Easter is always a highlight in the calendar for a Swedish gamer since the largest gaming convention in our country, GothCon, takes place in my home town Göteborg at that time every year. For the nineteenth year in a row my destination was set in stone and my family left for the southern archipelago. That meant I had some room left for a couple of guests and I was accompanied by Randal Rudstam, Michael Holmström and later also Anders Löf for a brilliant weekend.
We started off with an epic drinking party (or Pre GothCon Disco as it was labelled) at Isak’s and Ida’s place on Maundy Thursday. Their apartment was stuffed with V:tES-players from all over Europe so it was a great start of the weekend with many laughs, beer and even some casual games. The taxi arrived around 4am at my place and me, Randy and Michael had 4 long hours to sober up and sleep.
During the Good Friday it was time for a gigantic hangover and the traditional GothCon Draft. We drafted three boosters of Third Edition, three boosters of Lords of the Night and one booster of Dark Sovereigns. I had some silly thought that drafting Giovanni and Lasombra would be good, combining Dominate and Potence. This resulted in me having a deck with big caps who bled for one without stealth. I managed to get 1VP and had more fun with my worthless deck than I thought I would. Ivan Marin-Rivas and Apach.. Tomas Wallmur joined us back home for some casual games and beer at night and I felt prepared for the big thing.
Holy Saturday and the Swedish ECQ 2012. If you have read my tournament reports from the Danish Nationals and Danish ECQ you know that I was very disappointed with my results from there so in the car back home I decided that I would build a couple of more stable decks to bring to GothCon. I Built a law firm and the deck to follow and the latter seemed most stable.
Deck Name : A Very Cryptic Mission
Author : Stefan Karlsson
Crypt [12 vampires] Capacity min: 2 max: 6 average: 4
1 Reverend Blackwood 6 DOM THA obf bishop !Tremere 2 1 Aisling Sturbridge 5 AUS THA dom Tremere 2 1 Hannigan 5 AUS THA dom !Tremere 2 1 Kurt Strauss 5 DOM aus tha !Tremere 2 1 Merrill Molitor 5 THA aus dom Tremere 1 1 Ignatius 4 aus dom tha Tremere 1 1 Sarah Cobbler 4 THA dom Tremere 1 1 Thelonius 4 aus dom tha !Tremere 2 1 Brooke 3 dom tha !Tremere 2 1 Jing Wei 3 dom tha Tremere 1 1 Heinrick Schlempt 2 tha !Tremere 2 1 Roreca Quaid 2 tha Tremere 1
Action Modifier 
8x Mirror Walk
1x Carlton Van Wyk (Hunter)
4x Nephandus (Mage)
2x Unmasking, The
1x Anarch Troublemaker
2x Direct Intervention
2x Dreams of the Sphinx
1x Giant's Blood
1x Jake Washington (Hunter)
2x Life in the City
1x Pentex(TM) Subversion
1x Secure Haven
4x Delaying Tactics
5x On the Qui Vive
3x Wake with Evening's Freshness
This is a very obnoxious deck. From the beginning I believe it to be based on Hugh Angseesing’s Cryptic Mission deck that has been altered not to include Cryptic Mission by Adam Esbjörnsson and altered again not to include the attrition element at all by me. You basically bleed for lots and lots and defend yourself with the oversized reaction package and some allies. The key to make this work is to get Heart of Niczhetus as early as possible. This way you can include so many reaction cards and not clog on them. There are no real tricks in the deck but your opponents might expect a lot of different things that are not really there. Use that to your advantage.
My reasoning behind choosing this deck was that I expected quite some bleed decks and the usual play-once-a-year strange combat decks and I felt this deck had good defence against both.
|Pascal Bertrand||Stefan Karlsson||Andreas Raland||Apache Jones (Tomas Wallmur)||Marko Lindroos|
|Lutz + |
|A Very Cryptic Mission||DEM Weenies||Tha Baron Turbo||Lasombra Anarch/Black Hand Death Star|
I manage to play both Direct Intervention and Delaying Tactics on Marko’s Con Boons. In one way it is starting to look really good but in another way disaster is coming. Votes are passing and their effects and Lutz’ special is keeping me low on pool. Marko manages to steal vote lock by playing Firebrand, a Fee Stake and Patsy targeting Lutz in the same round. This is also both good and bad. Pascal cannot vote any damage to me without vote push but the many votes from Marko all deal damage to me.
