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On Statistical Anomalies and Tilt - Big Bang, Owensboro, KY WKO 2/11/17

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After the last WKO in Springfield, MO, I wanted to run something more fun than the chess-like Bard Control team I ran last time. I experimented with FUS Beholder and Storm: Wind Rider, and Beast: Genetic Expert and OP Kitty Pride, but wasnít ever happy with the performance of either team in the face of Elf Thief, Oracle, Dwiz, Imprisoned, et al. Combo teams always lie close to the center of my heart, and I eventually decided it would be fun to try out the Improved Apologies in Advance team thatís been making the rounds.

After a lot of back and forth with @Jthomash2 , @IsaacBV , @Shadowmeld , and @TheConductr , the problem I kept running into is that I always felt like I needed 9 cards on the team. Since the original variations ran three support globals (PXG, BEWD, and Chalkboard), and a backup win condition (Bard), youíre only left with three flex slots to account for protecting your win conditions. Well, whatís the standard answer when you want a 9 card team? I dropped PXG and planned for my opponent to bring it. Since Kobold almost feels necessary for this team to hit the kind of ramp it needs for a 7 cost under the new first turn rules, Iíd have a backup way to buy a Beholder on T3 without PXG on the board anyway. I was afraid of an opposing Ultraman after @Shadowmeld demonstrated just how oppressive that variant could be, and teched in UXM Storm re @TheConductr ís variant. UXM Storm global also had benefit that it was locally pre-ruled that End of Days targeted the saved character on each side, which could be redirected. The variant I ended up taking is here:;3x32cw

As a side note, one of our local players, Craig R, took the updated version of my team from the last WKO, which is here:;3x28wf

Henry C - Mask Ring -;3x34aou
I sat down across the table from Henry, introduced myself, and looked down to see The Oppression Begins. Off to a bad start, lol. I looked up and down the table, and saw nearly everyone had teched in The Oppression Begins. I was prepared to deal with End of Days and Fireball, but I have terrible luck at rolling the level three characters Iíd need to avoid TOB. Unfortunately for Henry, I pivoted Bard immediately and ran the standard Thief>Hellblazer>Imprisoned>Bard setup that makes Bard-Imprisoned teams so frustrating.


Sean M - Well, This Looks FamiliarÖ -;3x34aou

Sean was running a Bard control variant very similar to the ones that @whisperni and I ran. It was a little surreal seeing this across the table and Sean commenting on the podcasts - Iím not used to being internet famous! He had wisely teched in The Oppression Begins as well, so yet another game I had to pivot to Bard. We both knew the Imprisoned game we had to play; threatening Imprisioned and KOing our fields, but leaving Hellblazer to name something each turn. I did make a mistake on recalling rulings and did not realize that WK had ruled on the way the BFF Beholder global works; since the prep area works by placing all your drawing dice there, rolling them, and then moving all the dice to the reserve, I played it as a way to keep threatening Imprisoned each turn, instead of every other turn. I felt really bad about that when it was brought to my attention after winning the match when Sean missed a critical Imprisoned roll :/


Craig H - Meta Read of the Day -;3x28wf

Craig is one of the originals from the STL scene - heís been playing since AVX and helped get my partner and I into the game. Heís known for two uncanny abilities. One, the ability to self-handicap when he plays with newer players without seeming overt about it - you never feel like he let you win (seriously I donít understand how he does this). Two, the ability to roll ridiculous numbers of sidekicks. Our newer players hadnít ever seen Craig at his peak abilities and didnít believe me when I told them that Craig had taken off his kid gloves today. Even then, he teched twice against Apologies in Advance just because, so Beholder was right out. Because of the concessions that have to be made to run IAIA as the main win condition, I didnít have the utility to answer his Taunt global. I couldnít keep anything on the field, get Imprisoned to stick, or get any of my rolls to line up, and Craig just built up into his Bard and swung for lethal like it was nothing, lol.


Kat F - We Finally Meet! -;3x136bff

Kat and I had been talking online for quite a while - we both really enjoy each otherís articles and tournament reports. Craig H had actually visited the scene in Dyersburg a few times, establishing a connection between our local metas. Kat brought this awesome Colossus team (and made it to Top 8 later - take that, meta!). Unfortunately, she chose not to tech against Beholder, betting that she wouldnít see many. While she was right (I was the only Beholder team anyone I talked to saw), it meant I grabbed the standard turn 4 win and it was over too soon.


Matt H - ...Again? -;3x34aou

Matt and I played each other in Swiss Game 5 last time. And then again in Top 4. And now here. We know how this match goes and we werenít really looking forward to it, lol. Since Iíd dropped PXG, and he teched in The Oppression Begins, we were looking at basically a rematch. Itís worth noting this was my only game of the day without PXG. Standard openings; he went Thief into Oracle, I went Kobolds and Hellblazer. I got him to 11 life to clear my field when he started threatening my Imprisoned die, and then I followed it up with a misplay worrying about his Bard, which he hadnít bought yet, but I thought was in his bag. Nothing else really happened the rest of the game; just back and forth chess-match stuff into time. Neither of us were getting the rolls for lethal, even when we had all the right dice coming out. It was one of the most frustrating ties Iíve ever had, and I was on tilt pretty bad by the end of it.


