In this article Chad provides a retrospective on the Creation LAFS deck build that caused much buzz during the 2021 tournament season. Read for a summary of his experiences piloting the deck to a 5th place finish in T1-2P at the 2021 Redemption National Tournament and thoughts on why the LAFS saga turned out as it did.
This deck started well over a year ago as I was reading Joe Schaefer’s write up on his Type 2 Creation of the World deck that he ran at Nationals in 2019. I decided it was time to build a Creation deck for Type 1-2 Player. The resulting deck won T1-2P at the Oregon state tournament for me in December of 2020. I continued to tweak the T1-2P Creation deck after that. Joe Schaefer knew that I had pioneered building Creation for Type 1 and so he was kind enough to reach out to me when he discovered the Love At First Sight+Pigs combo and its feasibility in the Creation build.
One thing that had tantalized me for quite a while was the concept of pre-block Creation. One of the great issues both Joe and myself encountered playing Creation was that people elected to just not block until they had elements to counter. Playing creation pre-block off Hidden Treasures (HT from now on in this article) seemed like a great way to go. We were aware of being able to do so with Jacob, Follower of God but many of the traditional plays after Turn 1 relied on FooF Jacob including the latest discovery: LAFS+Pigs. So work began on finding a way to play Creation off HT without using Jacob, Follower of God to maximize the potential of both Creation and the LAFS combo which LOVES to be played first turn pre-block.
Low and behold I discovered the way: The Widow at Zarephath+Elijah. The Widow at Zarephath grabs both Elijah and Creation from reserve setting up pre-block Creation with Hidden Treasures up. This was revolutionary for us at the time since it meant that we could grab LAFS with Jared in the creation band and then play it off of Jacob (FooF) at the end of the band all pre-block. The Widow Creation LAFS deck build was piloted by Jeremy Chambers at 2021 Nationals to a 1st place finish where he paired the combo with a nasty idea using Love+Devouring Philistines.
However, The Widow LAFS build was not ultimately the best way to pull off the combo in a T1-2P Creation deck. Joe invited the Chambers brothers Jay and Jeremy to help us with brewing this deck build. Jay and Jeremy discovered that the combo could be obtained through Jacob, Follower of God playing Creation of the World pre-block off Hidden Treasures. The way this could happen was by using Adam, the Exile to grab David, Heart after God from deck, then to use Jared, the Beholder to take LAFS from reserve and then band David, HAG into battle, and then to use David HAG to search deck for Awesome Things which would in turn be used at the end of the Creation band to play LAFS pre-block. This was revolutionary really since it was more consistent to grab Jacob, Follower of God alongside Hidden Treasures rather than The Widow at Zarephath. Additionally, the Jacob, Follower of God build allowed for A New Beginning to easily be run in the event that a board wipe was needed if an opponent went first and got set up significantly. This is the deck build that Jeremy Chambers and myself both brought to Nationals since our testing found it to be the superior way to build the deck.
With this background information in mind here is an outline for this article: 1) Creation LAFS Stacker 2021 Nationals T1-2P 5th Place Decklist 2) Creation LAFS Combo Deck Primer 3) Nationals Round by Round Summary 4) Creation LAFS Redux Summary.
Creation LAFS Stacker (2021 Nationals T1-2P 5th Place) (50 cards):
1 Son of God (2016 Nats Promo)
1 The Second Coming (CoW AB)
1 Ride on Victoriously / Awesome Things (LoC)
1 Three Woes (RoJ AB)
1 Destruction of Nehushtan (PoC)
1 Vain Philosophy (PoC)
1 Falling Away (Wo)
1 Lost Soul (Hunter)
1 Lost Soul (Remnant)
1 Lost Soul (Awake)
1 Lost Soul (Jeremiah 28:6) (Exiles)
1 Lost Soul “Thorns” (II Samuel 23:6) (LoC)
1 Lost Soul Luke 15:15-16 (Pigs)
1 Lost Soul (Lawless)
1 Hidden Treasures
Dual Alignment Enhancements:
1 Forbidden Fruit
1 A New Beginning
1 Creation of the World
1 Offering Your Son
1 Fountain of Living Water (PoC)
1 Virgin Birth
1 The Emmaus Road
1 A Soldier’s Prayer
1 Solomon’s Dream (LoC)
1 Faith of Sarah
1 Jared, the Beholder / Jared (Shall Come Down) (LoC)
1 Adam, the Exile / Adam (Man) (LoC)
1 Amos (PoC)
1 Enosh, the Worshiper / Enosh (Mortal) (LoC)
1 David, Heart After God / David, the Contrite (LoC Plus)
1 Terah, the Delayed / Terah, the Wanderer (LoC)
1 Nahor, the Scorched / Nahor, the Noble (LoC)
1 Moses, Friend of God
1 Isaac, Willing Sacrifice / Isaac, the Blessed (LoC)
1 Noah, the Righteous / Noah (Rest and Comfort) (LoC)
1 Father Abraham / Faithful Abraham (LoC Plus)
1 Mahalalel, the Interpreter / Mahalalel (Blessed God) (LoC)
