Interview w/ Toby Jones
Today we have a Cardfighter Spotlight! I’ll be having the opportunity to interview the Genesis player that recently accomplished three Bushiroad Spring Fest Online (BSFO) 2021 events! AO Premium 3rd Place, AO V-Premium 2nd Place and NA V-Premium Top 8! His name is Toby Jones from WCC and is from Australia! Let’s get right into the interview!
Jaime: First off, congratulations to Toby Jones from WCC for topping at 3 Bushiroad Spring Fest Online (BSFO) 2021 events! He placed 3rd overall in Premium AO, 2nd Place overall in V-Premium AO, and Top 8 in V-Premium NA! Those are great accomplishments! Today I wanted to do an interview with you about your overall experience and even get to know you a little bit for the readers. Sounds good amigo?
Toby: For sure! Thanks for having me on for the interview!
Jaime: You’re welcome! It’s great to have another WCC member on the blog! Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Are you from any specific Vanguard teams/communities? Any other events that you and/or team have done well? Etc.
Toby: Hey guys, I’m Toby from WCC based in Australia and have been residing in different parts of the East Coast.
Since I’ve been playing, my tops are:
- 4th place 2016 BWC Melbourne
- Champion of 2018 Melbourne BCS Standard
- Top 8 Melbourne BCS Premium
- Champion team 2019 BSF Sydney Premium
- Champion of 2019 Melbourne BCS Premium
- 3rd place 2021 AO BSFO Premium
- 2nd place 2021 AO BSFO V-Premium
- Top 8 NA BSFO V-Premium.
Jaime: That’s an impressive track record! With any great player, there’s a start to it! How did you start playing Cardfight Vanguard?
Toby: I started playing Vanguard in 2016, around the time in between G-BT05 and G-BT06. Originally, I was a Pokemon player at a semi-competitive level; having got myself a few small tops there. I was introduced to Vanguard through my local community at the time since we played a range of card games, including games like Weiss Schwarz myself from about 2 months before picking up Vanguard.
I had been convinced to give the game a try and got hooked on all the fun I was having with it. It wasn’t just the mechanics and style of the game that got me into it, but just the community around it I had near me that I had seen the appeal of. So it’s thanks to communities that others can see the great appeal of the game and get people personally invested in the fun too.
Jaime: That’s amazing to hear how you were hooked by the experience and also the community around it. That’s very important! During your preparation, what are some things that you mainly focused on? Certain matchups, deck builds, strategies, etc.
Toby: In terms of preparation, it’s probably no surprise that most of the time and dedication went to the Premium format, seeing as most of the team has listed it as their favourite of the formats. Ever since the BSFO was announced, the team members instantly keen on figuring the format out got to work determining what the best decks were and their optimal versions.
For about 5 months we gathered so much testing data within the team with so many different matchups to see which decks and strategies performed the most consistently in the testing sphere.
For me personally, I gravitate towards decks that had the best results and most consistent data as preferential choices to take to an event.
In this current format of Premium, you basically had to go down two paths to contend with the metagame: play a degenerate loop deck or play a deck that disrupts or quickly blasts the degenerate loop decks.
V-premium is a bit more flexible on choices and still being able to perform well, however you most likely won’t have as much consistent results compared to the decks on the high tier.
Jaime: Wow, your analysis and play testing was very thorough with the WCC team! What made you decide on Genesis to play with? Why Fenrir Loop? Why Astral Poets?
Toby: Firstly, I love Genesis as a clan so there was a small level of personal bias in the choices for the weekends.
For Premium, our data had shown that Fenrir had the most consistent results with a 56.7% win rate, which if people understand meta card game data even in other games is an extremely good result. This data was recorded within testing of WCC against optimal lists and mostly optimal plays. This primarily was the reason I ended up on taking Fenrir to BSFO, even though sometimes it feels frail and unsafe just due to the nature of the format where you could just get blown out for no reason and with 0 counterplay accessible from your side. That and out of the team I had logged most of the testing data with the deck and knew it like the back of my hand.
