The Sequel: Gencon 2010
A Championship Report for Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game

Welcome Call of Cthulhu Fans!

We are pleased to present for your enjoyment this full tournament report by Call of Cthulhu World Champion, Tom Capor. Tom has the unique distinction of being the only Call of Cthulhu World Champion to have won the title twice, in both 2009 and 2010. Below you will find his full report of the Gen Con 2010 Call of Cthulhu World Championship Event. Enjoy!

The Preface

Another year gone by and so much has happened it’s hard to summarize it all, but I’m going to anyway: Economy is on its way to getting better, there are oil spills, and more natural disasters than news stations bother reporting on. My mother passed away of what turned out to be endometrial cancer last October and I thank all of you for your support and sympathies over the past year regarding that tragedy.

However, things were moving on and looking up and it was soon time for Gen Con and my title defense for the Call of Cthulhu World Championship!

The Deck

My weapon of choice this year:

Shake-and-Bake

Hatsur: 20
3x Magah Bird
3x The Seventy Steps
2x Victoria Glasser
3x The Cavern of Flame
3x Agoraphobia
3x Infernal Obsession
3x Crazed Arsonist

Agency: 9
3x Endless Interrogation
3x Shotgun Blast
3x Small Price to Pay

Yog: 3
3x Servant From Out of Time

Neutral: 18
8x Alaskan Sledge Dog
3x Diseased Sewer Rats
2x Descendant of Eibon
2x Furtive Zoog
2x Parallel Universe
1x Guardian Pillar

The name of the game for this deck was Shake-and-Bake: Shake, with a turn 1 flood of characters with the ever-present Magah Birds, Sledge Dogs, and if necessary Servant From Out of Time and/or Furtive Zoog. On the first turn (hopefully going first) I would ideally drop The Seventy Steps as well to give me a free pass to as many success tokens as my opponent allowed. And Bake with Endless Interrogation to force my opponent to discard the average 3-4 cards remaining in his or her hand leaving me with superior hand and field advantage.

Now I’m sure some of you out there are looking at this list and you are probably starting to question my sanity. 9 agency cards? Servant From Out of Time? Is that a pair of Furtive Zoogs in there? Yep. Sure, I had the potential from some serious resource problems, but I knew my deck and knew I could handle it.

The Challengers

Man it was great seeing so many familiar faces again and meeting some new friends is always a treat and this year I would have to outwit 15 other opponents.

In order of their final standing:

Paul Bittner, Jeff Secrest, Chevee Dodd, Matt Kohls, John Dickerson, Kellen Pastore, Chris Pastore, Graham Hill, John Tatta, John Hartigan, John Monnett, Darrin Anderson, Kip Soteros, Jonathan Herr, and Jason Hawthrone.

The Field

Good news! No faction was left out this year. There were a couple mono Cthulhu decks, some Things in the Ground, Chris Pastore (the NYC regional winner) was rocking a nasty mono Miskatonic deck which may or may not have been against his better judgment, but you have to respect the man for trying something no one was expecting and doing rather well with it. Syndicate even made its presence known in Kellen Pastore’s Hastur/Syndicate deck which I know gave a headache to at least a few players. However, they were all trumped by Hastur/Agency. Sure, we all had our variations, but it was clear which deck was the dominant archetype. (Follow this link to have a look at the Top 4 decklists)

The Swiss

Overtime rules aside things went pretty well for me going 3-1. My only loss of the day was to Paul and his Hatsur/Agency deck with Interrogation Center. Which… after looking at my deck was pretty much the bane of my existence as I only had 11 non-neutral characters and let’s face it; the ones I had weren’t all that great. I’ll be honest. I knew that card might be a problem so I packed as many answers as I could without deviating from my strategy, but it was clear that I was going to have to do some major adjusting if I was going to stand a chance against him if I saw him again in the top 4.

The Cut to Top 4

1st seed Paul Bittner vs 4th Seed Chevee Dodd
2nd seed Tom Capor vs 3rd seed Jeff Secrest

The top 4 unexpectedly featured zero of last years’ players aside from myself. So major congratulations are in order for making it this far in your first Call of Cthulhu World Championship.

Paul, as we know, was running Hastur/Agency and had Interrogation Center. Jeff was sporting similar, if not the exact same deck as Paul. Chevee, too, was running Hastur/Agency that also integrated Interrogation Center.

Ugh…. Needless to say… I was no longer feeling to confidant about my chances at taking home a second title. No matter what happened I would have to fight through 2 decks that contained the card that pretty much handed me my only match loss so far in LCG history and a migraine building… This was not going to be easy.

Semi Finals: Jeff Secrest

First off, we got to do some talking and found out that he is responsible for most of the amazingly well done domain markers used by myself (the ones given out as a prized to those that top 4’d last year) and the regional winners. Not often do you get to play against someone that is not only an awesome player but is creator of something I sentimentally value.

Strangely Jeff and I had a timed round with 120 minutes. So you’d think with two relatively fast decks that would be more than enough time right? Wrong… Games one and two happened pretty much the same way. I would get out to a fast start. He would drop Interrogation Center. I would discard his hand, and then he would promptly force me to pull back into a stalemate. Game one went in my favor thanks to my early rush giving me the early story wins making me only have to win one later on. While game two went to him in a rather bizarre kind of way.

He had two stories and 4 success tokens on a story that I only had 3 and we didn’t have a ton of time left on the clock. Not sure how much time was left, but we knew a completed game 3 wasn’t going to happen. So Jeff had to win this story to force it to tiebreakers and good news for him he was inches away.

