Hellooooooooo Kaijudo duelists and random passerby!! My name is Rafael Taveras and boy has it been a journey to get to this point. Some of you know me and most of you don’t, but hopefully by the end of this article that will have changed. In this article I will describe my Kaijudo journey from start to finish and I’ll outline my role here and what kind of awesome stuff you can expect to read from me.

I’m 20 years old and i’ve been a New Yorker all my life. It’s had it’s ups and downs but I’ve been playing card games for the better chunk of my life. Years ago, for my birthday, my elder brother took me to Toys R’ Us to buy a starter deck for the newly released Pokemon TCG. I’ve been playing card games ever since. I’ve played Yu-gi-oh, Magic: The Gathering, Naruto, Zatch Bell, Chaotic, Cardfight!! Vanguard and most recently Kaijudo.

Card games, like books, have always allowed me to transport myself out of my regular mundane world and become something or someone else. I get to call upon various creatures and channel hundreds of spells in my attempts to outsmart my opponent in card game after card game. It’s a feeling I crave and I think you guys do as well.

The Journey Begins

My foray into Kaijudo began a little over a year ago when it was just “Dojo Edition” and the “Tatsurion Vs. Razorkinder” Decks. A friend of mine, Femi, was driving around looking for them and I had tagged along for the ride. I was playing Cardfight!! Vanguard and Magic at the time and wasn’t really that into either games meta. So I was ready to give something new a shot. After having no luck at the first few shops, we used Wizards’ nifty store locator and boom we found a store in downtown New York City. Femi purchased the decks and a few days later, we were knee deep in the world of Kaijudo. Once you get competitive and start doing well in tournaments, you look at the game differently. So lets take this moment to think back to when we all first started and sucked at the game and argued about rulings we were wrong about. I think those times are the best because you’re truly just playing to have a good time, but let’s move on from memory lane.

Femi and I purchased some packs at the store we originally found and soon after we were going online to find a place where we could buy a booster box. I was trying to make WDL, which is what I was using in Magic, so I had my eye on the combo-tastic Alcadeus, Winged Justice. We ordered the booster box and 4 grueling days of waiting later, it had arrived. I was afraid I wouldn’t get what I wanted but 2 or 3 packs in there he was in all his angelic glory. I got some stuff off of ebay and tried to build up my deck as much as I could.

Soon it was time for Rise of the Duel Masters. I went to my locals after class and found a slew of new people itching to get into the game.There were also old duel masters players excited to get back into the fray. The room was filled with people who would become my friends, opponents, and teammates and I couldn’t wait to see what I was capable of. We had a few tournaments and I actually performed well in them, earning the recognition of the more experienced duel masters players including  former numero uno player Tom Rogers! But my true first test came in the form of a $100 tournament at a store about an hour away.

First Big Tournament!

Hyperspeed Dragon was making big waves in the meta and WDF dragons was the deck to beat.   However I was still sticking with my WDL control deck comboing Alcadeus with cards like Aqua Seneschal, Shaw K’Naw, and Gigastand. While I loved my deck I realized I might need some back up if I wanted to take down Hyperspeed and his gang, so I added fire to my deck for Tornado Flame and Moorna, Gatling Dragon. I recall getting some inspiration from one of CVH’s early articles on ARG when he was piloting a very similar deck.

I arrived at the store first and the duelists started pouring in, including some of my friends from locals. I don’t remember the matchups too well but I went X-1 and made top 4 along with another friend, Zach. In top 4 I got a shot at revenge when I get paired up against the guy who beat me in swiss. I believe he was running a kind of WDF deck but this time I was able to come out on top. In top 2 I faced the infamous macho man Randy Savage. Ok just kidding, his name was Mike Savage but same difference. He had promptly 2-0’ed my friend so I felt I had to get some sweet sweet revenge. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned. I remember being able to stabilize after killing his hand but with no shields and no blockers (Blame Comet Missile for my low blocker count in deck) he top decked Bolt-Tail the great and beat me most mercilessly!!! I was initially disappointed but eventually thrilled with my performance as the other guys from locals cheered me up and praised my skills.

