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lalchant

Michigan Regional Tourney Report; A brief history of the Michigan Meta

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Hey guys, before I dive into the report, I would first like to thank Warriors 3 Games for hosting a great tourney. I would also like to talk a little bit about  the history of A.G.O.T. and  the Michigan Meta. As you may or may not know, it has been 10 years to the day since Michigan has hosted a regional. In 2003, Jason Aubrey and a store called Blue Dragon Games hosted the tourney. It was really an awesome experience; the prize support was amazing as was the turnout. We had players from all over the region, including Canada and, oh boy, did some powerhouses show up! Most of you don't really know who I am. I might say that I've been the Varys of our meta, hiding in the shadows, so to speak. But me and mine are definitely old G's to the game; we've been playing forever.

Mark Melnik: the best from the New York Meta. His was a force to be reckoned with, as was the Ohio Meta with Nate French. John Bruno: 2 time world champion (and I wouldn't be surprised if in November it was 3 time) and Old G. Jason Aubrey aka Shikaku: a villain assassin who was hated so much in the game that people would show up just to try to show him up. He used to light the fire! Casey Galvan: 1 time champion who moved on to design the game. When he stepped down, Nate French took over, one of the most honest, best players ever to grace a gaming table; I would love to see him play just one more championship. Mallesh Gopalswami: a clone of Casey's except better, stronger, faster. Greg Atkinson: one of the biggest names in A.G.O.T., we all know him for his podcast 2 Champs and a Chump, the Cardgame Database and introducing social networking for the game, which really created a community. He is also one of the most successful players in the game; he really grabbed the reigns and brought it all together once Casey left game play for game design. Last but certainly not least: Eric Buttzlaff from the DC Meta. Contrary to popular belief (that he is an undeserving player), Butzlaff and his meta's logical approach to deck constructing, play testing and consistent winning, finally iced the cake for a truly competitive environment.

The Old Gods vs. the New Gods: maybe I'm just feeling nostalgia for the way things used to be but this really gnaws at me. I have some great memories of travelling, not just across town but across state lines, to play in a tourney. The new way has it's benefits; the bigger online community, increased interest due to more tourneys and more locations for tourneys, the ability to construct and play online, etc. I just can't help but think that the old way produced a tighter-knit, albeit smaller, community of loyal players. Going to a tourney, for me at least, was about more than just competing and playing the game; it was about spending time with those great players (and great people), sharing experiences, making memories and building relationships. Now it's so easy to make it to a tourney; it seems almost every gaming store has one, sometimes on the same day as another store in the same state. Though this makes it more convenient for players, I feel that it has affected the quality of the tourneys and the quality of the whole experience. It seems that now, since any store that can pay the fee can run a regional, it's about bringing business into the stores more than bringing loyal players into the game. For example, the Michigan Regional, although well run by the store, had in attendance only 6 players (keep in mind the Michigan Meta is composed of 15 players), compared to the 30 or so players who turned out to the regional 10 years ago. Back in the day, prize support also meant something; it was more than just every player gets a mat or a little pin. The coveted buy into Worlds for the regional winners is a much-missed element of these regional tourneys. This being said, I want to bring it back old-school. I am planning an exclusive, by-invitation-only, King in the North tourney. No prize support, no bull, just the best-of-the-best competing for the crown. I want to host this tourney in Michigan in early October but I will, of course, collaberate with the contenders to set a date. I am hereby officially sending out my ravens to our biggest and best players and I hope that you will all be as enthusiastic about this tourney as I am. Anyone mentioned by name in the previous paragraph is considered one of the biggest and best and I hope that all of you will attend. Please email me at lalchant@gmail.com and let me know if you will commit to participate and what date will work for you. Any of our valued European players are also invited; we would love to have any of you here! Of course, anyone is encouraged to come and watch this historic event but the play will be by-invitation-only. Each contender for the crown will be encouraged to choose a few meta-mates to bring along for a side-tourney. The main King in the North tourney will be broadcast online. I would like to ask Team Covenant to do the live broadcast and 2 Champs and a Chump to do a live podcast for the event. I really want to see this happen as this will mark my retirement from competitive game play. This can't happen, however, without the support of the A.G.O.T. community. Anyone interested, please email me to show your support. I want to get going with the planning for this as soon as possible. But again, I can't make this happen alone; I need your support and participation so, please, contact me! Also, any support from FFG (allowing Nathan French to participate who, btw, has never beaten Casey Galvan in a tourney) would be greatly appreciated. Consider this a worthy sendoff from your friendly neighborhood spider.

