So we make it up to Ashville. It’s a Sunday AM decision on whether to go or not but we make the call as a family to go, pile in the car, and drive up. In our last minute haste though we forget several important items like backup deck sleeves, cards to trade, and the like. Fortunately our decks make it and we all pass pre-registration deck checks without issue. I’m so relieved by that alone ... after having have sleeves not pass & to buy new ones at High Point I just don’t take that for granted anymore. Anyway I’m playing Vile Minds (Absol – Gallade along with 3 other folks apparently), Sue is playing Blissy – Empoleon (with another person), Will is playing Kingdra swarm, and Jon is going with Garchomp. Masters is 4 rounds with top 4 cut. Seniors is 3 rounds with top 2. Juniors is 4 rounds with top 2. Round 1 Vile Minds vs Kricktune Brian L sits down across from me. I think that we are both a bit jittery as we listen to Jeff explain all the rules and such. I mostly ignore this part now but I remember just how helpful it was when I went to my first event. I’m always impatient to start but I also realize just how important this is. Brian relentlessly shuffles the whole time and I can just feel the tension in my body. We finally are allowed to set up and neither one of us mulligan. He rolls 5 to my 4 to go first. I have an Absol start with Kirlia, Roseanne’s, Rare Candy, DRE, and some other energy in hand. I am pretty happy with that until I see his Kricktot. Now I’m really nervous. I haven’t tested this matchup and know that I’m going to have to respond quickly. Brian attaches, gets another tot on the bench, and it’s my go. I hesitate for a moment but attach Psychic to Absol, and Roseanne’s for another Absol and a Ralts. I figure this will be somewhat like the Banette testing I did ... insanely fast ... so I burn the Rare Candy and evolve Ralts into Kirlia. I attack with Baleful Wind and get lucky, discarding first a Scott and then a Strength Charm. Brian gets the T2 Tune and burns a great ball or a quick ball for another one on the bench. Still it’s enough he gets the KO on my Absol. I promote the other one I had gotten he previous turn, topdeck a Celio’s and consider my options. Against a slower deck I might have gotten a Gardevoir to get setup myself ... but I decide that Gallade is the play and that I need to go agro or loose. I attach a fighting to Gallade ... thus not tipping my hand that I’ll be able to Psychic Cut the following round. Brain has some bad luck with supports after that. I don’t remember for sure if it was the third turn or after but he is getting Tots with Great Balls and not getting the supporters he needs ... Baleful Winding that Scotts was game changing IMHO. Still he KOs my Absol and I promote Gallade, attach the DRE, and it’s pretty much game from there. He stalls a bit putting Gallade to sleep and adding some damage with Plus Powers while he’s at it but Gallade wakes back up, KO's the Tune and just pops a few Tot’s after that. He does get Crystal Beach but it's too late. I’m 1-0 and as it turns out everyone else wins their first game too! It’s the single best start our family has ever had! Woot! Round 2 Vile Minds vs BlissPoleon Ugh! The downside to the great round 1 was that I get paired against my wife and Will and Jon get paired against each other too. Sue is not happy. I built her deck for her and have worked with her on learning to play it. She’s made huge strides ... but I know both her deck and her play inside and out now. She just assumes the loss, but I encourage her to not give up. She’s beaten me before at home. I mulligan twice while she doesn’t so she has that advantage right there. Unfortunately for her I start with Absol. I go first and Baleful Wind, knocking off a Celio’s and a Boost Energy. She never really recovers from that. I use Absol to destroy her hand and all she gets all game is the Chansey she starts with and two Piplups. I don’t get a setup myself for the longest time, but it doesn’t really matter with Absol vs Chansey, and eventually I send up Gallade and take 3 quick prizes and the win. Jon beat Will. In my testing the Kingdra vs Garchomp matchup was usually won by whomever got their main attacker up first with all 3 energy. In this case it was Jon. Will isn’t able to Protective Swirl fast enough and looses quickly. So Jon and I are 2-0 while Sue and Will are now 1-1. We all hated this pairing but went and ate lunch afterwards & all felt a bit better after that. Not so funny side note, but one of the younger spectators pulled the fire alarm during this match. Ugh. False Alarm FTL. Round 3 Vile Minds vs Rainbow Rogue I’m paired against Bryan Williams, a good player who had been out of the game for a while. He had built a nice little red face paint to counter the metagame. I don’t know everything in it but it featured Electrode, Kingler, Gardevoir, and some other stuff. I had heard a bit about his deck during the lunch break ... but my failure to remember what was said cost me the game. I open with Ralts SW and he has Ralts PK active & goes first. He top-decks a Krabby, benches it, attaches an electric energy to his Ralts and slaps me for 20 with weakness. I’m in a real quandary on my turn. I assume that he will either teleport burst me for 20 + weakness on my turn or evolve into Kirlia. I don’t think that he runs DRE. I calculate that after a teleport burst that I’ll still have 10 HP on my Ralts. I can’t remember all the Kirlia’s but don’t think that he will be able to KO me with them ... and I don’t think that Gardevoir could do it either. This is important because I