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My Second Place Team from the SW PDC Regionals (or how I lost to Michael Le)

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I jokingly told @zeon20 towards the start of our match up for the SW PDC Regional championship that I was going to have to write a post about how I lost to him. He mentioned he may have to do a write up of the event, and since he did end up winning Ill leave the specifics of our match for him to describe.
That said I wanted to put together a post about how my team ended coming in second, the thought process that went behind it, and about the SW PDC Regional in general.

We had 18 people at the at the event yesterday and while Comic Hero U is not my local store Ive played there in Rainbow Draft weekends and past PDC events enough that both my son and I are comfortable playing there. The local players from Orange County were about 8 of the 18 slots. 6 of us came up from the San Diego area, the New Mexico PDC State Champ had come into town for the event and there were a couple people from further north in LA that came down to Fullerton for the day. Overall a solid group of players, many Ive lost matches to in the past and in seeing the turn out I knew it was going to be a tough battle to make the top 8.

So, a rundown of my team (http://dm.retrobox.eu/?view&cards=4x...x30asm;3x25wol) and how I ended up with this configuration.
I dont realistically consider myself that great a team building - so I wanted to keep things relatively simple and try to bring counters to the top few meta teams I thought might be played. Those being Vicious Struggle teams, Bard focused teams, and Lantern Ring/Johnny Storm/Direct Damage teams.
I built and tried out a variation of Vicious Struggle team to start out with but did not like that my opponent could use all the same components against me so I decided not to bring that. However, in doing so I became pretty familiar with VS teams and how to run them. This turned out to be invaluable as at least 3 of the top 8 teams, all of the ones I played, were running variations on VS teams. Also, did not want to bring a Bard

As I started building this Foot Ninja based team I wanted to be able to use the same cards that were my win condition to also counter these top meta teams.
Foot Ninja: Ninja Syndicate - I realized looking at Bard teams (and Gobby teams, as I knew one of our local players loves to bring him to events) that a big part of their winning is based on fielding sidekicks to buff and attach with. I thought if I can use those sidekicks against them that would be great. Scanning through the sidekick related cards I came across Ninja Syndicate and thought that would work great because he gets the stat buff all the time. Not just while attacking like Bard gives.
Alfred Pennyworth: MI-5 became the next component as he would buff Foot Ninja and serve as a cheap blocker for Bard teams that is hard to remove from the field.
Mary Jane: MJ - Cheap masks for PXG and a buff for Foot Ninja that would add overcrush if Falcon got his text wiped. Never bought a single 1 of her the whole day.
Constantine: Antihero My solution to Lantern Ring, Vicious Struggle and any other actions I dont like. Only a 50% chance of working but he was cheap and I was hopeful my team would be fast enough that I only needed him to extend things a turn or two. He did not always roll character side when I needed him but he was invaluable in more than on VS match.
Falcon: Recon Paired with Foot Ninja for my win condition. Send Foot Ninja, Alfred and any other sidekicks through for the win. Worked well as I would not buy him until I was going to need him the next turn so no one could use Dwarf Wizard to wipe his text.
White Tiger: Mystical Amulet mostly brought it for the Global but knew if I had to I could buy the dice for an alternate overcrush option. Global came in handy as I could buff my Foot Ninja while stealing dice from my opponents Used pile that they were planning to PXG.
Professor X: Recruiting Young Mutants keep my ramp/churn going and my bag empty so anyone I gut with Big Entrance will come out next turn from a mostly empty bag.
Red Dragon: Epic Dragon wanted to start the game buying Big Entrance and dealing a damage to my opponent. My testing shows that with mostly ideal rolls the first few turns (getting a mask turn 1 for PXG and Big Entrance coming up Action turn 2) I could get 18 damage from sidekick through with Falcon on turn 4. Red Dragon let me get a couple extra damage in early so that 18 would be enough for the win. Also came in very handy against VS teams through the day as I could buy their VS for a bolt and 1 other energy early and if they were getting low on health later I could use it to sneak in 1 extra damage.
Slander I knew there would be dice causing me issues and this was my way to wipe their text. Not as useful as prismatic spray but enough that I could hopefully clear Dwarf Wizard or similar concerns for my turn so I could attack with unblockable sidekicks.
Big Entrance - With all these cheap but weak characters on my team I wanted to be able to buy them fast and get a lot of them going to protect from Bard Blitz type teams. Plus I knew I needed all the Allies I could get to buff Foot Ninja as he is not that strong without his Sidekicks.

