By: Chris “Chibi” Michaelis
Please introduce yourself and how long have you been playing trading card games?
My name is Robert Boyajian II and I’m from Southern California but am currently attending university in Northern California. I have been playing TCGs for as long as I can remember, starting with Pokémon but the first TCG I got really into playing was Yu-Gi-Oh!. It started off pretty casual as a kid just watching the show on Saturday morning cartoons and playing with friends and I eventually fell out of it around middle school. However, I randomly got into the competitive Yu-Gi-Oh! scene thanks to a friend a couple years into high school. From there my life basically became consumed by TCGs as I began to travel for large tournaments in 2010.
Did you have any accomplishments in previous TCG’s?
I have 12 Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series top cut finishes with one of those being a 1st place showing at YCS Gen Con Indianapolis 2011. I also have 1 World Championship Qualifier top cut finish from 2013, which I made quite a bit of use with a top 8 showing at the 2013 Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship. I have dabbled in other competitive TCGs such as Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone, but with no real notable accomplishments on the premier level.
What is your preferred style of decks to play and why?
I typically prefer to use midrange and control strategies. With these style decks, I get to make key decisions throughout the game to work my opponent into a position that I can capitalize on. I’m also like combo decks but they usually have to be super powerful or very flexible for me to use them; the more intricate the more I enjoy them, but I am not a fan of ones that are too linear and lose out to hate easily. I have never been a fan of aggressive style decks because of how “all in” they feel and how necessary it is to curve out efficiently. However, all of that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m not willing to use an aggressive deck when I think it’s the best choice.
How long have you been playing FOW and interested you about the game?
To be honest, the WGP Regional at Anime Expo was my first tournament, and basically the first time I ever really played the game. Once I found out that there was a WGP Regional local to me, I read over the rules once I think but basically had the game explained to me by my friend Jeff Jones. After that I just started reading the cards in Grimm Cluster and what deck lists were performing the best. I’m a fan of FOW for three reasons: flavor, artwork, and gameplay. I really like the themes of sets and all of the allusions, and the artwork is similar to the style of Cardfight! Vanguard which I was also a big fan of. The gameplay is some kind of mix between Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering which allows for “fixes” to possibly flawed constructions of the other games.
What was the event that you succeeded in qualifying?
I placed 3rd at the California WGP Regional; it was held in Los Angeles during Anime Expo on July 4th which had 272 participants.
Prior to the event how did you prepare for the event and what was your expectations on what you types of decks you were going to face? How is your “ META “ compared to other areas?
Because I hadn’t really tested any decks, I basically just analyzed all of the lists that were performing well and tried to pick where I wanted to be. I figured that an aggressive deck would be the easiest simply because I wouldn’t have to necessarily know what my opponent was trying to do to win, versus a control strategy that would need to use answers as efficiently as possible to deal with very specific threats in a particular way. However, I felt like Wind was the strongest place to be so I ultimately wanted to play with those cards. I saw that Abdul and Grimm were performing the best, but also that Scheherazade and Bahamut would most likely have a decent amount of representation, so I would need something flexible to combat aggressive, midrange, and control strategies. With the help of some good friends, Jeff Jones, Paul Clarke, and Mario Matheu to be specific, I was given a ton of advice and suggestions to choose from. Thanks to my sponsor, Core TCG, I was able to get all of the cards I wanted for the event. I have yet to attend a tournament in my local area, but I have heard it is primarily Abdul and Grimm.
What deck did you decide to enter with and why?
I chose to use an Abdul Control list designed by Ryan Valentino and suggested to me by Paul Clarke. He chose to play heavy amounts of counters, removal, and game ending threats which seemed like exactly where I wanted to be. It was consistent and simply had enough answers to deal with whatever, and what I sacrificed in speed with the lack of Familiar of the Holy Wind, I gained in power level.
Ruler: Ebony Prophet/Abdul Alhazred, the Harbinger of Despair
4 Mephistopheles, the Abyssal Tyrant
4 Fiethsing, the Magus of Holy Wind
4 Elvish Priest
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
4 Flame of Outer World
2 Stoning to Death
4 Absolute Cake Zone
4 Xeex the Ancient Magic
3 Exceed, the Ancient Magic
4 Magic Stone of Blasting Waves
4 Magic Stone of Black Silence
1 Feethsing, the Holy Wind Stone
1 Grusbalesta, the Sealing Stone
4 Familiar of Holy Wind
3 Glinda, the Fairy
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
3 Crime and Punishment
2 Rapid Decay
1 Law of Silence
Any tips for other players on how to play the deck(s)?
