My first draft pod on Day 2 is unavailable, because they had to repod us almost immediately due to a DCI Reporter glitch, and they never posted the new pods. I have no clue who was in my pod, except for the guys I played.
My first two picks were Flame Fusillade and Compulsive Research, followed by Skyknight Legionnaire. Then the Red and Blue cards dried up and I picked up Bramble Elemental and Pollenbright Wings for the possible RGU/w deck. A late Master Warcraft was a nice surprise, and I went into pack two looking to keep my options open. If a ton of Gruul started to come my way, I’d shift into a deck that could use Bramble Elemental. If I was getting nothing but Izzet, I’d move into UR/w, finding the Legionnaire a home, and adding any good Azorius cards that I saw in Pack 3.
I picked up a quick Electrolyze and then got passed a pack with Gelectrode, Steamcore Weird and Ogre Savant. I contemplated asking judge Adam Josef if I could take three cards out of the pack, but wisely remained silent. In the end, I took Steamcore Weird, a choice I would later be informed was incorrect. We’ll talk more about that in a second. Next, I took a Chronarch, probably the card you want more than any other when you have Flame Fusillade in your pile. Stratozeppelid was next, and then I rounded things out with Torch Drake, Wee Dragonauts, Bloodscale Prowler (sadly, there were no Helium Squirters available in Pack 3) and Infiltrator’s Magemark (not even close to as good in my eventual deck as it would have been in a deck featuring that Bramble Elemental).
A late Thunderheads (is there any other kind?) also ended up in my pile and, sadly, my deck. Considering how my manabase ended up, I would have loved to receive a Pyromatics – I don’t think I’ve ever drafted a deck that could use it better.
Pack 3 wasn’t as good as I would have liked. Helium Squirter was MIA the whole time, I first picked Seal of Fire and then vacuumed up an Azorius Herald. Later on I would get a Chancery and two Signets, which made my mana excellent and allowed me to scream out of the blocks. An Ogre Gatecrasher for the full Tidewater Minion combo was the icing on the cake. I did manage to snag a late Ocular Halo, giving my deck enough late-game card drawing to take over.
I built my deck across from Rich Hoaen, who shook his head with a sad smile as he said “How did this happen?” I think he was referring to his poor first pod deck. At least, I hope. Rich doesn’t think too much of me – he might have simply been surprised that I actually made Day 2.
Here’s what I ended up running.
- 1 Skyknight Legionnaire
- 2 Sparkmage Apprentice
- 1 Tidewater Minion
- 1 Bloodscale Prowler
- 1 Izzet Chronarch
- 1 Steamcore Weird
- 1 Stratozeppelid
- 1 Torch Drake
- 1 Wee Dragonauts
- 1 Azorius First-Wing
- 1 Azorius Herald
- 1 Enigma Eidolon
- 1 Ogre Gatecrasher
Notable Sideboard Cards:
I was happy with the deck. Thunderheads isn’t so bad when you can play it as “destroy target attacking creature”, and I had a great finisher in Fusillade. I think the difference between, say, a 1-2 and a 3-0 would be the sort of opposing creatures my opponents were depending on. Decks built around Minister of Impediments and lots of finesse creatures, I could handle. But Sparkmage Apprentice and Electrolyze don’t do much against Ghor-Clan Savage and Siege Wurm. The main thing missing, as you can see, was bounce. No tempo. Looking at the list now, I think Ogre Savant might have been a better pick than either Gelectrode or Steamcore Weird in Guildpact- the Savant sends Rotwurm home.
The Moloch is an excellent card against decks with a million Bloodthirst guys, it’s terrific against beatdown decks in general. Nobody wants to run their turn 3 Simic Ragworm into your turn 1 Moloch.
Round 9 versus Matt Hansen a.k.a. “The Lariat”
Game 1, my opening hand had a turn 3 Steamcore Weird on the draw and all my colors of mana. I naturally kept. His draw? Turn 1 Utopia Sprawl, turn 2 Shambling Shell, turn 3 Rakdos Guildmage.
I played out a bunch of guys, but this game was never close. His first Shell-dredge put a second Shell into his graveyard. I died with three Stalking Stones in my hand. Whatever. Nice nose. Nice Might of the Nephilim on my double-block.
