Turns out I was the one judged by God, and found unworthy - but the margins of those of us in the 3-2 records was quite slim, so I guess not by much! Usually Laura is the one with the curse of 9th place, so I was happy to trade with her for this very fun and challenging event!
I haven't run Blessed in any high level event for quite some time, so with Padre Ernesto de Diaz out, this list shifted from 1 income to 2, which is a huge deal. Along with some better on-value deeds (and a couple more of them), the biggest problem this deck previously faced - economy - was not nearly as much of a concern.
The biggest change, however, is in the entire philosophy of how I plan to play the deck out. Instead of building up a couple of miracles with Tolarios, and heading out into the world turn 1 or 2, the main plan is to sit back for 2, maybe 3 turns while buliding up economy and miracles, then playing the Judge Harry Somerset (Exp.1) as soon as we have +2 income from deeds. This is primarily a Judge deck, with the miracles to make sure the job succeeds. Nobody has more staying power than Blessed, especially with Pedros to back it up, so combine that with a kidnappin+gunglinsger every turn, and you have a nearly impossible onslaught to contend with. With the economy and card cycle (remember with Tolarios you can simply discard a card and nothing else, if you're unable to use him normally), it's very easy to build up to 7 GR and find one of the 3 Judges.
And on the off chance you can't find any Judges, the Fiery Rhetoric serves as a nice finisher, and with Tolarios it can be an easy surprise, searchable victory condition.
Having the 4 Pinned Down, thanks to not needing Kidnappin's, was crucial in several match-ups, and that card alone almost single handedly won me one or two of the games. Also, the 4 Shield of Faith was a conscious choice to regrettably take out one of my favorite new miracles, Censure, in favor of shoring up the weakness of this deck of shotguns, soul blasts, and other res/cheatin res like Point Blank and Ricochet. In previous versions of this deck, another big weakess would come from when it had it's studs removed and was forced to cheat - often resulting in a brutal coachwhip or Ricochet - Shield stops both of those things, and along with plenty of casualty soak, in theory there is no cheatin punishment that could really hurt it a whole lot.
Otherwise, Blessed Dogs as normal! (see the derrived from list, for reference).
Onto what I can remember of the day:
Round 1 vs Joe with Oddies of Nature + Jasper Stone
Pinned Down proved crucial in this match, as each early shootout I was able to target his single stud dude (none of them greater than 2 bullets), forcing him to use a draw or low stud as his shooter. While he was, of course, able to build back up with Ivor Hawley (Exp.1), I think it wasn't too long before I got the Judge out and after a job or two (the last one vs Ivor), it was over.
Round 2 vs Charles with Smith and Robards
I know Charles' deck relatively well, so there weren't any particular surprises this match. We both spent the first 2-3 turns building up. He exploded pretty quickly with Yagns, Hydro Punchers, and Decimator Arrays, and I used Tolarios to grab the miracles I needed. By turn 4ish I laid down the Judge, and we started our every-turn-kidnappin fun times. The first job I went with legal 4oaK's to see how reliably he could get his straight flushes. With both of us drawing a lot of cards (him often 12-14), it was clear he could get legal rank 9 all day long, especially with a couple of Decimators. So the rest of the jobs would be me revealing a constant cheatin 5oaK, and him likely force-fielding up to me. Unfortunately for him, because of Shield of Faith I don't ever take casualties when he Force Fields up to my rank, so it was just a slow, constant trickle of dead dudes and decimator arrays (as sidekicks) from his side. Unfortunately for me, however, I couldn't sit on his deeds and deny income because of going home for the job, so he was able to mostly keep pace with his loss of influence and studs with constant replacements.
As time grew near to the end, I knew I'd never be able to match his large amount of influence, and he'd win on tiebreakers, so I made sure to concede before time was called. I was very confident with enough time, there's no way I could have lost, as the only time he could stop my job was if he had a Comin' Up Roses in hand (and even then I wouldn't take any casualties). My Judge went every round, and you can't have a Comin Up Roses every hand, so the edge was with me in the long run... but there just wasn't enough time. Gadgets are fantastic at pumping out influence! Charles thinks he made a big mistake in not remembering the Shield of Faith wording, and how he took casualties one round, but I don't think it cost him anything he couldn't easily replace, and he played the rest of the game extremely well.
Round 3 vs Indy with Oddities of Nature
Luck was not on Indy's side this game, as she found her high poker hands in lowball, and low poker hands in shootouts. Notably, Shield of Faith stopped her from playing her Point Blanks, so that didn't help either. My being in control of town square most of the game meant her influence was very low, and once the judge came out, put bounty on her Karl Odett, then ran the job the next day on him, it was pretty much over.
