View Full Version : FABULOUS! Or how Iori galloped into Abilene on his Unicorn

Nubian God
10-08-2013, 09:40 PM
This is the chronicle of my time at the Abilene PTC. I apologize for the novel, and when I get a chance I’ll make sure to include a tl;dr.

Decklist: http://forums.jascogames.com/forums/showthread.php?9480-Abilene-PTC-Iori-%28Earth%29

Be advised that (aside from Top cut) I'm not 100% on the number of games in each Swiss round, only the general outcome, how it happened, that they never went to time, and I've only won 2 dice rolls the entire tournament.

1st round vs Will (Chaos/Fire Jin)

Will and I have a history of unorthodox games, in a large part due to our deck building styles. So when he flipped over Jin, I shouldn't have been surprised that he wasn't straight Chaos. First turn he gets a Communing, Quick Exit, and vanilla foundation out before lighting me up next turn with 5 stun attacks. Can't remember if I won a game, but the final game played out similar to game 1, but slower.

Record: 0-0-1

The big lessons learned were:

-Mulligan if you don't draw a Guitar, no matter how much you like your initial hand.
-Earth Iori isn't a track star (at least compared to Jin).

2nd round vs Tim (Fire Paul Phoenix)

I discovered two things when I sat down to play Tim:

1) I was his second time to play an Iori today, and
2) The other Iori was 1-0.

I don't scout around for potential diversity clashes, as I find that it helps me little in the overall scheme of things (I want to win as much as possible). Another reason I don't hunt for it became apparent when I felt the noose tighten after Tim educated me on his first round. I've been on the wrong side of diversity plenty of times (the hardest to swallow was tying for 1st and losing the tie breaker because my 1st round opponent dropped after we tied), so the news put me a little on edge.

At any rate, I tabled those distractions and focused on the game. Tim had a nasty Paul build, and all throughout the round he was throwing attacks at me with 3 foundations in his staging area at most. If it weren't for him having the Dragon Lifter curse (checked it more than he played it; once he failed a Dragon Lifter by checking a Dragon Lifter), things would've been a lot closer. As it was, I took damage when it suited me, blocked when it didn't, and made sure he never got the momentum needed to commit my Guitar.

Record: 1-0-1

The big lessons learned were:

-Iori's RFG enhance is a powerful momentum/combo denial tool.

3rd round vs ??? (Air Ash)

Ash is one of the characters that that I have mixed reactions when I see him. On one hand, I like how Felicia infiltrated Standard. On the other hand, he's not my ideal match up. Almost everything about Ash screams rush down, and I can tell that was this guy's aim. Seeing his attack line up (Minuette Dance was one of the kill cards), I automatically reverted to my habits of old.

Yes, I face blocked. A lot.

He had quite a bit of poke attacks, so I abused Iori's RFG enhance to keep Ash relatively momentum-free (he played a Hurricane Upper every once in a while). Thankfully, the times he played out a Minuette Dance with momentum ready to go, I had at least one Koppouken Training ready to contain it. I'd have feared for my life if I wasn't able to kill him on the counter attacks.

Record: 2-0-1

The big lessons learned were:

-Koppouken Training tastes great with Yaotome!
-Long-term building and strategic block cards can overcome hyper aggro.
-My opponents cannot have momentum if I have any wish to survive.

4th round vs Anthony (Evil Iori)

By this point I've dismissed my chances of making Top cuts. Everyone was chatting about one player entering round 4 undefeated, and I assumed it was my diversity rival. Even if it wasn't the case, what chance would I have? This was my first tournament playing Iori, whom I've built less than three weeks prior and off of his slower, less popular symbol.

Well, fate decided to let me find out first hand, as not only did the other Iori player lose their last game, but we were paired up for the last round! All of a sudden my pessimism and doubt vanished; here was the very same opportunity I wanted last year in Lubbock. Even though I've never played against an Iori (Chaos, Evil, OR Earth), I was pumped that we were in charge of our diversity destiny and chomping at the bit, ready to make my case as to why I felt that I had the better deck.

