Since I know everyone loved my Pro Tour: New Orleans report, I decided to write again for PT San Diego. By”loved,” I mean hated of course, but hey, my writing is an acquired taste. Sorry everyone, but I won’t give the details of the trip down like Random Bad WriterÂ™ would. Clearly I am in that category as well, but at least I make an effort to differ from the flotsam.
I will mention, however, that on the plane I dominated fellow Pro Tour competitor Stephen Berrios in a one-on-one draft. I mana screwed him beautifully, and this boosted my confidence level to enormous proportions, since it was likely my best preparation for the event. (The rest consisted of lots and lots of Magic Online drafts, with most of them being 4322’s, obviously) Total incompetents and random Euros were the bulk of my opposition. Random Euros, by the way, are the 1750’s of MTGO. You beat them in round 1 of a 9-5 draft, or the finals of a 4322, but they are always there – not a free win, but not a likely loss. Of course, you cannot mistake the random Euros with the insane ones that top 8 multiple PT’s in the same format. No names of course. Definitely not mentioning Anton Jonsson or Nicolai Herzog here.
After reading that, everyone knows my preparation for the event was lacking. Despite that, I had a plan. I would try to go into Affinity early, and if it wasn’t flowing I would gamble with the Green cards. Basically, if you are drafting Green at a table with two Green drafters, your deck will be insane. If there are three, though, your deck will be awful. There is no middle ground. I preferred the gamble than taking White because I felt it would be over drafted and looking back on it, I think I was right about that. I won’t go into any more detail about specific card choices in general, since this is a dead format already, though it may live on Magic Online forever.
I looked at my first draft pod and I thought it was about average. I recognized Bill Stead and Jordan Berkowitz and none of the other guys. I turned around and saw Gerry at a considerably rougher table, including but not limited to Gabe, Finkel, Dirk, Kibler, and some a Japanese player that I guess is supposed to be good.
Anyway, I opened my first pack and saw Troll Ascetic along with Blinding Beam, Shatter, Myr Enforcer, and Fangren Hunter. Normally I would pick the Enforcer over Troll, but in this case I thought if I picked the Troll, the player across from me would have the Fangren fifth. With that, the Green monopoly would be set up and I would have a good deck. Little did I know that the player to my left, know in California as”Eats ‘N Cheats,” knew that Fangren Hunter is AWEsome. He took it, and put it in his deck. Rough beats for me.
The rest of my pack 1 was decent, as I picked up more good Green cards, a Shatter and a Fractured Loyalty (two targets after pack 1) to put me in G/r. Pack 2 was a disaster, since”Eats” was G/R passing to me. I did open a Pentavus though, which was a nice complement to my gold symbol selection in the first pack. I passed two Arrests in this pack, taking marginal cards over them. It is possible that I should have switched for them, since I wasn’t really cemented in Red, but I felt sticking to my guns would be the better choice, since I was already somewhat short on playables. Pack 3 saved my draft, giving me three Tangle Golems along with some other good cards.
Excepting my ridiculous second draft, my decks have been enjoying the garbage for a while now, so I only remember the important cards. This deck had three Tangle Golems, three Myr, Pentavus, Troll Ascetic, and some other Green guys and pump spells. I basically splashed Red for Shatter and Fractured Loyalty (four targets).
Round 1: Bill Stead
Of course I run into the best player at the table in the first round. At least his playskill did not make a difference, since I had bad mana draws both games.
Game 1, I kept two lands plus a Myr and didn’t play another until the turn before I was dead.
Round 2: Jordan Berkowitz
Very nice. The two players I recognize in the first two rounds.
Game 1 my deck coughs up a turn 3 Troll Ascetic like it should have done every game. He plays back with Tel-Jilad Archers. I attack, and after thinking for a minute or so he blocks. I toss out my Tooth and regenerate my Troll. He had no creatures that could block it successfully, so it just went to town and eventually killed him.
Game 2 he had an early Copperhoof Vorrac, but I stole it with Fractured Loyalty. My Bola was letting me get some damage in every turn, but eventually he drew Molder Slug. That was almost enough to turn the tide, but I was able to get through for the final damage thanks to the Bola.
Him:”How old are you?”
For those not familiar with me, which is obviously most, this was not a lie.
