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Vika’s Calgary Regional Winning Tournament Report

In the weeks leading up to the regional I was leaning towards playing Dooku/Talzin (I used them to win Season 8 of the Artificery league, which had decklists locked in a little over a month ago) and seeing Dooku/Talzin win two regionals the weekend prior to my event sealed the deal. The top three regional winning decks so far were Vader/Greedo, Yoda/Leia mill and Tarkin/Snoke, and I like Dooku/Talzin against all of them.

Match-Ups


Vader/Greedo – I feel like a favorite in this match up, though not a heavy one. Dooku’s ability is very good at keeping Vader off of Friends in High Places, and in my experience, I will win when Vader can’t play it (or if he whiffs when he does). Be patient with Dooku. If your opponent is showing damage on one Vader die, but not showing 7 total, don’t flip it. Just let him have it and make him play fair. If he starts rerolling, you know he’s looking for 7, and flip his highest die when he does get there.  When Vader wins the roll off, he will always take Theed, and when I win, I’ll always give him Theed. Do your best to take Theed from him going into round 2 and keep it the rest of the game. With Talzin having two shields Dooku becomes Vader’s target, and I much prefer racing to 15 damage while my opponent tries to get to 12, than trying to get to 17 while Vader only needs to get to 9. Beating Vader is the number one priority, so if you can’t do it, don’t even bother bringing the deck (I’m looking at you Tarkin/Snoke).


Leia/Yoda – Dooku/Talzin is very strong into mill as it combines the two things mill hates most, god rolls (through their abilities) and action cheating. Dooku/Talzin is especially strong vs. Leia/Yoda as you can burst Leia down fast, and you don’t care about cards being ripped from your hand, as you were never going to play more than two of them anyways and don’t need a lot of rerolls. Just play your upgrades and roll into great natural damage. At Odds is great vs. mill and The Power of the Force is a blow out card into them as well. Ancient Lightsabers don’t hurt here either.
Tarkin/Snoke – Give them Theed and just blast Tarkin down as fast as you can. With 2 Deflect and 2 At Odds, you aren’t overly scared of Fist since they have to pay for it, unlike with Vader. As with Leia/Yoda, you don’t care if Tarkin rips your hand away, you have plenty of consistency and it deals damage to your target while removing his own die and shutting off Snoke’s power action. When your opponent Snoke’s Tarkin’s double discard side, you know you’re going to win.


Snoke 3 Wide Decks – These might be the best decks out there, but without the results to back it up (only 2 regional wins), I wasn’t going to switch off of Dooku/Talzin because of them. This is Dooku/Talzin’s worst match up, particularly with Rebel Traitor (which I see as the stronger version) as you are never allowed to roll in Dooku off a Force Speed special. Playing on Rift Valley improves your odds against 3 wide Snoke a lot, which is why I chose that battlefield. You’re 65% to win the roll off vs. these decks, and with the amount of work that Rift Valley can put in against Snoke’s focus sides, I think it’s a must to run Rift Valley over Theed. I was hoping to never see this across the table from me.

Card Choices

Every even card must be explained, because they are costly to hit with Talzin’s ability and devastating when on Rift Valley.


Force Speed is your best card (with Energy Bow a close second) and allows you to cheat in your Dooku activation and flip his die to provide fast devastating damage. Force Speed allows you to use high value modified dice to great effect as well, like Maul’s Lightsaber and Vader’s Lightsaber, since you know you’ll have a base side to resolve them.


Ancient Lightsabers are amazing value, and I felt they were worth using despite being even. I think you could do without them as well though. 
No Mercy was included to give the deck some more reach to kill off a vital character faster, like Snoke in Snoke 3 wide decks, Tarkin in Tarkin/Snoke, etc. I only used it once over 11 games, so it probably wasn’t worth it. Despite being even it has some synergy with Talzin since you often only play 1 or 2 cards per turn anyways, so throwing your hand away is less costly.
Unyielding is the 3rd best card in the deck. For those who have not used Dooku/Talzin before, it is a 2x auto-include. Play some games with it and you’ll soon see why. It can easily win you games that are otherwise unwinnable. I forgot it in the Artificery league and missed it badly.

Rise Again is easy to get off with all the Theed’s running around, definitely want to include it. I think I played it 4/11 games. 

At Odds and Deflect are great vs. Vader’s Fist, so they’re easy 2x includes right now.

