I’m happy to report that yesterday, my travel award from the PTQ my team won to qualify came in. It might have been dire traveling without that money, had I not lived fifteen minutes away from the site. Instead I got to sleep in my nice soft bed, shower in my nice scummy bathroom, and drive over with friends in relative leisure. In short, I recommend having a Pro Tour in your backyard, if you can manage it.
I was not expecting to play at this Pro Tour. I had played no PTQs, wasn’t really up on the format, and frankly didn’t care that much anyway. I was planning on showing up, cheering on my friends, and hopefully writing some feature matches or judging or something. If it sounds like a weak plan for a local PT, well, it was. Again, my interest in the Magical Cards was pretty low.
Of course Jed calls me up one week and wants to team up and hit a PTQ in Oregon; a four-hour drive. Jed”La Machina” Dolbeer is a quality local, and I was surprised he was unattached, but I knew no one else of note was. I explained this to him, but he said there was this dude who lived in Portland who was real solid; very under the radar. Some Q’d boys were traveling up to try to win some money, and they graciously offered me a lift. With all this support, how could I refuse?
And I went there, and Owen Sullivan was there, and he was very good, and we won. Awesome. Cut to about three days before the PT, and we all got together for our first practice session. Ever. To be fair, during this month long hiatus I was studying for the LSAT and generally working like crazy. But everything got under control a week before the PT, so it was all good. We were ready to learn how to Team Draft!
We did some practice drafts with another locally Q’d team and we got smashed. Over and over. It was quite disheartening really, but I wasn’t expecting a ton of surprises with a month of not playing together or talking strategy at all. I was feeling cynical, but everyone else was so cool and optimistic, it was infectious. We rallied up, did another team draft, and got crushed again. But we were improving.
On Thursday, I picked up old school Minnesota favorites Jason”Virile” Webter, Dale”Monster Rod” Taylor, and Gerry”Gerry” Thompson. We ate at Alki beach, talked shop and life. We went over to the site, the very nice Convention Center with absurd parking costs. My team and I did another draft. We, umm, got smashed again. And we might have been getting worse at this point; I’m not really sure. But again, the optimism was alive and well. Two Northwest teams qualified at the Last Chance, so there was something crazy like seven teams filled with locals playing. It was nice to have so many people to root for, but it did increase the chance of playing someone you didn’t want to play (foreshadowwwwwwwwwwww).
Oh and regarding our team name, Bearl is a guy certain people don’t care for. Jason and Dale begged me to have some anti-Bearl name, and Jed and Owen could not have cared less. So we were Bearl Anathema.
Day 1, Sealed 1
Our card pool was average. I don’t have the lists for this one, but Own had R/W, Jed had B/U very solid Affinity, and I was with so-so Sunburst. I had a Solemn, and some bodies, but nothing that exciting. In fact, I would say I had the worst deck of the three. Still, we thought our chances were solid for at least 1-1, and perhaps a 2-0.
Round 1-Mort Subite (Geoffrey Siron)
These were a nice, serious bunch of European people. They knew their way around the environs. I thought we were going to have some close ones. Geoffrey was R/B.
Game 1: We’re trading damage back and forth at a fairly even keel. I’ve got some gas left, he’s got some gas left etc. I think I have the slight edge until he taps a Mountain and a Swamp, confirms my life at five, and Shrapnel Blasts my nugget.
Game 2: An early Infused Arrows makes things difficult for him and I come out very quickly. He’s playing like he’s got Shrapnel Blast, but I never give him a chance to get card equality or do a lot of damage. Eventually he has to use it defensively, and I run him over quickly. His Ebon Drake was my MVP this game.
I think at this point, every single match is at 1-1, which is certainly makes things tense.
Game 3: We both come out well this game, but my guys are always bigger. At one point I’m at twelve with a bunch of fellows out, to him at like six or something. All he has left is a Wizard Replica, Tooth of Chiss-Goria, and the obvious chump blocking Goblin Brawler. I have a Deconstruct in my hand to kill whatever, but I plan on saving it for his next blocker and winning the game. I feel safe. Hubris.
He swings at me with the reps and pumps it. I get a sinking feeling when he asks me if I am at ten life. I grumble and nod. He taps four and double Shraps me out. Sting.
Luckily my awesome, wonderful teammates pull out their matches so we win the whole thing. Trés exciting. 1-0
Round 2-Must be a PRO! (Ken Ho [rhyme])
Talim, Rubin, and Ho are not folks you are especially eager to play at round 2. I knew they weren’t going to give anything away, but perhaps we had out-opened them and we could steal wins.
