Monday, September 16, 2013

Weiss Schwarz USA World Grand Prix 2013 Qualifiers: New York City Mage Gaming report

Initially I heard that Alex and Moku (two official Vanguard judges and the people who introduced the ex-Rochester members of our playgroup to Bushiroad games, also Moku is the clown in Japan who almost made me never start Weiss cause he kept taking us to the most expensive shop in Akihabara) were going but apparently they backed out cause they wouldn't be allowed to play or something like that.  The rest of our playgroup were all going to The Fall Classic in North Carolina (Super collaboration of NEC's Big Eric, Final Round's ShinBlanka, and East Coast Throwdown's SweetJohnnyCage and Li Joe) tournament so not many of us were going.  In the end it would just be me, Comic-Z (Ed), and sumazndude (Ken) going, with maybe Shing showing up later, as he had work.  Comic didn't think there would be many people because the numbers were sort of low when he qualified last year, he had heard of places where everyone who attended the event qualified.

So this day started with me waking up at 7AM because some dumbass named Comic-Z wanted to get dim sum in NYC near Ken's place.  Gotta get there at 11AM or earlier, he said.  The plan was basically driving to Palisades Park (an hour or so away from Somerset), parking in a huge Korean parking lot, getting on a 9:20AM bus to Port Authority and taking the subway to Chinatown.  Except the bus was really at 9:40 (to be fair he mentioned this exactly once), he just wanted me to be there by 9:20 (why?).  Either way, I ended up leaving at like 8, arriving at 8:40 (in time to see the bus an hour earlier leave!) because the drive was a lot faster than I thought, and waiting to 9:30AM because Comic of course wouldn't honor his own time of 9:20.  It felt like I was in grade school again when my parents would wake us all up early on Saturday to drive into the city to eat at a Chinese buffet.

And of course Comic didn't like the dim sum place.  It was ok, but I think I'd have liked having the noodle soups or something over the actual dim sum, didn't seem that hot and Comic was going out of his way to choose non-meat dishes cause he wanted different things (that he wouldn't like eating in the end)

September 14th 2013 2:30PM at Mage Gaming:
On arriving at the "venue," we were greeted by metal shutters in a rather isolated looking place next to an Adult goods store.  There was nothing indicating anything was alive within a block, much less a card store, it was sort of worrying.  A small group of people were hanging outside one of the shuttered doors, but there were really no signs indicating anything remotely existed in the vicinity, and so we walked past them looking like confused tourists.  Then Comic heard them talking about anime or something and spotted the Charlotte Dunois Cospa bag.  Instant #sadlife flag.  Talk to them, confirm this is the place, while waiting more and more people start walking toward the store.  One has a Miku bag, so obviously we are in the right place, just everything is shuttered up tight.  Finally owners come, open up the shop front, and we go down in, apparently 32 people pre-regged (Way more than I expected), and 22 showed up.  Quick glance at the decks being played in casuals told me that this store was actually pretty serious about the game and nothing would be easy.

Round 1 versus Persona 4: Yukiko burn (0-0)
A dude in a red shirt named Charles who apparently had come from mid south Jersey as well!  I saw him initially playing Angel Beats and I freaked out (people were making jokes about 6 Angel Beats decks in the tournament), but apparently he hadn't finished that deck yet and was using proxies inside it.  This made it really helpful during play as he didn't have to read my cards to understand them, but it also meant that he had experience with the deck.  In fact it seemed like EVERYONE in the store had experience with Angel Beats, apparently the player that wins casuals all the time mains it.  That being said, I was aware of this deck's play-style because Comic had tipped me off about it earlier, it'd be my first time actually fighting it though.  Either way, hand encore Tenshi did not show up, but his field presence was really weak at level 1 so it wasn't too much of a problem.  Level 2 got nasty very quickly, as hand encore Tenshi was still absent and two Yukiko in Yukatas showed up and one changed into Level 3 Yukiko burn.  At this point I had managed to get a change Yuri into Level 3 but Yukiko would just dance to another slot and burn, then hand encore when Yuri shot her in the face.  Level 3 was more of the same, instead there were now 3 Yukiko burns out versus my field of Yuris.  He triggered all his Yukatas but some lucky cancels more or less saved me at 3/6 and I won off that.  Upon talking with Charles more after the match he said he really wanted to play another Persona deck, to which I immediately answered "Junes?"  Junes is more fun for him it seems, even if it's considered weaker than Yukiko.  Unfortunately his Junes deck wasn't finished either by the time of tournament but I played his proxied version later while we were waiting for the Swiss tiebreaker calculations.  Who the hell said they had to be by hand, that's idiotic, especially when Vanguard uses calculators.

