“My little pony in RRrrassia was so cute; I cuddled with it every day”
-Valentin Moskovich, one of the eight inhabitants of room 1054 at the Crown Plaza hotel in Seattle.
Brant Faulkner and I arrived there Thursday morning and met up with my teammate John Pelcak (The Cak) and his friend Tbulge after their 38-hour train ride. I knew we would do well when I found out The Cak had to take a train 38 hours to Seattle. Tbulge came along with no team so he could play with the Cak on the train.
After getting a sandwich at a random deli; which was free, since the Chinese lady at the counter forgot to ask for my money; we set off to the site. We watched some team rochesters and scouted out for possible strategies, since we had none. We gained some knowledge, but found nothing we liked very much. Next, we had to find TBulge a team for the last chance qualifier. After some randoms denied him, he found a man without a DCI number and another who asked him what the format was. They received one of the most ridiculously good Team Sealed card pools I’ve ever seen, and quickly 0-2ed. The Cak and I did a practice draft against Brant, Val, and Sean Mangner, with Jeff Meyerson subbing in for Tim, who was arriving at an ungodly hour. We decided to go with five-color Green on the left, Blue/White in the middle, and Red/Black on the right. We won, but didn’t like the strategy because the middle deck turned out to be absolutely awful.
We opened our first sealed decks and found a rather weak card pool in front of us. I actually had a good affinity deck, but JP’s deck was lacking except in the Sword of Fire and Ice department. Tim’s deck made me want to vomit, featuring hits like Big Drossodile and Neurok Hoversail. We also had two Viridian Longbows that almost got into my deck (both), but then we decided that it’d be too greedy, since I had a Trinket Mage to boot.
Round 1 v. Get A Life, Alexandre Peset
Um guys, we’re playing Magic. We clearly all need to get a life.
Game 1 I have a good draw of Longbow, Neurok Familiar, Spy but he runs turn 4 Glissa. Frowns. I clearly don’t have my Infused Arrows and can’t kill it with Longbow, so I just bounce it with Aether Spellbomb and hope for the best. I shotgun some peels, but it doesn’t work. The Glissa goes to town on everything I have, but a Neurok Spy and some random Blue flier make it a race. He makes some sketchy plays which would have allowed me to win on one life, but then draws Predator’s Strike.
Game 2 He curves out with Sylvok Explorer, Scavenging Scarab, and Tel-Jilad Archers. He then proceeds to wreck me in the next three combat phases with back to back Wails of the Nim, Predator’s Strike, and Echoing Courage the third time.
Luckily I get to start the tournament by experiencing one of the best feelings in Magic – losing your match but winning the round thanks to my squadron that supports me like no wonder bra ever could.
Round 2 v. Acidulantes, Some Guy
Game 1 he mulligans and has a decent opening but lacks flyers, and therefore dies to Nim Shrieker and Somber Hoverguard.
Game 2 I get him low quickly, but he locks me out my draws with Chittering Rats and Crystal Shard. I empty my hand, but an Aether Vial for three lets him do it on my draw step! However, he is low and I have a Goblin War Wagon with Longbow on it.Â I am able to finish him, but it is close. A big play was earlier in the game I used Arrows on my own Somber Hoverguard, so he wouldn’t gain four life from his Consume since he was almost dead. I didn’t plan on him dropping Crystal Shard to go with his Rats on the board.
Tim won and The Cak didn’t. The dude complained a lot in Spanish and since I understood it, that made it real funny since clearly he figured I wouldn’t. He said some of the dumbest things I ever heard. He told his teammate that he should have mulliganed game one because he had no flyers and I killed him with them… I’m not sure on the exact contents of the hand he kept, but he played Fleshgrafter on turn 3, followed by Nim Replica on turn 4, and I also remember he had a removal spell, so it was clearly a keeper.
Our second set of sealed decks was better than the first, but this time my deck was the worst out of the three. It was a little Blue/Black number with good spells and the worst creatures if all time. Tim had a nice sunburst deck, and The Cak had an insane White/Red deck with double Blinding Beam amongst other goods.
