Greetings — Quickbeam here.
Today was terrifically exciting. I was afraid there would be blood on the streets of Norfolk before it was all over.
Saturday, 2 November 2002, was the final day of struggle in the Lord of the Rings TCG World Championship, overseen by the DGMA (Decipher Gaming Management Authority). The youthful crowd filling the Chesapeake Convention Center had mutated into a throng of zealous fanatics, all rooting for their favorite player. What energy!
The world’s finest went head-to-head — like the great chess tournaments of yesteryear. Remember the Americans versus the Russians? When individual players became symbols of the Cold War struggle? Remember those days where newspapers spouted headlines of national pride played out on the chessboard?
Today it was England versus Canada. After seven hours, where the center tables in the main hall were blocked to resist the crowd of onlookers, only four remained. Three lads from Montreal and one lone Brit. Patrick Malboeuf (older brother of finalist David, whose card list we posted previously), Matthieu Brochu, and Dominic Gaudreault brought the red maple leaf to bear against Alex Tennet’s Union Jack.
As the evening grew very late, the finalists struggled through three games apiece, in final elimination pairings. No time limit. Whoever got the best 2 out of 3 would advance. People stood atop neighboring tables trying to watch from a distance as the temperature continued to rise. This was the utmost in championship playing.
The final two: Matthieu Brochu and Alex Tennet.
These two moved over to a separate locked room, containing only one table and several video cameras. And the Judge, of course. The players were isolated — no distractions, no crowds, staring across at each other in a final dead heat.
Everyone else moved over to an auditorium with a giant projection screen. It was a very entertaining yakkity-yak crowd; the lads around me would just not sit still. We were all glued to the screen, making blow-by-blow comments as the game unfolded. The most interesting thing was that both combatants played strong Isengard cultures for their Shadow side. That was the case for all participants throughout the Championships. Everyone LOVES using those fierce Uruk-hai with Saruman to boost them.
Best of three games would decide this. In the first, Alex bid very high burdens to start the game; forcing Matthieu to go first. That was a shock. That hardly ever happens. They moved through a fast early game. Later when Matthieu, as the Free People’s player, moved to Site 9 for the win he was stormed by a spectacular assault of minions that Alex drew at the last minute. Alex threw down Saruman and several heavy Uruks (including a Tower Assassin) which would have destroyed poor Matt. But at the last second, the crowd around me stood up and screamed. Matt used Aragorn’s game text to make him Defender +3, thus Aragorn was sacrificed to save Frodo. When the additional fierce skirmishes were assigned, Matt saved Frodo again with pump cards like Hobbit Stealth.
It was a stunning upset.
Game two was a longer exercise in holding your breath. Alex was about to move from Site 7, using all his Old Toby pipeweed and Aragorn’s Pipe to heal up his battered Fellowship. It was not much help. He had no idea Matthieu was holding an arsenal of evil Uruks. Lurtz appeared but was quickly shot down by Aragorn and Legolas. This was almost as good as watching the Fellowship movie! Poor Alex had to stop at Site 8 — he could not risk moving again for the victory at Site 9.
The crowd gasped again — almost loud enough that the players could hear across the hall, through sealed doors! Matthieu made his move, giving Alex a mammoth amount of twilight pool to use. Problem was, Alex had used up all his minions from his deck. There was nothing left to stop Matt’s determined Fellowship. At Site 8, Matthieu made easy work of a few Uruk-hai and skated forward to Site 9. It was a cakewalk simply because Alex had ripped through his deck and had nothing left to play.
The crowd I sat with shouted with a great cacophony of noise. It was that moment of victory that reminded me of the Angels winning the World Series just a week ago.
Both players were perfectly quiet, even calm, through this grueling contest. Everyone was impressed at the good gamesmanship that was on display here, after seeing such frayed nerves yesterday. Matthieu would take the $7,000 and the Chrysler…. while Alex as second place would take home a not-too-shabby $3,000. Beautiful One Ring replicas for everyone.
The hour struck 1:00AM and everyone was exhausted. The winners came over into the auditorium and were officially congratulated by the Decipher team. Alex spoke to the crowd and declared he would split his $3,000 prize with his partner who designed and playtested his deck, Mike Dalton. Top winner Matthieu also took questions from the audience. He said that at all times he was confident with the strength of his Fellowship cards. Using permanents like swords, possessions, and artifacts were not key to his strategy, even though conventional wisdom advocates such cards. Matt said he preferred simple strength boosters instead. Well, maybe a copy of Sting (of course).
Go to the official DGMA website [http://www.dgma.com/content/default.asp?id=183] and there you will find the complete card lists for all finalists and winners. Top of that page is Matthieu Brochu’s winning deck for the first Lord of the Rings TCG World Championship. This deck is now officially the best in the whole wide world.
Now you can try it for yourself.
Much too hasty,