Gastonia Championship Tournament Report
Gastonia Dragon Prix, 1st Place report by Dan Dagron, 17 players
Hey, Retro! Here’s my take on the Dragon Prix in Gastonia, 2/09/19.
First of all, I had a blast playing some games and meeting a few Retro members I had not previously met in person. Special thanks to Anthony Tardino for picking me up on the way (along with Kevin Dennis).
So, after chatting with some people the week before, I decided not to try a new deck this time around and go with one of my most solid aggro builds. It was between Adept Gohan and Ruthless Majin Vegeta. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the Ruthless build would be a more solid choice since it can handle many different matchups with relative ease.
Oh, but it’s not your typical cookie-cutter build! You see…
I HATE UNLEASHED. It seems like significantly more than half of decks nowadays just toss in an unleashed engine as if the thing were a staple. It can swing the game so much that people are starting to become reliant on it. Control decks, physical/energy beats, doesn’t matter. Nearly everybody and their dog runs that stupid card now.
Unleashed is a BABY card for BABIES and I want to counter it, so I run Surprise Attack with 57 styled cards in my Ruthless MV, which is the superior version of my Ruthless Surprise Attack Drawku that I used to make top 8 at Dennis Games 1. No Time. No Stare Downs. No Digs. No Gallick Guns or Final Flashes (though that last one is really nice to have in certain matchups). I want to banish that garbage, as well as Time. Plus, I wanted to prove that a dedicated Surprise Attack build can be competitive.
The deck idea is absurdly simple. I get rid of Time. I get to Majin Vegeta lv. 2. Since I don’t run the usual non-styled kit, I have LOTS of extra space. Let’s toss in 3 x Red Stylish Entrance. I also run 3 x Relaxation and of course, the 3 Pridefuls. Without Time and without the ability to escape combat, I will overwhelm opponents with my frequent 5-7 card hands. Add to that the Ruthless Power and mods on almost EVERY attack I use…the damage is going to come in HOT.
Even though this deck took 2nd place in OLT2, a defeat at the hands of Casey Hansman in the second Triad tournament on OCTGN caused me to stop and take another long, hard look at the deck. Before Gastonia I made some significant changes. I had messed with Red Restriction, but after that match I despised it. I removed it along with Red Sleeper Hold, Red Heel Kick, and Red Disregard. Yes, I am convinced Disregard is a trap in this build. I had Red Quick Jab as some fun surprise anger too, but that got cut. I added more BEEF. More ENDURANCE.
And it paid off. Now, the matches!
Round 1: Vs. Bise R. Borine
Man. I have never seen anybody make so many misplays as Bise. He messed up so badly that I was able to beat him in one hit, making this the first and quickest win of the day! This game is EASY. Sorry, Bise, but you suck at this game. I got to look around and saw a lot of unusual decks being used. Interesting…wait, there are FOUR Ruthless MV decks?!
1-0 MVP: The initial shuffle
Round 2: Vs Nate Brown Ruthless MV
I was expecting other MV decks, sure, but they were ALL RUTHLESS. UGH. I didn’t want to fight the mirror match, but here it was, my first real match of the day. I opened early with a strong hand and was met with a first combat Time Is a Warrior’s Tool. This was the only instance of me having to deal with this card for the entire day. Although I was able to protect myself with Red Power Lift + Ruthless abuse, this ultimately cost me the match. In the mirror, whoever draws the right blocks at the right moments wins, and despite having banished all 3 of his Unleashed with SA (as well as Time since he rejuved it), I wound up losing by 5 life cards, making my first real match of the day…a loss.
However, with only four rounds of swiss, I was not going to become discouraged.
