So, I don’t think I’ve ever done a post-tournament write-up, but I also have never been Swiss champ before, and this is the best I’ve done in a tournament in a long time, so here it is. I’m not going to post the deck list here, I’m sure Shane will have them posted up soon. The forums are awfully quiet lately, and I don’t have a Discord, so I’m posting this on our website since I have access to it, and we haven’t had a blog post in awhile. If you don’t care for my backstory banter, you can jump right to the Round One heading below for the tournament write-up.
This tournament is the end of a long struggling UFS road. For several months, if not over a year, I haven’t really been ‘in love’ with a deck choice or found something that really truly jived with my playstyle. I’ve played some great decks, like most recently the Sniper Joe deck a la Alex Marco that led me to 14th place at the Omaha PTC – just one win away topping, and I know where my mistake was in not getting that one win. If you’re looking for a great fun deck to play, try that deck out for sure.
For the past year or so, I’ve only done mediocre at events, usually winding up at a very average 3-3 or somewhere in that range. I had a terrible showing at Worlds this year, because I had zero prep time for the event, ended up changing decks at the last minute (a huge no-no in my book) and don’t think I understood at the time how much the chemotherapy I was undergoing was really affecting my mind. There were times in the coming weeks after Worlds where I couldn’t remember my phone number to give someone to call me back, amongst other struggles, so looking back, it truly was affecting not only my body but my mind.
As I was struggling to come up with a deck at Worlds, and on that train of thought that it was “The Bebop Show or Bust” I talked with Shane Duckworth and told him that if it really wasn’t the Spike show, then what deck did he think could do well. He messaged me a Chaos Yamato Man list that I briefly looked at, but decided to go with my own water Yamato list because I had at least practiced with it before and didn’t want my Worlds tournament play to be riddled with play mistakes (Spoiler Alert: it was anyways!).
So in prepping for the Rockford PTC, I had planned to show up with the Sniper Joe deck, with a few tweaks from my experience with it in Omaha. Now, if you know me, I really like Yamato Man, I’ve always been a fan of characters that have speed bonuses *cough* Felicia *cough*, and I’ve just really really wanted to make a Yamato Man deck succeed. So I scrolled through dozens of messages and dug out the Shane Duckworth Chaos Yamato Man build, pulled the cards and sleeved it up. I played it in one local tournament with 3 matches (one of which I swift 2-0’d Myles Vicious deck and knocked it right on it’s ass). I then played 3 more matches against Mark Tyner’s Air Tikki Flash Raptor deck to prove to him that there are bad match-ups to play Air Tikki in. I decided that I really liked the vibe of the deck and was just gonna roll with it, after making a few minor changes.
Since the store had a Final Fantasy TCG event on Friday night, Myles didn’t want to leave until Saturday morning to head to Rockford. With a 6 1/2 hour drive, and registration starting at 9:30 am – this meant we were leaving at 2 am. I stayed home Friday night and attempted to go to bed early so I could drive first, but alas my lovely neighbors had plans of shooting fireworks off until 11pm and making my dog a whiny mess. I think I finally fell asleep around 11pm with an alarm set for 1:30am.
The next morning, after the long drive to Rockford, and many, many Mountain Dew Code Reds later, we were all set at Top Cut Comics to begin round one.
Since this is a Chaos Yamato build, it doesn’t kill you with Ailurophobia and Gateway Shuffle. While Gateway is in the deck, the purpose of this deck was really to de-build your staging area, controlling your foundations with Yamato Man’s second E and using cards like The Hunt for Spiders & Dragons, Hyper Bomb, Dodge, and Ever Hopeful to limit your build and overrun you with Yamato Man’s speed. Really any attack that I played could become a kill attack, due to Yamato Man’s speed, One with Nature (combos great with Balanced Fighter), Wood Man’s Leaf Shield and the Gateways. An Evening With Gren is a key piece in this deck as it allows me to recur Dodge, Gateway, and Balanced Fighters.
