Nearly Undefeated Runner-up: My Experience in ABR Season 7
ABR Season 6 was one of my favorite Keyforge experiences to date. I enjoyed just about everything about it – the formats, the competition, and especially the camaraderie. When Season 7 was announced, I signed up quickly. I also convinced a bunch of my friends, such as You, Turtle, and yrstruly to play. (Yes, I know my friends have weird Discord names. I even wrote a short comedy skit about it. To avoid confusion, for the rest of the article I am going to refer to You by his TCO name, kiddynamite.)
If you are not familiar with ABR and how it works, I encourage you to read my explanation in the article I wrote about ABR Season 5 (or 6, I think I mislabeled the article). For the TL;DR version, after you sign up to play, you are drafted onto a team by a captain. Your team plays a different format each week, getting points for each win, and then the top four teams make the playoffs. We’ll talk more about that when we get there.
I was nervous about this season’s draft. My team from last year was awesome, and I wanted a team as close to that as possible. Our captain, jtrussell, had picked a group of people who worked perfectly together in Season 6. Even though we may not have been the most well-known Keyforge players in the world, our teamwork and mutual support strengthened us a lot as a team, and we finished in second place.
However, I knew that I had made things difficult on jtrussell. By going undefeated last season, I had increased my value to the point where he probably wouldn’t be able to get me as a bargain again. There was certainly no way he would be able to draft the triad of me, his brother strussell, and MiBluffin. Unfortunately, I was correct. MiBluffin went to drazkor, and strussell went to juliejuly, but I was happy to wind up on jtrussell’s team again. However, I felt terrible that drafting me had probably cost him the opportunity to draft his brother.
The rest of our team looked really solid. jtrussell had picked BHawk, one of the most well-known Keyforge players, a top player from way back in the early days of Keyforge. He had also picked quickdraw and nowinstereo, both of whom I didn’t know personally, but knew by reputation as solid players. jtrussell and I met back when he lived in Maine, so I was not overly surprised that we ended up with a large contingent of Maine players, including yrstruly, You, and my best Keyforge friend, Arly. Besides jtrussell, Arly, and I, we also had Krill returning from our Season 6 team, which I was happy to see. Finally, we had Gmanic, a newer player who I didn’t know much about, but who would prove to be one of my favorite teammates over the course of the season. Unfortunately, my friend Turtle wound up on a different team, but I guess you can’t win them all.
We needed a name for our team, and I don’t remember who picked it, but we ended up being called the Brabble Rabble. Also, BHawk created the Brabble dab emoji which became our standard emoji for use after our wins (or almost anytime, really).
Week 1 – Adaptive
Because each team has ten players, each week one player is selected to play the feature match, or the tiebreaker. Winning a week is worth two bonus points, so the feature matches are important (and would become a serious problem for us later on). I was the feature match for Week 1, and I was to face off against joelker41, the captain of the Impractical Joelkers. We faced off in triad in Season 6, and we have played each other many times during AC online events, and we’re always an even match. I played my favorite deck, The Nebulous Operator, while joelker used Overson, Clovertree’s Engineer.
I thought I was going to win game one, but joelker played a brilliant turn to take it away from me. I just sat back and said, “I can’t even be upset about that. That was well done.” Thankfully, I was able to fight back and win game two. Then something strange happened. We created a short adaptive match to bid on game three, and we both forgot the rules of adaptive. When a deck wins two games, the owner is supposed to bid on that deck first, even if they bid zero. However, even though it had lost twice, we both thought my deck was the better deck. Thus, when I selected joelker’s deck to bid on, he selected my deck, and there was no bidding. He just took my deck, and no one had any chains. I thought the whole thing was weird, but I didn’t realize how much we had messed up until my teammates pointed it out afterwards. At any rate, I ended up winning game three, which meant that joelker’s deck had won all three games, but I had won the match. I was 1-0 and the Rabble were off to a good start. We had seven wins on the week, and we earned the two bonus points, putting us in first place after week one. We were excited.
Week 2 – Jank
Week 2 was to be a jank format, where you had to play a deck with five or less printed Æmber. My choice was obvious. I had acquired a DT deck from rhhaeder called Valencell who Misspells Currency, and it had exactly five Æmber pips. It was also a deck with a double Hingska combo, plus a solid Shadows and Untamed. It’s not a true competitive deck, but it was definitely the best thing we had at five or less Æmber pips. I offered to let my teammates use Jacobic, the Footman of Boneglen, which is a Sins deck with solid support. Unfortunately, no one was interested.
My matchup this week was against nedmike from the team with the best name, Andy Vandy and the Trained Abs Satire Band. nedmike brought Rustlebender, the Mayor of Darkness. My deck did what it does and built a giant board. His one board sweep was Axiom of Grisk, and he couldn’t find it, so I was able to win the match. The team continued to roll as well, winning another seven games to stay in first place, narrowly ahead of Gettin’ Floomfy Wit It. We won the feature match this week thanks to a great performance by quickdraw. Unfortunately, that was the last of our feature match wins, and close weeks lost by feature matches would be the bane of our existence for the rest of the season.
Week 3 – Triad
There were two weeks that I feared most – triad and archon. Our team had a lot of really good players, but our deck collections were not as strong as a lot of other teams, and I feared that these weeks would expose our lack of depth. I offered to loan out a lot of decks. Gmanic borrowed Lord Lawname Jaxson, a Genka deck, from me, but that didn’t work out that well because he didn’t really have adequate experience with how to use a Genka deck. I regretted not working with him more on how to use the deck. kiddynamite borrowed two decks from me, Yanaan K. Vegedon (a Rex/Spiral deck) and A. W. Hipposiren of the Orange Palace (a strong WC Star Alliance/Saurian/Dis deck). He paired them with a triple Infurnace deck that he owns, B. Kingsley, Spy of the Miserly Basilica. As we expected, his opponent banned the triple Infurnaces, and kiddynamite was able to pick up the win with my two decks.
For my match, I used my exact same triad lineup from last year, going with an artifact heavy trio of my Russian Amphora Captura deck (I think it translates as Shaman Fox, Fast Swine), my 13 mutant DAV deck (Patch, Weirdhollow Mutant), and my Quixxle Stone deck (E. Zambian, Techie of the Warped College). My opponent was VanceMadrox from Gettin’ Floomfy Wit It. He was one of my favorite opponents of the season. He was a good player, but also seemed like a really nice guy. We chatted a bit about our Vault Tour experiences on DMs before the match. He brought The Bronco that Heard About the Lair, “Scorpione”, Ufficiale di Fagioloventoso, and The Shepherdly Green Hive Warden. I didn’t love the fact that all three of his decks had artifact control. However, I got lucky in the fact that the artifact control didn’t come out at the right times, and I was able to win the match two games to zero, running my record to 3-0.
Unfortunately, my fears about triad week proved to be well-founded. We played well, winning four games, but there was an ugly incident in quickdraw’s game. His opponent, kastravir, had placed the pips differently on TCO than they were on the verification picture. That proved to be decisive, as quickdraw was at two keys and a bunch of Æmber, and kastravir was able to pull him off check and win game two and the match only because of that misplaced capture pip. quickdraw believed it was an honest mistake, and chose not to pursue it, but it left a sour taste in everyone’s mouths afterwards. I will say that quickdraw handled it with a lot more grace than I would have.
Of course, it wouldn’t have made a difference in the week, as we lost the feature match and we dropped the week, losing first place. I was at least happy to see that we had three undefeated players at this point, as yrstruly and BHawk joined me in the undefeated ranks. That was about to change in the next week, though.
Week 4 – Sealed Adaptive
This week the Brabble Rabble was set to face Horsemen of the Hiatus. Obviously the team was a bit different, but they were last year’s winners, and seemed to have a very strong team again this year. They were captained by drazkor, one of the best sealed players in the world, and also featured other notable players such as dasyog, Emperor Riku, and my former teammate MiBluffin.
To this point I was undefeated in my entire time in ABR, with a total record of 12-0 over two seasons. I was set to face Emperor Riku; he was keenly aware of this fact, and intended to knock out the streak. I was worried. I have a lot of respect for all my ABR opponents, but I knew that Riku was especially good, and might be the toughest opponent that I had ever faced in ABR. Even worse, he was a fan of my articles, and so he had an insight into my thinking that I did not have into his.
I really liked the deck that I got from the sealed pool, Gemello di Priscilla “Baffo” la Gelosa. It was a very strong DT deck, and ran up a great record in my practice matches with it. Riku brought Lamar il Pulito, Architetto del Tornado, a very complex DT deck. In general, I think there were more DT decks than anything else chosen this week, just because DT is so hard to play correctly without practice. That makes it ideal for adaptive.
I was able to take game one. Riku later claimed that he made a misplay that contributed to the win, but I didn’t notice it at the time. I watched how he played his deck and tried to learn it, but it didn’t go well for me in game two. I am not sure if I played it wrong, or if I just drew badly, but either way he was able to win game two without too much trouble. By this point, I was convinced that my deck was the better deck, and I thought that a disparity of about five chains seemed correct, so I took my deck with five chains in the bidding. I shed the chains early in the game without getting too far behind, but that’s when his deck finally started to click. He was making plays with it that I simply hadn’t seen, and he ended up taking game three, ending my winning streak. I have to give him all kinds of credit for the win. He outplayed me, learning my deck faster than I could learn his. It was the first time in ABR that I had been truly outplayed like that, and it was a very humbling experience for me. It made me realize that while I am a very good Keyforge player, I haven’t yet entered the ranks of the truly great Keyforge players.
What made me feel even worse than the individual loss was how it affected the team. We went 5-5 this week and lost the feature match, meaning that we dropped another week. I take responsibility for the team’s loss. If I had played better and won my game, that would have been enough to get us the win for the week despite the feature match. I knew that jtrussell counted on me to provide that team win each week, and I felt bad letting him and the rest of the team down. yrstruly and BHawk both went down as well, so now we were out of undefeated players in total.
Week 5 – Exchange
Week five featured one of the types of formats that I really dislike. Any format that involves “bring a bunch of almost equivalent decks, and then your opponent picks” is not my cup of tea. Lots of players enjoy these types of formats, and I don’t begrudge them this at all, but they’re not my favorite.
The way the Exchange format works is that you bring two decks. Your opponent takes one of the decks, and you take one of their decks. At that point, you effectively play triad with the two decks you have left, needing to win with both decks. kiddynamite and I did a lot of testing for this week, with me trying to figure out how to balance two decks. I ended up bringing my Obsidian Forge and Soul Snatcher deck (The Rebellious Mechanic of Wonderframe) and my Thai DAV deck (I think it translates as L. Holt, Spokesman for the Primitive Auditorium, according to Google). My opponent this week was Gorlami, and he brought Boss Gorgomink Domínguez and Orangeox, the Recordkeeper Seamstress. He took L. Holt, and I took Orangeox.
In game one, we had my two decks face off against each other. Rebellious Mechanic overwhelmed L. Holt with fast Æmber generation, and I won the match pretty easily. In game two, he came back strong with L. Holt easily beating Orangeox. However, I felt like taking the loss there was helpful, as it gave me time to learn how to use Orangeox. I know some people advocate for bringing weaker decks in Exchange, but I like bringing stronger decks, getting the game one win, and then giving yourself two games to learn the opponent’s deck. My strategy paid off, too, as I was able to use Orangeox well in the final game to beat Gorgomink and win the match two games to one. It didn’t help Gorlami that his Wild Wormholes kept fetching Weasand of all things. I was now up to 4-1.
This was our team’s most dominant week. We lost the feature match, because of course we did, but we were able to win eight of the other games to get ourselves back into the thick of things in the standings. All our practice paid off, because kiddynamite was also able to take down his Exchange match.
Week 6 – 60 SAS Cap
This was the week that I always knew that I was going to borrow a deck for. I didn’t love any of my 60 SAS cap options. I had one DT deck that was a 54 that was okay, but I didn’t feel like it was good enough to use. I practiced with Gmanic, and he offered to let me use Mantell of Regimia Colonnade. The deck was very fast, and had a Crushing Charge, which resembles a board sweep if you squint really hard. I liked it and decided to use it.
My opponent this week was FlamingHobo, the guy who runs ABR, and is also one of the best players. SAS cap is not my strength as a format, so I thought I was likely to take my second loss this week. FlamingHobo brought Logically Morbid Emerson. TCO RNG shined on me in this game. Mantell got off to a super fast start, and I was up a key before anyone could blink. Every time FlamingHobo got my board under control and started to threaten, Crushing Charge would show up to end the threat. It ended up being a pretty easy win, running my record to 5-1.
The team results were a little less great, unfortunately. Gmanic used his other top SAS cap deck in the feature match, but I don’t think it was quite as strong as Mantell, and he lost. Our record was 5-5, so losing the feature match again cost us the week. I do have to point out nowinstereo’s game here. He had the strongest 60 SAS cap deck I have ever seen, a monster that used Library Access, Phase Shift, and Battle Fleet to effectively go off with a LANS turn. He looked like he was about to lose when he finally sent his combo off, and his opponent never had a chance after that. It was pretty epic.
Week 7 – Archon
If you remember back to triad week, I said I was worried about two weeks: triad and archon. Our team simply didn’t have the bulk of strong, high SAS decks that a lot of other teams had. Going into this week, Arly and I spent a long time looking at the decks that our opponents had available and trying to figure out the feature match, which he was playing in. We had planned to let him use Mira, my strongest deck, and by SAS the strongest deck on our entire team. However, one of his potential opponents, GenRenegade, had a deck that was a nightmare matchup for Mira – Valle, Pania’s Outlaw. Of course, his other potential opponent was disthis, and I found it hard to believe that Markon’s Revenge wouldn’t use such a well known player in a feature match at some point. With archon being the final week, I thought this would be the week that they would use him.
Arly, jtrussell, and I spent a long time having discussions back and forth and figuring out what to do. Should we stick with Mira and hope that they used disthis in the feature match, or should we switch out in case they used GenRenegade in the feature match? My gut told me that they were going to use GenRenegade in the feature match, because a player with a deck that amazing was going to want to use it. However, my head disagreed and told me that if we switched out Mira and then lost, we were going to forever regret second-guessing ourselves. We ended up deciding to stick with Mira, and I take responsibility for the disaster that followed.
We were technically in the playoffs at this point, but we could easily be knocked out with a bad week. Unfortunately, that bad week manifested itself right off the bat when we took three quick losses to begin the week. One of those was probably my fault, as I convinced Krill to borrow a stronger deck than the one he intended to use, but he probably didn’t have enough time to learn it before his match.
At this point, we were in significant danger of being knocked out of the playoffs. We were down three games, and all but certain to lose the feature match, and a lot of that was my fault. We desperately needed a win, and we were up to my game. I was to face AsuraHS, who brought Ulysses “Witness” Carbowarp to the Crucible. I was playing my favorite competitive deck, Winter the Absurdly Wistful, a double Ultra Gravitron deck with strong Star Alliance and Dis. However, Etan’s Jar was a huge concern to me. If they could Jar the Gravitrons, I would be in a lot of trouble. Game one their first play was Jar on Gravitron. I wasn’t happy, but I did the best I could, and ended up winning fairly easily thanks to the double Mark of Dis. Game two they went first, and played some random card. I was happy that they didn’t have Jar in the opening hand, and I played out a quick Star Alliance turn to dump cards. I was really excited when I drew into both Ultra Gravitrons. I was considerably less excited when Asura came down with Jar on Gravitron on turn two. I did a lot of swearing at the computer and TCO in general, and then I calmed down and proceeded to win the game, dumping the Gravitrons and playing the other two houses to the win. This win was really satisfying in two ways. First, it was great to see that Winter could beat a Jar deck so easily even with Jar coming early both games. In fact, Winter also recently beat a Quixxle Stone deck in KFPL, so it’s pretty amazing what that deck can do, beating decks it has no right to beat. It’s way better than it looks.
Second, and more importantly, this win gave us some momentum. In baseball, there’s a concept called a stopper. Your stopper is your best pitcher, and they’re called a stopper because they stop your losing streaks. I was happy to serve as my team’s stopper in this case. Of course, one win wasn’t enough. We needed more. After me, the next player up was nowinstereo, and he got the W to bring us to two wins. Now we were starting to develop some momentum, and everything was down to kiddynamite. If he could win, we clinched a playoff spot.
kiddynamite has a 90 SAS deck called Warlord Megashield Fairtrade. It’s a very good deck on paper, but in our testing my decks kept pummeling it over and over again. We finally realized that the problem might be the deck, and so we switched it out. kiddynamite took my double gigantic deck, „Der Äther“ der Strenge, and his results started turning around. It’s an extremely strong deck, having gone 5-1 in KFPL with two bans as of this writing. We knew it was the deck that he had to use.
His opponent was ewok_jr. I know ewok from the Archon’s Corner podcast and the AC weekly events, so I know that he is a very tough opponent. In game one, kiddynamite didn’t draw well, Strenge couldn’t find its artifacts, and ewok managed to pick up the win. I dropped a quick message to kiddynamite, noting that he had really bad luck in game one and encouraging him to stay the course, and in his reply he was full of confidence that he would get things turned around. He did, too. Despite being a four SAS underdog, Strenge overwhelmed Xandre “Miss Checkmate” Jekkel in the latter two games, and kiddynamite piloted us to the playoffs.
The team had a late rally to push to 5-5 this week, though unfortunately we did lose the feature match due to my error I described earlier. Arly did put up a good fight in a basically impossible matchup, though. Regardless, the 5-5 record was enough to put us into the playoffs in third place.
In the ABR playoffs, each player on the team chooses a different format to take on, and then they play a two round elimination bracket with the players from the other three teams that chose that format. A win in the first round earns 1 point, and a win in the finals earns 2 points, meaning that one player could potentially contribute 3 points total to their team’s score. Additionally, Floomf started with 3 points for their first place regular season finish, Markon’s Revenge started with 2 points for second, we started with 1 point for third, and the Grand Hobo Council started with 0 points for fourth.
For the Rabble, we had jtrussell playing Jank (five or more antisynergy), nowinstereo playing Oubliette, quickdraw playing Moirai, kiddynamite playing Exchange, yrstruly playing SAS cap, Arly playing Reversal, Gmanic playing Sealed Archon, Krill playing Adaptive, BHawk playing Triad, and I was playing Archon.
For Jank, jtrussell took The Nebulous Operator, my favorite deck, and the same deck I used back in adaptive week. When I saw his matchup against kastravir’s deck The Working Witch of Elstreet, I figured jtrussell had an easy win. I think that if I play Operator against the Working Witch twenty times, I win nineteen of those games. Unfortunately, jtrussell had been busy during the week before, and we hadn’t had a chance to get together and practice with Operator. It’s a deck with a very specific gameplan, and he didn’t know the gameplan. As a result, there were a few mistakes made, and he ended up losing.
For Oubliette, nowinstereo brought jtrussell’s deck Brikblade of the Commander’s Guildhall and my deck Lord Lawname Jaxson (the same one that Gmanic used during triad week). nowinstereo was hoping that Brikblade would get banned and it would land him on Jaxson, but the opposite occurred, and unfortunately he went down against PunchDeLeon, who would go on to win the entire Oubliette bracket.
