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CardShark Content - Patrick Sullivan (3/10/2003)

Pre-Tourney Jank

So the time has come for the last organised game-play tournament before Vegas Premier Series. I desperately need to get a foothold of what I am going to play because at this point, I have 3 or 4 deck ideas.
Lately, I’ve been playing a RingBound Ranger deck mixed with Dunland Site Control going for the No Retreat victory. It has done extremely well in organised play but extremely poorly in casual play. My zodiac sign is Virgo, which means many things. One of which is I am as anal as they get. So because my deck hasn’t been beaten in a tournament, I must therefore conclude that it is a very strong deck even though I know better. So I will bring it to Quantum Cards (best store EVER) and only good can come from this. Either I win going undefeated and bring my Dunland deck to Vegas over-confident as hell or I lose terribly today and smarten up a bit and bring a much more powerful deck I’ve been working on to Vegas. ALL of my friends including Mathieu ‘TreePlanter’ Brochu, Patrick ‘Captain Canada’ Malboeuf, David ‘BadBeef Junior’ Malboeuf (who is anxious to get back to Canada from Argentina after 4 days of diharrea  and Jonathan ‘StarFury’ Verall have been telling me for two weeks at least to scrap my Dunland deck and get realistic about placing in the top 16 of Vegas (which is my goal). So it’s good if I win today (because winning is always good) and it’s even better if I lose (cuz then I’ll bring a real deck to Vegas).

So I was having trouble sleeping in because of a sore throat and stressing out about Vegas (which, I hear, is normal) so I get up early enough and dig out my car (which is covered in an over-night snowfall). I pick up Patrick Malboeuf at the subway station and we’re off to try our luck at Quantum Cards.

12:05 (the arrival)

I arrive at the Montreal-West located store and Jill (the storeowner) is nice enough to point out that we’re late as usual. Oops. But then she gives me great news that she has 5 rares that I’ve been looking for for sometime. This is good news but at the same time puts my deck ideas into chaos because now I have the rares for not just 3 different viable decks for Vegas but 5. Ah crap. Decisions, decisions, decisions...
I had won a tournament (or two) in December and had just received my Fierce T-shirt, which I wore with pride to the tournament. I also received my rare foil, which was none other than The Answer to All Riddles! I was SO happy. I hear it’s worth like 100 U.S. dollars or something. So seeing how it’s my second ring (first foil), I happily hand over my previous non-foil ATAR to Ariadne who has become a very reliable playtester and good friend. She often gives me rares that I need wtihout expecting anything in return so I figure giving her this ring (which she needed because her brother uses their only copy) might make me catch up SOMEWHAT in brownie points. I have much further to go, though.

So let’s take a gander on who comprises today’s 14 players:
• Me, Patrick Sullivan (1939) and I’ll be playing my RBR/Dunland No Retreat deck. Team Quantum today consists of myself and...
• Patrick Malboeuf (2098) who is easily the heavy favourite of today. We’ve been through thick and thin together representing Team Quantum in the Quebec and Ontario tournaments (along with his brother, David) and representing the new Team CardShark in major events (including Vegas along with Mathieu Brochu). Patrick Malboeuf is the best deck constructor I know and easily the best player I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s very humbling knowing someone is that good and never imagining yourself ever hitting that level of play. For instance, my expectations of Vegas are moderate mostly because of his presence (along with Brochu who is also a perfectly balanced Deck Constructor and player). The only times these guys ever make mistakes in gameplay are when it just doesn’t matter anymore (of if Patrick has been driving all night to Atlanta or something). I’ve never seen Brochu make a mistake before (although in the finals of the world championships, he did skip his own archery phase a couple times (however he knew it had ZERO effect on the game so, in my mind, it isn’t a real mistake). I remember this one game Patrick and I had where he had a chance to take out Gimli Son of Gloin but took out some other companion, which allowed me to kill an extra Uruk in the skirmishes and double move to site 9 for the win (one of my VERY few wins against him). I think that was the only mistake I ever saw Patrick Malboeuf do.
• Jonathan Verall (1612) seems to take an abnormal amount of pride in working in a mall. I’m just poking fun, of course, as he has created a Team comprising of LOTR players that work in the same downtown mall. They refer to themselves as Team Alexis Nihon. It reminds me a bit of that Jamaican Bobsled team. In that, it is a really interesting idea but in actual fact, the talent is missing. Haha. I’m just kidding of course. I need to create some competition between Team Quantum and Team Alexis-Nihon in that we are the only two teams in the Quebec area. Jonathan is becoming more and more of a capable player in that he has always been able to defeat me in organised play but now I am starting to get the feeling that I will require more luck than before to get a win against this tank.
• Ariadne Macgee (1529) is the other member of Team Alexis-Nihon representing. Ari playtests with me downtown Montreal at a Second Cup once or twice a week. I can remember the days when I could defeat Ari with my eyes closed. Now it seems that my eyes are wide open in shock in how often her Free People’s side defeats mine. Ari has become quite a decent Fellowship player (shadow player, not so much) and is a valuable asset to team Alexis-Nihon (I have to stifle a giggle every time I say that). I don’t think I’ve had the joy of being paired against Ari yet in organised-play but I hope that day comes fast because she’ll have quite the opportunity to boost her ranking.
• Steve Judge (1621) is my best play-testing buddy in the world. Him and I have gotten together every Thursday night at 11pm until 3am for as long as I can remember. Steve has an insatiable love for the game in that after years of solid defeats, he has kept his heart in the game and is now blooming as a deck constructor. His playing requires more refinement in terms of being aware of what cards are on the table in order to make fewer mistakes but his skills at playing his fellowship are growing exponentially. I find it fascinating at how different people are in terms of skills at either playing shadow or free peoples. I would tend to think that good players would be good at both but I am seeing real specialization in certain players. Anyway Steve’s first tournament win is not too far away in my opinion. He’ll be joining me at GenCon this year and it should be a real blast. Steve’s most loyal playtester in casual play is also joining us today and he goes by the name of...
• Nick Tregmallia (1571) who has recently joined our Thursday night playtest sessions (which mostly consist of me defeating one and then the other with the occasional upset). Nick abandoned the game right after ROTEL was released and then Steve brilliantly seduced Nick back into the game by buying him a box of Two Towers for Christmas. Who could not fall in love with these new cards? So Nick came roaring back into the game and has the intention of joining us at GenCon and perhaps even at Origins. Nick’s skills are most definitely in his gameplaying. He makes very little mistakes and almost never misses a card that is on the table. One exception to this rule is Ring-Bound rangers, which Nick should never play again. His absence of memory at how essential Gondorian Rangers are to the deck is nothing short of comic genius. I haven’t laughed so hard in a while when playing Nick as he forgets that the minions aren’t roaming anymore because he mis-assigned his companions. It’s TOO funny. As much as Nick is good at playtesting he is quite possibly one of the worst deck-builders I’ve ever seen. Whether it be playing with one copy of essential companions along with one copy of their weapons or in his decision to keep trying Sauron again and again, it always makes for an interesting match-up and humiliating defeat for me if I’m not careful. Nick adds tremendously to a play environment making everyone’s experience the greater when he’s there. Remember Ottawa TOC, Nick?
• John Bernatchez (1598) is quite easily one of the most over-confident players I’ve ever seen. You will most certainly never go to a timed game against this guy because he FLYS through phases because he knows the cards so well (or at the very least, thinks he does). I, for one, enjoy playing against John because we’re always smiling and laughing while companions and allies are flying to the dead pile at record speed. It’s really fun to play John in that you lose count as to who is making more mistakes because of the speed of the game, you or him (who knows?). I have no idea but I’m sure it evens out in the end.
• Mike Lane (1900) is synonymous with shadow-player. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this guy play any deck but a Moria-swarm kill. I think I’ve spent over 4 hours over the past year and a half in different playing environments with this guy and we’ve exchanged perhaps 12 words. He’s not the talkative type and is certainly not all smiles and sunshine. However, after the tournament, Mike hopped in the car with Patrick and myself back to the subway and really opened up. I think it was our first actual conversation (and hopefully not the last). He is an excellent shadow player but I don’t know enough about him to really elaborate on his strengths or weaknesses.
• Peter Wilson (1597) has never been to a tournament where he hasn’t had the misfortune of being paired up against me. He is also a fairly decent player who makes too many mistakes but that’ll pass in time. Pay attention to what’s on the table at ALL times. He’s a little scatter-brained sometimes so you have to help him get through phases so that the game doesn’t go to time. But I’m sure in a few months, his play-style will improve quite a bit.
• Paul Glickman (1591) is certainly one of the most underrated players. His decks are good and his play-style is close to flawless. He never makes mistakes (or at least, not important ones) and doesn’t miss a beat of what’s on the table. He catches me making mistakes more than anyone else and is a continuing source of embarrassment for me. I think Paul has incredible potential and is one of my favourite opponents in that he’s a joy to play against and is not to be underestimated.
• Francis Arsenault (1769) very good player with a very nice demeanour. Always polite and makes about as many mistakes as I do. He’s certainly never a pushover in a game and you must be very careful (as Elmer Fudd would say) when playing this wily rascal. I hope he makes it out to some major events this year because he’s a real nice guy and fun to be around.
• Some big kid with blond hair (I don’t think I’ve ever played him)
• Two new French players of which I only remember one name, Jean-Michel Sabourin (1500). He came with his friend and they have never been to a tourney before. However, they most certainly have been playing for sometime quite intensely because the only rule they didn’t know was the mulligan rule. They were very quick players and I was most impressed with their ability. They both really enjoyed all of their opponents and their games and are going to stick with the game. I’ve very happy and relieved to know that LOTR isn’t dying off. Getting fresh new players into the local tourney scene is essential to keeping the game interesting for everyone. I hope they try out the Race to Mount Doom league nights that Jill has been hosting every Thursday evening and that Fred Coté has been dominating with those darn Uruk Archers.

