At Nationals last year, I started trading for the Power Nine. Being a judge, you get those nice judge foils and boxes for judging at Pro Tours and Grand Prix – but no old cards.
At Grand Prix: Reims, I managed to get the last part, a Mox Ruby. Now all I had to do was wait for the new year before I could play with my goodies. As most people know, Type I tournaments are scarce. In the Netherlands, we have regular Type I tournaments held in Castricum – the problem is that it’s once every three months. (Regular? Yes. But not that often.) I was planning to attend the last tourney of 2002, but when I heard it would be held on the 13th of October, my plans were spoiled – I had to go to Copenhagen for a Grand Prix. Now, don’t get me wrong – I really like judging and had a great time in Copenhagen, but I had to wait a bit longer before I would be able to play in my first Type I tourney. I had to wait until January 5th, to be exact.
I wrote the date in my Palm and nothing would stop my from playing there.
The next question you need to ask is, of course, what to play? I had Keeper assembled for ages – but while sorting my cards, I saw a skull staring at me and decided to at least test with a while.
Yes, I am talking about the ever-powerful Deathlace.
I built the ReapLacement Killers deck and started testing with it. I had a lot of fun with it especially playing at a few friendly games at a PTQ. There were a couple of people watching me play this highly-untuned Psychatog deck. He managed to get of an Upheaval with ‘tog mana floating. Instead of just laying the ‘Tog he went ‘Tog, mox, Mox, go. I play land, Lace, Black Lotus, sac Lotus, Reap for Reap and Lotus. My opponent scoops, and a couple of spectators didn’t have a clue what happened. The original decklist had four Deathlaces and two Prismatic Laces, but I changed it the other way around. The Prismatic Laces can’t target spells on the stack – but they do pitch to Force of Will, which makes them better than the Death Laces in my opinion. After some testing, I also found the four Accumulated Knowledges to be not doing that well. I probably played the deck wrong or something, but I found that you first Intuition for your missing combo parts, you do that twice and then you go off, so the AKs were hardly ever used. I switched them for a Restock, a Stroke of Genius, and two Brainstorms. It worked slightly better in my opinion, but it still wasn’t convincing.
Then about a week before the tournament Oscar Tan posts his updated version for Keeper. He has written so much about the deck, I decided to put my faith in his hands and just play his deck, card-for-card. Well almost card for card. I actually lined his up next to Darren Di Battista’s version, Paragon Keeper, and decided I liked Oscar’s version better for an unknown metagame. However , they also had a slight difference in their manabase: Darren was playing three Wastelands and four Tundras and Oscar played four Wastelands and three Tundras. I decided to follow a different route: I liked Darren’s three Wastelands, but chose to run four Volcanic Islands. My reasoning was that with the four Red Blasts in the sideboard, it is more likely to ever need more then one red mana in a turn than white. So this is "The Deck" I played:
Sun Wukong, Oscar Tan, January 2003 (slightly Modified)
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Merchant Scroll
2 Cunning Wish
4 Mana Drain
4 Force of Will
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Stroke of Genius
1 Gorilla Shaman
1 Fire / Ice
1 Dromar’s Charm
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Sol Ring
1 Strip Mine
3 Wasteland (was 4)
1 Library of Alexandria
1 City of Brass
1 Undiscovered Paradise
2 Polluted Delta
2 Flooded Strand
4 Underground Sea
4 Volcanic Island (was three)
4 Red Elemental Blast
1 Scrying Glass
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Aura Fracture
2 Swords to Plowshares
1 Circle of Protection: Red
1 Powder Keg
1 Shattering Pulse
1 Ebony Charm
I did a couple of test draws; it looked fine, and that was that. The road trip was fun it, it was just me and Eelco van Ruth the Organized play manager for the Netherlands who wanted to see what how the tournament was run. This wasn’t just a tournament, the winner would next to the normal prizes also be invited to the PS-Masters, a 32 player invitation tournament which will be held sometime later this year. After some detours because of the roads not being logical, the map not showing me what I wanted to know, some slippery roads because of the snow, we get there without a fuss.
I play some test games against Eelco’s Extended Enchantress deck and we’re underway.
Round 1: Ton van der Linden
While writing down my decklist earlier, I heard a lot of stories around; most were about how to hate power. I was hoping for one of these opponents. Now, however, I was against a powered Combo-Keeper.
