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How to Bet and Win the Preakness - Anatomy of the Perfect Bet

Look first of all I'd like to be honest with you, I'm not going to claim I "stumbled" upon some "crazy secret system" that nobody knows. In fact, probably more than a few people know what I'm talking about in this article. The truth is that I've been playing the Preakness among many other horse races, for at least 15 years.
The Preakness is the first throroughbred race I ever attended, back in the 1990's. I had played at harness tracks, having been introduced to that at a young age, but had never been to a throroughbred track until 1996.
That year, my good friend and fellow horseplayer convinced me we should go to Pimlico for a big infield party and some big horse races would break out at some point. I didn't know or care much about anything except the infield party and thought it would be fun. We brought a 12 pack and settled in.
Early in the afternoon on the way up, we tuned in to the Baltimore rock station and were hearing all kinds of live music from some of our favorite bands such as Pearl Jam. We were just about pissed off at the fact that we missed some of these bands live, only to show up and find it was just a DJ playing live cuts, and the few local bands on deck hadn't even started playing yet.
I was young and after the party was over and horse races had broke out, I was wondering why Louis Quatorze had won the Preakness and we hadn't bet on him. After that I began some more analysis and started using some figures from Brisnet to help me analyze the races.
A couple years later I liked Charismatic in the Kentucky Derby, among like 10 other horses, but failed to have the right trifecta boxes since I had little clue what I was doing. I liked him in the Preakness as well, still at good odds since people thought his Derby victory was a fluke, but again failed to have the right trifecta when Badge showed up. But at that point I realized that a pattern was emerging.
Eventually I figured this stuff out, although hard-headed about it and unwilling to part from numerical analysis from numbers that I didn't even know how were calculated. I found out it didn't really take a any magic numbers or even much analysis for a basic wagering strategy.
With few exceptions, the Preakness is one of the easiest races to bet. Take the top (4-5) horses from the Kentucky Derby that run at Pimlico two weeks later, and undoubtedly 2 of them will finish in the top 4, in fact, usually the top two horses from the Derby will finish 1-2 in the Preakness. It's really that simple.
After that you do have to put in some analysis to figure out which "outsiders" will infiltrate the trifecta, or possibly even win the Preakness, along with the Kentucky Derby contingent. There are various tools to use to accomplish this but I normally use one I invented.
Unsatisfied with numbers from various other people and organizations with their secret calculations that I did not understand, I decided to make algorithms to create my own numbers and put them into what I call the Grid.
Last year, the Grid gave me Preakness winner Shackleford at 13-1 as the top Speed and Power horse. It was an obvious key horse for me and automatic win bet at those kind of odds. Plus, he was a top four Derby finisher. Apparently people forgot he finished 4th not 14th in the Derby, which was very respectable for a frontrunner.
Combine him with Derby winner and obvious favorite Animal Kingdom at 2nd, and take Astrology as an improving horse with 4th best Early Pace according to the Grid in 3rd place, and you have a very easy trifecta payout. Add Dialed In, the best Late Pace horse coming off a disappointing but respectable 8th place Derby finish, and you have a very easy superfecta.
This is what I call the anatomy of a perfect Preakness exotic bet. You take any of the top 4 Derby finishers that are running at Pimlico, and key them and 1 and 2, get the "outsider" that didn't run in the Derby at good odds, and add another strong contender, usually from the Derby, such as a good late runner for 4th.
You would be surprised how many times the Preakness plays out this way. Often the same horse will win the Preakness that won the Derby, which has happened less in the last few years but they still often finish in the money. And in fact the top two in the Derby often run 1-2 at the Preakness.
So using the top Derby horses is obvious but where will you find the "outsiders" that will undoubtedly take up a spot or two in the superfecta? Well that is tough to come up with by yourself. Normally you will need more of an advanced handicapping tool for that, which is why I use the Grid. I can tell you that the outsider is almost always at odds from 12-1 to 15-1 so that narrows it down.
The year before last the Grid of course gave me the Preakness winner, but only at 2-1 and not much value there, obviously. But also it gave me 11 of 13 winners that day including some nice long shots that provided good exotic payouts.
Of course, since I wrote this, it could just happen that the top Derby horses will finish 1-4 in the Preakness, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if that happens. Especially since of my top 6 Derby winning contenders, out of 20, 4 of them finished 1-4 in the Derby.
So now you know the basic strategy now for betting the Preakness. You just need to find the right long shot or two to add to your obvious Derby contenders for some nice exotic payouts. If I were you, I'd use the Grid to get them, but that's just because it always comes through for me in these situations.
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Seeking to Enter the Chase Trifecta

Hi CreditCards, I know I made a post very recently, but some replies to that post introduced me to the whole concept of the Chase Trifecta, and I've decided (after a lot of number crunching on Excel), that I would like to begin entering the Chase ecosystem. A little bit of background:


So some numbers that I've gotten from doing some Excel work:

From the above numbers, assuming I commit to being patient and redeeming my points purely for travel a year or two (or more) from now, it makes sense for me to enter the Chase Ecosystem. I know it's a lot of math, but if someone notices something awry, definitely let me know!

Now for the main reason I've turned to CreditCards: what order should I get the cards? I've calculated how much cash back I'd get per year one each card independently at best optimisation, just to see what would let me start the strongest (not accounting for each card's SUB):
From these numbers, it seems by best bet would be to first apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited and immediately begin placing all my purchases on that card. My issue is how I should continue from here. How long should I wait and which card should I apply for next?


For anyone who read through all of this, thank you very much. I appreciate it!
submitted by alumpypieceofpoop to CreditCards [link] [comments]

My Picks For BC Saturday At Del Mar 11-04-17.

Breeders Cup Saturday-- Del Mar is normally my worst track to play but the main reason is I have played it the least of all major tracks in my 40 years as a bettor. But i have to play the cards I have been dealt and try to make the most of it.
Race 4: BC Juvenile Fillies: I like the 8) Piedi Banchi(15-1) to win. Her last race saw her follow the speed around on SA speed favoring track and almost overcame one competitor but fell short. Overanalyze is leading first crop sire in terms of winners, but his foals are just now reaching the distance he enjoy most as a runner. With Storm Cat, Unbridled's Song, and Flying Paster in the dam family, she is one I will not overlook. 1) Heavenly Love(9-2) gets the nod to complete my exacta box. Everyone should be familiar with her sire Malibu Moon, but her dam Darling My Darling ran 5th in this race after just missing against Surfside in the G1 Frizette. 2nd dam Roaming Rachel was also a G1 winner that won 9 of 15 lifetime starts that was unplaced just once in her career. I will use the 3)Princess Warrior(12-1) to complete my tri box. 11) Wonder Gadot(8-1) is another that I considered and will complete my super but I like her stablemate a lot more now. WP 8, Ex Box 1-8, Tri Box 1-3-8, Super Box 1-3-8-11.
5th Race: BC Turf Sprint: I will again go with 9)Mongolian Saturday(20-1) to WP. He has won two graded stakes in his life, both at 5 1/2 furlongs, including this race at Keeneland in 2015, but this Saturday he shortens up to five furlongs and is the one horse that can stay close to the early pace and kick home when asked. His broodmare sire, Houston, is a son of TC winner Seattle Slew and Houston broodmare sire, Quadrangle, beat Northern Dancer in the Belmont S solidly preventing him from winning the TC. Sorry, I do not make a habit of betting against this bloodline, especially 6 furlongs or less. 1)Disco Partner(9-2) set Belmont track record for 6 furlongs on turf this year and should be rolling late and will be my exacta box. 2)Holding Gold(15-1) will be my picking to complete the tri. He got beaten less than 2 lengths when 6th in his last and could rebound. 10)Hogy(12-1) is adding blinkers to stay closer to pace and is another that will be flying late. I will try to beat both favorites in here as they are 3 & 4 YO fillies running against the boys(with odds maybe but not as favorites). WP 9, Ex Box 1-9, Tri Box 1-2-9, Super Box 1-2-9-10.
6th Race: BC F&M Sprint: I like 1)Carina Mia(12-1) to WP. She was the beaten favorite in this race last year but was coming off several tough races in a row, including 2 against Songbird. This year, Brown looks like he has pointed her to this race from the start. 8)Constellation(15-1) is my pick to complete my exacta box. Baffert was worked her several times since her last and has given her longer works to build up her stamina(or wind) as she should pop out of the gate and might be long gone, especially on this track. 10)Highway Star(15-1) was the one I originally liked to win but after a closer look, I decided to drop her to my 3rd pick. She beat my top pick late in her last race, but I think that helped Carina Mia more. 11)Unique Bella(9-5) certainly can win this but with only one race in her last 8 months and the fact this is her first race against G1 caliber horses makes me willing to bet against her.
Race 7: BC F&M Turf: 9)Lady Eli(5-2) will be running for the last time Saturday and will be entered to sale at Keeneland's Fall Sale next week. Naturally, she looks tough in here and it will take a huge race to beat her. 14)Rhododendron(8-1) should not be overlooked. After finishing second in this year's Epsom Oaks, she dnf her next start, though I do not know what happen. But her last start, she returned to form, beating the best older fillies in France at 1 1/4 miles. She shortens up to 1 1/8 mile(this year only) for this race and should enjoy this trip even more. Her sire is Galileo, but her dam was a G1 winning miler in Europe that ran 6th in this race when it was ran at 1 1/4 mile after setting the pace. 4)Zipessa(20-1) returned to form 2 starts back as she lead throughout but was caught by Miss Temple City at the wire at KD. She then rated slightly off the pace and won the G1 First Lady on grass at a mile. She is probably the most likely to outlast Lady Eli because last year, in this race, she broke poorly, but was making up ground throughout and finished 5th, beaten 3 1/4 lengths while wide. With a better break, she can sit the perfect trip and get first jump on the others. I also think 1)War Flag(12-1) will be around at the finish. While I will include Lady Eli in my P6, my WP bet will go on Zipessa. WP4, Ex Box 4-14, Tri Box 4-9-14. Super Box 1-4-9-14. P3, P6 Tickets will include 4 & 9.
8th Race: BC Sprint: 10)Imperial Hint(9-2) will be my pick to win. His sire Imperialism ran 3rd behind Smarty Jones but was much better at sprinting as he won three G2 races in California. His broodmare sire is Lahint, a full brother to Preakness & Belmont winner Hansel. Imperial Hint, himself, has won 8 of 12 starts on or near the lead and he was several solid works indicating all systems are go. Castellano has agreed to take the mount. At the very least, he should bother Drefong throughout and harm his chances of winning. 9)Ransom The Moon(12-1) should sit behind two dueling speed horses and get first run on the leaders. His last saw him try to close into SA strong speed bias and against a slow than normal pace, especially G1 completion. He will get the pace he desires Saturday and has 2 solid works since. 1)Calculator(20-1) will also get a pace he has not seen in a while and will be rolling late. He, too, has several solid works since his last and John Velazquez has accepted the mount. 5)Whitmore(15-1) looks like he is back to his best form and could get a piece, though I like my other picks better. WP 9, Ex Box 9-10, Tri Box 1-9-10, Super Box 1-5-9-10. Right Now Keying 10 in P3, P6 bets, but might add the 9 later.
Race 9: I will bet 7)Om(20-1) to WP. He ran second in the BC Turf Sprint last year at huge odds and returns this year in the mile turf. Last year he ran a series of mile turf to prepare for the sprint and this year he has ran in a couple sprints preparing for the mile. Hendricks knows what he is doing and is usually under the radar. He won two of the biggest turf races for 3 YOs in California and ran third in the other at 4-5. His bloodlines is not one I am willing to bet against, especially when they are in top form. 6)Zelzal(20-1) is my pick to finish 2nd. While I am not very familiar with his trainer, I do know he has sent a couple over here that blew up the exactas and tris when overlooked. After Zelzal rasn a dull G1 mile race on grass, this trainer also shorten him up to a sprint against the best sprinters in Europe in his 3rd start of the year. In the BC Mile, it will mark his 4th start of the year. His sire, Sea The Stars, is a half brother to Galileo and lost once in his 9 start career(in a maiden race) while being voted European Horse Of The Year in 2009. Another horse that I can not leave out due to his breeding. 10)Ribchester(7-2) is the morning line favorite and would be no surprise. He has ran in all G1 races this year, winning 3 with 2 seconds 1 third, all at 1 mile on grass. His bloodlines also signals it would be a mistake to throw him out. Several could hang around for 4th in here, but I will settle for 1)Midnight Storm(15-1), since he ran third in this race last year. I always felt he was better on grass, but he also had the type of speed that benefits on California dirt. WP 7, Ex Box 6-7, Tri Box 6-7-10, Super Box 1-6-7-10. P3, P4, P6 Bets are 6 and 7.
10th Race: I like the 7) The Tabulator(20-1) to jump out front and be tough to run down. He is still learning but should be a good one when everything clicks, which could be as early as Saturday. 1)U S Navy Flag(8-1) will be my pick to finish 2nd, mostly because he has twice as much experience as the rest and his last 2 G1 wins were the 2 biggest races in England for 2 YOs. 4)Givemeaminit (20-1) will be my pick to run third. He is a maiden but since Stewart, who like Pletcher learned under D Wayne Lukas, trains him and he rarely puts a horse where he does not belong. His last race in the Breeders Futurity, he was caught in traffic while Free Drop Billy was clear throughout. 11) Bolt D'Oro(9-5) on paper looks like he is many lengths better, but his final time in his last was slow on that track and he was asked the whole way down the stretch. Either he improves and wins or he regresses and takes a step back. My guess is the latter but I have been wrong before. His breeding is not a problem either. WP 7, Ex Box 1-7, Tri Box 1-4-7, Super Box 1-4-7-11. P3, P4, P6 bets will be 1 and 7.
11th Race: BC Turf: I will use the 5)Ulysses(7-2) in my P3, P4, & P6 bets simply because he has ran against the toughest competition this year. But I like the 1)Talismanic(15-1) to win. He has ran in all 1 1/2 miles distance races and gave a good effort in every race this year. His trainer Andre Fabre has won 3 BC races, including 2 BC Turfs and a F&M Turf. He also was the first trainer of Flintshire, who ran 2nd in this race last year for Brown. 4) Decorated Knight(15-1) is stretching out for this try, much like Ulysses, but acts like he wants more distance also. He briefly went off form but his last race indicated he has returned to top form. His dam, Pearling, is a full sister to Giant's Causeway. This race is really up for grabs, but I will use the 13)Sadler's Joy(12-1), simply because this distance suits him perfectly and the pace looks to be strong for this race. He would be higher on my list except his post may hurt. WP 1, Ex Box 1-5, Tri Box 1-4-5, Super Box 1-4-5-13.
EDIT: Ulysses has scratched. I will now use the 1)Talismanic in the P6, and add the 4)Decorated Knight & 7)Itsinthepost in P3 & P4 bets. I will use 7)Itsinthepost in place of Ulysses, in exacta, trifecta & super boxes.
12th Race: BC Classic: I can envision this race to be ran several different ways, unlike last year. First, if Arrogate has return to top form, he will win and become the US first $20M earnings winner in purses. However, I think Baffert knows if he does not go after Gun Runner early, he will not run Gun Runner down. Gun Runner is much improved since earlier this year and he is working like it too. But if Arrogate has to pick up the chase too early, then 9) Gunnevera(30-1) and 10)Pavel(20-1) will have a say late in the race. I simply believe Gunnevera is the class closer in here and he can pull off a giant upset. Pavel is lightly race but his last was against an only speed where he picked up the chase much too early. But when he has been able to sit behind dueling speed horses, he finishes up as good as any of these. WP 10, Ex Box 9-10, Tri Box 5-9-10, Super Box 1-5-9-10. P3 and P4 tickets 1 and 10(considering P6 tickets on both also).
submitted by hodsct59 to horseracing [link] [comments]

