In the previous episode of “Aurore attempts to become the champion of other nations” I got to the Archon Alliance finals with a losing mindset due to not discussing the option of going to worlds with my family. After the event I had a call with Techslut in which she very plainly said “go win”. That said, I had a rough time coming up to nationals. What I thought was merely allergies in Denmark turned out to be something worse and I needed three days to recover. I arrived at nationals with a “going to meet some people and have a good time” mindset, despite Techslut support and encouragement.
The UK venue was the D20 board game cafe, which immediately made me comfortable with numerous pride flags and other inclusive signage. The place was packed with 45 players participating in the Archon Standard event on Saturday. I met a few people I knew from before, and a few I have known online. The lack of stream was unfortunate, but with the larger event it promised to be a great weekend of forging keys. As preciously stated. I only brought Bazi with me to avoid waffling on decks at the last minute. Plus, any waffling will likely be the result of previous losses, and as we know, losing doesn’t mean I brought the wrong deck.
My round 1 opponent played Scyroid Baku, the Shadowed and Shady. Looking over the list I remember thinking that the creature control seems like overkill, but in retrospect it seems like my opponent was being prepared for Woe. I didn’t face much WoE over the weekend, which makes sense due to the late arrival of pledges to Europe. It’s hard to recall details about the game almost a week later, but I do recall feeling pretty good about my opponent’s choices of Jar and Infurnace targets. I won, but I don’t remember specifics.
My round 2 opponent played Georges, Durable Mirage Ratcatcher. This deck is very intimidating and poses many issues for Bazi. The TMTP comeback to a big Library Access turn, Odoac stopping my steal, and all the capture disrupting my rush. But worse of all is Primus Unguis. See, Bazi doesn’t have any creature destruction abilities, only damage. A big Primus Unguis on the board with 3+ Æmber on it effectively means no enemy creature is going to die ever again. All those threats were amplifies when I played a Logos turn, playing out a few cards and ending my turn with a Timetraveller drawing my Library Access. With a bunch of Logos cards in the discard, my best choice is to discard my Library Access and hope to get Help from Future Self to shuffle it back in and draw it later. Unfortunately my opponent established a board and reaped out before I could do anything.
My round 3 opponent played Wretch Riddlesby. This deck is terrifying. 2 Ember Imps and a Restringuntus that can all hide behind a Shadow Self? Shudder. Fortunately for me, my opponent chose to play two Shadow Selfs on the flanks of two Logos creatures and then playing Poison Wave, which put 4 damage on each Shadow Self and bringing them well within range of fighting them down with Sanctum. After taking care of the Shadow Selfs I exploded into an LA+TT turn that left them in the dust.
My round 4 opponent played Montgomery of Bridelitton Canyon. I remember exactly one thing about this game: me being a dick. My opponent had a Gezrăhi Blacksmith out, and at some point during their turn they remembered they didn’t trigger it. I respond with “Make a token creature” they say “I rather draw a card” and I don’t let them. Now, I think that making a tokens is the more neutral resolution, but if I missed the trigger, would they force me to choose to make a token creature with a Call of the Archons deck? Unlikely. I also know that the reason I forced them to make a token was because I was holding Glorious Few. I don’t think it mattered to the result of the game, but it was still a dick move and I will do my best to avoid doing so in the future. If you’re reading this, I’m sorry.
My round 5 opponent played Lumbering Orville of the Launch Pad. My opponent for the round was very happy to be 3-1 as they were aiming for 2-2, and aside from that we had a bit more of a chat than usual, which was nice. The deck features Hallafest, definitely a card to look out for. Hallafest came down after several brobnar creatures were already on the board, including Harmal Atoon with dome damage. After the game I asked my opponent if I could comment on their play and when I got consent I noted they could suicide with Harmal before playing Hallafest to get a fresh Harmal with no damage. All this didn’t really matter as I went on a greart LA+TT turn that resulting in Æmber explosion followed by as many Miasmas as I needed. My opponent asked to be quoted: “I felt like I was put in a washing machine.”
At this point we discovered that instead of making top 8, 2LO was accidentally set up to cut to top 4, which meant more games. We had 9 players left which meant 2 undefeated players qualified for top 4, and the remaining 7 had to play two more rounds. 6 Players played round 6, then 4 players played round 7 to get into top 4.
