I was sitting there staring at Matt Spreadbury, wondering what’s going through his mind. He laid his fourth resource and thinking hard about something. He played his first [Concussive Barrage] to start off his turn. At that moment, I knew I was dead. There is no other reason for Matt to play [Concussive Barrage] unless I was dead. Within the next three seconds all four [Concussive Barrage]s were sitting on the table, all pointed at my face. This was not exactly how I wanted to start the Quarter Finals. I am jumping too far ahead though, so let’s go back to the beginning.
For as long as the North American Continental Championships have been in Las Vegas, we have held a Draft Camp for the week leading up to the event. Draft Camp, for those not in the know, is a week-long testing session where we build and test constructed decks and draft about twenty times over seven days. Results have been very good for Draft Camp. For the past two years, the winner of the NACC tournament has been someone from Draft Camp.
Earlier in the year we had a little scare that we might have to cancel Draft Camp in 2012. Sometimes personal life gets in the way, but we were able to resolve the issues and Draft Camp was back on. Below is the invite that Dane Young and Robert Swarowski put together:
I am hosting a Draft Camp party this Saturday. Might I Interest You in a Pint? We’re going to brew up Deadly Brew (lemonade), Black Blood (Coke) and Conjured Sparkling Water (water) along with a host of other means for Fluid Death from our Big Cauldron of Battle, so come thirsty and always ask for another round! And to make sure you guys don’t Cannibalize each other during A Break in the Action, we’ll have Conjured Cinnamon Rolls (Mexican Egg Rolls), Gingerbread Cookies (cookies), and Hyjal Stag (steak) for you to Bolster your Defenses and replenish your Earthen Might with. Feel free to bring your Lady Jaina Proudmoore (girlfriend/wife) along, as this might be just the Surgical Strikes you need to introduce her to WoW.
So be sure to Equalize your schedule and Slashdance on over to Timriv the Enforcer’s Shadowfang Keep this weekend. It’s going to be an Adrenaline Rush and many A Question of Gluttony will be answered!
With that out of the way, if you have packs of Throne of Tides, please bring them. We are really short on packs and a Draft Camp without packs would be the worst ever.
This invite was sent to Jason Newill, Basem Asalah, Tripp Allen, Michael Barnes, Tim Batow, John Hall, and Brad Watson, all of whom attended.
We ended up drafting a lot. With no new format of Constructed to test for, we felt that the most value would be gained by doing well in the Limited portion of the event. Once we felt very comfortable in draft, we shifted our focus towards Core Constructed.
We tried very hard to come up with new decks for this event. I always try to play something new at every event, but we ran our heads into the wall and felt like nothing was working. At some point on Tuesday we knew we were going to play Viewless Wings Hunter. We also knew that playing Hunter meant that we needed to focus on the mirror match. We expected Viewless Wings Hunter to be the biggest deck in the tournament, which it was. Below is our final list:
Hero: [Jaral of Gilneas]
4 [Loriam Argos]
4 [Faenis the Tranquil]
4 [Grumdak, Herald of the Hunt]
4 [Edwin VanCleef]
4 [Magni, the Mountain King]
3 [Vanessa VanCleef]
2 [Jessa the Lifebound]
4 [Concussive Barrage]
4 [Avatar of the Wild]
2 [Quick Trap]
1 [Aspect of the Wild]
4 [Viewless Wings]
1 [Fordragon Hold]
4 [Leader of the Pack]
3 [Far from the Nest]
4 [Boomer] - I hope I really do not have to explain this. [Boomer] is the best two drop, plus he helps you clear out [Edwin VanCleef]’s thug tokens. His exhaust power is always relevant. He was an easy four of.
4 [Loriam Argos] - We wanted another answer to [Edwin Vancleef] that could double as an early threat. When you play against the mirror, you will need to set up board position. If they leave one resource open at the end of their turn 1, [Loriam Argos] is the go-to guy as they cannot [Concussive Barrage] it.
4 [Jeishal] - [Jeishal] is an answer to too many important cards in the current metagame to not play four. Most other Viewless builds have to sit on [Jeishal] so that you can have an answer to [Viewless Wings] the turn they play it. In our build if you draw [Far from the Nest] you can run her out there since you will always be able to get her back later in the game.
4 [Faenis the Tranquil] - The deck needed something against other aggressive decks. [Faenis the Tranquil] allows you to take a more controlling route against those decks, plus her hard to kill body is always welcome in a deck that relies on having multiple allies in play.
