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Nikola Tesla's Quantum Mafia goes to Paris


Nikola Tesla's Quantum Mafia goes to Paris

The Return

I originally started playing Call of Cthulhu together with a few friends at the very start of the LCG-era, and enjoyed it quite a bit, although never progressing from a casual-level. However, at the time we were also getting into A Game of Thrones, and with some of the early issues in CoC (Magah Birds/Sewer Rats/Seventy Steps/Endless Interrogation/Descendant of Eibon) AGoT just felt much more our thing. So, AGoT got chosen over CoC and competitive AGoT proceeded to take up all of our focus.

Every once in a while, I would look at new cards coming out for CoC, usually slightly shaking my head (especially with some of the APs and the ST deluxe)... until the game started to switch to the Deluxe Expansion model. Suddenly a lot of the cards I was seeing were quite interesting, be it in flavour, art or mechanics. Terror in Venice in particular was one box that really caught my eye as interesting and simply thematically beautiful.

With our interest in AGoT starting to wind down with the same-old decks in new iterations doing the rounds year after year and the same type of elements ("draw = win") continuously dominating, I decided to give CoC another whirl. This was close to the 2013 solstice, so it also felt like the stars were right.

I have to say, I have not regretted it one bit.

The Trip

The year proceeded first from casual flipping of cards in order to remember what the core mechanics were, to initial faltering attempts at deckbuilding and finally into introducing the game to some people in our AGoT group. After finding a surprising amount of interest for the game in our local Meta (both from AGoT and Netrunner players) and AGoT further and further losing it's sheen, I started to really push for the game by deciding to host a Store Championship locally.

In order to get some better Tourney experience with the game, I was kinda looking for an event to attend, when the Paris European Open was announced in November. Sounded like just the thing, and enough of a motivator to start figuring out what the important competitive elements of the game were currently and jump into the deep end. Happily, the Yithian stuff also got dismantled a bit earlier, so the meta seemed to have shifted into a more open place.

Besides, let's face it, a weekend in Paris playing at a cardgame museum is just too cool to miss.

The Deck

The very moment I first saw Nikola Tesla, I kinda fell in love with him, bold moustache and all. Mostly this is due to him linking together the two things I love most - recursion and indirect win conditions. I steered away from him as "too obvious" until the Yithian decks were broken down, then really gave the card a good look, and tried fiddling around with him in a few decks. The end result was, that there was still one way to really make him worth the restricted choice - Vortex of Time.

Posted Image

After quite a bit of trial and error, as well as a load of testing with fellow Conspirators, this lead to the deck I took to Paris:

Nikola Tesla's Quantum Mafia

Total Cards: 50

Character (27)Support (15)Event (8)The heart of the deck lies in 3x Nikola Tesla, 3x Vortex of Time, 3x Rite of the Silver Gate and 3x Peter Clover. These form a Control / Indirect Win module, which synergizes together perfectly, with Vortex allowing optimization of Rite and Clover, Clover feeding more Vortexes to discard and Tesla racking up tokens all the while.

From there, the decks nature takes shape, becoming a slow Combo/Control deck, which I further supported by adding in a skill-negation package with 3x De Vermis Mysteriis, 2x Spell-bound Shoggoth, 1x Lena Di Boerio and 2x Henry Knoll. Getting that -2 or -3 differential in skill to all characters can be simply brutal to a lot of the more aggressive decks, as in competitive builds they often tend to have only a few characters with skill higher than 2 or 3. And if they do, those are usually easy targets to pick off with the Rite... and it all allows Henry Knoll to start sawing down their board surprisingly fast.

I also added in 3x Summon Spectral Hunter to allow either on-demand destruction of Tesla, or removal of immunity-characters (like Claret Knight) in combination with De Vermis or another skill reduction.

Next, we've got a recursion module with 3x Rite of the Silver Key, 2x Unspeakable Resurrection and 1x Claude Owen. This does two things for the deck, both solidifying it against sacrifice-engines/removal and allowing access to another excellent stall engine. Which one? Why Fall Guy and Rite of the Silver Key, naturally. The only thing better than your opponent not getting a single success token from skill or unopposed (due to skill reduction), is to also be able to stop them from getting any in with investigate (or being able to attack/defend easily).

