August is almost finished, which means summer is almost over for the Northern Hemisphere. It also means that there are only a couple of weeks left before Odyssey Block season (mercifully) rolls to a close. As I pointed out last week, Odyssey Block is definitely more than a two-deck format, but I also got silly and stated that after Worlds we wouldn’t see anything new. Leave it to Jordan Berkowitz to prove me wrong…
For those of you that haven’t been reading all the OBC news out there, Jordan piloted the following build to a win at Harrisburg two weeks ago:
Yes, that would be a Solitary Confinement build. Yes, it did qualify somebody – that somebody being Jordan Berkowitz. For those of you who haven’t heard of the kid, he’s not exactly a fan favorite among players on the East Coast (as evidenced in Adam Ruben’s”Hutch” article and my own personal dealings with Jordan at a PTQ in Roanoke), but you have to give at least a little credit to someone who takes a steaming pile of poo and turns it into a qualifying deck. Also, wasn’t I the guy that was complaining just a couple of weeks ago about the lack of controversy on the Pro Tour? Well, Jordan should improve that element nicely… Provided he doesn’t scrub out. Guess we’ll have to wait until Houston to see if more sparks fly.
Tangent Alert! Tangent Alert!
Speaking of bad boys, does anybody else want to see PTR and Mike Long in the Invitational? Actually, I think I only want to see PTR there to find out if a) he turns in a tournament report that is readable, and b) to see if Wizards will publish said report.
Hmm… Seems like this would be a good spot to note how I voted for the Invitational with a little bit of info on why to boot.
All right – listen up, all you pandering, saggy-assed Magic Pros! If you want to attend the Invitational in any year in the future when you are not good enough to get in without my having to vote for you, this is what you need to do: Write!
But – and this is key – don’t just write when the Invitational comes around, and (jesusonafreakinpogostick) don’t write an article just as an excuse to ask for my vote. That goes for you, Sol Malka, and you, David Price, and anybody else (regardless of what site they write for twice a year), who thinks they can get my vote for the Magic Invitational simply by reminding me they exist. If you aren’t consistently writing articles that relate some tech, theory, decklists, anecdotes, or whatever, then you are of no use to me and you don’t get my vote. It’s just that simple.
Here’s what my ballot looks like (Note: Kibler would be #2 if he weren’t already qualified, while Flores would be #3 if he weren’t such a bad player):
- Zvi Mowshowitz . Nobody has done more to make Brainburst not suck than Zvi. He’s the most prolific and deserving player/author out there and deserves to go to Seattle
- Gary Wise . Love him, hate him, think he’s a big sack of hot air, but don’t deny that you read his stuff and learn or laugh a little from it.
- Mike Long . Magic needs villains more than it needs unstoppable juggernauts. Mike writes for his own site and tends to be wrong or silly about a lot of things – but sometimes he’s dead on, and he’s still one of the biggest names in the game. His performance at Nationals shows he can still play, too.
- The Potato, Mike Turian . He edits The Grimmoire and for some ridiculous reason I have a soft spot for him. Shrug.
- Chad Ellis . The best theoretical articles on the net. Consistent and informative deserves a vote.
- Stokinger and Szigeti . All right – I know the only real reason Stoke started writing was to raise his profile for the Invitational, and PTR doesn’t exactly write lucid articles… But they both publish more than Benafel and he was the next best villain on the list. Does anybody else ever get an”Ambiguously Gay Superhero Duo” vibe from these two though? Just curious…
- Mikey P . Seems like a nice guy. Writes for this here site here more than once a year, and usually has good stuff to say. Enough to warrant a vote.
Believe it or not, that’s it. I would vote for Forsythe, but he went all”company man” and became ineligible. You could make a case for Eric Dinosaur Taylor and maybe one or two other names on the list, but I’m not interested enough to give them my vote. I’d vote for Uncle Pete Leiher, but I know for a fact that he’s a thousand times more interested in Lord of the Rings than Magic, and he hasn’t exactly been writing up a storm either.
What I’d really like to see is a write-in slot where the voters would could pick the best internet writer who’s not a Pro Player and send them off to play (or hell, even write about the event) instead… But Wizards doesn’t work that way. Seeing Rizzo’s million-page tournament report about the whole shebang would have been worth… Well, my vote at least. I have no idea who would get voted in these days (no, it wouldn’t be Writer’s War winner Oscar Tan), but whoever would get to go would certainly submit a more entertaining and enjoyable tourney report than some of the past participants.
