So, I attended the Kotei last Saturday, playing my Spider Swarm deck. I didn't do particular well... but then again, neither did any Spider player :). There ended up being 51 players, and I believe 7 of them were Spider. I did have some hopes for some Spider clan success here.
Anyway, let's talk about my deck first. Like I said, I went with a Spider swarm deck, trying to get gold turn 1, gold plus a guy turn 2, and then 3-4 guys turn 3, ideally attacking on Turn 4, and using great battle actions to win the battle, and hopefully take a province.
The Hidden Bastion of the Spider
3 Famous Bazaar
3 Kumite Grounds
3 Lonely Dojo
3 Shinomen Marsh
3 Slave Pits
1 Temple of the Heavenly Crab
2 Daigotsu Hachiko
3 Daigotsu Konishi
3 Daigotsu Onosaka
3 Daigotsu Teruo
2 Goju Saido
3 Kokujin Dairu
2 Minikui no Oni
3 Ninube Shiho
3 Colonial Conscripts
1 Ring of Earth
1 Ring of the Void
2 Blind Honor
3 Contentious Terrain
2 Discretionary Valor
3 Ideological Differences
2 Inspired Leadership
3 Overwhelming Offense
2 Palm Strike
3 Strength in Subtlety
2 Sudden Movement
2 Versatile Army
3 We Are Not Yet Beaten
3 Your True Nature
I feel like there's not too much here that's a surprise. I tried running a lot of Kharmic cards, in order to clear out Holdings from my provinces after I had the gold I needed, and to replace situational cards in my hand (like We Are Not Yet Beaten). The Temple of the Heavenly Crab was a holdover, it didn't really provide me any benefit, but I figured there might be a slim chance I'd want the gold on my opponent's turn.
I ran a few things that were just in preparation for things I thought I might see at the tournament. Mantis is doing really well, so I added 3 We Are Not Yet Beaten in order to give me some ability to weather the Ranged attacks. Wedge was in there in case I had a situation that an Oni could take a province on his own. Discretionary Valor was included in case I over-committed to an attack that my opponent was going to let through, so I could pull the Oni back. Everything else seems pretty standard for this sort of deck, although I do wish I had run some different options. For instance, Okura is Released over the Palm Strikes might have won me my last game. And Discretionary Valor ended up being so useless that I wish I hadn't included it at all (maybe switch in another Blind Honor).
I also would drop one of my Daigotsu Teruo, probably for another Hachiko. In MULTIPLE games, my first personalities were two of Teruo, and that's definitely not what I want in duplicate early game.
Anyway, onto the games.
Game 1: Jon Ackey (Spider) from Oklahoma
Jon is apparently a Phoenix player, normally, but had forgotten his cards, and was using the Spider starter. Sitting down, I was feeling pretty good- my deck has to be better than a STARTER deck, right??
Well, yes, but only barely. I took a province early-ish, and he took one of mine. Then, in a battle two turns later... he beats my army. Now, he didn't have much on the table, fortunately, and I didn't lose much, but the tide was definitely turning.
Fortunately for me, he was running the starter deck, with its 20-ish holdings, and eventually he got stuck flipping too many holdings in a row to recover, and I ended up taking the game.
Clearly, Jon was a VASTLY better player than I was, but was just hindered by what he had available. Regardless, I exit round 1 with a win, and I'm at 1-0.
Game 2: Devin Bell (Phoenix) from New Hampshire
Devin was playing a Phoenix Honor rocket, with Yung Sensei to help smooth the gold curves and get the cards he needed quicker. Basically, we was shooting to cross 40 Honor before I could take all of his provinces, and using as much send home as he could pack in the deck to stall me enough to do so.
He gets an okay start, and I get way too much gold, and my only early personalities are two Daigotsu Teruo, so don't end up taking a province until turn... 5? Unfortunately by then, he's almost crossed, and I'm forced to attempt to take his final three provinces in a single turn on turn 7 or so. I take one without any opposition, and Devin makes me spend my hand to take the second one. With nothing available to me, I don't have the tools to take the third one, and Devin crosses at the beginning of his turn. I'm at 1-1.
