Okay, you got me – it really wasn’t a week. It was more like five days, but it was a much-needed break from the trouble and turmoil of real life. My new job has not exactly put more money in my pocket, and Magic, well… It is not exactly wanting any less of my time or cash. To further complicate matters, my girlfriend and I are expecting a child in early February. I’m going to have to leave the game for a while, since I’m not going to let cardboard keep me from my own new responsibilities. I’ll be back to be sure.
I still want to play Magic, so I set off with the two friends to Origins this past week. We were not exactly prepared to be competitive – we had our excuses, but we all knew that we would not have a prayer. We spent a good amount of time studying for type two because of the Kentucky Open, so post-Judgment formats were put on the furthest back burners. Sure, we still built decks; most of them were off of e-league.com or mtgonline.org, but we did not have the proper time to learn them.
We set off for Columbus on Wednesday, played some games on the way up, and settled into our hotel around 11 p.m. The three of us set off to play some miniature golf, only to find the establishment closed. Frown. Returning to the room, Jacob and I made some changes to our Green/White madness deck for OBC, and went off to bed.
We wake up, get clean, and eat. Arriving on site, we see huge lines for registration – we decide to take a quick tour of the event site, and find that the CCG Room is the same one that held last year’s Amateur Championship. All kinds of games are being played, and it was refreshing to see so many people having fun with stuff that was not Magic. Warlords looks like an interesting game; the same could be said about the Dragonball Z CCG. We register a bit late to play in the early OBC event, but we get done with a bit of time for me to complete my Type Two deck. I was tired of playing Tog in the past environment, so I went with Control Black. I left all of my great sideboard stuff in the truck, and had to settle with building a sideboard that contained a load of garbage.
3 Diabolic Tutor
1 Planar Portal
4 Innocent Blood
4 Chainer’s Edict
1 Death Wish
2 Soul Burn
4 Phyrexian Arena
1 Haunting Echoes
1 Mind Sludge
3 Cabal Coffers
The more ideal sideboard….Or better known as, what I wished I played with.
1 Soul Burn
1 Mind Sludge
1 Haunting Echoes
3 Engineered Plague
2 Ghastly Demise
Anyhoot, I went like 2-2 with the deck. I was using a strictly trashy sideboard – one that had a bunch of really bad cards in it. Sigh. I’m sure it is not a bad deck, but every single one of my friends advised me against playing the deck. I should have listened to them. Imagine my surprise when the AmChamps decks were posted late this week – go control black! Rise out of Tier Two!
Well, I drop out of that event, and finally decide to try and get my judge testing done. I talk to super judge Mike Guptil, and he wants me to help out with the Grand Prix trial. I did not really want to play in it, so I agreed, and watched the start of the OBC season. My friend Jacob played the Green/White deck we had been working on, and my other bud Paul went with the popular Quiet Roar deck. We missed out on some of the more secret tech, and completely went nutty when we needed to find Catalyst Stones.
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Patrol Hound
4 Arrogant Wurm
4 Anurid Brushhopper
3 Mystic Enforcer
3 Call of the Herd
3 Elephant Guide
4 Roar of the Wurm
4 Sungrass Prairie
This deck list continued to evolve all weekend long. I played a different version (noted later) and Jacob played another version at the PTQ on Saturday.
Jacob goes onto make top 8, and receives the first game loss I ever get to issue for misregistering his sideboard. He loses to Elliot Fertik after missing a few crucial lands, and soon enough, we are on our way back to the hotel. We get lost in the cold ghetto of Columbus, and after nearly hitting a strange man, we arrive safely, at our hotels.
We get back to the con in time to just miss another OBC tournament. We have enough time to go eat, and for myself to take and pass my level one test. I get into an OBC event, and Paul and Jacob go play in a type two tournament. I played the Green White deck from the night before, but removed Call of the Herd to make room for the incredible Phantom Centaur.
Round One: Blue White Birds.
