The Toledo Lorcana Gauntlet Weekend Tournament Report

Have you ever heard of the Toledo Lorcana Gauntlet? It’s a special 3 day tournament series co-organized by 3 different stores in Toledo, and here is guest contributor Josh where he shares his experience in The Toledo Lorcana Gauntlet Weekend!


My name is Josh and for the last 8 months the small slice of my life called “free time” has been almost exclusively dedicated to the Disney Lorcana TCG.  My first competitive TCG was Decipher’s Lord of the Rings game.  As an obnoxious junior high student I ran my local FLGS as the number one player in the state of Ohio, until half of my deck ended up on the restricted list and I was forced to call it quits.  I set card games aside during high school/college/early 20s, until I got a closed beta key in November 2013 for Hearthstone.  It is not an exaggeration that I played Hearthstone most every day from 2014 – 2021, peaking with a triple legend (standard/wild/classic) finish in May 2021. 

While I loved the game, digital CCGs have nothing on holding actual cardboard in your hands across from a real person, going mono y mono to see who’s the best.  I’ve dabbled in a lot of other CCGs, but Lorcana really has its claws in me.  The Disney IP owns my generation, and as the dad of three boys, it’s been a real joy to both share classics like Jungle Book, Aladdin, and Hercules, and discover new masterpieces like Moana and Encanto together. 

The game is easy to learn and difficult to master, and it has managed to snare a TCG audience that is very diverse in both age and gender.  Speaking of diverse, you will see highly skilled pilots running every deck under the sun in Toledo, which is one of the many reasons I love attending as many local events as possible. 

The three local stores most supporting Lorcana banded together to host the first Toledo Lorcana Gauntlet Weekend.  The event consisted of a Friday night 1k, a Saturday afternoon 1k, and a Sunday afternoon 2k.  I could not have been more excited for this weekend, and spoiler alert, it lived up to the hype.

Why Ruby Amethyst

Here’s the thing about me – slightly above average player, the very worst “from scratch” deck builder you will ever meet (my best friend once described me as “creatively bankrupt”), but an absolutely maniacal content consumer and deck tweaker who has painstakingly evaluated every card both in and out of his deck.  Also, I hate playing decks with highly polarized matchup spreads, because I hate feeling like I have no shot once I see what colors my opponent is playing.  Finally, I own zero Sad Beast and two Big Robin Hood*.  You already know what deck this kind of person would play.  

*There’s going to be a lot of shorthand and slang in here but I promise it will be intelligible!

Of late in the dark recesses of the online community’s dankest Discord servers, Ruby Amethyst (R/P) is taking a lot of heat as a deck that is just not as good as the high ceiling high variance A Whole New World decks, namely Amber Steel and Sapphire Steel.  Those people might not be wrong, but the floor of R/P compared to the Steel decks feels so much higher to me.  Since set 3 I’ve logged more than 100 games of R/P online, but I have not had nearly the same number of reps or success with Blue Steel. 

I have all the cards to run any version of the deck, so it was always going to be R/P for me.  The criticism against R/P, which has been true at some points of the Chapter 3 meta, is that the deck just durdles around, drawing cards, with everything questing for a measly one lore.  The deck doesn’t have an explosive win condition, like Lucky Dime for Blue Steel and Red Blue, or Jafar into two AWNW and Friends for 16 lore (foreshadowing). 