For V-Premium, The choice here was more of a personal preference this time around compared to Premium. I didn’t enjoy the thought of playing mirror versions of the decks currently on the top tier of V-Premium, such as Prisms and Gavrail. The thought process I had by taking the Astral Poets deck is that it has good matchups against these decks on the current top. Prisms need time to build up their resources and Valkerion has the opportunity to pressure them before they can start generating lots of resources. There’s also the fact that Prism lists aren’t always set in stone with their Sentinel lineup. Some play maximum draw perfect guards, some play half perfect guards/half sentinel crits, and some run all sentinel Criticals. The more sentinel Criticals a Prism player runs, the better it is for an Astral Poets player because it is increasingly difficult to guard a Valkerion. For the Angel Feather matchup, Genesis is one of the few clans capable of auto-blocking Hamiel thanks to Eosanesis Dragon. Plus the fact Angels usually run 16 crits meaning they only have their protect markers to rely on for Valkerion. There isn’t a completely horrible matchup for the deck either, which led me to the choice of picking to play Genesis for V-Premium.
Jaime: Thanks for those insights! Awesome, we’ll start with Premium, let’s dive into your deck list. I see that you’re playing 4 copies of Croute, 4 copies of Grappa, and 4 Copies of Valencia. It seems that you wanted to Soul Charge a lot of cards ASAP. How did it work out for you?
Toby: The core concept of this Fenrir Loop list was the fact that the deck wanted to get to the loop as fast as possible, even if the opponent gave the deck 0 counterblast. We sacrificed versatility for consistency in that regard to get through as much of the deck as we could. This was because of the format we are currently in where any of the decks that reach their turn 3 have a chance of just ending the game there and then. We wanted to follow this philosophy with this list, because you could still have a high chance of killing your opponent even though you couldn’t reach your infinite loop on turn 3.
The combination of Gleipnir and Soul charging enough Tahros is game-ending in itself if the opponent hasn’t gathered much defense, especially if they’ve been damage denying you. Running 4 Croute and 4 of each of the Witches gives you the opportunity to go through your deck a lot. In a 0 cb scenario, and with the Gleipnir and Kazande/Wolf plus Zarzan’ing yourself to GB, you had chances of getting infinite if you had a combination of 2 or more Croute or 1 Croute and the rest of the Soul charging witches and Gelgja in Soul.
Statistically, this can occur in under 20% of hands. Remember, this is just the bare basis of having no extra resources to work with and just relies on what you have for your hand. Knowing what to keep in your hand and what to mulligan was a big part of testing too since there were so many combinations of cards you wanted to opt for and prioritize. If you are given CB during the early game and you have access to GB outside of Marduk, There is an extremely high chance for you to complete an infinite loop on turn 3 going first. If you can’t loop on turn 3, you usually certainly can on turn 4. In the tournament, this happened in pretty much all the games I won. The games I lost were going 2nd to Blademaster and not getting a chance to play the game.
Jaime: I see, interesting how you guys recognize the list sacrificed versatility to give more consistency of that Turn 3 infinite loop. There are always pros/cons of card choices in deck building. I also see that you’ve included a Zarzan engine. What were some key highlights/plays that the Zarzan engine helped? In the tournament, can you give an example?
Toby: Again as previously highlighted, Zarzan was crucial to getting the possibility to loop your opponent or even just pressure them on 1st Grade 3 ride by turning on Generation Break even without any damage you could have used to alternatively use Marduk or other means to access GB.
Because of Zarzan it was also important to make sure you had vanillas in hand to pair with it. But it gave the opportunity to win the game there and then even when your opponent played correctly by denying you counterblast. Since Fenrir easily searches for it, it was the target for Fenrir’s search skill in nearly every single one of my games during the tournament, except the one game I drew into him naturally. When Zarzan turns on GB, Tahro instantly becomes live and I won games by just buffing Gleipnir with Gelgja’s power gains and having a few Tahros in soul. This mentality was to loop your opponent before your opponent loops you
Jaime: I agree with having the Zarzan engine being used to deal with 0 damage counter play. It served you well and myself too in my variant. I see you’re playing 2 copies of Kazande, 2 Platinum Wolf, and 3 copies of Bangle, can you eleborate why you came to those choices/ratios? Also, how come you’re using the Cray Elemental Over trigger? Any other card choices you’d like to point out?
