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The Op’s Road to Gen Con 2023 Meeples Family Tournament Recap — Anaheim, CA

After our mid-January adventures in the Pacific Northwest, stop number three of The Op Games’ Road to Gen Con 2023 was in Anaheim, CA at Meeples Family in the Anaheim Gardenwalk. The store's vibe is cozy, with six yurt-style tents set up inside the store, each holding a table big enough to seat four gamers. We set the games up in three of the tents, with a judge’s table nested off to the side.

The tournament drew eight competitors from around the southwest, including two players — Tyler Hansen and Gray Baker — who drove six hours from Arizona to play. After a few minutes of ensuring all players had everything they needed to get started, our three-round event began.

Round 1’s match-ups included Gray, running a team of Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, Dr. Facilier, and Jack Skellington, versus So-Cal Twitch streamer Amanda Panda, who summoned Ariel, Demona, and Moana. While Amanda used Moana’s Ocean tiles to gain additional movement for the two Oceanic characters on her team, their mobility wasn’t enough to offset the sheer stacks of Magic Brooms that Gray’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey piled up. When the dust settled, Gray strolled to a 24-7 win, citing Mickey as his de facto MVP of the round.

Other first-round pairings included Tyler (W) versus Peter Little (L), Sree (W) versus Alex Varela (L), and Joseph Braverman (W) against another Californian Twitch personality, Banzainator (L).

While some of the players at this event had been following the results of the Seattle tournament, looking for a leg up in the meta-strategy, the overall read among the Anaheim players didn’t feel overly rooted in previous RtGC event results. Seattle had shown a strong slant towards “value” teams that used Davy Jones or Aladdin as mid-range hitters with high enough HP to offset their VP risks and several trios that featured Sulley and Ariel together for board control. The Anaheim field was a little more diverse in its team builds, though, in all twelve matches together, no team ever had more than a single Expansion character. These games showcased the consistency of the Core Set characters.

In the second round, two separate games paired a player against another who they regularly played Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances with prior to the tournament: Gray and Tyler, and Sree and Joseph. Pairings like these often feel inevitable in bracketed events, and this tournament fit that pattern to a T.

Gray set up across from Tyler, running the same team he’d used against Amanda. With his experience playing against Tyler many times before, he knew that Tyler leaned heavily on the control elements that Sulley brought to the Arena. Gray’s strategy was to siphon counters off of Sulley using Jack Skellington’s Skill while setting up Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey as his primary source of heavy damage. It almost worked; in the end, Tyler took the match by a single point and advanced to the finals with a 2-0 record.

Meanwhile, Joseph and Sree brought nearly identical teams to the table; both played Sulley and Gaston, but Joseph set up Ariel as his third, while Sree chose the more aggressive Demona. Sree cited the game's pace as the main factor in his choice of Demona.

“I usually love playing as Ariel, but in a timed tournament, I think bringing out the heavy hitters is key,” he said after the match. In this case, it was the right choice, as he edged out Joseph by one point, claiming the remaining finals seat.

In the remaining second-round games, Amanda took down Peter by 3 points, and Banzainator bested Alex by 6. Of all three rounds, the scores were tightest in two, and the Amanda/Peter game and the Banzainator/Alex matchup could have ended dramatically differently with just one or two more turns.

Round 3 couldn’t have been a more perfect setup for stories. In addition to the game that would decide the Anaheim Regional Champion, we also got to see a rematch between two of the first online content creators to live-stream Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances. Banzainator won their first meeting in the summer of 2022, and she made it clear this time that of all the opponents she could have faced, Amanda made her the most nervous.

Banzainator took a “hit–and-heal” approach with Gaston, Aladdin, and Ariel, while Amanda went with a trio that had carried several of the players in the Seattle event into the top 5. In the first round of the game, Banzainator connected on Gaston’s Boast skill to lead into a Fury and a Brawler against Sulley, dealing the tank 7 damage and giving her an early edge. Amanda’s team of Sulley, Ariel, and Davy Jones gave her enough control of the game’s pace though to enable her to upgrade Davy Jones twice, bringing in the Kraken on two occasions to rip up the board state and take the win, 21-17

Meanwhile, the cards lined up for Tyler in the game that would decide the Regional Champion. Sree could only watch as Tyler’s Demona flew across the board and delivered 14 damage to two characters on Sree’s team at once, all in the first turn of the game. The combination play took four cards and Demona’s skill to pull off — Wings of Flight, Saeti Spell, Dangerous Force, another Saeti Spell, and Dark Lightning — but effectively ended the game almost before it even started. Sree’s Sulley, Gaston, and Demona couldn’t get back into the fight after that, and Tyler came away with the title, winning 21-10.

Tyler credits Dr. Facilier’s extra card in hand and a fortuitous mulligan for the incredible opening. While he considers Sulley to be the consistent MVP of his team, he says bringing Dr. Facilier along fuels Demona’s need for cards to combo off with.

Sree also recommends mulliganing aggressively to start the game with the cards you want to play earliest. Post-game, he spoke to the importance of having Sulley’s Protector of Friends ready to go from the beginning, allowing him to get into the mix with his heavy hitters with little risk to them.

Congratulations to the Anaheim Regional’s Top 5 finishers!

1st Place — Tyler Hansen

2nd Place — Gray Baker

3rd Place — Sree

4th Place — Amanda Panda

5th Place — Joseph Braverman

For more recaps, discussion, and statistical analysis, please join our Discord server and jump into the #disney-sorcerers-arena-epic-alliances channel. Look for the #Anaheim Event Results and Updates thread there, and be a part of the conversation!

Check back soon for our coverage of the upcoming tournament in Kissimmee, FL on February 18th!

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