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North American Cup's Report from Patric Cochran


Well, Worlds is over, and I had a blast!
	Where should I start?  I met a bunch of people, some of which I had 
met before, some of whom I only knew from the list.  I know you have 
read about how well run and enjoyable this event was (which I am in 
total agreement with), so I think I will point out how well behaved 
everyone was.  I tell you it make all the difference in the world when 
you show up at an event like this and everyone "acts like grown-ups!"  I 
think I was the most vocal person when it came to expressing my 
frustrations.  Normally this is not even close to being the case.  (BTW, 
if anyone remembers, I exclaimed at bit too loudly "I hate that!!!"  
This was in response to my opponent loosing his wizard to a Marvels Told 
corruption check.  Good news for me, but I hate to see crappy breaks 
like that happen to anyone.)

	I arrived in Montreal right after I went to a funeral in Michigan, 
so my preparations were not quite on schedule.  I decided to play Hero 
decks (I don't feel I have enough minion cards to be quite as effective 
as I would like) and have thought about my goals quite a bit.  But I 
have only tested out one of my two decks.  I just hope for the best.

Friday- World Open Qualifiers:
First game is against Francois.  He was playing a troll deck with Dwar 
and I was going with my "Elves/Dunadan Beatdown/Indy" deck.  His 
starting company was composed of Lt/Dol Guldor, Troll Chief and Old 
Troll, while I had Glorfindal, Beretar, Gildor, and Haldir (and a couple 
of Elf-stones to free the G.I.)
	We duked it out two different times, both times initiated by 
Francois.  On my third turn I put 2 Fellowships on my company (for a 
total of 3!), played Star of High Hope and went to Carn Dum to play 
Orcrist on Gildor.  Pretty Safe, eh?  Both Haldir and Gildor had weapons 
(Haldir had a Valiant Sword), so my whimpiest prowess at the time was 
Beretar, with a modified prowess of ONLY 9!  Well, Francois thought that 
if he didn't hurt me now that he would never be able to venture out of 
his Darkhavens for the rest of the game.  So he bit the bullet and 
attacked me.  His Luitenant killed Beretar while I only wounded the 
chief and old troll.  Blast!  I need to get better at that dice rolling 
thing.....
	The game continued with Alatar showing up in Edhelleond and picking 
up the Men of Anafalas and Nenselde at Dol Amroth while the trolls tried 
to pick up a faction (not successfully) and the High Helm.  Points-wise, 
I was pulling ahead.
	On the last turn of the game (as it turns out) my "Beatdown" 
company went to Dol Guldur to tap 'Pass the Doors of Dol Guldur' with 
another item and a Rescue Prisoners.   Pulled that off with no problem.  
I was winning now and knew that I was going to get another visit from 
the troll company.  But I had 'Star' and GoM out again with 'Beater and 
Biter' in hand.  That made the difference.  This time I didn't lose 
anyone, even with Dwar helping out personally, but Francois lost an Old 
Troll (he ran off).
	Overall, we both agreed it was a great game, even though I came out 
on top with a 4-2 win.  My faction doubled, but 'Pass the Doors' but 
didn't get stored.

Game 2.  I play another Minion, this time against Dave Stegman.  I 
encounter the dreaded Malady deck.  Having never played one or even seen 
a copy of the card, I don't really know what to do about it.  Chalk it 
up to experience.
	I run up to Carn Dum on the first turn and played Wormsbane after 
picking up a 'Nothing to Eat or Drink'.  Humm.  Elerena and Taladan came 
and said 'HI!' with some spells, and by the end of the turn 1 Gildor and 
Beretar are dead.  I am rather flumoxed by this turn of events and 
decide to run back to Rivendell ('Yipe! Yipe! Yipe!).  'Alone and 
Stupid' gets played on Glorfindal with Wormsbane.  You know what 
happens....yeah, a lonely Haldir is the only one to make it back to 
Rivendell alive.
	The next several turns have Alatar pick up 'Orcrist' at the Stones, 
the 'Men of Anfalas' and 'Nenselde'.  I try to make things interesting 
for my opponent by slowing up his item and faction gathering with trolls 
(sometimes) and a Troll Purse at Mount Doom where Cyrahir got captured 
(he looses his Blasting Fire).
	On the last turn of the game (I went first) I try to get another 
couple of points and send Haldir off by himself to the Barrow-downs to 
get a Bow of the Galadrim while Alatar goes to Tolfalas to play the 
Scroll of Isildur.  Amazingly, both do so.  However, I get some more 
visits.  Elerena and Taladan corrupt Haldir with Malady and Akorahil 
whacks Alatar in CvCC, but he survives.
	In the end, its a 2-4 loss.  I manage to keep from losing too badly 
only because Dave doesn't have too many MPs himself.  He did have 4 kill 
points though.  :-(

