Here is the first of a series of posts covering the U.K. Regional WKO events.
This post is a special guest contribution by Ben Said Scott, current U.K. National Champ, who was in attendance at the UK’s South Regional WKO event that took place in Southampton, hosted by Cheap Thrills.
I’ll hand you over to Ben. Enjoy!
Having had only one major set come out between the UK Nationals and these WKO’s I decided that my original team, which had served me well at UK Nats, was still the best thing going. I decided not to change too much about it (the meta is a little bit boring right now, isn’t it?). That meant that the core of Hellblazer, Elf Thief, DWiz, Oracle, Bard and PXG would remain as characters and my beloved Imprisoned would remain as a BAC.
That left me with two character slots available for change and one BAC slot open. First off I knew I needed something to protect against Imprisoned.
The common Breaker had served that purpose for me at Nats but I was worried about its low fielding cost numbers and how that was vulnerable to Imprisoned. In one of the warm up events I played off against a team, very similar to my own, which had included Polymorph as a means of getting Oracle out early. Having brought one for myself I quickly set about playing my game as normal, buying and Imprisoned and preparing a Bard swing. In response my opponent brought a Breaker, knowing that on the next turn I would be able to Imprison his die. Luckily I managed to Polymorph in his Breaker and it was easy to capture. The idea of someone doing that to me scared me, so I considered some other options.
First up was the 3 cost Gnome Ranger, which does have a 2 fielding cost on level 3, however having it only effect dice that effect your characters limited its usefulness against a Lantern Ring. I decided I liked Breaker better. The other option was Oni, which is similar to Breaker in many ways, and has a higher fielding cost (a good thing in my opinion) but has the stipulation of not being able to free up your own Imprisoned usage. I really like the idea of freeing up my own Imprisoned only to be able to Imprison again. That’s kind of showboating I guess and perhaps I will change to Oni in the future. Anyway, ultimately I decided to just keep Breaker.
The other combo was Hulk and Magic Missile. This I had considered changing out even on the day of Nats. I really like what Magic Missile offers in terms of giving you a way of pining off sidekicks, or other small characters but the opportunity for my opponent to use it against me wasn’t great. Without Hulk or Nova I’m not sure Magic Missile is worth including, and I found myself time and again not buying Hulk in games that mattered. His ability is great and all, but it can also be a liability. So I decided to change out these two pieces.
For my BAC slot I wanted something that did the job of Polymorph without giving my opponent a weapon to use against me. I had been messing around with Monster Reborn for another team I’m working on and like the ability to make use of a character I’ve just purchased. Using Monster Reborn I could buy a Dwarf Wizard or Elf Thief on the turn they don’t name those dice with Constantine Hellblazer and get around his blanking effect. It’s a trick that has worked on numerous occasions for me and I really like it. I eventually decided that I could also include Transfer Power, which does the same thing, but had a global which really didn’t work in my favour for my other team but really does for this one. Bard/ Oracle teams in general have some really weenie stats, so if I ever faced a big bruising Overcrusher I would at least have some answer to it.
For my last character slot I eventually settled on Spectre, Divine Retribution over the super rare Mind-Flayer. I really liked this card. First off it gave me a global which was really useful, even if I never actually brought the character he could still play a part. I treated it as a Magic Missile global lite. Using it mainly to keep my opponents field clear from sidekick walls. Secondly it gave me some much needed stats, in a team that doesn’t have any punch whatsoever if you don’t have a Bard. And lastly it gave me a way of KO’ing my characters. Allowing me to recycle Breaker, or Elf Thief, DWiz or even Spectre himself, while also forcing my opponent into making decisions. In theory if I could keep my opponent’s field empty enough then anything they KO will hurt them.
We played four rounds, 50 minutes a round, best of three games, with a final cut to top 4.
Round 1 vs Michael Power
Michael is a pretty great dude and a strong competitive player who I think just missed out on Nationals qualification in the summer. He had been testing regularly with another player, Andy England (more on him later), had been working on his team since Nationals. First game, I went first and managed to sneak out a win due in part to Michael terrible rolling, but the strength of Michael’s team had me on edge from the beginning. The second game went much the same way with Oracle oppressing the hell out of everything and the threat of a Bard swing ever present. With Michael going first this game he had the first shot for lethal, but a combination of blocker, transfer power and pinging off a sidekick kept him at bay and I was eventually able to Imprison enough of his stuff to win.
Record : 1-0-0
Round 2 vs Andy Ricketts
Not the Andy mentioned before, but Spug (As he shall henceforth be referred to). Spug is the guy whose team I stole to make my tournament team. As you can imagine that means we’ve played each other a lot. I also, almost always, lose against him. Except in tournaments when there is a time limit set on us, then we always seem to draw. It happened at Nationals and it happened here. Just.
