I was going to title this article”Things To Do In Denver When You Scrub Out” – but, no, Mary Van Tyne has to beat me to that name. The title is, of course, a play on words, although my reference was to the far superior Warren Zevon song that preceded the rather awful movie”Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead.” Strangely enough, the song and the movie have essentially nothing to do with one another Â— the screenwriter apparently just liked the song.
But that’s another matter.
Going into the last week of our testing at our local game store, Addictive Behaviors (I have to mention it, because I promised I would since Kirk, the owner, lent me a few cards to fill out my decks), we started testing EDT.dec, which we immediately took a liking to. I was ready to abandon a month of playtesting and go with this bizarre contraption instead.
So, Friday, I fly out to Denver (and I’ll give American Airlines this…T those nine extra inches of leg room really do make a difference), and get there in time to see the tail end of the prequalifier tournaments for those vying to get a three-round bye. And, dear Lord, R/G is everywhere! Mongooses and Flametongues and Chameleons, oh my!
In our testing, we were never able to get the EDT.deck better than 50% against R/G Â— usually it would just roll over and show its soft white underbelly to fast beats.
So I think: If this is the shape of things to come, maybe I’d better stick with The Solution.
And this is the variant I ran:
4 Stormscape Apprentice
4 Galina’s Knight
4 Meddling Mage
3 Voice of All
3 Spectral Lynx
3 Coalition Honor Guard (secret tech!)
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Coastal Tower
4 Caves of Koilos
1 Dromar’s Cavern
Saturday morning, we get up, go to the players meeting…and look at all the”celebrities!” Wow, look, there’s Zvi Mowshowitz (but, geeze, Zvi, put on a clean shirt, man!). And David Price! Darwin Kastle! Bob Maher! Dave Meddish!
Hey, it could happen.
Round 1: David Coleman (Ceta-Storm)
I get the faster start here, dropping a turn two Galina’s Knight, a turn three Spectral Lynx, and finish it up with a fourth turn Fact or Fiction. My opponent, however, drops a Yavimaya Barbarian and Kavu Chameleon shortly thereafter, and that slows me down. He sends his boys into the Red Zone, and I double block the Chameleon with the Knight and Lynx, and then he drops another Chameleon.
I re-establish the beats, then my opponent drops, in order, Meteor Storm and Ceta Sanctuary, establishing the engine of the Ceta-Storm deck and making the game a race. However, I cast first a pro-red Voice of All, then an Honor Guard, enabling me to reach the finish line earlier.
Game two, he starts out much faster, dropping a turn two Meteor Storm and then casting Fire on my Meddling Mage that had named Ceta Sanctuary. Unfortunately, he misses his turn four land drop and that allows me to get the upper hand with Knights and Honor Guards. He tries to Rage me, still stuck on three lands, but the forgotten Honor Guard soaks up the damage and he enters the scoop phase.
Hey, 1-0. Off to a good start. Wonder if I’ll get a feature match. Hey, I mean, I’m like a (semi) well-known Internet writer, ya know.
That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee (three dollars if you’re getting it inside the hotel).
By the way, I was planning on including some pictures of the event, but Dave foolishly forgot to recharge the rechargeable batteries for the camera, so I get all of one pic before the camera goes off, and being of Scottish ancestry, it’s impossible for me to break down and pay $9 for a four-pack of AA’s.
Besides, every time I try and include pics of a report, they never seem to make it in. Apparently Rizzo is the only writer on Star City allowed to have his tournament pictures in a report. (You got yours in once out of two occasions – not the greatest win ratio, I admit, but I’m trying – The Ferrett)
Round 2: Dieter Schuldt (Domain)
“Hey, are you the Dave Meddish from Star City?” Ah, my adoring public. I’ve met another one of my six fans.
For those who want to get into writing, this is one of the cool perks Â— having people tell you they like your stuff.
It takes me a while to figure out what the heck Dieter is running. First I think it’s the mirror match, then I think it’s Go-Mar, then when he Harrows for a mountain I finally figure out that it’s Domain.
