My pre-tournament preparation always leaves me feeling like a pile of stale garbage.
This has everything to do with the fact that I refuse to sleep more than four hours beforehand. The one time I violated this rule was the Nemesis prerelease, and only then because I was comatose. I ended up sleeping eighteen hours, waking up not knowing where I was or what day it was. Which is how a surprising number of my days begin.
But not tournaments! The brilliant thing about four hours’ sleep is that my faculties don’t disappear until round six (when I’ll hopefully be drawing into the top eight), and return as the top-eight begins, thanks to the derailment of my internal clock.
So when my teammates poured me into the van for the trek up to the PTQ in Oshawa, I knew things would be fine. I passed the hour-and-a-half drive watching Tom Gannon’s head bob like a buoy at sea and being blinded by the Daystar.
My weapon of choice this week was Perfect Blue, the Team Comf version of the popular Blue Skies deck. If you need reference, check the convenient archive provided by my goodly employers. I also advise becoming a regular reader and joining the NRA, if only for the Chuck Heston signed silver bullet (perfect for werewolves; Chuck’s got your best interests at heart, he does).
The board I finally decided on is this monstrosity:
3x Flowstone Armour
Pre-match warmup music: KFMDM – Megalomaniac : KaBOOM! mix
Round 1, Will Wadman, Control Black
Game one Will takes his manascrew well, certainly better than I would. After parising once, he keeps a hand with Pete Bog and two other swamps, only to be denied more. He graciously avoids damaging me, helped along by countermagic.
I side in Seals of Removal for Withdraws, fearing Chilling Apparition.
Will begins game two a little unsure of his opening hand. He Unmasks early, taking some countermagic, then busts out a turn three Chimeric Idols when I’m tapped out. Fortunately, I’ve been piling on the threats, and he just draws more Unmasks. The final count is all four, and his Thrashing Wumpus is a turn too late.
My teammates also seem to be winning. So good for them.
Meantime Music: My Bloody Valentine – Feed Me with Your Kiss
Round 2: Gab Tsang, Control White
First turn Plains gives me false hope for what turns out to be a near-unwinnable matchup. When his first play is not a Rebel, but Story Circle, I realise just how much trouble I’m in. I have a mitt full of countermagic, and somewhat of an airforce on board, so I keep my game face on, but Gab’s packing nothing but Heston-signed cards. I manage to stave off his opening volley of Story Circle, Wave of Reckoning, Mageta, Wave of Reckoning, but his Jewelled Spirit hits play, and then me in the face.
I board in Hoodwinks, Gush and Foil for Cloudskates and Withdraws.
When Gab casts a Story Circle on turn three, I look at the Hoodwink in my hand and think "Now, I didn’t board you in for any particular reason, did I?", and cast the very mighty Personal Armageddon Thwart. With no land and few threats, the remainder of this match is a joke.
At 1-1, I spend a little time between rounds bemoaning my mistake, but warm my heart with the thought that I probably wasn’t escaping that round anyway.
In sympathy, most of my team loses their matches. How sweet.
Meantime Music: ABBA – Take A Chance on Me
I once read somewhere that the dominance of the Super Happy Pop Music Industry in Scandinavia comes from the cold, dark weather, and has a hand in keeping their suicide rate down. I have no idea if this is true. Perhaps something similar is true of Japan.
Round 3 – James Snook, Mono-W Rebels
When he lays a Plains and hasn’t done anything by turn three it’s all I can do to keep myself from leaping onto the table and shrieking hysterically. I convince myself that he’s not playing Gab’s control deck and salvage what little cool I possess. His fifth-turn Blinding Angel is Withdrawn twice and he goes down.
Thinking he’s some kind of modified control deck, I sideboard incorrectly, taking out Withdraws and Cloudskates for Foil, Gush and Seal.
First turn Sergeant actually gets a sigh of relief from me. Mono-W Rebels is more of a dream match, and I figure that even if I lose this one, I’ll know early enough to concede and have enough time to trounce him in game three. His Rath’s Edge and Kor Haven almost convince me to give up the ghost, but he’s light on mana and I’m heavy on threats. I force him into several unfortunate choices and pull out the victory.
