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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Dec 07 2012 10:30am
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 Welcome back to Tribal Apocalypse, the seasoned PRE for all seasons.

 So, we did it. One hundred events in the Blippian Era, i.e. since January 8, 2011, the day Herr Volker Kirstein aka BlippyTheSlug took hosting duties from Mr. Simon Smith aka Flippers_Giraffe, who in turn had inherited the tournament from Mr. Matthew Banister aka ShardFenix. And Shard is the man who started the whole thing in September 19, 2009 (therefore, this was possibly the 167th Tribal Apocalypse ever, give or take a few skipped events along the road). These are the men we should always remember and be grateful to, along with MTGO Traders for the continuous, tangible support to the tournament (plus Clan Leys' SBena_Bot, which recently added some nice contribution, too, promoting and financing all sorts of special prizes).

 Now, please, read this. I'll wait here.

 You done? Are you a little misty like me? Yes, that was the place where everything was born, our very sacred tribal tree. That first Tribal Apocalypse event, on that day of nearly 3 years and 2 months ago, had just 8 players, and the playing environment was still called Classic Tribal Wars. But everything was already there. A Snake deck powered by Sosuke's Summons (plus Glare of Subdual, which — as AJ_Impy points out in the comments — Shard mistakes for Opposition, the very card used by slug360 to take 1st place with a similar deck not long ago); a Soul Sisters-like Cleric build; a colorless ramp Golem deck; and, of course, the controversial combo porting, by future host Flippers_Giraffe no less. And which one that was, of all combos? But this one, of course:

Complete with Winter.Wolf saying in the comment section that it was like "taking a bomb to a gun fight" :)


 Does that mean that more than three years and a switch to Legacy later, we're still at the same point? Still debating about our old nemesis the Helm, recently released from its mystical prison? Is the format solved? I don't think so. A format is solved when there are a small numbers of choices you know are the best options to end on top. In Tribal Wars, you surely know which decks you should build to win. Only, there's still A LOT of these deck options. How many? Well, let's just note that, with some help from our special events (which indeed help in this regard), these 100 weeks saw the following tribes taking turns at 1st place:

  • Elf: 8 times (not including the Elf/Goblin event), piloted by hg20010, Mr Slippery 39, mihahitlor (x2), raf.azevedo, mayure, Coolcat1678, and _BIG_BROTHERS_
  • Human: 8 times (including the Double Tribal event), piloted by Ayanam1, Etriol, romellos (x3), Chamale (x2), and Ranth (Double with Cat)
  • Goblin: 7 times, piloted by TimeQuake, Mupps84, Neokarasu, Kranz, Mupps84, Jeketerri (in 2HG), and mihahitlor
  • Wall: 7 times, piloted by NemesisParadigm (x3), grapplingfarang, misterpid, and DirtyDuck (x2)
  • Cat: 6 times (including the Double Tribal event), piloted by Ranth (x4, one Double with Human), and DirtyDuck (x2)
  • Wizard: 5 times, piloted by james mcaliney (x2), romellos, and Ranth (x2)
  • Vampire: 4 times, piloted by mihahitlor (x2), NemesisParadigm, and ChrisMH77
  • Ally: 3 times, piloted by Nagarjuna (x2) and romellos
  • Kithkin: 3 times, piloted by VictorBike (x2, one in 2HG) and mihahitlor
  • Kor: 3 times, piloted by SBena (x2) and DirtyDuck
  • Merfolk: 3 times, piloted by Owain (x2) and romellos
  • Assassin: 2 times, piloted by mihahitlor (x2)
  • Elemental: 2 times, piloted by Ranth and DarkestNight
  • Faerie: 2 times, piloted by Nagarjuna and Malum
  • Knight: 2 times, piloted by gbagyt and SBena
  • Plant: 2 times, piloted by  NemesisParadigm (x2) 
  • Treefolk: 2 times, piloted by undeadgod and Ayanam1
  • Werewolf: 2 times, piloted by romellos (x2)
  • Angel: 1 time (not including the Angel/Demon event), piloted by AJ_Impy
  • Archon: 1 time, piloted by ScionOfJustice
  • Artificer: 1 time, piloted by NemesisParadigm
  • Cleric: 1 time, piloted by Ayanam1
  • Construct: 1 time, piloted by undeadgod
  • Demon: 1 time, piloted by _Kumagoro_ 
  • Devil: 1 time, piloted by AJ_Impy
  • Dragon: 1 time, piloted by raf.azevedo
  • Efreet: 1 time, piloted by RexDart
  • Gargoyle: 1 time, piloted by AJ_Impy
  • Giant: 1 time, piloted by DirtyDuck
  • Golem: 1 time, piloted by  Ayanam1
  • Horror: 1 time, piloted by Chamale
  • Imp: 1 time, piloted by DirtyDuck
  • Kavu: 1 time, piloted by Mr Slippery 39
  • Lhurgoyf: 1 time, piloted by  Ayanam1
  • Mutant: 1 time, piloted by raf.azevedo
  • Myr: 1 time, piloted by nati9
  • Praetor: 1 time, piloted by endless_nameless
  • Rogue: 1 time, piloted by 3soteric
  • Scout: 1 time, piloted by _Kumagoro_
  • Shaman: 1 time, piloted by _Kumagoro_
  • Slug: 1 time (Slugapalooza event), piloted by Ranth
  • Snake: 1 time, piloted by slug360
  • Soltari: 1 time (before losing the top place challenge), piloted by mihahitlor
  • Spirit: 1 time, piloted by RexDart
  • Warrior: 1 time, piloted by Lord Erman
  • Wolf: 1 time, piloted by _Kumagoro_
  • Zombie: 1 time, piloted by Ranth


