I Didn’t Go To Win…

…and it’s a good thing, too. Daniel chronicles the Jolly Losers in the Chairless Room.

…and it’s a good thing, too.

For the past couple of years (what, it’s only been about a two weeks?), Star City’s been down. However, wanting to submit only to the best of the best, I’ve held my Regionals report until the site came back up. Well, it’s up, and here’s the report!

Well, for the past year, I’ve raved about my G/W BlastoGeddon deck. It’s really, really good! Really. (I had to get that out of the way because you might not believe me by the end of the report.) I made a few last-minute changes before going into the tournament; here’s what I ended up playing:

4x Llanowar Elves
4x Birds of Paradise
4x Wax / Wane
4x Chimeric Idol
4x Noble Panther
4x Armadillo Cloak
4x Blastoderm
4x Armageddon
4x Parallax Wave
2x Voice of All
4x Brushland
4x Rishadan Port
8x Forest
6x Plains

2x Last Breath (Lin Sivvi, Blazing Specter, Nether Spirit, etc.)
2x Hurricane (anti-Skies)
4x Disenchant (You never know what artifacts might pop up)
3x Kavu Chameleon (counterspells and Perish)
2x Story Circle (to be used when deemed necessary)
2x Blinding Angel (Rebels, mirror match, Fires)

When I got to the hotel at around 8:45 (the pre-registration was at 9:00), I decided that I had time to grab some breakfast. Upon doing so, I went to register… And wound up waiting in line for about a half hour just to get in! The line was huge! As more and more people kept streaming in, and the administration was considering cutting off the players because they didn’t have enough room. Fortunately(?), they didn’t do this. All in all, there were about 460 people in Washington DC looking to play Magic!

Because of so many people, the tournament had to be split up into three rooms. You’ll hear more about that later, for I spent time in each one. Also because of such a large turnout, the tournament started over two hours late! And, they were going to have nine rounds of Swiss instead of cutting to the Top Eight. Oh boy!

Anyway, the tournament finally "started," and I sat down across from my opponent. He was a kid of about twelve or thirteen years of age, and he proceeded to tell me how terrible he did at events such as these. He went 0-7 or something at States and never seemed to be able to win. If I’d come to win, that would have been a good thing to hear, but I only wanted to play for fun and experience. What WAS good to hear was that the person sitting next to me was fellow Star City writer Elliot Fertik! We’d talked about trying to get the Star City writers in attendance to meet in a group, but plans were never formed. So, Fate decided to put us next to each other. Props to Fate!

After talking about Apocalypse for a while, we were finally given the okay by the judge (yes, THE judge, meaning only one) to start at about 12:20.

Match One: Voltaire Ronquillo, Jr. (Now, tell me that’s not the coolest name you’ve ever heard!)

The first game worked just like it was supposed to. I go "Brushland, Llanowar Elf." He goes "Mountain." I go "Land, Noble Panther." He goes "Mountain, Fire Diamond." I go "Armadillo Cloak, attack for five." He lays a Mountain. I lay a land and cast Armageddon. Next game!

Did I say next game? I’d really rather not – it’s painful to remember. I didn’t draw any mana critters, so I was going to have to wait for land to power me up. He Rains Stone all over my Forest, so I have to wait until Turn Five to get out a Blastoderm. Blastoderm serves for ten until FLOWSTONE OVERSEER makes an appearance. The inability I have to draw good cards makes me lose to the Red Masticore.

So… He’s playing PONZA! Anyone who’s been reading my articles for a while knows that I DESPISE Ponza decks, and I rejoiced when they left Standard. At least, I THOUGHT they had left Standard. (No, LD decks are back with a vengeance – The Ferrett) *sigh* (Sighs too – The Ferrett)

Game three sees a turn three Chimeric Idol on my side of the board. He answers with Pillage. I pull another Idol, and he does nothing. Then, I pull a Ponza trick of my own and ‘Geddon. The Chimeric Idol brings him down to FIVE when Seal of Fire and Lightning Dart finish it off. The only creature I can pull is a friggin’ Birds of Paradise, which is just the thing my opponent’s Flametongue Kavu needed to come into play. I took many a beats before I finally drew a Llanowar Elf to block. However, my Elf couldn’t stand up to the heat of the Ghitu, as he was Fired from his job and Flametongue Kavu finished me. The ironic note is that he could have simply Fired me out. Oh well.