KMCs?!

I soon began exploring ideas for the upcoming KMCs. I didn’t expect much but I wanted to give it my best shot. In the weeks leading up to the big tournament I decided to try to punish the slower control decks by including cheap and fast discard like Specter Claw, Fumes, and Gigastand over slower control staples like Crystal Memory, Keeper of Dawn, and Skull Shatter. I just felt like I wanted to punish my opponent as quickly as I could instead of gaining incremental advantage.

Days before the KMC I cut Gigastand, realizing that I would often have to break shields to get his effect and that would be counter productive to the game plan. Femi got his dad’s van and a butt ton of us piled in to make the hour and a half drive up to Poughkeepsie, NY. Last minute I purchased a pair of Saracon, Storm Dynamo and put them along with a set of Dragonstrike all star Bottle of Wishes in the hopes that it would make my shield blasts more threatening.

Here’s the list I sleeved up:

Light (14)

3 Lux

3 Lyra, the Blazing Sun

3 Andromeda of the Citadel

2 Sun-Stalk Seed

3 Stormspark Blast

Water (9)

3 Logos Scan

1 Spy Mission

2 Nix

3 Bottle of Wishes

1 Veil Vortex

1 Rusalka, Aqua Chaser

Dark (21)

2 Dracothane of the Abyss

3 Terror Pit

3 Bone Blades

2 Death Smoke

3 Specter Claw

3 Fumes

2 Razorkinder Puppet

3 Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow

Light/Water (2)

2 Saracon, Storm Dynamo

Total: 46

I’ll spare you a tournament report because there’s still a lot I’ve got to say but the deck worked extremely well and rewarded me with a 2nd Place finish. I was extremely happy and excited at the prospect of going to Seattle. Paying for it was something else entirely. I sold off most of my more valuable Magic cards however things came up and my Seattle fund kept dwindling. Much as I wanted to go, it seemed like paying for it was going to be an insurmountable barrier. Then my good friend Luis came to the rescue offering to loan me the money to go as well as coming along himself to take his shot in the last chance qualifiers.

Seattle, Oh yeah!

We make it to Seattle Washington!!!!! Unfortunately Luis didn’t make it, and I had to leave him at the hotel on R&D day. I was able to talk to everyone at wizards and  thank them for putting together such an amazing event. But finally it was time to head home and make some last minute changes to my deck.

I knew I was going to run LWD control, that’s just my thing. I added in two General Finbarr for some extra oomph and threw in a lone King Coral in the hopes that I could catch some people off guard. I had also been running a full set of Gregoria’s Fortress for quite a while now, so I had a ton of faith that my deck was good. In game 3 of the 1st round my opponent bottles into Infernus the Awakened and proceeds to dominate me. I walk it off and try to look ahead. I win the next 2 rounds and then I take a disheartening loss to mega bugs piloted by Michael Schwartz. My chances at the championship are over. I think back on what I’ve gotten that weekend and realize that while it would have been spectacular to make top 8, I’d already gotten so much more than that. My new buddy Tyler Winther shared my fate but we both vowed to each other that next time would be different (yea that moment was so boss). I said many thanks and farewells and got a chance to do a player interview and Andrea Cole gave me an Old Man Winter!!!! (yay) and now here I am!!

Peer into the Veil

In my article column entitled “Peer into the Veil” I’ll be bringing you my opinions on card prices as well as giving you the inside scoop on some cards that I think are under the radar. So if I think there’s a card that’s about to make a splash in the meta I’ll let you know what’s up. I’ll also be giving you tips on which cards you should be picking up and how much you should be paying for them. Thanks so much for reading and look out for my first inaugural “Peer into the Veil” where I’ll be reviewing the newest set, Shattered Alliances, as well as giving you my insight into what you can expect card values to be. Until then keep breaking those shields and cracking those packs!!!

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