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CardShark Content - Patrick Sullivan (5/6/2003)

Standard Format

Well I haven’t been to Ottawa tournaments in quite a while. My GF had a job in that town all last summer so I got to participate in many local tourneys during that time. I got to meet some really cool guys and I was looking forward to seeing them all.
Notably worth mentioning:
• Jake Denley
• Scott Molnar
• Noah M.
• Pascal Lajoie
These were all cool guys back then and I hope they’re still playing the game as hard as before. Plus there is a gang of boys that drive up to Montreal every once in a while (I really hope that dude that just says, ‘yeah, so anyways…’ non-stop while gaming shows up to. That guy is mad-cool).

So my GF and I drive up the day before so spend sometime with her sister and her BF who just got a new apartment. Good thing I’ve got the tournament on Sunday to look forward to (kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel).

So it’s Standard Format that so far I think I have done horribly at and I expect more of the same today. My deck really is quite poor and I’m not quite sure why I’m playing with it. The fellowship is incredibly weak (my version of Mathieu Brochu’s Vegas day one deck) consisting of Greenleaf with 3 Lorien Swordsmen. The Blades Drawn really help but I got to say that the Break the Charges stink. I can manage to bid as high as two safely with this fellowship and then have to decide to start or go second. Going first is very tempting because my site one (gullies) tends to screw over some fellowships, which rely on Aragorn very badly. But I have very little faith in my fellowship so I think I’ll bid two and force my opponent to go first. Of course this means I’ll be going for a shadow kill. What’s my shadow, you ask? Well let me explain…

I’m trying out Uruk Trackers. I have always been moderately impressed with them and they were my first Shadow culture I tried in Two Towers (although I paired them up with a Three Hunters fellowship which really stunk (Final Count, anyone?)). So it plays with very few minions (4 copies of the majors) and What Did You Discover actually makes double moving a little more trying on the opponent. Throw in an Enquea and a Grima, Chief Counselor and a ton of conditions (Weary, Many Riddles) and I’m off to the races. The 4 Vengeance I’m playing with really hold water near the end of the game. Plus Ugluk and really impress early on given the right amount of twilight. Plus I threw in one Uruk Spear hoping to render some horsies into glue. So I hope the shadow can pull it off because my fellowship can’t (unless I play Nazgul and get lucky early on enabling me to run later on with my 4 Elven Bows).

So I’m very excited to go to Kool Kards Heaven (first store put into the Decipher Hall of Fame much to Dominic’s chagrin) because I poked a bit of fun at the players in previous TRs calling them a bunch of scrubs (I was hoping to arouse some municipal pride and get a decent turn-out). Anyway the taunt was enough to get a D-mail from Mr. Nice-Guy Noah who told me where to put my taunt. Anyway it should be really fun to see everyone and I hope I can get a premier point out of this with my crap deck. I still expect to place in the top 8. My trackers should be able to surprise a great majority of unprepared fellowships (or so I hope). I don’t expect to be pulling off a 1st place today. In fact, I’m quite curious as to who will grab the 2 premier points.

So I arrive the night before and go to see X-Men 2 with my GF, her sister and boyfriend. Man, that movie was incredible. I won’t drop any spoilers here (I’m saving those for the message boards) but I certainly liked it better than the first one (which I also loved).

So the next morning I wake up early and although the tourney doesn’t start until 12, I have this funny feeling that I might start at 10. I almost got screwed at the Toronto TOC when I arrived an hour before the scheduled start time only to find out they were starting the tournament an hour early (nice way to screw over the out-of-towners). So I worried the same thing might transpire in Ottawa (it is the same province, after all) so off I go to see what’s going on. I arrive just before ten and the store is locked up so my paranoia has been put to rest. I had on over to the local Tim Horton’s (Ontario is the birthplace after-all). I forgot how much more popular this stop is in Ontario and there is a mob. Outside the store, this guy is selling a really nice looking 2001 Motorcycle for like 7,000$ so I ask a few questions on behalf of my neighbor and say screw this and jump into the Tim Horton’s for breakfast. I order toast and coffee and the cashier keeps thinking I’m saying Toasted coffee so she says they can’t do that for me. I’m like totally not understanding what’s going on in this conversation and chalk it up to not having coffee yet. So in the end, they don’t serve toast for some silly reason (all the Timmy’s back home serve THE BEST toast (although they charge for the peanut-butter and jam which drives me nuts) so I can’t figure out why this place doesn’t serve toast. She offers a bagel instead and I tell her to get real. So no breakfast for me.