I was very happy that quickdraw opted to take on Moirai so I didn’t have to. As I mentioned earlier, it is in that group of formats that I have no interest in. He was matched up against jtrussell’s brother, strussell, and quickdraw dropped game one. We were all a bit nervous, but he assured us that it was all part of the plan. Based on the matchup, he knew he would lose game one. I do have to point out, though, that a TCO bug contributed to his loss, as Groundbreaking Discovery went off while a creature was warded with upgrades on it. TCO did not destroy the upgrades like it should have, and that contributed to the loss. In game two, he managed to come back with the win, leading to game three, the short adaptive match. Unfortunately, TCO bugs reared their ugly head again in game three. There was a Chronophage in play with two damage on it. quickdraw played a creature with a damage pip on it, killing the Chronophage. Based on the fact that the Chronophage was now dead in the bonus icon phase, the Omega should not have been there in the creature’s text box to trigger. Unfortunately, TCO didn’t see it that way, and quickdraw lost the match. Nobody had rougher luck with iffy situations than quickdraw this season.
yrstruly was our SAS cap player. He’s an excellent Keyforge player, but can be a bit scattered, and so he didn’t get his decks in on time. This led to jtrussell having to pick a deck for him, and it was not the deck that yrstruly would have picked. To make matters worse, he was matched up against ewok_jr, who took about 1.5 seconds to sniff out the Loot the Bodies and Coward’s End strategy the deck wanted to play, and so ewok didn’t feed into it. Unfortunately, yrstruly ended up taking the L, continuing the not great start to our playoffs.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Gmanic’s Sealed game, but it’s my understanding that he had some bad RNG. He was matched up against disthis, who is an excellent player, so the combination of the two factors was likely too much. He ended up getting beaten, which was an unfortunate end to what was a really good first ABR season for him.
Speaking of bad RNG, Arly’s miserable luck continued. He was without a doubt the person with the worst luck on our team this season. Nothing would come out right for him, and this week was no exception. He was using his excellent (terrible?) Reversal deck, Skyym, Library Emperor, and while his opponent (Snowboy) brought a solid reversal deck as well, I felt like Arly should win that match in most circumstances, as Skyym couldn’t deal with the board that Arly would be able to throw down. Unfortunately, Skyym drew out perfectly for Snowboy, and Arly ended up with a rough finish to a rough season.
kiddynamite was our Exchange player, and he was matched up against MarkH, the captain of Markon’s Revenge. I don’t know MarkH well, but he is an excellent player by reputation, so I figured that kiddynamite was going to have his hands full. I didn’t get to see the match, but I know that kiddynamite brought two decks that he felt good about, and was able to win the match, earning us our first playoff point.
BHawk was our Triad player, and he brought a lineup that included Presscorn, The Envoy who Eats the Bank (great name!), G. Red, artisan du colisée des ondes, and Стратег Швейк. I believe that G. Red is one of the best decks in Keyforge, so I was glad to see it in his lineup. His opponent was FlamingHobo, the same player I played against in SAS cap week, and BHawk was also able to defeat him, winning the Triad two games to one.
For Adaptive, we had Krill going. Krill was the ABR Adaptive champion last season, where he came from a 2-5 record in the regular season to win the Adaptive playoffs. Adaptive seemed to be his format, so I hoped that he could do it again here. His opponent was Logancomposer. Krill brought his favorite Adaptive deck, Cryspa, Conservatory Archivist, while Logan brought Lily “Overbite” Pseudoeaton. To my surprise, Krill won without having to go to a third game, although I do believe that the double Binding Irons in Cryspa would have made things weird if it had gone to a third game.
Finally, we come to my match. I was facing GenRenegade and his ridiculous deck Valle, Pania’s Outlaw. This was the same deck that had beaten Arly when he was using Mira in Week 7. Thankfully for me, I had an inkling that this might happen, and so I didn’t lead off with Mira. Instead, I led off with Winter the Absurdly Wistful, the same deck that I used during archon week. The matchup was still tough, but I felt like Winter had a significantly better shot in the matchup than Mira did.
Winter did what it does, and raced ahead. GenRenegade couldn’t get his cards to come down correctly, and the Mark of Dis’s were messing up his flow. When he had to waste the Tribute, which was the key card in the deck, I knew I had it. The second game went much the same way, and I ended up winning two games to zero. For a deck with no artifact control, no board sweep, and little Æmber control, Winter wins a lot more than it probably should.