Game 1- Ken is playing Sunburst/Affinity, which I think is an excellent combination. He also beats my silly face in. I get flooded, but my cards are totally being outclassed anyway, so it just means things end sooner rather than later. I did bluff him into getting one more draw step (little victory).
Game 2- I am once again getting flooded and destroyed. Jed had already lost, and I think Owen mistapped to lose a game, not that it really mattered. But a humorous situation came up late.
Ken has a 7/1 Nim Shrieker swinging in, with a Scale and Baton of Courage counter for backup, among lots of other guys on the ground. I have a Thermal Navigator out, with a Solemn Simulacrum that’s going to be sacrificed to chump the Shrieker. I’m at thirteen life. Ken has no cards in hand before his turn starts. He draws, looks at it, and swings with Shrieker. I do the Solemn sac, and chump with Thermy. After combat, he plays a Suntouched Myr.
I chuckle and ask him why he didn’t play it before attacking. He replied that it didn’t matter. I explained that while I was probably going to block, I may not have, and if I didn’t, he’d get a free point in. Ken kind of frowned and said,”Noah you’re good enough. You obviously were going to block.” I told him that even if it was 99.99% I was going to, there was absolutely no reason not to play for that last 0.01%. He kind of shook his head and ignored it.
Next turn he slapped me for eight, played a card, and asked if I approved. I looked at it, thought for a sec, and told him that yes, this time he made the right play. Then he killed me.
We shook hands and he kind of left in a huff, where as I was terribly amused by the whole thing. My team got completely destroyed of course. 1-1
Around this time I see a nice, strapping young man walking up and saying hello. I say hi back, beat, ask him his name. Beat.”I’m Ted Knutson.”
“Oh Ted, nice to finally meet you. Wait, Kanootson? I thought it was Ted Nutson. You know, like mixed (k)nuts.”
He tells me it’s in actuality Ka-nooootson, but the knuts thing was too good to pass up. He doesn’t really care about people mispronouncing his name anymore, cause apparently people seek him out just to mispronounce it, or something. It’s a thorny spot for me though, cause people are constantly screwing up mine, and it grates. I try to curb that behavior, which is why you’ll never see an article by me titled”Noah’s Spinning his Weil” or something like that.
But anyway, Ted’s a nice guy and we touch base a bit through the rest of the weekend. He was apparently laying groundwork (pipe?) for his next career change, whatever that could be. I would have talked to him more, but as we’ll all soon see, I didn’t spend a ton of time at the site, certainly not during day 2 (RIP suspense).
Sealed Decks 2.0
Our card pool is certainly better this time. We have a ton of mana fixers to make Sunburst a breeze. Our affinity count is solid, and then there’s Red and White. Red has little depth, except of course for the 5/5 flying artifact remover fellow. White has the depth, culminating with 2 Loxodon Anchorite and that sweet, sweet, immaculate, Pristine Angel. We considered breaking up the Red and White, since they had out biggest bombs, but the mana never worked out. Affinity had to be B/U, and Sunburst could have taken the Angel, but it would have made the R/W ten times worse, since it was short on finishers. Instead, it took like a Shatter and Barbed Lightning, some random fellows from the affin, and whatever else was left, and made 5cG again. I really wanted to play R/W, because ridiculous bombs fits nicely into my style and the last two rounds left a bad taste in my mouth with Sunburst. Jed put his kung-fu grip on Affinity, so Owen and I were figuring out the other two. Owen graciously allowed me to get into R/W, and we were off to the races. Here’s my decklist from memory:
1 Furnace Dragon
1 Pristine Angel
1 Mirror Golem
2 Loxodon Anchorite
19 other cards
I almost went to seventeen lands, as I had no Myr and the color requirements were rough. Few spells as well. In fact, if someone were to take a shot at the tapped Pristine, they were probably going to hit it. I wasn’t going to tell my opponents that.
Round 3 Tool time (Bryan Lynch)
Their B seat, Kate, seemed very nice, but the other two were quite the grumpy gusses! I played Bryan, who I believe was with R/B/U affinity.
Game 1: We run back and forth, with little of note happening. I got out Vulshok Sorcerer, which seemed to be giving him trouble. Actually there was very little”seemed” about it, Bryan wasn’t happy with the card and wanted me to know. Later on he cast Myr Incubator. I contemplate running my Sorcerer into the Myr tokens, but decide to keep it around and slap down Furnace Dragon. Well! Bryan was certainly not happy about that development. I drew, and played, a Rare! Alas, I won on the wings of the dragon, through no skill of my own GRASHHDGFHFHGA! He was even kind enough to tell me how I could have/should have played better. (Ran sorcerer in.)
