When I read Pascal Schumacher’s article”Un-Seriously Casual: Searching for the All-Land Deck,” it brought back an amusing memory of a deck I came up with on a bet. It wasn’t supposed to be playable, just intriguing. Then I made the mistake of going through with the bet… And taking it to an Extended Pro Tour Qualifier.
A student on the same floor of my dorm who shall remain nameless dared me to come up with a deck that won with Seismic Assault. I came up with”Twelve Cards and Some Land,” keeping in mind that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was testing an Oath deck he’d built. I then proceeded to murder his deck with malice aforethought. After five games, he told me I was no fun, dared me to play the deck in a tournament, and went off to sulk. (Or so he said; I’m sure he was really building his deck sporting the various Spheres from Odyssey and Alter Reality to boot.) Speaking with him later led to a bet for fifty bucks that said I couldn’t win a match with the deck. I immediately took him up on the bet and started planning a trip to Indianapolis – if nothing else, I would have fun playing with the forty-dollar pile of cards.
Thus, on January 4, 2003, I found myself in the Indiana Convention Center with about a hundred other players. I sleeved my deck and waited for the first pairing. Since I never intended to write an article about the tournament, the notes I took ended up in the trash can after about a month, so details have been lost; I do, however, remember enough to give a brief description of each match.
Round one, I was paired against a Psychatog deck. I won the coin toss and kept. So did my opponent. I laid my mountain and said go. I had to say go at least three times, because my opponent was absolutely certain I was playing Sligh and that I had said go by accident.
Game one went to my opponent, as he had a Rushing River for my Seismic Assault right before his 21/22 Psychatog took a bite out of me. Game two went to me; he simply didn’t find his Psychatog, and he had very little that was effective against my deck in his sideboard. Fortunately, my opponent was a slow player (my own speed is somewhat moderate) and had time called when I was still at twenty life in the third game. I had had a horrible start, with my mountains drying up after two. I went down to one on the fifth extra turn, but he just couldn’t muster the extra point of damage, so we handed in our match slips with a point apiece. My opponent was visibly upset and didn’t even shake my hand after the match, preferring to run to his buddies and whine about how a”stupid deck” had drawn him.
I went into round two happy with my draw; it was better than I’d expected. My opponent, who was playing a White/Black rogue weenie deck, wiped the smile off my face rather quickly. Game one, he barely outraced me, killing me at two life. After that game, he sideboarded with a particularly evil gleam in his eye, and I wondered what it was. Here is the complete text of round two:
Me:”Mountain, Lightning Rift, go.”
Him:”Plains, Absolute Law, go.”
Me:”That’s a clock. Mountain, Fluctuator, cycle Blasted Landscape, pay one, two to you, go.”
Him:”Swamp, True Believer.”
Me:”Want to go to McDonald’s?”
I knew the risks of playing such a narrow deck – and that time, Fortune slapped me.
Round three, another Psychatog build won in three, with my win in the second game. It was much like the first round, except I was up against a faster opponent.
Round four, I faced Reanimator. I was able to kill off a Verdant Force in the first game, but a Phantom Nishoba crushed me. The second game, I killed off one Verdant Force and won at two life with a Verdant Force and two tokens staring me down. The third game, I just couldn’t find a Fluctuator to go with my Lightning Rift, my lone”business” card, and his Phantom Nishoba finished me again.
Fortune made it up to me in round five. I was paired against a Green/White rogue beatdown deck. While game one went to the Glory pitched to the Wild Mongrel, games two and three showed slower starts that I was able to outrace. I chalked up the points and mentally counted up the money in my friend’s wallet.
Round six gave me an even bigger gift; I faced a Rock player, splashing red for Anger. I remember keeping a double-Seismic Assault hand with Lightning Rift, two mountains, and two cycling lands. He went first and used a Duress on me, taking out the Lightning Rift. I thought, dang, he must have Cabal Therapy. I then proceeded to draw a third Seismic Assault, which was promptly discarded along with the others when the Therapy hit the stack. I was busted that game.
Game two, I Rifted out a Spiritmonger while my opponent was tapped out and he never came back. Game three, I was Pernicious Deeded but had cycled into reserve spells, so I came out on top. My opponent congratulated me and made the observation that his deck must have cost at least ten times what mine did. He’d shelled out more than $450 for his version.
Round seven, I faced Draco-Explosion. Despite getting cracked for sixteen by the big combo, I won the first game with four of my points remaining. I’d Rifted him down to twelve by the time he hit me with the combo. I drew a land, making six in hand, with Seismic Assault on the table. I counted him down, and it was on to game two. There, he used a Firebolt on me, executed the combo on turn 4, and found his fifth land to flashback the Firebolt. Game three, he countered my early plays, but couldn’t get his combo set up. We went to extra turns, but he couldn’t set up the combo and I fell two points short of killing him. What saved me in round one denied me in round seven, and I had another draw on my record.
Overall, I went 2-3-2 with the deck. It wasn’t the most competitive, but it gave me several hours of fun and nasty looks. Ironically, if I were building the deck today, I’d drop the Seismic Assault engine and instead run cyclers like Flame Jet and Scrap so that I had some way of dealing with newer threats (like, say Stabilizer). I’d also likely put in Howling Mines. Still, that’s neither here nor there. The deck did what it could in its sketchy state, and I’m fond of it.
Any comments, questions, or random thoughts can be sent to [email protected].
Peace until your next war,