Marko has 9 pool left and I have 3. Pascal has one action left with an untapped Lutz and I have both Deflection and DI on my hand so I am starting to smell the game win. Marko has recently played 2 Deflections and as I don’t know that his reaction module is almost as obnoxious as mine I think I have him. Lutz bleeds for 3, I deflect, Marko tries to block and Pascal plays stealth. Marko now asks me if I am willing not to bleed him in my turn if he takes the bleed instead of sending it back to me. I don’t think I will get one more round if I do and I hesitate for a moment pondering a possible deal break but decides to hope for him to bluff and refuses. Marko deflects back and I am ousted, Marko loses the chance of getting a game win but he pretty much secures his 2 VPs and the table split.
I should have won this table. I should have made my first tournament deal-break ever, no doubt about it. It would even have been better if I tried to re-work the deal proposal with him into something that gave me hope of surviving another turn and get second shot at my third VP.
Thoughts from the Guest Star
Me: You played a very interesting deck. I have myself played some Death Star variants (Daughters of Cacophony and !Toreador) with quite poor performance in the past and I know how hard it is to push that Revolutionary Council trough. The heavy reaction package seems like a very solid construction to me. Can you tell me a little how you came up with the deck and its current construction including its very neat little tricks? Have you played it much before the tournament?
Marko: I had anarch Aabbt Kindred breed boon deck before Twilight Rebellion came out that I tuned up with Revolutionary Council. I played that deck few times and after one game I started to discuss about the death star tech with Matti Palomäki, who was confident that Lasombra would be the best clan for that. After that I made the first deck list for the deck and presented that to Matti. He gave some ideas of his about the deck and I reworked the deck a bit (mainly adding the Delaying Tactics to prevent losing Baron titles)
The current form of the deck is pretty much the same that I played in LCQ in Palma, main changes been Lillith's Blessing and Black Hand Emissary. Main reason for choosing this deck to GothCon was that I expected lots of bleed decks, so a 65 card deck with 9 Deflections sounded good for that. The deck has lots of untapping tricks, witch are great to make the surprise oust in one turn. Also the DOM OBT combo makes your prey to stack bounces in their hand, making them less effective on going forward too fast.
Me: In the beginning of the game you were pretty much locked down by Pascal who helped you pass some defensive votes with the condition that you tapped Power Structure in your turn. Were you confident that you would finally get the needed vote lock at that time? What was your strategy for the game in its early stages when you had figured out what everyone was playing?
Marko: I knew that I can get the vote lock for myself from Pascal as I had Patsy and Black Hand Emissary in my hand, I was just waiting for the first Fee Stake to show up. After few first rounds I was hoping that Tomas will get ousted by that dementation bleeder just before you would oust it. I had enough Deflections in my hand to handle couple rounds of bleeds and I was pretty sure that Pascal will let me call my Con Boons to stay alive.
Me: You offered me to take Lutz' stealthed bleed for 3 (I had 3 pool at the moment) that I deflected to you if I promised not to bleed you in my turn. I hoped you were bluffing having one more deflection and knew such a deal would have meant a very hard time for me to get the game win. Of course the best thing for me to do would have been to accept but break the deal for a very probable game win. How would your reaction have been to that? Would I still be alive today?
Marko: Making, keeping and breaking deals are all part of the game. Game situation sometimes evolve to the point that it is more profitable to break the deal than keep it. I keep my deals as long as it is profitable for me to keep them, I assume that others will do same.
Me: Ponder I would have been more positive towards the deal but asked for something more in return. Would you have given me a Con Boon for Tremere or !Tremere to stand a better chance surviving against Pascal? After all you gave away your chance of a game win when you sent that bleed back. Would you have considered accepting a deal where I would bleed but not oust you the next turn?
Marko: Maybe. As you said, I lost my chance to get the game win when you got ousted. I had couple Deflections in my hand at that point so I had little back up for that if you took the deal and then break it. But as you didn't want to even negotiate about it, I decided that 2-2-1 would be better that possibly getting nothing. Reasoning behind that was that Pascal probably have also couple bounces in his hand, so he would have to bounce the bleeds back to me and with that, I might run out of bounce and get ousted.
|Stefan Karlsson||Hugh Angseesing||Randal Rudstam||Carlos Santos|
|A Very Cryptic Mission||Animalism rush with masters||Lutz + Unmada vote||Tzimisce wall with votes|
If the first game should have been categorised as the good seating game that I should have won this is the tricky seating that I can win with a little skill and luck. My goal was set at either win with 3 VPs giving Randy 1 or to win with 2.5 VPs timing out giving Carlos 0.5. Well, plans are plans.