How Ruby Amethyst

So how has the R/P hivemind responded to this criticism?  Let’s still draw all the cards, but let’s go back to questing for two – and fast. The above deck Top 4’d the recent 297 person Pixelborn tournament.  As you can see, vroom vroom.  Surfer Minnie, a set 2 staple that went into hibernation during the first chunk of set 3, is back with a vengeance.  Four Queen’s Castle to put the opponent in an impossible choice between clearing our characters or the location. Ten one drops to ensure we always have a character first turn and can sometimes play two of them on turn two.  No dragons; we love her but she’s too slow. Instead let’s get Tremaine back in there to get a six cost two quester.  Here is where I ended up:

I jokingly like to say that my main LGS is “The House That Steel Built”, as historically there has been a ton of Steel / X in the meta, with decks like Ruby Amethyst and Ruby Sapphire taking a backseat.  That was decidedly NOT the case this weekend, as we’ll get to later, but that is how I teched for the first 1k.  Nine one drops, and a strong anti aggro package of Pinocchio x2 and Teeth x3 to deal with the Little Robin Hoods, Queens, and Cindys that were sure to pop up.  If we could banish the shift targets before an early shift -> AWNW to make it into the mid game, I’d like my chances to win.

The three drop spot has a lot of 3x cards because I wasn’t sure exactly which ones would be best into the unknown meta.  Finally, I opted for an Yzma over a second Tremaine to be able to unconditionally hit the Jafars/Big Tinks/Big Cindys that would show up. Also, Yzma-ing your own Rabbit that just sang Friends is such a dopamine hit, and she can’t be targeted by Medusa and still quests for two.  I sweated out too many hands at 15 uninkables; 14 felt like a safe number.

Friday Night – Old School Gaming 1k

Friday afternoon I get the kids off the bus, throw my stuff and a couple Mountain Dew Zeros in my car, and it’s off to our first stop in the Gauntlet – Maumee Ohio’s Old School Gaming.

I had actually never attended an event at this store, being the furthest of the three LGSs from my house, but had bought singles from there a handful of times.  The staff were welcoming, knowledgeable (shout out to Tristan for knowing the ins and outs of everything AND playing in the event), there was plenty of space and the event was very well run.  We got started a little after 6:00 PM, and there were to be 5 rounds of swiss.  After surveying the landscape following my round one match, I had horribly misjudged what the meta would be.  Of the 26 people in attendance, a whopping 8 (!) people were playing Red Blue.  There was waaaay more Emerald Steel, hot off a bunch of top finishes in the Pixelborn tournament and a horrible matchup for R/P, than I would like to see.  So how did it go?  Well, winning the die roll every single round isn’t a bad way to go through a tournament:

Round 1 = Jackson’s Steelsong 2-0: I had teched my deck for Steelsong and Jackson, a very personable local, had some pretty bad draws.  Teeth and pino were able to delay any threat of a super early sung AWNW, and if I can get to turns 5-6 with the the board roughly even, Maui and Medusa are going to take over, and they did.  Jackson was playing flutes (flutes >>>> lanterns, people) and got a pretty high lore total game one.  Game two he drew into two Big Cindys and a Rock Star without the appropriate shift targets, so I was able to close the door and move on. 1-0.

Round 2 = Kalvin’s RedFasa 2-1: Kalvin was a super cool out of towner who I had met once before, as he top 8’d a local case tournament on the same deck.  He was on Bare Necessities but no Teeth.  Game 1 I zoomed ahead with Minnie surfers and he had no response to all the quick lore they accumulated.  Game 2 I thought I was going to be able to grind him out, but there was no Be Prepared to be found in the top half of my deck.  Game 3 I fell into a trap trying to break his Hades loop, but eventually I got out of it and was able to race double Mufasa to win, with two Goats at a Castle.  I ran into Kalvin again on Sunday and he said he has some uninkable issues in our games.  2-0.

