Just a quick update on the MECCG activities at Gamex 2018 last month. Our attendance is not what it was a few years ago, but we have a very strong core group that attends all of the Strategicons at LAX/Hilton. We have also settled into the routine at the Hilton--there are blocks of room reserved at the hotel for convention participants, while those of us who are local drive in and park at one of the parking garages nearby. The rooms and restaurants are typically Hilton, but there's a nice cafe downstairs that serves Starbucks, and there is a Carls Jr's, Denny's, and other places within walking distance.
Friday, 25 May
There were no MECCG events on the schedule for Friday evening, but four of us had already arrived so we broke out Hero decks to play casual games. Noah was eager to test out a One Ring deck he was building so he and Gene set about playing and discussing the whys and wherefores of a dunk deck. I've seen really high-powered One Ring decks at the Worlds event I was able to attend here in Oakland back in 2014, and it's definitely worth considering for play and sideboard purposes.
In the meantime, Dan and I pitted what turned out to be mostly Dwarf decks against each other, and both us of scramble from the start when Thrain and Balin collided during the draft. I was playing a hoard-item deck that uses Dragon Feuds with an overload of drakes and dragons on the hazard side to fend off all the attacks up in dragon country, and at the same time the hazard creatures are mostly drakes that are playable up in the northeast corner of the standard map. Since Dan was using wolf hazards, I did make sure to use Many Turns and Doublings this time--at a Hero tourney game a couple of years ago against Dan, I ended up wracking my brain regarding how to cancel a wolf hazard creature attack by using Gates together with the hazard limit reduction afforded by Many Turns. Sure does help to read the card.
Saturday, 26 May
With our flexibility, we started Saturday with a 4-player Hero Arda game--we have settled on 4 players as the optimum for this format as everyone is pretty well engaged, while 5 is way too many and 3 is way too few. Gene's design for the draw deck is based mostly on Wizards and some Dragon cards, with no wolves/animals/undead and only 3 Marvels Tolds among the 300+ cards, so they are very precious indeed. Many of our games have generally seen a very hazardous environment with Doors and Will of Sauron locking in a number of very nasty long events, but this was the first time that I had seen corruption rule the day. Lure of Power made an appearance, and then a couple of players who collected palantiri were victimized by a Bane of the Ithil Stone that was "pumped" by a Balance of Things--this actually caused the outright corruption of several characters, including a Wizard to turned Traitor and wounded an Elf (I believe it was Celeborn) on the way out. The winner at Council couldn't even muster 20 points, so we deemed this Hero Arda game to be the bloodiest one we've ever had.
Afterwards, we broke up into different games--Bruce and I settled into a match of Dream Cards. These First Folk cards have been out for quite some time now, but our group is still in the middle of figuring out how to really put a legit DC-legal deck together. I gravitated towards a Dain Dwarf-Lord deck that is very similar in composition to the hoard-item Hero deck I played on Friday, though I relented to the arithmetic and went up to an 80-card deck with 36 resources and 36 hazards to allow 4 avatars (along with 4 other characters). The starting minor items and stage cards are focused on maximizing followership among the starting characters, and starting with Fori is a must, since the deck spends a lot of time in that part of Middle Earth. Bruce played with a Thranduil Elf-Lord deck that focuses on cleaning out the Greenwood and besieging Dol Guldur, so the game was pretty much one of non-interference as both of us tried to accomplish our respective missions. For my part, keeping track of the different special abilities embedded in the fine print of the Lord staging cards is still a bit of a chore, and our DC decks are still pretty much works in progress.
We also had a walk-in interested in learning the game, so we gave him a "pumped" challenge deck to play against Dan. Gene had put together these modified versions of the standard challenge decks a few years ago to match up against decks that needed to be tested, though it's amazing how viable and competitive the decks are in tournament play. We gave the newcomer a modified Deck C, and we played through a few turns with some advice on the side. Needless to say, he was quite pleased with himself when he managed to off Strider in the second turn with a open-field attack by a Giant Spiders.
Sunday, 27 May
We declined to set up another Arda game in light of the grueling and grinding game we had played the day before, so we decided to just play a couple of 1v1 games each before adjourning early so that everyone can get a head start on fighting through traffic and/or getting to the airport. I brought a couple of my Fallen Wizard decks that I had played previously but not broken out in a while. The Fallen Alatar deck was the one I actually brought to Worlds in 2014 but with a hazard side changed to all Nazgul and other creatures, while the resource side remains an Underdeeps quest for Aiglos and other big weapons to support Alatar's Hunts. However, I did not stand a chance against Dan's Short Rest (in Eriador) deck, since going to/from underdeeps doesn't take advantage of the card draws. In the event, I also drew too many of the support and cancelling cards at first, so this match was called off early.
In the other game, Gene played my Fallen Gandalf deck against Noah playing the Dwarf item deck that Dan had played against me on Friday evening. The Fallen Gandalf deck is probably my favorite deck, with Gandalf showing up at any of the available freeholds in Gondor and proceeding to recruit the factions and allies available there. It is also a headache to play against since the hazard side is standard roadblock, with Doors combining with Long Winters and Foul Fumes (and the occasional Snowstorm) to neutralize most sites. The dream scenario is Nenselde the Wingild is recruited at Dol Amroth and recycles environment hazards. The problem is the starting company has to survive the initial trip from the White Towers towards Gondor (either Isengard or, with Cram/Strange Rations, to Rohan), and since Noah was playing wolves, this was quite a problem in their game. And there is a very tight script to be followed with the staging cards, since Await the Onset has a number of onerous prerequisites. On the other hand, this deck *is* a lot of fun to play, and allows maneuvers such as assigning "Friend of Gandalf" to Wormtongue, which makes him an uber-controller in the starting company.
I've already posted the MECGG events for Gamex 2018 at the LAX Hilton during the Labor Day weekend, so hope to see everyone there!