Round 3 v. Pocket Rockets, Another Random
Lots of people commented that it’d be cool/funny/ironic if they lost to Bottom Set, because”that’s how it always happens.” Well, I just think its cool when they lose, period.
Game 1, the guy got turn 1 Longbow and raped me with it. He must have gotten like six or seven guys with it over the course of the long game. Of course, I was still going to win, had he not peeled Acquire for my Mirror Golem, since he had no way to stop my Pewter Golem without that. Instead, I lost.
Game 2 he gets the Longbow again. I complain accordingly, and then bash him.
Game 3 he gets the Longbow for a third time. I ask if he has two, and obviously he doesn’t and is just really good at Magic. I had a good curve, but his Acquire on turn 5 for my Mirror Golem again made things look grim. When the match got to being on me, I started playing really slow and looking for any possible way to win the game. I was able to get into a position whereÂ I had six outs to draw on the last turn: Cranial Plating, Baton of Courage, one of two Terrors, Lifespark Spellbomb (to make a guy with my Tree of Tales), or Trinket Mage for the Spellbomb. I had about a one third shot and didn’t hit. A rough beat
Round 4 v. Tool Time, Kate Stavola
Game 1 she doesn’t really do anything and I have a good curve with Disciple of the Vault and Myr Retriever. I miss a few points of damage playing around a Raise the Alarm that ended up not being there, but I still think I’d play it the same if I had the chance. She basically just had nothing at all and died.
Game 2 she was tight on lands, but not really screwed per se, since she could basically cast her cards, but at a rate of only one per turn. I wasn’t really able to capitalize. She wasted a Stasis Cocoon on an Alpha Myr then another on a Thunderstaff, and I didn’t really understand those plays. Her Arrest on something that did matter made for a nice little pile of stuff in play that wasn’t really doing much. My Baton of Courage was a beating, as it saved my huge Shrieker and Nim Lasher, but she had Test of Faith to make it not as bad. The Baton with no counters joined the pile of stuff that did nothing.
My Thirsts for Knowledge got me way ahead on cards, but since I had a lot more land than her, the game remained somewhat even. It got eventually got to be my Myr Retriever against her Lightning Greaves with both of us having no hand. She played Razor Golem and equipped, but then left the animal at home for some reason. I got a nice draw step, as it brought Cranial Plating. She had to block the Retriever and it got back Lifespark Spellbomb. She drew another Razor Golem that had to block a land with Plating. I drew another creature and it killed her.
At this point we got our toughest sealed decks to build. The other two times we were done with some time to spare, but this time we every second of clock we got to build a Blue/Red affinity deck, a White/Blue deck with lots of fliers and equipment, and a Green/Black deck with something like eight removal spells.
Round 5 v. Truly Lazy Men, David Rood
We drew with them in the last round of GP D.C. even though one of their players got a match loss. This time we were rewarded with some good luck.
Game 1 I had a good start including a turn 8 Megatog. The game was still close, and a very complicated board position became an easy win when I peeled Shrapnel Blast, showcasing my true skill with the Magical cards.
As we were going into game 2, The Cak had already lost to Terry Tsang and Tim was going to game 3 with Gab Tsang. The victory came when both of our opponents mulliganed to five and missed land drops and we won easily.
Round 6 v. Shenanigans, Pat Sullivan
Game 1 he started off strong with an early Mask of Memory and a lot of fliers. However, I played Salvaging Station on like turn 6 and basically drew my whole deck with it in like four turns. He had fliers though, so it was close, but I got enough chump blockers to be able to recur my Shrapnel Blast with Conjurer’s Bauble and kill him.
Game 2 I get my stone cold nuts draw which consists of turn 1 Vault of Whispers, turn 2 Great Furnace, Silver Myr, turn 3 3/3 Suntouched Myr, turn 4 Krark-Clan Grunt and Pyrite Spellbomb his Spy, turn 5 Megatog, turn 6 kill him with Megatog and Shrapnel Blast.
5-1 on day 1 was nice, despite having the worst tiebreaks out of the 5-1s. The”extra” win in the last round felt great, since it was effectively a round of draft we didn’t have to win.
