Skirmish Season Report

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If you thought LSS would let Covid kick the game to the curb and let things die out, think again. While WotC decided to go in the online direction with Arena, slowly cutting off ties with LGS in favor of Amazon, and not giving much thought to in-person play anymore, here you have LSS looking for a way to keep players engaged throughout the pandemic. If you missed it, Skirmish was a newly introduced format where stores would set up a Discord channel, charge players a fee up to a certain amount (max was $30 CAD), and play Blitz games against each other. If your country was on lockdown, prizes were distributed randomly to participating players. If you were allowed in-person play, then they were placement prizes. Not only was this a way for players to find a way to play games in countries where lockdowns were initiated, but it also allowed stores a way to stay afloat by making some side money. A lot of stores charged a small fee with no additional prizing. For my very first Skirmish, the store charged everyone $20 USD, and there were 50 ish players in attendance. That’s $1000 for running an event with only time invested. It’s good side money for the store, markets the game and the store, and keeps players playing the game. One of the upsides of having all of these Skirmish events was that you could play in any event across the world. In my last post, I mentioned Dante being the top of Canada’s leaderboard – if you’re wondering how he managed to amass 1000 XP in such a short amount of time, a good portion of it was through Skirmish events played across the world. He sacrificed a lot of his time and sleep, but it was worth it in the end for him. At 6XP a win and at his caliber, it didn’t take him too long to get there. Not sure exactly how many Skirmishes he won, but it was a handful. It was smart of LSS to keep the format to Blitz since it kept rounds short.

The Skirmish season ran from February 20, 2021 to April 11, 2021, usually on weekends. Personally, I played in 11 events. This is probably a small number compared to other individuals, but I can say I was pretty burned out by the end, playing Blitz constantly. This was in addition to other random weekly events ran by our Canadian LGS. I often found myself seeing and playing the same people in the game, which told me that the community was a pretty tight group and the game wasn’t THAT well-known yet. Yes, the game was skyrocketing in value and preorders for Monarch 1st edition were heating up, but player base wise, it was still generally the same group of people attending each event. I did however get to meet players from all across the world. From Greece, UK, Singapore, HK, Korea, USA, Australia, New Zealand, it was pretty awesome to be able to connect with people all across the world. The main reason I wanted to play so much was because of the participatory prizes. LSS was handing out cold foil heroes and an exclusive Scar for a Scar playmat as prizing. I think this was a great move by them to include the prizes and to provide them randomly because they know you can’t be sure of honest play over webcam. It is quite easy to cheat – change your webcam quality to poor and just lie about what pitch value your cards are to your advantage would be an example – there have been times where my opponent’s video quality is so poor or their connection is so bad that I have to just take their word for what they were doing on their end. These cold foil heroes are probably going around just under $1k for non-popular heroes and over $1k for heroes like Rhinar, Dorinthea. The playmats themselves are going for about $400 USD now. As of today, I managed to land one cold foil hero and one playmat, so overall, I am very happy with what I got out of the Skirmish events.

The second reason I really wanted to play the Skirmish events was to gain experience and become a better player. At 6XP a win, I also wanted to see how far and high I could climb the leaderboards in Canada. If you didn’t read my previous post, my first real tournament was around mid-January, so Skirmish season started after a month of me playing the game. Blitz being a much simpler format, it was a lot easier to play around with different heroes and adjust accordingly. I still remember getting blown out constantly by Dorinthea players, dying to Ira players on 1 life thanks to Kodachi. Just because I learned those lessons early on, it didn’t mean I was able to avoid those situations later on. By now, I would like to think I am a smarter player, but there are still times you just lose thanks to the draws.

This is a snapshot of the Canadian leaderboards taken as of April 19, 2021. I have fallen out of the top 10, but at my peak, I was hovering around 7th. From my talk with Eric, XP isn’t really something that is indicative of your strength as a player (it is more-so how much time you have had on your hands), but from my posts, you can see that I have played and lost to some of the top XP players over and over again. I believe most of the players in the top 10 have won at least 1 Skirmish as well, so even if we do not have a large amount of FAB players in Canada, and we got into the game late, don’t be quick to dismiss the players here. But yes, XP doesn’t mean much, but it was still a pretty proud moment for me to have hit that top 10 status (and this is where I want to reiterate again the point that you do NOT need to have a competitive background in card games to be at least decent in the game). Don’t be afraid to play and make mistakes, because it is from those mistakes that make you a better player; assuming you look back on your games and assess.

