Invited Author: Jeff Wiscovitch (2nd Place Las Vegas Treasure Cup)
As I’m waiting for my flight back to Florida I decided to write this report of how Treasure Cup Las Vegas went.
Definitely an amazing experience and It solidified my love for this game, bringing a deck that most dismissed into a second place finish is my most precious achievement (so far). Before I get into the juicy stuff i want to give a few shout outs OrangeSamuraiD thanks for being a precious friend and great team member, looking forward to what we can do going forward, Garrett Farrington for keeping me headstrong in my deck choice and not letting me switch last minute.
The Worst Generation for being kick ass friends
And lastly to my finals opponent congrats and kick ass game!
My Deck Choice
I came in with Kaido and here is why I chose what i chose and how to maneuver the meta matchups.
Kaido, for me, has been a tempo control deck at least in my mind and as a fellow MTG Control player I gravitated towards Kaido since Super pre-release. But that doesn’t stop the glaring weakness that is ramp and the mid game that Kaido does not excel in unless you see Onigashima Island, and Kings, so how did i circumvent that?
Easy, I took my previous run at Treasure Cup miami and went into the think tank, and realized that going 2nd with Kaido is how you want to play the deck to achieve the most consistent results as it allows you to see more cards than your opponent over the course of the game, and if you did not open Onigashima it allows you more chances to see it in the early game where you can establish Onigashima without getting punished by your opponent for doing so.
The other choice i made was playing a very aggressive vanilla package with 4 Babanuki and 2 Urashima, these cards are good when you opponent is trying to play around your Kings so you get no value, these cards are statistically the same as kings without effects, and in the mid game i need to keep up the pressure or i will get out valued and lose. The main goal of the deck is to survive until 10 DON and from there you can establish powerhouses such as the 9 cost and 10 cost Kaido’s. I decided to run 3 9 cost Kaido and 2 10 cost Kaido, due to the fact that in treasure cup miami i saw myself using 9 cost more than 10 cost due to the fact that the “Rush” Keyword is so strong in swinging tempo back into your favor.
Now onto the Ramp package, I decided to run 4 Jacks, as there are sometimes cards that are dead in certain matchups, like Queen into Red decks, or the Vanillas if you see your Kings even second copies of Onigashima, Jack turns these cards that was giving you no value in your hand to a 4k body on the board, and an extra ACTIVE DON, which is huge when trying to survive until 10 DON. For events I played a very small amount with only 3 blast breath, I think the card is really good but at 4 there is huge potential for blast breath to clog your hand and can lose you games where if it was a 2k counter it could mean the match.
Optimal plays going second:
When going second you want to turn 1 play a 2 cost blocker and pass, this is very important as your life is a very valuable resource into decks like Red luffy/Zoro or Green Kidd, Every life you take is a swing closer to losing the game. Ideally turn 2 you play Onigashima Island and Swing with the leader for 6k, forcing your opponent to either take the life or give you a 2k counter from hand. Turn 3 you either play King if they have a problematic card, or a Babanuki and swing lead for 6k and either take out a blocker that they played or a rested card on the field. It's also a option to swing 5k at a rested card with your leader to take a card from your opponent's hand and use King afterwards, to remove it anyway.
Turn 4-5 you either play queens if you have the breathing room to do so or Kings if you need more board control, to set up a 9 cost Kaido turn for the next turn. Swing life if the cards on board pose no threat to you in the near future.
Turn 6+ At this point you either play 9 cost Kaido and start closing the game or you use your active don and swing large numbers at your opponents and make it hard for them to pressure you back, notably King’s are 7K power, so alone they warrant 3K counter to not take damage, so 2 extra don or 1 extra DON on top of King makes it very hard to counter consistently. I have won plenty of games with only 2 Kings on board swinging 10k to life.
