Ghost Dad Stories – A Pro Tour: Honolulu Report, Part 2 *22nd*

Magic the Gathering Pro Tour Honolulu!

Ben Goodman (a.k.a. Ridiculous Hat) returns to complete his incredibly entertaining report from Pro Tour: Honolulu. More analysis, more insight, and more humor, from one of the pioneers of “Ghost Dad”!

[Click here to read Ghost Dad Stories – A PT: Honolulu Report, Part 1 *22nd*]

Ghost Dad is not the best deck in the format.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Is this really Ben Goodman? Where’s the long-winded argumentation, the refusal to listen to reason, and the endless proselytizing? Well, folks, here’s the truth of the matter. I like Ghost Dad. I think it’s a good deck and I would gladly recommend it to anyone as a decent choice in the current standard environment – but the thing is, this current Standard environment is so diverse that I could recommend any of the decks that did well at the Pro Tour and be correct. The format is wide open, anyone can play anything and be happy, and Ghost Dad will win and lose just as much as any good deck. I think that it tends more towards winning than losing, but I will admit that it has bad matchups and it will not win every tournament that it’s played in. This format is about practice and playskill, so pick a deck you like and play the hell out of it.

I think the deck was a good choice for Honolulu, though – I mean, there was a lot of sunlight, and Ghost Dad cures melanoma within minutes and has an SPF factor of 80.

Now that we have the proper parody of various dramas out of the way, let’s have a recap of what happened in our previous encounter. PT Honolulu had been proceeding in earnest, with the only undefeated player (a writer for this very site) running an URtron build with small tweaks from the stock list to give it a more consistent early game and more resilience against varying forms of disruption. Many players had audibled to Zoo at the last minute before the event, a decision that would yield displeasing results. Tallowisp had been taking names left and right with support from Robert Maher and the spirit gang, leaving mouths agape and hearts torn asunder. The Hawaiian shirt had returned to “retro-chic” status, with players of all origins donning their festive competitor clothing with great glee. Yet all of this would be eclipsed by the excitement and fear that would appear over the next eight rounds, leading eight lucky souls to an experience that would change their lives forever… tonight, on 7th Heaven*.

Nothing interesting happened between last night and the beginning of the second day. I really mean nothing – I don’t even think I remember what we had for dinner. We might’ve done a draft or something, but there’s no tales of debauchery from our squad. Here’s the records as they stood going into the day for our remaining stalwart warriors.

Me: 6-2
Ashman: 6-2
Peebles: 5-3
James: 5-3

The amount of Zoo today was significantly lower, so I couldn’t expect to be as lucky with the pairings as I had been the day before. Hopefully I’d hit some of the Owl decks floating around or perhaps some more Rats to beat on. (Psst—foreshadowing!) Let’s begin, shall we?

Round 9: J. Evan Dean (Finish: 62nd) — GhaziChord
This man is the friendliest Magic player on the planet. He started off with some absurd record to win the Last Chance Qualifier and begin 6-0 in the main event. I’d read about his deck the night before, so I had some idea of what he was playing, but I didn’t know exactly what was in it other than GhaziGlare cards and Chord of Calling. Looking back on it, I don’t think it’s a very good matchup for me if he gets off the ground, namely due to his Ghost Council being much better than mine when he has mana. Fortunately, his mana does not always work…

Beep Beep!

Game 1 — …And when he mulls to 6 and stalls on one land, he doesn’t exactly resist. I go turn 2 Tallowisp, turn 3 Koala and Rusalka, turn 4 Ghost Council, and bash him. The only spells I see are Sakura-Tribe Elder and Wood Elves, and both of those get Pilloried.