Game 3:  I had decided a few days before that I wanted to play a One 
Ring deck vr. Heros and try for that big 7 point victory.  
Unfortunately, I didn't have one made, and I had never really done one 
before.   So, literally at the last minute I put one together and gave 
it a shot.  I would use Saruman with Bilbo, Theoden, Robin, Voteli and 
Annelenna.  Annelenna had a Star-glass and Voteli an Elf-stone to 
control Annelenna, while Theoden had Robin.  No 'Alone and Stupid' or 
'Call of Home' for me!  I used Secret Passage and Elf-path to get me 
around safely, and if that didn't stop all of the critters then I had 
some Riddling Talk and Secret News to get me out of any jams (and of 
course some Concealments and Dark Quarrels).  Theoden was good against 
Beornings and all those sages and Diplomats would make it a snap to play 
Riddling Talk.
	Things got off to a less than satisfactory start.  My opponent, 
Charles Jenkins, got the drop on Gollum first.  He went to Goblin Gate 
and got him on the first turn.  However, Hama (who had to get Gollum 
because the other characters got tapped) met with an ill fate a couple 
of turns later when a Cave Drake had him for breakfast.  So, over the 
next couple of turns, I recovered the Scroll, Gollum and a couple of 
Precious Gold Rings.  I also had 3 fair gold rings in my deck to throw 
away in case "Rolled" showed up, but that didn't happen.
	Charles had a starting company that suggested a "King Under the 
Mountain" strategy, and my 'Secret News' confirmed it when I saw the 
'Old Thrush' and 'Returned Exiles' in his hand.  I remembered that for 
later use.  Additionally, to my relief, I never saw any corruption cards 
in his hand or during play.  What was I worried about?  This would be 
easy!
	After I tested with a 'Wizards Test', I found that indeed I was in 
possession of the One Ring.  Yeah!  Off to Buhr Widue.  Well, I leave 
most of my company behind, taking just Saruman, Bilbo, Robin, and of 
course Gollum.  As I thought I would only have to deal with hazard 
critters, I thought to drop my hazard limit to 2 and be able to use 
Gollum to cancel one of them.  So, with my hazard limit at 2 I 'Secret 
Passage' to Buhr Widue.  Well, suddenly 'Alone and Stupid' shows up on 
Bilbo.  I have to make 4 checks at better than a 4.  Drat, and I had 
just dumped my last 'Cock Crows' because I thought it better to keep a 
Concealment handy instead.  I make it with the others tapping in 
support.  Whew, dodged that bullet.  Next turn, I tap Bilbo to try and 
get rid of the 'AaS', and I blow it.  Rats!!!  When I move (I have to 
because time is running out and this is my last turn) Charles puts 'Lure 
of the Senses' on Bilbo too!!  Gaahh!  4 checks at 6!  I am toast!  He 
then plays  'Sellswords', which I am happy to have some 'Riddling Talk' 
with.  I name 'Old Thrush' and off that hazard goes with the rest of the 
hazard limit.  Now the fun begins.  I tap Saruman to support the first 
corruption check and make it.  Tap Robin and make it.  Play 'Tookish 
Blood' and make it strait up.  One more......and I again roll better 
than a 6!  Gollum takes the ring into oblivion and I win!  Lady Luck was 
on my side, but for how long?

Game 4.  Playing against John(?) as a fallen Radagast.  His Hobbits run 
into the underdeeps, while Kili runs off to Wellinghall.  His deck works 
pretty darn good, but it didn't matter much because I can't roll better 
than a 3 on my corruption checks.  When the game ends, only Voteli 
remains and she is wounded.  I loose 5 characters to corruption checks, 
all of them "easy" rolls of better than 2 or 3.  Talk about karma.  
Obviously, I loose this one 0-6.

	After all this, I have 13 points.  That qualifies me for the Semi 
Finals the next day!  Pretty good for someone who hasn't been in a 
tournament for 3 years!