One thing I realized is that even though being efficient is very important, don’t be afraid to not utilize all of your Stones. Because you have so many cards you can play during your opponent’s turn or before your Recovery Phase, you can pretty easily utilize the Stones later. If your opponent chooses not to play cards into your open Stones because they fear counters, you are simply slowing down the game which is exactly what a control deck wants to do. You also want to make sure that you save your answers for important threats rather than just throw them at whatever your opponent is doing; good examples of this are cards like Stoning to Death or Exceed, the Ancient Magic, both of these are so powerful that you want to hold them until you really have to use them. Committing a Mephistopheles, the Abyssal Tyrant or Abdul Alhazred, the Harbinger of Despair without back up protection can also be very dangerous against strategies that have easy ways to remove it, so don’t be too aggressive. Also, you need to value your Resonators much higher than a normal control deck simply because Xeex, the Ancient Mage allows you to put a ton of damage to win you the game from nowhere; this strategy is even better if you have a few in your grave along with Necronomicon.
Would you like to clarify on any particular card choices in the deck(s) you chose?
Like I have mentioned, my main deck was built by Ryan Valentino and I liked his list the most so I used it. My side deck was subpar because I didn’t have enough time to acquire all of the cards I wanted to use, so I simply made do with what I had with me.
What was your match line up for the event(s) you can put in as much detail as you like. But pls give as a minimum the decks you faced at event(s)?
This is the rough outline of what I faced during the event:
Round 1: Abdul Control Round 2: Grimm Aggro (Loss) Round 3: Scheherazade Control Round 4: Abdul Control Round 5: Grimm Aggro Round 6: Abdul Control Round 7: Dracula Midrange Round 8: Grimm Aggro Top 8: Scheherazade Control Top 4: Bahamut Burn (Loss) ¾ Play-Off: Bahamut Midrange
Reflecting back on the event(s) – was their any choices that you thought you should’ve made but didn’t?
The only card that I would consider changing in my main deck is Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon. It is powerful against midrange but slow against aggressive decks and not necessarily the best to have against control unless you’re trying to steal a win. Depending on how aggressive the meta becomes, I could see using Familiar of the Holy Wind in my main deck but I’d want to use 4 simply because I want to draw it as early as possible to make it useful. For my side deck, I’d want to use Robe of the Fire Rat or Bind of Gravity as more cards against aggressive strategies. Familiar of the Holy Wind probably isn’t the best card to use in your side deck simply because it is only really good when you are going first, and you’d probably rather have faster answers against the match ups where you want it. However, in the main deck it can just be used to draw a card which is fine against just about anything.
Do you foresee any changes in the format with the release of Millennia/ Engage Knights later in July? ( can be minor or major)
I haven’t read all of the cards in Grimm Cluster let alone the newer sets, so while I can’t exactly give a real answer to that now, I’m sure that the format will shift a decent amount. The power level of a lot of cards seem to be very high throughout the game so I’m sure we’ll see enough awesome stuff to shake things up.
What do you expect or hope will happen in the future with FOW?
I’m hoping for good prizing at large scale tournaments so that it makes it worthwhile to travel to them. I also hope for more universal ruling clarification so that understanding specific cards or interactions is easier. I haven’t been a fan of how changes in print run effect card designs even though they are from the same set, so hopefully things will become uniform quickly.
Will you be attending any future event? (overseas included)
I will obviously be attending the World Grand Prix in Japan because I qualified, but other than that I have no plans to attend any events in the immediate future.
Do you have any comments you would like to add? Any tips for new Players? How Would you compare this to the current popular trading card games?
I would like to give a big thank you to the people who helped me: Jeff Jones, Paul Clarke, and Mario Matheu. I talked to each of them and asked them quite a lot of questions, so it was really nice having people who knew what they were doing help guide me through. I’d also like to give a thank you to Ryan Valentino because I used his list, as well as Billy Brake for playing proxied games with me even though we didn’t necessarily know all of the rules. My friends who gave me support throughout the event, Aaron Furman, Barrett Keys, Denny Yu, Billy Brake, and Michael Cawit, were also a huge help. A final thank you to my sponsor, Core TCG, for providing me with cards in order to play the event; without them I wouldn’t have been able to make this happen.