The Lightsabers – I wouldn’t use more than 1 copy of any of the 3 cost Lightsabers, as you can turn on Flames of the Past. It may be correct to use Fifth Brother’s Lightsaber over Vader’s Lightsaber as you really shouldn’t be using Vader’s Lightsaber’s action unless you’re swimming in money, in which case you’re probably better off trying to Rise Again, or play a couple more cards that round. Maul’s Lightsaber is a different story, as it can be worth the resource and the actions to roll it in and resolve it if you’re confident your opponent has no mitigation. In any case, you should look at these Lightsaber actions as costing 3 resources and the initiative next round, as they will often cause you to lose Theed when taking the time to do them. I never used either Lightsaber’s action/power action all tournament.

Opening Hand

You want to hit Force Speeds and Energy Bows (which have 4 sides you’re thrilled to see) and hopefully a consistent piece of mitigation. Keep any even cards you find, as you do not want them in your deck. I wouldn’t bother keeping Binds when you don’t hit an Energy Bow or Ancient Lightsaber to go with it. It’s debatable when you get it with a Force Illusion, but even then I’d likely throw them both back and dig for Force Speed and Energy Bow.

Swiss – 18 Players

Round 1 – Iden/Beckett

I rolled well and my opponent didn’t. I kept 2 deflects in my opening hand and was able to kill Iden round 2 before she resolved any dice (she rolled out poorly again that round). Iden and the baby blaster on her never showed a damage side this game. Rough game for my opponent. (1-0).

Round 2 – Thrawn/Snoke/Bitter

My opponent and I both throw back all 5 cards for the mulligan, and I draw into an atrociously bad hand. I win the roll off and give my opponent Weapons Factory Alpha (which is stronger than Theed, but more niche so less prevalent), hoping that I can burst Thrawn down with the 2 damage head start from Bitter and no shields to protect him. My opponent calls 1, sees that I have no mitigation, Energy Bows or Force Speeds among my 6 card hand and takes a Binds from me. After resolving both Thrawn dice for 2 resources (1 with a Snoke power action) he’s off to the races, playing a Fist and a Tie round 1. This game was over before the first action was ever taken. L (1-1).

Round 3 – Vader/Jawa/Retribution

I win the roll off and give Vader Theed. Round 2 starts with 2 damage on Dooku and Vader showing two 4 for 1 damage sides. I wanted to play ancient on Dooku, but decided that 8 to the face was a bit too much damage to take, despite not being enough for lethal. I flip one of Vaders dice and eat the other 4 damage. My opponent put 1 damage into Dooku from the Jawa, another from a Deflect and surprisingly (to me) flipped his blank to a 4 for 1 with Force Strike and killed Dooku while I had an unresolved Dooku die showing resource and a Rise Again on top of my deck. Talzin was able to finish Vader though, with Unyielding allowing her to resolve a 1 melee off an Ancient and her own 2 ranged side through 2 shields and an Illusion on Vader who had 3 health left. This was the first of many games that ended with an Unyielding play. W (2-1)

Round 4 – Yoda/Cassian/Anakin Mill

Dooku Talzin is strong into mill, and this game went absolutely perfectly for me. I won the roll off (81% favourite) and took Rift Valley. I played Binds, my opponent played Force Jump on Yoda, I played Energy Bow, and he rolled into a blank on Jump, and discard on both Yoda dice. I play my second Energy Bow and after some thought, he takes my hand with Yoda’s dice and I roll in solid damage with both Talzin and Dooku. Round 2 starts with me dropping Force Speed and killing Yoda before he can resolve his dice, while also getting a 1 cost ancient down. This game was over very quickly, and with the draws I had and Yoda and Force Jump never showing specials there was nothing my opponent could have done.  W (3-1).

Round 5 – Snoke/Ciena/Bala

My dream of dodging Snoke 3 wide decks is over and I’ll have to beat one to make the cut to top 4. I win the roll off and take Rift Valley. I’m able to control both Ciena and Bala’s dice round 1 and keep my opponent from getting any resources and put some damage into Snoke. He claims aggressively and misses on Rift.

I learn round 2 that he was never intending to pay for anything straight up anyways, as he plays Delve to drop a Planetary Bombardment, then uses its die to play Friends in High Places into an AT-ST. I’m able to get Snoke to 9 damage and have a Deflect in hand and I’m praying that I can kill Snoke with the AT-ST die. I’m passing and he has every die in the pool except AT-ST and I’m worried he’s playing around Deflect, but he finally rolls in AT-ST and hits damage and I kill Snoke prior to any Snoke dice being resolved or his power action being used (I don’t think either of Bala or Ciena had naturally rolled resources).

