Down And Dirty – Everything I Am

Read Kyle Sanchez every Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
In preparation for his first Extended PTQ of the season, Kyle Sanchez believes he’s broken the pre-Morningtide metagame. His decklist, packed with strong cards and a sideboard that’s either genius or lunacy, is presented here without prejudice. He also waxes lyrical about ultra-competitive PTQ players, and closes with a frankly bizarre rap segment that has to be read to be believed. Love him or hate him… you can’t ignore him!

My first PTQ is this week. and for the first time in my Magic career I’m not nervous or overly anxious. I don’t necessarily have an awesome deck, although I’m fairly certain I’ve broken the pre-Morningtide Extended format, but I think I’m at the point where I finally get it. I’m finally at the point where I can show up to a tournament and be completely calm and relaxed at how I’m going to play throughout the day.

Previously I always put a lot of pressure on myself to do very well so I could maintain the dream of becoming a Magic Pro Tour regular. There is just something so attractive about the lifestyle of being able to travel to far off countries to hang out and simply play cards for a week. I’m sure I’m not alone here, as there is a healthy surplus of fringe players that will never achieve greatness. It’s not to say that I’m not great… in fact, I’m exceptionally great. I think the real reason people can relate to me is ‘cuz I don’t bullsh** you fine folk. Unlike all the other fake G’s running around these days.

Tom LaPille springs to mind…

I guess everyone has different views on this game and what it takes to win, but if I ever compromised my own “morals” to succeed I’d lose so much more than a plane ticket to some far off country. Tom’s a very good and passionate PTQ player… however, with his set of standards, I doubt he will ever achieve the aforementioned greatness due to his low level of sympathy towards slight slip-ups.

The “no mercy” rule has always been something that I’ve hated about the a certain subset of PTQ players. They are always anxious to jump on you for any simple slip up, like enforcing unnecessary mana burn, or calling a judge to get you a warning for accidentally flipping over a card while shuffling. Honestly, I believe the only place for a strict “no mercy” policy is on the Pro Tour, because there just isn’t enough money in Magic to justify applying it at any other level. Sure, first place at a GP is 4k, but, I mean really, if you fly to a GP with intentions of cheating to make a profit you’re a lunatic, and your time would be much better invested in thinking up some other “get rich quick” scheme.

After a solid week and a half of testing this deck, I’ve decided to sleeve up the following in 48 hours:

I was debating about holding back this list until Vancouver or Philly, but I decided that the post-Morningtide format could potentially hurt me. Why? Not sure, but whenever a new set comes in it usually messes things up, and I’d rather get a quick PTQ win and save myself a trip to Vancouver than hold the tech.

Haunting Echoes is the one standout card in the list, which both gives you a realistic out to Ichorid game 1, along with a powerhouse endgame card that compliments the numerous discard spells. It’s also pretty surprising as there’s a lack of kill conditions in the current format, and a well timed Haunting Echoes can cripple your opponent so severely that its almost impossible to lose if you resolve it on a semi-stabilized board. I really want a 3rd in the sideboard, but there isn’t anything I can safely cut. Shaving something off from the main deck wouldn’t work either, since two is the perfect number for the task I want it to do: be found in the late game and kept underneath a Top until the timing is right.

Phantom Centaur is another card that might cause a double take. However, he’s been cooked to perfection in the current metagame. Not only does he dodge a lot of the best removal in the format – Smother, Terminate, Putrefy, Vindicate, Incinerate, Jitte – he is also a reliable finisher that opponents will be scratching their heads over. Speaking of Centaur, I’ve been trying to come up with a good list with Centaur and Armadillo Cloak, since almost every deck in the format will crumble to it, but I can’t get anything going. If anyone has any good starting lists I’d appreciate some help in the forums.

Sakura-Tribe Elder / Birds of Paradise?

Which is better? I’m not sure. My preference is towards Birds since it’s a much better proactive card that reinforces Therapy. It’s a creature that fulfills a purpose early in the game yet can be expended without any pain. Birds drawback is its ineffectiveness against aggro decks with access to cheap burn. Havng a critical Bird killed is one of the ways that aggro decks can dismantle the more powerful midrange decks, and playing Birds gives them a way to disrupt me. Still, Birds gives you the same amount of mana a turn earlier, which enables you to play more spells quicker than most.

