Sometimes you’ve just got to say it, and fold up your cards. It usually happens after you take an elbow drop right to the kidneys. Or when you lose the game due to a bad play. Or when you get torpedoed in a Rochester, I suppose (though I’ve never had the pleasure of getting the squeeze in that particular format.)
I had a lot of "bah" games this Friday.
They’re the opponent’s draw divinity games, the two-land Sealed keepers that show you no additional terrain until you’re in the negatives. They’re boxes of Invasion you open that contain no useful Constructed cards.
When you mulligan twice, you know you’ve got a "bad case of the bahs."
When you mulligan your two swamps because you drew seven cards with five great blue spells winking up at you, then look at the top of your deck and see the island, you’ve got that BCOTB.
You 0-2 the round and it’s humbug, too.
Friday Night Magic is pretty cool. The new players can come out and have some fun, and I can get a few rounds of playtesting in with a Standard deck that I like. Ever since I read that Zvi article about Fires, I’ve been playing the deck. I consider it an homage – I’ve never played a deck that was straight out of a Top 8 listing. For me to play your deck, you need to write a badass article or a sweet tournament report =)
I know that while a great deck can be good in the hands of a chump, it can be that much more great in the hands of someone who doesn’t make any mistakes – someone who has studied hard about card advantage and investment and time advantage, someone who knows the local metagame.
Maybe I’m closer to the chump category now, but I can get better. =)
Put a counter on your mistake dice, and all that… You all know how it goes.
So it’s Friday Night Magic at Future Pastimes, in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. With Canadian weather still upon us, you’d figure that temporary store administrator Nathan Casemore would spread the space-heater luv around a little, but it just wasn’t to be.
I didn’t get none of that luv…Condemned to the hell of watching the space heater toast the toes of the privileged few on the OTHER side of the gaming tables.
Evil Matt Fox busts out his deck and I laugh my ass off at how bad it is… But in a constructive way. =) He’s got about sixteen discard spells with 4x Plague Spitters, some removal, and I think he fired a couple of Ascendant Evincars in there, too. He’s only running twenty lands even though he’s playing at least ten 5cc spells, so some work has to be done. Also, I don’t find Rhystic Syphon to be good… We might want to put that particular dog back on its leash.
Before I can get involved with helping him, though, it’s time to hit the "Hong Kong Cafe" in Sarnia’s illustrious "Bayside Mall" for the finest chow churned out of any wok this side of Saigon.
Then my friend Trevor comes in with a deck that’s even worse – mono-black beatdown. We have scant minutes to construct him something that might not 0-4 the night.
I come up with:
"Asser Than Asserson" Black
4x Whipstitch Zombie
4x Ravenous Rats
3x Molting Harpy
4x Spineless Thug
4x Cateran Persuader
3x Rampart Crawler
4x Steal Strength
4x Snuff Out
4x Dark Ritual
No sideboard. The Delraichs are the only rares, and with the amount of people playing Recoil around here… Well, I’ll just make Dickens roll over in his grave by reiterating that they’re pretty ass. (And all this time you thought I was a fair writer? If I was a good writer, I’d be working for "The New Yorker," not living vicariously through these reports.)
So his deck is built, with the Steal Strength in there to kill off Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves. Stupid to metagame someone else’s deck against yours? Well… Yes. But I wasn’t thinking too clearly – my lack of foresight clearly indicative of the onset of hypothermia.
Precious minutes lost…still no space heater luv from Casemore.
My own deck is pretty close to the version posted in "My Fires".
4x Chimeric Idol
4x Fires Of Yavimaya
4x Saproling Burst
4x Llanowar Elves
4x Birds of Paradise
3x Jade Leech
2x Urza’s Rage
1x Two-Headed Dragon
4x Rishadan Port
2x Dust Bowl
4x Karplusan Forest
3x Kavu Chameleon
2x Artifact Mutation
2x Reverent Silence
Not too shabby. My main reason for using Urza’s Rage is that I don’t have enough Two-Headed Dragons. You can see from this sideboard just how poor I am at constructing sideboards, though at least I recognize and acknowledge this particular folly.
Stuff has to come out when you sideboard. Not just go in.
I played only one Red Zone/Fires type deck on the evening, but when I did, I hadn’t the foggiest idea of what to take out. I remember thinking:
"Damn… Didn’t Zvi write about this?"