In the next round, I kill Ciena and he sinks a lot of damage into both Dooku and Talzin off his monster supports. Going into the final round, he has Bala with 2 shields and I have Talzin who’s about 3 away from death and Dooku maybe 5 away. He has the battlefield and rolls in Planetary (which basically can’t get a kill) instead of AT-ST (maybe playing around Deflect, but most likely just a mistake) and hits 5 indirect. I roll in Talzin and show some damage and a force speed special. He resolves the 5 indirect killing no one and I use the Force Speed special to roll in and kill Bala with Unyielding for 8, getting past the 2 shields and resolving my mixed damage sides all at once. I’m confident that if my opponent had played a little tighter, I lose that game (at one point he missed the optional trigger on Arc Caster to activate and reroll a die when rerolling one of my dice would have been important). By round 5 we’re all making some suboptimal plays, which I certainly did too this tournament, so I’m happy to get the win and move on to the top cut. W (4-1).

I finish in 3rd with 1st going to a 5-0 Snoke Ciena Rebel Traitor. The Thrawn Snoke who beat me earlier finished 4-1, having only lost to 1st place, was in 2nd. A Vader/Greedo deck was in 4th, also at 4-1, and one unfortunate soul missed the cut at 4-1.

Semifinals – Thrawn Snoke Rematch

Game 1 – Again my opponent and I discard all 5 cards and hard mulligan. I hit an Energy Bow, but not the Force Speed I was hoping for. He wins the roll off and chooses Weapons Factory Alpha, which he steam rolled me on last time after I chose it, and I draw Force Speed off the top of my deck with Bitter. The impact of this can’t be overstated, as I get my best card and avoid hitting an even on top of my deck. He calls 1 and chooses to take Feel Your Anger after hitting a blank on Thrawn and I get to play the Bow and Force Speed on Talzin turn 1 and this time I was the one off to the races. He got down a Droid Hailfire Tank, but without endless money to drop a stream of Ties, it’s simply an overcosted die and would be no match for my two characters doing what they do best. I kill Thrawn round 2 before he can resolve his dice and it doesn’t take long to finish Snoke. 1-0.

Game 2 – My Opponent chooses Rift Valley this time and poetically Bitter moves me off an odd and onto an even. When you hit an even card on Rift Valley you’re probably going to lose as you get destroyed twice on that turn (Talzin and your claim both miss, unless you can use an Illusion to change the deck). I don’t remember too much of this game, as I pretty much knew I was done once that happened. I may have started with an Energy Bow, but definitely not Force Speed. 1-1. 

Game 3 – We’re back on Weapons Factory Alpha and I think I hit a Force Speed in my opening hand, if not I got it to round 2. For the 4th time in 4 games, my opponent hard mulligans (pretty sure it was 4/4, could have been 3/4).

I have a very strong board state going into round 3 with Talzin having two Force Speeds and an Energy Bow on her and Dooku with an Ancient Lightsaber and Thrawn very low on health. I expect to kill Thrawn easily, but my opponent mitigated me like a champion keeping me off Force Speed specials and damage using Overconfidence, Hidden Motive and Beguile prior to Dooku finally rolling out fair. I eventually kill Thrawn and put a couple of damage into Snoke. By the end of the round, both Dooku and Talzin are getting low on health and my opponent had a solid board state.

The next round I roll out well with Talzin and hit some damage and two Force Speed specials. I take my time and resolve what damage I can then drop a Vader’s Lightsaber while eating some damage from a Fist. I then take 4 actions with Force Speed specials and activate Dooku needing to get to 7 damage with two rerolls and a Dooku flip, but no resources making his 3 for 1 side dead. I hit a +3 on Vader’s Lightsaber and a focus on Dooku and that was all I needed to put 8 into Snoke. W 2-1

Finals – Snoke/Ciena/Rebel Traitor


As stated before, Snoke 3 wide decks are my worst match up, but the Rebel Traitor version can be an absolute nightmare.

My outs against 3 wide snoke tend to include starting on Rift and being able to steal a Snoke focus late and force my opponent to hit damage naturally and to burst Snoke down fast prior to them getting an amazing board state set up. With Snoke, dead Cienas trick becomes expensive and a bit inefficient as you no longer have Snoke’s consistency and ability to print money. Going for Ciena first is all kinds of wrong, even if they drop a Fire Spray.

