Dicemasters UK Nationals 2017 have come and gone, and somehow, and I’m not 100% sure how, I only went and bloody won the thing!
The team I ran for the tournament was one that has taken a while to evolve, and I would like to start by describing the team and how it was put together.
I predominately play against my brewing buddy and awesome competitive clan mate Mickey Power. We both had success with the Beholder team in the Winter WKOs, with him winning in Nottingham and myself coming second in Brighton.
However End of Days had now become a staple on every team we had seen since then, and with the swift brutality of the Beholder team scuppered, we wanted to look for alternatives.
Ultraman / Kryptonite was a natural choice as it was similar in many ways to Beholder, yet so much more versatile, triggering off the four BACs in the main step and so you can field your characters after setting off the End of Days trap (but you already knew that).
The next 4 cards are the engine and the heart of the team:
- Professor X – Trainer
- Blue-Eyes White Dragon – Monstrous Dragon
- Rip Hunters Chalk Board – WHEN AM I?
- Parallax – Source of Terror
These are the same four I used in the Beholder team and are used together to give the team the speed, ramp and improved consistency.
The next in is Elf Thief. ‘Ripping’ in an Elf Thief with the Chalk Board on turn 1 (T1) is the best thing ever, period. Either stealing energy, getting Blue-Eyes fodder, or getting 2 masks for PXG is awesome. We played around a lot with trying to get a T1 & T2 Kryptonite opening purchase order working (a T4 double Kryptonite smash is awesome), but the Elf Thief was a lot more consistent and with the two 2 costs in the team, there were not many combinations of T1 rolls that didn’t offer ramp and a road to the win condition. Trust me I tried them all. A lot!
The last card that was I brought was The Front Line. +3A per Kryptonite per turn is the way the team wins (just like Beholder).
The last 2 cards were a bit of a conundrum. The next BAC that stayed in the team for the majority of play-testing was End of Days. It slowed an opposing Beholder team and gave us the board clear meaning we could then field 5 characters and win. As we tried it against more and more different teams, we found that if an Oracle came out early, as is the way with many Mask Lantern Ring teams, it was hard to use the 4 global engine to get enough ramp to Parallax into the 5 characters in T4 to swing for lethal. Therefore we switched in Imprisoned as the daddy of board clear, but leaving the team very much open to a Beholder rush defeat. More on this decision in the Nationals recap.
The last cards then. We pretty much tried everything. Constantine – Hellblazer was the front runner for a good while, as you can get this out early, name Beholder, buy an Imprisoned, hold it over for a turn with the Beholder’s own global and pretty much shut it down without End of Days. However, with the emergence of more and more Mask Ring in the competitive scene in the UK, lots of End of Days and very little Beholder, I ended up favouring Doomcaliber Knight – Fiendish Fighter, to add the 5th global on the team, and to negate mask Ring blinking back my attackers in the final swing.
Seemed solid, so onto the qualifier on the Saturday before Nats to try it out.
I got to the hotel on the Friday late in the evening and checked Facebook for how the first qualifier had gone. Alarm bells!! A Beholder team had only gone and bloody won the thing. If this saw an influx of Beholder teams over the weekend then it was going to be a quick exit for me. So, at about midnight, I decided to switch out Imprisoned for End of Days, it had also done well in play-testing, so what could go wrong?
1 win, 2 losses and a bye saw me out on my ear before Mickey had made it out of the hotel room. I wanted some shineys, god damn it! The team had not worked out as intended.
After a few beers, a questionable Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet and a few more rounds of play-testing, Ultraman was in the bin. My brewing partner Mickey was now running a Mask Ring, and I had taken the Beholder out of retirement. But Ultraman had to be good right? I mean I must have put well over a hundred hours of play-testing into it. It was something that we had put together from scratch ourselves and I kinda wanted to see him through to the end. So; playmats out on the hotel room bed, I had to get this to work.
Imprisoned was back in. It would be the last time to use it in a competitive setting and it has served me well. If I came up against a Beholder… well… then I would just have to have a tantrum and get on with it.
Next; Doomcal. Dude, you are good, but last in first out. I needed something that, if it went Pete Tong, I could Rip in and give me some time. Oracle will do that, and give me some protection against my globals being used against me. Doomcaliber Knight gets swapped out for Oracle.
I really should have thought about that earlier than 1am on the morning of Nats….
At this point I would like to apologize to any of my opponents if I get any specifics of the games wrong. A lot of the day is a bit of a blur now, and it’s possible I’ve may have muddled up games.
So UK Nationals 2017.
The draw is in and the Brit Roller Six himself Chris Williams is sat opposite me, with the AVX Colossus team I have read all about on his blog.
I can’t remember the specifics of the game, but I can recall the early turn purchase of Constantine – Hellblazer by Chris in both games, meaning that I had to get 2 Kryptonites firing on the same turn, the first to get rid of his blanking effect on Ultraman and the second to trigger him so that I could Imprisoned his guys, buff mine and field them for the win. The engine served me well, allowing me to buy a second Kyptonite, Rip in an Ultraman, and with a little luck swing in for the win on both games.