Game 2: An interesting hand. White cards with only Mountains. I am playing nine Plains to seven Mountains in the deck, at least according to my decklist, so I gamble and keep. His deck seemed unnaturally slow the first game, so I thought I had time to draw out of it, even if I didn’t double rip plains off the top. What ended up happening was that I continued to draw Mountains and got creamed, quickly.
Game 3: My draw is better this game, but still not great. I’m looking to draw Furnace Dragon right quick when he slips out Myr Incubator on turn 6. (A Rare! GRASHFHGA) I do in fact draw the Furnace Dragon the next turn, but this time of course I do wait for him to blow it, taking ten on the chin. Unfortunately for me, the way he’s been playing and talking and looking at his cards, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion he’s got Vex in his hand. I tell him that I sure hope I draw Furnace Dragon in a dry voice, and in an equally dry voice he tells me he sure hopes I don’t.
At this point I know he’s got Vex, just like he knows I got the Dragon, and we both know the other person knows what they have as well. Which is a problem from me, because it means I can’t win. But I tap seven or eight or something, draw the card (it is optional after all), and concede. And unfortunately Owen or Jed lost as well, which meant we were…
Round 4 Ludipia (Nicolas Bornarel)
These guys were great. We were all kind of at that”we’re-getting-creamed-but-let’s-have-fun” phase, which can be a real blast when peeps are in the same boat as you. I don’t need to let you know, the homoerotic humor was flowing like wine this match. But their little black team shirts were so cute!
Game 1: We get deckchecked. Now I know some people get nervous for this, but I gotta say, I haven’t screwed up a decklist at a PTQ in five years, and at a Pro Tour ever. So I wasn’t sweating it. Instead I wandered around and scouted fun-looking matches. When I came back, a judge was kind of grimacing and asking me to come with him. *frown*
Apparently I had got my decklist right, but switched the quantities of lands I put in, i.e. nine Mountains and seven Plains versus how it should have been. Interestingly, this probably cost me that game against Bryan where I expected to draw Plains, and I, uh, didn’t. This particular error also cost me game 1.
Game 1: I…lost?
Game 2: At least I got to play first, even after losing the die roll! Nicolas is also playing the R/W, but with relatively better guys and more equips. I get out Pristine Angel and an Anchorite, but I ain’t pushing through. He’s got like a 5/6 Cub out, and some other random dudes. I’m not exactly building up my forces, since I keep drawing lands. He hit me once with a Spectral Shrouded dude, which actually stung my development quite a bit. I’ve got eight lands in play, with one in my hand as the only card, when he end steps Bola + Blinding Beams me. On his turn he Bolas my last non-Angel guy, moves his Equips around, and swings with his army. I’m at around fifteen pre-assault, but it’s going to be a lot lower post. All I have left untapped is the Pristine.
I won’t die during the attack, but where I block could be the decider. I figure the only possible way I can win is Furnace Dragon, and I have no artifacts out at all, which means I need to cast it for the full nine. Furthermore, I have eight lands out and that lone card in my hand is number nine, so whatever creature the Specter’s Shroud is on is getting an Angel in front of it. Brilliantly, it’s on a Raise token, so I’ll be taking a lot of damage. Still, it’s the correct block. I go down to four.
At this point in the match, the other two teammates were done. Jed had won, because he’s amazing. Owen had lost, because he’s amazing, but was having a bad day. The crowd watching the last game was at least 200 thick. Little children were jumping on chairs and tables trying to catch a glimpse. Evil Nicolas the villain, who was both French and Evil, crossed his arms and looked smug. His teammates were already celebrating and buying shots for the party, which was the plan if they had made 2-2. And why shouldn’t they celebrate? How could out hero possibly get out of this one?
Noah untapped the stuff that untapped and slipped the top card out facedown in front of him. He laid the land in his hand down and sighed.
“Can I do this?” he wondered.”I have to.” With steely determination, Noah tapped 9 and turned the facedown card over. It was
The crowd erupted in a deafening roar.
“Noah topdecked! What a SvgMizor!!!” Chanted over and over.
But hold on there! The Dragon did his thing, but was it enough? Some quick math was needed, quickly!