have Great Ball in hand. I want to use it to get an Absol ... but I really like dropping it attaching special dark to Absol, retreating my active, and doing 50 as a surprise move. I can attach to Ralts this turn and then do the Great Ball next turn ... provided he doesn’t have Plus Power or Strength Charm. So play it safe and drop the Absol this turn or take the agro risk? I choose to hold the Great Ball for the agro combo. WRONG PLAY. He drops Lake Barrier ... which I had been told he played ... and uses Teleport Burst to KO my Ralts. I’m turn-twoed by the bad play. He kindly offers to play it out, but I decline, and we talk for a while afterwards. I tell him what was in my hand and laugh. I can’t be mad ... I mean I made the call to take the risk and lost. Even now I can’t help but grin when I think about it. Oh well. More safe play next time. Sue plays Michael Renald’s Magmortar and wins with Empoleon. Will wins and Jon looses. We are ALL 2-1 after round 3. Round 4 Vile Minds vs RaiVire Jan (Bugsbite) sits down across from me and we chat for a bit. He and his daughter are having a good day too. Family fun for the win! However we played the same decks a few weeks ago in Moorseville and we both know that this is a super tough matchup for him. He starts with Pikachu MT and I have Absol again. I go first and Baleful Wind a Roseanne’s and his only energy in hand. He topdecks an Electabuzz SW and benches it ... then misplays trying to evolve to Raichu on the first turn. I remind him that it’s his first turn and we laugh. On my turn I change the game. I Warp Point, putting Pikachu on the bench and Buzz active. I knew that he didn’t have energy and that letting him get it would be a bad thing. I then Great Ball for a Ralts well after the Warp Point ... so my Absol is still active. Baleful Wind gets rid of more stuff and he can’t do much on his turn. I have a Glade with DRE on T3 and get two quick KOs for the win. Will and Sue loose going 2-2 for the event but Jon wins ... and both he and I sneak into top cut! Will finishes 4th so he gets a prize and that makes him happy. Both Jon and I win door prizes too! That was a fun bonus! I give my Aipom plush to my wife and we laugh. Top Cut #1 Absol-Gallde vs #4 Vile Minds I saw Travis playing earlier ... and ran into him at lunch for that matter ... so I knew what he was running. I’m not too impressed with my chances in the mirror. First I haven’t had a chance to actually play the matchup prior so I have no actual experience with it ... and I think that his list is better. My Weavile and last minute trainer changes aren’t going to help me much in the mirror. Brian W and Matt (Prime) are playing the #2 / #3 matchup next to us. Handshakes, well wishes, and high fives and it’s time to start. Game 1 I start with Absol and discard a Rare Candy and Gallade ... but he STILL gets the T2 Gallade with another Rare Candy and a DRE. I just can’t recover fast enough and loose this game quickly. I’m tired by this point and am starting to make misplays. I had a Gardevoir with 2 psychic active T3 and Telepass his Roseanne’s to get 2 more basics. I could have retreated and prolonged the game but I left her active ... hoping to force him into flipping too many prize cards but I just have nothing to answer with once she’s gone. Game 2 I start strong but 2 key misplays cost me the game. I start Absol again with a benched Ralts vs 2 Ralts. I go first and Baleful Wind a Scramble Energy. He Hypnotizes me but I roll heads to wake up. Next turn I bench another Absol, attach Special Dark, Warp Point and OHKO one of his Ralts. I have Garde and Gallade both up by about T4. I’m rolling. My problem is that he manages to Night Maintenance a lot of stuff back and gets a Gardevoir level X active with energy to shut down my own powers. I go crazy, promote my own X, Cess her ... if he’s going to shut off my powers I’ll return the favor. I only have 2 energy though and just Bring Down a Ralts on his bench. I actually use Weavile to power up some stuff this time ... but I fail to use my own Night Maintenance to get some Psychic Energy back into my deck. That costs me the game. It all ends up in my discard pile and I don’t get my own DRE and Scramble until the last two turns of the game. It’s too late by then and I loose. Travis really hung in there and made a great comeback in this game. It was something like 2-4 prizes in my favor at one point and came back for the win! Great games! Jon did slightly better in his top cut winning one game, but he couldn’t hold on for the other two. Still 2nd place is a great finish and we were all proud of him! It was a great day for us all and we all had a blast. We didn’t stick around for the final round of masters (Travis vs Bryan) with the long drive home and the boys having school Monday ... but I made sure to thank Jeff, Toni, and Keith for all their hard work running and judging this event. They did an outstanding job and I really appreciate the time and effort they all put into this. Jeff gets extra props for getting next to no sleep for two days before coming to Ashville and working like a madman. Props! Jeff, Toni, and Keith! Thanks again all! Jan & Matt ... enjoyed hanging out and chatting as much as my boys allowed. All my opponents for some very enjoyable games. Sue for being my better half. Jon and Will for playing hard and having fun. All the other kind folks there ... a great crowd. MONSTER! It keeps me going! lol Prizes, pretty good draws from the packs and the plushies are great! Slops FIRE ALARM! Tucks ... no not the deck but the 18 wheel kind that ride on the road. Ugh.