Round 3: Brian Zunter”Eats ‘N Cheats”
Game 1 I was completely puzzled when he started playing Forests and Mountains, since I had passed to him. I was happy, since it meant my card quality was much better. He stalled on three lands for a turn, then four for another and my Tangle Golems showed no mercy.
Game 2 he played a turn 3 Glissa. Normally, a Green deck would just shrug that off as a solid creature. But my deck was sporting upwards of fifteen artifacts, and it was bad. I had Fractured Loyalty in hand, though, and a Darksteel Pendant in play, but I had to find one of my four targeting spells. After about ten more cards into the deck, I got the Scale of Chiss-Goria I needed. It seemed like it would be enough, but that was before he topdecked Wurmskin Forger (or the seventh land) to push exactly enough damage through before I took complete control of the game.
Game 3 he tapped four mana on turn 4, but it brought about only a Drill-Skimmer. I played on of my better cards and passed. He drew and smiled stupidly, plopping down his newly drawn Glissa. I didn’t have Loyalty, and that is the story of how I lost to G/R when I was G/R passing to him.
At this point he offers me a handshake. I start reaching for his hand when I hear the words”Good Game” come out of his mouth. I laugh and pull my hand back, because he was totally serious. He calls a judge and informs him that I refused to shake his hand. The judge laughs and says that that is perfectly in accordance with the rules.
After this round there is much bitterness. I brood with Gerry for a while, and my urge to stab grows each time a new person asks my record and I tell them. Even when I sat down at my second draft table and recognized no one of note, I thought I wasn’t playing in the next day for sure. Little did I know of the deck that was about to fall into my lap. I will present the deck list before trying to explain how it occurred.
Talisman of Dominance
Tooth of Chiss-Goria
Scale of Chiss-Goria
2 Somber Hoverguard
4!! Quicksilver Behemoth
3 Tree of Tales
I actually would normally play fourteen lands in this deck, but since my card quality was so insane, and due to the fact that I couldn’t afford to get land-screwed even once, I ran fifteen. My morale was back up after this draft; this is the best deck I’ve ever drafted outside of 4322’s on MTGO, and maybe the best including those.
Let’s go back an hour to when I open my first booster. Loxodon Warhammer brings a slight smile to my face, but my state of bitterness is still intact. I get passed Lodestone Myr, a card I like more than most, and quickly put it in my pile. Third and Fourth pick Somber Hoverguards make me start thinking 3-0 is a real possibility here. Both of the packs were missing Bonesplitter and Shatter, so I figured (correctly) that the coast was clear. My next four picks were mana Myr and seventh pick Viridian Longbow, which should never, ever happen. The pack was rounded out with some Tree of Tales, and maybe a Spellbomb or Scale.
My pack 2 is terrible and I first pick like a Goblin Replica or Talisman or something. As I flip through the next pack, I see what would be my third Somber Hoverguard and prepare to take it. I quickly flip to the end of the pack, and to my pleasant surprise, Arc-Slogger is waiting to get windmill slammed into my pile. The rest of the pack wasn’t so exciting, but I picked up some more Myr, artifact lands, and whatever other Mirrodin cards are in my deck that I didn’t mention before.
I almost laugh out loud at my skill when I open Skullclamp. I really pull through in the clutch, as you can see. For my second pick, I deliberate forever until I finally choose Echoing Ruin over Quicksilver Behemoth. I am one of the biggest Behemoth advocates you could meet, but the reason I picked the Ruin was that my deck was already insane and I wanted insurance against random artifact bombs. My third and fourth picks were Quicksilver Behemoths anyway, followed by a Spire Golem and some stuff that didn’t make my deck. When my I go to grab my booster for my ninth pick, I am hoping that the Behemoth tabled, but it’s not like I’d expect it to in a million years. Then I get it, as well as the one in the next pack, obviously, showcasing my raw skill at the Magical card game. I sit down to build my deck and decide that losing is inexcusable, so I better get ready to win. This brings our hero to…
Round 4: Markus Kolb
He was a nice guy from Europe, but very serious. Also I had never heard of him. Exactly the kind of guy I want to play against.
Game 1 I keep a Spellbomb, two Myr hand on the draw. Normally, that is right in my opinion. However, in this case it was wrong. My card quality was so insane that taking a mulligan is better than taking the chance of randomly losing. I drew my second land on turn 6 and since he didn’t have much pressure, I seriously put up a fight. I stabilized the board at one life but he drew Crystal Shard, then Duplicant and I lost.
