One of my hobbies is playing a CCG (collectible card game) called "Legend of the Five Rings". There's a lot of strategy involved, plus cool samurai and ninjas. 8^D I prefer to play the Monk/Kensai out of the Spider clan. They're the nice evil monks that get two wield two weapons and do lots of fiendish mayhem (see avatar above 8^D). Fortunately I was able to go to a tournament this weekend with some of the friends I play with at the local card shop. As is somewhat customary in the forum I frequent, here is a tournament report, for those interested.
I left my homestead at 5:15 in the morning, armed with my deck, a trade binder, a sandwich, some snacks, and some fresh coffee for one of my friends since they were driving. I'm a little tired from a long night since one of kids is a little sick, but I'm excited for the day.
I make it to my friends' house and switch cars. She enjoys the coffee and get husband cracks up the tunes. It's amazing how much more you can get to know people by simply discussing books and music on a 3+ hour drive.
We have to write out deck lists this time, so a lot of the opening chatter is silent as people are filling things out. I'm a bit superstitious about my deck, so I take extra time to write out the deck by memory and search through the deck to find things instead of sorting things out. I met up with a guy playing spider who is getting back into the game. We discuss some tactics and wish each other luck.
Round 1: Mantis (Kalani's Landing)
I don't quite have the start I'd like. Two border keeps and I only have a Jungle Stockade to show for it. With all the money my opponent has I need to try something. I make an early push with two guys and pop a province. I have a Sugihara come out and give him a Wyrmbone, so I feel good. On his turn he hits the event that allows him to blow up the province and kill a guy. Farewell Sugihara. He has that evil seductress who proceeds to take Omigawa with a weapon (I hate her in my friends deck 8^D). I'm defeated shortly after. (0-1)
Round 2: Scorpion dishonor
I get platinum mine on turn 1 (always my best bet) and get Hotako out on turn two. Perfect setup against dishonor. While he's doing some good honor reduction, Hotako is mitigating a lot of potential damage and I even see Yamazaki XP in there too. Victory is mine. (1-1)
Round 3: Lion
I forget his stronghold, but essentially he gets two terrains in play. I have probably the most wonderful opening in my life. Turn 1 I have my Platinum mine, with a Yamazaki, Marsh, and Jungle Stockade waiting. I also have a lovely hand. He gets out a couple of avairy regions. Turn two I have Yamazaki with a free nightingale blade and good gold. He swings on turn 3 with a lion and two birds. I defend adjacent and use my never beyond my reach to kill his lion and stymie his attack. As he sits slightly baffled, I follow up with a retribution and with the +1 force Yamazaki grabs a province. He's looking a little crushed. Sadly my turn 3 I have nothing but holdings. Since I'm running XP I can't refresh the dynasty cards and he gets a little wind back in his wings.
After this there's a bit of back and forth. I'm down to one province and him two (retribution was key again) , but he has about half of his personalities bowed from battle, so now is the time to strike. I move in and take one province easily but the second is most tricky. He moves my Tetsuo XP home and I hang on to my ring of water to move in at the last minute to win. Big mistake. After I kill another dude, he drops the terrain, that prevents a by move in or move out, and my Renyu's Wrath hasn't shown up at all. Omigawa can't beat people home and Tetsuo can't come to the rescue. Ultimately I win the battle, but not the province, but he had a large amount of folks next turn that I can't stop (and those double terrains!). (1-2)
When you win a free loaf of french bread and your wife had just restocked the refrigerator, you make a huge hoagie sandwich, 'nuff said 8^D I was able to chat with another friend from our local crew who drove separately and catch up with a guy I've seen at previous tournaments. I also had the opportunity to sample a Chinese preserved duck egg (thousand year egg). Not much taste to it, but I thank Andrew Zimmerman for inspiring me to try new bizarre things with an open mind 8^D
Round 4: Unicorn Shugenja
With a full stomach and a desire to even up my score, I jump into round 4. My opening turns are rather slow, but my opponent doesn't seem to be doing much. He is equipping spells, but not attacking. I decide to take a swing at a province with two guys and plenty in reserve, and don't see any resistance. This progresses for a few more turns and I win easily. My opponent looks a little frustrated afterward so I surmise his decl want running as he wanted and we don't have the typical chatter after a match. I do compliment him on his Steve Argyle play mat (I mean come on, he does amazing stuff!) and that lightens his mood a little. (2-2)
Round 5: Unicorn Commanders
Back on even standings, I have a solid chance at beating my 2010 kotei record of 4-3 in Irvine. Next up is a commander deck with lots of big followers. I met this guy earlier in the day since he's friends with the friends I drove down with, so if should be a fun match. My turn 1 I hit about all of my events that are of no importance (on, formal apology, alter history) but I do flip Glory of the Shogun, so this will be quite helpful. Then the crazy thing happens, he flips his own copy and now we're looking at a two card draw when we put on our big attachments, plus we can do it in battle now. Fun stuff.
Soon after he gets Moto Taigo and he is a stubborn bloke. With cavalry, a follower, and a weapon he sleazes a province early and then gets to go home straightened to defend. Early on I send Sugihara and Dread Jar in with no avail. I have plenty of draw and kill actions, but not quite enough to handle the bow actions that negate the first straightening (need a cleansing breath and an again to handle it) and so Taigo lives another day.
Eventually we hit "epic card battle phase". I was down to one province with two personalities and he had 4. If I could make it through the battle (especially getting rid of Taigo) I could swing momentum in my direction at the very end and take the win. In a battle that surprised both of us, I fought tirelessly. Between two copies of Again, a copy of A Cleansing Breath, Hundred Fold Cut to draw cards, equipping in battle for get another two cards, I was relentless! My opponent couldn't believe all the times my bowed monks came back up to fight, and how many times I was able to kill off the plethora of followers thanks to multiple actions. We had gathered a small following since we were almost out of time and lots of cards were being dropped down into battle. To quote an old scoundrel, "Sometimes I amaze even myself."