Like I said before, Spug was running a very similar team to myself, except he had Polymorph instead of Transfer Power and Gorilla Grodd instead of Spectre. He went first and won, and then I went first and won and it seemed to be that whoever could get out Oracle first would be on top, and then would just have to slog through Imprisoned until they could get the win. The third game started out badly for Spug and I was gaining control. I had Imprisoned a bunch of his stuff, he had none of mine. And time was called. Five rounds went by, and I was ramping up but couldn’t get enough on turn four. I passed to him and he had nothing to do. It was a draw. Which was rubbish because turn four I was only one character away from winning and if the game had gone on one more round I would have won. I even played it out just to show everyone, that’s how fed up I was with the draw. Games like this really make me hate how stagnant the game feels with Bard/ Imprisoned.
Round 3 vs Gareth Thomason
Gareth is another player I play against regularly and it was frankly delightful to be playing him in a competitive tournament. Not because his team was the only non-Bard team I faced that day, but because Gareth always fails hilariously badly against me. Here’s an example: it was game two, turn 4ish. It had been the first time I manage to get Oracle out and begin oppressing his PXG usage. He had nothing in his bag, and in his used pile 4 sidekicks, a Cerebro, an Elf-Thief, a Raven and his own Oracle. I was feeling okay, but knew that any of the characters Gareth was about to get were going to hamper my game plan. He filled up his bag and pulled all 4 of the shiny sidekicks. Obviously I was delighted, but that’s just symptomatic of Gareth’s luck against me.
Anyway like I said before I was easily able to win out 2-0 against Gareth, but I believe that he didn’t suffer too much, considering he was unbeaten in the rest of his games and was the only person in the top 4 to use a mask ring team rather than Bard/Imprisoned. As long as he sticks with this team he can only get better.
Round 4 vs Andy England
The last game in the preliminaries and it was tough. Andy was also running a Bard/ Imprisoned team, and what I thought was just a really distilled version of my Nat’s team. He had a load of tech pieces, Parallax, BEWD and PXG, along with Oracle, Hellblazer, Bard and Imprisoned. All of which he used to great effect, and pretty much stomped me in both games. The difference was that he had been playing so much with Michael that he had his game plan down to a fine art. What to buy in reaction to what I did, when to grab an early Bard, when to go for Imprisoned. I just didn’t have that. Most of the time I don’t play with my Bard team or against Bard teams and had gotten used to slowly building up to Bard. Andy was very different. He grabbed a Bard early so that he could always be a threat, and really left me helpless.
So I finished the first four rounds with an okay record, and I knew I had played some other really good people, so that left me in good place to sneak through into the top 4.
Top Four Cut…
Round 5 vs Andy England
As fate would have it I had a chance to play Andy again immediately and I was determined to make a better go of it this time round. Things started well, and I felt comfortable, we both traded early Imprisoneds, but I had another one on the way and he had his only Breaker in the field already. I had a chance to win, early on but missed rolling a Bard five times in one turn thanks to Parallax, but despite that, I still felt comfortable. Of course I completely forgot that having Breaker in the field actually worked in Andy’s favour, and he used parallax to re-roll Breaker to energy only to re roll it to character face, re-field it, break free his army and have enough to swing. It was great timing. The second game I went first again and rushed into an early lead taking the game pretty quickly. And so it all came down to a decider. Andy went first and we settled in to a similar routine, however I had learned from our previous games and brought a Bard on turn three just to keep up some added pressure. It worked and along with the two Imprisoned dice I purchased I was able to close out the game.
With us finishing before time we were able to watch the other semi-final between Spug and Gareth. It had gone to a tie in normal time, so, as per the Wizkids rules, it became a 5 turn game based on who could do the most damage. Spug was able to win out by a whole one life.
Top Two Cut…
Facing off against Spug again I don’t really remember a lot of it. Suffice to say these matches are draining. I went first and won, getting the Thief/Oracle combo out on turn three comfortably is pretty horrific. Then going second in the second game I only managed to pull out a win because he didn’t roll well. It was a shame that I only really saw Spug play against my team because I really liked his choice of taking Gorilla Grodd rather than my Spectre, and that Bard/Grodd combo can be so horrific, but if you are playing against an opponent with Oracle and Elf Thief running it is so hard to get up to a 7 cost let alone 6.
I finished the event on the top spot.
So that was the first ever UK WKO held in the South of England. It was really good fun, and the TO did a great job handling prizes and a pretty cool tombola, so shout out to Charlotte.
It was also the first event with the new turn 1 rule in place. While in principal I think that the rule is really solid and definitely doesn’t hurt the game I am still yet to be convinced it really hinders Bard in any meaningful way. For my team it limits the ability of getting out Elf Thief and Oracle on turn 3, in fact I only managed to pull off my normal opening gambit once all day. But getting a Hellblazer, Transfer Power as your first two buys still aren’t that terrible as an option. I don’t know what they can do to really influence the game any further, but Bard/ Imprisoned is so prevalent around here that we’re going to have to figure out something.
Anyway now that I’ve won all the WKO prizes I think for the next one I’m going to try something a bit different and hopefully I can work out a way to stop that lute playing jerk.
Follow this link to the event host’s site to see the team lists in full: