Hello everyone! My name is Dan Carton and today I will be telling you all about my experiences at the recent ARG $20,000 championship. Before this weekend I had three premier tops which were YCS Indy 2012 (Wind-up), ARGCS St. Louis 2013 (Trigon Dragon) and YCS Chicago 2014 (+1 Fire Fist). I placed 32nd after swiss giving me my fourth premier event top.
Going into the weekend my entire playgroup was convinced that F.A.T. would be the best fair deck to play for this event. All but one of us were going to play the deck, with our fourth playing Infernity. All but the Infernity player ended up switching on Friday night, but more on that later.
We left Illinois Friday morning at about 12:30 AM, and got to the convention center after a long drive at 8:00 AM. For the most part we just hung out, talked YGO and did some trading and last minute buying with the vendors. Darelle ended up playing in the Player’s Championship, but unfortunately was knocked out in round three. The rest of us ended up playing in the 1K just to make sure that we were making the correct decision for the main event. Really briefly, here is how the 1K played out for me:
Round 1 I took a 2-1 series against Sylvan fairly quickly. The most notable thing about this match was that Bear with backrow was absolutely insane in terms of tempo and keeping my opponent from excavating. The main decked Soul Drain also put in a lot of work in G1.
Round 2 I took a 2-0 series against another Sylvan player, but it was much more convincing in that there was never a point during the match where I thought I would drop a game.
Round 3 was interesting, I took a 2-1 victory over Zombie Sworn. There was nothing really notable here except for the fact that each of the games we both won were complete blowouts.
Round 4 was the turning point for the weekend, and the reason I had decided to switch decks. I took a savage loss to the K.A.T. deck 2-0. The things I saw him do with Soul Charge were too big to ignore, and milling Breakthrough Skill on turn one locked out my Sanctums quickly. The most memorable part of this match was when I got locked out by a field of Plaedies + Giant Hand in G2.
Round 5 I played against Water, and I 2-0’d him quickly. Maxx “C” kept him from doing much of anything, and a Bottomless vs. his Soul Charge game two left him scooping up his cards.
Round 6 I played against a Gear/Traptrix/Sanctum deck that left me absolutely dumbfounded, and I lost 2-0 quickly as he literally had everything. I bricked G1, and G2 he had multiple Trap Hole cards that he didn’t even have to search for whenever I tried to summon a Bear.
Round 7 I took a 2-1 loss to Hand-Gravekeepers where he was just able to outgrind me as I didn’t see Bear outside of G1. I will however say that the mained Soul Drain put in work against his Recruiters.
Even though I did not cash this event, I can say that I was definitely happy with how it played out. I had gotten the last bit of points I needed from my friend’s and my performance to receive a R1 bye for the main event. Darelle had been telling me about the K.A.T. build for a couple days, but I just did not believe it was powerful enough to get me through the main event. The blowout I received from my R4 opponent was enough to make a believer out of me.
We all had fairly extensive experience playing the standard H.A.T. list, so two of us were comfortable just playing that. I however, was convinced that I needed to play K.A.T. The ease of making ridiculous fields with Soul Charge was just too much to ignore. Darelle and I came up with the following list. (Note: Mike Glow and RJ Scarpelli also helped me make some last minute Extra and Side Deck choices at about 9:00 AM before the event started. This included both the third Mal Cat and the second Pleiades.)
This is the final iteration of what we decided to play:
- 3x Traptrix Myrmeleo
- 3x Traptrix Dionaea
- 3x Kuribandit
- 3x Maxx “C”
- 3x Artifact Moralltach
- 2x Artifact Beagalltach
- 3x Pot of Duality
- 3x Artifact Ignition
- 2x Soul Charge
- 1x Mind Control
- 1x Book of Moon
- 1x Dark Hole
- 1x Double Cyclone
- 3x Artifact Sanctum
- 2x Breakthrough Skill
- 1x Bottomless Trap Hole
- 1x Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare
- 1x Solemn Warning
- 1x Torrential Tribute
- 1x Compulsory Evacuation Device
- 1x Call of the Haunted
- 2x D.D. Crow
- 3x Soul Release
- 2x Mystical Space Typhoon
- 1x Dimensional Fissure
- 3x Malevolent Catastrophe
- 2x Deep Dark Trap Hole
- 1x Needle Ceiling
- 1x Soul Drain
- 1x Gagaga Cowboy
- 1x Abyss Dweller
- 1x Daigusto Emeral
- 1x Evilswarm Exciton Knight
- 1x Diamond Dire Wolf
- 1x Number 50: Blackship of Corn
- 1x Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk
- 1x Number 82: Heartlandraco
- 1x Number 101: Silent Honor Ark
- 1x Number 106: Giant Hand
- 1x Number 61: Volcasaurus
- 1x Tiras, Keeper of Genesis
- 2x Consteller Pleiades
- 1x Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger
Most of the choices we made for the list are fairly redundant, but I will go ahead and explain the choices that I first believed looked incorrect on paper.
6 Traptrix—We were firm believers in the thought that the idea of this deck was to try to either normal Kuribandit turn one, or to summon a Myrmeleo and follow them up with Sanctums and huge Soul Charges. The third Traptrix Dio was amazing, as summoning it to kill an opposing Myrmeleo even without a target was a great tempo play. Soul Charging Traptrix monsters was also part of the main gameplan.
3 Maxx “C”—Plain and simple, we did not want to lose to unfair decks G1. Against the mirror and other fair decks we can just 1-1 these against Sanctums, and against everything else we want to open as many as possible.
3 Pot of Duality—We wanted to open either Myrmeleo, Kuribandit, Sanctum or Maxx “C” literally every game where we went first. The unfair decks simply cannot compete against cards like these, and we wanted to mitigate the -1 we started with when going first G1.
1 Book of Moon—This mainly acted as a pseudo-Effect Veiler. The utility this card provides is simply amazing. I don’t think I have anything else to say about it.
2 Breakthrough Skill—I believe this card was strictly better than Fiendish Chain for this event. While we can use Chain to stop Hands from crashing into our fields, our standard plays absolutely wreck the Hands. Also, when we milled Breakthrough off of Kuribandit we were able to disrupt our opponent’s Sanctum plays.
1 Call of the Haunted—I personally have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this card. About half the time it is amazing, and the other half it is just plain awful. I see it as a necessary evil, as there is really no other card that does the same things as Call.
0 Fire Hand/Ice Hand—We had stopped playing the hands shortly after the WCQ and we never looked back. In a deck that tries to normal summon a monster that gives us an immediate advantage, the Hands were just a little too slow. It is also relevant that we played secret rare Maxx “C”, so in any matchup we were able to bluff a hand by setting that Maxx “C” against an established board. This was relevant many times throughout the event.
2 D.D. Crow—Just like the mained Maxx “C”, we did not want to lose to unfair decks. D.D. Crow stops the Infernity deck in its tracks a great majority of the time, and we also wanted something to Maxx “C” into.
3 Soul Release—Again, we did not want to lose to unfair decks. This card is an auto win against Lightsworn (which to my surprise I did see a lot of at the event), and is fairly decent against Sylvan when going second. It was also good against Bujin.
2 Floodgates—These cards were amazing. Not playing the hands allows us to play these cards, which are absolute blowouts whenever they stick against the decks they are good against.
3 Malevolent Catastrophe—This card is a blowout against the mirror. The plan for the mirror was to bring in 3 and try to go second. We would go summon Myr/Kuri, set Sanctum/Morall and then set Mal Cat for the blowout.
1 Needle Ceiling—We wanted a real trap for the unfair decks that was a little more proactive than Mirror Force. We did think Mirror Force was a great card, but again it was just not proactive enough.
1 Number 106: Giant Hand—I believe this card is necessary to be able to play Traptrix decks. In a simplified gamestate, this card is amazing. Going Soul Charge for a couple Myrmeleo and Moralltachs into Pleiades + this is too powerful to not be doing. I bought one specifically for this event, and the times I summoned it there was not another card in the game I would have wanted instead.
2 Constellar Pleaides— We decided that two Pleiades was going to be the best route for two reasons: one being that it is the best rank five in the game, and two because we wanted to be able to make it at any stage in the game. Soul Charge makes second Pleiades a necessity.
The basic game plan for this deck was simple—simplify the game quickly while setting up for a huge Soul Charge into some combination of Pleiades and another monster. Something to understand about this deck is that it is a tempo deck. While yes there are cards that do generate advantage, keeping your opponent off the board even at the cost of card advantage is the main focus of the deck.
After turning in my list Saturday morning it was not very long before R1 started. I looked at the pairings to see where my friends were playing and to my surprise my name was on the list. I went up to the scorekeeper station to make them aware, and they immediately corrected the issue. I watched my entire group get scraped in their R1 matches, which was unfortunate.
I spent most of the round trying to focus and mentally prepare myself for what would be 9 grueling rounds. I remember the names of some of my opponents, so I will include them as I remember. This is how my Day 1 of the ARGCS Champsionship went:
I got destroyed in this match 2-0 after losing my first die roll of the day. G1 I misread Beagalltach and messed up a string of summons I was attempting to make, which allowed my opponent to blow me out with a 101. G2 was a bit of a grind, but he was able to get his Bear engine going before I could and I eventually got blown out. Very nice guy from Canada and we rooted each other on for the rest of the event.
This was the same player from the 1K the day before, so I didn’t even flinch when he won the die roll and summoned Traptrix Myrmeleo turn one. Knowing he was playing keepers gave me a huge advantage of knowing when to Sanctum in G1, and I was able to take it after a long grind. G2 I was blown out by Assailant, but G3 I was able to activate Sanctum four (because Wiretap) times to eventually win in time with Pleiades and Giant Hand.
R4: Sylvan (Aaron Riker)
I won the die roll this match (4-3, he called it) and in G1 he bricked when I had the Breakthrough for his Kuribandit. G2 was a bit of a grind, and he was able to take it after I landed a huge Exciton with a topdecked Blaster. I was able to take G3 in time due to a very timely Needle Ceiling + Breakthrough for his Dracossack, tokens and Kuribandit with Pleiades doing unfair things.
He won the die roll and proceeded to take G1 rather quickly with more Sanctums than my mediocre hand could handle. I was able to take G2 by playing very conservatively, while he had opened multiple hands of the same name. G3 I had my back against the wall against a huge field, but my opponent went ahead and stacked Majesty’s Fiend with Lavalval Chain, giving me the green light to use Ignition on my Moralltach to destroy his Jinzo, and then Sanctum to kill his Moralltach. On my turn I made a Pleiades and left him with nothing to kill him the following turn.
R6: H.A.T. (Steve Silverman)
I won the die roll here and he bricked G1 allowing me to take it rather quickly. G2 was a long grind, but he was able to take it after hitting a runner-runner out. G3 we began in time, and he was able to do damage where I could not and he took the match 2-1.
G1 I lost the die roll, and his deck did unfair things and locked me out of the game turn one. This was rather disheartening, but I was able to take G2 rather quickly as I was able to out his turn two combo hand with Bottomless and Sanctum. G3 I was able to open Maxx “C”, and Dark Holed his big field on my turn 3 to swing the game back into my favor and win.
If I recall correctly I took G1 rather quickly with Sanctum and Beagalltach doing their thing. G2 I was able to come back after a huge Memory of the Adversary with Giant Hand and Pleiades.
G1 was a very intense game. I was able to open Maxx “C” to his Lonefire play, and simplified his board with a Sanctum the following turn. He then Soul Charged himself down to 1900 life points, then cleared my field and set a new backrow. My hand was two copies of Soul Charge, with a Moralltach and Traptrix Myrmeleo in grave. I ripped Beagalltach, then Charged for Morall and Myrm to clear his fresh set which was a Forbidden Chalice. I then hard summoned Beagalltach and made a Volcasaurus to steal the game (note: he had two Hermitrees on board, but didn’t make Felgrand due to a Breakthrough being in my graveyard). G2 was much less of a grind as I was able to lock him out of excavating early with Breakthrough and Ignition on his field spell. I was then able to lock him completely out of the game with a Pleiades.
Day 1 was over and I ended up with an X-2 record in 27th place. We were all rather drained, so we went straight back to the hotel and ordered pizza from a place called Guy’s which was recommended to us. It was cheap and good, so we even ended up eating there the next day as well.