Matches: 0-1 Games: 1-2

Match Two: Tom Rester

Tom’s playing B/R/u, but I should be able to handle that. He’s a really nice guy, and he was a pleasure to play against. He laughed a lot, removing the levity from the situation at hand. Overall, a splendid opponent! To add to the good condition, I was in the best room of all. My first match was played in the main room with about 240 other guys. This room was air conditioned with elbow room. This was the room you wanted to be in!

The first game, he Terminated a Llanowar Elf, but I got out a Chimeric Idol. That plus Armageddon plus more creatures equals victory despite his Nightscape Familiar and Blazing Specter.

The next game was depressing. Elf – Shock. Elf – Shock. Noble Panther with Armadillo CloakTerminate. I managed to force his Blazing Specter to take a Last Breath, but a certain Knight of his Marauded my life total down to nothing while every creature I drew was demolished. That would have been very frustrating, but I didn’t go to win.

Okay, game three, the most important game of all. We start out with the routine Bird and Elf Shocked. I get out a Noble Panther and a Parallax Wave. He Tutors for a Flametongue Kavu, targeting my Noble Panther, which I fade with the wave. He does NOT want to see Voice of All, but that’s just what he has to deal with. When my Panther came back, it was swiftly Terminated, leaving my Voice of All to face off against two Marauding Knights (I had one Plains out) and a Flametongue Kavu. He added a kicked Skizzik to the mix, and made my life a whole lot more difficult. He sent everything in. I was holding a Wax in hand, so I had a choice of killing the Skizzik or Flametongue Kavu with my pro-red Voice. I decided upon the Skizzik and took eleven. The whole game, I’d once again suffered from the inability to draw creatures. When I finally did, I put the Voice of All into play… Or so I thought. He pulled a POWER SINK on me and sealed victory.

Matches: 0-2 Games: 2-4

Match Three: Micah Walsh

Enter: The loser’s room! When people decide to play Magic, they usually pull up a chair and play. As I found out in this room, a chair is not necessary for a game of Magic – we all had to play standing up at ultra-high and thin tables. However, I did get a spot next to the window, so it wasn’t too bad.

Micah was playing the famed NetherHaups deck, but I felt relatively sure that swift Armageddons and numerous beats would seal the matchup. I was correct. Game One saw a Raged Panther, but a Blastoderm and Parallax Wave are some good to have out when you Armageddon, I hear. I got out a Chimeric Idol and seal the victory with a Waxed 5/5 turtle.

Game Two took: A. Long. Time. I got out Story Circle and Armageddon, but he managed to get a Chimeric Idol on the table. Curses! I could NOT draw any creatures! By the time I neutralized the Chimeric Idol, I was within range of his burn and was taken down.

Did I say Game Two took a long time? Yes, but it was nothing compared to Game Three! Let me stress how absolutely amazing Rishadan Port is against NetherHaups. Locking down his red mana made the game drag on, but it kept me alive. I would have been much more able to win, however, if I drew any creatures. By now, I was starting to get irked by the fact that my deck was being extremely unkind to me in the way of draws. The only goodness I had that game was casting Last Breath on two Nether Spirits. My Cloaked Elf ticked off Urza, causing his Rage to fall upon him. I played a Llanowar Elf, Noble Panther, and Blastoderm after an Obliterate to try to race for the win, but he got out a Nether Spirit and Chimeric Idol. I thought about one attack for maybe ten minutes. I was accused by two people of stalling, but I was considering my options. I’m the kind of person who analyzes (over-analyzes?) all the possibilities, and, about thirty or forty turns into the game, there were a LOT of possibilities! I was going to try to out-think him with our creatures, but I knew that all he had to do was draw an Urza’s Rage to win the game (I was at three). He couldn’t do it, however, and we went into overtime. At this point, my impatient opponent and his friend were creating an environment in which fast-paced play was a must. If I’d had time to slow down and consider the alternatives, I would have cast Armageddon for the tie, but I allowed myself to be rushed, and he double Scorching Lava-ed me for the win. Funny how I felt so disappointed for someone who didn’t go to win.