I thought Domain was dead! This is not good for me, as if he’s running Legacy Weapon, I’m in serious trouble.
I get early beats with two Apprentices and a Galina’s Knight, but Dieter has back-to-back Fact or Fictions, drops a Collective Restraint (stabilizing at ten life), casts Global Ruin, then discards the Legacy Weapon, ensuring that there’s no way I can win. I concede to at least try and steal a game off of him.
I again get a fast start in game two, but it’s for naught as he punches through my meager defenses and puts two Restraints on the table, forces me to Absorb a Legacy Weapon, and begins beating me down with bird tokens from an Ordered Migration (although a Meddling Mage protected me from the other two in his hand).
We end up running out of time, and he takes the match 1-0.
This probably means no feature match, huh?
Round 3: Andrew Cox (R/W/B Trenches)
If game one was an indication of how things were going to go, I was in serious trouble. He goes turn two Legionnaire, turn three Legionnaire, Terminates my Spectral Lynx on turn four, Flametongues my Apprentice and steamrolls me on turn five.
In come the Teferi’s Moat and Aura Blast. I get a much better start on game two, casting a turn two Galina’s Knight. Andrew attempts to Vindicate it on turn three; I elect to Repulse it, drawing my fourth land, which enables me to drop two Knights on turn four.
I try to build up my ground forces, but Andrew seems to be good at drawing multiples of cards… A Void for two, then four, clears my side of the board.
But I’m safe behind my Moat, laughing at his scary monsters. That’s right, you’re mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!
Eventually, I get enough pro-red beasties out to get the win.
Game three, I start out with a Lynx and Knight and have good countermagic in hand, Excluding a Skizzik and Absorbing a Flametongue. Andrew again had an awesome draw on Voids, however, clearing my board (save a regenerating Lynx) with Voids of two and four. I drop a Meddling Mage, think about it, and name Flametongue Kavu.
So of course Andrew plays his third Void, wiping out my Mage. Still, I’ve got him on the defensive (something a deck running Skizziks does not want to be), and I’m dealing a few points of damage each turn.
Ultimately, though, I get out a Stormscape Apprentice and manage to deal that last few points of damage with his black ability, end the game with me at nineteen life.
Round 4: Patrick Miller (R/G Beats)
Patrick also recognizes me from Star City. Ah, fame…
While waiting for the round to begin, Patrick is talking to Lauren Passmore, who is sitting to his right, and I introduce myself to a fellow writer. This leads to a rare chance to show off the vaunted Meddish wit. Children, don’t try this at home; I am a trained professional.
Lacking a handy die, I offer to flip a coin to determine who goes first. As fate would have it, I pull out one of the Delaware quarters, the one with Paul Revere’s horse on the back (why Paul Revere and his horse would be on the Delaware quarter is a mystery to me, since most of Paul Revere’s exploits happened in Massachusetts, but that’s neither here nor there).
I flip the coin, Patrick calls heads, and it lands tails. Not being familiar with the coin, he asks to see the other side, which allows me to get off this truly bad (yet wonderful) joke, much to the delight/chagrin of the entire table:
“Hey, Patrick – you know what kind of horse that is there?”
“No, I don’t.”
“It’s a quarter horse! Arr arr arr!”
At which point Lauren Passmore says,”You’re a dork.” And I reply in my best Homer Simpson proud-of-something-I-really-shouldn’t-be-proud-of voice,”Yes, yes I am.”
I’ve traveled over a thousand miles to bust out bad jokes and have Lauren Passmore call me a dork, and I’m thinking,”This is so cool.”
And I wonder why I’m still single.
But on to the match report. Game one, Patrick mulligans and ends up with a crappy draw, I get a typical good start of turn one Apprentice, turn two Knight, and a turn four Fact or Fiction that nets me two Absorbs. Patrick never recovers from his awful start, drawing two forests the entire game, and dies quickly.
