Spoilers if you haven’t watched the VOD of ECQ: Strange Lands yet, but I won the tournament! It’s always great to win an event, but this time I didn’t do it alone. I had help from my new team, Team Rankstar, and we performed excellently as a whole with two members in the top 4, three in the top 8, and seven in the top 64. But first let’s go back to the beginning.
I’ve been a huge proponent of Argenport in Expedition since the format first debuted in earnest with the Flame of Xulta’s release.
This is the decklist I first built in October 2019, and TheBoxer got top 10 with it the first month that Expedition had a leaderboard. It was good, but not amazing, until big papa Tasbu came along (along with a slew of Xenan nerfs) and made Argenport into the deck to beat in Expedition.
With Tasbu, suddenly running out of cards was a thing of the past, and you could grind hard without clunky cards like Wingbrewer, Siraf, and Ageworn Vestige. I very quickly hit onto the idea of using Marionette Cross and Impending Doom to be able to play a more pressure-focused gameplan when the matchup called for it.
Yes, that is two cards off the 80 I won the ECQ with more than month before the tournament, and 5 other Team Rankstar members made top 64 within two cards of it: Calebovitsch, TheBoxer, Popotito, GHP, and MurderofCrows (although Popotito is a madman and cut all of the Impending Dooms for Fell Rituals and Death Ripples).
Regent’s Tomb isn’t that good in Expedition since almost every deck is unit-based, and it is harder to protect without cheap removal, so it left the market when Archgryffyn Patriarch burst into the scene for Cleansing Rain, which is an absolute brutal blowout against curse decks that usually wins the game on the spot. It also isn’t terrible as an expensive Stand Together stand-in against control, so it does some solid double-duty, which is crucial for a market slot.
All of the attachment hate aimed at Archgryffyn decks made me wary of playing Marionette Cross in the weeks leading up to the ECQ, and until the day before I was playing a couple Death Ripple and Siraf, Grand Strategist. My teammates convinced me that there wasn’t that much hate out there, and I swapped back into the Crosses, but only three since I never want to draw two since playing two at once is too dangerous since they both die to one removal spell. I threw one Vishni in the last slot as a hedge against Xenan Hourglass and Dragon decks (sometimes a chump block in the air is all you need to win a race), but that should probably be Siraf since it’s better against control decks and non-Mastery aggro. Vishni did come up clutch for me in the qualifying rounds against a Xenan Hourglass deck, but by being a 3/3 flier for 3 that put on enough pressure to allow me to win the turn after they played Vara and not by stealing the void.
The Preliminary Rounds
I always play the 28 qualifying games on Friday night, as WifeOutAce has D&D Saturday afternoons or just needs a break from taking care of TykesOutAce all week while I’m at work. She put in double duty this weekend while I played the top 64 for 5 hours, so extra shoutouts to her for being a wonderful and supportive partner!
I started out on pace, and just continued at that clip: 4-2. then 8-4, then 12-6, 14-7, 16-8. At 18-8 I just needed one more, and faced my third 4f control opponent in a row. I lost and was on to one more game to qualify for top 64 (I thought at the time; it turned out most 18-10s made it, but it’s nice not having to sweat the tiebreakers). It was another long game against TJS control, but I clutched it out and went to bed happy and excited to play another top 64 after punting away my last game in the elimination rounds in a tough match against eventual winner Popotito last time I made top 64.
Saturday night I found out my round 1 opponent was Maent on Praxis aggro, a deck I had not seen before, so I jammed a few practice games from each side against GHP and Boxer and felt really good about it since their deck could not beat a 5/5 aside from suiciding in and burning it or using Phase Out, both of which have obvious issues against a deck packed with 5/5s.
The Top 64
Sunday morning I watched TOA while WOA slept in, took a shower once she got up, and mentally steeled myself to play tight and not get flustered.
Round 1 against Maent went exactly as planned, and I won two games in less than 5 minutes and had plenty of time to relax, eat lunch, and watch the coverage.
Round 2 was a mirror against Aranq, but their version was more ‘classic’ with Wingbrewers and Sirafs instead of Impending Dooms and Marionette Crosses. Theoretically that gives you an edge in grindy games, but grindy games aren’t as common as they seem like they would be since 5/5 Crosses and Dooms end games in a hurry, and tempo is very important. Games rarely end before a player runs out of things to do, so tempo-positive cards tend to prevail over slow, value-oriented cards most times in my experience. I won game 1, lost game 2, and mentally pumped the fist when Aranq mulled to 6 game 3. On the play against an opponent down a card is always where you want to be with your tournament life on the line, and my deck came through with a strong 2-3-4 curve and a Dizo’s Office finished the game off on turn 8.