My first match was against none other than Justen “Pedro” Pardo. He was already “3 bus beers” in and revealed his Chaos Blanka deck. A lot of our foundation base was similar, even a few attacks. I won the die roll and was able to fairly easily take out Blanka with 4 attacks in game one, surviving with 16 health only losing vitality on my own Dodge. Game 2 was quite a different story, Blanka going first and coming out swinging. Blanka got the KO game two without me even touching him. Game 3 he got me down to 6 health, me having to Dodge a 10 dmg attack. One attack got him down to 19 health, and then a final swing took him out, dealing over 19 damage.
The second match was against Tyler “Tripp Pants” Pease playing Bass, I think under Earth. I knew that my one Spine Sweep would be important against Treble, and that I would need to side my 2nd one in for Game 2. My plan was also to control as much of his damage redux as possible with my Spiders & Dragons, Hyper Bombs, Ever Hopeful etc. The first game was again fairly straight forward. Over several turns I hit with 3 attacks getting him down to 10, while he got me down to 11, I used Dodge in my early turns. I was able to knock Bass out with a 10+ damage final attack. Game 2 I came out swinging and hit Bass early with an 18 damage attack, figuring I’d rather use the Gateways for damage because I was not getting the full value of the -5 damage against Bass, taking him to 8. He got me this game though, I never was able to push any more damage through and I couldn’t draw the Sweeps to get rid of Treble. The final game I only lost 3 vitality from my own Dodge.
This round was versus Sean Bullock from Indy with his All Vicious deck. I warned him as we sat down that I have had PLENTY of practice against Vicious and that he should be nervous. Turns out, I was overconfident and aside from my Top 8 match, this match was the most nervous I was. This version of Vicious, combined with Sean’s playstyle, was just whomping me with attacks over and over, using desperation and making me make tough decisions on when to block or not with Tears of Scarlet. Game 1 he got me down to 7 life and I was luckily able to push through an 18 damage attack. Vicious cut himself down to 3 before I took him out. Game 2 with him going first, he minimally built and then just came out swinging before I could draw any Dodge to de-build him. He knocked me out with 28 health left. The last game was definitely a hard fought battle. After my initial build, I came out swinging with a 13 damage attack. He swung back and cut himself down to 12. On one of his attack turns, he had me on the ropes and I had reduced one of his attacks down to 1 damage. I opted to take it and he tried to surprise me with a Deliverance to increase his damage back to 4. I pointed out that Deliverance says ‘reduce’ and after the judge call, the damage stayed at 1, since Deliverance cannot increase the damage. Sean had already checked the Deliverance, so the effect fizzled and it removed itseslf. However, he had checked a Syndicate Slice, which he would have drawn off of Vicious’s ability had not misplayed the Deliverance. He played the final attack from his hand, a Steel Resurrection. I had one Gateway in hand, and had 2 vitality left. He pumped damage up to 10. I was sweating because I could only get it down to 5, and partial block, which would still kill me. In my ‘play every game to the end’ style, I used the Gateway to reduce the damage, and checked a Gateway. On my next enhance I immediately used Gren to get it into my hand and reduce the attack to 0. He had no more attacks (due to not being able to get the Syndicate Slice) and I was able to seal the deal on my next turn.
This round was against Arthur Schmidt and his Jet deck. At this point in the tournament, it was 3 Jet decks (Arthur, Tim Keefe and Scott DeJarnette) all at the top table with me, Marcus Singleton and his Lilith and Chris Smith with his *Spike*. I knew Jet definitely would be able to push hella damage on me, so I needed to end these games quickly, and needed to avoid deadlock at all cost. I opened a Dodge and was able to Dodge his first attack after my initial build. On my turn I swung for a 19 damage attack. His next turn I took 10 damage and blocked everything else. On my final turn, I was able to push through 10+ damage on my last attack. With him going first the 2nd game, he was able to start swinging earlier and gain some strength in his discard/remove from game pile. I was able to get him with a 12 damage attack, but couldn’t pull out the game. In the final game, I know I just needed to repeatedly push through as much damage as a I could and pulled out a turn 3 victory and took no damage the entire game.