[PI] Chaun - Superstition - 4896 Words

In Farhan O'Rourke's opinion, the hardest part about being a leprechaun was the money laundering.
When he was young, his father told him keeping his identity concealed would be the hardest part of his life, what with all the hunters and blackmailers looking to steal his stash. His father had been right, though the advice was mostly related to how to disguise habits and appearances. The man never would have guessed that in today's age of technology, a leprechaun was ten times more likely to be outed by a financial auditor than a bounty hunter.
Farhan was as close to a modern day 'chaun as one could find these days. At 5'6'', he was tall for his kin, and thanks to his local barber, his dyed hair was now closer to the color of mud than his family's signature red. He didn't much care for the color green, and never wore it out unless he really needed luck on his side, and even then he was discreet about how much of the suggestive color he flashed.
To this day, nobody had guessed the true nature of Farhan by his appearance, not even his own girlfriend.
Disguises were easy. But the criminal side of it all? The lies and deceit, the back room deals with shady brokers, the constant evasion from the probing eyes of regulators, always covering ones tracks, every financial decision calculated and meticulously planned, all so he could spend his own gold? Now that was the true plight of today's leprechaun.
And moving 'chaun gold was a dangerous game to play. In the last year alone, twenty five of Farhan's kind had been outed while being investigated for suspicious financial activity. To his credit, nobody was better at pushing pots of gold into banks than Farhan O'Rouke. Forever the entrepreneur, he had made a career out of helping other leprechauns move their ancient stashes into the digital age undetected.
Farhan claimed he hadn't been caught because he was careful. His friends told him that no amount of care could protect him from the age of information. They told him he was just lucky.
He didn't argue with that point. After all, he worked extremely hard for his luck.
That's enough, Farhan reminded himself, looking out over the giant racetrack before him, a giant oval of trampled mud. From somewhere above him, an announcer's voice crackled from an outdated PA system, rattling off the names and numbers of race horses like an auctioneer. No more worrying about business on your day off.
It was a typically overcast New Jersey day, alternating between heavy drizzle and outright downpour, the gray of the sky seeping down to mingle with the crowd shivering inside their raincoats. Necks craned up over a roof of umbrellas to catch a glimpse of their chosen horse, all lost in an indecipherable cloud of haze rounding the far bend. The mass of bodies slowly retracted away from rain, huddling together under the giant overhang shielding the grandstands, as a mist blurred the race horses into dark, dancing shadows.
From inside the folds of his coat, Farhan felt his phone buzzing in his pocket. That would be Elizabeth Gregory again, the nosy prude from the Securities Exchange Commission.
Christ almighty, he thought, switching his phone to 'Do Not Disturb'. I couldn't even buy bloody Apple stock without her sniffing up my arse.
Elizabeth was most likely auditing the flurry of trades he had brokered on Friday, minutes before the stock market had closed. He hadn't even been working for a client then, the trades were simply a favor for his family; liquidating uncle Connor's horde of gold so he could put his dear, sweet daughter through college.
Connor told Farhan he was a blessing from god. Farhan told Connor this was the last time he was sticking his neck out for his lazy, careless ass so his daughter could get plastered for four years at a community college.
It had been a simple manuever – Farhan had opted to move his uncle's life's savings via a series of investments into a fake company named Foulchemy, officially registered as, “A Delaware-based, eco-friendly research firm which aims to develop the science of turning fecal matter into precious metals.”
Compared to his past endeavors, the transaction had been minuscule, but Elizabeth had flagged it anyways. That was just the kind of person Elizabeth was, it seemed.
Farhan had bought off Elizabeth's predecessor at the SEC with a one-off bribe of a little less than less than twice his hourly rate. The poor bastard made shit for hourly wages, had three mouths to feed back home, and hated his job, a trifecta of circumstance that made turning a blind eye to Farhan's financials the easiest decision of his life.
All was well until the poor sod was laid off without warning, and Elizabeth had stormed in like a hurricane and taken over all his open cases. Farhan quickly discovered she had been far less receptive to his friendly 'gifts' and was going to be pain in his ass. Now it seemed she had taken bothering him outside of her working hours, too. Some people needed to get a life.
The leprechaun was brought back to the present by the boom of the racing announcer's voice, which was now frantic with excitement. The crowd started to cheer, as a shale-gray filly broke out of the pack of racers ike a heat-propelled missile.
“And Wailing Banshee, the 33-1 longshot, takes a commanding lead!”
Farhan's heart quickened as he heard the name. That's it lass, keep it up.
As the horse picked up momentum, Farhan felt something ancient stir within his chest, like an energy roused from a deep slumber. An energy that thrummed through the veins of his arms and tickled his ears. Farhan knew the sensation well; it was the old blood in him, and now it was gracing him with a bit of fortune.
It seemed with every beat of his heart, the gray horse distanced itself from the field by another length. He was so concentrated on the horse pulling away that he barely felt the punch on his right shoulder. “Fookin' hell Farhan, look at 'er go!”
Farhan turned to face his girlfriend Maddie Reilly, her red curls bouncing in front of her freckled face excitedly. He gave her a wink and a sheepish smile. “I told ya to pick that pony, no? She's got some fire in her belly, that one. Saw her throwin' around the stable-hands before the race and knew she was mine.”
“How much you put on her, anyway?”
Farhan produced a lighter and a crumpled pack of cigarettes him his pocket. He shook one out of the pack and sparked a light on his first try. “Seven.”
“Dollars?”
Seven dollars?” He laughed. “Was I was bussed here by my retirement home? Do I carry around a coin purse? Is my name Eleanor? I didn't put seven dollars on that demon horse. Seven hundred, woman.”
Maddie's eyes widened. “Seven fookin' Benjamins on a longshot? You're daft.”
“What's so daft about trusting my gut?”
“I can't even trust my gut with seafood.” She gave him a poke in the ribs. “Looks like drinks are on that magic gut of yours tonight, yah lucky bastard. And I'd fancy a nice steak dinner too, now that I think of it.” She winked at him. “Treat your woman right and you might even get lucky again tonight.”
Farhan took a puff of smoke and frowned. “Don't jinx it, Maddie.”
“What's there to jinx?” The beast stormed down into the final stretch, at least fifteen lengths ahead of its closest pursuer. “No one's catchin' her.”
You can always jink it, Farhan thought uneasily, letting the smoke from the cigarette curl around his face. Farhan's father had taught him that being lucky was not a gift, but a skill that took years of practice to master.
Superstition was a powerful force of nature, and putting in the legwork made all the difference. People like Farhan did well with the ponies because they manipulated circumstance into their favor. As a devoted believer, Farhan was always careful around breakable, reflective surfaces. He avoided the cracks in the sidewalks at all costs. And he always registered new shell companies in groups of three.
Wailing Banshee thundered toward the finish like a horse hearlding the apocalypse, teeth gnashing, eyes wild, but nobody but Farhan was watching. The crowd was already starting to disperse out of the grandstand, back towards the betting windows to wager on the next race. Maddie tugged at his arm to follow, but Farhan stood planted in place. His veins were thrumming again, but this time the sensation filled him with a sense of malaise that made his skin itch and tingle.
“Wait Maddie,” he said, reaching into his pocket and fishing out his wallet. He began to rifle through the flaps, searching for the brittle four leaf clover pressed into one of the numerous leather sleeves.
And then it happened.
Wailing Banshee stumbled, nearly lost its balance, and then came up lame. The jockey ignored the shrill cry and whipped at the horse's flank, urging it forward to finish the race, but the animal was no longer taking orders. It had been spooked by something and veered off the track, then jumped over the barrier and into the enclosed infield grass.
There was a collective gasp from the crowd and the announcer's voice crackled back to life. “And Wailing Banshee has removed itself from the field, and now this race is still up for grabs again! Here they come, down the stretch now. It's a mad dash for first place, neck and neck...and...it...is...Black Cat! Black Cat wins by a hand! At 13-1 odds, the rookie takes first in a shocking turn of events!”
The grandstands were roaring, the world was spinning, and Farhan livid.
He unleashed a barrage of obscenities that would have made a sailor blush, as a of crew stable hands rushed out after the rogue horse, which was now trying to buck its jockey off its back like a bull. Maddie stood frozen beside him, still parsing the events that had unraveled in front of her eyes.
“What the hell just...”
“It's fookin' fixed!” Farhan yelled, grabbing the unresponsive Maddie by the hand and tugging her towards the exit. “The whole things fookin' fixed.”
Maddie blinked. “Farhan, what are you on about?”
“Something meddled with the race!” he said angrily, shouldering through the crowd with a reckless aggressiveness that prompted several angry looks from his victims. “Wasn't a fair fight at all. Something's meddled with it!”
“It was a bit odd,” Maddie conceded, as they bobbed through the sea of heads. “Yah sayin' Wailing Banshee's jockey threw the race?”
“No damn it, don't you listen woman? I'm sayin' something's meddled with it.”
Maddie's face flashed with anger, and she tore her hand away. “Farhan O'Rouke, the hell's gotten into you? It's shit you lost your money, but yah don't have to take it out on me.” She humphed, hands on her hips. “It was a stupid bet anyways.”
He took a deep breath, feeling his frustration mount, and forced himself to swallow his anger. “Sorry Maddie,” his voice softened, “didn't mean to snap. Somethin's just got me mixed up right now.”
“I'll say.”
He took a look towards one of the video monitors broadcasting the aftermath of the race. The horse named Black Cat was trotting around in an easy victory lap, a hulking steed the size of a war horse, its coat so dark that you couldn't tell its eyes from the rest of it. The jockey wore a black and silver checkered uniform, and was bobbing up and down on the horse rhythmically with each stride. He waved at the camera, his pale face twisted into a smile that ended before it reached his dark eyes. As Farhan watched the image on the television, he had the strangest feeling that the jockey was smiling directly at him through the screen.
“He wasn't in the race,” Farhan whispered, and the back of his neck prickled.
“What?”
“At the start of that race, there wasn't any horse named Black Cat. Would've noticed it. A man like me never puts his money on a race with an omen like that.”
“Won't argue with that logic,” Maddie said, failing to hide the exasperation in her tone, “but what's to say you didn't just overlook it?”
“I didn't overlook it. There was only twelve horses in this race at the start. Look, Black Cat is horse number 13. Wasn't in the gate at the start of the race. Somehow it got changed.”
Maddie blew one of her red curls out of her face. “Farhan, that's mental. Look over there, at all the people queued up to collect their winnings. If Black Cat wasn't in the gate at the start, then how could they have bet on...”
“I don't know,” Farhan said, looking back at the smiling jockey on the screen, as a feeling of dread clenched his stomach. “I don't fookin' know.”
If was already 10:30 AM the next morning when Farhan stumbled through the broken door of his tiny office, disheveled and hungover. He hadn't bothered to iron his shirt, and his faded red tie dangled loose and untied from under his collar. He had been out late drinking with Maddie, drowning his sorrows until the early hours of the morning, trying to convince his girlfriend that some type of malevolent entity had robbed him of his winnings. His efforts had been largely unsuccessful, and now he had nothing but a headache to show for his trouble.
From the front desk, a young, wiry teenager wearing an over-sized pair of glasses was rapping away at his keyboard, whistling to himself.
“Hello Farhan,” his assistant Rudolph said cheerfully, looking up from the cramped front desk, as his boss dropped his briefcase on his foot and swore. Rudolph was only nineteen, and much unlike Farhan, he still possessed the boyish positivity of someone that had not let the world beat him down “Have a good weekend?”
“Had a bloody awful weekend,” Farhan said, trying the massage ache out of his temples. “Lost it big on the ponies. Hope yours was better than mine.”
