SCG Daily – Chad’s War Stories 4: Savage Beatings

Some games of Magic are close. Others aren’t. When one player’s deck craps out, that’s boring. But sometimes your deck works fine and the other person’s deck works fine and neither of you makes any horrible plays and it’s still a rout. That can be a lot of fun.

Some games of Magic are close. Others aren’t. When one player’s deck craps out, that’s boring. But sometimes your deck works fine and the other person’s deck works fine and neither of you makes any horrible plays and it’s still a rout. That can be a lot of fun.

On Day One of my first Pro Tour I played against a Japanese gentleman who spoke almost no English. We were X-2 (and sadly, I think the X may have been 1) and thus playing for elimination. He pointed to my shirt and said, "Your Move Games." Then he pointed to himself and said, with a big smile, "Your Move Games… Japan!" We traded the first two games. In the third, I got Darwin to give him a headlock (also known as playing Avalanche Riders with Lifeline out) to keep him from Sneak Attack mana, Hibernated away a couple of Green permanents and finally cast Rack and Ruin to remove his only remaining permanents from the board.

With Darwin ready to destroy any new lands he played and lethal damage not too far off, he smiled, pointed to himself and repeated, "Your Move Games… Japan!"

From the beginning of my Pro Tour experience to its peak, we now go to the Top 8 quarterfinals of Pro Tour: Barcelona. My opponent is Dan Clegg and I’ve drafted a good R/B/u deck, splashing for Probe. Against Dan’s U/W deck I lead off with Shivan Zombie, which is met by his Crimson Acolyte. I’m thrilled, because I’ve got the perfect answer in Plague Spitter. I swing for two with my pro-White Zombie and drop the Spitter knowing he’s already on the ropes.

He plays Obsidian Acolyte, leaving W open.

This wasn’t a Rochester draft, by the way. He didn’t know I was R/B, and while YMG was well-known for drafting R/B/U I had drafted U/W in the first Day 2 draft and 3-0’d to make the Top 8 with 5cG. So he just happens to be pre-sideboarded against me.

Never mind. My Zombie is still Pro-White, he needs to keep W open every turn or else lose his Crimson Acolyte, so he may fall behind on tempo. Meanwhile, he’s taking one a turn from Plague Spitter.

His next play was Disciple of Kangee.

That’s right. Now he has protection from me and I have protection from nothing – if I attack, he can give either Disciple flight and turn it Blue so it can block Shivan Zombie and kill it.

Things went downhill rapidly from there.

In game two I was hopeful. I didn’t have a Red source but I had aggressive Black creatures and Scorching Lava that would hopefully take down any Obsidian Acolyte he happened to draw. The game went roughly as follows:

Me: Threat, go.

Him: Hobble your threat, draw a card, go.

Me: Threat, go.

Him: Hobble your threat, draw a card, go.

Me: Threat, go.

Him: Hobble your threat, draw a card, go.

Me: Go.

Him: Obsidian Acolyte

Me: Sacrifice a land for RU, please don’t have Confound. Scorching Lava your Acolyte.

Him: Confound.

Apparently three Hobbles and a Confound beat three Black creatures and a burn spell in a fight.

In my most recent Modo draft, game three of round two did not look good. My opponent had Minamo Sightbender and Mistblade Shinobi, while I was stuck on four mana with no burn. He gradually added a flyer and Wicked Akuba to his board while keeping mine in my hand. I finally drew Frostling (which I played right after a Blademane Baku) so naturally he shifted his "no block" world to Wicked Akuba and attacked, putting me to five and then three with the Akuba’s ability.

There wasn’t much I could do on my turn except hope to stay alive long enough to draw Glacial Ray, so I just hit him with Lava Spike and spliced Vital Surge to put me back up to six. He swung again, knocking me to two and Vital Surge kept me at three after the Akuba’s ability.

My turn: Soilshaper. Lava Spike you, turning some land on. Frostling kills Mistblade Shinobi. Attack with my land and my Blademane Baku… which now has five counters on it. That’s eleven, plus three for the land, plus two for those random Lava Spikes… can someone help me out with the math?

Okay, that was a comeback, not a rout… but it was a lot of fun. Sue me for false advertising, but I love situations in which someone is 100% sure they’ve got the game and are dead a turn later.

Flash back to Barcelona again, final table in the Swiss rounds. We’re all playing for Top 8, although we all assume that I’m out of contention and am "just" playing for top 16 because I have two draws where they each have a win and a loss. I’m drafting G/W/R as we head into pack two and am very excited to see a Tribal Flames come third. I skim through the rest of the pack and get to the rare – and it’s Rith, the Awakener.

I don’t remember whether it was the first or second round of that draft, but I played against the guy who got the fourth-pick Tribal Flames – Peter Leiher. Our match wasn’t a total crush, but I did smash him with Rith. The only reason I include it here is that he was a jerk, both during and after the match. When I finally drew a Forest for Rith he commented that it takes real skill to win with a Dragon – and in a tone that made it clear he wasn’t being friendly. I didn’t bother mentioning that I was holding my own without one of my main colors and that pretty much any of the five Red spells in my hand would have been enough for me to take that game. After I won game two he wished me "luck" in playing for Top 16 – again, with a tone of voice that made it clear he was somehow offended that I was winning when I couldn’t even make Top 8.

Sheesh, I better get back on theme.

Blake is a regular at YMG and can always be counted on to draft. He’s good enough that I think he’s "infinite" on MTGO (i.e. paying for his drafts with his winnings), but this story is about the first time he and I played.

Blake led off with Mogg Raider, followed by Mogg Flunkies. This wasn’t Extended, mind you – it was just draft. On turn 3 he swung with both and put me to 16, passing the turn. I played out a 1/1 of my own.

Then Blake asked me what my life total was. 16. He thought and thought. He asked me again. Still 16. It was pretty clear that he was doing some math but I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to do. Finally he sent in both of his creatures.

My 1/1 was better than his, but I didn’t think he was such a good bluffer that he wasn’t really trying to kill me – so I blocked his Raider. He sacrificed it before damage went on the stack. I asked if he realized this meant that he wouldn’t trade with my 1/1 (at this point my best guess was that he was just awful at Magic) and he said that was OK.

Then he cast Blood Frenzy. I still thought he was awful and took eight. Then he cast Fling.

Awful or not, I was dead – on turn 4.

Savage beatings are a big part of Magic. Misdirection on an Urza’s Rage with Kicker. Plagiarize you during your upkeep, then sacrifice Cephalid Coliseum targeting you. Honorable Passage your Price of Progress. Or heck, just attack and cast Savage Beatings with kicker. These are some of the things I’ve done to people. I look forward to hearing your stories in the Forums.

Hugs ’til next time,