EDITORS NOTE: If you haven’t already read it, be sure to check out Return of the Widow: Part 1.

Round 1 vs Marcus Parker

The last time I played Marcus was at my very first Nationals in 2004. We played in the final round of T2-2P and he beat me pretty good (7-2). This game started a bit slow as neither of us had much going right away. Despite us both using Judges, the first couple of turns were uneventful.

One thing that I had going for me right away was that I drew both Gideon’s Calls with Samson to play them on and I revealed several Lost Souls very early in the game. When my offense finally showed up, I had plenty of souls to go after. I was able to empty his hand with a couple Words of Discouragements and I didn’t have to worry about him not drawing souls for a couple turns thanks to Gideon’s Call. With my offense out in full force and his hand empty the game came to a quick end.

Final score 7-1.

Round 2 vs Jordan Alstad

This was one of those “what if” games for both players. I had a dream opening hand with both The Angel under the Oak and Wheel within a Wheel. I went first and quickly went AutO to Samuel to David for a nice 4 card draw. Jordan told me later that he almost blocked with Foreign Wives before remembering that I had only drawn 4 cards that turn since I went first. That would come into play later…

I got the soul and then had a decision to make. Do I play the Wheel now and leave AutO vulnerable in my territory or do I hold the Wheel in hand and risk him playing down NazarethDarius’ Decree or Covenant with Death? I decided to play it to get back AutO, and it ended up drastically impacting the rest of the game.

Of the four cards I drew a Rain Becomes Dust, so I knew if I could survive Jordan’s opening turn without him getting much set up, I would have a huge opportunity to blitz him before he could get set up and could then keep him from catching up by using RBD. As it turns out, I made the wrong decision as Jordan had none of those counters I was worried about, but what he did draw was his Simeon. All of a sudden he’s the one drawing 4 by banding to my AutO and getting out his Samuel/David. That one decision very likely changed the course of the game as I never fully recovered and he got his defense set up before I got mine. Even though my Rain Becomes Dust went up on my turn, it only lasted a couple turns before Destruction of Nehushtan took it out, (which would come into play later on as well…) The Foreign Wives that Jordan almost lost on the first turn (but didn’t) kept me from drawing as I couldn’t afford to give him free blocks, so I never really managed to gain a card advantage. Still the game remained close and going into the last round he was ahead 6-5.

On my final turn, I didn’t have much offense left, but I had been chipping away at his defense so he didn’t have much left for blocking either. I decided to go with Captain of the Host with no support hoping that he didn’t have anything. He blocked with an evil character that had 7 toughness so I figured a Gibeonite Trickery was coming. A few turns before, my Revealer Lost Soul had underdecked Falling Away so I knew that was on the bottom, but I decided to gamble by playing Mayhem and hope he didn’t redraw something to defeat Captain and/or draw Falling Away (or maybe I would draw into Guardian of Your Souls). Unfortunately nothing went my way…no GoyS for me, he redrew into a Gib Trick to stall me and then on his turn drew Falling Away. So now instead of a potential 6-6 tie, I’m facing a 7-4 loss…major bummer.

All was not lost as I drew Balaam off of the Mayhem as well as Scattered and Two Thousand Horses so I still had a chance to block. He began his final turn by using I am Holy to discard an evil card from my hand. Another decision to make…keep the potential CBN battle winner in Scattered and hope he bands, or keep the numbers of Two Thousand Horses and hope he doesn’t have a CBN battle winner. I decided to keep Scattered and waited to see who he pushed with.

As he went out with Jair I figured I was facing Eli’s Sound Advice and Samuel’s Edict but I had no other options so I blocked with Balaam. Since he had discarded my Rain Becomes Dust way back in the beginning of the game, I grabbed that from my discard pile. Jordan groaned and showed his two Samuel’s Edicts–enough to get him to 8/8, but my RBD on Balaam would be enough to force the stalemate and hold on for the 4-6 timeout loss. Final score 4-6.

Round 3 vs Jonathan Wagenknecht

All of the Tripleplay brothers are excellent players so even though I can’t really keep them straight, I know it’s always going to be a tough game against them. Jonathan was running a Disciples/Demons deck, a combination of an offense and a defense that had given me trouble in the past.

This time though, I got off to a fast start and was able to put pressure on his defense right away. My RBD kept him from drawing—he eventually drew a Passover Hymn, but the few turns where I was able to draw extra and he wasn’t really made a difference. This game proved to be the first where my Women as Snares addition really helped as I was able to capture a god of this World that would have slowed me down considerably if he had stuck around much longer.

I forced him into discarding a Gates of Hell to stop one rescue but he never drew into another and the Words of Discouragement did the trick at the end to allow me to walk in unopposed with him only holding a couple cards in hand. Final score 7-2.

Round 4 vs Clift Crysel

If anyone knows how powerful Words of Discouragements can be, it’s Clift. However it was a card from the Early Church set that really made a difference in this game. I drew an early Retribution Lost Soul and Clift was using an Isaiah/I am Holy deck. This put Clift in a tough spot—he could either knock the defense out of my hand, but lose a card from territory or completely abandon his strategy. He decided to stick with his strategy and every time I lost a card, he lost a card.

He made one misplay that might have cost him a chance to get set up a bit quicker and when he finally did have his Isaiah/Angels band, I was waiting with Scattered. It was approaching the mid-game point and I believe I was winning 3-1. Clift had no souls in his territory, but after looking at his hand and seeing lots of evil Enhancements and no Evil Characters, I decided to use Jephthah to take out the only two Evil Characters in his territory. I exchanged AutO to Jephthah out of deck, and Clift gave my deck a couple shuffles. He was about to shuffle one more time, but then stopped and said “Ooo, that felt good right there.” We both watched as I flipped the top card of my deck…Son of God. I was stunned. I still had around 60 cards left in my deck and I had somehow hit Son of God.

