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CardShark Content - Patrick Sullivan (3/3/2003)

Saturday, March 1st, 2003
OPEN Format Constructed
5 rounds – 18 players

Pre-Tourney Jank

Well it’s been a while since my last visit to Joliette (last tournament, they were all filled up) but I am certainly excited to get back to one of my two favourite places to play (along with Quantum Cards). The deck I’ll be trying today is a gutsy one. It is the first time I’ll be playing Dunland in a tournament. It is mixed with RingBound Rangers so I can be sure to go second because this deck is built on the shadow kill coming from a double move forced by No Retreat. I don’t really think this deck is that great and I’m really hoping to do poorly today to force me to think up another deck idea for Vegas. Plus I think I’ve won Every single tournament I’ve ever been to in Joliette so it would be nice to show the locals that I too bleed just like them.

My fellowship starts Faramir and a Ranger of Ithien but I’ve been advised by the Malboeuf’s that I should really be starting Faramir with a Gondorian Ranger instead because I really want Nazgul and Dunland to be roaming at site 3. They definitely have a point. My site 3 is the Dunland Plains site and my fellowship has been clobbered a couple times moving to my own site 3 and the opponent gets out Attea with a Black Steed before I manage to get out a Gondorian Ranger. However, I’m playing with 4 Gondorian Rangers so I’ll take my chances and start the Ranger of Ithien instead.

As for my shadow, it has been extremely unstable. When it works, it works. But when it doesn’t, man oh man. My fellowship has to run like crazy to keep up with my opponent but usually they stop at site 6 so I’m forced to bypass my sanctuary (good thing I’m playing with a couple Might of Numenors).

Anyway so I am expecting to do quite well today overall, but at the same time, I am hoping for a second-place finish to force me to build a better deck for Vegas. Let’s see what happens.

My rating currently is 1939 which places me 5th in my region (Quebec), 8th in my country and 100th in the world (gotta break that top 100 spot!). I find this a little bit inspiring because a rating of 1939 places me (according to the ELO rating system) between expert and master in terms of skill. I can’t believe that. I really don’t think I’m that sharp a player. I’ll believe it if ever I break 2,000. Let’s see what happens in Vegas.

So I arrive way to early as always (I keep misjudging how long it takes to drive out to Joliette from Montreal), so I stop by Tim Horton's and sit down for a nice coffee and muffin for breakfast. While I’m there, I see a father taking his son to Tim Horton’s for the first time. His son is like 10 or 11 and doesn’t seem to understand why his father is tipping the donut girl when there is no table service. It sounds kinda dumb but at the time it was really something cool to watch (I can’t wait to be a Dad one of these days...).

Anyways I arrive at the tournament and the 3 older players are there bright and early: Myself, Alain (the storeowner) and what’s-his-face. I am SO bad with names it blows my mind.

So 18 people quickly form up including:
• Myself (1939);
• Carle Bérard (1767) the Tournament Director and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
• Alexandre Leblanc (1738) probably the best player from Joliette. Takes the game a little seriously but socially, he’s right on the ball.
• Philippe Bolduc (1562) and his older brother Jonathan (1565) are newcomers to LOTR previously coming from YuGuyOh! Where they excelled. They are both really nice guys and are very committed to becoming better players. They need to master the rules just a little more and then they will become very formidable opponents.
• Sophie Bélanger (1596) who is a surprisingly good female player. She seems too timid and then you play her and she doesn’t cease to amaze. She’s present today with either her boyfriend or her brother, I can never figure out which but he also is a REALLY nice guy.
• Christian Toupin (1616) probably along with Carle, he is one of my favourite local players. A real nice guy, always smiling and a great love of the game. I always get paired against him at each tournament and the games are always close.
• Yannick Salvas (1518) another really nice guy who I’ve never had the pleasure to play, yet.

