• Dice Masters Nationals and Worlds Championships-Origins 2016, Isaac's Experience Part 3: Worlds

    So this is the last in my series of three articles about my experience at Origins this year. The first and second ones can be found HERE and HERE respectively. I have gone through all of the fun of the pre-event, the late night games and dinners, the awesome community members and people running the events. But today I want to focus on the last big event of the week-the World Championship of Dice Masters and how my adventure into this went.

    First off, if you check back at the last few articles you can see the team I ran. I put hours of playtesting into this team-both in person at our local events and at home with my son along with quite a bit of online play as well. This team was brewed up by our friends in Ottawa, and I had confidence that in the current meta it was a winner. After Nationals, I made the meta call to pull out Spray/Kryptonite and pull in Hellblazer. I felt like this was a good switch out for the teams I had seen. The one thing I worried about is Mask Ring Ďcanít targetí teams since my team was almost all targeted damage and removal-but I didn't foresee that being a big problem.

    Saturday morning rolls around, and I head down to the main gaming hall to join with 27 other players who had all qualified for Worlds to play. We got the event fired off pretty quickly, and I sat down to face my first opponent-a gentleman named Travis who has a bit of a history with this family. Travis won the WKO1 in Detroit, and his only loss came to my son in round 1. So here we are lined up, and what do I see on his team? All the things I needed Spray for. OcP Scarecrow, Raven and Oracle. And a Storm. I looked all over for the Lantern Ring but couldn't find it-instead I found the Bard. This team had realized that while Mask Ring is good, Mask Bard is faster and better.

    So we rolled off, and I went second. Not the place you want to be in, as he quickly got out Oracle followed by Raven and then OcP Scarecrow. I was triggering my team, but Oracle was a problem and once Raven hit the board I was slowing down. My best and only defense was to build the big army and swing in, so I fabricated and used his Poly global to try and amass that army. I bought a cloudkill, he bought a SR Ronin. So I bought more Cloudkill. When he had amassed this wall of guys, I thought I was done for. He just needed to poly in a Bard and hit my with Cloudkill and I was done for. But he didnít move to the Bard, and instead polyíd in another Ronin. I took my next turn, and had enough characters that Cloudkill could allow 5 guys to come in and drive the W home. But, he had saved 3 masks, and I figured he was going to save them to block. So I hit with Cloudkill x2 to wipe out Ronin then deal the damage. I passed priority, and he studied the board and PXGíd 3 times and then passed back. I did a double take and saw that this left him with no blockers and I could swing in for the win, which I did. Afterwards, we discussed the things he should have done and could have done differently and I wished him luck moving forward. I got what I needed and luck was on my side. I didnít think that if I faced him again I would have the same kind of luck.

    I moved on to another few games and then found myself sitting at 2-0 and getting ready to see who was near the top with me. Lo and behold, my friend Jenna and I would be lining up. She brought a familiar team similar to my own, with a few changes like rare Bane and Oracle on it. We were told that her and I would be lining up on the Twitch stream. They started everyone elseís matches and then got us lined up for our showdown. We sat at the large, amazing gaming table they had for the event and waited for the commentators to be ready to go. They gave us some pre-game prep, where to make sure the dice ended up and to make sure we took our time rolling, pointing out what we had done and what the next move would be. Jenna and I rolled off, and I got to go first. We started in, and she had two of the worse rolls on T1/T2 that she could have gotten, and I got the rolls I needed for the pieces I would normally buy T1/T2. On my T3, I was able to fabricate, buy Bard and still prep to ramp. The Oracle in her bag was the piece she was hoping to draw, but she did not on her T3. At this point she reached across the table and shook my hand, conceding the match. I had inevitable victory in her eyes and she didnít want to play it out. Jenna is a great competitor and I hated to see our match end like that. It showcases the problem with first turn advantage right now, especially when the guy going first hits on all his rolls. Jimmy came over and gave us each an awesome 2 sided card from Worldís Finest, one side German and one side French.

    From there I went on to lose one in swiss and took a 3-1 record into round 5. At this point, I felt like a victory would give me the push I needed to get into the top 8, and I got that win to take me to 4-1. Here at 4-1, I found myself in need of lunch and sitting at table 2 with a nice young man named Guillermo from Spain. We chatted about our current placement, and felt that since we were at table 2 we were good to take a draw and go get some lunch before top 8. I donít see how we would have missed out on top 8 at that point, and frankly the small amount of time between rounds would not have let us get lunch if we hadnít. So we took the draw and I went over to the North Market to join my son and friends for lunch. I was hungry, but not super hungry-I was more of a mix of amazement, nerves and excitement. I couldnít believe that I had done as well as I had and it was just starting to sink in. I felt happy that I had done so well and wondered how much further I might be able to take the day into. I could honestly say at this moment I was content with my performance and would have left happy. But I wasnít going to give up, and I composed myself for the rest of the battles to come and headed back over to see who else was in the top 8.

