The Prologue: The Journey From Wisconsin to Kentucky
The three of us drove off into the night praying for a safe trip to Kentucky. Mike, Ben, and I were on our way to the ARG Metro Series in Kentucky! It was one of those nights where everything was dark except for the illumination provided by your car’s headlights and your phone’s screen. Exhausted from a very bad day, I just wanted to avoid any of the snow that was impending and get to Louisville safe and sound. The car’s wheels came to an abrupt stop as we found ourselves in Illinois outside of our friend Jordan Palmer’s house. My fingers raced across the screen of my phone to send Jordan a message indicating that we were outside his house. With no immediate reply I called him and he was outside within the next few minutes bearing gifts. Jordan brought a case of water and 32 strawberry Poptarts. Needless to say things were looking up. The car’s engine purred like a cat whose head was being vigorously stroked by a loving owner as the car took off into the night.
I struggled to keep my eye lids open and drifted off to sleep as I listened to some mainstream radio stations and tried to get comfortable in the back seat of the car. As we reached the edge of Illinois tiny flakes of snow began to fall from the grey desolate sky. Since we were all from the Mid-West we were quite accustomed to snow, unfortunately the other drivers were not. Our car’s speed dropped from 80mph to 40mph and fell even more the closer we got to Kentucky. The wheels of the car tried to resist the pull of the icy roads but instead we drifted side to side until the car was brought back under control. My eyes opened for a split second and saw the time on the clock, 9:10am. With an hour to go and registration closing at 10am our hopes of playing degraded. I texted Jeff wondering if there was some way we could push the tournament back and he had informed me ARG was giving the players more time to get there and pushed registration back.
With smiles on our faces we rapidly approached Louisville hoping to not be late to the event. The wheels of the car zipped through the slush and water and pulled into a parking garage downtown. Knowing our time was limited I leaped from the car as if it was going to explode and took off towards what I presumed to be the convention center! As my right foot penetrated the barrier between the garage and the outside I felt my slipper sink into a bank of snow. Water filled my shoe and it was at this very moment I realized I forgot to change my shoes before leaving home. I was wearing memory foam slippers on the snow-covered sidewalks of Louisville! Needless to say I was quite irritated and just wanted to find the convention center. I turned around and bumped into my love Jeff Jones! We both came in separate vehicles, which meant meeting up like this was awesome. Despite our happiness to see each other we still did not know where the convention center was located. Quickly walking through the slippery sidewalks we finally found the building where the event was being held. As I crossed the street I stepped into a huge snow pile, which made me cringe because now my feet were completely soaked in water. I jumped out of the pile of snow, slipped, and fell on the sidewalk. Irritated I got up and kept pacing towards the convention center. Once we got inside we asked an elderly female employee where the event was being held. She told us one thing, and then immediately told us she was wrong as soon as we took off in the direction she told us! Jeff and I exchanged a look where we both thought “women, who needs em!”
Finally finding the event room we all quickly found registration slips, paid our $25 and entered the event. As I reached for my deckbox to begin writing my deck list I noticed that my hands were quite dirty from my fall earlier that day. I went into the bathroom, took the Browns to the Super Bowl, and then washed my hands. I went up to the door and noticed it didn’t open from the inside. “Oh great,” I thought as I presumed I was locked in this bathroom. I turned away from the door, it opened abruptly as a slim gentleman entered and I squeezed past him wondering how he was going to get out of the bathroom. My feet raced across the awkwardly colored convention center carpet as I re-entered the event room. I began writing my deck list as fast as I could, and felt my heart sink when I heard, “Round One Pairings are up!” Zak Bishop ensured me I could turn my deck list in round two because I was late and there would be no issues. There were only a few loose ends to tie up and that was finding some cards I needed to play! I was missing fire and ice hands, an Exciton Knight, Shared Rides, and a Cairngorgon. I’d like to thank my friends Ben Lodise and Charlie Shand for lending me the majority of these cards. I certainly saved the best for last when I thank ARG for lending me cards as well. Finally feeling at peace I sat down and began my 7 round run at ARG Metro Series Louisville!