Toby: Kazande/Platinum Wolf are the key cards to what make the Genesis loop itself even work. For those who don’t fully understand the core function of how the loop works, the cards you need for it to function is a copy of Kazande/Wolf, at least 2 Tahros in soul, and at least 2 Gelgjas in Soul or 1 in Soul and 1 on the bottom of the deck. You basically need to Soul charge until you have a Gelgja left as the only card in your deck. Then, use Kazande/Wolf’s skill to Soul blast 2 Tahro to get it’s power gain. Tahro then goes to the bottom of the deck due to its own skill. After, you then use the Gelgja still in your deck to put itself on the bottom to Soul charge the 2nd Gelgja and one of the 2 Tahros you put on the bottom of the deck as well as giving your power gains to your units. After, you put the 1st Gelgja you just now Soul charged onto the bottom of the deck to soul charge the 2nd Tahro you put on the bottom of the deck and the 2nd Gelgja. You then repeat these steps until your continual gaining of power reaches a point you are happy with. Usually I declare to my opponent that I am performing these steps and choose a number to infinitely go to.
With the inclusion of Over triggers into the format, I declare a number much higher than it’s defensive power to make sure I still hit over them. The ratios of each of the Soul blast combo pieces are to give a higher possibility of making sure I can draw into it, especially in the early since I want to go through my deck as soon as possible. They are also usually the main way I utilize the witch package to accelerate my soul. We decided on a 2-2 split since having different grades is handy thanks to Fenrir’s search. Plus it helps splitting ride consistency since you never really wanted to ride Gelgja since the Grade 1 is usually what you soul blast to search for Zarzan, and you wanted to ride Witch of Grapes, Grappa and Witch of Oranges, Valencia if you can.
Solidar Bangle primarily was an anti-bricking card, designed to help you fix your hand in the early game, and put key pieces into soul in the late game, such as Witches, Tahro, and Gelgja. Running the Cray Elemental Over trigger primarily was because we feared decking out if we managed to hit it with such a low deck count after potentially trying to hit an unsuccessful loop. The tradeoff of getting drive checks to get more hand didn’t seem worth the risk in comparison, especially since most of the loop decks demolish past most hands, especially Fenrir’s feeble hand. Also two instances of 100 million power on a drive check could come up more, especially if you could help make Gleipnir big enough to hit over an Over trigger defensive from your opponent if you couldn’t loop.
Jaime: Awesome thanks for explaining those card choices. All very well thought out! Thanks for explaining the infinite loop for the readers. Very good point on the Cray Elemental Over trigger versus the Keter Sanctuary one. With this build, what was your winning image for most of your games? Like did you have a setup, game state, or strategy that you focused on?
Toby: The game plan was to always achieve the infinite loop. This starts all the way from deciding your opening hand: what to keep and what to mulligan. For me, it always depended on the state of my hand to decide my gameplan going forward to achieve my goal and mulligan to accommodate that as best it could.
The main card you needed to ensure battle pressure was Gleipnir, so it was always a priority to secure him for that reason. It was also key to have a copy of Kazande/Wolf to ensure the loop. Everything else is secondary in objective besides making sure you don’t misride your Grade 3.
However, when it came to games against the decks that had hand traps (ways to disrupt your board during your battle phase), I developed a pattern to try and fight against that difficult situation with your loop. It was imperative that you had 2 Gleipnirs in your front row, have a booster for each and have a 3rd Gleipnir in your soul. This all while still being on your Fenrir Grade 3. The idea behind this is to utilize Fenrir’s revive skill during the battle phase by Soul blasting the Gleipnir on attack to gain Fenrir’s +10k power. Sometimes your opponent has more than 1 hand trap so they can get rid of both Gleipnirs. With this way you still have a 3rd option to pressure with, since you still have 1 boost with infinite power and still have Tahros to scale with at least 30k power at that point. An important point about this strategy is to ensure that you make your deck 1 Gelgja that you achieved to get to your loop, plus 1 Tahro. This is so your opponent can’t completely mess up your turn by getting rid of both Gleipnirs at once. If you had just kept say all 4 Tahros in Soul and began your attack pattern by soul blasting just 1 Tahro and they got rid of both Gleipnirs, You now have no way of reviving another Gleipnir because you will deckout by doing so. Therefore it’s imperative you keep 1 Tahro on the bottom of your deck before the battle phase to make sure you’re at 3 deck before your opponent has an opportunity to counter you. It isn’t the most perfect strategy but it’s the most effective you can achieve when put in such a precarious situation.