Kool Kards Heaven has a nice location because it is right beside the Orleans mall. So I figure I could check out the Electronics Boutique, Compucentre and see how much GameCube games are going for. Much to my surprise the mall doesn’t open until 11. Damn. Now what am I going to do? I play a couple crappy rounds of Crazy Taxi in the food court (I like Road Rage better) and head back to the store to grab some magazines out of my car. There is this guy standing in front of the store with hockey stick for no apparent reason (how Canadian is that eh?) so I ask if he’s there for the tournament. He says he just came to trade so he gets out his deck; we head back to the food court and play a couple casual games. In the first game I choose to go first and out comes Witch King with Steed at the Wold of Rohan. My fellowship doesn’t make it much farther. Second game I went first but got set up real good and my Uruk Trackers trashed his fellowship. I’m very thankful for playing these games because it reminded me how weak my fellowship is and how I will have to go for Shadow wins all day. (That sucks for me because I’m a better freeps player than I am shadow).

So we head back to the store and now everyone has arrived. Pascal is running the tournament (which I’m happy about cuz he’s good at that) and Scott Molnar is there with Noah and best of all Jake. So I get to see all my old friends from when I used to play up here last summer. However only 15 people show up out of a player community of 60. I can’t believe it. Pascal says it’s because they didn’t want to pay 10 bucks. That totally sucks but now I realize that I should be able to make top 8 even with my crap deck. Not too bad. Oh and by the way, included in those 15 people is me, Alex from Toronto (cool!) and 2 other Montrealers who drove up (Jean-Luc and Mathieu Boies). So 4 of the 15 are non-regulars. Too weird.

Now apparently many people don’t know what Standard Format is and Flaming Brands and Sting is running rampant. Pascal gives everyone a chance to fix his or her (yes, there was one) decks before first round. He also finds a ton of deck list errors but again is merciful and allows players to change their decks. Nice guy!

Round One
Me (1875) and my Uruk Trackers/Elves against Mathieu Boies (1599)’s Dauntless Choke (vilya, wingfoot) with Nazgul (uh oh)
Mathieu is wearing a cool Quebec shirt and is showing his provincial pride. No problem with that. Mathieu is a fun player and usually judges tournaments in Montreal. His GF also plays and is as addicted to the new Zelda as I am. Mathieu bids 3 to my 2 and decides to go first. GOOD. He fetches Aragorn and exerts Legolas to do so (what the..?) and moves to my Wold of Rohan. I have a near-perfect shadow hand and out comes Ugluk with 2 chasers. Mathieu is forced to discard Pippin and Legolas dies! (OH MY GOD!). I move to site two, stop and he plays Elrond and moves to three. That’s very much twilight and poor Elrond isn’t home site 3 Towers to help out. So I get out a couple trackers again and Merry dies in the first skirmishes and he looks at the fierce situation and concedes out of despair (poor guy). There was a weary on Aragorn and he wouldn’t have survived the fierce skirmish. That was the totality of his fellowship (two unbound hobbits, Legolas and Aragorn) ALL dead by site 3. I don’t think he was in the mood for Frodo to limp to the finish. SO he gave up. It was a five-minute game or so.
FW +3 /3
Good: Man, does my shadow ever work when Ugluk is there early on.
Bad: Mathieu made a mistake or two and the frustration of it costing him the game was to much for him to try playing the rest for fun.
Ugly: Jean-Luc tells me afterwards if I go 6-0 today then he’s going to kill me! And with good reason, he knows that I have been claiming to have the worst Standard Decks ever and this one is no exception. If I do end up winning a bunch more games, I will feel really bad for Ottawa.

Poor Mathieu. What terrible luck for him. So I convince him to let me buy him a coffee next door at the Second Cup in the mall. We have a nice walk there and back (it’s a BEAUTIFUL day).

Round Two
Me vs Martin’s Rohan-Uruk Archery
I got paired down here which is no good for my opposition totals but probably good for my fellowship. No mistakes were made at all in this game. Martin was a very nice guy with multiple body piercings and tattoos. I bid 2 to his 1 and make him go first. We single move the entire game from this point on. Basically nothing too exciting with him singling to site 7 and me right behind. He then moves to 8 and all that is left after the skirmishes is Frodo and Gandalf with a ton of conditions on the table. He tried playing Sleep in his fellowship phase (would have helped against my 4x Vengence) but Gandalf was exhausted. Grown Suddenly Tall is so much better! So he is in the regroup phase and I have a fellowship of 5 elves still so he decides to double to 9. I have a pretty good hand and I know he’s concede as soon as I play one minion so I try to play my whole hand as fast as possible just so he can really see to what extend Frodo gets the beats. I manage to get down 4 Trackers in like 2 seconds and he concedes rapidly.
FW +3 /6
Good: Holy cow, my shadow is definitely going to get me a premiere point today! I’m so happy!
Bad: Nothing really.
Ugly: I gave him really no option at site 8. I guess he could have stayed but there was so winning the game for him at that point. Good opponent though.

