18 players – 5 rounds – 8 survivors
By the way, speaking of survivors, I’m still in my Survivor pool for hundreds of dollars. We are only 5 left that haven’t been eliminated. If Christy wins, then the money is ALL MINE.
Anyway back to reality...
Pre Tourney Jank
So this will be my first PSQ ever. Which is real cool because I’ve got one next weekend in our nation’s capital. That should be real fun, too. Patrick Malboeuf will be the head-judge so he won’t be playing. His brother, David is working today and I heard that all other competitive Quebecers won’t be making it. So that means I’ve got a real shot at this thing. I have 6 Premier points already and would very much like to add 2 more to my resumé (I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with Ryan Jones at 24 points already. Can you say Rookie-of-the-Year?). So being the collosal idiot that I am, I have decided to bring a fun-type deck to this very serious event. I have been trying various fun decks ever since Two Towers came out. I don’t know what’s happened to me that’s made me de-evolve as a player but I’m glad that I’m having so much fun with my decks. However my rating has taken quite the beating because of this: I used to be like 1950 or something close to that and now I’m 1846 and 12th in my province. Yuck.
So the deck I’m playing today is one I recommended to my friend Serge Loiseau in Joliette which he proceeded to build before me and win his first ever tournament (congrats, dude). It is build for a quick fellowship win by running while hand-clogging the opponent. The fellowship consists of a Dauntless Choke with Wingfoot as your fighter and general all-purpose cleaner. The key to making a Dauntless Choke truly magnificent is to throw in Vilya. Sending the expensive conditions back to the guy’s hand is great for lowering his through-put and screwing over Uruk Archery and to a lessor extent, Moria. However, this is not enough to really clog the guy’s hand to cause an easy double move. Hence, you build a shadow that aids your fellowship DIRECTLY (which is VERY difficult to do in LOTR). I play 4 Grima Wormtongue with lots of Wounded, lots of Blade Tips and lots of Black Breaths. You will FOR SURE be sending stuff up back into his hand if the guy is playing men at all (Rohan or Gondor). Throwing a Wounded on Ottar is fun too. Anyway it all results in a massive hand-clog and you’ll be happy when naked companions then have to square off against your black riders.
So Quantum Cards is naturally our favourite card store and have been a big supporter of Team Quantum (consisting of myself, the bad Beef brothers and my Sealed-Deck nemesis, Jonathan Verall). Quantum Cards offers a gaming environment of ZERO cheating tolerance as well as promoting good sportsmanship all around. I have some friends I’ve made over the internet from Sherbrooke (a city 2 hours away) that will be attending this tournament as their first organized play experience. I’m sure the store won’t fail to impress them.
So 18 players today, including:
Paul Glickman (1605)
Jon Keane (1547)
Ari MacGee (1546)
Jonathan Verrall (1635)
Carl Whittum (1679 – who is this guy?)
Francis Bourdeau (1651)
Jonathan Thifeault (1531)
Peter Wilson (1618)
Philippe Daoust (1585)
Jason Gillespie (1500)
Marc-André Nault (1500)
Frederic Lefrbre (1500)
John Bernatchez (1609)
Matt Mitchell (1500)
Chris Herman (1500)
Mathieu Boies (1599)
Fred Cote (1535)
So if we look heavy at those ratings and take for granted that the rating system is flawless and accurate, then it would appear that I’m the heavy favourite. I just wish I felt so before the tournament because I remember being nervous as hell in my first few games...
So I pick up Pat Malboeuf at the Subway (who is late for a change, no excuse this time tho. This time it isn’t the politician’s fault. He slept for 2 hours after an all-night StarCraft bonanza. At least this time, I can totally relate...). So we arrive 15 minutes late only and John bernatchez and Jean-Luc Simard haven’t shown up yet. We wait another 15 minutes and then decide to start without them. Bernatchez shows up half an hour later, in time to get a one-game loss but still particpate (I have no doubts that he’ll make top 8). Jean-Luc Simard doesn’t show up (he must have needed those Eye of Barad-Hurs more than I thought).