Round 4 vs James with Justice in Exile + Jasper Stone
2nd Stone matchup, and another matchup where Pinned Down basically won me the game. He came in with a Turn 1, first action Curse of Failure on my Tolarios. Having a Pinned Down in hand meant his Thunder Boy was neutered, and since I used Shield of Faith he couldn't back out with his Willa Mae (dudes cannot be aced except for casualties as losing), and Thunder Boy had to take the casualty. It was mostly down hill from there for him, as he did end up getting another stud, but didn't see any of his deeds so his economy was non-existent for most of the game. I was lucky enough to draw a seemingly endless amount of Pinned Downs, so it was an uphill battle for him.
Quite a few rounds went by without me seeing the Judge, so I went with Plan B of Fiery Rhetoric. Once I got enough bounty on his dudes, I ran the job. I think he had 3 dudes with 1 influence, and 2 dudes with 0 influence, and a bounty on 4 of them. This meant that he had to defend the job, and hilariously his main incentive to not lose the game was to have his 0-influence, bountied dudes die in the fight! He was a great opponent, and I was glad he took the situation with humor.
Eventually the Judge came out, and sealed the game not too long before time was called.
Round 5 vs David Winner with Eagle Wardens
An early fight in the town square saw not 1, not 2, but 3 Sun in Yer Eyes played against all 3 of my studs! While I did have a Shield of Faith active, and didn't have to worry about Ricochet or Coachwhip when I was forced to reveal a cheatin full house, I was hit with a Bottom Dealin that put me a good 5-6 ranks below him. Thankfully Willa did her thing, and I lived to fight another day, but in the shootout the next day, I saw 2 more Sun in Yer Eyes played on me! I would later find out he only had 3 in the deck, and we postulated the odds of him getting 5 over 2 turns was extremely low, even with using his homes ability. It does show the potential power of the original Eagle Wardens home, though!
This was also the game where it was questioned whether or not you can use Father Tolarios to search your discard, if you've already searched your deck (he does say "or", so it wasn't entirely clear). I thought I only saw 1 Get Behind Me in my discard, but when I went to search my deck I realized they were both in there. It was ruled I could not also search my discard, so I wasn't able to get any of those 2 crucial cards into play. I did get a Shield of Faith, however, which was still very useful, and I don't believe this made any real difference in the game. Interesting to have a question come up about a dude I've played the hell out of since he was released, though! It never amazes me how many questions come up during events whose answers aren't immediately obvious. Comes with the territory of a complex and rich game!
A combination of losing the first 2 shootouts (but only losing willa), and slow play from David, meant I knew the game could very likely go to time. Instead of spending a turn or two grabbing miracles with Tolarios and building up a bit, I just hastily went head first into the town square each round, trying my best to either win or lose before time was called (I really hate games that go to time, but especially in the last round of swiss when it often matters the most). But I was fended off by Unprepareds and high legal hands from David. Meanwhile he smartly built up several deeds, some more dudes, and made for a wall I could not break through, despite causing occasional casualties for him. An Allie from his side got a couple of CPs, and along with the deeds was enough to garner a win for him shortly before time.
I think of any match I've played against the original Eagle Wardens home, this one really showed off its power, as David was able to find the various shootout, economy, and CP cards he needed - while just having the cards isn't enough, he was able to smartly play them at all the right times. Refreshing to see this, and another First Peoples deck make it to the top 8!
Overall a very fun and challenging day, filled with the (thankfully) usual mix of gracious, fun, and competitive opponents. Im very happy with how the deck performed, as I think 4/5 games saw the Judge in play and decimating opposition, as I had originally hoped. Having 3-4 Kidnappins is usually where I like my decks to be, but even finding one Judge means Kidnappin every turn, which is a great tool in combination with the staying power and inherent attrition of blessed. It's biggest failing came from not having a ton of influence to be able to win at time, should either the Judge not be fast enough, or the opponent have similar staying power. I'm not sure I'd change anything, though, and I'll almost certainly hang this, and any other LD Blessed, up in the closet for a long time and persue other archetypes.
Lapp had us try a new way to go to time, which involved an hour (or 55 mins?), followed by 5 minutes + a d6 worth of random minutes, so randomly between 6-10 extra minutes. I like the idea, and while any of my games that came close to time ended with me either conceding before that happened, or losing shortly before that happened, it seems like it worked pretty well. I'd be interested in using that method again for future events, and curious what other people thought who were there, and what people who weren't there think about it, too. The 'games going to time' is probably always going to be an issue, but I like that Pine Box is still thinking about it an brewing new ideas!
|Oct 30, 2019 DoomDog|
|Oct 30, 2019 Prodigy|