Game 2 I get a really good draw (even for my deck)and demolish him. There was really nothing to this game.
Game 3 I have Skullclamp and some Myr, which quickly become cards. I’m up like four or six cards, but I can’t seem to find any spells. Eventually I start hitting with a Frogmite and Somber Hoverguard. I finally draw something of note in Arc-Slogger. He plays Myr Incubator. I’m at somewhat low life, so the Incubator tokens can kill me in one hit unless he only has like three artifacts or something. He is at four. I have Somber with Skullclamp on it. His only flier is Neurok Familiar though, so I Slogger it, and he has nothing so my Somber flies in for the kill.
At this point he shakes his head, sighs, and says”It vos de Skullclamp.”
That match was much closer than I would have liked.
Round 5: Chase Keaten
Another nice guy. He was passing to me in the draft so I thought his deck had to be really good to have passed me mine… but I thought wrong.
Game 1 He plays a turn 2 Slith Bloodletter and that is trouble. It gets me low on life, but then he randomly plays Genesis Chamber. I was about to laugh at him out loud for casting it when he knew I had four Behemoths, since he passed them, and even commented on them before the match, but I didn’t in hopes that he’d play the Genesis Chamber in another game too. My Behemoths allowed me to make infinite chump blockers for the huge Slith, but one turn he peeled Wail of the Nim, which actually destroyed me.
I was left in a bad position, but I drew a guy and equipped Warhammer to it. Naturally, he drew Detonate for the Hammer. I drew a land and either did nothing or something that didn’t matter. Of course he drew Betrayal of Flesh for the win.
Game 2 he leads with twin Blinkmoth Nexuses on turns 1 and 2, and then is screwed for Red mana. It comes too late and I have a good draw anyway, so it probably wouldn’t even have mattered.
Game 3 I don’t remember too well, but I do know it went very long and my Longbow gained the necessary advantage for the win. He was really nervous during this game, made lots of mistakes and was dropping cards all over the place. For one, he wasted a Betrayal to kill a guy of mine that didn’t matter and return his Steel Wall. Also, he just cast guys that died to Longbow many times. He blamed it on”nervousness because it was his fourth Pro Tour.” Shrug. Then he scolded me for quitting JSS to play in the Pro Tour. Then he signed the match slip with me being the winner.
Game 1 he plays turn 3 Tangle Golem and I miss a land drop so it looks bad, but I draw land the next turn for Behemoth. It trades with the Golem and I quickly stabilize from there. It’s a stalemate until I draw Skullclamp and pull away quickly from that point, finishing him with a pair of Somber Hoverguards.
Game 2 isn’t really a game, as I draw Skullclamp again and this time don’t even have mana problems, so I win easily. Sorry, dear readers, for not providing more description in these games. Basically, if Skullclamp doesn’t get removed, the player with Skullclamp isn’t going to lose. It’s that simple.
So I made day 2 again. How lucky for me. Of note: after I finished playing, I watched Valentin Moskovich and Mark Herberholz battle it out for day 2. Mark won, and Val told me that they had a 25% split. I commented that therefore Herberholz was going to top 8, since Valentin is the luckiest man alive. Tim said no way; he’ll squeak into 64th just because he had a split with Val. Quite obviously, I was right. So now with only seven open slots in the top 8, I got ready to draft again, although eating was a much better proposition.
As I sat down, I noticed my pod was quite strong. I think it had Kamiel Cornelissen, Jon Sonne, Mitchell Tamblyn, and William Jensen. I also noticed it had seven people in it. I prayed for the bye.
In the first pack of the draft, I took Leaden Myr over Deconstruct. Nothing else in the pack was even playable. Bad times. Second I have the choice of Granite Shard or Blinding Beam. I take the Shard, and follow it with a Pyrite Spellbomb and another Myr. I basically get a lot of garbage the rest of the pack. Duskworker, Hematite Golem, Nim Lasher, etc establish me nicely into a terrible Red/Black deck. Pack 2 I take Mask of Memory out of a ridiculous pack then get an Electrostatic Bolt and some more bad creatures. I am hoping pack 3 will provide some relief, but it doesn’t. The only good cards I get are Death Cloud, Vulshok Morningstar, and Echoing Ruin. My deck is absolutely horrible, but looking back at the packs; I don’t feel it would have been much better if I took the Blinding Beam over the Granite Shard, which was my only real choice of the draft.
As I build I hope for the bye some more. I expected a 1-2 out of this deck at best; a 2-1 would make me ecstatic. I look from my table and see everyone shuffling toward the pairings. I reluctantly walk over to find out which master of the game will defeat me first, but lo and behold, I see ***BYE*** printed across from my name. I let out a huge yaus (like house), and when people stare, I don’t really care. High fives all around, I am informed that I am blessed, good times for all.
After the round is over, we go to a room, order the most rancid pizza I’ve ever had, and hang out with some drunks. Then Gerry and I go back to the site to get the keys to the hotel room. When we get to the hotel, the lady asks to see our room key since it’s like 1am. Gerry shows it and the lady is like”That’s not our key.””Ha ha very funny now let us through.” I wasn’t in the mood for retarded jokes at this point. When she told us she was serious, I wanted to stab. We went back to the site and yelled at Brant for a bit, before having him give us the real key. I want that hour of my life back. After not getting a good night’s sleep, I headed back to the site to play for a lot of money with my horrible deck.
Game 2 I start out pretty fast, but then draw lots of lands in a row. He also has Thoughtcast and Thirst for Knowledge to gain lots of card advantage so he stabilizes at four or so. I have Death Cloud in hand with only two Black sources out. I have about 5 turns to draw a Leaden Myr or Swamp, but I don’t and the game is his.
Game 3 is one of the only games I lost in this tournament in which I feel I might have been able to do things differently and actually have them affect the outcome of the game. I started out fast again, but I couldn’t really get past his Grimclaw Bats on D. I eventually draw Hematite and he blocks it with Bats, Neurok Spy, and a Myr. I can pump it to five power. I know he has Scale, and he can pump the Bats to three toughness (assuming he has the Scale, which it turned out he did). Therefore I have the choice of killing the Bats or Neurok Spy and Myr.
Since I have two Scavenging Scarabs in play and an Oxidda Golem (I know, my deck blows), I figure if I kill the Bats, I should be able to get through easily. I choose to do that instead of taking the two-for-one. To make a long story short, he stabilized with Spire Golem and some other creatures, and the Spy does a lot of damage, Since I didn’t draw Death Cloud for the instant win, I was in a situation where, if I went all in and he didn’t have Irradiate, I would win, but if he had it I would lose. He had lots of cards in hand, so it was very likely that he had it, but if I passed, I would die in two turns for sure if I didn’t draw Death Cloud. Since it was more likely for him to lack Irradiate than for me to peel Death Cloud, I went for it and he had the Irradiate. Death Cloud was not on top of my deck, so it wouldn’t have mattered.
The Scale play was the only thing I might change if I had to go back, but the two games I lost were long and drawn out, and he won them at low life. I can’t pinpoint exact things I did wrong, but I have the feeling I did not play perfectly and would have won if I did.
Round 9: Felipe Saavedra
Felipe was another nice guy from Europe… until he got land-screwed. At that point, curses were loud and cards were flying. I don’t blame him, as he just drew four lands the whole match and his mana Myr got killed both games. My Scavenging Scarabs and Co. went to town.
All in all, I was very happy to have 2-1ed with my pile, despite my wins not coming in the most conventional way. What can I say, I take ’em how I get ’em.