Anyway, that’s my two cents on the Invitational; you can take it or leave it.
Back to the deck…
So, far it has won a PTQ and made Top 8 at last weekend’s PTQ at Star City, which places it firmly in the camp of”doesn’t completely suck” decks. Unlike U/G, you can’t just pick up this deck and win with it – so if you haven’t playtested it, don’t play it. Other than that, Solitary Confinement provides a real incentive to pack enchantment removal for decks that can do so. Confinement is another one of those decks that you can probably beat if you happen to be prepared for it, but will get wrecked by if you aren’t.
By the way, if you are U/G and decide you are really worried about the Solitary Confinement matchup, be aware that Ground Seal shuts the deck down. With Ground Seal in play, Genesis can’t target their cards in the graveyard and therefore can’t create a hard lock by returning a kid to their hand every turn. Ground Seal can also prevent Wonder from getting returned to your library… But it prevents you from doing the same to your opponent, and therefore is not exactly ideal for the U/G mirror match.
Speaking of getting wrecked, has everybody seen the Sapporo Top 8? That’s right, 6 U/G, and 2 Punisher White decks. Where the hell did Mono-Black disappear to? My guess is that Grizzly Fate, Bearscape, Still Life, Envelop, Standstill, and Phantom Centaur are making life a lot harder for the Black player, and facing U/G round after round means that you are likely to lose eventually.
Day 2 decks from Sapporo looked like this:
- 12 U/G Madness
- 12 U/G Threshold
- 11 Mono Black Control
- 8 U/G Quiet Roar
- 7 UZI
- 7 WW/u
- 3 G/W
- 6 Other
That breakdown actually looks pretty standard for what the metagame is perceived to be right now, but it is missing the U/B Braids builds from Worlds that did so well (there was at least one of these decks, but no more that I could see). I’m wondering if these decks got their asses kicked on day 1 and sent home, or if players just decided that the deck isn’t good enough and opted into UZI or Punisher instead.
Is it just me, or does running three Wonders and two Living Wishes suddenly seem like a good idea, particularly if you have a Wonder in your sideboard? That’s suddenly five copies of Wonder you are running, plus giving yourself access to Spellbane and Phantom Centaur and any other techy creature (Aboshan?) that fills the bill. Hell, you could even run an Island in the board to try and avoid the painful U/G manascrew problems (though it clearly doesn’t help you if you don’t have green).
Alter Reality seems pretty techy for U/G these days as well. It’s pretty decent against White Weenie (Divine Sacrament now works for Green? Why thank you!), and can make your Phantom Centaurs a house against any matchup. Granted, that’s not the best play, but something needs to be done because WW seems like a real problem matchup for most strains of U/G.
Random OBC (and other) Musings
Strange (but interesting) things win PTQs…
How is it that we are given a whole freaking block named Odyssey and don’t get a single Cyclops or sheep card? Does no one read Homer anymore? Besides, wouldn’t sheep tokens be infinitely superior to squirrels? They’d be like Magic porn for everyone from New Zealand, Scotland, and Australia.
How many of you thought that Envelop was just a sucky card that would see situational sideboard use in Limited only? Go on, raise your hands… I did, too. That was before I understood that Odyssey is sorcery-dot-block. Basically what R&D did was make our hand sizes larger by letting us cast things out of the graveyard, gave us access to our sideboard in Game 1, added creatures that can affect the board from the graveyard, and they made Discard into a good mechanic as well as a bad one. In return, we only get to play with Lands, Sorceries, Creatures, and a few Enchantments, and we lose a whole color.
Overall I like OBC, but there were some definite tradeoffs.
I think Seth Burn Football Preview is longer than all my articles combined. Now that’s saying something. It’s like a doctoral dissertation on who’s going to win in the NFL this year.
Believe it or not, I actually know one of the cheerleaders for the Indianapolis Colts. She’s the younger sister (Jennifer – 4) of one of my high school friends, who incidentally hated when we talked about how hot his sister was. What the hell were we supposed to do? We had professional cheerleader material right in front of us and we were supposed to bite our tongues?!? Impossible, I tell you – especially since she was a gymnast as well.