Game 2 was closer. I killed his only two guys with an early Flame Fusillade, and he untapped and played Gruul Nodorog. Stalled on five mana for the second straight turn, my choices were between Chronarch (returning Flame Fusillade), and Stratozeppelid. I chose to play Stratozeppelid and start beating down, and that turned out to be a bad plan, as Matt nailed me with his 4/4 and played out three (!!!) additional men including a Gristleback. If I had played the Chronarch, he wouldn’t even have had a good attack without something like Might of the Nephilim.
In the end, his early life lead is too much for me to overcome – I died with not only Chronarch but also Compulsive Research still in my hand, and no mana to get my men onto the table in the face of his assault. If I play Chronarch and then follow up differently, it’s a different game. I guess I was just too wary of the Might of the Nephilim/Wildsize he might have… but I should have forced his hand regardless.
This loss was a lot easier to take than my previous losses, even with the mistake in Game 2. For one thing, it was earlier in the Day and I could still win out to make Top 16. For another, my mistake wasn’t plastered all over MagicTheGathering.com for everyone to see. Last but not least, I was already in Day 2- that was my main goal, and already accomplished.
My two game losses had been quick, so I had a lot of time to wander around and see things like Phil Samms and Ben Goodman eating trail mix out of the same bag (it’s sorta like seeing a field mouse and a bull crocodile sunning peacefully at the same watering hole) and, slightly later, Samms doing his first side draft of the day. His first seven picks were something like:
Peel From Reality
BIG ORDS or no?
Seriously, nice deck.
PS: BIG ORDS
This also might have been the round where Ben Goodman actually had the chutzpah to dust off an Evolution Vats joke when describing how stupid he’d been in absentmindedly sleeving up and attempting to play his sideboard in Round 9.
“You think you’re stupid? Take how stupid you think you are, tap Evolution Vat, put some counters on it, and then pay 2GU, and double it. That’s how stupid I was.”
I think he should get props just for trotting that one out. Later in the round, I asked Samms how much he thought RidiculousHat actually weighed.
“95 pounds is all he will admit to weighing,” was the response, which prompted me to say:
“So what, you’re like… dubs Goodman?”
That estimate was barely out of my mouth before I realized it was like a Sarnia rent payment… short by about a hundy. Unless we’re talking John Goodman. Samms didn’t miss a beat.
“Dubs?!” he gasped. “Trips!”
“You know,” I offered. “If we checked around this venue, we could *def* find some Quads.”
And so began the search for Quads Goodman. We found him a short time later. Side drafting with Big Mulls.
Round 10 versus Gaetan Voyer-Perrault a.k.a. Joe Green a.k.a. Glee Club
Gates had drafted an interesting deck – a B/W with a lot of walls and lifegain effects. I got him pretty easily in Game 1 when his deck served up a ton of land, but Game 2 was noteworthy – he beat me down with a Drekavac while forecasting Paladin of Prahv (I was happy to let him virtual Stone Rain himself twice/turn in order to gain three life, my draw was as slow as can be) and then, once that nonsense was ended, started to beat with the Paladin itself.
I got some men out, including one with Ocular Halo while I had Tidewater Minion in play, but my heart sank into the toilet when he unleashed Nihilistic Glee (watch your skull, it’s the GLEE CLUB!) when I was at 5 and he at 23. I mean, I had total control of the game, but he had like eight mana. I started feverishly digging for Azorius Herald to buy myself a turn or two, and kept laying permanents for what I hoped would be a lethal Flame Fusillade. And believe me – I had no shortage of permanents drawing three cards a turn. Still, I could tell it would be too late. Dealing five with Glee and eight mana is a three-turn operation if you start pitching the turn you cast the Glee.
Except…he didn’t use the Nihilistic Glee to kill me. He just played out his hand the old fashioned way and used it to draw cards himself, paying 6 life/turn twice over one memorable stretch. So I Fusilladed him out after drawing almost my entire deck. His friends were less than pleased by this and immediately informed him of his mistake.
And that’s the story of how I almost became the first guy to lose to Nihilistic Glee on Day 2 of GP…but didn’t.
Record: 7-3… keeping hope alive!
Afterward I went and saw Samms lay out his side draft cards at a vacant table and get to building, thinking myself prepared for any level of terribleness he might have in store. I started laughing within the first two cards. Samms began with his four-drops and without even a drop of shame rolled over the crack team of Vedalken Entrancer and Flame-Kin Zealot to kick things off. I swear to God, no word of a lie. Those were literally the first two cards he put down. One on top of the other, like they were Abbott and Costello.
