Scepter-Chant at Pro Tour: Columbus Part II *12th*

Here we go again with part two, otherwise known as the part where I really start smashing! This includes matches against the World Champion, the Hump, and random Europeans even the Europeans haven’t heard of, and details of dancing away Halloween night with Kanoot, Osyp, and more hotties than you can shake a stick at.

If you haven’t read part 1 of this report, please go back and do so now.

Here we go again with part two, otherwise known as the part where I really start smashing!

It turned out that three of the five people in our room made day 2, and Neil had been pretty unlucky all day. And he played White Weenie – wow! Anyway, when I came back to the room on Friday night, it was crowded with people and no one but me had any intention of going to sleep. Besides Richie Hoaen, who was already sleeping on my bed. Yay. But it all turned out well in the end. When he woke up, we all watched Anchorman (awesome!) and ordered some Domino’s (too bad they don’t deliver to the ninth floor of the Hyatt).

Round 9 – Tomoharu Saito – Goblins /w Green

I heard on day 1 that the Japanese were playing an insane Mind’s Desire deck with Psychatog, which seemed very scary for me so I was pretty reluctant to face Tomoharu. When he started with a Mountain, I was very relieved to see Goblins again.

The first game went the usual way of him playing some guys and me dealing with the better ones. My hand wasn’t that great though – it was a little high on the land and contained an Orim’s Chant that didn’t do anything. He beats me down fast, and I remember thinking that I need a Cunning Wish to get Starstorm to stay alive. I was really low at this point and it turned out that he already had me at the point where I would be dead because of my painlands, even if I did draw Cunning Wish. While being sad about this, I drew a Scepter and locked him.

During sideboarding, I was thinking about putting in some Angels, since I saw a Karplusan Forest and he’d probably have something like Naturalize. I decided that I should be able to handle a Naturalize and that playing careful would be enough.

The second game looked a bit like the first, but instead of being landhosed and just drawing the combo, I had lots of search together with the old Brainstorm, one-lander. It seemed good enough, but I was lagging behind because I was searching for land while Tomoharu was applying the beats. Chrome Mox helped, and I could get an early Scepter on Fire/Ice which should be huge. He had Naturalize though and suddenly I was in trouble, since I hadn’t seen a counter yet and was still searching for lands. He got me down to three with two Mogg Fanatics on the board and I needed to lay down Scepter next turn. I think my hand was something like Mox, Intuition, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Accumulated Knowledge, Force Spike with two AK’s in the yard. I ended up AK-ing into the fourth AK and a second Mox and then Brainstormed at the end of his turn. In my upkeep, I

Intuition for Chants, drew and Brainstormed into a Scepter, putting a Wish and the fourth Ak on top. Then I cast two Moxen and laid Scepter-Chant with mana to lock him. When I played the AK next turn, his jaw dropped. He didn’t find a Naturalize before I killed him.

He showed me afterwards that he’d boarded 4 Naturalize as well as 4 Pyrostallic Pillar. Narrow escape there!


Round 10 – Morgan A Douglass – U/W Mind’s Desire

This one seemed tough. When I found out he was running U/W Desire, I made my plan. Desire meant having no counters and being White and Blue meant that his kill was Brain Freeze, which is bad for me, since I can lock Tendrils out, but he can just turn loose in my end step and kill me. He was probably only running one or even none maindeck and needed a Medallion or Familiar to generate enough storm. So if I could get ahead on cards through a Scepter (which he can’t stop), then Chant-lock

him to stop Mind’s Desire or Medallions and finally keep all the Medallions off the table, I should be in good shape.

The plan worked well enough game 1, with me getting an early Scepter on something that draws cards, but he got to sneak in a Medallion there. I was able to Chant-lock him early on too and eventually had enough mana to Wish for Disenchant, which pretty much sealed the win.

Game two didn’t go as smoothly, but Morgan was also struggling to make his land drops. I did get a Scepter on AK, but didn’t get much use out of it because I got Brain Freezed early on when I carelessly played a spell too many on my turn. It turned out he had two more Freezes, leaving me wishing I’d put a Stifle in the board.

The third game seemed very tough, with Morgan having four Brain Freezes in his deck and was now probably lighter on the sorceries. I could even see him boarding out some or all copies of Mind’s Desire, since it seems impossible to get those of against me. My card drawing didn’t look as good anymore, but with only one Decree to win with and needing to Scepter lock him, I had to go for it while still being careful not to create too much storm. I started with an AK-Scepter and with the first activation, Morgan Intuitioned for AK’s in response. This seems a questionable play if he doesn’t have me dead already, so I got very scared here. I still had to find the lock and Decree, which took quite some time. Drawing four cards a turn got me to lock him soon enough but the Decree kept hiding. Enter Flash of Insight, finding it and ridding me of an AK in the process. I cycled, and on his next to last turn he went for it, casting Turnabout on my lands, Intuition for Brainstorm and Brainstorm, but coming up with nothing more than a Brain Freeze for fifteen. I Force Spiked two copies and didn’t give him any extra chances by wishing for Pulse, mana burning, Pulsing, and casting Fire on him to kill him.