I had a lot of time after this round, so I ate something to give me the necessary energy to X-0 into top 8. With this energy in tow, I sat down at my fourth draft pod with Eugene Harvey, Kamiel Cornelissen, Jon Sonne, and three people I didn’t recognize. Another seven-man pod, exactly what I like to see. This draft went very well for me, despite opening a bad pack. I first-picked a mana Myr, but was happy to get passed Myr Enforcer. When I got a second Enforcer third, I was set in affinity. Nothing much of note happened in pack 1, I simply grabbed Spellbombs, Scales, and some random creatures. In pack 2, I opened Pentavus and got passed my third Myr Enforcer. I also picked up two Disciples of the Vault, which were great with my Spellbombs and Pentavus. In Darksteel, I got some removal and a Behemoth. I also picked up a Neurok Transmuter, which would turn out to be key in one of my matches. I was very happy with my deck, and thought I could count on a 2-1 and get a 3-0 with some luck. Then I faced the most frustrating match of the tournament…
Round 10: Emilio Campos
Another Euro for me to take down. when he started Game 1 with Neurok Hoversail and Darksteel Pendant I thought I was set. Then I didn’t draw my third land after even cycling a Spellbomb, and he played Arcbound Crusher. Many times he forgot to put counters on it, but it didn’t even matter. I finally drew a Myr. He played Viridian Longbow and equipped it to his Skyhunter Cub and killed my Myr. Then he said go. What is wrong with this picture? Well, if you didn’t know already the answer was his untapped Arcbound Crusher at the end of his turn. No sir, he did not attack with his 5/5 or 6/6 or whatever when I had two tapped lands and nothing else on the board. This Is Not A Joke.
Game 2 he had the Crusher again, this time complemented by a quick (and gigantic) Broodstar. I had also mulliganed to five. It wasn’t pretty. Although I had a mixture of lands and spells, I got to sit helplessly and watch him make mistake after mistake…at the same time as he was kicking my ass.
Having lost, I am mad, but at the same time happy that my chances for a second bye have increased. I could go through my great hope for the bye and delight at getting it again, but its there’s no suspense, since otherwise this wouldn’t be named what it is. Yes, I’m a giant lucksack. What can I say?
Round 12: Eugene Harvey
Eugene also had a loss and a bye, so I’m hoping his deck isn’t very good and it isn’t. I don’t remember much about this match other then the fact that both games went long, and I eventually won both of them with double Disciple of the Vault and Neurok Transmuter. Game 1 was kind of close and I think came down to the last turn. This was mostly because I took the gamble of playing Mindstorm Crown with a hand in order to be able to cast Myr Enforcer off of six lands. The next turn I drew Pentavus and didn’t draw another land the whole game, so the Crown just pinged me every turn. The next game I think I had total control of the game and eventually drew the Pentavus and won with it, but it might have been close… I just don’t remember.
So this was it, the last draft pod to determine if I’d make money or not. I recognized Antonio De Rosa, Jon Sonne, Jin Okamoto, and Chris Fennel, who was passing to me. He told me he tries to go White, which was perfect since I’m not a big fan. I opened Betrayal of Flesh and started picking some affinity cards to go with it. I was very happy to get a late Broodstar as well. The rest of the pack was unexciting, though. My second pack I opened Mask of Memory and for the rest of the pick just picked up random stuff to fuel my affinity cards, but still nothing special. In the third pack I opened a Quicksilver Behemoth, which I have no problem first-picking. Meanwhile Chris next to me takes more than the full amount of time, and finally decides on a card with much shaking of his head. I was sure the choice was hard when I saw Sword of Fire and Ice in the pack he shipped me. Thanks brah.
I catch his eye and all he can do is shake his head. (I learned later that he picked Fireball over it because he already had two Loxodon Warhammers and didn’t want any more”clunky” Equipment.) I wish I had too much clunky Equipment in all my decks, lemme tell ya. Opening two Warhammers and Fireball is actually the definition of Master, Sheer in the dictionary, in case anyone didn’t know. In an interesting sidenote, after I failed to show up for day 2 of Grand Prix: Oakland they gave me my draft packs. Quite obviously, I would have opened two Warhammers in one of the drafts myself, although I would have lacked the complementary Fireball.
Getting back on track… after the Sword, I rounded out my deck with two Hoverguard Observers, a Chromescale Drake, and some other random cards that most likely didn’t matter. The deck basically builds itself, with the main question being whether I play one or two of my trademark card: Myr, The Shuffler. The real name evades me at the moment. I was leaning towards the second one mana 1/1, but Mark Zadjner and Gabriel Nassif building next to me peer-pressured me into running a Yotian Soldier instead of the second. Hey, all the cool kids are doing it! I was pretty happy with my deck, as it had some bombs to complement the bad cards and had a lot of synergy overall. I was pretty sure I could make money, and with luck I thought I could 3-0. I didn’t know of the monster decks I was about to run into…
Round 13: Jin Okamoto
Game 1 we start out both laying guys but not really attacking until I drop my Sword of Fire and Ice. He chumps with a Leonin Elder, then takes it once. I don’t kill any of his guys, but he takes six and I draw a card. On his turn he Dismantles it off the top of the deck (he top 8’d Worlds for a reason, people) and then proceeds to lay Arc-Slogger.”Nice card,” as one would say on Magic Online. C’mon top deck! My deck produces Betrayal, but I lack the black mana to cast it. I go all in and put him to one. He plays a random guy and has just enough blockers and Slogger activations to stay alive. While activating he flips over Solar Tide. On his next turn he drops Pristine Angel onto the board. Nice deck. I drew some more Islands, and lost.