We got to the convention center on Sunday at about 8:30, which gave me some time to collect my thoughts and mentally prepare for the two deciding rounds to come. People were telling me that I only needed to win R10 in order to top, but math told me that nothing was guaranteed. My final two rounds of swiss went something like this:
I lost the die roll and did not open Maxx “C” in G1. He had enough gas in his hand to leave him with Beetle, one Chain, Leviair, Archfiend, Barrier (locked by Beetle), a Break and an unknown set. He drew for turn and I was able to go off with Ignition and Sanctum. I was able to clear most of his field, and when he couldn’t kill me I flopped the DarkHole I had opened. I then set a Beagall and Morall, and summoned a Traptrix Dio with no targets to start applying pressure. Two turns later he Exciton Knighted my field, and triggered my two Artifacts. I killed his Knight, and he chained it. Kuribandit came down from my hand the next turn and attacked him twice for game. G2 he set a monster and a couple backrows and passed. I opened with a Myrmeleo to Bottomless and set a Sanctum and Ignition. He flip summoned Summoner Monk, normal summoned another Monk, then activated the effect to which I chained Maxx “C”. He stopped after fetching Barrier, and I did silly things in his end phase before making a Pleiades to lock him completely out of the game.
I knew going in that this would be a mirror match since I saw he got a feature earlier on in the tournament. He won the die roll and elected to go first, and then did the standard Myrmeleo to Bottomless set a few cards play. During this G1 he used a couple hands to make a Blackship which I Nightmared, but he had the Torrential for my all-in follow up play. The swing in tempo was just too great for me to recover from. G2 I was able to take in time after a very long drawn out game by simplifying his field then Soul Charging for Giant Hand and Pleiades. G3 started in time so he elected to go first. He did some damage on his second turn and I could not fire back any damage of my own so he ended up taking the series.
I knew most of the X-3’s would top going into R11, but this loss was crushing. By the time the announcer had gotten to around 28th place, I was convinced that I would not make it due to my breakers not being the greatest. When they said “in 32nd place…” I felt my stomach drop since my name had not yet been called; then I felt hands on my shoulders and heard a few cheers following “Daniel Carton!”
I had done it. I had barely gotten my fourth premier top at 32nd place. I knew immediately that I would be playing against Bujin, and I knew that it would be a struggle. I knew that my gameplan was to try as hard as I could to win the die roll, and go full aggro to try to lock him out of G1 early. If I could get it to go to G3 and go first, I was confident that my side deck would be able to get me there. This was the only time during the tournament that I had wanted the Hands in my deck, but I’m not entirely sure that having them would have changed the outcome.
Before the match started there was the usual banter about what we lost to, how we lost, things like that. Jeff won the die roll, then proceeded to go Tenki for Mikuzuchi, summon Yamato, set two, add Crane, send Hare then pass. This was extremely disheartening because had I won the die roll I may have been able to disrupt his opening with a Sanctum. I ended up losing this game in blowout fashion as I had opened too many dead cards (two copies of Maxx “C”), and he had the Chalice for my turn 3 Sanctum play. G2 I did not fare any better as I had opened 2 Soul Charge, 2 Soul Release and a D.D. Crow. Just like that I was out of the tournament due to bricking against a strong player playing a consistent deck that already had a favorable matchup against mine.
After taking that loss I caught a couple glimpses of feature matches, but paid more attention to how Darelle was doing in the TCG Player States event. He ended up top 8ing with Infernity, but took a loss in top 8 due to a D.D. Crow from a Dragon player in G3.
After we were all knocked out of our events, we ended up going to Guy’s Pizza again for some more cheap, greasy goodness. The drive back wasn’t nearly as bad, but there were some storms to get through for a little while.
Knowing what I do now about the deck and about what most people played during the tournament, I don’t think I would change a single card in the main or extra deck. For the side deck, I might cut a Soul Release, the Floodgates and the Needle Ceiling for four Hands—but something like this would require a lot of testing. All in all, we had a great time at the event and plan on going to as many future ARGCS events as we can.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article, and if you have any questions or comments for me, please feel free to throw them into the comment section below!