[Tournament Report] PonyCon 2015

This works better when Niko and I go places together, but aren't all adventures magic?
This works better when Niko and I go places together, but aren’t all adventures magic?

Hey friends, long time no talk! I’ve been not building very exciting decks because of dumb combo stuff and also we’ve been drafting a lot? I guess I made that Bubbly Mare hyperaggro monstrosity, but it’s a monstrosity, so you know.

After the bans, I decided to go to Ponycon, and so I was mostly focused on decks for Ponycon. Under the cut I’ll talk about the modifications Niko and I made to the deck (Dream Quest) and some about my games. And I’ll probably post a picture of my lunch from Sunday because it was an amazing gigantic plate of meat and starch. Are you excited for party times?

We're all excited for party times.
We’re all excited for party times.

So, I was initially planning to run my Maud/Blue deck, on the grounds that it’s the deck I’ve primarily been playing since CG came out. I like the deck a lot, it’s fun to play, but I started worrying about how I would deal with opposing Carbo-Loaders. I was expecting to face a lot of Orange (good expectation, self) and while Spitfire’s Badge will take out an opponent’s Carbo-Loader on a limited level in a pinch, I didn’t think it was really going to be enough. So first I put together a Maud/Pink removal thing, which I will still probably build at some point, but then Niko pointed out that I might be better off running a deck that just didn’t care about Faceoffs. I told him he’s not allowed to tell me what to do because he’s not my dad, but then I figured he might be right anyway.

How I usually respond to Niko giving me valid advice.
How I usually respond to Niko giving me valid advice.

So we started modding the deck. If your primary interest is in what we did with it, this is the updated list and you can be on your way. As for why we did what we did, we had a few concerns:

  1. Maud
  2. People still wanting to play weird combo decks despite bannings
  3. Some kind of Purple control using Destiny Drain, Cutie Pox Scare, and/or Study Session

Those were the decks we thought were most likely to have a good deal of representation and possibly do something against us. We dropped Let’s Get This Party Started and Stand Still, which freed up six slots in the deck; these slots pretty much worked as a side-board, where we tried three two-ofs.

Daring Do didn't make the cut, I just think she's adorable, always.
Daring Do didn’t make the cut, I just think she’s adorable, always.

The first three cards were Daring Do, Pile of Presents, and Lead Pony Badge. Daring Do made sense because we assumed we’d see a lot of villains, Pile of Presents was combo insurance, and Lead Pony Badge dealt with both Plum Tuckered Out for Maud and Study Session for Purple. We also replaced Special Delivery (the starting and only one-point problem in the deck) with Deep Dark Forest, which is an awesome upgrade we were really happy with.

Niko and I have awful schedules for coordinating playtesting, given I work days and he works nights. I was also inexplicably busy with social things for like five Saturdays in a row, which anyone who knows me will confirm is super weird because I hate leaving my apartment to do things. It was a very confusing time. So most of our playtesting for this happened at Pandemonium’s Thursday tavern drafts. The first time, Niko ran a pretty strong Purple hate deck to see how bad Cutie Pox Scare was for Dream Quest; our conclusion was that Dream Quest could still get there. I also found that I almost never wanted to play Daring Do; Dream Quest just does not flip very well, and I was pretty sure the AT going toward assembling an army to fight a Troublemaker would be generally better spent drawing for a Snips and Snails and/or What’s Old Is New Again.

We liked Lead Pony Badge (which can also be used for extra DJ draws and/or Cloudchaser exhausts if you don’t need to counter a PTO) a lot and Pile of Presents wasn’t bad in a mirror match, but bumping up Special Delivery to Deep Dark Forest meant that the turn-2 confront was less reliable. With that in mind (and because we’re not allowed to run five Berry Punch), we added two Lucky Stars.

Your Chinatown bus always has my back, Lucky Star.
Your Chinatown bus always has my back, Lucky Star.

In addition to enabling the T2 confront, Lucky Star is also going to be a 3-for-2 a non-zero number of times, including after a Snips and Snails activation, so she can be useful for confronts later in the game. I’m not convinced I wouldn’t have been happier with a Lily, but I think it ultimately doesn’t really make much of a difference. Does your heart have a preference? If yes, follow it.

We had a lot of other cards we were thinking about as well; when we thought there would be more aggro, we thought about swapping Stand Still back in (either for Pile of Presents, or for one What’s Old Is New Again and one Purple Waters). Daring Do also remained in contention for a while. But this was the list I ended up running for the tournament.

So, the tournament! First I had to get out of Boston, which, in case you haven’t heard, is a nightmareish post-apocalyptic hellscape, much like the film “The Day After Tomorrow” or “Frozen.”

I was going to do Day After Tomorrow but all the Google image search results clearly showed the Statue of Liberty.
I was going to do Day After Tomorrow but all the Google image search results clearly showed the Statue of Liberty.

I stayed with my cousin Paris, who lives in Brooklyn, and I talked him into coming to play in the tournament too. I told him it would be just like that time we played in a Two-Headed Giant Magic tournament for the Khans of Tarkir pre-release even though we don’t play Magic, except with more colorful horses and a slightly lower chance our only victories would be against a couple of nine year olds. I was planning to get there at around 8 and we’d get some practice games in, since he has not played since his sister’s wedding last year. But I was on the bus, so it took six hours, I got in at 10, we got pizza, played one game with Tower (which we’d built for him) vs. my Maud/Blue deck, since testing vs. Dream Quest involves Dream Quest not really caring what Tower does, and then passed out. We did manage another game in the morning, and then a couple at the con, so I was feeling okay.

