A Bat among Bards: how Batman made the Top 8 in a WKO
by, 04-13-2016 at 10:21 PM (4875 Views)
I've been asked by some people to do a blog about the team I brought to the Ottawa WKO, March 27.
Now, I won't go in too much detail about the WKO itself except for my own matches: we already have 2 great bloggers who covered the Open from start to finish. You can find Judgemental's blog here: http://www.thereservepool.com/entrie...-of-Bard-Blitz. You can find Ajeddy's blog here: http://www.thereservepool.com/entrie...-Friend-Making. Both are terrific reads.
So anyway. Among the Bards and the standard competitive decks, if you check the Top 8 for that tournament, there's one little deck that sticks out: a Batman Family deck that kind of came out of nowhere. Well, actually, it came out of my odd little mind.
You see, as most players who know me will agree, I'm not a typical deck builder. I like to do different decks, and I like avoiding what's "hot" in the meta. And since I was going to the WKO for fun, I figured I would really, REALLY have fun and go as far out there as possible.
So, where did this deck come from? How did I get from nothing to a crazy Batman Family? Well, the trigger, in my mind, was the preview for World's Finest. In it, two cards were shown that got me thinking:
My immediate thoughts about Bruce Wayne:
-I get around Batman's terrible fielding costs (every version so far has had really high fielding costs).
-I get rid of an opposing die for a turn.
So, how do I get my own dice off the field? Alfred is my first thought; he's an ally, and counts as a sidekick; plus, he has a big chance of coming back if he's KO'ed. And what's an easy way to KO sidekicks?
I'd actually been trying this guy's global in other decks, especially to KO Mary Jane - MJ in order to use her overcrush effect each turn. It worked quite well then, so it just seemed like a logical fit here. At this point, the combo was:
-Get Alfred and Bruce on the field
-Use Green Goblin's global to KO Alfred, get Batman on the field, capture an opposing character.
With that core in mind, I considered the next question, the big one: Which Batman do I choose? It took me a while, until World's Finest came out actually, to make up my mind. I had to pick a Batman with the following in mind:
-Bruce Wayne does not field Batman (he puts him in the Field Zone), meaning he does not trigger "When fielded" effects, so Batman characters with those abilities are useless;
-I had 3 other characters locked in (Bruce, Alfred, Green Goblin), so I couldn't fit Justice League characters in, meaning that World's Greatest Detective wouldn't fit;
-Bruce Wayne gets a character off the field for one turn only; I need to take advantage of that one turn somehow.
I started eliminating characters that didn't fit, and then I glanced upon this guy:
An odd pick? Maybe. But he fits: he doesn't rely on "when fielded" abilities, he fits well with the other characters I decided upon (I already have 2 Batman Family characters in), and if I get his cost low enough, I could purchase more than one in a turn. By that point, I decided I would take advantage of Bruce Wayne by using removal and overwhelming my opponent with sheer numbers, which would become this deck's bread and butter.
Which means, now, that I need more Batman Family characters to reduce Batman's cost. Enter the easiest pick ever in a Batman Family deck: Oracle.
She's incredible. With so many opponents relying on globals, she can hinder Magic Missile, PXG, Resurrection, Transfer Power, and so much more. Plus, her 0/0/0 fielding costs and the fact that she gives masks means that she will always help and never hurt.
And from that, I realize that I partly neutralize PXG if my opponent uses it...so why not put it in myself?
Before everyone asks: I don't have Trainer. Anyway, enough has been said about this guy. He's extremely popular for a reason. And with Oracle, I have the advantage in using him. So why wouldn't I use him?
By that point, I realized: the deck has 4 Batman Family characters, meaning that I will pretty much only have Batman Family characters on the field. This will help me use Natural Leader, but how else can I take advantage of this? Oh, I know!
I can't take the full credit for thinking about it; Drakolich (who plays at my FLGS) was going on about it ever since he saw the spoilers, and for good reason: it's fantastic! Since I'm already KO'ing my own characters to trigger Bruce Wayne, I can clear my opponent's field twice as fast if I use Vigilante Justice. Besides which, it's a 3-cost, which fills a gap in my curve and gives me good options.
So, at this point I decided that my core strategy is there, and it's solid. If you haven't kept track: I have 6 characters and 1 basic action. With 2 characters and 1 basic action left, I wanted to look at counters. What did I need to deal with?
As this was going to be a WKO deck, I knew I had to face the worst of the worst. Which meant I needed to be prepared for:
To name a few.
I also knew I needed to be prepared for what my opponents would have to counter me, especially:
-Distraction/Blink Transmutation's global
-"Can't target" effects (which I didn't end up with a hard counter for, sadly)
and so on.
Looking at the deck, I started realizing that I didn't need to add much; the deck itself already had built-in countermeasures.