(Editor’s note – Andy made mince meat of me!)
R1 done, 1 win. So far so good.
I was drawn against Gareth with his very powerful Mask Ring team. Now he will not know this, but his team was very much the one to beat with Mickey and I putting in a fair few hours playing against it. None of which was overly helpful. I watched the twitch feed of the games he played in the other UK WKOs, and his team was very much the basis of the Ring team we had put together that Mickey was now playing.
I should have been prepared, I thought I was prepared. If I remember rightly I did take the first game and I thought I was sitting pretty comfortably in the second game, he then did what Ring teams do best, and rolled a thousand masks and attacked for the win. Time was up and this one ended in a draw. It was a relief.
R2 down, and a win and a draw. Not too bad but am I going downhill?
This was against Philip Ball, who was running a mash up of all things nasty. Hulk, Zmags, Hellblazer, Dwiz, X-23, the list goes on. Game 1 is a rush to Kryptonite and Ultraman. If I remember right I had to do 2 hits to take him down in this game, as I could not get passed all the high fielding costs and Imprisoned in one go. It ended with Phil telling me the combination of BAC to use in order to kill off his last character and swing for the win, as my brain will get there, but often a lot slower than others. Game 2 he smashed me in the face with everything nasty and it was getting tight. Third game I managed to get the Elf Thief to Kryptonite to Kryptonite and Ultraman combo on his Hellblazer and swung in to win. Phew!
R3 down and 2 wins and a draw had me happy to know, if I didn’t win another game, I had put in a good show and done better than the day before. But it was working well, wasn’t it?
Last year I had reached 9th at the UK Nationals, and was very happy with this, the goal this year was to beat 9th, and I was hoping I might just reach it…
After lunch and the 4th can of Red Bull it was time for Game 4. This is when it starts to get really hairy.
Johnny Ellis had pretty much put a team together that made Ultraman as useful as a chocolate teapot. Too Big to Fly and Stinking Cloud were his BAC and this combination stopped my buffed sidekicks attacking and knocked out my Ultraman every time I triggered him with Kryptonite. Brilliant. Thank god I had a secondary win condition. Hold on, I don’t.
So game 1 unsurprisingly went to him, as he explained how nothing I had spent the last few months honing into a sure win bad ass face smashing team will work. How on Earth do I get through this one? How do I get my basic actions working without his stopping me? Suppose I could just buy them. I could couldn’t I. Can I do that, it feels wrong actually buying basic actions. How very 2016.
The rest of his team was a swarming Fist Ring team, so he needed to get his Kobolds and Goblin in the field and keep them there to roll enough Fists to do the damage. This might just work.
T1 Rip in an Elf Thief, because, well, that’s what I do T1. Next buy Oracle, slow down his ability to get too many fists. I’ve still got a shed load of ramp, and he is lining up his swarming fists so next turn I Rip in an Imprisoned. So far so good. Next turn fire off Imprisoned (after 6 failed attempts mind you, thank god for Parallax) and buy The Front Line. Next turn, I Parallax like a man possessed to get 5 characters into the field and swing. I did it twice in a row. Boom, I just found a secondary win-con not a minute too soon.
Going well – 3 wins and a draw
I’m 5 cans of Red Bull in, no sleep and more shakes than a junky before pay day. What could go wrong? Oh defending national champion Ben Scott, the man with the ability to seemingly pick 10 cards at random and still have the skill to win all but one WKO he attended leading up to Nationals. All but one mind you (fist bump Mickey). We may have contemplated what team list he was going to bring and studied the teams he had played.
I was pretty sure I was in the top 8 at this point, so wasn’t particularly willing to release my newly found win-con, and I was pretty sure I was going to loose. And I did. Schooled like a kid on his first day at Borstal. I can’t remember a lot, but Jinzo with a Gobby topping was definitely involved.
So at the end of Swiss it was 3 wins, 1 draw and a loss. Not bad Ultraman, not bad at all. I was in the top 8, had bettered last years position, and it seemed to take the pressure off a bit. A 10 minute break and getting rid of the Chinese from the night before also took the pressure off too! That and another coffee, because after 5 cans of Red Bull what you really need is a large coffee.
Top 8 Cut
Gareth again with his Ring team. He looks like how I feel. We are both sat opposite each other looking like we need to check ourselves into rehab, not play Dicemasters.
But… hold the front door… I’d practiced against this team quite a bit and I can surely use this to my advantage. I’m usually just in my undies though. That might help, should I strip? No, bad idea. Just play, play like the wind.
I seemed to focus at this point more so than ever before in my life, reaching top 8 and destroying the bathroom at Costa really seemed to have settled me and there was, what was that, self belief? No, really? Could I win this thing? Shut the fridge dude you are delirious.
The dice rolled, T1 Elf Thief, because its turn one and that’s what to do. Then I did everything in my power to get to Oracle as if she was a Furby and it was Christmas 1999. Ripped her in T3. Ramp ramp ramp get Ultraman. Oh crap no Kryptonites. Still managed to take game 1 though, although I have no recollection of how.
Game 2, he’s not bought Oracle, he’s not bought Oracle! I’m going to take this. How many masks?! For the love of God, game 2 loss.
Game 3, come on you have this, surely. You were telling yourself you were going to take the whole thing a minute ago. In honesty I can’t remember how I won this game, I did though, somehow and I was in the top 4. Top 4? Top 4! Unbelievable.
Looking over I found that Mickey was still in the middle of his game with Philip Ball, I had no idea how he was getting on and it looked close. To be honest I was too scared to ask. Result! He managed to get to Top 4 as well!
Whilst they were playing, someone had advised me that I would be playing Ben again next, so I prepped to face him again. Hold on though. The draw is in. I’m against Mickey?!
Now I have played in a number of tournaments with Mickey, but never drawn against him. I have always been relieved at this, because I can never, ever, beat him. He is a great guy, but does not and cannot hold back the punches, and is one of the reasons I have improved so much at this game over the last year. I don’t want to play him in top 4 though.
Top 4 Cut
Mickey gets the first turn. Mickey is definitely going to win. He has not lost a game against me going first this year. Then Mickey rolls the biggest bunch of garbage imaginable. Twice. It’s so bad he Parallaxes his first turn… into more garbage.
Mickey had put Mera into his team to stop any big hitters going through so I knew that Ultraman was not going to do more than 2 damage when he attacked. Hold on though, I have a new win-con for this team that I have just figured out, and he knows nothing about it.
Again the specifics are sketchy, but I recall getting Oracle out to stop his ramp, and the fact that he can play his team a million times faster with the globals on my team. I buy Ultraman and intend to trigger him, but only swing with the sidekicks and my Elf Thief (I had bought him on T1, as that’s what you do). He clears his field, of course he does. He has End of Days, so I’ll need to waste a sidekick to Kryptonite it on my own side to get the buff. And Oracle is there to get wasted too. Parallax her. Energy. Perfect. Parallaxing her into energy another million times doesn’t do it. I manage to recycle Ultraman through my bag quickly and take the win. Just.
And then he gets to go first again.
Game 2, Mickey rolls garbage, Twice, again. I buy an Imprisoned but he clears his field. I buy Front Line and he fills his field. His first rolls had scuppered him enough that I Parallax into enough sidekicks to eke out the win.
Onto the final, I think I may have wee’d myself a little at this point.
How do I beat the defending UK Nationals champion? I had minutes to work it out. I have played him before and knew that if you beat him one way, you won’t be able to do the same thing again. He’s so versatile. I have a bit of that now, thanks to playing Jonny Ellis in round 4. Ben ramps like he’s in a skate park. I have an Oracle, so getting her out early will help. He has a team built to stop Ring teams, and I’m not running one, that’s got to be in my favour too.
Game 1 went to me, I bought Elf Thief T1 (of course, what else would I do?) Ripped in Oracle, Kryptonite, one or two I can’t remember, and swung for the win.
I won’t be able to do that again. Switch it up. Buy Elf Thief T1, Rip Oracle, buy Imprisoned. He buys Imprisoned. That wasn’t in the plan. I Imprisoned his Constantine. I can handle that. I then lose all my life to Jinzo, swing because I don’t want my field to be Imprisoned and leave myself open to his field swinging in and killing me. That definitely was not in the plan.
Game 3. I get to go first. I feel on the ropes. I am exhausted and can barely think straight. Ben is chatting and eating his dinner whilst we play.
Hold his Falafel, he’s got this.
T1, I roll, I cannot buy and Elf Thief. WTF?! Re-roll. I still cannot buy Elf-Thief. But that is what I do! Can I do it anyway? No! Hold on, I spent hours trying every possible combination. Mike off the Attack Zone podcast said so, so I did.
Rip in a Kryptonite, as apparently that is what I do, now. I buy another Kryptonite, and then ramp into Ultraman. Hold on I haven’t bought Oracle. That wasn’t the plan. Well that’s great. Game face Andy, game face.
At some point in the game I get to a point where I have 3 Kryptonites and Ultraman is in the field. I also have all my sidekicks in reserve so I can Parallax like a boss. I roll, it looks favourable. I get the 3 Kryptonites.
Have I won?
Surely there will be some kind of come back I’ve not seen. I Parallax into a bunch of sidekicks and I must have won. Ben tells me I have, I ask him if he is calling it, but he makes me play it out as I must look like a car wreck. Kryptonite to stop Constantine, Kryptonite again, and again and Imprisoned his field. Swing, and win? Yes! I’m the UK National champ 2017.
There we have it, my recap of the UK Nationals 2017. What an awesome weekend it was. We are lucky to have such a great community in the UK, and everyone was great to play on the day. Thank you to everyone.
There you go folks – I trust you enjoyed the read as much as I did. I particularly enjoyed the “stream of consciousness internal monologue” Andy shares through the Top 8 cut to final – I’m sure many of us can empathise we many of these thoughts when competing.