All Fairness: Part 2

Thursday, December 2nd – Tim Aten continues his GP Nashville report with part 2! While opening Sealed pools, the guy opening Tim’s cards frantically tries to get his attention. “Congratulations,” he offers. Congratulations? For what…?

You can read part 1

Or don’t! It’s not like anyone else has! I wouldn’t if I were you… because if I were you, I’d be a befuddled, undiscriminating troglodyte who wouldn’t know a quality piece of writing if someone folded it into an airplane and threw it into his eyeball!

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any of that.* Your Uncle Tim can be a little surly when he’s coming down off his norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

Chapter Three: Some Amount Of Sizzurp

After my successful and theoretically lucrative team draft, Rodman and I decided to procure comestibles** and then head to our… uhhhhhhh… y’know, the bed-place thing? Whatever. Needless to say, this was a characteristically convoluted undertaking which involved circling the tournament hall several times looking for roommate Patrick Sullivan, trying to determine Patrick’s whereabouts by talking to several of our mutual friends, watching Nassif battle The Ben Seck in the triple Trigon of Thought mirror, and discovering after ten painful minutes of the aforementioned Blue vs. Blue encounter that TBS was the mystery fourth in our room and had a key for us.

Assuming the hotel Applebee’s would be packed, Rodman and I reluctantly audibled into Shoney’s, an establishment with which neither of us was familiar but which, to be perfectly honest, did not project even the faintest glimmer of promise. I guess it could be described as “a somewhat less classy Denny’s” or “a slightly cleaner Waffle House, but without waffles.” Our waiter informed us that the evening’s special was a seafood buffet, so Rodman—who isn’t positive he’s not allergic to shellfish and who never lets anything with gills near his plate—decided to prolong the ordering process by going up to examine the buffet himself, in case our server was lying or was perhaps using “seafood” as a euphemism for “filet mignon from some other restaurant.” After Rodman was satisfied that the seafood buffet was in fact a buffet stocked with seafood, we both opted for the partially melted shredded cheese and bacon on cold toast—a delicacy that requires at least twenty minutes of prep time to meet Shoney’s (Shoney’s’s?) stringent standards of excellence.

By the time we were finished, my friends Mehran, Zack Wolff, and Ty Law had arrived in Nashville, so I went to their room to get ANNIHILATED (read: have maybe a drink or two before bed) while Rodman retired to our room to sulk over missing out on quality Aion gold-farming time. In my friends’ room, I birded a Winston draft in which Mehran opened a Venser, an occasion marked by no small amount of shameless theatrics. I’m sure there’s some sort of origin story about Mehran’s Venser obsession, and he’s probably even told me, but I don’t exactly “pay attention when other people speak.” I do know that this childish infatuation predates Venser’s appearance as a Scars planeswalker by a significant margin, and suffice it to say that if Venser weren’t a fictional character from a children’s card game, Mehran would be fantasizing about exchanging vows with him in a tasteful civil ceremony. On those rare occasions when Mehran is fortunate enough to open a pack with the Sojourner, he starts blushing and hyperventilating and generally acting like someone in the front row of a Justin Bieber concert (i.e. a twelve-year-old girl, or possibly Cedric Phillips).

As uncomfortable as that display was, even more disconcerting was the realization that Mehran had decided to appoint “Like a G6” by Far*East Movement his group’s Song of the Weekend. Now, I’ve become much more accepting of pop/Top 40 music in my old age, but a significant portion of it—including Ke$ha and anything Auto-Tuned—genuinely perturbs me. And as much as I loathe Kesha-with-a-dollar-sign, “Like a G6” is the farthest outlier toward the “affront to God” end of the pop music spectrum in recent memory. Long tirade short, I’m not sure why a handful of Asian DJs felt inspired to produce a functional reprint of “Boom Boom Pow” mere months after the original topped the charts. These buttmunches rapping about how their “staahl” is “waahld” feel more than a little disingenuous, plus it pains me that the ploy of “including lyrics about how awesome getting drunk is” is a surefire path to mainstream success. Again, there’s some popular music I enjoy—Lady Gaga deserves her notoriety, and “Nothin’ on You” by B.o.B. and Bruno Mars is one of the best songs this decade—but we mustn’t indiscriminately tolerate, let alone celebrate, the more abominable offerings foisted upon us by record executives. This isn’t to say that I advocate listening to the kind of obscurities that John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity*** would relish; there just has to be a happy medium between “Like a G6” and Noah-Swartz-approved artists like Chauncey the Band**** and Hummmr. (Personally, I suggest The Offspring or Silversun Pickups.)