As a matter of fact, it was the first time Farhan could ever remember going out gambling and losing money. The 'chaun was so lucky with his wagers that he always had to claim his annual winnings as a separate source of income.
“Sorry to hear that boss,” Rudolph said, his voice upbeat. “Me mum says gambling will always catch up to you in the end though. You want to know where I went?”
“Course I do. Where'd yah go, Rudolph?”
“I went snorkeling!”
“Snorkeling?” Farhan raised an eyebrow. “Here in New Jersey?”
“There's a place they got down on the shore you can go. Yes, I know what yer thinking, there aren't any dolphins up here, but we saw lots of crabs and sea bass! Fascinating creatures, them.” Rudolph pointed over at the kitchenette counter on the far side of the room. “Coffees still hot. Go ahead and kill it, mum says I was already born with caffeine in my veins.”
“Thanks lad.” Farhan plucked a styfoam cup from the cupboard and dumped the last dregs of the viscous brown substance into it.
The office was a disaster, he realized, as he took a sip of the scalding liquid. He pondered renting out a bigger space, if not for him, then for Rudolph. Currently, the boy was the only full time worker that Farhan employed, but still, the lobby was so small and cluttered with piles of files and cabinets that the assistant barely had any room to move.
His business was doing well enough that he could afford the expenses of a new office, the real problem was that buying a bigger place would look funny to auditors if he didn't hire more than one employee to fill the bigger space. Farhan preferred to keep his business dealings close to the chest, and Rudolph was one of only a few people in the world that he trusted with his secrets. Expanding his operation would involve expanding that circle of trust, and Farhan wasn't ready to take that leap yet.
“Any new messages?” Farhan asked, wincing at the bite of the coffee's taste.
“A couple from Elizabeth Gregory this morning. Says she's been trying to reach you.”
Farhan groaned. “Fer fook's sake. What did you tell 'er?”
“That you were currently paragliding in Scandinavia and would call her upon your return.”
“Good lad.” Farhan gave his assistant a pat on the shoulder, then squeezed past the front desk towards his office in the back, spilling a bit of coffee on himself in the process.
His personal office was about the same size of the lobby, the walls crammed with cabinets piled high with stuffed manila envelopes and loose sheets of paper. Farhan slumped down at his hand crafted oak desk, the only decent piece of furniture in the room, and pulled up his calendar on his laptop, still lying open from the Friday previous. No appointments until four o'clock today. Perhaps he could just take a quick nap...
BZZZZZZ
The intercom buzzed again, and Farhan picked his head off the desk, wiping the rope of drool from his mouth. Still only 1:30pm.
“Farhan,” Rudolph's voice broke through the intercom's crackle, “visitor for you.”
“Huh?” Farhan rubbed his eyes, “don't got none today.” He let his head fall back onto the desk with a thunk. “I'm not here. Tell 'em to fook off.”
There was a pause. “Umm, Farhan. I think she might be a cop.”
He bolted up straight. “What? Is she a cop or not?”
“I don't know. Think so.”
“Did you ask 'er?”
“No.”
“Some help you are. Keep her occupied then. I need a minute.”
Farhan dashed over to the wardrobe in the back of the room and threw it open, clearing away rows of shirts and suits to reveal a mirror, and fumbled to fasten his tie around his neck. He ran a finger through his thinning hair, combing it with his fingers, and sprayed a dash of cologne on himself.
“Alright Rudolph, send her – ” he broke off when he noticed he was no longer alone in his office, though he could not recall hearing his door open. The visitor was a slender blonde woman dressed in dark slacks, her hair pulled back in a tight no-nonsense ponytail, staring back at him through serious dark eyes. He did not know how long she had been standing there, but judging by the way she was leaning against the door frame, she had not just arrived.
“Hello Mister O'Doyle,” the woman said, walking further into the room without invitation, the waft of something sickly sweet permeating the room. “Hope I'm not interrupting anything.”
Bleedin' hell Rudolph, what the hell am I paying you for?
“Of course not,” Farhan said with a practiced smile, gesturing at the chair across from his desk. “Please, take a seat.”
The woman crossed the room gracefully, her long legs covering the room in just a few strides, and took her seat, keeping her eyes fixed on Farhan the entire time. The way she navigated the room without ever breaking her stare was more than a little unnerving, and Farhan felt the back of neck start to prickle.
He seated himself at his desk, and for a moment neither party said anything, electing simply to stare at one another, and Farhan used the moment to evaluate the woman.
She was smartly dressed – silk navy blouse, designer slacks – her choice of lip-stick a dark cherry red. The golden bracelet hanging from her left wrist was a fine piece of jewelry, and the giant diamond hanging from a solid gold chain around her neck was even finer. Farhan could tell the woman was not cop – cops generally could not afford such shows of extravagance – and yet something about her demeanor put him on edge.
“So,” he said, reclining back in his chair, “how can I help you today, ma'am?”
“You can start by telling me about yourself.” The woman's eyes bore into him, as if reading into his soul, a particular look made him feel very vulnerable. “Mr. O'Rouke, what kind of shop do you run here? It's quite a small operation for someone with so many different companies tied to his name.”
Ah, a blackmailer. Farhan smiled, feeling himself settle back into his element. He had dealt with blackmailers before. Start with a small bribe, test the waters. Buying them off is always easiest, if they are agreeable.
“I try to stay modest to my roots. Not one for excess. How do you know so much about me?”
She pursed her lips, clutching at he designer purse. “I have my sources.”
“Not one to share, eh? Let me guess, it was....actually, don't tell me. Couldn't care less.” He reached down towards the bottom drawer of his desk, and pulled it open. Inside he spotted his checkbook, nestled snugly between a pack of playing cards and his dad's antique revolver. “So then, just what exactly is it going to take to make you go away?”
Still the woman said nothing. Then, quite bizarrely, she smiled at him.
Farhan thought the smile was not a normal thing to do at that point in the conversation, but decided to take it as an affirmation, and reached for his checkbook. “How does ten thousand sound – ” he paused, because just then the lamp on his desk flickered. Like a sixth sense, he felt the blood in his veins – the old blood – thrum to life, roused from its stasis once again.
Something was wrong.
“Wait a second...” Farhan said slowly, rising back up to study the woman. The woman's smile had widened to malevolent levels, though her eyes remained cold and unblinking. He was struck with a sudden sense of deja-vu. “Who are you?”
In response, the woman dug her hands into her designer purse and produced a silencer pistol, pointing it at the leprechaun. “I know what you are,” she stated coldly, “and my employer wants you dead.”
Farhan's face paled. “Your employer?”
“That's correct.” Her smile widened. “Now, I'm going to give you one chance to live. Tell me where you keep your gold and I won't paint the walls with your brains.”
Farhan blinked. Thinking quickly, he gestured down at the desk drawer. “Easy lass. My checkbooks just down there. I'll write a check for whatever you want. Double whatever your employer is paying you, okay?” The revolver glinted back up at him from next the checkbook, sitting there like a signal from a higher power. Slowly he lowered his hand down towards the drawer. “Now, why don't you put down the weapon and take your bribe like an adult.”
“I don't want your money,” the woman said, and the barrel of the gun inched closer from across the desk. “I said I want your gold.”
Farhan was sweating again, rivulets running down his back. “There's been some mistake. I don't touch the stuff, the return on investment for precious metals just isn't what it used to – ”
“I'm not fucking around, leprechaun,” the woman said, rising to her feet. “Tell me where you hide your gold. The real stuff. Last chance.”
The gun was in his face, but oddly, Farhan's fear was evaporating. He could feel the old blood throbbing in his veins, the effect borderline euphoric, even in the face of imminent danger. It had been a long, long time since he had felt the twinge pulse through his veins so strongly, and it seemed to tell him not to submit to whatever was happening right now.
“You won't do it,” Farhan said, staring the woman down. “Now fook off.”
The energy in Farhan's veins surged, and suddenly he was gripped by a sneeze and spasmed backwards, falling out of his chair. He felt the bullet graze his left ear before he heard the pop from the silenced weapon.
A fortunate miss, by any account, and one that would have split his temple had he not sneezed at that precise moment. For all his faults, Farhan was still a leprechaun, and a lucky one at that.
His right hand plunged down into the desk drawer, and within a heartbeat Farhan had loaded and cocked his father's old revolver. He didn't keep the weapon in his desk for protection, he kept it because his father once told him it had saved his life. Keep it close, he said, keep it close for good luck.
The woman was circling around the desk, looking for her target, but her steps were measured and cautious. Recklessly, Farhan thrust the barrel of the gun out above the desk, pointing it in the woman's general direction, then squeezed the trigger. He didn't bother wasting any time aiming, letting his luck do all the work to guide his shot.
There was a deafening bang as the antique weapon discharged. It was followed by a grunt, as the bullet found its mark in his aggressor's neck.
The woman staggered backward, clutching at her wound with both hands, as her pistol hit the ground with a clatter. Then her knees gave out and she toppled backwards, gasping.
Farhan stood up and took a step towards the woman, his antique gun trained on her chest. As he approached the fallen woman, he heard a sizzling sound, like an alka-seltzer tablet dropped into water, and noticed that the woman seemed to have something that looked like vapor emanating off her body.
She stared up at him from the ground, her face contorted into an odd juxtaposition of rage mixed with the same wide smile, as if it was painted on her. The steam wafted upward, distorting her face like a fun-house mirror.
“You can't hide forever, Mister O'Rouke,” the woman said, the sneer twisting into something grotesque. “That luck of yours will soon expire.”
The lights flickered and there was a crack like a lightning strike. Farhan lost his vision momentarily, an after-image of the woman's smile burned into his retinas like a camera flash. He shut his eyes from the blinding light, and then all was quiet.
The leprechaun opened his eyes. The woman was gone, nothing left but a black scorch mark burned into the carpet where she had been lying a moment.
Farhan spun about wildly, looking for any sign of the woman. She was no where to found, and as he searched the room, he felt dread pitting in his stomach, the same dread he had felt back at the race track.
His search was interrupted by a loud bang at the door. “Farhan?” Rudolph's voice called. “What's going on? You okay?”
Farhan threw the door open, and his assistant sprang into the room, looking worried and confused. “I thought I heard a gun shot,” he stammered, wild eyed. His gaze found revolver, still hanging limply from Farhan's grip, and froze. “Why were you shooting?”
“The woman you let in,” Farhan said. “She was...never mind what she was. She shot first. It's her fault.”
“But Farhan,” Rudolph said, looking alarmed. “I never let her in. You seemed...un-presentable, so I told her to come back later. She left.”
“What?” Farhan said. “She was here.”
“I watched her leave. No one entered your office.”
“Okay then.” Farhan tucked the revolver into his belt, his mind racing. “Rudolph, I need you to burn every sensitive document in this office. Then gather your things. Can yah do that fer me? ”
Rudolph blanched. “What? Why?”
“Because we're leaving, and I don't know when we'll be back.”
“Is it the feds?” Rudolph started to shake. “Oh god. They found us, didn't they?”
Something found us lad, Farhan thought, but it wasn't the damned feds.
There was an after-image of the woman's smile still dancing across his vision. The same smile he had seen from the jockey riding Black Cat. A smile meant for him and only him. I know who you are, it said. I know who you are, and I'm coming for you.
To the leprechaun, one thing was clear. Something was hunting him. And whoever it was, it scared him far more than a lifetime sentence in federal prison.
“Is it my fault?” Rudolph asked, already gathering papers up in his arms. The boy's head was down, focused on his task. “I knew I wasn't careful, I told me mum that we were – ”
“Don't be a git,” Farhan said, and began to help his secretary. “The blame is all mine. Now hurry up. We're leaving in ten minutes.”
“But...where will we go sir?”
“Doesn't matter,” Farhan said. “But we can't stay here anymore.”
submitted by ghost_write_the_whip to WritingPrompts [link] [comments]