Sadly though, it was Unexpected Support and the negation of the next straightening that did me in again. Having to play two straightening actions in order to play several of my cards that required straightened performing Monks exhausted my resources. It was with a firm handshake and respect on both sides of the table that I lost this match, and had a whole heap of fun doing it. (2-3)
Round 6: Phoenix Monks
Not to be discouraged by my last loss, I start up my next match against a Phoenix player. I had heard some wicked things about Phoenix honor running and the -4 force that can't be negated didn't frighten me, but did put remind me I'd need to do a little more work to grab provinces. I kept my Hotako at the ready to come out instead of flushing her.
However, I was mistaken at the deck type as the next action that occurs is he brings out a Asako Karachu with an insane trait to always straighten himself after bowing. With a Thoughts of Wind he sleazes a province, but then gets straightened and goes home. I think this will prove intriguing as I get a personality or two out with some weapons. However, following that he starts playing some really interesting control elements: popping my weapons down to the bottom of the deck or destroying them during the actions phase (where are you Near Miss?!) and brings out a couple of monks that allow them to swap force and chi, so my big beefy evil monks are now simply heavily enlightened instead of insanely strong. This progresses over several turns and there is not enough strength at my disposal to make a decent run on a province. With the -4F non-negatable, my Retributions aren't able to be run either.
Our game progresses with not a lot happening. We do have a lot of battles, and with my remaining strategies/actions I'm able to keep provinces from getting popped at the cost of my personalities. Weapons are getting destroyed (still no Near Miss!) so I have nothing to really fight back with. As we approach the time limit (double losses are no fun for anybody) I go ahead and concede this match because he has done a fantastic job with an able of control I had never seen and I think eventually he would amass enough force to start taking provinces. If time was of no consequence I'd obviously keep going (I've pulled off plenty of wins after an opponent has depleted their resources against my resilient monksai) but that's not the case here. (2-4)
Round 7: Phoenix Shugenja
Final round of the day. i'm far from making a cut but that doesn't mean I pack up my stuff and go home. I'm playing this match just as strong as any other. I'm playing the friend of the Unicorn guy from round 5, so I've already seen him around and we're on good terms. This is nice because often enough at the end of the day us "bottom bracket" folks can get rather grumpy.
There's not a lot to say about this match. He gets Tsukimi out on turn 2, so I make sure to keep proper distance until my Monks are properly beefed up. He takes an early province, but I swing back with a Retribution and he's afraid to have his weaker shugenja defend with all my weapons and the fiendish mayhem they like to bring. 8^D The monksai start to do what they do best between solid card/weapon cycling and lots of actions, so I take the win after a few more turns (3-4).
Spider Fever: With 50 at the Kotei, I believe 8 were Spider! Sadly I didn't get to see them all, but when I checked at round 6, there were at least 2 in the top 8 and 2 had been undefeated.
Most Reliable: Open with Platinum Mine on turn 1 and Yamazaki/Jungle Stockade turn 2. This gave me plenty of gold for personalities and weapons.
Most Overestimated Card: No Hiding Place. I honestly thought I would see a lot more honor/dishonor match ups and this card helped a lot in local testing, but I ran up against 1 match that way. The card wasn't completely useless, as it gave me something to discard for Bamboo Harvesters XP and I did a little sniping on at home personalities, but I could have potentially put something else in. Ahh, that's meta for you. 8^D
Bench Warmers: Makito XP, Daigotsu Gyoken, Fukuzo, Daigotsu Kanpeki- I always saw them too early, or when I needed more gold stuff
Most Interesting Card: Natural Aviary. There were a ton of decks that were using this region. I can see how attachments are big, but I went up against a lot of decks using this card and hadn't seen it before.
Lesson Learned: I needed a bit more attachment meta as opposed to honor/dishonor meta. I did have Nightingale Blade, but most folks saw it coming and were working against it. With a lot of my kill actions requiring no attachments, I could have put a little more in there I think to combat that.
Gamer Attitude: I'll admit I don't go to a lot of Koteis, but has the general attitude of gamers at the Kotei changed? I bring up two instances.
1. There was a "sportsmanship prize" given out this Kotei by AEG. Since a couple of representatives were there, they indicated come talk to them after the match if your opponent showed particularly good sportsmanship. This could simply be something new/fun to add to the tournament, but who knows.
2. A guy came up to me in between matches and asked me "Are you mormon?" I responded "No, why do you ask?" He said, "Because you're here all clean cut and happy like here and I was curious." Sadly we didn't get to discuss the matter further after that because pairings were posted, but I found it interesting nonetheless. 8^D
All in all I think this was my best overall Kotei to date. My record wasn't the best, but I knew my deck far better than last year and I think a couple of matches I lost were due to my opponent getting lucky with some good cards at the right time (hey, there is still luck to this game right?) I met some new friends, connected with some old friends, and made it back at a decent enough hour to enjoy the following morning with my kids without being a zombie. 8^D Plus as a "team" we picked up some good swag:
One guy won the "enlightenment" bingo prize by winning a match via enlightenment. He got the Second City card promos that came in the SC RPG book. I hear they aren't half bad.
Another guy went 4-3 and picked up a Gempuku set for his clan (and some Steve Argyle signed ring cards) for conceding a match to help his opponent make top cut. To add to his joy he beat the guy with his deck when they played.
Our "battle maiden" of the group went up against an AEG employee in her second to last match. She chose wisely and received a sealed box of Forgotten Legacy as a prize.
Me? I finally traded for my third Wyrmbone Katana I've been trying to get my hands on for a while.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading!