View Full Version : Under Pressure - Zoey at the ATL PTC

02-27-2017, 12:39 PM
So I've done some reports in the past when I was playing my Guts Man deck, but I brought out some new toys to Atlanta this year. I played the 31 attack Zoey deck (http://ufsultra.com/deck.php?deck=yAuAIexWFsVXZiDuOyKJxSZXMsJfkb) that went 6-0 in swiss and lost to Broberg's Sie deck in the finals.

I did a video deck profile (https://youtu.be/o-Citf4hdpg) for UFSU that goes into card choices and roles so I'll just focus on the rounds and a bit on why I built Zoey the way I did.

*I'm also writing this whole thing on my phone on the drive home so please excuse any weird auto corrects or formatting weirdness*


I had a pretty good UFS year last year. I won a PTC early with Guts Man, had fun traveling to various events, and finished on a decent note losing in top 4 of the Rockford ptc with Vinny G. and top 8 of Poughkeepsie with one more Guts Man run before Splam cycled.

I was eager to get back out to an event this year so I was happy to see that ATL would be happening in February. The ATL PTC was the biggest event that I went to last year other than Nats. I knew the competition would be good with a bunch of champs past and present in the field and there would be some good hanging out time.

The bloodlines for the Zoey deck I planned to play trace back to the M59 deck that Jeremy Ray had crushed me with in Rockford top cuts and subsequently won Poughkeepsie last year. It was an oddity for sure, but also extremely potent against an unprepared field. I wasn't the only person whose wheels were turning as in my conversations with Chris Smith he told me that one of their Blood Omen release drafts was won by a Zoey deck running a ton of focus charges, strumwaffes, and hair triggers.

Now I wanted to see if I could make Zoey into a pressure deck in the vein of Mature. This meant that I just wanted to attack you relentlessly 3-5 times every turn forcing you to block with attacks and burn up defensive foundations to stay alive so that you could never quite mount a real offense. There were two obstacles: first, unlike Mature, when I checked a 3 it would actually be a 3 and not a 5. Second I didn't have a crazy damage pump on my character to help threaten people. My solution to this was Improved Design which would be able to take my attacks from annoyances to threats. The issue in my original build which was more like a 40/20 split was I had a hard time winning games where I didn't draw Improved Design and this is not a meta where you want to be overly reliant on your foundations anyway. My solution was to include a few more foundations and work in Cowboy Battery. I tried other versions of the deck with Flying Spear and Tengu Dive, but so much of the deck is predicated on expecting to check threes that if you play too many cards that require a 4-5 check you fall checks and if you start checking 1s and 2s you also fail checks. I'm not saying Flying Yamato Spear isn't good in Zoey, but it isn't good in this particular version of the deck.

I played the deck in locals for a bit, but ultimately it was pretty demoralizing to our more casual players so I mostly packed it away until the last week or so when I wanted to run it into some of the better decks in the format just to get a feel for the matchups. I thought I had something, but without putting it through the real gauntlet of a PTC I couldn't know for sure. Going to Atlanta I kind of thought winning the whole tourney was a pipe dream, but I wanted very badly to top so my list would get out there because my real goal for the tourney was to play the deck that everyone would be talking about.


Our drive down to ATL on Friday was mostly uneventful. We checked into our hotel near the venue and headed over to Winston's for the pre-PTC festivities. Thomas Gordon had the Odyssey of uber rides after I told we'd squeeze him into our hotel room. Previous experience dictates that bunking with that guy gets you into top cuts.

We got to the venue in the morning registration was open longer than it needed to be, but we had a field of 46 players which was hype.

Round 1 vs. Ben Shoemaker (Earth Garett Brett)

Well I sure got the Atlanta experience from the word "go" starting against Shoemaker. I figured he'd be playing his own character but he'd given that deck to another player so he was rocking Demitri flavored GB. He won the die roll. I figured he'd be playing off of life, but his turn one earth chain proved otherwise. I think he failed his second card after checking a two on Gabrek's throw I did some turn one attacking and built three including an Ever Hopeful. He had another build cut short by a bad check so I went to work on turn 2. I got my EH flipped on my first attack by his War for Armageddon (shout out to James Stephens), but I had a Toy Touch to pick it back up and get it back out there. His throws put a dent in me and Somersault Kick is randomly great at picking off the attacks I build, but it wasn't enough. I went in again on my third turn and after he failed a crucial block check I for the game. Game two his build was better. He got some DR pieces that kept him alive through my early pressure and I totally spaced and forgot to pick up an attack with a Toy Touch before shipping it. His third turn he went, stunner, stunner, gabrek ultra. The ultra would have been lethal but he checked another 2 and had to commit one of his copies of Heart of the Mountain so he could only pump it to 11 leaving me at 1. The opening let me backswing for lethal on my next turn.

