TaKtiX: Warlord CCG guest column

Guest and occasional columnists for the Warlord CCG

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Couple o' Doubles Decks

Doubles is probably my favorite format right now. It's fast, and it's fun, and it's brutal. And playing the game as part of a smoothly functioning, well-synced team is much more satifsying to me than going solo. I spent most of my prep-time for Kubla Con working on doubles decks with Jason Partee (The Maker), with whom I have fought many a doubles battle.

We went with Tavis Jape and Trevaine Cartwright this time around, with Jason playing Tavis and me playing Trevaine. Our decks were well tuned, and pretty much balls to the wall cheese. What follows is the decklists, match history, and notes on some of the card choices.

First, here's my Trevaine Deck:

Trevaine Cartwright
2 Glenn the Blaze
3 Jiyacin Fret

Characters (19):
1 Glenn the Blaze
3 Amoudasi's Wrath
3 Kun Iacob
3 Brother Dominy
3 Jal Forsyth
3 Tseleuse Worm
3 Aida

Actions (14)
3 Tzin's Attention
3 Misear Diplomacy
2 Sneak
3 Exhaustion
2 Too Fast to See

Items (12)
2 Amulet of Waking
3 Black Steel Dagger
1 Shadow of Jealousy
1 Gloves of Mischief
2 Armor of Blending
3 Cloud Racer

There are 12 cards in the deck that deal with Astral/Ethereal characters (Tzin's Attention, Kun Iacob, Misear Diplomacy, and Amoudasi's Wrath). This is because I'm a Rogue player, Rogues hate Astral/Ethereal characters, and it gives me great satisfaction to kill them dead, dead dead.

The Glenn the Blazes were a last minute swap for Dreiga, to up the number of strikes in my start and allow me to run Tzin's Attention; the Attentions were originally two Infinity's Ends and a Shadow of Jealousy. This proved to be a critical swap. Dreiga is too slow and too fragile for doubles, and the extra strikes from the Glenn the Blazes helped immensely (he kills Brine Fiends quite effectively). Tzin's Attention is simply one of the best cards in the game right now; the effect it has on Astral/Ethereal characters is only the beginning of the niceness of the card -- wounding and spending stuff is much better than sitting around with an Infinity's End in your hand, waiting for your opponent to do something stupid.

There are 8 movement cards in the main deck to back up the Frets (counting Amulet of Waking as movement), plus 3 Black Steel Daggers to boost Trevaine's attack, and 8 defensive cards to protect Trevaine just in case the going gets rough. A fair chunk of playtesting time was spent getting that balance right -- you want to have a little bit of everything in a Rogue deck, but with so many good options, it can be difficult to decide just how much of any specific thing to have.

If I were to go single player with the deck, I'd probably run one Dreiga in the start, to make up for the lack of Kallistone on my partner's side of the table. I'd also consider Zaina's Treachery, as Trevaine will get swung at a lot more in a one on one match.

Here's what The Maker sent me when I asked him for his Tavis decklist:

Decklist hmmmm
Lets see, there was:
Janky Cheese
Cheesy Jank

After he had settled down a bit, I got this out of him:

1 Tavis
2 Amoudasi's Wrath
3 Amoudasi's Fire

Characters (19)
1 Amoudasi's Wrath
3 Spirit Wing
3 Brine Fiend
2 Stirges
2 Spot
3 Ss'saurth
1 Antaleus
2 Kabyrr the Insane
2 Venomhiss

Actions (21)
3 Scourge Of Dythanus
1 Saving Grace
2 Tzin's Attention
3 Final Power
2 Veiled Passing
3 Blast
2 Curse of Heartless Lies
3 Exhaustion
3 Elemental Madness

Items (4)
2 Kallistone
2 Recruiters Orders

The changes this deck went through during playtesting mainly involved stripping healing and other reactive cards out and throwing in more spells that generated strikes. We wound up with four healing spells, 7 "screw you" cards (2 Kallistone, 3 Elemental Madness and 2 Veiled Passing), and pretty much all of the rest of the deck was strikes, again under the theory that it's generally much better to kill stuff than to wait around and react to stuff once it tries to kill you.

