Fact or Fiction

Below I will outline ten gameplay situations; some of them really happened (fact) and the others I just made up (fiction). You’re supposed to guess which is which. There may or may not be subtle clues to help you with your guesses, so pay careful attention! Furthermore, those that have read my articles in the past will have a definite advantage.

Welcome to a new segment that I’ve been brewing for a while. Spending a lot of time on this intro is pointless because how it works is very simple. Below I will outline ten gameplay situations; some of them really happened (fact) and the others I just made up (fiction). You’re supposed to guess which is which. There may or may not be subtle clues to help you with your guesses, so pay careful attention! Furthermore, those that have read my articles in the past will have a definite advantage, so read up on those archives (and send me feedback!).

A final note: While not of all these situations actually happened to me in particular, I am putting all of them in the first person, because it’s easier to sound convincing that way (unless, of course, all of these stories are true). Without further ado…

1. The Topdeck

Way back in the day of Tempest Block sealed, I had a nice R/G number with fast critters and some decent removal. In game 2 of my first match, I had laid the beatdown against my opponent for several turns, getting her to seven, when she began to equalize with some good critters of her own. One of these was a Bottle Gnomes. I stalled out, drawing nothing but land, while she played an evasion creature and some removal on my less-than-stellar team. I kept knocking on my deck and praying for Rolling Thunder, which I topdecked on my final turn to live. I tapped nine mana and sent it to her dome, proclaiming,”You’re dead.” She surveyed the board, couldn’t see any way out, and congratulated me with a handshake. I decided not to tell her afterward about the Gnomes.

2. Passive Aggressive

I was playing a MDD draft at Richmond Comix when I was faced with this interesting situation. I was playing W/b and my opponent was Mono-Black. He went first, and played a mana Myr and then a third turn Nim Abomination. On my turn, I cast Arrest on his Nim. I was way ahead on life since his Nim Abom kept smacking him for three, but I couldn’t find any critters and he was going to scrape it out. It came down to one last draw – if I topdecked the critter, I’d be able to block lethal damage, and he’d die on his next turn. I drew an Arcbound Stinger (Stinger… I barely know her!) and proceeded to win without attacking once.

3. Nice Guys Finish Last

I was playing in a Standard tournament and got paired up with a twelve-year-old scrub in the first round. I was playing a modified version of the B/R Jank deck that I took to State Champs, and he was playing Goblins. His deck clearly is sub-optimal, since he doesn’t have the right cards or the funds to procure them (his first turn play was a Crazed Goblin). However, I had to mulligan to five the first game to find a single mana hand and got crushed. I mulliganed into a similar hand in the second game, praying for a mana Myr, but it was not to be. We turned in the match slips and went our separate ways. Towards the end of the round, we ran into each other and he asked to me take a look at his deck and give him some suggestions, so I did. They had just posted pairings for the next round when I gave him my answer,”You should probably take out these four Firebolts, since they’re illegal.”

4. Strength in Numbers

When I first began to play competitively, I went to an Extended PTQ, around the release of Mirage Block. I was playing a U/W CounterPost deck with Millstones and was getting beat down by Jolrael’s Centaurs and Gaea’s Blessing (Derf!) all day. In the fifth round I was playing against an Ashen Ghoul variant, which was a terrible matchup for me since it could shrug off my mass removal fairly easily. However, his version was sans Nevinyrral’s Disk, and had no way to remove the Light of Day that I played on my fourth turn in the second game. When I finally got a Kjeldoran Outpost I started making dudes. I ended the game by attacking for twenty in a single turn with one power Soldier Tokens.

5. Concession Stand

In a Mirrodin / Darksteel sealed deck, it was the third game of the last round of Swiss and whoever won the match would go on to some prizes, while the loser would get nothing. My opponent got a quick start with a Copper Myr, a Goblin Replica, and a Fangren Hunter, bashing me down to six before I could stabilize. While I continued to draw critters and removal and started to gnaw away at his life, he was drawing little besides land and stalled out. He was pretty unhappy about it and didn’t even try to keep his frustration to himself. Around turn 10 or so, I was preparing for a massive Alpha strike, but I was one point short counting the Predator’s Strike in my hand, but he hadn’t counted yet. At the end of his turn, I flashed him the Strike, said”Good game,” and extended my hand. He shook it and sighed in frustration, and swept up his board. On a whim, I flipped over the top card of his library: a would-be lethal Fireball.