Game 1 – My opponent won the roll off and chose Theed. He activated Ciena and rolled a resource. With Feel Your Anger as my only mitigation that could stop him from ramping, I decided to take a chance on Talzin’s activation and was able to blank Ciena’s die with Talzin’s ability, and turn on Feel Your Anger. Rebel Traitor activated next and unfortunately for me also rolled a resource, so there was no stopping the ramp. He dropped a Fist and it did what it does best, and followed up with a round 2 Fire Spray with TLT and proceeded to steam roll me, getting off a round 2 or 3 Rebel Traitor into Mind Trick play for good measure. Though it took a few more rounds to finish, this one was decided quickly with his vastly superior board state. 0-1.

Game 2 – I’m on my home turf of Rift Valley and I luckily didn’t hit any devastating evens this game. I think I started with two Force Speeds as well. Once again I believe my opponent was able to Snoke a resource round 1 to ramp, but had to play a Hover Tank and was obviously far behind where he was the prior game with a round 1 Vader’s Fist. I was able to remove Snoke’s focus sides with Rift Valley this game and build up my own board state and before too long (round 3 I think) I was able to kill Snoke, then work my way through Ciena and Rebel Traitor while getting consistent value from Rift Valley. 1-1

Game 3 – We’re back on Theed and like in the previous game my opponent is able to ramp but is forced to play Hover Tank as his round 1 vehicle. I believe I started with a force speed and an energy bow and am off to the races. I was able to kill Snoke in round 2 I think and establish a stronger and faster board state than my opponent who was also rolling a ton of blanks of this game. I took this game and won the regional!
Not to over simplify things, but in game 1 my opponent started with a Fist, and games 2 and 3, he hit neither Fist nor Fire Spray round 1 and was forced to start with Hover Tank, which against 2 wide decks is a destitute man’s Fist/Fire Spray. He’s 80% to start with a Fist or Fire Spray with a hard mulligan and I was lucky that he missed them 2 of the 3 games.

Conclusion

To wrap things up, this was a very fun regional with very friendly people. The tournament was well organized and supported by the store (The Sentry Box) and although we only had 18 people, I feel it was a strong tournament, with all the decks in the cut being top tier decks piloted by strong players. Thanks for reading!

David ‘Vika’ Broberg

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The Thrill of Mill: San Diego Regional Winner* Report

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*Since I had already won Las Vegas and am not going to take away someone’s Worlds Seat or Nationals Bye, I conceded in the final round. Jefferson and I shook hands, then since we just so happened to be in the same place at the same time he offered to play a match on stream with me with nothing on the line but a trophy, which I went home with.

 Deck Selection:

The deck selection process for this was actually pretty straightforward as compared to previous tournaments. I very specifically did not want to try and figure out what the best deck is. I didn’t have an answer to that then, I don’t have an answer to that now.

I knew I was going to use my bye because it was my home regional, so the big question is Vader. But as I’ve said before, there isn’t enough room to maneuver in any iteration of Vader that I have built or seen someone else build. The Terror To Behold is certainly effective, and he is certainly capable of winning any game if things go his way but he is very rarely doing anything unexpected.

And yet… I did briefly consider playing Vader, and even had Pearl Yeti bring me a deck all the way from Portland just in case I audibled over to him (my wonderful wife LadyVader has first last and permanent claim over any Vader related cards in our house). But I stuck to my guns and picked from a very short list of decks that met some very specific criteria I had laid out beforehand.

A.) Be able to defeat Vader convincingly, the majority of the time, on either player’s BF.

B.) Be something people aren’t very well practiced against in a general sense, or be able to change the specific contents of the deck enough to introduce surprise plays.

C.) Have a viable game plan against Firespray and Shadowcaster aside from Disable.

D.) Have no more than one auto-loss matchup against any commonly considered deck that is able to meet the condition A (Mill, any Sabine variant, or Kit Fisto)

About a week out, I had it narrowed down to three decks. Yoda/Leia Mill, Han/Qira, and Hero Vehicles. Han/Qira left consideration pretty swiftly, because I am a coward. Han/Qira has zero auto-loss matchups that I have seen in this meta, not even against Kylo. The problem I had was that it had zero auto-win matchups either. The level of play and decision making necessary to go six BO1 and three BO3 matches was beyond what I was willing to put myself through.

I’ve never really played mill at a high level so I reached out four days prior to the best mill player I know, Reflex of The Hyperloops, for some deck advice. He gave me a grip of new cards to consider, prodded my way of thinking to reach a conclusion I am sure he had figured out months ago, and patted me on the head. I sure did feel smart!