Round 11 – Artem Dushkevich – Mind’s Desire U/B

Artem was the only Russian in the tournament and was quite inexperienced at PT level play. I got fairly annoyed by his overly deliberate play, his asking of questions with obvious answers, and his request to be careful with his cards when shuffling. It all looked so much like stalling, especially in game three, which really annoyed me, even though he was probably just trying not to screw up.

Game one I figure that an early Scepter lock should be game, since Artem has to kill with Tendrils. I get it down, but after some tutoring he finds an Echoing Truth. Now he’s locked if I find a second Chant, but with all the card drawing in his deck he goes off before that.

The second game goes according to plan, with me getting an early lock and countering his attempts at bouncing it. This all takes some time though and we only have about eight minutes left to play the decider.

Artem has to mulligan, keeping a hand with Chrome Mox as the only mana source. He Brainstorms into more lands, but is out of gas after that. I don’t have a whole lot going for me either, being land shy and using my counters to stop his card drawing (not a good plan vs. Deep Analysis). I do get a Chant Lock eventually, but have nothing else, and he can fetch his Echoing Truth again to deal with it. This means he is far from going off though, and I get to draw into another Chant. By now there’s only a minute on the clock and I still have to find a Decree to win. So I’m racing through my turns, just drawing, laying land and saying that I Chant him in his upkeep but he still takes time to think about his plays and already got a caution for slow play. When Extra turns are called I’ve still found nothing but have a Scepter on Fire/Ice. In the last extra turn I find all the tools: Decree, Pulse and a hand full of counters. But I came ten seconds short so we drew.


Round 12 – Hans Joachim Hoeh – Rock /w red

Hans had played Kamiel in a feature match some rounds before, so I knew he was with Rock. Because he was playing Red for Flametongue Kavus, he probably was without Diabolic Edicts, making my Exalted Angels so much better after boarding. His focus on creatures probably also meant that he didn’t have any instant Scepter removal in his board. All this together made me pretty optimistic.

It’s still Rock, though, and if they have some hand disruption and some pressure, it gets really tough. Blatantly: I lose to Therapy + Treetop. It kinda went like this: he stripped my hand of all the relevant cards and proceeded to beat down. He was playing around Force Spike though, and considered attacking my hand more important than beating me down, which resulted in me “tricking” him with Cunning Wish for Flash of Insight and drawing the combo on the last possible turn. You could call this lucky, but the deck just built this way. Looking at eight cards to find Scepter, Chant, Intuition, or Cunning Wish seems to be enough.

Sideboarding for game two was pretty difficult. I really wanted to bring in Angels, but this being round 12, he probably knew about them already. You see, if you’re not on the Tour you might not expect it, but after some rounds everybody knows what everybody else is playing. I don’t even know if it’s allowed, and Wizards actively tries to stop it by removing players as quickly as possible from the playing area and threatening with DQ’s for removing the standings (people used these to write archetypes next to each name), but there are still plenty of lists around. It’s completely impossible to stop of course, but it’s cute that they’re trying.

So I was sideboarding, thinking I definitely want to bring in the Angel package, but also wanted to keep the lock around. It would be pretty hard to make room for them both, and in retrospect it might have been better not to board in Lightning Angel because of his FTK’s. I ended up cutting the Force Spikes, since he was actively playing around them anyway and shaved the Decree, an Intuition and Wish. I also cut a Scepter so I wouldn’t get Therapied for them while holding multiples. This was probably a mistake too since the odds of that happening are approximately… small.

He starts with a Bird and a Treetop Village, and doesn’t get to work on my hand until turn 3. He starts with a Therapy, which I counter, since I’m holding double Scepter, double Fire / Ice. He plays a Witness to retrieve the Therapy and passes. I hold on to a Brainstorm until he flashes it naming Cunning Wish and misses. I contemplated going for Scepter on Fire/Ice, but decided against it, since he’d wreck me with Pernicious Deed or Viridian Shaman. He’d also have a clean shot with Therapy, which should be avoided at all cost. So his Therapy misses, he named Cunning Wish, but he does get to play Cranial Extraction, removing all the Isochron Scepters.

After going through my deck, he believes he’s missing one since there are only three. He looks at me confused, asking if it’s correct they’re only three. “Well Hans, if you can only find three then I’m sure that’s the right number.” He goes through my deck another three times and hands it to me. Making fun of Germans never gets old. Remember soccer. World Cup Finals ’74. We’ll never get over it. So this is revenge. Or just a game of Magic. Oh well, back to the game.

