Here follows special guest blogger & UK DiceMasters National Champion 2016 Ben Said Scott’s second installment of his UK Nationals reflections.
In this post Ben provides a re-cap of his six rounds in the Qualifying event on Friday.
Having travelled up to Birmingham on the Thursday night, and gone straight out for cocktails, I awoke on the Friday way too early. The event was due to start at 10 and we had to collect our badges for the Expo. Due to various wifi difficulties the event didn’t kick off until close to 11 which gave me some time to talk to a few people I already knew.
That morning was a little cagey, with people mainly staying with who they knew and trying to figure out what exactly they were going to run. Already knowing what I had in my team box I approached a few guys asking them if they had anything to trade and generally just tried to get some conversation started. Despite the early morning everyone was really approachable and willing to engage you in conversation about the game or about anything else. It was a thread that would continue throughout the weekend.
Anyway, on to business. The qualifier was a 6 round swiss tournament with the top 9 going through to the final:
My first opponent was Iain Jarvis.
Iain is a vocal member on some of the online discussion so I expected a tough game, especially when he threw down a lot of similar cards to what I had, as well as a Magic Helmet and Human Paladin combo that I knew was tough to get by. However, by his own admission, Iain hadn’t had a lot of experience playing with his team or in events and he made a couple of early purchases of Magic Helmet and Hulk which left him a little behind in ramp, something he suffered with once I got out Oracle. I managed to take the round 2-0, but next year, with the knowledge he has and a little bit more experience I expect Iain to be a real threat. Oh, he also wins the award for best dice bag, courtesy of RainCityJenna.
My next opponent was Bob, who was one of a contingent of players who had come over from Ireland.
All three of them did great the previous year with one of them winning Nationals last year. Bob’s experience showed and he quickly responded to all the moves I made with the correct decisions. Buying Imprisoned when I did, and buying Cloudkill when I started to wall up with sidekicks. Thankfully however he did not have an Oracle in his team, and with the Ring global being virtually superfluous because of PXG I managed to get ahead in ramp. Bob, I think, just had a bit too much stuff to choose from with his purchases: Gobby, Tsarina, Hulk, Guy Gardner and Bard gave him a lot of variety. I stuck to my plan and managed to win both games, though I only won those because he had horrible luck rolling Cloudkill and couldn’t punch through with Tsarina and Hulk.
The next player I faced was another of the Irish guys; Sean.
Sean came runner up in last year’s Nationals and ran a slightly augmented Bard Blitz team this year. He was a really difficult opponent, and much like Bob, knew exactly when to buy what. In the first game he managed to capture virtually my entire field using the two of my imprisoned die. Luckily I managed to hang on by Imprisoning a bunch of his stuff and getting enough to win on the field, if only I could ping Hulk once. However I only had one die left in my rotation, and instead of using the Fist plus the three generic to buy the Breaker that might of won me the game I re-rolled for a bolt and failed.
The second game was very similar, though because I went first I managed to put Sean on the back foot, before he got back into it by capturing my characters. He had control of the board state as the game went into turns. Luckily I was ahead in life, so on turn 4 of time though Sean could have swung through to get me down to 3 he would have released my dice and given me the win on the following turn. As he passed I was one life point ahead, which gave me the game. It was a very lucky draw for me.
Now I want to make something clear: on Friday the TO ruled that if games came down to time, whoever had the most life would win that round. It was a ruling that gave me a draw in the round against Sean. However, perhaps because of this result, or something else, on both Saturday and Sunday the TO decided that any games not resolved in time would be called a tie for that game. So with that in mind I was extra lucky to have not been beaten by Sean. Regardless, despite him feeling hard done by straight after the match (probably rightly so), he was a really great sport the rest of that day and Sunday, and I don’t look forward to playing any of his teams again.
I was feeling pretty good about my team off the back of three really difficult games. My good rolling continued against my next opponent: Philip.
I had lost against Philip in round 1 at Nationals last year, and he had already beaten some of the players from my weekly meets. He was running a virtually all mask team, using a combo of Distraction global, Mr Fantastic global and Prismatic Spray to assert his control. Luckily, I managed to get out Hellblazer early enough to stop both Gobby and Storm from inflicting too much damage on me. He chose to purchase an early Imprisoned rather than his own Spray, in both games which I think was the reason I managed to hold out for a 2-0 win. However I want to congratulate Philip for giving me a really competitive game, without resorting to Bard.
Another gruelling game against another frequent Facebooker: Joe Lewin.
Joe had actually done a really great podcast about what team he was running (Critical Twits podcast PLUG) before the convention, so I had some idea of what to expect. Talking to Joe after the event he said that he had thought about including Dwarf Wizard over the AoU Captain America, but decided he liked the protection offered by Cap. Luckily for me, and unluckily for Joe, a lot of the teams played at the Expo favoured combat damage over direct damage, including mine. Mera also didn’t matter much to me because Bard overwhelms you with numbers, not just one big hitter. I managed to surprise him with an Imprisoned capture of his Oracle and Hellblazer early on and won.
Because of my unbeaten record I knew going into the final game that I had a good shot of qualifying for the finals. But because of that draw I knew that only a win would guarantee me the top prizes for the day. However that same could be said for Andy, who was also the only unbeaten player, with an identical record to mine. 4 wins, a draw and a loss. The other thing that me and Andy had in common were 9 of the 10 cards on our team. Andy had been the reason I had begun running Bard, and we had developed the team virtually together at the same time during our weekly meet ups.
In testing we had both struggled against each other’s teams. Find that, whoever went first, would ultimately win that game. Playing this team had been the primary reason to include Imprisoned hoping to surprise Andy. However he had come prepared and included his own Breaker. The first game was really close, with Andy going first and rolling badly on his opening turn. I managed to keep myself in the game by Imprisoning some of his stuff early, he brought Breaker in response and it became a war of attrition, with neither of us being able to ramp effectively due to Oracle’s and Thieve’s. Andy eventually took the game so I needed to respond. The second game, with me going first went a lot faster, with Andy having a terrible first roll again I managed to Polymorph in an Oracle a Bard, a Wizard and a Thief with enough sidekicks to swing for lethal, just before time was called.
With that, both me and Andy ended the day with a 4-2-0. This meant that the two people, who were playing next to us, could feasibly end the day with a 5-0-1 record, and gazump both me and Andy to first place, if either of them won. Andy left not being able to watch the final few turns, and I sat watching as Paul the player who was a game down managed to get just enough to pull out a victory. Meaning that either me and Andy would be first, depending on who we had faced.
It was a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere after that, with people eager to talk about how their day had been, how their games had gone and how awful Bard and Oracle were. Luckily I managed to come first place and win the extra super rares that came with first, and could look forward to Sunday knowing that I had qualified.
There we go folks – I hope you enjoyed reading Ben’s re-cap of the qualifying day. My thanks to Ben for agreeing to post as my “Special Guest” this week and share his thoughts on my little blog.
There’ll be more content in the coming days on the UK Nationals coverage along with some “business as usual” type posts. In the meantime – keep an eye out for a couple more guest posts into the middle of next week.