Sept 2006 Newsletter Contributions (prep and discussion)

zarathustra
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Post by zarathustra » Wed Aug 30, 2006 5:06 pm

Deadline for September Issue: 16 September. Please Submit!!!!
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thorondor
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Post by thorondor » Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:41 pm

ok, i could do the article about trading stuff. i have got some strange items myself ...
also i wrote anarticle some time ago "in search of the entwives". shouldn´t be too difficult to translate this.

but i won´t do the "where to buy things" article. would look like self advertisment too much.

zarathustra
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Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:26 pm

Post by zarathustra » Sat Sep 02, 2006 4:14 pm

Charles Jenkins, in an email wrote:Sealed Deck Strategies

To me, one of the most enjoyable types of meccg play is sealed deck. In sealed deck, there is always a sense of anticipation as to the sealed deck and booster contents. Plus, the sealed deck play can only loosely be construed as “constructed” allowing a more casual and carefree play atmosphere. However, the name of the game is winning (or trying one’s best to win) so a number of strategies and suggestions come to mind for both heroes and minions.

Characters, Starting Companies and Starting Items

The fixed portion of the sealed starter deck contains a character with a homesite matching one of the fixed portion factions. Such a character is a good candidate for a starting company. In general, one should choose stout characters with the warrior and ranger skills, especially characters that have a chance of standing untapped versus automatic attacks. Obviously, resource cards can further dictate choices such as the need for scouts to play scout cards, etc. Think carefully before adding all of your best characters to the starting company. Other considerations include the need to play a strong companion in the wizard’s company or the desire to pop up a character at his homesite if the wizard is not in play. Specifically, most sealed decks do not have many hazards keyable to free holds and borderholds so one can usually bring a good influencer like Imrahil into play at his homesite in utter safety. Such a strategy also brings into play another factor-the ability to free up General Influence. Easy examples are using Glorfindel or Thranduil (big guys that can take a strike untapped) to control a lower mind character. Low mind disposable characters can come in handy as a way to make up for a lack of prowess enhancers and cancellers. One mind characters such as Bombur and Barliman can easily fit into a company and provide cannon fodder. Back-up characters added to the play deck should be minimized and focus should be placed on two, maybe three quality characters with useful skills that are worth marshalling points. Since most sealed decks will not have much in the way of permanent event removal, corruption can quickly pile up. Also, many times a player will not have access to many prowess enhancers or attack cancellers. That is why disposable corruption in the form of Cram and Healing Herbs are arguably the best starting items in sealed deck play. The simple example of Gloin holding an Iron Bound Shield of Ash scoring a Sword of Gondolin (3 corruption points total) or Durin’s Axe (4 cp) suffices to demonstrate the hazard of hanging on to minor items. Other good choices are potions of prowess and miruvor.

Marshalling Point Sources

Unless one gets lucky with greater items or a big faction, available marshalling point sources will be in the two to three marshalling point range. One should focus on ease and speed of play. Cards like “Dreams of Lore”, “Rescue Prisoners” and the minion cards like “That’s Been Heard Before” are too slow to be of much use. Rings are also slow, although a well-timed ring test can bring out a Dwarven Ring. Remember that successful ring play involves play of a ring, successful test of a ring and subsequent play of a ring. Rather burdensome for sealed deck play. An exception to the slow play are the minion rings “Bright Gold Ring”, “Gleaming Gold Ring” and “Perfect Gold Ring” which allow searching of the play deck and discard pile for a Lesser Ring. Even then, one is sacrificing speed to exchange a 2 MP, 4 CP ring for a 2 MP, 1 CP lesser ring. The best hero items are cards such as Hauberk of Bright Mail (low corruption, non-unique), Glamdring (big prowess boost, low corruption) and Torque of Hues (cancel any attack). Hoard items should generally be avoided due to playability restrictions and the threat of big drakes and ahunts from The Dragons set. Any allies are highly recommended. Sealed decks are notoriously slim on allies. Many sealed decks allow the addition of one site. If one draws a good ally like Gollum, Quickbeam or Tom and lacks the appropriate site, such site is the one to add! As for factions, always include the fixed portion factions and, if possible, additional factions. Remember, attacks that can key to Free and Border Holds are few and such sites have no automatic attacks, so factions can be played in relative safety (if the characters survive the trip).