We didn't run Blind the Gods, as we hadn't really absorbed Eye of the Storm enough to appreciate the card pre Kubla-Con. I'm still a little bit skeptical that the card is as awesome as people think it is, and I wouldn't automatically throw it into this combo -- Trevaine likes having cards in hand -- but BtG is definitely something to think about if you're going to run this deck in singles,

The Tavis/Trevaine Combo works for three reasons:
1) They're both overpowered Warlords
2) Tavis' -3 to things has fine synergy with Trevaine's "I smack you in the face if you miss" ability.
3) We found in playtesting that it is generally the wrong move to go after Tavis first in a Tavis/X combo. His advantage is about early game hit percentages rather than raw action superiority or efficient build, which means that he generally doesn't have the mojo to cut through two Warlords if his partner gets knocked out. What he does have is a tough Merc starting army that will almost guarantee that he absorbs opposing strikes thrown against him and survives into the second turn. Trevaine's Jiyacin Frets encourage people to make that wrong choice and make a futile move for Tavis' head first, which means that they wind up fighting a hard game against a fully built and supported Trevaine from one side, whilst suffering a -3 penalty to their rolls and taking little potshots to the head from weenie mercenaries on the other.

Here's how our matches went:

1) vs. Durin Kortouched and Yscar the Elder

Durin was a build deck with a lot of nasty powerattacking dwarves. Yscar was running as a straightforward frontline Rogue.

Durin started 2x Demented in the second rank, which made things a bit tricky. With no Amulets of Waking in hand, I didn't want to risk Trevaine getting stunned, and we had to play around the Dementeds. Luckily, Yscar the Elder just doesn't have the juice to stand toe-to-toe with Trevaine. We softened Durin around the edges, took care of the Lycanthrope when he hit the front rank, and then it was two against one, and Durin couldn't hold out against us. (It didn't help that the Durin player had accidently left a critical weapon in his deck box, though we pretty much had the game by the time he got around to searching for it, and discovered that it wasn't there; I don't think that the outcome would have necessarily been different had he been able to equip it.)

2) vs. Cathel Rowan and Krun.

This was a team from Reno running Cathel ranged strikes + a rather cool Krun deck that equipped a bunch of the high level Hero's Gambit fighter stuff, with Contest Thy Title for extra juice. Unfortunately, the Reno players had made weak choices for their starting army, and we were able to disintegrate their start after locking Krun down with Tzin's Attention. Frontline fighters don't like being forced to make saves or spend.

3) vs. Lord Gahid and the Doom Kitty

This was a straightforward front line Gahid coupled with Kestrel for nasty tricks and bonuses. The Gahid player made a critical play error when he neglected to play Ghed Nuri in response to my first turn Tzin's Attention. I still feel pretty confident when I face front line fighters -- Devs are tough, but Rogues like Trevaine are made to kill front liners -- but the match would've been much closer had it not been for that mistake.

As it was, Gahid took out most, but not all, of my starting army with a Bear's Soul + Circle kick, and then died, and Kestrel couldn't hold out after he had lost his right hand man.

4) Bronwen and the Lady of Mercy

Tricky choice -- both are third rank Warlords, so you don't have the usual "right" choice of softening the support Warlord first, going after the front ranker when you have the opportunity, and then finishing off the support. We opted to go for the Lady, as FreeKs have a more fragile start than Elves, and that choice seems to have been the right one. Somas and Javvyns softened Tavis' ranks enough so that he was stunned in the front by the first turn, but the Lady was stunned by that time, too, and we still had some extra actions and strikes to take her out. Again, Tavis doesn't really care about being stunned up, so long as he made the right choice about being good or evil before he got stunned. Bronwen died the next turn.

And that was doubles. There were enough teams for four rounds, but not really enough to justify cutting to an elimination round. As the only undefeated team, we took first -- the Lady and Bronwen took second. We didn't go for originality. We just went for raw power, and tested the hell out of out decks and tightened them up as much as possible, and it worked. Which was nice, because my 2-4 record in singles the previous day stung just a bit, all my writing about keeping one's ego out of the game aside ...


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