1 Rebekah, the Bride / Rebekah, the Barren (LoC)
1 Simeon (FooF)
1 The Three Visitors
1 The Wages of Sin (FoM)
1 False Prophecy (PoC)
1 Jehoiachin, the Conquered (LoC)
1 The Terrifying Beast (PoC)
1 Foreign Wives
1 Foolish Shepherd
1 Red Dragon (RoJ AB)
1 Distressing People (LoC)
1 Love at First Sight (LoC)
1 Jacob, Follower of God / Israel, Retainer of God (LoC)
1 Book of the Covenant (PoC)
1 Covenant of Prayer (RoJ)
1 Seven Years of Famine
1 Numerous as the Stars (PoC)
1 Faith of Samuel
1 The First Sacrifice
1 Balaam’s Prophecy
Creation LAFS Combo Deck Primer:
At this point many folks are aware of how the Creation LAFS Combo works but for the sake of any readers who may not understand how the deck or the combo work here is a primer. First of all it is very important to understand that a big reason why this combo deck was so lethal is that all we needed to grab was two cards to set up the entire combo: Hidden Treasures and Jacob, Follower of God. If we managed to get both of these cards we were able to combo, simple as that (there are rare scenarios where both Adam and Jared or both Adam and Mahalalel could be drawn in the initial 8 which would mean we could not get the combo pieces in the Creation band we needed, but this VERY rarely happened and never happened to me at Nationals). The deck is filled with so many tutors for both of these cards. In my build I had 15 direct ways to get access to Jacob, Follower of God through my initial draw 8 and 13 direct ways to get access to Hidden Treasures through my initial draw 8. Additionally (although not likely) A Soldier’s Prayer could also get me to either of these cards but I did not include it in the count due to minimal characters who I could play it off of (only three warrior class red characters are in the deck David, HAG, Father Abraham, and Jacob). This is a massive number of ways to get the two cards necessary to combo. The reason only these two cards are needed is with Hidden Treasures active when you enter battle with Jacob, Follower of God he is able to search the deck for Creation of the World and play it pre-block off of Hidden Treasures. Within the Creation band Adam grabs David, HAG, Jared grabs LAFS from reserve while also banding to David who grabs Awesome Things from deck, and Mahalalel plays the Pigs LS from the deck. These are all of the combo pieces which lead us to the combo itself and they are all obtained through the Creation of the World band.
The other thing to realize about this deck is it was lightning fast often being close to decking out but the end of Turn 2 if not totally decked out by Turn 2-3. Within the Creation band there is a potential to draw up to 10 with draws of 6-9 being quite common. This massive draw comes along with almost all the heroes in the deck being removed from the deck due to Creation of the World. Then after this huge amount of card advantage being gained through the initial Creation band there are so many territory class cards that search for cards from the deck or reserve. On future turns after the initial combo Faith of Samuel could be used to band the heroes into battle that draw to get even more cards from deck. The Creation LAFS Combo deck build gained some of the most absurd card advantage in Redemption history due to wiping out the opponents entire hand and not letting them draw anything back while accruing such a massive number of cards from our own deck.
The LAFS+Pigs combo in the Creation band works as follows: Awesome Things is played before the opponent blocks to play LAFS on a meek hero in the Creation band. LAFS shuffles the opponents entire hand but the nasty thing is they cannot draw the 8 replacement cards that LAFS says they should because the Pigs LS prevents that draw ability since LAFS before it was errata’d could not be negated by evil cards but neutral or good cards could prevent/negate/interrupt it. This was so lethal since the opponent would lose their whole hand and not get any cards back. This was especially brutal if the Creation LAFS deck went first.
Due to the lethal nature of going first and shuffling an opponents entire hand leaving them with no hand to start their first turn this deck tried to include every way possible to go first. Star abilities on Amos, Nahor, Terah, and the regular ability on the Awake LS all could play a lost soul from our deck to help ensure we could go first. The star ability on Jehoiachin, the Conquered could cause him to create soul advantage for us as well. The star abilities on Moses, Friend of God and Virgin Birth could also potentially get souls out along with the Lawless LS as well. Last but not least Hunter LS could search for Thorns LS which would create soul advantage since Thorns would protect Hunter from being shuffled leaving both in the land of bondage. Technically the star ability on Offering Your Son could also help create soul advantage.