After receiving the critical tiebreaker vote from Ty’s boyfriend Lyle in the cats vs. babies debate—I think cats are cute and babies are ugly, Mehran thinks the opposite, and most people never take the time to ponder such asinine minutiae—I traipsed back to my hotel room so Patrick and I would have time to commiserate before bed. We both knew, as we had several months prior when we solidified our plans to come, that there would be around 1500 people in attendance, and that our fire to battle tooth and claw in an effort to reach the game’s pinnacle had long since been
extinguished. I still enjoy playing competitive Magic quite a bit, but with Patrick’s and my diminished tolerance for the grind itself… what

we doing there?

The Saturday morning pre-tournament highlights included an awkward trip to the Cracker Barrel and finally meeting up with Ryan O'Connor. I’m sure these items are disparate enough to warrant their own paragraphs (or, in all fairness, inane enough to both be left on the cutting room floor), but I’m operating under a strict deadline, so I’m combining ’em. The Pulitzer can wait. At the restaurant, I got to see:

—Conley Woods‘ motley entourage of nut-lows in all its glory

—the most exasperated expression of utter disdain I’ve witnessed in some time; this was from Patrick in response to TBS’s obliviousness to a
Big Lebowski

quote (“He never fails to disappoint me,” Sullivan would later say)

—a black waitress serving a 100% white clientele at a place called the “Cracker” Barrel

And then, after arriving at the site, there was Ryan O'Connor. There are actually two Ryan O'Connor in my approximate echelon in the gaming community, and here I refer to the childish-looking Kansas native with the outlandish curly hair. He hasn’t trimmed the mane in quite some time, and if this carelessness continues, he’ll soon be rocketing right past “Claudio Sanchez” on his way to “Troy Palomalu.” On this particular morning, he had chosen to “go native” with a pair of cowboy boots which, when paired with his hoodie, ill-fitting jeans, and unkempt Hawaiian coiffure (which itself was often pushed to bizarre configurations by a pair of large headphones), made his appearance comically incongruous. Needless to say, Ryno has become one of my favorite people in a very short span of time. It’s impossible to not be completely at ease around him, and he’s one of the reasons I was convinced to subject myself to the objectionable ordeal that is a Grand Prix.

Chapter Four: “It’s A F#%#Ing Stick!”

Deck registration at a Grand Prix is always painful. This isn’t just because it tacks several hours onto the front of a day that’s already a marathon, but also because invariably someone in your direct vicinity will be propelled to overexcitement by an overestimation of the uniqueness of his experience. Believe it or not, there are other people in the room who have also opened [the set’s chase mythic], or a [flying bomb rare] plus a [planeswalker], or two copies each of [common removal spell A] and [common removal spell B]. None of it is worth getting worked up over, so don’t bother blathering to everyone in earshot and/or littering your registration sheet with exclamation points and arrows. Annoying as all this is, I might not have been bothered enough by it to bring it up here if not for the insufferable nitwit who opened my pool.

We were getting ready to unveil our respective fates for the tournament when the gentleman next to me informed me that the guy “across from me and two to the right” was frantically trying to get my attention. Because placating this tool shed would ultimately cause fewer headaches than ignoring him, I looked over to him, upon which time he offered me a firm, almost resentful “Congratulations.”

Immediately, I grew wary. I had obviously wanted to open a powerful Sealed pool, but I become paranoid when my cards are

good. If you fail to make Day 2 with questionable resources, you likely hadn’t gotten your hopes too high, plus you have a convenient excuse for failure! If you somehow manage to mess up Molten-Tail Masticore, Spikeshot Elder, Mimic Vat, Kuldotha Phoenix, and Elspeth Tirel, you’ll be overcome by disappointment and, probably, mocked ceaselessly by your friends on the car trip home.