Jaime: Thanks for elaborating on it! Now, let’s transition to V-Premium, and dive into your deck list. I see that you’re playing 12 G3s and 4 copies of the G5 Astral Diety. How did it work out for you? Any “bricking”?
Toby: With having skewer ratios that this kind of list runs, there’s always more risk of ‘bricking’ compared to the more standard ratios that decks run. A lot of Astral Poet players may consider running less Grade 3s than 12 to be a potential or bricking skills such as Dikei or your Becrux or Arcturus. However, I was more concerned with the risk of traditional bricking my running such low counts of Grade 1s and 2s. So that’s why I decided to go with the ratios of my list to have somewhat of a ‘balance’. This ratio never seemed to bother me extensively throughout the tournament since I achieved my Force marker generation goals most of the time.
Jaime: Good point and glad it worked out! I also see that you’ve gone to a heavy Critical trigger ratio. Did the aggression help finish your games quickly? Why 3 Critical sentinels and 1 PG Draw?
Toby: Yes, the idea with this deck is to apply as much pressure as possible with Valkerion, therefore making me run high counts of Critical triggers. Originally I was running 4 sentinel Critical triggers but I decided to just bump it down slightly giving me a small chance of having access to an alternative perfect guard outside of Eosanesis. This was also a meta call since I wanted to run high Critical triggers to topple over decks that didn’t have fast ability to gather defense.
Granblue was a factor I didn’t really account for however being on the top cut tables in AO and didn’t have much shield for their Skull Dragons compared to running 4 draw perfect guards.
Jaime: Very good points! Yes, those Skull Dragons can really pack a punch ha! Any other card choices you’d like to point out?
Toby: I guess I could just quickly discuss my marker choice I allotted to go into for my games. The decision came down to a number of factors. Primarily, I would use Force 2 if I could to apply as much pressure with Valkerion as I could, sacrificing Vanguard pressure for it. I thought this was a decent tradeoff, especially given the fact that Valkerion has the opportunity to restand. Going first I would usually opt for Force 2 and had a Vanguard booster so it makes things difficult to guard in the early If I achieved to gain a marker before Grade 3 ride. Going second It would depend on the matchup and the state of my hand and the grade I first achieved the marker. Against Protect matchups usually the default choice was Force 1 since they gain a perfect guard each Grade 3 ride and I wanted to spread the pressure of my board for that reason.
Jaime: Awesome thanks for explaining those card choices and even Force marker decisions. With this build, what was your winning image for most of your games? Like did you have a setup, game state, or strategy that you focused on?
Toby: For me, the dream board for this deck is to have the VR Uranus on my Vanguard circle, Valkerion on the Astral Plane, 2 targets to rest for restanding Valkerion, and 2 Phinomenus since they can get to me massive attackers If you have gained a lot of markers during the game. The priority is always the VR Uranus and Valkerion package though. The deck is fairly linear in it’s game plan and goal. Get a bunch of Force markers and swing big with Valkerion.
Jaime: Love it, I like it when decks have a very simple Winning Image to execute! For all events, during your games, which decks/clans did you face?
Toby: I kept record of the tournaments I topped:
AO Region Premium 3rd Place:
- Round 1 – DI Win
- Round 2- Mukarumo Win
- Round 3 – DI Win
- Round 4 – Granblue Win
- Round 5 – Blademaster Lose went 2nd
- Top 8 – DI Win
- Top 4 – Blademaster Lose went 2nd
- 3rd/4th – PM Win
AO Region V-Premium 2nd Place:
- Round 1 – Luard Win
- Round 2 – GC Lose opp healed out of lethal
- Round 3 – MLB Win
- Round 4 – Dotx Win
- Round 5 – Coral Win
- Round 6 – Gavrial Win
- Round 7 – DI Win
- Top 8 – Prisms Win
- Top 4 – Granblue Win
- Finals – Granblue Lose
- Round 1 – Hamsters GN Win
- Round 2 – Gavrail Win
- Round 3 – Tachikaze Win
- Round 4 – Melody Win
- Round 5 – Prism Win
- Round 6 – Bye
- Round 7 – Prisms Lose
- Top 8 – Prisms Lose opp healed out of lethal
Jaime: You definitely faced a lot of variety in all 3 tournaments! For all events, was there a game you would like to highlight? Like your toughest matchup, best game, break or deal moments, etc.
