Champions! This past weekend Playfusion rolled through New York State, kicking off the first event of their sponsored North East U.S. Circuit – the Shyish Showdown. Ten Champions from the Tri-State area journeyed to Nanuet’s local shop – Toywiz to compete for product, promos, mats, and the grand prize of an invitation to the North East Championship event. A team of local exemplars including Brian Schmidt (Stream/Comments), Nestor Medina Jr. (Judge/Support), and Matthew Hallet (Head Judge) were joined by Playfusion’s own Timothy Sexton (NJ Representative) to execute a smoothly run event. I attended this tournament accompanied by three of my fellow ThunderPals; yerTrey, Zanniati, and Emon all of us with an eye on the grand prize. After four rounds and a top 4 breakdown, I was the one who managed to walk away with it, and I am writing this tournament report (and I apologize ahead of time because I took very poor notes in my phone), as well as the top 4 deck lists, and some after tournament thoughts to share with you. Before I dive into all that, I want to give a special thanks to the guys I mentioned above…
Brian, Matt, Nestor, and Tim ran a smooth event. The only downside was the turnout – which they don’t have much control over. Originally it was planned to be Swiss +1 with a top 8 break down, but we settled on top 4 due to player count. It was clear that they prepared for this tournament, but also had fun with it – it’s a game after all. Each player walked away with a minimum of 4 promos from Tournament packs, and the top 4 walked away with an OP Play Mat, and booster boxes from set 1 and 2. I enjoyed the amount of product support Playfusion provided to this event, and if they continue to do so for future events I will definitely agree inter-state travel is worth it. As long as Playfusion can continue providing this level of support, I honestly believe teams of Heraldors which mirror the event staff are going to be the key to expanding the physical landscape. Furthermore I said it for the East Coast Rumble, and I will say it again, this team continuously sets the standard for what a Playfusion sponsored event should look like. I am confident the next two events of the Shyish Showdown will run just as smooth and hopefully they can draw a bigger crowd. I for one will definitely be attending the one in February at Highlander Games in Boonton, New Jersey and so will some of my ThunderPals. I also want to thank Steve Talbot, he as of now maintains the ELO for each player to make this tournament circuit way more enjoyable. He is using a script to manage it, and it is making things a lot more interesting, because now you can have an internal ELO that goes up and down based on your pairings and records. Anyway let’s move onto the actual card game aspect of the tournament… *Please Note* anything italicized is consider my thoughts after the tournament/write up.
The deck I had the most experience with going into the Showdown was Gordrakk by miles. I used Gordrakk to climb to Master rank both seasons. I felt most confident when I played him, I knew the match ups and had a ton of practice per each match up. I tested on two fronts the App and physical play. On the App I tested with the help of other ranked players, as well as with the help of LatD Ionic and LatD ArchaonRL (whom threatened to remove me from the group chat if I lost -_-). Meanwhile in person I was able to test with the ThunderPals providing additional insight on match ups (such as Vorrus/RH Tempo). Although the main deck build is mine, I can’t take credit for the majority of the sideboard. It was DMG Twylite who told me to check out the Kunnin’ build, raving about how successful it has been against Skarbrand. He had gotten the build from Jason Gardner and really wanted me to see his secret addition. We tested it about 5 times in a row (me playing Skarbrand) and I have to say I found the deck exciting just from watching it and I also never won. The build itself is good and Jason Gardner made a really solid deck, but I like the deck way more with the Burning Head tech – which was all Twylite. The best part of this build, it doesn’t just “survive” the damage. Burning Head offers an alternate way to pile on damage during a Gordrakk Heroic Act. I finally became settled on it about a week before the event when I played it against yerTrey. The look of disappointment on his face when he was at 15, and I could not be killed by his damage in one turn really sealed the deal (what are friends for?). Kunnin’ is probably severely stronger against Skarbrand after the changes announced by Playfusion, but I am sure the stacking changes will also hurt the deck a tad as well – although not likely, as your main win conditions in the build I posted are combinations of Burning Head and unit rotations, War Chant combos, and Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’.
Even though we had ten players some may be surprised by the turn out per Grand Alliance;
- 5x Order
- 4x Destruction
- 1x Chaos
- 0x Death.