Needless to say, I was almost comatose with laughter. Like, if they made bad buddy movies about draft decks, Vedalken Entrancer and Flame-Kin Zealot would be the first two cards cast.
“He’s a hothead. She’s cool and collected! Together, they’re the zaniest draft team since Faerie Squadron and Ghitu Fire!”
The next two cards down? Two Ordruun Commandos. BIG ORDS. I’m sure that if I had stayed to see the rest of his deck, he would have had at least three or four Infiltrator’s Magemarks to put on BIG ORDS. I guarantee it.
Whatever. Time to see if I can 2-1 with this thing…honestly, I think it’s good enough.
Round 11 versus Taylor Putnam
Game 1 he got manascrewed and I ran him over – I saw little of his deck. Game 2, he ran me over in turn, showing big ground guys including Ghor-Clan Savage. I sided in the Torpid Moloch for a Sparkmage Apprentice, because I hadn’t seen a single 1-toughness man.
Game 3 Torpid Moloch did its job and held off a Simic Ragworm – he eventually had to Pyromatics it at EOT in order to get his Ghor-Clan Savage down. Meanwhile, I was chiseling away with Azorius Herald, but drawing a lot of land. I ended up trading basically every creature I had for every creature he had in a big combat phase that featured all of our guys and my Thunderheads vs. his Fiery Conclusion. He was left with just the Ragworm, and I drew *more* land. I could only beat him down to 10 with the Herald and pass- things were looking very grim. He then played Moldervine Cloak, I used Master Warcraft to fog (this bought me a lot of time, as it also stranded a Ghor-Clan Savage for a turn), then beat him down to 8 after drawing another land.
The next turn he attacked me down to 12, and played the Savage. I attacked him down to 6 and drew yet another land. I was holding Electrolyze as my final card- I just needed maybe one chump blocker to nickel and dime him out. With nothing but land in sight, I burned the Electrolyze to knock him to 4 and drew Seal of Fire. I played it out.
Taylor calmly attacked me down to 1, a bad sign- he’d drawn something to deal with the Herald. It turned out to be the worst possible card for me – Vedalken Dismisser. I was forced to Seal my own Herald, leaving him at 4 life and leaving me with precisely one out- Flame Fusillade.
He told me to just windmill my draw.
The card… Sparkmage Apprentice, to finally bring me up to 8 spells to match my 8 land for the game. Oof. 1-2… I thought this deck was capable of more.
I was then in a position where I had to 3-0 to money. It’s not really the $250 that makes something like that important- it’s being able to say “I had a money finish. I rolled in with one bye, I won the trial, and I finished in the money.” That’s something a guy can be proud of.
Here’s my pod for Draft 2:
01 Voyer-Perrault, Gaetan D 21
02 Tait, Geordie R 21
03 McCarthy, Stephen P 21
04 Ting-A-Kee, Andrew M 21
05 Krakower, Gary 22
06 Westfall, Matthew A 21
07 Nagy, Stephen J 21
08 Evans, Murray G 21
A guy with the word Ting in his name!
Gates, the guy who failed to kill me with Nihilistic Glee!
It was a star-studded lineup. I considered asking Andrew if he was from the village of Nong Pradu, but the draft started before I could decide either way.
Elbow you. Elbow you. Knee you in the head.
… Demonfire you.
Anyway, the draft. My first two picks were Putrefy and Peel from Reality. When you get into that color situation, you always have to wonder what the blazes you’re going to be doing in pack 2 – in my case, I was willing to bite the bullet and draft Repeal, Wildsize, Ghor-Clan Savage (a great Simic card), and Douse In Gloom until pack 3 arrived to bail me out. That’s basically what happened – I stayed on course with UG/b (picking up a couple of Signets and a Dimir Aqueduct to help) until I was passed a Mortify I couldn’t resist and started tuning the deck to accept a double splash.
