|Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 26 August 2011|
In today’s segment, Tom gives us a hint at the thought process of a champion during match play as he recounts the final match of the World Championship against Ulrich Hergl. Thanks, Tom!
Championship match versus Ulrich Hergl
After Jim gave Ulrich and me our only losses of the day, Ulrich was able to enact his revenge, toppling the former champion in match play. Not-so-secretly, I had hoped for this outcome.
My hope was based purely on the idea I felt that my deck matched up better against Ulrich’s version than Jim’s. While Jim and Ulrich’s decks were similar in concept, they accomplished their goals very differently. Ulrich utilized Seeker of Mysteries and Beings of Ib to lower the cost of his Ancient Ones, and he seemed to field more lower skilled characters. Still, I had only two solid answers to invulnerable Ancient Ones–two copies of Caverns of Flame and a swarm of much cheaper characters. However, I was also sporting Y’ha-nthlei Statue, which would prove to be useful against his cost reducers. The plan was in place: be fast under the steps and use the statue to keep his Ancient Ones in his hand for as long as possible.
As our nerves were building, Ulrich immediately made use of the mulligan. I however… found my opening hand to be both a blessing and a curse. It contained three of my most precious cards in the matchup: The Cavern of Flame, Y’ha-nthlei Statue, and The Seventy Steps. The rest was complete junk, containing only a single character, Dangerous Inmate, which I would have to resource if I wanted to play either of my Hatsur support cards.
This quickly sent me into a spiral of indecision. On the one hand, I could already held several important cards for this matchup. Of course, this meant that I was going to have to rely on my draws for characters. On the other hand, I could risk the mulligan to find a faster opener, but I was certainly not guaranteed to re-draw the Caverns and the Statue. I must have mulled over this for what felt like an eternity… for which I apologized several times.
Ultimately, I decided to trust my deck and kept my opening hand. I was fortunate enough to go first as my draw was immediately resourced and I laid out nothing but the Caverns of Flame, figuring that he would either have to deal with it now and eat up his large domain, or wait and play characters that could be pushed off of stories. Ulrich took no chances. Each move he made was well thought out as he studied his options for an exponential amount of time each turn, yet to my surprise, Ulrich only resourced on his first turn before passing. “Surely he will destroy it at the end of my turn,” I thought.
My second draw netted me a character, my first after deciding to shove down Dangerous Inmate underneath a domain. However, it hit me what Ulrich was about to do. After keeping everything in his hand I figured he had planned on his next turn to play some cost reducers and Descendant of Eibon as a transient resource to play out a quick, turn-two Ancient One. If I was right, and if he was able to destroy my Caverns, regardless of what little pitiful character I played, I would be powerless before his Ancient One. However, I planned for such an event as my only play on that fateful turn was the Y’ha-nthlei Statue. My preemptive move against his cost reducers and any validation I had for keeping my awful opening hand was about to be tested.
Though it was hard to tell, due to his near emotionless face, I believe that the Statue’s entrance onto the battlefield shocked Ulrich. Determined not to show it, Ulrich reviewed his options and calmly took my passing of the turn. Building his main domain to three with a now useless Seeker of Mysteries, to my surprise, Ulrich passed the turn again!
I attempted to contain my satisfaction after correctly gauging the situation and the shock of him not playing a single card in two turns. Combined with my draw of two new characters, I couldn’t be in a better situation. I figured I had at least two turns to inflict as much damage as possible before his first Ancient One showed… and I was going to make sure I took advantage of it.
The next few turns were a flurry of destruction as we traded card for card, but as my draws kept coming, I quickly found myself with two stories won and a few tokens spread around the field. Surprisingly, Ulrich had yet to play an Ancient One as he focused on keeping my board down to a manageable level. Still, with a few Deep One Risings and a Carl Stanford blocking what little offense I had left, I needed a good draw. To my delight, I drew Infernal Obsession–perfect! Bringing Carl Stanford to my side of the field, equipped with several possible cultist sacrifices to fuel my new friend, was the push I needed to build up to four tokens on the final story I needed to win!
