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CardShark Content - Patrick Sullivan (7/31/2003)

Pre-Tourney Jank

Well the time has come for the second of my three planned TRs this summer. I simply cannot let such a major event as the LOTR World Championships to pass undocumented. Basically I’m still reeling from my performance at Origins (where I placed 3rd overall at the Premiere Series). My rating, which was stuck at 1882 for the longest time, is now 2046 and I’m currently ranked as the 3rd best player in my country and 18th best in the world! Holy cow! I think the time has come where I’m finally ready to accept that I might actually be good at this game.

The problem is that I’m really not expecting to do well at all at Worlds this year (I placed 11th at last year’s Worlds and I don’t think I’ll be making a repeat appearance at Day 3). Why am I not expecting to do well you ask? Well, I have had ZERO preparation time between Origins and GenCon. I have purchased almost 3 boxes worth of Ents but have yet to try any of the cards except for 3 Pre-Releases. I know the Ents are very powerful and are great at running to nine but I haven’t been able to build a decent deck with them yet (I can’t figure out what the third culture should be). So because I’m not comfortable with any new standard deck I think I’m going to have to play pretty much the same thing I played at Origins. A Dauntless Hunter with WingChow and Nazgul for maximum stopping power (with 3 pumps thrown in for good surprise measure, I can still see the look on Casey’s face when I played a +5 pump after he put on Mr. Bubbles). Even though it is very foolish to play the same deck at two cons, I am very comfortable with the deck and know it inside out at this point, which is a big plus at big tournaments.

I am bringing four pre-constructed decks to GenCon this year for the simple reason that I haven’t yet earned my bye into Day Two Worlds. This was a grueling process last year where I was up until 3 in the morning trying to win a Day Two bye after not sleeping for almost two days. I really don’t know how I did it. This year, I’m taking it more seriously. I’m bringing a deck from each format to try and qualify.

My open deck, entitled ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ is an amazing Gondor/Gandalf fellowship that can run like the wind with a Moria Shadow that is built to stop (4 cave trolls, etc). The deck has won me Race to Mount Doom once but that’s all it’s been able to do for me. I haven’t tried it out at a big tournament but Pat Malboeuf told me it could handle Moria and Uruk Bomb so therefore it should do well in Open. In fact, at one of the sites on the Race to Mount Doom site path, it states, ‘your opponents’ minions are not roaming.’ I played against both Jonathan Verrall and Jon Keane’s Uruk bombs with my deck. I managed to win twice while facing massive Uruk Bombs are sites 2 and 3. It was brutal but I managed to win. So I think I can set up properly for an Uruk Bomb at site 5 if I was ready at site 2, no? The fellowship has no real natural weaknesses. It’s the finest build I’ve ever done. So I really REALLY hope I can qualify for Day Two right off the bat at this first Heat so that I don’t have to stay up until 3 in the morning again trying every single tournament.

So that’s Plan A. Plan B involves playing a fellowship block tournament at 5pm. I could always play in the Booster Draft at 12h30 to qualify but I am a much better Constructed Deck player than Booster Draft (hence my 0-4 record at Vegas’ PSQ). Plus, it would involve me dropping out of the morning’s Open Format tournament and I NEVER drop (no matter how badly it’s going. Rating be damned).

My fellowship deck is a BadBeef fellowship that sets up perfect Uruk Bombs at sites 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9. It is still based on the fellowship win, tho. It was much easier to get fellowship wins in Fellowship Block because of the huge ally presence at sites 3 and 6. Nowadays you only have treebeard and a few rohan allies to help you out. Back then, you had a massive wall of elven archery to mow down whatever tried to stop you at site 6. Skipping the sanctuary used to be real real easy. Anyway, it’s a very decent deck with a nasty Moria weakness tho so I hope not to see too many Balrogs and the like. If I see a Balrog/Cave Troll combo at site 5, I won’t be happy. This is really my last chance because I really will be burned out for the final heat at 7pm…

At 7pm there is a choice between Booster Draft and Standard Format. Standard Format is my baby so I have to try out that one. My Dauntless Hunter/WingChow/Vilya with Nazgul can definitely win this one (since all great players have byes already). However, my emotional state won’t be pretty at this point if I haven’t qualified. Plus, playing in this tournament involves me dropping out of the fellowship block tournament. It would be the first time I’ve ever dropped and I’ll be feeling really crappy about it so that will influence my game.

Anyway that’s the day one plan. I fully expect to qualify for Day Two at some point (hopefully in the morning during Open Format). For Day Two (and this is the reason I don’t expect to make Day three) is a choice between Standard and Towers Block. If I was as great a player as I’d like to be, I think I would have decided by now what to play. The truth is I haven’t. It will completely depend on how I feel the night before. I will discuss with my teammates and friends what everyone else is doing. I think I’ll do the opposite of what they are doing just so that I don’t have to knock one of my friends (and there are many) out of the competition. I’d much rather play against a bunch of strangers on day two. This is not an intelligent way of choosing which Heat I should play in. My standard deck, I know full well is excellent but could be behind the times due to Ents of Fanghorn. I still think it’s possible to qualify for day three with my standard deck. You’re already familiar with its design so let’s discuss the other possibility…. The towers block.

My towers deck has been built for a really long time but has never played (except in the Online LOTR game, where I have been a semi-active Alpha tester). It is a basic HIDAN/Dunland deck with very very little tricks up it’s sleeve. It wins VERY few games online and has yet to see tournament play. However, I am almost as familiar with this deck as I am with my standard format deck because of the countless hours I’ve put in testing the Online LOTR game (which is stellar, by the way). I have almost no confidence that this deck can make its way into the top 8 of this heat. Yet, I still consider playing it depending on who is playing in which heat on Day Two. The entire drive down, I’m sure I’ll be wondering what I should do. I certainly regret not spending more time in the Online LOTR game playing my deck (I chose instead to play lots of Battlefield 1942 in the last two weeks because I’ve upgraded my memory and to Windows XP).

