It sounds pretty simple right? Test some decks, find the one that feels best, go to worlds and come home with swag! Well… It’s not quite so straightforward. Not if you want to win anyway.
Now. Like RIGHT NOW.
Get your time off, get your hotel room or Air BnB, budget out the trip. This should be a no brainer, but last year there were many people who bought tickets but ended up unable to attend due to preventable issues. Family emergencies happen, and keeping your job is way way more important than a card game, but I personally know three people who waited until the week before-hand to look for lodging…. Two of them paid dearly and split a single bed, the other just couldn’t find a place to be. Get everything sorted now and save yourself the hassle. I knew one person who waited too long to get a plane ticket, and had to drive 18 hours to get there. Don’t be that guy if you can help it.
From Now until 30 days out
Establish your reach, both socially and physically.
Physically, get your cards and dice in order. Figure out what you have, what you don’t have, and how far you can reasonably bridge that gap. Playing a Seventh Sister at your local or even a GQ with only one Maul’s Lightsaber is fine. Doing so at worlds is a recipe for disaster. Players will be eking every single percentage point of advantage from their decks, now is not the time to give a few percent up for free. Getting a realistic assessment of what you have to work with right now will focus your efforts towards the decks you can actually run, and give you time to snipe out the best Ebay deals. But there is another solution…
Social reach. We all know people who didn’t earn a ticket or win the lottery. Talk to them! Lay the groundwork for maybe borrowing a few cards you might need depending on how your testing goes. It would take a pretty cold heart to not let a trusted friend borrow a card or two, and Ancient Lightsabers are not impulse buys.
But the card borrowing isn’t the most important aspect of social reach. You’re going to need to get the strongest group of individuals you can find to playtest. People who can be trusted to keep the latest and greatest tech secrets, and who won’t spill the beans on any new ideas you come up with… As a group.
A group? Yeah. Ideally your group will include multiple worlds contenders. An important aspect here is group success. A win for one of you is a win for all of you in many ways, and there’s enough competition to go around trust me. Your playtest group should have no secrets, and no backstabbery. Once you establish your group you should be pretty much set in stone. Disagreements happen and it’s rare to get multiple people in a group to run the same deck card-for-card, but those people are going to be your backbone.
30 Days to 7 Days
First thing you’re going to do is establish a deck gauntlet. Your gauntlet should contain any deck that has even a somewhat reasonable chance of going the distance, leave no stone unturned.
If you want a jump-start on a gauntlet, feel free to use Artificery’s, the same one we are using for internal World’s Prep.
The second thing you’re going to do is build a new deck. Flex your creative muscles, explore a new concept or a new take on an old concept. Seen any Luke decks recently? Or Crime Lord? Is there a hidden Bazine deck? Then run it through your gauntlet.
Chances are it did poorly. The meta is pretty well explored at the moment, and the wisdom of crowds is in full effect. But it is still useful to do this. As I’ve said before if someone knows 100% of your decklist when you sit down, and has tested their own deck against that list dozens of times, you’re in for a rough ride.
As a hypothetical, lets say your playtest group discovers that the best deck in the meta currently has a 75% win-rate against every other deck (like I said, hypothetical). Your group also establishes that the new deck has a 65% win-rate against everything. I’d take the new deck. If you can get close to the best deck percentages with something other people are either out of practice against or have never seen before within a group that does know the deck, you’ve struck gold and should run with it. This is promised land territory, and you should at least make an attempt at it.
Next, run your gauntlet against itself. You’re going to need to play every deck in your gauntlet until you reach a certain level of familiarity. This will let you see perspectives from every angle, and will help you navigate situations no matter what deck you eventually land on. Additionally, you will remember things much easier. Logistics has spot red, so does Tactical Mastery, Entangle is spot yellow… So on and so forth.
RECORD YOUR DATA. It is common wisdom right now that Mill beats Vehicles right? So if you anticipate a 90% Vehicles field at worlds, you should definitely run mill… Unless you’re terrible at playing mill. Some decks just don’t click with some people. I’ll never be able to get the job done with OTK, even if I think that at the time of this article it is the best deck in the format. I’ve tried, but I know that I’m subpar. Recording your match results will allow you to do an honest self-assessment without falling into the trap of saying “well my draws/rolls were bad there” and blowing off the entire purpose of the exercise.
This is a tall order. Which is again why it is important you have a group, and even better if you have a group of like-minded people.
Look at all your data.
Check I Rebel’s tournament results.
Compile all of that, take an educated estimation of what you expect to see in the top 16 of Worlds, and pick a deck that gives you the best chance of beating the top 16. Why the top 16 and not the field? Because you can lose two games (if in later rounds) and still make cut for one. And if you’ve been doing serious consistent play-testing for the previous 23 days, you will be in a better spot than the vast majority of the field, and should find yourself at the top tables relatively quickly against the players who are as equally prepared. Perhaps Mel Gibson said it best…
Next, pick a secondary deck. This is your audible, your panic-button, and your go-to just in case you had your meta prediction all wrong. This is more important if you have day 1b or day 1c, as everyone is scouting the day 1a meta and trying to get ahead of it. Try not to make it too similar to your first deck. If Obi/Maz is completely and totally hated out in Minneapolis, Rey/Aayla as your backup choice doesn’t give you entirely too many options.
