check [TWD] Shell Break Espoo (2022-04-17)

18 Apr 2022 12:04 - 29 Aug 2022 17:38 #105037 by UFOPOLI
Shell Break Espoo
Espoo, Finland
2R + F
14 players
winner: Tero Aalto

This Easter tournament was innovated and organized by the two Markos who asked me to run the paperwork, which I gladly agreed to. The venue was the popular Gallows Bird pub in Tapiola that had granted their cabinet to our use. The acoustics were surprisingly good, as was the beer, of course. We'll surely organize more events in the future here.

We got two new players, my first personal neonates, in fact, one of whom even made it to the final. A retired Hall of Fame player had donated several boxes of useful cards to share at the event, most of which naturally went to the new players and their friends.

The final table sat as follows:

1. Niina Lindroos (Unmada+Lutz vote&Petra)
2. Matias Frosterus (Tremere/Ventrue vote)
3. Tero Aalto (unnamed bleed) 5 VP
4. Tommi Hakomaa (presence tap&bleed)
5. Aleksi Satukangas (dom/obf bleed)

It's amazing how quickly the meta shifts. Just a few weeks ago, in the previous tournament I ran, all but three decks were combat-oriented in one way or other, four of which made it to the final. This time, I counted the opposite: only three out of 14, and none in the final.

My own deck choice (the unnamed) was motivated by two factors: 1) It has pretty good combat defence (a prerequisite in Finland), and 2) I hadn't brought it to a tournament since the Week of Nightmares in Paris where I played it six days in a row :S I had been thinking that perhaps the unnamed's glory days had passed and it wouldn't cut it anymore. The whole week leading up to the tournament, I stayed up at night pondering how to tune it, and more of that later on. Both new players played stealth bleed, which sounds logical in retrospect, but somehow my beforehand guesses were animalism and potence, go figure.

In the first round, I sat between two voters, Unmada/Lutz ja the Tremere/Ventrues (both of which made it to the final). I had to promise my prey to only bleed for bloat for two rounds to stop him from backousting me with votes, which (based on what I saw later) I don't doubt would have happened. I also didn't quite have my tournament mindset on at this point yet and gave good tips to my predator (as I might typically do in a casual game), such as "Why don't you both shift and banish me in the same turn?" which she said she hadn't thought about prior to my suggestion. In the meantime, my crosstable was trading rushes among themselves and leaving my main opponents without pressure. There might have been a point or two in this table had I played better.

When I sat down in the second table and looked around, I didn't rank my chances high, considering the players and what kinds of decks I expected them to play. However, I got lucky with the seating order, as the strongest blocker/combat, a Nosferatu royalty rush, was behind me, with the table's fastest bleeder as his predator, and disciplineless combat weenies with some dominate in the front of me. I got my first Cog DI'd and my first Haven washed, which were considerable problems, but that's why I play three of both, and eventually drew new ones. The Nosferatus managed to fend off the presence bleeders, and my grandprey's Nephandi survived the weenies, giving me time to pick my first point with a Horde bleed for one. Instead of going forward, unnamed spent its turn rescuing two crosstable presence ladies to block the Nephandi just enough that I could pick the second point on their turn, carefully playing around bounce with two block fails and a Form. This was actually the only time in the whole tournament that any of my minions was successfully blocked (tbh most simply chose not to try). The Nosferatus had deployed two Camarilla Segregation: Judgments that were eating at everybody else's pool; the third VP of the round. At this point, I knew it was a race against my last remaining opponent drawing his own Secure Haven, so I started preparing for a second Horde, just in case. He did eventually draw it, only one turn too late. A sweep, despite having played very sloppily, including forgetting to take six pool from bleeds and four blood from perfect actions. Somehow my concentration had been a mess the whole day and I had been ready to go home any time but would now have to still play the final.

One of the tables timed out without a GW, so everybody who got one made it to the final. The fifth seed was Aleksi's midcap stealth bleeder, represented by Paul Cordwood, that I hadn't seen previously. The next one to sit was Tommi with the aforementioned presence bleeders, led by Shasa Abu Badr, whose prey nobody wanted to be, followed by Matias and his fortitude voters. Then it came to my turn. Niina's Malkavian vote deck was the top seed, and I knew my only chance in the final was to sit so that the two voters wouldn't be on my both sides, like had happened in the first round. By putting myself between Matias and Tommi, I knew Niina had no choice but to sit on either side of Matias. She chose to sit between Aleksi and Matias. In the end, it made little difference as Lutz never entered play, but this order was probably more advantageous to me anyway.

One thing I hadn't realized was that Tommi's copious Mind Numbs had no effect on me, as I had been focused on the aforementioned deliberation, only passingly considering the futility of entrancing Infernal Servitors. I got a really good start, successfully equipping the complete set of Perfectionist, Unleash, Cog and Homunculus in the first turn I got to act. Meanwhile, Tommi was making short work of Aleksi who managed to bounce only a few times in the midst of his minions getting numbed. Niina bought Aleksi an extra turn with a Political Strangehold, preventing Tommi's oust and leaving Aleksi at one pool next round, allowing me to cog Tommi off the same turn while Aleksi was already ready to pack up his cards. This was the point where I started thinking I might actually win.