After trying things out for a couple of days, I ended up totally disregarding the majority of the advice I was given because I was not going to be able to adjust my playstyle and shore up my own weaknesses as a player enough to make it work. I kept a few suggestions though and ran with them, ending up at the final list below. I know I am being vague about the details but I was asked to keep his specific tricks under wraps until his regional.

Note: Reflex ended up running three-wide, but his version was very focused on maintaining speed and BF control, with Snuff Out and Command Center as two major inclusions.

In the back of my mind though, was Hero Vehicles in two forms, eYoda/eL3/Gungan, and Wedge/eRose/HG. Both were very comfortable to me, and definitely felt good against Vader, but the decision to go Vehicles at GenCon was still haunting me. So coming all the way up to three minutes prior to the deck registration I was torn. The final deciding factor was both Yeti and LadyVader herself telling me to shut up and play mill.

The Deck

Tournament Results

As always, human memory is imperfect and any incorrect retelling of events in the recall of these rounds were inserted by me wholesale. If I get names mixed up or a sequence of events out of order please contact me and I will correct them ASAP.

ROUND 1 vs BYE

Used the bye. Just as good this year as it was last year. Gave me time to listen to music, get some caffeine, and chat with some people I haven’t seen in a while.

Round 2 vs Randy

All of my testing had indicated to me that some very bad things would have to occur to lose to a Vader deck. Welp. Bad things happened here, and I don’t think any deck I could possibly have played would have gotten the job done. Randy pushed me to a loss so fast and so unerringly that I was thinking about taking my Artificery shirt off and trying to go unnoticed for the rest of the day.

Leia was dead by the end of Round 2 against a Round 1 Vader’s Saber gotten off the back of Theed, bolstered by a card I had not considered in the slightest. Legacies. This card is awesome for Vader, and Randy definately knew where his priorities lay. He made a beeline for Leia’s head and didn’t let off the gas until he got it. I was able to wipe his whole hand in Round 1 and 2, but it didn’t matter because I never even considered the possibility of a “stranded” saber die getting resolved.

I did take him to the very bitter end though, the last sequence of the game was Yoda sitting on 1 HP left, nothing of note rolled out across his dice or the Force Jump and Force Speed. I had plenty of mitigation in hand, and he rolled out base melee on both Vader dice, and a resource on both a Darksaber and Ancient. I knew he had B&S in hand, and Beguile can only touch three dice.

Round 3 vs Revan86

I kept my jersey on, checked the pairings, and despaired. Revan is one of our top local players, and the number of times we have had what anyone could consider to be a “good game” in a Store Championship or higher event is zero, we just alternate merciless beatdowns. We both very diligently track who won the last showdown in a “Ha Ha only serious” sort of way. I was due a win this time, and I got it.

I received a near-perfect draw with both Force Jumps, I won the BF roll (but missed one of my own triggers like a dummy), I had adequate backup mitigation, and timely Commando Raids with focus to spare at the end for Leia’s power action. My deck ran itself this round, I just happened to be in the chair.

Round 4 vs Justin eYoda/eL3/Gungan

Justin hails from the Los Angeles area, we only see each-other when making the Store Championship rounds. Being able to spend time with the players from other areas is one of the reasons Store Championship season is my favorite time of the Destiny year, and people like Justin are why.

Ritual exchanging of pleasantries occurred, and we were underway. His deck was pretty similar to one of my shortlisted candidates, in my opinion with some better and some worse card choices. I was taken by surprise when he took control of Landing Dock with his last card in hand after I claimed Round 1, then surprised again when I was reminded the hard way that the PA on that battlefield can hit any die on the field.

Since his first vehicle played was an X-Wing I immediately shifted everything I had to prioritize burning his deck rather than his hand, with the reasoning being that if he had any X-Wings at the start of a round he would play them immediately, and that the Hailfires he was sure to have brought would be less effective with less vehicles to draw into, and that I could do a hail-mary discard at his hand if necessary if I ever saw a resource stockpile.

I managed to get one other X-Wing into the discard, but more importantly took both of the Hailfires out of the deck in the process. He was able to get the last two X-Wings down and bolster them with an N-1, but with no actual direct damage dealt for the entire game I was able to finish off his last remaining cards and play a Mind Trick on all dice in the pool to keep both characters alive.

Round 5 vs Kevin from the Roll-On Podcast

Man this was tough game. Of all the Vader pairings to play mill into, Vader/Red is the hardest. Of all of those, the one that gives Vader free damage even when his char dice are removed is the worst by far (though Nute is irritating). Combine that with someone who both clearly tested against mill and put thought into the matchup from both points of view, and it took everything I had to hold on.