Preserving life is key and knowing when to take life is very important. Against green I like to stay at 3 life a majority of the game so it is much harder for them to use Kidd’s Ability to close out the game. And against Red I like to hover around 2 life so they can not sneak in a Diable Jambe, and Rush luffy for game. 2 Cost Black maria is the go to blocker for these matchups in the early game and you want to play kurozumi in the end game, Especially against red because 9 Cost Shanks can be blocked by 3k Power blockers or greater. Throughout the game i like to setup my hand defensively and sculpt it to what i want, preserving as many 2k counters as i can and holding all my 3k power blockers as well, If i see a blast breath i tend to hold it until the final turns of the game as that is when counter power becomes the most important.
The last tip I can give to those wanting to play Kaido is DON MATH IS KEY and knowing when to use Leader Skill to trash a life. Knowing your character's power and how much counter an average red or green or Law deck has, can help you punch through those grindy games. For example, Kings on their own are 7k, which is considered a sweet spot as your opponent needs a minimum of 2 counter cards or 1 event card to not take damage. But adding 2 more don makes it so it requires 3-4 Counter cards, and 1 event card PLUS a counter card. These trades allow you to survive and keep tempo in your favor and ultimately win the game over the next few turns. You never EVER want to use Kaido’s skill to burn your opponent unless you are pushing for the game. Ideally you would want 1 king and 9 cost kaido/10 cost Kaido or 7 cost Urashima, a combination of these cards can secure your game when your opponent is at 3 life with 4-6 cards in hand, or more convincingly at 2 life. This goes back to DON! Math, knowing the counter thresholds of your opponent, keeping mind if they have any DON! Active for event cards ect.
An example game ender is as follows:
Swing King for 7k – if they take it great. (if they don’t we DO NOT go for the game here.)
Then you attach 7 DON onto the leader and swing for 12k power. (At this stage of the game the number is too high to counter it so most cases the life will be taken.)
Then you use Kaido’s Effect and remove the 7 DON you attached earlier to remove the last life from your opponent.
Lastly you swing with the last 3 don attached to the largest character, and this should secure the game, as Urashima swings for 12k/ 9 Cost swings for 13k/ 10 cost Swings for 15k. (Very large and hard to deal with).
Treasure Cup Day: Match Ups
Kaido can go into most decks without a real issue, but there are some plays you need to work around so you can win much easier. Red Luffy/Zoro being our weakest matchups and Green Kidd and R/G Law being our best matchups. Blue Doffy being a solid mid ground.
Here is the notable match from swiss, and then I'll be explaining my top cut journey.
Round 1 R/G Law – Loss: This game was quite the eye opener for me, as a majority of the time i see R/G Law as a “Bye” and never give it a second thought, I underestimated my opponent and i paid the price, the game went on and i was fortunate to get Onigashima on the right turn, but i saw no King. I played my Babanuki vanilla and attempted to clear the board as much as possible so I could slow down Law’s Ability and find stronger cards to potentially end the game. Unfortunately i did not see any of my Kings and only 1 copy of 9 Cost Kaido, so i was unable to push over the wall of blockers the law player established, and I was swarmed with a volley of swings I could not continuously counter. Definitely starting off at the wrong foot.
After my Round 1 crushing defeat I was able to take on the rest of the day and win very convincingly without a sweat. The final round was difficult and ended in a loss. But mainly due to not drawing any of my 2 cost blockers and taking too much life early.
Overall got 14th after Swiss and made it to top 16! I was overjoyed after a crushing set of defeats in the Miami treasure cup. Time to rest for top cut Day 2
Top 16 R/G law 2-0 (Win) I came into this match with overflowing confidence, I took my time with each of my plays, and made sure that anything that I did would not have come to punish me. Fortunately I was able to see my 6 cost Kings and played them turn after turn. The law player was unable to establish a board, and thus I was able to win by applying too much pressure to the law player's hand. Who knew 3 7k swings every turn was so strong!