And now, the long-awaited Michigan Regional report:

Participants:

Jason Ogden: Targ, Long Voyage (Long Lances)

Mallesh Gopalswami: Greyjoy, no agenda (Fury of the Kraken)

Keith Sharp: Greyjoy, no agenda (Fury of the Kraken)

Casey Galvan: Stark, no agenda/Kindly Man (Viper's Bannermen)

Luigi Ventura: Bar, Knights (Search and Detain)

Gary Nickles: Targ, Long Voyage (Long Lances)

Top 4:

1. Casey Galvan

2. Mallesh Gopalswami

3. Luigi Ventura

4. Gary Nickles

If anyone would like to see decklists, send me an email.

 

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The tournament was fun and Warriors 3 was accommodating but our turnout was less than stellar. With the combination of having another regional’s in Ohio on the same day and losing half our meta to real life issues we only had 6 people. That aside from that we all had a good time and we are hoping for better in the future.

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Ironically, the death of the "old way" and rise of the "new way" is what makes this invitational significant. Otherwise it would just be another tournament that the few dedicated players went to.

I also find it interesting that you cite the DC players as the icing on the cake for creating a competitive playing environment as their recent actions have not been particularly positive for the competitive community in the past year or two, whether or not it is their actions or simply players' assumptions about them that are the real issue. There are times when not all publicity is good publicity.

Which New York meta is Mark from?  I don't recognize the name so I'm wondering if it's close to NYC.

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Quick clarification: I have been corrected from two fronts on this and I must mention that Nate French has beaten Casey Galvan in the Canadian Baycon tournament in 2004 and another small tournament in 2003. I also can't believe that in my giant wall of text I neglected to mention K-Tom. He is, of course, a huge part of the community. On top of this, he is a terrific player and just an all-around great guy. He truly is grand maester K-Tom. So, he is, of course, included in the biggest and best of the game and I would love to see him show up to this tourney. Whatever K-Tom wants, K-Tom gets. If you want to be a judge, if you want to be a player, if you want to be both, if you want me to cook you filet minon tableside while you play, if you want my wife, if you want to stay at my house and have me rub your feet until you fall asleep, you got it. 

In response to mdc273, the DC meta is like the Borg. No one has to like them, just recognize that they are a highly efficient and functional being operating as a single consciousness. They work together as a meta to construct, build and test and they all play that same deck. They bring a uniqueness to the game. Because of Butzlaff and the DC meta, decks have names, everyone isn't just playing a random build. If it wasn't for the DC meta, there would be no net decks. As for Melnick, I'm not sure exactly what meta he is in. I know that he is near the city. He actually retired years ago and reappeared about 6 months ago, only to vanish again. If anyone has his contact info, I would really appreciate if you could pass it along to me. 

I would like to share with everyone that this post was just made yesterday and I have already received several emails from some big players indicating that these champs plan to attend. This is happening guys, but I'm still waiting to hear from some players. I will be contacting Team Covenant and Two Champs and a Chump to see if they are willing to do the live feed and podcast. 

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I would be remiss if I didn't point this out; the tournament I ran 10 years ago was not a regional tournament. My bid to host the regional tournment was denied, and the closest one approved was a significant distance away. So I held my own tournament; called it the Tournament of the Hand, and provided my own prize support, which was eventually supplemented by prize support from FFG (though I think begrudgingly). 

This was back when the game was still a CCG, so prize support was a little easier to come by.

I did get an amazing turnout, for which I am eternally grateful. The tournament was run smoothly without issue and I believe everyone had a good time.

That all being said; depending on which date you run your tournament, I may be able to attend. Even if it's just to show support for someone attempting to do something similar to what I was able to pull off all those years ago.