I had started my guardedly optimistic scan for my fortune when my new friend provided further assistance. “Back three cards,” he said eagerly, knowingly.

I reached to the bottom of the stack and slid the last three cards over. And wouldn’t you know it, I had found the answers to all my problems—cards exciting enough to assuage any apprehension I’d been feeling. I vowed to redouble my determination to win this tournament because anything less than 9-1 would be a disappointment with such powerful tools at my disposal. Lady Luck was clearly on my side, at least for the “opening” portion of the tournament, for there before me were…  









Are you f$%$ing kidding me, dude? This is what I simply couldn’t wait fifteen seconds to discover for myself? Oh, yeah I’m sure to win the whole tournament now with these! It’s in the f%#$ing bag!

Skinrender? Tap it!

Hoard-Smelter Dragon? That thing ain’t blocking

guys this turn!

Contagion Engine? I may have upkeep effects!

Man, I’m glad these decks were double verified, because there’s not a judge in the world who would believe this wasn’t a homebrew! Hey, remind me to find you after the tournament so I can make sure to give you a portion of my winnings for personally lavishing these riches upon me. YOU CHRISTING MORON.

Of course, I didn’t actually say any of that, though if I’m being honest, I came close to reacting more severely than ruefully shaking my head at his idiocy. When I randomly ran into him later, I had calmed down, but I still ripped into him a little. He tried to save face by claiming he was being sarcastic when he congratulated me, but in the words of David Spade in Black Sheep, “I’m not one of your eight-year-olds that’s gonna believe that.”

Can you imagine? Three of the same decent common! All in one Sealed deck!

Here, once again, is my cardpool in its entirety:

More than rendering me a little peevish, the blockhead’s comments actually impeded my deck construction because they clouded my evaluation of the Magnets within the context of my pool. I knew Magnets were outstanding in a number of Draft archetypes, but they didn’t seem an automatic inclusion in Sealed, especially not three copies. Of course, I wasn’t about to alter my construction by following the “helpful” advice of some plebeian, but it’s well within my range to take the contrarian tack, to my own detriment, out of sheer spite. (“Tumble Magnet awesome is it? Well what do you think of THIS?!” *rip up the Magnets and toss them over my shoulder as he stares in disbelief*)

As is the case with most Scars Sealeds, mine didn’t have enough infect cards for me to seriously pursue a poison theme, so I quickly relegated the few I had to my “unplayable” pile.

I knew I wanted to play my black. Skinrender was by far the best card I opened, and Necrotic Ooze, while not a bomb, is a reasonable size and quite versatile. Also, the two -1/-1 effects, which would be trivial in some formats, are useful for Embersmith/Myrsmith management in addition to the obvious possibility of eliminating a crucial Myr. I’d be playing the Trigon of Corruption regardless of my color combination, but the ability to refuel it provided further incentive to go black.

Initially, I planned to pair black with white—I have a predilection for yielding to the caprices of my Myrs’ colors—but white didn’t really have much going on. I could splash Arrest no matter which colors I ended up, and beyond that, I only had a Myrsmith and a couple of small fliers. Glint Hawk would let me reset Trigon or Tumble Magnet, but blue’s larger fliers just seemed a better option than white’s 2/2s. I thus dismissed white as my second color early on, and taking that into account, it seemed unlikely I’d play red, even as a splash. My only real red cards were Shatter, Barrage Ogre, and Embersmith; neither Ogre nor Smith is optimal with only a few Mountains, and Arrest is just a better splash option than Shatter.

I then began to assume green would be my other color. Not including Skinrender, Ezuri and the Slagwurm were the “bombiest” cards I had at my disposal, and Slice in Twain is always nice. I wasn’t convinced that the Carapace Forgers would be that exciting, as there was an overabundance of colored cards I wanted to play. At the time, I had failed to properly evaluate Viridian Revel, as this was before Ari Lax legendary run with the enchantment; it wouldn’t have been as good in my deck, and quite possibly not even playable, but it may have prevented me from shutting the door on green.