Pat Malboeuf didn’t know exactly what to expect as head judge of a PSQ but he couldn’t believe how many deck-list errors came out of round one. If you look carefully at those ratings, you’ll quickly see what we are dealing with. These poor guys are having their very first organized-play experience in a PSQ with required decklists. The thing is, these guys don’t quite get the gist of what OPEN format means and I’m not talking about the X-list (thank God we weren,t playing Standard because that would have opened up a whole other can of worms). The problems were more related to site path. Try to imagine the surprise on your face as you decide to double past the Uruk Camp and then your opponent takes out COUNCIL COURTYARD as his site three. Even better was the guy that tried to double to Deep of Helm after passing through HOLLIN. Ouch. Anyway a bunch of game-losses were given out and site paths were adjusted to become fully legal. Patrick was the ever-forgiving yet fair judge. He was trying his best to do a decent Enrique imitation.
So here we go...
Me (1846) and my Dauntless Choke-Vilya / Grima-Nazgul hand-clog vs. Peter Wilson (1618)’s Isengard Orcs/Gondor-elf mix
Never fails that I get first-round pairing against Peter Wilson. I’m quite apprehensive about this match-up because the day before I ran into Paul Glickman at the story and he tells me he has built the PERFECT shadow and that he and Peter Wilson will be playing it tomorrow. He also claims to have the PERFECT fellowship. So naturally as Paul is a decent deck-builder, I am very concerned about having to face this deck. I am thankful, tho, that I’m playing Peter and not Paul, because I consider Paul the superior player. So naturally against a deck that fear I run like hell. I bid 4 and double to three against a Twilight Witch King. I am being careful not to wound Frodo because I suspect he’s playing John Lolli’s ridiculous site-two kill deck (or at least I am hoping he is). Peter has also bid 4 and had nothing to remove a burden so I am begging to get Toldea early. No show. However it seemed clear early on with his Boromir/Merry start that his fellowship had a Nazgul weakness. So my shadow nazgul FOR ONCE didn’t disappoint. I then moved to three still having no idea what his shadow is exactly and out comes an army of Isengard Orcs (regroup ones not warg-riders). Isengard Warriors come out like ants but my fellowship can handle this PERFECT shadow as easily as it could handle a tentacle-swarm. Anyway no real problems for my fellowship which arrived safely at site 9. Peter was VERY confident that he was going to win so props to him for that.
FW +3 /3
Good: My deck came out exactly as it is supposed to. Elrond helped the healing process.
Bad: Only drawing Toldea right after he played Son of Hamfast was sucky.
Ugly: Peter takes almost 3 minutes in a maneuver phase at site 5 which has 2 Nazgul on the table to his three companions, one ally and one horn. It really shouldn’t have been that difficult...
Me (1846) vs Paul Glickman (1605)’s SAME DECK as Peter.
I was SO ecstatic when I got paired up against more Isengard Orcs I almost wet my pants. Paul (as predicted) played much better and gave me a tougher time with his shadow. He played the rights ones in the right places. I was very fortunately that he didn’t draw into his Witch King Twilight until the end of the game when I had OEG. We are both at site 7 and it’s my fellowship first. I move to eight and he plays Enquea and Saruman (Servant of the Eye, naturally). He puts the two archery on Enquea. I have OEG and Filibert. I HAVE to double move. My Nazgul really hurt his fellowship but I think he can still manage a double move. So I am debating on what to play. I really want Enquea to stick around past the site nine archery phase because then I can OEG and Filibert for the game (no wonder these cards are on the X list). So my mind is like JELLO all day long and I can’t seem to figure things out, so in the regroup phase, with Wingfoot I wound Enquea once and Saruman once. This was stupid because at site nine, you want LESS minions no matter what (especially when I’m playing 5 companions). So I used up my OEG at site 8 and STILL let Enquea survive. STUPID. So he plays 6 minions at site 9 and I shoot Enquea with Aragorn’s Bow. If he had ONE MORE minion, I would have lost. It was WAY too close for comfort.
FW +3 /6
Good: Paul is an excellent opponent. He never misses a beat and is better at controlling the pool than I. Also he’s a quick player which I always like.
Bad: I wasn’t feeling well and sure had wished I had played my site 8 smarter.
Ugly: Getting rid of OEG at site 8 was just about the dumbest thing I did all day (but it wasn’t, read on...)