Destroy yourself with testing those two decks. Find tech to differentiate your deck from the pack, stuff that people won’t anticipate, or is specific to the meta you are expecting.
One trick we use in testing is the concept of a flex card. By way of example, I was unsure which I liked better in Vehicles at one point, Entangle or Mind Trick. So in testing, we would just act as though my Entangles could also be played as Mind Tricks if I felt that it would be better in that situation. We recorded how many times I played it one way or the other, and in the end Entangle beat out Mind Trick by a pretty large margin.
Another trick to use is the concept of the free Sound The Alarm and Anti Sound The Alarm. Once per game, each player can decide to reroll ALL of the opponents dice, or ALL of their own dice. This helps smooth out the god-rolls, or the instances where you only need one damage across seven dice but only rolled blanks and disrupt. Those rolls are never common enough to be counted on, and its better to just break the game rules in testing rather than have to waste time on playing out a game that is a foregone conclusion based on a 1/1296 chance.
Day Prior to Travel.
Don’t play Destiny, quit discord, don’t argue on Facebook… Take a one day break.
Day of Travel.
Doublecheck everything. Match dice to cards, get some extra sleeves, take a fresh look at your two decks and make sure you’re still comfortable with your choices. Pack up all the relevant last minute card substitutions, and get to Minnesota.
Quadruple-check BOTH of your decklists, and follow FFG’s guidelines to the letter on how to make every card on the list crystal clear. Scope out the scene and make your final choice on what you’re running.
Now you should be pretty much on auto-pilot as far as the games go. One important thing is to not mess around with your rights as a player. There are no take-backs, and don’t be afraid to call a judge for ANYTHING. Need to take a leak during a game? Judge. Opponent is playing slow? Judge. Extra card in opponent hand? Judge. Your opponent does not have your best interest at heart, and truthfully speaking neither do the other players around you. You don’t have to be a jerk, but you shouldn’t take their word on anything either. Get your rules clarifications from the source, and appeal them to the head judge if you still feel like you are in the right.
Of particular note, you have the right to ask your opponent to stop doing things and call the judge to monitor the situation if they refuse. There are some players in general, and one player guaranteed to be in attendance who will touch dice, cards, tokens, and make a lot of waffling motions under the guise of being indecisive about a situation. What they are really doing is either confusing you about the board state, or outright cheating by moving things around. There are a lot of components in Destiny, and the no note taking rule means that what’s on the board is law unless you notice an illegal change immediately. Be extremely mindful of indirect damage assignment, and don’t let your opponents shuffle cards below the table. You are entitled to a clear and complete view of the board state, including your opponents die rolls. Don’t compromise on this, and if someone is using unclear tokens you can force them to use FFG tokens instead.
Water. Get water on hand. You’re going to be talking almost constantly for six rounds in a row, and trying to squeeze thirty minutes of discussion into five minutes of time between rounds with your friends. And in a dry environment no less. Do your caffeine/alcohol intake on break, but have water available during your matches.
Food. Personally, I play much better on a completely empty stomach but I’m an outlier. High energy, easy to eat food that creates minimal mess is ideal for you regular human beings. Trail mix, granola bars and beef jerky are the traditional choices for good reason but mind the salt.
This is the rough part of the article. By straight odds, you won’t be the World Champion. Neither will I, or anyone else in the Artificery crew. There’s only one world champion, and that individual will be squeezed through a meat-grinder of 13 rounds against the very top players in the game, in a smaller and smaller field each round.
To twist the knife just a little bit deeper, 25% of all attendees will be removed from top 16 contention after the first two rounds. That’s just how the math works out. Focus on why you’re at worlds, and don’t just sulk around the Roseville Industrial Area feeling glum.
If it’s straight up cash you’re after, prize ticket rewarding pods will be running for the duration with no end to players to get matched against.
If its pure love of the game, there isn’t any place on the planet where you will find people more passionate about Destiny. If its anything like last year, the entire design team will be out and about wanting to get your feedback and hear your best Destiny stories.
If its the thrill of competition and success that drives you, pods are there for you as well, and you can take solace in the fact that by qualifying for worlds or at the very least, taking the time to read long rambly articles about the subject means you ARE a top player who deserved to be there. Challenge your favorite (or least favorite) players to a match, and take home that experience.
If its the people and community this game has created that makes you love playing it, every single content creator I can think of will be having meet-ups of one form or another. Go to them and connect with people from around the world with a shared love for the game. I wouldn’t be half the player I am today, or writing for Artificery at all if it hadn’t been for breaking free of some social anxiety (and getting thrown out of Joe Censor’s) at last years worlds and making some of the best friends I could ever ask for in the process.
Take it seriously, it’s the World Championship! You owe it to yourself, and everyone back home in your local meta to do your absolute best to take home the glory. It is hard work, but if you don’t do it then you’re going to lose to someone who did.
But don’t take it too seriously, it’s a card game. There are a myriad of other ways to enjoy yourself during the time-frame, and even if I personally go 0-2 drop, I know 100% for a fact ahead of time that I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
And if you and I both end up sucking out of the main event, come find me. I’ll be the guy on the back table with Battlestar Galactica set up just waiting to meet you in person. I’m willing to teach, we will have a blast, and I promise I’m not a Cylon.
See you there!
-Agent Of Zion