The rest of the deck is populated by 'good card' type elements, rounding out the cost-curve (Cannibal Ghast), filling in the toolbox with more Control elements (Frozen Time, Peaslee, Pushed Into the Beyond) and adding some more characters with good board presence (Constricting Elder Thing, Lady Lu Chu, Mr. David Pan). One should note that the deck has very few low-skill characters, so that it can still maintain a good skill-presence even when a -2 or -3 global skill modifier is in place.

The Venue

The Venue for the Paris European Open was a beautiful cardgame museum in Issy-les-Moulineaux. After recieving some wonderful door-prizes, we had time to walk around the museum and marvel at some of the beautiful stuff on display, which ranged from 1200s hand-painted japanese playing cards to various hand-made deckboxes from different centuries and all other wonderful things.

Nothing quite sets the mood for a Call of Cthulhu Tourney, as noticing a Tarot deck designed by no-other than a certain Alesteir Crowley...

The Tourney

Game 1: Azatoth (Silver Twilight/Yog-Sothoth - Twilight Gate)

The previous night, we went out to eat with our french tourney organizer, and got warned about some of the "really good" players to watch out for. One name in particular (of the French Champion) lodged itself in my brain, and my face pretty much fell as it was the one that got called as my first round opponent.

The game itself saw us both mulligan, mine being from a bad hand to quite a slow one (with several Vortex of Times). This was not-at-all helped out by Azatoth going first, and acquainting me with the joy of a first-round You Know Too Much. I'd heard that many players prize going first over going second, and this kinda brought the message home. I proceeded to keep my Cannibal Ghasts in hand, as well as the Vortex of Times (to be able to draw back up to something playable).

This of course was not all that good of an idea, as second round Azatoth dropped an Ol' Lazy Eyes to get Negotium on the board. I had drawn into a David Pan, so I tried to get a 3-cost defense up (lamenting the fact that despite drawing quite a bit via Vortex, I had not seen many of the cards I would need with Negotium on the board), which got immediately bounced by a Twilight Gate'd High Wizard. Next turn B. Ramsdale Brown hit the board, the Twilight Gate went back into Azatoth's hand and I realized I was completely screwed. Free reign to push into stories, with easy bouncing of my 3-costers was going to do me in, fast.

And then, I made my most stupid move of the whole day. On my turn, I had a Frozen Time in hand. And there I sat, looking at BRB who was bouncing back Twilight Gate, and... decided to play Frozen Time on him. Not Negotium, so that my Cannibal Ghasts could in fact, defend. No, BRB. 5 seconds later I realized the sheer stupidity of what I had done. Most likely this was one of those 'first game' brain short-circuits that happen to me sometimes, or just caused by plain nerves of having to face a good player in my first game, but it was... a horrible choice.

It was all downhill from there, with Azatoth pushing through my meager resistance with BRB, Twilight Gated High Wizards and Josef Meiger to win 3-0.

Result: Loss, 0-3.
Tally: 0-1

Game 2: Mousssine (Cthulhu / Yoh-Sothoth - Khopesh of the Abyss)

Remember that list of names? Yep, another one from there. However, unlike the previous slaughter, this one was a real nail-biter.

Mousssine started off strong and a Khopesh soon came by to do it's wounding thing, but I got two Vortexes into my discard pile fast, as well as a Tesla that started racking up tokens. With my board not folding down, and Tesla ticking, Mousssine went and used a Flooded Vault to put in a Plague Stone. He then attacked with his Claret Knight and another character, only for me to screw the other character away from the challenge with Clover. This lead to the Plague Stone triggering, but interestingly enough, I had 6 power on Tesla, so I was able to win the story, stopping the Claret Knight from getting any success tokens that turn.

With Tesla off the board, I started to make small errors in my play with Vortex: forgetting to filter his draw, not remembering to filter my own deck for my next copy of Peter Clover etc. Despite being able to get two stories so that we were at 2-1, the small errors started to add up, as well as just getting slightly lackluster draws (all three Frozen Times, which I just used to blank Claret Knights). However, what was killing me was my inability to hit anything but 3-cost cards with Peter Clover in order to remove characters from challenges, even though I only have ~25% of those in my whole deck.

So, on the back of a final Khopesh, Mousssine was able to twist the game from me by the help of good ole' Jim Black (Descendant of Eibon).

Result: Loss, 2-3.
Tally: 0-2

Game 3: Priscilla (Shub / Cthulhu - Khopesh of the Abyss)

Yay, more Khopesh! Thankfully, for the first time all day I got a Rite of the Silver Key in my opening hand, and even better, it was accompanied by De Vermis. Priscilla started off cagingly, not doing much on her first turn, then I dropped in both De Vermis and the Rite, as playing Lena and drawing via Vortex. Unsurprisingly on her second round (with the Shub/Cthulhu combo) a Khopesh came and killed off Lena, as well as flooding in two Dreamlands Fanatics to get a load of success tokens in on three stories.

