Heeeeeeeeeello. I’m Ervin Tormos and I play Magic. Aren’t you surprised?
I wish I had a masterful introduction to include for my first article, but it wonderfully disappeared with my tournament report for PTQ Kobe when my computer froze. And what a fine article it was, with its remarkable use of imagery for scenic Columbus, marvelous name-dropping of Tim”I know the capitol of Turkey and the number of calories in a Hershey bar” Aten, and only one paragraph away from completion.
Anyway, I’m from Ohio, a fine place to play, but a horrible place to qualify with its thousand-person PTQ’s. With Origins hosting one of these monstrosities on both Friday and Saturday, I found myself more motivated than usual since I would actually be able to attend Pro Tour Columbus. These were the amazing 75 cards I chose:
2 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Greater Harvester
4 Guardian Idol
4 Talisman of Dominance
4 Wayfarer’s Bauble
4 Night’s Whisper
4 Barter in Blood
4 Death Cloud
4 Echoing Decay
4 March of the Machines
4 Shattered Dreams
2 Grim Reminder
This is very similar to the list Brian Kibler posted on Brainburst, the main difference being my decision to run Echoing Decay. The deck is pretty straightforward, its main goal being to set up a massive Death Cloud that wrecks your opponent, at the same time suspiciously always leaving you with two Swamps and a Guardian Idol. At least that’s what happened to Brian Fulop and me.
The sideboard is pretty standard, with Terror mainly helping out against Green or Red, and March of the Machines and Shattered Dreams hose the artifact decks. I still have no idea as to how Grim Reminder got on my deck registration sheet, and how I had two copies of the thing in my binder to actually play it. The major matchups are fairly even, with Affinity being around 40-45%, Big Red around 60%, and Mono-Green mainly decided on your skill level versus that of your opponents’. Mainly how skilled you are at drawing Echoing Decay and how skilled they are at drawing Beacon of Creation. The tournament had a little less than 128 people, meaning 7 exhilarating rounds of Swiss.
Round 1 vs. Sam Stoddard
Oh, and what a fantastic way to start the day. I’m not saying Sam is a stick. On the contrary, he is a formidable opponent boasting a Limited rating over 1900. It’s just that my record lifetime against Sam is somewhere around 500-1. Every time I beat him in a tourney I end up winning it, and the one time I lost to him, I still top 8’d. And, he’s playing Big Red, a favorable matchup, how incredibly lucky for me.
Game 1 starts off pretty slowly, with him destroying a few of my artifacts. At thirteen life, I hit a thinking point with him having five lands, a talisman, a Solemn Simulacrum, and four cards in hand. I can Death Cloud for up to five, and I’m thinking of what I can play around. I’m dead to double Shrapnel Blast or Shrapnel Blast and Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], so I play around the extremely unlikely double Pulse and Death Cloud for only four. He drops his hand and it’s… 4 Shrapnel Blasts. What a masterful slow-roll. Jerk.
“I don’t beat you much so I might as well enjoy it when I do.”
I wish I could slow roll him with this deck, but that could result in me getting killed in response, something that would be quite unfortunate.
Game 2 starts off slowly once again, with me having removal for whatever he plays. I play Greater Harvester, and I can only pump the fist when Sam has no guys or removal. I swing, but instead of a concession, there’s a Grab the Reins with damage on the stack, sacking my own Harvester to its ability. What a beating. I play Death Cloud a few turns later at a safe life total leaving Sam with no permanents and me with…*DRUMROLL*…..2 lands and a Guardian Idol.
Game 3 was probably the most exciting game of the day. Well, not really, but I have to keep you interested somehow. Sam and I begin to race and I end a critical turn in which he mana burns and Pulses me. I tap for one in response to the Pulse leaving me at five after the burn. Sam taps two lands and swings with his Simulacrum, which is blocked by my Harvester. He draws his card and realizes he has made a mistake, as he doesn’t have the mana to Pulse me, cast Arc-Slogger, and shoot me with it. He admits that he could have cast the Slogger and domed me three times but was a little surprised when I burned at the end of my turn. My next attack is lethal so Sam scoops.
Round 2 vs. Wadie Shahin
Wadie is the type of opponent I always have trouble against. A nice guy playing an aggressive deck, in this case Affinity, with his deck cooperating and my deck… offering a bit too much of the terrain.
Game 1 he keeps a one-land hand on the play but draws land on consecutive turns. How unfortunate for me. I died on the fourth turn with him having 87 dudes and me having lands…and a Guardian Idol of course.
I board in March of the Machines and Shattered Dreams for Game 2. And the precious little Island of course. Wadie’s draw is less explosive this game, and after some removal I’m able to get a March down. He has a Disciple of the Vault, so he pings me by playing the artifact lands he draws. He scoops a few turns later when I kill his Ornithopter and Glimmervoid hits the bin.
