pot of Duality
2 Gravekeeper's Stele
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
3 Fiendish Chain
2 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Solemn Warning
2 Torrential Tribute
2 Starlight Road
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Mirror Force
1 Dimensional Prison
3 Effect Veiler
3 Puppet Plant
2 Caius the Shadow Monarch
2 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
2 Macro Cosmos
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Heavy Storm
The Puppet Plant/Caius sideboard was a last minute thing after we arrived and saw the amount of Six Samurai, Hero and Gk being played. Dalton and I run around looking for them, while Tyler tries to cut his deck down from 44 cards! We get announced as the bounty duelists and the tournament begins.
Round 1 - Random 60 card deck
I wish I could tell you what happened or even some of the cards I saw him play, but I honestly can't remember. I remember Poison Mummy, Solar Flare Dragon, and Backfire. Yeahhhhhh.
Round 2 - Chaos Dragons (Ryan Newburn)
We've had a long history together, he was part of the first team I joined and the person I had to beat on the bubble of the first regional I topped in 06 when I was 12! Since then we've played in Regionals and Nationals, and our score was 4-3 in matches in my favor.
Game 1 - I push through 2 Veilers on my Spies and gain early control. He's checking his graveyard and doing math in his head a lot so I drop a Roach but unfortunately he has his second Card Trooper. Next turn I'm able to make another Roach but I didn't have a second in my extra deck so I make a Zenmaister play instead and he tops Typhoon and drops his hand. I'm able to hold on for 5 or 6 more turns but eventually get burned out.
Game 2 - He gets off some early mills and I draw a clunky hand but I try to make it work but a Decree/Heavy Storm combo from my opponent seals the match.
Round 3 - Gravekeepers
Game 1 - I open an amazing hand of Spy, Recruiter, Starlight Road, Solemn Warning, Torrential Tribute, and Gravekeeper's Stele. He draws nothing to stop any of it and my Descendant destroys way too many cards for him to mount a comeback.
Game 2 - We're playing the grind game, but I shift tempo in my favor by using Puppet Plant on his Descendant, flipping Recruiter to pop his Bottomless then tributing it for Caius to remove his face-down Gravekeeper's Spy.
Round 4 - Six Samurai
Game 1 - I don't really remember this but he beats me with Shi En.
Game 2 - He yolos into my 1 backrow and Necrovalley with Kizan, Grandmaster and my Descendant that he stole with Puppet Plant into my Mirror Force and I top Recruiter and am able to comeback and win.
Game 3 - He summons a Barkion turn 1, I activate Valley and set 3. He summons Kageki and Enishi into Torrential and thinks he can negate with Barkion with Necrovalley up but alas he can't and I quickly win that game.
Round 5 - Bubble Beat
Game 1 - This is actually quite a long game since we both open with very trap heavy hands. I win with 3 cards left in my deck.
Game 2 - He can't stop me from beating him down with 2k ATK Gravekeeper's and ends up scooping with doubles of cards like Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, Prohibition, and Miracle Fusion to my hand of Puppet Plants and Steles.
Round 6 - Ninja Hieratic
Game 1 - He opens with Hanzo and 3 backrows. I activate Valley, set Recruiter and set 2 backrows. He swings into it then flips Ninjitsu Art and I search another Recruiter while he summons Tefnuit. In main phase 2 he brings out Su and I Torrential and take the game a couple turns later with Recruiter and Descendant.
Game 2 - He opens Hanzo again AND has double Royal Decree. I get a couple turns to try to draw a 2nd MST but it doesn't come and he goes off into all of my useless traps.
Game 3 - We're at a standstill; I'm walling with Recruiter and he has double Shadow-Mirror up, with what I suspect is a Decree face-down. I draw Heavy Storm, and I summon a Recruiter and labor over XYZ summoning for quite a while before sighing and just passing. He swings his Hanzo into my Dimensional Prison and next turn I slam the Heavy Storm down and the set was in fact a Decree. I'm able to control the game from there, using an MST to get rid of another Decree and using my traps to keep his board in check.
Round 7 - Gravekeeper (Jesse Choate)
We're both making it in so the match doesn't matter but we play it out anyways just to see.
Game 1 - We grind the entire game and eventually he's at 2100 and has Utopia and a s/t to my Gem-Knight Pearl and other cards. I flip Spy into his Warning, then swing over Utopia and flip Fiendish Chain to deal the last 100 damage I needed to win.
Game 2 - Another long grind but he's able to get me this time. I draw Stele late, might've been able to make a comeback if I had drawn it a couple turns earlier but even then who knows.
Game 3 - I draw Puppet but he Compulses his Descendant back to his hand before I can do any neat tricks with it. In the end I win by using Photon Papilloperative to break his Spy wall and swing through for game.
Ben brings me some delicious Chicken Taquitos which was my first meal of the day! Dalton talks to me about who's going to make Top8 and how everything is going to play out and Top8 was:
2 Chaos Dragons
1 Six Samurai
I play Paul Cooper with his Hieratic deck in a rematch from Top64 at the WCQ a month ago, we get pulled aside for a feature match and they finally let us start.
Game 1 - He goes off and I'm able to hold him off a little with traps. At the end of it he has a REDMD that I Fiendish Chain'd, and next turn I'm stuck staring at 2 Malefic Stardust Dragons and 2 Descendants in my hand. I summon one to protect my Valley and set Descendant. He tops MST and uses it on Chain, then swings over the Descendant. Next turn I top Stele and set the other Descendant and this time he swings at Malefic Stardust! Next turn I top nothing and summon my other Malefic Stardust and he tops Heavy Storm. He swings over Malefic Stardust, then uses Heavy in main phase 2. Then, for some reason uses his REDMD to summon his in-hand Nebthet. He passes and I top Compulsory. I Stele back Descendant and Commandant, discard to get Necrovalley then crash Descendant into Nebthet. I set Compulsory and use it on his Red-Eyes next turn. I'm able to comeback and win by using Prison on his Birdman + Lance combo trying to swing through my 1700 Spy for game
Game 2 - He sets 2 s/ts and I set Warning and Typhoon. He end phase Decrees. Next turn I MST, and he flips over another before summoning CardCar D and passing. I draw Pot and use it to grab Fossil Dyna. I then proceed to summon it and swing through set Veilers until his life reaches 0. He had 1 Birdman and 1 Dark Hole as outs to Dyna in his entire deck, he wasn't able to draw either of them and that was that!
Ben, Jessie, Newburn and myself all make Top4 and we decide to split 250 each. Tyler and I talk and we decide that Gk definitely isn't the deck to play at worlds. The 1k wasn't a fair representation of how worlds would be at all and the fact that he didn't even top and that I might not have if my opponent's hadn't made all the mistakes they had. The deck is really fragile and won't survive a meta of AHL Heroes, Hieratics, and Inzektors .. Not to mention the occasional Six Samurai, Dark World, or Final Countdown deck that someone is bound to play at worlds for some reason none of us can understand. As of right now, we do have an idea of what we're going to play but the 12 hour airplane ride together with Adrian Sean Shakir is going to help a bunch! We're all really excited for worlds and we'll be letting everyone know how we're doing with live updates on the ARG facebook page so go like that if you haven't already! The next time you guys read an article from me will be after worlds, and hopefully it'll be a time where the USA has a title under its belt. Until next time!