In game one, he is mana screwed and at four mana (and some artifacts). He tries to go for a Balance while I have a lot more lands out; I Mana Drain the Balance, then Drain his Drain. In my main phase, I tap two and use the four colorless mana to Mind Twist his hand away, I won easily from there.
Game two, I have a two Wastelands and two blue mana sources to start with. I Waste his first two lands. I have drawn a Strip Mine and get rid of more of his land. A turn later, I find my last Wasteland and he is unable to put up much resistance. When he has a couple of lands in play again, we fight a bit over my Yawgmoth’s Will, which I win. I have a pretty nice graveyard at this point, I start by stripping him some more and he goes down soon after my barrage of spells from the yard.
Matches 1-0, Games 2-0
Round 2: Jochem van den Hoven
Game one, I manage to draw an early Gorilla Shaman to deal with his Zuran Orb; I let a Humility, a Scroll Rack, and a Story Circle through. Be has to think hard what to color to choose with the Circle and eventually decides on blue, even though he is down to thirteen from my Shaman. He tries for an Aura of Silence, but I counter and finally get a Tutor, fetch a Cunning Wish to get me an Allay, and I get rid of his Humility and Circle. I pop his Scroll Rack with my Shaman soon after and play a Morphling. Winning wasn’t hard from there.
In the following game Jochem gets a great opening hand to completely hose me. He has two lands, a Mox Diamond, Blood Moon, and two Argivian Finds and a card he couldn’t remember after the match. He plays a plains and the Mox Diamond discarding a mountain. I play a land and the next turn he topdecks another land and plays the Blood Moon, I force. I peel my Gorilla Shaman from the top, play it and a land and blow his Mox on my turn, still holding Force of Will and a blue card. He doesn’t find another land this turn, and no red mana source for the rest of the game, I counter the important spells, while he is a bit lost because of discarding his mountain to the Mox. I eventually find a Morphling and beat him down.
Matches 2-0, Games 4-0
Round 3: Arthur Tindemans
Arthur was talking with some friends and Jochem at the end of the last round when Jochem and I were still sitting at the table. I heard some pieces of how Arthur’s match had gone that round, but couldn’t figure out what he was playing.
In the first game he plays loads of artifacts, which don’t bother me much; I have to let a Grafted Skullcap through and he proceeds to lay an Ensnaring Bridge. He does little to disrupt me, however, and I find a Cunning Wish for my Shattering Pulse. I get rid of his annoying stuff and play a Morphling. He tries for a Smokestack, which I allow but Shatter it at the end of his turn. The Morphling soon does him in.
I don’t know, he was 2-0 but I hadn’t felt pressured at all by his deck, I was wondering what to sideboard, hmm he has a slow deck, maybe Scrying Glass. I was about to hand him my deck when I figured it out. D’oh!! You need to name a color when you activate Scrying Glass, he was playing all artifacts, I didn’t sideboard my Abyss out for nothing. I put back my Fire / Ice, because he was playing with Metal Workers.
In game two he goes for an early Metal Worker, which I am able to Swords. He plays another the next turn and guess what, Fire/Ice is just what the doctor ordered. Once again he is never really in the game and I manage to beat him easily. I was wondering what it his game plan was after the match and so were some of the spectators. His Smokestack is his main kill/control card after which he beats the opponent with Karn.
Matches 3-0, Games 6-0
Round 4: Mathijs de Wilde
In the first game, Mathijs doesn’t really do anything. I swords a Hypnotic Specter and Edict him when he has another threat out, He is playing Black/Green, but doesn’t have much action going on. At some point I Twist his hand away and he entered scoop mode soon after.
The second game, he didn’t pressure me much – again – and I punished him for it. This was the game where the full power of this deck showed itself to me. He has already gotten rid of two Moxes with a Pernicious Deed and I had used a Lotus to Twist his hand away early. This time, though I was in control, I couldn’t find a threat. He had managed to get hold of some cards again – but I had a Will in hand and was waiting for the right time.
I draw a Walk and that’s where the fun started. Walk, Will, Walk, Lotus, Mox, Mox, Twist your hand again, Land, Ancestral Me, Geyser me for three, my turn? Untap play Morphling, do something else, my turn? Untap, attack for five, and it’s your turn again. Three turns later, the games was mine.