1-1 MVP: Surprise Attack/Red Power Lift
Round 3: Vs. Cody Steenmeijer Knowledge Cell
Knowledge Cell is always dangerous. I think this was my first ever match vs. Cody and I was prepared for a struggle. Only two decks I faced that day did not run Unleashed, and his was one of them. But I’ll happily SA those Draining Attacks instead. Sadly, I was not able to use SA a second time and had to eat a 12 card Villainous Visage near the end, but I was able to hang in there and push enough damage to secure the win. He did drop NDB7 to stack 3 defense at some point, so obviously I passed for that turn. Thankfully, he was not able to hit level 3 without his named card. All in all, it was a pretty close game, though I felt relatively safe for most of it since not many Dragon Balls hit the field and Time was banished from the discard before it could become a problem. I actually was able to MPPV in this game, eliminating the threat of a last-second ball-out.
2-1 MVP: Surprise Attack and Red Relaxation
Round 4: Vs. Ethan Cook Ruthless MV
NOT ANOTHER MIRROR. UGH. Well, at least I didn’t run into Time this game. I actually drew SA fairly quickly and gave him the ol’ Winston Double, using SA to banish 2 Unleashed, taking a stage attack, then using Ruthless to play SA again, nailing the other Unleashed and Time. That’s pretty much what happened to most of my Unleashed-using opponents that day. There was one point when I thought I might lose my grip on the match because he burst up to level 2 with blocking hand and stage locked me in a dig combat. Thankfully, he used his level 2 power before I could take serious damage (he only had 1 card left in hand) and I blocked it with the Red Escape I held since I feared he would hit 2, which granted me stages and the power I needed to grab the match by the horns once again. After that, I closed it out fairly quickly.
3-1 MVP: Surprise Attack and Red Escape
Welp, 3-1 was enough to top cut, so HERE WE GO!
Our group had an interesting thing going on. We sort of had a rock-paper-scissors setup. Cheyne’s Adaptive Hero 18 was effective against Anthony’s Knowledge Cell, which was effective against Kevin’s Protective Future Gohan, which was effective against my Ruthless MV, which was effective against Adaptive 18.
The four of us had all made top cut. Now the team-killing had to start.
Top 8: Vs. Kevin Dennis Protective Future Gohan
You guys know what’s up with Kevin and this deck. Of all the possible pairings, this is the one I feared the most. Kevin and I do the aggro vs. blue thing quite often, and even this specific match had been played on more than one occasion. This was, however, our first match with the recent changes to my deck. Fortunately, Kevin did not draw a strong board presence early on, only dropping Roshi Ally. While this DOES shut of my SA searching, it’s really not bad compared to the rest of his arsenal. Then I dropped a Red Relaxation anyway and popped it off before Yajirobe showed up. It was expectedly intense, going back and forth for a while with neither of us taking any big hits, all the while his board kept under control with Red Energy Blast. At one point, Kevin liked his hand a lot because he entered against me. I drew two Surprise Attack on defense and was able to do the Ruthless thing and play it three times. One Unleashed was in the discard, but I did get Time, his second Unleashed, and timely ally banishment preventing him from searching them out (I had been holding more blocks than usual that game for slash, arrest, clash, etc., and his stylish poses had been depleted bringing guys back from being banished). I followed up later with two Surprise Attack uses. What really sealed the deal though, is that the damage from the attacks themselves struck gold, banishing most of his decaps and other goodies. It still turned out to be a pretty close game, but I eventually overwhelmed him, though if Ox King had not been literally the last card in his deck, he could have survived another turn and perhaps somehow pulled it off (Ox had been rejuvenated with an Arrest). Kevin pulled off something pretty slick that last action, but I’ll let him give you those details…
Definitely my most difficult match of the day. Props to Kevin for creating a deck that is always going to be a looming threat. Prot FG is always lurking…MPPVers beware.
MVP: Surprise Attack and Red Energy Blast
Top 4: Vs. Jackie McCoy Adept Buu
Jackie’s Adept Buu is not your typical Adept build. It has a lot of extra tech options that help in a variety of matches. Fortunately for me, much of that tech is nearly useless against hyper-aggro. Surprise Attack once again answered the call and I knew I would likely get a Ruthless second use against Adept, but what’s this? Only two Unleashed? Well, fine. I took them out, only to see him drop his third with a Dressing Room attached beforehand.