Sideboarding: -4 Shining Shoal, -1 Indomitable Will, -2 Teysa, Orzhov Scion, +1 Enfeeblement, +2 Pithing Needle, +2 Umezawa’s Jitte, +1 Kami of Ancient Law, +1 Pillory of the Sleepless

Game 2 — He’s on the play this time, and once again his lands stall at three. I figure it’s safe and that my two-drop should be Jitte to go with my Rusalka after he passes turn two without a play. Then my Rusalka gets Mortified. Okay, Thief of Hope, equip, smash – Putrefy on the Jitte. I see. Kami of Ancient Law comes down. He draws a Wood Elves here and finally gets his fourth land, so I untap and drop a Tallowisp after bashing, bringing him down to 10… and then God gets angry. To say I was surprised at seeing a Wrath is an understatement. I get down a Rusalka followed by a Ghost Council, but by this point he’s hit his critical point and he can start dropping the good stuff. I attack him and he takes it down to nine. He untaps and drops a Guildmage, and I get in there with the crew – Rusalka dies to a token and Ghost Council sticks around. I am out of creatures, Angel of Despair comes down, and Dad can’t hide. I Pillory the Angel but lots of lifegain effects start stacking up – Hierarch, Hierarch again, and then his own Ghost Council with the Guildmage and Vitu-Ghazi. The Council will never ever die as long as he has lots of tokens to feast on, so at this point with my life total rapidly dwindling and the top of my deck yielding nothing, I lose a game that I thought was locked up on turn 4. That’s Magic for you. This game is why I feel like this matchup is a bad one, by the way – when this deck works, it seems like a never-ending stream of gas that’s nigh-impossible to deal with.

Game 3 — But for the third time in three games, Evan has mana troubles, and this time I don’t let him recover. Turn 2 Wisp, turn 3 Koala and Rusalka, turn 4 Jitte, equip, bash, turn 5 Ghost Council. It’s not pretty. I feel bad for winning in this fashion, but luck happens, and I’m sure that it’ll catch up to me down the line.

Call me Frankie Foreshadowing.

Aaron Forsythe was hovering over the match and happened to take a picture of my Enfeeblement. He also related the story that I mentioned in the primer about Ghost Council. Jaws were dropped. It was exciting.

Me: 7-2
Ashman: 6-3
Peebles: 6-3
James: 6-3

Round 10: Nikolas Nygaard (Finish: 10th) — Magnivore
It’s das hopper! You MTGO people should know who he is, and those of you without MTGO should download it.

Game 1 — I start off with a nice curve draw. Turn 2 Koala gets in, turn 3 Thief gets in, turn 4 Teysa is countered, and turn 5 Ghost Council resolves. What a beating. He’s stuck on five lands, but it doesn’t matter, because there happen to be two Shining Shoals in my hand and his life happens to be going down at a rapid clip. He doesn’t draw the sixth land so he scoops instead of having me kill him. Thanks to this course of events, he has not seen me play Shining Shoal. Hooooooooow lllllllllucky.

Sideboarding: -4 Sickening Shoal, -3 Plagued Rusalka, -1 Pillory of the Sleepless, +3 Cranial Extraction, +2 Blessed Breath, +2 Umezawa’s Jitte, +1 Miren, the Moaning Well

Game 2 — This game was also not particularly close. I don’t have a turn 2 drop, but on turn 3 I play out a Teysa, who gets Hammered. I get a Tallowisp down and start administering some beatdown, after which I play a card I like to call Cranial Extraction. Well, that’s actually what it’s called, but I like the name. Shut up. Anyway, I go for the default first name of Wildfire due to having two Pillories in my hand, and it just so happens that along with the five lands he has in play, he has two more in hand… so when he Compulsive Researches next turn and Eye of Nowheres my Wisp, I take the opportunity to play a second Cranial Extraction and nab the Magnivores from his deck. Oops. He’d drawn a Tidings in the meantime, but at this point the game was academic. I start dropping stuff again, starting with the Tallowisp, then Thief of Hope, and then Dad comes home. He doesn’t make a fuss about it and packs up the cards.

I didn’t think that I’d run into so many relatively nice and gracious opponents at this event, but there was no one who was difficult to play against. At this point only one person had really complained. It was refreshing compared to every other tournament ever—outside of Grand Prix Philly, I suppose, but Legacy players are a different animal entirely.

