Sealed Luck #3

This weekend, Martin attended three PTQs and won all of them utilizing the power of Takeno’s Cavalry enchanted with Kumano’s Blessing. Okay, maybe that’s not quite true, but he did attend one and he may have had to play against Takeno’s Calvary in round 6 where the winner of the match would make the Top 8.

“I really wanted those foil lands!”

-my Bruce

It’s funny to see other people write about me. It’s always so full of fiction. As I said in the forum to Craig’s PTQ report, his recollection of our match is rather dodgy. He was probably too busy basking in the glory of playing against someone who called Waxmane Baku Waxy Bob because of his articles to pay any attention to what was happening in the game. I lulled him into a false sense of security and then failed to capitalize on it because my draws were awful. Or something.

Even funnier was when I was sort of covered in a draft at GP: Birmingham (I was feeding Kai Budde) and Nassif made tons of mistakes about me and my deck. I didn’t splash the Shatter, my deck wasn’t decent and I was not born in Germany. My father is German but I was actually born in New York. Many would argue about the suggestion that I was the only Englishman at the table, depending on their definition of “Englishman”. If it’s “someone living in England”, then I wasn’t the only one, if it’s “someone holding an English passport”, then I’m not even an Englishman. Of course, if it’s “someone with English ancestry”, then it’s true.

If I’ve just shaken your worldview by suggesting that not everything Star City’s featured writers say is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then you’ve been too naïve. They’re telling stories and reality has too many boring bits to be told unedited. At least you can rely on me to tell you nothing but the truth.

This weekend, I attended three PTQs and won all of them utilizing the power of Takeno’s Cavalry enchanted with Kumano’s Blessing. (Note: I wrote this intro before the PTQ. This joke has become Fight-Clubesque; it’ll be even funnier once you know the twist.)

Let’s try that one again. This weekend I attended one PTQ in Doncaster, 120 km away, attended by 64 players. I opened this card pool:


1 Ore Gorger

1 Frostwielder

1 Initiate of Blood

2 Shinka Gatekeeper

1 Hearth Kami

1 Akki Rockspeaker

1 Uncontrollable Anger

1 Ire of Kaminari

1 First Volley

1 Desperate Ritual

1 Lava Spike


1 Iname, Death Aspect

1 Gutwrencher Oni

1 Skullmane Baku

1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi

1 Scuttling Death

1 Cursed Ronin

1 Takenuma Bleeder

1 Nezumi Ronin

1 Thief of Hope

1 Kami of the Waning Moon

1 Nezumi Graverobber

1 Nezumi Shadow-Watcher

1 Rag Dealer

2 Call for Blood

1 Befoul

1 Honden of Night’s Reach

1 Soulless Revival


1 Uyo, Silent Prophet

1 Sire of the Storm

1 Shimmering Glasskite

1 Ninja of the Deep Hours

1 Soratami Rainshaper

1 Floodbringer

1 Guardian of Solitude

1 Floating-Dream Zubera

1 Soratami Cloudskater

1 Mystic Restraints

1 Toils of Night and Day

1 Lifted by Clouds

1 Psychic Puppetry

1 Stream of Consciousness


1 Moonlit Strider

1 Takeno’s Cavalry

1 Kitsune Riftwalker

1 Genju of the Fields

1 Kabuto Moth

1 Pious Kitsune

1 Lantern Kami

1 Honden of Cleansing Fire

1 Terashi’s Grasp

1 Indomitable Will

1 Call to Glory

2 Hundred-Talon Strike


1 Body of Jukai

1 Patron of the Orochi

1 Moss Kami

1 Scaled Hulk

1 Kashi-Tribe Warriors

1 Burr Grafter

1 Sosuke’s Summons

1 Matsu-Tribe Decoy

1 Humble Budoka

1 Child of Thorns

1 Orochi Leafcaller

1 Traproot Kami

1 Nature’s Will

1 Uproot

1 Kodama’s Reach

1 Time of Need

Artifacts and Lands

1 Baku Altar

1 Ronin Warclub

This is a rather straightforward pool, and it took me about ten minutes to build my deck. The red has about four worthwhile cards, none of which are worth splashing. The Green has virtually no midgame, consisting largely of one-drops and ginormous monsters. The white doesn’t have enough creatures to be a main color but is an ideal splash, which leaves us with the following deck:

Creatures (18)

1 Soratami Cloudskater

1 Floating-Dream Zubera (S)

1 Floodbringer

1 Nezumi Graverobber

1 Kami of the Waning Moon (S)

1 Kabuto Moth (S)

1 Soratami Rainshaper

1 Thief of Hope (S)

1 Nezumi Ronin

1 Takenuma Bleeder

1 Ninja of the Deep Hours

1 Cursed Ronin

1 Shimmering Glasskite (S)

1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi

1 Scuttling Death (S)

1 Gutwrencher Oni (S)

1 Sire of the Storm (S)

1 Uyo, Silent Prophet

Other Spells (5)

