Magical Multiple Choice: A Philly 10k Report

Who doesn’t love multiple choice tests? Read an entertaining and interactive tournament report from Top 4 competitor Chris Mascioli, who took Mono Red all the way to $1000.

If you came here looking for the latest decklist or how to SB, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. If you want a play-by-play of an event, go watch one of the million people taping themselves playing. The following is a test (and my first tournament report, if you couldn’t tell). 

At around midnight on Tuesday, you get an out-of-the-blue Facebook message from Tom Dixon asking if you have a driver’s license. Curious as to what could spur such a question, you inform him that you do have such an instrument, but have never actually driven a car. He wasn’t surprised, but also didn’t care since he only required a body with a license to be in the car (he only has a permit) with him to an entry-free Standard 10k and Modern 2k (the structure of the event was odd; the actual 10k was a 32-person invite-only event with the T8 from a sealed event and T24 from a Standard event receiving invites). As a reward for being an extra body, you are able to stay at his friend’s (Ryan Glackin) house for the event. You:

  1. Snap accept because you don’t do anything with your life
  2. Pretend you might have plans for the weekend and tell him you’ll get back to him tomorrow
  3. Snap decline


After durdling on your decision for a day, you agree to go along with him and decide to leave on Friday in order to enter the sealed tournament as well. After knowing that you would be playing in the new Standard and without a clue on what to play, you ask around on IRC (#magic-league on solidIRC, come join us!) for ideas, and you immediately receive a reply from Karol SzafraŔski (kaesh on IRC, ksh on modo) who is essentially the Patrick Sullivan of Poland and suggests the following Mono-Red list:

After receiving the list you:

  1. Immediately dismiss anything that starts with >20 Mountains as a deck for small children
  2. Test it thoroughly
  3. Decide to commit to playing the list without doing any work


You aren’t particularly happy to be sleeving up Mountains (you’re known for playing mostly Islands and Swamp), so when Eduardo Borges (shooter on IRC, EdB on modo) suggested the following deck, you are pretty excited to give it a try:

You get Calcano to test with you again, and you play the following games:

Game 1: On the play, turn 2 Summoning, triple Myr Superion

Game 2: On the draw, turn 2 Summoning, Myr Superion. Turn 3 Grand Architect, Treasure Mage for Wurmcoil Engine, play Wurmcoil Engine.

Game 3: “Your opponent has disconnected”

Real life. With such results you:

  1. Find a more realistic person to test the deck against
  2. Decide to audible to the deck with no further testing
  3. Tell Calcano that I think we should both run it instead of red


However, by the time you got to a, it was already early Friday morning, and you had to be packed and ready within five hours (never mind getting a chance to sleep, but who needs that?). You:

  1.  Reasonably give yourself time to pack everything needed and double check that it’s there.
  2. Play Zelda for three hours then cram your two Nightmare Before Christmas shirts, a pair of jeans, and various other items into a bag and hope for the best.
  3. Have someone else pack for you.


After arriving at Tom’s house, we’re quickly off to Philly in order to play in the Friday sealed event. When you open your pool, you think it’s insane and quickly get off to a 2-0 start.

In round 3, you play against Gerard Fabiano and lose because you make more misplays than you can count, and you then go on to quickly lose round 4; now out of top 8 contention you:

  1. Continue playing, need to maximize your Planeswalker Points.
  2. Drop.




After the tournament is over, you make sure to head over to the Wawa in order to get a frozen lemonade, which are the best things on earth. Tom Dixon tries to dissuade you of this opinion, listing many things (some inappropriate for a family website) which are better, but you just insist he’s wrong (and he is).

Upon arriving at Ryan’s house (which had one of the most incredible collections of classic video games you’ve ever seen /drool), Tom claims the couch, and you eventually fall asleep in the chair (which you find out is a recliner on the way home).

Turnout the next day was much lower than you expect for a free 10k (only 210 players), but it was still eight rounds with the top 24 making it to the single-elimination portion, which made 6-2 the minimum to make the top 24 (with some 6-2s not making the cut).

In round 1 you’re paired against U/B Infect, and you have a turn 1 Stromkirk Noble into a turn 2 Stormblood Berserker. Your opponent seems like a relatively new player and plays Contagion Clasp to make your Berserker a 2/2. You:

  1.  Say it’s a 2/2 and not explicitly mention that it doesn’t have a -1/-1 counter.
  2. Tell him when he plays Clasp that he won’t be able to proliferate -1/-1 counters since it and a +1/+1 counter essentially cancel out.


After a round 1 win you:

  1. Walk to Wawa with Christian Calcano to get a frozen lemonade.
  2. Walk around the tournament hall to scope out the metagame.


