It was the second time I had been to Gencon. The first was when I was a mere kidling, at Gencon's 20th anniversary. This time, obviously, the 50th. Like many, I was unable to get tickets to the Kiku Matsuri, and thus had no guarantees. But, I was hopeful. So, driving in a bit early, I went straight to the correct room. I had scouted things out the day before, and gotten my generic tickets then, so all was going well in that area. I found a line waiting, with seven others there, and a little sign indicating it was the Waitlist line. I took my place, then dragged a chair over from the nearest table. The time was 7:55.
Rather than having everyone drag chairs, sit on the floor, or get cranky standing, the FFG crew had us sit at the table, in order. Which we did. Then, the waiting began. We waited as all those lucky enough to get tickets came and registered. The Waitlist line got to well over a hundred people, at best guess, with two full lines of tables full, and a third started. At about 12:50, they started taking those in the waitlist. My hopes were high! And, at 8, I got in, as did the guy behind me. Don't think the one after him did, though. I was in!
This was followed by two and a half hours of stuff that could have been interesting, but really wasn't. Somehow, with the delays, it just wasn't as interesting as it could have been.
Eventually, I was given my one core set, and set to build my deck. I was playing Phoenix, and decided I would go with Crane as the Influence clan. They have some good cards, but my misreading of one of them, and lack of understanding of another played poorly for me.
Round One: Charlotte Kimbral, Unicorn/Crab.
She broke one of my provinces early, but wasn't able to keep the momentum going. On the next turn, I was able to break two of hers in return, using the Favor, which I had gained. She got her Champion early, but without Fate, meaning he didn't stick around. I got Tsukune later, with 2 Fate, but she got caught in a Shameful Display. Which meant she mostly stayed at home, where her power was used, and her glory to keep the Favor all game. In the end, I won on tie-breaks. Neither of us was really up on things, still working out how the game worked, and what our cards did.
Rd 2: Donovan Sparks, Scorpion/Crab.
This was the only game I never really felt I had a chance in. It didn't help he introduced himself as having been one of the playtesters for the past year, to my total of one previous game. I made a massive play error on Turn 2, and it shook me so badly, I kept making more, and led to my major play fault at the end. I had Tsukune turn up, and decided to leave her in province to underspend this turn, and get her the next. What I didn't pay attention to, until I had already spent 3 of my 7 Fate, was that she was in the one province Sparks had already broken.
--->Play tip #1: Keep track of which of your provinces have been broken!
--->Play tip #2: If you can't play a big, unique card from province right away, it will be a target for attack; can you defend it, or should you move on? Things to keep in mind as you play.
In the end, I entered the round with 8 honor, and decided to bid 5, as I needed something useful in hand. He bid 1. Then, I played Contingency plan to move myself up to 6, and he played the same (which I knew he had, since my Perfect Gift was what gave it to him), to move himself down to 0. I drew my 6 cards, and got a total of 1 useful card out of it. Not enough to save me from his dishonor tech. Ring of Air took my last honor.
Rd 3: John Briggs, Dragon/Lion.
This game was very much his, with a T1 Yokuni. I hit him with Pacifism almost immediately, limiting him, but only getting Political cards myself. Still, when he attacked with his only guy, I figured I at least had a chance. Not when he has Indomitable Will in his hand! He also, I recall, Court Games to make Yokuni that much bigger. Tie Breaker from time, but it was all his way.
Rd 4: Toby Dewley, Scorpion/Crab.
This game was very back and Forth. Lots of countering, trading provinces. He won on the tiebreak at time, I recall because he had more honor. We both had the same provinces broken, and I the Favor (I did in most games), but with only 2 honor left, he got the extra point there. At least twice I didn't use abilities that I had available, and could have made a difference (Forgotten Library and Seeker of the Void).
--->Play tip #3: Keep all your abilities on the table in sight. If you don't use them, they are likely gone.
Rd 5: Paul Avers, Unicorn/Crab.
Another back and forth game. He got his Champion early, but I was able to hold it off the turns it was out. Just after we concluded for time, and he got the tie breaker (having taken the Favor from me for the first time all game), he showed me his play, which was the card to bring up to 6 cost of peeps back for one attack, with him having only my stronghold left. It was Kuroi Mori, so I'm not sure it would have gone as well as he was hoping, but now we'll never know.
I did note that throughout the tournament, Isawa Atsuko was a beast for me. That and Adept of the Waves were great at keeping me in the game. And, oddly, I never once saw my Asako Diplomat, Serene Scholar, or Assassinations. And only saw Radiant Orator and Serene Warrior once. Just odd things.
Am I sad I only went 1-4? Well, yes, obviously. I was not that prepared, didn't have a tight deck, and misplayed several times. Still, I am glad I went! I got to play! And, that is cool. I had a lot of fun, got to see friends I hadn't in years, if not a decade. I am glad I waited the 5 hours to get in!
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