After counting my creatures during the second review period, I realized I needed to draft a creature with ten straight Dissension picks in order to have sufficient men, and I set out to do just that. Luckily, Simic is a very friendly guild when you need an army. After taking Leafdrake Roost first (it’s basically a creature) I picked up Simic Guildmage, Silkwing Scout, Helium Squirter, Assault Zeppelid, Plaxmanta, and Vigean Graftmage. I couldn’t shy away from a very late Ocular Halo once I had the Graftmage. Still, my lack of creatures meant I’d almost certainly end up playing some platinum hits (Enemy of the Guildpact on the splash, anyone?) and the way things turned out, I traveled to Petrahydrox town and got elected mayor.
I ended up with this deck:
- 1 Stinkweed Imp
- 1 Transluminant
- 1 Ghor-Clan Savage
- 2 Petrahydrox
- 1 Assault Zeppelid
- 1 Enemy of the Guildpact
- 1 Helium Squirter
- 1 Plaxmanta
- 1 Silkwing Scout
- 1 Simic Guildmage
- 1 Verdant Eidolon
- 1 Vigean Graftmage
Notable Sideboard Cards:
Again, I really loved the mana. Two base colors, a double-splash accomplished without compromising the rest of the deck (there are seven Black sources if you count Silkwing Scout and Verdant Eidolon, and only one Swamp). The overall power level of cards could have used some work. I wasn’t looking forward to staring down a Benevolent Ancestor with my Doublehydrox special – but I knew that the tandem of Helium Squirter and Ghor-Clan Savage could potentially solve a lot of problems.
Okay. Eye of the Tiger. 3-0 to glory.
Oh, and by the way, Phil Samms won that side draft. In one game, he cast Vedalken Plotter, giving up a Mountain to take a bounceland… and then used Ghostway (which I saw him first pick) to steal his own Mountain back in order to get RR to cast Flame-Kin Zealot. He won that game. In fact, I’m sure he beat down with BIG ORDS that game. Probably with Infiltrator’s Magemark.
No lies. No lies. The above game actually happened. Like, come on… BIG PLOTS?
I’ll tell you, my friend. I’ll tell you. Not just BIG, but DUBS.
HUGE PLOTS. COLOSSAL.
“Hey Mountain! I miss you! Why don’t you come back to your home on Whore Island?”
Round 12 versus Stephen J. Nagy
Stephen had this crazy deck with Djinn Illuminatus, Niv-Mizzet, and Biomantic Mastery. Just in case you’re wondering, casting Biomantic Mastery with Niv-Mizzet out is pretty good.
In Game 1, I got out some early beaters and used a Vacuumelt to clear the way for a deadly assault, while Stephen had land trouble. Ghor-Clan Savage was able to do too much damage before he could recover.
Game 2 was insane. I had Ocular Halo plus Vigean Graftmage for the perma-Train of Thought a.k.a. Running the Train, and I had it for almost the entire game. I also had Leafdrake Roost active on turn 4. He still almost won. He ramped up and cast Niv-Mizzet followed by Djinn Illuminatus. I used Vacuumelt and Peel from Reality to knock his junk around for a few attacks, getting him to six – but he just kept laying land and big ground pounders, and there were a couple of turns where I drew extra cards instead of using Leafdrake Roost that I was really starting to regret.
We sat around staring at each other, with me trying to develop my board while bouncing Niv-Mizzet with a different spell basically every turn. Eventually, he got all the way up to 13 mana! (I know this because he recast the Illuminatus and Niv-Mizzet the turn after I Vacuumelted them both and got in for six.) He never missed a land drop (he drew three bounce lands) for the entire game. With his grip empty and me on 17 and looking to win on the next turn with a Repeal, he forgot his Niv-Mizzet trigger while drawing (to be fair, we both missed it) and I said “forget it, just play on”, but he wanted to call a judge to make sure everything was kosher.
His eyes, which had been resigned to a loss, were now avid. Obviously, he had drawn a very relevant card. When we backed up and he went to the dome with Niv-Mizzet, dropping me to 17, I knew I might be in trouble.
He went into the tank. In the end, he had to say go. I was trying to figure out what he could have drawn. The best way to find out seemed to be to Repeal the Illuminatus, and after drawing and Drake’ing EOT, I untapped and did just that, holding Plaxmanta. He said “I’m probably going to have to respond now…”
He started to play some Red instant targeting my creatures (he was looking right at them), and I immediately showed him Plaxmanta since I had lethal damage coming over in the air, I figured he’d just concede. He had no other cards in hand and his plan had been to take out my creatures – what else could he do? If he could have killed me, he would have done so on his turn.
