Gabe Isbell and I took a year off Teams competition last year when he hosted at his home church. This year we came back to reclaim our title. Gabe was one of the only people that I showed #Mayhem as I was developing it. He was one of the individuals who suggested switching to Magicians and did testing with it at his Friday night playgroup to confirm it was the right play. When it came time to choose decks for this year, the choice was fairly easy – If #Mayhem is worth it in T1-2P, isn’t it just as good, if not better in Teams? I made a surprise trip down to North Central Regionals (I was originally supposed to work) and we tested our theory. Only three teams entered, so we played round robin. Gabe and I won both games, confirmed our theory was correct and then put the decks on a shelf until Nationals.
Lost Souls: 7
Good Enhancements: 3
Evil Characters: 11
Evil Enhancements: 4
Lost Souls: 7
Good Enhancements: 3
Evil Characters: 11
Evil Enhancements: 4
Very minor differences between the 2 Player version and these – Cut Valley of Salt for Pentecost in both decks. We also cut the unnecessary Covenant of Prayer for Babel – Because Take works on cards you don’t control, if Gabe played Babel as a site, I could grab it with Caleb and re-play it. We had multiple games where we bounced it back and forth. We found at Regionals, that with both of us getting a King Amaziah rescue, plus two potential uses of Angel of the Lord was more than enough offense. We also made minor tweaks to the reserve – Gabe played his personal favorite – Outsiders, which is a fantastic answer to early Throne set-up and can play Wages in a pinch. I played Seven Sons of Sceva, figuring getting around Red Dragon three times in a game could get tricky for our opponents. We also cut Rain Becomes Dust, which I had found to be fantastic in the Mirror in two player, but not really necessary with all the other counters we had. In its place, I played a copy of King Saul’s Spear as another option to turn Faith of David or Jehu into removal. Gabe played a copy of Kinsmen’s Agreement to counter opposing Faith of David’s, Faith Among Corruptions and Gamaliel’s Speeches.
The biggest difference between the two decks is Dominant selection. When The Second Coming was released in Cloud of Witness’ I changed my teams deck building philosophy, before I would typically build both decks with Son of God and New Jerusalem, and then 10 other dominants split between each deck. Now I prefer to play Son of God + Second Coming in one deck, and Son of God + New Jerusalem in the other. The deck with Second Coming then gets primarily good dominants. The New Jerusalem deck gets the evil ones. People might question the Rubble and Dust inclusion over Vain Philosophy, or Guardian and move Shipwreck over. I saw multiple Magic Charms, a couple of Raamses with enhancements. I saw a Storehouse and a Judge’s Seat. It also forced an opponent who knew about it to play around it with their Weapon class enhancement. Overall I found it useful in almost every game.
Nationals Game 1: Josiah Beers and Brian Jones 5-2 Win
Getting matched up against the defending National Champions is a great way to start the day – We went right up to the time limit in an incredibly hard-fought battle. Both of our opponents had seen #Mayhem on Thursday, and they had a pair of Throne decks themselves. Gabe and I both had Zeus and god of this world early – We also got some good drawing pieces. Brian and Josiah kept finding blocks and had enough offense to get two souls. On the final turn of the game, Gabe rescued with a three character band, leaving Jehu in his territory. After a little debate Brian and Josiah decided that blocking Serpent+Serpents Curse was their best bet. Brian paralyzed Jehu and asked for initiative. Gabe said no, and proceeded to play Angel of the Lord. Brian and Josiah both immediately pointed out Serpent had paralyzed Jehu. Gabe calmly turned Jehu card-face down and revealed that it was my Jehu, and as the owner, I was the one restricted. Very early in the game, Gabe had banded to my Jehu and exchanged him into his territory to discard Josiah’s King Rehoboam.
Nationals Game 2: Jay Chambers and Jonathan Gomez 5-3 Win
Gabe had a really good draw this game. Both teams opened with Open Hand Lost Souls, and so everyone should have known exactly what was going to happen for the first little bit of game. On Gabe’s first turn, he rescued with a couple of Purple heroes, Jay blocked with Crimson Red Dragon. Angel of the Lord cleared that. On my first turn, I rescued with a couple of Red Heroes. Jay blocked with Orange Red Dragon. The Second Coming + Angel of the Lord cleared that. Jay really, really wanted to play CBN Dragon’s Wrath, We figured, that wouldn’t be ideal for us, so we didn’t let him. I drew an early Son of God+New Jerusalem and it was over shortly after that.
Nationals Game 3: Greg Miller and Allen Bradley 5-1 Win
Greg and Allen were running Angel Party offense, and both got set fairly early. Allen played Household Idols during intro-prep. This is a serious problem card for the Throne offense, so on my turn I cleared it using Treasures of War from reserve. Unfortunately, Greg then activated Fall of Man as an artifact, which presented significant problems. Due to a slight miscalculation, Greg was able to play Dragon’s Wrath and clear Gabe’s entire contingent of heroes, except for Asahel hiding in his deck. Luckily, I had multiple heroes set aside, a couple from an earlier block, and a couple from my Pentecost. Gabe was able to turn his solo Asahel into a rescue, and I got an Amaziah cheese soul.
Nationals Game 4: Brandon Frank and Austin Frank 5-0 Win
Brandon and Austin, unfortunately, ran into the ultimate buzz-saw that #Mayhem is capable of producing – Both Gabe and I had Zeus, Envy, Ring and god of this world during intro prep or the first turn. Austin and Brandon also, unfortunately, didn’t draw much defense. Gabe played double Angel of the Lord and I played Son of God + New Jerusalem. I think each player took two turns.
Nationals Game 5: Jonathan Underwood and Mark Underwood 5-3 Win
Going into this round Gabe and I were assured of placing first due to our 4-0 record, and the fact that we had won against Josiah/Brian and Jay/Jonathan. This may have resulted in us taking our foot of the gas a little. However looking back I’m not actually sure that we did. Both Mark and Jonathan had Moses (CoW) during intro prep and that seriously slowed us down. I held Wages from the very first turn to the very last. We went 3 rounds around the table without Gabe or I really getting going. Mark’s Ehud was a wrecking ball, picking off easy characters to kill for souls. I finally found Magic Charms and promptly cleared both Moses which made things way easier for us. Gabe drew about a million cards on his last turn and rescued two souls with dominants plus a successful rescue on his to win. It is entirely likely that we could have lost this game if he doesn’t draw far enough.
Playing Teams with John is always a fun time. We try to set up code words in advance and then get them mixed up in game, which is at the very least comical. Pairing up with a player of a similar skill set is extremely helpful because we both take turns carrying the game when one of us has a bad draw or makes a crucial mistake (like when I lost my offense to Dragon’s Wrath).
Our win in Teams just emphasized how absurd the “cheese” rescues are in #Mayhem. As much as the elder team has worked in the past few years to push the game towards an interactive battle phase, these rescues completely eliminate that. But the core cards used to pull them off have been around for a long time. My guess is that the elder team to find a way to take some of the teeth out of choose the blocker combos, similar to how pre-block ignore was toned downed to let players interact.