Hi everyone! I’m Jason Ye, aka JasonILTG, the champion of the August tournament, and, as of that finish, a Bronze-level Pro.
I started playing SBB about a year ago, and was doing quite well - I top 8’d last December’s monthly - but then dropped the game around February as I both became more busy with work and my last semester at school, and stopped having a non-Mac computer that could run SBB without a lot of setup effort.
I picked the game back up recently, right after the Pea patch - this was actually my first tournament since then. And I absolutely crushed it - I was first on the Day Two leaderboard going into the top 8, and took down the top 8 race format while also having the most points at the end to boot. My only finish worse than a 4th in Day Two was one 5th in the first round of top 8!
So, in this article, I'll briefly go over a few notes about the metagame and my general strategy, and then jump into a tournament report on this past weekend.
I think the biggest defining feature of the current metagame is how good the ranged supports are, especially Sporko and Lady of the Lake at level 4.
Those two characters in particular just provide such good rate, while also scaling well into the lategame. It turns out there are a lot of characters that leverage stat buffs - anywhere from doubling them with Friendly Spirit, to double dipping on with summons, to leveraging higher attack to slay more and higher defense to survive to be able to slay more, to getting level 5 treasures faster from Lancelot.
And in addition to that, they're ranged characters, and so receive buffs well from spells, treasures, Feasting Dragons, and Good Boys; have the very relevant Mage typing; and are a potent lategame character in combination with Princess Pea.
They really just do everything! And because they're so good, that also makes backline disruption a lot better - specifically Lightning Dragon, Lightning Bolt, and Doombreath. And, in turn, that makes Soltak an essential lategame piece to keeping your support comps together. There were quite a few games this weekend where a timely preemptive Soltak buy, even without knowing my opponent's comp, ended up saving me.
I think one of my biggest strengths as a Storybook Brawl player is that I'm good at working with what I'm given. It's very rare to see me tunnel vision on one strategy and doomroll all my gold away - if there's a character or spell that improves my board meaningfully, I'm going to buy it pretty often, and as such it's pretty common to see me end up in random tempo piles that maybe eventually coalesce into a real comp.
One might think that that runs counter to my favorite way of highrolling: Polywoggle. But honestly I think that it kind of ties into that - being more consistently strong lets me greed with Polys more often, and my playstyle of working with what I'm given is pretty conducive to receiving a random higher level character that I can then use as direction. Either way, you can expect to see me buying and playing a lot of Polywoggles in my games.
Tournament Report - Day One
Round 1: Pan’s Shadow - 7th
My Day One was actually pretty mediocre overall, and this was a pretty mediocre start. It had an okay Queen of Hearts start that was perhaps a bit too greedy with buying a Wish and losing, that went on to have an okay level 4 with plenty of Sporkos and Ladies but nothing special, that kept being slightly behind other boards and losing just before being able to proc Lance and buy a bunch of 6s.
Round 2: The Fates - 2nd
This was the only 6-player pod I had for the whole tournament. Mostly I just managed to dodge the lobby leader long enough to get 2nd - I had Feasting Dragon with Bad Moon and Dragon’s Nest on 4.1, but still lost a lot of fights while getting a bunch of scaling. I barely stabilized at 1 HP with a huge Good Boy and a very timely Soltak buy, knocking out Cursed King and securing 2nd.
Sadly I was not quite strong enough to beat the 40 HP Catter the next turn (though I think with enough time I could’ve outscaled them), but a 2nd was good enough.
Round 3: Wonder Waddle - 4th
Got off to a really good Waddle start - Mice pair got Ring of Rage on 2.2, letting Poly slay into a Lady, and another Mice pair got Horn on 4.0 - but I squandered it by misplaying and trying too hard to chase HatBall instead of just leveraging my good tempo start. I did get an Aon eventually, but it just wasn't anywhere near fast enough to solidify into an actual AonBall comp. Thankfully, I still managed to squeeze out a 4th.
Round 4: The Fates - 1st
This round started off with a Chicken on Fates, which isn't excellent but I think is a lot better than many people think - the 7/7 body was fine for a few turns, and the 4 gold from selling it helped a lot in stabilizing around 4.0. Unfortunately I then took a bunch of chip damage as I struggled to find triples, but managed to stabilize at 9 HP after completely lucking into Ball + Horn + Mimic, and just rode that to victory.
Amusingly, I had a bit of a hiccup right before the final fight, where Steam did something weird and restarted SBB, kicking me out of the lobby - so the only way I knew that I got 1st was that my opponent immediately reported a 2nd place finish.
Round 5: The Cursed King - 1st
I had a very solid Cursed King start that could afford to buy XP three times while still winning most of my fights. Poly slaying into Echowood on 5.0 - plus an early tripled Robin Wood, knighted Burn Beard, and Green Knight - pointed me in the direction of trees. It took forever to find the Ashwood, but eventually a finished Herc gave me Box, Shard on Herc gave me Ashwood+, and Box gave me Round Table, sealing the deal.
Round 6: Potion Master - 5th
A decent Queen of Hearts start let me win a Wish and buy a Turkish Delight, again putting me up 3 XP. I managed to Knight a Pea for some tempo, but just never found anything beyond that, or any treasures above lvl. 3 - eventually I just fell behind people going bigger than me, and my speed to level 6 just didn't end up mattering that much.
Still, at this point 5th was completely fine for being on track to Day Two.
Round 7: Beauty - 2nd
I had a pretty good Beauty start, with no Queen of Hearts, but a Sarcophagus and a couple Godmothers. I didn't buy any XP, but got to level 6 pretty smoothly, and found and knighted a Pea pretty quickly. Got pretty lucky to find three Good Boys after that too, but sadly only managed to get 2nd, losing to another Pea comp and a well-timed Lightning Dragon. But 2nd was more than enough to get me to Day Two!