In spite of the fact that I’m personally aware that Jenny is actually quite smart, her profile on the Colts page belies this:”Three words to describe myself: bubbly, dedicated.” Isn’t that exactly what you’d write if you were doing a parody page, right down to only using two words? You can’t make this stuff up.
In order to make certain that Anna Kournikova sticks around Tennis Majors a little longer, I vote that we give her a bye into week 2… But in return, she has to be available for live footage of her wearing lingerie for the whole of week 1. Who’s with me?
Has there ever been a sports bra designed that could contain Jennifer Capriati’s nipples?
I almost won a draft at the last PTQ I attended. Good thing I lost game 3 of the finals, or the world might have stopped right then and there. Just wanted to let you know in case you had some things to clear up before my next PTQ appearance on Sept 14th.
Mono-Black control has won all four PTQs that I’ve seen in the Southeast. I’m sure there’s a tasteless joke to be made here, but I can’t figure out how to make it without running afoul of the NAACP, so I’ll leave it alone. If metagames are geographically linked though, one has to wonder if White Weenie is tearing up Canada…
I about fell out of my chair the other night when I saw that the new season of The Sopranos starts on September 15th. I figure that gives me just enough time to watch the first 3 seasons in preparation for Tony’s return. I also figure that it gives you guys enough time to re-order HBO so that you can watch Season 4 and then cancel it again.
Has anyone ever broken any bones while doing drunken Dance Dance Revolution? (Not me – The Ferrett, DDR addict) I’m just trying to figure out if I should plan for a hospital visit during my Labor Day festivities.
Speaking of video games, by the time you read this Mario Sunshine should be available to one and all. Yes Virginia, you really do have a reason to buy a GameCube (aside from Super Smash Brother Melee).
In the picture above, I think there’s an alien trying to escape from my mouth. Now that I think about it, the details from last Saturday are actually a bit hazy… I remember waking up and driving to the PTQ, but then my stomach started to ache and I think I blacked out just before round 1. Apparently I kept playing though and posted an 0-3 record on the day. Sometime between when I dropped and my first draft, I regained consciousness and there was a slimy trail on my chest that I couldn’t explain (I just figured I had passed too close to a Magic player that disliked hygiene.) Anyway, it looks like Pete (the owner of Star City) snapped a picture of me just before the alien gave up its possession of my body and escaped into some other unwitting host. If you see Pete and he starts acting strange, that might be where it went.
If you’re going to make excuses about posting your first ever 0-fer at a PTQ, you may as well be creative about it. I still can’t explain the picture, though. Guess that tells you why it took me so long to get my picture posted in the first place.
The words”Pepsi” and”Blue” should never have been allowed to co-exist on a soda bottle. This grievous error should be corrected at the earliest opportunity.
The Tournament Report
Date: August 17th
Place: DJ’s Cards, High Point, NC
Starting time: 11 a.m.! Thank freaking god.
I seem to be the local PTQ info guy, partially because I read the internet (something many of my cohorts seem not to do), and partially because I actually have to plan ahead in order to make sure I can go to PTQs, which forces me to get the 4-1-1 in advance. Anyway, I post on the message board at theendgames.com that I’ll be driving down to High Point, and need to know who wants to come with me. Six or seven people respond, but I narrow it down to an almost reasonable four that can fit in my car (I drive a Dodge Intrepid) including Sam Fog, Jimmy Bean Ferraiolo, Andy Gibb, and Sammy”G” Griffith (whose last name is universally thought to be Griffin.) Anyway, everyone is on time, and we head out around 7:15 a.m.
The first stop we make is to meet Richie Anderson in Lynchburg so that he can follow us down and so that Grif can stop having to sit on the hump seat. We do this at a gas station, where everyone goes to take a bathroom break and grab some breakfast. I mention this because twenty-five minutes later, Jimbo looks over at me and says,”Dude, we need to find a gas station.” I look at him quizzically and say,”We just freaking stopped, what the hell is wrong with you?”
His reply?”I think someone cast Liquify on my ass.”
Definitely time to find a gas station. Twelve minutes and some strained eyeballs later, we pull into some sort of station and Jimbo hops out of the car and rushes to the pot.