I can’t remember very many details from the match, except that I won the rolloff and he immediately put shields on his droid, telling me he either has two copies of The Best Defense or that he had one in his hand. I was able to get a Force Jump out early and focus on removing his Saber while just keeping the char dice unresolvable, but it was slow going through the actual cards.

The weird thing about mill is how close or far away from winning you feel at any given time. I usually ask for a deck count at the start of round 3 or 4, and no matter what I’m blown away by the number. 4? How did I get that deep? This match was at the other end of the spectrum. Seven left in deck and five in hand at the end of round 4. How can I be so far behind?

Two At-Odds, and Vader’s Meditation Chamber. That’s how. I managed to mill a copy of Vader’s Fist earlier, which he ended up putting on the bottom of the deck and he had the Saber in play, so I needed to keep my Flames in hand all the way from Round 1 and only have Pacify and Overconfidence as mitigation in hand. I rolled out Yoda to an extremely good roll except for the Force Jump but with only 4HP remaining.

He rolled out Vader to nothing of note except his own Force Speed. I can’t play Pacify because Yoda takes 1 from Retribution, then has a 33% of dying on a Force Speeded power action roll. I go in the tank a bit and come up with a high-risk high-reward play that ended up paying off. I play overconfidence on my Force Jump and his Force Speed, and came out on top. Strict rationing of my Yoda specials and use of Pacify for the rest of the round kept Yoda alive and burned both At-Odds and the Fist buried earlier in one go. This ended up letting me Commando Raid his hand the next round and have an auto-win on board the next round.

But since he had ended round 5 with more than 5 resources, that’s when I realized the mad genius of Kevin. He only put one copy of Fist in the deck, and held his second saber the whole game! It very nearly won him the match by clogging my hand up the whole game, which was far more impactful than him holding on to one card would ever be. Notably (unless my memory of the top cut is wrong), Kevin is the only person I played against who never missed an Occupied City trigger while they had control of it.

Hats off to Kevin, Corwin, and their Dad for their performance this weekend, you can check out their take on the regional here.

Round 6 vs Ken

Another Vader round, this time with his Jawa friend. Jawa I don’t mind so much but the Retribution plot reared its head again.

I can remember very little from this round, my apologies to Ken. I know it didn’t go very well for him from the start since I was able to set up Commando Raid hand-wipes relatively early and stockpile a slush fund for a rainy day. The end of the game was him playing Vader’s Fist, then needing to reroll the die into my held Flames of the Past. With either one or two cards left total and both of my chars still alive I closed it out.

Round 7 vs Jerry

Oh boy. I had heard there was a Planned Explosion deck running rampant on people. Was hoping to dodge it, but it was my fate. I won this round through luck. Pure and simple.

I keep EMP grenades in my opener, windmill slam it on Yoda thinking I’m king of the world, roll Yoda out to double discard sides for the green man and a natural special on EMP Grenades.

Jerry goes to play a card, I see that its Shadowcaster. I’m singing tunes to myself in my head. Before he actually lays the card down or even moves his resources he says wait a second, I didn’t see that was showing a special. I’ll play…

Lando you smug son of a bitch…

I couldn’t help but just laugh. I’m thinking there is no way I am coming back from getting double-disrupted out of my one answer to the one vehicle I am all but powerless to effect otherwise. I saw the Shadowcaster, he knows I saw the Shadowcaster, I have to resolve double discard from Yoda and take my 50/50 shot at clawing back. Not only did I get the Shadowcaster, I get a Planned Explosion.

At the end of the round he had claimed early and left a couple dice hanging out which I thought was odd. With only one card left in his hand and a Leia 2-Discard side on my side of the board I went with my gut to take the card from hand rather than two off the deck and got the other Planned Explosion.

Subsequent to that, across a total of two Partnerships and one Attack Run with the Legacies Falcon chosen twice, and his other Shadowcaster chosen once, he only found four damage he could resolve ahead of my mitigation.

Like I said. Pure luck. And not to retread old ground, Jerry ended up in 9th place overall when by all rights he should most likely have been in the top 8 but for some other unpleasantness. He had nothing but the most upbeat attitude throughout the entire round and every time I saw him thereafter, so it just goes to prove once again that Destiny really does have the best community of any game right now. I wish that he had gotten able to take his shot at the trophy inside the top 8.

Top Cut.