	Friday night was the drinking game, a Sealed w/ Dragons boosters.  
Can't remember too specifics about what I drew except that it was the 
Glorfindal/Radagast.  I had an excellent play deck with lots of great 
characters, good MPs and excellent hazards.  I remember I had an Uvatha 
and a Smaug, and I used them to good effect.
	My first game was with a guy named Mark.  He wasn't a MECCG fanatic 
but he had played before.  I don't know if he just had a lack of good 
cards or what, but he had a rough time with me.  I was drinking because 
I was thirsty, and only because I had to.  Mark, on the other hand was 
having all his characters killed and was done with his beer by the time 
the game was over.   6-0 for me.
	The next game was with Chad.  We both had the same fixed pack, and 
both of our hazards hurt each other, but by the end of the game, all his 
characters were dead or corrupted, and I was still standing!  Yeah, I 
win METDG!!!  Ok, so I don't remember too much about it, but that's 
Chad's fault! ;-P

	I was very fortunate to find a place to stay.  I didn't want to 
drive back and forth from Ottawa every damn day.  Impossible.  So Chad, 
Dave and Gene set me up at that excellent house/apartment they found.  I 
even got a bedroom!  (I would have taken a section of floor, trust me!)  
After we got back to home base, we started talking deck construction.
	I was very fearful of more Malady decks, so I started casting about 
for a defense to it.  River would not cut it, so what else?  How about 
'Lost in Free Domains'?  Yeah, that would work.  But my current deck 
doesn't go anywhere near Free Domains....ok, so lets start building a 
new deck from scratch.  Never a good idea on limited amounts of sleep 
(not to mention alcohol) but I came up with a Gondor Deck.  I still am 
going to use Alatar as my principal wizard and play Nenselde, but now 
the twist would be to have 'Moon' and GoM expand the number of Free 
domains!  I also decided to play the same deck against both Hero and 
Minions, with some differences in the sideboard and hazards.
	On a semi related note, everyone I played against had at least some 
corruption, and two of them had quite a bit.  Including the two minor 
items I will start with, I'll have three 'Saplings' for a total of 5 
corruption points in my whole deck!  With 2 Sun Unveiled and 4 PHE 
zappers, I thought I was pretty well protected.  Ok, I thought, corrupt 
this!

Saturday, Semi Finals-
	Still putting my deck together, I  discover that I have a bye for 
the first round.  Good for points (6) but bad for fun.  Oh well. Now at 
least I can make sure my deck actually includes the cards that I have 
recorded on the decklist sheet.

	Game 2.  I am playing Alicia, and it is a really nice One Ring 
deck.  I run around getting my things done, but I understand that this 
is all a moot point if I don't stop her.  I slow her up once with the 
LiFD but that's about it for my hazards.  I have lots of Nazgul, but for 
some reason she always plays them as a PHE about the same time as I draw 
the buggers.  I have some corruption, but she brushed them off without 
breaking a sweat.
	I should have lost, but just about the time she was about to cycle, 
she taps her wizard to put a card in her deck.  "Uh....how many cards do 
you have in your playdeck?"  I ask.  "4" she replies.  No can do....and 
of course, that was the One Ring she was trying to sideboard.  So for 
the remainder of the game Alicia was trying to draw as many cards as 
possible in order to get the One Ring in her hand, but to no avail.  The 
game ends with the One Ring still buried in her playdeck.  6-0 for me.

	Well well...after two rounds I have 12 points!  Boy, am I good or 
what!  It take a lot of talent to finagle a bye on the first round and 
to intimidate your opponent into making a fatal mistake.  Of course, 
reality will dawn shortly....

	Game 3.  My next opponent was Brian.  He had a funky "Schizo" deck 
that had both GoM and DoN.  He Snowstormed me once and I think used Lost 
in Free Domains to slow me up.  I made things difficult for Brian's crew 
of Cirdan and some others (I forget who exactly) in the beginning, but 
when he got Tom in play, I couldn't do anything to him at all.  (As 
Spence put it "TOM IS THE MAN!")  He racked up a TON of MPs while Arwen 
got killed by an Assassin before I even drew one of my 3 hounds.  If I 
remember correctly, this was the game where I was refused by the Men of 
Anfalas THREE TIMES! ("Go way, you silly Dunadan Kanigit, or we will 
taunt you a second time!")  6-0 for him after his 3 factions doubled for 
16 MPs.