Game 2 was the traditional opener, with Island on turn 2 into king on turn 3, and vanilla turn 4. By this stage of the game I could tell my opponent’s hand was weak on counter power, so I took the gamble and pushed for game using the combination of 7 don on leader, detach to trash a life and swing with my guys for game. Winning this match was a sigh of relief, I did it! I am one of the handful of players from the Florida region that has made top 8!
Top 8 Kidd 2-0 (Win) Sitting down in this match I was not worried as most of my local meta was green Kidd so I had a strategy. My opponent Sam Hsieh and I honestly played the match with jokes and smiles, it was like another day at locals. Game 1 I opened standard, had Oni on curve along with my 2 vanillas, I was able to establish a very threatening board that my opponent had a difficult time dealing with. The pressure the 7 cost 9k vanilla and the 5 cost 7k applied allowed me enough room to whittle down the hand, and preserve life. He was too busy trying to get rid of my characters. In the end I defended my board and ended the game the Kaido way.
Game 2 I also opened very standard, this time though i played more queens as i did not see a king or any of my vanillas, Early into the game i showed no fear and just attacked him with a volley of queens, and i was eventually able to find a 7 cost vanilla and 10 cost Kaido. This game my opponent slammed 8 Cost Kidd on the table and attempted to reestablish the game and wall me out. Fortunately I was at 3 life and just attacked Kidd with my vanilla to get a counter out of his hand and proceeded to play 10 costs and wipe the board. Shortly after he tried dealing with 10 cost but was unable too and ran out of steam. On to the top 4!
Top 4 Kidd 2-1 (Win) Top 4 was another Kidd matchup, and Game 1 I started very standard so I let out a sigh of relief, Was able to keep tempo with kings, wall up with Queens. And slowly took over the game little by little, my opponent went for the hail mary and I was able to clutch out with a blast breath from life! He conceded the game and we went on to game 2.
Game 2 i opened pretty poorly, had no threats in hand and was going 1st, my opponent opened standard with a momo bonny play, and i just passed the turn, on turn 2 i played jack, discarding a second copy of king, to hopefully stay on curve. I drew an island the next turn and was able to slowly climb back into the game, unfortunately my opponent was able to play 8 cost Kidd and start his wall. I only had 2 Kings and some blockers, unable to break the wall I conceded and moved onto the 3rd game.
Game 3 was a game where I drew Jack, a queen, a vanilla and some counters. No island! I set up the usual going second plays and this time i was able to play jack, discarding a dead card in hand, get another active don and play a blocker. My opponent just swung leader and played a Capone, This was a clear indicator his hand was weak so i pumped up the gas and got more aggressive, i attached 2 don onto my Kurozumi and swung lead with a blocker, he was quite flabbergasted, but took the life, then i played my vanilla and attacked lead. The next turn I played down an X drake, forcing him to discard a card, and proceeded with the onslaught of attacks. Played down my second vanilla and passed. I was able to end the game the Kaido way, and after the game my opponent showed me his hand, and there were no counters to be seen, what a rare sight and very unfortunate end.
Finals 0-2 Kidd (Loss)
I made it to the finals! I was overflowing with emotion. I could not handle the excitement, my opponent and I shook hands and agreed that no matter the outcome, both made it. Game 1 I opened a very dead hand, no ramp cards at all. I tried to mitigate my life but my opponent got aggressive and used Kidd's ability turn after turn. Was unable to keep the pace and eventually lost. Game 2 I opened my first hand 3 Onigashima, 9 cost Kaido, Queen. I had to mulligan. Post mulligan. 5 2k counters. I had nothing. My opponent played the best curves, was able to establish Basil, Okiku, and 8 cost. In the end I stood no chance, and i unfortunately conceded the game as there was no hope of me winning in the position i was in.
Overall I am overjoyed with my performance and I am glad Florida was rooting for me every step of the way. It was quite the experience, as a veteran TCG player to finally make it to the end at a big tournament. And my hope is I can keep the tempo and produce more results for set 2 and keep on seeing the big stages. I am excited for the future of this game, and to see what decks I would pilot. I am super excited for Kaido into set 2, as well as Z .