 That's 47 different tribes out of 174 playable (the creature types on creature cards are actually 203, but 29 of them aren't allowed as tribes in our events because they have less than 3 members so they'd force the presence of more Shapeshifters with changeling than actual tribe members). It's not a bad ratio for 1st placers.

 And what about the players? They are the blood and bones of Tribal Apocalypse, of course. And they sometimes come back to a particular deck, tribe or archetype because they especially like them. That doesn't say anything about the format per se; it just says something about their personal preferences. But, truth be told, frequent players do impact the tournament. Which is different than saying that their favored decks impact the format, mind you. But it's still a thing to be considered. We can see a lot of familiar names in the list above. 40 names, to be exact. And I want to thank them all, as I thank all the 90 players who ended Top 4 at some point within these two years (or at the very least got a special prize, making some Hall of Fame points), and especially all the ones who didn't but still kept playing, for a total of 1722 registrations, and counting. That's something for a niche format, isn't it?

 Some of the players who made for a big and beloved presence in the past (assuming you didn't lose to them all the times) don't play in the tournament that much these days. Of the original Top 4 of that first event, StealthBadger made a comeback last Spring; the glorious Lord Erman has been very active in the tournament until earlier this year; on the other hand, bingobongo, and Flippers_Giraffe himself, have probably never played in the Blippian Era. I hope to see all of them come back at some point. I'd love to host a re-match of that first contest.

 The list of players to remember and thank would feel endless. I like to recognize at least the greatest ones: 2011 Number 1 player NemesisParadigm; 2011 Ultimate Tribal Champion Ayanam1; the other 2011 Rider of the Apocalypse (besides the two abovementioned and myself), DirtyDuck; the current holder of the greatest number of 1st places (at 9), Ranth; or the achievement master Chamale.

 But when it came the time to do the math (or the best possible approximation) and establish who were the two players (besides me) who showed up the most times during these 100 weeks, two names immediately stood out: Mr. AJ Richardson aka AJ_Impy, and Mr. Matthew Taber aka vantar6697. Believe it or not, these two players have been there almost every single week. And they have played all kinds of decks, and the most obscure tribes (they're responsible for the de-virginization of more tribes than all the other players combined). AJ is possibly the most accomplished tribal players in history (he will be glad to remind you how he built a deck and win at least one match with every single one of those 203 tribes). Vantar has devoted an awful amount of free time to compile statistics about the format and the tournament, and maintain tables like the Tribal Popularity Survey, up to recently becoming my co-host after creating the registration and pairing system we're currently using (he will take a leave of absence until early next year for personal reasons). These are the two people whom I and Heath Newton from MTGO Traders deemed worthy of a couple of very special Loyalty Prizes, assigned after a challenge between the two of them.