At some point I decided that I might’ve been relying too much on other people’s preconceived notions about the format’s peculiarities and not enough on my own knowledge of what’s classically “good” in Limited. Was I really going to dismiss solid, mid-sized fliers because I had a seven-mana non-trampler and some 2/2s that might become 4/4s if my board went completely unmolested? If I recall correctly, tunnel vision about my blue Trigons further pulled me away from green; I consider them worthwhile inclusions in blue Sealed decks, but I may have overestimated the importance of having access to recharge mana. In addition, blue had trusty ol’ Trinket Mage for a little bonus card advantage.

After quite a bit of deliberation, this is what I sleeved up:

Darkslick Drake
Fume Spitter
2 Gold Myr
Golem Artisan
Iron Myr
Leaden Myr
Necrotic Ooze
Neurok Replica
2 Painsmith
Sky-Eel School
Trinket Mage

Heavy Arbalest
Instill Infection
Sylvok Lifestaff
Trigon of Corruption
2 Trigon of Thought
2 Tumble Magnet

7 Swamp
7 Island
Darkslick Shores

The last two cuts I made were Flight Spellbomb and Chrome Steed. The Chrome Steed got the boot because I only had thirteen other artifacts; realistically, that’s still a sufficient amount to warrant its maindeck inclusion. It’s possible I should’ve cut a Painsmith for one, but I had dreams of Painsmith-into-Tumble-Magnet nut-draws as a scrappy way to steal wins, plus there was the combination of Painsmith and Arbalest that I didn’t even realize coalesced until both cards were in my hand one round. The Spellbomb got the boot because I didn’t want to dilute my deck the way I had in Toronto. I had a handful of powerful bombs in the Toronto Sealed, but something like 34 of my cards were virtual blanks. Even though I’d taken that into consideration this time around, Gerard still said my deck had an insidious paucity of robust assailants (those were his exact words) and wondered if I had left something like a Scrapdiver Serpent in my board.

I failed to realize until after I handed in my registration sheet that cutting Flight Spellbomb left me with only one Trinket Mage target. My tentative plan was thus to board out Trinket Mage for Chrome Steed each round, but after playing with the deck for a little while, I discovered that the Mage earned his keep even if he could only conjure up a singleton Lifestaff.

If virtually anyone else had been saddled with this deck, Disperse wouldn’t have been in the starting lineup, but as I’ve said, I always want one in my blue decks, and as I’ve also said, if you want to prevent me from playing it, you’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands. Few aspects of Magic strategy are strict canon, and I’ve certainly been forced to reassess many a faulty notion in my day, but on the topic of Disperse, I’m certain that I’m right, and everyone who disagrees with me is wrong. I’m supposed to write an article about the overrated and underrated cards in Scars Draft fairly soon, and if/when I do, I’ll go into much greater detail about Disperse therein.

Were I to rebuild the deck with the same color scheme, I’d swap a Painsmith for the Chrome Steed, and I might take out the other Painsmith or a Tumble Magnet for the Bleak Coven Vampires. (Maybe the Bleak Coven Vampires are even the foremost addition.) I attempted to rebuild the deck with a green/black base just now, but even after cutting the Painsmiths, the artifact count made the Carapace Forger’ inclusion questionable, and the Forgers’ utility was my final tiebreaker in the color conundrum in the first place. The blue-for-green swap would be viable, but I’m not sold it would be an improvement. Chrome Steed misappropriation aside, I’m generally pleased with how I built the deck.

During my two bye rounds, I enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Applebee’s with Patrick (and discovered that Yuengling is pretty tasty), and then, the moment of truth had arrived…

Chapter Five: The Tedium Of Actual Matches Of Magic

Round Three vs. Hrafnkell Oskarsson

I assure you that I did not fabricate any of my opponents’ names. I actually played against people named Hrafnkell and Clinton, as well as someone whose first name was “Walker” and whose last name was “Sroges.” I incorrectly put Oskarsson on being Swedish; in fact, he was (and “is,” Lord willing) Icelandic.

