Invited Author: Elliot Charters
Hi Everyone, I am Elliot Charters, also known as Skwiggle. I am from Australia and I have backgrounds in Pokmeon TCG and Yugioh TCG and high-level video games (LoL, TFT, WoW). I have been playing OPTCG for 5 months now and have loved every minute!
I made top 4 at the brisbane regionals on the weekend as strawbeard. My deck profile was recorded by my LGS the day after the tournament and is currently being edited, so keep an eye out for it online!
I would like to give a shout out to my friend Stephen Kam who brought me into this game and was a wonderful supporter/mentality coach throughout the event. He kept me calm after my losses and has made my whole experience of OPTCG amazing. I would also like to give a shout out to Doovelle Soe for grinding so many hours of games to get ready for the Brisbane Regionals and the upcoming treasure cup. Last shoutout to Stephen Iskander, this list is very closely copied from his from the last regional in Melbourne.
Upon entering the OPTCG world I loved how much variety there was with the decks at a local/casual level. Multiple viable decks, decks that could do well with mastery such as Doflamingo and Ivankov. I was planning on maining smoker in op02 having bought a maximum rarity deck myself. However, I felt that strawbeard had all the tools to make it an incredibly consistent deck regardless of circumstance.
In early days of OP02 I tried a pure boatbeard build, and albeit strong when it hits it's stride I noticed a few things: It lacked consistency, the counter patterns were case by case, it relied on coin flip and even though one had to deal with these things it could straight up fail to counter check late game.
Coming into my first major tournament for OPTCG I tried a basic strawbeard list running cards such as zoro, vista, guard point and chopper, but I noticed one underlying flaw about the list in testing: my opponent at locals swung for 8k with Yamato and I couldn't counter out of it due to the nature of my build, resulting in a swift loss. However, after playing Stephen Iskander's list I could see the merit in his ratios, and worked on them slowly over time to get the right build for my playstyle. My final lists felt great in testing, and I felt comfortable with any game/matchup coming up.
My thoughts and impressions
Coming into the tournament various people had questions about my list. The main one being "why not simply run moby dick? It gives all of your characters +2000, that's insane! It is also banned in next format!" My main justification for not running a boat version of the deck is that this version has cleaner mulligan patterns, cleaner counter patterns and a much easier time going first and second. In my opinion it also has decent matchups across the board going first and second, however one could feel defeated playing a moby dick version, losing the diceroll and not seeing moby dick in the opening hand.
Another question people ask me is "Why Nico Robin over Vista?" and to this I bring up 2 main points. Firstly, nico robin is searchable with nami, which gives a lovely turn 1 curve of 1-3, which can then be coupled with a nico robin +1 don for the effect and a level 4 vanilla on 5 don. Secondly, Robin being 4k attack is a very annoying number for luffy/zoro/law decks to deal with, as they must commit gordon/otama+vista or jet pistol to kill it, which ends in basically a "turn skip", with the alternative being them losing their whole board whilst you still have 2-3 characters on board. Lastly, Nico Robin can be played into a bare board and apply pressure, whereas vista would only manage to kill one 1 cost red unit most of the time and would also not provide any damage pressure due to being a mere 3k attack.
I do however think my list has some changes going into the treasure cup in 2 weeks. Although an incredibly consistent version of whitebeard, I felt that the main weakness of the deck falls on it's reliance on the 9 drop whitebeard which can only be run at 4 copies. Hopefully I do okay in that event as well so I can share the sauce with you guys!
Mulligans, turn order, and counter pattern:
Since this deck has curves designed for going first and second, the main strategy is to put your opponent on the turn order they do not want to be on. One example of this is when versing Ivankov. Since Ivankov wants to go first, I have put ivankov on second, forgone playing my 4 drop vanillas, and focussed more on developing 5 drops such as kingdew and luffy. This puts your opponent in a boardstate where they cannot remove anything, and from there you can take favourable trades due to hand advantage.
In my 8 rounds of swiss I mulliganed for Whitebeard. Due to the ratios of the deck allowing me to run 14 4 drop vanillas (nami being a pseudo 4 as she can search some) I felt good knowing that no matter what hand I threw away chances are I would be able to play something on 4/5 don. I managed to win my first 4 rounds of swiss without seeing a single whitebeard (mulliganed for him every game), however my luck on the top tables and in the final cut was much better.
