March Winner - Eugene Lo, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Now working and residing in St. Louis, MO
How long have you been playing Strategy/Trading Cards Games?
I have always been playing strategy games since I was young. I started playing competitive contract bridge as a teenager and then moved on to play Magic: the Gathering (M:TG) and other collectible card games.
What are your favorite aspects of playing these types of games online?
I have played Magic Online as well since it was in beta. My favorite aspect of that online card game was the fact that you could do drafts anytime during the day against anyone in the world. Also, unlike real cards, your online cards were always organized! It was great to see Legends of Norrath having those aspects integrated into their game too.
What peaked your interest into playing Legends of Norrath/How long have you been playing Legends of Norrath?
I have been playing Legends of Norrath ever since it was released. What peaked my interest in playing Legends of Norrath was, of course, the loot cards. It's cool to get fun and useful trinkets that enhance the playing experience in EverQuest. After playing through the tutorials and scenarios, I realized also that Legends of Norrath did a lot of great things in terms of game play and mechanics. Particularly, it improved in areas where other TCGs failed, such as eliminating luck-based situations like "mana-flood" or "mana-screw" (having too few or too many resources due to luck of the draw).
With only a week between the release of Inquisitor and this Championship Qualifier, what did you do to prepare? What did you do to evaluate what deck types would get stronger/weaker and test the decks you though you would want to play?
I haven’t had a lot of time to prepare due to work; however, thanks to the convenience of Legends of Norrath’s casual room, I managed to squeeze in several games a few days before the qualifier. The key things I was looking for was whether there were any popular, unbalanced, and extremely powerful decks that would just own a tournament. I found out that there were a few new and cool deck archetypes, like the bard scout and monk fighter; but thankfully, I saw nothing that was unbalanced.
With a wide open metagame because of the Inquisitor release the week before, 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.
Based on the few games I played days before the qualifier, I decided that I would stick with the same deck that gave me a lot of success in previous qualifiers, but with modifications of course. One of my personal rules of thumb when it comes to playing in card tournaments is to stick with a deck that you feel most comfortable with and you have had a lot of prior experience playing. I often find that the person that usually wins these types of tournaments usually played a deck that he/she knows very well - all the tricks, nuances, and synergies surrounding the deck. Knowing and playing a deck well is just as important, if not more important than stacking it with the latest powerful cards.
I played a shadow-unit rush Mage deck. Basically, it contains many cheap and efficient unit cards to aggressively keep pressure on the opponent, tactics to add additional damage, and several Mage direct damage sources to finish the game in case my armies were in a stalemate or had depleted. Normally, I tend to play “control” style decks like in M:TG, where you try to steadily gain control of the game over time. For example, the priest reanimator deck, which features powerful cards like Zealotry, Reanimate, and Lord Nagafen, is something I can see myself playing. The combination of having to play with an older laptop and the fact that there’s a chess clock in all matches of the qualifier, means I need to lean more towards an aggressive style deck like the one I used.
Can you go into detail of how the two days of competition went? Any memorable match-ups? Interesting decks that you saw others play? Close calls?
The most interesting deck, which was also my most memorable match-up and the closest call I had in the two-day tournament, was my match with Aesir in round one of day two (who just happens to be the man who defeated me in the January finals). He was playing the new bard scout deck which utilized many of the cards in Inquisitor. One of the cards in his deck that gave me a lot of trouble was Entrap, which exerts any units the turn it comes into play. Needless to say, that slows down a unit deck quite a bit. He won easily in game 1 after a turn 1 Entrap. Game 2, it required me drawing my fourth Sacrifice (sacrifice a shadow creature to deal 2 damage) in order to win on the very last turn before Aesir won by questing. Game 3 I had a little more control over and won, but it was still no walk-in-the-park. That match was easily a championship caliber type match, but it happened in round one. Exciting stuff.
You are the first person to completely dominate the competition and not lose a single game over the two days, going 12-0. And you have taken over the top spot on the earnings list. What is your secret that keeps you on top of this very competitive field?
Well, I wouldn’t say it was complete domination… a lot of individual matches were very, very close. 12-0 could’ve easily been 9-3. Sometimes, luck has a little to do with it. You still need to put yourself in a position to win, however. My advice for doing this is to play a deck with a style you are most comfortable with, and practice with it until you know every trick it has to offer. Make the necessary adjustments to it based on the results of your practice games. Research the new set for cards that could improve your deck. In tournament situations, it’s important to stay relaxed both before and during matches. For me, in between rounds, I do chores around the house to keep myself distracted from how well (or not well) I’m doing in the tournament. (That’s also one of the benefits of online tournaments!) During games, I try to consider all available options before deciding on the best course of action, each and every turn. Make each play like it is going to be the difference maker in the match.
Can you give us some details on the final match with Sydonn? You faced him in round 3 of the top 16, did you change anything up with your deck going into the finals?
Sydonn was playing a White-Wall deck, which uses a lot of cheap, high-defensive light faction units – a problem for my more brittle shadow units. I replaced 2 of 4 Disintegrates (tactic to destroy item cards), which seemed to be useless in round 3, with 2 Runnyeye Sorcerers to help break through Sydonn’s wall. I still wanted to keep 2 Disintegrates in case he had switched anything in his deck going into the finals.
You made the finals back in January against Aesir, and are the only player to make the finals twice. Were you nervous going into the finals? Do you think your previous finals appearance gave you an experienced edge that Sydonn may not have had?
With having been in many TCG tournaments before, I don’t tend to get nervous in matches. I do tend to worry though whether my deck has an advantage over my opponent’s or not. In the January qualifiers, after playing him in round 4, I knew Aesir had the edge in the match-up, which made me completely change the deck type going into the finals. (I know this totally goes against what I said previously about playing the deck you’re most comfortable with. Hence, I lost that final match with Aesir. In all seriousness, I didn’t think I had a choice at that time, as the advantage for Aesir was much too great.) To recap, Aesir played a White-Wall deck then and I played an older version of my shadow unit deck. I took the experience from that tournament and revamped my deck. Now, it has helped me win versus all 4 White-Wall decks I faced, including the one in the championship game against Sydonn to take home the March qualifier.
How did it feel to win?
It felt great!
What will you do with all the Championship Qualifier prize money you’ve earned to date?
Last time in January, I said I’d pay my rent with my winnings (which I did, thanks SOE!). This time, I think I’ll start saving up for a new PC so I don’t have to play Legends of Norrath on my laptop anymore!
Have you ever been to Gen Con Indy before?
I have been to Gen Con Indy once before, mainly to participate in M:TG events and to visit the card artists. It’ll be cool to meet the other Legends of Norrath qualifier winners and compete in a much larger scale Legends of Norrath tournament this time around.
Anyone you would like to thank in helping you achieve this win?
I would like to thank Colalron, Anonimus, Saishore, Nerebhet, and the rest of my EverQuest guild