Honor! Glory! Community!
A Look at the 2017 November World Championships
The trees in Roseville, MN have turned orange and red and gold. The air has adopted an autumnal crispness. And the 2017 November World Championships are just around the corner.
Soon, the Fantasy Flight Games Center will play host to hundreds of enthusiastic card and minis players. From all over the globe, these players are coming to vie for the year's top prizes in A Game of Thrones: The Card Game and Android: Netrunner, as well as the first-ever World Championships for Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game and Runewars Miniatures Game.
More than for the prizes, however, the players are coming for the community. For each of the four games in question, the World Championships are a celebration without equal.
The prizes for the World Championships include custom cards, tokens, playmats, and even the Greatest Prize in Gaming™—the chance to inspire the design of a card for the game you love. But as we learned from interviews with some of the competitors headed to Roseville, it's the chance to meet many of their games' most enthusiastic players that's the greatest draw.
Mike Sheehan—Android: Netrunner European Champion
FFG: Tell me a little bit about the event where you qualified for Worlds and what you were playing.
My Whizzard deck was a ton of fun to pilot. I spent my influence on cards like Account Siphon, Planned Assault, and—most notably— Apocalypse. The route to victory was to suppress the Corporation’s assets and economy, and then use Keyhole and Mad Dash to score three agendas. If things were getting out of hand, a well-timed Apocalypse trashed everything!
On the Corporation side, I played SYNC, specifically a 24/7 and BOOM! SYNC deck that focused on scoring Breaking News and any other agenda, then using 24/7 News Cycle to give the runner two tags before blowing up their apartment building. RIP Whizzard. We will miss you.
FFG: What about the event itself?
MS: The event itself was amazing. Alex [Watkins] did a wonderful job of organizing multiple events, and Android: Netrunner had 227 participants.
It was held at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham and was the first time I'd ever traveled out of Ireland to play a card game. The atmosphere was fantastic from the start. So many like-minded people gathered to compete in a game they loved.
FFG: And now you get to fly to MN… and play dice with the weather.
MS: Haha. Yes! Can't say I saw it coming… Fun story in relation to Euros. I've played in 25-30 Netrunner tournaments from Game Nights up to Regionals. Euros was my first win.
FFG: Good timing.
MS: The best!
FFG: Rotation has absolutely destroyed the decks you used to win the European Championships. But most people seem to be excited by the Revised Core Set and the new metagame. What's your take?
MS: I’ve never been more excited by the Android: Netrunner metagame. I've never been more excited to play the game. It reminds me of when I first started playing. Everything felt viable.
FFG: What would you say excites you most about the idea of participating in this year's Worlds?
MS: Traveling to MN to play a game I love is a huge deal, and I'm really excited to meet up with Michael Boggs, who I am designing a card with. Amazing experience, by the way. But the thing I'm most looking forward to is meeting up with all the people I've made friends with, or people I chat to online in this wonderful community. Meeting US players that I've never met before. Seeing content creators for this game, telling them how much I appreciate their work. In my first six months, Team Covenant were instrumental in helping me to understand the game better.
FFG: Thanks, Mike, and good luck!
Nicolò Merusi—A Game of Thrones: The Card Game Italian National Champion
FFG: Tell me a little bit about the event where you qualified for Worlds and what you were playing.
NM: We had a 144-player Italian National Championship. I think it was one of the biggest in Europe. Poland’s Flea Bottom Fracas was bigger, but it was also an international tournament.
I was very busy in the period before the tournament because I had to travel to Milan Games Week with the video game I'm making, so I decided to stay with my favorite faction, House Lannister. I tried many versions, mostly the control and “jumper” deck I used to play in the past, but I felt like the economies of the other Houses had become too strong for that to work.
FFG: Were there any particularly memorable match-ups?
NM: Yeah, there was a very good game in Top 8 against Fabiano Campolucci, who was playing Martell Fealty. He's a very good player, and it was a strange game. We both started slowly, so it was a mind game on each plot.
And then there was the semifinal against the "combo deck,” which was epic because almost every player was cheering for me—or, to be honest, against the combo deck. The game was on streaming, and when I won I heard the crowd screaming from the other room.
FFG: What does the combo deck do, and how did you beat it?
NM: Some people call it “Wonder Woman.” It's a deck that cycles all of its cards to find a combo that jumps in Lions of Casterly Rock Cersei and/or Jaime and then closes in a turn thanks to some locations and events. It is possible thanks to Taena Merryweather and two plots— Wheels Within Wheels and The Annals of Castle Black.