Yes! With the blocks on what was left standing, Noah would be at exactly one life after the next attack, and than swing back for about a million. Assuming of course Nicolas the villain wouldn’t topdeck himself. (booo Haman boo!)
But he didn’t and Noah won game 2 after pathetically throwing away the first to a decklist error!
Game 3: I again draw Dragon and it again wrecks him. Late into the game, a teammate was talking to Nicolas in French. I asked him to please talk to his teammate in English only, cause, you know. He told me he was telling Nicolas to concede, to which I asked him to please continue. No concessions came, but I won the old-fashioned way anyway.
The Minnesota people were the same, and there were so many Northwest teams I couldn’t keep track. Pretty sure no one we knew was 4-0, but since we weren’t 4-0, I don’t think we cared.
The last set of sealed decks was the toughest of the three to build. We had a ton of removal in Red and White, double Viridian Shaman, double Aether Spellbomb, Crystal Shard, and some other weird stuff. Neither Affinity or Sunburst looked that viable. We knew we wanted the Shamans with some kind of blue, but we couldn’t figure out a way to make it viable. Finally someone suggested splitting up the Green, to get a G/U deck, a R/W deck, and a G/B deck. It worked perfectly. The G/U was truly amazing, with the aforementioned Shamans and bounce, Hoverguard Sweepers and a great curve as well. The R/W really did have tons of removal, and semi-lame creatures. Which left me the G/B, built right except for one card:
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Journey to Discovery
1 Night’s Whisper
2 Predator’s Strike
1 Baton of Courage
1 Nim Replica
1 Leaden Myr
1 Platinum Angel
1 Grimclaw Bats
1 Blind Creeper
1 Sylvok Explorer
1 Fangren Hunter
1 Tangle Asp
1 Copperhoof Vorrac
1 Viridian Zealot
1 Tel-Jilad Archers
1 Tel-Jilad Wolf
1 Vault of Whispers
Sideboard: Wizard Replica, Wail of the Nim, Screams from Within
Obviously the Irradiate should be a Wail, but otherwise it was pretty good. I especially liked the Viridian Zealot/Woebearer/double Predator’s Strike interactions. We all felt good about going 2-0, which was great, because that’s what was needed to see Day 2.
Round 5-Mach 3 Power Ranger (Neil Rigby)
You may remember Neil Rigby from English Nationals and the Indestructible Gargoyles+Obliterate.dec. He and his team were also real fun guys, with lots of joking around and thick accents.
Game 1: Smash Smash Smash. I slipped out a quick Vorrac and Fangren on him, and his W/U/B deck full of little guys was no match. He was flooded and had problems against fatties (don’t we all?), so it was over fairly quick.
Game 2: I side in the Wail of the Nim, of course. I’m looking over at my teammates and I see Jed with his board vs. nothing, and Owen with Hoverguard Sweepers and a Crystal Shard vs. nothing. Feeling good.
My match with Neil was decided on turn 4, when I Wailed to kill a Neurok Prodigy, Myr, and an Auriok Transfixer. The Ancestral + damage was too much to overcome, and I believe Copperhoof mopped things up. The other boys won too.
Round 6 Make Fetch Happen (Kevin Pettinger)
Curse the luck! A quality local team, A.K.A. the worst case scenario. While you hate to play against friends in a crucial round, it’s allayed somewhat by locking up at least one team for day 2. No one was really happy with the pairing. At least until the round was over. Than they were, because they beat us. We weren’t happy with the pairing.
Game 1: While Kevin and I were shuffling up, Owen had already won two straight on the backs of his double Shaman. So that was somewhat of a load off. For all the good it did us.
Kevin was with mono-Black Affinity. He had fairly good guys, and a Skeleton Shard. Probably the worst pairing for me of the possible opponents. Basically, this game came down to Skeleton Shard being amazing. We were trading hits for a while, and it kind of looked like I was getting the upper hand. But then the Shard came down and I started drawing a lot of land, and I was never able to get through again.
Game 2: Out goes Terror + something else, in comes Wail and Screams. This one started off a lot better, with me getting a two-for-one, plus a little mana burn, which Kevin had to suffer to kill Copperhoof Vorrac. Woebearer came down and got P Striked up when blocked, and I even had five left over to cast the Vorrac again. He actually managed to stymie those beats, but Platinum Angel swung for the last points of damage.