The team has rallied, and everyone wins this round. Huzzah!
Meantime Music: KMFDM – R. U. OK?
Just to chill myself out, you know? After all, I need to win a couple of rounds now.
Round 4: Superman Sam Lau, playing unrevealable technology.
It’s a shame I can’t tell you more, but Sam insisted I keep mum on this one. Suffice it to say he managed to remove my pants in a very arcane way.
Oh, and he finished 9th, so I suppose this secrecy isn’t for naught.
Now 2-2, I’m pretty much eliminated, but far be it from me to leave a tournament early. Not even that time I was 1-4 at a sealed PTQ, as much as
I wanted to.
Jer has also lost, so we sing ourselves a little ditty:
Meantime Music: Josh & Jer – Doozer’s Lament
Work our cares away
Building houses in a darkened cave
Fraggles eat our houses
Such a fruitless life
(why is God so cruel?)
Round Five: Dave, playing TapOut Red
This is Dave’s first tournament, and I congratulate him on a fine record.
First game I manage a timely Withdraw on his Spur Grappler and Keldon Berserker, busted out early thanks to Sandstone Needle. He’s a little light on land, which means I can race him by forcing him to kill off Bouncers.
I don’t side in anything, figuring I’m safe.
And it turns out I’m wrong. Dave issues a beating so savage it ends with him yanking out my eyeballs just so I can gaze at my own broken body. He spends his first two turns putting out Seals of Fire, and every subsequent turn casting a monster and burning my blocker.
I’m shaken, but refuse to sideboard out of fear alone.
No Needle is good news for me, but Dave has answers for my early pressure. I get a little worried when he Rhystic Lightnings me when I have mana up, not knowing how much burn he plays with. My focus shifts when he casts Lesser Gargadon and I’m holding only Withdraw. He gets in two evil hits while I try to get a creature to survive a turn (curse my three only land!). Finally my Spiketail sticks, and I manage to Withdraw the beast. I am at four, Dave is at seventeen. Dave has two land.
Six turns later, Dave still has two land, but is at three. His inconvenience becomes my win.
Dave is an incredible sport about the whole affair, and is generally enjoying himself, which is amazing to see. I’m left thinking that 66% of my wins have come from opponents’ mana difficulties.
Against my better judgement, I lunch at KFC. I was dreadfully hungry.
Meantime music: Grease pouring through my veins. Thank you, Colonel.
Round 7: Steve Wolfman, G/W Rebels.
I’ve deluded myself into thinking this round matters. It pays off as a pair of Airships race Steve’s Blastoderm and friends. Withdraw saves me against a downright dangerous Saproling Burst.
I side in Hoodwinks and Seals of Removal for Withdraws and Bouncers.
Between games, Steve has apparently switched careers and is now an arms dealer. This is the only way I can explain the never-ending stream of bombs to which he has access. My offence looks downright silly by comparison.
Jer walks by and Steve explains that his topdecks went something like Burst, Burst, Burst, Blastoderm, Story Circle. Josh Bennett: Just Watching.
Game three is more of the same. Steve’s Blinding Angel stays on defense, which means that the five points of damage I have dealt will be my last. I could have sworn this was a more favourable matchup.
The final standings are in, and the only Team Comf member to make it in is the illustrious Duncan McGregor. Tom Gannon and I each manage the under-1700 prize, but I am unsatisfied. Jer points out that losing to Gab Tsang, Sam Lau, and Steve Wolfman isn’t exactly disreputable, all of them being fine players. I suppose he’s right.
Final Standings on Perfect Blue: 11-7. Not great.
I can explain!
It seems that the Southern Ontario Metagame has shifted from Rebels of various colour combinations to Control Based strategies. In such an environment, only pure beatdown will thrive, not middle-of-the-road beatdown such as Perfect Blue. If your local metagame is devoid of strong control decks in the hands of capable players, give it a spin.
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