Saturday, July 09, 2005

A whole lot more from the floor

Rather belatedly (isn't that my middle name?), here are some more reports from the Origins tournaments. Next time, with greater live-ness! If we can manage some kind of clever wireless access. Or maybe we'll try the audioblogging via cell phone thing.

So we rolled into Columbus right around 6 pm on Wednesday night, got Xian from the hotel, zipped on over to the lovely & talented Guardhouse game store, and played some games. Luckily none of us made the finals, because if we had, well, we might have had an even harder time getting dinner and beers afterwards. (As it was we had to ask advice of the first bartender we talked to (at the lovely & non-food-serving-late Elevator) as to where we might find food after eleven pm.)

So, (1): I played a now-newsgroup-posted Waters of Duat/Temptation/Truth of a Thousand Lies Setite deck for two rounds, earning a most impressive double-zero-VPs with extremely low tiebreakers. Now that I have the physical deck in front of me, it seems I wasn't actually deterred by the 30-master-card barrier, and my posted decklist was slightly off: I did in fact put in the 2x Perfectionist and 1x Giant's Blood to fill it to 90 cards; also I had dropped the 2x Skin of the Adder for 2x Wake with Evening's Freshness. Anyway, let's see: round 1, I sat with Kevin Mergen as my prey with some Honor the Elders jank, uh, I think Cory Atwill cross-table (four-player game, my apologies to Cory and anyone else who I may be unsure of as I write a week later...), with some weenie Praxis Seizure/Legacy of Pander vote sleaze, and the always-nemesiacal Dave Pennington II (right? boy, I hope so) with another vote deck as my predator, uh, that one was more... KRC and er, oh yeah, Ventrue oriented? Classic Law Firm guys I think? So yeah, there was some confusion where I got switched to another table to fix the seating, and then switched back when it turned out the extra player we thought we had did not actually exist (I think it was a second copy of Oscar Garza, as if one weren't enough). On my return, the weenie vote deck got a much poorer draw than his first test draw and failed to pass his second-turn Praxis (or Crusade, whichever it was) on account of lacking a Bewitching, thus rapidly finding himself helpless against the many opposing titles that surrounded him. Kevin got some pool with Honors, I lost some pool to KRCs, and bleeds, got one Temptation on Dave's Emerson Bridges or something, then expired to the votes and such without having played a single Waters (as far as I remember).

Second round went even worse if possible; my predator played an early Anarch Revolt, I spent a couple early actions trying to become Anarch, but he kept blocking and torporizing me (with a .44 Magnum or something? and Aisha, and KRCG?). Meanwhile my prey had Beast - I want to say that was Bob Joseph? - and could have squished me at any time, but luckily (at least, I got to take a few more actions because of it) I managed to talk him out of doing so by pointing out how useless and helpless he was, and that he might as well bleed his prey for 1 a bunch while said prey (Nick Smith, several-time winner of these pre-Origins events) sat there bringing out three vampires all at once (they turned out to be an assortment of Dem/Obf bleeders). Those bleeders ousted my predator (...I don't know who it was... Brandon, maybe?) the turn after they came out, even though Beast got one of them; they got me very shortly thereafter, as I had wasted all my blood and vampires on trying to go Anarch to survive my predator's single Anarch Revolt, instead of thinking about the longer-range future. Oops. I think Beast then finished off all the vampires one at a time and Bob ended up tying the table 2-2, but I could be wrong. Regardless, you can now see how I accomplished my 0-0-30TP feat. My party then adjoined to Betty's Cafe (Diner? Lounge? Bar & Grill?) for some rather good beers on tap and entrees. Mmm, food.