So I bugger off to the mall and get myself a 12-inch Subway new Italian Herbs and Cheese bread with Italien BMT on the inside (whatever the hell that is). I hate coldcuts but the Honey Mustard sauce with the bread is saving the whole experience for me. So I see Jean-Luc and Mathieu enjoying same A&W and I sit with them for a second to chat and then get a caffeine craze again and swing by the Second Cup on the way back to the shop.

I get back a little early to the store and have a small chit-chat with the eccentric store-owner Darcy. Our friend Dominic knows this guy pretty well. Darcy has an opinion on pretty much everything and is more than happy to make you hear it until your ears bleed. I hope up on the deck and sit on the new wood railing for greater comfort and am instantly barked at by Darcy to get the f**k down off the railing (it’s a bad example to kids after all). He tells me some kid broke his arm from falling off the railing last year so I shouldn’t be doing the same (I’m 27 years old by the way…)

Round 3
Me (1875) vs. Jake Denley (1889) Uruk Archery/Gondor-elf
Well if it isn’t my good buddy Jake! Jake and I have kept communication open since I stopped playing in Ottawa last year. We been discussing various meta choices and what our experiences have been. It’s been real fun and useful because we have very different opinions on a variety of decks. So now here I am finally playing someone with a higher ranking than myself. I made Jake go first in our game and he started Arwen and Legolas (damn, wish I was playing Moria). I commented that Jake will do well today because the Nazgul are everywhere. Jake fetches Aragorn and moves to two. I once again have a wonderful hand of trackers and get out enough to kill his entire starting fellowship (namely, Legolas and Arwen). WOW. These trackers are pretty decent. So at this point Jake is just about right to give up. By the look on his face, he has clearly lost the game. He’s got that look that all of us love to see in our opponent’s eyes. So basically his body language is telling me to single move the rest of the game and eventually kill his fellowship. So he stops of course and then I keep single moving right behind him. At the next site, he gets out Elrond and Vilya. DAMN. This is going to be annoying. I then start the process of discarding conditions and try to gather up enough forces in my hand to overwhelm Frodo at like site 5, 7, 8 or 9. That’s the plan. He gets out Boromir and Faramir in no time and Frodo has a fairly decent escort (all with weapons and Last alliances). So he’s choking me a bit because of Vilya so I am trying to prepare for site 5 Deep of Helm. I cycle REAL bad and all I play with a ton of twilight is Saruman with Enquea. Not exactly the dream team. So all that does is completely exhaust his entire fellowship. Not too bad! Then at sites 6 and 7 I am way too choked to get anything on Frodo so I hold on to my minions and wait for my moment. However this hand clog doesn’t mix well for my fellowship and all my unbound companions are really not enjoying the Ranged Commander’s game text. I got a timely Foul Creation on Lurtz once but my luck ran out after that. My company of archers weren’t showing up at the right time and moving to site 7 killed Frodo once and for all. Damn.
FL +1 /7
Good: Jake is a fantastic opponent and this was a great game. I crippled his freeps side and hence crippled Jake’s mental state in the game. I just couldn’t capitalize on his crippled fellowship.
Bad: Deep of Helm failed to deliver because I had no uruks in hand.
Ugly: Jake losing his starting fellowship at site 2. Too funny.

Well I’m still quite confident that I will make top 8. Pascal (the TD) assures me that I’ll be making top eight no problem