I knew that Marcus was likely my next opponent after we took out the Jets at tables 1 and 2. In thinking about this speed vs speed match-up, I assumed I would have the upperhand, especially if I won the die roll, because I could de-build the foundations Lilith needed to get her speed bonus. These matches are on stream on the Rockford UFS channel on YouTube. This match begins at ~ 05:42:50 into the Rockford PTC video. I did end up winning the die roll, and Game 1 I felt pretty in control. I was able to limit which foundations he got multiples of, reduce damage, and not let him recur his attacks with Lilith. I only took a loss of 1 vitality from a Dodge in this game and hit Lilith three times, at one point for 10 damage, to make the kill. Game two was a much longer game, as Marcus knew what to expect, and made some sideboard changes. He opened 3 expert swimmers on his first turn, while I drew a hand with 2 Spiders and Dragons and some stuff that gave me difficult decisions. I won’t play-by-play much here since you can watch it on stream, but I was finally able to pull out the game two win right as time was called.
It was Two-Time Reigning World Champion Tim Keefe with his Jet deck and I at the top table for the final round. I really had no care as to the outcome of this match, and simply wanted to play a few hands to at least get a peek at Tim’s deck in case we met again in top cuts. This match is also recorded on the Rockford YouTube channel, so I’m not going to go into much play by play here. Tim easily beat me game 1 with some well drawn Missile Launchers fairly early. Game 2 I played more seriously and once the Jet match was done next to us (in which Kairi “Wolf Pup” Tyler took out a Jet deck in Game 3, going second, on turn 1 dealing over 29 damage), it didn’t matter to either Tim or I the outcome of the match, because we were both guaranteed in, so we drew and did not go to game 3, as I did not want to reveal more of my deck tech than I needed to at this point.
Kairi’s Game 3 kill in Round Six
I had made several requests at this point to not play Top 8 that day, as I had been up for over 17 hours at this point, caffeine was providing no boost, and I was mentally and physically exhausted. My whining did not succeed, so we played Top 8 Saturday night. I was paired against Marc Wisniewski and the Mad Pierrot Coffee Samba/Punch/Judy deck that had recently won the Omaha PTC. I knew this was going to be difficult because once in desperation, it didn’t matter how much de-build I got on Pierrot, the costs are relatively cheap in desperation. I also knew I needed to build enough to survive the Stun 4-5+, but not build into deadlock to avoid the ISSP deadlock enhance to scoop an attack out of the discard pile.
Game 1 was a terrible game for me. I opened a ton of attacks, a Dodge, and one foundation. I had to remove it and draw a new hand, which was not great, leaving me 3 foundations to play, one of which was a 3 cost, and dangerous for me with the Flying Yamato Spears in my deck. I build the 3 and passed. Marc wasted no time in swinging with the Sambas. I survived through his second turn and drew into my second turn’s hand. It was more attacks. I had a Balanced Fighter in hand and a One With Nature on the board, so I played an attack attempting to draw something good by discarding the Balanced Fighter. I should have kept it to build, as I drew into my FOURTH Flying Yamato Spear. With only 3 foundations on board, and all 5 diff attacks in hand, at this point it was just swing away. I got a few attacks off before I failed a check. He was able to kill me on the back swing this game, as my build was just too poor to survive. The deck was showing signs of cooling down.