Round 3 = Nick Blue Steel 2-0: Nick is the CEO and Founder of Refined Gaming, my most visited LGS and the host of Sunday’s 2k.  I only have good things to say about him and the store he runs; I was initially leery of bringing my 10 year old around the TCG crowd, but the entire Toledo Lorcana community has been wholesome and welcoming to TCG novices of all shapes and sizes.  Nick has been piloting Zoolander and I know from experience that deck can hit hard.  Fortunately in the early game, I did not see a ton of ramp, so I was able to keep the board early and live in the AWNW sweet spot (about 2-4 cards), where they don’t want to wheel you into too many new cards, but you have enough in hand where they can’t just say I’m not going to wheel you at all and just grind you out.  Be prepared took out a Cogsworth board game 1, Medusas did crazy work into Sad Beast, Robin Hood, and Aurora, and I dodged Rise enough where Castle gained a chunk of lore. Game 1 I extended a bit too far where wheel + Tink/Swords would have wiped my board / put me in a bad spot, but he only wheeled into the Big Tink. I think Blue Steel is the scariest when they gain a pretty good ink advantage early via Quill and Mickey but still sing AWNW early enough that their hand of threats is better and more playable than yours, and that play pattern didn’t happen these games. 3-0.

Round 4 = ??? Ruby Sapphire 2-0: I played an out of towner and don’t remember his name (sorry it was late!).  I was worried about this matchup, in that teeth would be useless and I had none of the R/B tech (think spellbook and more Surfers).  However, I had played this matchup a ton.  They generally have no early game, so spam as much to the board as possible, turn sideways, castle before be prepared, and hope you can get there with goats.  I mulliganed hard for Minnie and got her Game 1.  He did not have Hiram for a while in Game 1, and how reliant R/B is on that card for draw is one of the reasons I don’t like that deck.  Game 2 opened with a 1 drop into two more 1 drops.  I stayed at 4 ink for a while with castle, bounced the goats to get there and won quick. 4-0.

Round 5 = Matt Emerald/Amber aggro intentional draw: Here is a list of cool things about Matt: 1) he recently started playing Lorcana 2) he built his own off-meta green/yellow aggro deck that is very competitive 3) he had the cajones to bring aggro, a deck that our steel heavy meta should have wiped the floor with, to a 1k 4) he played against R/B all four rounds, winning 2-0 each series.   I could not in a million years script picking my best matchup all four rounds of swiss at a bigger event.  At this point Matt and I are the only two 4-0s in the field.  I propose and agree to a draw to lock us in as the top 2 seeds; we decide not to play, which is good because I can shut my brain down and keep my teeth/pino aggro tech a secret. 4-0-1.

However, there is a gnawing worry at the back of my mind, that doesn’t reveal itself to my consciousness for another 20 minutes or so.  There were no pair downs in round 5, and all the 3-1s agreed to a draw as well, so the top 8 was locked.  Lurking towards the back of the top 8 was Dylan – I think after this weekend indisputably the best local – playing his YOLO Jafar AWNW deck, which absolutely I felt was a bad matchup for my deck.  You know where this is going … 

Top 8 = Dylan Jafar AWNW 1-2 On The Play = I had toyed with adding Dragon Fire to my deck to be able to reach any character, especially Jafar, but ultimately I thought only 1 Jafar would be in the field and I could just dodge him.  Yeah, no.  I work my way up to 19 lore, but on the turn before I would win, Jafar went AWNW -> AWNW -> Friends to go from 4 to 20 lore.  I definitely missed a free lore with an early drop Olaf that his shift Big Tink was able to snipe, so that one was totally on me.  On my last turn of the game I chose to Tremaine his Floodborn Jafar / Big Tink board, instead of trying to draw into a bounce to get to 20 that turn.  Luckily the AWNW draw showed me I did not miss lethal by passing on that play.  Game 2 I got there; I didn’t see the jafar wheel and built up a wide enough board to win.  Game 3 he was able to grind me out with a jafar wheel into just gradual lore accrual. Ultimately I didn’t have a way to kill his lone big tink and she quested for the win.

Top 8 = 3 blue red (two out of towners and Tristan), 1 red/purple (me), 1 yellow green aggro (Matt), 1 steelsong (Alex), 1 green steel (Anthony), 1 jafar (Dylan)

Top 4 = 1 steelsong, 1 Jafar, 2 Red/blue

It was late and Top 4 decided to chop so we could all go home.  I was a little bummed I got paired into one of the two decks I didn’t want to see (the other being green steel, which I dodged all night) and had an obvious misplay, but overall I was happy with the deck’s performance and learned a lot for later matches.

