ArticlesUniVersus CCGTournament Report – Jet’s First Flight

When you are new to a TCG, nothing beats getting right into the weeds for quickly getting experience. This is a core philosophy that we have approaching every card game – so after getting to try (and fall in love with) the UniVersus CCG in GenCon, it was our goal to hit up a major UFS event as soon as possible. While sadly due to scheduling issues the Nationals event in October was out of the question, we saw a lot of hype for the PTC at Legendary Wolf Games in Omaha, NE, which was a short enough trip – 6 hours each way – that we were able to swing it, and boy are we glad we did.

As we told everyone we talked to during that weekend – and, by the way, all the rumors you hear about how incredible the UFS community is are absolutely true – our goals that weekend were not to win, but to have fun, learn a lot, and insert ourselves into the community. And to that end, mission absolutely accomplished.

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We played in three events – Teams on Friday night, Standard Singles on Saturday, and Eternal Singles on Sunday (for as long as we could before we had to make the drive back). The bulk of this article will be my personal experiences playing my deck – sort of a “my first Jet” with a twist – but before we jump into that, going into this event with those three goals in mind led me to framing my thoughts and outcomes entirely around those concepts. So, in what I deem the most important part of my article, given my relative inexperience with the technical side of the game, here are my major takeaways from the “legendary” Omaha PTC:

  • Have Fun – I play, and have played, a lot of card games. Nearly every card game I play is fun – it’s pretty rare for them to make it out the door as an unfun experience – but each game activates different parts of your brain and they can tickle your brain in different ways. UFS has a core gameplay that is exciting and interesting, but beyond that it is also a very cerebral game – it features so many branching decision trees and trackable effects that it will grind your brain into a paste when you are fresh into it and trying to play “optimally”. Jumping straight into the competitive play, I was getting mind-melting vibes of classic Decipher Star Wars CCG or classic Upper Deck Vs. System (in fact, a lot of UFS feels very “classic”!).About midway through the Saturday event, I was basically done. My brain was fried, I had a literal headache, and I was ready to chill and do nothing. But I persisted, because I had more to learn and more people to meet, and by the end of Sunday, I was lamenting leaving early. I felt like I finally got into a groove with my deck and was beginning to see familiar cards and keep track of opponent’s effects in a more timely manner. I was excited just to play more. And I was getting deck ideas – ones that seemed more like real decks! So, to that end, while it was a bit of a rollercoaster, this goal was certainly achieved by the end, and I feel like I’ll be getting into grooves much more quickly from now on. It just takes experience!
  • Learn a Lot – I guess I sort of ran into this on the first point already, but UFS is a game with a much higher skill ceiling than many other TCGs – and I say this as someone who plays and enjoys a multitude of them. I recognized this very quickly upon learning the game and toying around with some early decks. Cards are chock full of effects, able to be played or used in a variety of ways, and decks and boards are always packed with options leading you into objectively extremely deep decision trees. Learning to navigate that forest is going to take time.As I said above, though, by the third day my play was getting faster and smoother. I felt like my sequencing had improved and my ability to parse the board information for the relevant effects was faster. It helped that my deck had one main trick it was trying to do, letting me focus more on learning everything that was trying to stymie it’s plan. One definite piece of data I picked up from playing this deck in that way, though, was that I don’t really want to play decks of this style very often! My deck very much was just trying to use a combo to push damage quickly to finish the opponent off, and I spent the whole weekend envious of players with decks that offered more control over what the opponent was doing. My next decks will certainly feature that! All in all, though, lessons well learned, and in the most efficient way possible – trial by fire.
  • Insert Ourselves into the Community – I’d almost say this was the greatest success of them all, and that’s really nothing to do with me or our team. Coming back into the store on Sunday felt like we were rejoining our old friends, despite having just met them 2 days ago. I can’t say enough good things about Legendary Wolf Games, the Jasco staff who were at the event, or all the amazing players (and national and world champions among them) who we got to play with for the weekend. Not every TCG’s community is this welcoming or this focused on the social aspect of playing the card game – and if it weren’t for the social aspect, few TCGs would really be worth the investment of time, money, and energy. While I lament the inability to make it to Nationals this year, we will certainly be trying to rejoin our new friends as soon as we can for another great event.

So, with all that gushing about what a stellar experience playing the game at this event was, let’s talk about the deck and it’s expectedly less-than-stellar performance at the event!