Ulrich wasn’t happy, but he had a plan. After conferring with Damon on a ruling, and a very long mental struggle, we were about to enter the final turn.
Admittedly, Ulrich got into my head so deep I felt the room was spinning. Based on what was already in play, I had him. Though, I also knew that one strong play could easily put me in a no-win situation. My thoughts circled in such a pattern for quite some time until, to my amazement, Ulrich passed the turn after playing nothing on his own turn. This struck me as a little odd considering that he had several cards in play with two solidly built domains. I’d been waiting the entire game for his Deep One Assault to show up, so he had to be planning to use one now. However, what was he going to do with the other domain? Assuming his first target was going to be the Cavern of Flame, I could only wager that he either had a second Deep One Assault or a The Terror of the Tides to surprise me. Nevertheless, we moved on to my final turn.
My final draw revealed a The Terror of the Tides! I couldn’t have asked for anything better. With only a single Deep One Rising to block my path all I needed was Ulrich’s permission to commit the team for the final success token. He pondered for a while and let me commit, but he then revealed that I had earned my third championship title. His last ditch effort was indeed to play two Deep One Assaults destroying both my Caverns of Flame and Infernal Obsession forcing to Carl to switch to his side of the story. A good plan, but thanks to the The Terror of the Tides, I still maintained more than enough skill to gain the final success token.
Shaking hands in honor of an amazing game I let out a sigh of relief. I could hardly believe I’d managed a third championship in a row. As I collected congratulations, it never really set in until I was asked, “Did it get any easier?” I answered, “NO! Absolutely not. If anything, it gets harder!”
While the game, by itself, was easier compared to the comeback of ’09 and the slugfest of ’10, this game was on a whole new level. The cards that I needed came up when I needed them. One less than perfect move, one minor piece of back luck, or one more tiny piece of good luck for Ulrich, and the game could’ve been completely different. Things were that tight. Combined with Ulrich’s ability to play the mind game to such a high level, this was the most challenging game that I’ve ever played. I’ve played a lot of different games, at very high levels, against many skilled opponents, but I cannot remember a time when I was taxed so heavily at all three stages of the game–strategy, play mechanics, and cunning.
I really need to learn how to make these things shorter. There is so much to share it’s hard to hold back. I wanted to take this last spot to simply say thanks. Thanks to my friends; without your encouragement, I would have no ambition. Thanks to the community; without you guys, there would be no game. Thanks to my opponents; without you, we would not play. Thanks to Damon; without you, we would have no structure.
Thanks to Gen Con; without you, we would have no stage. Thanks to FFG; without you, we would not have this hobby.
Thanks to Kate; without you, I’d have no one to share that moment with. Thanks to my brother Rob; without you, I wouldn’t have stayed on my chosen path. Thanks to my father Tom; without you, I would have nothing. Thanks to my mother, Jodi; while I miss you with all my heart, without you, I just simply wouldn’t be where I am today.
And thanks to you, reader, for reading this far!
As we all move on in preparation of next year’s grand tournament, I invite you all to come and compete! You’ll find no faster way to make friends and no environment that’s more fun. I hope to see more of you next year!
Congratulations to both Tom Capor and Ulrich Hergl for a great final match! We were delighted to see the tournament grow this year, and we hope to see you both back to compete again next year.
Based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and his literary circle, Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game takes two players deep into the Cthulhu Mythos where investigators clash with the Ancient Ones and Elder Gods for the fate of the world. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Asylum Pack expansions to the core game.
But Tom did leave out the part when the woman from the Gen Con staff interrupted the final match by shouting at him "WHERE IS YOUR BADGE?!" and he had to look for it before continuing our match. Now that was a funny moment... at least for me.
Congrats, Tom. Great narrative of your win.
Good job Tom , and congratulations . I hope there will be much more players next year and CoC LCG will be more popular.