Written by: Dustin Rogers (2017 National Champion)
Jesse asked me to do a write up of how it felt playing the ExSularian faction at Nationals. As this was the first time the faction had seen any competitive play in a National tournament, I was happy to oblige. So how did the least well place faction at nationals perform? Well as I pulled an overall 6th placement, it was a rough road.
Let's all go back to why I had decided on this faction…. For FUN! As the faction had the most variability in their playstyle, I wanted to get into my opponent’s psyche if you will. Another player in our playgroup, had given them a fair run, using all of the denial strategies available to him, and that provided for some very long and drawn out games. It opened up my mind to what possibilities that were available to them, Once that strategy entered our play group, of course as the deck brewer of the group, I had to see if i could play them counter to their obvious denial strategy. I built an aggro list that really felt punishing, but was fairly inconsistent specifically against certain Protoan builds. It was tons of fun to play though. It was a deck I had tuned up to compete for nationals, and was seriously a contender. And while I did play ExSul, it was not close to this list at all. So why did I go with a different playstyle, and change it up so close to nationals?
Well this all comes down to what happened with the final release of ExSul. Up until this point we had only been testing with what was the released as the Alpha versions of the faction, and when the final cards we announce there were many changes to some of the cards, and not in a negative or powering down version. There were changes to Anarchist, Anarchy, and biggest of all Village of San Clementa. This got the gears turning in my mind I decided to build a deck that incorporated all of these changes. And all I can say was, it was fantastic.
This deck entered our play group and blew our playtesting meta up!! It was sooo crazy, I just had to run this version at nationals. I spent the remainder of our time testing and editing this deck to be the most optimal. I was ready for nationals, I had decided I was going to run this list, knowing full well I was going to have some trouble with Protoan lists..
So how did the ExSul list fair at nationals… well I think that if i had drawn just a little better, in one game, the whole night may have gone differently. Let’s break down my matches.
Match one was vs the man with the plan who won it all, I did stuff he did more stuff, Protoan ran over me.
Match two was vs the man with a vendetta on me, this was the game i felt draws lost me this one, I had him on the ropes but the ropadopes never came, Protoan ran over me.
Match three was my mirror, the other ExSul player himself. This was without a doubt the best matchup and the most fun I had.
Match four vs a Synth player, I won. I pulled all the tools out of my deck in this match.
All said I know that when my deck won a game, it really won. I honestly think variance was got the best of me, even against some of the matches against the Protoan that I knew were going to require me to get a little lucky to win.
So for all those out there who are curious about adding the ExSul to your repertoire right now, you gotta know your command windows inside and out, and you have to know the other factions as well as everyone else. They require patience and you must be constantly thinking, what the best moves are, far more than the other factions. You must be prepared to play on your opponent's turn more than your own. Or you run an aggro list that's totally viable.
I had to carefully pilot my way to an Exsul Victory and at the end of the day, I would absolutely run them again.