After the initial combo happens this deck seeks to do the following tactics on following turns: 1) Get a second LAFS combo pulled off by means of getting LAFS back through A Solider’s Prayer and playing it pre-block off of meek Noah with Hidden Treasures active. I also hypothetically could recur LAFS through Scribe for a third LAFS combo off meek Noah with Hidden Treasures up. 2) Play Faith of Samuel pre-block with Hidden Treasures up off one of the green prophets in the deck to band in your heroes creating a massive band to draw more and discard one of the few evil cards an opponent might have after the combo with Simeon. This could be done twice due to being able to recur Faith of Samuel with Faith (PoC). 3) Use The First Sacrifice to get rid of one of the few evil cards an opponent would have once their hand had been wiped.
The major post combo plan though that was unique to my deck though was an idea I got from John Earley’s non-Creation LAFS combo deck: deck stacking. Jeremy Chambers used a hand control package featuring Simeon, The First Sacrifice, I Am Holy, and The Fallen Star/Blindness to limit opponents options to block after their hand had been wiped by LAFS+Pigs during the combo. This worked well enough but I found in testing a problem: my opponents in their draw 3 had the opportunity to draw ways to get back in the game. For example, I played a test game before Nats against Jayden Alstad where he drew A New Beginning (FoM) and a flood survivor in his draw 3 on his first turn and this enabled him to reset the whole game. He was able to get set up faster than me and he won the game. Due to this and other experiences I saw the beauty of stacking the opponent’s deck through cards like Vain Vision, Balaam’s Prophecy, and False Prophecy after the LAFS+Pigs combo. In testing this proved to be very effective since I would use one of these cards to manipulate the three cards my opponent would get after the combo leaving them often times with no rescue option and no block option. This meant that once I pulled off the combo they had almost no chance of coming back. I ended up only including Balaam’s Prophecy and False Prophecy since I found they were enough to win the game with and Vain Vision took up a dom slot to only deck stack. I had another version of the deck that ran a evil prophets defense and even there I found Vain Philosophy to be more important than Vain Vision to deal with counters. Balaam’s Prophecy and False Prophecy were enough deck stacking allowing me to stack the opponent’s deck for two turns often which was all it took to win the game.
My deck is what I like to consider the best of both worlds of hand control and deck stacking. I ran Simeon, The First Sacrifice, and Vain Philosophy for hand control which paired with the deck stacking of Balaam’s Prophecy and False Prophecy left my opponent’s with little chance after I pulled off the combo. I almost included I Am Holy but cut that for Faith of Sarah which could get to Jacob through The Three Visitors or could grab Enosh to deal with Counters or David, HAG if I drew Adam in my initial draw(s). Overall the best of both worlds approach of using both deck stacking and hand control is what I believe led to my deck finishing the highest out of all the T1-2P decks at Nationals. Deck Stacking and Hand Control paired together form a symbiotic relationship with both helping make the other more effective. I will explain later why I believe including both in this deck build caused it to be slightly more effective than other Creation LAFS deck builds.
We decided to spoil the Creation LAFS combo to the community on the forums because we felt it was overpowered and wanted to see if the elder’s of Redemption thought something should be done about it before Nationals. The elders thought it should be addressed after Nationals so that meant Jeremy and I could still run it at Nationals 2021. Since it was released to the community people had lots of time to figure out counters against the deck. Due to this I included several contingency plans to deal with these: Destruction of Nehushtan (PoC), Vain Philosophy, Distressing People, Enosh, and The First Sacrifice provided ways to deal with counters very quickly. Also Seven Years of Famine good side is included as an alternate way to negate LAFS in case an opponent managed to negate the Pigs LS. Falling Away (Wo) also could get Pigs LS back if an opponent rescued it with Son of God. Enosh was critical for dealing with counters and easily able to be searched for with numerous tutors.
If we did not go first and the opponent got set up significantly we had A New Beginning as a fall back plan. We could activate Hidden Treasures and search with Jacob for A New Beginning (Pa) instead of Creation and play that pre-block. This in turn would reset the board and allow us to then combo the opponent’s only cards that they had access to with LAFS+Pigs just like if we had gone first. Due to the density of tutors for Jacob and HT we had no problem getting both of these cards after A New Beginning.
