Ohio Valley Regionals. Six hundred and eighty players. One big room. Eight big winners.
This tournament keeps getting bigger and bigger. Next year, they will probably hit eight hundred or something stupid like that. Where did all these players come from – and why do they compete at Regionals but not at Pro Tour Qualifers? The world may never know.
I went to Columbus as usual, with some of the CMU Magic players that I play with every Tuesday, Nick Guy Lynn, and a man mysteriously known only as Beek.
For those of you who keep track of my movements, I decided to play the deck that I went undefeated with in a Worlds QT qualifier, with a few minor changes. Nick was running Madness, Beek was running Peekatog – or Beekatog, as he called it. I ran this – it was Big Bird, but it had a new name after a certain addition to the deck. Thus, I present:
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Seeker of Skybreak
4 Timberwatch Elf
4 Exalted Angel
4 Wirewood Herald
2 Silvos, Rogue Elemental
2 Sylvan Safekeeper
1 Caller of the Claw
1 Phantom Centaur
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wirewood Lodge
2 Spellbane Centaur
2 Nantuko Vigilante
2 Ravenous Baloth
3 Phantom Centaur
1 Caller of the Claw
2 Ray of Revelation
The big change to the deck was the addition of two Silvos, Rogue Elementals and two Hurricanes. The first because he is rogue, and so am I… The second card because it is awesome versus Blue-Green and Angels. Also, who expects the Green-White player to Fireball them out? I mean, make them suffer.
Those of you who played back in Revised may remember that Hurricane explicitly says that”All player and flying creatures SUFFER X damage.” Also, I determined that the nay-sayers at CMU were wrong – Wellwishers are fine and should stay in the deck.
Yes – they fly, so they must suffer.
At any rate, I got zero sleep the night before, and forty-five minutes on the way there. Needless to say, I was in good shape. Before the tournament started, I had a good feeling when I looked at my watch and noticed the date – 5/3/03. Yes, Regionals was on the day of the Juggernaut. You see, I love the Juggernaut in both poker and Magic.
For those of you who would rather not read what happened in the matches, I will give you the end of the story now:
I went undefeated. 8-0-2, all the way to Nationals. The Elves reign supreme – somehow. All I can say is that many Angels suffered and many Birds got big. In the end, even Silvos had a thing or two to say. Regardless, I have single-handedly increased the value of Seeker of Skybreak in the past week.
This reminds me – thanks to John Parker and the Erie crew for being the only people ever prepared to lend me the strange cards I always need before a tournament. You guys are great.
Also thanks to all of CMU. You guys know why.
And thus, the ten-round mammoth tournament began.
I remember no names. Only the facts. Okay, maybe not all the facts either…
My opponent is this nice kid who is at his first Magic tournament. The whole situation kind of reminded me of that part of the article Aaron Forsythe wrote, when he talks about the kid on the airplane telling him about how he puts this huge creature in play (I am looking for the article and failing) (Me too – The Ferrett) I think it was a 13/13 – maybe the kid finally got his wish in Onslaught.
At any rate, the kid says he’s playing a madness deck of sorts and asks what I’m playing. I respond,”Elves.” It felt funny for some reason, and I smiled.
He started off with Elvish Pioneer, then proceeded to play Islands and Swamps. He played a Gravestorm, but saved me from its wrath by activating his Cephalid Broker, targeting me. That was a close one.
This round I played against Red/Green – not a good matchup. Somehow I manage to win game one because he forgot to record a three-point Wellwisher lifegain (although I think I would have won the game anyhow), and in game 2 I sideboarded in a bunch of fat, slowed the game down, and the Centaurs went to town… With the assist win with Hurricane to the dome. Suffer!
A Feature Match against a G/W deck with Glory. This was a tough matchup – mostly due to the fact that G/W comes out fast and finishes strong with Glory. I win game one with a Bird/Angel draw (I think). Game 2, I have Wellwisher doing it’s thing, and got an Angel running – but so did he. I play out Silvos. He puts Glory in the bin and swings with pro green. I am at a low enough life that if he makes his guys pro: white and green, then swings, I am dead.
What do I do? Run the confusion tactic. I tap down to only one Llanowar Elf and swing with the Rogue man himself. He takes it and goes to eleven. I am sitting with my whole team (including Angel) back on defense. He bites and thinks I have Fog, swinging with only his Angel, which I block with mine. After that, I was out of lethal range and the game went downhill for him, with Silvos eventually trampling over the team for nine after being blocked with seven toughness worth of guys – thanks to an assist from Mr. T. Watch.