So all in all, it’s a good group of players. Alain, the storeowner, can’t play in this tournament but I look forward to trying on his Uruk Archery deck one of these days. So here we go:

Round one (ding! Ding!)
Me (1939) with my RBR/Dunland deck vs. Jonathan Bolduc (1565) Moria/ Rohan-Gondor mix So I get paired up right away against Jonathan. One of the up-and-coming players. Last time I played him, I misrepresented a bit by screwing up the rules regarding minion archery. But now I have the opportunity to redeem myself by letting him give me a thorough thrashing. Jonathan was quite impressed with my old Moria Swarm deck, which killed him at site four in less than four minutes so he is now playing a version of my old deck. What a great compliment when another player actually has that much faith in your deck-building capabilities (which I feel I lack). I win the bid and let him go first. Aragorn blocks some Dunland guy but I have two pumps so off he goes to the dead pile. This sucks for him because he would soon be holding three copies of Aragorn’s Bow in his hand. His They Are Coming never came out but out comes two Armories right off the bat. Anyway I am following him right behind while controlling sites as I go. I faced a Cave Troll at site two but directed one archery with Greenleaf (after changing my mind but Jonathan was a great sport and let me have a take-back) and then played Arrows from the South and finally blocked with a Gondorian Ranger with a Bow to hit him two more times. When I move to my own site 4 (where he stopped) I faced another Cave Troll. At this point Faramir had all his toys and with one +4 pump I got up to 16 strength defeating the Cave Troll (who already had two wounds on him from directed fire from Greenleaf (best card ever). So now it’s Jonathan’s turn to play and he moves to the Deeping Wall. I get out No Retreat, Hillman Horde, Saruman and one other dude. Thankfully there is no Archery phase because I control two sites so I prevent the rest of the wounds to spot two Dunland men in the regroup phase to make him move again. This is the first time Jonathan has seen No Retreat played and I don’t think he’ll ever forget it. Out comes a massive group of men at site 6 and Frodo is easily killed once I control my third site to render everyone Fierce. Ouch. The game took about 15 minutes.
FW+3 /3
Highs: Great opponent.
Killing the Cave Troll twice.
No Retreat winning the game (I love it when it works).
Lows: Me screwed up my archery phase at site 2 and requesting a takeback to direct a shot on the Cave Troll. I should know my deck better than this.

Round Two
Me (1939) vs. Carle Bérard (1767) Uruk Trackers/ Trust Me with Rohan and Gondor full support
Carle’s fellowship was tough as nails. He was playing 3 copies of Trust Me and 2 Help in Doubt and Need. Once they all come out, it is difficult to win skirmishes. With all those pumps and my Dunland guys with their War Clubs and site Control, Carle was working hard to not let me win skirmishes. I didn’t see one copy of my 4 Hides until Site 6. So the game progressed very slowly but my fellowship was keeping up having surprisingly little trouble against the trackers. After all, I had three copies of Weary played on my guys along with all my possessions and Carle was always hanging onto a copy of Vengeance just waiting for my to screw up. However, my fellowship passes his by bypassing the sanctuary at site 6, moving to King’s Room (no effect, Legolas is already exhausted). I then force him to double move to site 8 (Ring of Isengard) causing almost no damage and time is called. I was so pissed because we had no warning that time was running out (they should always call out when there are 15, 10 and 5 minutes remaining because then we can speed up the game). So my fellowship of NINE is sitting in the King’s Room all ready to double move to Site 9 when time is called during the his fellowship’s skirmish phase at site 8. I would have clearly won the game but instead give him a Timed Win. At this point, I ask him if he’d consider conceding the game instead because I would have clearly won and it would be the right thing to do. He knows I plan on going to Vegas and perhaps the World Cup so he agrees. We tell Alain that we’ve agreed to let me win fully and he is clearly uncomfortable with this. At this point I quickly realise that my rating has very little importance as does winning this tournament (I’m looking for an excuse to stop playing this unstable deck), so change my mind after a minute and give him the Timed Loss like the rules state should happen. Alain seems fine with this and Carle doesn’t seem to mind either way (as long as I bring my Theoden promo for him next tournament .
TL+1 / 4
Highs: Great opponent. Very close game. Thank goodness I passed the sanctuary or I would have had a full loss for sure.
Lows: Timed games suck. It is a necessary evil but man, does it ever suck.
I wish Alain or someone had told us time was running out because we would have sped up.
Me, for not playing quicker. Dunland takes forever when I am debating what minions to play with Constantly Threatening.