Me: 8-2
Ashman: 7-3
Peebles: 6-4
James: 6-4

Round 11: Nathan Zamora (Finish: 65th) — Magnivore
I get to play against this deck again? Mise!

Game 1 — He doesn’t do much this game. I start off with Kami of Ancient Law (Mana Leaked), Thief of Hope (which resolved after an odd look), Ghost Council (which resolved after a shrug and then got Eyed), and then a Plagued Rusalka to finish the procession of draft superstars along with the return of William Cosby, Ghost Dad extraordinaire. He was at seven at this point and he had five lands in play and a bunch of card draw in the yard and I was conveniently tapped out, playing right into Wildfire. He plays land number six, he taps them all, he casts Wildfire, and he gets four of it back at his face. Bam.

Sideboarding: -4 Sickening Shoal, -3 Plagued Rusalka, -1 Pillory of the Sleepless, +3 Cranial Extraction, +2 Blessed Breath, +2 Umezawa’s Jitte, +1 Miren, the Moaning Well

Game 2 — I’m lighter on lands this game, and he uses some Hammers and Stone Rains to keep creatures and lands off the board. The Hammer he throws at Wisp gets thrown back at him with a Pillory, and I search up the Strands to get two of his three cards and throw it on my Wisp while he only has 4 lands in play. He shrugs and plays a Magnivore and says go. I untap and drop a Teysa, leaving me with only a land in hand. He draws a Compulsive Research and starts getting more lands into play and then next turn drops another Magnivore. Crap. He comes out swinging and next turn plays another Compulsive and makes his guys pretty big. I try to use an Indomitable Will to save Teysa, but after he looks at it and tries to figure out what in hell I’m playing, he Hinders it to the top. Double crap. At this point I’m pretty much done, as he has lots of damage coming in and there’s nothing I can do without drawing something good, which I don’t.

Game 3 — A lot of you probably heard about this game on the podcast. I start off fine early, with a turn 2 Koala leading into a turn 3 Tallowisp – and due to me being a total sack, I play the naturally drawn Strands on turn 4, leaving him with one card in hand. He draws and says go with four lands in play. This is where the important part comes in – I draw and cast Cranial Extraction. My hand at this point is Pillory, Pillory, Shining Shoal, Indomitable Will, random land x, and my board is a Koala and a Strands’ed Tallowisp. I’m trying to decide if I want to name Magnivore or Wildfire here, as I probably can deal with a Wildfire if he draws it even though my Shoal is only for three thanks to Strands, but Magnivore isn’t much of a problem either due to me having two Pillories in hand.

“I have a Meloku in my hand.”

And that changes everything, now doesn’t it? Meloku scares me more due to hordes of tokens being hard for me to deal with – but I shouldn’t listen to him for infinite reasons.

A) Never trust your opponent.
B) Letting him have Magnivores makes Eye of Nowhere an out.
C) I can deal with Meloku if I just Pillory it and start swinging in with my men. I can race his tokens and he’ll have to return enough lands to fight that he won’t be able to do anything relevant.
D) He can topdeck counters if he needs to and I don’t have enough of a clock to make him play the Magnivores immediately without backup.
E) He can draw multiple Magnivores and make life difficult for me.
F) I haven’t seen a Meloku.
G) He’s trying to make me afraid of looking like a fool if he does have a Meloku.

Wildfire isn’t a problem at this point so I name Magnivore and cripple him, of course.

“I’ll name Meloku.”


Why I didn’t think harder, I can’t tell you, but I can tell you that his hand was Island and Magnivore. I can also tell you that his draws were Magnivore, Mana Leak for my Pillory, Compulsive Research into Mana Leak for my Pillory, Wildfire away my board except for the Wisp, and Volcanic Hammer the Wisp and then my face for the win.

What. A. Beating I have to applaud Nathan for his ballsy play that paid off very well, and I walked right into a trap that I should’ve thought about with more strategy, more time, and less psychology. Don’t let this happen to you, kids. Stay in school. Dare to stay off drugs. Always look both ways before crossing the street. Brush your teeth… and wear sunscreen.

