TaKtiX: Chris Dyer

Chris Dyer is a lead playtester for Warlord, has been UK Champion in both Open and Campaign formats at the same time; he placed 2nd overall at his first KoHIT (2004) and highly in the second KoHIT (2005).

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tournament Tips: Choosing your deck

Every now and again I'm going to throw out a few tips that I think have helped me to acheive my tournament record. Jeremiah has already covered the mental side of a big tournament, (something that really can't be stressed enough: these are stressful, tiring events and keeping yourself in the right frame of mind will help you take a big step towards success) so I'm going to look at another angle: what deck to play.

So, how do you choose the right deck? These are a few of the things that I think are important:

1. Know your playstyle. Simply put, don't play something that you're not happy with. If you're a longtime Elf player then a big tournament is not the first time to pick up a Dwarf deck. If you're not happy playing build decks then don't take one to a tournament. Some players will happily play any faction and any style, whilst others restrict themselves to one faction. Either approach is fine, but if you're not used to playing a style, don't play it.

2. Pick something you're familiar with. Know your deck. Know every card in it, know the type of draws you get with it, know what are good matchups and bad matchups, know every trick yor deck contains. Basically, know your deck inside out. The last time I missed a cut in a tournament was Nov 2003 at KOHIT, where I played a Raylor Magicbane deck that I'd built shortly before the tournament. (Admittedly, the fact the deck was rubbish and it was my first big tournament didn't help) My worst recent tournament result was Prince of the Storm 2005, where I played an Ahdre deck that I'd made at 2am the previous morning. Conversely, my best results have always come with a deck that I'd been playing and tweaking for about a month prior ro the tournament.

As another case in point, let's consider the infamous Mat Bowles, who at some point about two years ago decided he was going to stop building decks and just play mine instead. Now, Mat's a diehard Dwarf player, and knows how to play the typical Dwarf deck fairly well. At KOHIT 2004 he borrowed my Nitesh Imaran readying deck, and did very well. (I think he was 8th after Swiss and Top Dwarf, or something.) Next year at KOHIT 2005 he asked to borrow another Dwarf deck. I told him I'd only got Priam Ironsoul, who, while being a decent deck, was very tricky to play, especially if you've got no experience with him, which Mat hadn't. Mat decided to play him anyway, and bombed. I put that down entirely to Mat's lack of familiarity with that style, and I reckon that if he'd played a deck that he was more familiar with he'd have done much better.

3. Pick something fun. This is probably the most important one. Pick a deck that you enjoy playing. You're far less likely to make mistakes if you're having fun. More importantly, the whole point of the game is to enjoy yourself. You're going to get a much more positive experience if you enjoy your games, win or lose. (Though obviously, you'd rather win, right?)

4. Pick something quick. Bit more controversial this one, and one that doesn't always apply. I'd define a quick deck as one that, on average, can play three games in thirty minutes. There are two reasons for picking a quick deck . The first is that if you lose your first game you'll still have time to pull back two more and win the match. (There is a collary to this: if you're playing a slow deck and win your first game you're more likely to get at least a draw.) The second reason to play a quick deck is your mental wellbeing. If your game finishes in half an hour you've got time to take a break, get a drink, and go for a walk. That'll leave you relaxed and refreshed for the next round. If every game you play goes to time you're going to find yourself exhausted by the end of the day, and each game will become progressively harder to win as you become more fatigued.

5. Know the environment. Tricky one this. Know what other people are likely to be playing. If you're deck has a serious problem with spell blitz and you think wizards are going to be popular at the tournament, then take another look at your other decks. If you've got a deck that handily beats wizards you might want to consider that one, even if overall it's not as strong as your first choice. What if you don't know what to expect? Then...

6. Play something flexible. By that I mean a deck that has no really bad matchups and can win in a variety of ways. Dezi'crah is the classic example of this: she can win by sniping or by melee, and has a pretty good game against a lot of decks. The more diverse a field you're expecting at a tournament, the more important this tip is.

If you follow all those guidelines then you should give yourself an edge for the tournament. Above all though, have fun! Tournaments are a great opportunity to meet other players and enjoy yourself, and that should always be your priority.


At Friday, May 19, 2006 12:34:00 pm, Anonymous MatGB said...

Jeremiah has already covered the mental side of a big tournament

He has? Oh yes, he has. Going to be badgering people to put in links to articles they refer to, good for readers, very good for those who get here via Google and also good for the site.

Mat decided to play him anyway, and bombed. I put that down entirely to Mat's lack of familiarity with that style, and I reckon that if he'd played a deck that he was more familiar with he'd have done much better.

This is very true; you'd offered me Dezi IIRC, if I'd played that I'd have done much better. I enjoyed the deck, I just didn't know how to use it. Ah well. Need to play/practise more. Mebbe if we arranged to meet up say alternate Saturday?

The rest I agree completely. Some of it does look a little familiar though, wonder why?

At Friday, May 19, 2006 12:46:00 pm, Blogger Chris Dyer said...

Dunno, why does it look familiar? I'm great at fobbing off other poeoples work as my own, dontcha know.

Yeah, I know I should link more. What's the coding to insert a link?

Need to talk to Laurence, but we're going to be playing/playtesting either Saturdays or Sunday (like, 11-2 or something) from now on. Either's good, but the secong means you've got a reason to turn up to GamesSoc too. Are you around this weekend? We've got our grubby mitts on EOTS, so we're messing around with that.

At Friday, May 19, 2006 2:22:00 pm, Blogger Shakalooloo Doom said...

Oh, EoS, yes indeed...

Tonight shall be their first proper testing, but so far Coreos is looking very, very good; the Lady is a little random; Simon is fun; Cathel is better than ever; Brikta's still poo, lamentably; Lord Netheryn needs a lot more work.

At Friday, May 19, 2006 4:05:00 pm, Blogger TaKtiX said...

To insert a link, two ways. When writing, write the text you want the link to be, highlight it, then click the globe symbol (this) , you should get a pop up to put the link into.

Alternately <a href="LOCATION">display text</a> is easy to do.

A= anchor, href= Hypertext REFerence

At Friday, May 19, 2006 4:08:00 pm, Blogger TaKtiX said...

Just had to repost, previewing to check I'd coded the displaying of code properly destroyed the coding...

Also, am free all weekend to do whatever.


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