The defense was built so I could play The Wages of Sin off almost all the evil characters along with Balaam’s Prophecy and False Prophecy (aside from Red Dragon who only could have Wages played off him along with Jehoiachin and Distressing People both whom I did not count as EC’s. They were there for going first and dealing with counters). The Wages of Sin was a critical tutor for Delivered to get Hidden Treasures and the two Prophecy enhancements were key for deck stacking. Scribe was a very sneaky card in that Wages of Sin and both Prophecy enhancements could be played off of him and he could recur LAFS from my discard pile for another use. Foolish Shepherd was a nice mirror match inclusion since I could discard a good card from my opponent’s reserve due to his star ability. This was nifty against other LAFS decks to potentially get rid of one of their combo set up pieces. Red Dragon, The Terrifying Beast, and Foreign Wives were my main blockers. The Terrifying Beast was actually a really solid blocker in this deck build. Paired with hand control and deck stacking my opponent if they did manage to have a hero to rescue with post combo very rarely had a card of matching brigade in hand or territory to discard instead meaning The Terrifying Beast would discard that hero CBN. I had several successful blocks with The Terrifying Beast at Nationals and discarding their hero set my opponent back much farther than just blocking with Red Dragon or Foreign Wives due to the fact they had limited resources already and I would be getting rid of one of their heroes leaving them with even less. If necessary I could use False Prophecy for a block and Falling Away (Wo) also was key as a way to essentially block if my opponent rescued a soul.
This is the basic premise of this combo deck. With this in mind here is a round by round summary of how it fared at Redemption Nationals 2021.
Redemption Nationals Round by Round Summary:
Round 1- Neeka Parker:
Since this was my first round ever at a National tournament I was quite nervous going into round one. I had been up quite late the night before getting my deck ready. I was excited, butterflies in the stomach type of deal to play my first game at Nationals. Neeka was running a Ruth deck. Overall it appeared to be on the larger side and definitely was not a 50 card deck. I managed to get to go first and on my first turn got access to Hidden Treasures and Jacob and so I got set up, activated HT, entered battle with Jacob, searched for Creation and played it pre-block. I got all of my necessary combo pieces out and wiped Neeka’s hand with LAFS with Pigs out. But then it hit me… She did not draw any souls and I failed to play one from her deck even though I would have been able to… So I finished a very elaborate battle challenge with the LAFS combo and no soul to show for it. Talk about a huge misplay. What ensued was a game where I deck stacked her leaving her with very little options for a couple turns but she did not have souls. I used Mahalalel to play some souls from her deck and scrounge together some rescues due to deck stacking and hand control stuff. She managed to pull off a rescue where she took out my Red Dragon with Angel of the Lord. Neeka played a good game, making sure to avoid souls coming out and she set up the rescue with Angel of the Lord quite well. She got one other soul I believe through Son of God but I took away one of her redeemed souls with Falling Away. Our game was taking forever due to soul drought and we were about to time out and I would have had a time out win, but then on her final turn she drew the necessary soul for me to get my 5th soul through a dominant rescue.
I was thankful because if she did not draw that soul it would have been a timeout win for sure and not a full win. My misplay on the first turn thankfully did not cost the full win.
Full win: 5-1.
Round 2- Rob Smith:
The game against Rob for a moment had me scared but then things fell into place. He was running a flood deck which I knew from experience has some of the best counters against LAFS. I also had lost to Rob in an online tournament a while back with my non-LAFS Creation deck, so I knew he is a capable flood pilot. On my first turn I was able to get access to Hidden Treasures and Jacob. However, I also drew the Pigs LS and he negated/rescued it with his Son of God. Uh oh, I needed that to combo. I proceeded to enter battle with Jacob, search for Creation, and play it pre-block off Hidden Treasures. I was hoping I would draw into Falling Away and be able to play it at the end of the Creation band to get Pigs LS back on the table before I played Awesome Things and LAFS pre-block. And amazingly, I did draw into Falling Away! So then I was able to combo Rob. I was able to get through most of my deck as a result of the draw off the creation band and resulting searches from my territory class enhancements. The deck stacking and hand control pieces I got access to worked super well to keep him from coming back. He did have a flood survivor on his turn after the combo to rescue with but I discarded it with The Terrifying Beast for a successful block since I had left him with very little options through my deck stacking. I was able to cruise through for a swift couple rescues paired with SoG and TSC to seal off the game against minimal defense due to taking out most of what he had through hand control and deck stacking. No ANB (FoM) and Flood Survivor shenanigans happened this game thanks to deck stacking.
Full win: 5-0.
Round 3- Derek Tirado:
Going into this round I was nervous for two reasons: 1) The game was on the top table and was being video taped and 2) I had lost every single game I had played against Derek up to this point. The game got off to a great start though. I managed to be able to go first and got access to HT and Jacob. But then Derek happened to have Destruction of Nehushtan in hand and got rid of my HT. I did a battle challenge with Jacob in hopes he would block and I could play Creation but to no avail. He rescued a soul on his turn with no block. Things looked pretty bleak here. But then I managed to play Creation pre-block due to Awesome Things getting all of my heroes out and getting a massive draw but no LAFS combo of course. Then he blocked with Foreign Wives, aaargh. Well at least I got set up. What ensued was a back and forth battle where I managed to rescue a couple souls with SoG and TSC and he managed to rescue a couple additional souls one of which I used Falling Away on. This left us in a situation where we were tied 2-2. At this point I entered battle and he blocked with Foreign Wives. I played ANB. At this point Marcus Parker the well known judge got called over and asked by us if Derek received special initiative due to ANB. Marcus ruled yes and so Derek negated ANB and blocked. However, after the game we realized that Foreign Wives was protected so she did not get SI meaning my ANB play would have worked. This may or may not have given me a chance for a time out win. Either way, Derek rescued a soul on his following turn for a well deserved time out win. Overall he outplayed me and deserved the win. So my series of losses to Derek continued. I hope to win against him some day!