My Writing Prompts Superstition Contest Entry - "Chaun"

Hey all,
So just a quick announcement (and sorry to disturb all you Ageless fans with a notification).
For the last two months, /WritingPrompts has been holding it's annual first chapter competition. This year's competition had over 100 entrants in total, including several published authors.
Well, today the winners were announced, and...umm...I won First Place!
Obviously, it's been a pretty good day :)
Just wanted to share that. You can find the original submission here, although in the coming days, I'm going to do some editing based on some critiques I've received and keep a more polished working version below. This will be more of a side-project, with Ageless still being a priority.
That's all, hope you enjoy!

'Chaun

In Farhan O'Rourke's opinion, the hardest part about being a leprechaun was the money laundering.
When he was young, his father told him keeping his identity concealed would be the hardest part of his life, what with all the hunters and blackmailers looking to steal his stash. His father had been right, though the advice was mostly related to how to disguise habits and appearances. The man never would have guessed that in today's age of technology, a leprechaun was ten times more likely to be outed by a financial auditor than a bounty hunter.
Farhan was as close to a modern day 'chaun as one could find these days. At 5'6'', he was tall for his kin, and thanks to his local barber, his dyed hair was now closer to the color of mud than his family's signature red. He didn't much care for the color green, and never wore it out unless he really needed luck on his side, and even then he was discreet about how much of the suggestive color he flashed.
To this day, nobody had guessed the true nature of Farhan by his appearance, not even his own girlfriend.
Disguises were easy. But the criminal side of it all? The lies and deceit, the back room deals with shady brokers, the constant evasion from the probing eyes of regulators, always covering ones tracks, every financial decision calculated and meticulously planned, all so he could spend his own gold? Now that was the true plight of today's leprechaun.
And moving 'chaun gold was a dangerous game to play. In the last year alone, twenty five of Farhan's kind had been outed while being investigated for suspicious financial activity. To his credit, nobody was better at pushing pots of gold into banks than Farhan O'Rouke. Forever the entrepreneur, he had made a career out of helping other leprechauns move their ancient stashes into the digital age undetected.
Farhan claimed he hadn't been caught because he was careful. His friends told him that no amount of care could protect him from the age of information. They told him he was just lucky.
He didn't argue with that point. After all, he worked extremely hard for his luck.
That's enough, Farhan reminded himself, looking out over the giant racetrack before him, a giant oval of trampled mud. From somewhere above him, an announcer's voice crackled from an outdated PA system, rattling off the names and numbers of race horses like an auctioneer. No more worrying about business on your day off.
It was a typically overcast New Jersey day, alternating between heavy drizzle and outright downpour, the gray of the sky seeping down to mingle with the crowd shivering inside their raincoats. Necks craned up over a roof of umbrellas to catch a glimpse of their chosen horse, all lost in an indecipherable cloud of haze rounding the far bend. The mass of bodies slowly retracted away from rain, huddling together under the giant overhang shielding the grandstands, as a mist blurred the race horses into dark, dancing shadows.
From inside the folds of his coat, Farhan felt his phone buzzing in his pocket. That would be Elizabeth Gregory again, the nosy prude from the Securities Exchange Commission.
Christ almighty, he thought, switching his phone to 'Do Not Disturb'. I couldn't even buy bloody Apple stock without her sniffing up my arse.
Elizabeth was most likely auditing the flurry of trades he had brokered on Friday, minutes before the stock market had closed. He hadn't even been working for a client then, the trades were simply a favor for his family; liquidating uncle Connor's horde of gold so he could put his dear, sweet daughter through college.
Connor told Farhan he was a blessing from god. Farhan told Connor this was the last time he was sticking his neck out for his lazy, careless ass so his daughter could get plastered for four years at a community college.
It had been a simple manuever – Farhan had opted to move his uncle's life's savings via a series of investments into a fake company named Foulchemy, officially registered as, “A Delaware-based, eco-friendly research firm which aims to develop the science of turning fecal matter into precious metals.”
Compared to his past endeavors, the transaction had been minuscule, but Elizabeth had flagged it anyways. That was just the kind of person Elizabeth was, it seemed.
Farhan had bought off Elizabeth's predecessor at the SEC with a one-off bribe of a little less than less than twice his hourly rate. The poor bastard made shit for hourly wages, had three mouths to feed back home, and hated his job, a trifecta of circumstance that made turning a blind eye to Farhan's financials the easiest decision of his life.
All was well until the poor sod was laid off without warning, and Elizabeth had stormed in like a hurricane and taken over all his open cases. Farhan quickly discovered she had been far less receptive to his friendly 'gifts' and was going to be pain in his ass. Now it seemed she had taken bothering him outside of her working hours, too. Some people needed to get a life.
The leprechaun was brought back to the present by the boom of the racing announcer's voice, which was now frantic with excitement. The crowd started to cheer, as a shale-gray filly broke out of the pack of racers ike a heat-propelled missile.
“And Wailing Banshee, the 33-1 longshot, takes a commanding lead!”
Farhan's heart quickened as he heard the name. That's it lass, keep it up.
As the horse picked up momentum, Farhan felt something ancient stir within his chest, like an energy roused from a deep slumber. An energy that thrummed through the veins of his arms and tickled his ears. Farhan knew the sensation well; it was the old blood in him, and now it was gracing him with a bit of fortune.
It seemed with every beat of his heart, the gray horse distanced itself from the field by another length. He was so concentrated on the horse pulling away that he barely felt the punch on his right shoulder. “Fookin' hell Farhan, look at 'er go!”
Farhan turned to face his girlfriend Maddie Reilly, her red curls bouncing in front of her freckled face excitedly. He gave her a wink and a sheepish smile. “I told ya to pick that pony, no? She's got some fire in her belly, that one. Saw her throwin' around the stable-hands before the race and knew she was mine.”
“How much you put on her, anyway?”
Farhan produced a lighter and a crumpled pack of cigarettes him his pocket. He shook one out of the pack and sparked a light on his first try. “Seven.”
“Dollars?”
Seven dollars?” He laughed. “Was I was bussed here by my retirement home? Do I carry around a coin purse? Is my name Eleanor? I didn't put seven dollars on that demon horse. Seven hundred, woman.”
Maddie's eyes widened. “Seven fookin' Benjamins on a longshot? You're daft.”
“What's so daft about trusting my gut?”
“I can't even trust my gut with seafood.” She gave him a poke in the ribs. “Looks like drinks are on that magic gut of yours tonight, yah lucky bastard. And I'd fancy a nice steak dinner too, now that I think of it.” She winked at him. “Treat your woman right and you might even get lucky again tonight.”
Farhan took a puff of smoke and frowned. “Don't jinx it, Maddie.”
“What's there to jinx?” The beast stormed down into the final stretch, at least fifteen lengths ahead of its closest pursuer. “No one's catchin' her.”
You can always jink it, Farhan thought uneasily, letting the smoke from the cigarette curl around his face. Farhan's father had taught him that being lucky was not a gift, but a skill that took years of practice to master.
Superstition was a powerful force of nature, and putting in the legwork made all the difference. People like Farhan did well with the ponies because they manipulated circumstance into their favor. As a devoted believer, Farhan was always careful around breakable, reflective surfaces. He avoided the cracks in the sidewalks at all costs. And he always registered new shell companies in groups of three.
Wailing Banshee thundered toward the finish like a horse hearlding the apocalypse, teeth gnashing, eyes wild, but nobody but Farhan was watching. The crowd was already starting to disperse out of the grandstand, back towards the betting windows to wager on the next race. Maddie tugged at his arm to follow, but Farhan stood planted in place. His veins were thrumming again, but this time the sensation filled him with a sense of malaise that made his skin itch and tingle.
“Wait Maddie,” he said, reaching into his pocket and fishing out his wallet. He began to rifle through the flaps, searching for the brittle four leaf clover pressed into one of the numerous leather sleeves.
And then it happened.
Wailing Banshee stumbled, nearly lost its balance, and then came up lame. The jockey ignored the shrill cry and whipped at the horse's flank, urging it forward to finish the race, but the animal was no longer taking orders. It had been spooked by something and veered off the track, then jumped over the barrier and into the enclosed infield grass.
There was a collective gasp from the crowd and the announcer's voice crackled back to life. “And Wailing Banshee has removed itself from the field, and now this race is still up for grabs again! Here they come, down the stretch now. It's a mad dash for first place, neck and neck...and...it...is...Black Cat! Black Cat wins by a hand! At 13-1 odds, the rookie takes first in a shocking turn of events!”
The grandstands were roaring, the world was spinning, and Farhan livid.
He unleashed a barrage of obscenities that would have made a sailor blush, as a of crew stable hands rushed out after the rogue horse, which was now trying to buck its jockey off its back like a bull. Maddie stood frozen beside him, still parsing the events that had unraveled in front of her eyes.
“What the hell just...”
“It's fookin' fixed!” Farhan yelled, grabbing the unresponsive Maddie by the hand and tugging her towards the exit. “The whole things fookin' fixed.”
Maddie blinked. “Farhan, what are you on about?”
“Something meddled with the race!” he said angrily, shouldering through the crowd with a reckless aggressiveness that prompted several angry looks from his victims. “Wasn't a fair fight at all. Something's meddled with it!”
“It was a bit odd,” Maddie conceded, as they bobbed through the sea of heads. “Yah sayin' Wailing Banshee's jockey threw the race?”
“No damn it, don't you listen woman? I'm sayin' something's meddled with it.”
Maddie's face flashed with anger, and she tore her hand away. “Farhan O'Rouke, the hell's gotten into you? It's shit you lost your money, but yah don't have to take it out on me.” She humphed, hands on her hips. “It was a stupid bet anyways.”
He took a deep breath, feeling his frustration mount, and forced himself to swallow his anger. “Sorry Maddie,” his voice softened, “didn't mean to snap. Somethin's just got me mixed up right now.”
“I'll say.”
He took a look towards one of the video monitors broadcasting the aftermath of the race. The horse named Black Cat was trotting around in an easy victory lap, a hulking steed the size of a war horse, its coat so dark that you couldn't tell its eyes from the rest of it. The jockey wore a black and silver checkered uniform, and was bobbing up and down on the horse rhythmically with each stride. He waved at the camera, his pale face twisted into a smile that ended before it reached his dark eyes. As Farhan watched the image on the television, he had the strangest feeling that the jockey was smiling directly at him through the screen.
“He wasn't in the race,” Farhan whispered, and the back of his neck prickled.
“What?”
“At the start of that race, there wasn't any horse named Black Cat. Would've noticed it. A man like me never puts his money on a race with an omen like that.”
“Won't argue with that logic,” Maddie said, failing to hide the exasperation in her tone, “but what's to say you didn't just overlook it?”
“I didn't overlook it. There was only twelve horses in this race at the start. Look, Black Cat is horse number 13. Wasn't in the gate at the start of the race. Somehow it got changed.”
Maddie blew one of her red curls out of her face. “Farhan, that's mental. Look over there, at all the people queued up to collect their winnings. If Black Cat wasn't in the gate at the start, then how could they have bet on...”
“I don't know,” Farhan said, looking back at the smiling jockey on the screen, as a feeling of dread clenched his stomach. “I don't fookin' know.”
If was already 10:30 AM the next morning when Farhan stumbled through the broken door of his tiny office, disheveled and hungover. He hadn't bothered to iron his shirt, and his faded red tie dangled loose and untied from under his collar. He had been out late drinking with Maddie, drowning his sorrows until the early hours of the morning, trying to convince his girlfriend that some type of malevolent entity had robbed him of his winnings. His efforts had been largely unsuccessful, and now he had nothing but a headache to show for his trouble.
From the front desk, a young, wiry teenager wearing an over-sized pair of glasses was rapping away at his keyboard, whistling to himself.