On the other side, I was close to stealing the game and everything came down to one turn. It was my story phase packing several dogs, birds, rats… the whole zoo. Jeff didn’t have much open to block with, and if I remember correctly it was only a Paul Lemond and a couple Magah Birds. Memory is a little hazy so there may have been more or something other than birds. Either way I knew I had to win Skill and Innvestigation if I wanted to win that story. Sadly I’m staring at a Paul Lemond with 2 domains to drain for icons. I was on the ropes and having a hard time figuring out how to commit without leaving myself open to his next turn. Then my instincts kicked in and read a Descendant in his hand. So I pretty much figured this game was his on his next turn after getting to 4 tokens on his previous.

So, I attempted to trick him into a play mistake and scare him off by sending my whole team to the story as a last ditch effort to not force a game 3. Jeff however was un-phased by my plight and made the correct play by copying my Descendant’s icons and winning the story outright. He revealed that he didn’t have the Descendant in hand, but my instincts weren’t wrong as he also revealed his next two cards… both Descendants of Eibon.

I knew I that I was going first in game three and having the faster deck I felt pretty confident that I was going to be able to win the tiebreakers with the amount of time we had left. It turns out my deck had the same idea I had. After a mulligan I ripped into one of the best starts I could possibly hope for against a deck wielding Interrogation Center. Magah, Steps, Servant, Victoria, and Endless Interrogation were out in full force getting me enough tokens (and almost won 2 stories but time ended just before I could send to stories) to get the win.

My adjusted strategy of focusing on discard to remove any protection for the Center from my Arsonist and primarily focusing my removal on all non-neutral cards almost regardless of board position worked and I was on my way back to the finals.

Repeat or Defeat: Championship Match versus Paul Bittner

It took nearly every trick in the book to defeat Jeff and I barely came out alive. However, my grueling match against him gave me the experience and confidence I needed to defeat Paul. Even though I now had a fully tested battle plan taking 2 games from Paul was NOT going to be a cake walk. After all he comes from a very successful background winning the UFS single championship last year and second in the Warhammer: Invasion championship. Plus there was no time limit this time. Whoever was going to win would have to actually win the whole match.

Game one went surprisingly well for me. I was able to go first and had an amazing start after both of us took a mulligan. Some birds and endless interrogation combine with a lot of removal was enough of an advantage for me to ride it to a win without having to fight too much against Interrogation Center.

However, game two wasn’t so hot. Paul’s defenses were much better the second time around and I was finding more neutral characters than I knew what to do with. We traded blow after blow as I was still hoping to find my arsonists so I could unleash my beasts. Eventually of course I did, but the game came to a very interesting point.

It came when Paul was able to activate They Come at Night story card effect. Him naming my Alaskan Sledge Dogs and me very reluctantly choosing Magah Birds. This left us with a rather interesting board. Most of our icons lined up and we each had very few non-neutral characters. With both of us now top-decking I assume Paul did this in anticipation of him drawing another Interrogation Center and simply out drawing me to non-neutral characters. However, my choice was based on the same thing (except for him drawing another Interrogation Center of course). I already had an active Arsonist, and most of my neutral was behind me so, while hesitant, I went for it.

Over the next few turns Paul started to draw into a lot of cards he simply didn’t want to see right then, and I was finally pulling some quality cards tipping the advantage back to me once again. And with a Parallel Universe to finish things off I had accomplished something spectacular. Something I didn’t even think was possible two rounds ago. A second championship, a continued reign, and a sigh of great relief culminating 2 years’ worth of struggle and pain. To do what no one has done before for the Call of Cthulhu card game, and it all was worth it.

The Props

I got to rekindle some friendships this year. Returning players included Chris, Kellen, Kip and Jason.

Extra props go to Graham, the reigning two-time European champion from Japan (formerly of Pittsburgh), for making it an actual World tournament as I believe you were the only one not from the US.

Paul, nabbing 2nd so many times I’m sure is giving you mixed emotions. Your accomplishments over this last Gen Con is most certainly praise worthy and perhaps I’ll see you again on the tournament floor beyond just Cthulhu. You're most certainly an phenomenal player and I expect to see you next year.

Jeff Secrest, I can’t wait until we meet again and maybe this time I’ll remember to ask you more about the work you’ve done with the domain markers and hope to see you next year. You’ve done well this year, and are a fantastic player and I expect to see the whole Ohio crew again next year.

Chevee Dodd, never got to play your championship deck. I’m certain that would’ve been just as if not even more stressful than playing Paul and Jeff’s. However, I did enjoy our conspiracy game and hope to see you in the burgh sometime.

John Sweigart, you were my pick to win this year. You should’ve negotiated Gencon in your job’s contract like Kip did to make it. Haha. Hopefully next year man.

It was great meeting the Pat and Grey, wish we would’ve had more time to play some games, and maybe next year you guys will consider playing in the big show.
All the Johns (Tatta, Hartigan, and Monnett and Herr), sadly I wasn’t able to get to know you guys much this year. A mistake we’ll have to fix next year.

Darrin, better luck next year and I hope to see you competing again. Had some good games and look forward to some more.

My heart goes out to Matt, John D., Kellen, and Chris for missing the cut on tiebreakers. Who knows, under different circumstances you guys could easily be writing this instead of me.

Kip and Jason, great to see you guys again and hopefully you are not too busy all of next year and we can find some time to hang out.

A thank you to Jim Black and James Hata for running things.

And of course, thanks to FFG for continuing to support the game.

The Conclusion

Completing and the hat trick of winning Worlds, the Conspiracy, and Highlander tournament was most certainly the biggest highlight of the year for me and can’t thank everyone enough. I’ll be working extra hard to defend my title again next year and look forward to the challenge.

Thanks,

- Tom Capor

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