Round 2 versus Vocaloid: G/Y/Splash Red Miku/Rin (1-0)
Out of 11 people (Swiss, people at 1-0) in the store I had to play Ken.  Godamnit.  The day before we had played and I had gone 2-2 against Miku, leaving a rather sour taste in my mouth, before losing a 5th game to his test Kariya suicide fate deck and rage sleeping.  The reason was more or less that the losses didn't involve climax fuckery or anything like that, they flat out involved being unable to play things.  There was a turn I played a climax with an empty field and passed, those were the kind of games.  This game would prove no different, as once again hand encore Tenshi was no where to be found.  I managed to bump Ken into refresh before he could change his change Miku, but it didn't matter because one Level 3 Miku came out of his clock right after refresh.  His final field had two of those Mikus plus a Level 3 Rin, with no hand encore and no climax combos or level supports even a full field of Level 3s couldn't really fight back for board advantage, I was forced to attempt to shoot him down with Yuri.  Of course everything cancelled, and Yuri continued her amazing track record of firing blanks in times of need.

Round 3 versus Dog Days: Y/R Hero Royalty Squirrels (1-1)
And of course I get to play Comic now.  Much grumbling ensued about traveling to an out of state tournament to play my friends.  Comic had more or less destroyed his Da Crapo qualifying deck from last year and was running Dog Days.  He was going into this tournament down two climaxes he needed for a climax combo, as USPS sucks dicks and his cards from Tythanin hadn't arrived in the scheduled two day shipping time.  Anyway, I hadn't played Comic's new Dog Days before, his old one was pretty jank and relied on Millhi summoning Cinque, which Ken and I constantly called an unreliable combo that he should stop running.  He kept it in against Ken's advice, but he was also running Couvert change which I was unfamiliar with.  Either way, once again I didn't get hand encore Tenshi early enough in game, but Comic didn't get Cinque either, so his level 1 was a huge gaping hole.  However at level two Couvert came out, followed by Level 3 Couvert and Rebecca.  After attacking with Couvert, he proceeded to use Rebecca's climax combo to unsummon Couvert back to his hand, and next turn proceeded to clock her and play another change Couvert, to rechange into Level 3 to heal again.  It was a pretty interesting setup that apparently he got even more complicated versions off of later in the tournament, using Shift Couvert as well when he knew he had a good chance to draw the Level 3.  At level 3 my hand encore Tenshi finally appeared although damage race wise it was too late to matter, and Comic had a very good chance of killing me as all 8 of my climaxes were in the waiting room.  However Comic however played no climaxes and triggered nothing, and so I was brought to 3/5 and then to 3/6 off my own attack refresh to kill him.  Here is where I learned that Comic unintentionally sandbagged, as his last card in his hand was a 1k 1 soul climax.  As I had no more cancels left, he would have definitely killed me instead of me living at 3/6 and winning.  "I thought I would overshoot," doesn't cut it if I have no climaxes left Comic!  I won but mentally I was at 1-2.

Round 4 versus Railgun: Post-ban R/G (2-1)
Probably the best game I had this tournament.  Every other game, win or lose, was rather frustrating as even with 3 hand encore Tenshis she was just not showing up in hand, getting clocked from damage, getting put into stock, never in the waiting room when I triggered gates, etc. etc. etc. It was an unnaturally bad streak of having to play Angel Beats without the most important card multiple times and it was getting on my nerves.  This game however there was none of that.  Despite an early Komoe, I was able to keep pretty good field advantage for Level 0 and 1.  Tenshi was there, God Tenshi was there, and at level 1 my deck was playing how it should.  However, once level 2 hit, Railgun exploded.  2 Multiskills came out, and her unnaturally high (for an assist) power with Komoe still in the back row meant that suddenly I was looking at a 9K 2/1 assist.  A climax combo for stock and change Uiharu into a 13.5K Level 3 came out shortly after and killed off my Level 3 Yuri change, but I had a rather large hand size then from my Level 1 advantage to hand encore.  At level 3 he added a restricted Kuroko + Misaka to the mix, while I had a full field of Level 3s that were well under the 3K bonus all his characters had.  My hand size plus hand encore meant though he could not wipe my field easily, and we were both at low level 3 going into the end.  However on my turn when I attacked I triggered two gates and he cancelled those two attacks, I was forced again to attempt to shoot him for 4 damage before attacking with Yuri for two.  Of course the shot was cancelled, Yuri hit but couldn't do enough damage, and I died the turn after.  In the end we both threw everything our decks had at each other and his won, I died cause of the triggered gates but that's how this game works, so I had no regrets.