To help me figure out which deck to play, I’ll prolly rely on the input of my CardShark teammates…

Which are…

Mathieu Brochu (2072) 2nd Best ranked player in Canada. 10th best ranked player in the World. Winner of Origins Premiere Series. 2002 World Champion. Mathieu is also bringing his girlfriend, Dung-Hanh Nguyen (1839) 2002 Arwen Championship winner

Me, Patrick Sullivan (2046) 3rd best ranked player in Canada. 18th best ranked player in the world. 3rd at Origins Premiere Series. 11th at 2002 World Championships. Proud recipient of Casey B’s ‘all-around cool dude’ designation

Patrick Malboeuf (2004) 5th best ranked player in Canada. 36th best ranked player in the World. Winner of 75$ at Origins Premier Series (cost of trip: 300$). Winner of 75$ at Vegas Premier Series (cost of trip: 700$). Look on Patrick’s face everytime Brochu and I rub those figures in his face…. Priceless.

And last but certainly not least…
David Malboeuf (1870? How’d this guy get on the team?) 26th best ranked player in Canada. 314th best ranked player in the world. Proud author of 319-word article entitled, ‘Foul creation; and how to lose while playing it.’ Which you can find at the following link:

Since Mathieu has won free voyage to Indianapolis by winning last year’s World Championships, that leave me and the two BadBeef brothers to drive the 15 hours ourselves to Indianapolis. This is just fine and dandy with me because 3 people is the perfect number to fit into my little 2-door Civic named Molly. One person sleeps in the back, one person sleep in the front with the seat all the way down, while one person (me, mostly) drives most of way. David can’t drive stick so that leaves Pat and I to do the big trip. I’m looking forward to another repeat occurrence of driving back from Origins, where I drive 6 hours, ask Pat to take over, who then drives 2 hours and says ‘I’m tired.’ Thus leaving me with driving 10 of the 12 hours of the OVERNIGHT driving.

I may poke fun at these guys like mad but let it be known that they are dear friends to me and we will be laughing like idiots most of the drive and hell, for most of the convention as well. David and his brother on their own are very funny individuals but together it’s even better. I look forward to discussing various card strategies, Day Two choices of Heat as well as countless other mundane topics that we are sure to drag out during the course of our 5 day trip together.

Let’s see….. anything else before I get to the actual trip and ensuing tournament reporting?… hmmm… oh yes, I changed my move token. This is a fairly large decision. Traditionally I’ve been using this little Wizard that is about an inch tall. He’s an eraser that is part of my gf’s eraser collection. But my friends, Matt and Dani have given me a very LARGE wizard statue that I will use from now on as a site marker. I’m anxious to see if it has any effect at all on my luck.

So the plan for the drive down is that I get up at 5 in the morning and go pick up the BadBeef brothers at home for the 15-hour or so drive to Indianapolis. Let’s see how things pan out…

Day Zero – Wednesday, July 23rd, 2003
‘The Grapes of Wrath’

Well I managed to get myself up at 5h15 in the morning (so I’m already running 15 minutes behind schedule  and drive off to pick up the Malboeufs at home. Unfortunately the main highway that connects our homes was closed down for the morning and I had to drive all the way around the island of Montreal to get to their place. A drive that takes 10 minutes ended up taking 45 minutes. Darn. So I get to their place at 6 and buzz the door to hear Dave’s sleepy voice say, ‘yes-yes, we’re coming down soon, Pat’ to which I smiled knowing that this isn’t exactly the best part of the day for these guys.

So we take off and the trip is fairly lackluster with nothing fancy happening. Customs was fine (for once) and after a stop at Denny’s, we arrive in Indy at 8h30 p.m. I seem to have completely forgotten the time difference between Columbus and Indy so we’re happy to see we’ve gained an hour and thus can catch the bar in our hotel before it closes. We eat like kings, I get a glass of my favourite scotch and we’re in good form for the next day.

Day One – Thursday, July 24th, 2003
‘I can’t believe I don’t have a bye to Worlds’

Well I wake up at 6 in the morning nervous as hell. So after a great shower, I decide to see exactly how far the Convention centre is from our hotel (Indianapolis Athletics Club). I pass a Starbucks on the way and treat myself to a grande breakfast blend. $1.75 seems excessive for just a regular cup of ‘jo but it’s SO good.

Let me say that Indianapolis has quite a beautiful downtown scene. The streets are nicely laid out and there are monuments and parks galore. The convention centre is a good 15-minute fast walk from our hotel so I make a mental note to always bring everything I need with me to the convention on future trips. When I get inside before 7 in the morning, I’m shocked to see the line-up to buy badges in already completely ridiculous. I was smart enough to get my badges for GenCon and DecipherCon on the internet so all I have to do is pick up the DecipherCon badge in the very short WillCall line.

So I rush back to the hotel to wake up Dave Malboeuf who needs to play in the 10a.m. Open Format qualifier for Worlds (just like I do). The two of us rush back to the convention and he stands in line for the GenCon badge while I stand in line of the Event Registration to pick up his D-Con badge (thanks to Tony Preston for letting me cut in line).

It’s here where I run into the crew from Colorado, Utah and Alabama. It’s really hard to describe how good it is to see all these guys again knowing that you’ll have another great few days of LOTR and drinks afterwards. These cons are just too much fun.

So by some miracle, we get all the badges required and make it to the tournament for 9h45. Turns out the tournament will run an hour and a half late because of all the people having trouble getting their badges as well as Enrique’s flight taking off without him 

I have no problems with this cuz I get to touch base with Kim Logie (the TD) and catch up. It’s great to know that my first attempt at qualifying for worlds will be in the relaxed setting of a Logie tournament (they are always the best). Matt Clemens, Kim Logie and Enrique Huerta all excel at providing the best atmospheres for relaxing and fun game play.