Game 1: Alright, the first game of my first match—the duel that could potentially set the tone for the entire tournament. Hrafnkell made me go first, and my opening hand was four land, Gold Myr, and both Painsmiths. I regarded my deck as pretty ragged, so getting dirty and hoping my opponent would stumble seemed preferable to trying my luck with six cards. I led with a Painsmith, and he opened with a Mountain and a Plains. Now, just because he was playing red didn’t mean he necessarily had an Arc Trail in his pool, right? I mean,

sure didn’t have one. And even if he did have an Arc Trail in his pool,

didn’t mean it had to be in his hand, right? 

C’mon, haven’t any of you played Magic before?

I couldn’t afford to hold back on the second Painsmith with my draw, because if I gave my opponent time, he’d easily stabilize and take over the game with his presumably superior deck. Thus, I went to my untap step on turn 4 with both Painsmiths in the bin. After a brief cameo by Kuldotha Phoenix, I was reaching for my sideboard.

Game 2: He had Phoenix again, and this time it was accompanied by its good friend Mister Contagion Engine. Before the Engine came down, though, I used Skinrender on the Phoenix, which he used to chump the ensuing attack, and I was able to keep him off metalcraft for a while to strand it in the graveyard. Two of the creatures he killed with the Engine—the Skinrender and a Sky-Eel School—had already yielded some benefits (including a reasonable amount of damage), so the bomb rare wasn’t as devastating as it could’ve been. Ultimately, I was able to rebound because my opponent fell victim to “role misassignment”; he was trying to race on an even board when I was at a higher life total. Also during this game, he played an unseemly Necrogen Censer, and when he did so, I got a jolt of confidence; if he were playing some number of blanks, there was a decent chance I could escape the match with an unblemished record.

Game 3: I was in control throughout the game thanks to my assorted card-advantage engines. Many turns in, Hrafnkell played and activated Mindslaver; I sacrificed my only liability, a Necrotic Ooze (with Fume Spitter in the ‘yard), leaving me empty-handed with just a blue Trigon, Gold Myr, and lands in play. Since my opponent was also empty-handed with a meager board, and I was way ahead on life, I figured he’d be unable to wreak too much havoc. With time ticking down in the round and several of my friends watching, I calmly untapped and flipped over my top card…  

Razorfield Thresher.

As you can see, I took Gerard’s (and my own) misgivings to heart. As the day progressed, however, I would discover that my deck had more staying power than I’d given it credit for and that supplementing my original creature base with the cumbersome automaton was unnecessary. I felt a little sheepish when I revealed the Thresher, but it’s not like it was

fault I didn’t open a legitimate upper-end. Regardless, I drew gas for the next couple turns and won handily.


Round Four vs. Mike Pozsgay

On first glance, one might be intimidated by Pozsgay’s towering frame and kudzu of facial hair, but beneath that gruff exterior lies an affable goofball. He’s just so calm and laid-back all the time, and I don’t have the faintest idea why.

Game 1: After assuring him my deck was garbage, I drew all my good cards in the perfect order and smashed him.

Game 2: I was racing on a board on which I ostensibly should’ve been sitting back and trading, but I figured the Disperse in my hand would foil his plans at a pivotal moment. At the end of one turn, he used his Tumble Magnet to tap mine, then untapped and attacked for what he thought was lethal; I Dispersed a Myr, thus revoking an attacker as well as metalcraft. If the bounced Myr was the only creature he had post-combat, I’d have been able to use my Magnet to push through enough damage to kill him, but unfortunately, he cast a Myrsmith before replaying the Myr to ensure that his defenses were sufficiently impenetrable.

Game 3: He played a bunch of Silvercoat Lions and mana Myr. I played a Darkslick Drake and a Heavy Arbalest.


Round Five vs. Aaron White

Game 1: I kept a prospective two-lander, stalled, and got annihilated by Kemba. I suppose it was some consolation that no six-carder my deck could produce was likely to beat his draw.

Game 2: Aaron seemed threat-light, so I thought I had everything under control until he played a Platinum Emperion. He didn’t want to trade his lifeline for two of my arbitrary dudes, so he declined to attack with it the first turn it was eligible. He did, however, send it over the next turn. Earlier in the game, I had sooner-than-insta-blocked his 3/3 (or, if you’d rather, beaten him to the pot) with my 1/4, and the two had bounced; thus, he knew I’d likely block his Emperion, leading me to believe he had some sort of trick to 2-for-1 me. Still, I had to get the spell out of his hand, and I had some chumpers to buy me time while my Trigon of Thought plugged away. (My suspicions were confirmed when he Shattered my Chrome Steed.) Eventually I got my Ooze into play with his Bloodshot Trainee in the bin—I think he boarded the Trainee out for game 3 after that beating—and was able to do away with the Emperion thanks to Painsmith and Arbalest. The Trigons, especially those of the blue persuasion, were key.