Game 3: I’ve got an early Zealot hitting for a bit, and there are lots of juicy targets, but I’m really interested in keeping it alive for the Shard. We kind of reach a stalemate around turn 50. I’m praying for Mindslaver to win the game, or at least a flier to make a go at it, but I keep plucking lands. Meanwhile Kevin continues to lay lands as well, and is doing a lot of counting in the interim. I know what’s coming, but short of savage topdecking (who does that?), I simply have to hope I’m wrong. But sure enough a couple turns later, a lot of lands and Myr are tapped and I’m taking eleven to the dome with a Consume Spirit. Jed couldn’t take out Mike Thompson in the critical game 3, so our Pro Tour was done. We shook hands and wished Make Fetch Happen well, which they did.
Yeah, I wasn’t really around for Day 2. You see, I was catching up on a lot of ZZZs, having partied it up with the Minnesota crew previous. What ended up happening on this Saturday was me and three other fellows chilling at my house and alternating between Chinese Poker, Magic Online, and getting messed up. For about eleven hours straight. It might have been the best day 2 ever. Oh, and we saw Anchorman. It was pretty funny, but to be fair, most things were at that point.
Dropped off the Minnesota folk at the airport (sniff) and watched the top 4 while eating a sandwich. Both were pretty good. I also won a side draft with my key two-part process:
Step 1: Open Skullclamp
Step 2: Play Skullclamp
Such a tricky game. I caught up with Tim Aten, who seems like a cool guy. Saw Pelcack, who owns one of the best photographs I’ve ever taken, and will probably show it to you if you ask him nice. And Mark Rosewater stepped on my feet on the way to play a game. No, he did not say”excuse me”. He also butchered my name the last time he said it, about three years ago. Mark Rosewater hates me.
And that’s it. We ended up in 64th place, which I believe is worth $500. So that’s nice. I haven’t been playing a speck of Magic since, except for dumb ol’ Magic Online, cause it’s convenient. But last weekend there was a PTQ in the area, and good man Treat offered to loan me what I needed, and good man Gerry gave me a great decklist. So I played, and did pretty well. Here’s what I ran:
4 Eternal Witness
4 Viridian Shaman
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Electrostatic Bolt
4 Magma Jet
4 Wayfarer’s Bauble
1 Rude Awakening
2 Mirrodin’s Core
3 Tel-Jilad Justice
3 Isochron Scepter
2 Journey to Discovery
1 Rude Awakening
Again, this is Gerry’s deck, but I liked it so much I didn’t change a single card. It’s easily the best R/G build I’ve seen. Briefly:
- The way I see it, land destruction is terrible against any deck that’s Affinity or uses Eternal Witness. And that’s everything.
- You want to beat Affinity? This is the deck. Yes, it’s tougher to win against G/U and Tooth, but the tools are there.
- Hardly ever color or mana screwed, which certainly appeals to me.
- The sideboard is amazing. Scepter is a turn 4 win against Affinity, everything else is good against everything else. Journey especially is very solid in any kind of mirror, especially with dueling Rude Awakenings.
If one were so inclined to play Red/Green at a PTQ, then this is the list I would run, bar none. You smashify Affinity, and you’ve got game against anything else. As you will see…
Oh, and a big thanks to everyone who lent me cards, especially Fast Eddie and Christian Robertson. With their help I managed to turn in my decklist fifteen seconds before round 1 started.
79 people meant seven magical rounds.
Round 1-Owen Sullivan G/W/U
Yes obviously I play my Pro Tour teammate round 1 in a random PTQ. Why not? He’s not playing Affinity, which is unfortunate, but he is playing something that certainly looks random, which is a good thing. It’s got good Green for all the usual suspects, White for Pristine and Purge, and Blue for Thought Courier. If it doesn’t sound good, well, it certainly whipped my ass. And a lot of other people as well.
Game 1: I’ve seen Heiss’s deck, and wasn’t too impressed. I was sure Owen had changed some things around, which was confirmed when Thought Courier came out turn 2. I killed it, as the only card that I care about in that deck is Pristine Angel, so slowing down its appearance seems good. I thought my draw was pretty excellent, with recursive Magma Jets and double Arc-Slogger. Unfortunately, my double Slogger met his double Duplicant. I was constantly a step behind, and sure enough, the Pristine(s) finished me off. I found out later that he’s got Tel-Jilad Chosens and Purges main, none of which he drew. I acquired three Oxidizes by the end.
Out: Lots of artifact kill.
In: The Journeys, Dupes, Awakening, Karstoderm
There are two sideboarding modes. Affin or non-Affin, and I think the choices for each are fairly obvious. Land searching is great with Rude Awakening and Fireball kills. Removing dead cards is also appealing.