Timeout loss: 2-3.
Round 4- Shon Seivers:
After my marathon timeout game with Derek I got the pleasure of playing against one of the brightest young minds in Redemption: Shon Seivers. During our discussions at Nats I realized he had discovered the Eyes to See+Jeshua+Foretelling Angel tactic to draw the entire deck. Jayden Alstad had also discovered this but Shon’s discovery led to more people finding out about the idea and it going public. Clearly Shon has a sharp mind for deck building and combos! Shon was running a teal deck and a LAFS deck at Nats. He decided to go for the mirror match against me and it worked out very well for him. He got to go first and got access to HT and Jacob and pulled off the combo. He had a good follow up package with things like Jonah and Storehouse and the like amongst others to stop me from coming back. I got nothing on my draw three and literally had nothing the whole game. It was a blowout and Shon piloted his LAFS deck very well for the win.
This game confirmed to me the reality of something I was saying before Nats: this meta was a coin toss. Whoever managed to go first in a LAFS mirror match or a LAFS match against a counter deck would most likely win the game. The other scenario is whoever managed to draw an instant counter in their initial 8 like Distressing People was likely to win. The going first coin toss proved true in this game against Shon and my other mirror match against Jeremy Chambers proved the counter coin toss true. That being said, I will comment later that for one deck build at Nats the coin toss was weighted. More on that later.
Full loss: 0-5.
Round 5- Jeremy Chambers:
Now this was a game I had anticipated. Jeremy and I had collaborated on the LAFS build for many months. I fully expected him to have the upper hand in this match and going into Nationals I thought he would win the whole thing. He had the most piloting experience of the LAFS deck going into Nationals and incredible success at the state and regional level with it. That being said, the coin toss meta proved to be true. Jeremy managed to get the right to go first but there was a problem: I drew Distressing People in my opening 8. This prevented him from being able to do much of anything on his first turn. However, he was able to eventually somehow band to my Jared, the Beholder and convert him to meek before I could combo preventing me from getting my combo set up. I used to run Perez in this list to bounce guys but cut him for Simeon. This was the right choice having Simeon overall for the hand control as he was huge for me throughout the tournament but I did miss Perez here. What ensued between us was a back and forth battle where I managed to get more set up than him but neither of us were able to combo. I managed to use Simeon tactics and banding tactics to get ahead. A key moment of the game happened when I managed to use Vain Philosophy on his A New Beginning in hand. That would have given him the opportunity to get ahead in the game. I was more set up than he was and in a better spot overall. ANB is not something that I wanted to happen. I managed to block his rescue attempts fairly well and then on my final turn I managed to finally pull off the LAFS combo but I forgot something! He had Fallen Star in territory with no hand due to being LAFS’d and I thought Fallen Star’s withdraw was mandatory meaning my weak meek hero in battle could be booted from the battle and I would insert a hero who would win the battle for me against Fallen Star. But no instead Jeremy left Fallen Star in battle and I did not manage to rescue a fourth soul. Overall though I was pleased with this game. It was a back and forth battle with a player who knew the LAFS deck very well and won T1-MP with the Widow LAFS build. This game was not a straightforward LAFS combo for the win game but required precise play. I have utmost respect for Jeremy as a deck builder and player. I was really thankful to come away with the timeout win.
Timeout win: 3-0.
Round 6- Charles Loria:
The game with Charles proved the vulnerability of LAFS once again. Charles managed to get Delivered on his opening hand which discarded my Awesome Things… Absolutely disastrous for me. This made pulling off my combo very unlikely. He was running a Genesis deck with Benjamin and Joseph stuff on offense and Genesis Egyptians on Defense. He got Babel and Storehouse up which made life hard for me to do hand control stuff and he was negating most of my heroes. His defense drew a large amount of cards and he just had way more resources than I did. I did my best to attack and defend and fought as hard as I could. This game along with the game with Derek proved the surprising resilience of the Creation LAFS deck though if I did not combo. I was very surprised that both of these losses were very close timeout losses and not blowouts. With shenanigans with Noah, Simeon, pulling off a Creation play without LAFS, hand control, and even deck stacking I had lots of ways to pull together rescues and block my opponent in the game with Derek and the game here with Charles. The problem though is in both games it just was not enough against decks that were able to function the way they were supposed to. I ended up managing to get to 3 souls but he was more effective in battle and at getting his dominants. A well deserved win by Charles and very well played. His deck build was balanced and well thought out with plenty of counters available to punish an LAFS deck.