4 [Grumdak, Herald of the Hunt] - [Grumdak, Herald of the Hunt] is insanely powerful. The ability to kill a guy and leave a threat in play is exactly what this deck wants. He is the main reason to play this deck in Hunter over Druid and Rogue. Hell, even dealing five to your opponent is good given the low cost.
4 [Edwin VanCleef] - No explanation needed. [Edwin VanCleef] is a good card that creates its own army for a turn 5 [Viewless Wings].
4 [Magni, the Mountain King] - As long as I am playing Horde or Alliance, I will be playing the the Stash allies. They are both that good. Everyone knows that [Cairne, Earthmother’s Chosen] has War Stomp. Most opponents I have played against forget that [Magni, the Mountain King] has a secondary ability to give Dwarves more health when you have armor in play. I have won multiple games where my opponent attacked into my Magni without realizing that you have more than just [Viewless Wings] for armor, like the tokens you get from...
4 [Yertle] - [Yertle] was the team’s least favorite card for the deck. While testing the mirror, [Yertle] was not the four drop you wanted to play, which is the reason we started to dislike him. [Yertle]’s main purpose is to have some game when going second. Already being on the defensive when playing second, his armor will take some of the pressure off. [Yertle]’s synergy with [Magni, the Mountain King] is undeniable and makes playing him worth the value. [Yertle]’s armor can be a liability when playing the mirror, allowing them to cash in on that [Jeishal] they have been holding onto all game.
3 [Vanessa VanCleef] - I think this is where we made a mistake in deck building. [Vanessa VanCleef] should have been a four-of in our final list. There are not many ways to steal tempo from an opponent in the Hunter matchup, but [Vanessa VanCleef] is one of the cards that would allow you to do so. You really want four copies of her so you can play her for free when your [Edwin VanCleef] dies. Having more would have been the better choice. She’s even great when you already have tempo to steal more, allowing you to trade your Edwin into a problem card and not losing a step. She’s amazing against the control matchups and I think may have been underrated for quite some time. Ooga Booga’s list played four and made the match-up more difficult for some of our team (Kirk only ran two in his list and regrets not having more in the Semi Finals).
2 [Jessa the Lifebound] - [Jessa the Lifebound] is an addition we made to the deck after Realm Championships. Being able to stop an opponent’s attack and set up for your own alpha strike afterwards is sweet. This is another card I could see upping the number on in the deck, but the deck is very tight.
4 [Concussive Barrage] - [Concussive Barrage] is the card I found the most important to mulligan for in the mirror match. It helps kill opposing [Boomer]s with the help of your own [Boomer] and it can stop a [Grumdak, Herald of the Hunt] from killing one of your allies. Sometimes you are also the luckiest god damn person on the planet and you kill your Quarter Final opponent on turn 4. Yeah, I’m not bitter at all...
4 [Avatar of the Wild] - Big Ferocity ally that can fit anywhere in your curve. It is also the most important card to draw in the mirror if you are both in topdeck mode. Easy four of.
2 [Quick Trap] - We wanted a deck that was more proactive than reactive so we cut down from the standard four to six traps down to two. We needed some cards that helped us play defense early and [Quick Trap] was the perfect candidate. The other reason to cut traps is that players are more used to playing around them. What good is a trap when your opponent passes with no attacks on turn 2 so that when they play [Grand Crusader] and have none of their allies die to your traps?
Someone came up to me and asked why we played [Quick Trap] over [Noxious Trap]. There are multiple reasons why. The most important reason was the cost. Only being two resources allows you to kill [Boomer] even after they sonic screech your hero on turn 2. The second reason is that players may think you play more traps than you really do. Most players will automatically play [Noxious Trap] over [Quick Trap], so when they see a [Quick Trap] in your graveyard, they might assume you have four more traps than you really do.
Also, mid-to late game you are more likely to have two resources open rather than 3 when it’s critical to play it against a Grumdak heading for one of your allies.