I don’t feel too bad about jumping the gun, because technically I was correct. Still, it ended up being much closer than I would have liked. I’d played the Plaxmanta much too early, before he’d even declared targets, and he was well within his rights to go to the dome instead if he wanted.
So he did nug me.
With Cackling Flames. Triple replicated and Hellbent. For 15. With Niv-Mizzet on the table.
Leaving me at 1. Then, I killed him with Drakes.
Imagine if he’d drawn Biomantic Mastery instead of Cackling Flames? He had 14 mana, I had like seven guys, he had six, including Djinn Illuminatus and Niv-Mizzet. What a complicated spell that would have been – I would have liked to have seen that just for the story. Stephen would have had to kill enough guys with the first one to avoid being decked by the second (it was about turn 14), and then try to fly over for lethal.
“Hey Samms, guess how I died? A guy hit me for 20 with a replicated Biomantic Mastery plus Niv-Mizzet. He Wrathed my side with part of the first one and then went to the dome with the second. He had exactly no cards in his library when it was over.”
“Oh GT. You’re always getting Biomantic Masteried right out. PS: BIG ORDS!”
Round 13 versus Gaetan Voyer-Perrault
This time, Gates wasn’t playing Nihilistic Glee. He had a serious beatdown deck. With cards like Blind Hunter, Viashino Fangtail etc.
This match will be short and sweet. Game 1 I ran him over – Ghor-Clan Savage might have been involved. He almost stabilized near the end, but I nickel and dimed him to death with Stinkweed Imp, of all things.
He won Game 2 with a strong draw featuring Scorched Rusalka, the Fangtail, Blind Hunter, and his splashed Golgari Rotwurm.
Game 3, my enemy was the clock. My draw was insane, but we were down to one minute and Gates was taking a good long while to figure out how to not die. I was able to kill him with beaters and fliers about one second before we went into extra turns, but I had to play about 100mph on my turns in order to do so. All it would have taken to draw the game is something like Faith’s Fetters. Elbow you. Flaming gasoline kick. Flying knee you off of a helicopter and into a gulch. Nice card.
I revere only myself.
Okay, this is it. This is how Magic is supposed to be. One round for all the glory. If I win this coming round, I get to go home with my head held reasonably high. If not, I leave with nothing to show for my trip, not even a Pro Point.
So who was the other 2-0 in the pod? The guy who I would play against in this “winner wins, loser goes home” be-all, end-all battle?
Well, this is already almost a fairy tale, so who else could it have been but…
Gary Krakower is a Canadian Magic legend, the man that Josh Bennett famously described as “a shell of his former shell”. Gary is a two-time Canadian National Champion, and if you bring that up in his presence, he will tell you, and not good-naturedly either, that it “should have been three”.
The Krak once kept a hand of Aven Fateshaper, Crowd Favorites and five land on the play. The Krak doesn’t need turns one through six.
The Krak once cast a potentially game-winning Erratic Explosion and turned over Wave of Indifference, the only 1CC spell in his deck, resulting in a loss. The Krak doesn’t need two damage, either.
As soon as I learned that I was playing The Krak in the final round, I checked to see what his record was and whether he wanted to attend the Pro Tour. Anti-legend or no, I wasn’t adverse to being a nice guy and conceding so he could live his dream of attending PT Kobe. I chatted with The Krak a little about his situation and while he said there was a chance he might make Top 16 with a win, the standings didn’t really reflect that – so I was prepared for battle.
“I’m always in favor of maximizing money,” Gary said. While I can agree with that, I didn’t think too much of his assessment of his chances to make Top 16 – he had basically no shot, and yet we had a long conversation about it anyway that I couldn’t help but laugh about once I saw his tiebreakers.
I went to Josh Rider, probably the most interested party in the coming melee, and told him what was about to transpire. GT vs. The Krak in a $250 ante match.
“Oh, please beat him,” my friend encouraged me. “And try to do it with the worst cards in your deck.”
Josh and I then looked through my sideboard for the ideal cards to do this with.
“Beat him with Skyrider Trainee, and then tell him you don’t play any enchantments – you just really like that guy,” Josh suggested.