Game 2: He left in Viridian Shamans, which were quickly dispatched. He never made it to four lands, and so I quickly took Owen out.
Game 3: This one was a little more interesting. We both went Witness/Solemn/Bauble crazy. Our guys kept plinking here and there, but mostly dying to Duplicants or whatever. The last turn has me Fireballing his nugget for eight, with the plan to Rude Awakening for the kill next turn. Unfortunately, he got his Awakening online first, and took me out before I could untap. The Rude battles are certainly a prevalent factor of Mirrodin Block, it seems.
Round 2 Alex Earle G/U
Game 1: Where’s all the Affinity? Oh yeah, they won their first round, instead of losing like chumps. Anyhoo, this was a nice guy running classic Green/Blue, with the Crystal Shards and whatnot. It was a so-so build. What helped were my excellent draws and Alex running his chances into the ground.
The vital card is Arc-Slogger of course. It’s about fifteen times more relevant than anything anyone from either side could play, ever. So the goal is to resolve it, which means getting tons of mana into play to override Condescend, and/or baiting everything else. It wasn’t too tough frankly. I drew a couple Baubles, and when he Witnessed a Serum Visions back, keeping two open or something, Slogger came down. He did Echoing Truth back to my hand at one point, but by that time he was so low I could just start throwing stuff at his head.
The siding is a little trickier, because everything looks good. He probably should take Crystal Shard out, but I didn’t think he would, since he tried so hard to protect them game 1. Hence, didn’t slip in Karstoderms. I kind of split the difference between arti and critter kill. I think I ditched the Fireballs and a couple Oxidize.
Game 2: He throws down an early Scrabbling Claws, which was okay in that it made Eternal Witness worse, but not amazing. The real problem G/U has with Witness is that it’s a creature with more than one power. I think he forgot to use it once or twice anyway and I managed to snag a Bauble back. My Viridian Shamans were amazing this game, as they had both two power and two toughness, making them a nightmare for the G/U player. Once again I resolved an Arc-Slogger later on, which was also significant. The final turn Alex has out an Eternal Witness, Crystal Shard, Scrabbling Claws, and one island untapped. The Shard, while not in any way threatening, was irksome enough that I was probably going to have to give him another draw step. But he tapped his last Blue to main phase sacrifice the Claws. It made the math a lot easier.
Round 3 Matt”Scrub” Greene G/R
Game 1- My opponent was sitting next to his buddy this round. His friend kept joking on how terribly Matt played last round, and kept calling Matt a scrub, to which Matt retorted that his buddy’s mom was fat. It was quite amusing. Also during this exchange, Matt shuffled his entire deck towards me. To say it was helpful would be… accurate.
Again, the critical card in this matchup is Arc-Slogger. It’s the biggest thing on the field, always. Second place might go to Fireball or Solemn. It’s certainly not Witness until much, much later. My opening hand had 2 Solemns, 2 Arc-Sloggers, and 3 land. An amazing draw against the mirror, horrendously bad against Affinity. I kept.
Matt ran out some Molten Rains and a Solemn of his own, but double Slogger was just too much to handle. He drew a lot of Shamans this game as well.
Standard non-Affinity sideboard.
Game 2: I’m afraid Mr. Greene was simply outclassed this game. My Journey, Witness, Journey made his Molten Rain/Molten Rain plan look awful. The Karstoderms trumped his Ascetics, etc. I believe Rude Awakening finished things off.
Round 4 Chris Buker- Affinity
Game 1: Chris is easily one of the best players from Oregon, and probably the Northwest in general. He’s just not a guy you’re happy to play against. On the other hand, he was running Affinity, so I wasn’t too disappointed.
I start things off with the double Oxidize, Electorstatic Bolt, Witness draw. Buker’s draw is a touch slow, and my insane start is enough to ride Arc-Slogger to victory.
Side In: 3x Tel-Jilad Justice, 3x Scepter
Side Out: 3x Solemns, 1 Rude Awakening, 1 Fireball, 1 Wayfarer’s Bauble.
I have 100% late game, so anything that gets me there is great. Solemn is way too slow, Bauble almost is. The two remaining Fireballs are good for Disciple or Somber killings.
Game 2: My opener is Mountain, Electrostatic Bolt, Oxidize, Wayfarer’s Bauble, Justice, Scepter, and E Witness. I’m on the draw, keep or no?
I think with the potential there you have to keep, as the Scepter really is nuts on turn 4. Unfortunately I didn’t draw a land for at least three turns, and then it was another mountain, so I got dusted pretty quick.
