Interview with Mike “the dog” Klein, Spring Fling champ



Mike “the dog” Klein, last month you smashed whiskey and southern dreams by taking down the 50 person Old Jakes Howzat in South Carolina. And then just this past weekend you flew down from New York and carpetbagged the 63 person Spring Fling in Virginia. Congratulations are definitely in order but, at the same time, are you at all concerned about any Southern reprisals?

I’m more worried about how much drinking those southern boys (and girls) may make me do next time I see them. 


1.) You prowess with Masons has earned you the #1 the team on Longshanks, yet for both of these tournaments you played Union, how come?


I am very much a player who likes to play everything, and it is hard for me to stick with a team for long. My ~8 month stint with only Masons was actually super challenging for me (and I think I even played one or two local tournaments where I switched guilds in that time). Since steamcon US 2017, I have been bumping around playing various guilds. I settled on Union primarily because, unlike masons who sort of have to grin and bear it vs. control teams, Union and vet rage specifically are very good at overcoming attempts to be controlled. I also love the union models, both aesthetically and rulewise, which also encouraged me to play them. After Old Jakes’ where I had a lot of success with my Union, why not try again as I had most recently had good practice with them. 


2. Can you share your tournament ten that led you to victory at the Spring Fling?


Of course. My 10 was: Vet Rage, coin (snek), strongbox, Benediction, Mist, Gutter, Hemlocke, Decimate, Minx, Grace. Grace was only in there for alchemists (copying Guild Ball God Alex Botts’s tech there), and strongbox was in there for…well no great reason. He’s a good mascot, and I know many people prefer him over coin, but for me coin is just such a consistently good piece. 


3. You played Vet Rage as your captain for every game in both tournaments and you didn’t lose once. Do you feel that Union players should follow your example and cut Blackheart and Seasoned Brisket out of their lineups?


Personal preference really. Vet Rage definitely is the best of the Union captains by far. That doesn’t mean that there arent one or two matchups were one of the other captains might be as good if not better. The reason I didn’t bring them was that for the 1 or two matchups they may have been useful in, it wasn’t worth it over just having more tools for rage. I was also worried I may do something silly and drop the other captain into a matchup that I shouldn’t – so I removed the temptation. Thresher Farmers is probably the most notable matchup I’d prefer blackheart in, and I was just counting on vet rage to power through. 


4. Of your tournament ten, which models saw the most play and what role did they have for you?


Strongbox saw no play from me on the day. Prefer coin. Having an extra influence and the bonus time are huge – great for flexible turn 1 receiving mist goals – give him 3 and put bag of coffers on him if you feel the goal run is reasonable. Also can be powerful to go from 1 to 2 influence to allow a model to charge that your opponent had not been expecting to, etc. There were 5 models I played every game: vRage, coin, Benediction, Mist, Gutter. The 6th slot was my flex slot, and that rotated between hemlocke, decimate, and minx, depending on what I needed/wanted in the matchup. In discussions I’ve had with people online and in person, people commonly were surprised at the fact that I always play benediction and mist. Benediction is a must play model for me because he does so much to extend rage’s threat range, both by pushing models towards him and allowing rage more range on red fury. He also is quite a resilient model and can help form the base of the scrum vet rage wants to into. For mist – everyone knows mist is a great striker model. He is a must include model for me because he constantly threatens goals and snapback goals, which means your opponent is forced to protect the ball more or to let you score – and a vRage team that threatens 2 goals is hard to stop. 


5. In the past, Thresher was a Union boogey-man. Now that he’s been fixed the Union seem to be making a competitive climb. Do you foresee any changes in their tournament dominance once the exiled models are available? Specifically, do you see an influx of new Brewers players being a problem or how about Rat Catchers, any fear there?


Thresher and the farmer’s errata definitely helped union out. While Thresher still isn’t a matchup vRage would love to see, its much more playable now. I think post exiles there will be a lot of teams in really great spots, vying for spots at the top of the competitive rankings. There will certainly be a lot of brewers and hunters players, and both teams are getting really strong pieces coming to them. I can’t say much for rats, I’ve only had one game against them thus far, but obviously Chris did well with them at Spring Fling, so we’ll just have to see. 


6. You cohost a podcast with Chris Schlegel called, Anatomical Precision , and in addition to discussing top-tier-tactics you sometimes discuss the psychology of the game. I read a psychology book once called The Tipping Point, by Malcom Gladwell and in it he discussed how ideas and small actions can spread like viruses and cause a big impact. Do you ever think your victories or podcast ideas will have a big impact in the community?


Macolm Gladwell writes excellent (although often ends up being wrong) books. I’m not sure quite the size of the impact our podcast or my performance in events has. I do think that all of the podcasts, blogs, etc. can certainly shape the perspective of discussions happening within the community. Basically, in any discussion, people will have multiple different viewpoints. The more a specific set of viewpoints is exposed to the community, and people hear players/podcasts saying “X” the more likely they are to accept those viewpoints as correct. We like podcasting because we like sharing our experiences about this awesome game with the community, and hope that at least some find the discussion useful or entertaining. 


7. What’s next for you? Any big tournaments on the horizon or Longshanks badges you’d gunning for?


Well my next big event is getting married in about 3 weeks, so I’ll be working on that. No major events coming up for me right away, but Steamcon US for sure, hopefully the WTC as well. Definitely need to get up to the 30ish game mark with Union, see if I can make a run for that Union badge. 


8. Should Steamcon ever get moved back to Chicago, the Midwest must learn from the South’s failures and find a way to defend ourselves from you. What’s the best list and tactics out there to defeat Vet Rage?


I’d say it certainly depends on the team. Best I can say is attempt to avoid situations where your models can get easily engaged by vet rage’s team, especially not benediction or gutter. They will either get a bunch of damage on your or push you into position for vet rage to delete. Respect the threat of red fury and be aware of what the vet rage player can do to you. Aiming for a 2-2 or 3-0 gameplan also seems smart.


Thanks Mike, and congratulations again on the wins and the upcoming wedding.

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