We’ve got more than just the Top 4! Jon, who finished in the Top 8 at the Legend of the Five Rings CCG World Championships at GenCon 2015, joins Brendan Quigley and Jacob Hampton in providing us with a report of the goings-on this year. Have a story to tell from this year’s World Champs (or another storyline tournament)? Go ahead and submit it!
by Jon Palmer
Fifth place is the second best I’d ever done at GenCon, but it would’ve been nice to go farther of course. I didn’t have much of an idea of what I wanted to play going in, so we kicked some deck ideas around on the Dynasty forum, and after testing I settled on John Seals’ corrupt Unicorn deck. Made some tweaks and here’s the list I ended up rolling with:
The Endless Plains of the Unicorn
3x Coastal Lane
1x Counting House
2x Forgotten Legacy
3x Padis Dojo
3x Shrine to Hachiman
3x Slave Pits
3x Temple of Destiny
2x Iuchi Chiwa
3x Moto Alagh
3x Moto Daigoro
1x Moto Taigo, Shogun
3x Moto Yao-tsu
3x Moto Zaitsuta
3x Ninube Shiho
3x Shinjo Nobunaga
3x Junghar Regulars
3x Legion of the Khan
2x Mounted Support
3x The Thundering Death
2x The Unquiet Moto
1x Ring of Air
1x Ring of Earth
2x A New Alliance
2x Accessible Terrain
2x Courage Beyond Question
3x Death of the Winds
1x Fall Back
1x Feinting Maneuver
1x Holding Cells
3x Standing Fast
1x Sudden Movement
3x The Sun Returns
1x Versatile Army
3x Victory Through Deference
2x Your True Nature
Yes, some games this deck loses honor like nobody’s business. It’s essentially a blue deck – a lot of card draw, flying (cavalry), and Counterspell (The Sun Returns). Stack a unit to play the Standing Fasts, but if necessary (if you don’t see an answer to Shiho), you can spread them as well. The Your True Natures were a very late add, going in for the third New Alliance and second Versatile Army.
Round 1 vs Chris Justice, Mantis
I get a rematch against the guy who knocked me out of the Modern event the day before. My deck has an excellent matchup with any version of Mantis I’ve ever seen, and Chris gets a mediocre draw on top of that. A stacked Taigo unit is able to run him over. 1-0
Round 2 vs Chris Pepe, Crane
Chris is playing a very fast Crane honor deck, similar to the fast Phoenix deck my fiancée is running. He gets a solid start, and it takes a Sun Returns for me to get the second province. However, at two provinces he gets Time Walked by flipping two holdings, and I take one then one to beat him. 2-0
Foreigners! Brendan is the only Lion I’ve seen not running any Sensei, as he says, “I like the province strength”. Unfortunately he does not see good gold, and while he gets the first Personality, this sets him behind the curve. When we eventually get into a pitched battle, he almost pulls it out anyway, proving that he’s got better battle actions than me. I just had too much force for him to deal with. 3-0
Round 4 vs Jim Chin, Dragon Kensai (Ring of Air)
This is a great game, right before lunch. We both get a Coastal Lane first turn; he turns it into a Weapon Artist and a 2G holding, I turn it into 10G worth of holdings t2. He has tempo and I’m swinging back, and eventually I’m forced to defend my last province. Standing Fast bows two units, and I have two Sun Returns – one to stop Air from straightening Shikei, and one to stop his first fatal duel. I play Holding Cells on what ends up being his only unbowed Personality, and I’m able to end the battle with one unbowed Unquiet Moto to win 3-0. This doesn’t end the game, however, as he still had two provinces. I take one, and his one Personality he bought the turn before straps up and comes at me. Since my big unit was not a Conqueror, I end up having to use Accessible Terrain, move him in, then Shrine to Hachiman to straighten his two Followers. That plus my other Personalities is just enough to beat him. 4-0
Round 5 vs Akodo Toturi aka David Campos, Taitaken Unicorn
Curious to see how this plays out, as I found the Aranai build to be slightly better, but he’s going to have better battle actions. As it turns out it doesn’t really matter. I get t3 Taigo and strap two Followers on him to start swinging, I end up being able to defend and kill his army, so he scoops. 5-0
At this point there are four players at 5-0, so we agree to draw through the last two rounds. It’s possible someone may end up 6-1, but likely that we will be the top four seeds at 5-0-2. As it turns out, Isaac has to play his final round instead of drawing in, so he’s the #1 seed. I’m #3, behind James as well. With the drawing through and all, five of my seven Swiss opponents made the t16.
Top 16 happens Saturday night, but unfortunately is best of one. This knocked me out last year, although honestly there was very little chance of my Crane scouts beating Anthony’s Lion in best of one or best of three.
Top 16 vs Toni Morcillo Urman, Phoenix honor
Seals feels this matchup is more in my favor than I do (he thinks it’s like 90/10, I figure more like 65/35). However, my insane draw makes it pretty much not matter. I open with Coastal Lane, Coastal Lane, Slave Pits, Myuken – cycle Myuken into the third Coastal Lane. So I have 23 gold available on turn 3. Coupled with a hand full of attachments, I’m able to pump out force quickly, and actually wait a turn as he’s not able to cross the turn after I get him to one. I roll him and there’s not much he can do – he deserved another crack at me.
So we go to the 20th Anniversary Celebration, which was fun but a little underwhelming, and get some sleep, as I have to be back early Sunday for a REMATCH:
Top 8 vs Jim Chin, Dragon (Ring of Air)
This one was on camera, so it’s entirely possible my recollection is a bit off, but here’s the matches as I recall. I’ll see about editing it if I ever need to watch video of Jim thoroughly outclassing me again.
Jim knocked out Case in the top 16 (who I thought I had a pretty good match against), so I know this will be tough. In the first game, he gets a really good gold start, but I get a good one as well. We go back and forth, and at some point I stall out a bit, and he’s able to gain an advantage he never relinquishes.
In game 2, my gold decides to underwhelm, so I buy a Daigoro and one holding t2. Throw on a Follower and swing, so I’m able to get the province advantage. At 2-2 on provinces, I swing and he has one big defender at each (5C, to kill me with Come One at a Time). He has a Courage Beyond Question in the discard pile, but I have two Junghar Regulars, so my plan is to hit him with both, dropping him to 6F, use The Sun Returns on his Come One at a Time, and then kill him with the two followers. I’ll then use a Versatile Army and a Shrine to Hachiman to take the province. Instead, he has a second Courage Beyond Question in his hand, and so I have to negate the Come One at a Time and Fall Back to save my unit. He doesn’t attack, so I swing again next turn. He has the second Come One, and I have no answer, so that’s game.
All in all, I had a lot of fun, and the environment, although a bit dependent on Standing Fast, was generally very good – kudos to Reese and his crew on the development. Props to Isaac for making the Mantis deck work that I tried and failed at repeatedly. Spirited Dispute is the answer to the deck’s weakness vs duels (At a metagame level, I didn’t think anyone other than Phoenix/Crane honor would be running duels, and I had Sun Returns for those) but I’m not sure what I would cut in order to play it. Probably A New Alliance.