So Jill reminds everyone that no cheating is tolerated at all in the store before she calls out round one pairings. Jill is fiercely protective of her clientele and cannot stand to see her kids taken advantage of therefore a no-trading rule is in effect at all times in the store. I know if I was a parent, Quantum Cards is one of the safer places I’d want my kids to hang out. It’s hard to find stores (especially card shops) where you actually WANT to spend your money because you like the owners so much. Handing my money over to other places (like Carta) actually physically causes me pain because they take advantage of their clients on a regular basis and show NO appreciation of their customer-base. Screw those guys and all the power in the world to Jill and Kathy.

So round one pairings are announced and we’re off.

Round one (ding!ding! ... man, that joke is getting old)
Me (1939) vs. Mike Lane (1900) Moria/Pile Fellowship with elf ally support (I think)
Well who said the road to the gold was going to be easy. I’ve only beaten this guy once and it’s cuz he didn’t draw a single Orc until site 7. I outbid him and made him go first. My opening hand has five minions but no hides and no war clubs so I mulligan. No I draw into Wulf and a war club. Cool. So he plays Aragorn’s Bow and moves and I say NONONO and warclub it into little bits and pieces. He stops. I move and he plays two armories. Ouch (I don’t have condition removal cuz I’m a big dummy). He moves to 3 and I actually manage to control a site! At this point I’m thinking everything is going to be all right but one problem. I don’t draw into a single copy of my 4 hides until site 6. Now let’s add that to the fact that none of my 7 additional companions are coming to the top and the cave troll is having a field day. So add those two problems together and you get a Moria swarm at site 6 and one dead ring-bearer. Oh well. Luck is bad luck sometimes. Mike even said at some point, either your deck sucks or your very unlucky in terms of no hides showing up. At first I thought it was luck but now that I think about it, how about I take a little from column ‘A’ as well...
FL +1 / 1
Good: Mike is a tough opponent and I need this practice for Vegas.
War Club against Aragorn’s bow is good for Dunland and bad for Gondor
Bad: What’s with that bad luck?
What’s with this bad deck?
Ugly: Even after a mulligan, I still can’t get Hides....
Wulf isn’t exactly the most attractive dude in LOTR.

So I’m off to Deli-Pat for a tasty coffee for a buck and come back ready to redeem myself (my deck is supposed to be better than this!!)