Me (1846) vs. Jonathan Verrall (1635)’s Vida Moria / Modified Bad beef (except that it isn’t bad beef)
Jonathan’s strength is in Sealed Deck (as is mine for that matter) so this is a fun match up because we are both out of our element. Jonathan is an average Moria player and that’s all Moria needs to win VERY often. Moria isn’t all that tough. I find it funny how Verrall keeps telling me his freeps isn’t BadBeef even though it is clearly a card-drawing/discarding engine to support his Moria. Anyway, I ended up going first and at site two he plays a Goblin Armory. Now I have a BIG choice to make. I drew into two VILYAS but ZERO Elronds (and I’m playing three). I should really stop and get my condition removal on the table to hurt his throughput since Grima can’t do jack against BadBeef. However I decide to double move and hope that he doesn’t get his Scimitars out fast. I double into Golden Hall. THANK GOD. I then reconciled into Aragorn’s Bow, Hobbit Sword and Ranger’s Sword. That would have KILLED my fellowship if I had stopped at two. Jon then single moves and is clearly going for a shadow win so I relax realizing my fellowship can take its sweet time. I single to 4, 5 and 6. I finally draw into Elrond at site 6. In the meantime his Forest Guardian makes his fellowship SIX against my Nazgul. Enquea kills Lindenroot and I Blade Tip a Forest Guardian. He clearly can NEVER double against my Nazgul with any hopes of surviving so I am happy that I can relax and single till the end (assuming I survive the Cavern Entrance with Elrond’s fashionably late arrival). Also I should mention that Jonathan is discarding pretty much HIS ENTIRE hand every assignment phase with his ents and Shadow phase with They Are Coming. His discard pile is as big as my house. He is clearly running out of cards and I really need to thank my lucky stars that a Goblin Swarms hasn’t hit the table because I have won no skirmishes all game. I move to seven and he gets out 4 minions. I don’t want to risk Frodo and decide to Escape with Merry and then boost Pippen with Merry afterwards. For the second time in a week (first time was Josh) I completely forget the site text. Merry and Pippen BOTH DIE in a Dauntless Choke deck. HOW COULD I BE so careless? I hate getting Cocky. I need Harrison Ford constantly yelling at me over the radio to prevent this in the future.
I now have THREE companions (including Frodo) moving to site 8 next turn. It’s the ring of Isengard. His draw deck has ONE card left and he has stacked a Goblin Scavengers (the swarms finally comes out). He is at site 6 and I have to decide if I move again. Jonathan surprised me once with a Eye of Barad hur so I am scared he will surprise me again with some sort of Move Limit +1 card so I decide to move again like a dummy. He can only play three minions (using Palantir Chamber) and I pull off the win. Whew.
FW +3 /9
Good: He’s a fun opponent and I’m lucky that his Moria skills aren’t as fine-tuned as Josh or Malboeuf. Also we had a comical moment where I blocked a Isengard Warrior with Frodo assuming he had no pumps for these types of orcs in his deck. No Wolf-voices today thankfully).
Bad: I have to say that Jonathan should have won this game at site 4, site 5, site 6, site 7, site 8 and site 9. If he had played Vida Moria in the way that it is meant to be played. I would not have survived Site 4. I recommend to Jonathan that he reads Patrick Malboeuf’s strategy section he wrote for his Decklist used in VEGAS. It explains perfectly how to play Moria Vida.
Ugly: I would have played Jonathan’s deck EXACTLY the same way he did. Some of us are just meant to be Freeps players and not shadow players.
LUNCH. Jonathan, Ari, Patrick, Jon and myself jump into my civic and race off to A&W where two Teen Burgers and going for 5 bucks. Chris goes on his bicycle and beats us there. We have some nice relaxing conversation and the lunch break is prolly the best part of the day. It goes to show that I’m in this for the social aspect and not the competitiveness. I’m happy with that. Leave the big money to the Malboeufs of this world. Or, at the very least, leave them 75 bucks and give the big money to the Brochu’s of this world.
So I’m 3-0 and I’m looking pretty sharp! The only decent players I haven’t faced yet are Fred Cote and Jon Bernatchez (although Ariadne has surprised me in the past).