So I’d really like to qualify in this tournament because it’s too late to drop for the draft at 12h30 and my confidence isn’t quite there for Fellowship block.

11h30 and the tournament commences.

Round One.

Me and my Pile with Moria versus Jeff Harris’ elf/corruption deck
Jeff was playing in his first tournament so that boosted my confidence right away. He was a real nice guy and we had a fun game (which is what I really needed to get me going)
Good: Because it was his first time tournament, I was allowing take-backs (and it’s the Worlds for goodness sake!)
Bad: He got me up to 6 burdens by site 4 and I was pretty panicky at that point
Result: I managed to overwhelm his Frodo at site 6 with my pesky Nazgul.
FW +3 / 3

Round Two

Jay Kokoski and his UrukBomb/Gondor/Gandalf
Good: He was a very fun opponent. A very capable and confident player
Bad: He got bad draws
Result: Full win for my fellowship at site 9
FW +3 /6

Round three

Dung-Hanh Nguyen and her Dunland/Hidan
I can’t believe I’m already matched against someone I know. I hate playing important games against those you know cuz it’s SO much harder. But I am happy to see she’s playing the same deck she played at Continentals that I managed to beat then.
Good: I made nice with Shon Jones who was playing in the game beside me. He thought I was upset with him for throwing me off my game in Vegas but we set things straight. Everything was cool between us then and it is now. Nice guy.
Bad: Her Dunland took away ALL my possessions 
Ugly: I don’t think she said one thing to me all game. It’s not my favourite play style in the world, that’s for sure. I much prefer conversation during a game.
Result: Full win for my fellowship at site 9
FW +3 /9

Round Four

Shon Jones! And his Dunland/Elf-Gondor choke
It was great to finally play Mr. Jones in a game. I miss his Jester’s hat tho.. 
Good: My Cave Troll is so big!!
Bad: I singled all game with 8 companions on the table. I don’t know why I was so scared of his shadow. I must have been overconfident with my own shadow.
Result: Shon moves to nine and gets killed by my cave troll. It was so close.
FW + 3/12

Round Five

Jesse Carlucci! And his anti-ally uruk bomb / HUGE fellowship
Jesse is playing the deck that cost me the Syracuse TOC. It’s great to have another shot at that darn deck, especially because my fellowship has teched against Uruks.
Good: Jesse is a really fun opponent. He is at site 2 with me at site 3 (Golden Hall). Before moving to three, Jesse decides it would be a good idea to play Sting and a Sword on Aragorn. He then loses his weapons and we have a good laugh.
Bad: I forgot to heal Boromir before doubling to nine (and he had horn and everything!)
Result: I still manage to win at site 9 with my fellowship. I was pretty worried.
FW +3 / 15

Well I do believe that means I’ve gone 5-0 so far! Which means I’ve qualified for Day Two. I love this cuz now my final round can be mega relaxing, right?

Round Six
Will Cruse and Rainbow/Moria
Will is one of the best guys ever. He’s fun socially and in a card game, he’s even more fun. He was also 5-0 so we were both relaxed and had a really high-speed game of doubling every turn. If anyone knows Will, can you please ask him to post or e-mail me his decklist. It was the finest Horn fellowship I ever saw (and the Moria wasn’t bad either)
Good: Will Cruse says he loves me after I play Goblin Flankers with a Desert Lord (my deck is messed up)
Bad: At site 8 when Will was going to double form 7 to 9, I say PASS on my maneuver action for Enquea. He is at 6 companions and has Boromir with Horn and a bunch of allies. I’m so mad at myself because I was relaxed all game (thus the reason of me saying pass) so I ask Will for a takeback. He reluctantly accepts and I feel bad for asking. I end up killing Boromir which is huge and he doubles to nine cuz he has no choice.
Result: Thanks goodness that he still won the game cuz I would have felt terrible. I think this signals the end of me asking for takebacks cuz I always feel bad about it afterwards.
FL +1 /16

So Will is the only undefeated and I place second or so. I’m very happy to have qualified so I don’t have to play anymore heats today. Unfortunately Dave Malboeuf hasn’t made it through so he will go on to play BadBeef in Fellowship block which is feeling very confident.

While he plays in that tournament, Pat Malboeuf, Dominic Gaudreault and myself bugger off to Claddagh’s Irish Pub for an awesome supper and a few pints of cider. We get to sit on couches and everyone gets carded except me!! I hate that. It makes me feel so old. The three of us share a bunch of laughs and Dominic can’t stop saying how good his ‘agent’ is. By agent he means the person responsible for organizing his trip for him and his friends. For him that’s Jonathan Marchi. For the Malboeuf brothers, it’s me. So Pat and Dom start getting into disagreements about who is the better agent. Dom decides we’ll have to settle this through a variety of competitions. One of which being an arm-wrestle, another being a game of keys and the other a game of LOTR. Sounds good to me. We put all 3 of these on the agenda for tomorrow.

We get back to the convention centre at 9pm and I sign up for the Booster draft while the other two go to cheer on Dave.

In my booster draft, I pull the Dunland/Uruk tracker mix with a gimli/Gandalf fellowship.
I draft Plains of Rohan and a TON of Ents since I’m familiar with them from all the sealed decks I’ve played in.

Round One

Todd Locascio playing a pile with Uruks and orcs
Good: My fellowship comes out perfectly
Bad: Todd is the slowest player I have EVER played in my entire life. We are talking 10 minute phases here, people.
Result: Todd only decides to speed up his play in the very last turn when he doubles to catch up to me to get a timed win WTF? SITE SIX!?
TL +1 / 1

All because I bid one more than he did, I lost. So I change my bidding strategy and at this point I’m half in a bad mood and half completely exhausted (my voice has decided to go somewhere else as well). I sound like Grima when I talk for the rest of the evening.

