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CardShark Content - Josh Bader (9/13/2002)

The World Champion. Have you ever been a world champion anything? Few of us can even say we have been a state or national champion within something. But beyond that, how many of us can say we have ever been the FIRST world champion of anything? I certainly know I can’t. But this November Decipher is opening up Deciphercon 2002 for the very first Lord Of The Rings World Championship (see www.decipher.com for complete details on when and where)
Now while I don’t know if a world championship title is why you play card games… and if you play casually this is probably where you want to stop reading this. But for those of you who do, like me, play CCGs for the competitive edge, read on and I’ll do my best to explain a few elements key to a successful world championship run:
1. Make Arrangements To Go – Take care of this stuff now while airline tickets and hotel reservations are cheaper. That way you don’t have to worry about it closer to the date when your mental energy is needed elsewhere. For those college students out there, get those term papers written now so they aren’t a burden then. Who wants to be worried about their philosophy paper while they’re playing in the finals at worlds.
2. Review The Tournament Reports. – Stick mostly to the premieres, but a few larger locals or ones featuring some more than a few top tournament players are also acceptable. What you are looking for is what decks make the tops? (And why did they make it there?) Find deck lists and interviews with the winners. (check www.dgma.com, great premiere features) While I could save you sometime and tell you that 13 out of the top 16 decks at Dragoncon were Urukhai, you still will want to the see the deck lists. The Uruk-hai being played at the premiere level are quite possibly different from the version you regularly see at the local level.
3. Build Your Deck – Here’s your first really big decision. Do you want to play your own deck or copy someone else’s past success? While say Nian Perion’s Comicon deck is certainly attractive due to its proven status, you should realize that many players will build or modify their decks to counter strategies that have won in recent big tournaments. Here is the advantage of the personal deck: You can build it to counter specific strategies popular within the field and as none have seen it in the top, they won’t have built in counters specifically aimed at you. Keep in mind though, the types of strategies which counter the top decks when building your own. Due to the popularity of fellowship conditions many decks are now sporting multiple Saruman’s Power, so a condition heavy fellowship (even though original) may still be countered for other reasons.
4. Play test the hell out of it. – Pull it out of your box and play every time you get the chance. Build the top decks in the environment and play against them solitaire. If you find one or two of the popular decks that just seem to be giving you a headache every time you play, go back to the drawing board. Also, while play testing you may fall in love with another deck. The first one you build isn’t final but just make sure that what you take is what you’re comfortable with. When you’re done playing solitaire, go find the top players in your area and invite them over for a night of play testing. Make a weekly event out of it. Tune that deck till it hums like a well tuned engine. If you’re losing every third or fourth game due to “bad draws” look at what can be done to correct these consistency issues. Add more copies of the needed card or thin your deck down some so that you can get to the ones you do have quicker.
5. Go Kick Some Booty At D-CON – Unless you play against me of course. Anyways, until next time kids, happy play testing.

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