In the early stages of the game Hugh manages to damage me some and Carlos builds up. Randy has a hard time getting anything done since Carlos blocks him. Carlos’ first vampire is Sascha Vykos Advanced and with his special he gets the hand he wants almost replacing half of it in Hugh’s turns.
Hugh bloats a little and I have very few ready vampires. I also has no allies since Carlos would hardly let me get any of those. Luckily he doesn’t block Heart of Nizchetus so I can cycle the useless allies down my library. Randy tries to play Reins of Power but I have to delay it to his great disappointment. The next round he gets Carlos’ permission to play Parity Shift on Hugh and this time its his turn to delay but I have Direct Intervention so four nice pool damage in my prey.
I get my hopes up again and with Dreams of the Sphinx and Heart of Nizchetus in play I should be able to draw the cards to oust, right? The answer is no. For three rounds I use everything I can to see new cards and I draw one bleed card a round to everyone’s amusement. Carlos have had Army of Rats in play since the beginning and my pool is down to one when it gets removed and I finally have my bleed cards and manages to top deck a Mirror Walk for what I think is the oust. Carlos doesn’t think so and Eagle’s Sight blocks it. I have the bleed defence I need to survive one more round but no Delaying Tactics so Carlos gets me with a Kine Resources Contested.
After the game Hugh tells me he had a bounce and an Archon Investigation in his hand when Carlos helped him but I am starting to believe that this is some kind of psychological thing from this charismatic Englishman since he always claims things like that in those situations and is still to prove any such claim to me. I’m on to you Hugh!
Anyways, Carlos has a pretty easy time taking the rest of the table and manages a pretty rare wall sweep.
Carlos GW 4VP
|Otso Saariluoma||Kristoffer Wårell||Martin Isaksson||Stefan Karlsson|
|Osebo rush and block||Ventrue with sticks||Gangrel Toolbox||A Very Cryptic Mission|
So, I have had the easy game and the tricky game with bad results. Only the impossible game left. The table was intended a five player table but there were drop-outs and Ivan Marin-Rivas was moved from our table. First a was very happy about that because I knew he played Imbued but when I realised Otso was my new prey that joy became despair. A little birdie had told me he played auspex and potence and I know a predator of Otso’s when he plays such a deck doesn’t get any VPs.
My first vampire gets Pentex Subversion from Otso and he soon has Massassi and one other Osebo together with Powerbase: Luanda so it’s game over from the start. Martin builds a lot and Kristoffer tries to bleed him but gets blocked most times. I get to have Heart of Nizchetus and my game is only a struggle of staying alive. I should probably have self-ousted but instead I enjoyed the worst one and a half hours of my V:tES-life. Martin had several chances of ousting me but he always left some vampires untapped instead of bleeding me out. Also the game goes very slow since both Kristoffer and Martin takes long time to think their moves trough. Not long time as in stalling but simply long time.
The only joy of the game was to watch Otso play. I have had the pleasure of playing with him both in tournaments and casual before and besides Erik Torstensson and maybe Adam Esbjörnsson he is the best player I have encountered. He lets me get the heart for me to survive a little longer when he could have easily blocked it. He blocks my mandatory hunts before Martin gets the chance to, going to long range so I have one more vampire to play a wake and block on Martin’s turns. Its lovely to watch and a pain to suffer.
Because of the long turns and Martin’s constant pool gain and many minions the game goes to timeout in the duel before Otso could take the win.
I did really bad in this tournament and was irritated with myself afterwards. The deck choice was bad since I was squeezed between two combat decks in two of the three games but mostly I could have played a better.
Over all it was a good learning weekend with plenty of casual games against players not my regular opponents. Also very nice to see how fantastic our community is with all travellers from around Europe. I think 8 different countries were represented which in itself is fantastic.
I am doing a lot of deck building now and have been inspired from the weekend so I plan to be back and win some more tournaments this year. You will read about it here, that’s a promise!