That night we had a super expensive dinner at the Cheesecake Factory followed by a practice draft against Gerry Thompson and some guys. We opened the first pack and were discussing it when Bill Stead came over and told us to do G/W on the left, U/B or U/R in the middle, and R/B on the right. We did that and felt comfortable with it. We won the practice draft and decided that that would be our strategy the next day.
Round 7 v. Original Slackers, Lovre
The draft went well. Going into the last pack they had much better cards, having out-opened us in the first two, but we out-opened them in the third and none of them really had a deck, just some good cards with a lot of crap. Tim and JP had good matchups, while mine was about 50-50 I think.
Game 1 I had the strong curve of Arcbound Worker, Energy Chamber, Wizard Replica and won in short order.
Game 2 he had an early Longbow, but I quickly got Ion Storm plus Spawning Pit to stabilize and eventually win. Afterwards, he said that if he”only” would have had three more lands to cast his Furnace Dragon, which would have cost 4RRR, and pay for my Wizard Replica, he would have won. It was irrelevant because I had Condescend in my hand… but c’mon… the guy effectively complained of land screw when he had six.
Aten and The Cak both won anyway, so we took it down easily.
Round 8 v. S.A.I, Japanese Pannel, as if I knew who American Pannel was….
This round was covered and we got peeled out. Of note is that in Mike Turian coverage, he failed to mention my greatest accomplishment of masterfully oversleeping day 2 of a GP once. The sad thing is that with my nineteen pro points, and not being qualified for Worlds, that day 2 could have meant so much more than the two-hundred fifty bucks I might have won, like say… Rookie of the Year?
Round 9 v. The American Way, Jon Sonne
The draft went well, since we out opened them. We had a good matchup on the left and two 50-50 shots in my match up and Tim’s.
Game 1 he got an early pair of Thunderstaffs to complement his Loxodon Anchorite, meaning not one creature in my deck could damage him. I had looted a few times and since he couldn’t attack me, he was going to win by decking. My only out was to draw one of my two Beams and my Cranial Plating before he drew Unforge or Altar’s Light. Another choice was for it to go down like it did. I played a Whispersilk Cloak on a random guy that would never damage him, and he Unforged it. It’s not like I didn’t not notice my Thermal Navigator on the board, which allowed me to sack the Cloak and save my Somber. I think he was banking on me forgetting or something. Anyway, I waited until I was holding Beam and Plating, but he had lots of mana open and a large hand. Then he randomly tapped down to three open lands for a completely irrelevant Ogre Leadfoot. I happily Beamed his flyer and Anchorite, put Cranial Plating on my flyer and killed him.
Game 2 he got Loxodon Anchorites on turn 5, 6, and 7 after missing his fourth land drop once. I sat until I had both of my Beams and then killed him with a bunch of random guys.
The Caaaaak added another dub and Aten… uh didn’t… but we moved up to 7-3 anyway.
Round 10 v. The Max Fischer Players, Josh Ravitz
The draft went very well, as they didn’t seem to understand each other. In one pack, Pikula was dying to D-draft a Scythe of the Wretched and let us get Myr Enforcer instead. Igor was completely with him, but they listened to Ravitz in the end, unfortunately. They also out-opened us. making it kind of a close match. They had Mindslaver, Oblivion Stone, Skullclamp, Vedalken Shackles, Fireball, etc etc etc to our absolutely nothing. Tim and I had 50-50 matchups, while JP’s was a good one. This is a good time to add that these match up predictions are rough estimates and based on my unintelligent opinion only. In other words, they mean absolutely nothing.
Game 1 I beat Ravitz when he mulliganned to five.
Game 2 we were in a race that I was comfortably winning by two turns. Then he thought for five minutes and chose to win the game with his Fireball on my two flyers when there was no card in my deck that could possibly let me win after that.
Game 3 I kept Spellbomb, Myr, Pentad Prism, Land, Scale, Icy, X. I didn’t draw a land in like four cards. I still made it a game until he drew Creeping Mold plus Rebuking Ceremony. I had stabilized at like three and was starting to very slowly turn the game around, but the Ceremony destroyed my plans and finished the game right there.
