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Shadow Era TCG  »  Interview with Benumb, World Champion
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Welcome to a very special edition of my Shadow Era interview series, with the newly crowned World Champion, Benumb!

Let's kick things off with the usual general questions ...

How did you discover Shadow Era?

I first discovered Shadow Era on my Android phone. I was originally researching the popularity of tcg's within the Android market, because I planned on attempting my hand at creating a game myself. But that quickly got sidetracked by gameplay and the community within :)

Had you played any similar games before Shadow Era?

I took a small interest in MtG as a young teenager, then swayed from it to other ones as well that weren't really holding my attention. And I know people are gonna scream "nerd" here lol, but I played DnD instead for a bit haha..

How often do you get to play per week?

As of lately my playtime has been limited. My wife and I are going through some changes now, including a long distance move which will be taking place soon, so the preparations for that - not to mention the kids in general - are a handful, along side with my failing independent business, I'll be attending college this fall for ... Wait for it ... Computer programming! Huzzah! Needless to say I eventually would like to help SE from within.

With such a busy family life, how do you find the time? Based on the IRC logs of the World Finals, it sounds like you play one-handed, whilst changing diapers!

Haha! Actually, the diapers are over! (Thankfully!) It's the walk up the 2 flights of stairs to his room to oversee affairs, and tend to clean-ups that was rather distracting. He was just in super mode that day. As for the wife, she's been a strong factor for me being able to play - you have to understand that asking ones wife if she doesn't mind that I go hide in the basement for 3 saturday afternoons undisturbed while she tends to monster man and super sour girl, while I ignore it all, is a hard thing to ask of a person. But, luckily for me, she loves me :D The day of the finals in specific, she was gone to do groceries, so I was on my laptop, tending to the boy at the same time as playing lol. He was a super menace that day but the wife came in, and loudly set him straight, and I was able to play the final minutes undisturbed :D I fully expect her to bask in some iPad glory, she worked hard for it too :D As for normally, I play games when I can squeeze in the time :)

Do you have any other hobbies that compete for your time?

Some hobbies of mine, other than my kids, are: I like to play music. I can play a lot of instruments pretty well. And all the main ones, Guitar, Bass, Drums. Also, anything techy, I enjoy - I have xbox's and stuff..

As a musician yourself, what's your take on Shadow Era's music? Do you ever let it play for added atmosphere or do you turn sound off?

Actually the music was the first thing that grabbed me.. I remember saying to myself "Wow a decent heavy riff". As I don't have regular speakers connected to my pc, I actually run it to a stereo amplifier, into house speakers, and I've actually jammed along with Shadow Era backing music haha.. I do like it, but after months, I now play with the sounds off - that loop can only be endured so long haha.

Your posts on the forums to date have been very positive about the game and its developers. How important do you think it is that people speak up with their opinions about the game - good or bad - on the forums?

Well I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion. I would go as far to say as I'm somewhat addicted to their opinions. As I generally like most people, and can entertain their perspectives to a certain degree.. And I absolutely feel that more credit should be given to the game and it's developers as to what has been done. I see a lot of hate threads, and every now and again, I like to thank them instead. This is not to be mistaken with me agreeing with everything that has been done within the game, but I do believe it's on the right path.

If you had won the right, as World Champion, to introduce one card or change one card, what would it be?

Instantly reverted? haha... I'm honestly biased answering this question at this point... I would change Aeon back, and focus on the real issue. Be aware, I only chose this card because your question was specifically tailored for one card .. And, at this point, that one change broke my one hero. As I like to play him anyway, as far as my deck right now, and further evaluation is needed to solidify this statement in concrete..

If you were allowed to change another card, apart from Aeon, or introduce a completely new one, what would you do?

There are a plethora of ideas for great cards in some of the threads. But as it stands, I would most likely make a change to the Mind Control card as it is. I would like to see MC reworked to its last version - haste. I don't want to go more into detail about this card, there are plenty of threads about it, but basically, I agree with Killtrend.