I actually have stream coverage of my run in all three rounds of the top cut! In the process of commentating over it I started to feel drained, almost just as drained as playing through the top cut in the first place, which really shows why mill isn’t very popular to play or play against I think. It was hard all day, against some very tough opponents, and even then I required a certain amount of luck to get through it all. I hope you enjoy the matches and find some value in the commentary, if not and you would prefer to just watch with table audio the VODs are available for the entire tournament over on Twitch.tv/Artificery for all the Table 1 matches, and all of the Table 2 matches over at Monks Gaming Battlefield.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pD6Z-uU3TJ0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0WSjp5mWcU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzPMHmir49o

Conclusions and Random Thoughts

The deck treated me very well, and I would play it again for sure. It has the capability to win against the most popular decks you are nearly guaranteed to see in every tournament. Solid all the way through.

I don’t have anything to add to the main unpleasantness that happened in San Diego, but here’s some you may not have heard of if you weren’t in attendance yourself. The store chosen to host the regional totally dropped the ball on the experience. In no particular order:

A.) Tournament was capped to 60 players to give priority to an MTG event. Store did not provide adequate notice that the tournament was capped, resulting in 20 people driving hours out of their way to be turned back.

B.) Store did not provide any employee staffing or support to organize, run, or judge the tournament. This resulted in the TO responsibilities being shouldered by one of our local mainstay and competitive players, who would have preferred to play, and did not anticipate any of the issues which arose and made the best of a bad situation.

C.) Store did not initially provide printing supplies for pairings and match slips, resulting in a 50 minute delay in tournament start time.

D.) Store did not provide adequate toilet facilities, one single-stall restroom was shared between over 100 people for a large portion of the day.

E.) Store charged $20 entry and gave zero prize support aside from the tournament kit. This is a contentious point to make. The kit costs around $200, and stores aren’t charity. I get it. I’m a capitalist. If a store doesn’t expect or can’t hold more than 32 or so people, I don’t expect much if anything at all in addition to the kit. The first ten people buy the kit, the next ten pay for store labor costs, and then the store gets to keep the lights on and make profit from the rest of the players plus snacks/drinks purchases. Perfectly fair.

What I don’t expect is absolutely nothing from a store that sells out all 60 spots at $20 a head, and provides nothing in the way of support aside from the roof over the tables. This meant that 60 people came together to rent a room for $1000. If we had just done that, we would have exclusive use of the space and wouldn’t have needed to cap attendance. Not to mention, event venues usually have adequate restroom facilities. Right off the top of my head, the store could have offered $300 in store credit to the top cut or as an attendance raffle, and thrown in a couple of boxes. The boxes cost the store about $55 each wholesale, and anyone from out of town would spend the store credit immediately, which when you include the expected (and necessary) markup a brick and mortar location has, means the store gets a fair amount back right off the rip depending on what was bought. Call the outlay $250 as a good will offering, taking some sting off of the rest of the venue issues which plagued us. By itself, this is irritating. Combined with all of the other stuff above? I’m never walking back in there, and that store was the most convenient for me to go to by a wide margin.

Thanks for reading,
Agent Of Zion

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Addressing the Cheating Allegations at the SD Regional.

Artificery Headquarters Playmat

I feel obligated to speak on the issue both because I am fortunate enough to have a platform from which to do so, and because the event took place not just in my home region but at my home store, with a personal friend as the TO.

I don’t have any first hand information about the allegations made against Cat beyond what people have already seen clipped from the stream, and didn’t personally witness anything shady myself. That being said, the shuffles appear stacked. If you haven’t seen it, check this post. https://www.reddit.com/r/swdestiny/comments/aht2li/so_what_do_you_think_is_this_proper_shuffling/

In one match (round 3) a Truce was slipped from the bottom to the top, then a lot of shuffling happened thereafter. Prior to the Truce going to the top, cards were put one at a time from bottom to top. After Truce, cards were taken from the bottom and placed into hand then mashed into the deck after quite a few piled up. I cannot determine with absolute certainty from the video if the Truce was kept on top throughout this process but it appears so. Then a Vader’s Saber is slipped from the bottom to the top. The entire deck leaves field of view for a few seconds thereafter but every visible partial riffle leaves what is on top, on top. Cat did not cut Mike’s deck, nor did he offer to allow Mike to cut his. In the mulligan for that same match, a Friends in High Places was slipped from bottom to top and kept there after more partial riffles. Once again, he declined to cut Mike’s deck and Mike also declined to cut Cat’s. In his hand we can see the Friends In High, and he starts the round with Truce into Vader’s Saber.

