December Winner - Daryl Fougnie, Lake Orion, MI
How long have you been playing Strategy/Trading Cards Games? For the most part, I am relatively new to the world of trading card games (TCGs). I got hooked on TCGs ever since I started playing Star Chamber 3 years ago. A good TCG has a deep strategy that keeps evolving.
What are your favorite aspects of playing these types of games online? Depending on the type of crowd you hang out in, you may or may not know people in real life that actively play TCGs. For people like me with a busy work schedule, online TCGs offer the ability to play anybody at anytime. Plus, I don't have to keep track of 1,000 of cards, or worry about damaging them, the online interface will keep track of things for me. What peaked your interest into playing LoN/How long have you been playing LoN? I got invited to beta and I’ll try out any game that invites me to beta. I came for the novelty and stayed because it wasn't too expensive to acquire a set of cards. Luckily for players of Legends of Norath (LoN), the loot for the EverQuest games makes great trade fodder. What was your strategy going into this Championship Qualifier? Tell us a little about your deck(s), what makes it work, and why you chose that deck for the tournament. The story of my deck goes back to Thanksgiving weekend. I had plenty of time on my hands since I didn't go home for the holiday. Instead, I used that spare time to finally absorb myself in LoN strategy. In tournaments I noticed I was losing within a few turns to Avatar killing rush decks. Essentially, these decks are designed to hit your Avatar hard and fast, from multiple directions. They always use the Wood Elf Avatar that gives you + 1 damage for each of your exerted abilities. A well-timed Avatar assault can do damage equivalent to half of an Avatar's starting health. Then, to add salt to your wounds, the Giant Field Rats come in and hit you for 2 damage. When faced with a deck I cannot beat with my current strategy, I either try to follow suit, or meta those decks. Meta is a term that refers to altering your strategy/deck to outsmart the current popular decks. One of the benefits of TCG strategy, is that it is very fluid. The reason I was getting beaten often, was because I was losing all my life before I got my strategy going. Rush decks are aggressive, but they don’t have much staying power. I built my new deck around the concept of attrition. That is, I wanted to field a strong defense, with high life units, that would eventually wear down my opponent’s offensive options. To keep my units alive, and to protect my Avatar from opposing combat, I ran Lethal Resolve. This card can single-handedly take the bite out of the Giant Field Rat card. Because my deck was a defensive build, I needed a win condition. There are two ways to win--kill your opponent’s avatar or complete four quests. I knew I did not want to quest. Scouts are not great questers, and I wouldn’t have the offense to quest into my opponent’s units. This left Avatar destruction. For that I relied heavily on direct damage from Barbarian Hunters. These cards can exert to do 1 damage to an avatar once you have achieved 10 light faction. This card seemed an obvious choice because my deck was already shaping up to be light faction anyway. Most of the great defensive cards are light faction: Dwarven Sentry, Elven Summoner, etc. I believe my deck was close to 80% units, and designed to defend my Avatar as long as possible.
I also want to mention my choice of Avatar. In LoN players can choose among a large possibility of Avatars to go with their deck. Keeping in line with my defensive strategy, I needed an avatar with high defense, and high life. A common turn one play is a Giant Field Rat (a nasty early unit) plus Pierce (a tactic that provides two attack). To block the damage from the Rat, I wanted an avatar with three 3 defense. Among those choices, I chose the avatar with the ability to exert a unit. This was useful for me because my units do not have that much attack, and therefore this ability will help me against other defensive decks. A seemingly perfect fit with my deck would have been the Dwarf Avatar that lets you ready all units at a quest. Unfortunately, that avatar has only two defense and I wanted more defense to help against rush decks. Light decks turned out to be very common in the final two weeks of the first set. It seems that many other players had the same idea as me, and designed decks to counter the previous dominant archetype (rush decks). This is what playing a TCG requires--constantly evaluating deck types and evolving your strategy to be competitive. If light unit decks stay popular, players will adjust by playing decks that can counter this strategy. Indeed, I recently learned (from Thread_Reaper) that Leafweir’s nasty Priest questing deck was designed to beat my deck. Thankfully, I never had to play his deck. There is a lesson here: instead of complaining about what is dominating games, first try to build a deck to stop that strategy. Anyone who has spent time on the LoN forums knows how many folks complained about the rush decks that were led by the bonus damage Avatar with Giant Field Rats in tow. The reality was that the cards to stop this deck were there the whole time. Playing a TCG requires constantly evaluating deck types and the willingness to let your strategy evolve to beat the meta. I just hope I have the luck, skill, and creativity to stay anywhere near the top. Can you go into detail of how the two days of competition went? Any memorable match-ups? Interesting decks that you saw others play? As a whole, I faced many decks similar to mine, and played against many rush decks. Two matches stick out. One stuck out because my opponent had an interesting/impressive build. He was triggering his Cave Basilisks at one quest, moving the Basilisks to another quest using Depart, and then readying them again and killing more units at the other quest. I am amazed I made it through this match. Another match was interesting because it demonstrated the importance of watching the clock (tournament games are two out of three wins, with a 30 minute personal timer). In Day two of the tournament, I faced an aggressive, mixed-faction Mage deck. After losing the first match, I had a good start in the second. My protectors slowed down his questing, preventing his 4th level quest (Collecting Gnoll Bounty) from seeing play until late in the game and until he was reduced to 1 life. By that time, I had two Barbarian Hunters in my hand, either of which I could have immediately played to end the game. Instead, my plan was to drag the game on for long enough to prevent the third game. The plan worked. 20 minutes later, after stalling many, many turns, I finally played a Barbarian Hunter to win the game. He ran out of time soon into the 3rd game. Can you give us some details on the final match with Kensu? I lost to Kensu in the final match of Day two’s qualifier. Luckily, my record was sufficient to secure me the second spot in the final bout. Kensu’s deck was similar to mine, accept that it seemed better off against mirror matches (but probably not as efficient against rush decks). That battle was trouble for me. He was healing faster than I could damage him, and neither of us could punch through the other’s defense. It was a long set of games, but his Barbarian Hunters proved more effective than mine, probably because his Avatar allowed them to fire twice a turn. In the final match, we were allowed to alter/swap decks. Having just lost to Kensu, I was thinking he would keep the same basic strategy. I decided to try to meta his last deck. Scout light faction decks are weak against two strategies: a fast quester and weapon damage from direct Avatar attacks. Since he killed me in the last game with non-combat damage from Barbarian Hunters, it made sense for me to play a Priest quest deck with Divine Aura (a card that blocks non-combat damage very effectively). It turns out that I correctly guessed his deck, and that my choice of decks was beneficial. I managed to sneak out a win without playing at the top of my game. How did it feel to win? Great! I have a tendency to come in 2nd or 3rd in the Galaxy Cup championships for Star Chamber, so getting first felt like I was breaking a curse. I look forward to the next qualifier and of course the next Star Chamber cup. What will you do with the Championship Qualifier prize money? Rent! I am a graduate student after all. Have you ever been to Gen Con Indy before? Nope, it will be interesting. Even though you are the first person qualified for the finals at the Championships, what do you expect to see at Gen Con Indy from the field of players? I expect see a lot of Shadow Priest unless the cards Zealotry and Reanimate get a visit from the nerf fairy. Anyone you would like to thank in helping you achieve this win? Thread_Reaper and Uway helped by demonstrating the need for this style of deck by consistently beating me during the first day of Thanksgiving tournaments. I would also like to thank the person(s) that beat Leafweir since his deck would have eaten my deck for lunch.