Round 2 was uneventful, and in round 3 you are paired against (almost) Mono-Green Dungrove Elder. In game 1, the board is:

  1. Draw any card but one of 4 Brimstone Volley/2 Shrine of Burning Rage and win.
  2. Hit your reverse 6-outer and lose


In game 2 you have a Koth on five counters when your opponent with five Forests and a Mountain (!?) plays a Kessig Wolf Run to kill you. He says “good game” and extends his hand. You:

  1. Shake his hand back.
  2. Refuse the handshake and mimimi.


You have no recollection of what you played in round 4 or 5 (I think there was another U/B Infect deck and maybe a Humans deck), but get paired vs. Tim Landale in round 6 for a feature match. You can watch the match here. (“There’s a rare smile from Chris Mascioli. Often seen calling suicide hotlines.” —BDM) I want to focus on my turn 5 and Landale’s turn 6 to demonstrate a few points. The board is:


  1. Animate a Mountain and attack Elspeth with the 4/4 and the 3/2.
  2. Animate a Mountain and attack Elspeth with the 4/4.
  3. Animate a Mountain and attack Tim with the 4/4 and the 3/2.
  4. Animate a Mountain and attack Tim with the 4/4.
  5. Animate a Mountain and don’t attack.


After making a terrible play on my turn, I am rather tilted during Tim’s turn 6, but he’s presented with an interesting choice on his turn as well. He can:

  1. Attack Koth with one token.
  2. Attack Koth with both tokens.


A brief aside on the state of coverage:

Magic commentary is not nearly play-centered enough; it’s very heavy on filler/making statements that are patently obvious, but insightful sounding. There’s almost never a serious examination of the options presented to a player during each turn and what their line of play indicates. I don’t really know how to improve this or if my vision is even an improvement, but I find most coverage not helpful for me (and watch on mute pretty frequently). All three commentators missed my bad attack, Tim’s bad attack, and my not popping Shrine to punish his bad attack. SCGLive commentary, on the whole, is weaker than GGsLive (except for the one week where Gavin and Ari were in the booth, that was awesome), as a number of the commentators are relatively clueless.

In round 7 you’re paired against Level 2 judge Alex Bastecki who is playing R/G Werewolves (you can tell this story is going to be good already). On around turn 5-6 (with four Werewolves, unflipped, in play) he casts:

Having not played very much with the new set, you’re unsure what this card does. You:

  1. Ask your opponent what the card does.
  2. Call a judge and ask for the oracle text.


Changing roles for a second…

You play a foreign Full Moon’s Rising (in Constructed), and your opponent asks what it does. You (all of the following choices are legal):
a) Tell them the full text.
b) Tell them to call a judge.
c) Tell them only that it gives +1/+0 and trample.


You end up winning the match despite losing game 1. At the end of game 3 Alex says “good game” and extends his hand. You:

  1. Tell him to go f*** himself and laugh at him.
  2. Accept the handshake and say good game.
  3. Decide that you don’t want the USC warning from a judge and just comment about how justice exists and how he’s scum.


As you’re on Facebook taking screenshots, you notice today is 4 October, which would have been the year anniversary of your last failed relationship (ended by a text message, no less). You:

  1. Don’t think about it; you’re over it.
  2. Stalk her FB profile, mad that she seems unaffected by what happened.


The standings go up after round 7, and you’re a coin flip to make the top 24 even if you win round 8 (Did I mention that my round 3 opponent was bad? Well, he was). Luckily for you, the TC put that the tournament was supposed to be nine rounds in DCIReporter, so the last round is not paired by standings, and you get paired up against a 5-1-1 with Solar Flare. You split games 1 and 2 and are on the draw for game 3. You:

  1.  Just play it out.
  2. Offer a 5% split with your opponent for the loser since the winner will most likely cash.


Standings after round 8 are posted, and I come in 24th, making it over three other 6-2s (one of which had higher breakers than I did coming into the round, thanks Pastimes!). Now that I’ve made it to the 32-person single-elimination event, I’m allowed to change my deck based on my observations from the day:

  1.  Reckless Waif is awful. It’s great when it flips on turn 2, but most decks have a way to stop that from happening, so you can’t really rely on it ever being more than a 1/1 for R.
  2. Brimstone Volley is awful. It’s a burn spell where you don’t know (or even control) how much damage it deals. Unreliable cards are not good for decks that need to extract as much value as possible from every card.
  3. Devil’s Play was used almost exclusively to kill X/1 creatures.

Throughout the course of the event, Steve Sadin and I were working out ideas for our finalized list (The story of how we ended up with 24 lands is described in the above coverage video. Yes, that actually happened) and started out with all sorts of weird numbers and cards (we had three Galvanic Blast [although Steve, on principle, was going to play Shock instead] and three Chandra’s Phoenix). However, when I finished my round 8, I saw Steve talking to Patrick Sullivan and I promised myself that I would play whatever final 75 they came up with and not talk myself out of it for some card I liked more.

Of course, I walked over and asked what happened to the three Batterskull and the fourth Manic Vandal in the sideboard and was told “Oh, we replaced those with four Curse of the Pierced Heart. The dealer over there at the end has them, and he wouldn’t even take my money when I bought four.” I once promised a girl I would fly 9,000 miles for her, and what I was now committed to makes this seem reasonable.

