I was asked to participate the 2016 EU Marshall even at the UK Games expo and I knew I had to do it, but I also didn't want to come with a super tuned competitive deck and aim for the top. So I procrastinated long and hard for the whole of May and decided finally on Thursday before my flight, to craft an almost Bicycle nonsense that was certain to be a fun experience to play against, but still end up at the middle-range at best. (For those who do not know the lingo, a "True Bicycle" deck is effectively a poker legal deck, with 13 different values in each suit.)
Well, that is not what happened in the end. :)
But first the deck: It plays initially somewhat like a more brave slide. While I don't like to shoot before I got 2+ Putting The Pieces Together unbooted, I may make the attempt to build an in-town deed with Irving if I can make my opponent think that a 2-3 stud Jacqueline Isham can give them trouble, and the truth is, she actually might. Unlike a slide, my deck actually runs proper bullet-lowering shoootout actions and painful shootout anti-cheating, so if you come at me with just you solo stud, you might end up with a pair low enough for me to inflict casualties, or a cheating full house which I will punish appropriately. This also means that the opponent cannot just send a random mook to kidnap my juicy dudes, since I can actually take that fight and likely win. They actually have to commit some firepower, which might boot them enough to allow me to starve their economy or kickstart my own.
This lets me either play more aggressively than a slide, bluffing myself with fake bravado and giving me more income in the early game. Alternatively, against players who know the deal, I carry a few tricks to still get my economy going, such as Sunday Best to allow me to grab my next-to-home economy (or deny yours), and some great own to town productions to use my home ability on.
The plan is to stall the game out enough to get down 3-4 Putting The Pieces Together and then just start getting aggressively in your face. At that point, even a 2-pair equals a full house in power, and with 3-5 stud I can get easily at least a straight or flush (or often enough a Full House) anyway. I had some opponents despair that they just couldn't get through those extra hand ranks, since I never cheat anyway. The trick of course is to try and bully me when I actually play those cards, since I'm at my weakest. But that's usually easier said than done.
Due to my 0 upkeep start, plentiful deeds and the very useful Fiddle Game, I can easily play the defensive game in the early game. Even a couple of kidnapping are unlikely to put me over the edge as I have plenty of other influence dudes and attires around. So just turtle up and play your deeds and terrorize any squishy that tries to deny you income without support.
On to the tourney:
I managed to go with 5 wins and 1 loss during the tourney. Once I hit 3/1 I decided to start conceding my games even if I won, to avoid climbing to the top despite of my plan not to (the point was to avoid having the designer of the game bumping off players from positions with better gifts). However I still kept an unofficial record to see how I did and because my 6th swiss match was weaker than it should have been, I decided to challenge some of the top players after the tourney to see how I would handle the toughest ones. Ultimately it didn't matter since none of my last 2 opponents made the top 8 cut, but they still got some nicer rewards than otherwise.
My first opponent was part of the Danish viking assault, who's been out of the game for the past year or so. IIRC he was using a Desolation row starting Fred aims, which was a fairly big problem for me, since I'm lacking kill jobs and I am not running The Evidence. Fortunately for me, that player was doing quite a few play mistakes, such as using his Makaio Kaleo, Esq. to get dudes with 4 bounty, rather than keep boosting his Fred. At some point, some outmaneuvering allowed me to take over his own B&B and reduce Freds bounties twice (again due to a play mistake of his on next turn), which allowed me to exceed his influence later on that turn. 1-0
My second opponent, I think, was Jimy May, with his 108 shooter. I honestly do not remember much of what happened, other than the fact that I completely forgot about his Asakichi Cooke's ability and used my irving to build an out of town deed. I tried to save him with Willa, but he was also holding a Pistol Whip so that didn't work. After that, it was a downward spiral as he both camped my deeds and bullied me incessantly, since he know what the deck was about. I still managed to hold on to that game for a while but ultimately it was fruitless. 1-1
Third opponent eventually made the top 8, and was playing a 108 "run & gun" legendary holster/shotgun deck. The good thing about an almost bicycle is that you almost never lose lowball, which meant the game turned into a chess match of outmaneuvering, where both of us were trying to avoid fights while we weren't holding init. One time he came at me with a 5-stud Ramiro while I had init. I call him out and send his Tail Between Yer Legs, then follow up with a Sun in Yer Eyes to make sure he can't pull a kill. He Make the Smart Choice out of there faster than a legendary bullet. This game of hunter & hunted continued for a lot of turns, often me trying to get at his Ramio while he didn't have any money, and him desperately looking for Kidnappin' to hit me while he had initiative. In the end, it didn't work out fast enough for him, and my control points, money and influence were out of control. I believe this ended in a timed win for me in the end. 2-1.