Resource Events

Many cards are real no-brainers in sealed deck, such as Risky Blow, Dark Quarrels, Dodge and Concealment. But everyone has gotten hit with a sealed deck that just doesn’t seem to have much in the way of useful resource events. Risky Blows, Dark Quarrels and Concealments may not be present. What to do? Take a hard look at some cards not normally played. Ford can stop the play of wilderness keyed attacks. Sounds useful. Fast Asleep aids a burglary attempt, which is not so useful, but the alternate effect of lowering an automatic attack prowess by 2 can be the difference between entering a site untapped and getting wounded. If one has access to sages, Hey Come Merry Dol can prevent the play of deep wilderness creatures such as cave drakes, true firedrakes, giants and giant spiders. Master of Wood, Water and Hill can similarly change a site path to fizzle certain hazards. A key example would be changing a borderland to a wilderness on the way to Isengard to fizzle a Slayer. Not all considerations are combat based. Cards like A Friend or Three are no-brainers in sealed deck play as they allow bonuses to influence attempts and corruption checks. Pledge of Conduct is a great card for sealed deck play (provided the company contains a diplomat) allowing the automatic transfer of an item. Useful indeed. Withdrawn to Mordor is great in sealed deck as one can discard an onguard creature or corruption card, destroying a carefully laid trap. A Short Rest and Washed and Refreshed can both be used to great effect, allowing the draw of multiple cards or the untapping of multiple characters. Probably the least used category of resource events is Spells and that’s a shame. Where else but in the limited arena of sealed deck can a Wizard come out and dominate with his innate abilities? The ability to stay untapped or to untap is the prime considerations in resource play. And Forth He Hastened and Vanishment are great in sealed deck and the corruption checks are manageable but so are lesser-used cards like Wizard’s Flame which lowers the prowess of all attacks by 2 for the rest of the turn. Since most players run close to the GI limit in sealed play, an untapped Wizard tapping to influence away an MP source is quite devastating to the opponent. Last but not least is A Chance Meeting. This card can allow the play of a character (which will be worth MP’s) and allow the play of a marshalling point source by an otherwise tapped out company. On the minion side of things, a mode card can be just the ticket to allow the Ringwraith to move and score some points. The last category of resource are permanent events that are of dubious value but can clear the hand of cards such as Armory and Crown of Flowers.

Creatures

Ah, now the fun starts. Creatures are the backbone of sealed deck hazard play. Typically, there just won’t be enough effective hazard events to put together a good event based hazard strategy. Most sealed deck formats require a 25 resource/25 hazard deck containing at least 10 creatures (sometimes 12). The more good creatures, the better. Cave Drakes are obvious choices. Wargs are a great sealed deck creature, hitting borderland, single wilderness and shadowland with a not-to-be underestimated 2 strikes at 9 prowess. Ahunt dragons, if available, are also great choices. They speed game play and can slam a company bumbling into dragon land. Creatures with multiple strikes are also desirable. One must be wise in sealed deck and set up the hazards properly. Examples include play of a multiple strike weak creature to tap the weaker characters. The creature will probably be defeated for an opponent MP. Next, hit with a stronger creature to tap the remaining strong characters, possibly losing yet another MP. Then, sweep with a big gun like Giant, Cave Worm or a Troll Brother. Expect to lose some creature MP’s with the ultimate goal of tapping and wounding. A one deck sealed game is over very quickly and a wounded company is fatal to the opponent. One not need be quite so wise in Lidless Eye sealed deck. Since most creatures do not yield points to minions, throw in as many creatures as possible and just keep hammering away at the opponent until something gives.

Hazard Events

As always, focus on maximum effect and playability. All Rivers drawn (up to three of course) should go into the hazard portion. Any corruption cards are also prime candidates due to the relative lack of corruption defenses. However, don’t just throw limited corruption cards on the field. Hit Target-Boy with a Lure of Nature while he’s carrying a Sword of Gondolin not on turn 1 when he has nothing. The final hard hitter in sealed deck is Foolish Words. Played on guard this card will make most faction attempts into a luck-sack competition. Plus, the Foolish words are highly playable and hard to get rid of.

