I rarely play Teams. Most tournaments I attend run Teams at the same time as my favorite category other than T2-2P, Booster Draft, so I rarely have the chance. In the last 3 years after 2012 Nationals, when the esteemed Matt Brinkman and I ran a pair of 154-card monstrosities to capture 3rd place, I believe I played the category twice in tournaments: 2013 MW Regionals and 2014 Nationals, with little success in either. I was also not originally planning to play this year, but when my brother Justin decided that his success in the previous two days would suffice and he could step in as judge, I ended up teaming up with his planned partner, Martin Miller. Which is something like the Redemption equivalent of Venus Williams coming to you and saying that she will not be participating in a doubles tournament, so you can go ahead and team up with Serena.
The night before the Teams event, Justin, Martin and I looked over the decks they had planned to use to see if we could make any tweaks. We did make a few small changes, but for the most part the decks were pretty solid. The central idea of the decks (which were mirrored, with the exception of a few different Dominants) was to try to pull off a combo involving Besieging the City and Mayhem. Besieging the City restricts an opponent from drawing on their next turn, so if you play it vs. one of the opposing players and wait until their next turn to drop Mayhem, they are forced to shuffle their hand without drawing, leaving them without a hand and their teammate with only a 6 card hand. We also both use Rain Becomes Dust and Golden Cherubim to limit their drawing opportunities so that it would be difficult for them to recover if we were able to pull it off.
Aside from the combo, the offense was a pretty standard Judges offense, with a very small N.T. gold splash (including The Woman at the Well and Samaritan Water Jar). The rest of the defense consisted of Egyptians (mostly Genesis) and King of Tyrus (Wa). Despite still being unable to take 1st in T12P at Nationals, Judges are still one of the strongest overall offenses in both T1 and T2, and while they are not overly powerful, Egyptians are speedy and can usually provide enough stall blocks to give the offense time to punch through.
During the 6 rounds of the tournament, the decks took Martin and me to a 5-1 record, facing some pretty stiff competition along the way. We were able to accomplish some pretty key plays along the way: Once, we were attacked by a Peter loaded with Peace. Our defense is mostly small characters with mostly Enhancements that have 1 or less strength, so he would present some problems. I couldn’t think of a good block, but decided to at least use The Amalekite’s Slave to at least generate a Lost Soul and see what I could attempt. I realized while searching that I could use Egyptian Warden to capture Peter. While in most cases I would expect Warden to be interrupted by an Enhancement, I realized that with Peace, any Enhancement that Peter would play would be tossed, so he could not interrupt the capture. With that threat neutralized, our defense remained solid and we won that game. We were able to pull off the Besieging/Mayhem combo vs. 3 opponents, but realized how strong the competition was when even after we used the combo and forced the same player to later use a Mayhem with our Rain Becomes Dust active to try to help his teammate get a good block, that team ended up handing us our one loss, beating us 5-4.
The Samaritan Water Jars were also helpful in most of the games, sometimes setting aside Dominants or other key cards, and other times generating plenty of open Lost Souls vs. Site decks. Evil Spirit was another key card that is probably one of the more underrated evil battle winners in the game. It allowed me to convert Moses when banded to Aaron, and won a battle vs. King Hezekiah in a different game. Throughout the tournament, seemingly every card in the decks was useful at some point, a tribute to Justin and Martin’s deck-building skills.
As for cards that could be added to the decks from the new set, there are relatively few options. Seeker of the Lost would probably only help if we expanded the size of the N.T. gold splash, and Sword of the Spirit would be very unlikely to make the cut, since it couldn’t be easily combined with any of the other Armor of God. Christ’s Triumph is always a potential add to any deck with N.T. Heroes, but with only 2 of them, it might be questionable.
The defense would absolutely get 1-2 modifications, however. Silly Women was designed to be a super-splashable card, and while my experience in Teams shows that soul drought is much less of an issue than in other categories, it is always nice to have the option, so she would be a potential add. The one card that I would for sure add to the deck (and to any Teams deck with multiple gold Evil Characters) is Revolt. Since most games of Redemption take place with T1 decks between 2 players, most cards in the game are playtested with that scenario in mind. So every once in awhile we run into cards that might be unintentionally extra-powerful in other categories, and Revolt may just be one of them. If you’re not sure why, well, I’ll leave that to you to figure out…
In any case, I really enjoyed playing with Martin, and against several other of the top Teams players in the country at Nationals. While I am certainly grateful and blessed to have won the tournament, as always the best part of my Nationals experience is getting together with old friends, and meeting some new ones who all share our common interest: Redemption.
“Judges and a Jar”
Built by: Justin Alstad
Piloted by: Jordan Alstad & Martin Miller
-The decks were exact copies except for the Dominant selection
Cards in deck: 53
Son of God
New Jerusalem (Deck 1-Jordan)/Guardian of Your Souls (Deck 2-Martin)
Falling Away (Deck 1-Jordan)/Grapes of Wrath (Deck 2-Martin)
Christian Martyr (Deck 1-Jordan)/Vain Philosophy (Deck 2-Martin)
Shipwreck (Deck 1-Jordan)/Angel of the Lord (Deck 2-Martin)
Burial (Deck 1-Jordan)/Destruction of Nehushtan (Deck 2-Martin)
Dragon Raid (Promo)
The Woman at the Well
Angel with the Secret Name (RoA)
Captain of the Host (WA)
The Angel under the Oak
Rain Becomes Dust
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