Round Four
Me (1875) vs Steven Sy (1972)’s Nazgul/Trust Me
I had forgotten about this guy from last year. I remember his face and his smile but I can’t remember if he’s a good player. At the time of the tournament I didn’t know how highly rated he was. I made him go first and my Trackers started off strong. I managed to kill off Gandalf and Eomer fairly early in the game. YAY. However, Nazgul with All Blades Perish makes my fellowship cry. My fellowship of 2 or 3 remaining elves with elven bows moves to site 5 all exhausted. I am then visited by a really nasty card I haven’t seen for quite some time. Relentless Charge. My ENTIRE fellowship is wiped off the map. OUCH. Frodo kills the remaining Nazgul with a PATHS or something and has to move to site 6 solo. He survives. Now is my ONLY chance to win this thing. Steven’s crippled fellowship is leaving the sanctuary and moving to site 7. I got a God-draw in the reconcile and was fairly certain I could get him. So he moves into site 7 with Frodo and Eowyn ONLY. I play Ugluk, Mahur with an Uruk Spear (to kill Firefoot thinking Eowyn was Defender +1 which she wasn’t) and Grima, CC (to try and overwhelm Frodo). He also has an unused Bounder by the way. You know, if I was playing Cavern Entrance the game would have ended right there. Darn. I’m starting to think Cavern Entrance might be the better choice for Uruk Trackers because the only event is Vengeance and Mahur’s game text. Apart from that I’ve got Weary and Many Riddles which I can still use right? Hmmm… I’ll have to think this over later. So I also had a Many Riddles in my hand which I should have played on Eowyn instead of playing the Uruk Spear. I didn’t need the spear at all. So I assign Uruk and Grima to Frodo causing one wound thanks to Bounder and Eowyn takes a wound. On the fierce skirmishes Frodo is able to take Mahur with spear (11) to his power 6 without being overwhelmed. Damn it all, I just missed my only chance I think. Now my Frodo has to survive. I am currently holding 2 double shots and an elven bow. I decide that I need to draw up a Lorien Swordsmen to survive so I don’t discard any of those cards as they will all be quite essential in the survival of our favourite Hobbit. What do I draw up, you ask? I draw up 2 Blades Drawn, 2 Break the Charge and the Bow of the Galadrhim. Frodo has NOTHING. Neither of my 2 copies of Sting have surfaced and I don’t have a PATHS anymore. All I have is the Cliffs of Emyn Muil on the table. Out comes a naked Toldea who draws and quarters Frodo quite nicely.
FL +1 /8
Good: Steven was one cool customer. His survival right to site 7 was remarkable considering the amount of hand-clog he was experience for his dead Gandalf.
Bad: My fellowship really sucks.
Ugly: Relentless Charge. I ended up winning a foil copy of the card at the end of the tournament which Steven was nice enough (albeit hesitant) to sign.

Pascal then announces that we are now in the final round. He is having trouble making pairings so he says we’ll only play 5 rounds today. That’s fine by me because there is only so much punishment my rating can take!

Round Five
Me (1875) vs. Mike’s Constantly Retreating (good name)
This was easily my favourite game of the day. Mike was my favourite opponent just because we were both very relaxed and we got a great seat at the end of a table where the sun was shining in. I felt like my cat in the sunbeam. Mike’s deck was Dunland with a HIDAN freeps. My Uruk Trackers were having immense difficulty against his deck. He got out a Fortress Never Fallen and could have put two tokens on it but forgot one. He then got rid of Aragorn’s Weary which I would have preferred he kept. Damn. I wasn’t really winning very many skirmishes and his fellowship was pretty big (gamling, Eowyn, Aragorn, Eomer). I was single moving along with his fellowship and his shadow was interesting because it included Evil Smellin Fens with Gollum to go get the perfect Dunland man at the right time. My fellowship wasn’t too big moving to the Deep of Helm and Mike managed to get out enough minions so Frodo had to fight. Luckily Frodo had Sting against the Dunland Warrior. So that’s 6-9. Mike plays two pumps onto Frodo and that’s game. My PATHS and Cliffs never showed up.
Good: Losing to Mike was cool. He had an original Shadow mix and was fun to play against.
Bad: This game decided who was top 8 and who wasn’t.
Ugly: My fellowship truly is the worst one I’ve ever played. I look forward to taking it apart when I get home.

So that’s it. I end up placing…. (drum roll…) 9th. Ah crap. No premier point! Didn’t this happen to Kyle Craft in Vegas? (placing 17th?). Jean-Luc and Alex are top two (two non-Ottawa people) and they play in a final confrontation (what the?) for the win. I neglect to stay and grab my relentless charge foil and say my goodbyes and take off to pick up my GF and get out of that damn town 

• Pascal for organizing a great tournament. Sucks for the turnout but I had a great time. It ran smooth as silk and he was nice and merciful with all the deck list errors.
• Jake for being a great player and fun guy.
• Mike for beating me in our final round.
• Steven Sy for being a good player as well
• Mathieu for having bad luck against me.
• Noah and Scott for being good sports
• Darcy for being a maniac
• Alex for coming from Toronto and making it to the final confrontation again!
• Quantum Cards for giving me that cool Team Quantum polo that I got to wear and intimidate my opponents

• Ottawa’s regular players for not coming because it cost 10 bucks. What if we gave free lolli-pops? Would you come then kids?
• Jean-Luc for scouting (or at least for being obvious about it)
• Me, for playing a stupid deck for a change. I got to start taking this game seriously again. I miss my 1950 rating 

That’s it folks. Montreal TOC next Saturday. I seem to have constructed a very very good open deck so I think I might finally win that bye. I hope. Competition will most certainly be very severe.

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