Gameplay

Once again, the lack of resource support dictates the gameplay. The opponent will have an assortment of creature types. Therefore, if possible restrict movement to single region types so that some of the opponent’s creatures cannot be played. An example is travelling to the Ruined Signal Tower from Rivendell (wwwR) to score a major item rather than travelling to Isengard or the Glittering Caves (wwwbR). Not only can a Slayer hit the latter site path, but so can the big, bad, ugly Cave Worm (yikes!). Staying away from shadowlands and shadow/dark holds can also limit the opponent’s creature play. Right off the bat, the stronger orcs and undead are nullified. The scatter and run strategy can be effective, using low hazard limits, generating card draw and allowing at least one company to score points. Just remember that the opponent will also be able to draw lots of cards, play his highly playable creatures and set up his hand for his turn. With everything else being equal, it usually makes sense to go after an in-hand faction rather than an item. Sealed decks don’t have many factions and they are harder to score so make the first attempt as early as possible, especially before the influencer can be wounded or die (or get Foolish Words). An often-overlooked factor is knowing one’s deck. Many players’ approach sealed deck games like every turn is a surprise, from a hazard and a resource perspective. Companies move around haphazardly and that one Lure of Nature is played early in the game on a character with no other corruption sources. Know what has already been played and what is likely to come up soon, just like in a constructed deck game.

Multiplayer Sealed Deck

Here’s a slightly cheezy tip for sealed deck play. If playing in a format where remaining hazard limit can be passed to other players, do so and let the other players use up their juicy hazards!

Conclusion

Former World Champion Brian Wong advised me long ago that there is no substitute for big and fast (and smart). Try to adhere to that advice as much as possible. Sooner or later, the dice will come into play so try to minimize the impact of the dice. Above all, have fun! Hey, it’s sealed deck, so players don’t have to take responsibility for a lousy deck and can even derive some enjoyment from watching their own guys get squished.
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zarathustra
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Post by zarathustra » Sat Sep 02, 2006 4:47 pm

What is Cheeze?

This is the first in what we at CoE hope will be a series of articles on cheeze in ME:CCG. I believe that my own definition is quite narrow in scope, and so I will explain it here and await replies (either as letters to the editor or as full-fledged articles).

I divide cheeze into two types: benign and malignant. This distinction is one of scale. Whereas benign cheeze only rises to the level of minor cheezy plays within an overarching non-cheezy deck, malignant cheeze constitutes the heart of its deck, and can be game-killing. Before I go any further with this idea, however, I should give my definition.

Necessary and Sufficient Conditions

A certain use of cards is cheezy if, and only iff, it

(1) is non-thematic,
(2) is non-counterable,
(3) is not the intended use of card(s),
(4) probably would have been errata'd if ICE were still around, and
(5) can be used in a very powerful deck.

Examples

To my mind, the play of Pallando and Cirdan squatting at the Grey Havens and scoring the Elves of Lindon, while perhaps lame, is far from cheezy. It is thematic: that's why they have that home site. It is counterable: Stormcrow / Doors of Night. It is the intended use of the cards. It was possible during ICE's tenure, and they never attempted to errata it in any way. The only criterion it actually meets is (5), since it obviously can be used in a very powerful deck. If you like, we could say the P/C/E is only 20% cheezy.

At the opposite extreme is the Balrog's ability to play 3-mind characters directly from his sideboard with We Have Come to Kill. I would call this the cheeziest play in the game. It is not thematic, since in most cases the character then proceeds to play a War-Wolf (he should fight in cvcc). It is not really counterable, since the only counter is to run 3x Shut Yer Mouth, which against almost any other deck type is quite weak. It is not the intended use of the 3-mind rule, since (at least in my opinion) that rule was meant to give the balrog player 2 hill trolls his first turn before leaving Moria or the Under-Gates. I expect that ICE would therefore have issued some kind of erratum against it. And the results of Worlds 2006, at which 3 of 4 finalists used this trick, is strong evidence that it can be used in very powerful decks. WHCTK from the sideboard is 100% cheezy.