In the end, we had four wins in the first round of the playoffs. Floomf had a staggering nine wins, taking their only loss from their captain, JulieJuly, who got beaten in reversal. Markon’s Revenge also had four wins, and Grand Hobo Council had three wins. We all knew that the playoffs were already over, and it was going to be a battle for second place. That battle would play out in the second week of the playoffs – the finals.
Our first player up in the finals was kiddynamite, and he would be playing ReddTrain in the Exchange finals. ReddTrain is a friend of mine from back when I used to play the AC events a lot, and it’s good to see him having recent Keyforge success. kiddynamite and I did a lot of practice to test decks, and we finally came up with a pair that we felt he could win with from either direction. He would pair B. Kingsley, Spy of the Miserly Basilica, his triple Infurnace deck, with Justice, Laboratory Minion, my MM mutant rush deck. We expected that ReddTrain would take Kingsley, and that’s exactly what happened. ReddTrain brought Vyia, the Naysayer of The Hatchery and Mushkat, the Druid Animal. kiddynamite took Mushkat, which I think was the right call. It had a Gangernaut combo, a Martian Generosity, and triple Shards. Vyia did have double Poltergeist for the artifacts, but I still liked the pick. In the first game, Reddtrain used Vyia, and kiddynamite ran over it with Justice to go up 1-0. In the second game, ReddTrain switched to Kingsley and predictably dominated Mushkat. 1-1. Now it was down to playing ReddTrain’s two decks. I think kiddynamite played a solid game, but the Martian Generosity was buried in the bottom three cards, and he couldn’t really get anything going. He lost, but I don’t want to take away from the great season he had. As a relatively new player, putting up a winning record in ABR and making it to the finals is no small feat.
Our second player to go in the finals was Krill, who would be facing rhhaeder, our mutual teammate last year in ABR. This was a bizarre match. Krill got a fantastic hand in game one, drawing out all twelve of his Dis cards by the time he was halfway through his deck. rhhaeder had a Strange Gizmo out and was about to forge, so Krill threw down The Sting, which was brilliant. I made sure to get a rules clarification from blinkingline, the ABR judge, and he confirmed that The Sting would go off and acquire the Æmber before it then got blown up by Strange Gizmo. Unfortunately, the interaction never occurred. rhhaeder had Internet connection issues and had to concede the game. They tried to reschedule, but rhhaeder continued to have the same issues, and eventually just conceded the match. Krill wasn’t crazy about winning that way, but he was still the ABR Adaptive champion two years in a row. The man can play some Adaptive!
I had our third finals match, and I would be facing VanceMadrox, who I had first played back in Week 3. He had gotten to the finals by defeating Big Z, who was playing my old nemesis, “Galaxy” Tycho, Manor Arrowsmith. It was the deck that had beaten me in the Vault Tour finals at Albany, so I thanked Vance for knocking it out for me. The deck Vance was playing was one of the scariest I had faced yet. It belonged to x073d (Joe), and it was a double Martian Generosity and Key Abduction deck. I fully realized that all it would take is one opportunity, and it would OTK (one turn kill) me. In case you’re curious, the deck was called N. Y. Moore, Ninja del Diniego.
In game one, I rushed as fast as I could. I got to two keys and was threatening my third key when the OTK went off. Vance even misplayed, firing off his first Key Abduction when I still had a Bronze Key Imp in play, but it didn’t matter. He easily recovered, killed the Imp with a Beambuckler, and then went on to forge all three keys on one turn. To be frank, I am surprised that they ever let Martian Generosity be printed in doubles. That seems like a card that should have been limited to a one of.
In game two, I found myself with three Dis creatures on the board, with one of them being Tezmal. I figured Vance couldn’t Genka if he couldn’t call Mars. I reaped the Tezmal, locked him out of Mars, and he conceded. It turned out that his entire hand was Mars. It’s not often you get a Guntus lock with a single Tezmal, but I’ll take it.