For a moment I thought my chances were dead. I spent the full allotted time of my discard phase trying to just refocus on what I now needed to do to win. Taking that time to refocus ended up being exactly what I needed. Despite losing my Son of God, taking out those two Evil Characters proved to be worth it as Clift didn’t draw more than one or two more the entire game.

My Gideon’s Calls pulled out some more souls and I walked in nearly unopposed for the final four rescues. I was grateful for the win obviously, but I was also very pleased with the way I responded to such an unlucky circumstance. Many times something like that will just completely take a player out of the game mentally, but Clift said after the game that I was “in the zone” and “made zero mistakes” after losing Son of God. Final score 7-1.

Round 5 vs Ron Sias

Ron and I have played many T2 games over the years and while I’ve been fortunate to come out on top in most of them, I know his deck-building style will always present some different challenges that are unexpected. As I mentioned in Part 1, my deck is extremely strong in the early and mid-game and this game against Ron was a prime example of that. I simply overwhelmed him early and often, keeping pressure on his defense with my attacks and keeping pressure on his hand when he attacked me. The combination of the two made for a quick game. Final score 7-0.

Round 6 vs Tyler Stevens

Tyler had just defeated Jordan in Round 5 so I was now in first place with 4 wins and a timeout loss. A win against Tyler would give me first place, but I had no idea what kind of deck to expect. Tyler had faced my deck two years ago at Nationals 2013 so he knew exactly what he was up against.

On my first turn I made a rescue attempt only to be blocked by Demetrius the Silversmith who searched out Abomination of Desolation. He placed it in my territory and proceeded to win the battle with Seized by Rioters. Not the most auspicious start for me…

Tyler got an early soul against me, but I quickly drew into some blocks including Scattered that put a couple Heroes under his deck. After that, the game completely turned into a momentum vs response match. I used Angel of the Lord on one Demetrius and Grapes of Wrath on another to stop the Seized by Rioters abuse. Once they were gone, my Judges kept constant pressure on Tyler’s Greek defense.

Even with Abom and Aeropagus working together, I had enough cards in territory that Tyler simply couldn’t get rid of them fast enough. My two RBDs also forced him to spend his Abom discards on that otherwise he would have lost cards he was forced to draw with Aeropagus. He was also forced to use Shrine to Artemis to shuffle Heroes away to pull out more defense, which left him with very few attacking options and giving me plenty of time to load up on defense.

When he finally did attack with Simon the Zealot in an effort to protect his hand, I blocked with a Women as Snares from hand, (who captured all his Greeks), then played Two Thousand Horses to interrupt Simon’s hand protection and played two Words of Discouragements followed by Forgotten History to empty most of his hand. At this point, I had the game in hand and just needed another couple of turns to rescue the final souls. Final score 7-1.

Despite losing to Jordan, the time out loss gave me the extra point I needed (and kept an extra point from Jordan) to avoid finishing in a tie with him, which would have placed him over me due to the head to head loss. It’s crazy how one decision (me putting down AutO on the first turn or Jordan choosing Jair instead of Gideon on the final turn) can change a game and ultimately decide a tournament. In all six games, I did not see one Self-Control or King’s Pomp. I wasn’t as worried about Self-Control as I had two copies of Invoking Terror to underdeck the Hero with Self-Control, but King’s Pomp almost certainly would have given my deck trouble.

The Judge Widow is by far the most successful deck I’ve ever built. Since its debut at Nationals 2013 where it went 3-1-1, it has won the 2014 T2 Only (6-0), taken second at Nationals 2014 (4-1-1) and taken first at Nationals 2015 (5-1). It has also won or placed at numerous local, district, state and regional tournaments. It will be interesting to see what impact (if any) The Persecuted Church set has on it since it is primarily an OT-based deck, but you never know…

Return of the Widow Deck List and Commentary

Good dominants:

Good Fortresses:

  • Wall of Protection—of the games this deck has lost or tied, many of those were games my opponent was able to use my own cards against me because I hadn’t drawn WoP yet; very important card to this deck.
  • Judge’s Seat—I consider this a late game card, ideally one I won’t need, but comes in handy to limit my opponent’s options if the game does go longer.

Heroes:

Good Enhancements:

  • Raising Lazarus (I)—this might seem like a “fluff” card in a deck where the angels can recur the Judges all day, but I used it in every game in which I drew it. Being able to get back Simeon or The Generous Widow often proved useful, and sometimes I found myself without an angel but needing to grab a Judge from the discard pile. It also allows for the RBD/Provisions/Damsel combo.
  • Wheel within a Wheel (FooF) x2
  • Samuel’s Edict x3—it’s been two years, and I still can’t find room for the 4th Edict…oh well…
  • Sword Against Sword x3
  • Gideon’s Call x2—was absolutely the right choice for the final two enhancements.
  • Provisions x3

Evil Dominants:

Evil Characters:

Evil Enhancements/Curses:

Artifacts/Sites/Souls

The one card I wished I had added was Shipwreck. I thought with 3 copies of Assyrian Siege Army that I wouldn’t really need an anti-fortress Dominant, but it would have definitely helped against Jordan’s Judge Judah deck that utilized Gates of Jerusalem. King Rehoboam and King Abijam were extremely difficult to get around and had I been able to use Jephthah to get rid of them, I would have had a very good chance of winning. Rehoboam’s side battles caused a lot of damage and Abijam kept me from drawing as much as I wanted late in the game. I would even consider cutting one of the other Dominants to fit in Shipwreck.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the recap, and be sure to check back often as there are plans in the works for some T2 deck building articles in the coming months here in the Land of Redemption.

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