1 Befoul

1 Soulless Revival (A)

1 Honden of Cleansing Fire

1 Honden of Night’s Reach

1 Ronin Warclub

Land (17)

8 Swamp

6 Island

3 Plains

Spirits: 8

Arcane: 1

This deck has a lot going for it. Eight fliers, double Honden, several (near) bombs. It does lack removal, only having one Befoul and one Scuttles. I almost played the Mystic Restraints but decided against it in the end because it would’ve made the mana base awkward. Of course a two-color build is possible, dropping the two white cards for the Restraints and either Toils of Night and Day or Nezumi Shadow-Watcher or Guardian of Solitude. On the other hand I like having double Honden and am trying to overcome my inhibitions against splashing. People on the forums keep telling me I shouldn’t be so afraid of splashing, and this is a good place to start. Additionally, the White Honden and the moth are just ridiculous.

My performance in the PTQ gives a good showing for how this deck works. Let’s have a “Meet our heroes” section.

Nezumi Graverobber

When CoK first came out I had this one down as a complete bomb. Then some writers somehow convinced me he’s not all that. Liars! I played thirteen games with this deck and won seven on them on the power of the Graverobber and his vigilante superhero alter-ego Nighteyes the Desecrator, more or less single-handedly. That’s more than 50%! Won by a single card!

The Honden brothers

There is little more frustrating than seeing two Honden on the other side of the table and little more satisfying for control freaks and wannabe dominatrices than having two Honden on the board. I don’t really consider myself either of those, but I can’t deny the head rush I get from playing a second Honden. There nothing to scoff at solo either. Note at this point that I won seven games thanks to Nighteyes, two more thanks to double Honden and lost the other four. Yeah, who needs bombs?

The Spiritcrafters

This deck doesn’t contain an overwhelming number of spirits and arcanes but it does contain some of the best spiritcraft triggers around. Having both Sire of the Storm and Thief of Hope on the board makes playing a spirit an orgiastic event that feels like cheating. Though Sire of the Storm is mostly a 3/3 flyer with a “win more” ability attached to it. Thief of Hope’s life gain was more relevant than his life loss. As for Kami of the Waning Moon, this deck has so many flyers and faced so many black decks that his ability was rarely relevant. Although he occasionally got away with pretending to be Kami of Fire’s Roar, narrowing down blocking options. He was still not at his best.

The Ninjas

Not much to say really. Ninja of the Deep Hours and Okiba-Gang Shinobi did their part in the heroic fight for seeds. Floodbringer and Cloudskater ensured that they got to do their ninjutsu thing whenever they needed to.

Gutwrencher Oni

This bad boy spent an awful lot of time sitting in my hand, waiting for the sixth mana to send Uyo and Sire into the fray. Usually this guy’s drawback is not a problem, but in this deck it seemed to come up all the time. Oh well, when he eventually came down he tended to do what 5/4 tramplers do. Who’s complaining when pseudo-dragons and demons do their thang, even if it’s a few turns later than you’d hope.

Uyo, Silent Prophet

Speaking of pseudo-dragons, she did seem somewhat underwhelming all day, as I only had two instant/sorcery spells and she usually came late to the partey. Not fashionably late either. Still, a 4/4 flyer can’t really fail to prove her worth. Though it makes me think I maybe should have tried to find space for Toils of Night and Day in the deck, which also would have had great synergy with the other six-mana flyer. On second thought, who needs synergy when you’ve got flyers thiiiiiiiiis big?

Here’s a brief round-by-round of the PTQ, trying to keep the stories brief that can be approximated to “Nighteyes raped and killed my opponents family and then desecrated their graves.” Now, Allen will demonstrate what having sex with a dead body might sound like: sluuurp.

Round 1 vs. Ed Rial

Don’t you love it? You and a mate travel halfway across the country just to face each other in the first round. He has an awesome R/W/b deck featuring Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Fumiko and double Honden (R/B). Game 1 he gets an early black Honden, I fail to find more than four lands and end up discarding all my high cost goodies. You can’t outplay an opponent if you have to discard all your cards. I also made a hideous mistake, thinking that my Ninja of the Deep Hours becomes a 4/4 with a Warclub on him. So I run him into the Brutal Deceiver and then realize my mistake with horror. Game 2 he has Fumiko, I don’t have Befoul and that’s all she wrote. After signing the match slip I threaten Ed that he’s walking home unless he makes Top 8.


So I’m running the swiss gambit. 64 players means 4-1-1 doesn’t guarantee Top 8, and my tie-breakers are gonna be worse than awful, so I’ll just have to win the next five rounds. Easy!