JP won and Tim was down a game. His opponent then proceeded to throw game 2. Then his opponent bashed him in game 3 with the mistakes + Skullclamp + Oblivion Stone combination. I wouldn’t write the following had it not already been put in two articles before mine, but here goes: I told a few people about how Tim’s opponent had played absolutely awfully and how pissed I was to lose to them. The kicker was that he was such a nice guy that I just couldn’t bring myself to yell at him and get in his face over it like I would have done to most people. Igor, if you are reading this, take the bad with the good dude.
We were pretty disappointed, but still needed to win another round for top 10.
Round 11 v. Bottom Set, Neil Reeves
Our mouths dropped (literally) when we actually got to see Poker Champion Master Second Place WSOP Competitor Dave Williams in person. I was simply in awe.
Okay, I lied.
Regardless of people involved in this draft worth 3.5 million, I felt it went pretty well. I had a horrible matchup and JP had a great one, despite the fact that we got out-opened. Aten’s was close, but the fact that he is X-0 against Williams tipped the scales a bit in our favor.
Game 1 against Neil Reeves, I got a God draw and won despite a fine mana draw on his side and the horrible nature of the matchup for me.
Games 2 and 3 were a little more normal and his Viridian Shaman, Oxidize, two Cocoons, Rebuking Ceremony, Deconstruct, and maybe more artifact removal just absolutely reamed my affinity deck.
Luckily, The Cak won and Tim was up a game. When he finished it off, they asked us for the millionth time to concede to them. They thought if two matches went their way, they’d squeak into fourth. The two matches had gone their way, but it didn’t matter. A win would have only put them in sixth. Dave was mad anyway, and told me and JP to”enjoy the twenty or so bucks you just won.” I laughed. Enjoy your 3.5 million dude, but don’t complain to me.
After checking out the standings, we thought we’d be in sixth, but when the final standings came up, it turned out to be seventh. Despite the disappointment of no top 4 after being so close, 2900 bucks each was still worthy of some yauses and high fives. After my dad called and I told him how much I won, someone asked what my parents said when I told them about it. I replied that my dad had just said”Good job,” but my mom would be like”Ooooh, that’s like a month’s salary for me. If you keep on like this, you won’t appreciate the value of money!” Of course, as soon as she met me at the airport, that’s exactly what she said.
In any case, we topped off the victory with a viewing of Anchorman at the low cost of $9, and a lost draft for just the cards at 5 am. The last story of the weekend takes place at the Seattle airport coming home.
If you’ve never been there, then you can’t comprehend how terribly run it is. [I have to agree with this one. The Sea-Tac security lines are ridiculous. – Knut] Brant and I got there at about 10:30 for our 12:05 flight and found about a three-hour line for check in. Luckily, some airport barnacle walked through the line at about 11:30 calling for people on the Chicago flight so they could move to the front of the line and not miss the flight. We checked in, but found ourselves on the tail end of another three-hour line: security.
We figured someone would just take us to the front again, but it was not to be, so we went up to some guy and asked. He informed us that many people were in our same situation and he couldn’t take us to the front of the line. I told him to die trampled by Val’s pony in Siberia. However, we were in quite a fix, and started eyeing the express line. A sign said that it was only available to people in wheelchairs, people with no baggage, and people with a Southwest membership card. I quickly busted out my wallet and got my dirty frequent flyer card. My parents had always told me to fly with it, but I never understood why. Later, I found out the card wasn’t even supposed to get in me through the express line like it did. I took all of Brant’s bags, and like a camel started putting them through the x-ray machine when a fat black lady stopped me.
“Sir, this is the wrong line.”
It was all good though, because I showed her my Southwest card with the same confidence with which I show off my fake ID when I order alcohol. The end, clearly, is that Brant followed using no luggage as his excuse, and we barely made our flight.
Props to the squadron,
Gadiel on modo
REgInALd_bIxBy4872647 on aim