A few quick notes about this deck – first of all, this is definitely not the most competitive way to build Jet. My build was based around Fire, and I had one main trick I wanted to pull with this deck – I knew many experienced players would see Jet and immediately in their mind their plan would be to save Low blocks to stop Missile Launchers. So I built a deck that, aside from a few obligatory Missile Launchers as mixup (and because it’s just that damn good), I wanted to chain High attacks to push massive damage. Using Black Dog’s Fangs and cards that generate momentum (Fatality, Hammerhead Assault, and Napalm Stream), you can pretty easily pull off 4 attack turn 2s with some of those attacks stunning, and all of them getting buffed by Jet. If an opponent fails to save mid or high blocks, they can become toast right there. If you can’t finish them, you deal enough damage while they are caught off guard to hopefully push a Missile Launcher or other EX attack to close the game next turn.

The foundations are far from ideal – mostly just a smattering of baseline defense against some strategies – I had no “expected meta” to prepare against because I was too new. I also included 2 Deep Scar solely as a block to take advantage of Jet’s ability to pump its Breaker up to 5. Overall, as you’ll see below, the deck needed more solid interaction with the opponent, but I think the core idea was actually pretty effective. A number of my opponents said afterwards “I was ready for the Missile Launcher but you just kept throwing highs!”. That felt great to hear!

If you are an experienced player, I’ve no doubt you could take this build idea and come up with something a little more reliable. Let me know if you do, I’d love to hear about it! Now, on to the gameplay:

Round 1 - Lilith 2 (Jeremy Beyer)

My first round opponent was Jeremy, a great and chill guy to start the event off with, playing Lilith 2. I had seen some Lilith play the previous night in our Teams event so I was somewhat familiar with what she was trying to do. Other than her ability to seal an attack, her gameplay didn’t really significantly impact my deck’s combos, so I just went ahead and focused on getting the KO as fast as I could.

Game 1 went swimmingly, with a 6 damage poke from an unblocked Inazuma into a Hammerhead Assault backed by two Marshall Bananas for 17 more damage. He simply didn’t have the blocks and it didn’t take much else to finish him off at that point. Game two was even more brutal – I built the momentum I needed thanks to a connecting attack, Hammerhead, and Fatality, and proceeded to launch the mixup Missile Launcher on the next turn to remove the rest of his life. I felt pretty good starting off 2-0!

Record: 1-0

Round 2 - Shinnok (Zach Moore)

Conversely to the ease with which my deck game me the first round, this round was the first time I had read Shinnok, and I was in for a ride as the skilled Zach Moore was at his helm.

Game 1 I learned the extent to which I was unable to interact with his effects, and he buried me in card advantage. I see that I have a glimmer of hope in this match, though, because Shinnok loves to drive his life down and all I need to do is time a strong EX attack to get the unblockable damage in to finish him. There’s some tough decisions to make with exactly how to efficiently spend your momentum, though – if you over commit to EX, you lose out on what could have been important damage if you had spent the momentum on Powerful. And sometimes, you want to commit just enough to one attack’s EX to make your opponent try to block and spend resources to you can launch another one that’s more devastating. I hope this starts to make those decision trees I mentioned a bit more obvious to new players!

In any case, I was unable to seal the deal in game 1, but game 2 I was able to get that crucial Missile Launcher to connect and remove his last vitality at the very end. It went to another grindy game 3, but he was simply pulling up too much card advantage and I could never get the right attack string together to take him out before he pulled a For Hell on me that dealt exactly 14 to finish me. But I was ready to pounce on the next turn and felt good that I was a mere turn from victory – a lot of UFS games really come down to the wire like this!

Record: 1-1

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Round 3 - Lord Raptor 2 (Kevin Kuzlowski)

Unfortunately for myself and my opponent, my headache was reaching it’s peak in the middle of this round, so my memories are pretty fuzzy but I definitely wasn’t on top of either my game or my disposition. This game went through three rounds, and the version of Lord Raptor 2 Kevin was playing here featured Spirit Guns and controlled my foundation very strongly. Because my deck is weighted a bit more towards attacks, it was extremely difficult to dig out of the foundation control he was pouring on me, and I’m not sure I was making the right decisions to win the match in the state I was in anyway.

Despite that, I managed to steal the first game from him, but, the smart player he is, he altered his gameplay a little bit going into game two to make sure I stayed down on foundations and I couldn’t ever seal a finish in game 2 or 3. We quickly signed off on the sheet and I “Jetted” from the venue to get some much needed water, air, tylenol, and food, as Legendary Wolf Games set up an awesome one hour lunch break which would give me lots of time to recover.

Record: 1-2

Round 4 - Kuwabara (Richard Svodoba)

Oh boy. Round 4, I was still in recovery mode from my headache. Remember, card tournaments are tests of skill, but also endurance, and when you are fresh to a game and trying to play to the best of your ability, the endurance part can be just as challenging!