On the left, AJ's prize; on the right, Vantar's

 But enough with these sappy celebrations. Let's see what happened in the actual 100th Tribal Apocalypse event of the Blippian Era.

  • Event Number: 2.48, Week 100 BE
  • Date: December 1
  • Attendance: 20
  • Rounds: 3
  • Special Rules: Pure Tribal
  • Top 4: mihahitlor (Goblin, undefeated); MakingSmartPlays (Merfolk, undefeated); RexDart (Faerie, undefeated); ellmaris (Vampire, 1 loss)
  • Special Prizes: Endangered Prize to AJ_Impy ('Scarecrow); Semi-Virgin Prize to _Kumagoro_ (Hydra); Topical Prize to grapplingfarang (Elemental)
  • Tribes: Assassin, Demon, Elemental, Elf (x2), Faerie, Goblin (x2), Hydra, Kithkin, Merfolk, Ninja, Rebel, Scarecrow, Sliver, Soldier, Treefolk, Vampire, Vedalken, Wurm
  • Event link (with all players, pairings, standings, decks, and results): here it is

 The 100th Elf deck happened! (And the 99th too; and none of them ended Top 4!) Well, that's likely not a true fact, because we miss some data from the beginning of last year, but it's close enough. And where there's Elves, and tribal history, could Goblins be missing? Of course not!

by mihahitlor - 1st place on Tribal Apocalypse 100
4 Goblin Guide
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Goblin Wardriver
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Spikeshot Elder
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Goblin Grenade
4 Chain Lightning
4 Forked Bolt
12 cards
20 Mountain
20 cards

Goblin Chieftain


 And thanks to them, mihahitlor finally surpassed yours truly and is now the current highest-ranked player of all-time (not to mention, 2012). Congrats!

 This has to be one of the shortest and more straightforward lists ever (not to mention insanely cheap). And why there's no Lightning Bolt, you might ask. Oh, right, that's because this was sort of a special event after all (also with the special, one-time comeback of Blippy as a host): you couldn't include off-tribe creatures or Changelings, and you couldn't use the Top 10 same old, same old Most Played cards, namely the usual suspects Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt, Punishing Fire, Oblivion Ring, Counterspell, Brainstorm, Wrath of God, Honor of the Pure, and Green Sun's Zenith. It's what we called Pure Tribal, a simple formula which might come back in the future. The Goblins apparently didn't care about any of that. The Merfolks by newcomer MakingSmartPlays (how sweet and auspicious: several new players in the 100th event, and one of them in the Top 4!) might have. But they still ended up undefeated nonetheless.

by MakingSmartPlays - 2nd place on Tribal Apocalypse 100
4 Cursecatcher
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
4 Coralhelm Commander
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Sejiri Merfolk
3 Sygg, River Guide
27 cards

Other Spells
4 Mana Leak
4 Feeling of Dread
3 Aquitect's Will
2 Spell Snare
13 cards
4 Flooded Strand
2 Arid Mesa
2 Marsh Flats
4 Tundra
1 Glacial Fortress
7 Island
20 cards

Lord of Atlantis


 In this Azorius Merfolk variant, I especially like the use of Sejiri Merfolk (a deeply underrated creature), and Feeling of Dread as an interesting board disruption.

 Thanks to the good attendance, there was a third undefeated deck, leading to a 3-men playoff which actually just confirmed the original placements (a good occasion to remind all of you that a top-whatever playoff is now mandatory after the Swiss rounds; it doesn't affect the prizes, only the Hall of Fame points, which however might translate into some kind of prize at some point, not to mention the Invitational access).

 And this third undefeated deck was... drumroll... this Faerie build by RexDart.


 Oh boy, just by looking at it, you can tell this is going to be the Shameless Money Build of the Week. But hey, they are honest-to-Oona Faeries, though, playing, ahem, fair, by resisting the temptation of Splinter Twin shenanigans. After all, Faerie is one of the strongest tribes in the game to begin with. They don't need much more than what they bring by themselves. You can hear Rex commenting on the list and some of his games on his own section.

 Ending with 1 loss (against the Goblins), but still very worthy of their spot in this very classic, very approriate centennial quadrumvirate, here they come the Vampires by ellmaris.