Then Paris decided he’d rather play my Maud deck (which was a slightly different build than linked) right before the round started, so he took that and it was off to the races!

As has been mentioned at various places, all of the rounds in this qualifier but the first were only twenty minutes, which is really not enough time. I’m sympathetic to scheduling issues, but twenty minutes means a lot of games went to time, and that’s never a good feeling. And it’s really a good thing that Paris didn’t run Tower! Good decision, Paris. You got there.

Round One: Alex with Faithful Student/Blue

I get nervous if I don't regularly post images.
I get nervous if I don’t regularly post images.

Spoiler warning, this round is the only one where I didn’t play someone who ended up in Top Eight. I had some weird brackets, guys. Anyway, this was a pretty short, decisive game; he hadn’t played in a while and didn’t really get his second color going for a while. I got a fairly early RTO and things went as things do when RTO shows up. All must love her and despair, etc.

Round Two: Dipper Tickles with Outrageous Draw

This looked like the most literal mirror match going in, considering we were both running DJ and Deep Dark Forest, and we were using the same deck sleeves. Due to this, I accidentally stole one of his Dressed Up, much to my embarrassment. Dipper got an early lead, and was up 11/7 when I got my own fresh two-point problem going into an epic What’s Old Is New Again turn where I racked up seven points with Pinny/Hooves, Snips and Snails, a bunch of Two Bits, and an RTO. I won the faceoff for two more points, bringing me up to sixteen for the win.

After this point, I only ever played either Aqua or Orange/White, so let’s do a quick summary of the rest of the day and I’ll address the matchups in more detail later:

Paris went 2-2 and sneaked into the top eight as number eight, so we went home victorious, watched some Over the Garden Wall, played a mafia-variant game with King Arthur I was terrible at, drank some weirdo Polish vodka he likes, and then went to sleep. Here’s the picture I promised of me at ChipShop the next day with my gigantic English supper, which was steak, two different kinds of potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding, and assorted root vegetables. Also some hard cider, because I’m a classy person, and Applejack would approve.

I love potatoes and even I was like, this is a lot of potatoes.
There are mashed potatoes under the meat. I love potatoes and even I was like, this is a lot of potatoes.

And with that, we were ready for Day Two! Little did I realize my cider had attracted the Earth Ponies like a beacon.

  • Day 2, Round One: Chozen again (win)
  • Day 2, Round Two: Cheese, also with Maud Games (win)
  • Day 2, Round Three: Stitch, also with Maud Games (win)
  • Day 2, Round Four: Aqua again (officially draw to ensure prize given Swiss format, but played and lost)

As you can see, it got kind of weird in there for a while. I was winning, but I wasn’t psyched that I was playing all the Orange/White, because that was what had beaten Aqua on the first day (I got paired down to face him that round) and I had no desire to face him and the card that I’d foolishly hoped no one would be running:

Remember our good times at BronyCon, Nurse Redheart? We used to be friends.
Remember our good times at BronyCon, Nurse Redheart? We used to be friends.

As I said above, Dream Quest in general does not care what the other deck does, it’s happy to just keep confronting as much as possible and getting its RTO on. Redheart is terrible for that plan on every level. There are definitely cards we can play that are good vs her (Niko’s currently favoring Dressed Up, which I also like a lot, as evidenced by my subconsciously stealing it, but Cheese Sandwich: Heavy Artillery and Spitfire’s Badge also fit into the deck fairly well for this purpose), but I didn’t have any of them in this build. As indicated above, I lost both games; the first went to time and I couldn’t do anything to catch up in the remaining turns (not that I’m convinced I could have caught up if the game had continued, but as seen above, Dream Quest can pull off some pretty epic turns), and in the second, he first-confronted A Thorn In His Paw with an RTO to get to fourteen, and even Dream Quest couldn’t come back from that. Congrats to Aqua for a good deck and well-deserved win!

As for the Orange/White, I think it’s generally a favorable match-up for me and I wasn’t sweating these games too much. They also kind of blend together (all three games Day Two even started the same way, with my opponent playing a Yellow Parasprite on their problem, but only Chozen was lucky enough to hit a Dr. Hooves on literally the first pull), so I don’t have that much to say about them. I was definitely really happy to have Lead Pony Badge in these games, and Deep Dark Forest is really great against villain-farming decks, so I think we made the right adjustments to deal with this kind of deck. I don’t think any of these decks ever got their RTOs going against me that I recall? I certainly got mine earlier, and being able to use Snips and Snails to replace the problem and then strike back with RTO is just so strong. The Orange/White couldn’t keep up.

Vinyl made me this picture of the blacksmith I like from Game of Thrones with my girlfriend crystal Fluttershy's mane. I told her I would put it in this report. This is why we are BFFs.
Vinyl made me this picture of the blacksmith I like from Game of Thrones with my girlfriend crystal Fluttershy’s mane. I told her I would put it in this report. This is why we are BFFs.

Anyway, that was my Ponycon experience! In general, it was a fun event and I am very glad I went. I do think if you’re running a two-day event and expect people to run the same list both days, you should do deck lists, and I wish we’d had time for non-Swiss finals, although it was nice that Paris got to play four rounds instead of getting knocked out in the first one (he went 1-3 on the second day) and having to hang out while I kept going.

Sadly the end of the trip was pretty grim, as my bus out was an hour late, which was almost terrible enough to make me regret coming in the first place (the Bolt Bus stop is outside and it was fucking cold). But after about half an hour they let us get on a different bus so we wouldn’t freeze, and subway service had resumed in Boston, so I was able to get home without much trouble. I am so sad that was actually a genuine concern.

Oh please, oh please.
Oh please, oh please.

Get it together, Boston.

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