Of course, like any good friends, we’re all standing around outside our cars waiting to make fun of him when he comes back out. I ask how things went and he says”Fine now. When I walked in there though, I felt like the Terminator, scanning the room for the pot, and then when I found it my eyes lit up red and a blinking message flashed in front of me saying ‘Seek and Destroy’.”
Ah, the joys of road trips.
So we get back on the road and hit about twenty miles of construction that slows us down considerably. Then I tell Jimbo (sitting in the shotgun/navigator’s seat) to figure out what exit we need to get off at and he proceeds to get us lost. I should have known better than this, considering that last time he drove he didn’t even know which direction to turn on the interstate to get to Roanoke, but I have finally learned my lesson. To finish the story, we arrive at DJs at exactly 11 a.m. with just enough time to get our deck registrations in.
Round 1 – Shawn Bueschler Greensboro, NC- G/W
Game 1: I win the die roll and Shaun takes a paris. I play a Rooter, and Shawn responds with his own Tribe-Rootwalla combo. He then lays a Wild Mongrel, while I throw down two more rooters. All this time I’m taking some pain from his Mongrel, since I can’t find anything to take it down with.
Finally, I draw my own Mongrel. The next turn I discard a Wonder to it and come flying over for some beats. Shaun decides that it would be tres cool to cast Vengeful Dreams at that point, though, and take down three of my kids. I never recover from this and he then lays a Krosan Beast with threshold to finish me off.
Game 2: His board went like this on consecutive turns: Rootwalla, Mongrel, Brushhopper, Arrogant Wurm, Glory. In spite of that, it looked like I had decent board position as I attacked to try and beat him down, but I again get crushed by a Vengeful Dreams and start the day in the loser’s bracket.
Round 2 – Misty, High Point, NC – Wake-Combo
Argh, a girl. Not that I have anything against women in Magic or even losing to women, but if I do lose to Misty and then have to tell my friends about it I’ll never live it down. That’s a lot of pressure for a silly little PTQ matchup in the 0-1 bracket.
Game 1: I get ahead in the damage race with an early Rootwalla, but she quickly matches it. I decide to play a Standstill to keep the board situation neutral, but she breaks it on the next turn to cast a Wild Mongrel. With the three cards I draw, my hand is suddenly full of gas, and I start casting Mongrels out the yang and making sure that my kids can’t be blocked by pitching Wonder to the grumper. Two more attack phases and an Elephant Guide later, I win.
Game 2: Misty gets rolling early with a Rooter and a Mongrel, while I Careful Study and stick a Roar and a Reclamation in my yard. I then start casting some kids while Misty stalls on land for a bit. She eventually tries to cast Mirari’s Wake, but I make like Mr. Spock and Logic it, and eventually win with a Mongrel, an Arrogant, and a Roar token on the board.
Round 3 – Colin Pittman, Raleigh, NC – U/G Threshold
Colin’s wearing a T-Shirt that says”Your mom is hot,” which tells me that Colin clearly hasn’t seen my mom. We’ve played before and get along just fine, though, so this should be a decent match.
Game 1: Island Screw, how I hate you. Colin starts laying Nimble Mongeese, while I set down an Aquamoeba and pitch two Rootwallas to it to try and make my board look bigger in spite of my lack of Forests. Colin’s board ends up looking a lot better, though, as he draws into a Mongrel and pitches a Roar of the Wurm to it, while all I really want to do is find a Forest. This happens about turn 5 with me at a serious disadvantage… But somehow I manage to make up the board differential and even things up until Colin finds Wonder. He attacks me down to seven, while I pluck an Elephant Guide that gets placed on an Arrogant Wurm, look at my side of the board, and figure out that I’m one card short of killing him on the return attack. I attack anyway and take him down to one, but he swings for the win on the next turn.
I sideboard in three Reclamations, two Moment’s Peaces, and a Squirrel’s Nest.
Game 2: I get Island screwed again, even after a first-turn Careful Study. Thankfully, Colin gets flat out land screwed and finds himself with a Centaur Garden and two Forests for the entirety of the game. I finally draw into a Forest and proceed to cast Mongrel-Rooter, Arrogant, Arrogant over the next three turns and win.