I personally was shocked not a single Death deck showed up. Especially with the dominance of Mordants. I have a feeling with the Playfusion changes Mordants are one of the decks to watch. A further breakdown of the decks showed we had:
- 4x Gordrakk (most were similarly built)
- 2x Vorrus (with very different builds)
- 2x Aelves (with very different builds)
- 1x Order Beasts
- 1x Skarbrand
I want to highlight #1 & #5. For being the current Voldemort of Season 2, only one player decided to run Skarbrand and that was my teammate yerTrey. I know ten is a small sample size, but if you were going based on the trends of ranked (which is what I assumed and helped me to decide on my deck of choice) I was expecting a field of 30% Skarbrand. My teammates and I used that knowledge to prepare for the tournament as well – and we wanted to make sure our respective decks could at least deal with the Skarbrand swings at 15. I was confident in the sideboard enough that I decided to make my main deck more designed to deal with Order lock down (hence the Sweeping Gore Grunta to clear out lane denial) and switched to my sideboard mentioned above almost immediately after game 1 with Skarbrand (deck lists are below). I am not surprised in the least that Gordrakk was pretty much every Destruction deck. Out of all the Destruction builds Gordrakk (without Loudmouth) is probably the most consistent with the least chance at a poor match up and why risk getting that poor match up that can cut you out of top 4/8?
Round 1: Emon
In round 1 I was matched up against a fellow ThunderPal, Emon (Anthony). Emon is an Order player and decided to bring a variant of the Vorrus control build that trades a Protector for Vandus. The deck is generally played as a “zoning” and “trap” deck with the capability of an incredible amount of burst damage. Since we play each other so often, we breezed through the games. I will admit it does suck when you play round 1 against a friend, because one of you unfortunately starts with a negative record and you always want to see your friends do well.
Game 1: Emon’s hand was mostly abilities which sucked for his board presence, and my opening hand was ripe with units I want to play on the first corner for my Champions. The game was pretty straight forward, I deployed 1 unit and drew 1 card for a couple of turns. The most stand out play included: deploying a Gore Choppa Brute on Rip-Tooth, and Emon used a Beat Back to move it to Protector preventing the damage corner, and reducing the damage he took from the unit. I had another one in hand, so I just played it on Rip-Tooth to get the damage corner. I eventually had all 3 of my Gore Choppa Brute’s on the field because of a Rallying Cry that deployed the third one followed by the a Brute Smashas as the second Rallying Cry unit. That Smasha went right onto Riptooth to complete the quest revealing Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’. The game was a wash from there, as he drew units too late to stop my Orruk swarm and conceded before Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’ would kill him.
Game 2: Unfortunately game 2 was no better as my opening hand had x2 Waagh! Chanters and Emon’s had no removal. I was able to quickly draw a huge hand and deploy units where I could (despite his lane denial). This game was closer as he did a burst damage turn that would have killed me had it not been for my Shield Bashers stacked with Support 1. I took 4 from a Divine Vengeance + 5 from Frenzied Order + 3 from Piercing Shot dealing me 12 as opposed to 16. The damage set me to three health. I then revealed an Ushering of the Waaagh! on my first action revealing 2 units that I was able to deploy and finished his very low health with a Gordrakk ult.
Round 1 End: 2-0, Overall Record 2-0-0
Round 2: Aelves (Patrick)
In round 2, I was matched up against a local at Toywiz, Patrick. I had played against him before at one of the monthly tournaments and he played a Mordant burn deck during Season 1. When he sat down I honestly expected a Death deck but was surprised by the Aelves. Patrick is a good player and his tech was pretty good for Gordrakk. I was surprised he did not make it further in the tournament. We had a conversation after the match about how Mordant Burn is at the moment and I think I convinced him to give it another try. I hope to see him again at another one of the events.
Game 1: Patrick’s first setup had 4 warriors (Volturnos, Lotann, Prince x2). He was playing Helsabres on Lotann almost immediately which made me have to hold back on some units when they would just be removed. This was a pretty standard game, he was trying to race me down, but I was able to reveal two blessings to his one. Strategically I did my best to prevent Volturnos rotating his damage corners with Shield Bashers or removal. The two blessings I revealed were Ushering of the Waaagh! and Smash and bash (of course was the first one revealed on Rip-Tooth which rotated for 5, and rotated 1 unit forward to deal damage). His deck suffered from the same issue as Chaos QQ and Aelves typically do… card draw. Once I pushed passed the initial damage bursts and blessing with Shield Bashers, he had to draw for a turn or two just to catch up while I went into hyper speed from Ushering. Honestly, why is Soul Collection so unplayable? They could have used it to help tribal Aelves by making one Aelf go back to your hand – they could have made it even more interesting by making it read “Choose 2 Aelf units from your KO pile, your opponent choses one to get shuffled into your deck, the other returns to your hand”… would that be that broken really? Trade your action for a unit of your opponent’s choice… I would say that’s fairly balanced. I would have rather Playfusion create cards that are more attractive for the tribes, then just nerf other things which ends up making Aelves a bit more attractive.
