Judges Pick LA – Songs of Despair Part 2

By: Chris Chibi Michaelis

What’s your name and how long have you been playing TCG’s?
Did you have any accomplishments in previous TCG’s?

My name is Michael Song, and I have been playing TCG’s for pretty much as long as I can remember. With a kid I started out with pokemon, and later eventually learned how to play MTG. I casually played MTG on and off and didn’t become an actual somewhat competitive player until the Zendikar block in 2010. Before that I did learn how to play various other TCG’s though such as Magination, Digimon, Duelmasters, Yugioh, and so on, but MTG is what kept me in due to the decision making and depth it had more than any other tcg had.
I didn’t actually have much accomplished though in magic though, most of it was just a typical FNM and sometimes an IQ or so I’d play in. I did play in GP DC last year and ended 6-3, just a little off the cut for day 2 sadly.

What are your preferred style of decks to play and why?

Honestly, pretty much any non-combo deck is what I’ll play. I feel like combo in just any tcg takes away a lot of fun and interaction inside the game and just turns it into kill me or not without doing anything. Control feels really great in FoW though since I feel the game rewards you greatly for your plays. With the state of the game right now, they did a good job of making control feel rewarding. Aggro decks in this game are more rewarding as well, decks like Bloody Grimm actually have thinking and a lot of room for error despite what some people think. They even made burn interactive which is something that never happened in magic at all.

How long have you been playing FOW? What interested you about the game or what do you like about FOW particularly?

I’ve been playing FoW since the US launch of it. My store got it in and I went there to actually play a sealed MTG event, but we didn’t get enough people and it didn’t fire. So I said screw it, teach me the new game. Started out with the trial decks and I liked how the game played. The mechanics feel smooth and less clunky at times than MTG (looking at dead blocking there) and so on. Some of the art as well stuck out to me, granted I’m not actually to big on the art but I’m not picky either. The thing I like the most is that it is a game that actually rewards you on your decisions. The two matches I lost in LA were my own fault and I know it, but at the same time, the matches I won I won and made the right predictions and used my tools correctly. I even had games where I’d get hit by variance and flip up all 5 basic darkness stones in a row and I still managed to win playing around that. The game rewards the player for actually being good more than any other TCG, its nice that I nearly never have a game where I “lost” to my own deck. Where how many times that’s happened to me in MTG, I’d rather not count.

What was the name of the event that you attended and do you recall the amount of player who attended?

While I didn’t do as great as others, this was at LA WGP Regionals where I ended 6-2 as Black/Red Dracula, a ruler that’s basically considered rouge unless he’s in his control shell with green. The deck took a lot of interest from my opponents and I got asked a lot of times to see the whole deck and wondered how it was put together.

I also did happen to win a mat during side events and 2nd place in a Desu-Nation store credit event. Granted they were small 8 man events it was giving me the practice I needed against decks that weren’t at my store which was helpful for the regionals.

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 you meta compared to other areas?

My local store is still pretty small, we get about 12 people. While we do have a pretty good area variety, it wasn’t really to much to practice against. The thing we’re missing at our store is a black/red/green Abdul player so that was pretty hard to practice against. To prepare, me and a friend worked on creating a deck that for sure needed to be good against the greedy decks with Split Heaven and Earth. To not get hurt by it as well, I needed to have a slim number or attributes. In addition to hurting the greedy decks, I needed a way to be good against burn decks as well. We imagined that the Abdul and Bahamut/Cain would be very dominant across the event. Dracula was always a strong ruler I imagined that fell off the face of the meta in a deck I feel he should be used in. I honestly don’t like the control shell of him at all. But as we made this, it turns out the deck is pretty strong against Abdul, Burn, and Grimm. Which was exactly what I needed. I’m just happy I didn’t run into anything like mono blue wererabbits where I flat out would just lose.

What deck did you decide to enter with and why?

Ruler: Alucard/Dracula
4 Servant of Vampire
4 Lora the Bloodspeaker
2 Vampire Staff
1 Vampire Bat
4 Carmilla, the Queen Vampire
2 Hastur, the Unspeakable
3 Alvarez Spells
2 Bloodsucking Impulse
2 Duel of Truth
3 Split Heaven and Earth
3 Spiral of Despair ( As shown in Songs of Despair Article Part 1 )
4 Thunder
4 Flame of Outer World
2 Whisper from the Abyss

1 Magic Stone of Fire
5 Magic Stone of Darkness
4 Magic Stone of Scorched Bales

The deck I entered was a homebrew Black/Red Dracula. As stated above I wanted to be good against whatever I saw people complaining about. During the time I saw this I knew it was going to be mostly Abdul, and after that since Ipank stated Cain beats Abdul I knew burn was going to be dominant. Grimm is just Grimm and he will always be around. So I needed a deck that was very strong against all 3 of those decks. Basically that’s how we got to the deck as it was now. Plus I got to play Dracula, a ruler I always really liked but never had an actual home for before.