I had heard a lot about this deck over the past day, and well, the likeness that it has to Sligh is amazing. I was never able to compete with the quickness of this deck, and I was dumbfounded. I thought my deck was pretty quick… But after succumbing to turn 1 Suntail Hawk, turn 2 Patrol Hound, turn 3 Divine Sacrament, turn 4 Battle Screech, I was sold on the idea. No Soulcatcher’s Aeries were to be seen. I must be missing out on this card. What makes it so powerful? Why do people insist on playing with it, when you can just as easily play with the Sacrament. I have no idea.
Round Two: No idea.
The guy I was supposed to play never ever showed up. Kinda disappointed because I wanted to practice for the OBC qualifier the next day, but I guess I needed a win.
Round Three: A guy that Jacob played the night before.
I remember this person’s face (I think it was Walter Huber), but as I have no notes for this event other then what is in my mind, I am not sure. I do remember thinking he was running Mono green, but after winning the first game, he started to play some black mana sources. Edicts were tossed at my Mongrels and Braids was cast, but all three of my pro black Centaurs showed up, and I was able to ride them to a victory.
Round Four: Taylor, I think.
Like I said, I have lost my notes, I remember playing Taylor however. He was with Black/Blue Braids, and was running a much better version then what he was with the day before. It was a close match, and the winner was going to be the person who made the least mistakes.
That player was Taylor.
We split the first two games, and going into the third, I was pretty defeated. My opening hand was not exactly stellar, but something nagged at me to keep it. A first-turn Cabal Therapy (naming Wild Mongrel, no less) removed zero cards from my hand, and I was able to pretty much match him for every play… Well, I kind of matched him. Patrol Hounds do not exactly keep Nantuko Shades from attacking. I was able to get Glory into the yard, and with the Incarnation buried there, I was able to stop lethal damage from coming across. He finally drew a Burst to put my Wurm token and Enforcer back into hand… But when he had the opportunity to kill the enforcer with the long since buried Therapy, he named Arrogant Wurm instead. I was all about that! I recast the Enforcer, and looked forward to swinging for the win next turn.
Well, I was gonna win – had I not messed up so badly.
We are both facing lethal damage, and he swings with both of the Shades he has in play. Well, remember that Enforcer I just cast? Do ya?
Yeah, he does have protection from black, doesn’t he?
The best play says block with the guy who does not die to the shades, instead of blocking both shades with my dual Patrol hounds. To further complicate matters, I still had a Glory, with enough mana to activate it to keep my dorks alive, and yet I fail to make any number of better plays then the one I had made.
I place my dogs in the graveyard, and well proceed to draw something that was not going to let me live, and I die next turn.
You know, that may have been round five….
Round Five: Watch me make something up now.
Don’t remember who I played, or what I played against, I may have not had an opponent, well wait, he was with Green White…or Blue Green….or Blue White. He had a Magic deck, though.
Round Six: Mirror Match
Hooray…Mirror match time! This match came down to two factors: Who has the most Wild Mongrels, and who has the most Glory. For this round, it was me.
It is about 11 p.m. when the final round starts, and I am looking forward to just getting it over with. I’m still pretty upset about my Enforcer misplays, and well, casually played this last round. The guy destroyed me first game. Decimated me. He takes a mulligan to five for the next two games and I end up in seventh place and a 5-2 record for the evening.
Jacob went 4-2-1 with the Tog in a Blender deck that Mike Long posted, and Paul… Well, he didn’t do so well.
We get to go to sleep now!
Ite, we get there early enough to test some matchups, and look for some cards that I did not think to pack with me. Honestly, I did not know I would need Mental Notes. Ever. The esteemed editor of Starcitygames.com and guest writer for Magicthegathering.com finds my little group out, and the building and testing is off to a spectacular start. Ferrett showed us the super-secret tech of MIKE TURIAN, and the card just seemed to make so much sense in the deck. So much synergy.
It wrecked the Green/White deck.
We went to lunch, and talked a lot; Dave Barry is a favorite writer between the Ferrett and I. How nice! We share a group hug, and go back to the center for testing. I get the remaining cards for the deck, play around with it, and decide that yeah, I will play it.