Carle, Alex and myself run off to Subway for a nice 6-inch trio. I am pretty stressed at this point because I acted very uncharacteristic of me by asking Carle to concede the game. I could tell Alain was disappointed in me because it really isn’t like me. I don’t really care about the end-result that much. I am feeling pretty embarrassed and I really need Alex and Carle to give me a pick-me-up. However, Alex just wants to talk about card strategies and unfortunately, Carle is having trouble with his lady back home. I feel for him truly. He’s been in the relationship 6 years and it doesn’t sound like it’s a very pleasant situation at home. Poor guy. So I finish my Steak and Cheese sub on Cheddar Monterey bread (terrible), grab my Sub Stamp and head back for three more rounds. I figure I’ll still win the tournament at this point because I doubt anyone will go undefeated.

Round Three
Me (1939) vs. Philippe Bolduc (1562) Uruk Beatdown (missing rares)/Elf Archery
Uh oh. Jonathan’s younger brother is after me with revenge first on his mind. I see his elf archers come out in force and I’m a little concerned so I make sure to mulligan to get a war club and hides set up quick. As luck has it, my re-draw of 6 includes 5 shadow cards including a war-club, Saruman, Wulf and hides and a pump. It is a PERFECT hand. Bye-bye Elven bows. He makes it to site 3 without any possessions left and I follow. However, I forgot to Sting and his Uruk Shaman managed to kill off a couple of my rangers (because his site One was that exert every Ring-Bound companion when moving). Without Armor my guys got pretty slaughtered at site 2 and 3. Good thing he isn’t playing with any copies of Rare Saruman. At site Four, I manage to control two sites (yippee) and get out a No Retreat that he has never seen before (I LOVE it when that happens). At Site 5 I get out Saruman, Hillman Horde and someone else and make him double move to site 6, which quickly and efficiently ends Frodo’s time on Middle Earth.
Highs: Fun opponent.
No Retreat does it again. Hillman Horde against Elf Archery is money money money.
Philippe doesn’t own rare Saruman and I am quite thankful for that.
Lows: Nothing... oh no wait. I forgot to Sting and it cost me dearly (darn pumps).

I get to call pairings now because Alain is having a social game with a friend. So I put together all the results and pair everyone up (no conflicts!).

Round Four
Me. (1939) vs. Sophie Bélanger (1596) Elf Archery/Nazgul
I’ve never played against Sophie but have been looking forward to playing someone I haven’t played before. Turns out she has been looking forward to playing against me all season (I tend to crack a lot of jokes in games so playing against me is usually a pretty fun experience, win-or-lose) so this is going to be fun. I bid 6 burdens and she bids almost nothing. SO I decide to go second (must be using my site path or archery kills me early). I sting her early and see she has both versions of Enquea. OUCH. I can’t remove any burdens yet so I move to two. She ends up (to my great surprise) playing the twilight Enquea instead of the other one. I consider myself quite lucky until she plays a Manuever even that adds a burden (SEVEN!) so now I realise she’s playing corruption and I’m quite terrified that my RBR’s aren’t going to come out fast enough to bring down my burden count. So I survive the skirmishes and in her regroup phase (to my even greater surprise) she discards the Lieutenant of Morgul (Enquea). I can’t believe my luck! At site 4, she sends two archery my way (I have one copy of Hides in play) and I remove four twilight to prevent. She then tries to play two Double Shots but I tell her it’s too late because we’ve settled the archery action phase and moved on. She understands and saves her double shots. I feel bad about this now, because I should have allowed her the take-back (or at least offered). She obviously isn’t the best player and needs to understand this kind of stuff. I guess she won’t make the same mistake again. So much to my delight she has also never seen No Retreat before so I make her double move to Site 5 where a very quick death awaits Frodo.
FW +3 /10
Highs: Sophie smiled the entire game even when I told her the Double Shots were a little too late.
No Retreat did it once again. Too funny seeing people’s facial expressions when they are about to reconcile their hand and I am all like, NO! So sorry... but you’re going to move again and I will not reconcile MY hand just for fun.... 
Lows: Me not offering a take-back for the double-shots. I guess it would have been the right thing to do considering there wasn’t a chance Sophie was winning the game (my War Clubs had snatched up all the Elven bows pretty early).