Game 3: I mulliganed into a two-lander I had to keep and didn’t get there. C’est les Prix Grandes.


Round Six vs. Walker Sroges

Game 1: I don’t remember too many details, but I know that his Sunblast Angel didn’t net him much of an advantage and that his dwindling life total meant he had to chump with it (thanks to Trigon of Corruption) before eventually succumbing.

Game 2: This was quick and painless: he played little more than lands while I beat him senseless with Painsmiths.


Round Seven vs. Clinton Caudle

Game 1: I had an awkward draw, possibly one I should’ve mulliganed and was promptly euthanized by a Kuldotha Phoenix.

Game 2: Here’s where I really started to feel the fatigue that stems from prolonged expenditure of mental resources. That I remember few specifics of this game is a testament to this. Clinton got his Phoenix again, this time joined by a Sword of Body and Mind, but he was choked on mana, stuck on five lands practically the entire game. The whole time, I was making plays without sufficient deliberation, and I was plagued by the anguished inkling that I could’ve acted differently to send the match to a third game and by the frustration associated with inability to discern the proper course of action, even in retrospect.


Round Eight vs. Connor Baker

I wanted to break the ice with some sort of small talk about how we were in the pitiful “desperation bracket,” the trenches where the damned either succumb to despondency and quietly bow out or scrap pathetically for those last few wins despite little hope of reprieve. Basically, I was hoping to commiserate with my opponent for a bit before we embarked on our fool’s errand. Our pre-match exchange went something like this…

Me: So when did you get your second loss?

Him: F$#%ing cheated.

Me: Qu’est-ce que c’est?


Me: Uh, so…

Him: Don’t talk about it! I’m not in the mood.

During the ensuing uncomfortable lull in our dialogue, I was able to determine he was merely tilting and not an authentic sociopath, so I—with appropriate finesse—asked him to clarify whether someone cheated against him or whether a judge had erroneously issued him a game loss; he said it was the former. In the first game, his Argent Sphinx wasn’t sufficient for a win; in the second, it was. Thus, my tournament life was on the line going into game 3.

Game 3: He stood pat on seven, while I sent mine back. Then I sent them back again. Finally, I peeked at a hand of Darkslick Shores and four spells, and with a resigned sigh, I announced my decision to keep. Connor started off with Mountain, Plains, and a Myr, which I offed with a Fume Spitter. Connor missed his land drop and passed, and then I hit mine and cast a Painsmith. My opponent again passed without play, and I attacked with the Smith before shipping it back, incapable of deploying further threats. Connor drew his card, looked frustrated, and discarded. This continued turn after turn, as two damage turned into six damage, and six damage soon became ten. By the time he played another spell, he was too far behind to make a game of it.


At this point, Mehran was also 6-2, and in our pre-round discussion, we argued over who would concede to whom in the unlikely event that we played. I also verbalized my realization that, to my recollection at least, it had been some time since I’d lost playing for Day 2 in the last round.

Round Nine vs. Nathan Lara

Game 1: He played a turn 2 Embersmith, and my hand was such that I had no recourse but to keep tossing Myr into it and hoping he didn’t have any artifacts. This plan worked about as well as one would expect.

Game 2: I’m not sure anyone could do this game justice in writing, but I’d certainly strive harder to portray it adequately if it were the prelude to a successful Day 2. Regardless, there were several witnesses—including Mehran, Christoffer, Rodman, and the Ocho—and to this day, I don’t think any of them truly believe what they saw. Here are some of the relevant facts:

—My opponent imprinted Mimic Vat with Vulshok Replica. The Vat was active for approximately ten turns.

—My opponent only forwent making a Replica once, instead using his mana that turn to cast Sunblast Angel.