Saturday Afternoon – Toledo Game Room 1k

On Saturday the second leg of the gauntlet was held at the Toledo Game Room.  The Game Room has a ton of space to host events, and Kevin, the guy who runs their Lorcana league, is a super nice dude who is very welcoming.

I did not attend this event, as April Saturdays are for 10U travel baseball in the Stowell household. However, there were 18 players, four rounds of swiss.  Dylan was back on Jafar and did not drop a game all day. Anthony managed to top 8 both tournaments piloting two different decks.  For a second day, there was way too much Red/Blue in the meta. The one deck I wanted to highlight was Richie’s blue/purple deck, as it’s 1) off meta 2) sneaky good 3) it’s very sad when you’re playing essentially a R/P mirror except they get to Elsa or Hades your good stuff over and over and over again. 

Top 8 = 2 blue red (one out of towner and Steve), 2 red/purple, 1 redfasa (Jessie), 1 steelsong (Anthony), 1 blue purple (Richie), 1 jafar (Dylan)

Top 4 = 1 blue purple, 1 Jafar, 2 Red/purple

Again, top 4 chose to split, and everyone got a little extra time to prep for the Big Kahuna, Sunday’s 2k at Refined Gaming.

How Ruby Amethyst, Part 2, The Remix

You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to make a pretty good guess at what the Sunday meta was going to look like:

And so I planned accordingly.  While Pino had been great, the Teeth really felt lackluster, and they are especially dead into R/B.  Out they went.  The easiest matches from Friday were the ones I could come out swinging = in comes the fourth surfer and fourth castle.  To make up for the lack of teeth, and to counter any other R/P players on surfer or castle, the fourth crab came in.  This allowed my surfers to take out their surfers and leave mine free to quest away, or fox plus crab to kill a castle.  With the fourth crab the fish hook could go. 

After Friday night I joked with Dylan that I was adding six Dragon Fires to deal with his Jafar.  I am generally down on that card because I think banishing a character and leaving a body is generally better than just banishing a character (I know, super insightful), but I still wanted an unconditional banish a character, so out went Tremaine and in came the second Yzma.  The other concession I made was swapping out the 2 Kuzco for 2 Jiminy, to banish any Blue Fairy without needing to waste my surfers, and with the potential upside that an evasive quester might snag a disproportionate amount of lore. Finally, if we’re in for a penny let’s be in for a pound.  We probably are favored into older R/P versions already, but Spellbook was the last add to the deck to really stick the knife in.  Here is what the Sunday list ended up as:

Sunday Afternoon – Refined Gaming 2k

When I first walked into Refined Gaming in September of last year, I honestly had no idea what to expect – it had been probably 25 years since I last spent significant time within the walls of a card shop.  Refined is everything I want in such a place.

Friendly/fair/knowledgeable staff, plenty of available product (both sealed and singles), and a clear interest in growing the communities of the TCGs they support.  The cherry on top for me was the emphasis on competitive play.  Wednesday night league has the top table streamed every week (right here:, and the same was true for all the larger events they were planning and have since executed. 

One of the best ways to get better is to go back and watch your/any games, discover your misplays, and consider alternate play lines that could have generated a win.  Speaking of cherries on top, not only would we be playing for the largest cash pool on Sunday, but the store went ahead and had custom mats made for first and second place (picture below).  As you can tell, I’m clearly a fan.