“Hello Farhan,” his assistant Rudolph said cheerfully, looking up from the cramped front desk, as his boss dropped his briefcase on his foot and swore. Rudolph was only nineteen, and much unlike Farhan, he still possessed the boyish positivity of someone that had not let the world beat him down “Have a good weekend?”
“Had a bloody awful weekend,” Farhan said, trying the massage ache out of his temples. “Lost it big on the ponies. Hope yours was better than mine.”
As a matter of fact, it was the first time Farhan could ever remember going out gambling and losing money. The 'chaun was so lucky with his wagers that he always had to claim his annual winnings as a separate source of income.
“Sorry to hear that boss,” Rudolph said, his voice upbeat. “Me mum says gambling will always catch up to you in the end though. You want to know where I went?”
“Course I do. Where'd yah go, Rudolph?”
“I went snorkeling!”
“Snorkeling?” Farhan raised an eyebrow. “Here in New Jersey?”
“There's a place they got down on the shore you can go. Yes, I know what yer thinking, there aren't any dolphins up here, but we saw lots of crabs and sea bass! Fascinating creatures, them.” Rudolph pointed over at the kitchenette counter on the far side of the room. “Coffees still hot. Go ahead and kill it, mum says I was already born with caffeine in my veins.”
“Thanks lad.” Farhan plucked a styfoam cup from the cupboard and dumped the last dregs of the viscous brown substance into it.
The office was a disaster, he realized, as he took a sip of the scalding liquid. He pondered renting out a bigger space, if not for him, then for Rudolph. Currently, the boy was the only full time worker that Farhan employed, but still, the lobby was so small and cluttered with piles of files and cabinets that the assistant barely had any room to move.
His business was doing well enough that he could afford the expenses of a new office, the real problem was that buying a bigger place would look funny to auditors if he didn't hire more than one employee to fill the bigger space. Farhan preferred to keep his business dealings close to the chest, and Rudolph was one of only a few people in the world that he trusted with his secrets. Expanding his operation would involve expanding that circle of trust, and Farhan wasn't ready to take that leap yet.
“Any new messages?” Farhan asked, wincing at the bite of the coffee's taste.
“A couple from Elizabeth Gregory this morning. Says she's been trying to reach you.”
Farhan groaned. “Fer fook's sake. What did you tell 'er?”
“That you were currently paragliding in Scandinavia and would call her upon your return.”
“Good lad.” Farhan gave his assistant a pat on the shoulder, then squeezed past the front desk towards his office in the back, spilling a bit of coffee on himself in the process.
His personal office was about the same size of the lobby, the walls crammed with cabinets piled high with stuffed manila envelopes and loose sheets of paper. Farhan slumped down at his hand crafted oak desk, the only decent piece of furniture in the room, and pulled up his calendar on his laptop, still lying open from the Friday previous. No appointments until four o'clock today. Perhaps he could just take a quick nap...
BZZZZZZ
The intercom buzzed again, and Farhan picked his head off the desk, wiping the rope of drool from his mouth. Still only 1:30pm.
“Farhan,” Rudolph's voice broke through the intercom's crackle, “visitor for you.”
“Huh?” Farhan rubbed his eyes, “don't got none today.” He let his head fall back onto the desk with a thunk. “I'm not here. Tell 'em to fook off.”
There was a pause. “Umm, Farhan. I think she might be a cop.”
He bolted up straight. “What? Is she a cop or not?”
“I don't know. Think so.”
“Did you ask 'er?”
“No.”
“Some help you are. Keep her occupied then. I need a minute.”
Farhan dashed over to the wardrobe in the back of the room and threw it open, clearing away rows of shirts and suits to reveal a mirror, and fumbled to fasten his tie around his neck. He ran a finger through his thinning hair, combing it with his fingers, and sprayed a dash of cologne on himself.
“Alright Rudolph, send her – ” he broke off when he noticed he was no longer alone in his office, though he could not recall hearing his door open. The visitor was a slender blonde woman dressed in dark slacks, her hair pulled back in a tight no-nonsense ponytail, staring back at him through serious dark eyes. He did not know how long she had been standing there, but judging by the way she was leaning against the door frame, she had not just arrived.
“Hello Mister O'Doyle,” the woman said, walking further into the room without invitation, the waft of something sickly sweet permeating the room. “Hope I'm not interrupting anything.”
Bleedin' hell Rudolph, what the hell am I paying you for?
“Of course not,” Farhan said with a practiced smile, gesturing at the chair across from his desk. “Please, take a seat.”
The woman crossed the room gracefully, her long legs covering the room in just a few strides, and took her seat, keeping her eyes fixed on Farhan the entire time. The way she navigated the room without ever breaking her stare was more than a little unnerving, and Farhan felt the back of neck start to prickle.
He seated himself at his desk, and for a moment neither party said anything, electing simply to stare at one another, and Farhan used the moment to evaluate the woman.
She was smartly dressed – silk navy blouse, designer slacks – her choice of lip-stick a dark cherry red. The golden bracelet hanging from her left wrist was a fine piece of jewelry, and the giant diamond hanging from a solid gold chain around her neck was even finer. Farhan could tell the woman was not cop – cops generally could not afford such shows of extravagance – and yet something about her demeanor put him on edge.
“So,” he said, reclining back in his chair, “how can I help you today, ma'am?”
“You can start by telling me about yourself.” The woman's eyes bore into him, as if reading into his soul, a particular look made him feel very vulnerable. “Mr. O'Rouke, what kind of shop do you run here? It's quite a small operation for someone with so many different companies tied to his name.”
Ah, a blackmailer. Farhan smiled, feeling himself settle back into his element. He had dealt with blackmailers before. Start with a small bribe, test the waters. Buying them off is always easiest, if they are agreeable.
“I try to stay modest to my roots. Not one for excess. How do you know so much about me?”
She pursed her lips, clutching at he designer purse. “I have my sources.”
“Not one to share, eh? Let me guess, it was....actually, don't tell me. Couldn't care less.” He reached down towards the bottom drawer of his desk, and pulled it open. Inside he spotted his checkbook, nestled snugly between a pack of playing cards and his dad's antique revolver. “So then, just what exactly is it going to take to make you go away?”
Still the woman said nothing. Then, quite bizarrely, she smiled at him.
Farhan thought the smile was not a normal thing to do at that point in the conversation, but decided to take it as an affirmation, and reached for his checkbook. “How does ten thousand sound – ” he paused, because just then the lamp on his desk flickered. Like a sixth sense, he felt the blood in his veins – the old blood – thrum to life, roused from its stasis once again.
Something was wrong.
“Wait a second...” Farhan said slowly, rising back up to study the woman. The woman's smile had widened to malevolent levels, though her eyes remained cold and unblinking. He was struck with a sudden sense of deja-vu. “Who are you?”
In response, the woman dug her hands into her designer purse and produced a silencer pistol, pointing it at the leprechaun. “I know what you are,” she stated coldly, “and my employer wants you dead.”
Farhan's face paled. “Your employer?”
“That's correct.” Her smile widened. “Now, I'm going to give you one chance to live. Tell me where you keep your gold and I won't paint the walls with your brains.”
Farhan blinked. Thinking quickly, he gestured down at the desk drawer. “Easy lass. My checkbooks just down there. I'll write a check for whatever you want. Double whatever your employer is paying you, okay?” The revolver glinted back up at him from next the checkbook, sitting there like a signal from a higher power. Slowly he lowered his hand down towards the drawer. “Now, why don't you put down the weapon and take your bribe like an adult.”
“I don't want your money,” the woman said, and the barrel of the gun inched closer from across the desk. “I said I want your gold.”
Farhan was sweating again, rivulets running down his back. “There's been some mistake. I don't touch the stuff, the return on investment for precious metals just isn't what it used to – ”
“I'm not fucking around, leprechaun,” the woman said, rising to her feet. “Tell me where you hide your gold. The real stuff. Last chance.”
The gun was in his face, but oddly, Farhan's fear was evaporating. He could feel the old blood throbbing in his veins, the effect borderline euphoric, even in the face of imminent danger. It had been a long, long time since he had felt the twinge pulse through his veins so strongly, and it seemed to tell him not to submit to whatever was happening right now.
“You won't do it,” Farhan said, staring the woman down. “Now fook off.”
The energy in Farhan's veins surged, and suddenly he was gripped by a sneeze and spasmed backwards, falling out of his chair. He felt the bullet graze his left ear before he heard the pop from the silenced weapon.
A fortunate miss, by any account, and one that would have split his temple had he not sneezed at that precise moment. For all his faults, Farhan was still a leprechaun, and a lucky one at that.
His right hand plunged down into the desk drawer, and within a heartbeat Farhan had loaded and cocked his father's old revolver. He didn't keep the weapon in his desk for protection, he kept it because his father once told him it had saved his life. Keep it close, he said, keep it close for good luck.
The woman was circling around the desk, looking for her target, but her steps were measured and cautious. Recklessly, Farhan thrust the barrel of the gun out above the desk, pointing it in the woman's general direction, then squeezed the trigger. He didn't bother wasting any time aiming, letting his luck do all the work to guide his shot.
There was a deafening bang as the antique weapon discharged. It was followed by a grunt, as the bullet found its mark in his aggressor's neck.
The woman staggered backward, clutching at her wound with both hands, as her pistol hit the ground with a clatter. Then her knees gave out and she toppled backwards, gasping.
Farhan stood up and took a step towards the woman, his antique gun trained on her chest. As he approached the fallen woman, he heard a sizzling sound, like an alka-seltzer tablet dropped into water, and noticed that the woman seemed to have something that looked like vapor emanating off her body.
She stared up at him from the ground, her face contorted into an odd juxtaposition of rage mixed with the same wide smile, as if it was painted on her. The steam wafted upward, distorting her face like a fun-house mirror.
“You can't hide forever, Mister O'Rouke,” the woman said, the sneer twisting into something grotesque. “That luck of yours will soon expire.”
The lights flickered and there was a crack like a lightning strike. Farhan lost his vision momentarily, an after-image of the woman's smile burned into his retinas like a camera flash. He shut his eyes from the blinding light, and then all was quiet.
The leprechaun opened his eyes. The woman was gone, nothing left but a black scorch mark burned into the carpet where she had been lying a moment.
Farhan spun about wildly, looking for any sign of the woman. She was no where to found, and as he searched the room, he felt dread pitting in his stomach, the same dread he had felt back at the race track.
His search was interrupted by a loud bang at the door. “Farhan?” Rudolph's voice called. “What's going on? You okay?”
Farhan threw the door open, and his assistant sprang into the room, looking worried and confused. “I thought I heard a gun shot,” he stammered, wild eyed. His gaze found revolver, still hanging limply from Farhan's grip, and froze. “Why were you shooting?”
“The woman you let in,” Farhan said. “She was...never mind what she was. She shot first. It's her fault.”
“But Farhan,” Rudolph said, looking alarmed. “I never let her in. You seemed...un-presentable, so I told her to come back later. She left.”
“What?” Farhan said. “She was here.”
“I watched her leave. No one entered your office.”
“Okay then.” Farhan tucked the revolver into his belt, his mind racing. “Rudolph, I need you to burn every sensitive document in this office. Then gather your things. Can yah do that fer me? ”
Rudolph blanched. “What? Why?”
“Because we're leaving, and I don't know when we'll be back.”
“Is it the feds?” Rudolph started to shake. “Oh god. They found us, didn't they?”
Something found us lad, Farhan thought, but it wasn't the damned feds.
There was an after-image of the woman's smile still dancing across his vision. The same smile he had seen from the jockey riding Black Cat. A smile meant for him and only him. I know who you are, it said. I know who you are, and I'm coming for you.
To the leprechaun, one thing was clear. Something was hunting him. And whoever it was, it scared him far more than a lifetime sentence in federal prison.
“Is it my fault?” Rudolph asked, already gathering papers up in his arms. The boy's head was down, focused on his task. “I knew I wasn't careful, I told me mum that we were – ”
“Don't be a git,” Farhan said, and began to help his secretary. “The blame is all mine. Now hurry up. We're leaving in ten minutes.”
“But...where will we go sir?”
“Doesn't matter,” Farhan said. “But we can't stay here anymore.”
submitted by ghost_write_the_whip to ghost_write_the_whip [link] [comments]

