The past few Opens were disappointing for me, but I was really pumped heading into Richmond. It was a short drive, and I liked my decks for it. Add to that the fact that many of the top players on the circuit were otherwise occupied missing flights and/or battling for a novelty check, and I was hoping to do well.
Friday night before the event, Jarvis Yu and Tommy Ashton convince me to come to FNM so we can draft M12 to practice for the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour. I tell Tommy I’ll show up between six and seven. At 6:30 I show up, and they are finishing up pack three.
I end up battling some Caw-Blade mirrors for fun while they finish up the draft and get in the next one. I promptly draft my worst M12 deck yet (this is saying something).
The draft started okay. White was wide open in pack one and with a pair of late Guardian Pledges, I was hoping to be mono-ish white.
I end up with a mediocre deck that has two Mind Controls. The problem it seems is that my three-person team all decided on UW. This does not lead to strong decks. I go 1-2, and we lose the draft.
Afterward we go to Ruby Tuesday for dinner. We end up with the most surly server I’d ever had. I think this guy really missed his calling as a grizzled-longshoreman or at least a mob enforcer. Over dinner we chat about Modern. After a dispute over our bill that luckily doesn’t end in one of us getting shanked, I head home for a solid four hours of sleep.
I clearly miss out on the full four hours of sleep by waking up well before my alarm. I durdle around and have a bowl of Kashi Island Vanilla shredded wheat (check it out). At 6:15 I decide it is a good idea to make eggs. Shortly after this I get the call that my ride is outside. I quickly shove the eggs onto a plate, grab a fork, and head out.
Let me tell you, fried eggs are simultaneously delicious and non-ideal as car food.
Adam Styborski is driving me and Ian Shore down. We get to the site with all of the time in the world to spare. I sit down with Ben Friedman, and we hammer out our list. I play 71/75 of his top eight list.
We stuck to our guns with Blade Splicers and Heroes, as we thought the format had become more hostile for the Emeria Angel lists. RUGPod, Valakut, and UB Control are all matchups where we felt that Hero/Splicer were better than the alternative.
I start off 3-0 defeating Draft Open master Shaheen Soorani more or less on the back of Blade Splicer. After this round, he wins out, next losing in the semifinals. At 3-0 my wheels fell off. I lose to Pureblade in round 4 in a close match where I might have been able to win game three with another line of play. In round five I face Twin and despite having plenty of answers both games I am threat and mana light, and my opponent Dispels my dreams of another Standard Open win.
I drop at 3-2 rather than fight it out and get into a cube draft right away. I don’t remember all of my deck, but I’ll give you a sample hand a la LSV:
To answer some questions that might come up:
Yes, the deck had more Forests.
No, I did not have mana problems.
No, I was not undefeated. RDW killed me in about five minutes en route to me going 3-1.
Yes, I’ve used a French saying twice in less than fifty words, c’est la vie.
After the cube draft, I and Adam go to get food. Ian is waiting to draw into T8 and can’t join us, sick life etc. We go to Buz & Ned’s BBQ where I devour the following meal with great gusto.
The mac and cheese is disappointing, but the pulled pork, hush puppies, and beer (not pictured) are delicious.
After that we head back to the site. Top 8 is about to start, and Ben is playing against Ian, but I am really tired so just head to the hotel. About an hour later Adam and Ian come in after Ian lost to Ben. I go to bed a little afterword and get a pretty good night’s sleep.
Sunday aka The Reason You’re Reading this Article
Sunday morning I wake up and head to the site pretty early stopping in the lobby Starbucks for a blueberry scone and large latte.
I get to the site, and Ben loses in top four. He punts versus Pat Cox, letting Pat play two Summoning Traps for the win. After this I feel bad for him so only mildly berate him, and we again settle on the last few slots. We again play about 70/75 of each other’s list. I register the following:
The last few cards are acquired (thanks Kenny!), and I get ready for battle.
Round One – Mike Braverman – Fishes!
Game one he didn’t have much going on, and his skull was Battered as tends to happen in that situation. Game two he had a little bit of pressure and double Wasteland when I didn’t draw any spot removal and was banking on Wrath of God. The math did not work out in my favor.
Game three was where it got more interesting. He had triple Aether Vial but Silvergill Adept let him keep up on cards. I had Wrath of God in hand but Cursecatcher was in play so I had to play around that. On his 4th turn he Vialed in two more lords and attacked for lethal. My Swords to Plowshares resolved, and I went to four then untapped and Wrathed. He had one card left and end of turn Vialed in the surprise (to me) Dark Confidant. It sent me to two life, but he didn’t have a follow-up on his turn. I played Mystic and got Umezawa’s Jitte; it was online just in time to kill his fresh Lord of Atlantis, and I rode the pointy stick to victory.
Round Two – Thomas Pendergast – Storm
Game two was about the same.