Me: 8-3
Ashman: 7-4
Peebles: 7-4
James: 7-4

I wasn’t pleased by my horrific misplay brought about by my opponent’s crafty maneuver and my own lack of forethought, but tilting only makes one lose harder and I wanted to win. I had time to be upset later and drown my sorrows in draft sets and fresca.

Tally ho!

Round 12: Roel Heeswijk (Finish: 67th) — BGW Aggro
The deck seems like the BGU tempo deck that was around pre-GP, only it has much better cards now and can still go broken with a turn two Hypnotic Specter. This guy was also apparently a Level 3. Eek.

Game 1 — I want you to imagine the best possible curve you could face if you’re playing against this deck. No, better than that. Yes, that one – turn 1 Birds, turn 2 Hypnotic Specter, turn 3 Umezawa’s Jitte, equip, bash. He got that. I won this game. Do you want to know how? Turn 1 land, go. Turn 2 Tallowisp, go. Turn 3 Sickening Shoal your Hyppie during combat, untap, serve, Pillory your next guy, continue ad nauseam. Repeat after me, my dear readers:

Buh-buh-buh-buh-bloooooown out.

It was pretty cool. He kept trying to get Jitte active throughout the game but he never was able to get that going, and then Ghost Council came down to battle his remaining creatures and dodged Mortifies. The only damage I took this game was from a Godless Shrine.

Sideboarding: -2 Shining Shoal, -1 Teysa, Orzhov Scion, -1 Indomitable Will, -1 Strands of Undeath, +2 Umezawa’s Jitte, +1 Enfeeblement, +1 Pillory of the Sleepless, +1 Kami of Ancient Law
(I kept in two Shiners to have extra answers to Hyppie.)

Game 2 — After sideboard I imagine he has a lot more good cards. He doesn’t look too happy, but I mean, can you blame him? I certainly couldn’t. Anyways, he starts off similarly, only with a Goth Elf this time instead of a Birds. The Hyppie still comes down turn 2, and this time I do not have an immediate answer. I just have to play a Koala and say go. When he hits me with the Specter he misses the Pillory I have in the grip and he plays out a Shrieking Grotesque, which hits an excess Ghost Council. I untap and play out the Pillory, and when he takes his turn he serves for three and doesn’t play anything. I don’t have my fourth land, so I drop a Thief, and when I serve into the uncontested red zone I go to mark down my pad and why are you tapping lands you just Seed Sparked the Pillory that is not good. It’s worse when he untaps and puts a Jitte on the Hyppie, it’s worse when the Hyppie hits my Ghost Council, and it’s still worse when he plays a Hierarch. I chose to pack it in.

Game 3 — I elect to draw and he exercises his right to mulligan to five, which I certainly respect. He has nothing on turn one and I get a turn 2 Confidant and a turn 3 Koala. On his second turn he drops a Birds that came late to the party, and on his third turn Mr. Loxodon Hierarch came to play. This stopped my offense in its tracks, but I did have a late Wisp and a couple cards in my hand that become much better when I hit four mana. He untaps, serves with the Hierarch, and then plays out another Birds and a Hyppie, leaving him with one card in hand. When I untap, Bobby decides to be helpful and turns up the fourth land. Down comes the Jitte and Thief gets shoved in the red zone while Bobby and Wisp stay back. I hold the counters so I’ll be able to bust through next turn if necessary. He untaps and serves with Hierarch, Hyppie… and Birds of Paradise times two. Crap crap crap Ink-Eyes crap crap crap. Well, if he has it, he has it, and I have a lot of ways to find answers to it. I kill his Hyppie before blockers, chump his Hierarch with the Wisp, and let the Birds through. He looks at his hand when I ask him if he wants to stack damage…

“Sure. Take zero.”

I am Jack’s sigh of relief.