Anthony was equally excited. We chatted non-stop during our shuffle break about the fortunate situation, about our previous opponents, and how we came to the decision of running Iori.

The next 35 minutes was the most competitive, back and forth, every-play-could-be-your-last, 3 game round I've had in Swiss. He kept throwing Chasm Busters, Cataclysm Beams, and Tsubakis, and I'd serenade him with my sweet Guitar and flaunt my Strange Fashion. He would clear his card pool only to draw more cards and begin the assault anew while I would squeak in a foundation block and show him that Winners Never Quit.

In the end, fortune smiled upon me and saw me fit to play out a Guitar on all three my first turns (one turn saw me with two copies of Irritable as well), and I was able to survive his onslaughts in games 1 and 3 before burying him with my formidable arsenal. In the end, it was actually YATAGARASU's burn enhance that won it for me.

Record: 3-0-1

The big lessons learned were:

-Earth Iori is the new Earth Omar of old (underrated).
-If I can't be the fastest, I'll strive to be the most durable (don't rush if it's not a sure thing).
-It is mandatory for me to have a Guitar out if I wish to accomplish the above.

I could've gone home right then and call the day a success. Of course I'd stick around, though; I made Top 8! I've spent over half of the tournament thinking I would be diversified, so anything after that was me playing with House money. I kept that in mind as I looked at the standings and realized my opponent:

Top 8:
1. Nehtali (???) - Nicole Gentry
2. Mai (Life) - Joseph Atchison
3. Joe (All) - Shelby Krause
4. Iori (Earth) - Me
5. Jin (Chaos/Fire) - Will
6. Mr. Karate (Death) - Clinton Thomas
7. Phil Birch (Evil) - Jeremy Gentry
8. Mitsurugi (???) - Gabriel ???

Yep, it was Will again. The same Will that knocked me out two years ago first round of Top cuts in Austin's PTC. The same Will that wiped the floor with me first round at the beginning of the day. Regardless, I kept cool and looked back on the day, recognized my keys to success, and formulated a game plan. I've seen Will's win conditions first-hand, but he hasn't seen mine.

Top 8 vs Jin

First point that I adhered to was shooting for a Guitar first turn, no matter how good the hand looked without it.

Second point was that I needed to rush desperation on my terms, on my turn, and ASAP. All of Will's attacks had stun, and I needed Iori's static to defend my other defense pieces.

Third point was that I needed to have at least 4 blocks in hand going into his turn (3 if one was Winners). Will had most of his attacks Fire with a predominantly Chaos staging area, so he always had at least 3 cards in hand at the end of the turn. So with 4 blocks, coupled with Guitar for the inevitably large kill attack, and a staging area protected from stun, and I've put him in a position to muscle the damage through my defense.

Even with it all meticulously planned out, even with me painstakingly choosing what to build with and what to keep, it was close. It was brutal. It was the longest match of Top 8, partially due to Will playing out (and drawing into) 4 Shiranui-Ryuus, each one preceded by 2-3 attacks. Fortunately, I blocked every one and drew fresh blocks thanks to Shiranui-Ryuu. Finally, his deck depleted of attacks, he yielded the turn to me and I proceeded to overpower him with my throws.

Result: Win 2-0-1

The big lessons learned were:

-Match-ups are rarely impossible to win, even if past experience paints a different picture.

At this point, my mind set changed yet again. Being able to pull such a clutch win from someone who seemed to have my number forced me to stop downplaying my chances of winning it all. It was at this point where I determined that someone from Dallas was going to be the champ, and the next match would answer whom that would be.

Top 4 vs Joe

This was a match that I would have no other way. If Shelby won, he would be a hard counter to Jeremy's Birch Burn deck (it doesn't like reversals). If I won, I would have my destiny in my hands yet again, and I would find a way to power through the obvious disadvantages Iori has against Birch.
The situation was interesting because I made the blueprint to his Joe deck over a week before, I've helped him test it thoroughly, and had him add Making a Killing last minute (just got them a couple of days before the tournament). All in all, I knew his deck inside and out.

