Chicago, Chicago, Chicago... or should I say Rosemont where the event actually occurred.
I’ve never actually been to Illinois until this past weekend and boy have I been missing out. It might have been the Anime Con going on next door, but the Rosemont area was a fantastic time I will never forget. My weekend began like most of these trips do, heading out to the airport with my good friend Paul Clarke. We were both flying out of Boston Friday morning, but on two entirely different airlines.
Once I got through security I found myself the perfect able to sit and theorize about Yu-Gi-Oh until it was time to depart. Like most people the new priority ruling change really threw a wrench into my preparation for this event. The live stream I conducted on Thursday night gave me an opportunity to not only speak with viewers, but begin to circulate my opinion on how the format would progress. As I sat there fingering through the Inzektor deck I had built something began to dawn on me.
Could Dino-Rabbit have actually improved with the ruling change? Quite a dramatic conclusion to make when it seems as though the entire dueling community has assumed the deck to have taken a major hit but this is what I began to think about. Of course having your Rescue Rabbit be hammered by Effect Veiler is detrimental to winning the game, but how often was that going to occur in a vacuum? Are you never going to be able to protect Rescue Rabbit, and if you are able to – what happens? If Rescue Rabbit is Effect Veilered on the first turn, you are one turn of protection away from being able to use Rescue Rabbit on turn two and save your normal summon.
And if the opponent uses Effect Veiler the moment Rescue Rabbit hits the table, what does that mean for his best friend – Tour Guide from the Underworld? It means the likelihood o resolving Tour Guide’s effect untouched by Effect Veiler dramatically increases – unless of course the opponent opened multiple copies but even then they would be down in card advantage.
So not only would Rescue Rabbit into Evolzar Laggia turn into an inherent “plus one” in card advantage. If you could protect Rescue Rabbit for that one turn he would net you the Effect Veiler the opponent wasted and Laggia’s negation. Then on top of that Tour Guide would become more likely to follow and resolve the second Rescue Rabbit effect. Sounds brutal in theory, but could it be correct?
Even though I was beginning to have these thoughts about Dino-Rabbit I put together a version of Dark World for the plane ride since quite frankly, it is the best deck to solitaire!
Arriving in Chicago brought me to the Double Tree Hotel across the street where I was able to meet up with members of Alter Reality Games such as Jeff Jones, Billy Brake – and of course Brad/Jim. The team was the centerpiece of the entire weekend and I am so thankful to have been able to spend my time with everyone!
Once the convention center opened up I began to run into a wide array of friends who I see on the YCS circuit. I am not going to try and name you all but I know, you know, who you are! After playtesting Dark World with Chris Hentz and Bobby Barone for a few matches I was beginning to really enjoy playing the deck! It really is a fun deck to play, but practically speaking I knew there was no way I was going to register it in the morning.
After a fantastic meal at Giodano’s Pizzeria everyone from ARG found themselves playtesting in the hotel. Frazier and Pat Hoban had been fairly adamant towards the end of Friday night that they were going to play Rescue Rabbit. Billy had once been on the fence about Dragons but was seemingly switching toward Inzektors. Tech cards like Safe Zone and Messenger of Peace differentiated his build from that of most of the field and the option of running Inzektors was definitely there since I knew about those cards. Jeff was at an iPad tournament where he was putting to test a similar Inzektor build to what Billy was considering running.
After toying around a little more that night with Dark Worlds (and still winning!) I decided it was time to hang up the deck and start building Dino-Rabbit. Frazier and I worked together and came up with this bad boy. We used the same main deck, though our respective side decks did differ:
3 Rescue Rabbit
3 Tour Guide from the Underworld
3 Jurrac Guiba
2 Spirit Reaper
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
3 Forbidden Lance
2 Smashing Ground
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm
2 Macro Cosmos
2 Dimensional Prison
2 Solemn Warning
2 Torrential Tribute
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Solemn Judgment
1 Starlight Road
3 Snowman Eater
2 Effect Veiler
2 Doomcalibar Knight
1 Kinetic Solider
2 Forbidden Chalice
1 Mirror Force
1 Macro Cosmos
1 Dimensional Prison
1 Dust Tornado
1 Shadow Imprisoning Mirror
We decided that the format had progressed in such a manner that it was safe to maindeck two copies of Macro Cosmos. The ability to shut down Heroes, Inzektors and Dragons was well worth the risk of playing against Dino-Rabbit. We also decided to not play any copies of Effect Veiler in the main deck because we expected a high portion of the field of be playing rogue decks where they would be relatively dead – plus we had Macro Cosmos. They were obviously strong against Inzektors but our matchup was already strong against that deck.