We ended up at 27 people for Sunday’s event, the largest of the three.  After round 1 I walked around and did my usual scouting.  Soapbox moment – as long as it’s not explicitly against your CCG’s competitive rules, I will 100% stop by every table after round 1, assuming I don’t go to time, and you should too.  Lorcana has one of the most generous mulligan systems in place for any card game I’ve played.  If you can at least get a general idea of the ink colors / archetypes each person is playing, you can and should mulligan aggressively in game one for the cards you want to see in each matchup.  I think this will be especially important in the new best of two competitive format, where a 2-0 sweep gets rewarded with a (preposterous?) third bonus point.  Soapbox over.  Long story short, that pie chart you hopefully laughed at earlier was mostly accurate.  At least half of the field was on R/P or R/B; those two decks were 75% of the top 8.

Round 1 = Anthony Green Yellow Discard 2-0 On The Draw: Anthony was someone I didn’t recognize, and when we sat down he informed me this was his first competitive event.  Obviously that makes me feel pretty good about my chances, but once the cards start getting discarded out of my hand, I had to sweat it out a bit.  Green steel discard is a horrible matchup for R/P, and while this version didn’t have the steel removal, it did have Bare Necessities and You Have Forgotten Me (which I had blocked out of my mind was a card in this game).  When in doubt stick with the play pattern that does best against discard – your early board is way better than theirs, pressure with castle on 4 to give them a Sophie’s choice, get down to zero cards in hand to prevent the Prince John draw, and top deck or castle draw your way into a win. 1-0.

Round 2 = Darren Red/Blue 2-0 On the Play: Darren is a super chill local who I actually haven’t played against very much to date, but I saw he was playing R/B.  It was time to take the new car out of the garage, and see how the R/B specific tech was going to work.  I won the die roll and this series played out pretty much like my Friday series did.  If R/B doesn’t see Hiram early or ramp to a Be Prepared it’s over.  Get the surfer minnies out, play the castle before be prepared, wash rinse repeat.  2-0.

Round 3 = Drew Red/Blue 0-2 On the Draw: At this point I am drinking my own Kool-Aid, feeling pretty good about myself, so it was time to come back down to reality.  I had only played Drew one previous time, at the Chapter 3 Inklands case tournament Refined held, and he absolutely whipped my Greenfasa deck with R/P.  I saw he was on R/B today, and I thought I would have continued success against that deck.  Boy was I wrong.  Drew won the die roll and went Develop into Fishbone on 3 into Maui/Pawpsicle on Turn 4 into Hiram on turn 5.  That is NOT what you want to see.  I did manage to bounce back and get to 16 lore with a castle and 2 zoo animals on board, threatening lethal.  He had Hiram, a host of items including 2 lucky dimes (!) on board, and was at 16.  Basically any 2 lore character meant he won, but he had to play multiple draw cards before finally finding a character to lock in the win.  Game 2 I opened with a Surfer minnie in hand, but for the only time all weekend I saw a Blue evasive killer Cruella on 2.  I chose to awkwardly play a Crab on 3, then pino on 4 to trade my 3 drop into his 2 drop, and any hopes of a fast start were ruined.  Tamatoa was difficult to remove all series, and the game ended with Gaston/Lucky Dime into Be Prepared to let his Manor finish the job.  2-1

Round 4 = Out of Towner Jacob Red/Blue 2-0 On the Draw: Honestly there isn’t much to say about this round.  Round 4 went exactly like round 2 – I mulliganed aggressively against a known opponent, drew the giganuts against R/B and he had trouble finding Hiram.  3-1

Round 5 = Out of Towner Travis Red/Purple 2-0 On the Draw: A review of the round 4 standings left a number of us in a pickle.  There was a round 1 unintentional draw between two R/P players still very much in the mix for top 8, and a round 4 intentional draw between two 3-0 R/P players.  As such, the top 8 could have broken in any number of ways.  Both my opponent and I were 3-1, and we were the better tiebreaker pairing than the second 3-1 / 3-1 table sitting to our right.  The four of us got into a bit of a game of chicken, in that if we opted to draw the table to our right very likely needed to play it out, and if we did not, they could (likely!) safely draw and both be in.  My opponent made the decision for us in that he proceeded with a die roll for first, and we were off.  I lost the die roll and could see my hopes of a top 8 slipping away.  However, the decision to go with a low to the ground version of the deck teched against the mirror paid off in the most clutch way possible this round.  I’m sure my opponent had a worse draw than I did, but I pulled out all the stops these two game – turn 2 pino to kill their early drop to prevent fox or snake shenanigans, early and multiple surfer minnies, queen’s castle in the sweet spot before be prepared, an early book and multiple bouncing goats.  My opponent was on 4 dragons and Tremaines, and my deck was just faster. 