Round 1: Wonder Waddle - 4th
Like my Day One Waddle game, this game also started with two early Mice pairs, but this time I got offered pretty bad choices - literally no treasures that impacted my board, only economy treasures in Gloves of Thieving and Fool's Gold. And I was unfortunately unable to leverage those economy treasures enough to do better than 4th.
Round 2: Jack's Giant - 1st
The hero select was basically the worst possible set of heroes - Jack's Giant, Mihri, Mordred, and Sphinx - which is how I ended up playing Jack's Giant, but my treasure luck made up for it. Brave Princess and Nutcracker finishing the same turn gave me Treasure Map into Embiggening Stone on 5.0, and I was able to leverage that into an easy first.
Round 3: The Cursed King - 2nd
The start here wasn't great, but did manage to buy one XP spell and get an early Oni King off of TLK to not completely die. It was salvaged by a lucky Dream into Morgan on exactly 5 HP on 6.0, and a Pea to stabilize quickly - not enough to contend for first, but enough to stabilize enough for second.
Funnily enough, this was the second example this tournament of a timely Soltak bought blind (and some good fight RNG) let me survive a Doombreath to take second.
Round 4: Pup the Magic Dragon - 2nd
Had a pretty good start despite buying and breaking an Egg pair, since I had two early Mims. Then I completed a Puzzle Rune and had a really lucky upgraded Poly slay into an upgraded Oni Tyrant, and that tempo plus a Pea got me to the finals, where I lost to some Pumpkin scam.
Round 5: Hoard Dragon - 1st
Pretty standard Hoard Dragon highroll game, with an early Monkey's Paw that I leveraged to get to level 6 early, get a Grail, and just win with World Tree, Excalibur, and Round Table.
Round 6: Pied Piper - 4th
This game started well with a completed Puzzle Rune and an upgraded Poly that slayed on 4.0 and got TLK'd into an upgraded Burn Beard. But I then failed to ever find an Ashwood and had to settle for a couple mediocre Good Boys buffing a Beauty's Influenced Burn Beard, which was good enough for 4th but not good enough to go further than that.
Round 7: Peter Pants - 3rd
The hero select screen here was pretty interesting - I had calculated that I was locked in for top 8 as long as I got at least a 5th, so I opted to take Peter Pants over Wonder Waddle. Waddle is generally regarded as the strongest hero by far this patch - its hero power is just both strong early and leads to a lot of highroll potential - but Peter Pants is probably the most consistent hero at getting somewhere between 3rd and 5th.
The game started off as a pretty standard Pants game - good early tempo, decent early econ, and pretty quickly I had quite a few level 3 treasures. It took 10 treasures and 15 Dublies to find Ball (though I had Hat and Fork), but my army of Triplies kept winning fights anyways all the way up to top 3. And at some point around the 4th Triply I decided that, well, I'm locked for top 8 anyways, and my chances of getting better than 3rd are very slim, so I might as well meme and fully lean into the Triplies - I ended with 5 Triplies and 2 Dublies, for 17 copies of that character total :D
Round 1: Fallen Angel - 5th
This was a pretty weird game, where I won a Wish early, but just didn't get treasures or particularly strong scaling characters, and so petered out as I entered level 6 ended 5th.
Round 2: Skip - 3rd
No early econ made for a medium Skip start, but Hat+Fork let me rush to level 6 and buy an early tempo Oni Tyrant, which, with an Ambrosia, took me to top 3. Unfortunately, the rest of the lobby also rushed to level 6 - half of the lobby was level 6 on 5.0 lol - and I never found a Pumpkin to turn that tempo into a lategame build. Amusingly, I did find a Trophy Hunter to dream into for my Friendly Spirits, but didn't find a Baba Yaga to truly lean into that.
However, a 5th and a 3rd were enough to make me live! So now I'm mostly playing for first.
Round 3: Wonder Waddle - 2nd
Speaking of playing for 1st, Wonder Waddle was one of the best heroes I could've seen for doing that. And with 5 other people live, I really needed to get that 1st.
This was looking to be a pretty good Waddle game, with an early Puzzle Rune, Donkey+Helm, and Hat. Never found the gold, but Rune got me to level 6 fast enough to get a knighted Pea while others were on 5.2. Sadly, that wasn't enough to beat aarongertler's Mirror Mirror scam build, even after he died - but not facing the absurd highroll lobby leader ayanie at all let me get 2nd on tiebreakers.
But! In an amazing turn of events, that lobby leader was one of the two people who wasn't live! So the top 8 continues with another round.
Round 4: Potion Master - 1st
The start here was looking pretty good, with an early Cinderella and Familiar, and a golden Poly slaying on 4.0... until that Poly turned into a Nian and I couldn't find a TLK to save my life.
But I still had good enough tempo to buy some XP and get to level 6 and Dream into Beauty and find some Good Boys - and I finally managed to TLK the Nian into a Herc! And then that Herc gave me a Box - and that Box gave me a Tree! And with a Lordy in the next shop, it was pretty easy to leverage the World Tree into a win.
I honestly think this was one of the most interesting games I played this whole tournament, and was an excellent game to finish on. The early turns especially were chock full of decisions with the extra spell - and that's part of why Potion Master is one of my favorite heroes to play.
This was a really fun tournament to play in - I'm really glad I picked up Storybook Brawl again. Thanks so much to the devs for making such a great game! Here's hoping to doing well in the Fall Championships to perhaps qualify for Worlds!