Any tips for other players on how to play the deck?

Know when to be aggressive and when to not. The situation you are in and the matchup changes the deck style greatly. Sometimes you are just an aggro deck that just crushes all your opponent’s resonators with just having even one Alvarez on board. Also don’t disrespect Spiral of Despair, that is flat out the best black spell in the whole game. If you resolve just one or two of those you should have the game. Also be smart with your mulligans, when playing I usually mulligan about 3+ cards every hand digging for the tools I need for the matchup.

Would you like to clarify on any particular card choices in the deck you chose?

The things that throw off people the most are Vampire Bat, Spiral of Despair, Whisper from the Abyss, and Alvarez. Vampire Bat can just be a completely nuts win-con by itself, if your opponent leaves it unchecked for just one turn this thing can crank out insane damage creating over a 2k+ total life difference. In worst case scenario it takes the role of Vampire Servant #5 which is not bad at all. Spiral of Despair is just an insane card that should be acknowledged, disrupting any players hand will hurt them very much, even burn decks. There isn’t a deck in FoW right now that doesn’t get hurt by it. Whisper from the Abyss is a feast and famine card, some games against control its amazing but othertimes its completely dead. But this card is how to get back into the game from decks like Dark Pandora where it can refill your hand. Alvarez is just flat out nuts. Vampires are usually weak resonators with great abilities, Alvarez breaks that and makes Vampires just as strong or even stronger than that. While having the flexibilty to get something back as well, my main regret now is actually not playing 4 of it.

What was your match line up for the event? And any key matches?

At the event I played against Abdul (Black/Red/Green, this was a loss), Dark Pandora (4 attributes, no blue), Abdul (Mono Black), Dracula (Black/Red/Green), Grimm (White/Red), Dracula (Black/Red/Green), Abdul (Black/Red/Green, This was my 2nd loss), and the last deck I played against was Grimm (White/Red). In this order was my matchups. It was a little ironic that I made a deck to combat Abdul but instead I lost to both of them, but I misplayed pretty hard in those games and I feel like I could of snagged the wins.
Hmm, the main thing is against the first Black/Red/Green Dracula deck, my opponent had a Dracula+Carmilla on board and I had a rested Dracula

I attacked with Dracula, he blocked with Dracula, I used Duel of Truth targetting my Dracula and his Carmilla, he responded with ACZ, I responded with a Bloodsucking Impulse targetting my Dracula and his Carmilla, he responded with his own Bloodsucking Impulse targetting his own Dracula and his own Carmilla, then I responded with a 2nd Duel of Truth with my Dracula and his Carmilla.

Reflecting back on the event – was their any choices that you thought you should’ve made but didn’t?

While playing? Sure, the main one that hung over my head was searching for Vampire Bat thinking I had lethal on my opponent with it and not realizing he had a Grusbalesta on board and top decks Mestoph after and killing me. Pretty sure the call was supposed to be grab a Carmilla, but oh well you live and learn. Otherwise the main choice otherwise was possibly cutting 1 Vampire Staff from the mainboard and maybe adding that 4th Alvarez. Other than that, there were some play mistakes but it seems alright, nothing I’ll really think to hard over.

Do you foresee any changes in the format with the releases later in July?

Of course, the card pool is going to greatly increase with the launch of Vingolf, Alice’s Prologue Decks, and Millenia of Ages. I’m sure a few of the rulers are going to hit the metagame pretty hard (I’m looking at you Vlad). It’s hard to say what for sure is going to be good since we never really know these things until we actually get to playtest the cards against each other and learn what people are splashing for. Regardless I’m excited for whatever appears and can’t wait to use these cards myself.

What do you expect or hope will happen in the future with FOW?

I hope that the game takes off even further picks up even more in popularity. I feel this is the mechanical game we’ve been waiting for and if people weren’t so stubborn about art etc or getting into a new game, it can take off even further than it already has. I would really like it to take off past MTG but I feel that will be years away but regardless FoW will have my 100% complete support as well as my local stores in me promoting the game. I just hope the direction will be able to keep coming out with amazing cards to keep the playerbase interested as well.

Will you be attending any future event?

Sadly I most likely will not this season, I work over the weekends and so doing this type of stuff hurts my budget quite a bit. I would really like to keep going to other regionals and such but I don’t think I’ll have the time for it. I will keep following competitive FOW though and promoting it for my local stores. I’ll try to keep it down to maybe once a year for these kinds of events.

Do you have any comments you would like to add? Any tips for new Players?

Don’t be afraid to make and play your own decks. Regionals obviously shown me and my brother both played decks that weere rogue and did very well in the event. There is always something good out there that people will not know about, and some decks are obviously better against some things than others. Also if you’re afraid of getting into the game but have the lack of people to play with, remember every player base needs to start from somewhere. A lot of the times on the games launch it was just me and a friend playing in our store for a couple of hours by ourselves. The game can’t grow without a player base but even a small one will be able to make it rise up from nothing.

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