…I was okay with this as I really just wanted to keep him off of level 4. When he played it, though, I immediately thought, “Please jump to 3. Please jump to 3.” He did, which is GREAT for me because that level 2 constant SUCKS for physical beats. He could also anger up easier and maybe gain stages. Furthermore, EVERY board card in my deck is used when entering combat. Place your tasty treats on the board all you want! Then I used SA again and got his Time and Villainous Visage. Buncha NOPE on that one.
I can’t really describe what happened next other than…everything just worked out perfectly for me after that. Red Power Lift blocked attacks. I jumped to level 2. Then to level 3. Quickly. Pridefuls helped with that and kept his discard pile nearly empty. Once at level 3, I started popping two of his board cards every combat (ANOTHER advantage to a SA build…my discard rarely has non-styled cards and I can banish any SA after use with ease, letting my level 3 destroy TWO board cards), following up by banishing said cards with my level 3 constant. Checkup, disaster, intimidating…one by one the drills were banished, red mule kick took care of his attached cards, and before I knew it, Vegeta had saved the world from the pink, pudgy menace in a DBZ alternate universe.
Grats on making it that far with Adept Buu tech-mode!
MVP: Surprise Attack and Majin Vegeta level 3 “Gotta Have My Pops” (Copyright Cheyne Runnells)
FINALS: Vs. Cheyne Runnells Adaptive 18
I learned that Cheyne defeated Anthony, which was good for me because I was not sure if I wanted a piece of Anthony’s Knowledge Cell. That would take a LOT of early Surprise Attacks. Even still, I have faced one of Cheyne’s Adaptive builds at East Kai 18 and you cannot assume ANYTHING, even for a second. Your deck will melt the moment you become complacent. On the other hand, he was the second opponent of mine not using Unleashed. Surprise Attack was less crucial here, though I’d certainly like Time out of the picture.
I win the roll and set up my discard. Cheyne doesn’t really draw a lot of board. At some point a Prideful hits the field and I later enter with a Double Strike already in hand. Prideful draws another. Cheyne got some defense, but I happened to be holding a Red Escape from turn 1, giving me a quick boost to level 2 with extra damage and discard banishment. I did some serious damage early on, later angering up to 3. Once I started the double-pops, he was unable to generate a stable board state. I kept attacking relentlessly in order to get the match closed out ASAP. Shopping Drill eventually hit the board, but it was way too late and I was already at level 3. This was the only game I did not see any Surprise Attacks (or did I use it once later and get two Toss?), but Time was banished from the discard anyway. That early sack allowed me to set up the discard for future draws and the game ended with me holding a Red Escape that I never needed to use.
Anyone who thinks Adaptive is not worth it needs to face Cheyne. He steam-rolled most of his opponents, including other Ruthless MV decks. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t drawn gas when he had no board set up? Grats on making it to the finals with a so-called “meh” mastery!
That’s how Surprise Attack earned me my TOP invite! Let’s summarize:
- Stare Down is a crutch
- Dig is non-styled TRASH
- Time is a Warrior’s Tool? More like, Time is for Warrior Tools!
- Unleashed is a BABY card for BABIES. If you guys keep cramming them into every freakin’ deck, I’m going to have to put them in Time Out. STOP IT.
All facetiousness (maybe) aside, it was super fun hanging out with everyone, getting some solid matches in during and after the tournament, and playing smash into the AM hours with Cheyne and Kevin back at the hotel (Anthony was already sleeping…RIP). I ate too many fries for dinner (no regrets) with that Oreo Cookie + Peanut Butter Milkshake from Five Guys.
I’ll see all you TOP people soon enough. I hope you are ready for some aggressive, crazy stuff, because I like crazy. CRAZY WORKS.
Also, leave comments if you want to know the “why” behind some of the deck design choices. Different metas call for different builds. If the bulk of players start relying on specific non-styled cards to carry their decks, don’t forget…NOBODY EXPECTS SURPRISE ATTACK.