Yesterday, the bracket for the 2017 Match Play Championship was announced. For those who are unfamiliar with this unique tournament, it’s one of the most competitive, strategic, and fun tournaments of the year.
Sixty-four players are seeded 1 through 64 in a single-elimination bracket (the same as NCAA March Madness, if you’re familiar with that). Each round, two games are played – one with each side of the Force. Whoever has the highest overall differential advances. For example, if Player A wins Game 1 with 7 cards remaining in Life Force, and Player B wins Game 2 with 6 cards remaining, Player A will advance to the next round.
Unlike a Swiss-style tournament, where you try to build generally good decks that have a good chance of beating any opponent, in the MPC, you know who your opponent is a month ahead of time. That means the metagame analysis becomes “What is Billy likely to play, and what beats it?” rather than “What do I think are going to be the popular decks overall?” The format adds an interesting wrinkle that appeals to many players. In fact, a few players have become well known for being particularly good in the Match Play format.
Let’s go over some general tips for Match Play:
- Differential is everything.
It’s not only important to win the game; it’s also important to maximize your winning differential. This means that decks that put a ton of cards on the table are sometimes not a great choice, because even though they might win, they might not win by very much. However, don’t let this dictate your deck choices too much. A deck that wins is still better than a deck that doesn’t win.
- Be on the lookout for last-turn shenanigans.
Let’s say Player A has won Game 1 by 15 with his Light Side deck against Player B’s Dark. In Game 2, he plays Dark against Player B’s Light. Player B has the advantage in the game, and near the end, Player B has 14 cards remaining in Life Force to Player A’s 6. Player A thinks “Aha! I can simply activate all of my remaining Force, then draw everything. I’ll lose the game by 14, but because I won Game 1 by 15, I’ll advance to the next round!”
So Player A activates all 6 of his Force and begins to draw. 1…2…3…4…5… and before he can draw the last card, Player B plays an On The Edge, retrieving 3 Force. Player A now has 1 card in Life Force to Player B’s 17, and if he draws that last card, he’ll be eliminated from the tournament!
Be on the lookout for cards that can swing Life Force totals dramatically near the end of the game; they can catch you by surprise if you aren’t expecting them.
- Consider a balanced deck.
“Balanced” here means “balanced between ground and space” or, in other words “a deck that can satisfy Battle Plan/Battle Order.” The reason here is that needing to pay for Force drains can be a liability in Match Play, especially near the end of the game. Even in a losing game, limiting your opponent’s differential to, say, 5 instead of 10, can be a match winner if your other deck does well. Having 2 Life Force left and being unable to Force drain can be disastrous. It also opens the door to a nasty Match Play combo, which is the subject of this week’s Card of the Fortnight:
Card of the Fortnight
This fortnight, I’ll talk about a nasty combo for Match Play that has been around for a while. It isn’t played too often, but in certain situations, it help the Dark Side player inflate their winning differential and win the match.
To pull this off, Dark Side needs a very specific board:
- Arica (V) present at a battleground site
- No Luke at a battleground site, or any possibility of getting him there
- Broken Concentration on table
- Light Side not satisfying Battle Order
- Light Side with 1 or 2 Life Force remaining
- Dark Side with 3 or more Life Force remaining
The idea here is that Broken Concentration prevents the Light Side player from drawing their entire Force Pile by moving one card back to their Reserve Deck where it can’t be drawn. Because the Light Side player can’t end the game and can’t cause any damage (because they can’t afford 3 Force to drain), Dark is free to retrieve 1 Force with Arica (V) every turn and slowly retrieve their entire Lost Pile.
Does it come up very often? No. But it’s something to be aware of, especially if a deck has another reason to play either half of the combo.
That’s it for this fortnight. No article next fortnight because I’ll be traveling for the holidays, so I’ll see you at the MPC! Until next time…
Peace, Love, and High Destinies,