Sorry chief, you can’t break out the laptop right now. Artifact Mutation is some good against Chimeric Idol… But what are you going to take out? Assault/Battery? Nope… Need that against Birds and Elves. Urza’s Rage? That can kill Elves AND idols. Jade Leech? Uh…NO. With an Idol and Blastoderm beating you down, do you want to draw LEECH… Or Artifact Mutation?
I’ll take the Leech any day. And it goes right down the list – Two-Headed Dragon can’t come out, it wins the game. Saproling Burst? No way… It also wins the game. Chimeric Idol… Well… Doesn’t that counter the opposing idol just as effectively as Artifact Mutation? And it sure beats down better.
The end result is that I don’t sideboard them in at all… Nice job wasting a couple of sideboard slots. Artifact Mutation might be a bad idea anyhow… Aura Mutation might be worth it, but Artifact Mutation really isn’t… There are only four Idols in any given deck after all, and usually no other targets.
My teammate John Labute is also playing this deck, except with no Urza’s Rage and more Two-Headed Dragons. Before we start playing, he gives Evil Matt Fox a deck to play… It’s a B/R deck with Pyre Zombies, Void, Blazing Spectres, Rages and Hammers, Idols… You know the type. It’s a little too strong to just give away, I think… With the right draw it could steal a game from us. Still, I’m the dumbass who was firing off Steal Strength tech just moments ago, so let’s just drop the issue and take the Rounders approach.
"Let’s play some @#$%in’ cards."
Rounders is, of course, the greatest card-playing movie ever made. We’ve got sixteen guys tonight, cutting to a top 8 (What can I say? We love to play lots of rounds down here… Makes us feel like pros)
Round One vs. Some Guy w/ U/B Stormscape Master Deck
I wish I could remember this guy’s name… He’s a mild-mannered gent who hangs around the store now and then… But the label escapes me right now.
As most of you probably know, Stormscape Master serves a sweet beating Limited, but in this blazing fast format he’s a step too slow. Also, he loves to ruin the boxes I buy.
(A cape swirls, a puff of smoke avails itself over the table)
"It is I, the Stormscape Master! I have come to ensure that the packs you open are filled with jank! Watch as I effortlessly occupy your rare slot! Void? Urza’s Rage? Pyre Zombie? Absorb? Undermine? HAH! I laugh at them all! I condemn you to the hell of pulling back crinkled wrapping material, only to find me and my four brethren!"
I develop fairly slowly this game, coming out with Idol and so forth…he manages a Lobotomy for my Blastoderms second turn.
I’ve been playing a lot of Lobotomy proponents of late – and truth be told, with the redundancy in today’s decks, these guys are all on their way to the learning tree, especially the gents who play four. Lobotomy is often an overpriced Coercion, considering my plethora of beating sticks. I figure if you snag a Wrath or some other card that isn’t easily replaced, it’s a sweet play. Otherwise you’re taking away four of my twenty-eight paths to victory.
The best quote of the day came from another guy who was playing four Lobotomies in his maindeck. He Lobotomied Evil Matt Fox, who revealed a hand of Urza’s Rage, Hammer of Bogardan, Blazing Specter, Skizzik, and Chimeric Idol, plus land.
"What do you want?" said Evil Matt.
The sour look on the face of his opponent was priceless as he surveyed the cards and replied "Another Lobotomy."
Mike Clark from Future Pastimes told me yesterday that he considers Lobotomy to be card advantage. That’s just not right, unless you take two cards with it.
Anyway, back to the game!
I come out with an Idol, and it starts serving beats. I drop a Port and keep him busy, drop a Blastoderm. He had checked the casting cost of Idol, so I know he’s playing Prohibit… And with Porting, I keep him kickerless. He drops a Stormscape Master that gets Assaulted, and we’re on to game two.
Service with a smile. I get a sweet start this game, and before it’s all said and done I’m swinging with Leech, Idol and Derm while he’s stuck on two land. I didn’t draw a Port, but I didn’t need one. This deck is not kind to manascrewed opponents, as I’m sure its many players would attest.
I was sitting next to Evil Matt that round, and he’s playing some little kid named "Bernie".
Bernie is perhaps the best name for a kid I’ve heard in a while. Sure, it stands for "Bernard" – but when I say "Bernie," I imagine a grizzled pub owner, a sarcastic poker playing senior citizen, a hustling bookie who’s just one step ahead of game. I don’t imagine this little guy, and that makes it all the funnier.
