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CardShark Content - Carl Craig (6/26/2003)

Well its time for another report ;-)
This time I’m going to give you a little insight as to how our ‘Ents of Fangorn’ Pre-Release went.

Just to give you a little prior warning before you read any further. I’m from Queensland Australia – where our player base has been kind of struggling after the release of The Two Towers, so with only 13 players at our Pre-Release this is in fact a good turnout for our area and its an even bigger bonus that we picked up a few new players after the Pre-Release, the Pre-Release itself is what had drawn them into the game – so they watched and asked question’s between rounds, we helped spark enough interest for them to get started.

I’m glad to start this report by saying that we had very few hiccups with this Pre-Release, and apart from number’s id have to say that it might have been our most successful and has gained the most positive feedback I’ve heard in a while (Especially after that scare of Decipher changing the tournament director system). We did get a little stressed out that the product didn’t arrive until 5pm on the night before our pre-release, but our Australian Distro (Sports Cards Australia) told us they’d deliver, and they did just that – so 2 thumbs up for SCA.

Our Pre-Release came at a cost of $45 AUD, which basically means that we got a starter + 3 boosters for a little less than what we’d normally pay, not to mention that our retailer that hosted the event (Fast Break), promised each player a minimum of 1x Helm’s Deep booster as prize support, so that was an even bigger bonus….. thus we had no moaning about costs from our participants ;-)

Our players aren’t really drawn to Pre-Release’s for the AI promo card either, even though their cool and everything – I think we all have more fun playing with the cards earlier than some others around the world, and that makes for a real fun atmosphere, especially when we don’t know of half the cards before we start.

We were pretty much running on time for a 5pm start. Once I had handed out all the product (which was pre sorted randomly and put into small brown paper bags with each players name on it) and I had given the all clear to start, all I could hear was Ohhh Witch-king that and Ahhh Faramir this, among the rustling of plastic starter rappers and booster packets being torn open with great anticipation.

We were only a few minutes into examining what we got, when someone noticed the first flaw in the starters…. “How come I’ve got 3x ‘Kill Them Now’s’ in my deck when there aren’t any Isengard trackers in this expansion?”. I must admit I was amazed that this ‘accident’ had occurred with the packing of the Ents starters, but because of the relaxed atmosphere we had, everyone who got a Faramir deck, was cool to just discard them and use more useful cards from their boosters. Unfortunately none of us were familiar enough with the spoiler list and starter list, to realise that these 3x ‘Kill Them Now’ should actually have been 3x ‘Ferocity’ which of course makes more sense. Apparently all of the Faramir starters have this problem and weather the TD had decided to treat the ‘Kill Them Now’s’ as proxie version’s of ‘Ferocity’ or purely left them as is (which would result in players leaving them out of their deck) was ok by Decipher, seeing as it was no fault of the TD’s and a lot of us (including myself) didn’t realise what could have been done with them until after the event.

The rest of deck construction went without a hitch until just before time was up, and another of the players realised that the site ‘Horse Country’ had been clarified incorrectly, the new version reads “…. When moving TO horse country…” when it should read “…… When moving FROM horse country…”, but of course this held no swing on the games anyway, as there are no Free People’s mounts in this expansion.

While a few newer guys were still putting cards in sleeves I decided to read out a few Question’s related to LotR – correct answer’s scored them a LotR related sticker (some of them were foiled etc…), something to pass the time and ease everyone’s minds a little, after all we were all their to have fun – that’s the most important part of it all – not winning.

I personally had drawn the Witch-king starter, which I thought was great – I would have been happy with either, although I may have had a slight preference for the Faramir starter, as the Gondor culture is one of my favourites – as it was I had a heap of fun messing around with the new Ent. Alas my boosters didn’t help me much, apart from getting a Troll of Udun – I managed to get him out in one game at least (I still lost though – go Thomas! hahaha).