6. Flood Coming?

At Grand Prix: DC I started doing MMD drafts, and my first draft was a delectable B/u number featuring Crystal Shard. In game two, I kept an iffy four-land hand because I had both colors of mana, a decent critter, and a removal spell. Unfortunately, I ripped three Swamps off the top. I was thinking to myself,”The only way I can win this game is to draw Shard.” WHOOP! There it was, next draw. Then I thought to myself,”If only I had Solemn Simulacrum…” WHOOP! I should think to myself more often. I started using the Shard / Simulacrum combo to pull land after land from my deck, snagging five over the course of the game; my opponent and I both thought I had it locked up. But I kept ripping lands off the top and he kept drawing spells. On my final turn to live, with fifteen of sixteen lands in play (and about seventeen cards left in my library), I drew my card: Vault of Whispers.

7. Life’s a Beach and Then You Die

I was playing Tide at an Extended PTQ and battled my way to top 8, and then the finals. I was playing against Secret Force, which was a fine matchup for me; that deck isn’t fast enough to deal the necessary damage before a lethal Stroke of Genius. I get Thawing Glaciers going, Frantic Search a few times, and I have the necessary hand to combo out. I go High Tide, High Tide, Frantic Search, Time Spiral, fully expecting to win in short order. But when I draw my seven cards off the top, I’ve got five Islands, a Counterspell, and a Thawing Glaciers.

8. Legendary Mistake

I’m playing in a Standard tournament at FNM with MWC+, and my opponent is playing a G/w beats deck that expected a lot more Affinity. As I learned from forum posters after Regionals, Mindslaver is a Legendary artifact, and when he tried to play one opposite mine, I informed him that his would be taking a short trip to the graveyard. I had all the combo pieces, but I was holding Lightning Greaves in my hand since he had Glissa Sunseeker on the board. He drew his card for the turn and pondered his play for about thirty seconds before playing a second Glissa, which I informed him also had the creature type”Legend.”

9. Readme.txt

I was playing in a MMD side draft at Grand Prix: DC and put together a sweet Affinity deck featuring solid critters in Myr Enforcers and Somber Hoverguards, as well as ripping open the sickness in pack three (Arcbound Ravager). I also had a large amount of spot-removal in double Shatter, Dismantle, and Echoing Ruin. I played against mono-Black in round one and his first turn play was to drop a Disciple of the Vault, which is anathema to my archetype. On his second turn, he plays a Leonin Scimitar and equips the Disciple. I ask him if I can read it and pick it up, replacing the Equipment so that the Scimitar is covering the text box on the card. Without the Disciple’s ability in plain view, it slipped my opponent’s mind and I proceeded to win the game without taking a single point of loss of life when it would have killed me several times over. When he realized his mistake, he accused me of cheating. All I said was,”You may have target opponent lose one life.”

10. Who’s That Guy That Looks Like Da Cheat*

Another story from Grand Prix: DC. In the first round of the tournament, my teammate was playing the White Equipment deck with a splash of Green against a White/Red deck. He had an Auriok Bladewarden in play as well as a Leonin Den-Guard. In his main phase, he played a Leonin Scimitar and attempted to equip it to his Den-Guard. His opponent cast Electrostatic Bolt on the critter in response, dropped it in his graveyard, then cursed when he realized his mistake. The equip resolved and my teammate declared an attack when his opponent pulled the EB out of his graveyard and pointed it at the Auriok Bladewarden.”I killed your dude,” he said, and my entire team was dumbfounded at his brazen attitude. We called over a Judge and explained the situation; the opponent said stuff like”Why would I Bolt a creature that wouldn’t die? I just said ‘kill your guy,’ I should have been more specific.” The ruling was for the cheater, and my teammate subsequently lost a damage race he would have easily won.

As a special thanks to those of you that read this far, I have even more! Not more stories, but something even better. I neglected to put this in the title, because I felt that it would be a cheap way to garner extra hits on my articles, but this is a contest! A contest with a prize! Not a good prize, mind you, but a prize nonetheless. I’m no Chris Romeo and I can’t afford $25, but what I can afford is a booster pack on Magic Online. The winner will be whoever gets the most correct; in the case of a tie, I’ll just pick one at random. If you don’t play MTGO, perhaps I can make some other arrangements – don’t let that stop you from playing!

You can email your answers to factorfiction9 AT yahoo DOT com. Remember, I like back, feed me! Send love and/or hate mail to the same address; I don’t want my normal one to get blown up by the thousands of entries that are sure to come flooding in. Once the contest is over (which will be about a week) I will write a short follow up with the answers and any other pertinent info.

John Matthew Upton

* If you have never been to www.homestarrunner.com, now is the time. Strongbad’s email is the funniest, but there are lots of funny cartoons on the site.