Fourth opponent was one player from the UK london scene. I honestly I do not remember what he was rollin' with, maybe 108? But he made a huge mistake when his solo jake smiley called out my Jaqueline with a shotgun. I expected that he would bring backup somehow and sacrifice smiley to get jaqueline, but nope, he had just forgotten about the shotty. That dropped his influence too low and a few turns later it was over. Sorry mate. 3-1
Next opponent was Amy who was playing a 108 Worldly Desires slide. As soon as I scouted that I went for an anti-slide start with 8 influence on the table. Unfortunately for her, her starting hand was attrocious (only 1 deed and 4 dudes) while I had a very good amount of production. It seems that Amy hadn't heard about my deck, so she didn't try to challenge me in a fight, which she had a very good chance of winning due to my weak structure. So instead she turtled up in her home while I took over anything she dropped with extreme prejudice. She spent turns going just "Pass" while I created an enormous deed/dude advantage, with about 50 GR in the bank. It was difficult to get over her 12 influece hiding at home though, and her home ability meant that even against my very weak structure, she was still winning most lowball. She wasn't playing any deeds either, to avoid giving me more CP to use to win. At some point, I finally cheated in lowball (with my Putting The Pieces Together that I wasn't playing as I was afraid she was going to use the chance to attack me!) and she tried to smack me down with a Flight of the Lepus. I started moving my dudes home before I remembered I had a Henry Moran in play! My second hand was of course legal, and I kept denying her income. That would have been at least 8 GR in her bank, so it was a big deal. As 10 minutes was called, I managed to get over her influence which forced her to try and outmaneuver me. I believe she forgot at some point about my Carter's Bounties and gave me a quick kill on a 1-inf dude, which forced her to come out more and more, with Lane Healey (Exp.1) running down Asakichi Cooke and finally killing a big influence chunk just before time was called. 4-1
Last player was weaker than I should be playing, since, as I mentioned before, I conceded the game after winning it. He was playing a desolation row iirc but he was a new player, so was making quite a few play mistakes. Nothing exciting to write about as in the end I defeated him in a big fight. 5-1.
After the top 8 were announced, I challenged some of the top players with Mixed Results.
Against Dan Knight's Eagle Wardens blockade deck (who would likely have been my next opponent if I had taken the victory against Amy): Victory after his 3 successful Kidnappings. He had to comit a lot of dudes to avoid me wiping his bullets, which allowed me to stiffle his econ and boost mine, and got him in the end with control points. 6-1
Agains't 9th placing Abram's Polo Team: Victory. was getting constantly unprepared out of my Jael's Guile but in the end I survived until Rémy LaPointe with a peacemaker arrived. With the use of Carter's Bounties he could join where was needed and along with a Winchester holding Jacqueline Isham I had enough studs to give a good fight regardless who was unprepared. Shotgun also helped avoid fights with Tommy Harden or Philip Swinford while I had the initiative almost every day. Eventually my 4-5 stud allowed me to draw full houses +3 from Putting The Pieces Together which his deck couldn't cope and his Jael's were useless against my hands. 7-1
Against top-swiss player Anders's Morgan Gadget Horses stampede: Loss. Anders got an amazing start with 4 deeds and a Yagn's in his lowball for Maggie Harris to fetch. I tried to bluff and build a in-down deed with Irving while Jacqueline was holding a winchester, but Anders already heard about my deck and know he could take me on, so he came over and forced me to pop my Willa Mae MacGowan when the shootout came bad. Unfortunately he was holding onto a Run 'Em Down! and took out Irving anyway. I managed to recover even though I was being starved and hid in his out of town deeds to avoid getting stomped. Eventually I stabilized again, but the lack of any out of town deeds or early Fiddle Game meant I was starving for money. Eventually I sacrificed a few expendable dudes to get him out of position, and tried to kill his economy. First I tried to move Jaqueline to town square to threaten his squishy, but he run her down. Then moved back to me deed. Remy then used his Guide horse to move to town square and kill his irving, and he got also run down. 2-of them in a turn was too much and down I went. 7-2
Finally I played against one of the top 8 Eagle Warden fortress decks twice. First game I completely messed up by seeing a railroad station in his hand, and then STILL using my irving to build an out of town deed. Duh. We did a rematch, and this time it went better, but he was completely cramping my style by planting his totems all over my street. The game went on for quite a while, but I couldn't break the stranglehold. I managed to get 2 Putting The Pieces Together down and tried to fight, but this was another player with the magic fingers of top-decking legal full houses with 1 stud ratings, so there was little I could do. At check point, I managed to drive away his Chief Stephen Seven-Eagles with 4 CP from the town square, and take down his Jacqueline Isham bodyguard with my first full house of the game (with many other attempts with 3-4 stud!), but then I forgot Rémy LaPointe ability isn't a repeat and enterred another fight. He topdecked another legal full house with 1-stud, 1 draw (I was holding bottom dealin') and that was game. 7-3.
At the end of the day, I'm pretty happy how this worked. I built straight for fun, but I do believe this deck has teeth. A bit of polish and learning to pilot it better (for one, I need to learn better when to bluff and bluster and when not) and it could actually be somewhat competitive! And That is without all the sweet sweet cards coming for this archetype in the next 2 expansions ;)
|Jun 06, 2016 LordManHammer|
|Jun 10, 2016 Harlath|