At one point we had two copies of Doomcalibar Knight in the maindeck but switched them out for Spirit Reaper once we realized we were going to play so many monster removal effects. The final questionable decision was to not run Pot of Avarice and honestly… I never missed it.
So Saturday rolled around and the event began!
Round 1: All Out Wind-Up Loop (Instant Fusion/Monster Slots/etc.)
Game 1: We both open with subpar hands and begin to go into a grind game. I resolved Torrential Tribute on one of his Wind-Up Zenmaitys but ended up getting hit by a Forbidden Lance later in the game when he summons a second one. I do eventually take control of the game with Sabersaurus when he has two cards in hand (which I was almost 100% positive were Effect Veilers). After Sabersaurus ran over the first copy, he drew Pot of Avarice and took the game from there.
Game 2: I am able to withstand the combo with copies of Effect Veiler and take over with Jurrac Guiba.
Game 3: He loops my hand for four cards on the first turn and I am unable to come back.
Down round one. Well if anyone knows me in person they know how immediate my thinking is at these events. The only round that matters is the next one, and when you lose a lifeline this early in the event that is the only way you can think. I lost round one at Toronto when my YCS topping streak began so I have been in this position before. Let’s do it.
Round 2: Hero
Game 1: I win because I resolved an early copy of Rescue Rabbit
Game 2: I draw a clutch Kinetic Solider in my opening hand and am able to beat him down enough to take the game.
Round 3: Inzektors
Game 1: He Pot of Dualities for a copy of Effect Veiler on the first turn and I end up having to win by grinding out normal monsters and Jurrac Guibas. I had been holding off on a Rescue Rabbit the majority of the early stages of the game and am finally able to summon it once I had a Dolkka on the field.
Game 2: I shut him out with Macro Cosmos and take the game swiftly.
Round 4: Tele-DAD
Game 1: I set up a board with Laggia and Starlight Road and take the game before he is able to get much going.
Game 2: He sticks Scrap Dragon later in the game when we had gotten into a grind out game. I whiff on a few draw phases hoping to find an out and he ends up winning the game.
Game 3: I hold off on using a Laggia negation through a few difficult moments and am able to avoid him dropping his in hand Dark Armed Dragon once I took control of the game.
Round 5: Inzektors
Game 1: My opponent received a game loss because his last round opponent returned a copy of Inzektor Centipede to the judges after the round ended. The judge came over after we both had a turn so we knew what each other was playing.
Game 2: I open with Rescue Rabbit and Tour Guide from the Underworld and he is without a hand trap to save him.
This round ended so early I was able to head over to my hotel! I took a 20 minute shower, shaved, changed my shirt and even got to eat my left over Giodano’s! Intermission!
I returned to the event refreshed and ready for the long haul!
Round 6: Dino-Rabbit
Game 1: I was playing against my friend Dan Rose. I began the first turn with a set Mystical Space Typhoon and Kabazauls with a hand that consisted of four normal monsters. I was hoping he would respect the set monster and I would be able to stick an Evolzar on the second turn but his Jurrac Guiba followed by Rescue Rabbit changed that!