Round two

Brian Heinman
Isengard Men/Elves and Gondor and Gandy
Brian was such a nice opponent. He was one of a gang of men with beards that came up from Jersey. Fun guys.
Bad: nothing
Ugly: nothing
Result: I get a full win at site 9 with my fellowship

FW +3 /4

Elissa Playing southrons
Good: female player! I’m undefeated against female players in the history of sanctioned play!
Bad: I LOST?!
Ugly: Southrons really have this nasty habit of turning Ents into paper…
Result: FL at site 9 where I had to double. She was my favourite opponent of draft. She understood all the rules really well and I was happy to tell her that Hretel can pump by three even if there aren’t any wounds.
FL +1 /5

Well three rounds was all it took for me to scrub out. I don’t know who won but it wasn’t me. I was SO tired and I slowly walk back to the hotel alone and tired. Dave Malboeuf couldn’t pull it off in Fellowship block and didn’t qualify for Day Two. Darn.

I get back and everyone is sleeping already so I just fall into bed and crash.

Day Two, Friday, July 25th, 2003
‘…and just like that…. It’s gone.’

I end up not waking up early for once cuz I’m so tired so we have to rush a little bit. But we still have time for breakfast (which we didn’t the day before). I don’t know how I got thru that day with no food. The local breakfast place lets me keep my Starbuck’s coffee instead of drinking their swill. Props to them for that.

I had convinced myself the night before that I would play Standard format since it is my best format. Plus if I played in towers and scrubbed out, I would never forgive myself for not playing Standard. Whereas if the reverse happens (I scrub out of Standard), I won’t be wondering if I should have played in Towers. We are so convinced of the randomness involved in Towers Block that we dub it ‘Yahtzee’ for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, when I arrive, towers only has 16 people signed up whereas Standard is up to 50. At these odds, all 5-3s will get in to day three thru towers and even a 4-4 or two!! So I don’t sign up for Towers and instead continuously try to figure out what the towers number is. Yako tells me that as long as it’s less than 30, 5-3s all get in. Standard is now bypassing 60 people and towers has just crept over 20. I am VERY tempted to play Towers now (I have brought both deck and decklists with me). I am getting ZERO co-operation from Decipher trying to get an idea on which format to play and am getting pressured to choose one. It’s quite a stressful situation. I can’t understand why they won’t say how many people are in each tournament. If they are going to make two heats and force people to pick, they should at least provide the information so we make the correct decision, no? I don’t really care in the end and once Towers hits 31 people, I sign up for Standard. I feel good with my decision and don’t regret it at all. I think that if I had picked Towers, I would have immediately had remorse on my decision. Then again, the Towers format was run by Kim and Enrique and would have been so much more fun.

Round One

Edwin Harris and his Dauntless Sam Promise – Nazgul
Edwin is the cutest kid with this giant afro of hair. He is also one heck of a capable player.
Good: I’ve completed teched out against Nazgul
Bad: I screwed up at site 6 real bad. I wanted to double past the sanctuary and forgot (somehow) that Attea is fierce. How can I forget that when I’M PLAYING FOUR ATTEAS?! So I lose my second hobbit and am down to Wingfoot, DH and Frodo
Ugly: He forgot Ered Nimais’s game text as did I so Wingchow came down for cheap at site 4 making a big difference in how site 5 played out.
Result: FW site 9. Whew….
FW +3 /3

Round two

Joseph Dineaga (Hidan-trackers)
Joe is a really really fun and professional player and has totally my style of gameplay. It’s hard to explain really. He just plays quickly and confidently and makes it fun for his opponent. It just sucks that I have to play someone I know this early.
This is my first experience against Dalton’s type of anti-DH deck.
Good: I know that I’ve teched against Uruk Trackers. But that’s assuming that he is playing events and conditions which Dalton and Joe do not.
Bad: I really really should not have doubled to 7. I had his fellowship on the ropes.
Ugly: Joe doubles to 6 to put pressure on my fellowship and loses his ENTIRE fellowship except for Frodo.
Result: that ends up being the game winning move for Joe because it made me double to 7. After that we singled the rest of the way. By site 8, Joe has only Frodo and 8 dead companions so he stops. I am at 8 and single into 9 with Frodo and one or two guys and I can handle the first round of skirmishes but those pesky runners get +2 strength in the fierce which is enough to overwhelm my Frodo. If I had singled earlier, his fellowship would be dead instead of mine. I know for next time 
FL +1 /4

Round three

Todd Rowe
Isengard Orcs/Rohan-Gandy
Good: Todd was really an exceptional guy and I liked the fact that he wears a visor (makes us all look like professional poker players or something). It was a really relaxed game. I can’t believe how many relaxed games I am having at the world championships this year. It is a stark contrast from last year’s event where I was ready to have a heart attack.
Bad: Isengard Orcs have begun to really scare me. If Todd hasn’t misassigned at site 6, I think they might have killed me at site 9.
Ugly: He misuses Firefoot as he singles into site 6 with me at site 8. He didn’t expect me to have Nazgul pumps in hand so I overwhelm on the first skimish and Frodo has to fight in the fierce and dies.
Result: FW shadow kill site 6. I was about to single into site 9 with an exhausted fellowship. I was more than scared.
FW +3 /7