(2) Thursday part one! Yes, the 10 am tournament, hideous though the hour was, we headed over there anyway. I mean really, what are you doing at a convention if you're not going to play VTES instead of sleep, right? Xian and I were I think the last getting out of the room and got to the card room just in time for everyone to be waiting for us to sit down and play. I brought a weenie Auspex Anarch Revolt deck that I had recently copied from Jason Babbitt's design (hence my interest in seeing the one Wednesday night, as I hadn't seen any new-Revolt-combat designs until Jason's version at the DC Qualifier). It performed reasonably well, if I remember correctly, though not spectacularly: first round, I think, I blocked a bunch of stuff and managed to oust my prey (Carol from Denver, unless that was second round that I'm now confusing with first round) and then my second prey (Bob from Columbus with Beast again?), but uh... is this the one where John Bell totally killed me after that with freaking Edged Illusions? It seems like it, unless I am again confusing first/second round. I blocked, like, the first two Illusions, but my blood kept getting lower, and then everyone went to torpor. Doh. Second round, um... I seem to have no clear memories of second round. I think I had like 3 VPs and no game wins and snuck into the finals at fourth or fifth seed based on that, then got killed again by fightiness or something. Not a very satisfactor account, I know...

(3) The third Thursday tournament! (I missed the second one's start on account of being in the finals of the first one.) Ah yes, I believe this is the one where I played that stupid Harbingers Brinksmanship deck. (Adapted from a Harbingers + Bartholomew Brinksmanship deck that David Cherryholmes came up with.) If I recall correctly, first round is where I sat with Ben Peal playing his silly Henry Taylor/Smiling Jack/Waste Management Operation deck as my prey, which was rather comical as not only was he already planning to burn through his own deck (with burn-option cards) to set up the Henry/Earth Meld recursion, but he was using Dirty Contracts as the burn cards... meaning that my Egothha gained blood about four straight turns from pulling those off the top of his library. Sweet, I tell you, very sweet. Meanwhile David Tatu's Nos (!Nos?) guys were getting pretty minimal pressure from Ben most of the game, and let's see... I can't remember who was David's prey, but I kind of think Xian was my predator (five-player game) with some kind of Tremerey thing that maybe bled me some and got Telepathic Countered, but also maybe threatened to block my Brinksmanship, meaning I needed the full Dia de los Muertos/Brinksmanship/Daring the Dawn combo to actually get my ousting setup set up. It was almost further screwed by Ben getting Carlton Van Wyk (he's awake at Dawn!) but Mr. Tatu, though not quite alert enough to Directly Intervene Carlton himself, did Intervene on the stealth that was going to get Carlton past my Spectral Divination (or something?). But I think in the event, my Dia de los Muertos got Suddenly Reversed and my game was hopeless. I ignominiously eventually allowed Ben to withdraw (never got Brinksmanship in play) and I think the game timed out with me and a couple other people still in it. Second round, uh, I believe Peter Bakija was my predator with that old Tock vote magic, somebody else had another vote deck, and I got ousted by votes eventually (after reducing a fair number of bleeds for 1). No finals for me this time.

(3) The fifth and final of the Thursday marathon series! It didn't end up starting till something like 9 pm and the finals ran, just as you would expect, until nearly 3 am. Woo! I played a very sleazy Malk/!Malk stealth bleed deck, full of Kindred Spirits and stealth and bounce, as well as a bunch of Dreams, Suddens, and DIs. Uh, I'm starting to think the attempt to describe entire games is going to kill me here (see, another reason why it really needs to be done as the convention runs, or at least soon after), so to make it short: I believe I won one game and got at least one VP in the other and made the finals on the strength of that, like second seed or something. Or maybe top seed, I don't know.

In the finals, I was the prey of the seven-year-old Connor Bell with hardcore Setite stealth bleed, grandprey of his father John Bell with Enkidu/Karsh rush; my prey was Matt Morgan with his Yazid Tamari/other Assamites vote-bleed-Church-Alamut-Heartblood deck; my grandprey was Jens Rasmussen with a cool Baali thing that included Undying Thirst (sa-WEET!). Connor bled me a bunch and I didn't draw enough bounce to keep my pool high and kill my prey better; I bled my prey a bunch anyway and nearly ousted him except not quite when he said he thought I could get him down to 1 but not quite oust him (I got him down to 1 but didn't quite oust him); that led to my downfall when one of the bounced bleeds to Jens, I played stealth on thinking that Jens had said I should cycle stealth; in fact I think he must have said NOT to cycle stealth (a little problem of hearing what you want to hear rather than what's actually said I suppose, heh), and Matt ousted Jens on account of that. I still got Matt the next turn or so but had lost a VP through my carelessness; I then got hit some by Enkidu I think, and Connor kept bleeding for a bunch, finishing me off. In the endgame Enkidu looked strong and all, but I think he ran out of blood or something (and certainly he had been impaired for a while by Undying Thirst making him want to either eat someone in torpor (and get burned in a blood hunt) or do nothing and be relatively useless), and Connor's guys kept bleeding for a bunch, and the outcome was about what you might expect. Connor 3 VPs, Josh 1, Matt 1, for Connor's first (I believe) tournament win. As someone said, he must be, pound for pound, the best VTES player on the planet. :-)