-The amount of removal in the deck (Green Goblin global, Vigilante Justice, Bruce Wayne) meant that I could easily get dangerous threats off the field during my turn, and I could remove some of the sidekicks that Gobby relies on for damage;
-Green Goblin's global, since it does 2 damage, can easily, on my opponent's turn, snipe off a level 1 Guy Gardner or a character contributing to a Lantern Ring attack or a Bard rush (yes, I was preparing against Bard, even though Bard Blitz wasn't a thing yet)
-Alfred is so hard to get off the field that he will likely give Green Goliath decks fits (which he did!)
-Oracle, by adding to the cost of global abilities, makes it hard for opponents to ramp or to trigger the globals used in most Vicious Struggle decks (i.e. Silver Surfer); it also makes it hard to use Distraction's global, and Invulnerability's, and so many others.
So what should I add? Well, even if it was harder to use, Distraction/Blink-Transmutation was still a major threat; if I have one turn to do a big swing, I don't want it stopped by my characters getting pushed back. I don't want my opponent getting back at me. Meaning that my next choice was easy:
That global, ladies and gentlemen, stops Distraction/Blink-Transmutation's global dead in its tracks. It also forces your opponent to show their hand early with Transfer Power and other such globals. If you're playing an aggressive deck in competitions, he's a shoe-in if you can fit him.
Now, I had one character and one basic action left. For the character, I wanted to put in a character I would not field; after all, I'm using Vigilante Justice. It's to my advantage to only field Batman Family characters. So I looked at Mera, and realized it was the stupidest possible idea to give it to my opponent. And I looked at Human Paladin, and realized I already had something to deal with Lantern Ring and partly deal with Gobby. What do I do, then? Maybe I should re-think my criteria; I should put a character I would field. Time to add another Batman Family character.
By that point, I noticed a gaping hole in the deck; I had no 3-cost characters. Yeah, sure, I can buy Vigilante Justice for 3, but do I really want to purchase Vigilante Justice on turn 1 if I can't buy Alfred? I need another turn 1 option. I set the following criteria:
-3-cost or less
-Not a mask to avoid cannibalizing the energy needed for my ramp (Sorry Catwoman)
-Preferably using an energy type I would not otherwise need on turn 1
-Complements my strategy, either by adding offense or otherwise contributing to my win condition.
Of course, looking at this, there was only one option. A 3-cost fist character from the Batman Family who will make my opponents quake in fear. I refer, of course, to...
Nah. I'm weird, but not quite THAT weird. My real pick was:
Now, look at those stats, and keep in mind that the whole point of this deck is to attack with Batman. A character with 6 to 8 attack for 3 energy? Of a type I don't use on turn 1? Robin might have been the last character I added, but I immediately felt that he was the right choice.
All that was left was to add a second basic action. I considered Resurrection, but seeing as I was already using PXG, I decided not to add more ramp. My thought, at this point, was: I have enough stuff for a winning strategy, so I need something that counters my opponents or complements my strategy, and if I can't do that, I need something that doesn't hurt me, or does so as little as possible.
This was something I hesitated on up to the last minute. In the end, though, I went with...
Let me break it down: This is, if you have a Batman Family character, a 2-cost Power Bolt. If you don't, it's just a slightly better Surprise Attack (not a glowing endorsement). So it'll likely be useless for my opponents, while being quite useful to me. Plus, that global gives me a bit of extra burn, which is not a bad option to have if my turn 1 roll doesn't go my way. It's also another option to buy for 2, if ever I have 2 energy and I can't buy Alfred. I could do a lot worse.
Quick note: From playtesting, I quickly realized that an efficient way to trigger Bruce Wayne and Vigilante Justice was to have 2 Alfreds on the field, and KO one with Green Goblin's global to damage the other. This means 2 character dice get KO'ed, meaning 2 Batman dice get on the field, 2 opposing dice are KO'ed with Vigilante Justice, and 2 opposing dice are captured. All for that one bolt energy. It's crazily efficient.
So, from all of this, here's the final product: http://dicemastersdb.com/teams/team/?id=12873. The description in the link describes the deck's general strategy, but you should get the gist of it by now. The short version of it is:
-Buy Alfred, Bruce Wayne, and at least one other Batman Family character
-With this group on the field, buy Batman for cheap (I often only pay 1 or 2 energy per Batman!)
-Use Green Goblin's global; KO Alfred to damage another Alfred or sidekick; cue the crazy shenanigans from Bruce Wayne and, if you have it, Vigilante Justice. Your opponent's field empties, and yours fills up with Batmen.
It's very easy to get to lethal if your opponent has no blockers left (which is very, VERY easy with all of those shenanigans). With 2 Batman dice, at 6 damage per dice, that's 12 damage. Add one Robin at level 3, and you get another 8 damage; that's 20 right there!
And onward I went to the WKO. Of course, this was on March 27, the day known to many as the birth of the Bard Blitz. And there I was with Batman.
Now, as we're over 2 weeks removed from the actual tournament, forgive me for being a bit hazy about some of the details, but I'll do my best to do this from memory. One thing I can tell you for certain: No one expected this deck. World's Finest had only been tournament legal for 4 days, so no one really knew what to expect. This meant that people didn't know how to counter my deck at first.