My round 6 opponent played Nimble Kev of the Dimension Z played by my friend Stuart. The obvious cards to worry about were Etan’s Jar, Mark of Dis, and the two Infurnaces. Stuart opted to Jar my Whispering Reliquary, which is an interesting choice that may have helped him secure the win. My game did not go very well as my combo deck wasn’t as explosive as usual, but the real nail in my coffin was that Stuart managed to play Mark of Dis three times forcing my into awkward turns with only a single copy in his deck. It’s possible I could have prevented this, but it’s tough to anticipated so many redraws. A good game nonetheless and I finished top 8.
I was happy with my top 8 result as I didn’t even expect to go that far based on my top 8 finish in Denmark in less than half the field and being sick most of the week. My round 2 loss was to the eventual runner-up, which does put my loss into perspective. My round 6 opponent ended up losing in round 7 before making top 4, so effectively the same finish as me with an additional win.
As in Denmark, I chose not to engage with building an Alliance deck and simply brought Bazi unmodified. It’s possible I could have modified Bazi to make it better, but since the Logos pod has LA+TT I can’t include it in any alliances. I came to the event expecting a 0-2 result and was already planning to try and run a sealed side event. I decided to be cheeky and brought my Alliance Runner-up playmat instead of my Sanctumonious playmat in an effort to (jokingly) intimidate my opponents.
I didn’t record my opponent’s decklists both because I was expecting to lose and because taking pictures of 3 Archon cards and noting which houses were played from which deck was just too much effort. The vast majority of my opponents handed me 3 Archon cards and pointed at which houses they’re using. Please, if you’re playing alliances, especially in a premier event, make the effort to print out a combined list. Failing that, it should be very easy to stick a piece of paper in the sleeve with the Archon card and hide the pods not used in the alliance.
I placed my playmat facing my opponent and told them it’s my intimidation playmat, they seemed unimpressed and then pulled out 3 huge keys which definitely intimidated me! They played WoE with Brobnar, Mars, and I don’t remember the third house because it didn’t matter. Some Mars stuff happened and by turn 4 the game was over, solidifying my belief that I will 0-2 drop. But I didn’t.
I don’t remember any of my other games besides hitting some above average LA+TT turns in all of them. Above average doesn’t mean crazy good, just better than my average game, which seemed fair after the whiffs the day before. I quickly found myself in the top 8, and to my surprise I kept winning. This time I entered the finals with a winning mentality.
My finals opponent was the same player that I lost to round 2 the day before, playing a modified version of the same deck. The new deck featured the same Saurian pod with all the cards that posed an issue to me the previous day. The Logos pod was improved to include another Edai and a Shark. The Shadows house was swapped with an intimidating Dis house with Infurnaces and E’e on the Fringes.
The tension going into the game was high. It’s been a long day and we were both very tired. We were off to an untimed best of three for the title. Game 1 was a grind. I managed to fire off an explosive LA+TT turn, probably one of my best that day, but I made a mistake and left an Edai up. They joined it with a second Edai and I forged my second key for 11. After a whole lot of back and forth I finally managed to secure the win against an effectively indestructible board thanks to Unguis Primus.
Game 2 was very different. At some point during the game I told my opponent I don’t know who is going to win but it’s going to end faster; They agreed. When I said “I forge for 6” they responded with “I don’t like the sound of that”. At some point during the game my opponent had a single card in their deck and I begrudgingly asked to see the discard and Archon card to identify all the cards in their hand. I really don’t like this aspect of an always available Archon card, but it would be silly of me to not take advantage. The game ended with a similarly indestructible board but this time I was so far ahead there was nothing that could stop me.
An thus I was crowned UK national champion in Alliance, with an unmodified deck.
Winning Alliance with an unmodified deck?
Considering I got second place in Denmark and first place in the UK, are unmodified decks viable in Alliance? The short answer is no. The long answer is that this is mostly the result of people in Europe being unprepared for Alliance. Over in the US the top players have spent hundreds of hours figuring out alliance builds, practicing, and participating in events that have been shaping the meta for a long time now.
Most of my opponents played some variation on decks that they know and love, but those are mild improvements and don’t create the kind of absurd interactions you can get in alliance. Three of the top four decks in VT Vegas have been combo decks that simply win if uninterrupted. The kind of disruption that is needed to stop them needs to be meticulously planned.
This is simply to say that the caliber of alliance decks at UK nationals were simply as good as top end unmodified decks, and the players playing them had less practice with them. That, plus the way Bazi can ignore what my opponent is doing and still win is what allowed me to get to the top. That, and having played my deck over a thousand times.