Me (1846) vs. Philippe Daoust (1585)’s Nazgul/Gondor mega choke with elf ally
So I’ve never seen this guy before in my life which is never a good thing. It is his second tournament of his life. So I’m all happy. Then he tells me he’s been playing LOTR longer than I have. Now I’m sad and scared. I get to experience first hand what Nazgul can do at the Wold of Rohan. Aragorn is hurt real real bad as is Legolas. At site three I get the surprise of my life with a Relentless Charge and that’s the end of Dauntless Hunter. Well that really puts ink in the ointment, doesn’t it? Plus, I’m forced to dicard Pippin without the card that gets him back in the regroup phase. I’m down to 3 companions. I get pippin back at site 6 and then lose merry for good at site 7. I then move to eight with escape on pippen (healthy), frodo and filibert. I then lose Aragorn. He is at site 7 and now I have to decide if I double to nine with Attea on the table and me with just Pippin and Frodo and Filibert. If no other Nazgul are played, I win the game. However, I have 3 burdens and I have this funny feeling that he’s playing Palantir chamber which gets back Toldea and wins the game so I stop. He is at site 7 with a TANKED out Faramir. Choking Nazgul like crazy at that point in the game is no good for the Nine. He doubles to 9. My dilemna is either to play nothing at site 8 and try to swarm frodo with nazgul at site 9 or to try and cycle. I decide to cycle which is the wrong decision (the other decision wouldn’t have worked either tho) and he pulls off the double without losing anyone.
FL +1 / 10
Good: What an excellent opponent. I can’t believe how many mistakes he made but still pulled off an effortless win.
Bad: My deck was way weaker against Nazgul than I was prepared for.
Ugly: Relentless Charge. Plus at site 5 he plays a bunch of stuff and there is one left in the pool. I then look to assign and see nothing left in the pool (the one token was moved WAY to the side) so I block with Merry an attempt to cancel the skirmish with Escape. He asks if he can prevent the skirmish and I say no cuz there is no pool. He asks isn’t there supposed to be one? I then realize ONLY then that he is right. I would never had assigned like that if there had been one pool left so I sheepishly claim that no there isn’t one pool left knowing full well there was (the token is no where in sight. I think that Bill the Pony ate it or something). He says ok and I cancel the skirmish. I feel bad about that but like I said, if I had seen the token, I wouldn,t have assigned like that. The difference would have been that Frodo wouldn,t have made it to site 8. He would have died at 7 no problem. Thankfully, Philippe won the game so I don’t have to feel guilty about it.
Uh oh, I’ve lost a round. I can’t lose again...
Me (1846) vs Fred Cote (1535)’s Uruk Archery (what else?)/Dauntless Choke (no vilya)
Well I have yet to beat this damn deck of his but now I am playing a very frustrating fellowship for him. He gets out a Weapons of Isengard at site 2 and USES it! I’m amazed that he does that but it means that many more wounds stay. I am DYING TO GET ELROND out and thankfully he shows up with his ring at site 3. I send up Weapons of Isengard to his hand like there is no tomorrow. Must be frustrating. The best part is, for once my shadow is working the way it was intended to (it is not supposed to kill but rather hand-clog). Fred plays about 3 or 4 cards on Boromir and I draw into Grima. UP they go. Plus at site 3 or 4 I get out another Grima and slap TWO woundeds on Aragorn with Bow. Fred now HATES this card. Not as much as I hate the Eye of Barad Hur, tho (Jon Keane had a hilarious story about cracking up on a oublic bus alone because of that card, ask him to tell you one day). Fred makes it to the sanctuary 6 first. That worries me and I single to 6 and then am facing with the make-it-or-break-it decision. I always think of Verrall at moments like this (and when I’m in the shower) when he says No guts No glory. Who in their right mind bypasses a site 6 sanctuary against Uruk Archery? The answer : Me.