Bernie! As Don Cherry would say, "What a name!"
Enough about Bernie… John won- time for Round 2.
Round 2 vs. Evil Matt Fox w/ R/B Et Tu Brutae? Deck
My 1-0 pits me against Evil Matt Fox, who is playing the busted-in-half R/B deck given to him by my TEAMMATE John. =) I’m a little skeptical about my chances, since Void tunes me like a piano and his other cards aren’t half-bad either. Second-turn Blazing Specter, anyone?
Game 1 goes pretty well… He just doesn’t develop as well as I do. I manage to Assault his Specter and though he Voids for four to get rid of my Blastoderm with Fires on the table (it smacked him for five last round), I topdeck the Saproling Burst that I need to finish out the game. There was a lot of Porting going on here, too…I was hoping to keep his mana in check. Don’t underestimate the value of a good Port.
Game 2 is crazy, he Rituals a second-turn Blazing, which I Assault after dropping a Burst into the grave. He rituals out third-turn Abyssal, then a fourth-turn Blazing. What am I doing during all this? Well, I’m dropping creatures as well… But I can’t keep enough cards in hand to protect my other burst. Still, I get an Idol down and then drop a Leech while he chips away at me with Spectres. My eight points manage to race his four, especially after I draw an Emergency Blocking Device Of Paradise… He was one land away from the Void which would have taken out my Leech and allowed him to win the race. I don’t feel bad about it, though – I didn’t draw a Port or anything else to remove his many Spectres.
I can’t believe I won that game, with his insane start.
Hmm… Undefeated so far!
I go and search around the tables, where I see Joe Borody getting beaten down by two 6/6 Nightmares – and this guy is playing U/W control! His hand is filled with crap… No Wrath in sight! He plays Parallax Wave to hold off the Assault, and when the counters get low, he Dismantling Blows his own Wave with kicker just to try to draw that Wrath.
He doesn’t draw the Wrath… He gets a bunch of land, and the two Nightmares serve with a vengeance. BCOTB for Joe. Sure, he didn’t exactly say "Bah," but from the look in his eyes he was sure thinking it.
Time for Round 3.
Yes, I’m still cold.
Round 3 vs. Neil Crawford w/ Rhystic Deluge+Cowardice Control Deck (U/B)
Neil’s deck is pretty strong against many of the mid-range, untuned decks out there tonight, and some favorable matchups have left him 2-0. Still, even with the Cowardice/Deluge combo in there and me with no enchantment removal, Blastoderm will wreck him, and the deck is fast enough to kill even before he can get Cowardice down.
Game 1 is a little strange, as my hand contains no Birds, Elves, or Fires…just four land and some 4cc stuff. I keep, hoping that I draw some nice stuff and liking the Port in my opening hand. I manage to Port my way into an uncountered ‘Derm in the early going, and sneak an Idol down also, but he gets the Deluge and Cowardice soon afterward. The Idol hits twice and the Blastoderm three times, but his two uses of Highway Robber (his kill) leave him at three just as he seems to have me locked down.
Luckily, Urza’s Rage is a good card, so I win ^_^.
I sideboard Reverent Silence, and he doubtless puts in Submerge, though he never sees one. I get another weird hand to start this baby running – three land and an Idol, plus three 4 to 5cc spells. I again keep it, more out of morbid curiosity than anything else. I topdeck a Fires and we’re off to the races.
He gets a quick Deluge, but Deluge by itself couldn’t slow down a tortoise. I get a Leech out and two Chimeric Idols that I drew, but he draws Cowardice and hasn’t missed a land-drop in seven turns… He’s got mana-a-plenty… I have him down to fourteen from Idols.
I topdeck Saproling Burst and start to put the pressure on – he bounces three tokens and takes six from the Idols to put him at eight…
He untaps and sits on his seven mana. I Port him twice at the end of the turn… He can’t send my idols back because they’re not creatures. He has five mana, I peel a Saproling Burst and I have the nine mana to Port him twice and play it afterwards. He bounces all three tokens and takes six from the idols, going to two.
Now the question is whether or not he has Highway Robbers. He doesn’t… And next turn, I send the Urza’s Rage I’ve been sitting on toward his dome. That’s the ballgame.
While waiting for the next round to start, Evil Matt Fox and I play Mental Magic. I manage to Zap him to death just before my intentional draw to teammate John Labute becomes official.