My first opponent was a Gobby deck. In short, he simply didn't have the time to cause as much damage as he needed, and my strategy caught him by complete surprise; I won that game with all 4 of my Batman dice attacking, if I recall correctly. Funny fact: If you look at Judgemental's blog post, that game is shown on the second picture. (I'm the guy with the Batman shirt)
Then came Green Goliath in round 2. Thankfully, Alfred, as I had hoped, held the fort until Oracle was fielded. From the time Oracle hit the field, pinging Green Goliath with Magic Missile simply became too costly for my opponent, especially since he was relying on PXG for ramp. This gave me the time to bring Bruce Wayne and Batman to the field, and eventually swing in for lethal. This game is when people noticed the deck. I don't know what surprised people more: that I brought a Batman deck, or that I was winning with it.
Round 3 is when I hit a wall. This was another Gobby deck, but this time, I had some bad rolls. He played his deck expertly too, and slowed down the pace enough to bring the burn, and eventually, using the action die from Blink-Transmutation, he won handily by making it impossible for me to stop his wall of attacking sidekicks. He was a fantastic player, and one of three Gobby decks that made the top 8.
Round 4 was against Wildrage. I knew about his deck. I knew it very well. And I knew that his deck had the one answer to my deck I simply couldn't get rid of; the "you can't target my characters" trick. He was using the rare Raven from War of Light, and only had mask characters on his team. Since he quickly understood what my deck was doing, Raven was, of course, the first thing he got on the field, making it impossible for me to use Vigilante Justice, or to target his characters with Bruce Wayne. He also used the Lantern Ring, but with no way to target his characters, I simply had no answer. I knew I was unprepared against it going in, and now, I was about to pay for it.
That game was long and grueling. I only had one option at victory: get Oracle there to slow him down, bring as many Batman dice on the field as possible, and rush in, hoping to bring down his wall of blockers with sheer numbers. When he had no sidekicks fielded, I had to capture my own dice with Bruce Wayne's ability to bring in Batman (it's mandatory), and I bought a couple of Dark Avenger dice to damage him directly. And so it started. And so it continued, with me chipping away at his blockers, damaging him here and there, and him chipping away at my life points with the Ring. He had some bad luck; he simply didn't get to roll enough masks to swing in for lethal with the Ring. Eventually, I had enough characters to swing for lethal. Doomcaliber Knight's global came in handy, and I won by the skin of my teeth. Nevertheless, @WiLDRAGE 's deck was fantastic, and it would have honestly deserved a spot on the top 8.
As there was a clear Top 8 after 4 rounds, the TO called the end of the Swiss rounds. At that point, I started hearing about the now infamous "Bard Blitz", this well-oiled machine of death. And after a break to eat and unwind, I got to see it first hand. Because I faced off against Drakolich. Yep, the same guy that inspired me to use Vigilante Justice. And he was playing Bard Blitz.
As it was a Top 8 matchup, it was a 2 out of 3. Drakolich went first. Going second against Bard Blitz is...not easy. I made the mistake of going for Bruce on turn 2 instead of Oracle, and no matter how hard I tried to stop the Bard, the game was over very quickly.
Then, game 2. I started. This time, going for Bruce was the correct move, but Oracle wasn't far behind. This is when Alfred + Green Goblin's global really shined. Strategically sniping characters with the global, then triggering a capture by Bruce, weakened the blitz considerably, and combined with Oracle slowing him down, it gave me the time to set up my win condition. I realized I needed Vigilante Justice if I was going to win. Then, with Vigilante Justice and Bruce Wayne both active, I did my "KO Alfred to damage Alfred" trick. His field emptied, mine filled up, and after a couple of other KO's (one using his own Blue-Eyes' global), I won that game.
Then, game 3. He started. This time, my move was clear: even though my odds were low, go for Oracle on turn 2 to slow him down and hope for the best. And so I did. However, despite slowing him down, and despite Alfred doing a valiant job holding the fort, this time he knew what to do too. He got his Prismatic Spray, blanked my characters, and blitzed in for the win. A great game, and a well deserved win for him. To this day, I still want a rematch to see if I could win by playing differently.
So, overall, the WKO was a lot of fun. I'm slightly sad that I didn't get to the top 4 (that full art Oracle would've been so great to have), but really, I have no regrets: I got to the Top 8, with a deck of my own design, that was as much fun to build as it was to play. And I simply couldn't have asked for more than that.
Anyway, I hope this post, and the insight into this deck's design and play, was helpful to you. If there's one thing I want you to remember from this whole post, it's the following: if anyone ever tells you, "The only way to do well in a WKO is to put X card in your deck", remember that I made it in the Top 8 despite my deck having:
-No Green Goliath
-No Lantern Ring
-No Guy Gardner
-No Elf Thief
-No Dwarf Wizard
-No Blue-Eyes White Dragon
And once you realize that, just do whatever the heck you want and build crazy decks. It's a game. Have fun.