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I was going to be in SF visiting my boyfriend Mike “Longshot” Mendoza, but I wasn’t sure we’d get to go to the Pre-release. I’d opted not to rent a car since it’s such a pain to park in SF, not to mention the extra expense. And a few months back when I rented a car up there, some punk cop gave me a ticket for going 80 mph. So anyhow, Mike and I were talking on the phone one night, and we thought of fellow product champion Jeff Grein. He’d given Mike rides to a couple tournaments before, so I sent him an email to see if he could give us a ride to the Pre-Release. Always a classy guy, Jeff said it’d be no problem, and we arranged to meet him at the last BART (that’s Bay Area Rapid Transit for those of you who don’t know) stop in Fremont.
Mike and I both decided we wanted the Witch King starters, since we’re both fans of the Nazgul. Jeff came at 10:30 to pick us up, and we talked some about all the new cards we’d seen spoilers of. Jeff had been paying more attention to the spoilers than I had (I have such a bad memory, ugh!) so he was telling us about some of them, like the new Gandalf that’s a base strength 10, but also takes a wound when the fellowship moves. We waited awhile in Fremont because there was a guy from Berkley that Jeff had promised a ride to as well… but he never showed. So after waiting 35 extra minutes, we headed to Cupertino.
We arrived at the tournament to find several of the Santa Rosa squad there, including Frank and Chris Schoenthal. Frank was reading the new Harry Potter, which I hadn’t yet had an opportunity to buy, and let me just say that he and Chris and whoever that other guy is really suck! Frank was saying that Chris had told him that someone in the book dies, so just to get back at him, Frank went and read ahead to find out who, then told him. Then their friend said the name of the person that dies! UGH! That sucked for me, because now I’m reading it, knowing what’s gonna happen. But anyways…
Mike and I went in and signed up, paid the pricey $25 entry fee, and then went into the tournament room. Talked to the Greens some, traded some. Then I traded foils with a nice guy named Blake, who lives pretty close to Mike in SF. After that, Jeff started handing out the starters and packs. I was thrilled to get the Witch-King starter, but disappointed for Mike when he got the Faramir starter. I offered to trade him, but he said it was okay, that he was cool with Faramir. So we got to going through our packs and making our decks.
The one good card I pulled in the packs was a second copy of Enraged. But other than that, it was slim pickings. I didn’t have much for my Fellowship at all. I pulled a Galadriel, but what good is she when you don’t have any Elves? I went with all minions and a copy of Peril for my shadow, and added the common Treebeard and a few other random Ent cards to my fellowship. Jeff then began announcing the pairings.
Start of Tournament:
Round 1: Me/Ents vs. Jason Huewe/Ents
I wasn’t quite sure what to bid, so I just bid 0 and let Jason win the bid (he bid 5) to go first. That was my fatal mistake that game. I really had no stopping power once he got all his trees out. We both doubled every site, past the sanctuary, and he won the race to 9.
We discussed it after, and Jason told me he’d done some reading ahead of time where it said that you should bid 5 with the Ents to go first, since they’re so beastly. Enraged lets you double-move easy, and the Ents have a lot of vitality to soak up wounds. There was nothing horrible that could happen with burdens, just some extra card drawing Sauron scrubs, and a Sauron Wraith that could discard to add another burden (they didn’t come in starters though, so I figured nobody could have more than two of them). So I decided to give Jason’s tip a try, especially since he’d just beaten me down.
Round 2: Me /Ents vs. Brian Hamilton/Faramir
I bid 5 to Brian’s 2, and went first. It was the same as the previous game, doubling every site. King’s Room was tough, but I made it through. Nothing else of note really happened, just realized how strong the Ents could be once you get set up. I made it to site 9 easily.