Swinging back (after having filtered a 1 coster on top of her deck on her turn), I dropped in Rite and hit the Khopesh on a wounded Naaginn. That left the Naaginn out of play for a bit, as well as allowing me to muster in a Cannibal Ghast. Vortex filtered me a second trigger on De Vermis, and we had the all-important -2 skill in place. Priscilla had a ghoulish Predator in play that still had skill, but by bringing Lena back in from discard through the smaller Rite, I was able to drive it mad and start taking a hold of the game.

With Rite of the Silver Gate constantly keeping all characters with more skill than 2 out, no investigate on her side, my deck being able to start pushing into stories due to support from a recurring Fall Guy and constantly hitting her Khopesh characters with Pushed into the Beyond, the deck simply plowed ahead into a win. The fact that she had to domain the only Deep One Assault she drew round 1, as well as me being able to hold her from winning Chaos Unleashed, likely contributed quite a bit to the game's end result.

Result: Win, 3-0.
Tally: 1-2

Game 4: Noda (Miskatonic / Hastur - ???)

I got another lesson in why going second may not always be preferable in this game, by eating a first turn Byakhee Attack. This again left me a very small hand to try and deal with, but luckily I had a Cannibal Ghast there, as well as a Vortex and Rite of the Silver Gate. Holding onto those, I set up the Ghast for defense and also tried to get as much on the table as possible.

This turned out to be a good move, as Noda was getting mostly Miskatonic characters (Focused Art Students and Natural Phisophers into play) and heavily concentrating on clearing my hand of tricks (the Philosphers and The Greatest Fear), so the horror on the Ghast was holding his speed down a lot. This allowed me to start setting up my engines, and soon I had both Silver Gate and Henry Knoll (w/ a global -1) rolling, cutting his board into shreds and then just ran with the game.

NOTE: Not sure of the restricted here, could have also been a Stygian Eye?

Result: Win, 3-0
Tally: 2-2

Game 5: Blacksun (Hastur / Miskatonic - Stygian Eye)

And... my third name from "the list".

My second Hastur/Miskatonic deck of the day, but this one was much less rush/hand destruction and a lot more horror/control. You know how me letting everybody go first had been such a nice experience so far, what with eating first round Byakhee Attacks and You Know Too Much's? Well, I found something even more fun this time, a first-round Byakhee Attack, that was followed by a Hamu'd back second round Byakhee Attack.

The hand destruction early on slowed my progress down to a crawl, forcing me to simply begin turtling down. Thankfully, I kept the first round Rite of the Silver Key, as that was allowing me to replace my draw deficit with additional characters. Lunatics, San Servolo and an Enchanted Wood meant that my whole board was under a load of insanity pressure, leaving us both with 4-5 guys insane.

Slowly but surely, Blacksun was pushing for the win, and lead 0-2. Being wary of further hand destruction (which I knew he had), I had always resourced everything left in my hand, just to have enough resources to pay my 3 gold chars later down the game. This paid off suddenly, allowing me a turn where I simultaneously got in 3-4 characters in one turn (playing from hand, as well as recurring from my very large discard pile). One of the important moves here was bouncing that Enchanted Wood with an Elder Thing to further slow Blacksun down. With enough of a foothold on the table, I managed to stall the game, then started pushing back with everything I had. As time was called, it was my turn, and I managed to win one story as well as get 3 on one story and 2 on another. On Blacksun's final turn, all he could get on the table was a lone Victoria Glasser without any skill (-2 from De Vermis) and he was unable to get all of my characters with skill left (Clover, an Elder Thing, Henry Knoll) insane. Since I was getting one more turn, we looked at the board, came to the conclusion there was nothing he could do, and that was that.

Result: Win, 3-2
Tally: 3-2

Final Thoughts

I did about as good as I could expect, in as hard a field as this was (with a lot of people who had played since the CCG). Clearly my deck was on-par with some of the best, but sadly my own piloting was not quite up to scratch. My simple lack of play experience was showing in several matches, which I guess was unavoidable... and perhaps not helped by the fact that I was trying a deck that's a bit too tricky for my actual playing skill.