Game 2: Patrick and I both side boarded for game 2. I decided to swap in my Kunnin’ build in case the burst damage from the three main warriors (the ones next to Lotann) started to become too much for me. Meanwhile, Patrick rolled Aspect in and took Volturnos out. This game was probably the most fun game that I played. His sideboard was tooled for a unit heavy deck as it ran with Shield of Thorns. After going back and forth damage wise his Aspect held Shield of Thorns on the “2” damage corner in a lane with no unit. The next lane had Kunnin’ Grot Shaman rotating a Burning Head to the “2” corner. My final lane had a Waaagh! Chanter. I started the turn at 3. Burning head rotated for 2 damage. Putting him at 11. Thorns fortunately did not damage me on the spell’s damage rotation. I played a Brute Smasha. Brute Smasha dealt him 4 (2+2 from Burning Head), and I took 2. Putting me at 1. Next I played Rallying Cry, and placed a Shield Basher ontop of the Brute Smasha in the same lane. Shield Basher dealt him 3 (1+2 Burning Head) Setting him to 4. The damage from Thorns triggered and I removed the Brute Smasha/Shield Bearer freeing the lane. The next part of Rallying Cry I placed a final Brute Smasha in the same lane, dealing him 4. He is reduced to 0, and whether or not Shield of Thorns triggers or not – I could just remove the Brute Smasha to prevent my death. I ended the game at 1 health. It was probably one of the closest games I have ever encountered and more exciting ones I have played.
Round 2 End: 2-0, Overall Record 4-0-0
Round 3: Zanniati (Rich)
In Round 3, I was matched up against another one of my teammates, Zanniati. His deck was actually the one I was worried about most. A pure Vorrus lock down deck with x2 Protector Primes. This deck can give Gordrakk a problem. My initial deck had 1 Sweeping Gore Grunta in case I ran into it, and my sideboard had another one because I needed it for game 2 no matter what. As yerTrey puts it – Zanniati is probably the most methodical player we have in our group. He prefers a slow place to really weigh out his options. This is why I believe Death and Order are the best options for him, he seems to excel at being a reactionary player. We also have played each other so often, that we fell into the same Champion placement almost every game. This game was also streamed by Brian Schmidt I would suggest watching it on stream to get a better idea of how they went but I will give you the jist of it.
Game 1: There was a point in the game where I could have won but misplayed see if you can notice it on stream…
Game 2 & 3: I didn’t sideboard in Kunnin’, Zanniati probably would have loved that. I honestly believe that Vorrus would benefit off the Kunnin’ lane because he would ignore it in the beginning and focusing on locking down three lanes. My testing showed that with the Savage Boar Boss build – they could ignore Boar Boss for the most part and just lock down Rip-Tooth, Gordrakk, and the last lane and it makes their life easier. What good is a War chant you can’t use? So, I stuck with the more flexible build and added in the additional Sweeping Gore Grunta Game 2 and 3 were both pretty close – it just always seemed to me that Zanniati pulled the wrong blessings at the right time for me.
Round 3 End: 2-1, Overall Record – 6-1-0
Final Swiss Round 4: yerTrey (Oshuan)
Round 4, I went up against yerTrey. I was fried after playing Zanniati, the games against Vorrus were just intense. I want to be clear I was not worried about Skarbrand, but I was worried about yerTrey. yerTrey is a very good player in every game we play. Especially Werewolf (I won’t ever forgive you for that game). This was another game that was streamed by Brian Schmidt and I honestly suggest you watch it. Game 1 is a perfect example of “god draw”. After it was all said and done I don’t mind losing this round because I am not sure if I could have beaten Stephen Talbot in the top 4.