I untap, serve, take down the two Birds, and play a freshly-drawn Pillory on the Hierarch. He draws nothing but lands for the next two turns and packs it up. He’s dissatisfied and claims that the matchup is in his favor. I’m not sure if it is, but the key point here is that I bashed him and it was good. Hoo-ah!

Me: 9-3
Ashman: 7-5
Peebles: 7-5
James: 7-5

They were all in the BWx control bracket, which is a shame, but this was PT pairings anyways.

Round 13: Domingo Ottati (Finish: 53rd) — BW Rats
Peebles lost to this guy a couple rounds back thanks to a damning judge call. He told me two things: one, he has Shining Shoals, and two, bash his face in.

Game 1 — I get a turn 2 Tallowisp and a turn 3 Koala to face down his rats of the Ravenous and flying varieties. I play a Pillory on the flying rat and he plays out another Ravenous Rat, leaving my hand Sickening Shoal, Ghost Council, and Strands of Undeath with three lands in play. At this point I think my clock is significantly better than his, but I’m afraid of him topdecking creatures and running out of Pillories. Then he plays a Jitte. If you want to read about someone playing directly into my crafty plans and devious tricks, this is the section for you. He equips a Rat and gets in the red zone with it, but it comes down with a bad case of death and I get another Pillory for my collection. I only have one left and I hate to use one of them on a Ravenous Rat, but that might be necessary to keep Jitte from turning on. I untap, draw a Shining Shoal, and serve with the team. I go to mark down the life totals but he stops me and removes a card in his hand to Shining Shoal the Koala for two from itself. Tap three lands, Shining Shoal your Rats for one, choose the source as my own Koala, search out another Pillory, kill the last active man on your team, crush your hopes and dreams. He draws a Descendant of Kiyomaro, but it falls under the spell of a Pillory and he draws once more before packing it up.

Sideboarding: -4 Shining Shoal, -1 Strands of Undeath, +2 Umezawa’s Jitte, +2 Persecute, +1 Kami of Ancient Law
(Peebles told me that Persecute was insane against this guy and after seeing all the white cards I’m facing I can see why.)

Game 2 — He starts off with a turn 2 Rats and I play out a turn 2 Koala. He Last Gasps my guy and I play a turn 3 Tallowisp that came off the top. He misses a land drop and plays out a Shrieking Grotesque. This is where the fun begins.

WOTC's new form of resolving tied matches was received with mixed reviews

Me: “Persecute you. I’ll name White.”
Him: *Reveals hand and discards 4 White cards, keeping only Dark Confidant.*
Me: “Go.”
Him: “Draw, Dark Confidant, go.”
Announcer: “Finish him!
Me: “Draw, Umezawa’s Jitte, get in there and crush your team.”
Him: “Draw, land, go.”
Me: “Swing, Ghost Council of Orzhova.”
Announcer: “Ben wins. Fatality!

Me: 10-3
Ashman: 7-6
Peebles: 8-5
James: 7-6

At this point, if I win two more matches, I can draw into the top 8. I didn’t feel consciously nervous—it felt more surreal than anything to be in this position in my second Tour. The Wizards guys are also really excited about the deck and I think I’d been podcasted three or four times already, so it’s a possibility that I’ll get feature matched if I’m against a name player.

Round 14: Antoine Ruel (Finish: 8th) — Owl
Yeah, I think that satisfies the requirements of “name player”. There was a large crowd, and while there weren’t any reporters covering the match, there were two R&D members watching instead—Matt Place and Brian Schneider, to be specific.

Game 1 — This was the most amazing game I played all day. He gets a turn 2 Howling Mine while I get nothing on turn 2. He drops an Owl and I take four, going to sixteen. Bash, Thief, go. He bounces my Thief and passes the turn with two mana up. I take four, going to twelve. Thief of Hope (which gets Remanded), go. He bounces the Thief and Exhaustions me. Upkeep, I take four, going to eight. Land, Koala, go. He says go with five lands up. I untap and take four, going to four. Land, Thief, bash for two, go. Now, let’s re-examine the situation. I am at four life with seven cards in hand, there is an Ebony Owl Netsuke on the board, and my opponent is at eighteen. I win this game in three turns. Here’s the play-by-play for maximum amusement.