Round four

Kyle Craft
Nazgul – DH-Sam
Good: Kyle is the best and I had completely forgotten how much fun he is to play against (Vegas was the only other time we had played).
Bad: This was a really bad matchup for Kyle because I was very teched against his Nazgul and could thus double move easily.
Ugly: Are you ready for this? Make sure you’re sitting down cuz this is worse than when I said PASS during the semi-finals against Josh at Origins. I’m at site 8 after moving from 7 where Grima is giving me a hell of a time with his Wounded and continuously throwing Aragorn’s Bow, Last Alliance and Ranger’s Sword back into my hand each and every time. However I’m way ahead of Kyle so I know I can get to nine before him. However the hand clog is so mixing me up that I feel like I need to be discarding things to reconcile into something to survive site 9. So during the skirmish phase at site EIGHT, I decide to cycle some hobbit skirmish event cards in order to draw into some cards for site nine. Do you see the problem yet? Allow me to go on, if you don’t see the first blunder. So I play a PATHS and two hobbit stealths (Severed his bonds) at site 8 just to cycle them. The PATHS that I play to cycle brings me up to 4 burdens moving into the palantir chamber! Also at site 8, instead of using Elrond/Vilya in the regroup phase to heal Legolas who has Splendor of the Banners on the table (and there is a Cliffs on the table and (at the time) a PATHS in my hand, therefore site 9 is a LOCKED WIN), I end up using Vilya to bounce a Wounded back into Kyle’s hand to clog it a bit. Even tho there are 4 burdens on Frodo and Kyle can go get whatever he likes from his discard pile.
Result: I move into site nine with no more protection for Frodo because I played all three hobbit events at site 8 for NO reason. I also have everyone exhausted since I used Vilya to bounce conditions instead of healing Aragorn or Legolas. So Frodo gets it in the bum during the fierce skirmishes and I lose.
These were the worst series of mistakes I have ever made in my history of LOTR playing because they are not technical mistakes that I made. Instead, they were fundamental errors that were made showing that I did not know how to win a game at site 9. When you have 2 severed his bonds, cliffs, PATHS and splendor of their banners on the table, you better be damn sure that you HEAL Legolas and KEEP all those fine cards in your hand. I did the complete opposite of what an intelligent person would do. I can’t explain it but thank goodness I lost to someone as amazing as Kyle Craft and not to some scrub.
Good for Kyle. Bad for me.
FL +1 /8

At this point I am now 2-2 and have to win the REMAINDER of my games (4 in a row). I normally would not be worried about it but I have no confidence in my gameplay anymore and I am really worried about running into Moria (my deck’s weakness).
However, to cheer me up a bit this big fat black woman moseys on by Pat Malboeuf and myself with two words in BIG letters on her black t-shirt. Those words were, ‘ GET READY.’ It was so funny cuz you couldn’t see one of the words if you were looking at the other one. It’s kind of like how the Earth only gets sunlight on half of it at one time. It was even more funny because what exactly am I supposed to be getting ready for? Should I be getting ready for you to take a break cuz you’ve been walking for like 2 minutes are are thus exhausted? In the end, I think it meant get ready to laugh you’re a$$ off cuz that’s what Malboeuf and I ended up doing.

Anyway let’s hope I can win the rest of my games…

Round five

William Dineaga (rocks!)
Good: Will completely rocks. Him and his brother are really the two coolest dudes ever and are both SO MUCH fun to play against. Andy McClure decides to take a seat on the edge of the table to watch our game and all three of us laughed all the way from site one to site nine (or site seven in this instance, where Will stopped laughing 
It was very helpful that I just played the exact same deck against his brother cuz I knew that my Nazgul were too much for his fellowship so I single moved all game even tho I had teched against Trackers.
Bad: The fact that I single-moved was pretty weak cuz I was scared of what his brother had done to me in our earlier game. I was definitely in a position to double but because I knew better, I singled. This is sorta unfair for Will because I would have doubled each and everytime and would have probably lost again.
Ugly: The fact that I had to be the one that knocks Will Dineaga out of the running of this year’s worlds really sucked for me. It’s not a happy feeling eliminating a good player who deserves to win money.
More ugliness in the game was when both Andy and I got in trouble from laughing and having fun in the game. I must have forgot that we were playing Secrets of the Shire or something…
Result: Full win shadow kill site 7 (poor Frodo)
FW +3 /11

Well now my confidence is back up. I have gotten over the loss to Kyle Craft and am ready to bulldozer my way over the rest of the competition. The only thing that can stop me now is Moria perhaps…

Round six

Malcolm Daligesh (Toronto)
MORIA / DH-Wingchow
Malcolm is a nice kid from Toronto and I’m really sick of playing against people I know. This is another round of one of us eliminating the other from the Worlds. I hate hate these types of matchups. Losing is getting easier to cope with than winning.
Good: Not much. I never felt so powerless. Malcolm was playing the same fellowship as mine except it was even more finely tuned against Nazgul than me. Malcolm got to go first with Sam and that was important. He stops at 2 tho and it’s my big chance to double to three but I don’t cuz he gets out 4 Goblin Armories before you can say ‘you lucky little munchkin.’
Bad: My deck is supposed to do one and only one thing against Moria. RUN, RUN and then RUN SOME MORE. It should even pull a Forrest Gump once it hits site nine and Run right past Mount Doom until someone tells it to stop running. Instead, I decide to single move cuz I am scared out of my mind. I still don’t think I could have done anything to win this game but after stopping at site 2, I had to face a stupid Cave Troll at sites 3, 4 and 5!!! And that last one had one big hammer.
Ugly: Not only did I not run but I allowed him to take the lead versus my Nazgul which he was completely teched against.
Result: Full loss, Malcolm’s fellowship runs to nine without even having to stop for air.
FL +1 /12

Well that’s it. It hits me like a ton of bricks. Travelling to three TOCs and now this event all ends right here in a moment. Malcolm and I had such a quick game that I have time to site outside for a while. I find a private spot on the stairs in some really powerful sunlight and sit there for about 15 minutes trying to cope with being eliminated. It ended up being the same spot that David Malboeuf sat in the evening before when he was taken out of the competition. As I sat there I couldn’t help but see the end of the Usual Suspects going over and over in my head. The part where Kevin Spacey explains how Keiser Sözé appears for a moment and then just like that…. He’s gone. At this point in the movie, Spacey makes this movement like he’s blowing air and opening his hand at the same time like some sort of magic trick. It’s kinda hard to explain here but anyway that’s all I could see over and over in my head. All my hard work and just like that (whoosh) it’s gone.