I was 1-0 but not too confident. I had played a sloppy match and got a lot of help from his bad checks.

Round 2 vs. Phil Birch (Void Bass)

The reigning national champ playing a standard version of the deck he's been tearing up the MCS with. I knew it wouldn't be easy. His deck has a lot of things which give me trouble like 8k, Sense of Justice, Mathematician, and the apparently extra hot tech of Somersault Kick. The biggest thing working in my favor from watching Phil play in person and on stream is that he likes to build aggressively early and selectively block one big attack a turn if he has to. This meant that I should be able to get momentum going and if you're only planning on blocking one Zoey attack a turn she's probably going to bury you in 2-3 turns unless you derp her on turn two.

Game one Phil had some good disruption with Mathematician, Design Flaws, and Somersault Kick, but never got a good attack hand so I eventually pressed through it after a few turns for the win. Game two he got a turn one Mathematician and saw a few attacks to whittle me down. I didn't see my good kill cards like Cowboy Battery or Improved Design and he got me with a kill string of Slaughterhouse, Sliding Ankle Breaker, Everywhere. Game three was more like the first. I saw good early pressure, got some momentum, and while he did have a Mathematician he had less DR so I got through for the win in a couple turns.

2-0. Phil Birch didn't say any of my cards were bad so I'm feeling better about my deck.

Round 3 vs. Mason Johnson (Air Reese)

Air can be a pain because of how many cards they can draw with Templar so you really want your Short Fuses and CRHs. I think he built like 4-5 turn one and then blocked with an Agile and brought it down. Then he poked to draw two and built a bunch more. I was outbuilt about 10-3 after his second turn and he had three Wild Temperaments so it wasn't looking too good for me, but he never had Raging Slash and I guess had bad reads on block zones so I managed to take the first game despite it looking so grim. Game two he had a turn one Journey West and EH so I again expected doom. I tried to bait a Journey West activation on my turn, but he wasn't taking it. I managed to block an attack or two on his turn so he had less build and then I was able to get Focus Charge looping on him. He opted to try just blocking instead of activating Journey West or EH. Between the stun, speed, and a bad check he ended up committed out and I killed him. I'm not entirely sure what his mindset was, but I assume he didn't appreciate the reach this deck can sometimes have.

3-0. Much needed lunch time break.

Round 4 vs. Dave Wagoner (Fire Dave Wagoner)

Back on the ATL champ express. I'd played Dave before back in Nashville before his character came out and he was playing fire BB hood. I'd seen this style deck before when Broberg was playing it so I had an idea of a few key points to target. I threw some first turn disrespect with a Gravity Hold that he blocked with a Strumwaffe. I don't mind that trade. Then I built three including an Ever Hopeful. This proved key as I was able to keep him from ever starting a turn with Robot Masters in play. He had 8ks and Wall of Goros that kept him alive for awhile but never had offensive options materialize so I eventually got it. Game two was a better offensive build for him. He got White House going early to get him more cards. I had a CRH in play but that's reserved for Shield Ram in this matchup. I knew he was slowly amassing a kill turn but there nothing I could really do. Eventually he threw a Napalm Bomb then used Saw Blades to commit my CRH and rammed me into the ground. Game three was in between. I had the EH again to slow him early he had DR working against me but I finally got him when he was waiting for the Cowboy Battery and I just went all lows with Gravity Hold, KKK, and Toy Touch and finally a throw. He had been holding two Smile and Missiles the whole time.

4-0. I know if I win one of my last two I'm in tops for sure. Also Wagoner, Birch, and Shoemaker were all on a nats team so they're ragging on each other for all losing to me which is fun.

Round 5 vs. Alex Marco (Life Turbo Man)

The last two 4-0 decks. Another reigning national champ playing the Turbo Man deck that helped get Caught Rod Handed on cardboard. I knew this would be a boatrace of a match and it was. You should be able to watch it in the archived live stream on RochesterCCG's twitch channel. I think it starts at about the 6.5-7 hour mark. If they chop up the rounds and put them on YouTube I'll link it later. Basically the two games I won I killed him on my second turn. Once going second, once going first. The other game I was going to leave him at one on my second turn with the attacks that I could pass risk free so I had to go for the Cowboy Battery on a six diff and checked a three with only two ready foundations and he killed me the next turn.

