Love Story – Manila City Championships – 2nd Place

If you were within any audible distance from Jonathan de Joseph during the Manila City Championships, you’ll occasionally hear him telling his opponent something like this. “You know why Romeo’s in despair? Because he learned that Alhazred is Juliet’s dad!” “Romeo’s such a playboy, he’s got Juliet, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Carmilla… even Cheshire.” “200 damage to your field, and another 200, and another 200, 200, 200, 200.” What deck allows such crazy, made-up stories? Well…

Ruler: Ebony Prophet / Abdul Alhazred, the Harbinger of Despair

4 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
4 Romeo, the Despair
4 Juliet, the Hope
4 Cinderella, the Ashen Maiden
4 Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess
4 Carmilla, the Queen of Vampires
2 Hamelin’s Pied Piper

4 Realm of Pure Spirits
4 Dream of Juliet
4 Stoning to Death
2 Witch’s Dagger
4 Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift
4 Magic Stone of Dark Depth
1 Magic Stone of Light Vapors
1 Grusbalesta, the Sealing Stone
Sideboard:
1 Sacred Princess of Guidance / Lumia, Creator of Hope
4 Return to Stories
4 Light of Lumia
2 Necronomicon
2 Witch’s Dagger
2 The Queen’s Butler

That’s the power of Love Story – a hybrid combo-control deck that aims to frustrate the opponent in both gameplay and lore. The deck mainly centers around the interaction of Romeo, Juliet, and Cinderella to establish field control, but JDJ takes it one step further by adding sideboard staple Realm of Pure Spirits into the main deck instead.

This proved to be beneficial for the deck because it doesn’t want or need to attack early – the killing can be handled by Rapunzel, or Hamelin’s Pied Piper later on. It also protects the fragile Cinderella from the likes of Rapid Decay and Thunder, both of which are prevalent in our local metagame. The Long Haired-Princess on the other hand, can hop in and out of it to protect herself from harm – as long as someone (usually Romeo or Cheshire) is willing to rest him/herself to recover her.

The setup itself doesn’t need a specific Ruler to work with, so JDJ opted to use what he thinks is the most powerful one in the set – Abdul Alhazred. This gave the deck more controlling power, and is able to answer threats that it normally should be unprepared for. From the sideboard comes Lumia which is there not only to go grind out control matches with her ability and Necronomicon, but also to fight off Darkness decks with Light of Lumia. JDJ later admits that the single Magic Stone of Light Vapors should have been Almerius, but he entirely forgot about it.

The rest of the deck is built to complement Love Story’s central strategy. Cheshire not only filters the deck, but also acts as ammunition for Cinderella if the Romeo-Juliet combo’s not online yet, Stoning to Death and Carmilla destroy single, huge threats, while Rapunzel, or Hamelin’s Pied Piper eventually seals the deal once you’re in control. Witch’s Dagger becomes your source of card draw later in the game in addition to being another form of removal. From the sideboard comes Return to Stories to fight off Grimm and Crimson Girl aggro, while the Queen’s Butler combines well with Realm of Pure Spirits to ensure that direct damage can’t kill either Alhazred or Lumia.

Finally, one of the best things that this deck has to offer is that it’s probably the best shell for maximizing Dream of Juliet. Being able to destroy an Addition and draw a card and save a resonator goes a long way in protecting the combo.

During its run, Love Story finished the Swiss rounds as the only 5-0 deck in the room, with JDJ breezing through both Quarterfinals and Semifinals match before losing in the finals. As a final note, JDJ recommends switching Hamelin’s Pied Piper with Swordsman of the Full Moon, not for any particular reason, but just because she’s a girl, and Romeo’s such a playboy. With that in mind, look forward to Etna being an auto-include when the next set arrives. 😛

So if you’re looking to play something thematic yet powerful, look no further than Love Story! Romeo and the girls will keep you entertained (and winning) for quite some time. Until then! 🙂

Images used from this post are from the awesome http://www.fowdb.altervista.org/

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A Fairy Tale Come True – Manila City Championships – Top 4

I took one final look a Puss in Boots before pulling him off the plastic case which held him for a good, long month. I’m not using him for the big tournament this time, for I thought of doing what I’ve been putting off for every major event so far – playing Grimm.