Game 3: Much better draw this time, with the opening hand scepter and lots of targets. Turns 1-3 I kill a couple things. Turn 4 I play Scepter with Magma Jet on it. Buker actually makes a game of it, with Enforcers and Ravagers. But I just kept chump blocking and scrying, not taking damage whenever I could avoid it. Eventually I got a second Scepter out with Oxidize on it (Crowd:”Groan”) and that was that.
Round 4 Josh Beck – Mono Blue
Game 1: This was by far the funniest round I played in any tournament written about so far. Josh was a young guy with two-tone hair and some lip piercings. And headphones! This was unfortunate, as angry young societal rebel folk never play the best deck, which in this case meant Affinity of course. I expected something a little more creative, which could mean a bad matchup. In actuality, he was with mono-Blue.
I shuffle up my deck and present; he does the same. I take his deck and start shuffling it, and he rips off his headphones and tells me not to bend his cards. Well of course I wasn’t, but I kindly oblige him and do a little pile shuffle. That causes the following exchange:
“Don’t do that,” Angry At Everything Guy (AAEG).
“Do what?” Me Full of Love and Rainbows (MFOLAR).
“Shuffle…like… that,” AAEG with a look of disgust .
“Okie dokie. Here’s your deck back. Good luck!” MFOLAR.
He double mulligans and I destroy him. Conveniently, his buddy was playing at the next table, so a glance over showed what could be coming. Nothing too fancy really. Condescends, Annuls, Vedalken Masterminds, Vedalken Engineers, Triskelions, Vedalken Shackles, Crystal Shard, Echoing Truth, was I think the gist of it. It was kind of cool, in a terrible sort of way, but it wasn’t very good, in an accurate sort of way. Still, his buddy made top 9, so maybe it had more game than I thought. Regardless, it was just awful against G/R.
Sideboard. Everything was good against him! The Rude Awakening was an easy toss, but I honestly don’t recall what else I took out. I think I sided in 2 Justice and 2 Scepter.
Game 2: Thinking he was semi-kidding about the pile shuffling stuff, I do it again so as not to bend his cards. This causes Jeff to smirk and say something contemptuous, about me or my skillz or something. I just shrug. His attitude is really surprising, because I have no idea why it’s coming. There are people that dislike me for jealousy or stupidity or something like that (Kronick springs to mind), but I never met this guy before in my life. I would have thought it was a tactic, except he kept making awful plays while he was ranting about the world. Unfortunately I get flooded and never found another kill for his Shackles, so he takes me out game 2.
Game 3: In my infinite kindness, I call over a judge and ask him to shuffle my opponent’s deck. AAEG looks me up and down, and asks me why I think I need to stall for game 3. (Time left in round: 37 minutes). But I oblige him and ask for the judge to give us an extra 47 seconds for the shuffle. The judges comes over the top, and gives us the full minute! Hannukah in August!
When I asked how I should shuffle his deck, he told me to just cut it”like gentlemen”. Easily the funniest thing he had said yet.
Now when dealing with someone who’s acting spiteful and annoying, the kindly opposition has a lot of options available. The trick is to get them so raving about their entitlement and whatever else, they’ve got no mental energy left for the game. So:
1) You can ignore it. This is actually pretty decent, as being ignored makes these folk go into a frenzy. But it’s so dull.
2) You can play back at them. Some people can up the stakes with personal insults and grand schemes. Not a great idea. Even if you think you’ve got the skill for it (and I probably don’t), you’re just playing their game if you don’t give your full attention to what’s really important (c-a-r-d-s).
3) Play dumb and win. I love option #3!
You ever punish a kid or pet, and the little thing doesn’t know why he’s being punished? They give you this sad face, wondering why their loving owner/parent (owner) betrayed their trust. That was the look I was going for. Like, I’m-just-trying-to-play-Magic. Fun-Magic-is-fun, why-can’t-we-get-along? And all the while, while he’s raving and I’m looking confused, I attack for six or something obscene. I won; it was satisfying.
Afterwards, he shook my hand and said Good Games. It’s something I probably would not have done if I had lost, frankly. So that was upstanding of him. I heard later on that I was not the only person to have incidents with Mr. Beck, although I’m probably the guy to write the most about it.
Round 5 Josh Lytle-Affinity
Game 1: This former writer for Brainburst, who now writes for StarCityGames.com, likes to rogue it out. I was surprised he was Affinity, but it was a teched out version, with extra card draw and more stamina against the hate.