So many people were playing it.
I went with Blue/Green mental note.dec, Paul went with Blue White beats, and Jacob took the standard favorite Green White into the PTQ. Paul went 1-2, Jacob went 3-3 and I went 2-3.
However, I have to give away my deck list and any changes that I may have made to it since then:
4 Quiet Speculation
4 Careful Study
4 Deep Analysis
4 Mental Note
4 Roar of the Wurm
4 Wild Mongrel
4 Nimble Mongoose
2 Ray of Revelation
2 Krosan Beast
1 Krosan Reclamation
3 Moment’s Peace
3 Squirrel Nest
Ho Hum…nothing really groundbreaking, right?
These are the changes I would make in this deck list.
1. Take out some of the Deep Anal. Really. The pain that I took from flashing back this spell cost me more games than I think they were worth. However, the deck needs some sort of card drawing besides the Mental Notes and Careful Studies; I think two is a good number for the deck. Still enough to maybe draw one, but enough to Quiet Speculation one or two out when the need arises.
2. Add some Krosan Beasts to the main. The deck achieves threshold rather consistently. It is possible to have the milestone on turn 2, and then you can start swinging with the huge Mongeese and bears. Something about attacking with an 8/8 flying squirrel makes me giggle.
3. Envelop has to come out of the sideboard… And go in the main. Okay, that’s not a bad call, since let’s take a quick look at what can be countered with this spell:
- Battle Screech
- Roar of the Wurm
- Deep Anal
- Quiet Speculation
- Living Wish
- Call of the Herd
- Chainer’s Edict
- Rancid Earth
- Innocent Blood.
I could keep going on, I really could. The card is very useful in this format, and well, I think deserves to be in the main. I’m going to pack at least three in the Grand Prix Trial in Louisville this coming up weekend.
4. Improve the sideboard. On Thursday, the lack of bounce in OBC was very noted. Saturday, when the players noticed that many Spellbane Centaurs and Sylvan Safekeepers were secured in binders, bounce made a huge comeback. I can not see myself playing with Aether Bursts in the main, nor can I see myself playing with them in board. However, the next time I play the deck I am going to be better prepared. The threshold-enabling Safekeeper seems to be the most natural choice for the deck, and I will be packing him in the board.
Tim Aten deck
Looks sooooooo good
4 Nimble Mongoose
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Wild Mongrel
2 Krosan Beast
4 Mental Note
4 Aether Burst
4 Careful Study
2 Cephalid Coliseum
Maybe I will just play that.
Anyhoot, onto the PTQ report.
Round one Antonio Powell. UG
I know that this guy has made at least one PTQ top eight before; I watched him dismantle John Rizzo before with Trix. I know he is an amazing player, and I was not exactly looking forward to playing him. A rather laid-back player, he kept his displeasure hidden and after defeating him, I noticed that it was the madness version of the popular U/G and not the threshold copy. The most memorable play, and one that makes Envelop shine, was in the second game. He has a Catalyst Stone in play and goes for the cool third-turn Speculation. I have a good board position, but things look to swing out of control when I am faced with the possibility of two 6/6 tokens on his next turn. I get to draw an Envelop, pitch a Wonder, and start to swing. He casts one Roar – and of course that gets countered. The second one, however, gets into play, and instead of racing twelve damage and a two-turn clock, I’m facing six damage, and a four-turn clock. He draws nothing special after the second Roar is cast, and I am able to get threshold quickly thereafter.
Round two Mark Globus BG
Well, another round, another player with an Extended PTQ top eight under his belt. Mark played Battle of Wits expertly last season, and I knew that this round was going to be another test.
I noticed he was playing the same deck as he was the night before, and kinda went on autopilot. I guess I could have paid a little more attention to his deck. I could have been more prepared for the maindecked Faceless Butchers. That guy is pretty amazing in this format. He kills some Wurms and some bird tokens, and is a great answer to those 6/6 wurms.