He starts off by playing a Secluded Steppe and I know I’m in for bad times. Slide is a particularly bad matchup for me because they are very good versus creature decks, and I am a notch slower than the usual creature deck. Luckily, he can’t find a Wrath of God in game one even though he cycled like mad to find one. Hurricane came in handy big time for taking out angels.
In game 2, I am doing pretty well, but then he Wrathed three times and Starstormed once. Each time I had Caller in my hand, but was tapped out for another fatty to put more pressure on. I figured that only attacking with one guy would not be fast enough because he has plenty of tings in his deck to stop this – like Astral Slide. After killing all my men four times, he played an Angel, which I was forced to Hurricane away – if I would have had one more mana, he would have died to the Hurricane, but instead he went to one life. And the thing about Slide is that if they are at one life, they might as well be at thirty. Soon Teroh’s Faithful and Astral Slide put him there.
In game 3, I finally draw a Ray of Revelation in my opening hand and topdeck some lands in the first few turns, like I was looking for. I face up an Angel on turn 4 and kill a Slide and a Rift with the Ray. I have a ton of fat in my hand and decide to slow-play it to win regardless of the number of Wraths in his hand. Two Wraths later, I was still playing fatties and won the game.
I get paired against a Green/White deck with Contested Cliffs which reminded me of the deck that Flores and Becker enjoy playing. The most annoying card in the deck was Reprisal. After he used Reprisal on a Timberwatch Elf who had blocked and made himself bigger and an Angel, I decided that Silvos was going to have to get angry about this. He did not have the third Reprisal for Silvos. It’s funny how Green/White has trouble with that guy.
In Game 2 he beats me with a Contested Cliffs draw and I do not draw much fat. I fix this in game 3 by sideboarding as much fat as possible. He gets a poor mana draw – two mountains instead of any plains – so I win the game when he has got two Mountains and two Forests in play.
I get another feature match versus a previous Regional or State champion. He is playing Red/Green, and I frown. Game one goes very badly and is done after four turns – he cast Violent Eruption, targeting my team with Grim Lavamancer and Wild Mongrel backup. Game 2 went better – I sideboarded in a lot of fat. He tried to shut me down with Ensnaring Bridge, but my Bird of Paradise had something to say about that – Timberwatch Elf and Birds do not fear the Bridge. A few turns later, the big bird has finished the job.
Game three was probably the luckiest thing that happened to me in the entire tournament: I mulligan down to six and keep a rather good hand of Safekeeper, Llanowar Elf, Seeker of Skybreak, Exalted Angel, Ravenous Baloth, and some land. I start with Llanowar Elf, and he plays Mongrel. I continue with Seeker and Safekeeper, and he Violent Eruptions my team and swings for three. At this point, I thought I was done for, so I look at my hand pathetically and play down my morphed Angel. He swings with his hound and says go.
He said go.
I feel like I just stole a cookie from the cookie jar as I unmorph my Angel and proceed to win without fail. He had the Volcanic Hammer for it… But as he told me afterwards, he just thought it was Birchlore Rangers.
Even the Elves I am not playing are helping me win!
Finally, I play versus a Blue-Green Madness deck – I have been waiting for this the entire tournament! My deck is very good against them since the new additions. In game one, Hurricane made his entire team suffer the pain of X, and I swung in for the win. In game two, he messed up his math a little because he thought Sylvan Safekeeper was an Elf, and it is not.
Another Blue-Green deck – happy day! The first game looks like it might go okay, but then two Rootwallas come charging out the back of an Aquamoeba. Things start to go downhill, and as I am about to stabilize I get hit for lethal damage. That happens sometimes.
In game two, I come out strong with a Wellwisher, Wellwisher, Timberwatch, Lodge draw. “I have a very good draft deck,” I exclaim.
He responds with Callous Oppressor, but I rip Spellbane Centaur off the top and he scoops. To be fair, I didn’t even need the Centaur to win there.
In game three, Mr. Watch makes another appearance. I don’t remember too much about this game except that I cast Hurricane for one for the victory. Suffer!!
The next two rounds I proceeded to draw, and I was in. There was no top 8 due to ten rounds being waaay too long of a Magic tournament.
If there had been a top 8 faceoff, Elves would have probably taken the championship, considering there were four Blue-Green decks in it.
And thus, the Elves went undefeated. Now because of my faith in them, I get to play in Nationals for the first time. Woot!
Congrats to Nick Lynn, one of the guys in my car, for winning the whole thing. Also congrats to PHD for making top 8 as well, along with everyone else.
As for the mysterious Beek with his Beekatog – he lost his voice, as well as in the last round he needed to win to make it in. Sorry, Beek, sorry.
Thanks to Mike Guptil and the PES crew for running the most difficult tournament to run ever yet again.
Thanks for reading, and watch for Elves at Nationals!