Game 2: So I began the game with Rescue Rabbit into Evolzer Laggia with a set Solemn Warning and Mystical Space Typhoon. He plays Heavy Storm to which I negate with Laggia and he sets three backrows before playing Dimensional Fissure (!). At this moment I have a copy of Effect Veiler in my hand but with Solemn Warning I feel safe from any significant monster summons because I can simply space the Fissure. I draw a copy of Mirror Force for my turn. I push with Laggia, set the Mirror Force and end. He draws and passes. I again attack with Laggia and pass back. On his turn he flips his backrow Mystical Space Typhoon targeting my Solemn Warning. I elect to activate my own on his Dimensional Fissure so I can make my Effect Veiler live. He then flips Judgment of Anubus discarding another copy of Dimensional Fissure! He ends up destroying my Laggia! He followed it up by summoning Rescue Rabbit!
Rescue Rabbit got him two copies of Kabazauls. At this point I still had Mirror Force set so I was hoping he would attack with them as opposed to going into Laggia. And I thought things had gone my way as he rammed them both into Mirror Force and ended. For my turn I summoned Sabersaberus and attacked him down to 1300.
On his turn he flipped Return from the Different Dimension bringing back two Kabazauls and Rescue Rabbit! Rabbit turned into 2 Sabersaurus and next thing I knew he had Number 39: Utopia and then Number 39C: Utopia Ray on the board! My Sabersaurus was drained down to 0 and I had lost the game.
Round 7: Hero
Game 1: I open with a copy of Rescue Rabbit with Mystical Space Typhoon set. He ends up using a Pot of Duality and picks a copy of Super Polymerization. He goes to use it on his turn but I remind him he cannot due to Duality. He then decides to visible set the Super Polymerization and unfortunately for him I use Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy it. I take the game shortly after.
Game 2: We go into an elongated grind game where we trade resources such as Hero Blast and Dimensional Prison. I am able to withstand the onslaught and found myself on top at the end.
Round 8: Wind-Up
Game 1: He loses early to a copy of Jurrac Guiba.
Game 2: I try to summon Rescue Rabbit on the second turn but he blasts it with Effect Veiler. He then attacks over it with Wind-Up Hunter and passes with no backrows. I had already had Guiba in my hand, but for my turn I drew Monster Reborn!
Round 9: Hero
Game 1: I lock him out on the first turn with Macro Cosmos and he eventually loses all three copies of Neos Alius to the removed from play pile!
Game 2: I open with Rescue Rabbit, Tour Guide from the Underworld and Heavy Storm. Gotta open it once right?
Heading into Sunday I had never lost on the bubble. Let’s keep the streak alive.
Round 10: Dino Rabbit
Game 1: He plays a copy of Dimensional Fissure in the early stages of the game shutting off Effect Veiler for both players (good thing I don’t run it!). Problem was I had Sangan set when he played it! I was able to Bottomless Trap Hole his Rescue Rabbited Kabazauls on that turn. For my turn I drew Starlight Road and began to position myself to resolve a huge Starlight Road. After a few turns of trading resources I pinpoint his backrow as Bottomless Trap Hole and am able to intentionally drop my Rescue Rabbit into Bottomless Trap Hole with Road set! I take the game shortly after.
Game 2: I activate Starlight Road on his Heavy Storm in this game but he is able to use Mystical Space Typhoon to stop the Stardust Dragon from hitting the table. This was yet another grind game and but I am able to use a Monster Reborn on Rescue Rabbit several turns into the game to make Number 39: Utopia and attack over his Laggia.
Round 11: Inzektors
Game 1: Unfortunately I have to play my friend Scott in this round. Fortunately for me though I opened with first game with Laggia and Macro Cosmos! On the second turn I drew into Starlight Road and suddenly began to feel quite protected. After he baited out Laggia’s negation he used Heavy Storm but was met with Starlight Road.
Game 2: He shuts me off with Royal Decree and is able to use Inzektor combos to OTK me.
Game 3: I open with a hand of Kabazauls, Kabazauls, Macro Cosmos, Macro Cosmos, Mystical Space Typhoon and Doomcalibar Knight. So this is the hand that is going to determine if I keep the streak alive? Let’s do it.