There are, of course, many plays in between these two extremes. Some players seem to consider all hazard-limit reduction abilities as cheezy. I would beg to differ. Such play is always thematic. On the hero side, it is easily counterable with a Doors of Night Strategy, or even the well-timed play of Twilight. On the minion side, corruption cards can be devastating to magic users. The cards clearly have No Better/Other Use, so they fail to activate criterion (3). ICE had plenty of time to errata them, and didn't. But of course they can be used in very powerful decks. Again, only 20% cheezy at most.

Cheeze and the UEPs

You can see a number of attempts to eliminate cheeze through the Unofficial Errata Proposals here. I disagree with most of these, because I see them limiting strong deck types rather than adding to their ranks.

I cannot see how River stands in need of being nerfed, as the ability to cancel all rivers with a single ranger would do. River is thematic, counterable, never errata'd by ICE even though it was in the Wizards set, clearly the intended use of the card, and not necessary for a powerful deck. In my view, it is at most 20% cheezy.

Similarly, I don't see any need to change Sneakin'. Although there is no counter to the ability to add characters to a company after Sneakin' has been played, the trick is so hard to use that it doesn't really activate criterion (5). Sneakin' is perhaps 60% cheezy.

Finally, I don't think the Elf-Lord needs a nerf. There are a huge number of counters to him as he already exists. The lack of Doors of Night is quite thematic (he's bold after all -- doesn't need to the encouragement of GoM, only the lack of discouragement from DoN). I doubt ICE would have issued an errata against him, especially with so many players clamoring against the omnipotence of minion decks. He's being used for his intended purpose in such a deck as well. Perhaps the Elf-chump is 20% cheezy, but that's a very low level to motivate nerfing.

Cheeze and Being a Nice Guy

I would never play the Carambor Infinite-Move Deck against someone who wasn't in a joking mood (or at World Finals ;)). It's between 80% and 100% cheezy. I've heard, however, numerous complaints about the use of 20% to 60% cheezy tricks. In a tournament setting, I would always respond to such grumbling with a "Tough luck, buddy." During a tournament one is not expected to be a nice guy. In casual play, by contrast, or when teaching someone the ropes, it's generally advisable to avoid even the faintest scent of cheezy plays. In such a context, I would recommend playing a hero deck that moves every turn and does not attempt to cancel all hazards played on it. I would also advise against influence attempts and cvcc against your opponent. To the poor neophyte, these high-octane resource-as-hazard plays can be devastating and depressing. Perhaps the best way to go is simply to play a challenge deck.

In other words, benign cheeze (20-60%) only needs to be skipped against newby opponents. Malignant cheeze should be saved for tournaments. It's really quite Aristotelean: the right play, at the right time, for the right purpose, and the right audience....
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zarathustra
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Post by zarathustra » Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:33 pm

The Fellowship (I guess?)

This month, I'd like to take a little time to discuss the Judge Certification Program (JCP). Last year, CoE launched this program, which had two goals: "(1) to improve community-wide rules knowledge by creating helpful tutorials on the game and (2) to establish a hierarchy of rules wizards who can act as judges during tournaments." Although there was a flood during the initial sign-up, progress has been more of the slow-and-steady variety. Dave Barton and Kris Van Beurden attained level 1 judge-ship within a year of the charter of the program, then there was a slight lull."

This month, however, marks the return of the JCP, with fully 5 people being certified as Level 1 Judges: Brian Min, Joe Bisz, Jonathan Yost, Manuel Cabezali, and Kuba Krchak! In this article, I hope to highlight their work and thank them for their dedication.

Joe Bisz is the author of the Play and Examples File, available here. He has put in literally years of work compiling nuanced examples of legal and illegal play. Unlike the CRF, Joe's document not only tells you in general what you can do, but also illustrates how best to do it. The file contains advice as well as information, and it is his and all of our hope that all players will find it useful and enlightening.

Jonathan Yost was the primary editor of the Play and Examples File, though many others aided in the monumental task as well. Without his dogged work, the document would contain many more errors than than the few that it (probably ;)) still lists.

Brian Min has been the faithful reviewer and editor of all JCP documents to date, as well as a non-voting member of the NetRep team. Although he like Jonathan has not produced a work of his own, his input has been invaluable in the honing and perfecting of many documents that bear the names of others.