Dalton, a great local who was not playing this weekend, and a better more technical R/P player than I, told me “when playing R/P, once you get the tempo you have to keep it until the game ends”.  That was what the deck did in Swiss this weekend.  4-1, and ended the Swiss phase with the overall top seed. 

Top 8 = Kalvin Redfasa 1-2 On The Play = Uh oh.  Six of the top 8 decks were R/P or R/B, but I had matched into Kalvin’s Redfasa deck again, and while I beat him on Friday, I had also made my deck actively worse against him by removing the three Teeth.  He told me about some of his uninkable issues and that he had addressed them with some tweaks.  I’m going to show versus tell by saying you can watch this round as we were on stream here ( 5 hours 5 minutes in).  In short, game 1 I went fast and won, game 2 I could not get to a Be Prepared, and game 3 my hopes were dashed when I cleared a Mufasa, played Be Prepared, and the other Mufasa on the board spawned … another Mufasa.  Once again I make top 8 but lose right away, but honestly I don’t care.  I had so much fun this weekend, all my opponents were gracious in victory or defeat, I cruised to top 8 both events I played in, and I made money playing a CCG.  HOLLA AT YOUR BOY.

Refined Top 8 – AKA The Motley Crew, minus Drew

                                       The Buckeyes Jersey is 3-0 to make top cut, FYI

Top 8 = 4 red purple (me, Joel, Josh L, Atalie), 2 red/blue (Darren and Drew), 1 redfasa (Kalvin), 1 jafar (Dylan)

… Redfasa beats me, Darren’s Red/Blue beats Atalie’s R/P, Joel wins the R/P mirror over Josh L, and Jafar beats Drew’s R/B

Top 4 = 1 Redfasa, 1 Jafar, 1 R/B, 1 R/P

… Redfasa beats Joel’s R/P, Jafar beats Darren’s R/B

Top 2 = Dylan’s Jafar beats Kalvin’s RedFasa for the win!

   … you can watch the Table 1 games here:

Top 2 – The Guys with the Fire Mats

Conclusion and Shout Outs

The best way I could think to end this was to acknowledge all the really cool people and things that happened this weekend.  Shout outs to:

  • Old School Gaming / Toledo Game Room / Refined Gaming’s excellent staff, for hosting a wonderful and well-executed event.
  • To Dylan for going Top 4, Top 4, Top 1 in the three events – literally couldn’t have been better
  • To Matt for being the champion of aggro players everywhere
  • To Anthony for topping 2 events with two different decks
  • To Richie for taking blurple to Top 4
  • To Kalvin for some of the most competitive games of Lorcana I’ve played, we’ll need to get a third series tiebreaker in at some point
  • To all the locals who make Toledo such an awesome place to play Lorcana
  • To Maui and all the Mim and Merlin cards, you are all fairly-statted and not overpowered at all
  • To Surfer Minnie, Queen’s Castle and Goat for being the MVPs of the weekend
  • To Madame Medusa for taking out $50 steel legendaries, dare I say, like a boss?

Finally, shout out to me for writing ~5,000 words in two days like a crazy person.  If you enjoyed this piece, share it with your other friends who have too much free time, and maybe I’ll write another one of these for store champs. 

Have fun, patronize your local game stores, and topdeck Goat.


Josh Stowell

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