Booyah. Or not. Chief.
Regionals? Old news by now. Reports have poured in, and well, I slacked to get mine in. I went to Columbus, Ohio to play. The city of my birth, I can walk two blocks away from the event site, and see the hospital I was born in. Not that anyone cares or whatnot.
I did what I feel was a lot of preparing for this event, testing with Black/White Braids for the month before. After every testing session, I was a little more disappointed. The deck it seemed, relied heavily on getting the first-turn Duress, second-turn Fiend, third-turn Vindicate, and fourth-turn Braids draw in order to be competitive. While that particular draw is amazing, it often falls a bit short. I feared so many different matchups, and knew I could not rely on play skill alone to bring me victory. So I made an audible two days before the event, and picked up Zevatog.
While I believe that this is the best pure control deck in the format, I did not have the time to learn all the subtle touches to the deck. I feel it is not all about the second turn Sexual Chocolate, third-turn Standstill. In fact, I still do not know the deck entirely. I gave up on it, and went to a deck I had thought of as soon as I saw the Torment spoiler. I think everyone may have toyed with the idea, but most of them were smart enough to not play it. I opted to play blue/red, and never looked back.
Heh; I’ve already said too much about this deck. Can you not realize it is garbage? Up until the moment I registered the deck, I had two Miraris in the main deck.
I smoked a lot of cigarettes, walked around, spoke with friends, and marveled at PTR and Chris Benafel walking around with Alex Borteh. I’m still trying to decide if that was good or not.
We had record-shattering attendance for North American tournaments, and would get to play eleven happy rounds of Swiss.
Any guesses on how many rounds I would get to play?
Round One: Scott Honingmann, U/R mirror match.
Hmm, Interesting. It seems as if every tournament report must start with someone playing someone they know. It had never really happened to me in the first round before, and I guess this was my time. Scott is a friend from lower Indiana, and was playing pretty much the same deck as I was. Different sideboards, and few cards in the main were off, but it was the closest to a true mirror match I would play all day. I think there were seven players with the deck.
We both shuffled, lamented over the fact that out of eight hundred plus players, we got paired. Blah blah.
Scott started off the game with a few mountains, and just kinda stalled there. He knocked me down to eighteen with a second-turn Fire, but after that I was in control with a plethora of burn. I go aggro – well, as aggro as I can go with a control deck – and Rage him a few times, Quake for one point once, and then kill him off with three consecutive Prophetic Bolts. I should note that his hand was nothing but blue spells, and he drew not a single source of blue mana in the entire first game.
Second game, he decided to draw blue mana, and it was much more competitive. Burn spells were aimed at each other’s domes, and eventually, the game came down to this one play: Well, a series of plays on my turn anyway…
He is at ten, and I am at eleven. He can win the game next turn, and I can attempt to win it now, or at least put it into a likely kill on my following turn. I play a Firebolt (eight), and follow it with another Bolt (six). I am left with eight untapped lands, and have a pretty decent grip, two Gainsays, and a few other burn spells. Victory was mine.
Yeah I cast a Rage in an attempt bring him to six. He Diverts it. Instead of paying the two mana, I opt to Gainsay the divert. He volleys back with a Gainsay of his own. I still have the option to pay the two on the Divert, but opt to Gainsay again. He returns with another Divert, and suddenly the tide of the game has shifted dramatically. The best play, I now think is to pay for the Divert, and then still have enough to mana to pay for the second one. The three damage I dealt myself ended the game in essence. He achieved threshold, sacrificed his Barbarian Rings, and knocked me to four.
Um, some kind of burn spell ended it for me. I’m not sure which one it was now.
The third game started off with him Fir bolting me a few times, but I got the life score even with a Prophetic Bolt that showed me a nice assortment of APAC lands. I draw a few more burn spells… And yet again we stall out, drawing spells that counter instead of spells in place of spells that burn domes. I decide to put myself in yet another losing situation while he only has one spell in hand. If it is a counter, neither of us are in horrible positions, but if it resolves I win at one life. The spell does resolve ? but instead of winning, we draw.
I start off Regionals this year just like I did last year. With a draw.
When I first looked at this deck, I knew it was going to do well against Red/Green decks ? I never had any doubts. It did perform well against that deck, but often it lost to other control decks. I sat back and watched the metagame change. It started to look more like the popular Braids decks would show up in droves, and I had this gut feeling that I would roll it.
Round Two: Michael Borringo, B/U/G control.
Or so I thought it was. We open game one and he kinda sits there. He plays a few painlands, and takes some damage from them. I had this idea that he was just gonna help me win a bit quicker. He took at least five points of damage from these lands, and my burn was able to end this quickly. I made a note to myself about him discarding a Flametongue Kavu, and just halfheartedly sideboarded.
