Howdy, Shadow Era peoples! It's Mojumbo here, bringing you some highlights of the tournaments we held at GenCon. It was an exciting 4 days for me, overseeing Shadow Era community members and new faces alike duke it out for glory, shadow crystals, and shiny exclusive foils. I would definitely say the physical tournaments were a success!
For this blog post, however, I’m going to focus on two tournaments we ran in particular: the first ever physical Shadow Era Sealed Deck tournament we held on Friday and the first ever physical Constructed tourney with a 10 card Sidedeck we held on Saturday. I’ll go into detail regarding the rules for both formats as well as the impressions the players gave after participating in the competitions.
Sealed Deck Tourneys 101:
Sealed Deck tournaments are a ton of fun and ideal entry-level tournaments for players new to the game. The way it works in Shadow Era is simple: a selection of Class Decks is made available (usually multiples of each) and the players roll a dice to determine the order they get to choose one from the remaining selection; after Class Decks have been selected, 2 booster packs are given to each player (making 3 boosters in total) and they use the contents of their packs to strengthen what was in their Class Deck. The normal deck building rules apply, meaning the deck size is 40 cards minimum (including hero) and all class and faction restrictions are in place. It’s that simple! After your deck is built, you play in a single-elimination tournament, best-of-3 games per round, against opponents who have also built their own decks with a 60-card Class Deck and 3 boosters.
The reason a Sealed Deck tournament is ideal for beginners is because each of the ten Class Decks is made with a specific faction/class in mind and gives you cards appropriate for executing their given strategies. As a result, you will have a good idea what you’re looking to find in your booster packs. For example, if you picked Human Mage, then naturally you’re going to know that the cards you want from your boosters are Human cards, like Jasmine Rosecult, or Mage cards, like the trusty Fireball. The Shadow cards and those from other classes will naturally be unappealing to you (although it is theoretically possible to switch hero/class/faction if you get the right cards in your boosters). Contrast this to a booster draft: for a beginner, a booster draft is actually quite difficult because it is no easy task to know precisely which cards you will need to have a competitive/viable deck and it's even harder to know what cards your opponents are going to be aiming for, which might adversely affect your ability to draft a given class card or deck strategy.
However, just because the Sealed Deck format may be ideal for a beginner, it doesn't mean tournaments can't still be highly skilled - far from it. In fact, at Gencon we held a 16-player Sealed Deck tournament and it was a serious competition! In particular, there is quite a lot of strategy to be found in selecting the right Class Deck based on what the competition is playing, as well as which class best suits your play style. Resident forum-goer, Ninjaducky, for example, played a Mage deck so he could attempt to pull off his trademark DFFTW (Double Fireball For The Win!) because that's what he was most comfortable and confident with.
The finals ended up being a Human Mage mirror, but it wasn't two Eladwen Frostmires duking it out, it was Eladwen vs. Nishaven! Nish's hero ability is sure to be quite the wrecking ball in all Limited formats. I could easily see a variety of other hero choices, such as warriors, priests, elementals, etc. rise up and claim a victory for their respective class as the metagame for a Limited competition is quite dynamic and ever-changing, given that the cards you will both be playing with and against are different every time.
Sidedecking in Shadow Era:
On Saturday we held an 8-player single-elimination Constructed tourney with a 10 card Sidedeck allowed. What this means is that during the second and third games of a best-of-3 set, players were allowed to swap out cards from their main decks with cards from their Sidedecks to help them against the specific opponent they were playing. Note, however, that our Limited formats (Meltdown, Drafting, and Sealed Deck) currently do not use Sidedecks.
Not everyone participating in the tournament chose to use a Sidedeck, but the feedback I received from those that opted to was completely positive. I had one player tell me that he thought Sidedecks would be good for the competitive future of the game - despite him being convinced he'd lost due to sidedecking in cards that didn't help him out as much as he would've liked! Also worthy of note is the fact that the eventual winner of a tournament was a Majiya player who opted not to use a Sidedeck. This is a good thing because it suggests that a Sidedeck will benefit those that choose to use it, but not make it impossible for those without Sidedecks to win.
I consider good Sidedeck building and Sidedecking decisions just as important as good deckbuilding and sacrificing decisions. For example, if you choose to play Lance, you might not have room for a situational yet powerful card like Spelleater Bands in your main deck but it could be the perfect choice for your Sidedeck for use against Mage opponents like Majiya. Now you may be thinking, what would Majiya do to counter a Lance that is Sidedecking powerful anti-mage cards to win? Well, Sidedecking is a two-way street so the Majiya player could then have a card in their Sidedeck, such as the underutilized Shadowspawn, specifically to deal with our hasty Rogue. Essentially, Sidedecking allows more heroes to gain exposure because of the fact they can prepare strategies to deal with specific match-ups, especially what would currently be considered an "auto-loss" matchup. I consider that a good thing for Shadow Era to have.
Radiant Sunlight: Maindeck Worthy? Perhaps not.
Sidedeck Worthy? Almost definitely.
Well, that does it for my Gencon blog post. Be sure to read fellow DT member NachyoChez's upcoming blog post regarding clever ways to keep track of things when playing physical Shadow Era. I found myself borrowing from his stash of dice, counters, etc all weekend long at Gencon, so I know his advice will be worth reading!
Hope you enjoyed the post, good luck in your games, and make sure you have fun! This is Mojumbo signing out.