I will end this blog by mentioning two final things about the Skirmish season. When the Skirmish events started, LSS would start posting weekly reports on some select events as well as posting decklists of the top 8/top 4 players. I remember reading these weekly articles and thinking it would be pretty awesome if I could perform well in one of the events and get mentioned! It sounds silly, but at this point in time, I had become pretty passionate about the game. My partner would often look at me and wonder why I was wasting so much money on cards. She would often be surprised when I told her how much things were worth, which I think is the only saving grace I have that allows me to keep spending money and spending time to play the game XD. At around my 5th or so Skirmish (Golden Phoenix Games), a milestone was achieved. I think this tournament had 84 or so players, and this is the one I managed to walk away with on top (it’s the only Skirmish I won out of the 11 I attended). I went 5-2 in swiss, so I barely made the top 8 cut because of tie-breakers. Squeaked out wins barely in my quarters and semis and guess who was my finals opponent?

Yup, it was Dante. The opponent of my first ever FAB game was also my final boss to claiming the title. At this point in time, I was like 0-4 against Dante or something, it was pretty bad. The difference on this finals game was that I could actually shuffle properly and was not feeling like my heart was about to pop out of my chest from beating erratically. I was playing Dorinthea, and I stuck to my plan which was to play as aggressively as I could. I recall being able to get a counter on Dawnblade and managed to keep it there for a turn or two and never let up the pressure and that helped seal the win for me. When Dante was able to swing back, I was able to just take the hits and use my life as a resource because I knew I could just pressure him more with him being on the lower end of life. A couple of lucky draws helped as well. He was a good sport about the game, and he has always remembered me from our very first match, so thanks for noticing me, senpai! When the week’s article came out, there was no callout for decklists and instead I was mentioned briefly in a small annotation:

A small mention, but better than nothing!

While not what I was expecting, I at least got a callout. There were a ton of Skirmish events that were never mentioned, so I was thankful enough as it was to have achieved something I set out to do at the beginning of the season.

The final thing that I wanted to do, which was pretty much tied to the first of getting a mention, was to get my name on that decklist chart. This should have came with the win, but because of how things fell through with the event not being broadcasted as much, I had to achieve it somehow in one of the remaining events. This ended up coming through in the FAB Foundry Skirmish. I was not expecting to be able to achieve this goal given I was nearing the end of the Skirmish season, and I had no idea which events would be highlighted in the articles. I believe the individual from FAB Foundry has a pretty tight relationship with LSS, which was the reason it was mentioned in the following week’s article. Not thinking I was going to achieve my goal, I opted to play something different, non-tier 1 deck, and fun, so I went with Kassai, given it was one of my last few Skirmishes.

As you can see, I didn’t perform very well with Kassai. The ones that I had were barely won and thanks to a couple of misplays on my opponent’s end. If those misplays weren’t made, I would have lost those games. It’s one of the things I love the most about FAB is that every game comes down to the wire – I rarely ever have blowout losses/wins – win or lose, the other player is often at 1/2 life remaining. So in swiss, I went 3-2 – which again, barely got me into the top 8. My first round was against the undefeated player in swiss who was playing a really cool aggro Viserai deck that I had not seen before. I did not think I was coming out alive out of this game, but I managed to just eek out the win on 1 life (see what I mean by close games?). My semis was against Jacob Burns, who I believe is the top USA player on the leaderboards. Basically, I was never able to pressure him enough with Kassai and just ended up dying to him on a crazy Ironsong Determination turn from him. Overall, I was pretty happy to have made that far with Kassai since she wasn’t really featured much in any top 8 decklists from other Skirmish events, and she is my favorite hero (I own both a rainbow foil and a cold foil of her, very happy about that). We were told that LSS wanted the decklists for this event, so I was VERY happy to hear that, managing to achieve my other goal just in time.

There’s a reporting error here, but it’s all good because I made it!

With the Skirmish season done, I walked away amassing a decent amount of XP which helped me climb up in the leaderboards (can’t wait for Canadian Run to Nationals!), earn some sweet prizes, and achieve some pretty big goals in my books. I hope my experience has shown you that this is something anyone can do and even without a meta deck! Win or lose, it was always a fun experience – even when you draw those dreaded all blue pitch or all red pitch hands.

*Header image – Scar for a Scar by Arif Wijaya

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