Shikaku

 

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For the record, if such a invitation-only tournament was every created, I would not go.  I'm not a fan of exclusivity.  While I appreciate the shoutout and the props, what makes Thrones great is the fact that both in the OLD days and the NEW days, it is a community game.  I built great relationships from 2003-2007, and I have made great relationships with new players from 2008-2013.   IF I were to get an invite (which is obviously no sure thing), I can't imagine telling my metamates who didn't get an invite "Hey, please drive to Michigan with me.  I'm going to play in this awesome tourney, while you guys get the sidekick tourney"

 

Luigi, while I applaud your attempts at trying to create a larger than life tourney situation, please understand how it will come off to people not invited.  And in the LCG era, where the game is packaged, marketed and designed with the intent of encouraging players to jump into the game without card rarity and product exclusivity, a tournament with specific designs of player exclusivity flies in the face of that.

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Dobbler said:

For the record, if such a invitation-only tournament was every created, I would not go.  I'm not a fan of exclusivity.  While I appreciate the shoutout and the props, what makes Thrones great is the fact that both in the OLD days and the NEW days, it is a community game.  I built great relationships from 2003-2007, and I have made great relationships with new players from 2008-2013.   IF I were to get an invite (which is obviously no sure thing), I can't imagine telling my metamates who didn't get an invite "Hey, please drive to Michigan with me.  I'm going to play in this awesome tourney, while you guys get the sidekick tourney"

 

Luigi, while I applaud your attempts at trying to create a larger than life tourney situation, please understand how it will come off to people not invited.  And in the LCG era, where the game is packaged, marketed and designed with the intent of encouraging players to jump into the game without card rarity and product exclusivity, a tournament with specific designs of player exclusivity flies in the face of that.

What if it weren't exclusive, but required invitees to meet certain qualifications? It appears that right now, the qualifications are something like "previous world champions". Would you object to that? It's no longer subjectively exclusive. It becomes an invitational that is meant to bring the best players around the world, past and present, and see who is the best right now.

Heck, if one of my metamates was invited I would be very likely to come with them if asked. Something meaningfully and objectively exclusive is actually a privilege to participate in and I would be glad for them to get to be a part of the experience and would want to support them.

That second part is very much something I was thinking during my first post, but I'm already provocative enough that I didn't want to say it, lol. If this tournament becomes subjectively exclusive, it will be derided as simply a clique of players claiming to be the best. If it is objective, then it simply will be what it is. New players could even strive to attend the tournament, so exclusivity is not always bad if it doesn't select out new players for simply being new.

Only two players make the final of a tennis tournament like Wimbledon, but just playing at Wimbledon is a privilege that just about any tennis player would want.

@lalchant - Props for standing up for the DC guys. They definitely make the game a lot more interesting.

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mdc273 said:

Dobbler said:

 

For the record, if such a invitation-only tournament was every created, I would not go.  I'm not a fan of exclusivity.  While I appreciate the shoutout and the props, what makes Thrones great is the fact that both in the OLD days and the NEW days, it is a community game.  I built great relationships from 2003-2007, and I have made great relationships with new players from 2008-2013.   IF I were to get an invite (which is obviously no sure thing), I can't imagine telling my metamates who didn't get an invite "Hey, please drive to Michigan with me.  I'm going to play in this awesome tourney, while you guys get the sidekick tourney"

 

Luigi, while I applaud your attempts at trying to create a larger than life tourney situation, please understand how it will come off to people not invited.  And in the LCG era, where the game is packaged, marketed and designed with the intent of encouraging players to jump into the game without card rarity and product exclusivity, a tournament with specific designs of player exclusivity flies in the face of that.

 

 

What if it weren't exclusive, but required invitees to meet certain qualifications? It appears that right now, the qualifications are something like "previous world champions". Would you object to that? It's no longer subjectively exclusive. It becomes an invitational that is meant to bring the best players around the world, past and present, and see who is the best right now.

Heck, if one of my metamates was invited I would be very likely to come with them if asked. Something meaningfully and objectively exclusive is actually a privilege to participate in and I would be glad for them to get to be a part of the experience and would want to support them.

That second part is very much something I was thinking during my first post, but I'm already provocative enough that I didn't want to say it, lol. If this tournament becomes subjectively exclusive, it will be derided as simply a clique of players claiming to be the best. If it is objective, then it simply will be what it is. New players could even strive to attend the tournament, so exclusivity is not always bad if it doesn't select out new players for simply being new.

Only two players make the final of a tennis tournament like Wimbledon, but just playing at Wimbledon is a privilege that just about any tennis player would want.