My first round was against Dave Starr (Jnr) – a player who’s only being playing since the start of the year, but already has it down packed and has acquired a vast library of cards too ;-) He was playing the Faramir starter – I bid 4 to start first and through most of the game I was leading unhindered, but our game was slow due to us not knowing the cards very well and as time drew near Dave decided to double move and catch up to me – time was called and we played through to the regroup phase. We were tied at site 7, so it came down to me having more burden’s than him – Timed Win for Dave…… Good on you man, it was a real great intro round to this Pre-Release ;-)

My Second round was up against Craig Marquet – another player who’s even newer to the game than Dave. Craig is a Tolkien fan first and a game player second, he holds a lot of knowledge for middle earth. Once again I was coming up against a Faramir starter. I bid 3 this time, but still enough to start. I was lucky enough to get a full Ent Army of 9 happening by site 4, which basically allowed me to run the rest of the way. I must admit that Craig was having less luck with his draws and didn’t get any of his ‘Gnawing Biting Hacking Burning’s’ until the end of the game – man that card can be nasty ;-) This time I came away with a full win…… little was I to know that it would be my only win of the whole tournament – LOL

We had a quick stop for Pizza/Drinks and Buns (kindly provided by our hosts of the Event, Paul Quinn @ FastBreak), and nothing but positive discussion about the Ents of Fangorn expansion. We all joked a lot about who had pulled the Balrog too, by the time round 3 was going to start 6 of us apparently had drafted the Balrog, we just hadnt’ seen it yet – ROTFL.

Yet again I was up against a Faramir deck, welded well by a good friend and player by the name of Paul Twomey. Now we had already confided in each other as to what poor pull’s we’d had from our packs and if anything I think Paul was a little worse off than I….. but you wouldn’t have guessed it. He won the bid to go first (think he bid around 5, clever considering that bid’s didn’t play a huge part in this sealed deck environment), and took off with a flying start. Unfortunately his orc’s did well to hinder my progress and If I hadn’t of used Derndingle to make an extra move he would have won with a race to the finish anyway. Try and succeed as I might to make that triple move, I still had little FP support for my next fellowship phase – at site 5 (Deep of Helm) Paul would get an amazing hand full of nothing but 7 minion’s, all of which he could get out that turn to overwhelm my Ring-bearer. Congrat’s to Paul for the very speedy win over me – we were the first to finish that round, but funnily enough there were 2 other’s that had lost to Isengard Orc Shadow wins.

In the fourth and final round I was paired up against Thomas Nilsen who unlike the first 3 was playing a Witch-king deck. Bids came up and once again I was out bid (think he bid 5 or 6?) and I was stuck in second. The only bonus this provided was that Thomas had not played a game where he’d used his own sites yet, so he wasn’t even aware that site 3 was Golden Hall, good bye to his hobbit swords. That small set back still didn’t provide me with any openings and I could never over take him, our minion’s were useless to stop each other, Ents easily over power the nazgul and Saruon orcs, even the Troll’s did little. He won by race to the end, it was a great game though and I was happy to at least get one game against the same starter.

Once results were compiled and prizes were handed out. Everyone instantly went quite and sat down to open any Ents of Fangorn booster’s they might have won. Thomas got the only Balrog in his winning boosters (thus we saw none of the invisible 6 in our games-LOL), Mike Garvey got the new Aragorn whilst Dave (Jnr) pulled Gandalf Mithrandir + a foil Lemenya (NICE!!).

We sat around and talked about the nights events and traded etc…… The general consensus was that Ents was a very good expansion and that the set was actually very balanced for sealed play – the main argument that led to this was that a lot of the companion’s found in cultures outside of what you find in the starter’s required you to spot something (like 3 elves or a rohan man etc…) so even though you may have pulled cards that were not so useful to your decks most of us found something that went ok with our starters without straying from the base cultures too much. It also meant that there weren’t any #1 cards that were going to make or break a deck (like an Easterling Captain in a Two Towers sealed deck tourney, where a lot of people bid high to go first etc..).

Paul Quinn the owner of FastBreak was extremely happy with how it all went, he had a couple of on lookers that were going to pickup the game and come along to the next league night (which we have weekly) to learn which is great – there were also a heap of us pre-ordering displays of Ents, which brought a smile to his face, we had all had a taste, but we all now wanted to sit down and have a feast of Ents – hahaha.

Just incase any of the local’s read this, I’m gonna post the placings for you (once again our Queensland Champion takes first place – good one Rob ;-)

1st Rob Waugh
2nd Paul Twomey
3rd David Hartwig
4th David Starr (Jnr)
5th Marcus Costello
6th Sherrie Quinn
7th Thomas Nilsen
8th Michael Jenkin-Garvey
9th ME! Carl Craig
10th Craig Marquet
11th Natalie Frost
12th Dave Starr (Snr)
13th Andrew Dickson

Thanks for getting this far, I’m sorry If my article bored you – hopefully I’ll get better with time

Have fun All and Stay Gold

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