Hey guys, been awhile but we’re back with another Redemption Express Interview. This one is a little bit different because the person being interviewed is…me! With the T2 Only tournament coming up, JD (kairusvega) was inspired to write up some questions for me. Hope you enjoy!
- What is your winning history of t2 nationals and t2 onlys?
I have won T2 2P at Nationals 2007, 2013, 2015, and 2016, and I have won T2 MP at Nationals 2006 and 2015. I don’t recall exactly which years I’ve won the T2 Only, but I’ve won both 2P and MP a handful of years.
- Why is t2 appealing over t1?
The thing that first attracted me to T2 was that it was far less based on luck of the draw. Back in the day of speed decks and no dominant cap, it was very possible to get a terrible draw, your opponent to get a good draw and for the game to be over 5-1 or 5-0 in three turns. T2 was much more forgiving in the sense that a bad start did not necessarily mean the game was over. When I won T2 2P at Nationals 2007, my final round opponent got out to a 6-1 lead because I wasn’t drawing defense, but I finally managed a few blocks after drawing a needed Destruction of Nehushtan and ended up winning 7-6.
- What are the 5 coolest t2 combo decks you remember seeing over time?
Perhaps the all-time greatest combo deck is Ron Sias’ Devastator deck that could not only win in 2P but was also capable of locking out the entire table in T2 MP. Clift Crysel’s Speed Camp was another awesome deck (though not much fun to play against unless you knew how to beat it) and I think still the only combo deck to win Nationals. Although it never gained much notoriety, my personal best combo deck was a deck I called LockDown—I won’t say too much about it because I sometimes think about bringing it back for a season ;-). I actually missed some of the other crazy combo decks because I was not very active during the time they were being used (particularly A New Beginning and Warrior’s Spear combo decks).
- How did those combos shape the rules of the game over time?
There have been several great rule changes that have come about as the result of combo decks. Rules such as the 16 card hand, one side battle per turn and not being able to make consecutive rescue attempts until your opponent has had a turn are all good rules that reduce the potential for negative play experience (NPE), which is when a combo makes a game so one-sided that the opponent literally just sits there and watches.
- What is a general ruling you could see being implemented if any ?
As the other Elders and Playtesters will attest too, I’m generally not a fan of rule changes unless they are fixing something that is absolutely broken without question. That being said, I really like the new Rescuer’s Choice rule for T2 MP where Son of God cannot be used to block a rescue attempt. The idea was originally suggested by Marcus P (RedemptionAggie) and I truly believe it kept T2 MP from becoming too much about dominant play because for a category that already times out pretty often, we were looking at another four potential dominant blocks with The Second Coming being used to get back Son of God. As for future rule changes, I can’t think of any that are desperately needed, but who knows what the next set will bring.
- How do you like to come up with new t2 combos?
There are several things I look for when trying to come up with a new combo. First, how easy is it to pull off? For example, do I need specific characters or are there a variety of characters that can be used? Second, how many ways to counter it exist and how likely am I to face those given the current meta? Third, is the payoff worth it? If I pull the combo off, is it for sure going to allow me to win? Fourth, do the necessary cards have enough synergy that if somehow the combo is countered, I have a backup plan?
- What are your feelings between the differences of t1 and t2?
Though not always, T2 often becomes more like a chess match in the sense that you can set things up for several turns before making a huge move that can ultimately give you the victory. Sometimes your opponent might see it coming, but other times you might be able to disguise your plans until your opponent makes a mistake that allows you to unleash your strategy. Because of the shorter game, this is much more uncommon in T1.
- Do you feel t1 has helped you shape t2 strategies and vice versa?
Whenever I see a deck or strategy that I like in T1 or T2, I definitely start to think about whether or not it could work in the other category. Sometimes it can, sometimes it cannot, and other times it leads me to something similar, but better suited for the other category.
- What do you think will be a popular build at the next t2 only?
It’s very tough to say. Although there are a few strategies that are more popular than others (such as a Judges offense), the meta is pretty wide open as evidenced by the wide variety of decks at Nationals 2016. If I had to pick, I would guess Judges-based offenses will be the most popular for the T2 Only, but even then there are so many directions to go with Judges.
- How has cloud impacted t2 and what do you see as having potentially untapped combo potential?
Cloud has been great for T2. I really like how we were able to boost several defensive themes with just a few key cards that made them absolutely playable. The 3 Gray Syrians are a great example of that as well as King Achish for Philistines. I also really like the variety of potential Cloud offenses. Gold Cloud, Green Cloud, White Cloud, Blue Cloud and BoM are all legit options, and it’s really fun seeing how much synergy you can find between various old and new cards. As far as untapped combo potential, maybe something like Flood Survivors/Hand control. The Dove Returns is a ridiculously strong card, and combining that with things like I Am Holy and a hand control defense could leave your opponent in a very tough spot because he will have to choose between putting cards on the table where they can be hit by TDR or keeping them in hand where they could get hit at random.