In the end I placed 10th, in a field of 20 players... with the same points as several of the guys to make the Top 8 Cut (as well as Konx, with us both having same SoS in 9th/10th place). Not at all bad, and the prize support from the Tourney (even for middling players like me) was phenomenal.

Top 8 Results

I won't go into any details here, Dadajef should be posting the full results somewhere, and I can add a link to them here once they are up.

A short description: The Top 8 was won by Sectario from Spain, wielding a mono-Yog Control deck featuring Umr-at-Tawil with Decrepit Wizards for protection and faced off in the final against a mono-Shub by Denis Milander. The mono-Shub was the only deck all day able to win against a Spanish characterless tri-faction mill deck, which went undefeated in the Swiss, but faced the Shub in the Top 8. The Top 4 was rounded out by Azatoth, as well as Tom Klocek from Poland with a "Cult-de-Sac" deck (mono-Cthulhu with Temple of R'lyeh and Cultists).

Funnily enough, me and Tom played a friendly match after lunch, where I ran my version of a Cult-de-Sac against one of his Deep One decks, without me being aware he was running a Cult-de-Sac of his own in the Tourney.

- The awesome venue and excellent prizes.
- All the cool players we met, was fun meeting all of you either over cards or beers/wine and getting to know the EU scene a bit more.
- Dadajef for hosting an excellent event.
- For the laid back and relaxed, yet professional, atmosphere of the Tourney.
- Fellow Conspirators Livingend and JCWamma for helping me playtest the deck online.
- Our local meta for bearing with the incessant triggering of Vortex of Times for months on end.
- The food.

- Parisian hecklers camping out at key locations to bother tourists.
- Me, for not being quite able to play the deck to it's fullest.
- Finland for having -17 degrees Celsius as a 'welcome home' surprise.
- To the British players, for not a single one showing up despite Paris being so close by...

NOTE: Blacksun took some excellent pictures at the Tourney, which can be found here.
  • Danigral, dormouse, bigfomlof and 8 others like this


Stygian Eye was in my decklist as restricted card.


*4success tokens vs 2... note drakey name in my grudge book *

    • WWDrakey likes this

@Blacksun: The two Hastur/Miskatonic games were back-to-back, so my memories of those got a lot more blurred than the other games. Now that you mention it, I think the Stygian Eye was played in our game on an Elder Thing, which then got bounced back by a Faceless Abductor. Anyway, our game was pretty epic, cheers!

CoC article on the front page woot

Jan 20 2015 01:57 PM

Thanks for the report, sounds good fun.

Great report for a great game.

Jan 20 2015 02:53 PM

I wish more people I know were into CoC.  Fantastic game!  Although my wallet wouldn't thank me with the other LCGs I collect.  I'd like a chanc eat winning a CoC prize at some point!  I could even be a Brit in Paris!

I would have gone if not for the wife having a hospital appointment the week before. She was even looking forward to a weekend in Paris.
Next year however ;-)

Thanks for doing a great report, and congratulations on your results. For an established game like CoC it must be very difficult to break into a competitive scene. Sounds like an excellent tournament, and would have loved to go. Like so many other CoC players, I never have enough time to play it.

In retrospect what changes would you have made to your deck, or do you think it was pretty much as good as it could be? I guess in hindsight there will always be some meta calls that might have paid off better.

Thanks for doing a great report, and congratulations on your results. For an established game like CoC it must be very difficult to break into a competitive scene. Sounds like an excellent tournament, and would have loved to go. Like so many other CoC players, I never have enough time to play it.

In retrospect what changes would you have made to your deck, or do you think it was pretty much as good as it could be? I guess in hindsight there will always be some meta calls that might have paid off better.


Honestly, I think almost all of my "regrets" were related to in-game decisions, instead of the deck. I guess the most obvious answer here is that Mr. David Pan is clearly a "loose" card, and has never really done much for me in-game, so if I could've found a Syndicate card to provide me some more toolboxing (or just ran 2x Lena), then that would likely have improved the deck a bit. 

Great stuff, thanks for the report!
Jan 20 2015 06:36 PM
Really enjoyed reading this. I so wish Call of Cthulhu was more popular in my area.
Jan 21 2015 01:16 AM

Excellent report and very interesting deck. I love reading tournament reports and discovering what other metagames are like. It sounds like there were many diverse and compelling decks (no characters!). I've always thought Nikola Tesla was the coolest card in the game!

Great text man :) And very interesting deck - I will try it surely. It was a great pleasure to meet you :)

    • WWDrakey likes this