(4) The Friday tournament! I was a little tired of playing my own decks by this time and borrowed Pete Oh's "rushless rush deck" (Beast, advanced Jeremy MacNeil, Amelia, Theo Bell) for a change of pace, while lending him my "turbo War Ghoul" deck (one of those Warghoulator types with 9 Ghouls in like 70 cards). This was probably the tournament I was thinking of where I played with an odd number of cards; I had filled out Pete's library a little bit with extra Wakes (figuring they're very cyclable) and played it at like 82 cards. Anyway, first round I experienced maximum carnage with Jay Kristoff as my prey playing another Potence combat deck (his had Celerity! unfair!) and Brian Hess as my predator being all bleedy and votey; David Tatu, my grandprey, cruelly stole Brian's Marcus Vitel with a Graverobbing after my grandpredator (or was it me?!) torporized Marcus (I think it was my grandpredator, uh, Todd Holland, yeah?) with a Walk of Flame from Carna (or possibly Anastaz). I got ousted by Brian eventually, after missing an oust of Jay when I should have dropped Dragonbound and sucked up the pool damage it would have done to me because the damage to Jay, plus a bleed I was holding, probably would have gotten Jay the next turn. Maybe. Instead we were sort of mutually annihilated, and I think Brian ended up cleaning the table. No VPs for me. Round two, Mark Loughman was my prey with some Julio Martinez-using nonsense, or no, that's not right is it, Mark was my predator with some Ambrogino and Isabel Giovanni bleeding nonsense, someone else was my prey with Julio Martinez. Meanwhile Ben Peal was cross-table with his crazy "Anarchs make a run for the Border Skirmish" thing that also bled at stealth or something; the random discards did keep Mark from ousting me for a while but eventually he did the deed while I narrowly ousted my own prey with a big bleed (Legal plus Iron Glare I think). Then I think Ben got Mark, perhaps, maybe. 1 VP for me, not enough for the finals, which was again clever since I went and played in... the draft!

(5) The Friday-night draft! Sabbat War versus Camarilla at like eleven-player draft pods. The card quality seemed really high, though it's a little hard to tell whether that was due more to (a) all the packs being base set packs, (b) the large size of the draft pods (bigger card pool to draft from), and/or (c) the tenth pack (we usually do nine-pack drafts in DC; this draft used ten boosters per player). Anyhow, I thought I had a pretty good draft deck with a few Princes and Justicars, a bunch of good votes (including a Parity Shift), a couple bounce, a little stealth, and a couple Second Traditions, but I was quickly disabused of my smugness on seeing the stuff that other people had come up with. First round I narrowly managed to oust my initial prey (one of those Matt guys) as he brought out perhaps too many 8-caps, but then fell to... uh... whoever my predator was, or perhaps my starting grandpredator, yes, that was it. Not Xian, I don't think (my starting grandprey) but the other guy, er... uh... I'm sorry, I can't remember! Anyway, I didn't win that round.

The second round, Pete Oh was my predator with, like, my deck EXCEPT BETTER. Better votes, better bleed, better crypt (Toreador more I think). Jared Strait was my prey with uh... stuff. Some other people were cross table. Jared almost tried to prop me up by putting a Govern back in my hand with Jara Drory's ability for me to re-use for pool-gain, but that turned out to be pretty futile since Pete could block or something, so I was given up for lost and quickly ousted. Then I went home. (Or to the hotel at least. Well, the bar first.) Chris Berg won this one, and Matt Morgan and Pete Oh both made the finals. DC what what! I taught them everything they know, I tell you. OK, so maybe I didn't so much teach them as they figured it out, and the learner is now the master, and all that....