It’s not that I think Puss is weak. Rather, I blame my unfamiliarity of the deck and not exploring every nook and cranny of the its possibilities – I simply don’t have the time and effort. Those who do were greatly rewarded, thus his success at the Italian Open. But for now I just want to play what I’ve always planned to.

There are two kinds of Grimm that I’ve been tinkering with: first is the Wind/Darkness/Light version that is more controlling and tempo-oriented. Second is the Light/Fire/Water list that’s based from the winning deck from the Winter Open in Japan. Both have their pros and cons.

The W/D/L Grimm plays a lot more conservatively. With Xeex, Absolute Cake Zone, and Stoning to Death, I can simply lie back and counter threats while slowly establishing my field. I don’t really care much about rushing Tell A Fairy Tale and getting the beats going as soon as possible. Rather, the deck has ideal turns to cast it  – usually with a couple of resources open to protect Hamelin’s Pied Piper.

However, it has a couple of glaring weaknesses. First is its ability to handle opposing J/Rulers. I simply have no outs for the likes of Alhazred or Bahamut, and the deck struggles against Dracula as well. Second is that it is prone to rush at times. Without cheap removal like Thunder and Rapid Decay, it doesn’t take long before they overrun me or put me within burning range.

The L/F/W is a lot more flexible, but loses its ability to ramp and deal with bigger Resonators efficiently. What it has in spades however are threats – from small ones like Tinker Bell, to haymakers like Gilles de Rais, and a bag of tricks to complement them like Dream of Juliet, Rat-catcher’s Pipe, and Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon. It also has a great out to J-Rulers via Thunder – getting two copies in hand is easy with Oz, the Great Magician.

After making my prediction of the metagame (lots of aggro), it didn’t take long for the Japanese-inspired version to win me over. Its cheap removal and Pied Piper are sure to give aggro decks headaches while keeping myself out of burn/Pumpkin Witch range. So I sleeved up the following list:

Ruler: Grimm, the Prince of Fairy Tales

4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Tinker Bell, the Spirit
1 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
2 Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor
1 Glinda, the Fairy
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
3 Oz, the Great Magician
1 Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
1 Athos ,the Three Musketeers
4 Hamelin’s Pied Piper
2 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

4 Thunder
1 Duel of Truth
1 Witch’s Dagger
1 Rat-Catcher’s Pipe
2 Voice of the False God
2 Dream of Juliet
4 Tell a Fairy Tale

4 Magic Stone of Heat Ray
4 Magic Stone of Hearth’s Core
1 Moojdart, the Fantasy Stone
1 Almerius, the Levitating Stone

Sideboard:
4 Return to Stories
2 Rapid Decay
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
1 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon
1 The Emperor in New Clothes
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
1 Dragonslayer (lol)
2 Dream of Juliet
2 Realm of Pure Spirits

The plan was simple: to have a good matchup against most of the field (aggro), and then just wing it versus control by boarding in more threats and taking the offense as much as possible.

During my run, I had the following records:
2-1 vs Bahamut Burn
0-2 vs Alucard Control
2-0 vs Alhazred Necronomicon
2-0 vs Grimm Aggro
2-1 vs Crimson Girl Aggro
2-0 vs Crimson Aggro (Quarterfinals)
1-2 vs Alhazred Control (Semifinals)

In summary, the matchups played as expected. Barring a crucial misplay against Bahamut (wherein I put the wrong stone up and can’t pay for Almerius, and thus, can’t block his Gilles de Rais), and playing the post-sideboard matchup incorrectly in my first Crimson Girl Aggro match, the deck performed positively against both types of aggressive decks.

As expected as well, my matchup against Alucard and Alhazred are abysmal, even post sideboard.

That said, there’s still a lot of improvements that can be made to the deck, but first, let’s go through the cards that I’ve included, but ended up under-performing:

1) Voice of the False God

I think this card finds less use for a proactive Grimm deck such as mine. Sure, cashing in Aesop for three cards does feel good, but I’d rather have him surviving removal and protecting the rest of my team rather than having more options in hand but having my field one step closer to being dismantled.