Manuel Cabezali only recently got involved with the international MECCG scene, but he's already made quite a name for himself, placing high at Semi-Finals during Worlds 2006. Now he's contributed on the rules-front by writing a tutorial for Spanish players on common deviations between the Spanish interpretation of the rules and the official, international interpretation. It is hoped that his document will keep tempers cool and heads on straight whenever Spanish players go up against those more accustomed to the official interpretation.

Finally, Kuba Krchak has written a program (not quite ready for general use, unfortunately) that takes care of all opponent assignments and player rankings during a tournament. All a tourney organizer will need to do, once the program is fully debugged, is enter the scores of each game and press the 'conclude' button at the end of each round. Kuba's program will do all the dirty work of adding Tournament Points, breaking ties, and making assignments.

So, from the CoE, and for the entire MECCG community, thank you Kuba, Manuel, Brian, Jonathan, and Joe! And congratulations on reaching the rank of Level 1 Judges!


[Universal Rulesbook]
Last edited by zarathustra on Thu Sep 14, 2006 2:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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charles jenkins
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Post by charles jenkins » Tue Sep 05, 2006 6:14 pm

Thank you, Mark for posting my draft article of sealed deck tips. I have triple checked the document and made some minor edits to reduce repetitive adjectives, etc. If the rest like the draft you posted, I can email you the "updated" version whenever you like. Thanks
"I say to you againe, doe not call up Any you cannot put downe"

zarathustra
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Post by zarathustra » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:16 am

Deck Highlight article:

“The Dwarves are Making MPs!”

Author: Manuel Cabezali
Alignment: Hero
Type: Speed-MP

Manuel Cabezali recently made a contribution to the “complete” resource strategy taxonomy [link] with his deck “The Dwarves are Making MPs!” [link] This is an Eriador-based hero deck that relies on shuttling a number of small but strong companies around in localized portion of the map to draw tons of cards (using A Short Rest and Radagast’s special ability) and play several easy MP-cards per turn (e.g. Tom Bombadil, Blue Mountain Dwarves, Durin’s Axe). It also, like two other Eriador-churners, bolsters the forces of the wizard’s company with A Chance Meeting.

Decks like this have become very popular recently. I played a version that uses Strider [link] at North American Championships [link], and Kris van Beurden played one [link] that exploits Pallando’s hand size boost to play Gates of Morning combos. The choice amongst Manuel’s, Kris’s, and my versions of the deck is difficult, and largely a matter of taste, I think. In any case, each of them is very strong, and in this article I’d like to examine why.

I call decks of this sort ‘hero versions of minion decks’. The reason for this appellation is that minion decks were the first (and perhaps the best) to use character-playing ability in the site phase to (1) strengthen a company, (2) guarantee an untapped character during the site phase, and (3) gain points. They often do so by playing smaller characters under the direct influence of one of the Lieutenants, or by boosting general influence with Bade to Rule, Lidless Eye, Sauron, or Great Shadow. The Balrog has perfected this tactic with the play of 3-mind characters directly from the sideboard with We Have Come to Kill. Well, recent history shows us that hero decks can perform this trick admirably as well. A wizard with 10 direct influence is the perfect character to bring into play two 5-mind characters with A Chance Meeting, assuring two easy site phase actions and 4 marshalling points.

Manuel’s deck, for example, can score 12 character points with ease, and still have 6 general influence to spare against Call of Home, Muster Disperses, and the influence attempts of his opponent. If the median number of character points for a hero MP-deck is 8.5 (which I would estimate it is), Manuel can score 3 fewer non-character points than the typical opponent and still win. Fail that influence attempt against the Blue Mountain Dwarves? No problem – Gloin and Balin will make up for it!

Another virtue of Manuel’s deck is its extreme speed. If he has a decent draw and is able to play Radagast and a couple of Short Rests early, he can exhaust in 4 or even 3 turns, which is a great advantage against many types of opponents (e.g. One Ring, Fallen Wizard with important stage cards, big combo decks).