Matches: 0-3 Games: 3-6

Match Five: Adam Dawson

I’m in the chairless room again for this match. (Un?)Fortunately, my opponent isn’t. I play a game against a blue-white control deck whose owner was also waiting for an opponent to show up. When our game was done and neither of us had anyone to play, we’d both gotten our first match wins of the day! On the way to the main room to turn in my slip, I saw a little kid. "Hey, are you Adam Dawson?" I asked him. "No!" he snapped back, rudely. "Adam Dawson’s down there," he said, pointing to a kid on the way to the room we’d just left. "Well, tell him he just lost the match," I said as I walked down the hall. Perhaps a nicer response from his friend would have gotten Adam a game or two. However, punctuality, as well as politeness, is a virtue.

So, for the next hour, I played against blue-white control and won a good deal of the games. Too bad the only games I won didn’t count. 🙂 But I didn’t go to win.

Matches: 1-3 Games: 3-6

Match Six: Robert Der, III

This was Robert’s last tournament before going to Germany for a year with his wife because of his job in the army. Interesting story of the day: He was stationed in Korea (I think it was Korea) for quite a while. There, he and his comrades in arms had nothing to do all day except talk – and play Magic! So he learned to play while across the world. Totally cool!

Speaking of totally cool, Robert’s deck was very interesting. It had some rogue tech – but unfortunately, that’s probably why he was in the same bracket as I was. The first game was long and involved. I got a second-turn Chimeric Idol, which was destroyed by Hull Breach. My Cloaked Elf traded with his Sparkcaster, leaving his Blurred Mongoose as the only creature on the board. Then two more Mongooses (Mongeese?) hit the board! I’m feeling some beats at this point from three Blurred Mongooses and an Urza’s Rage. I finally manage to draw a Parallax Wave to save my life, for I’m at three. I Geddon, and the game drags on. He can’t seem to draw an Urza’s Rage, and when my Parallax Wave is about to disappear, I attack with my Noble Panther while he’s at seven. He doesn’t block with Utopia Tree, so I take the opportunity to double-Wax my Panther up to 7/7 hugeness. Close game!

The second game wasn’t nearly so close, and can be summed up in nine words: Shivan Wurm and Kavu Titan with no Parallax Wave.

Game Three continues the tradition of me not being able to draw ANYTHING. I get a Cloaked Elf (pathetic, isn’t it, that I didn’t have any better creatures?) and a Blastoderm, but he gets out a Chimeric Idol, River Boa, and Blastoderm. I play Armageddon, but am unable to recover while he applies constant beats to my face. Once again, Parallax Wave was hiding somewhere below the top card of my deck the whole time.

Matches: 1-4 Games: 4-8

Not wanting to stick around for five more hours, I decided to drop at this point and go draft. The whole day, I was unable to draw anything in Games Two or Three after sweeping Game One. Oh well. I didn’t go to win – just to have fun and gain experience. But, it would have been nice to place in the money.

To add insult to injury, the draft was Japanese. That’s cool and all, but I don’t know Invasion well enough to know the cards by sight. So, I was practically sick to my stomach as I tried to grab cards of the same color along with cards with abilities that I actually knew. Luckily, I was able to find someone to help me decipher the meanings of those symbols. Boo to me for not rare drafting – I knew that I wasn’t going to win. And I was right, as I got booted out of the first round.

All in all, I had a disappointing day win-wise, but a fun day overall. Although it’s a little late to catch some last minute pre-Seventh tech, I hope you enjoyed hearing about the Jolly Losers in the Chairless Room. (Now that’s an article title if I ever heard one!)

Until next time!

Daniel Crane