2) Witch’s Dagger

Much like Voice, I’ve never really used this card much, It’s too expensive to fight aggro (by the time you can afford it to destroy something, you’re either in control of the game, or are dead). The drawing cards part is nice, but has no place in a proactive deck that relies on field advantage such as Grimm.

3) Dragonslayer

Included to combat the “turn 2 Bahamut, go!” strategies in theory, but didn’t matter that much in application. There are other ways to approach the matchup than siding in a very specialized hate card. Being an addition, it’s slow versus Gilles de Rais – the dragon already did its damage by the time it comes down (not to mention that it can opt to resurrect as well).

4) The Emperor with New Clothes

There were so little Addition: Resonators that are being used that I think Dream of Juliet will suffice. Maybe he’ll come in if Addition: J/Resonators become a relevant part of the metagame again, but for now he’s just a waste of sideboard space.

5) Athos, the Three Musketeers

“You only have one job…” is the meme that I probably would associate with him, but the underwhelming feeling that brought him to this list is mainly because I found little use of his ability throughout the day. Athos is there to bring one of the useful additions in the deck, but out of the three that I have, only Rat-Catcher’s Pipe saw play.

6) Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

Because of the aggressive field, Gilles never saw much play. More often than not, I sided him out for the second Little Dread and more removal. There are a couple of times I wish he was Pumpkin Witch instead. However, I do see him playing a pivotal role in Alucard matchups, which I’ll explain later.

Then we have a list of over-performing cards!

1) Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon

Talk about sowing chaos! Little Dread will wreck the opposing board if it’s unprepared for her. Killing a 600 DEF Resonator, stealing a Recovered one, and then attacking it into a Rested one, all while getting an 800/800 body? Sign me up! At the very least, she can turn herself into a 1400/200 glass cannon if necessary (use both abilities on her. The second Awakening ability gives her Swiftness).

2) Moojdart, the Fantasy Stone

I used to make fun of Moojdart for two things: first is for having the worst name out of all the stones. Second is for its seemingly useless ability. After last Sunday, I’m still making fun of the name, It’s a blast to turn Aesop into a Fairy Tale to protect himself, or turn one of Fairy Tales into another Race to nullify Return to Stories (or turn an opposing Resonator to a Fairy Tale and remove it from the game).

3) Rat-Catcher’s Pipe

This card allowed for some surprise kills from nowhere, but is otherwise lackluster, so a copy is just fine.

4) Oz, the Great Magician

Oz’s job is to bring Thunders to my hand. After sideboard, his role expands to include Rapid Decay. Both cards are great in winning against aggressive strategies, Double Thunders on the other hand, are great against most Rulers. Ironically, Oz himself is resilient to Thunder and outside of Rapid Decay ‘s reach.

5) Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales

If there’s a trace of a Dark Resonator on the opponent’s deck, you can be sure that I’ll call on this guy. Outside of being killed by Carmilla, he’s the best removal to fight Dark decks with because he removes the threat from the game, and leaves a 500/500 body to deal with. A super good deal for 2 Wills.

Finally, here are the cards that I wish I put in, but didn’t:

1) Christie, the Wind Tracker / Helsing, the Vampire Hunter

Having her around makes the whole Alucard matchup bearable, since she constantly threatens his J-Activate, which is the biggest threat. Unlike other Grimm decks, I can afford to pay most of my cards normally, but I have to sideboard out all of my Wind cards (and probably Tell a Fairy Tale) in exchange, but it’s not that big of a deal just to keep Dracula in check. Also good against Werewolves.

2) Longinus, the Holy Lance

Longinus is there to give the deck a fighting chance on game 1 versus Darkness decks. Being able to equip this on Hamelin’s Pied Piper will go a long way on winning the matchup. Against Alhazred, it weakens a lot because he can shut down its abilities, but that’s what we have Thunders for.

3) Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor

I started with two, but wished that I have a full set to work with. Having a lightning rod for removal goes a long way in mounting my offense, and his interaction with Moojdart is awesome.

4) Dream of Juliet

While I think a full set is excessive for the deck, 3 would be the perfect number. Besides, having tools to save your Resonator (as opposed to Banishing it with Voice) is better for the deck’s strategy, especially with…

5) Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

Gilles is a major player in the Alucard matchup for one reason alone: he’s the haymaker that Grimm needs but doesn’t want. True enough, there isn’t a Fairy Tale that matches Gilles in raw damage, and the stones used in the deck are included with maximizing his potential in mind.