A problem for his deck (and for all dwarf decks), however, is the minion manifestation of the Arkenstone. This is the best counter to Thrain’s 5 direct influence and Gloin & Balin’s 3 direct influence. They count on holding a character with exactly that much mind as a follower, but the minion Arkenstone gives all dwarves +1 mind, effectively ruining the plan.
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zarathustra
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Post by zarathustra » Tue Sep 12, 2006 12:43 am

High-Tech Counters to Low-Tech hazards.

“Sellswords Between Charters, Cave-Drakes, Cave-Worms, Rain-Drakes… we hates them, Precious.”

“Don’t worry, Precious, we have ways to spoil their planses….”

Gollum didn’t like the yellow face, but the Gates of Morning can be to your advantage in a huge number of ways. There’s the obvious Many Turns and Doublings to fizzle hazards, but in this article I want to take a close look at some less-common GoM combos.

Imagine you’re moving on the first turn from Rivendell to Moria to play Gollum. During your organization phase, you played Secret Passage, and you started the m/h-phase with a different company from the Moria company. When you reveal the site, your opponent looks at you kinda funny, as though to ask “Why the Passage? You’re not moving to a ruin….” You read the card for a second and shrug. “Oops.” He throws down the creature Sellswords Between Charters, and you respond by playing Quiet Lands on your Gates of Morning to change the site type of Moria from shadowhold to ruins and lairs. “‘Oops’ indeed!” he growls, and tries to respond with a Rain-Drake before his Sellswords fizzle. “You can’t respond with a creature.” “Right, sorry.” The mercenaries go their wander off confused, and then your opponent attempts to play his Rain-Drake. “You can’t play creatures keyed to regions: my destination is a ruins and lairs.” “Argh!” he replies, and bites the drake in half…. The rest of the game proceeds in more or less this fashion, as you waltz past his creatures at Goblin Gate, Sarn Goriwing, and the Dead Marshes. When he fails to throw a creature at you, you use Quiet Lands to reduce the number of strikes of the auto-attacks, allowing your company to walk through nearly untapped every time.

It’s a nice story, right? Well, there’s a number of variations one could tell, involving Stars (which turns dark-domains to shadowlands or shadowlands to wilderness), Moon (which turns wilderness to borderland and borderland to free-domain, or dark-domain to shadowland and shadowland to wilderness), or Fog (which turns both borderland and shadowland to wilderness). The long-events don’t have the surprise-fizzling factor that Quiet Lands brings, but they will affect all your companies, and can even boost your hazard play (use men with Moon, drakes with Fog).

A huge number of common, all-too-common, hazards can be countered in this way, and if your opponent is not playing Doors of Night (or at least 3x Twilight), he will have no counter to your wiles.

Two final uses for Quiet Lands: (1) Change Mount doom into a Ruins and Lairs, so that you can (a) use Eagle-Mounts to get there or (b) make the Cracks of Doom corruption check automatic with Nenya; (2) Reduce the number of strikes from an ‘at home’ dragon manifestation so that you can kill him and crown a new king under the mountain, or nullify the extra strike from Unabated in Malice.
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miguel
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Post by miguel » Tue Sep 12, 2006 6:56 am

zarathustra wrote:Imagine you’re moving on the first turn from Rivendell to Moria to play Gollum. During your organization phase, you played Secret Passage, and you started the m/h-phase with a different company from the Moria company. When you reveal the site, your opponent looks at you kinda funny, as though to ask “Why the Passage? You’re not moving to a ruin….” You read the card for a second and shrug. “Oops.” He throws down the creature Sellswords Between Charters, and you respond by playing Quiet Lands on your Gates of Morning to change the site type of Moria from shadowhold to ruins and lairs. “‘Oops’ indeed!” he growls, and tries to respond with a Rain-Drake before his Sellswords fizzle. “You can’t respond with a creature.” “Right, sorry.” The mercenaries go their wander off confused, and then your opponent attempts to play his Rain-Drake. “You can’t play creatures keyed to regions: my destination is a ruins and lairs.”
I don't think Secret Passage would prevent playing Rain-drake in this case (which is a poor example anyway, as you can actually key it to the site now).

CRF: Turn Sequence Rulings: Organization Phase: Choosing a New Site:
Effects that are played during the organization phase, and depend on the site or site path of a moving company, create an effect which is not declared until the new site is revealed. If the site or site path is not of the appropriate type when the effect resolves, the resource has no effect. If the company has multiple movement/hazard phases on the same turn, the card applies separately to each phase, having an effect only if the correct conditions are met.