In one match (round 4) a Vader’s Saber and Truce were slipped from the bottom to the top, then kept on the top after a few partial riffles. Cat did not cut Justin’s deck, nor did he offer to allow Justin to cut his. In the mulligan for that same match, a Friends in High Places was slipped from bottom to top and kept there after more partial riffles. This time Justin did cut the deck.

And that’s all I really needed to watch. If a sleuth wants to dig deeper into the archived footage, they are more than welcome to.

During the actual tournament, both myself and the TO were made aware of the issue and looked at one of the clips (I can’t remember which one, but think it was the first shuffle against Mike). When asked for my advice by the TO, I said it was his decision but that it was very clear to me that it was a stacked deck and that I would issue a disqualification, or at the bare minimum, a game loss. The TO decided to issue a warning, at which point I advised that Cat be kept at Table 1 (as the higher fidelity of the two streams running) for the remainder of the tournament.

I don’t think it should take too much convincing for anyone to reach the same conclusion I have, but because I am a numbers guy, I wanted to see just how unlikely it was that this were to occur innocently. There’s two ways to look at it.

The first way is just to see how likely it is to start with the Truce/Saber combo. Ignore everything else and just look at the end result. A very quick, and very dirty way to do it is to calculate the odds of drawing at least two copies of either of the cards off of the top 10. Heading over to https://stattrek.com/online-calculator/hypergeometric.aspx put in 30 for the pop size (deck), 4 for the number of successes (assuming 2x Truce and 2x Saber), 10 for the sample size (full mulligan), and 2 number of successes (what we want). Percentage comes out to ~40%. Cut that in half because out of all 8 success conditions we calculated for, half are duplicates of the same cards and are failures in actuality. So we’re left with ~20%, decreased by the fact that we only calculated for the top 10 of the deck and not the actual mulligan process. The odds of it occurring twice in two rounds back to back are ~4%, again decreased by the fact that we didn’t calculate true mulligan odds.

The second way to look at it is purely from the percentage that he happened to stop flipping cards from the bottom to the top at just the right moment. Doing it like this, it is ~6% each time. Even if we ignore the two Truces we see get pulled to the top because he didn’t truly stop until Vader’s Saber, the odds of getting 2x Saber, and 2x FIHP to the top of your deck like this randomly are 0.001296%.

Straight Flushes happen in real life, and looking at the numbers is really just a waste of time anyway, done purely for my curiosity. Neglecting to offer a cut is a natural mistake that is perfectly reasonable for any player to do at some point. Stopping a shuffle on a specific card can happen. Some players learn poor shuffling habits and don’t get corrected. Sometimes when you play against Vader he does end up just blowing you out with a great series of draws because that’s what Vader is supposed to do. I am more than willing to be charitable and to assume the best of people on any one of those things. Asking me believe that all of those things happened at once? You’d be stretching my charity pretty thin. Asking me to believe it twice in a row? Sorry, I just can’t. I have to call a cheat as I see it.

I don’t make accusations lightly, and I try to compartmentalize things as much as possible.

I have absolutely nothing against Cat as a person. When playing against him online, and in person, he was nothing but accommodating and kind beyond any reasonable expectation even going so far as to give me a longer break in between rounds due to a chronic hand/arm pain problem I have and offering advice to alleviate the issue. I’d absolutely drink a beer with him, and I’d absolutely play against him again.

I would absolutely shuffle his deck myself again too though.

There’s a rabbit hole we can go down here. Topics include:

FFG’s casual nature as a company bleeding into their unwillingness to take action against people caught cheating and how that influences certain peoples ethical decision making.

FFG’s lack of TO guidance for how to handle any issues that arise during a tournament.

The expectations we have in general for tournaments ran by a volunteer player (as the TO was for this regional).

What the community response needs to be when dealing with this issues.

What the corrective action should be in this specific case.

This is long enough so it’s best to leave most of those for another day, and it shouldn’t be too hard to guess my positions on any of those topics anyway.

I’ll close this out by publicly calling upon Cat to apologize, and to relinquish the entirety of his Top 4 prizing to the person who came in ninth place at the San Diego regional. I have contact information for both players, and can act as an intermediary between the two of you. I will even pay for the shipping of the prizes. It isn’t a perfect solution and it does nothing to alleviate the disservice done to any of your opponents (especially Joe, your top 8 opponent), but it is the simplest and most direct rectification I can reasonably recommend.

V/R
Agent Of Zion