2011 Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game European Champion
“Belief is a player’s worst enemy. Put your own beliefs away, and listen to what the game is telling you.”
Who is Graham Hill?
It’s unlikely that you’ll find another card player like Graham Hill among the investigators of Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game – or among the fans of any game, anywhere.
Graham first discovered Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game in a gaming store during its CCG era, just before the release of the Masks of Nyarlathotep expansion. He has been involved in the game since that time, and though he has long competed at the game’s highest level – having thrice won the European Championships and claiming second place at FFG’s 2012 World Championship Weekend – Graham has had very few opportunities to play the game. By the time of the 2012 World Championship Weekend, he had still played on fewer than ten total occasions.
Because he lives in Tokyo, Japan, removed from any local play group, Graham’s preparation for events is founded in abstract analysis and theory. However, his success has been unquestionably concrete and real.
In His Own Words:
I am originally from Pittsburgh, but have lived in Tokyo, Japan for the last sixteen years. I have degrees in Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering, but providence has led me into the world of bond trading.
Most of my evenings are occupied doing technical analysis, trading via commodity options, and studying economics. I am slowly moving into movie making, having recently backed the movie, Scream Park, and I have started writing a new series of short films that I hope will show up on the web in the future.
On Preparing for High-Level Events:
The process is almost entirely analytical. I create an abstract by building a few decks that I think mimic the meta, based on the previous year’s top decks and some new cards that have come out, and then I use those decks as a metagame construct. From the construct, I try to deduce what properties my deck must have, and then design it using those properties as a guideline. Once the deck design is done, I usually pass it to my “theory buddy,” Roberto Carioli, and he tests it against a few of the decks he has built. We then compare notes on our decks’ expected and actual performances.
The first game in a tourney is always quite scary; I never know how far off course I may have drifted during the theory phase and thus have no idea what is going to happen!
Why Shub-Niggurath Is His Favorite Faction:
Graham claims Shub-Niggurath is his favorite faction because of how “organic” it is. Its wealth and range of card combinations and synergies match his style of play. For this reason, Graham chose Shub-Niggurath as the faction for his first Champion Card.
On the 2011 European Championship:
Khopesh of the Abyss (The Shifting Sands, 16) had just become legal. At that time in Europe, there were a lot of destruction decks partnering Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu. There were also a lot of Silver Twilight “bounce” decks seeing play. Going into the tournament, I chose to run a rush deck using Shub-Niggurath and Cthulhu because it was resilient against both of those primary deck types. My predictions were fairly accurate. Before the cut to elimination play, I think I played against three Yog-Cthulhu destruction decks and one Silver Twilight bounce.
Then, in the round of eight, I faced another Yog-Cthulhu deck. I dropped four characters on my first turn and an additional three on the second, thanks to a Hungry Dark Young (Core Set, 131), and that completely ended any hope my opponent had of destroying all my characters on his way to a victory. In the semifinals, I played against an Agency-Cthulhu deck that was quite fast. He went first and had a few good cheap characters and managed to race way ahead in tokens. Early on, though, I noticed that his card burn rate was very high and decided to switch from a rush profile to a mid-range power deck, so I was trading tokens (for him) for cards and material. By mid-game, I had timed my play right, and he was out of resources while I had a board stacked with characters. I got the win, but it was a very close shave with me counting tokens before choosing to switch from defense to offense. The final was against a deck built around Things in the Ground (Secrets of Arkham, 31), and my icon distribution turned the game to my favor very early.
With his European Championship victory in 2011, Graham earned the right to design a Champion Card, The Festival (The Key and the Gate, 51)