Unless you respond to the declaration of Secret Passage's effect when the site is revealed with Quiet Lands, Passage will have no effect.

Btw I just posted a Nordic Cup report on meccg.net. If you think it's good enough, feel free to put it in the newsletter

zarathustra
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Post by zarathustra » Tue Sep 12, 2006 3:57 pm

Response article to Jon Yost's:
Brian Min wrote:Conduct and Hobbitship Counter Argument

By Brian “Bitter Sauron” Min

In the last issue of the Council of Elrond letter Jonathan Yost wrote an article about sportsmanship. I’m here to play a bit of devil’s advocate. This is a card game. This is a game of mental prowess. One’s physical abilities have no bearing in this game. A person has to rely on their brain and some luck from the dice. In the defining tournaments of our game, nationals and worlds, I would expect people to play exactly by the rule set defined.

The idea of a take back to me shows a sign of having no pride. If I screw up during a game I eat my mistake, and -- yes this has cost me a game or two -- but I know it was my own fault and no one else’s. This game requires tremendous amounts of mental thinking. A person who practices and keeps themselves sharp should get an advantage over those who do not; just like an athlete who trains more than his competitors, some people will have an advantage over those who don’t. The idea of a take-back is to give a handicap or crutch to those who don’t stay sharp.

To play at the top echelon of this game you are required to know the rules and have the mental abilities and endurance to go with that. There are so many variables in this game that are unforeseen; how can anyone figure out if a take-back will have an unknown consequence or not?

Let’s take Jonathan’s example from his article: “For example, someone forgets to roll to remove a hazard card during their organization phase and asks to go back and do it just after drawing for another company’s movement/hazard phase.”

First it’s not my job to remind you to attempt to remove the corruption card. If you forgot to remove this during your organization phase, I should get an advantage from it. Again this is a game of mental prowess. I have no idea what you have drawn, maybe it’s Vilya and the corruption card is on Elrond, maybe it was something else. The fact is I don’t know. To ask for a take-back at this point is firstly not supported by any of the rules and secondly takes away from the tournament, where players should expect to play by the rules defined.

Let’s consider another example. Player A places a card on-guard and then says wait I put the wrong card on guard and replaces it with a different card. Player B has Withdrawn to Mordor in his hand. Does he use it against the on-guard card, or does he use it against an agent that may or may not be revealed? Was Player A bluffing? This opens a whole new host of problems.

A single take-back can mean the entire difference in a tournament. I can give an example from the North American Championships this year. Mark Alfano was playing against Alicia Zaret. Alicia was able to lower the hazard limit to stop Mark’s hazards and dunk. She used Many Turns and Doublings which requires Gates of Morning. He had a twilight in his hand and could have asked for a take back to fizzle the Many Turns. However he screwed up, it was his mental mistake and Alicia benefited from it and won the tournament. Should someone allow a take back at this point? It could cost you the tournament and it was not your fault the opponent screwed up.

I believe in Nationals and Worlds players should not allow take backs and should play by the rule set defined. To allow take backs doesn’t help a player improve his skills and takes away from the big tournaments.
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Jambo
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Post by Jambo » Tue Sep 12, 2006 4:10 pm

Suggestion for the play of the month, although arguably this could even be play of the year. The way the game unfolded also has a fairly neat Tokien theme taken straight from the last few chapters of the Two Towers:

I'd been trying for several games to get my Fallen Radagast deck more fluid and tuned without much success. So my latest version, which aimed to raise the Ents and then go pound on some hapless heroes in the neighbourhood, was directed against b_took (Ben Sorenson) late one night on GCCG. It just so happened that he decided to use Fallen Saruman, his most beloved avatar. Quite a thematic setting already and time I thought for the Ents to go pay Saruman and his ne'erdowells a well derserved visit. Not so, as it turned out to be...