I go back inside and Malcolm sees that I’m a little depressed and tells me he feels so bad for taking me out. But I tell him it’s really no big deal. I’m happy that my loss advances one of my friends. He really shouldn’t feel bad. Good for him after-all.

Round Seven
Jonathan Marchi
Nazgul wound overload with Dauntless Hunter
Can I just once not play someone I know really really well?!
Marchi is playing the deck that Dom and Malboeuf designed that is made to outwound small fellowships like Dauntless Hunter. I have never been able to beat this deck in playtesting with Malboeuf.
Good: Marchi rocks and this will be the ultimate challenge of the two agents. He defeated me in the arm-wrestle (even though I tried top-decking more strength repeatedly). He defeated me 3 times in a row at Keys (I suck at keys). Now it all comes down to this.
Bad: I learn half way thru this game that Josh from Syracuse is eliminated as well. Thus all of Team ‘Cuse is eliminated and I was really hoping one of them would make top 16. I ran into Kirk England earlier and feel so bad about killing him at site 2 at the TOC, that I trade a foil Hides to him for almost nothing. He offers kindly to even throw in a Foil Servant which I refuse to take. 
Ugly: Marchi is at 4 burdens at site 6 and plays Sam, SOH. He then moves to seven without removing the burdens. Out comes Toldea who rids Frodo of his companions.
Result: Shadow Kill site 8. Full win.
FW +3 / 15

Final round

Greg Shaw
Dalton deck (die, Legolas, die).
Good: This was just an awesomely calm game. A great way to end a really big and important day of card playing.
Bad: Nothing
Ugly: At one point he takes his glasses off and puts them on the table. This had a huge effect on me cuz I didn’t know if I should read this an anticipation on his part or despair. So I wanted to throw him off as well, so I take off my glasses and pitch it on the table. In doing so, all the wounds on pippin are accidentally removed. He then asks how I managed to heal pippin. I answer ‘with my glasses.’ And he responds ‘That’s good tech.’
Best joke of the day methinks.
Result: Full win shadow kill site 7

Well I went 5-3 which is VERY respectable. But knowing how close I was to qualifying really took me for a loop. If I had won the game against Kyle Craft, I wouldn’t have had to face Malcolm later and perhaps got good match-ups for me to win the rest of my games.
What if I had ran against Malcolm? Would I have won? Probably not but I know for sure I wasn’t supposed to lose the game against Kyle so I got to live with that.

Pat Malboeuf comes in 9th at the end of the day and they only take top eight! Mikael Lane makes top 8 but gets a deck list error thus putting Mike at an additional gameloss and Pat Malboeuf squeaks in to day three in 8th place! WOW.

So I gather a mighty force of 16 LOTR players and we make our way to the same Irish pub that we went the night before. Unfortunately I keep forgetting the drinking age in the States is 21 (in Montreal, it’s 18 and they never check). So that cuts our group into two. Half the group proceeds to Hooters while 7 Quebecers and Ryan remain. Ryan and I get inside and order up some drinks laughing it up. Ryan gets carded, I don’t. This is getting frustrating 

Soon Matthew and Markus arrive from CardShark and we set up two tables beside each other. Before ordering food, Matthew, Markus, the Malboeufs and I all get to alpha-test CardShark’s newest card game in development called SharkBait. It was really fun and hilarious to play 5 people in the middle of an irish pub. Let me just say that there are only two sharks in the entire deck and drawing one is really bad for your fish. Dave Malboeuf draws BOTH sharks. It was so funny.

We have a great meal and I can’t bring myself to go to the booster draft at 9h30 so we head back to the hotel early with Dominic Gaudreault to help Pat playtest for tomorrow’s game against Matt Olsen.

I fall asleep first I think after watching Tom Green with Dominic. Him and I are the only ones that find Tom Green funny.

Day Three, Saturday, July 26th, 2003
‘A fistful of Yen’

Well I’m sleepier this morning than I’ve ever been and we got to get Pat to the finals for 7h45. We wake up at 6h30 or so and Pat has yet to make his decklist. While he is doing that he notices that he is missing two sites and Forest Guardian (his starting companion). Let me explain that there are THOUSANDS of cards scattered around the room in various boxes. Dominic (who looks remarkably like Gollum first thing in the morning), Pat, Dave and I are all on our hands and knees for more than 40 minutes trying to find that stupid Forest Guardian. Dominic is trying to motivate us to find it faster and says the first to find it gets to French kiss Dom. Let me just say that I’m happy I wasn’t the one who found it.

Then Patrick has like 10 minutes to make it to the convention centre so I order a cab and we race downstairs. The cab is nowhere in sight so Pat grabs his deck and list and takes off running down Meridian street towards the hotel. The cab arrives 10 minutes later and we retrace pat’s steps to pick him up. But he manages to beat us there and we run into the hall with about 1 minute to spare.

Dan Bojo then claims that his watch says 7h58 or so and I correct him and say that my watch says 8h06. He and the rest of the Decipher staff start laughing telling me I’m not exactly helping out my friend. I then realize that someone is probably complaining that Malboeuf is late and I’m accidentally reinforcing their argument. Too funny. It was cool to get Bojo to laugh that early in the morning. Finally they get paired up and Dave and I go outside to relax a bit from the stressful morning.