The thing about Shelby, though, is that he's one of the most psychological players I've seen in action and I find myself mimicking his tactics when I'm against the wall (mostly to good effect). In all things logical, Shelby is the wild card.

Through a stroke of luck, I took game 1. Unfortunately, it took almost an hour, the manager had a head cold and wasn't willing to keep the store open later, so we tossed our decks to Jason and went to our hotel.

Jeremy had already defeated his wife for the finals spot, so me and the Dallas crew began piecing together info about his deck and discussing strategies and tools that our (mine and Shelby) decks had against it. Like I suspected, Shelby's Joe deck would be the favorite to win, as he'd be able to harass on both turns, had negation, potent damage redux/sustain (Templar & Making a Killing), and didn't have to rely on vitality costs to win. Regardless, talk about either one of us scooping never surfaced; a win in the finals would be cheapened otherwise, and we both have too much respect for each other to throw out such an offense. The road up to now has been void of charity, and we wouldn't introduce it now.

Sunday morning arrived and with it a new mind set. Having lost first game, Shelby went first this time and proceeded to lay out attacks. I manage to block quite a bit, and RFG'd what I couldn't. I replied in kind the next turn, throwing out two attacks before he reversal'd with a KAPLOW! I was unable to block, and losing 2 more vitality was risky (even I have limits). It wound up costing me the game as he had a Mist Stance -> KAPLOW! combo waiting for me on his turn, using the momentum to commit my two new foundations I played on my aborted kill turn.

Game 3 saw me spreading my eggs rather than going for a OTK. I also made sure to have a Moon Cat in my discard pile at all times, making sure to put it in my card pool when he was looking to abuse Joe's enhance. Last turn saw me draw into 4 attacks, complementing the 2 I already had, so I proceeded to lay out the assault. Even with drawing into (and playing) 4 WtMCOtMs (!), using them to access the 3 Templars in his discard, I managed to power through his defenses, and a 8 speed YATAGARASU at the end of my attack chain proved to be too much.

Result: Win 2-0-1

The big lesson learned was:

-The deck doesn’t make the man. Just because I know the tools doesn’t always make the outcome predictable.

Final Round vs Phil Birch

Without delay, we dived into our match. Relying on word of mouth and past experience against other decks, I played it slow and steady, making sure to keep a running tally of all known BSK sightings. Unfortunately, I took a little too long in collecting attacks and Jeremy punished me with a slew of attacks capped by an unblockable Curse of Corruption (he made sure to force me to use Guitar before hand). Second game, I sided in my 3rd copy of Strange Fashion (so I wouldn’t be so dependent on low blocks) and, seeing his Rolling Revenge attacks, my 3 copies of Reaping, taking out my Broodings (lol high blocks).

Second game I set the tone by playing a couple of cards before playing a Moon Cat, therefore minimizing his BSKs to 2 damage a piece. I was fortunate that he insisted on checking his Curse and BSK turns 1 and 2, respectively, so I kept up the staggered foundation/attack combo until I knew he had no BSKs.

Third game is when everything came together and we had an appropriate game. Realizing my strategy to minimize his BSKs, Jeremy took to throwing more attacks at me throughout the game, allowing me to use Winners Never Quit to pull up choice attacks (or Yaotome for blocks if the situation demanded it). Irritated allowed me to play Guitar and Iori’s RFG to prevent massive damage/remove attacks from Jeremy’s card pool, making it harder for him to trigger Birch’s Military Rank. All in all, I was dancing around 4-5 health over the last 3 turns.

Things finally came to a climax when Jeremy managed to get Rolling Revenge’s combo enhance off, forcing me to discard my remaining 2 cards in hand. Fortunately, one of the cards I had was Reaping, and I knew he had a Curse and BSK (which he just picked up via Birch) in hand, so it allowed me to safely take a low block and a YATAGARASU into hand without worry of repercussion. Guitar enhance and low block saw me survive his kill turn and into my turn. I drew into a couple of desperation non-attacks, Tsubaki, and Winners Never Quit. Even with the YATAGARASU, I was still 4 damage short of killing him.