Round 5 versus Shining Force EXA: B/R splash (2-2)
3-2 would be the very borderline for top 8, judging from everyone else's win ratios, most likely it would come down to weighting.  With that in mind this game was make or break for both of us.  The player had very unique (graceful? robotic? professional? hard to describe exactly) gestures when he played, they were really interesting for me to watch and flowed in a rather beautiful manner.  I know it's weird to say something like that but it's really the thing that stood out the most to me for that match, because the rest was utter garbage.  Shining Force is a fairly vanilla set, it has a semi-free 7.5K like AB (just tap a magic char), it has a cool -1k debuff level 0, and it has a level 3 that comes out at level 2 if you have 6 climaxes in the waiting room.  Besides that it's nothing special.  However once again hand encore Tenshi decided to send herself off to stock or clock damage or wherever she felt like, just not on my field.  I had two climaxes in my starting hand and honestly I should have chucked them both but I felt surely that I wouldn't keep drawing climaxes.  I was wrong, I kept drawing climaxes and was caught with 3 climaxes and ironically Shiina in my hand at my first refresh.  It was over pretty fast, I did pull a 3.5 counter on his Level 3 when it came out but it didn't matter as no hand encore meant no staying power in the field and he kept getting enough stock from board advantage to expensive encore her.  Climaxes in hand meant no damage cancels and it was over pretty fast.

Ken went 3-0 before going 3-2, he lost to Tsukaima and a quad-color!? SAO.  Apparently Tsukaima pulled some bullshit reversal out of complete board/level dominance, while vs SAO Ken just got...nothing.  He was the last person to qualify for top 8 post-weighting, where he proceeded to lose on stream in that hilarious match vs IM@S.  Full board dominance/damage lead/etc. to lose to repeated god cancels and a climax trigger.  I'd say his one misplay was the climax when IM@S was at 2/6 or so post-refresh, he had no reason to climax there and get all his damage cancelled, should have just chipped away with the huge advantage he had.  Comic actually sucked in his breath and walked away when Ken played that climax, because advising players is not allowed (cough I don't think this rule was very enforced though)

As for Comic, he went 3-2 but his weighting was not enough to qualify for top 8.  It was sort of annoying though because one of the players he beat left before the tournament ended and so basically ended up sinking Comic's ranking below top 8 to 10th or so.  If he didn't sandbag against me I think it would have been very different with a 4-1 record.

As for myself, I went 2-3 and placed 14th.  Apparently the 3 people who ran Angel Beats, including myself, got pretty shit on this tournament!  The main local AB player apparently got Weissed pretty hard, not cancelling damage and such...but I honestly would rather not cancel damage than not have hand encore.  No hand encore Angel Beats is not Angel Beats, and 4/5 of my games I was more or less not playing Angel Beats, but "deck with 7.5K level 1 and sometimes a level 2 change."  The game where I got everything I needed was against Railgun, and that was one hell of a game but I lost in the end.  We were more or less sharing sob stories, and he was talking about going to Syracuse to qualify.  I know Comic beat the third Angel Beats player he played right after losing to me, and that is also the person who left the tournament early.  From what I saw, his deck was more Tenshi-based, but Comic said he made some extremely questionable play decisions during their game.  The Railgun player and the Shining Force player both ended up winning their top 8 matches to qualify for Nationals, so kudos to them.  All in all, it was an ok first serious tournament experience.  The locals for that store were unexpectedly (for us anyway) prepared, a lot of A tier or post-ban S tier decks.  Post-ban Tsukaima, post-ban Railgun, post-ban IMAS, post-ban Disgaea (owner only! too bad he wasn't allowed to qualify), Madoka, Angel Beats, etc.  And then extremely solid mid tier decks (Bakemono, SAO, Nanoha, Miku, Persona), with some outliers (Shining Force, Dog Days)  I'm pretty sure the average skill level of the players there is higher than most of the other qualifying sites, but I can't say that for certain without actually going to those qualifiers.  None of the decks were poorly constructed except from what Ken said his first opponent was a jank Blue main SAO deck that just had poor chemistry and was crushed pretty fast.  I'm starting to seriously wonder if I should run Operation Tornado...I'm still too cheap to buy Promo Otonashi, 30 dollars is too much for one card (I say this while throwing tons of money at PSO2, I'm cheap in weird places,) the lack of hand encore Tenshi really weighed on my mind the entire tournament.  I could probably also run search Tenshi as well.  You'd think 8 gates and 3 of her would be enough..., and this doesn't happen that often when I play casuals.  Those games vs Ken the night before were definitely a harbinger of things to come though.  Comic is insisting we should road trip to Rochester but I'm already taking 3/4ths of October off from work...throwing in another holiday for the 26th/27th that involves 6 hours of driving is something I don't really want to do.  I also want to buy into another set because of my upcoming trip to Japan but I'm not sure which...I don't really have char love for any other sets besides AB and Nagato.  If I was going by mechanics I'd say Nanoha, but I haven't even seen that series so it's sort of whatever.  Haven't played Rewrite so that's out of the question, haven't played Disgaea past Disgaea 2 so I'm pretty ambivalent about that set as well.  Love Live is tons of fun but I'm hesitant to buy cards that I know will get obsolete if an extra set comes out (Umi I'm looking at you).  The set is weak at the moment but so versatile there's a lot of cool things to do in it.

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