[Strategy] A very long and detailed explanation of how to build a tournament deck: Dissecting the meta (x-post from /r/CompetitiveCR)

TL;Drs are not going to help you in this post. For a high level strategy post from /CompetitiveCR, you're better off reading the whole thing. If you don't feel like reading now, save this post for when you feel like reading. You'll want to pick up on some of these tips.
OVERVIEW:
If you are a serious tournament player, you've noticed that some decks win more often than others. This may be because some cards or card combinations in that deck are stronger than they should be, or it may be because some cards or card combinations are weaker the they should be. It may also come down to which cards just happen to be chosen. In a competitive game like Clash Royale, there will always be a proper deck that counters any other deck. Without this characteristic, the game becomes broken and irrelevant. However, some decks may have fewer effective counters than others because of the reasons just stated. This creates a meta. The community realizes that certain cards and card combinations are stronger than others overall, and so the community will generally use those cards and card combinations more often.
In serious tournament play outside of the in-game system, your deck options may be limited. You may be stuck with one deck, or you may be limited to only two decks for an extensive period of time. And in the in-game tournaments, it is advantageous to rarely switch your deck, since that takes away time to battle. In addition, it is in your best interest to master one deck, since it is very difficult to master more than one at a time due to balance changes, new cards, and an ever-changing meta. Of course, in competitive Clash Royale tournaments, the winner is expected to know how to use more than one type of deck. The Super Magical Cup, for example, has a bracket system that requires you to win with two distinct decks in order to advance to the next matchup. This tests the player's overall skill and also prevents lucky matchups in which one player has the effective counter to another player's deck. All of this combines to force great players to build an effective deck on a whim. It is very difficult to do this, and many decks are refined several times before a final version is found. However, I believe that I have a system for picking your deck that will allow great decks to be discovered and mastered much quicker.
DISCLAIMER: This strategy is not as effective in ladder play because of the ability to over-level cards. If you have a fireball one level up, it is likely advantageous to use it in most situations. Likewise, if your opponents all have over-leveled fireballs, you would do well to avoid using the musketeer and wizard. In tournament play, these advantages should not exist, so you do not need to pay attention to them. It is much easier to make a tournament deck because you can disregard this extra complication.
USING THE SLOT METHOD AS A GUIDE: I find that this method is a viable way to get an idea of how to build a strong deck. It keeps you on track so you don't end up with garbage at the end. Many of the slots are usually able to be filled in more than one way in strong tournament decks, so it is not a strict system. In addition, the names of each slot are not binding. This is not something that you should be constantly referring to, but when you have selected your basic cards, this outline is very helpful for determining what characteristics you are lacking in your deck. The slots are listed below for your convenience:
Slot [1]: Win Condition
Slot [2]: Win Condition #2
Slot [3]: Win Condition Support
Slot [4]: Main Defense
Slot [5]: Defensive Support
Slot [6]: The Runner (the card that transitions from defense to offense)
Slot [7]: Versatile Response Card
Slot [8]: Spell
COMMON MISTAKES THAT YOU SHOULD AVOID:
All of the win condition cards are very different from each other, and the card combinations that compliment them best are also vastly different. It is generally advantageous to have cards that can be substituted for each other, so you'll need to pick cards or card combinations that fulfill multiple roles. Picking a win condition limits the other cards you can reasonably use.
Swarms can be so deadly because of their speed and strength of numbers. For this reason, players sometimes build their deck around countering swarm cards first. Then they pick their win condition, support troops, and defense. Almost every deck requires a spell because of how committed players can be to protecting the little guys. But deciding which spell to use right at the start often leads to ignoring better strategies, since the spell you pick also pairs well with certain cards better than others.
(SIDENOTE)
Spells are very interesting, because they can't "move", and they can't redirect troops (zap retargeting is not redirecting). The only exception is the goblin barrel, which is pretty much a troop, so I'm not going to include it in the spell category. Spells are also unique because they can be deployed pretty much anywhere, which is great for offense and defense. I've found through experience that having multiple spells works only if you will use all of them in most of your battles. Otherwise it is better to have another troop or building. It works in theory too, since it makes no sense to deploy a spell in the back of the map, and you can't use a spell as a distraction tool. It limits your deck cycle if you're not using it. And since every spell costs more than one elixir and its effectiveness is based on timing, they're not like skeletons or the ice spirit. Using them to cycle your deck is always wasted elixir, since the tower damage they do is not with their cost unless they hit a specific troop. But you can deploy something like the ice spirit and then put something in front of it. Spells are pretty much always used as support, so it's not wise to have too many of them unless there is a time and place for all of them against most of the decks you are facing. Many decks that I use have two spells, but the slot method only has one designated spot for it because you almost always need at least one. But spells can be win condition supports, defensive supports, and/or versatile response cards as well.
I also want to mention that the reasons why you should almost always have at least one spell are complex. But they can be simplified to these two statements:
This theory for spells also applies to buildings. You rarely see more than one strictly defensive building, because so few decks that have ever existed in the meta require two defenses to counter. So the second defensive structure is useless, and you're better off using a troop if you want to support the weaknesses of the one defense you're using. Most defenses can be substituted for troops in order to create a counter-push. The advantages to using defenses are to stop larger pushes and/or when you want to guarantee your tower's safety. But using a building generally makes counter-pushing more difficult compared to using a troop. Notable exceptions include the four spawners, which fit into a category not unlike the goblin barrel's, the x-bow and mortar, which can be used offensively, and the elixir collector, which is worth a discussion on its own.
(/SIDENOTE)
Most good decks have flexibility with their card usage, because decks that are not flexible are easily out-cycled. Consider the Hog Trifecta deck (Hog Rider, Musketeer, Valkyrie, Skeletons, Poison, Zap, Cannon, Elixir Collector). It covers all of the bases effectively, but there are little to no substitutions in that deck for addressing the opponent's cards. Because there are some exceptions, it is possible to be a very strong Hog Trifecta player, but you will hear from many people that they key to defeating the Hog Trifecta deck is to out-cycle the opponent. There are only so many slots in your deck, and by filling them with cards that are as versatile as possible, you can theoretically make a very strong deck. So why doesn't a deck with 8 versatile cards dominate the meta all the time? There are a few reasons. The first is that such a deck is impossible to make. Every "versatile" card has a glaring weakness, and using them all to cover the weaknesses of the other cards is not good enough, because there will always exist very efficient counters to these combinations. That's why the Lightning and Rocket cards exist. They obliterate every card except for the tanks, which all have their own weaknesses now that their support troops are gone. They prevent you from stacking up groups of 3 or 4 powerful cards that cover each other's weaknesses, since nothing directly counters direct damage. And even if direct damage isn't a factor, the scope of this game prevents 8 cards from banding together to create an unstoppable force. That's part of the reason why Clash Royale is able to be balanced. There is no group of cards that covers everything.
While this is an awesome way to counter the meta, even the most popular meta decks do not show up more than 50% of the time in balanced high level play. That means for every time you destroy that pesky meta deck, you'll likely lose once or twice to other decks. And that's not a good trade for you. The win rate necessary to place high in competitive tournaments is far higher than 50%.
DISSECTING THE META: UTILITIES
So we know that we need a few versatile cards, but building a deck of all versatile cards does not work. Which cards do we pick now? Before we pick even one card, we need to remember the fundamentals of Clash Royale: It is advantageous to have as many troop interactions on your side of the map as possible. The crown towers do damage. They never run out of ammo, and they do not have a lifespan. Use them to your advantage! But of course, we already know that. The question is why it matters.
Counterpushing is another fundamental aspect of the game. It originates from a successful defense that can be converted into an offense, and it is based on creating an elixir advantage through defending. If you do not know how to counterpush, you will not get far in tournament gameplay. There is one requirement for counterpushing, and that's playing defense first. While straight offensive attacks are certainly worth trying, eventually the other guy is going to threaten to take down your tower. He has many different weapons at his disposal. He can send a skeleton-operated balloon to make a beeline for your tower, he can throw a barrel of goblins on top of your poor princess (no, not the troop), and he can send a rock monster thundering down the lane. The possibilities are vast. And you need to either stop his attempts or ensure that your attempts are more effective. Unless you're both in the mood for a 3 crown race (and I daresay your opponent is usually not), you'll need to pick the former option. All of the cards work differently, but luckily for you, the cards in Clash Royale are not all used at an equal rate. Some cards are used more often than others, either offensively or defensively. By knowing how to counter each offensive and defensive card and by discovering which cards or card combinations are used most often, you can create a deck that counters the most popular meta decks, even if those meta decks are very different. Here's why:
More often than not, the meta is not based on one card or one card combination, but on one or two utilities. For example, the tanking power of cards like the giant or golem is a utility. The placement flexibility of cards like the miner is a utility. The high damage/cost ratio of cards like the mini PEKKA is a utility. The splash damage of troops like the wizard and valkyrie is a utility. In general, when the cards with a certain utility are strong, when the counters to a specific utility are weak, or when the utility is called for in response to several popular decks, more people use cards with that utility. Not all utilities compliment each other, and utilities that don't are not strong together. They create a dysfunctional deck on their own, and only one of a set of these utilities will be worth taking advantage of at any given point. That means there is only a limited amount of cards and card combinations that are stronger overall.
This is good time to remind everyone that your goal should not be to counter the popular meta deck. Your goal should be to counter the most popular cards and card combinations, so that you are prepared to face almost any deck. Each card has a different effectiveness for each type of utility, and for many card combinations that you face, there is an effective card for it. And if not a single card, there is always a card combination. Unfortunately, you only have access to 8 different cards for the entire battle, and you could be facing any of 58 different cards at the time of this post. The amount of card combinations there are is very pointless to calculate, since most card combinations are useless, but I know somebody will want to know, so the answer is 1,916,797,311. Now that we're all overwhelmed and very distracted, let me remind you that you will almost definitely face many different card combinations in a tournament, and most of them are connected by a few common threads. Your objective is not to pick a card combination that beats as many of the other 1,916,797,310 decks as possible. Your objective is to beat the majority of the other 1,916,797,310 out there that will show up in your tournament. Dissecting the meta using utilities is a great way to understand what you're mostly facing, which makes picking your initial cards much easier.
HOW TO PICK YOUR CARDS INITIALLY:
So after nearly 12,000 characters, I'm finally able to explain how to pick a deck. Remember this outline from before?
Slot [1]: Win Condition
Slot [2]: Win Condition #2
Slot [3]: Win Condition Support
Slot [4]: Main Defense
Slot [5]: Defensive Support
Slot [6]: The Runner (the card that transitions from defense to offense)
Slot [7]: Versatile Response Card
Slot [8]: Spell
You're still ignoring it, because the first cards you pick could fill in quite a few different combinations of those slots. The way you pick your first card or cards is to analyze the meta and determine which utilities you need the most in order to counter most of the decks you are likely to face. Your only requirement for your first card is that it has to be a certainty. It has to be useful to you against almost every deck you face, no matter what role it fulfills. If the meta happened to be donated by lava hound and golem decks (and nothing else), you'll want an inferno tower without a doubt.
This does not mean your first card cannot be disputed. Sometimes more than one card provides the utility you need to counter most of the decks you face. Your first card should be a card you're betting you will always depend on, no matter what deck you are facing. It does not matter what type of strategy you like to use. There are a million different ways to play the game, but in order to build a strong tournament deck, you need a card that exploits the weaknesses of the large majority of the decks you face. That might even be your win condition depending on the meta.
I tried this, and then I built a deck around what I figured out. I picked the meta's win condition because I felt like it, and suddenly I ended up with a meta deck in and of itself. This showed me that I'm on the right track, but I'm not done yet, Creating a meta deck is not the way to go in high level tournaments, especially when you're not familiar with it. Then you'll lose to everybody who knows how to counter the meta as well as the people who have the same deck as you, since they know how to use it better than you do. So what was I missing?
In tournaments, the "best deck" according to statistics and the meta is not necessarily the best deck. Because meta decks are used so often, people are more familiar with them. A deck might be stronger on average, but every deck has its counters. You're at a disadvantage by using a meta deck because you lose the element of surprise. This leads to your second step. After picking what card you absolutely need, you should be picking other cards that compliment what you already have. No matter what, your next card should take some time to think about. It generally should be a card that has some of the utility you need, and it should not be an obvious choice. By picking an unusual card that still works well, you have given yourself a big advantage: the element of surprise. This is not to be taken lightly in a game in which timing matters. I have played against the xbow exactly twice in recent tournaments. In the first game it completely took me by surprise, and I lost because it threw me off my cycle. In the second game, it was initially misplayed, and I won easily because I was not thrown off when I saw it in an optimal position. Your surprise card can also fill any of the slots described above.
After two or three cards, you could be anywhere with your deck. Now you have a few easier decisions to make. You'll need a win condition if you don't already have one, but remember that not all win conditions work well with the cards you currently have. Your win condition can be flexible for the most part if you only have 2 or 3 cards set in stone. Remember that for your win condition, it is not as important to stray from the meta as it is to ensure that it is not countered or nullified by most decks you face. If you already have a win condition, now is the time to think about how you want to play your deck.
Remember that while deck building is a critical part of tournament and ladder success, it is only a small part. In just about every form of tournament, you need to make sure you can win with the deck you’re using. Luckily, after your first 3-4 cards, there are so many ways you can go. But in general, your next few cards should be picked based on the 3-4 cards you already have. This is very loosely defined, which is great, because the deck you make will be unique. 3-4 cards will always have a major weakness. Your next cards have to correct that weakness, and they must also be able to support what you already have. Remember that first and foremost, you’ll want to address the counters that are present in the large majority of decks you’ll face. These cards can be spells, troops, or buildings, depending on what you need, and they can cover up either offensive or defensive weaknesses in your deck, depending on what you need and what your style of play is like.
FINAL CARDS TO PICK:
By now we should have 5-7 cards. Let’s look back at the model.
Slot [1]: Win Condition
Slot [2]: Win Condition #2
Slot [3]: Win Condition Support
Slot [4]: Main Defense
Slot [5]: Defensive Support
Slot [6]: The Runner (the card that transitions from defense to offense)
Slot [7]: Versatile Response Card
Slot [8]: Spell
Look at your cards, and fill up the slots to the best of your ability. There are probably a few ways that these slots can be filled up, but there might not be. Either scenario is fine. With only five cards, you could potentially leave quite a few different combinations of slots open, and it’s fine to be missing almost any combination of cards. However, you should have a win condition by now.
With 1-3 slots missing, all you need to do is fill in additional cards that will support either your offense or defense. The only restriction is that the card(s) you pick should generally fit into the slots you have remaining. You’re certainly able to switch around the cards you’ve already sorted, but your final deck of 8 cards should generally fit into these slots.
FINAL NOTES:
As I said before, this deck building method is meant to defeat the decks that you see most often. If you’ve falsely identified the meta, but you still win battles against decks that you’re repeatedly seeing, you have something that works. No deck will win all the time, and you should never be discouraged when you lose your initial battles with it, especially if you’re play-testing it on the ladder. Often times you’ll pick up on some weaknesses in your deck that you didn’t notice in theory. This is expected, since there are 58 cards and many more card combinations to consider. You may end up switching out a card or two. But since most of your deck should have been created in order to defeat the decks you face often, you should not have to revamp your whole deck unless you falsely identified the decks you’re facing often.
Remember that there are so many utilities in Clash Royale that you have to let one or two slide a little. The key is to make sure you have the utilities you need in your deck, and then you can pay less attention to the ones you don’t need. With a constantly changing meta, you’ll have to be aware of all of the utilities out there.
Not having epic cards up to tournament level or not having certain legendary cards can make a huge difference. I understand that, because I suffer from the same problem. It is very difficult to make strong decks without using one or more of these cards, and lacking them or having them under-leveled is an issue that f2p players shouldn’t have to deal with after more than 7 months of playing the game. But you are able to manage without them. If you have read this far, thank you, and good luck! If you skipped the walls of text to perhaps find a TL;DR in the comments, I can bet you it won’t be as effective as reading this post. Good luck to you guys too!
submitted by edihau to ClashRoyale [link] [comments]

A very long and detailed explanation of how to build a TOURNAMENT deck: DISSecting the meta