My deck was running pretty low and I’ve almost saw all of my attacks, but I still decided on popping my Bloodline Rebellion before attempting anything. Crossing my fingers and declaring desperation, I flipped the top 5…and revealed a Moon Cat! I popped my Guitar to bring my health up to 9, played my Moon Cat and damage-pumped it to hell. Even being half-blocked, the Tsubaki and YATAGARASU (pumped with Winners Never Quit) sealed the deal and delivered victory to me.

Result: Win 2-0-1

The big lesson learned was:

-Trust in your side board, especially if you wind up putting the cards into your deck. If I would’ve discarded Reaping the turn before like I wanted to, he would’ve shown me a repeat of the game 1 slaughter.

MVP of the day: Iori’s Guitar – I’ve managed to get a copy out turn 1 of all but 2 of my games, and one of those games I didn’t fully appreciate why I needed it. The amount of focus it demands from your opponent allows you to surprise them with some clutch blocking, so by game 2/3, they’re not 100% sure how you’re going to handle their attacks.

Clutch card: Reaping – Ever since Will pointed this card out to me two years ago in Austin, I’ve had at least 3 copies of this in ALL of my decks created since, whether they match symbols with my character or not. This is by far the most potent form of anti-discard in that your opponent can’t be 100% sure it’s in your hand and that you get two cards of YOUR CHOICE back into your hand. I’ve had my poop pushed in too many times before by discard to not be prepared for it, and this time it paid off with a 1st place win. Vitality burn and staging area committal wouldn’t have done that for me.


-Jason for rising above and beating down the illness that hit Lubbock. Even if you did forget the Redemption promos, you ran a tight tournament, listened to the suggestion of diversified players getting some love, and building a surprisingly tough Lily.

-Dallas crew for stepping up throughout the weekend; 3 in the Top 8 (Clint being in his first UFS tournament) and all of us being in Top 4 of our draft pods.

-Jeremy for showing me the ways of Birch and confirming my initial thoughts on his power level (overwhelming).

-Chris (tifer) for being cool about staying in Dallas for another day so I didn't have to drive 12+ hours in a day.

-Matt Turner for the champ cards. I helped you get to Vegas, and in turn you helped me get to Worlds.

- All of my opponents throughout the weekend for being cool, fun, and classy. It's been 5+ years since I've started playing and I still learn something new every game; hopefully I've taught you guys something of worth in return.

-The Texas meta, where 7 HS characters are few and far between!

-The staff at The Gathering Place. Given my recent experience with the shops in my area, The Gathering Place staff went out of their way to provide awesome hospitality. Always a pleasure to make the drive for them.

And last, but not least

-Old Spice, for making a shower gel specifically for champions (it says so on the bottle). Rest assured this will go on the check list for tournament gear.

And with that, I must be off! AWAAAAAAAAY!


10-08-2013, 10:12 PM
Good read, dood! About time you win something! :D

10-08-2013, 10:39 PM
I feel so special, but you're the one who deserves the praise dude.

10-08-2013, 11:06 PM
Nice read Brian. Wish I could have made the trip.

I also looked at your Iori deck in the deckbuilding section, very very nice.

Don't underestimate Jin, ever. He is one of the most consistent agressive decks out there.

Congrats again and I'd better see you at worlds (I'm still missing you from this last one).

10-09-2013, 07:58 AM
Great read Brian. It was a pleasure playing you as always. Hope to see you guys in January.

10-09-2013, 08:16 AM
Thanks for the great read and congratulations again!

10-09-2013, 09:21 AM
Team Win Out, baby! I really enjoyed the mixture of gory gameplay details and commentary/jokes.

10-09-2013, 03:06 PM
Do not fear the discard. I'll get my drunken master revenge!
Congrats on the win though :p