The Amazing Spider Tank

The Amazing Spider Tank
Spider-Tank, Spider-Tank. Does whatever a Spider-Tank does. Can he swing from a web? No he can't, he's a tank. Look out! He is a Spider-Tank!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Epic Card Game Worlds 2016 - Afterthoughts From a Spectator

Well it certainly was an exciting Worlds. Lots to talk about.

I wrote an article about my predictions here:

For those of you that don't know, this was the format for the weekend:

The World Championship will consist of 7 rounds of Swiss on Sunday, followed by a cut to the top 8 on Monday. Each round is 60 minutes and it is a best of 3 rounds.

The Tournament begins with an Epic Cube Draft with 8 player pods.

Rounds 1 and 2 will be played using decks created in the Cube Draft
Rounds 3 and 4 will be played using the Dark Draft Format
Rounds 5 through 7 will be played using full Construction rules.

The Top 8 will be single elimination, and it will be the best 3 out of 5 games each round.

Games 1 and 2 will be Dark Draft
Games 3 through 5 will be Constructed

Everyone loves giant checks!
There were 12 Last Chance Qualifiers which contributed to the 64 total players in the World Champion Event! 64 players battled it out and the top 8 advanced on to Monday. Several games were streamed and they were a blast to watch. The Dark Draft rounds especially were exciting. So many great plays and epic turn-arounds and come-from-behinds. I was one of like 5 people chatting on the Twitch Channel. At any given time though there were 90 spectators, which seems pretty decent for the first run. If anybody wants to watch or rewatch all the videos are here:

While the streams were going on, we chatted about strategy, the future of the game, funny stuff involving the poor Minotaurs, and how WE would have won if we had just qualified, lol. It was lighthearted and good-natured, and was a true testament to the great community that Epic is getting. The play by play analysis was great and enjoyable. They offered some genius insight into the game, spoiled some new information, and even interacted with us lowly spectators!

I am so envious of that swag bag. Every qualifier got this stuff!
My feel good moment of the stream was when I correctly guessed every single one of John Tatian's (the eventual winner of the entire tournament) picks during his Dark Draft in the semi finals. I felt so vindicated. I guess some of my Dark Draft Decision articles are paying off. Now I'll just have to find a way to apply that to the real world, lol.

There were a few snafus when it came to the videos and audio but they were few and far between. It seemed like the majority of the streaming went smoothly.

We got to hear the announcement that an Epic App will be coming soon! This means that we can play our favorite game digitally. WW mentioned online play, some kind of campaign mode, real time and slower tournament play, and that the kickstarter would be coming around January I believe. This is quite exciting. This may even be enough to push me over the edge and get a smart phone. For those of you that don't know, I've been proudly sporting a flip phone all these years, much to the chagrin of my friends and family. I shall go kicking and screaming into the smart phone age, but this app may be enough to do me in.

I got to cheer on my good friend, Josiah Fiscus. He won my local qualifier and represented us here in Pittsburgh very well. I believe he finished 39th. He was sad to start out 3-0 and then drop so many after that, but placing in the 2nd reward bracket is quite the accomplishment so congrats! I also had to cheer on Gabriel Costa-Giomi. I played him at Origins where he beat me soundly. Then he came to my other local qualifier and we played against each other in the final Dark Draft game where he beat me again. Since he finished in the top 8 I feel proud to have contributed in some small way to his greatness lol. Also, that means that Pittsburgh qualifiers put out some serious competition. Both our finalists performed very well, and one made it to the top 8, that is pretty sweet!

Epic App!
When they moved onto the Constructed portion of the tournament, that is where we would see if my predictions would come true or not. Now I don't have the statistics of all the decks that were being played, but we do know of the top 8 decks at least here:

I feel pretty good at my predictions for the tournament. We did indeed see a smattering of Wild/Sage, Evil, and Kark decks. I did not see a Drinker of Blood deck do too well, or at least it didn't make it to the top 8, but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised given my luck with them at tournaments. The most talked about and controversial decks were of course Kark decks, and that's what I'd like to spend some time on.

When Kark was spoiled tons of people cried out "OP!", and soon after tales of playtesting of the unbeatable Kark deck was making the rounds. I definitely was worried about Kark, but I was hoping it wouldn't ruin the game and would just become another archetype. I think we are still not sure, even though the eventual winner used a Kark deck. One thing, and something White Wizards is quick to point out, is that Constructed is only 1 format that was used to get to the top 8. In order to qualify, you needed to perform well in a variety of situations and a Kark deck would only take you so far. And while that is true, playing a deck that gives you a huge advantage definitely helps. We had 3 Kark decks make it to the top 8. I read somewhere that someone said there was another Kark user in the top 16. Kark was the most used deck in the top 8, and Kark won the championship. You can guarantee that we'll be seeing a lot more Kark in the future. Now is that a good thing?

White Wizards has said they wanted to create Kark in order to give a win condition to control decks. In the past if you wanted to play a slow or controlley deck, the games would last forever and usually go to time. If there was a mirror match, it wasn't fun at all, as both players basically did nothing all game. So Kark was put in to give an alternate win condition that would allow the Control matchup a way to win.