Tribe Elder, on the other hand, can slow down dredge considerably without their Bridge from Below tokens. He prevents five damage from a Goyf attack, but can be Spell Snared. He gives another shuffle effect for Top, and he can even get in there for a few points of damage against a wary control player.

The sideboard is insane, so insane that I thought about making a Draco Explosion deck without the midrange base. Just a straight up control deck with a bunch of good cards like Counterbalance, Top, Greater Gargadon, and the synergistic Mogg War Marshal.

The idea of this deck is to fight a fair game 1 against all the midrange decks, along with ample disruption to take care of whatever control/combo decks pop up. Given the high population of random midrange aggro/control decks right now, I wanted a sideboard that would give me such a significant edge that it wouldn’t matter what they do, and I feel like I accomplished that quite well.

So when they are boarding out their discard in favor of bigger creatures, more removal, equipment and such, this deck invalidates all their sideboarding with Moment’s Peace, and has an “I win” card to seal the deal quickly and efficiently.

The best part about the sideboard is how useful Moment’s Peace is against the combo decks like Ichorid and Cephalid Breakfast that rely on attacking to actually kill the opponent. And against all the other combo/control decks you just board in Destructive Flow, which, when combined with the cheap discard spells, can win against all the decks that Moment’s Peace can’t handle.

I can’t really emphasize how important Sensei’s Divining Top is in this deck, and how necessary it is to maximize Top activations with all the shuffle effects, especially after the transformational sideboard. Usually dedicated combo decks will have multiple ways to access their pieces. However, this is a unique situation because essentially you only need one card to kill the opponent. And the difference between seeing an extra 3-5 cards per game can be the difference between a Top 8 and going home with the booby prize.

Damn, here we go again.
People talkin’ sh**, but when sh** hits the fan
Everything I’m not, made me everything I am

I’ll never be picture-perfect-P-Chapin
Be down like Zhill or a theorist like Feldman
Remember him from GP Columbus?
His beard was as thick as molasses
But his premium pic appeals to the masses
I never could see why people’ll reach a
Fake-ass facade they couldn’t keep up
You see how I creeped up?
You see how I played a big role in freebies before movin’ to premium again?
I never rocked a hounds tooth suit like BDM, PT Historian
Or rocked a ragged red shirt like Antonino, U.S. Champion
Let me know if you feel it man
‘Cause everything I’m not, made me everything I am

And I’m back to tear it up
Haters, start your engines
I hear ’em gearin’ up
People talk so much sh** about me at FNM
They forget to pick their foils up
Okay, fair enough, the forums is flarin’ up
‘Cause they want theory-talk, well I don’t wear enough
Type Two, Extended, and Limited is enough, brew
Can I add that I draw some cute pictures too?
So say goodbye to the ’06 Rookie of the Year award
Goodbye to the ’07 SCG Article of the Year award
They’d rather give me the curly-headed-stepchild award
But I’ll just take the, ’08 I-got-a-lot-of-cheese award

Damn, here we go again.
People talk sh**, but when sh** hits the fan
Everything I’m not, made me everything I am

I know that people wouldn’t usually write this
But I got the facts to back this
Just last year, SCG sold over 1,000 Tormod’s Crypt
Man, sideboardin’ some wack sh**
Oh, I forgot, ‘cept for when Ichorid is dominatin’
Do you know what it feel like when people is dredgin’?
He got Turn 1 Imp into a Golgari Grave
He flips Narco’s and Bridges to the pave
A Dread Return and I’m buried in this cave
Lord, I need a Tormod’s Crypt if I’m to be saved
SCG want four bones a piece, but I can’t afford to pay
Signed the slip on the table, cause I can’t afford to stay
My 2,000 words are up, but I got more to say
“That’s enough Sancheezy, please no more today”

Top 5 Picks

1) Everything I Am – Kanye West
2) Middleman – Bright Eyes
3) If The Brakeman Turns My Way – Bright Eyes
4) Cleanse Song – Bright Eyes
5) For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic – Paramore

Star in the making.