 That's a strong yet very flavor-based build, which isn't shy to play vamp-friendly cards like Feast of Blood or Blade of the Bloodchief, and 1-ofs of several, just-for-kicks vampiric legends, rather than devote all its strategy to mill easy success from Blood Artist/Kalastria Highborn and their combo. I can see a build like this taking 1st place any time. Actually, it did in the past. And the price to build it is... well, let's just say you better sit down before checking the actual price of this deck.

 And now, my favorite of the week: Wurm by romellos.


 And what's better to contemplate the deck than watching some videos of romellos wurming around. First against me, with a NO-Prog Hydra deck which definitely needs improving (despite a cursed Bonfire of the Damned that showed up in my first hand almost all the games, preventing me from setting it up with Personal Tutor):

 And here's the Cloudpost Wurms against Vantar's Vedalkens from Round 1.

 Second part of the vantar-romellos match coming right here:

 I'm calling it (and romellos already knows): I'll play with some version of this deck myself. Don't be surprised if you'll see me do that. Wurms for the win! (Which would be their first one, they deserve to be in that list.)

 Remaining in the Locus Zone, it's then obligatory to feature the deck with which AJ_Impy won the Loyalty Challenge and a non-promo copy of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (also known as "the one by Mark Tedin", or "the beautiful one", as beautiful as a Lovecraftian flying spaghetti monstrosity can look).


 This exquisitely by-the-book Scarecrow build managed to beat 2-1 vantar6697's Vedalkens, which were still able to clear the Empires Artifacts achievement by activating all of them in a single round, then to win an equally non-promo version of the mighty Progenitus by losing the Loyalty Challenge.


 And we have footage of this! Game 1:

 Game 2:

 And, wait for it, game 3 too:

 And that's it for a very rich, very celebratory week.


 Also known as: how much do the Top 4 decks cost? As of December 7, 2012, here's the answer (MTGO Traders prices; the cheapest version of each card is always used; basic lands count zero):

  • 1st place, mihahitlor's Goblins: $10.24 (nonland cards: $10.24; tribal base: $8.12)
  • 2nd place, MakingSmartPlays's Merfolks: $150.80 (nonland cards: $16.45; tribal base: $9.27)
  • 3rd place, RexDart's Faeries: $588.95 (nonland cards: $263.23; tribal base: $117.23)
  • 4th place, ellmaris's Vampires: $5.00 (nonland cards: $3.79; tribal base: $3.38)

 Boom! goes the most unbelievable price section since when I started doing it (that is, since Event 85). No, those aren't random numbers, those are the real prices of this week's Top 4 decks. Ten dollars at the top, guys. We fully entered ten-bucks-a-deck territory here, thanks to mihahitlor's build. All while RexDart was beating all previous $500+ records (the Human builds by Winter.Wolf and romellos; the Giant build by DirtyDuck). But wait a minute... what's that number at 4th place? Is there a figure missing there? Is it actually FIVE BUCKS?! This makes ellmaris the reigning Wise King, a title I just made up for the Top 4 achiever with the cheapest deck ever. Now try and beat 5 bucks if you can. Also, try and beat the 118-to-1 ratio between this week's 3rd place and 4th place decks.

 Tell your mom: it's not true that Legacy Tribal Wars is for the rich kids only! Everybody can play, and win!


 My series on the broad archetypes of Legacy Tribal Wars has concluded, but that hardly means there's nothing left to say about deck construction for this format.  In the coming weeks, I'll be transitioning to a new series of deck techs, focused on analysis of the decks from that week's event. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the player's tribe, how do we identify the deck's general archetype and path to victory, and how did the pilot construct his deck to play into those strengths and alleviate the weaknesses?  What we know about the broader archetypes of deck construction will surely help us find new insights into the specific decks that were successful each week.  You can look for this new format to start in January, most likely. In the meantime, I've done a deck tech on my own Faerie list that finished 3rd place this week.(Quick note: in the deck tech video, it shows the Brainstorm copies that I put in the list, but I explain in audio commentary why I had to replace them with Ponder for this event's special rules.)