I know Nathan (a meta-mate) was running The New Order to handle this matchup, but I had hoped I'd be able to get going quick enough to put pressure on him. Not to be today, sadly.
Game 3: J. Gerachi (Spider) from New Jersey
Unfortunately, I can't read my scribbles, so I don't remember his first name. He was running a Spider deck, using Taitaken Sensei, weapons, Tairao, and Goju Kumoru to create mini battles to attrition down my army, giving him free reign to attack.
This actually ended up being a tough battle. Fortunately, Relentless and We Are Not Yet Beaten carried a lot of my load. He started a battle, attempted the Melee attack, which I negated, would use the Fear to leave me with one fewer attacker, which Relentless would counter, making my Personality and extra +1F. This would leave him with one fewer defender, and exploiting that two turns in a row left him low on provinces. He finally flipped into two holdings, and the momentum was irreversibly in my favor, giving me the win, putting me at 2-1.
I actually really liked his deck though, something to this effect is something I may give a try in a few weeks, when I have some of the cards I'd need for it.
Game 4: Austin Richardson (Unicorn) from Tulsa
Our game group just got a Unicorn player, so I didn't have the experience I needed for this matchup. I believe he was running the Conspiracy sensei, which had me confused and a bit excited. Heck, I thought, I'll always have people coming out, there's no way he'll win doing that. Thankfully for him, however, he wasn't much concerned about the number of people I put out.
He'd put out cavalry guys, put a weapon on each, and start taking provinces. I defended as long as possible, but when I got him into a decisive battle, he edged me out, and that ended up giving him the win. I badly need more practice against Unicorn! So, I'm now at 2-2.
Game 5: Tanya Segee (Dragon) from New Hampshire
I believe Tanya ended up winning Top Dragon on the day, which is awesome. She was playing what I believe was a Kensai deck. I saw this because unfortunately, it seemed to have misfired. She didn't get a very good gold start, and after aggressively pitching to fix that, she ended up getting more gold than she needed, and not enough bodies to get the job done. The first attack I made, she defended with someone just to kill Ninube Shiho, but I still managed to take the province (a fair trade). I think the next province she let me take undefended. From there, she just couldn't get enough going in time, and gave me the game, putting me at 3-2.
Game 6: Jeff Sarkisian(?) (Scorpion) from Boston
My poor handwriting strikes again, as I can't read the last name I wrote down.
Anyway, this ended up being the quickest game of the day. Jeff was playing Scorpion dishonor (trying to drop me to -20 honor), which is made really easy by all the cards in my deck that make me lose honor myself. I knew from the first turn that this was going to be tough, but I hoped to get a quick start, and with enough momentum to take all his provinces on whichever turn he put me under -20.
I started off getting gold... but my first personalities were again two Daigotsu Teruo. This cost me a whole turn of momentum, and panicked, I recruited Minikui no Oni, causing me to lose 7 Honor (I had to use a Slave Pits, to make it even worse). Doing some of my opponent's job for him just make it even easier, and he bottomed me out next turn. I didn't even take a province! Down to 3-3 for me.
From here, I couldn't make the cut, which was disappointing, and to lose it to a deck that's really an auto-loss for me anyway was a bitter pill to take, but figuring I could still win top Spider (I was the highest ranked Spider at this point, based on table placement), I looked forward to my last game.
Game 7: Larry Wojcik (Unicorn) from New Jersey
Well, again- the Unicorn practice would've been nice. I actually did as good a job as possible defending, but he got such a good start, and had plenty of momentum, that I couldn't stop him. The final battle was close, but I had too many dead cards in my hand to win it, and ended up getting crushed.
So, I finished the day 3-4. I didn't play a single Mantis player all day, which is no surprise, as they were all at the very top of the standings (the top four in the tournament were all Mantis, a great sign for the current level of parity in L5R at the moment). Nathan, who I play with, managed to take Top Spider (I believe he was stuck playing one of those top Mantis players in the first round), and I believe I ended up placing 31st (to Nathan's 27th). Overall, not a great showing by me, but I was pretty darn close to being Top Spider, which is still good.
Anyway, after a brief break, I'll try out some new Spider decks, and try out random decks for the other clans, and get ready for next year's Kotei season.