Round 3: Me/Ents vs. John Huewe/Faramir
John is Jason’s brother, so I figured they’d have read the same report. I bid 6, winning John’s bid of 5. Heh! Go me! But this game SUCKED for me. I drew no companions except the Host (who I wasn’t going to play for 7 pool) and a bunch of Ent pumps. I pumped up to overwhelm the scrubby Orc he played, and double to 3, knowing I’d have to stay in the lead if I wanted to win. I would just have to hope that I’d get some good pulls when I reconciled. But that didn’t happen. John doubled, and I had to stop at site 4 when I only got one scrubby tree. Where were my guys at?! John doubled past me, and that was that. Then it got interesting. At site 6, I got a HANDFUL of those Orcs that draw cards when you spot 6 guys, or 5 burdens, etc. I dropped a SQUAD on John and was able to overwhelm Frodo. He had to give the ring to Sam, so I was feeling pretty good. On the next turn, I dropped another squad, and was left over with two guys to stack. I just KNEW that John had the tripler in his hand, so I had no choice but to put them all on Sam. So what does he do? Discards to make Smeagol win, then plays that crappy card to discard a minion. NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He’s able to discard one of the minions on Sam, and then plays the tripler so that Sam survives. He ended up moving to 9 and winning on the next turn.
I seriously felt gypped that game…getting out a squad of guys two sites in a row is no easy feat in sealed. But John played it smart, and he was a good opponent. And he was really lucky. :-)
Round 4: Me/Ents vs. Chris Schoenthal/Faramir
Good ol’ Chris. I think he was still bumming about not getting the Witch-King starter. His head just wasn’t in the game. We both doubled every site, and I doubled past the sanctuary, but then he stopped at 6. That surprised me. He was a little beat up, but he could have gotten past the scrubs I’d put out at site 6. When he stopped I planned to take it one at a time. But then he said he was decked and only had a few cards left in his hand. He scooped right then. Said, “It doesn’t matter, just move on. You win.” Kinda surprised me. I told him after that I was going to stop at site 8, but he said it was okay. Sorry about that Chris, I feel for ya. I wish ya ’d gotten the Witch-King starter. :-(
Round 5: Me/Ents vs. Alfred Dong/Ents
Heh! Right before this round, Jeff came over to me and said that Alfred didn ’t want to play anymore, so I’d get an auto-win. I wonder if Alfred would have “bid 10” if he’d known he was gonna play me??? He’s owned me the two other times we played. Alfred, I can’t lie…I do feel kinda cheated that when I finally get the chance to beat you, it happens like this. Guess I’ll just have to wait until we play in constructed again before I can get a satisfying win against you.
Post Tourney Jank:
So that was that, I finished 3-2 counting the Alfred win. Not horrible, but not great either. Mike went 4-1 with his Faramir deck and took 3rd place. Some kid finished second (the one person that Mike lost to) and Phil Green won as usual, going 5-0. Paul, Tim…when are you guys gonna beat down your brother to get rid of that over-inflated ego he has? ;-) Seriously though, Phil is luckier than anyone I know. He got the Ents as well, so he had a Gate Troll… but he also pulled TWO more trolls in his packs! That is BRUTAL. Try doubling on a troll swarm in sealed!
Last but not least….
Mike for going with me to the tournament, giving me a place to stay, and for putting up with me even when I’m a punk. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. You’re amazing. Jeff for giving Mike and I a ride and for running a great tournament. You rock man! I hope to get down to another of your tournaments too…see you at Comicon! Everyone for the trades, especially Jeremy who traded me a Severed foil for some sucky new Ents commons. And also to Chris for Eowyn and Thror’s Map foils. Superstars for having so much space, and being a great gaming store. Alfred for letting me “win.”
Everyone who loses to Phil, heh! For those that don’t know, Phil hasn’t lost in sealed for over a year! T.J. for choosing golf over Rings. What’s up with that, man? :-) Phil for being so freakin’ lucky in his pulls. Me for being such a scrub. King’s Room. The Huewe brothers for relentlessly beating me down. The bathroom at Superstars. It’s SICK. Alfred for “getting tired of sealed.” Tim for not wanting to let me and Mike sit together.
Anyhow, this looks like it’s gonna be a really fun set. I’m definitely looking forward to it. Thanks for reading!
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