Hans still didn’t have any pressure, but did have a second Extraction for Exalted Angel. This game seemed to be going downhill. He added a Recurring Nightmare when I finally found an Intuition. I went for AK’s (Lightning Angel would have pretty much put me all-in) and got three lands. Now, at this point Hans also had some guys out and had just attacked me down to nine. He had a Treetop, Solemn Simulacrum, Witness and two Birds of Paradise, while I had eight lands out. My hand after the AK was four lands, a Brainstorm and an Orim’s Chant. The Brainstorm got me an Angel, and I could start dealing some damage. I also found a Cunning Wish, and after drawing a second Angel, it started looking good as long as he didn’t have Pernicious Deed. He got me down to five and I was in trouble.

Now my best shot was playing the second Angel, then Chanting him in his upkeep and hoping I’d draw a Counterspell, another Chant, the last Fire or Angel to finish it. After Chanting him and wishing for Pulse, he was down to thirteen but still had two Birds to chump with. I topdecked the second Chant, Pulsed, attacked him and I Chanted him again. He burned down to five on his turn and chumped with his Birds. On his final turn I countered his FTK, and he came one mana short to use Recurring Nightmare twice.


Round 13 – Julien P Nuijten – Tog

I wasn’t too happy playing a Dutchie, but I was already Julien’s third on the weekend. The matchup seemed pretty even overall, but would probably take a long time. My draw wasn’t that good the first game and Julien got an early Scepter on Brainstorm. I considered scooping right there, but decided to play it out. I soon started missing land drops, but many turns later he forced through a Tog and killed me.

The second game went a lot better with me getting a Scepter and Julien missing land drops. He did get a Tog through though, and after that went for it by going for AK’s with Intuition. I hadn’t seen that many counters and was relying primarily on my Scepter on Fire/Ice. That upkeep we built a stack of eight or nine spells, which meant in the end that Juul drew five cards, my Ice got countered, and he couldn’t play any more spells or attack this turn. I got another Scepter, this time on AK and drew five. Juul missed the fact that he could remove his to pump his Tog, and let me draw twelve more cards over the following turns before cycling a Decree and winning in the extra turns. I discussed the option of conceding to Julien with lethal damage on the stack, since a draw would knock both of us out of Top 8 contention and after discussing the pros and cons he decided to scoop. Over the salad I bought him afterwards, he told me that he thought it was logical for him to scoop since I need the PT points more than he does and well, let’s face it, I am a really nice guy. Thanks, Juul, I owe you one!


Round 14 – David G Humpherys – Reanimator

During our deck check we looked around the top tables and concluded we knew nobody except the “one Japanese guy”. What a weird PT. So many different decks and players. The top of the field were almost all unknowns, and little lower in the standings were all the pros battling each other. Osyp suggested later on that we should keep doing this for every Pro Tour… just have none of the pros test a whole lot and have fun playing crap decks like White Weenie and then we can have the Japanese win it all. I must be the only guy that likes Extended.

Dave pulled off the turn 1 Akroma start and I only had one out in Wishing for Boomerang with help of a Mox. The third turn Putrid Imp did me in though.

Before the second game, Dave had to double mulligan and was stuck on lands for four turns. I’d just made a Scepter on Fire/Ice when he Therapied me. The fun part was that he was thinking so hard about it, while there was no way he’d ever get back in the game. He thought about it for a good minute before naming something, then spent another minute being frustrated about how he was gonna say Intuition. After that he just scooped.

So with eight turns played in this match, we’d taken 35 minutes of the round. Game 3 was going to be close. Dave was contemplating his sideboard for a while and finally opened with Careful Study, discarding Akroma and Verdant Force. He reanimated Akroma next turn, which I found odd, since I have fewer outs for Verdant Force. I made a Scepter on Fire / Ice, but he had boarded in Energy Flux. After Exhuming his Verdant Force I could scoop it all up. Nice games, though.


Round 15 – Herman Q Armstrong – U/G Madness

I was still a little upset by Dave’s insane draws, but managed to pull myself together. I mean, he’s a good guy, let the man get lucky for a time. I’d never heard of Herman, which is usually good news if you’re playing for a lot of money.

The bad news was that he was with U/G and I missed my third land drop. He had the Circular Logic for my Scepter and that’s all she wrote.

I decided to board out the Scepters and bring in the Angels. Imagine my surprise when he started with a turn 1 Seal of Removal. Ouch. Fortunately, he didn’t draw any creatures, and though I started drawing some Exalted Angels, I didn’t have double White mana yet. The Seal also meant that I would lose a lot of tempo and when he started playing Arrogant Wurms, I knew I was in trouble. He didn’t have any Logics though and I managed to unmorph two Angels, have one bounce and replay the other. He got me down to one and Stifled the life-gaining ability. I attacked him down to eight and he Stifled it again. Now I was dead on the board, but fortunately I’m playing three Fogs maindeck so I could halt his attack and kill him next turn.