I beat it by going too fast for the combo. I was involved in the initial development of the Italian version of the deck, so I knew its weaknesses.
FFG: Talking about plots leads me to jump ahead with another question. Plots are easily one of the most defining elements of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. But what do you find that the game does for you that no other game does?
NM: The community for sure. That's the strongest part of the game right now. I was playing the first edition as well, and I was a little upset when FFG decided to reboot it. Once I understood the reasons for the revision, I decide to participate in the playtesting and help the team develop a good new game, and I love this one as well.
FFG: Have you been to the World Championships before?
NM: Nope. It’s the first time for me, but I played twice in the US—once in California and once in New York.
FFG: What are you most looking forward to at Worlds, then?
NM: I’m really interested in experiencing the atmosphere of a top US tournament. The US players seem to be competitive in a different way from us Europeans, and I'm really curious about that. I want to see if this "obsession" for competitiveness they seem to have is real or if it's only something related to the Facebook discussion. I want to see if they enjoy the tournament and the games as we do, or in a different way.
FFG: Have you given any thought to the card you would design if you won Worlds?
NM: Haha, of course I did. There is a joke here in Italy that the design for The Mountain was my fault. It's obviously untrue. But someone said it, and it suddenly became real. So I would love to design Sir Robert Strong if I had the chance.
FFG: Well, then the best I can do for Sir Robert Strong is wish you good luck at Worlds.
NM: Haha. Thank you.
Eoin Burke—Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game Crab Clan Hatamoto
FFG: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get started with Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game?
EB: I’m from Ireland, I started playing Legend of the Five Rings back when it was a CCG on my first day of university in 1998. I was wandering around Trinity College feeling very lost, and I got grabbed and dragged into the gaming society. I got installed into a twelve-player game of L5R. Three hours later, I left the game hooked.
FFG: Wow. That's a pretty deep entry.
EB: Yeah, I loved the feeling of building an army and the high-stakes conflicts.
FFG: How well do you feel the game's essence has been preserved in the new Living Card Game®? And what continues to draw you to it?
EB: Well, it’s a major challenge to update a game designed in 1995 to 2017 and preserve the same feel. However, while many of the mechanics are different, they capture the essential feel of the game. Provinces, clan champions, honor, rings—they are still all there.
The back-and-forth dance of battles which really characterizes Legend of the Five Rings is still there. The tactical commitment of forces is still there, and the core themes of the clans are all in place.
The things that draw me to the game are still—in order—the community, the mechanics, and the setting. I’ve made friends across the world playing L5R, and that community has embraced the new game and been joined by a bunch of new players. I’ve already met a ton of great new players across America, Europe, and Ireland, and I’m organizing the Irish Kotei at Warpcon in January.
FFG: How did you earn the Hatamoto title, and what did you play?
EB: I planned my trip to Gen Con Indy as soon as I heard Legend of the Five Rings was coming back, and when the Kiku Matsuri was announced, my goal was to get Hatamoto any way I could.
As always, I played Crab in the Matsuri and got Hatamoto on the first day. I actually beat the author of the Phoenix fiction, Rob Denton, in the final round.
I’ve played Crab in every tournament I’ve ever played in, so the new incentives for clan loyalty were really exciting.
FFG: What draws you to the Crab clan?
EB: It’s the heroic defense of an Empire that often hates and fears them. And often the anger that boils over about that ingratitude.
FFG: What excites you most about the idea of attending this year’s World Championships?
EB: It’s the first major three-Core Set constructed tournament. It’s a very exciting, unknown format. It’s also a big opportunity to meet up with my friends in the States and just hang out. I hope to do well, but getting to see people is good enough.
The seven-hour flight there and the five-hour drive are less exciting.
FFG: Fair enough. Have you given thought to the card you’d design if you won?
EB: I’d hope to design some version of a classic Crab character like Hida Sukune. He’s already appeared in the FFG story, and he’s a Crab character that exemplifies the clan, but is also flawed.
FFG: Alright, then. Thank you for your time.
EB: No problem. Good chatting with you. Hope to say hi at Worlds.
The World's Best
This November, the world's best players for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, Android: Netrunner, Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game, and Runewars Miniatures Game are headed to Roseville.
They're going to make this year's event another fantastic celebration of top-level competition and a hard-fought battle for their games' greatest prizes. But more than that, they're going to make this year's Worlds another high-spirited congregation of some of the best players, people, and friends in all of gaming.
If you're among this congregation, we look forward to meeting with you. If you're not, you can still follow the action from home. We will be streaming highlights from the World Championships on our Twitch channel. Until then, look for our streaming schedule to come in a later preview.