This match was really, really good with Spellstutter Sprite. It is almost a hard counter versus their deck and can’t be Duressed (something my opponent had to point out to me)!
Round Three – Damon Whitby – Dredge
Damon is a local player, and I assumed he would be a combo deck. He kept a hand with Putrid Imp and two Breakthroughs. However he didn’t have a Dredger so when I countered both Breakthroughs and fetched a Batterskull, I was able to clean up.
Game two I boarded in my graveyard hate and Jitte. On turn one he Cabal Therapied me, which I Misstepped. I was then able to lay a Relic and remove the Therapy for free! He eventually got an Ancient Grudge in the yard so I popped Relic and played Spellstutter Sprite. The Sprite was given a Jitte, which is really hard for Dredge to beat. He ended up dredging both of his remaining Bridge from Below into the yard, so I killed Sprite with a Jitte counter before killing a Narcomoeba to keep him off Dread Return. On my next turn, I drew Surgical Extraction for his Ichorids, and the game was over.
Round Four – A. C. Sokoloff – Zoo
A.C. recognized me from my vast internet fame and lamented our lack of a feature match. We still had a very fun if not so interactive match.
Game one he flooded; game two I mulliganed and couldn’t find a white source. Game three he had Sylvan Library, but I managed to get Batterskull, Sword of Feast and Famine, and Jitte into play before the end of the game.
Voltron > Tarmogoyf
Round Five – Erik Manooshism – Poison
Game one I mulliganed into a weak hand, and he cast turn two Show and Tell. I put Vendilion Clique in play, which does not beat Emrakul, and saw his hand of Force of Will, Spell Pierce, lands. Content that I’d had no shot that game, I put him on Hive Mind, and we went to game two.
Game two I assembled some creatures including a Vendilion Clique. I saw his hand, which didn’t have much going on but had a card I wasn’t expecting, Blightsteel Colossus. When I saw this, I assumed that Erik was totally leveling me by boarding this in versus Wrath of God. I’d only boarded in one Wrath, but it was in hand, which partly led me to this thinking.
Round Six – Jeph Foster – Fishes!
Jeph is a judge on the SCG circuit who was playing on Sunday after the judging on Saturday.
Game one he didn’t have much going on, and I was able to stick a Jace and Brainstorm him out of the game.
I punted game two. I was leaning on Wrath of God and white removal but didn’t have many white sources. I had to play around Wasteland. What I should have done was run a Mutavault out to bait the Wasteland. Rather than doing this, I fetched Island, Island, Plains, and died to a Kira, Really Good Glass-Spinner with a hand of Wrath of God and three removal spells without drawing another white source.
Game three was much closer, but again I don’t remember and pulled it out in the end.
Round Seven – Mary Jacobson – Zoo
I played against Mary once before in the Legacy Open in Indianapolis where my deck did nothing at all for two games knocking me out of Top 8 contention. I was pretty sure I could draw in if I won this so I was looking to redeem myself and my deck. While I was at it, I figured I should lock up Top 8.
Game one was very long. I had a Batterskull, but she had Pridemage to kill it. I shut down her offense, but she’d gained 10 life between Swords to Plowshares on my part and Lightning Helix on hers. I was on eight and didn’t have an answer for her Grim Lavamancer, but she was quickly running out of graveyard. On her draw step I cast a freshly drawn Vendilion Clique with Riptide Lab backup. She responded with Price of Progress, and I was dead. I wasn’t too upset, as I couldn’t have played around it that game, as I’d drawn a bunch of Tundras and Mutavaults.
Game two I Misstepped her T1 Nacatl and followed that with a Stoneforge. She had a Chain Lightning to kill it but no second land. I untapped and Wastelanded her only land. She ended up drawing three in a row after that, but it was too late, and I never went below 16 life.
Game three Mary had to mulligan to four, and the game was over shortly.
Round Eight – Jonathan â€˜watchwolf92′ Sukenik – NO RUG
After standings went up it was clear I was a lock with a draw, but not everyone was. I ended up being paired with a friend. He however was not a lock with a draw. We agreed to draw, as he still had a very good shot of Top 8, and that beat knocking one of us out for us. Thanks for agreeing to the draw!
After round eight I went to Subway to get some “lunch” and then headed back to the site. After the round ended top eight was announced, and I was in 4th. I knew that Jonathan would be in 7-9th place and was very happy to hear him announced as 8th. Mary and Jeph both made t16 so half my Swiss opponents had made it into the t16!
Quarterfinals – Pat â€˜Never Split’ Cox – Zoo
This match was on camera so you can watch it if desired once the archive goes up.
Game one I had pretty much the perfect draw with a ton of removal. After a pretty quick game Pat conceded to Batterskull with me on 5 and him on 19.