Off I go! This ends up being very key as I wound Lurtz twice in the double move with Wingfoot, killing him. Wingfoot is REALLY powerful. He then doubles to 8 (which is a mistake, ask Malboeuf sometime about the ‘fewer reconciliation rule’) and I pull off a double to 9 afterwards. Fred played some stuff at site 8 which was ANOTHER mistake. If Fred had played nothing at site 8 and saved me an armada for site 9, I would have most certainly lost the game. Anyway so I get to double to nine with nothing left on the table thanks to Wingfoot. He then plays 5 or 6 minions which isn’t enough. However, Fred is one of these players that doesn’t concede in a situation like this. He likes to wait and see if I make a really dumb mistake (which tells me that he wouldn’t give me a take back). So in situations like this one, I am more than happy to take my sweet time at site nine and pretend like I really have to think this thru to not make any mistakes. Basically it’s only because there were like 6 or 7 people watching and I wanted to give them a show. So I start acting cocky as hell and really giving a lot of thought to how I should assign this to make sure I don’t lose. Fred very quickly loses patience and shows me how to assign the minions so that I win. That’s pretty satisfying. Why don’t players just concede when it’s obvious they’ve lost? I wanna go home too.
FW +3 /13
Good: Beating that damn deck for once. I’m glad I got to discard Pippin at site 8 and then get him back in the regroup to heal. OUCH. That must have hurt his chances.
Bad: Fred making me play site 9 just to get me to make a dumb mistake that he wouldn’t let me take back if I did. There is just nothing good in that. We’re supposed to be friends...
Ugly: Pippin HOSI discarding and coming back at site 8 against Uruk Archery. Beauty.
So there are 4 or 5 of us that are like 4-1. Pretty impressive. Jonathan Verall managed to beat that guy that beat me so we’re all on equal footing. Philippe and I tied in opposition totals so because he beat me, he gets 1st place and I get 2nd. Jonathan Verall gets 3rd. Marc-André gets 4th. Paul Glickman also places and Jon Keane squeezes in 8th! Nice!
• Pat Malboeuf for hosting a tournament after 2 hours sleep.
• Jill for giving Pat the Maps of Middle Earth as participation prize. WOW.
• Jill for running a great PSQ without any cracks...
• Quantum Cards for being a great sponsor and great place to play cards
• Jonathan Verrall for being the best opponent of the day. I ask him for a takeback because I forgot to use Elrond’s text and Jonathan waves me off all annoyed because I shouldn’t even have to ask. Great guy that Verrall (and nice hair too
• Ari for also having good hair (we didn’t match-up so I can’t think of anything else)
• A&W for having the saltiest burgers ever and putting WAY too much mustard. Those guys are hilarious. But the root-beer forgives all...
• Jon Keane for wearing that awesome hat as usual and for placing 8th!
• Fred Cote for being really tough to beat and a great sportsman (better than me, even).
• Those three guys from Sherbrooke that drove so far for their first tournament.
• Those guys that use Hollin in their Site Path. Too funny...
• Paul Glickman and Peter Wilson and their PERFECT shadows consisting of Isengard Orcs. I couldn’t have made second place without you boys
• Philippe Daoust for being REALLY GOOD at deck building. His deck won him the PSQ hands-down.
• Matt Mitchell for really liking LOTR (it’s becoming a rare thing these days)
• Bernatchez for smiling and wearing comfy clothes (I’m obviously running out of material at this point)
• Team Quantum for placing 2nd and 3rd. NICE job Verrall...
• Haha my first slops ever for JILL (I’ve never given slops to a sponsor before... let’s see what happens). I’m giving slops for not letting Matt Mitchell’s lady-friend watch the games. She drives too far and is too nice to not allow in the game room. I know that rules and rules, but she’s just too nice and I couldn’t possibly see her scout.
• Paul and Peter for scouting (and not getting caught, you guys made it SO OBVIOUS)
• Peter for taking 6 hours in the maneuver phase
• People that e-mail me the night before the tournament asking me to lend them rares so they can beat me with them (this isn’t just Jean-Luc, there were a whole bunch of you that sent me mails this time). When did this become a new trend? Go buy your own cards and stop bothering me.
And on that note, one more set of Props to Steve Judge for never asking me to lend him a card even though he is often missing that ONE rare for his deck to work.
Man, I must have been in a bad mood when I wrote this thing. I think my friend, Edmund Grey is right, I’m being WAY too judgemental. I need to relax....
Hopefully I’ll be better behaved at the Ottawa PSQ next Sunday. Standard Format and I am bringing easily the WORST deck I’ve ever built. It has yet to win a casual match. Let’s see how it does against the Nation’s capital’s gang of scrubs (that should get their engines started....)
Till Next time. Hope you enjoyed the reading...
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