The idea here is to prolong the game until turn 8 (which is no easy feat in itself) and force the Alucard player to over-commit to his/her offense and resources, leaving him open to an air attack. When your turn comes, Gilles de Rais for 2000, Dream of Juliet him, then attack for another 2000. Win stolen.

If you’ve watched the finals of the Japan Winter Open this year, you’ll see that that’s how the Grimm player was able to win with his back to the wall – by calling on a giant dragon to save the day. An additional copy of Gilles de Rais on the main deck would make a ton of difference.

With that in mind, here’s an updated list of my deck moving forward:

Ruler: Grimm, the Prince of Fairy Tales

4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Tinker Bell, the Spirit
1 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
4 Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor
1 Glinda, the Fairy
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
2 Oz, the Great Magician
1 Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
1 Athos ,the Three Musketeers
3 Hamelin’s Pied Piper
3 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

4 Thunder
1 Duel of Truth
1 Longinus, the Holy Lance
1 Rat-Catcher’s Pipe
3 Dream of Juliet
4 Tell a Fairy Tale

4 Magic Stone of Heat Ray
4 Magic Stone of Hearth’s Core
1 Moojdart, the Fantasy Stone
1 Almerius, the Levitating Stone

Sideboard:
1 Christie, the Wind Tracker / Helsing, the Vampire Hunter
4 Return to Stories
2 Rapid Decay
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
1 The Emperor in New Clothes
3 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
1 Dream of Juliet
2 Realm of Pure Spirits

Once again, I’d like to congratulate everyone who joined! Seeing 21 players signed up was a dream come true in itself (our last major event only had 8 players lol). Big shoutouts to Yuki, Philip, Mykel, and Desiree who still pushed through despite the event being their first tournament ever!

Until then!

Manila City Championships – Top 8 Decklists

Two more to go before everything’s complete, stay tuned! 🙂

Champion – Imman Suarez – Dracula Control

2nd Place – Jonathan de Joseph – Alhazred Love Story

Ruler: Ebony Prophet / Abdul Alhazred, the Harbinger of Despair

4 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
4 Romeo, the Despair
4 Juliet, the Hope
4 Cinderella, the Ashen Maiden
4 Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess
4 Carmilla, the Queen of Vampires
2 Hamelin’s Pied Piper

4 Realm of Pure Spirits
4 Dream of Juliet
4 Stoning to Death
2 Witch’s Dagger
4 Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift
4 Magic Stone of Dark Depth
1 Magic Stone of Light Vapors
1 Grusbalesta, the Sealing Stone
Sideboard:
1 Sacred Princess of Guidance / Lumia, the Creator of Hope
4 Return to Stories
4 Light of Lumia
2 Necronomicon
2 Witch’s Dagger
2 The Queen’s Butler
Top 4 – Jo-Lorenz Obignuar – Dracula Control
Ruler: Alucard, the Dark Noble / Dracula, the Demonic One

4 Servant of Vampire
4 Lora, the Bloodspeaker
4 Cinderella, the Ashen Maiden
1 Vampire Bat
3 Carmilla, the Queen of Vampires
2 Mephistopheles, the Abyssal Tyrant

4 Thunder
4 Slippers of Cinderella
2 Duel of Truth
2 Bloodsucking Impulse
4 Stoning to Death
4 Dream of Juliet
2 Necronomicon

4 Magic Stone of Scorched Bales
4 Magic Stone of Heaven’s Rift
1 Grusbalesta, the Sealing Stone
1 Almerius, the Levitating Stone

Sideboard:
1 Ebony Prophet / Abdul Alhazred, the Harbinger of Despair
2 The Emperor with New Clothes
1 Pumpkin Witch
4 Spiral of Despair
2 Summoning Art of Alhazred
2 Bloody Moon
2 Laplacia, the Demon of Fate
1 Necronomicon

Top 4 – Mikko Peña – Grimm Midrange

Ruler: Grimm, the Fairy Tale Prince

4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Tinker Bell, the Spirit
1 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
2 Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor
1 Glinda, the Fairy
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
3 Oz, the Great Magician
1 Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
1 Athos ,the Three Musketeers
4 Hamelin’s Pied Piper
2 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon

4 Thunder
1 Duel of Truth
1 Witch’s Dagger
1 Rat-Catcher’s Pipe
2 Voice of the False God
2 Dream of Juliet
4 Tell a Fairy Tale

4 Magic Stone of Heat Ray
4 Magic Stone of Hearth’s Core
1 Moojdart, the Fantasy Stone
1 Almerius, the Levitating Stone

Sideboard:
4 Return to Stories
2 Rapid Decay
1 Little Dread, the Fake Red Moon
1 Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon
1 The Emperor with New Clothes
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
1 Dragonslayer
2 Dream of Juliet
2 Realm of Pure Spirits

Top 8 – Mc Nhel – Crimson Girl Aggro

Ruler: Crimson Girl in the Sky / Little Red, the True Fairy Tale

3 Cowardly Lion
3 Heartless Tin Man
4 Brainless Scarecrow
4 Gretel
2 Glinda, the Fairy
3 Oz, the Great Wizard
1 Pumpkin Witch
1 Mephistopheles, the Abyssal Tyrant

3 Oz’s Magic
4 Thunder
3 Stoning to Death
2 Law of Silence
2 Absolute Cake Zone
3 Refarth, the Castle in Heaven
2 Realm of Evolution

4 Magic Stone of Blasting Waves
4 Magic Stone of Black Silence
2 Magic Stone of Gusting Skies

Sideboard:
1 Refarth, the Castle in Heaven
1 Xeex, the Ancient Magic
3 Return to Stories
3 Rapid Decay
2 Law of Silence
2 Absolute Cake Zone
3 Elvish Exorcist

Top 8 – Mark Saracanlao – Crimson Girl Aggro

Ruler: Crimson Girl in the Sky / Little Red, the True Fairy Tale

3 Gretel
3 Oz, the Great Wizard
3 Brainless Scarecrow
4 Cowardly Lion
4 Heartless Tin Man
3 Dorothy, the Lost Girl

2 Realm of Evolution
3 Refarth, the Castle in Heaven
3 Silver Shoes
3 Kusanagi Sword
3 Thunder
3 Oz’s Magic
3 Stoning to Death
3 Absolute Cake Zone

1 Feethshing, the Holy Wind Stone
3 Magic Stone of Gusting Skies
4 Magic Stone of Black Silence
4 Magic Stone of Blasting Waves

Sideboard:
4 Lumiel, the Tower of Hope
3 Duel of Truth
3 Purifying Fire
2 Xeex the Ancient Magic
1 Thunder
2 Glinda, the Fairy

Top 8 – Cesar Sevilla – Grimm Midrange

Top 8 – Jabriel Cabaluna – Grimm Aggro

Ruler: Grimm, the Fairy Tale Prince

4 March Hare
4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Tinker Bell, the Spirit
4 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
1 Rapunzel, the Long-Haired Princess
3 Oz, the Great Wizard
4 Hamelin’s Pied Piper

4 Thunder
2 Duel of Truth
2 Rapid Decay
3 Dreams of Wonderland
4 Tell a Fairy Tale
1 Rat-Catcher’s Pipe

Sideboard:
2 Aesop, the Prince’s Tutor
2 Longinus, the Holy Lance
3 Dream of Juliet
3 Return to Stories
1 Realm of Pure Spirits
3 Bloody Moon
1 Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales
1 Athos, the Three Musketeers

Ruler Breakdown
Crimson Girl in the Sky / Little Red, the True Fairy Tale – 6 (2 in Top 8)
Grimm, the Fairy Tale Prince – 5 (3 in Top 8)
Ebony Prophet / Abdul Alhazred, the Harbinger of Despair – 2 (1 in Top 8)
Alucard, the Dark Noble / Dracula, the Demonic One – 2 (2 in Top 8)
Sacred Princess of Guidance / Lumia, Creator of Hope – 2
Faltgold, the Dragoon / Bahamut, the Dragon King – 2
Little Red Riding Hood / Little Red, the Wolf Girl – 1
Seer of the Blue Moon / Kaguya, Princess of the Moon – 1

Total: 21 Players