We kinda went back and forth for many turns. He would an answer to my creatures, or his creatures were not big enough to be more then speed bumps to my dudes. The game reached a stall and it looked as if he had enough creatures to force through lethal damage. I however, rip one of the two Upheavals in my deck. I float ten mana and pull of the most devastating Upheaval combo ever…
He plays swamp, Innocent Blood.
I then draw a Nimble Mongoose that gets to attack and follow that up with a Wild Mongrel to seal the first game.
Game two starts off pretty much the same, but does not take as much time. I get a little land issues tossed my way, and well, can not recover by the time he has me at three life.
Game three is pretty short as well; in fact, here is a play by play:
Turn one Me Forest, Mongoose.
Turn one him Swamp Innocent Blood.
Turn Two X: Island, Werebear.
Turn two him: Forest, Werebear
Turn three Me: Island, attack.
Turn three Him: Swamp, Rancid Earth
Turn four Me: Wild Mongrel
Turn four him: Braids.
Turn five through seven: No land pass.
Turn five through seven: Cast more creatures, attack, win game.
Round three John Eardley Mono White Weenie.
Game one saw me mistake a land-screwed opponent. I honestly thought that this Plains Regional champion was playing the blue-white version of white weenie, but after winning the game rather quickly, I saw his opening for the next game.
Turn 1 Benevolent Bodyguard, followed by turn 2 Suntail Hawk, Bodyguard – then a turn 3 Divine Sacrament all but sealed the deal. Sigh.
Thankfully, he did not get off to such a blazing start in game three. I get a fourth-turn Wurm and start attacking for eight plus with him and wild mongrel that met little opposition.
Round four: Randy Wright. Wake Combo
What an amazing deck! This game goes to Randy… But not until he takes four turns with Time Stretch, and is milling my library for thirty-two cards with a wake-enabling Laquatus. Unlike Adam Fischer, I simply was not keeping the most aggressive hands I could against him. I do get moral victories by attacking him to five and four before he kills me. Sigh.
I played one more round, but drew seven straight lands, and well, just wanted to not play much longer. Go eat some of the worst vegetable lo mein ever, and throw it away. Still hungry, I spy a peanut butter store, and get a crunchy peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich. To paraphrase Chris Pikula, I’ll choose a peanut butter sandwich over killing a chicken any day.
Anyhoot I go back to the CCG Hall and get into a draft. I go black/red, and am constantly reminded of the low card quality in those colors in Judgment. I get a Repentant Vampire, Firebolt, and a few other good cards passed to me in the first pack, open a Butcher, and get passed Chainer, Crippling Fatigue, and Violent Eruption in Torment, and finally opened a Worldgorger Dragon and nothing else in Judgment. I win the first round, and never draw any land in the second round. Dat’ there is da breaks, man.
We go back to the hotel, sleep, and leave for Kentucky after stopping back by the site and saying our own goodbyes and trading for the Memory Lapses that were passed out to the Am champ participants.
We get back at a decent hour, I play some more magic with Will, the other teammate that could not make the trip, and fail to see my girlfriend. I’ll find out why later.
Thanks for reading.
Here are some slops and props…or whatever.
Mike Guptil and the rest of PES. You guys did a great job this year. Special thanks to Fred for letting me help out for the Grand Prix Trial to get my judge exam kicked off.
The Ferrett, Elliot Fertik and the other guy that was Team Joshua Claytor Love Child for the PTQ on Friday. They started off 2-0, ended up 2-2. Good enough for my name right?
The good folks at Alien Menace games. You all made one of my new favorite games in Election Day…the cornier old school artwork, easy game play, fun strategy. For a better review of this game, point your browser to www.gamingreport.com. Great stuff there.
AndyStok: For not making me feel like total crap.
The lack of coverage for Am Champs from the DCI. My stomach turned when I saw the blazing headline that Grand Prix Taipei was the first premiere event to use Judgment. Thanks for forgetting the amateur players as you continue to grab the dollars of the hardcore tournament players.
I have more slops to give, but feel it is unnecessary; no one needs to hear about my personal life.