1 [Aspect of the Wild] - Sometimes you have to play only one copy of a card. During testing, we found that given the right draw in the mirror, you can get to a point where both players are going off the top and every card is going to swing the tempo of the game. [Aspect of the Wild] has a very powerful effect, but when you are in topdeck mode it’s not a card you want to draw multiples of. In short we wanted every card drawn to be impactful to the board. The games where you draw [Aspect of the Wild] in your opening hand you can sculpt your game plan around it. [Aspect of the Wild] also provides a surprise factor because it is not a card that many players think about when you pull out your [Jaral of Gilneas] hero. The last added benefit was that during the swiss rounds, the other players did not know how many we had in our deck. People came up to me during the event and asked me how my Aspect Hunter deck was doing, when in reality I wasn’t an [Aspect of the Wild] deck at all. Word spread quickly that we were playing Aspect hunter and a few of us had it called when they played against [Miniature Voodoo Mask]. [Aspect of the Wild] was good for me when I drew it and one felt like the perfect number.
4 [Viewless Wings] - [Viewless Wings] is your main win condition. You will need it to race against [Grand Crusader] decks and you will always want at least one copy every game. We started testing with three in the deck, but quickly realized how much you always want it and four was the number we decided on. I highly suggest that you do not just run out your [Viewless Wings] for no value. I treated [Viewless Wings] more like an ability that lasted one turn and played it only if I was going to put them close to death or dead that turn. If you don’t kill them, you will usually put them in a spot where they have deal with the equipment along with the allies you have in play, which should not be an easy task.
1 [Fordragon Hold] - [Fordragon Hold] is the other one-of in the deck for the same reason we ran one [Aspect of the Wild]. You do not want to draw multiples, but you do not mind when you draw the one-of copy. This slot could easily become the 4th [Far from the Nest] but that decision would come down to the player’s preference. I preferred the [Fordragon Hold] as it allows your [Grumdak, Hearld of the Hunts] to take down [Faenis the Tranquil] in one shot.
4 [Leader of the Pack] - Making lots of dudes with Ferocity is good. With a [Viewless Wings] in play, you can set up for a huge amount of damage. Even without it, making four dudes and following up with a [Viewless Wings] is still very reasonable (and also my preferred play).
3 [Far from the Nest] - Ah [Far from the Nest], the hidden little gem of a quest from Twilight of the Dragons. Every opponent I played against had to read [Far from the Nest] which was a good feeling having played a known deck. The most obvious target is [Grumdak, Herald of the Hunt], allowing you to eat an ally and have a threat on the board. The other main target was [Jeishal]. I hated that I would have to hold [Jeishal] in my hand in case my opponent played a [Viewless Wings] or [Etched Dragonbone Girdle]. Far from the Nest allows you to play your [Jeishal] out whenever you want because you can always have a six resource option to kill the cards you are worried about later. We knew we wanted some combination of eight quest/locations in the deck and [Far from the Nest] was exactly the card we were looking for.
I loved the deck throughout the tournament. I played against one Rogue deck, one Shaman Ramp, three Grand Crusader, and four Viewless Hunter decks. The only loss I had was during the swiss and that was a very close match.
Back to the story we started with. Matt killed me quickly in game one. Game two I killed him quickly with board advantage and [Viewless Wings]. In the third game we had gotten to a point where I had taken control of the game even though Matt had gone first. I had a [Jessa the Lifebound], a [Grumdak, Herald of the Hunt] seven resources (one [Leader of the Pack], one [Far from the Nest]) to Matt’s two [Jessa the Lifebound] and five face down resources. My hand was [Concussive Barrage], [Avatar of the Wild] and [Viewless Wings]. At this point I felt like I had won the game. On my turn I completed [Leader of the Pack] and passed the turn without attacking. I figured at most Matt would be able to kill three of my allies and on my turn, and I would have six allies able to attack when combined with the [Viewless Wings], and that would be easily enough to kill him. This plan would kill him as long as he did not draw one of his four [Leader of the Pack]s. Matt drew his card and by the way he was holding it on the table I knew it was a quest. Matt had drawn the only card that would save him, extending the game another ten turns.
You had to be there, but the next ten turns were very exciting. It was like watching two boxers going at it toe to toe, just huge blows being thrown. Every card drawn was a huge sweat on both sides. In the end Matt ended up drawing two [Avatar of the Wild]s to my zero allowing him to kill multiple cards on my side without losing any of his. Matt continued his winning streak and ended up taking home the title.
For the third year in a row someone affiliated with Draft Camp has taken home the title. Congratulations Matt! I also wanted to say thank you to all my friends that came to Draft Camp. Much fun was had and I only hope they continue to have NACCs in Las Vegas in the future, so we can do it again.