Besides the addition of Curse to the sideboard, all the other changes seemed awesome: Brimstone Volley had been replaced with Volt Charge; Reckless Waif had become Furnace Scamp; and three Devil’s Play, along with the 25th land, had become four Geistflame. These changes almost perfectly mirrored my thoughts about the deck, and I registered the following 75 for the single-elimination portion of the event:

The most difficult thing about running this list was obtaining four Volt Charge, as not one dealer on site had any. I quickly found someone with three and was able to trade an Obstinate Baloth for them, but finding the fourth was proving to be a Herculean task. I finally found someone with a foil Volt Charge who offered to sell it to me for $2.50. I snap accepted, and when he went back to get it from his binder, he refused to move it at the price we agreed on since apparently I “refused to concede to his friends at PTQs when I couldn’t T8,” and I even did so “multiple times,” and he now wanted $5.00 for it. Besides being blatantly untrue (I have never [before PWPs] stayed in a PTQ after I was not in T8 contention), he cost himself $2.50, since I found someone else to sell me a normal one at $1.00 (still got ripped off 🙁 ).

In the top 32, you’re paired against a friend, Dave Shiels, who is on Solar Flare. You feel like the match is in your favor, but also know that Shiels is a better player than you. The prize structure is such that the loser receives $75.00 and the winner is guaranteed $175.00. You:

  1. Offer some sort of split.
  2. Play it out.


Your hand for game 2 (on the draw) is:

2 Mountain

2 Koth of the Hammer

1 Spikeshot Elder

1 Incinerate

1 Curse of the Pierced Heart


  1. Keep
  2. Mulligan


In the top 16 you’re paired against Neo Caw-Blade and since the prize difference between T16 and T8 is $200.00 you:

  1. Offer a split with $50.00 to the loser.
  2. Play it out, as your opponent seems a bit weak.


The Top 8 is going to start the next day, and you make sure to pick up a frozen lemonade from Wawa on the way back to the place you’re staying. You go 1-1 in Ascension (5th or 6th game lifetime) vs. Tom, who makes sure to tell you how badly he’s going to crush you before you start playing (Lauren Lee told me the same thing and then lost two in a row, justice), and you awkwardly sleep in the same chair as last night (still don’t know it reclines).

You arrive on site and are paired against the other Mono Red player (who is splashing green for Kessig Wolf Run). The prize structure is $375 for T8 and $750 for T4. You:

  1. Offer to split.
  2. Play it out.


It’s game 3, and you have the option of playing or drawing (your opponent chose to play in games 1 and 2). You:

  1. Choose to play.
  2. Choose to draw.


Right after your T8 round is finished, you sign up for the free Modern 2k, but since you’re going to be forced to take a round 1 loss (due to playing in the T4 of the Standard event), you decide to register your Standard deck just to get some participation points.

The top 4 is U/W, U/B, Puresteel Paladin, and you; all four players agree to a split of $1500.00, but we also want to play it out so Tim can have a chance of getting the bonus $1000.00 for winning as a member of a team. Shawn Doherty informs us that the single-elimination event is not sanctioned, and, if we agree to a split, the tournament ends, which means Tim would not be able to play for the bonus money and which ends the possibility of a split. However, it ends up that the event was sanctioned, and we were outright lied to by Doherty. Typical incompetence.

You’re paired versus the only player in the top 4 you don’t know, and he’s playing U/B. You both agree to a split where the loser gets $250.00 (so we both walk away with a grand), and you mull to five (on the draw) in game 2. The board is:


  1. Cast the Shrine.
  2. Play a land and pass.


After the Standard event is over, you’re $1000.00 richer but still want to play a few rounds of the Modern event since you can’t leave until it’s over, as your driver is playing in the event as well. You end up going 3-3 in played matches (5 out of 6 matches being real decks with the joke being a G/U Mill deck) and regret your decision to not update the list to be more Modern compatible, as you discover it seems there’s an opening for a fast red deck in the current Modern metagame. However, you do get to watch


dominate the T8. I think there was 32 of each in the top 8 decks. New banning?

With the event over, you finally leave to return home and get a good night’s sleep in an actual bed.

QUOTES (blatantly stole this idea from Ted Knutson):

Jed Taccad comes up to Josh Jacobson at PT Philly and starts talking about the T8. Josh, obviously (and normally) hung over, replies “Wow that’s a lot of people you need to add as Facebook friends now.” Jed stutters and walks away.

[17:15:53] <&Shooter> We have great news!
[17:15:53] <&Shooter>           
[17:15:53] <&Shooter>
[17:15:53] <&Shooter> About you, eduardobsg:
[17:15:53] <&Shooter> Your personality:              Really great           
[17:15:53] <&Shooter> How bad girls want you:            So bad
[17:16:03] <&Shooter> lol
[17:16:19] i got that email too 😛

Chris Mascioli

@dieplstks on Twitter (follow me!: http://twitter.com/#!/dieplstks)
I also have a blog: http://dieplstks.tumblr.com/