Mikey Mouse Club #19 – Store Championship Report From The Bottom 5!

Ravensburger has really upped the ante with their Lorcana organized play offering and store champions are being crowned across the US over the next few weeks. These absolute paragons of Lorcana skill are taking home a special Rockstar Stitch playmat emblazoned with the word “CHAMPION” while runners-up are getting one that does not have the emblazoning. There are also some Enchanted promos up for grabs to top finishers but friends you are not reading the words of a top finisher by any stretch of the imagination.

Ravensburger

This past Sunday, my daughter and I got up early after a late night “Two Liters and Talisman” event we do whenever my son’s best friend comes over to get ready for the event and I realized that I did not have the deck I had planned to make together. So the fall-back plan was to run a Sapphire Steel contraption not unlike the very first feasible deck I made for the game but of course with some updates from two sets’ worth of ramping and items. I was going for the Belle Strange But Special moonshot along with the Lucky Dime moonshot and a stack of four McDuck Manors to rake in the Lore if all else failed. Well, all else did in fact fail but more on that later.

Our shop is Level Up Games, a great game shop that blew my mind the first time I went to it. Having owned a game shop of my own, it was staggering to see such a big LGS stocked to bursting with product and offering high ceilings, good lighting, friendly staff and most improbably, clean bathrooms. It’s become our home store and we play in the league there weekly. Level Up ran a presale online for tickets so we dutifully signed up early, thinking it may sell out. Attendance turned out to be good- 53 players- far short for the 100 required for the 8 player top cut to all take home booster boxes. Not that I had a shot at one, but hey.

Our regular folks sort of clustered together, noting that more than half the people there were strangers. It’s funny to me that having not been to a big TCG tournament since I was running them at my shop almost 20 years ago, you can still pick out the TCGbros a mile a way. Baseball hats and backpacks are how you identify the sharks. One of the regulars pointed out a top player that had apparently been busted for cheating at another store tournament the day before, which I found to be disappointing but not entirely shocking.

After an announcement that it was intended to be a casual event (which it most certainly was not), we got underway and I was paired up out of the gate against a top five finisher that I had played before in league. I was happy to get matched with someone I knew, but he made quick work of me. I’d say I never had a chance, but in game two I had him on the ropes and dead to rights until I was Be Prepared-ed no less than four times. This match would set the tempo for the day, and gave me my first insight on what the meta was going to be- Ruby Sapphire. Four out of six matches were this ink combo, and by the middle of the tournament I started feeling more frustrated and fatigued than I like to when I’m having fun.

Before bad feelings crept in, my second match was pretty decent and managed to eke out a win against a newer player with a tried-and-true Steelsong build. I was feeling kind of good because in the second match my deck was absolutely decisive, and I was surprised to see Gramma Tala, Spirt of the Ocean really making the most of Do You Know Who You Are, which gives a Lore every time you ink a card. But the third game went south when I just couldn’t get it together, and from there the rest of the day did as well. I didn’t win another game.

My daughter did slightly better, winning two matches against a father and son who were playing in public for the first time. I thought it was funny she took them both down. She asked me to tool up her Amber Ruby deck so I stocked it with the usuals (Maui, Madam Medusa, and of course be Prepared) but she blamed me for the deck’s poor performance overall. But the problem is really that she has an aggro deck and won’t play aggro with it, relying on big Lore swings from a cavalcade of cheap characters. I looked over during one of her games and her opponent had the Beast/Sherriff/Bayou one turn kill set up but she pushed out 8 lore in one turn to head it off at the pass.

Most folks were chill, especially Team Level Up, but from the “outsiders” there definitely was a somewhat more intense vibe. There was some drama at one point when Cheaty McCheater was apparently called out for some kind of infraction. I couldn’t determine exactly what happened, but tense conversations were had. This guy was on the second table at one point, but I didn’t see him later in the vent so something must have gone down. Apparently there had been another incident at that other store tournament where a player completely flipped out when their opponent played a Cursed Merfolk on turn one, completely triggering them. I suppose discard decks were de rigeur over there but weirdly I didn’t play against a single one all day.

Overall I have to say that the tone of the event was fine but the more driven sense of competition was not something I found to be appealing. I mean, the stakes were not astronomical like they are at a 10k. One guy hilariously had a self-printed version of the champion playmat. But it still brought back bad memories of Magic tournaments at my store years ago, and I found myself sort of wishing that this game could exist without the baseball hat/backpack dudes changing the tone.

I enjoyed the camradarie, I enjoyed the fun conversations and the shared enthusiasm for the game but overall I was left thinking that perhaps the more competitive environment is not something I care to participate in. I got to thinking about how utterly fatigued I was of the game by hour four and how playing in one of the city challenges would likely be a much more grueling ordeal, if I could even fight to get through the online ticketing for them.

We didn’t go home empty handed, as we got a couple of promos (including a couple of John Silvers that will go into my Poppin’ Off Pirates deck). Neither of us finished dead last, at least but nonetheless I got to hear about how my performance was poorer than my daughter’s the whole home so that was fun. And I was pleased to see that one of our “home” players took home the top prize, especially as he was one of the folks that was especially welcoming and friendly when he first started attending league there.

Next time: The problem with Be Prepared!