@lalchant - Props for standing up for the DC guys. They definitely make the game a lot more interesting.

 

"Invitation - only" implies a subjective selection process

 

"Qualification" implies an objective selection process

 

If the idea is to qualify for an event, we already have such a thing.  It is called the single elimination portion of the World Championships.  The best of the best show up to compete.  Only the top 16 records make it to the cut.

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They're right Lou. You should open this to everyone, because not everyone gets a chance to go to GenCon, or is willing to pay those kinds of prices to play with the best in the world; and it would be nice if you gave them the opportunity to do so. And if you want to recognize some of those great players you mentioned, I am sure there's a way you can set up a one-on-one match outside of the tournament if they're interested in participating; perhaps for charity, I hear there was a tornado in OK recently.

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lalchant said:

In response to mdc273, the DC meta is like the Borg. No one has to like them, just recognize that they are a highly efficient and functional being operating as a single consciousness. They work together as a meta to construct, build and test and they all play that same deck. They bring a uniqueness to the game. Because of Butzlaff and the DC meta, decks have names, everyone isn't just playing a random build. If it wasn't for the DC meta, there would be no net decks.

Not to burst the bubble created for us, but I don't know if the DC meta really contributes to net decks. We tend to keep our decks under wraps until after the big tournaments. As in fact, our deck names tend to be rather bland, such as "The Lanni deck, the Martell deck, etc." since if we play a house it will tend to be the best deck we can put together of that house. If we have to we call it something really descriptive like "The Targ Hollow Hill deck" or something like that.

Everything else you said though, is spot on. :D

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Danigral said:

Not to burst the bubble created for us, but I don't know if the DC meta really contributes to net decks. We tend to keep our decks under wraps until after the big tournaments. As in fact, our deck names tend to be rather bland, such as "The Lanni deck, the Martell deck, etc." since if we play a house it will tend to be the best deck we can put together of that house. If we have to we call it something really descriptive like "The Targ Hollow Hill deck" or something like that.

Everything else you said though, is spot on. :D

 

Shhhhh stop talking about The Lanni Deck! They'll figure it out!

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Yeah Dan I agree.  The stark winter deck was great.  I had only played the game for 3 months but made top 8 at worlds with it (and 5 other of the winter deck was in the top 16).  That is a testament to how insanely good that deck was--because I didn't even really know what I was doing in that tournament compared to what I know now.--It was the deck, not the driver.  It is a shame Erick was such a noob when it counted. (GET AT ME ERICK)

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kr4ng said:

Yeah Dan I agree.  The stark winter deck was great.  I had only played the game for 3 months but made top 8 at worlds with it (and 5 other of the winter deck was in the top 16).  That is a testament to how insanely good that deck was--because I didn't even really know what I was doing in that tournament compared to what I know now.--It was the deck, not the driver.  It is a shame Erick was such a noob when it counted. (GET AT ME ERICK)

~And I can testify that he was definitely a noob because even I beat him in the DC World's prep tournament.  (That of which anyone with $10 was able to participate.)

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Dobbler said:

"Invitation - only" implies a subjective selection process

 

"Qualification" implies an objective selection process

 

If the idea is to qualify for an event, we already have such a thing.  It is called the single elimination portion of the World Championships.  The best of the best show up to compete.  Only the top 16 records make it to the cut.

Ah, I see your issue. I consider anything requiring qualifies as invitation only. That's what the qualifier is for. If you qualify, you're invited. Not sure if that's a traditional interpretation or my own.

@Shikaku - I like the charity idea. Make it a closed tournament where half the invitees are top-level invitees and the remainder are open or require some qualification, then donate to charity. Interesting idea.

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kr4ng said:

Yeah Dan I agree.  The stark winter deck was great.  I had only played the game for 3 months but made top 8 at worlds with it (and 5 other of the winter deck was in the top 16).  That is a testament to how insanely good that deck was--because I didn't even really know what I was doing in that tournament compared to what I know now.--It was the deck, not the driver.  It is a shame Erick was such a noob when it counted. (GET AT ME ERICK)

All Erick had to do was bring out Varys instead of play Grey Wind on his refugee during Bruno's First Snow round. We in DC actually refer to the noob mistake of forgetting First Snow as "pulling a Butzlaff."