 Faeries was a powerful force in Standard for nearly two years, and includes multiple staples cards from eternal formats such as Modern and Legacy.  But making the jump to Tribal Wars isn't necessarily easy. During its reign in Standard, some Fae players opted for more aggressive builds, racing an opponent with an army of fliers created by Bitterblossom and pumped by Scion of Oona. Others opted for a more controlling build, more prominently featuring Vendilion Clique and Glen Elendra Archmage. The requirement of playing 20 creatures definitely pushes you towards having an aggressive plan of attack, and away from some of the more control-oriented Faeries. But the soul-crushing tempo swings generated by cards like Cryptic Command and Mistbind Clique will happily complement the aggressive strategy, and are guaranteed to frustrate your opponent. In this pair of videos, I document how I attempted to optimize this Faerie list, starting from the one I played back in February. I then give audio commentary for three games I played against master Tribal Apocalypse player DirtyDuck, whose well-built Doran Treefolk deck found Fae to be a tough matchup.



 Just to remind you of a few things:

 The Rules: we now have a page with all the rules listed, so we won't have to repeat all of them before any tournament. Yay for time saving!

 The Top 8 Lockout: since last week, every time a Top 8 player (either from this year's ranking or all-time) will end undefeated, they will not be allowed to register the same tribe and deck again for 4 events (i.e. they'll have to register a different deck or decks 4 times before coming back to the undefeated one). With "deck" is meant a specific, recognizable archetype (e.g. Wall-Drazi), which in some case will be linked to a specific combo card (e.g. Helm of Obedience). A list of the current lockouts is maintained here.

 The Watch List: some particular, archetype-defining cards have been put into a specific Watch List, giving them Annoyance Levels based on how frequently they show up and their degree of success. Once a card gets to Level 3 or more, it'll be banned until enough weeks will have passed to make its appearance ratio acceptable again. So far, with 12 cards on watch, none of them reaches an Annoyance Level.

 The Tribal Achievements: Clan Leys, which is in charge of any Special Prize, has launched and is handling the Tribal Achievements: a way to have fun within Tribal Apocalypse, challenge yourself to do all kinds of strange MTG feats, and make some tix in the process. You can find the complete list of achievements here on the Hall of Fame. 35 unlocked, 15 to go. Remember to call in me or vantar6697 as a witness (start with the one that's NOT playing in that moment) before moving on in case of an In-Game or Endgame achievement. That's not needed for Deckbuilding achievements, you just have to declare them.

 The Virgin Prize has ended! And the last tribe standing was... drum roll... Mongoose! Now, this lead to two things: 1. the award has been replaced with the Semi-Virgin Prize, for tribes that've been played no more than 3 times (current list is here); and 2. Mongooses becomes the protagonists of a new, dedicated prize that will remember forever that you all neglected them despite Nimble Mongoose being featured in high-profile, tier-1 Legacy decks. From now on, The Mongoose Pride Prize will award 1 tix (at SBena_Bot) to everyone who'll just... play Mongoose. That's right, you just have to play them and you'll get 1 tix, till the end of times. Well, there's just one clause: you have to win at least one match with them within the event. Let's show them all what the mighty Herpestidae can do, shall we?

Hard to kill, hard to play (apparently)

 Topical Prize rotation! As we have returned to Ravnica, we said goodbye to Avacyn Restored's star tribes, Angel and Demon, and we embraced a whole new set of tribes for the Topical Prize. It's five tribes, each representing a different guild as portrayed in their relative keyrunes: Bird (for Azorius), Elemental (for Izzet), Devil (for Rakdos), Insect (for Golgari), and Wolf (for Selesnya). You don't necessarily have to play them in their guild's colors, but that gets bonus points for style and topicality.

 The Hamtastic Award: the Biodiversity Prize dedicated to the memory of Erik Friborg has started again, for its 3rd edition. Be the first to run 10 different tribes in a row and you'll get 5 tix on SBena_Bot! Current leader: mihahitlor with 7 tribes played. Remember that you have to play all the rounds of an event in order for the tribe to be added to your sequence. If you repeat a previous tribe, your whole sequence resets.

 The Volver Challenge is still unclaimed! I'll give 1 tix out of my pocket to the first player who'll win a proper match (no bye, no opponent forfaiting) with a Volver deck featuring 4 copies of each of them.