Going to War: My Tournament Experience
Round 1: Nekroz; Tony Meier
Tony and I had become friends at the Columbus regional last weekend so naturally it was great to see a friendly face on the other end of the table! Before the match he told me he had finally gotten all of his Nekroz cards and worked hard at learning the deck throughout the week. Feeling confident against the mirror match I was more than excited to play this round! After losing the dice roll I had to go first. I looked at my hand and found that it was very suboptimal. I had no way to make a play and get all of my cards off the field to play around Trishula. I used Brionac’s effect to search my deck for a Valkyrus, and then used Nekroz Unicore’s effect to retrieve the Brionac back from my graveyard. I didn’t want to have to banish the Brionac from my graveyard if Tony made a huge push on his turn, which is why I used the Unicore to add the Brionac back. This also plays around a potential Rhapsody in Berserk play, which could prove to be quite detrimental. Tony drew for turn and made a play quite similar to mine and passed. I drew again and still unhappy with my hand I passed. Tony drew and finally made a play using Kaleidomirror to summon a Unicore from his hand sending a Herald of Arc Light to the graveyard. He then summoned a Valkyrus and attacked for 5200, I had no choice but to use my Valkyrus in hand because taking that much damage in the mirror is unacceptable. Had I taken the damage I would have gave Tony a chance to set up an OTK with Gungnir, which can be used to play around Valkyrus! Similar to the Dragon Ruler mirror match, damage is extremely important in the Nekroz mirror. Tony ended his turn by using Valkyrus’s effect to tribute his Unicore and Valkyrus to draw two new cards. I drew for turn, normal summoned Manju to search my deck for Kaleidomirror. I then used Brionac’s effect to search for a Valkyrus. I activated my Kaleidomirror sending Dragon Master Knight to the graveyard to summon my Valkyrus and Unicore to the field! I attacked Tony and he reluctantly used his Valkyrus to negate my attack. I then used my Manju and Unicore to overlay for a Lavalval Chain! I used his effect to stack an effect veiler on top of my deck. I tributed my Lavalval Chain and Valkyrus to draw two cards using Valkyrus’s effect and ended my turn (searching effect veiler OP). Tony drew, normal summoned a Manju and searched his deck for a Brionac. He then tried to banish his Kaleidomirror from the graveyard to search for another mirror but I reminded him that he couldn’t. Still new to the deck, Tony made a glaring mistake that cost him the game. Knowing his mistake he got frustrated and made a wasteful push to which I let through because he had no hand advantage. I drew for turn, took my free mirror search from the graveyard and went to work! I started off by using Nekroz Cycle to revive my Valkyrus from the graveyard using Shurit as a tribute. Shurit searched my deck for Trishula, which prompted the activation of my Nekroz Mirror. I banished Shurit from the graveyard to summon the devastating Nekroz Trishula who banished a mirror from Tony’s graveyard, the Valkyrus on his field and a card out of his hand. I then cleared his board and put his life points in a lethal zone. I tributed all the monsters off my board using Valkyrus’s effect, drew two cards and smiled as I saw a Valkyrus land in my hand. Tony drew, took his free mirror search and hesitantly ritual summoned a Valkyrus to the field leaving him with no cards in hand. He tried to attack for game, but I used the Valkyrus in my hand to save myself. I drew for turn and thought, “oh man this is cool!” I took my free mirror search and thought for a moment to ensure I wasn’t insane. After concluding that my analysis was correct, I ritual summoned a Trishula, which puzzled Tony. I then normal summoned effect veiler, and then synchro summoned Leo, Keeper of the Sacred Tree! Leo had enough attack points to swing over his Valkyrus and leave him with absolutely nothing! Tony drew and scooped game one.
With only 3 minutes remaining for game two we sided rapidly and Tony let me go first. I opened quite optimally and ended up with a Valkyrus in hand along with a Brionac for my next turn. Tony drew and made a push, but ran into my Valkyrus in hand. He tried to tribute his monsters off the field, but this time he met my effect veiler! On my turn it was time to go to work yet again! I took my free mirror search, and Trishula’d his field! I banished the Valkyrus on his field, a mirror from the graveyard and I hit his own Trishula in his hand! Feeling quite confident I summoned my Valkyrus as well and pushed for 5600. Knowing that Tony’s Trishula was gone I left my monsters on field to apply pressure for the remaining turn. Tony’s face gave away that his had was suboptimal and he would go on to lose shortly after.