Timeout loss: 3-4.
Round 7- David Smith:
David was running a very interesting counter deck against LAFS and Jeremy Chambers from what I recall had a timeout tie against him 4-4. He had a set up with Goshen (Promo), Storehouse, and Joseph (CoW) where he got almost unstoppable hand protection. He would put Joseph (CoW) into Goshen which in turn would lead to Storehouse and Goshen being CBN and protected from discard. The only hope against this would be Rubble and Dust which no one was really running. As far as offense goes he was running a Patriarch/Sons of Jacob offensive build. Well the tough thing for David though was on my first turn I got access to HT and Jacob and pulled off the LAFS combo. I was able to successfully use hand control and deck stacking to make it so he could not really come back. I believe he pulled off one rescue which I used Falling Away on. He did manage to pull off Scapegoat on me which stalled things a little bit but he was too far behind especially with deck stacking and hand control to catch up. I strung together a couple more rescues against limited blocking capacity due to the combo and follow up and pulled out a win.
Kudos to David though for thinking up a really creative counter deck. It worked well for him in his game against Jeremy C. and he came up with a super cool counter with Goshen (Promo)+Joseph (CoW)+Storehouse. Also it was very smart of him to run Scapegoat which in my mind was one of the best counters available against the LAFS deck especially when paired with the Darkness LS for a potential draw 8 instant counter. My game with David confirmed once again the coin toss meta we were in. Had he gotten counters up faster than I was able to combo the game would have been very different. I was happy with this win as it was a satisfying way to finish the Redemption National tournament and I had a feeling it would mean I would place in the Top Cut, meaning the top 8 of the T1-2P category.
Full win: 5-0.
Final results: 4-3 record, 13 total points, +10 Lost soul differential. 5th place T1-2P 2021 Redemption National Tournament.
Creation LAFS Redux Summary:
So what happened with the Creation LAFS deck? Why did it not win T1-2P at Nationals? This is a question some folks have been asking post Nationals. Going into Nationals there were many people who thought one of the players piloting a Creation LAFS deck would go on to win Nationals. Not only did a Creation LAFS deck not win but no one even finished in the top 3 of T1-2P. My deck which came in 5th place was the top finishing Creation LAFS deck. I have several thoughts on why this was. To help ease into those thoughts first of all I thought it would be helpful to consider why my Creation LAFS build fared slightly better than the others did.
The key reason I believe my Creation LAFS build ended up doing slightly better than the others was three factors: 1) Deck stacking 2) Maximum number of ways to go first and 3) Inclusion of counters/interaction suite with counters. One thing I heard from players at the top tables such as Derek Tirado, Josh Potratz, and John Earley is even if they got combo’d by a LAFS player in some of those games they were able to come back and win after being combo’d. Yes they would lose 8 cards from their hand from the LAFS combo but due to having a stronger more balanced deck overall they were able with minimal resources to get what they needed to come back and win. This I believe is why my deck build fared slightly better than the other LAFS builds at Nats. Once I pulled off the combo the chance of my opponent mounting a comeback was extremely small and no one did. The games where I pulled off the combo ended up with an 18-1 soul differential (yes I included the game with Jeremy in that even though I combo’d at the end, if you take that game out the differential was 15-1). In the three games I pulled off the combo early I was able in my discard phase to deck stack my opponent with one of the two Prophecy evil enhancements and on subsequent turns I was able to use Vain Philosophy, The First Sacrifice, and Simeon along with a second round of deck stacking from the other Prophecy evil enhancement. This was so effective that I never even really needed to play LAFS an additional time or two through A Soldier’s Prayer or Scribe. This best of both worlds approach of combining deck stacking with hand control I believe was the biggest thing that set this take on Creation LAFS combo deck slightly above the others. At the end of the day my end result of a total +10 lost soul differential was second only to Josh and Derek the top two finishers who each had a +12 lost soul differential. The deck stacking/hand control was instrumental in getting this soul differential.
Another factor that really helped is I pretty much included the maximum possible number of cards that help with going first in the game aside from Prosperity LS which was not as good as the other souls available. This helped me to be able to get to go first most of the games at the tournament. Sadly that was not always enough though as with my game against Derek, more on that later. Additionally the inclusion of key counters and ways to interact with counters such as DoN (PoC), Vain Philosophy, Distressing People, Foolish Shepherd, and The First Sacrifice proved very important.
But this is just what I think caused my Creation LAFS deck build to do slightly better than the other four that were run at Nationals. The bottom line is my deck finished 5th not first! And this was the best that Creation LAFS did in T1-2P at Nationals. What went wrong? Well that is what we will consider next.
