A few weeks back, I qualified for the Central Coast Championship – the grass roots Grudge Match-esque Invitational tournament pulling from local tournament qualifiers from Virginia and the Carolinas. If you live in those three states, I’d recommend going to CCGPrime.com and check out the qualifier lists since you still have time to qualify.
One interesting thing about the CCC is that while three rounds of Swiss is Type 2, the last three rounds are Odyssey Block Constructed. While Regionals educated me quite nicely on the current Type 2, I’ve got nothing but Osaka to go on for OBC. I’ll go into detail a few ideas I have for OBC at the bottom of this column, for those who might be interested. For now, though, a quick overview of my Regionals experience.
I attended the Mid-Atlantic Regionals in Baltimore. We had 530 people; nearly a hundred more than last year. If anyone thinks that Magic is not as strong as it had been, I dare say the attendance proves that wrong. I bumped into Mike Long, who seemed very much down on Magic and went on and on about how terrible the last few expansions were and how disappointing Judgement looked to him. Considering the extremely high turnout for Regionals, I’d have to say Mike’s malaise is more the product of his own outlook rather than the health of the game itself. I personally think that all three Odyssey expansions have been incredible for the game of Magic and have done a lot to expand the game.
I decided to run with B/g no-Braids, relying on Deeds, Mongers, Edicts, and Plague Spitters to carry me through. It occurred to me early last week that the environment was simply filled with little one toughness critters and that Plague Spitter might be the high technology I’d need to push through to the Top 8 of a ridiculously overattended tournament. Last minute-jitters regarding the ‘Tog matchup led to me pulling the three Phyrexian Ragers for Spellbane Centaurs maindeck, and this is what I ended up with:
4 Chainer’s Edict
4 Pernicious Deed
4 Nantuko Shade
4 Call of the Herd
3 Spellbane Centaur
4 Plague Spitter
3 Shambling Swarm
4 Tainted Wood
4 Llanowar Wastes
3 Phyrexian Arena
1 Shambling Swarm
1 Spellbane Centaur
I won’t go into the blow-by-blow, since I didn’t qualify and I wasn’t playing something to wacky and weird. 10 rounds of Swiss were to be used to boil 530 people to the top 8 best. I went 6-3, getting my third loss in the 9th round (I was shooting for 8-2 in order to get 1-2 boxes of product). The top tables I saw seemed to have a good variety of decks – including Tog, G/R, several versions of Braids, and I think a U/W was still in contention. It seemed to me that playing a strong deck you were comfortable with, along with some good breaks on pairings and avoiding mana screw, were the formulas for success. I didn’t see any deck that was just simply dominating, and that makes me think the environment is healthy (if a bit difficult to prepare for).
The environment was really strange, too – I didn’t see nearly the amount of Braids decks as I was expecting, or else I would have played Braids myself (I didn’t because I didn’t want to trudge through two or three mirror matches). One of the locals we went up with, fifteen year-old Tony Vicario, played a sub-optimal version of B/w Braids (he didn’t own but two Swarms and decided he didn’t want them, and added a fourth Duress – not a bad choice – and a Desolation Angel, which I thought was dubious). After the fifth round, he was 5-0 despite numerous play mistakes. The deck just crushed people. At that point, he started playing the really good players who took advantage of his mistakes and he lost in the 6th round, the 8th round, and the 9th round – with both of us knocked out the running for prizes, alas.
Sixty-Second Tournament Report
I played B/G Braids in round 1 and crushed it. He got some clunky, slow draws and my Shades took advantage. Round 2, I played a Green/Black deck with random Elves, Wild Mongrels, Kavu Titans, Deeds, and Spiritmongers; a deck I should have crushed much like I do any creature deck but in the two games I lost, he got a turn 3 Arena on the board that I never drew an answer for until I’d been buried in mediocrity. I even drew an early Compost in game 3 and he never cast a black spell besides the turn 3 Arena!
In retrospect, maybe he didn’t have a large enough percentage of black to warrant the Composts.
Round 3, I had to play one of the fellas I rode up with and who was playing a deck I had lent him. It was G/R/b and I was worried about the Spiritmongers, Flametongues, and Terminates, but managed to make good plays knowing what was in his deck and won the match.
Round 4, I played against a Green/red/blue madness deck that destroyed me by starting fast both games to my fairly slow draws with zero early removal. We played again for fun; my deck drew like it typically does, and I destroyed him. Sigh.
Round 5 was against a CounterBurn deck with green splashed for Snakes and Calls. I took him in three long and grueling matches. Things got a bit tense between us when I pointed out that while he was shuffling my deck before each game, he kept tilting it over and was looking down at it so he could see the contents. Giving him the benefit of the doubt (i.e., that he was not attempting to cheat) I tried to embarrass him into stopping it, but in retrospect I should have called a judge over. He barely said a word throughout our two games. I’m sorry, but if you have zero social skills you should not be going to a tournament and inflicting yourself on those of us who enjoy interacting with other players.