In my first match of the top cut I knew versing zoro that I needed to have good hands to guarantee top 8. Games 1 and 2 I mulliganed looking for nami and/or nico robin and hoping to see Whitebeard in my first few cards, and thankfully this was a success. This mulligan pattern was further reinforced by my opponent putting me on first and choosing to go second.
For countering, make sure to counter out of anything to life if it will only take you 1 card. If it will take 2 you can take one life but no more.
My swiss matchups were as follows:
Kid W (Mitch is my friend from locals and a great player, he lost dice roll and bricked)
Smoker (Shoutout to Tyson Haynes for making top 16!) W
Straw/boat beard Johan Le (had a wonderful game on stream) L
Law (SFK member Alfred) W
Zoro (SFK member Han Yong Tee, insane player) L
Zoro (David Huang) 2-0
G1: Was made to go first, and was able to play nami+robin on curve. Having these 2 cards early allows me to control the early board vs zoro, from here it is very hard from them to come back. This was still a very close game and David was playing very well around my characters (otama/gordon onto my units to trade efficiently) However I barely got the round 1
G2: Made to go first again, had the most insane hand (nami, robin, newgate +2). I knew that if I stayed calm and played my game plan properly I had the game in the bag. This victory was further reinforced when David unfortunately whiffed his second nami search, which I would not wish on anyone in such a spot. This was the first game where I relied on luck to win, and it was a huge game with a lot of emotions tied as the top 8 prizing included a Serial Luffy.
Shout out to David who played very well in the tournament going 7-1 in swiss but getting unlucky in top 16. May we cross paths again and best of luck in future tournaments.
R2 Zoro (Han Yong Tee 2-1)
G1: My opponent made me go second with the higher seed, noting that they did not want to see me play whitebeard on 9. I used similar mulligan patterns this game, however with the onslaught of 6k attacks followed by a whitebeard late game I lost despite having a good start.
G2: Knowing my opponent wanted me to go second I chose first and mulliganed for the whitebeard once again. I managed to drop one whitebeard this game, and since I had done decent chip damage to him all game was able to round it out and defeat him.
G3: Made to go second, however I ended up having 2 whitebeards and 1-2 radical beams in hand so I was chilling. I also managed to secure both of my life coming into the final turn with 3 cards in hand. My opponent had 2 whitebeards on the field, and he attacked first with a 12k whitebeard swing into 8k (I had 2 in hand 1 don active). I calculated that he only had 3 attacks, maybe 4 but zoro would be too innefficient to finish the round if any of my cards off life were counters/triggers (I run 40). My opponent's only out was that my radical beam was a bluff and one of his attacks could connect, however after countering out of the first attack we both knew it was GG. I needed a lot of luck to win this game and it was down to the wire, so shout out to Han Yong Tee for being an amazing player.
R3 Kid (Jiawei 1-2)
G1: I was made to go first as the kid strategy relies on building a massive hand advantage and stalling out the game with 8 cost kid. I saw 3 ace this game and no whitebeards, with my nico robin getting rested by neko and swung into for 7k. Reluctant to use my Otamas which are pivotal in the matchup I had to let it die and got further and further behind.
G2: I went second and managed to set up a good board before my whitebeard turn. Due to the pressure of the 4 drop vanilla and 5 drop Luffy I was able to burn through the resources of Jiawei. When it came to his kid turn he did not have enough blockers and hand to protect him, and I simply ended the game with a buffed up rush luffy.
G3: First once again and no whitebeard. Felt like a very similar game to game 1 except no aces. My hot streak and my luck had definitely run out, and having no ways to bust through his 8 cost kid (2-3 blockers 10+ hand) I saw the writing on the wall and conceded the game. Congratulations to Jiawei (Gary) for his first place! Crazy smart guy and look forward to vsing him more in the future.
Thanks to everyone who read my article and thanks to all my friends and family for the support. I couldn't have done it without you!
Thanks to everyone who came to the event and the community who are enjoying OPTCG as much as I am.