    top 8 match against Claude

    When I returned, I learned that Patrick had also made top 8, along with another 6 of us to round it off. I lined up against my top 8 opponent and was told it would be Claude, who I had not played yet that weekend. Once again I would be on the Twitch stream, so I shot a message to our TRP Slack chat group and let them know. Knowing and seeing all of the guys here on the site were cheering for me meant a lot-these guys are my extended Dice Masters family and their support is a big part of how I got to where I was. We lined up the match on the stream, and I noticed that Claude was running a very familiar team- the Vicious Struggle team. I went first, and one thing I learned a long time ago with this team is that you play the mini-game. Meaning my cards and team were going to take a backseat while I bought and played with Vicious Struggle and fists. I won game one fairly quickly with 2 VS and fists for damage and masks for ramp. Having Parallax out there made it easier to guarantee that the damage was done. Claude went first game 2, and quickly did the same to me, but used Kobolds to get that fist damage in. So this let into game 3, and once again I bought 2 VS and Claude bought 1 and on his second turn he bought Luke Cage which surprised me. I had full ramp going into T3 after hitting him with Red Dragon global x2. I felt good that T3 could be the game. As many of you on the stream saw, I rolled my first VS but the second came up energy. And then it did again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. I rolled it a total of 7 times that turn, using Parallax five times. I had tunnel vision and for some reason thought I needed that second VS instead of (in hindsight) knowing that I should have just kept the one and ramped full enough to do it again next turn. But it happened, and I recovered two turns later to do the damage I needed. I shook his hand and couldnít believe it-I was moving into the top 4!

    Our games went quicker than the others, so I was able to watch the matchup that would be giving me my next opponent, and when I had come over it was just entering into the final round of overtime play. Both guys had won one, and at the end of regulation. So a 3rd match began with each player getting 3 turns, but it went on to be so many more. With no sources of direct damage on either team and distraction on the board, these guys struggled to get any damage in. But Travis eventually got there, using his Ronin to help buffer damage and swing in with just enough using Cloudkill. So Top 4 would give him and I a rematch from the very first round of swiss.

    I was nervous-Travis had the team I had initially brought Spray for at Nats and I had removed it for Constantine. His was the team I thought I didnít need to worry about-a variation of the team our own Randy ran well. I had told him how he should have beat me, and felt he had gotten the reps today after our match to not make a slip-up this time around against me. We were going to be on the stream, but they bumped us for Clix so we took up a large table and had a seat with two judges and lined up our teams. This time around, I knew that Constantine, Elf Thief and Dwarf Wizard were my best bet, so I went early into them, hoping to name whatever he fielded and then Dwarf Wizard it and keep his buying down with Elf Thief. I was able to accomplish these things and get the bodies I needed out before he could get out OcP Scarecrow on to the field.

    semi-finals top 4 match against Travis

    I was up 1-0 but I knew going second would be a different story. He went into his Elf Thieves and tried to keep my ramp down-and I tried to do the same to prevent him from polymorphing in his big hitters. He was able to get them in by going Oracle to Raven to OcP Scarecrow-this trio in that order is hard to get around. My only win condition was going to be to get level 3 characters out, steal his energy on a turn and use 1 or 2 Cloudkills and swing in hard. I was able to hold my ground and even bought my Bard with enough ramp for it to matter because I was fielding SKs to thin the bag. Next turn, I felt like I could get in with enough damage to possibly seal the deal. Travis rolled his handful of dice, one of which was a polymorph. At first, I thought he might poly in another Bard and try to rush over the top of me-but then I saw and I think he did at the same time also. He polyíd out my level 3 Golem for my level 1 Bard. The crowd that had come around us sounded puzzled-why give him a Bard? But he knew where he had me and I knew what he had done-effectively with Oracle out it would take me forever to level that Bard up and with removing my level 3 Golem that was most of where the leveling up was going to come from via poly global. A turn or two later, while we were on turns he crashed into me and I only had a few guys standing because of cloudkill. He won on turn 3 or 4 I think after time had been called.