I mentioned before the third game that I actually boarded out my Scepters while I was boarding them back in, but he didn’t bite and removed his Stifles. He actually put in some more hate, I believe. It was rather anti-climatic when he double mulliganned and was Scepter-locked early. An Angel showed up and took it home.


Round 16 – Andrei Hayrynen – Aluren

So now I was playing for top16 or top32 (it turned out that Andrei got 22nd) and had promised Dave Rood a cookie if I won. Problem was that there were about ten other pros hanging around, and since being a Magic professional means being lazy and ready to take advantage of people, everybody wanted in.

This match was just like two years ago when I made top16 at PT: Houston with Battlefield Scrounger where I beat an Aluren deck in the last round. And this time it was even a better matchup for me than then.

Andrei started by doing not a whole lot, but then Intuitioned for Aluren. He didn’t go for it on his turn or the next, so I tried my combo and he scooped.

Game two, he has a Therapy and clears my hand while I make a Scepter on Brainstorm. He Intuitions for Aluren again and has to make a choice on his turn: going for it, or waiting to get another Therapy. He waits and digs with Brainstorm, but my Scepter creates a big advantage, and I can keep a Counterspell hidden as the second card of my library. He eventually goes for it, but the Counterspell does him in and I lock him a little later.


So I get back to the table and dump a dozen cookies on there and tell Rood he’d better perform in Nagoya, since we need to keep our streak up. You see, we want a Ruud/Rood in every top 16, and have been doing so the last three PT’s. Now that I was done with the PT, I dominated a money draft with Rood and Levy, and then headed to dinner with Jeroen and Krempels. About halfway to BD’s Mongolian Barbeque, we notice this kid barning along who is just introduced to me as “StarWarsKid”. With my newfound pro status, I try to sell him an autograph, but it’s not working. Kai should teach me some stuff about that. After dinner, we have the waitress pick at the credit card game. It turns out to be Jeroen, and when we realize that this kid barning along now gets his dinner for free, we make him tip her. On the way out, we walk past this table of old players like Flores, Becker, BDM, Turian, and Buehler. While the first three of us just walk out, Krempels – being the mad guy that he is – pretends to be this dinosaur and stomps past like a T-Rex. It takes a while before they get it (hey, they’re old), but then they get a good laugh and a nice picture out of it.

After dinner, Osyp told us to go to this bar where there was a Halloween party. The place is loaded already at eleven, and it’s not hard to find Osyp, ripping up the dance floor. Most Americans always tell me that it’s such an advantage being a foreigner, so when I’m ordering drinks I start a conversation with this girl. It went something like this:

Me: “Hey, I’m Dutch.”

Girl: “Yeah, right.”

Me: “No really, I’m a foreigner.”

Girl: “Yeah, me too”, and walks away.

Later that night, Ted got to talk to her and reeled her in, but she must have been at least thirty and I’m not going through that again. I once woke up hearing the voices of children after a hook-up, and even though they were next door, I’m not going through that again.

I still don’t really buy the foreign thing. In Indianapolis there was this girl coming up to us asking for a light, who then immediately began telling us about how she broke up with her boyfriend and was getting really drunk. I replied that I was Dutch and that in my country we take advantage of girls coming up to you like that. She said that it wasn’t like that at all, and walked away looking for someone who smoked. The other attention I got that night was from some woman we later nicknamed Big Red. The point where she told me that she’d “never kissed a guy from Holland before” still haunts me in my dreams. Nice set-up SteveO…

On this trip, there was this girl with huge cleavage who came up to me asking me to throw quarters in her bra. Since almost any man got to hit the jackpot, I quickly nicknamed her the “slut-machine”.

When Thriller came on, Osyp went berserk and cleared a wide circle for us to dance in. Him, Ted, Eugene, and I all made fools out of ourselves there, but not nearly as much as when Osyp broke through the chair he was dancing on and just continued dancing like nothing happened. Afterwards, he told us he had to go home “to get some much-needed sleep.” Too bad – I really wanted to learn some of his salsa moves.

Somewhere around there, Jelger and I went back to the site to find some drafts, but ended up hanging with Hoaen outside. We ran into Mark Zajdner and some NY youngster, and ended up hanging out in their room. In case you didn’t know this, let me tell you something: Mark is one hell of a guy. After spending some time with him in a room, he completely changed my view of the world. I just felt like a different person walking out of there. Thanks, Mark.

Going back to my hotel room and going to sleep that night marks the end of this particular story. I could bore you with my flight home and how long the check-in lines were, but I’d better not. I heard that no one really cares about tournament reports anymore, which is nice now I’ve finished it. Oh well, can’t win ‘ em all.