5-0. I'm pumped. I know I'm in tops, people think my deck is sweet, my one buddy is 4-1 with Ryu, and my other is 3-2 on the bubble with Satoshi.

Round 6 vs. Jeremy Ray (Good Mega Man...)

We can both ID our way into tops as JRay is 4-0-1, but IDing into Swiss champ is lame, JRay wants to play the matchup just to see how he fares in it, and I want the turnabout win as payback for getting bodied by Mature. I know a bit about his deck because he'd previously topped with it and when we were in Rockford last year I told him I thought the deck was cool, but bluntly asked "how do you win games?" So I knew it was all defense, pokes, and a huge Astral Crush. His sideboard has 3x Stop and 3x Orders so game one is more I my favor as offensively my main concerns are Koppouken and Sense of Justice. In game one I manage to get rid of a SoJ with EH and then have a clutch OoyL against a Spreggio R which denies him cards and momentum. I'm able to take the game, but I have to fight for every inch. Because he doesn't really care about attacking he can clutch 4-5 cards every turn after he has a decent build and just deal with Cowboy Battery/commit Improved Design after he stacks. Game two he has his side so it's even tougher he lands a poke or two and goes Astro Crush multiple two, Astro Crush multiple 2, leaf shield. I have two toy touches and a Gravity Hold, but it's not enough. Game three he doesn't get his stack going or a bunch of SoJs so I'm able to get a bigger chunk of damage done early through zone mixup and looping focus charges for speed so I can eventually finish him off when I burn get him to burn one Koppo on a Cowboy Battery and then loop it and OoyL his last Koppo the second time around. Revenge is sweet.

6-0. Swiss champ. My friend wins with Ryu to go to 5-1 and my other buddy loses to fall off the bubble.


So we played top 8 on Saturday night. As the one seed I got a rematch with the eight seed Dave Wagoner.

Round of 8 vs. Dave Wagoner (Fire Dave Wagoner)

I don't remember exactly how this went. It had been a long day, I was hungry, and had a low grade headache going. We'd already played three games in swiss so we had a pretty good idea of what was going on with each others decks. Game one turn two Dave formed down a White House and built not one Wall of Goro, but two. Obligatory, Trump/wall jokes ensued. He shortly got out a few copies of Improved Design and I just couldn't keep up. He opened a turn with a Napalm Bomb and a few Improved activations and then just buried me under some Shield Rams and Sturmwaffes. I was down after game one for the first time of the tournament. I don't remember much about game two I presume it involved lots of Gravity Holds and Focus Charges since that was usually how I got games quickly. I know in game three I got out an Ever Hopeful early in the match and Dave was seeing a few Push the Limits instead of more useful spam. I had a predominantly face down staging area so I was relying predominently on my attacks to get anything done. I had a few momentum and had Dave down a bit but he had a few Walls of Goro and some other DR. He formed down a Toofis, but the next turn I had gas in my hand. I played my first attack and he responded with Toofis to seal my Ever Hopeful but I had to OoyL to stop it. He had a laugh and said that he'd never had anyone OoyL a Toofis before. I made him pick up a Wall of Goro and threw 5-6 attacks and finished the game off.

My buddy Scott had managed to beat Slam's Demitri so he was in top 4 as well facing off against Kevin Broberg who had beaten Phil Birch. Tam and JRay were still playing their match. I tried to go over and watch it for a bit, but I was gassed and just didn't care. I figured if JRay won I already knew what his deck did and if Tam took it I'd just figure it out on the fly. I knew he was doing wild stuff with Skull Fortress II and ally stuff but not much else. We were all trying to figure out dinner plans but it was getting pretty late. JRay finally won his match so I knew who I was facing.

People sort of split up. We ended up going to a Waffle House near our hotel and demolished about two meals apiece with the Omaha crew. I felt a ton better after eating. Tam looked a little bummed about getting bounced out by JRay. I told him some of the best advice I had gotten was about a year prior courtesy of Slam who told me that top cuts is a crap shoot. Sometimes you get in and just get crushed by a bad matchup. The hard part is just getting in from there you need to be good and have a little luck. In a 46 person tourney you don't finish swiss in fifth place if your deck is no good. A few people went to hang out at Shoemaker's place, but it was about 30-40 minutes away from where we were staying, it was already after midnight, and Scott and I had to be back at the store at 10 AM for deck checks so we were just lame and went back to the hotel to sleep.