And maybe in the process we'll find out what the hell is a Volver

 Videos: Send me replays of your games, please! Don't know how? Read this quick guide in 6 easy steps and start saving your tribal feats for posterity!

 And Slugs for all! To honor the memory of BlippyTheSlug (the longest-run host of Tribal Apocalypse), any new player can ask me for a one-time free treat: a full playset of any and all Slugs ever printed and available online (that is Spitting Slug, Molder Slug, Thermopod, and Catacomb Slug). Courtesy of MTGO Traders and Clan Leys/SBena_Bot. The gift is meant for players who never took part before on a TribAp event, but I can grant it to recent players or budget players too, at my discretion. So just ask me for that, maybe you'll be lucky.

 What's Next as the upcoming Tribal Apocalypse events of the Blippian Era (every Saturday at 17:00 GMT):

  • 2.49 (Week 101 BE), on December 8: regular tribal.
  • 2.50 (Week 102 BE), on December 15: regular tribal.
  • 2.51 (Week 103 BE), on December 22: Christmas Special. No blue or black color identity or mana symbols (including hybrid mana and Phyrexian mana), allowed on cards, including lands. Special prize for the deck with most Snow permanents.
  • 2.52 (Week 104 BE), on December 29: Commander Tribal.

 See you all in the Tribal room!


Here's to the next 100! by AJ_Impy at Sat, 12/08/2012 - 06:27
AJ_Impy's picture

Kumagoro asked me to put in a few words here on the tournament, although much of what I was thinking he has eloquently put above. That first ever Tribal Apocalypse coincided with my last (to date) Art of Tribal Wars article, and the first advert for it is in the comments to the debate between myself and Lord Erman here: http://puremtgo.com/articles/art-tribal-wars-rogue-play

As such, I saw it as a passing of the torch, if you will. The Tribal Wars format was better served by a player run event with regular articles than just one player expounding on his own decks. That torch passed again here: http://puremtgo.com/articles/tribal-apocaypse-your-funeral-friend

Flippers Giraffe's three-month reign saw quite a few innovations, but just as Flippers had occasionally hosted during Shard's reign, we find that the first Blippian event predated the heralded era: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75846/25873049/Tribal_Apocal...

As to the Blippian era itself, I missed the start due to not having an available computer those first few times. I first took the field at the end of February fielding a poison zombies build, and took my first podium finish of the era with specters in April. Each week, I regale those listening to the Freed From the Real podcast about what I was doing in the previous event.

Tribal Wars as a format is something dear to my heart. It is incredibly flawed and easy to break, but that in itself is part of the charm, the elephant in the room which people do so love to poke. I am delighted that Tribal Apocalypse, the bearer of the Tribal torch still after all this time, is going from strength to strength, and that even with a few rough patches over the years, it has emerged unbowed, keeping the legacy of Kumagoro's, Blippy's, FlippersGiraffe's, Shardfenix's and my own work in keeping the format in people's thoughts going on into the future. Here's to the hosts, and here's to the next hundred events of Tribal Apocalypse!

Flippers' reign was really so by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 12/08/2012 - 07:19
Kumagoro42's picture

Thanks, AJ!

Flippers' reign was really so short? My, I lived through all of it and felt a lot longer than that. Talk about misperceptions.

My first Tribal Apocalypse was in April 24, 2010 (the Pauper event, I did terribly with Cats), which means I just missed 6 months or so. At the time I didn't ask how old it was, and judging from the in-jokes and mythical tales, I thought it was going on for years. :)

Flippers (and myself for one by Paul Leicht at Sat, 12/08/2012 - 07:34
Paul Leicht's picture

Flippers (and myself for one event) hosted sometimes when Shard wasn't available long before he decided to pass it on permanently.

Yeah, but I meant since when by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 12/08/2012 - 09:17
Kumagoro42's picture

Yeah, but I meant since when he took over, started doing articles and special events and stuff. I remember the transition.
I missed your host turn, though! How did that event go?

It was fairly hillarious by Paul Leicht at Sat, 12/08/2012 - 18:03
Paul Leicht's picture

It was fairly hilarious since Shard showed up halfway through and started taking over lol. I was like...OK.