(6) The qualifier! I played sleazy Malk/!Malk stealth bleed again. This was a surprisingly fun event considering the cheese I was playing (and that other people were also playing). First round had the vastly entertaining lineup of Jared Strait (with Daughters/Ventrue (?, no actual Ventrue appeared in this game, but he did discard some Deflections), heavy bleed), me, Aaron Steele with Alexandra/Anson shenanigans, Jeff Thompson (TheLasombra, with a Lasombra fight-bleed deck), Xian, with Tremere heavy-bleed/intercept/fight stuff. As somewhat recounted elsewhere, Jared bled for like a million (I was shamed by my own much lower bleed output), I bounced like nine of it to Aaron before he had a vamp in play, Aaron got Alexandra and was tragically ousted before Anson made an appearance, I kept sucking a lot of bleed because there just isn't enough bounce for all that bleed, Jeff killed my non-Secure vampire and his Dragonbound started killing me, Xian killed Jared just before Jared would have killed me (I was at 1, I think, with a guy in torpor and Dragonbound in play), then Jeff might have been nearly able to get Xian if he'd gotten to blow up the Sniper Rifle with my passed Anarch Troublemaker, but instead all Jeff's guys got blocked and shot into torpor, and Xian got the win. 4 VPs Xian, 1 for me.

Second round things fell more my way. This was the game in which Connor paid the price for his manhandling of me on Thursday night - this time I was the predator and he was the prey. :-) I bled him for about fifty, and not having bounce as the Setites, he pretty much took it. My Sudden Reversal on his Blood Doll turned out to be a key play, as he pointed out afterwards, since he would have had at least one more pool on the turn I ousted him with just as much bleed as he had pool. After getting Connor I benefited from his hard work in having run down, um, was that masked man Paul Bowles? with the Nos princes fighty thing, he was at only a few pool when I got to him, though he still almost got within range of ousting his prey, Dave Setty, who had a Democritus/other Ventrue nonsense vote-bleed deck with Political Ally and a bunch of Second Traditions and Obediences and Sport Bike on Democritus and stuff - I think Paul got Dave's Famous guy into torpor and had Dave down to like six pool when I ousted Paul. Again luck falling into my lap there, of course. Meanwhile Dave ousted his prey, my predator, Bob Joseph again I think, who had been playing a cool-looking but somewhat fragile-seeming Setite votey deck with Nehsi and such. In the endgame I actually out-fought Dave's soft and squishy Ventrue with my soft and squishy Malkavians - Democritus was down to only one or two blood, and he blocked several of my actions, but when he ran out of blood before my vamps did, he either went to torpor or would have gone, and that was the end of that. 4 VPs for me, 1 for Dave Setty.

The third round was rather grueling but again a very interesting game. In this one, my prey was Shane Strait with a Malk/!Malk stealth-bleed deck that was (not terribly surprisingly) fairly similar to my own - but definitely better suited to being on the prey end than mine would've been, as he had more Blood Dolls, not to mention Carlton Van Wyk (argh!). His prey was Greg Pettigrew with a rather cool Leandro/other guys Crocodile's Tongue/stealth/bleed/vote deck; my grandpredator was Nick Smith with a Nosferatu royalty vote deck; my predator was the always-formidable Robyn Tatu with a Maris Streck/Casino Reeds stealth-vote/block/fight/bleed deck. I was worried from the first that Robyn would make it impossible for me to oust Shane with Maris's intercept powers, but in the event, she never actually needed to (and therefore didn't bother). I got Shane quite low on pool in the midgame (like maybe three) but every turn after that, it seemed, he made up his losses on his immediately following turns, with Blood Dolls and Kindred Spirits of his own. Shane managed to oust Greg after Greg ousted Nick with a bunch of bleeds and maybe somy me votes; Parity Shifts went off a few times (including one memorable one where Nick took five of my cross-table pool to gain Robyn's blessing, in hurting me and keeping her otherwise-fairly-ineffectual predator alive); the game then timed out with me, Robyn, and Shane still in it; despite our efforts to play fast, we were at a bit of a stalemate (though I think Robyn might have gotten me in several more turns if Shane didn't miraculously stop being able to fend me off). 1.5 VP Shane, 1 VP Greg, 0.5 VP Robyn, 0.5 VP Josh.