Game 2 was a much better game. We lasted out several turns each, taking turns swinging. At one point I was frustrating him because I was reducing his Cats to -7 damage and he didn’t have enough to get them back positive to double them to do any damage. We were swinging back and forth and at the penultimate point in the game, I had gotten him down to 3 life, and I was at 17 life. The end of this game was caught on the Rockford YouTube in about the last 10 minutes of the video. Marc had built quite a bit at this point, and I was drawing none of my de-build pieces. I was not drawing enough attacks to force him to commit enough to push through damage, so I decided to build into deadlock, hoping to lead him into deadlock so I could use a few Wood Man’s Leaf Shields as the kill. I started sculpting a good defense, getting out a Peaceful Coexistence that I had sided in, held a Skull Barrier in hand with three momentum on the board, so I could pay for all of my defensive strategy. In Marc’s final turn, he did build into deadlock by starting with a Folk Tale Storyteller and moving it down. Now all I needed to do was survive. I had a One With Nature out, so I could pitch cards from my hand to reduce the hurt on the Coffee Sambas. He led with a stun mid attack. When he stunned, I used my two Lightning Vengeance to commit his Never Stumbles (I did not want the one Gateway I had getting canceled) and one other card. In hindsight, I should have committed both of his 8000 Degrees. I fully blocked this attack with a Design for Combat (looking back, I should have blocked with the Wood Man’s here, instead of trying to hold them for the backswing).
He kept attacking, I kept ditching unnecessary stuff from my hand, I played the Peaceful Coexistance, which got revoked. It was time to block with my Skull Barrier and dare him to keep pushing through. The Barrier itself was deadly, since he was only at 3 health. Yamato was committed, so it was only a 0/3, which he reduced to a 0/1 with two 8000 Degrees, leaving him bonus damage on his next attack. After taking the one damage and going down to 2, Marc kept pushing, and I thought long and hard about the right time to use the Barrier. I ended up activating it, and he kept on attacking. The order of operations on his final attack (an Ailurophobia) are a little foggy, as I was so tired (but again this is recorded) I only had one remaining foundation ready, which I had saved a Balanced Fighter. I had two Wood Man’s Leaf Shields in my hand, one Gateway Shuffle, and some other stuff. After ditching the Skull Barrier, I was still only at +1 progressive from my Design for Combat block. He started pumping damage on the attack and I started mathing on when the right time to reduce the damage would be. I was worried about more Punches in his hand, as I could only account for 3x Punch and 3x Judy in his discard and remove from game. So ultimately my decision was to let him pump the damage and save my Gateway (as it would push me to +1 more progressive and then I may not pass a check if I needed to block). The math worked out that if I used the Balanced Fighter, it would be his 3 speed attack, to my +1 block and +1 progressive, so all I needed was a 5 on top of my deck. At this point, I should have done the math on how many attacks and 4 checks were left in my deck, but that thought totally escaped me and I just went with it. I was going to check this 5 and block this attack and kill him on the back swing, as he was still in deadlock.
Sadly, I checked a Dodge, with yet another Dodge sitting right behind it and failed the block and died, knocking me out of the tournament. Had I blocked with one of my Wood Man’s instead of the Designed for Combat, I would have had one more ready foundation, and would have passed the check. Hindsight is always 20/20!
Everyone that attended the Rockford PTC was a ton of fun. I’m sorry I didn’t come to the BBQ and hang out Saturday night, but I was beyond exhausted and needed some rest. I ordered pizza cake to the room and sunk into a coma.
Chris Smith – amazing event as always, Rockford is a PTC we look forward to every year!
Mr. Pedro – playing you is always so much fun, especially when you’ve had bus beers.
Sean Bullock – you seriously had me on the ropes during our match – keep up the hard work – keep on training!
Tim Keefe – I wish we had gotten to play a real match in top cuts, but alas another time!
Marc Wisniewski – That was such a great game two, if only I had checked a 5! 😉
Saltire Games Crew – it was great to meet you all and hopefully we can make it out to Indy to visit sometime (or vice-versa!)
My biggest shoutout goes to Kairi Tyler for her 4-1-1 swiss play at the PTC. Myles and I had told her she could only come if she wasn’t salty about getting beat all day because the competition at Rockford is always fierce. Boy did she prove us both wrong and just whooped ass all day. I try to make it a point to at least be the top ranked female at every event that I go to. I have to say, in tournaments where I’ve done well enough for it to matter, Kairi has given me the most run for my money in quite some time!
I don’t know that I will make it to any of the upcoming PTCs, but in the very least, see you all at Nats in Atlanta this October!