We then decide to sign up for the Team Tournament. We finally get the shark hats from Team CardShark and so we name our team appropriately. Our team consists of myself, Dave, Dominic and Yannick ‘the Anchor’ Lapointe. The prize support seems to be a bunch of toys and a foil set of Ents so we really want to win, I guess….

Round One

Matt Olsen (fresh off his 0-2 loss to Malboeuf 
Deck: Die Legolas Die
Good: Matt is an awesome guy who really commanded the Towers block tournament to the extent that he was able to remove all luck and randomness from the picture for his deck and all it’s matchups. Quite the feat.
Matt is really an awesome guy and we had a great time playing.
Bad: Matt was teched against me but I had played his deck so many times the day before that it wasn’t a problem.
Ugly: Morgul gates and 3 Naz pumps in my hand before site 5 made Rohan die and die fast.
Result: Shadow kill site 5 with 2 naz on the table. Poor matt.
FW +3 /3

Round two

Kim Caton (I am now 1-1 against Girls this weekend)
Naz/Ents deck
Good: Nazgul can handle ents very well
Bad: I discarded Enquea when she had 8 ents on the table. What am I doing?!
Ugly: I don’t know Ents yet so Enquea kept trying to kill hobbits and Quickbeam (or was it Skinbark) kept exerting to prevent the wounds. Darn.
Result: Full win at site 9 fellowship
FW +3 /6

Round three

Richard Welsh
Twlight Naz/ Wingchow with Greenleaf and shire countryside?!
Good: I kept Frodo clean all game to avoid corruption
Bad: The first half of the game I thought that Greenleaf was Dauntless Hunter so I paid 3 for my black breaths and discarded pumps when I could have used them to overwhelm Gorn!!
Ugly` He gets a You Bring Great Evil on Frodo AT site 6.
Result: full win fellowship site 9
FW +3 /9

So at this point I am 3-0 and the rest are all 2-1 each. Dominic is too stressed for Pat Malboeuf so he drops out to watch the games. Darn. It’ll be tough without Dom. Why couldn’t Yannick drop instead 

Round four

Tony Preston
Good: Fun opponent
Bad: I should have mulliganed…
Ugly: he is running around with 6 companions and I don’t get any of my three enqueas until way late.
Result: FL his fellowship runs to nine
FL +1 /10

Round five

Oliver Schouren from Germany!
Good: He plays Support of the Last Homely House to save Frodo’s butt at site 7 and brings up Elrond. The shadow kill was MINE!
Bad: This was one bad match up for him. I can’t believe how many Arwens my Nazgul have killed over the last month
Ugly: Nothing. This guy was really fun.
Result: Fellowship makes it to site 9
FW +3 /13


Ryan Ligon
This was such a great relaxed game and was my last game of the week
Deck: Isengard orcs/DH-sam wingchow
Good: same matchup as yesterday
Bad: nothing
Ugly: I FINALLY GET two PLUS FIVE naz boosts against the blue ring. It was SO satisfying.
Result: Shadow Kill site 7
FW +3 /16

I ended up going 5-1. Dave goes 4-2. Yannick goes 3-3 and Dom drops. Our team comes out 4th place and we win some fun foils (Tower Assassin for me).

I wish there had been some more rounds because now I had nothing to do but focus my attention on Pat Malboeuf’s games. It’s so stressful watching your friend fight for his life. Me, Dave and Dom were going through physical pain of different sorts watching the Dalton/Malboeuf three game match-up. It was tearing us apart. He played so well but Dalton is just such an incredible machine that nothing can beat him. NOTHING.

Pat gets eliminated and goes back to the hotel with Dave (I imagine he has to go through the same feelings Dave and I have both been through). But hey, 2,000 dollars isn’t too bad for day’s work.

As for me, well I was SO excited when I was approached by Trevor MacGregor, Matt Clemens and Mike Girard to become part of the DGMA writing staff that I almost fell over. And as my first job assignment, I was asked to cover the finals for the website. What a tremendous honour!

So I run off to eat supper with Yannick, Dave, Pat and Dom to relax a bit. We end up at the Steak and Shake after going to 10 different restaurants and being told that the wait is like 90 minutes for a table. In fact, I am so stressed for time because I don,t want to be late for covering the finals, that I disappear at one point and show up in a mini-van taxi to pick up my friends. At this point Yannick and Dom concede the point that I am the best Agent ever.  So we take the van to the irish pub and they tell us it’s like a 45 minute wait so we walk all the way back to the Steak and Shake where we took the cab from in the first place. Best six bucks I ever spent…

The meal is taking so long at the Steak and Shake that I bail to run to the Marriott to not be late for Girard. They are in the middle of the first game of Trek (Hayes lost) so I have a ton of time and walk back to have some din-din. Those Steak and Shakes aren’t too bad finally but they cause massive pain in the stomach area shortly after ingestion.

Dom, Yannick and I go to the finals and the malboeufs retire to the hotel.

I arrive and get set up with my laptop and cover the finals in the same way I cover my tournaments. Meaning like a journal. I still haven’t seen what the final result is but I hope you’ll find it as much fun as these reports try to be.

It was amazing to see Robert pull off the win in the first game with Chief Counsellor. It was even more amazing to see Clint Hays kicked out of the finals room for a second time.

I have to thank Yannick Lapointe for helping me report the games cuz I couldn’t see everything that was going on all the time. Thanks buddy, you made that so much fun. And thanks to Mike Kessling for coming into the room SO DRUNK it stank. We just laughed like mad the whole time once he sat beside us.