Why would we ever want to do this? Well, Gary Krakower is, by his own admission, “too competitive”. Remember that old Klingon proverb about how a whole city of Klingon dudes hears there’s a massive sandstorm coming, and they should all take shelter within the city walls, but this one Klingon (one somehow imagines that he is a two-time “Storm Defiance” national champ) is like “Screw that. I will stand before the storm and make it respect me!”
And then the storm kills him.
Krakower is that guy. You know why he kept that hand with five land, Aven Fateshaper and Crowd Favorites? Because just once, he told himself, fate has to blink first.
Gary plays chicken with luck in every match he plays. He wants to make luck respect him. And there’s one other thing too – and this is the crucial thing. There are two types of people, really. Guys who have fun with their bad beats, and guys who don’t. From what I can tell, Gary is the second kind. I have never heard him telling a story about his own bad luck with a smile on his face. If he does tell such stories, I’m sure he’s looking for sympathy, not laughs.
Now, I hate losing… I’m sure I hate it as much as Gary. So I think I understand how your ears can just get hot and burn when you walk by the guy who beat you, and he’s telling his friends: “Man! I blew that guy out with (insert card here), he had no answer!” That said… I hope he lightens up a little some day. Because he should be the one telling his own bad beat stories with a smile on his face (and he’s had a lot), instead of letting them be the guilty pleasures of other people.
Anyhow, after about five minutes of talk about blowing Krakower out with Dizzy Spell (“it’s in there to transmute for my Terrarion!”) or Dark Heart of the Wood (“I know it doesn’t effect the board, but it’s good in races!”) Josh and I settled down and talked more serious strategy.
I heard through the grapevine that Gary had a very fast deck with four Azorius First-Wing and other men backed by tricks and burn. I figured that meant he’d keep a lot of Mountain, Plains, First-Wing, First-Wing, First-Wing, First-Wing, Plumes of Peace hands.
I settled down for the match and said, “Let’s play it out,” to make sure there was no question about whether any scooping would be going on. Gary agreed… but there was a look in his eye, a real worry – like he’d wanted to take this match out of the hands of fate and just secure the scoop so he couldn’t get completely screwed on manascrew and mulligans.
Here we go. Hold on to your butts.
Round 14 versus Gary Krakower a.k.a. THE KRAK
Game 1 was the funniest match of Magic I have ever played in my nine years. Gary confidently kept his opening hand (didn’t even give it a second thought), and I also kept mine – it had land, a Signet, Simic Guildmage and Ghor-Clan Savage, plus a bounce spell… not bad at all.
Gary stopped laying lands on turn 3, and had no play. His demeanor changed on a dime. He started flicking his cards with a frustration that had to be seen to be believed. He said “go!” like the word was coated in cod liver oil and he wanted it out of his mouth. His face became a picture of resigned contempt; not for me, but for his deck, and Magic in general.
Meanwhile, while Magic taketh away from Gary, it giveth to me… serving up Silkwing Scout for my turn 3 and then Assault Zeppelid off the top for 4.
“Here,” the Magic faeries said, and handed me the cards in question. “This Krakower guy thinks he’s above the law. We’re going to stick it to him this round. Did you see that ballsy keep on a two-lander, on the play? It’s like he’s daring us to screw him.”
Gary never did draw that land. And I have to admit… I wasn’t able to really observe his sour mood any further – I was helpless with laughter. I was actually laughing as I turned my guys sideways – the sort of irrepressible giggle that you always fear will show up when you’re at church or some other place where laughter is forbidden.
I tried to stop. I knew it would probably bother Gary, to have the guy beating him down start giggling like a maniac. But just the image of his face changing into a sour puss when his second draw failed to yield a land… his disgust at having no play while I curved out with my best possible draw… his hopeful, chipper attempts to arrange some sort of scoop when I think in his heart he knew that he didn’t have much of a chance at Top 16, the desperation of a man who wants to avoid luck at any cost… his furious exhalations of breath… his rolling eyes, his bitter, disgusted mannerisms, tinged with the bone-weariness of a man who has endured a thousand manascrews…
It was too perfect.
It was too quintessentially Krakower. I couldn’t help myself.
Obviously he didn’t draw the land! Obviously! What else could have happened?
He died while I was laughing. The game took 45 seconds. As Gary was packing up his cards and shuffling furiously (and I was laughing so hard that I thought I would cry, laughing in such a way that I wasn’t making any sound but my face was red and my chest was heaving up and down, hiccup-like, in short giggly bursts) a judge walked over and said “Okay, guys, you can play.”
