Monday, November 23, 2015

The Story So Far... Part 1

This will be the first of an ongoing series of articles that will cover my journey to Krosmaster Worlds 2016.

My adventure did not start the way most exciting adventures do. I was not bitten by a radioactive spider. A powerful wizard did not mark my front door with a treasure-hunting, home-reclaiming Dwarven meet up symbol. I did not find a strange message from a captured princess in the memory banks of a trash can-esque hooting and whirring robot. My story begins with a stream.

Last March, in the early morning hours, I found myself lying in bed with my IPad propped on my chest and headphones plugged in my ears. I didn’t want to wake my sleeping wife, and I also wanted to block out the cacophony of snores coming from her and the dogs. The broadcast was plagued with the same technical issues, questionable commentary, and awkward pauses that every production faces in its infancy. But this was a broadcast of the Krosmaster World Championships, and my enjoyment of it was not hindered by the fact that the guy kept saying the word “puppets” to refer to the summoned creatures. I watched as four champions from five different countries assembled to battle to see who would walk out the victor and the first ever Krosmaster World Champion.

As the rounds played out, it became clear that none of the United States champions would be advancing to the double elimination rounds of the tournament. I didn’t have any skin in the game, but I felt disappointed that the Americans didn’t have a better showing. When the sun had risen and the rest of my local players had a chance to catch up and watch the rebroadcasts, we got online to chat about what we had seen. We came to the conclusion that we had to get better at the game. It was going to be our mission to make sure a first round sweep didn’t happen again to the American players.

The following months were filled with weekly meet ups, bi-monthly tournaments, online play, and discussions with players both at home and abroad. As I’ve brought up in previous blogs on this site, my playstyle is more of a blunt Warhammer than a finesse wielded rapier. I had taken steps to play lists that were out of my comfort zone to gain a broader perspective of the game, but so far I failed miserably. I would push these lists to limits that my normal bruisers could handle and watched as they exploded spectacularly in front of my eyes. I wanted to give up, but I knew that giving up was only prolonging the inevitable. I would have to get better if I wanted to compete. Slowly but surely, things started to turn around and I found myself understanding the mechanics better.

Eventually, I found myself at the Texas Regional event, taking home the win. I’m not going to detail that event here since I feel this post in and of itself will be a multi-part post, but you can read about the coverage HERE.

A few weeks later, I arrived in Indianapolis at Gencon. It’s not unusual to find me here (I’ve been there every year since 1998), but this time, I was on a mission. Fresh off my win, I knew I had to prove to myself that I wasn’t a one trick pony and that the Texas regionals wasn’t a fluke. Some people might have just accepted their win, but I knew that each metagame is completely different and I wanted to make sure I was a good player universally, not just locally.

Gencon was not the confidence booster I had been hoping for. I ended up going 1-0-3 before conceding the last round in order to make it to another event I had planned for that evening. I did get plenty of great experience, and I did end up meeting the Kama Farmers (Mikey, Travis, and JJ at the time) as well as Joshua Hipsher and Jay Adkins (of Team USA 2015 fame), so it wasn’t a total loss. But I did leave Gencon feeling like I still had a lot to overcome in order to accomplish my goal of being on Team USA 2016.

At the end of August, I boarded a plane by myself destined for Seattle. My suitcase was light, but my mind was weighed down with a lot of questions and uncertainties. Once in Seattle, I was joined by Randy Navarro and William Hill. We were three of the top four of 2015 Pax Prime regional, the fourth being the skilled Thomas Crombie, ready to battle after placing 5th in the previous national tournament. My game versus Thomas was pretty fast-paced and literally came down to who could secure the ochre Dofus first. I wasn’t able to and kitty put down a strength storm that I could not weather. I left Pax placing third, having beaten Bryon K. (another member of the 2015 Team USA). I still wasn’t sure how to feel about my skills, but I knew I had a few months to figure it out before Nationals at BoardGameGeek Con.

The following months were a low point in my Krosmaster career. I couldn’t play online without my client crashing every other map. Our local play group had increasing real life issues, making our meet-ups sparse. I was mourning the loss of The Legend of the Five Rings, which had been a pretty significant part of my life for the better part of 13 years. With the lack of new releases and the whole ongoing Quest release debacle, I had considered hanging up my Kamas for good.

Then Facebook did something it rarely does. In between showing me pictures of my acquaintances’ dinners, funny cat pictures, and television show spoilers, it gave me hope.

While scrolling through my feed, an unassuming picture of a post-it note caught my eye. In order to understand why this resonated with me, I will explain briefly a little bit about my upbringing. I grew up on the water with my dad. He bestowed upon me a lifelong love of all things nautical, from port to starboard, sea-worn pirates to daring swashbucklers, and from the crow’s nest at the top of the mast to the mysteries that lay sunken in the murky deeps. I knew I couldn’t let my ship sink. I would clear out the water threatening to keep me down. I would come out of this stronger than before. There was just one problem: my new found gusto might have come too late. It was just four days before the official start of the convention that would host the national competition.

This feels like a good place to conclude part one of this story. I’m sorry it’s not a tactically charged as my normal posts are, but believe me when I say those long-winded recounts will return in the coming days. Stay posted for part two…

-Jeric is an established miniatures player who provides tactical insight, event reports and a few odds and ends along the way

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