Sunday morning we got back to the shop and got through deck checks. I got to play my second rematch of the tourney by going against JRay.

Round of 4 vs Jeremy Ray (Good Mega Man...)
Jeremy felt that he really had very little chance before siding and sure enough I got the first game. In game two he was doing much better. I had him on a Stop and threw a Cowboy Battery anyway. He used a Koppouken and I burned an OoyL expecting him to cancel it with a Good & Evil just so I can get him to burn off a momentum. He does cancel it and I double check and realize that the remove on OoyL is like that on Revoke where if it gets cancelled it stays in your cardpool. He does block me with a Stop and my entire turn is shot. He predictably bops me on his next turn. Game three was a total slog. We both got very weird draws. He had to mulligan a hand with 3-4 attacks. Then it turned out he had great stuff for me early like Stop and Spreggio, but I got flooded with foundations and ended up building three Short Fuses in the first two turns rendering those cards worthless. I ended up just throwing little stuff just to play out my hand as much as possible and tryihg to hold a few high blocks just in case. Jeremy had a few Sense of Justice out and a few Koppos, but he never built a single Motivation.

Because of how many attacks were in his RFG and discard I started to get a pretty good read on his hand as the game progressed with the glaring exception that I thought he was holding two Astro Crushes because I had lost track of one when he poked with it and it went into momentum. Instead, the card I thought was a Crush was actually a STOP! which would have been a big deal if not for my pile of Short Fuses. I couldn't draw a Cowboy Battery to save my life so we just dragged on and on with me throwing tiny attacks and him blocking them or DRing and taking damage in amounts of 1-2. I started using EH to try and bounce his Koppos just to get him to burn his Tactical Advantages and then trying to loop it down to get him to burn off his momentum with Good & Evil. Eventually I actually got a line on him. When he was at about 15 life. I got him stunned out pretty well with Focus charges and had burned off all his ready Tactical Advantages. I tried to loop EH with my last momentum but he finally cancelled it with Good and Evil. If he hadn't done that I would have been able to bounce a Sense of Justice and had two Bridgeings, a Samurai Robotto, a Toy Touch, and 5 face down foundations. I could throw 12 damage with him at 9, but with two SoJ he could reduce 4 damage leaving him at one and I would have no hand left. it was very tempting, but I didn't want to come up short and somehow get dunked on his turn. It was painful to let him off the hook when I knew i'd have to go through all the work again to get such a big opening but I had to just wait. He built one or two and passed. I ended up finally cycling at the start of my turn and milled off the top 10 including 8 attacks. I drew the last two and finally had the hand of gas I'd been waiting for with a Gravity Hold and a Cowboy Battery. With being able to throw two Gravity Holds he had to waste the low block he was holding for KKK and I was able to get my attacks pumped just enough that even after all his DR he had to full block a low attack to not take lethal. He was stuck with a character block and that was that.

Finals vs. Kevin Broberg (Life Sie)

Unfortunately Kevin had beaten Scott in top 4. I thought Scott had a much better matchup against Kevin than I did and I knew from testing that I could beat Scott's Ryu deck. Kevin's only loss of the tourney had been to Alex Marco so I figured I was in for another race. I honestly didn't really remember what had happened in the first game so I watched the stream archive and I think I probably played it really badly. I built three on one including an ever hopeful he formed and built three more. I attacked and made him pick up shopaholic leaving him with the DR of Ki Techniques. I should have definitely made him pick up the Ki Techniques instead so that he had to actually block my attacks instead of pitching cards to reduce damage. I basically turned shopaholic into a dodge which is a terrible trade for an EH activation. I thought he had killed me on turn 2, but actually he just flipped my CRH with Spiders and Dragons, poked me with a Sturmwaffe, and built a bunch of DR which allowed him to be in little to no danger the next turn especially because I had failed to get any momentum on my previous turn. Then he offed me with an easy string on turn 3. Game two I put him on the play just thinking with him not being able to use his form he might hit some bad checks and I'd get to go in early while building which might give me a better start to things. Instead he got his three build and then had a hand of fire on turn two and killed me.