Zap: Mental Magic card of the century…along with beating sticks like Burnout, Confound, Implode…all your cantrip friends!
I draw and end up at 3-0-1…I’m the first seed! Time for the quarters, where I play Nick.
Quarterfinals vs. Nick w/ W/G fat
Nick is playing top-of-the-line cards like Blastoderm, Armadillo Cloak, and Wax/Wane, plus Seal of Fire for early mana disruption. In addition, he’s got the sometimes broken Squallmonger/Cloak thing going on, a combo, which, while bad against many decks, can break Fires in half.
That being said, he’s playing the janker-than-jankerson Fertile Ground, no Ports, and only twenty land. We’ll see how this one turns out.
I keep a 1 land hand, going second, with a Forest, Bird, Elf, Fires, Idol, ‘Derm, Burst, Rage.
BCOTB this game…I don’t draw the land I need and he busts Seal of Fire on my mana producers. He then lays fourth-turn Blastoderm, fifth-turn Blastoderm, and sixth-turn THORNSCAPE MASTER. Talk about nightmares in the daytime – next on our B-movie schedule is "Attack of the Rare-Slot Crud" – with the Master getting Waxed for the decisive two.
I lose this game- when you’re reaching for your sideboard before other people have even settled into their seats, you know the initial contest didn’t go well.
In go the Simoons.
No space heater still, but my deck provides all the heat I need – he draws only three land and three mana producers, and I Simoon his first elf, Earthquake another, and Assault a third! On top of that, I draw three Ports! He never plays any meaningful permanent and I roll him with a Fires, Leech and Burst.
Not for the first time, I find myself almost apologizing to my opponent as I shrug my shoulders and say, "Sorry, man, Port is a sweet card."
The poor guy played 75% of the game with no usable land during his main phase. You might wonder how Nick felt about these developments, but I can probably venture a guess – he had a BCOTB.
ONE Port wrecks him this game. I kill two elves again, but he draws Fertile Ground… And I draw a Port. For the rest of the game, he has one mana during his main phase, while the only sideboard card I see is Tangle =)… Mostly I just draw beats and smoke him like a ham.
Nick shows me a handful of Squallmongers and Armadillo Cloaks… And me with my Reverent Silences in the board. Them’s the breaks.
Fertile Ground: Don’t leave Port without it. 😉
This is where things get ridiculous…the semis consist of me, my teammate John, and the guys we lent decks to: Evil Matt Fox w/ R/B monstrosity, and Trevor with ATABlack. I feel like a complete idiot here, as if Trevor beats John I’ll feel like a complete idiot for giving him the deck.
Luckily, Fires is overpowered and John has no trouble beating Trevor… I wasn’t so lucky.
As I mentioned I don’t like losing very much. I’m always sportsmanlike, of course – that’s part of the game – but I don’t like it. I get smoked 2-1 by a deck that could have been avoided if my teammate hadn’t lent it out (essentially making the same mistake I did by building a deck for Trevor… Though Trevor’s deck was near as good as Matt’s).
Semifinals vs. Evil Matt Fox w/ Et Tu, Brutae? R/B Deck
This is no swan song- more of a funeral dirge.
First game I get run over by a brutal Specter draw with utility creatures and Voids to burn…I don’t get the chance to remove it, and he Hammers and Rages my mana creature to keep me hampered… Even managing to Rage a vital Idol and win the race.
Second game I run him over with busted-in-half Fires cards…A Burst finishes it early, since he doesn’t get his second-turn Blazing Specter.
Third game, he again gets second-turn Blazing Specter, while I don’t have a good tempo draw…and I also get into land trouble. As soon as I realize that I’m going to lose, playing is no longer very pleasant for me – as I mentioned, I prefer to win. He plays a second Blazing Specter and has a handful of burn before I can even begin to mount a comeback.
My one regret for the evening (besides losing) was that I got mad at John for giving the deck out even though I basically did the same thing, and walked out of the store without saying goodbye. What a jerk, eh? Yeah, I know… I’ll email him and apologize before we see each other again.
Still, our as-yet-unnamed team will have to agree on a few ground rules- no more of this "broken-deck giveaway" nonsense. =)
And that’s the story of the Friday Night Magic event that left this writer with a BCOTB.
Until next time,
6th In Ontario for T1 (like anyone gives a hoot)
Team As-Yet-Unnamed (but we give decks to anyone who asks, then lose to them)