—By the time I was able to Disperse the Mimic Vat to reset it, my opponent had started to play fliers that I couldn’t block because the Sunblast Angel had killed my Sky-Eel School.

—After my opponent replayed the Vat, I was forced to sacrifice Necrotic Ooze to put a -1/-1 counter on a flier to stave off death for one last turn, thus allowing him to imprint the Ooze on the Vat.

—A quick appraisal of my last-ditch desperation attack revealed the heartbreaking conclusion that I’d come up one damage short.

—I won this game.

How did I pull it off? Boy, I’d just hate to dispel the mystique. Maybe Chrandersen or someone will tell you. (Hint: No, I didn’t cheat.)

Game 3: This one was comfortably anticlimactic. Nathan flooded horribly, and I had clinched Day 2.



If “ostensibly” was my go-to buzzword in my earlier writing days, then “apprehensive” is its rightful successor. In a perfect world, my Houdini act from the previous round would’ve secured me a night’s respite, but in the unforgiving clutches of stark reality, I had one more match to play. My deck had spunk in spades, but I was feeling a little… apprehensive… about my odds of still being live for Top 8 at the conclusion of the tenth round.

Round Ten vs. Some Goofy, Forgettable Clod Who No Doubt Squandered His Golden Sunday Opportunity

This match seemed to have a similar trajectory to the previous: I got destroyed game 1, pulled an impressive win out of my hat game 2 with a handful of my friends watching, and looked to be in control of game 3. It was amusing how my opponent’s relaxed, self-assured talkativeness gave way to troubled silence game 2 as he noticed the intimidating presence of Team ChannelFireball watching his every move. The key play in the second game involved—naturally—Disperse, this time to remove metalcraft and allow my blockers to haumph a now 4/4 Ezuri’s Brigade.

In the third game, I ultimately made a decision whose advisability range was between “bad judgment call” and “outright misplay.” I had a Skinrender and a Necrotic Ooze for offense, and I passed on a window to sacrifice the Ooze to kill an Auriok Sunchaser. I don’t remember whether this opportunity was in response to him casting his third artifact or in response to him equipping an Accorder’s Shield to it with one other artifact in play; witnesses claim it was the former, and I’m inclined to believe them. Either way, I misjudged my capabilities of breaking through the 3/6 flier with my assorted ground troops and Sylvok Lifestaff. Maybe my surreal good fortune in my recent game 2s had compromised my judgment, and I was overestimating my chances of drawing an Instill Infection, Neurok Replica, or other dagger, or the impact one would have on the game if I drew it. Removing my 4/3 from the board would’ve left my troops looking pretty anemic, and my opponent wasn’t empty-handed, so it’s possible I needed to gamble a little. Regardless, I made the incorrect play and lost because of it, so I had to live with the consequences.


Because I was no longer in Top 8 contention, I was even more demoralized than I would’ve been if I “only” had two losses and was facing the prospects of needing to 5-0 to make the elimination rounds. I seriously considered not even bothering to wake up the next morning, but in the end, the “drop” space on the result slip remained unmarked…

And once again, I must cut the narrative short, at least for the time being. Perhaps if you’ve found this to be an enjoyable read, I’ll submit the conclusion alongside my upcoming overrated/underrated article. Perhaps I’ll feel that I don’t really have enough of an audience for my particular brand of writing and will refrain from ever producing new material again. Only time will tell.

If there is a next time, you might discover the answers to such questions as:

—Was Dave Williams finally able to break his losing streak against me?

—Why does Yuuya Watanabe win so much?

—Who did I scoop to for no apparent reason


—How many people will I namedrop in my gratuitous Props section?


Timothy James Aten



*This is where you’d expect to find the footnote that says “Oh, yes I did,” but nowadays my M.O. is to stay a quarter-level above the obvious. For the time being, I’ll continue to keep my contempt at least somewhat ambiguous so as not to completely alienate my readership. You guys are the best!

**Perhaps the level of diction I established in the first installment was excessively lofty. I should probably attempt to “rectify” this “transgression.”

***I know the movie was based on a book, but I didn’t read the book, so take a dirt nap.

****an Icelandic folk-core orchestra featuring a domesticated black bear on tympani