Speaking of Killtrend, I personally think he is a great contributor to this community. When I first started Shadow Era, I was drawn to Gravebone - as a result, I was drawn to Killtrend's posts, as he arguably plays the best Gravebone out there. But his posts are not only informative to one hero. He's had countless great suggestions for the game, and in my opinion, has helped the community grow together as a whole. You can find some posted videos in his threads, and what I like the most about him, is if you ask him a question, the answer is always followed by a solid backing of information and reasoning. This is not to say that there aren't other great resources within the community that I've learned from and appreciate, this is just my "Shout out" ;) Thanks for the opportunity :)

No worries. It's good to hear people saying nice things about each other ... especially when I can use it as a plug for one of my previous interviews!

Let's properly move onto what everyone wants to hear about now: the World Championship tournament. How did you go about constructing your deck?

The same way I would any deck, based on minimal format, so I chose 39+Hero. When evaluating the effectiveness of my decks, I like to tinker and take different variables into consideration... I'm not gonna go right into it, but I made sure to have turn 2, turn 3, turn 4 cards etc, but I honestly didn't want to take a standard Majiya counter deck, as I felt healing didn't take a place in my build, and I absolutely hate the Plague style decks.. Left me with little choice: I took the baddies I knew I could combo together, and relied on the backbone of my build... You guessed it.. Aeon. He was unquestionably the make or break it to this build, as I could outlast Elementalis with it on any given day.

Who was your toughest match-up? Who did you lose to in the Regional Qualifiers?

This, my friend, is a tough question... As for toughest, I would go as far as to say a tie? Had Rumsey not disconnected on our 1st match, I have a feeling he could have won. Although, Kathalar was equally as strong, because his hero was the perfect counter to my perfect opener ...

Let me elaborate what I consider my perfect opener: turn 2, Puwen, turn 3, Aldon, turn 4 Staff... His ability (Eladwen's) would wipe my 2 allies everytime... And he always had the burn or direct dmg to finish the job. He was the one who beat me in the regionals. He was my only loss throughout the whole tournament... Both times I faced him.

It's handy you mention those two, because both Rumsey and Kathalar are previous interviewees as well!

Being more serious for a second, you seemed to be lacking confidence early on in the World Finals. Was this in relation to the loss against Kathalar in the regionals or something else?

Actually I doubted my deck from the start, I had even told my wife "Babe I don't plan on winning, I just wanna see how far I can get, 200 bucks is 200 bucks" Then the 2nd week, when there was no coin toss to decide why goes first in a tie-breaker, I really lost faith, because I was always the bottom player - now, for the most part this ain't so bad, but I honestly feel it's a bit trickier vs mages. So in turn this was very discouraging. Then I thought for sure the next week we would be back to the coin toss, which was not the case, and again, I was the lowest rank guy in there, so I had 2nd turn throughout lol. I did make mention of it while the tournament was in progress, not to try and debate it at that point, but merely to express my discontent haha. I get that way at times.

I have to say, the final game in the World Championship match against lyingdragon was more gripping than watching the finale of Game of Thrones. How long had you been holding onto that Resurrection for? It surprised everyone, I think.

Haha, I'm surprised the replay was not posted for the first couple days! It was the last card in my deck!! The very last! haha But believe it or not, I wouldn't have used it before then either, I try and strategically have Aeon as my 3rd person revived. It's very seldom I'll have to drop more than 2 allies before an Aeon is ready, And in this case, it could not have worked out more in my favor. As LD had played a Bazaar earlier, essentially, his Bazaar drew my 2 weenies, and I knew my staff would draw the Aeon :D It was a great game, but I didn't kill that Bazaar for a reason :)

Speaking of Bazaar, do you think your positive forum comments on the game had any impact on your magical ability to draw Wizent's Staffs from a 40 card deck without a draw engine of your own?