Round two
Me (1939) vs. Francis Arsenault (1769) Dauntless Choke/Uruk Bomb
How did this guy lose his first game? Man I was hoping I would get some newfish for round two. Oh well guess I’ll have to Dunland this guy’s ass to death. I win the bid and make him go second. I draw up the war club this time so I don’t mulligan. I manage to War Club Aragorn’s bow right off the bat again and smile. He the surprises the bejesus out of me and doubles to three! I am being choked a wee bit so I can’t get out anything decent. I then move to site two and out comes Lurtz with a broad bladed sword and an Uruk Regular. The regular takes an archery wound (from my Legolas). I then play Arrows from the South in the skirmish phase to kill that pesky regular and Lurtz places 4 wounds on my dudes (in fact, now that I think about it, he forget to send over an archery wound from Lurtz). Anyway I decide that I can’t fall behind so I double move to three. This turns out to be a bad idea because of Savageries and out comes Saruman KOI and I end up losing most of my fellowship. My Dunland somehow doesn’t manage to grab a site until site 5 (a little too late). My fellowship somehow manages to survive site 5 and then dies at site 6, which was a real massacre. Dunland has failed me again.
FL+1 /2
Good: Francis is a classy opponent.
No one expects Arrows from the whatever...
War Club on Aragorn’s Bow (which I hear is kinda good against Dunland)
Bad: Stupid unreliable Dunland
Ugly: That Lurtz is the ugliest bastard I’ve ever seen. And double moving against him is uglier (believe me).

More coffee at Deli-Pat is in order for me to get my groove back.

Round three
Me (1939) vs. Jean-Michel Sabourin (1500) Dunland stack/Archery
We are both equally surprised that we are playing Dunland. I outbid him and make him go first. That was a really dumb move because now I am letting him grab sites first. Which he does. And he stacks some pretty big minions and he plays No Refuge for 5 additional twilight per site. OUCH. However, he doesn’t have No Retreat in his deck and I do. So I finally grab a site at site 4 and play No retreat. I make him double move to 6 and Frodo meets his maker. This guy was playing every type of possession removal card there is. War Club, Secret Folk and Wild Man Raid. Ranger’s Bows, Sting and Sword of Gondors stayed on the table for a millisecond.
FW+3 /5
Good: I finally win against a potentially devastating hit on my rating.
No Retreat finally works (against a newfish though, doesn’t count I suppose)
Bad: His possession removal was owning my RingBound Rangers.
Ugly: I gotta still say that Wulf is looking a little too Bohemian for my tastes...

Round Four
Me (1939) vs. John Bernatchez (1598) Dauntless Corruption
So I bid 6 to ensure that my Dunland sites come out and he is choking me like crazy. On my turn, out comes that card that plays on Frodo and adds burdens if he doesn’t fight. So John has me up to 8 burdens in no time with 2 Enduring Evils in his hand. My companions have decided once again (just for fun) not to show up at all. So at site 5 he manages to get out three trackers (Sauron) and Frodo has to fight unfortunately. He plays Enduring Evil and Frodo becoming Strength –124 and is overwhelmed to say the least against a power 5 Sauron Tracker at site 5.
FL +1 / 6
Good: Well that most certainly makes up my mind as to what I think of Dunland and as to what I think of bringing it to Vegas.
Jonathan was a fun opponent as always and pulled off a win that was really stacked against him.
Bad: Losing to Sauron at site 5 when my Gondorian Rangers were making them roaming until site 174.
Ugly: Enduring Evil with 8 burdens makes the baby Jesus cry.


Well I think that today’s performance takes the cake as the world’s biggest disaster ever. Titanic ain’t got nothing on Dunland.

Props:
To all my friends (all that means EVERYONE that was there, no exceptions) for showing up in Grande force to the best card shop for a fun tournament with fun people. 14 players rocks. That never happens.
To Pat Malboeuf for winning the tournament getting his confidence to that lethal level needed to win Vegas.
Steve and Nick for driving all the way from Hudson (1 hour) to play and have fun
Jill for getting me those rares and throwing my viable deck strategies in turmoil for Vegas.
Quantum Cards for existing.
Team Alexis Nihon for trying to be respectable force to be reckoned with (that means you, Ari)
For Jonathan Verall for writing an equally cool tournament report on the same great day. I figured I was the Yin to his Yang in terms of luck so I had to write how I saw the day through a loser’s eyes.

Slops:
Dunland. I’m taking all of those cards and using them as kitty litter.
14 players squeezing into three tables. I would have liked to see just ONE MORE table be opened to play on comfortably.

MASSIVE PROPS: Jonathan Verall in losing his girlfriend (that’s a great thing, IMHO) 
MASSIVE SLOPS: Jonathan Verall in losing his grandmother (that’s a sad and regretful thing)
My sympathies, bro.


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