At this point I’m pretty sure I hate playing the mirror match.
Game 3: Sometimes Block giveth, and sometimes it taketh away. This time my deck was kind enough to giveth me exactly the cards that I needed to win in a long game. It came down to me having a bunch of kids on the board, but no Wonder (because it got stuffed back in my library by a Reclamation) while Colin had his own kids that flew. Thankfully, my deck provided me with a Moment’s Peace, a Circular Logic (for his Reclamation in the graveyard), a Krosan Reclamation (for his Wonder), and my own Wonder so that I could swing for the victory. I just had to be patient enough to let the cards come to me, and somehow they did.
Round 4 – Tim Kryzwicki Kernersville, NC – U/G Quiet Roar
Game 1: Tim beat the hell out of me last block season, so I know not to underestimate him. Unfortunately, my deck decided not to show up for game 1, as the only permanent I managed to cast was a raw dog Arrogant Wurm while Tim’s side of the board went Speculation, Deep Analysis, Roar, Roar, Arrogant, you die now.
Game 2: I get mana screwed, but draw out of it; Tim gets mana flooded and doesn’t. On to game 3.
Game 3: No notes on this one aside from me remembering that again my deck didn’t show up to give me good stuff. Kryzwicki and Block are apparently not a good combo for me.
Round 5 – Steven Kingsport, TN – U/G Quiet Roar
This guy has contacts that make his eyes look white. He also has a spike driven through his tongue and various piercings. Aside from the look, he’s a hella-nice guy.
Game 1: It looks like we’re playing the mirror match until he casts Speculation to fetch three Roars. While that’s going on, I’m slowly beating him down with flying lizards, and manage to maintain enough tempo to eventually kill him. Maindeck Aether Bursts were a winner in this matchup.
Game 2: This one takes forever, as I Envelop a turn 2 Speculation and then have to fight through two Moment’s Peaces to get a win. Thankfully, he never drew into his Roars and made some blocking mistakes (he let two Wild Mongrels die to my Arrogant Wurm despite having a card in hand that could have saved one of them) that let me get a win here.
Round 6 – Chris -Greensboro, NC – W/G
Have I mentioned how much I hate playing against W/G? I like playing this match even less than the U/G mirror, and playing that one is like having somebody pull my nose hairs out one by one. W/G is something less fun, like riding a moped to school and getting passed in a car by all your buddies and every hot girl you ever wanted to go out with. You know, the kind of event that leaves permanent emotional and sometimes physical scarring. That’s how little fun playing against W/G is.
Chris was nice enough to bring his girl along to chat with, though, so that made the game a little more pleasant.
Game 1: I win this game through gaining card advantage from casting Rootwalla/Standstill while he has nothing on the board, then I eventually cast an Arrogant Wurm with 2 Elephant Guides on him, forcing Chris to take hefty damage, even while he has a Glory in his grumper. Eventually I draw into a Wonder and fly over for the win, since he couldn’t attack at any point or else he would have died on the counter-attack.
Game 2: I have no idea how I won this game. My notes seem to indicate that board control was Chris’s, but the W sits next to my name.
Yes, I know this is not helpful for you. These things happen.
Round 7 – Justin Chesterfield, SC – W/G
Oh good, more torture. Justin happens to be the only guy who recognizes that I write for Star City through the whole day, though, so things aren’t all bad. (“Yer the guy that writes that crazy Mixed kNuts s**t on the internet, right? I love that!”) I tell him that I can’t just scoop to him in spite of the compliment and we get down to the dirty work.
Game 1: Justin gets land screwed. Big time. He had two land for the first fifteen cards in his deck.
Guess who won? Justin did!
Why, you ask? Well, because I’m a bad Magic player, that’s why. I was worried that I wasn’t hitting him fast enough and that he would recover well if he could ever draw land. However, in trying to put more pressure on him, I made some bad trades that eventually ended up costing me the game. At the end of the game, I had two Wonders sitting in my hand because I had no way to get them into the graveyard, and even after I cast them he gave his creatures protection from Blue and Green so that I couldn’t chump and attack back for the win. If I had just waited things out I would have won easily on the turn I drew Wonder.
Sideboard: Haven’t we seen this part before?