	Game 4.  Playing John and his Fallen Radagast/hobbits in the 
underdeeps again.  I do better this time around but not much.  I don't 
remember anything of this game but I think I lost 4-2 this time around.  
Just don't quote me on it.

	Well, it wasn't the most satisfying day, as I won only one game and 
it was due to my opponent making it possible for me to win.  I still had 
a lot of fun, but my "Whip a deck out of me arse at the last minute" 
deck just wasn't up to putting me in the finals.  But I learned some 
important lessons besides the obvious.

Lesson 1-  I hate the "Drop and Run" hazard strategy!  They don't do 
squat most of the time and they are no fun too boot!  So, that was the 
first thing I was going to fix with my deck.  I took every hazard out of 
my playdeck and started over.  Someone was going to suffer.....  I went 
back to an old favorite of mine.  Drakes, Fog, Two or Three Tribes 
Present, and Revealed to all Watchers with some Lure of Nature to help 
make things interesting.  Summons From Long Sleep helps to speed this up 
nicely, but I don't do that Dragon's Blood crap.  Too cheesy!

Lesson 2- A Short Rest works very well!  I had one in my sideboard that 
I would put into play as soon as Alatar showed up, and it helped out 
quite nicely.  My new deck would capitalize even more on this card....as 
Gene would later see.

Lesson 3-  Lost in Free Domains slows ME up!  As I didn't encounter a 
Minion at all, much less a Malady deck, I was not getting much mileage 
out of LiFD.  However, both Brian and John were able to slow me up some 
with LiFD.  In keeping with Lesson 1, I pitched the Moons in my deck and 
replaced them with Fogs.  With this in play, I am not moving through 
Free Domains any more, but Borderlands.  As for stopping Maladies, I 
have other things worked out for that.....but as it turned out, I never 
faced a minion after Friday!

Sunday, North American Nationals

Ok, I am out for blood today with a deck I feel much more confident in.  
This is only a three game tournament, so I hope to make the most of it.  
Who knows?  I might get into the finals!

Game 1-  Playing Andrew Sitte and an 'Unexpected Party' troop of 
Dwarves.  On the first turn Thorin discards his Cram and he moves all 
the way to Rohan.  Lots of wilderness to play drakes on, but I don't 
have a damn one in my hand.  This would be the only chance to play any 
critters against this company until the last turn of the game as he went 
down into the Southeastern portion of the map to play all those big MP 
factions, picking up Wormsbane in the Dead Marshes enroute.  However, 
Gandalf and Gimli were not aware of the situation when they moved from 
Lorien to Edhelleond a couple of turns later.  Fog was in play and the 
site path was quite packed with trees.  So I start off with Two or Three 
Tribes Present and start unloading the Drakes I have waiting for them.  
It took 4 drakes, but Gandalf and Gimli were drake chow.
	As the game continued I manage to find a Sapling and Plant the 
White Tree, did the Return of the King and Choice of Luthien thingy, and 
managed to rack up a good amount of MPs, but Andrew just was putting up 
Monster Points.  I just could not keep up.  On the last turn though he 
got a bit too greedy....  Nenselde was keeping Fog in play but with all 
the Noble Hounds and Steeds that Andrew's characters had, he figured 
that he could go to Dorwinion from Khand without too much trouble.  
Well, I had 7 drakes available between the Summons from long sleep on 
the Board and ones I had been saving for just this chance.  It was a 
tough fight, with Bofur and Bombur failing to complete the trip (both 
needed two body check to kill them!), and Thorin losing Wormsbane to a 
Were-worm.  Gloin managed to get the Men of Dorwinion ok, but the trip 
was a net loss of 3 MPs for Andrew.  Not quite enough for me to win, 
however.  He still had 34 to my 33.  A very close game, and much more 
fun for me (than my previous couple of games).  I love playing legions 
of drakes!  2-4.

Game 2- I have a rematch with Charles Jenkins.  I can't for the life of 
me remember much about this game, except that Charles was using Orcs, 
and I managed to get 4 kill points by selectively killing the easy ones 
and avoiding the tough ones (2 strikes at 16?  Nah, I think I'll Dark 
Quarrels that one...).  This was the deciding factor, as it turned out.  
After we counted out the MPs at the end of the game I thought Charles 
had it by a score of 33 to 30.  Then I remembered the 4 kill points!  
Doh!  I squeaked by with a 34 to 33 win!  4-2.  BTW, I think this is 
also the game where Alatar w/ Beretar and Haldalam went to Dol Amroth 
and were greeted by 3 Assassins.  Alatar's escorts canceled the first 
two attacks from the first assassin, and a Dark Quarrels took care of 
the third, but the fun was just beginning.  Somehow, Alatar managed to 
fight off another 6 attacks by rolling 6 or better 6 times!  No dought, 
he is a maia of Orome's folk!