Matches 4-0, Games 8-0
Round 5 Koen van der Hulst
Game one sees me mulliganing for the first time; I keep a very suboptimal hand of Force of Will, Lotus, Mox and three lands. He starts by laying a land, which I also do after drawing one – yay! On his second turn, he plays Duress, I frown and show him my hand. He takes the Force, and I am not very happy.
I draw, smile, and play a land, Mox, Lotus, sac Lotus, Morphling – and it’s his turn to frown. I can’t remember what happens on his next turn, other then him missing his land drop. On my turn I draw The Abyss, play a land, and look over to his side of the board to see only green and black producing lands, better play the Abyss now, because otherwise he’ll knock it out of my hand. I happily play it and attack him. He draws and plays a Treetop Village. I pay a blue so the Morphling doesn’t go to the Abyss and peel another great card from the top: Mana Drain. I play a land and attack with counter mana open. He gets another land, takes the Drain with Duress, and plays Deed with five mana on the table.
Ouch. I pay a blue for the Morphling and draw….Cunning Wish. If I hadn’t played The Abyss I would have been able to Wish for Allay and destroy the Deed, however, I have only four mana open so I do nothing and swing with the Morphling. He just draws and passes and blows the Deed when I attack. I fetch Skeletal Scrying with the Wish, but his Deed wrecked me and now that he has enough lands he can easily overwhelm me with threats.
The second game goes according to plan as I manage to make it to the end game where a Morphling cleans house.
So it comes down to the third game. I keep a hand with three lands, two Forces a blue card and a Balance. He starts with Swamp, Ritual, Hippy; I Force it. On his second turn, he plays Mox, Swamp, Hippy. I Balance on my turn. He casts a Phyrexian Negator, which I Force again, and then comes the Choke, which basically kills me. I don’t find an answer and the game end fast.
Matches 4-1 Games 9-2
Round 6: Bram Verhees
In round 4, Bram and I were sitting alongside each other; that was the round he got his loss. I got to see that he was playing Nether Void, but he also knew I was playing Keeper.
We start off with him stripping some lands and my hand. While I counter some spells. I slowly get the upper hand and manage to resolve The Abyss. I have about five lands in play when he plays a Nether Void. We play a while and I draw into a Morphling – but I can’t play it due to the Void. When I draw a Lotus two turns later I pluck it down, sac it, and announce my Morphling. Bram points to his Void, and says you didn’t pay for your Lotus. I pay for the Lotus and cast my Morphling the following turn (the tourney was run at REL 1).
At some point in the following turn a spectator wonders aloud how it is possible to have both The Abyss and Nether Void in play. Of course, I know the rule about enchant worlds it’s just that it never occurred to me it was in effect. We put my Abyss in the graveyard, and I manage to kill him with the Morphling.
Game two, he pressures me and at some point in the early turns he casts a Demonic Consultation for Dark Ritual. He starts flipping and flipping and flipping and finally finds one with just fifteen cards left in his library… And I then counter the threat he casts with the Ritual.
At some point, I have an Underground Sea, a Wasteland, Mox Jet and Pearl, he has about five lands out. I have no more counters, but do have the Balance. I decide to take some risk and Balance after Wasting my Sea. I have just one card in hand, no creatures, no lands. I hadn’t drawn much land up to this point and was hoping he would be sufficiently slowed. It almost worked – but after having just drawn one land and The Abyss, he manages to cast a Hippy (he had three Rituals left in his fifteen cards, of course). I draw… No land, but a Mana Drain. Not very useful now. He attacks, I put down my cards and we let a die decide which one goes; it’s the Mana Drain.
I draw a land and play The Abyss, he isn’t very happy. I must admit I was very lucky there. We continue and I draw some land, some counters, and finally a Morphing. I just cast it and keep it back. His library dwindles into nothingness and I win.
Matches 5-1 Games 11-2
In the end, Koen van der Hulst wins at 16 points and gets the slot for the PS-masters. Numbers 2-5 are all on 15 points and get the same amount of prizes (I am in 2nd place on tiebreakers, though).
It was a very nice experience and I definitely will be playing more Type I tournaments in the future. The atmosphere was very good and you’re always having fun when you are winning, I guess.
‘Til next time,