What Went Wrong?
Why did a Creation LAFS deck not win T1-2P at Nationals and not even finish in the top 3? Well there are several reasons: 1) The Weighted Coin Flip 2) Publicity 3) Contingency 4) The Glass Cannon
Weighted Coin Flip: You have probably noticed throughout this article that I felt the meta at Nationals this year was a coin flip. What I meant by that is whoever managed to go first or draw a instant counter in the initial draw 8 was likely to win the game. By instant counter I mean a counter that becomes active prior to the first turn such as Distressing People, the star ability on Stricken, or Darkness LS to Scapegoat or a dominant such as DoN, CotK, or Vain Philosophy. These counters require no set up and can be used without going first. This was true for the most part. Against the vast majority of the decks I faced this proved true. Even the mirror Creation LAFS matches against Shon and Jeremy proved this to be true. However, there were two deck builds at this tournament that ultimately ended up causing the meta to be a weighted coin flip: Josh Potratz and John Earley’s counter decks. These decks were brilliantly crafted by Josh and John and the result was that they were more likely to draw a counter than we were to be able to draw a card that could stop their counter/just be lucky enough to go first without them having an instant counter in the draw 8. This meant that these two counter deck builds by Josh and John actually had a slight edge in the coin flip meta. John Earley and Jeremy Chambers had a mutual draw the final round. Depending on how that game went the standings could have been shaken up slightly. That being said I would not have been surprised if John would have drawn into an instant counter in the opening 8 as Josh did against Jeremy in an earlier round. Josh and John crafted their counter decks super well to maximize the possible chances they would draw into an instant counter. This I believe is a big reason why the Creation LAFS deck build did not finish as highly at Nationals in T1-2P as folks thought it would.
Publicity: The reality of the matter is Jeremy Chambers, Joe Schaefer, Jay Chambers, and myself all decided to publicly reveal the Creation LAFS deck build to the Redemption community prior to Nationals. This provided all players with an opportunity to figure out a way to counter it. I do not regret that we revealed this deck build and the combo to the community. Had we not done that Nationals would have been most likely a miserable experience for those who were not running a LAFS combo deck. The fact that we revealed the deck build allowed for people to come up with creative combo decks or modify their existing deck build to include some counters. What this did mean though is everyone was ready for the deck and there were lots of counters floating around. This made it harder for the Creation LAFS deck to win Nationals in T1-2P. However, a Creation LAFS deck piloted by Jeremy Chambers did win T1-MP. I believe in the T1-MP meta there was not as much preparation against a potential LAFS combo deck allowing for Jeremy to not be quite as hindered in that meta.
Contingency: The amazing thing about the Creation LAFS deck build in my mind is at least in the games I lost to Derek and Charles that it was fairly resilient without a combo. However, this was partially due to the fact I believe that I had run a non-LAFS Creation of the world deck since summer of 2020 and was very familiar with trying to win the game with the cards in the deck and the Creation band without LAFS. I knew what to play and when to play it. Most other LAFS players aside from Jeremy Chambers who has extensive knowledge of the deck build would not have had that ability. And even for Jeremy and I we lacked what it took to really win effectively when we did not combo against deck builds that were solid.
With this in mind I believe one of the major reasons the Creation LAFS deck build did not do better at Nationals is because we did not include enough contingency plans for if we did not combo. If we had not revealed the combo deck to the world this likely would not have been necessary but with so many counters floating around it was necessary. Simeon was a lifesaver for me and a huge contingency piece but he was not enough. Jay Chambers had advocated all along in our testing for including Faith of Abraham and Abraham CoW instead of Father Abraham from (LoC). The reason for this in his mind was if Hidden Treasures got eliminated then Faith of Abraham to Abraham to Three Visitors to Jacob who grabs Creation and can play it first post-block due to Faith of Abe was a great contingency package. I cannot tell you how much I wished I had this contingency package in my loss to Derek where my Hidden Treasures got eliminated. Jeremy and I preferred Father Abraham due to his really good draw 3 but the contingency route of Faith of Abe and CoW Abe was really needed.
Derek’s deck got second place and was not a true counter deck. He had some counters in it like DoN which stopped me from pulling off the combo but overall he just had a solid deck. Had I had the contingency package of Faith of Abe and CoW Abe I would have had more of a chance in our game. Yes he could have elected to not block due to the threat of the combo but that is a free soul in that case which would have been huge. This was the biggest miss for me I feel in my build and I sure wish I had listened to Jay and gone with CoW Abe and Faith of Abe in my build. The other big miss for me is originally I was running Chariot of Fire and switched to Son of God to deal with counters. I did not include enough soul gen to make up for losing Chariot of Fire. I should have included more. In hindsight I would have likely gone with Faith of Abe, Abraham (Cow), and Midianite’s Slave for soul gen and to make up for the draw I would lose from CoW Abe vs. Papa Abe. This I feel would have helped my deck be far more solid and resilient.