Top 8 Cut:

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Matt H -;3x34aou

Craig H -;3x28wf

Craig R -;3x28wf

Me -;3x32cw

Travis F -;3x25asm

Kat F -;3x136bff

Josh K -;3x26uxm

Henry C -;3x34aou

Iíve commented or am about to comment on every other team in the top 8 here except for Joshís - note that heís not running Master Lordsí Alliance. It looks like he would use Magic Missile to make Angel unblockable and buff him with Enrage. This is a great example of @Dave ís build philosophy - 2-3 card win condition, 2-3 cards to help you get there, the rest of the team to protect your win condition. I'm over the moon that Josh made it into Top 8.

Travis F - Poly Venom Is Still Meta -;3x25asm

I thought Iíd recovered from my tilt, but I misread Travisís team and he used my Beholder against me. I know better; Iíve done exactly the same trick with Rarecrow against other people, at other WKOs. Things got progressively worse in the second game for my emotional state, and Travis played a strong game. I conceded the match after my 5th or 6th misplay, and reading that he would be able to polymorph my Beholder back in and steal it with a Rarecrow on the next turn. I wasnít aware that I could go on tilt quite that badly, and I definitely learned something about myself that I need to work on.

3-2-1 for the day.

Top 4:
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Top 4 A
Craig H;3x28wf


Craig R;3x28wf

Craig R was running the updated version of my team from the last WKO. Heíd teched in End of Days to replace Polymorph at mine and @whisperni ís recommendation that poly was sort of a ďI need another basic actionĒ on this team and it would be important to tech in against Beholder. Unfortunately, that limited how he could respond to a taunt global. Craig Hís excellent meta call to bring a taunt global in a meta light on Distraction was brilliant. In their first game, both Craigs went back and forth with the Imprisoned game and a couple rough rolls. Craig H eventually built up a wide enough field for lethal. In the second game, things went Craig Rís way with the standard Constantine>Thief>Bard that his team was built around. The third game went to Craig H in a similar manner.

Craig H proceeds.

Top 4 B

Matt H;3x34aou


Travis F;3x25asm

Travis and Matt had a long back-and-forth slog. Travis missed that Matt runs Antihero over Hellblazer, which slowed Travisís polymorph plays by quite a bit. Neither player runs a hard board clear, and they both maintained similar pacing and similar field breadths in their control games. Travis missed a Venom roll since he couldnít use Polymorphís consistency. After finally getting Venom in the field, Matt pivoted to Zoom, hoping to catch Travis on a bad turn. Travis was eventually able to use Rarecrow to steal Mattís Professor Zoom two turns in a row for the win. Time was called shortly after starting game 2, which ended in a draw.

Travis F proceeds.

Top 2 match
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Craig H;3x28wf


Travis F;3x25asm

After two long back-and-forth slogs with terrible rolls and Craig taunting Travisís field clear, Craig H beat Travis F in an overtime third game. On his third turn, Travis rolled out a wide enough field to sneak one sidekick through Craig's blockers and have three blockers left. Travis then missed naming Craig's Morphing Jar with Hellblazer, and Craig hit two sidekicks and a Jar on his initial roll of his third turn. We all realized Craig had to hit at least two more sidekicks out of 3 dice on the reroll, with Craig saying so himself - this has a 7% chance of happening, for the record. Craig somehow managed to hit both the sidekicks he needed, forever cementing his arcane ability to roll sidekick faces!

Victory to Craig H!

Overall, I was very pleased with the meta at Owensboro. Everyone was very informed and prepared about the shifts that happened at the last WKO - Nearly everyone I played had teched in against Beholder or had another way to deal with him (Hellblazer and Rarecrow, for example). Unfortunately for me, everyone teched in The Oppression Begins, and there wasnít much I could do about it - I might as well have just run my old team! Interestingly, I only had one match without PXG here, which was very different from Springfield, MO. Craigís decision to run a taunt global when everyone had teched out their Distraction globals, etc. was brilliant and was very difficult to deal with. It was great getting to see Craig play at the top of his ability and be rewarded for it.

Our Top 8 was diverse - only four Bard teams, then one each of Beholder, Colossus, Mask Ring, and Angel: Soaring. I was really excited to see the variety of win conditions. But there wasnít much variety in the backbone of control - some part of Elf Thief, Oracle, Hellblazer, and Dwiz were the backbones of these teams. Really, our meta seemed to be establishing a fast, low cost control, then pivoting to your win condition. Any 1-slot win condition fits in these teams, be it Bard, Ring, or Colossus.

As a side note, Jared W ( @Pocolius ) brought a variant of the VS control build he ran in Chicago, and noted that The Oppression Begins is probably currently meta-worthy in its own right, outside of the current IAIA teams - with the meta so dominated by low-fielding-cost characters, TOB is a solid board clear that sends to used on ⅔ of its action faces. Itís especially useful when you depend on action dice over characters. He was only one win instead of a time-draw away from Top 8, so thereís a good chance that control-based VS is still relevant.

Huge shoutout to Big Bang and Cory Clemmons. The event went super smoothly and all the advance rulings were greatly appreciated. I highly recommend their events.