Round Two: Ritual Beasts
I sat down finally feeling good after a long fought round one. This guy was extremely friendly and told me this was his first ARG event! Our match got underway and when it was revealed that he was playing ritual beasts I felt a bit confident but also nervous because I was not 100% sure how to play this match-up. He contact fused for Ritual Beast Cannahawk and began doing ignorant things with it that I presumed weren’t legal so I called a judge. The floor judge sided with me, but Zak Bishop told me that a lot of people have had disputes with Cannahawk’s ruling and that my opponent was making perfectly legal plays. I smiled and thought “how cool!” He set up a board and set two cards and passed his turn. I drew and activated Brionac’s effect, he responded with Macro Cosmos! Frustrated I grabbed a Unicore to ensure I would have Brionac for later turns. He took his next turn and passed. Slightly confused and thankful I drew my next card, which was Mystical Space Typhoon! I used it to destroy his Macro Cosmos and proceeded to Trishula his board putting him too far behind. He drew and scooped. Game two began quickly and he drew too many monsters. I was able to Trishula him and take control of game two very quickly, and won swiftly.
Round Three: Nekroz; Jordan Arnold Palmer
Jordan yelled across the venue informing me that we were going to play. I immediately thought, “Yes! Free win!” In all seriousness Jordan and I sat down, discussed our decks before the match, and were ready for a fun match between friends! Game one began rather slowly because both of us didn’t want to put cards on the field without a good follow-up play. Jordan broke the Silence of the Lambs and normal summoned a Manju, which searched him the missing combo piece he needed. He then used Kaleidomirror to ritual summon Valkyrus and Unicore to the field! He tried to push for damage but he met my in hand Valkyrus. Jordan then overlayed for Lavalval Chain and stacked Maxx “C” on top of his deck and used Valkyrus’s effect to tribute off his Lavalval Chain and Valkyrus. I drew for turn and cringed at the thought of playing into Maxx “C” so I passed. Turns passed, we both did nothing. I finally was able to make a play and mirrored Jordan’s previous action. I met his in hand Valkyrus, and then proceeded to stack an effect veiler with Lavalval Chain’s effect. Tributing the monsters off my field with Valkyrus I ended my turn. He drew and made another push but this time left his monsters on field. I was able to Trishula him and shortly after Jordan scooped game one because he didn’t want to go to time and felt he was too far behind on resources.
Jordan and I both agreed to side out the Djinn lock, which prompted me to side in my Vanity’s Emptinesses and Kycoos. Game two started off quite fast and grinded down to a very simple state. Jordan asked me if I had Emptiness down and I told him I wasn’t quite sure (I didn’t). “Just show me emptiness and I’ll scoop!” Jordan exclaimed! I didn’t have it set, but I did have book of moon. He hesitated and didn’t do much with his turn. I drew for turn and then summoned a Valkyrus and swung for 2900. I ended my turn by setting a Vanity’s Emptiness! Jordan drew and he once again told me he’d scoop if I had a Vanity’s Emptiness. I once again told him I didn’t have one. He played a Nekroz mirror. I sat there for a moment, contemplating if I wanted to even win round three. I decided that friendship was more important and let Jordan crush me. Totally kidding, I flipped Emptiness and crushed this kid’s dreams of ever being 3-0 at an ARG Metro Series in Louisville Kentucky on a cold snowy day in February.
Round Four: Nekroz
I knew my opponent was playing Nekroz because I saw him playing earlier that day. We shook each other’s hands and started the game! An awkward game one situation lead to me killing him on my third turn without him even playing one card. “Bad Hand?” I said, “Man you don’t even know!” He replied. We both agreed to side out the Djinn lock and got game two under way! He made me go first so I did the standard search Valkyrus and add Brionac back to hand play. He drew and wasn’t able to get going again. He pitched Brionac, searched for Valkyrus, and ended his turn. I drew and saw effect veiler. This meant I would be able to bait him into trying to Trishula me. I summoned Valkyrus and Unicore off of a Kaleidomirror and swung for 5200 to which he responded with Valkyrus (as expected)! He was finally able to fight back, but my effect veiler kept him in check and put him behind yet again! I drew a second effect veiler for turn and thought for a moment. I then realized I had game. I activated Kaleidomirror to summon my Unicore from hand sending Arc Light to the graveyard. I used Herald of Arc Light to search my deck for Brionac, and then overlayed both my Unicores for a Lavalval Chain. I used Lavalval Chain to stack a Kycoo on top of my deck and followed up with Valkyrus’s draw effect to effectively search for the Kycoo! I summoned the Kycoo and he conceded.