I summon the Knight and set the Macro Cosmos. On his turn he summons Centipede and activates Giga-Mantis’ effect. I tribute the Knight, but also flip Cosmos so Giga-Mantis gets removed from play. So at this point I am able to get over Centipede with Kabazauls but he slams down Messenger of Peace the following turn. We go into a grind game until I am comfortable enough to destroy the Messenger with Mystical Space Typhoon and continue our grind game. He eventually is able to resolve a Heavy Storm and a direct attack with Spirit Reaper. I had an in hand Sangan and drew Smashing Ground for the turn. Once I smash the Reaper Sangan starts to beat him down. He ends up having to equip Hornet with Inzektor Sword and pass but I had been holding onto a Dark Hole that netted me a Rescue Rabbit and a handshake.
Six straight YCS Tops!
But that wasn’t the goal heading into the weekend. The goal was to walk away with the championship.
Top 32: Aaron Noel
Game 1: He wins the di-roll and although he doesn’t open with Rescue Rabbit my opening hand with 2 Kabazauls and Sabersaurus is unable to grind out a victory. He eventually hits a Rescue Rabbit followed by Tour Guide for the game.
Game 2: We fire Effect Veilers back and forth at one another. Neither player is able to resolve Rescue Rabbit due to a collection of Veilers so we proceed to a grind game in which I am able to win.
Game 3: He begins the game with Rescue Rabbit and a set backrow.
I open with Dimensional Prison, Solemn Judgment, Solemn Warning, Dark Hole, Kabazauls and Tour Guide from the Underworld. I decide to set my three trap cards and the Kabazauls because he had respected Snowman Eater the entire second game. This way I will either stall the game out, bait out a possible Raigeki Break which I saw game two, or hammer him with Dimensional Prison before using Dark Hole on Laggia.
On his second turn he ends up summoning the second copy of Rescue Rabbit (so in three games 3’s in the Top 32 against Rabbit my opponents have opened a total of 5 Rescue Rabbits… argh). Anyway, I allow him to go into Dolkka without flipping Solemn Warning because the way I looked at it. I would be again to bait out Laggia with Dimensional Prison and then take the game over with Dark Hole and Tour Guide. Saving both Solemns for the second half of the game. Things end up working perfectly and I am able to bait out Laggia’s negation and resolve a second turn Dark Hole! I drew Sangan for the turn and I wish I had drawn something else to be honest. The Sangan gave me the idea of playing around Effect Veiler and by potentially netting me a monster he would Effect Veiler first. So I hammered in with Sangan and passed. He ran over the Sangan with Sabersaurus on the following turn and I decided to select Snowman Eater because I figured on the next turn he would refrain from attacking and on my next turn if he had Effect Veiler he would use it when I flip summoned Snowman Eater. Then I would drop the Tour Guide and take the game over.
Things work out perfectly. I set Snowman Eater and pass back.
He draws and passes back himself.
So I flip Snowman Eater and Tour Guide from the Underworld! No Effect Veiler in the sight! I am able to establish a field of Leviair the Sea Dragon, Evolzar Laggia and Tour Guide from the Underworld with both Solemn Jugdment and Solemn Warning set! Once I attack I am forced to negate his one set backrow Mirror Force with Laggia. He then dropped Gorz the Emissary of Darkness– which is fine I had the copy of Solemn Warning. So after all the dust was settled I past to him with Solemn Judgment set. I should have this game right?
He draws to only four cards in hand.
And the game was over just like this.
Another trip to the Top 32 and instead of just being blown out by double Rabbit in game three I actually came back to take a dominating position… Only to be triumphed by the trinity of power spells in the game.
My mind immediately shifted to Philadelphia.
So I was able to head to O’Hare airport that night with Billy Brake. Congratulations to him for breaking out of his little (Wind-Up) slump!
As a whole I absolutely loved Chicago. It was awesome seeing all the fans of ARG and getting to meet anyone who came up to me over the weekend. It was also great getting to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a long time like Sean Montague, Tony P, Matt Hoey, Bobby Barone and so on. I hope to see everyone at Philly and Nationals over the summer!
And special thanks for Alter Reality Games for everyone they did to make this weekend possible!