The finals end at 2 in the morning and I take the long walk back to the hotel on my own. I run into the drunk gang of Kyle Craft, the Dineaga brothers and….and…. oh darn. I always forget who I run into. It was Efridge I think. Or was it Casey Barson? I was SO tired. Well regardless, Kyle was drunk as a skunk and we laughed our butts off. It was really cool to run into them cuz they were the last players I would really see before going home. Will Dineaga tells me I’m the coolest player he’s ever played against. His brother says the same. And I walk back to the hotel smiling. It’s a great feeling to know that people have as much fun in my games as I do. Being a ‘good’ guy as Trevor puts it really goes a long way.

I get back to the hotel at 3 in the morning ready to collapse from exhaustion. Pat has decided to fall asleep in my bed (they were watching JackAss and fell asleep). So snuggle in to Pat and he says hey half-asleep. I say ‘move over honey’ and he interprets that to make ‘get the hell out of my bed’ so he starts to get up and I say no-no it’s cool. And then he just says, ‘ok but don’t go all Michael Jackson on me’ and falls asleep.

I almost manage to laugh but fall asleep instead with a ton on my mind. It’s been a really tough day.

Day Four, Sunday, July 27th, 2003
‘Why didn’t we just leave earlier?’

We get up around 9 and Trevor asked Pat to get back to the convention for 9h45 so I tag along and leave Dave to clean up the room.

We get there and have to sit thru a grueling hour-long presentation of awards. But there were highlights. Kim Logie getting Gamling’s sword was really cool. Pat getting inducted into the Decipher hall of Fame the SECOND CardShark representatives come to check on us was priceless. Cuz Pat goes up wearing the cardshark shirt being administered into the Decipher hall of fame. What an honour. We then take off in the car and start the long drive home.

We hit torrential rain north of Columbus as we do everytime we hit that part of the world. CrackerBarrel is a great place to stop to eat. Roy Rogers is the complete opposite. Except at least at Roy Rogers we had pickle races. This is when you remove the pickles from your burger, throw it on the window at the same time and the one that reaches the bottom first wins. But we didn’t have the patience to wait so it was the pickle who makes the funniest noise when it hits the window that wins. I almost pissed myself laughing cuz Pat was trying to get Dave and I to stop throwing pickles cuz we were gonna get into trouble but then I threw this one big one that made the best noise ever and Pat starts laughing his ass off.

I get Pat and Dave home for 4 in the morning and that darn highway that connects our homes is still closed! So I don’t get home until 5 and have to get up at 8 for work. Yuck.

So that above covers everything. It was really amazing to see everyone again and I’m really going to miss the Cons. I won’t be making it to DragonCon, nor EssenSpiel. But I’ll see you guys all next season. And hopefully many of you will make it out to Spokane, Washington for the DPC with big cash prizes and rare sets and stuff. It takes place August 8th-10th. Not to be missed.

Thanks to everyone who made DecipherCon so much fun.

Props go specifically to:
• CardShark for their continued support of our team and for letting us Alpha-test their newest creation, SharkBait!
• Pat Malboeuf for doing so well and being taken down by the only guy that is capable of taking him down. Also for being such a great friend and for being the only reason I’m going to these cons in the first place. Without him, I’d be at home playing LOTR Online with Pascal Lajoie.
• David Malboeuf for being so damn funny and for adding SO much to these trips. Without him, Pat and I would be SO stressed out all the time. David has become the calmest of the three of us and provides much needed support when we need it most. Can’t wait for next season when the three of us do as many cons as possible.
• Dominic Gaudreault for being so much fun to hang around with. And for having a similar sense of humour as me.
• Yannick Lapointe for also being funny as hell and for hanging out with us.
• Mikael Lane for chilling with us outside and for making top 8 of day two.
• Marchi for being second best agent ever
• Shon Jones for being a fun opponent and so forgiving 
• Will Cruse for the takeback and for going undefeated day one. PLEASE send me your open decklist. It was a piece of art.
• The Dineaga brothers for being SO much fun and such incredible cardplayers at the same time. Those had to be my best games of the weekend. Can’t wait to see you guys soon..
• Kyle Craft for somehow making me make the dumbest mistakes ever made by me at any event. And still we had such a great time in that game.
• Malcolm Daligesh for knocking me out of the competition. Like Paul Newman says to Mike Sullivan in Road to Perdition, ‘I’m glad it was you…’
• Matt Olsen for making the most incredible Towers deck ever constructed. And for being a great guy to boot (thanks for losing to Malboeuf on Day three too 
• Oliver Schouren for coming all the way from germany to have a good time and being a great player as well
• Enrique Huerta for being the best judge ever and a crazy cool guy to boot
• Kim Logie for her much needed advice and support throughout the weekend
• Dan Bojo for giving me the ultimate tip in how to make day three. And also props to him for keeping the peace (you’d make a good Canadian eh?)
• Mike Girard for being the only decent commentator of the finals
• Matt Clemens and Trevor MacGregor for showing faith in me to write for DGMA
• Mike Kessling for smiling the ENTIRE weekend. I don’t know if it was induced by alcohol but it was pretty cool
• Efridge for not putting gel in his hair and looking like he was a Mop-Top Hair-Shop Play-Dough figurine
• Michael Dalton for being the best player in the entire world and deserving everything that he has won and will win
• Geoff Smith and Wendy for being great friends and fun to have around at cons
• Brad Eire and Brian Fred for also being good convention buddies and fun to have around
• Peter Sundholm for being the nicest guy ever (he gives me a run for my money)
• Jesse Carlucci for also being a really awesome player and nice guy all at once.
• Gabe Alonso for offering me a ring-side seat of the Dalton/Malboeuf match up
• To anyone that I forgot like Casey Barson, Team ‘Cuse and countless others who are really cool guys but I always seem to forget…

• Slops to anyone that actually think that Malboeuf cheated in his game against Dalton

That’s about it, folks. Hope you enjoyed the read. Looks like I pulled off another 20-pager. Damn. Look for one more TR this year for DPC Spokane! Not to be missed!

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