He thought our match hadn’t even started. In fact, Gary was down a game. Josh Rider came over at about this time and noticed Gary shuffling furiously, my scorepad with a long string of descending numbers in Gary’s life column… and he knew instantly what had happened. He went off to find as many people as possible.
Game 2 put the match over the top. I started off with Transluminant and Silkwing Scout this time.
Again, Gary stalled on three land and had no play! He said, “Go!” with such bitterness and self-entitlement and I thought his bile would melt through the table. His demeanor… I can’t even describe it. It was too funny. I was chuckling continuously at this point, trying to apologize through a voice box vibrating with helpless giggles, and not succeeding.
I almost fell over with laughter when on turn 4 I topdecked Assault Zeppelid, and then I got in for four… but Gary lurched into action with a BIG BOGGS.
“That might have turned the game around,” I offered.
“Still color-screwed, don’t worry,” said Gary, gloomily. He laid a bounceland and cast Freewind Equenaut.
I got in again the next turn (he declined to block) and played Ghor-Clan Savage. Gary played out another land and passed leaving six mana up. When I played land number six, Simic Guildmage, and then attacked with everything, he blocked the Transluminant and cast Azorius Ploy to buy himself some time.
Gary then played out another flier, Azorius First-Wing, and passed it back. He obviously had some plans in store that might get him back into the game. The resigned look wasn’t completely gone, but it had faded. He thought he might have a chance.
I drew my card for the turn and almost burst out laughing again… and trust me, that wouldn’t have been anything unusual – I had been laughing on and off since the middle of Game 1.
I attacked with everything and Gary nonchalantly declared “no blocks”, like he was enjoying high tea in London Square.
“Damage on the stack?” he asked, eagerly.
I remember thinking. “Oh man. He has Boros Fury-Shield. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLOLOLOLOL!”
I said “Sure, damage on.”
So Gary rolled over the Fury-Shield, and I rolled over the card I had drawn- Plaxmanta.
Obviously! Obviously! What else could I have drawn?
The capper was this. Gary was then on two life, I had a board of four guys, including three +1/+1 counters and a Simic Guildmage with 3GGG available, plus one card in hand that is unknown.
Gary’s only play to stay alive? Cast out two more guys, tapping out. And they weren’t big guys. One was a Chronarch to return Fury-Shield, but that was almost irrelevant. His only play to live even one more turn, the only play the Magic faeries had given him, was to cast out four guys and lose all four in the coming combat. Just for one more draw phase.
And guess what? He didn’t even get that draw. The one card in my hand was, obviously, my double-splash Mortify. I was holding it out to show the audience, and laughing so hard that I was fit to burst, face red with the effort of keeping my giggles inaudible, during the course of Gary’s entire final turn.
Gary just dropped his cards on the table. Josh Rider clapped me on the back in celebration. I didn’t offer a handshake… I didn’t think Gary would really be in the mood to accept one, with me laughing the whole match. I just said, “I don’t even know what to say. You’re an unlucky guy.”
And then, with a twinkle in his eye, Gary said to me something that I probably won’t forget for a while.
“Only at Magic.”
At least, that’s the way I’d like to remember it.
In fact, Gary said that in the context of some other less peaceable things – he told me to thank my friends for celebrating in front of him, for example, and his “Only at Magic,” was actually referring to him being a millionaire – but that doesn’t change the fact that that one statement is 100% correct.
Gary is right, you know. Of all the things to be unlucky in – given the choice between love, birth, death, and Magic… the choice is easy. Maybe that’s what Ben Goodman was talking about. Make it less about winning and losing. Maybe that’s something we should all think about. Because five years from now, I won’t remember the $250 I won.
I’ll remember Big Mulls, Demonfire, RoN Burgundy, slow rolled Cackling Flames, Quads Goodman, DUBS Plotter for the Mountain FTW, crushing dreams of THE KRAK, and every other ridiculous thing that caused a smiling face. 10-4… 23rd place… who cares?
Us. All of us. Because in the end, win or lose, we all swing. You have to enjoy the times while they’re there. God is the biggest slow roller of them all.
FP_GLyM on MTGO
PS: Demonfire you.
PPS: Nice card.
PPPS: Nice nose.