Round 6 was against ManaScrew.dec, and unfortunately for him he never got going either game due to some really bad draws – and my Shades made quick work. To make matters worse, one of the judges I’m friends with came by with the match slip and jokingly told the guy to watch out for me because I cheated. Um, GP… That’s not real funny! When the guy got manascrewed again in the second game, he got quietly furious and I was certain he’d convinced himself that I’d worked evil magic during each of my single riffle shuffles for his deck both games. A bit disturbing to think someone out there is convinced I’m a cheater since I would never cheat, and I really couldn’t say anything without sounding pathetic, so I just let him go.
Round 7 against a deaf guy named John, we communicated by gestures and writing on paper – he was playing G/U Upheaval and it was kinda cool cause he’d written down”I have a response” that he would periodically hold up his hand and point to. I managed to win in three tough games. Odd to play the game in silence, but he was a very nice opponent.
Round 8 was against U/B Goodstuff – Psychatog plus Infiltrators and at least one Fat Moti. Kinda weird deck, but he was 5-2 like me so I guess it was working for him. He doesn’t get a very fast draw, so I manage to draw plenty of answers and win in two games.
Round 9 was against a stereotypically arrogant, bratty teenager playing U/G Upheaval. He didn’t talk any trash, but he acted bored both games, always had the counterspell and Upheaval when he needed it, and pretty much acted like it was a nuisance to have to play against a scrub geezer like myself. Grr. I would have really liked to have smashed this punk’s face in.
I dropped at this point since I was out of the running for boxes and there was only one more round. I had a three-hour drive back to Richmond and it was already midnight.
I think the deck was perfectly capable of going 8-2… I should have probably won the second match since I was extremely prepared to smash creature decks, but his early Arena both games kept him afloat long enough to overcome my creature kill. My second loss may have gone the other way, too, if I’d drawn like I did during our fun game. The one deck I seriously felt unprepared for was the U/G deck in round 9, and wished I’d been better set for that matchup. What I should have sideboarded, I have no clue.
There was a deck I saw played by the Charlottesville crew that looked very interesting, and I wished I’d discovered it sooner (you can see it listed in an article by Ted Knutson on Brainburst or at TheEndGames.com), called Smoke and Fog. Designed to abuse Madness to the fullest, this is my spin on the decklist:
Smoke and Fog
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Merfolk Looter
4 Arrogant Wurm
3 Roar of the Wurm
3 Zombie Infestation
4 Obsessive Search
4 Circular Logic
4 Aether Burst
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Underground River
4 Yavimaya Coast
I made a few changes from Ted’s listing, liking the Looters over ‘Moebas, Aether Burst over Repulse, and Standstill over Fact or Fiction. I saw some of the guys playing it, and it confirmed my suspicion that it’s not an easy deck to just pick up and play. There are a lot of little subtleties and synergies to get used to. I may end up playing this at CCC… Either that, or go back to my Bw Braids deck. We’ll see what the weeks may bring.
In the meantime, I’ve got to figure out what Odyssey Block deck to play. I don’t normally pay attention to block constructed until the third set is released, since the PTQ block season doesn’t come around until the full block has been released… Luckily, I’ve got PT: Osaka to cue me onto the best decks. Talking with Elliot Fertik at Regionals, he said just pick one of the top 8 decks that looks like my style and run with it, since the pros obviously have logged a lot of playtesting time into the format.
My response – what fun is that?
Seriously, though… As the sets have been released, there have been a few cards on my radar that I’d love to try and make work. Cards like Rites of Spring, Nantuko Cultivator, Nostalgic Dreams, and False Memories. False Memories in particular seems really cool in that you can play it at the end of your opponents’ turn after his”end of turn” effects have triggered and stacked, so that you can untap and keep your graveyard stocked until the end of your turn. This enables you to have early threshold, be able to cast flashback spells, gives you targets for Nostalgic Dreams, etc.
And I really love the Rites of Spring/Cultivator”combo.” How good all this actually is I’m not sure yet, but I intend on building it and giving it a whirl. Something like this:
4 Nimble Mongoose
2 Seton’s Scout
4 Call of the Herd
2 Nantuko Cultivator
4 Roar of the Wurm
1 Beast Attack
3 False Memories
4 Rites of Spring
3 Nostalgic Dreams
4 Circular Logic
3 Cephalid Coliseum
Looks like fun, don’t it? Anybody tried anything like this? Anyway, that’s it for this week; hope those of you who attended Regionals this past weekend had a great time playing Magical cards.
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