Only a land on turn 1 is a pleasant surprise, and Wadie not having creatures when I play Shattered Dreams is an even nicer surprise. Two Shrapnel Blasts is scary, but nothing I can’t play around. He still has nothing on turn 4, but I read him for the third Blast, which starts to worry me a little. I was thinking of a good Cloud number, but March wonderfully made its way to the top of my deck. How lucky for me.
Round 3 vs. Joey Hager
Joey is one of the few people younger than me, so this looks like a wonderful opportunity to get my trash talk going. I’m not that young, but I’ve only been off the JSS circuit one year. Joey is playing the Ironworks combo deck, so hopefully I’ll just draw March and win.
Game 1 was… not very close. I can Cloud for one, but I choose to play two mana artifacts so in case Joey doesn’t have the combo my Cloud next turn will actually do something. Unfortunately, Joey casts an adorable little Fireball for 732987458 before I untap. Ouchies.
Game 2 was… not very close either. I drew a lovely card called March of the Machines which slightly hurt Big Joe’s board when I played it on turn 3.
Every tournament in which I do remotely well, I notice myself playing on a semi-auto-pilot, making what I feel to be good decisions extremely fast. The amount of trash talking I do also increases for unknown reasons, some possibly being that my concentration switches to what’s really important, or maybe I just need something to occupy my time during my opponent’s turn.
Anyway, game 3 is rather scary as Joey has Ironworks out very early, and I have an interesting judgment call to make. I can play either Greater Harvester or Night’s Whisper hoping to draw a March. He has an Ornithopter, which is rather strange in an Ironworks deck, but at the moment it would take my Harvester two turns to deal any damage. I figure if he doesn’t have anything, it won’t really matter between two turns or three, while if he does have the combo, the March is necessary. I settle on the Whisper but don’t draw the March, so my Harvester is simply delayed a turn. Fortunately Joey doesn’t have anything relevant, so my Harvester hits a few turns later, earning a concession.
Round 4 vs. Tom LaPille
Tom and I both live in Cincinnati, so a lot of the little testing I do is with him. Still feeling pretty hot, I see no reason for me to stop the trash talking at this point, especially against Tom.
Tom is playing Affinity, which is on the unfortunate side of the street when it comes to matchups, but he double mulligans, good times. Tom isn’t the most aggressive of people, so I don’t have that much to feed off for trash talking, but the mulligans certainly present some fine opportunities. This game isn’t too difficult for me as Barter in Blood kills most of his creatures and Death Cloud leaves him helpless. I obviously have two lands and an Idol after the Cloud, no surprises there.
At the end of his third turn, Tom has 2 Myr Enforcers, 2 Frogmites, an Arcbound Ravager, a Worker, and a Disciple. I have 2 Swamps and a Guardian Idol. Yeah, nice draw, lucksack.
Being on the play is critical in the deciding game, as Barter usually kills all of his creatures rather than leaving him with one. In theory, it shouldn’t be that big of a difference if you can kill the last creature the turn after, but the life lost in that turn is usually pretty significant as it can put you in the range of double Shrapnel Blast or a simple Disciple/Ravager combination which the Affinity players always seem to have. I kill most of Tom’s early dudes leaving him with only a Ravager and two Blinkmoth Nexus as potential threats. I finally have a good moment to play the March I’ve been holding and take the offensive with four mana-artifacts. Tom gives away a turn by not tapping his only artifact land to activate a Nexus before sacrificing it, leaving me with an extra 2/2, as he couldn’t pump the Nexus. I swing for lethal damage the turn after.
Round 5 vs. Kyle Polson
Kyle is playing Blue/Green Tooth and Nail, a fairly popular deck in the Friday PTQ.
In game 1 I play a turn 4 Harvester and Echoing Decay his only blocker. The next turn I play another Harvester and he scoops after I make my upkeep sacrifices. Double Greater Harvester, what a great deck.
At this point, Justin Brown points out that playing another Harvester gets me wrecked by Echoing Truth, but I still felt it was the right play as I didn’t want to give him a chance to recover. I didn’t expect him to have it in the main deck in the first place, and he would have used it on the first Harvester if he had it. Even if he peeled it, I could have played my lovely creature out again the following turn, as my hand was full of land and mana artifacts.
Game 2 I get another early Harvester, with removal for his Shaman when he is stuck on three lands. What a wonderful card that Greater Harvester is.