-He uses Mikokoro endstep, untaps, drops a land, and passes.
-End of turn I’ll Sickening Shoal my own guy. Drain you. (17)
-Untap, land, bash you for two. (15)
Thief of Hope, drain you. Plagued Rusalka, drain you twice. (12)
-At the end of the turn he activates Mikokoro. He untaps and casts Eye of Nowhere on my Thief, leaving me with six in the grip and him with three lands up.
-Untap, land, bash you for two. (10)
Thief of Hope (which gets Remanded), drain you. (9)
-Ghost Council, drain you twice. (7)
-He untaps, plays a land, and passes.
-Untap, draw. During the draw step he Sudden Impacts me. Shining Shoal it for four back to you, drain you, bash you, kill you.

Throughout all of this he’s looking over at some people in the crowd with a confused look on his face. When the Shining Shoal hits, the color drains out of his face and his mouth hangs open. He drops his hand on the table and stares at the stack… and the guys from R&D start laughing. Do you know what Antoine could do at this point to save face?

Literally nothing.

Between games, he talks to his brother (who’s over on the other side of the feature match pit). The conversation goes something like this: “Blah blah blah Shining Shoal blah blah blah merde blah.”

Sideboarding: -4 Dark Confidant, +2 Blessed Breath, +2 Pithing Needle

Game 2 — This game I have a much better start, with a turn 2 Koala and a turn 3 Wisp. During my draw step turn 4 when I happen to have ten cards in hand, he aims a Gaze of Adamaro at my face. Shining Shoal removing Ghost Council, search up a Pillory, Shining Shoal you removing Pillory, search up nothing. No sir, I am not going to take seven. You are going to take seven, and you are going to like it. Oh, and since those spells are free and he’s tapped out, I drop a Ghost Council just for kicks. He doesn’t win this one either.

To be fair, Antoine was one of the nicest guys I played all tournament, and both of the brothers are a great example of what pros should be. Just the same, it was quite fun winning my first PT feature match and annihilating him in the process.

Me: 11-3
Ashman: 8-6
Peebles: 8-6
James: 7-7

This is where my match results become common knowledge, so I’m not going to go through a play-by-play when Wizards already took care of that for me because I am a lazy, lazy man. I also have to get on a plane to Madison in about seven hours, so I’ll just hit the high notes.

-I mulled to five in game 1 and six in game 2 of my match against Osyp. Game 2 I was really close to being in it but he had a few outs and he happened to draw one. Magic happens, you know?
-He’s a funny guy, though.
-Our court date has yet to be confirmed.
-Against Moreno the Glare plan was not what mattered. Game 1 I had a hand with two Confidants, two Shining Shoals, two black lands and an Indomitable Will. Both of them got Helixed and there were no lands or white cards forthcoming. I couldn’t catch up and he beat me. Game 2 I mulliganed and drew into a hand with decent lands and spells, but I never drew a Tallowisp or a Ghost Council and I ended up getting beaten by his Koalas and three-mana instants that deal four.
-He has really sweaty hands.
Mike Flores beat me up and took my lunch money.
-Wakiniku means “Korean Barbecue”. It is also ridiculous.
-When I say ridiculous, I mean it in a good way.
-I played Strands of Undeath in a constructed Pro Tour. That’s awesome.

Final records:
Me: 11-5
Ashman: 9-7
Peebles: 8-8
James: 7-9

I’ll be back to write more over the next forever, but for now the PT Honolulu saga and the Ghost Dad attention must end. I’ll have to start thinking up stuff to write about that doesn’t involve this deck… eventually. For now, take care and don’t forget your Ghost Councils of Victory.

Ben Goodman
RidiculousHat just about everywhere


*Originally this was the Wonder Years, but I think it has a more 7th Heaven feel to it. Plus, 7th Heaven had Jessica Biel. You can’t say no to Jessica Biel.