Round Five: Qliphort
Going into this match I was thankful Jeff and I didn’t have to play because he was also 4-0. I knew my opponent was playing Qliphort before the match started because I sat next to this guy last round. Game one started off very slow and I thought I was going to lose. The gamestate eventually developed into a scenario where he had two set backrows, a Saqlifice, a set up Pendulum Scale, no cards in hand, and a field of monsters. I looked at my hand and knew that I had to resolve Exciton Knight if I was going to win this match. I summoned a Senju and waited for him to flip up a skill drain, but he didn’t have one! I searched my deck for a Kaleidomirror and activated it; I was certain he had a Vanity’s Emptiness facedown, but he didn’t. It was at this point I knew I every little thing was gonna be alright! I overlayed for Exciton Knight and devastated his entire field. His two-facedown cards were both MSTs. He elected not to search off Saqlifice to play around a potential Trishula play because he still had a Qliphort Helix on the field. Helix wasn’t destroyed by Exciton because it had previously been tribute summoned. I then ritual summoned for a Valkyrus and swung over the Helix leaving him with no cards at all. He drew for turn and flipped up a Summoner’s Art! Knowing he wasn’t going to be able to come back from this deficit I was okay with it. He realized that he wasn’t going to be able to win and conceded! Just barely winning game one was a huge victory because that meant I was going to be able to blow him out with my fire and ice hands! Game two started off with him making a Naturia Beast and ending his turn. Seeing an Ice Hand in my opening hand made me feel cooler than the other side of the pillow. I acted angry and set it facedown. He smiled and was under the impressed he had “won” the game already. This caused him to extended more monsters on to the field. He then swung into my set hand and I destroyed a set Vanity’s Emptiness! His face went from a smile to a frown, kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio when he realizes he won’t be winning an Oscar. On my following turn I was able to take full control with the hands. I cleared the majority of his board and followed up with a tempo swinging Trishula play. He conceded not long after.
Round 6: Nekroz; Dirk Wagner
Dirk and I both agreed to draw, because we knew we were going to both top anyways. We then went to go find food and discussed how we both love Nekroz and how the format is going to shape out. After almost slipping outside on the ice we both returned to the convention center and awaited round seven.
Round 7: Nekroz; Jordan Bermudez
Jordan and I also elected to draw because we both knew we would top.
Top 8: Qliphort; Ben Lodise
After 7 rounds of swiss I finished in second behind Dirk Wagner and had to play my friend Ben who I came with in top cut. Game one started with me losing the dice roll and having to go first. I drew my hand one card at a time and saw not one, not two, but three effect veilers in my opening hand! Having three effect veilers against Qliphort meant I basically had two cards in hand because effect veiler does nothing against Qliphort. Long story short I lost game one. Game two I put in my fire and ice hands along with a twister to help eliminate any backrow that Ben could possibly throw at me. I let Ben go first and he summoned a Naturia Beast on his first turn! Furious at my hand’s inability to assess this situation I had to pass and pray I didn’t die. Ben was unable to kill me, but he dropped my life points to about 3000. I drew for turn and saw and ice hand, which kept me in the game. I set it, and Ben swung into it allowing me to destroy a set backrow, which was Vanity’s Emptiness! I drew for turn and was able to eliminate his Naturia Beast with my fire hand and take control of the board. I was able to win shortly after with a well-timed Trishula play. Game three started with me going first and I once again drew a very poor hand. Unable to make a strong play I used Brionac to search for a Valkyrus and ended my turn. Ben activated Scout and searched for Qliphort Towers! I cringed and then he said, “Oh wait, I messed up!” He had searched the combo pieces in the wrong order and was unable to make a solid play on his turn. He summoned a Carrier equipped it with Saqlifice and swung for 2100. I drew for turn and realized I had no way to out his field, which meant I was going to have to deal with Towers. I went on to lose the match within the following turns.
After a long day everyone went out to eat at the Hard Rock Café because ARG players received a 15% off discount on their meals that day! The first Metro Series was great to participate in. For those who may not know the difference between a Metro Series and A Circuit Series lets change that! A Circuit Series is the equivalent to a YCS level event, while a Metro Series is the equivalent to a regional style event. Similar to normal regionals each entrant receives five booster packs and plays for the chance to compete in Nationals at the end of the year. Along with getting your invite the Metro Series offers prizing and cash payout for the Top 8 players. I will definitely be attending more Metro Series events, as this one was great to participate in! For those interested in learning more about why I played the cards that I did at this event stay tuned for a live deck profile on ARG’s YouTube channel! Since this is the second tournament report I have posted in a row I plan to follow this article with another one this week! Stay tuned, until next time Play Hard or Go Home!