I think I was a bit burned out after my long match with JRay, but Kevin outplayed the crap out of me at every turn in that one. His deck probably has a decent matchup against me anyway just with all of Life's spammy DR and the fact that my deck construction doesn't lend itself to passing crucial blocks on fast attacks early in the game. Still a pretty bad set from me I wish I could have given Kevin a better test.

Afterwards Scott, Tyler, and I went and got Korean BBQ with Shane, Kevin, and Sean. Then we went back to the shop and played casual matches for way too long until we went back to hotel.

Big shoutout to the people at The Lab for putting on a great event. Thanks to everyone who came out. It's great having more than 40 people showing up to PTCs. It's always great to see the champs come out as well as the regular travel people. Hope to see everyone at various spots this year. I really wish I could've done a bit more hanging out this time, but I guess to do that I should have just scrubbed out so I wouldn't need to get sleep and that just wasn't in the cards this year. :D

'Caz Simon
02-27-2017, 01:28 PM
+1 for "first turn disrespect", I legit lol'ed.

For real though, surely you could have fit more Ever Hopefuls into this deck? It seems really easy to generate momentum for it.

02-27-2017, 02:13 PM
I always figured Tomohawk man would end up being the reincarnation of M59 given how cheap void attacks can be, but it seems Zoey has better luck with all of the cheap water attacks. And then Crash man providing all that nice Damage boost is straight money.

But yeah that confuses me to. Surely Ever Hopeful would be an excellent way to keep the pressure on your opponent to warrant a better slot in the deck than "I might get lucky in some matches to pull this turn one..." Particularly since then you dont have to rely on "pick up a foundation" attacks to overcome any removal and can focus those on what I assume theyre intended for. Has it always just been more of an accelerant than an intregal battle strategy?

02-27-2017, 04:57 PM
So, Ever Hopeful was actually a last minute addition to the deck. I literally replaced a third copy of Samurai Robotto with it in my hotel room the morning of the PTC. I played a bunch of casual matches the night before we drove down against a deck that was maining three Mathematician and it got to the point that I was borderline dreading seeing it in a turn one build.

You guys can tell it did a lot of work from my report. It was obvious to me that it should have been in the deck from the very start as soon as I started playing with it, but I don't think this deck can really leverage EH as much as some other decks just because you hate trying to pass it on a 4-5 on offense and on defense you do not block very well because you're checking 3s 50% of the time so looping it on defense is almost impossible.

The momentum game is actually a little weird. As people get more exposure to Zoey they'll realize that you want to just tank/DR her first few attacks and then start blocking after she forms because the attacks she removes when she forms obviously can't go to momentum. I had at least one or two turns where my opponent took my first couple attacks and I just built rather than forming because I wanted the momentum.

This is kind of just the first iteration of this deck. I hope people will want to try it out and make improvements. Personally if I was adding a second copy I'd remove one designed for combat to do it as that's definitely the least important spam.

02-27-2017, 05:28 PM
I can definitely see running 2 Ever Hopefuls, just as an insurance plan. Honestly, EH is one of the main reasons im trying to bring Greek Fire back into standard. Having an extra that you just hold on to, particularly if youre going against removal tech, might throw your opponent for a loop. Especially if you go against a flip deck.

02-27-2017, 07:09 PM
Going to Atlanta I kind of thought winning the whole tourney was a pipe dream, but I wanted very badly to top so my list would get out there because my real goal for the tourney was to play the deck that everyone would be talking about.I absolutely love this sentiment. You built a great and original deck, but 1st place still takes a lot of luck when 45 other players technically have the same range of options before them. So instead you set goals that you can achieve even without winning, goals that don't rely on the luck of the draw or control checks. I do that too :)

And on top of that, this was excellently written. Can't wait to see the conclusion!

02-27-2017, 10:32 PM
Updated through Finals.

02-27-2017, 10:56 PM
I absolutely love this sentiment. You built a great and original deck, but 1st place still takes a lot of luck when 45 other players technically have the same range of options before them. So instead you set goals that you can achieve even without winning, goals that don't rely on the luck of the draw or control checks. I do that too :)

And on top of that, this was excellently written. Can't wait to see the conclusion!
Thanks man. I just read your report and we definitely had similar conclusions about the matchup between our decks. It was pretty funny to see that you had a shaky first few rounds and were doubting your deck too.

02-28-2017, 11:17 PM
What? You mean our playtesting actually ended up helping you?

I'm mentally sharing the glory.

03-01-2017, 02:55 PM
Added a link to the deck profile video near the beginning of the post. Check it out.