(Hey everyone! For the next few weeks, your regularly scheduled OP Blog is being replaced with the CZE Tour blog. The CZE Tour blog gives our employees the chance to talk about their experiences on the CZE Tour, whether it's going into detail about the warm welcome they got at a hobby store, or the sound beatings that were delivered onto them by participants in the CZE Tour event. Check back each week for new stories from Cryptozoic Staff as they head to a hobby store near you! -Mike)
This past weekend, I had the honor of kicking off the CZE tour 2012 in Chicago, IL. My journey began at the ungodly hour of 6am PST as I headed to the airport. My flight put me on the ground in Chicago a little after 2pm local time, giving me time to pick up my rental car, check into my hotel, and relax for a moment before the whirlwind weekend began in earnest.
My first stop was the Dice Dojo in downtown Chicago. The owner, Lex, showed me around the store, which was much larger inside than the modest storefront had led me to believe. The space used to be a video rental store. For our younger readers, these were a precursor to Netflix that actually stocked physical copies of movies – anachronistic, I know! He had several events running concurrently, so we used the back room that used to house the, ahem, adult video selections. The format was tomb of the forgotten sealed, using single game matches. My card pool at this event was absolutely absurd, featuring threes, a , a , and a . Naturally I took advantage of the dual-class hero option, and took out for a test drive.
I was certain I would go 4-0 when I built my deck, but Benjamin, one of the local Champions of the Black Flame, corrected that misconception in round 2. Playing first, he playedon the second turn, and I matched him. On his third turn, however, he slammed a on the flamecaller, eating up my ally and hitting my hero for 3 damage. When my follow-up play was an unexciting , Benjamin went for the throat, playing a second copy of the blessing, making his Flamecaller a gigantic 9/11 Sentinel ally! He then spent his remaining resources to complete . Had he revealed an ally, he would have killed me outright by swinging twice with an 11 ATK ally, but instead he settled for killing my firebreather and putting me to 12 damage. I have never cast so fast in my life, and for a brief moment thought I would be able to pull myself back into the game. Instead, he shrugged and dropped an . Needless to say, I did not win that game, though I did manage to finish with a respectable 3-1.
I cannot say the same for my record at the second tournament, held Saturday afternoon at Galactic Force, also in Chicago. I went a rather embarrassing 1-3 with a decidedly mediocrebuild. The owner, Marc, was very excited about being a hub of World of Warcraft TCG activity in the city, and his store will be the site for the Illinois State Championship this fall. Now, as some of you know, Chicago is home to some high profile WoW TCG tournament players, and Brad Watson, Matt Spreadbury and David Bodimer were all present for this event, with Brad taking home first place. Just as at Dice Dojo the night before, players here seemed quite excited to have me there, and we spent quite a bit of time discussing design philosophies, quests, and what the future holds for World of Warcraft TCG. After the tournament finished I broke out some gunslinging decks and played for a bit, but I did have to cut it short to try and make my next event, in Portage Indiana.
After fighting Chicago traffic for a little over two hours, I arrived at Lightspeed Hobbies a bit early, and had an opportunity to get dinner with some players who had trekked from the Detroit Michigan area (my old stomping grounds). When the tournament began, I was pleased to see that several players who had attended the downtown Chicago events had also headed out this way. That's dedication, right there! This time around my deck wasand featured and as rares, as well as strong class cards – two each of , , and . was particularly impressive, not only in concert with Jaelen, but also with the five Sentinel allies in my deck. Despite the deck not looking as pretty on paper as my first deck, I managed to go 4-0 with this one. Nate Zebell, an Indiana player who I've known for some time, also went 4-0 and wanted a crack at me, so after the tournament was over, we played off for the unofficial championship. He creamed me! After this one was over I lingered for quite some time, playing different gunslinging decks and answering people's questions. Then I began the long drive back towards Chicago, eventually stopping in Downer's Grove for the night around midnight.
After what seemed like no time at all, it was Sunday morning and I was headed to the final stop on this leg of the CZE tour, Fair Game in Downer's Grove. The store was in one of those cute little “suburban downtown” areas, and local judge and volunteer Nick Zimmerman was kind enough to get pizza for everyone at the event. Josh, the owner, seemed relaxed and friendly as he collected results at the front counter. For this event I used what is likely the most played hero in the entire format,. I had some solid class cards built around a token theme, including and . I also had a lot of neferset allies, so I made sure to include plenty of equipment to power them and my . One thing I tried to good effect at this event was never casting on my turn one. Instead I would hold him to get the ATK bonus, and often to trigger the empower on my . This lead to a lot of completely devastating turn fives. I managed to finish 3-1 here, losing my one round to Brad Watson. I rushed him up to 22 damage, but his turn 5 followed by allowed him to take control of the board and ultimately overwhelm me.
Just like that, I was on my way back to the airport. It felt like I had just arrived, and I was reluctant to go back to the “real world”. This is true even though my “real world” very closely resembles my “fantasy world” from last year. I had a great time at all four events, and I can't wait to head back out on the road again in August!
Next week, Christina Sims will be visiting Colorado, and Dan Clark's traveling to North Western Florida. If you're near a CZE Tour stop, be sure to drop in, say hi, and battle!