Game two is much more entertaining. I drop a turn two Knight, then Patrick drops a Meteor Storm. I think, no problem, and cast Voice of All, but it gets whisked away by one of those damn green battlemages. Stoopid green sources of damage…
At this point, Patrick decides to race me, hitting me for four per turn with Meteor Storm while I’m only doing one with an Apprentice, a Galina’s Knight having traded for the Battlemage. I’m going to lose the race unless I draw some beefier threats, which I’m not doing.
Hey, I’m 3-1 now! Maybe I actually have a chance here.
But as fans of VH1’s”Behind The Music” can attest, this is the part of the report where the narrator says,”And then the music stopped.”
Round 5: Lee Curtis (R/G beats)
Now it’s my turn to get mana screwed, but Lee is a very competent player; he never makes a mistake that I saw. I keep drawing land after land and I only manage a single Stormscape Apprentice for offense, which against R/G isn’t gonna hack it.
Game two, after sideboarding in the Moats and Acolytes, I get the opposite problem: Not enough land. The turn one Apprentice helps, followed by a Crimson Acolyte, but I’m stuck on three lands and a hand of three Fact or Fictions while a Thornscape Battlemage kills my Crimson Acolyte, essentially unlocking the gates of Rome to the Visigoths.
Hmm. So I’m 3-2 now, but I think my tiebreakers are decent (turns out they aren’t), so I decide to play on in my elusive quest to break the 1800 barrier (I started the day at 1796 Â— oh so close to earning at least one bye at a Grand Prix).
This would turn out to be a very, very bad idea.
Round 6: U/W/G Price-Necro
Normally, I’m very good about getting names down, but I don’t have it in my notes, so I’m afraid my opponent will simply have to remain anonymous.
Game 1, I start out with a turn two Lynx, which unfortunately ends up being Vindicated, and he gains a lot of life with two Gerrard’s Verdicts. My notes are unfortunately spotty – but even with my life gain card, Absorb, helping me out, his creature base turns out to be a bit beefier than mine (and his Lynxes don’t cost him life to regenerate), and he wins the race, with no Apprentices coming to help me out.
Game 2… Gawd, I am a sucky sideboarder. I know he’s taking out the Verdicts, I just know it, but I still bring in Dodecapods, and then, knowing that he’s got at least eight if not twelve enchantments, I don’t bring in my Aura Blasts.
If I have one real glaring weakness as a Magic player, it’s that I’m a very bad sideboarder. It’s painfully evident here, as my Dodecapods are dead, and a Phyrexian Arena lets him just draw about fifteen cards on me… Especially after he casts a doubly-kicked Necravolver (didn’t expect that for damn sure). I eventually have to gang-block the ‘Volver to live, but the extra life he gains from it means I can’t win the race against the Arena, and a Spiritmonger has me entering the scoop phase.
I really should have cut my losses at this point, but I decide to soldier on in pursuit of a winning record.
Round 7: Rey Wilber (Machinehead)
My poor sideboarding will haunt me again here. Game 1, I’m afraid my notes are again spotty, but Void clears my board more times than I remember. Game two, I foolishly take out the Voices of All, not the Honor Guards (thinking that the Guard is better vs. red burn) in favor of Acolytes. I open with a turn two Mage, naming Addle (to protect the Teferi’s Moat in my hand), and drop the Moat on turn five.
Shows what I know.
I was hoping to at least finish with a winning record. 3-4 was not my ultimate goal.
Live and learn.
I stick around to watch the Top 8 (and get my butt kicked some more in side events). I got to watch Zvi doing Sideboard coverage of the semifinal matches. He’s a very fast and accurate typist, I can attest to that, and a good prognosticator Â— I watched him type in what (…) was going to take from a Fact or Fiction split before he took it.
“Nice call,” I said to Zvi, and he just smiled.
I was certainly right about predicting blue being the dominant color. Only one deck didn’t have blue in it, and all of the Top 4 decks did. The finalists were running U/G/x, which I had predicted would be the winning combination (so why didn’t I run it?).
Well, Denver was certainly… An experience.
You want the full post mortem? You’ll have to read Part II, then.