I got to watch several Kark matches as they were streamed. Although Kark wasn't as dominant as some people feared, it still won most of its matches. I don't know if WW planned this, but a lot of the Kark games were mirror matches, which made it a lot worse. We didn't get to see Kark try to beat other types of decks as much, but we did see games of "who draws Kark first?". Those matches weren't very good and it sucks to lose because one player happened to draw a card first. Sure they were exciting as for some reason every Kark vs Kark matchup had all Karks at the bottom half of the decks, so it was quite the race, but it didn't make for very good gameplay. It was very non-interactive. The Kark players would wipe the board or play stuff that gained health, and as long as they kept doing that and managed to draw enough cards it was a race to grab Kark.

In the top 8 we did get to see Kark decks play some other decks, and they finished on top. Kark did not go undefeated, and that must be said. The decks that beat Kark were extremely aggressive and had to continue to wear Kark down. They usually had to attack both the life total as well as the hand of the opponent, to keep them from winning. Since there were 2 rounds of Dark Draft to start out it does throw off some of the statistics, but Kark mainly won.

The original Hateful Eight
In the semi finals there were 2 Kark decks and 2 identical Evil decks. If they had split up and Kark had gone to both matchups, then we could have easily had a Kark vs Kark final, which would have been awful. As it turned out, the Karks played each other and we had an exciting Final game. John Tatian (deck - and Will Morgan (deck - played some of the best Epic I've ever seen. They went 1-1 in Dark Draft, and then went all the way to game 5 where John Tatian finally beat Will down for the win with his Kark deck. Will showed that Kark can be beat, however it was just not enough.

So here are my thoughts about a Kark deck right now:

Kark is undoubtedly very powerful right now. He can win very easily, or at the very least, not lose. Kark won most of his matches in worlds top 8. I would love to see the statistics of Kark decks at Worlds in general, as I would wager they did quite well. We did see Kark lose, but it was always to a very aggressive deck. Does that mean that only aggressive decks and Kark decks can be played? That's a shame. Derek Arnold's 4 color deck that qualified him for Worlds had everyone excited because it was a different type of deck, now that deck is completely nonviable. It is way too slow to beat Kark. I would love to see how long those Kark matches were too. I know that they weren't timed in the top 8, and so players purposelessly played slower to make sure they played correctly, but man did Kark games take a long time. The decks that beat Kark went well over an hour. I fear that anyone playing against a Kark at a timed setting at a tournament, is doomed to either lose, or run out of time and draw. Kark has just way too many ways to gain tons of health. That will make for some pretty annoying games. Now the games that Kark lost were testaments to great play. They were slow, but looking at the strategy as a whole they were very exciting. Great plays and rushes to try and keep that life total and hand size down, and slowly whittling Kark down where they could finish him off. I just don't think most decks can do that in 50 minutes, and if you playing for fun, be ready to play just 2 games in an entire night, lol.

John Tatian, our winner, with the bigwig himself
If Kark wins, he crushes. Even though most people would say that the final games were exciting, but how exciting is it really when you step back and think about it that Will Morgan was nowhere close to winning when John played Kark for the win? In so many other Epic games, it comes down to the wire, where the person with initiative pulls out the win and would have lose had they passed to their opponent? Those are real nailbiter games and are very exciting. We got to see that during the Dark Draft formats. However, with Kark, the only exciting plays a lot of the time were the unique ways Will managed to NOT lose by lowering John's health a bit. When the game ends with the winner at 60+ life, you don't get the feeling that the opponent was close to winning, and I think that really hurts Epic. And when Kark loses, it will most likely take forever. As I said I hope those games can make it in time, but I highly doubt a deck is going to beat Kark 2x in the span of 50 minutes. Unless the Kark player makes some serious mistakes or has some really bad luck, I just don't see it.

Look how epic that is? Also, cool playmat
So what does that mean? We are going to see a lot of Kark decks in the meta in the meantime. I hope we can find some stuff that can really crush Kark so to discourage a ton of people from playing him. I don't mind him being in the meta, as I like variety, but a tournament full of Karks sounds dumb. It's similar to a token swarm deck. A Human token deck can win a game on even the first round if they go second. However, Epic has a lot of counters to that deck (perhaps too many), and so we don't see a ton of them, but I am still excited when I see one attempted. I hope we can get the same thing with Kark. I'm not sure what the fix is. I think some kind of champion that while in play, prevents health gain, might be a decent answer, but I don't know for sure.

However, don't let that get you down. I really enjoyed myself even though I didn't get to participate. It was a lot of fun to watch the streams and continually hit refresh on Facebook to check for updates. I loved going through the posted decklists and trying to figure out what a player's next move was on Twitch. You better believe I will be trying my best to qualify next year.

A side note: I want to commentate on a match next year. Somehow make it happen WW gurus.

But anyway thanks White Wizards for such an awesome Worlds event. I had a ton of fun and I can't wait to see what you have in store for us next year! Thank you for reading and happy gaming!

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