That is a rough idea of my planning. I knew going into it that my one major area of weakness would be against teams doing direct damage (Retaliation, Human Torch, Gobby) as I did not have a direct counter. I just had to hope I could hold out a few turns to kill them with combat damage faster than I lost my life to direct damage. The one team like that I played was a Gobby Team with Bard added in case it was needed. He had nearly perfect rolls and my dice were not cooperating that match. Still, even if I had gotten perfect rolls Im not sure it would have mattered. Looking back at it now I should have dropped Mary Jane for someone who could help protect from that direct damage. Probably Captain America: Super Solder.

Fortunately, I only ran into that team once in the Swiss rounds. I snuck into the top 8 as the #8 player with a 3-2 record. My other loss was my very first match up against a VS team that ended Swiss at 4 -1. I knew I was prepared as well as I could be to play against VS teams but he was going first. He actually did not by VS on his first turn. He told me after he had not thought about someone buying them away from him. So, I ended up with 2 of the VS dice in our match up. It came down to him having around 5 health and I had just 4 mask energy left on my turn. I knew I could try to spend 1 to parallax the other 3, but I needed 2 fist/wild to beat him that turn. Ive never been great at doing math in my head but it felt like that was not very good odds. Plus if I did not get it I had killed my ramp/churn. I had 12 or 13 life left and he had no characters out. So I ended my turn and he proceeded to pull all 3 of the characters he had purchased out of a bag that had plenty of dice in it. 12 combat damage later he took the win. Looking back at it I regret not being more aggressive and trying to Parallax the masks or trying to field a couple sidekicks for blockers. It was my mistake for not keeping better track of exactly how much combat damage he would be able to do if he did get all his characters out.
The other 3 matches I was able to roughly follow my plan for my team and get the win. Most of the time in pretty close matches. None of those teams were the Bard Blitz/Buzzsaw team but Bard was on 2 of the 3 I believe.

So, I sneak into the top 8 and am paired up with the #1 seed. I believe the only undefeated player left coming out of Swiss. He was a guy I recognized from past PDC/Rainbow Draft events but not someone I had played before. He as running a VS team and it had all the components to make you pay (Silver Surfer, Luke Cage, the Human Torch with the global to add 1 more to damage from actions). I knew before we started if he went first game 1 I was in trouble. Luckily my sidekick dice cooperated and I went first game 1. Got 2 VS on the first to turns and was able to use his globals against him. I think Constantine was the only character I could and he never rolled character. So I won game 1 and went second game 2. Where he promptly destroyed me. Going into Game 3 he knew I was going to get 2 of the VS dice again so he purchased Captain America: The First Avenger early to try and protect himself. But in doing so he and I both failed to notice until my turn 3 that he never actually bought a VS die in his first 2 turns. I was getting ready to buy something else on my turn 3 (I forget what it was but I think a Constantine) when I noticed there was 1 more VS die out. So I bought it as well. As I did he realized what happened and changed tactics. He bought Silver Surfer, but I got a lucky roll the next turn and was able to win before he could get him out. Had I not gotten the lucky roll I expect he would have won game 3 on his turn.

So, on to the semi-finals where I played the same opponent I started the day against and his VS team. Again I got the lucky roll and went first and was able to win games 1 and 3, and lost game 2 going second. All 3 games were very close with me using Constantine to try and keep his VS die on an energy face, and him using Beholder to try and get an extra copy of it going.

After winning my semi-final match up I look over and see that Michael Le had won and he as running a VS team with slightly different components that most of the VS teams Id seen so far. Id never played him before but Id seem him in past events and knew of his dragon team from Nat/Worlds last year. I will wait and give him a chance to post about his team and his run through the event before describing our matchup but I will say that he was the only person I saw win in a VS match up while going second. And after reflecting about it repeatedly on the drive home I dont believe it was because I made a mistake in my play. He was better prepared for that situation that I was.
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Comments

  1. zeon20's Avatar
    Posted up my write up in the tournament section and tried to recap as much as I could recall. Probably missed some details here and there so hopefully your write up will cover what I miss. It was fun to finally get to play you sir since meeting you guys in san diego waayyy back last year. I will never forget the hype that came from that turn 1 double VS buy you did. Was a crazy intense match lol.
  2. IsaacBV's Avatar
    Sounds like some great matchups!