It was also the point where Niina and Matias fully ganged up on me, both of them bleeding and directing their votes at me (they both still had a shot at winning, thanks to the seeding order). Both of them shifted my pool to Niina, in addition to which it was relatively safe to play Petra Resonance, half of my crypt being small caps. A Horde picked Aleksi off with a bleed for one, after which it was time to start grinding against Niina's ever-replenishing pool. Aleksi's bleeds and bounces had already left her below ten pool, stopping Lutz from entering (crucial for me in order to avoid Banisment), and she started influencing backwards. Meanwhile, Matias had been perfectly undisturbed by anybody and had brought out Gerald, Polly Kay and Graham, and had a ton of pool, while my pool was steadily decreasing. I knew time wasn't on my side, so I brought out a second Horde and bled for as much as I could (2 or 3 on my turn, occasionally more on Niina's). Just as it was starting to look bad, a topdeck Servitor followed by a Horde's Entrancement for two did the trick to oust Niina, and Matias scooped. A winner is me.

I started VtES in 2016, six years ago exactly, and played my first tournament a month later. My first win happened at the end of 2017, in 5th Töölö Grand Ball that was also the seventh tournament I had organized. The next three came in quick succession in 2019, but the fifth one took a whole lot of grinding. There was one in 2020, but it had only nine players and didn't count towards TWDA. Countless sleepless nights were spent replaying past misplays in my head, as well as trying to figure out what to play next and how to tune the deck of choice. For the past few years, I've spent tournaments playing the same four decks over and over (unnamed, Malgorzata, Dmitra/Arishat, Stanislava) but now that the Hall of Fame is done, I can start branching out again. All four are great decks, though, and I love playing each of them, so they're not going to go anywhere.

It's high time to move on to discussing the deck itself. While this is my third unnamed TWD, I didn't really expect it to be the one to make the HoF happen as I was somehow fixed on the idea of it having to be Malgorzata that I've played in 20–30 tournaments and 10+ finals. The unnamed deck has to be lean to function, and I have a principle to always keep it at 65 cards maximum. It cycles in a regular and smooth manner and almost never runs out. For this tournament, the difficult choices I made were to cut Villein, Mylan and Delaying Tactics, all three because I expected more combat and walls. In went Pentex (wins games against walls), Heart (wins any games), and a third Haven (hence this iteration's subtitle). The Pentex turned out useless (it might have won me the previous tournament, though), but the extra Haven probably saved me in the second round, and the Heart helped me to find it in time. Conversely, the Villein could have saved me in round 1 and the DT would have been useful both there and in the final. Mylan wasn't missed.

Things I learned: 1) Never discard Contagion. It's usually a good idea to play it immediately, and only if your crosstable is at one pool or sth, save for later. It's the only way this deck can deal non-bleed damage and a vital asset. 2) Holding Cog back to be less dangerous in the early game is not as good an idea as it might sound. Every passing round increases the chances of DI or contest, and the extra bloat is crucial. 3) As my variation of the unnamed is less an aggressive all-in bleed deck and more of a bloat grinder, Servitors are the best way to build tempo when it's time to go fast. Everybody can play them, and in the best case, you can play multiple in a turn if they connect. I'll probably take out a Sense for an extra copy. 4) One Horde is usually the right amount for the whole game, but it's good to keep an eye out for when you might want a second one. 5) I've had my doubts about Psychomachia, and this was the first time I played it in years (after being frustrated by Goratrices and Matasunthas), but it can be useful on that turn when you really need to get through either without adding stealth or past two particularly vigilant minions. The damage from it also helped to shut down a weenie bouncer in round 2. 6) The Hordes are great. They only did six actions total in the whole tournament, but three of them were ousting ones. I know many people like either midcap Baalis, Gangrels or Ministers, and I've tried all of them but don't see them as worth the investment. Without the unnamed, you have no game anyway. A Horde can be a bleed plus (great against walls when you want to use stealth efficiently), a Servitor machine, an emergency blocker, or even hold Contagion.

p.s. The name of my first unnamed TWD was "(Sem título)", not "(No Name)", as it says in the TWDA entry. It's a reference to a song from the Portuguese Eurovision Song Contest preselection 2018 .

- - -

Shell Break Espoo
Espoo, Finland
2R + F
14 players
winner: Tero Aalto
scores: 1 GW 5 + 5 VP in the final

Deck Name: (Sem título): Maximum Security
Description: A variation of the original "(Sem título)" tuned for a combat-heavy meta.

Crypt (12 cards, min=10 max=40 avg=6.33)
1x Anarch Convert 1 Caitiff:ANY
5x Horde, The 3 dai obf pre Baali:6
6x unnamed, The 10 CEL DAI OBF PRE PRO Baali:6

Library (65 cards)
Master (8)
1x Giant's Blood
1x Monastery of Shadows
1x Pentex(TM) Subversion
2x Perfectionist
3x Secure Haven

Action (13)
1x Contagion
4x Entrancement
5x Flurry of Action
3x Unleash Hell's Fury

Ally (4)
4x Infernal Servitor

Equipment (1)
1x Heart of Nizchetus

Retainer (2)
2x Homunculus

Action Modifier (24)
4x Elder Impersonation
3x Enkil Cog
2x Faceless Night
3x I am Legion
7x Instantaneous Transformation
4x Lost in Crowds
1x Psychomachia

Action Modifier/Combat (2)
2x Swallowed by the Night

Action Modifier/Reaction (6)
6x Sense the Sin

Combat (4)
2x Earth Meld
2x Form of Mist

Event (1)
1x Narrow Minds

:baal: 2 votes (titled) of Helsinki
Last edit: 29 Aug 2022 17:38 by Ankha.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Lönkka, Ankha, pallando

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19 Apr 2022 07:37 #105044 by Lönkka
Archon approved.

Congrats for the win!

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29 Aug 2022 17:37 #106188 by Ankha

p.s. The name of my first unnamed TWD was "(Sem título)", not "(No Name)", as it says in the TWDA entry. It's a reference to a song from the Portuguese Eurovision Song Contest preselection 2018 .


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