The other factor I will include in contingency is LAFS decks that lacked a consistent way to shut down the opponent after pulling off the initial combo. Derek had a game against John Hendrix (who is a sharp player and did well with his deck overall) where John pulled of the combo against Derek but Derek came back to win. The reality is deck stacking paired with hand control would have been very helpful in that game I believe to have manipulated what cards Derek got and then picked off any decent ones that he managed to get with the hand control stuff. Deck stacking and hand control on their own are good. But being paired together they form a symbiotic relationship where deck stacking sets hand control up and hand control cleans up whatever deck stacking does not take care of. The lack of this in some of the other LAFS decks I feel was a problem for them. Jeremy C. knew how to use his hand control package so well that I believe he was fine without deck stacking and knew how to close out games effectively after the combo (although I would argue deck stacking still would have helped him). But for other players who had picked up the Creation LAFS deck build after we spoiled it and were not as experienced piloting it, the post-combo plan of deck stacking/hand control would have been very helpful to close out their games and not let the opponent come back.
The Glass Cannon: I am very hesitant to call the Creation LAFS deck build a glass cannon but in the meta that developed at Nationals 2021 it was, especially without the contingency plan of Faith of Abe/CoW Abe. The reality is that due to releasing the deck build to the community the top players had at least some solid counters in their deck or were running a counter deck. This meant that the Creation LAFS deck build if it went first, there was no counter, and it was able to combo was very likely to win the game. However, there was also a really good chance that someone would draw into an instant counter as happened in my game with Derek. Also, there was a chance that one of the vital combo pieces would get taken out as in my game with Charles where the star ability on his Delivered discarded Awesome Things from my deck. This resulted in the Creation LAFS deck build being a glass cannon which means this: when it worked it was as powerful and destructive as a cannon but when a counter showed up it was as fragile as glass.
Including the contingency plans described above would have made the deck less of a glass cannon and I believe may have led at least in my case to my deck build managing to squeeze into the top 3, but I do think even with that the deck build would still have been a bit of a glass cannon due to the weighted coin toss against Josh P./John E.’s counter decks and the mass of counters that existed in the regular decks piloted by top players.
I would like to offer kudos to Josh Potratz the 2021 T1-2P National Champion. He crafted a truly remarkable counter deck that was excellent in the meta at hand. I got to play a game the evening after T1-2P was finished with Josh since we did not get to play each other in the tournament and he won that game. His deck truly created a weighted coin flip scenario. He is a worthy champion!
I would also like to congratulate Jeremy Champers on being the 2021 T1-MP Champion with the Widow LAFS deck that he crafted. Creation LAFS is a championship deck but just in T1-MP instead of T1-2P. Jeremy truly is a deserving champion!
So there you have it, Creation LAFS redux. I immensely enjoy Creation of the World as a deck build and the memories it has brought ever since I crafted my non-LAFS T1-2P Creation deck in the summer of 2020 and won the 2020 Oregon state tournament with it. Finishing 5th in T1-2P at my first Nationals ever is a result I personally was very happy with even if the deck build I was running was expected to do better in the tournament. I still plan to run my non-LAFS Creation deck in T1-2P Classic as I love the deck build with or without LAFS.
Also the amazing thing about this deck build is it has prompted changes to the game of Redemption as a whole. The Creation LAFS combo deck led to Love at First Sight itself being errata’d after Nationals so that the card now cannot be negated by anything to stop the combo with Pigs LS and Seven Years of Famine. Additionally, the tactic of the deck which sought to utilize as many ways as possible to go first, I believe, is part of what led to the new rule about determining who goes first in Redemption through a dice roll or coin flip instead of most lost souls. Lastly, I believe this deck build is part of what furthered discussions about the need for rotation in Redemption which has now been implemented. The deck may not have done as well as people thought it would at Nationals, but the changes to the game that our deck building team hoped would happen as a result of releasing the Creation LAFS deck build to the community due to its broken nature have been implemented by the elder team. This has made it all worth it.
Being a part of the team that developed a deck build that has impacted Redemption in so many ways was a really fun experience. I will remember the deck building conversations with Joe Schaefer, Jeremy Chambers, and Jay Chambers quite fondly. I hope this article was informative and gives an accurate perspective of what happened with the LAFS saga. Also I hope it inspires players to delve deep into deck building to see what combo/really strong deck build they might be able to find, this is good for the game. Even if what is found is broken that is good so it can be addressed and fixed as happened with this combo, and being able to play a deck like that sure is fun for the people that find it before it is fixed. Happy deck building to all!
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