My deck seemed to be feeling similarly, and all those 2-control attacks I was running really came back to bite me as I was unable to develop a board on turn 1 in either game. Kuwabara did his thing and punished me hard by developing a massive board and throwing multiple attacks right away, ensuring that he was far in the lead, and while I put up a little bit of a fight, he clocked me in each game before I could get him below 10. It was a clean 2-0 for Kuwabara, and my opponent, Richard, was very friendly about the whole deal. Bad checks like that come with the territory – and it’s on me to build my decks better!

Record: 1-3

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Round 5 - Mad Pierrot (David Powell)

David was a really awesome dude that we met playing across the table from his team the previous night. To the singles event he brought a different deck, though – a spicy Mad Pierrot deck using the new gauge cards from Suzaku’s kit. I just had to bust his balloon before he built up all four copies of the character, which was a task I felt Jet was suited to.

Game 1, he ended up checking a couple of his Mad Pierrots, and I had a sudden realization on my turn – I played Fatality, naming Mad Pierrot, and, with a resigned look, he had to remove the two copies he had in his discard. Apparently that was the first time it had happened to him that event – I think he might have been a bit off his game following it and I followed up with a string of attacks to push for a basic victory.

Game 2, however, he was very quickly able to string Suzaku attacks to gauge up and assembled all four Mad Pierrots when he passed the turn. He had put it all on me not closing the distance in one turn – and in this case, my deck’s rogue-factor paid off as he had kept all low blocks in his hand to stave off Missile Launcher, and I proceeded to string Black Dog’s Fangs and Hammerheads until I secured the win. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of choice as to exactly which blocks your deck gives you though – I think he was playing to his best out in this case, given that his deck wasn’t being forthcoming with the high blocks. David was still a fun opponent, and at this point my headache had lifted and I was ready to enjoy the rest of the rounds.

Record: 2-3

Round 6 - Nightmare (Chris Douglas)

Okay, so remember how I said I was here to learn a lot? This was a learning match. Nightmare has a new trick from Yu Yu Hakusho – Boulder Barrage Genbu. This thing creates two massive attacks with flash. Here’s the thing – when Nightmare throws it, you don’t block the first one. If you do, he returns it to his hand with Nightmare and plays it again.

So, round 1, he plays Boulder Barrage Genbu, and guess what I do? I block the first one. Then he throws it again. I hit him with a small attack, and he finishes me next turn.

Round 2, he plays Boulder Barrage Genbu. Aha, I think to myself, I won’t fall for it again! So I block the second one, like a human capable of learning. Then…he plays Boulder Barrage Genbu. Again.

Ooooooof. Not much else to say about this one. If you don’t have the block or ways to control the damage (enhances don’t work unless you can remove Flash!), you’re gonna be taking it. I guess he doesn’t always have it in his opening hand, or have two copies of it, or sometimes he fails the check. None of those were true in this match, however, and this one really sealed for me that I want to be less all-in on my one trick for my next deck.

Chris was a nice guy, though. He was also pretty new to the game and had a friend who gave him a much more capable deck than the one I built. He definitely knew his deck well so I think he’ll be able to go far!

Record: 2-4

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Round 7 - Zsolt (Aaron Cook)

Round 7’s lesson: Make sure you’ve got an answer to Multiple.

Now, just to be perfectly clear, Aaron here was a great guy. But with the way the Zsolt deck plays, it felt like he was absolutely toying with Jet as he strung together impossibly long multiple attacks. I simply couldn’t stop enough damage nor could I manage to quite connect with enough to finish him. In fact, the first game saw another stumble on turn 1 as I failed a check and he got a perfect KO on me. Round 2 I actually did some reasonable damage – got him down to 4 – but his board had developed enough where he had a turn that could’ve gone forever stringing multiples against me and eventually I was forced to roll over.

So another lesson learned – if you don’t have answers to Multiple decks, you’re gonna have a bad time (but it was still fun!).

Final Record: 2-5

Conclusion

While the final record wasn’t what any tournament player is looking for in an event, I also didn’t expect very much numbers-wise. As I read on the wall in a Jimmy John’s once, “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” While, joke’s on you, Mr. John – experience is exactly what I came to Omaha for, and it’s exactly what made the event legendary. It was truly an awesome experience meeting everyone, playing the game, and I gained a heck of a lot of experience to improve my game playing against so many amazing players.

I am wholeheartedly looking forward to honing my game further and hitting up the next big event. I can’t wait to see all these great folks again and play some more UFS/UniVersus!

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