Charles, if you can recall any of the details of this game I would 
appreciate refreshing my memory.  I do recall enjoying it very much.

Game 3 - Gene Berry was my next opponent, and he was playing an infinent 
hazard strategy, though I didn't recognize it at the time.  It was quite 
interesting, and more then a tad disturbing.  As I was watching all 
those Permanent Hazards building up off to the side, I wondering "Is 
this some kinda sick Drop and Run thingy or what?"  Well, no sense in 
freaking out over it, so I just went about my merry way getting my 
objectives.
	His hazards were not hindering me at all, (at least not yet), but 
Galadriel kept cramming the hazards that I had in my hand back into my 
playdeck via 'Reveal things Unbidden'.  it wasn't the loss of the 
hazards that bothered me (Elrond had killed 2 Caveworms and I wasn't 
very interested in giving him more MPs that way), it was the fact that 
it was slowing me down on drawing my resources and getting to the bottom 
so I could cycle.  It took a long time to get my Noble Hounds in play, 
but fortunately I did get the White tree soon after I found a sapling.  
As it was, Gene got out the Sentinels of Numenor (late in the game) so 
that I couldn't play mine.  But I did manage to keep playing 'A Short 
Rest', and with Alatar moving either 1 or two regions and Aragorn and 
Co. doing the same (BTW, they were not moving for the sake of drawing 
cards, but because they went to play resources), I was drawing 6 or 7 
cards a turn while Gene would draw 1.  He also suffered a failed CC with 
Palando while playing a simple Marvels Told (that's where I practically 
yelled "I hate that!").
	On my last turn, I had Arwen pluck the Men of Anorien from my 
discard pile (gotta love Choice of Luthien) and Target Boy tossed them 
into my MP pile.  They came very close to getting wiped out, but the 
White Tree saved me.  Gene started to play a Nightmare combination that 
would have had Nazgul Swarming my company at Minas Tirith (Alatar and 
Co. were safe in Edhelleond) by turning it into a Dark Hold and boosting 
the Hazard Limit to 24!  But The White Tree put a stop to that, even 
before it began.  Thank The Powers!
	I had a stored sapling that Alatar had found at Tolfalas, but it 
got tossed by a Neither so Ancient or Potent.  Gene's item doubled, but 
I had allies and Gene didn't.  Final Score, 40-19, and I have a 6-0 win!

	I have 12 points, and finished tied for 3rd with Dave Stegman and 
Andrew Sitte.  Sadly, the tie breaker leaves me the low man on the totem 
pole, so Dave and Andrew are on to the finals, while I catch up on my 
sleep (Perhaps this was a good thing!).

	My revised and improved "Gondor" deck was quite fun to play, and 
reliable.  I scored over 30 points every game and never had anyone 
killed or corrupted, not even Target Boy!  It is a bit slow gathering 
MPs in the beginning, as I only have one faction in the playdeck at the 
start.  And the seemingly ever present "Foolish Words" always made 
getting factions more difficult......

	The awards were fun and generous.  Steve announce the results and 
everyone was glad to see "No Cheese" finally pull off the Worlds!  I got 
first for the drinking game and for this I was awarded a autographed 
minion version of 'Greed' along with the original sketch drawn up by the 
artist.  Very cool!  For placing 5th overall at Nationals, I put was 
giving first crack at a stack of Rares and got 5 cards I didn't have 
before, being Lt of Dol Guldor, Master of the House, The Balrog (minion 
ally), Knights of the Prince, and something else I don't recall at the 
moment.

	I must say I agree with Dave Stegman, I think I enjoyed this 
weekend better then just about any other I can remember.  My only regret 
is that I didn't get to play any games with Spence.  I was looking 
forward to extend my winning streak!

	BTW, I am moving to Europe this month and I am looking forward to 
getting involved in many more tournaments.  Florida sucked for this 
kinda activity, but my new location will be quite the improvement, me 
thinks!

	Hope everyone enjoyed my report.  Better late then never, eh?

Patrick Cochran







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