So my 1 GW, 5.5 VPs turned out to be just BARELY enough for me to sneak into the sixth and lowest-ranked qualifying spot. Whew! I really didn't want to have to take my chances in the meatgrinder at GenCon Indy (pretty obvious from my choice of deck at Origins, huh?), and now I luckily don't have to. It's a good thing too, I'd have been pretty embarrassed if I couldn't qualify playing something not far off of the notorious Cheesequake. :-)

(7) At long last, the final Origins tournament! Probably not really what you've all been waiting for, but a pleasant coda, perhaps. The Sunday morning tournament (started at 11 am, not SO outrageous) brought a fairly relaxed crowd of eighteen or so; I played my Yazid Tamari/other Assamites/Church/Heartblood/Alamut deck (yeah, it's quite a bit like Matt's, and in fact substantially derivative of Matt's version). First round I sat down as Ben Peal's prey and found my game quickly written off at the hands of Lasombra vote/bleed (doh!). Second round I sat there for the whole two hours as John Bell's predator (weenie Animalism fighty-blocky toolbox) and Karl Schaefer's prey (amusing Vampiric Disease/Society of Leopold/Waste Management Operation recursiony master-based deck with Black Hand stuff). I think this game timed out with all five players still in it? Or at least, I know I wasn't ousted, and John and Karl weren't, and my grandprey Jens with his Lasombra Shadow Twinny thing wasn't, and David Tatu with his grandpredator Nosferatu/"vampires with hands" Animalism thing wasn't... so yeah, 0.5 all around. My 0.5, of course, did not put me in the finals, so I went with Xian and Brian across the street to get ice cream (mmm, thai chili peanut butter, and zinfandel-chocolate, and papua new guinea coffee - great ice cream they have over there), then took Xian to the airport, came back to find out that Matt had not quite won the finals (congratulations Robyn, nice votey use of Tzimisce, not something you see every day there), had some lunch/dinner at Barley's across the street, and promptly hit the road to return triumphantly (or at least, still being slightly awake and coherent was a triumph for me) to Washington DC. We seemed to make pretty good time on the night of the 3rd, saw some early fireworks displays off the highways, dropped people off between 1 and 2 am, and slept for, what, like twelve hours. Ahhh, sleep.

So yes, as Xian and Matt mentioned, if you weren't there, you totally missed out, and should do it next year. Origins is Much Fun. And it is still the only VTES convention at which you will be able to find and bug Peter Bakija, who nearly invented the rush combat deck. :-)


Blogger Pat Lusk said...

Funny how many of the decks in this post I've seen, and in oddly similar situations:

Total Con 1: Jared killed me with that awful Daughters bleed deck, although I still blame Matt Morgan for having an KRC accident that shouldn't have targeted me :). And I was playing a Cheesequakey deck, too.

Total Con 2: Same Total Con, different game. Same awful Robyn Maris deck, same Shane Cheesequake. Fortunately, I was cross-table from both of them, so Shane & I got 1.5 each, then Maris timed out the table.

I saw one build of Karl's nearly-disciplineless BH toolbox in a pickup game in Harrisburg. In a game with 3 other experimental decks, it was amazingly effective.

Sounds like Origins was way cool, must attend next year.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Xian said...

As a note about the round 1 game in the qualifier, Jeff did eventually blow up the Sniper Rifle, but by then it was far too late. Pretty much any time he entered combat with a minion that didn't have the Sniper Rifle, I had one more maneuver than he did and was able to pretty much never get hit. Also, he never drew into his Earthshocks, which was lucky for me.

I slightly object to Jeff calling it Sniper Rifle Tremere on the newgroup, but I guess that's most of what he saw, and most of what wrecked his game.

That was one crazy game. Go go all-star newsgroup table!

2:12 PM  
Blogger Josh Duffin said...

You should definitely go next year, Pat - it really is most excellent. And unlike TotalCon, it's not cold outside!

You're absolutely right, there were a bunch of decks that you may have seen in such qualifiers as "the Northeast Regional 2005"... :-)

And yeah, that round-1 Qualifier game was highly entertaining (at least for me, it probably sucked more from Aaron's perspective) on account of the amusing company. Good times, good times.

4:15 PM  

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