It is always hard to write about a game that was decided by mana screw. Nothing really exciting happened until he entered his discard step during his second turn. I went on autopilot, watched him struggle to find mana for what seemed like seventeen turns ? but by the time he tried to stabilize, double-Rage ended it for him.
In the words of Mortal Kombat… Flawless Victory.
(We like to call this foreshadowing in the business.)
Round Three: Tony Gargano U/G/R madness, Oppo, nest stuffens.
I’m not sure what to classify this deck. It had the opposition elements, it had the U/G madness elements, but it played so much like Kibler’s R/U/G. Tony is a great cat, though; I have had the pleasure to play him before this past year, at Origins. Some Type Two Black Lotus event. I did beat him when I played him in that event, but he was awfully good about losing to some random.
Anyway. He gets out a third-turn Nest, and starts to beat on me with the annoying little squirrels. I resolve a few Prophetic Bolts, and quickly find one of my two Earthquakes. I Quake for three points… Mainly because he overextended, and cast a lot of Calls of the Herd. I have him at five, and just lose steam. A ripped Rage takes him to two, and that pretty much ends the action for me. He casts a few more Calls, Snakes a burn spell, and beats the rest of my head in.
The second game was more or less the same. I would play a spell, and he would have the answer. I lost. He played well.
Somewhere in this match, a guy stands up and screams MORTAL COMBAT!!!! Pretty interesting; I got a chuckle out of it.
1-1-1. Hmm. At least last year I was 0-0-3 at this point.
You have no idea of how demoralizing it is to start off like that…
Round Four: David Horan B/G/W Junk style.
He wins the roll and starts off with a Bird of Paradise. I play a land, and pass my turn. The Bird gets roasted and the mana-light Horan was in a bind… Or not.
Joshua X <============== can not take advantage of a screwed opponent.
He brings down an elephant, and the only answer I have is Repulse. I draw into a Prophetic Bolt, and Bolt into another. Funny, when I cast the next bolt, I grab another, and get a Quake. The Quake clears the board, and takes him to four. He casts a Spiritmonger, taking a point of damage from a Cabal Pit, maybe… Or some other painland. I Rage him, and we go to game two.
I have no non-counter spell play until the fifth turn. By this point, he has already knocked me twelve. Spectral Lynx and Llanowar Elf beats were threatening to take me out, but I was able to work some stuff with that fifth-turn Bolt. Things were looking pretty crappy, but worsened when he played a Spiritmonger, then added another one to his forces the next turn. I honestly feel he was toying with me. Waiting to finish me in some sort of fashion. I drew out of my funk and ripped three Repulses ? well, kinda, after every Repulse was a Fire/Ice, and I was able to withstand the beatings he wanted to lay on me. He gets knocked to ten by a Firebolt ? and during his endstep. I was able to double-Rage him to four. I had no cards in hand, and needed a spectacular draw to win the game.
I craned my neck as a I drew the next card, showed it off to the gathering spectators, and piled my cards.
So far, things were looking okay. I was having a fantastic time playing Magic, even if it meant I could not get any drafting in. I just wanted to game, finish with a respectable record, and maybe, just maybe… Not get paired against Balancing Tings.
Round Five: Chad, Alternate Balancing Tings
Um, he played a sac land, and I answered with a land of my own. He plays another land, and well… I strongly considered standing up and letting my CD player lose the game for me. I felt I had no chance of winning ? and I didn’t. He goes off with Obliterate and follows it with two Nimble Mongeese. With threshold. I scoop.
He goes off a bit differently this game. Turn 6, I think. He had enough mana to Overmaster for the Act, and cast not one, but two thirteen-powered Terravores. For extra measure, a Mongoose joined on the following turn.
I stood up, walked away. Smoked a cigarette.
I lost the rest of my notes. Here is my match history and how I fared:
8 Brian J Thompson Win 1738
7 Ryan Schneider Win 1729
6 Chris Dolton Loss 1719
At least I won the last two rounds I played.
I may or may not have beat an opponent who did not show up in round seven.
I may or may not have watched my opponent play an Underground River that had been saturated in coffee.
I finished 4-3-1. Not bad, not respectable, but better then what I expected myself to do.
Until next year, I guess.
Questions? Comments? Want to rag on me for being a crappy writer? Email all letters to [email protected].
Special note: I missed my chance to write a tribute to Rizzo. I tried to do so in this article. I’m not going to keep with the little pointy arrows, or his language; any imitation I tried was nothing but a show of respect to one of the greatest people I have ever met.
I met Rizzo in the very room we played in this year for Regionals. It was an Extended qualifier, and I ended up watching him take that mono-green survival deck to a Top Eight finish. His general attitude, carefree feeling about the game made it worth watching him play. I helped him sleeve a deck at Origins, and then watched him pummel me into submission.
Rizzo you’re a great guy, and the rogue in me will miss you. Have a carrot, bud. It was great.