Round Five
Me (1939) vs. Christian Toupin (1616) Nazgul / Elf archery
Last round already? Well kiss my grits, if I aren’t paired up against the nicest guy ever. Christian and I have the best games where they are always close but no stress whatsoever. It’s the best. I can’t believe it is another archery deck. I don’t know how my Dunland men pulled it off twice not but I sure hope I can do it again. David Malboeuf once told me to start a Gondorian Ranger instead of Ranger of Ithien because you really don’t need the Nazgul to be freely non-roaming at site 3. This game would prove him right. I didn’t see a Gondorian ranger until very late in the game and he was killing my ranger’s of Ithien left-right-and centre. This was a very long game as well. He got black breaths on Faramir and a Ranger of Ithien as well as an exhausted Gondorian Ranger with a bow. I kept forgetting to transfer the Bow to other healthy rangers ALL DAY LONG. I’m so dumb. Anyway out comes Enquea at site 2 and he counts only 5 companions on the table (he was right but I had 5 burdens as well). I came THIS close to telling him that he can spot the 5 burdens to kill Faramir and others but I declined to point it out. Enquea ended up coming back later when I had 7 companions and he killed two of them quite easily. Why wasn’t I transferring my flaming brands? Darn! Anyway I introduced Christian to a little card called No Retreat at site 7 and made him double move to site 8 (Ring of Isengard) where I got out a ton of minions. Game over. Thank goodness because my fellowship couldn’t take much more. At this point I pointed out that his Enquea at site 2 could have spotted 5 burdens instead of the 6 companions. It would have made a big difference. He knows for next time.
FW +3/13
Highs: Christian is too much fun to play against.
Forgetting that Enquea was key.
NO retreat is the best.
Lows: Ring-Bound Rangers sure are fragile when the opponent isn’t roaming. I need those Gondorian Rangers to show up! Between my Faramir’s Cloak, Ranger’s Bow and Arrows from the South not working, many rangers died needlessly.
Me forgetting to transfer that Ranger’s bow for the umpteenth time today!

So that’s it! Alexandre Leblanc ended up going undefeated so he places first and I am second. If the game hasn’t gone to time against Carle, I would have surely won the tournament. So now I am facing a bit of a dilemma. Do I keep playing this deck because it is capable of winning tournaments or is it too slow and risky to play because of timed games (especially because my fellowship is ALWAYS behind)? I only have one more tournament before Vegas so I need to make up my mind. I have three different deck ideas including this one that I think could do well in Vegas. I am missing a card for one of them so if I lose (hopefully) the tournament this Sunday then I’ll have to really think about which deck to bring. I hate having this many cards because I really can’t decide what decks to play. I am going to be racking my mind all day on this one, I know it!

Anyway it was a great tournament today and it is the first time (I think) that I haven’t won in Joliette. Can’t wait for next time in four weeks! Hope you liked my TR!

Props: Carle Bérard and Alain for hosting a great tournament.
Tim Horton’s for making damn-good coffee.
Sophie for being a really good player and fun at the same time.
Christian for being my Joliette nemesis time and time again.
The Bolduc brothers for getting better and better each time.

Me for not transferring a Ranger’s Bow all day long. STUPID!
Me for uncharacteristically asking Carle to concede his game
Me for not winning or losing completely but rather being in the middle and now at odds with myself as to which deck I should be playing...

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