LOL! Nah.. The draw was a big part of my testing pre tourney.. I rolled with other options, I just feel like when you benefit another player, you don't really benefit at all.. After a LOT of matches on test and live server (Yes I played my deck there too) I realized that with my 4 staffs, I was hardly ever without one. There are the few games here and there where I don't pull one till very late ... but honestly, that's like 6% of the time, a chance I was willing to take :)

With Aeon being one of the keys to your deck's success, how will you cope in v1.26 with the changed meaning of the Protector keyword?

I'm not completely giving up on Jericho just yet, I been staring at my deck, like I'm trying to develop heat vision, for some time now! So, as to how I will cope with it, I'm gonna have to eat it like everyone else, but Aeon is definitely not what he was... I am extremely disappointed with this change.. I'm sure he will still be in the deck composition as his ability isn't useless. I'm not sure at this time really - like I said my deck is so knocked down by this at this point in time, it's hard to predict how my deck will come along through this massive "balance" change. Also, I know that other human heroes have to deal with this change, but for the sake of simplicity, I'm just sticking to my guy :p

Do you think you'll be trying out a new Hero any time soon?

Quite possibly, although I have to grind out some gold and stuff haha.. I was thinking of taking Lady Jericho (Zhanna) :p I believe she has the capabilities, and obviously she does as that was my opponent in the finals. It would be a completely different build to my Jericho.

If the Priest class didn't exist, what deck would you be playing?

Well, I started as a Gravebone (after my initial human starter deck). From there, I went to the test server, and played lots of good heroes. Let's break this into 2 categories: for fun on live server, I would probably play a Gwen; for tournaments, next time I pick the "meta" and see How I fair ;)

Now that you are World Champion, is there added pressure to make sure you achieve a high rating and stay near the top of the forthcoming Unofficial Ladder?

I would like to think not, but that would be a lie. It's definitely going to add some pressure - I even find myself a little nervous now on live server, as silly as that sounds haha.. But I've been getting beat with my Jericho deck as of late, so I've been hard on the drawing board looking into a fix for my current situation. As it stands, I need a couple thousand gold to make a deck I have in mind ;)

What advice do you have for other aspiring champions?

Roll with the punches, it's always uphill both ways! Make sure you have groceries that day! Get a babysitter! haha.. On a more serious note, when you're gunning for a tourney, in my personal opinion, when fine-tuning your deck, it's best to try and take into consideration you'll be fighting all heroes, not just one. (This is not to say that I didn't want a side deck option, or even to be able to tune my deck before worlds! lol)

You mentioned before that you were considering creating your own trading card game. Was this out of love for games or a business decision or a bit of both?

I've had this idea for a TCG game in the back of my head for quite some time now. And another passion of mine is computers. I've always known I wanted to go into programming, and am now enrolled for it. So as that time was coming closer and closer, I really did want to get as much information to market saturation and things of the such as possible. I have a partner in crime who has finished University for computer science, so this is still a passion and very much so, in my mind. I don't think it's the business side of things that's driving me - I mean I would obviously welcome some sort of gain from it, but I think it's just the drive to want to create a game I've seen in my head for a couple years now, and to make it a reality. Shadow Era is really quite close to what I had in mind, and the way it's growing - I may not ever need to make my game, I might just need to apply to Wulven ASAP ;)

Fast forward two years, how is Shadow Era doing?

Hopefully real well. I believe that if we start concentrating on card roll outs now, by then this game will have exploded hard! (Not to say it's not huge as is!) I personally feel we need to stop all these "balances" for the time being, and concentrate on balancing these so called overpowered cards, by adding counter cards for them. I know there are upcoming cards, and although I have no insider information, I have a good feeling Kyle knows that's what's needed too, and I believe we will see cards rolling out faster and faster.

That's excellent to hear, and I think it's a great way to end our interview. Thanks very much for making the time (somehow) to take part. I've really enjoyed this interview and I'm sure our readers will have too. Best of luck with the computer course and defending your title at the next tournament.

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