We moved on to game three. I wanted to get the Tezmal lock again, but Vance used Oubliette on the Tezmal, so that was the end of that. I was using Charette as my trump card in this match. At one point he burst to five Æmber, getting ready to Genka. I had very few cards left in my deck, and I knew one of them was Unlocked Gateway. I called Logos, activated both of my Library of Babbles, and drew the Gateway. I played it off a Helper Bot, killing my Charette and forcing Vance to forge a key. He later managed to activate a Martian Generosity, but all Vance could do was play one Mars creature and a sad Hypnotic Command to keep me from winning. I came back with a Shadows turn to keep his Æmber low and go back to check, and that was enough to win the game and the match.
I was especially proud of that win because I knew that I had to play perfectly the entire time to even have a chance, and I felt like I did that. I thought through all my turns, avoided mistakes, and generally played the type of game that you have to play in a high level competitive game against a high level opponent with a high level deck.
Once my game was done, we only had one game left, BHawk taking on Ryze. CakeFoodSupreme beating Snowboy in a game unrelated to us had actually locked up our final standing, so the game was meaningless, but there was still pride on the line. We wanted as strong a finish as possible. BHawk had a triad lineup featuring jtrussell’s double BRIG deck, Azlan “Sov Architect” Kimball, and it got banned. That meant that he would be playing his own deck, Xtreem-Ra, the “Criminal” of Mystery, and my deck, „Der Äther“ der Strenge. I had tried to convince BHawk to use Strenge in the first round, but he doesn’t like Niffle Kong, so he didn’t use it. I was glad to see him take it in this round.
In the first game, BHawk used Xtreem-Ra against Ryze’s deck Raskolnikov of Suniar Lakehouse. BHawk got out to an early lead, but the game swung on the second key. Ryze kept holding BHawk off of forging, until BHawk was finally at ten Æmber, and then Ryze unleashed Interdimensional Graft. BHawk had been trying to defend against that, but his Scrambler Storm was buried. Ryze took Game 1.
In Game 2, BHawk got behind early against The Dean of Talonmeadow, but Xtreem-Ra fought back and eventually picked up the win. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the end of the game because TCO disconnected me and I didn’t notice it until it was too late, but I was still glad that BHawk won.
I was also confident that he was going to win the third game. Talonmeadow seemed like a solid deck, but I didn’t think that it was going to match up well against Strenge. Strenge simply has too many threats. Ryze did get some incredible luck with his Neutron Sharks, wiping BHawk’s board twice with it, but it almost didn’t matter. BHawk just kept throwing down more threats that Ryze couldn’t answer, and eventually used Mark of Dis to lock up the win.
For the second straight season, we finished in second place in ABR. Finishing second is kind of my thing, and apparently that even applies to teams that I am on. I was tremendously lucky to have been a member of the Brabble Rabble. jtrussell is a phenomenal captain, very fair and even-keeled. The enthusiasm of the team was tremendous, too. You would be hard-pressed to find a game that we were participating in where we didn’t have at least a couple spectators, and usually we had five or more. I can’t remember a single game where the other team had more spectators than we did. Gmanic almost never missed a game, and jtrussell, Arly, quickdraw, and I were all frequent spectators as well.
Our team was also a tremendous practice resource. I played many practice games against Gmanic, quickdraw, Arly, and kiddynamite. I know at the end of the season Arly felt bad about his record, but his contributions to the team were valuable in so many ways that don’t show up on the scoresheet. For me, he served as a sounding board, an advice giver, and of course a fantastic and frequent practice partner.
After two seasons under jtrussell, I fully believe that the key to building a successful team has less to do with your deck library and more to do with the people on the team. The only team that finished ahead of us, Gettin’ Floomfy Wit It, was another team that frequently flooded games with spectators. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think teams with a lot of camaraderie tend to have better records in the end.
I once again loved playing ABR. It’s my favorite league, and I look forward to playing in Season 8. I know that I probably won’t get picked by jtrussell again, but I am sure there are other great captains out there that would be fun to play for. Either way, I am excited for the challenge of a new season.
If you have any questions or comments, I can be found on most Keyforge Discords and on TCO as SecondAct.