Whilst my companies floundered around Eriador and Wellinghall urgently seeking the unique and elusive Friend of Sercret Things card which as it turned out was well and truly lost down at the bottom of my deck, b_took nimbly zipped around Isengard picking up a ring or two, but not looking overly threatening. Not being experienced with the A New Ringlord card, little did I think he was actually hunting the One-ring until whoomff it appeared in a flash at Isengard. Even then I was only mildly panicking as I'd previously witnessed Wacho stumble at the final hurdle whilst trying the same thing not all that long ago (different avatar I think). Nevertheless I sideboarded poorly, choosing the wrong hazards and it came to point where my MPs were never going to reach 25 before b_took would get a shot at the prize.

With 2 A New Ringlords down on the table he would still need an 8 to win and the odds were still precariously balanced in my favour, but as fate would have it, and as the ents "hooaroomed" at each other at Entmoot about a proposed attack on Saruman, Saruman finally achieved his day of reckoning in Middle-earth. The "Sorryman" no more, he sat proud and with a formidable and imposing aura as the New Ringlord at ... Amon Hen... lol.

Long overdue I may add, but nevertheless achieved in the capable hands of b_took and against the very incapable hands of none other than myself... oofft. Well done Ben.

:)

zarathustra
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Post by zarathustra » Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:57 pm

Rebuttal from Jon Yost:
Jon wrote:The concept of sportsmanship is often a personal one
that varies from person to person. The exercise of
examining such leniencies as take-backs is not one
which is meant to define a style of play or an
accepted tournament rule-set, but one to make everyone
think critically about what sportsmanship is and how
it relates to a game based on a work of literature so
rooted in the concept of goodness and honor defeating
evil and selfishness. It's an idea too complex and
personal to delve into the examples of exactly when,
why, and against who such sportsmanship should or
shouldn’t be shown. It's too situational to say that
that it's right or wrong in the final move of the
final game that would mean winning or loosing a
national championship or in the first round of a local
tournament against a new player that is still trying
hard to remember everything that goes into a game this
complex. There are far too many situations,
circumstances, and variation of personal views to ever
clearly define when it's prudent to show such
leniency. For some, it may be never and that’s their
right. For others, they may be willing to give up a
national championship to show such leniency and that’s
their right too. In the end, the hopes of these
discussions are to make people think of how they
handle themselves in those many situations and what
they really feel is right or wrong. There is no right
or wrong answer, but hopefully everyone will reach a
conclusion which is honorable and deserving of the
work of art this game is based on.
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Jambo
Posts: 888
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 3:01 pm

Post by Jambo » Wed Sep 13, 2006 3:49 pm

Heh, both sides raise good points actually.

I definitely agree that the idea of sportsmanship in a card game can be situational. The one and only tournament I played in was at an a convention in Edinburgh and it was very laid back, but then there were only 4 players. A couple weren't experienced and weren't familiar with minion and so rather than punishing them I helped them out during their turns, reminding them on when they could and couldn't do things, like still being able to try to remove corruption cards when wounded, etc. Everyone still wanted to do well and win the prizes, and that's a good thing because you need a competitive edge to any game that's not Patience!

Ultimately though, it's a game and therefore should be an enjoyable experience for all. If this facet should ever be lost, whether it's in a tournament or casual play, then it can be the game itself that loses out in the long term, as you may find yourself alienating players, particularly if they're new or inexperienced.

I believe a sensible gamer should therefore gauge the nature and experience of their opposition, possibly taking into account the stakes involved, before deciding one way or another. Certainly, in this respect one size certainly doesn't fit all. Like Brian, I also believe there's an element of pride to be had in the bigger situations, whereby dealing with your mistakes should be part of the process. To date, I've only ever played one game on GCCG when I thought the player I was playing against was taking the piss...

If you're the better and more experienced player, then perhaps giving some slack and lending some advice is more appropriate. If you're both on a par, then perhaps setting a desirable example is the best way; just like perhaps Mark did in the Worlds final. He leaves with his head high and set a good example to the others around him. Who knows, perhaps in the years to come Mark might end up being the beneficiary? ;)

zarathustra
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Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:26 pm

Post by zarathustra » Wed Sep 13, 2006 4:36 pm

Can we use your response as a letter to the editor as well, Jamie? I like it; it's very well-reasoned and irenic.
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Jambo
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Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 3:01 pm

Post by Jambo » Wed Sep 13, 2006 6:47 pm

sure, no problem. :)

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