Round 3 brought an old friend as my opponent – none other than aReNGee himself (we are not the same person, btw)! He was on Hooru curses, so I was rewarded big-time for my Cleansing Rain in the market, which otherwise had found relatively little use on the weekend (I faced only three curse decks in the qualifying rounds). A big Rain to break two Permafrosts and give four units Aegis won game 1 on the spot. Game 2 I got an In Cold Blood off my Incarnus and used it on Forbidden-Rider Outcast (losing no influence in the process, A Shadow-Justice deck indeed), but I had a slow start overall and he buried me with back-to-back back-breaking Archgryffyn Patriarchs for 3 cards apiece. Again I had my back against the wall, and again my opponent mulled to 6 in the deciding game and I rolled them over. Hey, you have to run well to win a tournament.
All of my games in the top 8 were shown on the coverage broadcast, EXCEPT for my game 1 against Kidlet. I’m sad it wasn’t shown, because it was a 21 turn game filled with awesome plays like me getting Sinister Designs off Incarnus and using it to fizzle a Decimated Cast Into Shadow (if the first target isn’t killed by the spell, it won’t kill the second target). I never played the 10/10 Sewer Kraken, but I did mash dat Fenris button until Kidlet keeled over.
Game 2 was shown in its entirety, and boy was it a game! I was looking down and out with only one card in hand against a stocked grip relatively early on (AKA turn 7 or 8), but a topdecked Dizo’s Office into a Warped Tasbu the next turn put me firmly back in the driver’s seat. I played around Shen-Ra Speaks and Ageworn Vestige as hard as I could, not running out more than two threats at a time and not feeding my Fenris and Incarnus to the 3 strength relic weapon until bigger units had cleared it out. My health total soared above 50 thanks to the Dizo’s Office, and I furiously mashed dat Fenris button to draw an extra card every turn I could. In the end I battled through EIGHT sweepers in the form of all four Shen-Ra Speaks and Ageworn Vestiges and won a 31 turn game, but this paragraph really doesn’t do it justice and you should just watch the game. It starts at 3:24:30 in this video. This two-game match took an hour!
No rest for the weary, however, as since I was the last match playing (in fact, all the other top 8 matches were finished before we finished game 1) I had to jump right into my top 4 match against Deedub. Stonescar Dragons is capable of some terrifying starts, but usually Argenport has enough removal to handle the Eclipse Dragons and buffed-up Teething Whelps. My hands were full of removal both games, and I even got the brutal Vara’s Favor kill on an Oni Dragonsmith game 2 to launch firmly ahead. I was able to leverage all of my removal into a tempo advantage and actually pressure down the Stonescar deck in both games to move onto the finals!
My final boss was Collecter, a seasoned veteran of ECQ finals who qualified for the World Championship last year. He had just defeated my teammate Calebovitsch on the same deck as me, but Deedub had defeated Boxer the round before i beat him, so I was undaunted.
Game 1 I grabbed a Malediction with my Hidden Road Smuggler on turn 3 to prevent Collecter’s Bam, SneakeePeekee from sniping it. I opted not to trade away my Incarnus in order to Mastery it before playing the Malediction so I would have the board control afterward. I figured I had enough health to pull it off, and I was right. Despite ChunkChunk Renowning and getting a Snowfort, I drew a Vara’s Favor to kill it with the Malediction and clear the board. Karvet, Solar Dragon is an unparalleled stabilizer and finisher against aggressive decks, and he came down and closed out the game.
Game 2 all came down to me slamming a Karvet on turn 6 and praying that Collecter didn’t have a Permafrost to get it out of the way and win the game. He hesitated during his turn, so I knew he didn’t have it and I stood up in my chair and yelled, “YES!” knowing I had won the game. It took a few more turns and another Karvet, but I won the tournament!
As the congratulations rolled in and the euphoria of victory wore off, it made me think about about my history in Eternal. I’ve been playing since closed beta, I played in the very first community worlds back in 2017, and now I’m playing in DWD worlds in 2020. It’s been quite a ride, and I’m so thankful for the wonderful Eternal community members I’ve interacted with along the way. Keep cheering for me, and I’ll keep winning!
Until next time, may you succeed in your tournaments,