Game 2 my draw is ridiculous with turn 4 Chromescale Drake flipping two artifacts, and a turn 5 huge Broodstar. I also had Mask of Memory, allowing me to hold gas in the case of a Solar Tide. His turn 5 Arc-Slogger is not good enough and he dies to my flyers.
Game 3 I get him to somewhere between eight and ten life with Somber Hoverguard and Hoverguard Observer. He had no flyers, so it looked good for me. The next turn he had Pristine Angel in play and it didn’t look so good. For a few turns he attacked and played something that didn’t matter to untap the Angel. Then he probably started drawing lands, because he stopped attacking. After a few turns of no attack, I drew Betrayal, but he continued to not attack. A few turns after that, he attacked with two or three cards in hand. His Krark-Clan Grunt came in too. I had to go for the Betrayal, because I would have to eventually and I couldn’t afford to give him more draw steps. I show it and he thinks for a minute then shrugs. Giggling like a maniac, he Soul Novas his Grunt. The next turn he plays an irrelevant Arc-Slogger.
I was not the winner of this battle of magicians.
Somehow, Chris had also lost with his double Warhammer, Fireball deck to a guy that had double Shrapnel Blast or something. I was hoping not to play him, since not only is he a friend, but I also had almost no chance of winning since my deck can’t kill an artifact. Instead I sit down across from a guy who I don’t recognize, but Tim waives me over.
Him: That’s the guy from the story.
Him: The one where I Consumed for nine and he was at six… then he scooped and showed me Pulse of the Fields with the mana to cast it.
Round 14: Patrick Lutz
Game 1 I start out with turn 3 Cathodion, but he has Crystal Shard. I don’t have a fourth land so I just replay the Cathodion, frustrated. He bounces it and plays Spikeshot. Wonderful. With nothing else to do I just literally cast Cathodion and got it bounced for like three turns in a row. One turn he randomly plays Hematite Golem, leaving blue and red open, and doesn’t bounce the Cathodion God knows why. Wait, there is no God. So no one knows. I drew an artifact land, and this was exactly the window I needed to”go off.” I don’t remember exactly what I did, but it was something ridiculous like artifact land, Scale, Frogmite, Myr Enforcer, Behemoth. Some guys got Sharded, but the game was broken open from that point anyway. I drew another land and the spells that had accumulated in my hand started coming out in a hurry. I pulled out… after almost scooping on turn 4.
Game 2 I don’t really remember, but pretty much I just bashed him since he lacked Crystal Shard and I didn’t lack terrain.
Round 15: Chris Woltereck
Unfortunately, there is no story of the spectacular last round dream crush or something since we aren’t even able to make top 32… Due to my miserable tiebreaks, even with a win I would not make it like most of the other 10-5s. With a loss, though, I would be out of the money. Chris was in the same situation, so we just drew into the money.
9-5-1, good for 46th place and 730 bucks.
I was pretty happy with my performance, since it covered the trip and left me some cash after that. After dinner we came back to the site. After sitting for about two minutes, I was informed that I was in a money draft. Gary T, Rubin, and Ken Ho were up 4-1 on us in about a half hour. I was down a game against Ken. He attacked with his four or five guys for the kill… I cast Roar of the Kha and untapped a bunch of guys including a pair of Auriok Bladewardens and demolished his team. To make a long story short, we came back and won the draft. So Lucky. And that is where I leave you, since the moral of the story is that getting lucky with two byes is indeed the best strategy in any given tournament.
If anyone has any questions or comments or wants to hate on me, message my modo name _G SLICE_. Or Gadiel, if it gets unbanned… I should have known not to”evade the language filter!”
Until next time…