Game 1: The Payback game for yerTrey. Let me explain why; at the East Coast Rumble, I played yerTrey. I was able to deal him 27 damage in one turn as Gordrakk because of a string of blessing pops, rallying cry, big stabba crews, and Gordrakk’s heroic act. This game is the Chaos version of Payback as he strung together Total Carnage, UBL, and Skarbrand’s 15 or below to deal me 13 with Furious Strike and 13 with Daemonic Fury (I prevented some of it with Orruk Shield Basher). He still didn’t top my 27 damage though. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED yerTrey?!
Game 2 & 3: With the Kunnin’ Sideboard in this is when the games really begun. I took away one of the games mainly because of Kunnin’ Grot Shaman. The third game he got me. I was digging for some Shield Bashers to keep me in the game, but he played a Daemonic Fury on the 4th lane away from Kunnin’ to finish me off. He played well and was deserving of my first loss, but it was mainly a crutch by key UBLs.
Round 4 End: 1-2, Overall Record 7-3-0
The top 4 ended up being yerTrey (Skarbrand) 1st seed, Myself (Gordrakk) second seed, Zanniati (Vorrus) third seed, and Stephen T. (Aelves) fourth seed. Oshuan played against Stephen in Round 1 (which was a repeat of one of his games in Swiss and also was streamed you should check it out) and I played Zanniati again. Our games were not streamed but it seemed like both of us were not as into the games as the Swiss round. We both had used the rest room and they started the top 4 without us being there; so we had to rush to start the game. I only wrote down a few notes for this as I had to jump to my next game almost immediately. We only played 2 rounds – 1st and 4th seed / 2nd and 3rd seed in Round 1 – then playing for placing.
Round 1: Zee Battle (Zerris vs. Zanniati)
Game 1 & 2: I was able to get ahead of Zanniati because of blessings early in the game. Ushering & Renewed War Lust does that. One of the most annoying things ever is the use of Beat Back to move Gore Choppa Brute off Rip-Tooth. Him and Emon kept doing that play against me and it was really annoying. I was not sure if it was because of his draws or I was just able to speed through too fast – but he didn’t have the lock down that he normally has. I believe I got very lucky to get game 1 without having both Gore Gruntas and once I added the second in for game 2 it felt even easier. Although, for having only 1 Divine Vengeance he always had it when I removed something. These games were actually less stressful than the round 3 match up. I think it is because Zanniati did not draw too well in the initial games. Again I apologize I could not give you a better run down as I really just had to breeze right to my game against yerTrey.
Zerris moves on to play yerTrey in the final match.
Round 2: For all the marbles…
It all came down to the match with Skarbrand. Gordrakk vs. Skarbrand; big bad vs. big bad. I can’t do this game justice as well as the stream that Brian Schmidt can provide will. I can tell you this deck showed off what Kunnin’ is capable of even though yerTrey and I accounted for Kunnin’ and provided a sideboard to play against it. I lost game 1 to come back and win both game 2 and 3 consecutively. Game 2 especially showed off what the tech of Burning Head is able to do. yerTrey actually saw that I had lethal before I did – he saw me counting for the Gordrakk heroic act, and he works with numbers all day so he got there a little quicker. I ended up winning the tournament to get the invitation to the NE Championship, followed by yerTrey in second, Zanniati in third, and Steve Talbot in fourth. I honestly was glad I didn’t play against Steve. His deck seemed really brutal to play against; the dormant lane from Aspect goes further against Gordrakk than it does Skarbrand and Vorrus. There was also another build there – a Double Castellant build I managed to stay away from which probably would have hindered my entry into the top 4 if I played against it. After I talked to Steve after the event, we swapped deck lists and I tried this deck. It plays VERY well. If you are a fan of Aspect of the Sea I highly recommend this deck for you.
I apologize if I misspelled any of your names I am reading the sheets the best I can. I look forward to seeing you all at the 2nd event in the North East Circuit at Highlander in New Jersey! I am frustrated to have to essentially re-test in only a month’s time, but I am also excited to see all of the brews that will come out with the changes to Skarbrand and Stacking. I also apologize to anyone still trying to climb ranked who could have used these decks on the last 2 days of Season 2 to help you progress. Anyway thanks for reading Champions, be on the look out for Brian Schmidt’s streams of the matches, as well as the revival of the “Round Table Review” presented by myself (TPals Zerris) and the Competitive Edge’s own Shpelley, and Cronik. We will be inviting multiple guests all throughout the season some of them you may know from last spoiler season’s Round Tables, some may be new faces! No matter what expect some solid discussion and insightful opinions.