Toby: It’s always fun trying to get a gauge of a new opponent during a tournament but it’s also interesting playing against a teammate you know the deck and gameplay of extremely well to see how the games pan out.
One of the most memorable games for me was the 3rd/4th decider for AO Premium where I went up against Derick with his Pale Moon deck. We both know everything about each other’s decks and strategies so it just came down to who could get the pieces the best. And it turned out to be me that time being one of the few games I managed to get Zarzan during the early game by hard drawing it effectively giving him zero time to get up his disruption Tricky Assistant play.
It was also pretty disheartening that I didn’t get past Top 8 in NA V-Premium after my opponent healed through my lethal attack and guarded the rest of my turn. But he played that game correctly so I don’t feel as bad about losing.
Jaime: Wow, it is amazing facing a good amigo in the big tournaments in Top 8! For all events, during your games, what is something that you appreciated about your deck from the preparation you’ve done? The strategy of it, consistency, power, plays, etc.
Toby: During Premium, there was always the underlying fear of your opponent’s deck just going full combo out of nowhere whether it was checking a bunch of stand triggers, or an opponent like DI having lots of Bobos in hand. As well as the risk of a defensive Over trigger if you didn’t manage to go infinite. Premium is such an uncertain format for me in its current iteration with so many decks being unchecked.
In V-Premium things were easier to predict how a game would be progressing. I especially had a feeling of security of Eosanesis to protect me against the Angel Feather players whereas many other decks had to worry a lot about it.
Jaime: I still find it really impressive that you were undefeated in both swiss rounds. Thanks for sharing again. For all events, how were your last games?
Toby: For the last games during my topping tournaments, I had a different range of feelings for each. In AO Premium, losing out on getting to the finals because I went 2nd against Blademaster and had to ride the wrong Grade 3 was a bit of a frustrating moment, especially since I had to prepare and think through so much more than a Blademaster deck does. The 3rd and 4th decider was just a fun game between friends who just waited to see who managed to get the best hand.
In AO V-Premium Finals, my deck progressed to Grade 3 and my hand wasn’t really that great for generating markers and doing much effectively then. My opponent playing Granblue played well and correctly so I have no faults to that game at all and was just happy to get Astral poets to that point.
In NA V-Premium Top 8, I played correctly all the way through and it came down to my opponent having to guard my Vanguard for 1 to pass and me going through with a heal, which was pretty expected since I had deck thinned Grade 3s and 5s a lot. It felt pretty bad when he healed out of that attack to then proceed to guard the rest of my turn for me to lose the next. I kept thinking that if it was a crit instead I would have won but I couldn’t have done anymore to control that outcome so I eventually accepted it even though it was unfortunate I couldn’t make it any further to try and gather more prize cards.
Overall for the most part my Top Cut games were enjoyable experiences especially having the opportunity to play at the top level again after so long without events.
Jaime: I definitely agree that it feels really good to play at top level events since this pandemic started! After the tournaments, did you take some time to reflect? Anything that you learned from your experience?
Toby: I had lots of time to reflect, especially with the WCC members who were in Discord chat during the whole tournament. It’s to have a great hive mind of players to discuss points with to help affirm your thoughts or give extra advice you potentially missed during your experiences.
If I could recommend anything outside of the game itself, is to gather yourself around like-minded players who have similar goals and aspirations to you. It is so helpful in building yourself up as a player and as a member of a community.
Jaime: Absolutely agree on surrounding yourself with like-minded players that have similar goals and aspirations! Not everyone in the world has the same mindset, so it becomes imperative to find those who do. Would you like to do any shout outs to people that you know and/or have helped you along your journey?
Toby: Firstly and obviously, just a huge shoutout to all the boys at WCC for all the support and preparation for this tournament series. All the hard work and time spent into everything for getting back into the competitive circuit has paid off with a massive amount of tops for the team throughout the two weekends. I couldn’t imagine a better group of guys to play and enjoy our favourite game with. Looking forward to the time we can visit each over again!