    Now here we were, 1-1 with 6 turns to go-most damage done after 6 turns wins, or you keep going one turn at a time until someone had less life. We had amassed a large crowd at this point, and I went first, rolling a mask, a bolt and (I think) two fists. I looked across the board, slid the two fists and bolt to the transition area and bought a magic missile die. I have never heard such reaction to a turn before-almost everyone commented or made a woah sound-they knew where this was going. The judges had to quiet them down at that point and ask for people not to comment on the match. Travis matched my play with the same move. I PXGíd, bought the last magic missile and sat on 3 mask/question marks to full ramp into turn 3. Travis bought a SR Ronin and full ramped as well. For my final turn, I rolled both magic missiles and 2 SKs along with a handful of energy, 2 of which were bolts or question marks. I think I bought something, maybe an elf thief and hit him for 4 and sat on the SKs and the energy. He rolled, knowing that he could win with the level 3 Ronin, some bolts and a SK or two. But they didnít come on his first or second roll where he needed, and I won with a final life total of 19-16.

    I was spent at this point. Travis is an awesome opponent and made me work hard for those wins. Once I finished, I was told to go set up on the Stream for the finals match, they were waiting for me. This was hard-I just wanted to take a few mins, go walk around and get my head ready-but I could not so I did not. Instead, after a quick bathroom break and a note to my wife and daughter back home-I sat in the chair, back on Twitch to play one final match.

    My son through the weeks leading to the Con had asked multiple times which card I would pick if I won. I told him I wasnít going to worry about it unless I actually won-but it was fun to think about it for a few mins. Here, while setting up for the match, with the high level of seriousness and planning going on-I shook Guillermoís hand and told him that story and that it looked like I would need to start thinking about it. We set up, we rolled off and he went first. Inside, I said to myself-if I do this, it is going to be tough and difficult at best. I needed to win a game going second against him, a skilled pilot who had proven his mettle here and overseas.

    finals matchup

    The matches themselves were a bit of a blur. I tried game one to go with Elf Thieves to punish his attempts to ramp, but he was able to overcome that and gain the ground he needed quickly. Game two I was able to accomplish what I needed to, and his Constantine, although a great tech piece against this build, it doesn't get there and do what it needs to with taunt on the board. I gladly took 2 at a time to set up for the win. Game 3 found us both at 1-1 with what I had figured was approximately ⅔ of the time passed. We started similar to the last two games with the first player getting all the things they needed. My turn one was, if I remember correctly, bad. My turn two allowed me to snag two Thieves and try to steal all of his energy from him. I figured with an Oracle on the board I can still use the stolen energy with the energy I rolled. He rolled masks and question marks like they were going out of style that game. I was waiting for bad rolls and I donít think he got any-not a good thing going second. I managed to get to the point where I could by the pieces I needed, and if I could get to Cloudkill it might be enough to steal this victory away. At some point-I was going to have to make a move. I was going to have to reach. Even when it looked bad or impossible-I had to try because I was playing from behind the whole game. So I reached and bought Cloudkill on a turn that I should have saved energy for his coming Cloudkill. But I didn't, and I paid the price. He had just enough to beat me, and took the victory. Hats off to Guillermo and his victory and I look forward to playing him again sometime in the future. He was a classy player who showed that no matter where we are from-this community is amazing even on a worldwide level.

    Jimmy, Guillermo and myself

    I sat there for a minute and then refilled my ZenBin, thinking about the event. Honestly, I donít know what I was thinking in details-but I was proud of myself for having done what I did, humbled by the fact that so many people were there cheering me on and exhausted-I was absolutely exhausted. So many of you awesome people supported me through the day-it meant the world to me. It is still hard for me to believe that anyone knows who I am or cares about the words I say or type-but I am happy to be able to be a part of this community of amazing gamers. I finished second in the World. It was hard to let that sink in-it was hard to believe. I made mistakes, I got lucky when I needed it, I used skill from practicing with friends and my kids, I went first and won and went second and won at different times and ultimately I had an amazing time. There are so many amazing pilots in this game-I am honored to have played against the ones I did. I learned a lot over the week as well. I havenít watched the stream matches and I donít know if I will-I know I made mistakes, I know I had misplays and things I would do over. But I canít change that. I am not a perfect player-I would never claim to be. But I love the game, and I do the best I can with the skills I have and the team I bring and I feel like I can be happy with how I did and leave it there.

    My son and I with our loot

    Thank you to my family-to my wife who lets me be a big kid and do this thing that I love and to my kids who enjoy doing this thing with me. Thank you to my opponents and the community as a whole. Everyone rolling dice that week-it made me happy to meet you and chat with you. If we didn't meet-I hope we can next time. Thank you to WizKids, from all of the Judges and their honest, well-thought and explained judgments and decisions to Jimmy, Stephanie and the rest of the crew that put together an amazing event. The whole of Origins this year for me was the WizKids booth-and I donít regret it at all. The space I am in now compared to where I was last year-I never would have guessed. I am humbled by it all.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. gkpon66's Avatar
      gkpon66 -
      Nice series Isaac. Keep up the good work and congratulations for putting yourself in the spot to win. Gary