Intentional draw round 6 with Kyle Boddy
Kyle is a friend of mine from Cleveland, who has been bashing my deck throughout the day, making fun of amazing cards such as Greater Harvester. Hmph. As we take a draw, Adam Fronsee and Kyle Tracy get deck checked next to us, so Adam gets out a deck of cards. Kyle B. declines my challenge in Egyptian Ratscrew/Slapjack/The Slap Game, but Adam and Kyle T. agree. I wonderfully smash them until a judge call from Tom LaPille stating the slaps are making the dice roll over makes us stop. Hmph. If my Arcbound Worker suddenly became a 5/5, I wouldn’t complain.*
Intentional draw round 7 with Adam Fronsee
As we take a draw, Adam suddenly notices his binder is missing and sees a guy running across the room. He tells me to watch the rest of his stuff and darts across the room after him. Adam was actually an alternate for the U.S. Olympic sprinting team, so the man isn’t even out the door when Adam tackles him. The guy’s Origins badge is taken away and he is forced to leave, while Adam gets his binder back. Adam looks in his binder, and instead of a Ravager in the middle of his front page, there is an unlimited Ancestral Recall.**
To the surprise of absolutely no one, my 5-0-2 record is good enough for top 8, so I start getting information about my opponent’s deck.
Quarterfinals vs. Kyle Smith
Kyle is playing U/W Control, which is an abysmal matchup beyond words for my deck. It probably favors him 85% at the very least, and that’s counting play skill. Speaking of play skill, I heard somewhere that Kyle got Top 16 at Canadian Nationals, so I was extremely intimidated. It’s sometimes tough to keep your composure when facing a very skilled opponent, but I gathered myself and was able to focus on the match. Needing lots of help from my opponent in the form of mistakes, I figured this would be an excellent time to resume the trash talking.
I stalled on land in game 1, which is never a good way to start in a bad match-up. A lot of my cards are totally dead as I have nothing to kill, and Kyle plays Vedalken Shackles stopping my Idol beats. I start threatening Kyle with Dross Prowler tech, but for some reason he doesn’t seem too concerned. Having seen enough cards from his deck, I play Greater Harvester in the hopes that he’ll forget to sacrifice a permanent after he takes it, but he does not. I peel Barter the turn before I die and throw it on the table, but Kyle doesn’t counter. A few turns later he plays Leonin Abunas and has Condescend when I try to Cloud.
I board in Grim Reminder as they haven’t done anything all day and I may be able to get my savage trickery going. Shattered Dreams also goes in, as I’m hoping to hit a Shackles.
Game 2 begins with my artifacts running into Annul, and a Shattered Dreams hitting something completely irrelevant. Kyle obviously draws Shackles a turn or two after, negating my Idol once again. I keep laying land while Kyle gets his beats on with Abunas. A few wonderful turns later…
Kyle: Wayfarer’s Bauble.
Me: Grim Reminder.
Kyle: What? What’s that do?
Kyle: O….k….I take 6.
Me: Sure, Grim Reminder.
Kyle: WHAT! 8.
What a fabulous card. I return the Reminders to my hand and resolve a Cloud for two a turn later. Kyle plays an Abunas, which earns a Barter from me, and a few turns later I see a fist pump from my friend Nick as Kyle taps four mana for Solemn Simulacrum.
“OOOOOOOH! I have one of those!”
Kyle let the first Reminder through even though he had a counter, but I guess he figured the second one killed him anyway.
Figuring the Grim Reminder idea won’t work again, I take them out and try for the March plan, hoping to turn his Shackles into a creature so I can kill it. It’s not a great plan, but when the matchup is 90% in your opponent’s favor there’s really not much you can do. As I thought he’d do, Kyle actually boarded out his Wayfarer’s Baubles, stating that it was the most painful card he’s ever cast. [Brrrrrr-illiant! – Knut]
Game 3 begins innocently enough with just land drops from both sides. I’m looking for a window to do something and Kyle taps really low on one turn, giving me the option of Clouding for four, which would empty our hands and leave him with one more land than me. After some consideration, I decide against it, figuring there will be another window later, and if I cast Cloud immediately Kyle would draw out of it faster than me as I am not that skilled.
I get the window again a few turns later, and I cast Cloud leaving me with a Harvester in hand and Kyle with only one card as well. I draw consecutive lands and play them out, and as Kyle has done the same, I try the Harvester. I put him on a March, as I saw one earlier in the game when I played Shattered Dreams, but unfortunately he has a Condescend. In the next turns he plays Abunas and Pristine Angel – pretty threatening as I am at a low life. I double Decay the Angel when it attacks, only for Kyle to play another one. I rip Death Cloud right off the top, but two turns later Kyle plays another Abunas, and with no answers, my PTQ saga is over.
The Cloud deck was alright, but I recommend another deck if you really want to qualify. Any kind of counter is really bad for this deck and it often has problems keeping up if on the draw. In my next report, I’ll discuss a formidable deck and Saturday’s remarkable PTQ.
*If anyone out there wants to play Egyptian Ratscrew/Slapjack/Whatever for money, I welcome all challenges.
**This is obviously not true… Adam is not an alternate on the Olympic sprinting team.