Secondly to all the individuals who messaged me and gave your vocal support. You know who you are since there’s a lot to list and I just want to say thank you and I appreciate every single one of you!
Also a big shout out to the sponsors and partners of WCC who support us with card gaming supplies and products: ZeroDamageGaming, BCW, Avalon Accessories, Inked Gaming, ID Athletic, Lindentech, and TCGplayer.
Jaime: That’s all great stuff! I can tell that you have a lot of support from the team and others in the community! While preparing with Genesis, did you use/see any social media to help you solidify your build? Such as blogs, YouTube videos/channels, Facebook, Reddit, etc.
Toby: We were pioneering Genesis Premium ever since the reveals of Divine Lightning Radiance and helping players out with ideas and concepts of the deck. After the tournament series was announced we were constantly checking how our input was spreading through the social media channels and seeing other players interpretations on Fenrir in Premium. It was great to see how many people worked on Fenrir during those times too. There weren’t any crazy concepts out there we hadn’t already considered or tested but it was good to see people willing to try different things.
Jaime: Wow, that’s great you guys have worked out ideas and concepts since Divine Lightning Radiance. Thanks again for joining me in this interview!
Toby: Appreciate it Jaime! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to discuss Genesis!
Jaime: Absolutely! Genesis is one of my favorite clans as well! I wish you the best and hope to see more from you in the metagame! Till next time amigos!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this interview! I just wanted to highlight some takeaways that can help players out!
Deciding On A Deck
Toby mentioned, “For about 5 months we gathered so much testing data within the team with so many different matchups to see which decks and strategies performed the most consistently in the testing sphere.
For me personally, I gravitate towards decks that had the best results and most consistent data as preferential choices to take to an event.“
In any tournament, it’s highly recommended assess the current metagame so you can have a great idea and confidence on picking a deck to pilot for the event.
The level of research and play testing that Toby did with WCC, was very thorough. 5 months worth of data and analysis is a lot if you think about it.
To be clear, you don’t have to do 5 months worth of play testing to Top at an event. In fact, most of the time in my experience, you will only face about a third to two-thirds of the metagame you would expect throughout the tournament (especially in swiss rounds).
Really what this shows is their level of commitment to topping events. There’s a quote that rings true in any endeavor and it applies to Vanguard too.
“The will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win.” -Vince Lombardi
Your level of preparation will yield your confidence, expectation, and success overall. I cover these aspects in-depth in an old prior article here.
Data Analysis & How To Evaluate It
Toby also mentioned, “For Premium, our data had shown that Fenrir had the most consistent results with a 56.7% win rate, which if people understand meta card game data even in other games is an extremely good result. This data was recorded within testing of WCC against optimal lists and mostly optimal plays.“
All data has context and value. The key is to recognize and interpret it correctly.
In this context, the win rate was really good because its under the context of, “This data was recorded within testing of WCC against optimal lists and mostly optimal plays.“
Most times, some players often take certain results from certain events and either over/under value it. Which can spread throughout the community and cause a bit of confusion.
Surrounding Yourself With Like-Minded People
Toby mentioned, “If I could recommend anything outside of the game itself, is to gather yourself around like-minded players who have similar goals and aspirations to you. It is so helpful in building yourself up as a player and as a member of a community.“
Absolutely agree with Toby! A lot of the times what holds people back is being around people that DON’T have the same goals and aspirations.
For example, if your local/online friends are more focused on just playing the game casually, how do you expect them to be teammates that will push you to lengths of increasing your skill level? You cannot.
Nothing wrong with being around people with different goals and aspirations. Just understand that others have different mindsets. You may have to meet new people that are like-minded and those relationships are often made intentionally than just by casually having a common interest.
But what if I haven’t met someone? There’s social media platforms such as YouTube, blogs, Twitter, etc. where you can get that more competitive mindset and learn from it. A great example is WCC’s channel, Solemn Vanguard, these blogs, and many more too.
Start applying what you’re learning and you’re bound to get noticed by others of that caliber too.
Thanks again for reading this Cardfighter Spotlight article! It’s great to see Genesis top in multiple events! Thanks again to Toby for joining us today as well! Till next time amigos!