Game 3: My deck lets me down this game, as I draw two threats and he draws about eight. Justin gets five packs and gets to go home with a 5-2 record; I get to hang around for the Top 8 because we have three guys in it.
Lawrence Creech – Kibler Black vs.
Andy Gibb – U/G Threshold
Jason Jennings – U/G Threshold vs.
David Lanier – U/G Threshold
Bah; how do two of our guys end up playing in the first round? Oh well, at least somebody makes it to the quarters, right?
Sammy G makes the Top 8 in his first PTQ playing… The Spanish Inquisition deck?!? Who does that? Not only that, but I strongly advised him to play the Punisher White deck (which I should have played as well), but he was comfortable with the Clerics and ran with it anyway.
Needless to say, I’m embarrassed to admit I’m a Magic player.
I sat down to watch Grif playing his clerics deck (which I have named the Spanish Inquisition because nobody expects it) against Money’s homegrown U/G deck. The Clerics deck is just funny to watch because sometimes it beats the hell out of you with Divine Sacrament and Pianna, and sometimes it sits back and prevents your damage while Battle Screech pecks away at you for the win. The deck has gone 9-4-1 in two qualifiers so far, including a Top 8. I’d give you a decklist, but I haven’t put hot pokers under Grif’s toenails yet so he has yet to confess it to me. This will be remedied soon…
Griffin takes complete control in Game 1 and it looks like Clerics could do the impossible and make Top 4 at a PTQ. Unfortunately, Money got the nuts draw in Game 2 and Wished for Aboshan (!) in Game 3 to take the match, but while he was playing I heard things like:
“That guy’s not a Legend either? Come on!” Money’s response to Master Apothecary #2 hitting the board.
Grif:”The great thing about this deck is that no one expects it. Some guy attacked with his first-turn Nimble Mongoose right into a Devoted Caretaker and seemed surprised when I blocked and killed it.”
Money:”If I would have known this was coming, I would have laughed about it and not done anything anyway.”
Anyway, to make a long story short, The Creature beat Gibb first, and Money as well, and went on to win the slot and hop back on the Pro Tour. Let’s just hope he shaves that thing on his lip off before he goes to Houston or he’ll be in for a ton of grief.
Also heard on this trip:
Me:”Oh cool, a Vietnamese place. Haven’t had that in a while.”
Jimbo:”Man, Vietnamese is nasty. That stuff always messes me up.”
Me:”Yeah, some of it is good, but this place looks more likely to cast Liquid Fire on your ass instead. I’m guessing you don’t need any more of that after this morning.”
The Tournament Non-Report
Where: Star City Games, Roanoke, VA
When: Sat August 24th
Deck I played: Team Punisher White Weenie
How bad do you have to be to play the same deck as three of the guys who made the Top 8 while going 0-3? I’m not sure, but that’s exactly how bad I am. I still think my day was better than Kevin Stokes’s, though, as Stokes intentionally drew in round 6 and finished in 9th place. I’d say he’s bad at math, but I might have done the same thing in his position. These things happen.
Since I’m not particularly interested in reliving the shame of my first 0-fer, I’m going to skip the traditional tournament report and just give you the Top 8 listing as food for thought.
- 1 U/B UZI (I think. Could have been the Braids version instead.)
- 1 U/G (this is legit. U/G was not the deck to play, though Stokes played U/G Threshold and finished 9th.)
- 1 Solitary Confinement
- 2 Mono-Black Control
- 3 Team Punisher White Weenie.
The tournament was won by Tim Kryzwicki (featured earlier in this report beating me upside the head) playing MBC. As I said before, that’s four straight Qs in the South East that have been won by MBC, which tells me something about the Southeast metagame that I haven’t figured out yet. As soon as I do I’ll let you know.
That’s all for now and probably for the next week or so, since my college friends will be in town for Labor Day and instead of playing Magic I’ll be drunk off my ass trying not to kill myself on Dance Dance Revolution. Seriously, it’s the ultimate drunk party game. Except maybe strip poker. And strip Dance Dance Revolution… Hmm, gonna have to try and sell that one to the party peoples. Have to figure out a point system where chicks with larger ta-tas get more weight and… So much to do, so little time.
Anyway, until next time, GO SOONERS (thank god college football season is finally starting.).
The Holy Kanoot