Game two he mulliganed and didn’t have a one-drop. He still managed to get me down to three and had several turns to draw burn to finish me off. He drew a Lightning Helix, but I had the Spell Snare. I ultimated Elspeth with two creatures in play so he had to draw burn. A turn or two later Batterskull was attacking him to put me out of range.
Pat’s board plan seemed to be very minimal, keeping his deck very fast. I’d assumed he would board in more of his 2+ mana cards, but I didn’t see them so assumed they were left on the bench.
Semifinals – Jonathan â€˜I’m the best MODO player in the room’ Sukenik – NO RUG
The top 4 agreed to a split, which is always good when playing a friend. Game one he summoned quite a few Lhurgoyfs and Dazed twice against my slow hand, and I was dead. To be fair it was the two Dryad Arbors that killed me. Always makes you feel good to get beat down by 1/1 Forests.
Game two I had Spell Snare for Tarmogoyf and saw a pretty weak hand with my Vendilion Clique. There was an Ancient Grudge to play around, but that was about it. I landed a Jace which Brainstormed for about five turns before I was finally able to kill him with Mutavaults.
Game three was pretty awkward. He had turn two Sylvan Library, but I had two Ancestral Visions. He ended up missing a few too many land drops and was very aggressive with his Library. This kept the Jace he resolved from putting me out of the game. It came down to him on two life with me trying to get in a final hit in with a Mutavault. During this time I punted repeatedly. It was awkward to make the number of mistakes I made in this game and still win but so it goes. Finally he was tapped, out and I was able to equip Sword of Feast and Famine to a Mutavault and get in for the final point of damage.
Finals – Erik â€˜This is my first Legacy event’ Manoooooshism – Poison
I’d recommend reading the coverage on this one. Game one I mulled to five and kept:
Honestly, I probably should have gone to four cards but decided to keep this hoping to get lucky. I ended up getting lucky but not as expected. On turn two I attacked with Mutavault. This would be what I did each turn for the rest of the game until I drew a fourth mana source when I started attacking with TWO Mutavaults. Erik resolved a Jace, which I ignored, and he just couldn’t find a creature. On my second to last turn, I drew Wasteland to seal up the game.
He had five land including an Ancient Tomb. The Mutavaults had just put him to two. I Wastelanded Volcanic Island, keeping him off five pain-free mana on his next turn. He had the Show and Tell for Emrakul, but a 15/15 can’t block two 2/2s, and he conceded.
I guess I can check â€˜Win a Finals Game without Casting a Spell’ off my Magic bucket list.
Game two I kept a solid hand but didn’t draw anything relevant. Erik ripped a couple nice ones in a row, and when Show and Tell resolved it was a Blightsteel Colossus. I’d boarded out my four Swords to Plowshares so needed to hit one of the two Path to Exiles I’d boarded in. I chumped for a turn to go to nine poison. However I didn’t draw a Path, Jace, or Oblivion Ring and was, again, poisoned.
Game three I thought I had a very good hand and a very good chance of winning the game and match. I had turn three Clique, turn four Jace with Force backup. When I saw his hand he had: Through the Breach, Misdirection, Show and Tell, Emrakul, Ancient Tomb, Island, Scalding Tarn.
I took Through the Breach, as I was actually dead to that on his turn four. I could take Emrakul, but that would give him five creatures to rip and kill me. The Jace protected me from Show and Tell, which was also something I can just beat much more often.
I resolved Jace next turn but didn’t find a Misstep, and Erik found a Pyroblast. He also found a second Show and Tell after pitching one to Misdirection. He cast it, and we both put in a card facedown. He revealed Emrakul, and I had Flooded Strand. This Strand actually wasn’t that bad, as I knew my top two cards, and they were not good. I shuffled and counted my five outs. I regret not windmill slamming my top card at that point. I was punished for my lack of showmanship when I revealed a land and extended my hand.
1-2, 2nd Place
While I really wanted the win I can’t be disappointed with the event or my finish. Erik got pretty lucky in games two and three, but I got lucky in game one (I guess?). UW with Spellstutter Sprites is really good, and I think is fine versus the deck I faced in the finals. The Spellstutters are not ideal here but are still okay assuming you don’t die on turn two or three.
Going forward I think both the Standard and Legacy lists are good. Both have very close matchups versus most of the field, no really bad matchups, and some pretty good matchups. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about them in the comments.
Second place locks up level five for me, so I now get paid just to show up, which is awesome. I plan on being in Boston (assuming I find a ride), Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Atlanta over the next four weeks. First time I’ve done five Magic tournaments in a row, so I’m filled with equal parts anticipation and dread.
I want to thank all my friends for good times and support and all my opponents for being class acts. Thanks as well to Star City and the judge and coverage staff for doing a great job. A special thanks to Kenny Mayer, the man responsible for my Legacy mana bases.
See you in Boston!