The first game we plink back and forth, both of us with very slow draws. He’s Night’s Whispering all over the place, I’m searching lands. At one point I spend six to Fireball three 1/1s, but somehow he convinces me I did the math wrong, so I split it up only two ways. I’m honestly not sure how he managed to do that, but I have to give him credit for getting in my head like that.
But it really didn’t matter, as he kept drawing lands and started drawing business. There was this one point where if I didn’t have the Oxidize I returned with Eternal Witness I would have lost. But I did have it!
Game 2: According to my notes, he got me down to nineteen. I think at one point I Fireballed up two Disciples, and Magma Jetted another. Then I got out Scepter. Savage.
Round 7 ??? ID
0-1 to 5-1 is a nice comeback. The draw in the last round locked up the top 8 spot. My only loss was to Owen Sullivan, who hadn’t lost a match yet with his W/G/U.
We chilled out and talked about flaws in M. Night Shyamalan movies.
“So wait, there’s this race that was smart enough to invent interstellar travel, but not smart enough to know they’re allergic to 75% of a planet’s surface?”
The top 8 was 4 Affinities, 3 Red/Green, and a G/W/U. All the Affins were spread out, so there were zero mirrors round 1.
Quarterfinals Mike Thicke-Affinity
Game 1: Former Brainburst editor. Mike’s a very nice guy who recently made the Canadian National Team. He also was certainly not eating big pieces of chicken during the entire match, and little flakes of chicken and chicken skin were not falling on his shirt and on out cards. Glad that’s cleared up.
As mentioned, he was with the Affins. Game 1 he gets his Sombers out quickly, which was troublesome for me. I’m killing them as much as I can, but taking hits too. The final turn has him casting Thoughtcast and double Plating his final Somber for 2543 points of damage. This is enough to kill me.
Side: Scepters, Justice blah blah.
Game 2: Lots better, this one. The key point is on turn 5. Mike has out a 1/1 Ravager, a Worker, and a Frogmite. I E Bolt the Ravager. He thinks, than sacs enough to make it a 5/5. Then I E Bolt it again. He looks disappointed and moves the counters onto Frogmite, pretty much the last card left in play. In response to that, I Magma Jet it. I win handily after that, which was great because I got to save the Scepter tech.
Game 3: Said tech came out to play. It was a close one I believe, because while I was drawing a lot of kill, his Disciples were still pinging. I think Mike sacced four Chromatic Spheres this game, but I drew the Fireball, used it for the 1/1s and tapped my Scepter(s). It was enough to win.
Semifinals Brett Allen- Vial Affinity
Game 1: While I’m happy to play Affinity, Brett’s a nice guy who knows what he’s doing. In fact, he hadn’t lost a single game so far the entire tournament.
He also goes plink crazy with C. Spheres and Blinkmoth Nexus and Disciples. Again, I throw lots of kill towards his permanents and split a Fireball for two 1/1s. I’m actually not in a great controlling place, so I have to start racing with Arc-Sloggers. It’s kind of close, but Arc’s ability and stats are just sooo good against. Everything.
Game 2: Speedy Vial and Atog makes things a little tough. I’ve got some kill of course, but hitting lands and skipping Vial, or vice versa, is a tough situation. I manage to accumulate enough burn to get Brett to sac enough to Atog, so I can still kill it and Oxidize whatever was left. Scepter with Justice + Scepter with Magma Jet ensures clean up is not a problem.
Finals Owen Sullivan G/W/U
Full circle yo. My only loss versus the guy who hadn’t lost at all. Owen really wanted the slot, and I really hate Extended. A deal was made, Owen qualified for the Pro Tour, I made some money. Everyone was happy.
Some final points:
- The only reasonable way to beat this R/G with Affinity is with Moriok Rigger, and even then, it’s tough to get and keep out. This is the R/G to play if you want to beat Affinity.
- I sided in every single card at one point or another, which makes me think I had a good sideboard. I like the Karstoderms, but they could be exchanged for something else. Every other card was pure gold.
- Except for the people mentioned, everyone (in both tournaments) were real nice, upstanding folks. Despite a few bad eggs (Kronick again?) most people that play, even at the high levels, are pretty pleasant, fun people.
- Pristine Angel and Arc-Slogger are by far the two best creatures in the format. It’s not even close. A deck with both would seem good, in theory.
That’s all I got this time. Any questions or comments, I can be reached at [email protected]. Good luck on your remaining PTQs.
*Noastic on MODO
*ERlover98 on AIM