TL;DRs are for lazy people that can't be bothered to read what someone has put time and energy into writing. This is a strategy subreddit, so everybody here should have the patience to read this post. If you really feel like putting a TL;DR in the comments, I can't stop you. But just know that a TL;DR does not do justice to a detail-filled strategy post. If anything, you are best off reading this post in its entirety, then going into the comment section to read the TL;DR that will inevitably show up, just so you don't miss anything crucial. If you consider downvoting this post only because of my TL;DR rant, I do not think a high level strategy subreddit is the best place for you. But that's just my opinion. Onto the explanation:
OVERVIEW:
If you are a serious tournament player, you've noticed that some decks win more often than others. This may be because some cards or card combinations in that deck are stronger than they should be, or it may be because some cards or card combinations are weaker the they should be. It may also come down to which cards just happen to be chosen. In a competitive game like Clash Royale, there will always be a proper deck that counters any other deck. Without this characteristic, the game becomes broken and irrelevant. However, some decks may have fewer effective counters than others because of the reasons just stated. This creates a meta. The community realizes that certain cards and card combinations are stronger than others overall, and so the community will generally use those cards and card combinations more often.
In serious tournament play outside of the in-game system, your deck options may be limited. You may be stuck with one deck, or you may be limited to only two decks for an extensive period of time. And in the in-game tournaments, it is advantageous to rarely switch your deck, since that takes away time to battle. In addition, it is in your best interest to master one deck, since it is very difficult to master more than one at a time due to balance changes, new cards, and an ever-changing meta. Of course, in competitive Clash Royale tournaments, the winner is expected to know how to use more than one type of deck. The Super Magical Cup, for example, has a bracket system that requires you to win with two distinct decks in order to advance to the next matchup. This tests the player's overall skill and also prevents lucky matchups in which one player has the effective counter to another player's deck. All of this combines to force great players to build an effective deck on a whim. It is very difficult to do this, and many decks are refined several times before a final version is found. However, I believe that I have a system for picking your deck that will allow great decks to be discovered and mastered much quicker.
DISCLAIMER: This strategy is not as effective in ladder play because of the ability to over-level cards. If you have a fireball one level up, it is likely advantageous to use it in most situations. Likewise, if your opponents all have over-leveled fireballs, you would do well to avoid using the musketeer and wizard. In tournament play, these advantages should not exist, so you do not need to pay attention to them. It is much easier to make a tournament deck because you can disregard this extra complication.
USING THE SLOT METHOD AS A GUIDE:
I find that this method is a viable way to get an idea of how to build a strong deck. It keeps you on track so you don't end up with garbage at the end. Many of the slots are usually able to be filled in more than one way in strong tournament decks, so it is not a strict system. In addition, the names of each slot are not binding. This is not something that you should be constantly referring to, but when you have selected your basic cards, this outline is very helpful for determining what characteristic you are lacking in your deck. The slots are listed below for your convenience:
Slot [1]: Win Condition
Slot [2]: Win Condition #2
Slot [3]: Win Condition Support
Slot [4]: Main Defense
Slot [5]: Defensive Support
Slot [6]: The Runner (the card that transitions from defense to offense)
Slot [7]: Versatile Response Card
Slot [8]: Spell
COMMON MISTAKES THAT YOU SHOULD AVOID:
All of the win condition cards are very different from each other, and the card combinations that compliment them best are also vastly different. It is generally advantageous to have cards that can be substituted for each other, so you'll need to pick cards or card combinations that fulfill multiple roles. Picking a win condition limits the other cards you can reasonably use.
Swarms can be so deadly because of their speed and strength of numbers. For this reason, players sometimes build their deck around countering swam cards first. Then they pick their win condition, support troops, and defense. Almost every deck requires a spell because of how committed players can be to protecting the little guys. But deciding which spell to use right at the start often leads to ignoring better strategies, since the spell you pick also pairs well with certain cards better than others.
Most good decks have flexibility with their card usage, because decks that are not flexible are easily out-cycled. Consider the Hog Trifecta deck (Hog Rider, Musketeer, Valkyrie, Skeletons, Poison, Zap, Cannon, Elixir Collector). It covers all of the bases effectively, but for the most part, there are little to no substitutions in that deck for the opponent's cards. Because there are some exceptions, it is possible to be a very strong Hog Trifecta player, but you will hear from many people that they key to defeating the Hog Trifecta deck is to out-cycle the opponent. There are only so many slots in your deck, and by filling them with cards that are as versatile as possible, you can theoretically make a very strong deck. So why doesn't a deck with 8 versatile cards dominate the meta all the time? There are a few reasons. The first is that such a deck is impossible to make. Every "versatile" card has a glaring weakness, and using them all to cover the weaknesses of the other cards is not good enough, because there will always exist very efficient counters to these combinations. That's why the Lightning and Rocket cards exist. They obliterate every card except for the tanks, which all have their own weaknesses now that their support troops are gone. They prevent you from stacking up groups of 3 or 4 powerful cards that cover each other's weaknesses, since nothing directly counters direct damage. And even if direct damage isn't a factor, the scope of this game prevents 8 cards from banding together to create an unstoppable force. That's part of the reason why Clash Royale is able to be balanced. There is no group of cards that covers everything.
While this is an awesome way to counter the meta, even the most popular meta decks do not show up more than 50% of the time in balanced high level play. That means for every time you destroy that pesky meta deck, you'll likely lose once or twice to other decks. And that's not a good trade for you. The win rate necessary to place decently in competitive tournaments is far higher than 50%.
DISSECTING THE META: UTILITIES
So we know that we need a few versatile cards, but building a deck of all versatile cards does not work. Which cards do we pick now? Before we pick even one card, we need to remember the fundamentals of Clash Royale: It is advantageous to have as many troop interactions on your side of the map as possible. The crown towers do damage. They never run out of ammo, and they do not have a lifespan. Use them to your advantage! But of course, we already know that. The question is why it matters.
Counterpushing is another fundamental aspect of the game. It originates from a successful defense that can be converted into an offense, and it is based on creating an elixir advantage through defending. If you do not know how to counterpush, you will not get far in tournament gameplay. There is one requirement for counterpushing, and that's playing defense first. While straight offensive attacks are certainly worth trying, eventually the other guy is going to threaten to take down your tower. He has many different weapons at his disposal. He can send a skeleton-operated balloon to make a beeline for your tower, he can throw a barrel of goblins on top of your poor princess (no, not the troop), and he can send a rock monster thundering down the lane. The possibilities are vast. And you need to either stop his attempts or ensure that your attempts are more effective. Unless you're both in the mood for a 3 crown race (and I daresay your opponent is usually not), you need to pick the former option. All of the cards work differently, but luckily for you, the cards in Clash Royale are not all used at an equal rate. Some cards are used more often than others, either offensively or defensively. By knowing how to counter each offensive and defensive card and by discovering which cards or card combinations are used most often, you can create a deck that counters the most popular meta decks, even if those meta decks are very different. Here's why:
More often than not, the meta is not based on one card or one card combination, but on one or two utilities. For example, the tanking power of cards like the giant or golem is a utility. The placement flexibility of cards like the miner is a utility. The high damage/cost ratio in cards like the mini PEKKA is a utility. The splash damage of troops like the wizard and valkyrie is a utility. In general, when the cards with a certain utility are strong, when the counters to a specific utility are weak, or when the utility is called for in response to several popular decks, more people use cards with that utility. Not all utilities compliment each other, and utilities that don't are not strong together. They create a dysfunctional deck on their own, and only one of a set of these utilities will be worth taking advantage of at any given point. That means there is only a limited amount of cards and card combinations that are stronger overall.
This is good time to remind everyone that your goal should not be to counter the popular meta deck. Your goal should be to counter the most popular cards and card combinations, so that you are prepared to face almost any deck. Each card has a different effectiveness for each type of utility, and for many card combinations that you face, there is an effective card for it. And if not a single card, there is always a card combination. Unfortunately, you only have access to 8 different cards for the entire battle, and you could be facing any of 58 different cards at the time of this post. The amount of card combinations there are is very pointless to calculate, since most card combinations are useless, but I know somebody will want to know, so the answer is 1,916,797,311. Now that we're all overwhelmed and very distracted, let me remind you that you will almost definitely face many different card combinations in a tournament, and most of them are connected by a few common threads. Your objective is not to pick a card combination that beats as many of the other 1,916,797,310 decks as possible. Your objective is to beat the majority of the other 1,916,797,310 out there that will show up in your tournament. Dissecting the meta using utilities is a great way to understand what you're mostly facing, which makes picking your initial cards much easier.
HOW TO PICK YOUR CARDS INITIALLY:
So after nearly 12,000 characters, I'm finally able to explain how to pick a deck. Remember this outline from before?
Slot [1]: Win Condition
Slot [2]: Win Condition #2
Slot [3]: Win Condition Support
Slot [4]: Main Defense
Slot [5]: Defensive Support
Slot [6]: The Runner (the card that transitions from defense to offense)
Slot [7]: Versatile Response Card
Slot [8]: Spell
You're still ignoring it, because the first cards you pick could fill in quite a few different combinations of those slots. The way you pick your first card or cards is to analyze the meta and determine which utilities you need the most in order to counter most of the decks you are likely to face. Your only requirement for your first card is that it has to be a certainty. It has to be useful to you against almost every deck you face, no matter what role it fulfills. If the meta happened to be donated by lava hound and golem decks (and nothing else), you'll want an inferno tower without a doubt.
This does not mean your first card cannot be disputed. Sometimes more than one card provides the utility you need to counter most of the decks you face. Your first card should be a card you're betting you will always depend on, no matter what deck you are facing. It does not matter what type of strategy you like to use. There are a million different ways to play the game, but in order to build a strong tournament deck, you need a card that exploits the weaknesses of the large majority of the decks you face. That might even be your win condition depending on the meta.
I tried this, and then I built a deck around what I figured out. I included the giant because I felt like it, and suddenly I ended up with a meta deck in and of itself. This showed me that I'm on the right track, but I'm not done yet, Creating a meta deck is not the way to go in high level tournaments, especially when you're not familiar with it. Then you'll lose to everybody who knows how to counter the meta as well as the people who have the same deck as you, since they know how to use it better than you do. So what was I missing?
In tournaments, the "best deck" according to statistics and the meta is not necessarily the best deck. Because meta decks are used so often, people are more familiar with them. A deck might be stronger on average, but every deck has its counters. You're at a disadvantage by using a meta deck because you lose the element of surprise. This leads to your second step. After picking what card you absolutely need, you should be picking other cards that compliment what you already have. No matter what, your next card should take some time to think about. It generally should be a card that has some of the utility you need, and it should not be an obvious choice. By picking an unusual card that still works well, you have given yourself a big advantage: the element of surprise. This is not to be taken lightly in a game in which timing matters. I have played the xbow exactly twice in recent tournaments. The first completely took me by surprise, and I lost because it threw me off my cycle. The second was misplayed, and I won easily because I was not thrown off when I saw it in an optimal position. Your surprise card can also fill any of the slots described above.
After two or three cards, you could be anywhere with your deck. Now you have a few easier decisions to make. You'll need a win condition if you don't already have one, but remember that not all win conditions work well with the cards you currently have. Your win condition can be flexible for the most part if you only have 2 or 3 cards set in stone. Remember that for your win condition, it is not as important to stray from the meta as it is to ensure that it is not countered or nullified by most decks you face. If you already have a win condition, now is the time to think about how you want to play your deck.
Remember that while deck building is a critical part of tournament and ladder success, it is only a small part. In just about every form of tournament, you need to make sure you can win with the deck you’re using. Luckily, after your first 3-4 cards, there are so many ways you can go. But in general, your next few cards should be picked based on the 3-4 cards you already have. This is very loosely defined, which is great, because the deck you make will be unique. 3-4 cards will always have a major weakness. Your next cards have to correct that weakness, and they must also be able to support what you already have. Remember that first and foremost, you’ll want to address the counters that are present in the large majority of decks you’ll face. These cards can be spells, troops, or buildings, depending on what you need, and they can cover up either offensive or defensive weaknesses in your deck, depending on what you need and what your style of play is like.
FINAL CARDS TO PICK
By now we should have 5-7 cards. Let’s look back at the model.
Slot [1]: Win Condition
Slot [2]: Win Condition #2
Slot [3]: Win Condition Support
Slot [4]: Main Defense
Slot [5]: Defensive Support
Slot [6]: The Runner (the card that transitions from defense to offense)
Slot [7]: Versatile Response Card
Slot [8]: Spell
Look at your cards, and fill up the slots to the best of your ability. There are probably a few ways that these slots can be filled up, but there might not be. Either scenario is fine. With only five cards, you could potentially leave quite a few different combinations of slots open, and it’s fine to be missing almost any combination of cards. However, you should have a win condition by now.
With 1-3 slots missing, all you need to do is fill in additional cards that will support either your offense or defense. The only restriction is that the card(s) you pick should generally fit into the slots you have remaining. You’re certainly able to switch around the cards you’ve already sorted, but your final deck of 8 cards should generally fit into these slots.
FINAL NOTES
As I said before, this deck building method is meant to defeat the decks that you see most often. If you’ve falsely identified the meta, but you still win battles against decks that you’re repeatedly seeing, you have something that works. No deck will win all the time, and you should never be discouraged when you lose your initial battles with it, especially if you’re play-testing it on the ladder. Often times you’ll pick up on some weaknesses in your deck that you didn’t notice in theory. This is expected, since there are 58 cards and many more card combinations to consider. You may end up switching out a card or two. But since most of your deck should have been created in order to defeat the decks you face often, you should not have to revamp your whole deck unless you falsely identified the decks you’re facing often.
Remember that there are so many utilities in Clash Royale that you have to let one or two slide a little. The key is to make sure you have the utilities you need in your deck, and then you can pay less attention to the ones you don’t need. With a constantly changing meta, you’ll have to be aware of all of the utilities out there.
Not having epic cards up to tournament level or not having certain legendary cards can make a huge difference. I understand that, because I suffer from the same problem. It is very difficult to make strong decks without using one or more of these cards, and lacking them or having them under-leveled is an issue that f2p players shouldn’t have to deal with after more than 7 months of playing the game. But you are able to manage without them.
If you have read this far, thank you, and good luck! If you skipped the walls of text to perhaps find a TL;DR in the comments, I can bet you it won’t be as effective as reading this post. Good luck to you guys too!
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