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What exactly is your intent behind such an invitational? If it is to build a stronger sense of community, more participants would be better. If it is to raise money for charity, more participants is better. If it is to bring together what is most likely to be the current best players, more is better. If, however, your intent is to reminisce and hang with friends, fewer is better, and so is a private email to each of them.

Not sure I would participate (due to travel) no matter what the reason, but I would personally be most motivated by the charity suggestion.

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As I mentioned before I have received several emails from interested players. I would like to mention specifically that Nathan French has responded. He has been cleared by FFG to play in the tourney and he will make every effort to attend. This is monumental news; I'm sure many players would love the chance to play Nathan in a competitive environment as not many of us have had the chance to play against him in an actual tournament. I, for one, am extremely excited about the prospect of his attending and participating, since he is not able to play in Worlds due to FFG regulations. So, if anyone would like to try their hand against the Senior LCG Designer, this could be your chance!

 

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Dobbler said:

For the record, if such a invitation-only tournament was every created, I would not go.  I'm not a fan of exclusivity.  While I appreciate the shoutout and the props, what makes Thrones great is the fact that both in the OLD days and the NEW days, it is a community game.  I built great relationships from 2003-2007, and I have made great relationships with new players from 2008-2013.   IF I were to get an invite (which is obviously no sure thing), I can't imagine telling my metamates who didn't get an invite "Hey, please drive to Michigan with me.  I'm going to play in this awesome tourney, while you guys get the sidekick tourney"

 

Luigi, while I applaud your attempts at trying to create a larger than life tourney situation, please understand how it will come off to people not invited.  And in the LCG era, where the game is packaged, marketed and designed with the intent of encouraging players to jump into the game without card rarity and product exclusivity, a tournament with specific designs of player exclusivity flies in the face of that.

 

I would like to clear up some things because, obviously, there is a bit of misunderstanding about what I am trying to do. I do not wish to exclude anyone, rather to bring together the "Dream Team" of AGOT to create excitement in the community. As so aptly stated by mdc273, I would like it to be "an invitational that is meant to bring the best players around the world, past and present, and see who is the best right now". His analogy about Wimbledon also serves to drive home a point that I am trying to make, that it is meant to be something of an honor to be included in the "best of the best".

I did not think that anyone would be offended by my inviting what no one seems to be disputing as the top players in the game. As I said in the original post, anyone is invited and even encouraged to attend. I would also like this to be a collaborative effort. I need support and enthusiasm from the community to make this happen so, I am more than willing to tweak my ideas for how the tourney should go. This is the way I was thinking it would go: two tournaments side-by-side, the King in the North tourney and the Meta Wars tourney. The champions of each tourney would then compete against each other. I had not meant the Meta tourney to seem like a "sidekick tourney" but more of an old vs. new thing. This is not an exclusionary event, just a different tournament structure than is usual. 

Greg, this being said, of course you are included. I don't think this is a larger than life tourney situation, nor do I think it will be impossible to pull off, as long as it continues to gain community support and attention. I realize that the prospect of knowing that each match-up in the tourney will be against a #1 player, from the first game to the last, is a bit intimidating. However, I mean for this to be a motivational, rather than a discouraging, factor.

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I am putting together the official roster for the King in the North tourney and I shall be sending out my ravens shortly. I am reaching out to the community to please contact me, let me know your thoughts and what you would like to see happen. What I have proposed are my ideas but I am open to tweaking them based on a consensus. I need to hear from you, collaboratively! Once I hear back from everyone and I know who will be participating and attending, I will then post the official date that we have worked out for the tourney. 

Love you guys, goodnight.

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For the record, i'd come to this regardless of inclusion level out of sheer curiosity for who would win, and the doubtless heavy partying afterwards. My only hope/suggestion is that you have it at an adult friendly location so that spectators can drink it up while they watched. Also a much better way to spectate the matches than standing around the table on tip toes would be awesome. Maybe an overhead cam like they have at big poker tournies broadcasting to a TV nearby would work.

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I just wanted to post something real quick to voice support for lalchant's idea. If I were a competitive player, the chance to play against the best is too tempting to pass up. Throw in Nate ( a legend) whom many in this community have never played; how can you say no? I'm on my phone, but I'll post more later.

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