Round 2 vs. Chris Blacklock

Game 1 Nighteyes comes and does his thing. Patron of the Nezumi proves a minor nuisance, but who cares when your creatures just don’t stay dead. Game 2 the Patron poses more of a problem. Game 3 I mulligan and feel less than confident about my chances. Fortunately, my deck made an Arcbound Ravager impression and forgave me with an utterly ridiculous draw. I played turn 3 Kami of the Waning Moon, turn 4 Honden of Night’s Reach, turn 5 Honden of Cleansing Fire, turn 6 Sire of the Storm, turn 7 Scuttling Death (draw a card), sac Scuttles, killing two of his creatures, soulshifting back Wayne who had blocked earlier. Turn 8 Thief of Hope (draw a card) and the returning Wayne (draw a card, drain for one). It was about that time that my opponent conceded in disgust, realizing my deck was the goddamn Loch Ness monster. He didn’t give it no treefiddy either. Seven-card opening hands are for losers.


Round 3 vs. Robert Hurlock

He says he read my article and learnt something from it, though his poor G/B deck suggests otherwise. He also says he remembers me from playing in a side event at the last Pro Tour: London. That was in the last millennium! Eons ago. Even I don’t have that kind of memory for pointless trivia, let alone faces. Hmm. Game 1 Nighteyes does his usual desecration. Game 2 I have a strong start of Graverobber and Nezumi Ronin when he plays Night of Soul’s Betrayal, smoking both of them. I’m stuck on three lands for a bit while he ramps up to a quick Vine Kami. Followed by Pus Kami. I have Thief of Hope and White Honden to slow down the beats, trade Okiba-Gang Shinobi for the Pus-sy Kami with no non-Black creatures on the board and he drops Painwracker Oni trying to race. I love the Painwracker as much as anyone, but with Night of Soul’s Betrayal and White Honden on the board I’d leave him in the grip. I Befoul the Vine Kami and he eventually sacrifices the Painwracker leaving himself with only a Traproot Kami. I find the other Honden and have plenty of gas to overwhelm the stupid wall. For the record, I never have and never will recommend playing Vine Kami and Pus Kami, definitely not in the same deck. Night of Soul’s Betrayal is interesting tech, but needs full analysis of all the implications before being played. Painwracker Oni is great, though sometimes you just have to soak it up and play it as a virtual mulligan, and it really doesn’t have much synergy with Night of Soul’s Betrayal.


Round 4 vs. Chris Knowles

Game 1 is Nighteyes all the way (don’t you love it when there is no repetition in a tournament report?). I see Chris, for some reason, had two Mark of the Oni in his deck, so I sideboard out my Gutwrencher. Turns out that reason was that he misread the card so he sided out the Marks. Never mind, Toils of Night and Day did come in handy. Game 2 his unkillable Samurai Enforcers slow down Nighteyes quite a bit, though noone can hold the Desecrator down indefinitely! I had two Kabuto Moths for most of the game (his and mine), yet never tapped either of them once. Talk about the threat being greater than the execution!


Round 5 vs. Charles Aukerman

His Genju of the Spires gives me a few worries but is no match for the Desecration. Turn 3 game 1, turn 4 game two. Yeah, I’ll trade my creatures for your Mountains and then I’ll bring ’em back. Good times.


It’s the final round and I’m once again playing for Top 8. Could I pull off the swiss gambit or is this gonna be another “I came so close and then screwed it all up with an obscure mistake like not conceding”. Well, I sure wasn’t prepared for what was coming.

Round 6 vs. Mark Voisey

This guy had knocked Ed out of contention in the previous round, and Ed was quite angry because Mark made so many mistakes and still managed to beat him. Even without his Jitte. His other bomb was Nezumi Graverobber, same as mine, and as his Jitte never made an appearance, both games came down to who could get the most out of their Nighteyes. He stuck to a 2-color deck that was stuffed to the gills with rubbish to mediocre filler, such as Crawling Filth and 2 Psychic Spears. This was a deck that needed a splash if ever I’ve seen one,

Game 1 I get Nighteyes first and by the time he’s found his to let the legend rule take care of them I’ve already gained enough of an advantage to ride my board to the win. I was in control for most of the game, but it was still long and gruesome and hard to find a way past his defences. I side in Terashi’s Grasp for Kabuto Moth so I don’t autolose to the Jitte.

Describing Game 2 as long and gruesome is quite an understatement. He had Nighteyes early and I had to find ways of blocking without losing guys. I found a white Honden and for several turns my life went up two from the Honden, then down two from his Mothrider Samurai that I couldn’t effectively block. We both had Thieves of Hope on the table, which added a little variety though they really just cancelled each other out. Time is called, if I can survive three more attack steps I’m in the Top 8, if not I’m heading for ninth place. I never double-blocked the Mothrider with Shimmering Glasskite and Kami of the Waning Moon because he could save it with his Split-Tail Miko. On his penultimate turn, he taps out to play some more guys and then attacks with the Mothrider. He can’t activate the Miko, so I think it’s better to trade now and prevent two more damage knowing an alpha strike is coming next turn. What could he do to interfere with no mana available? Nothing! So I double-block. He then taps his Takeno’s Cavalry to shoot the Kami of the Waning Moon and manages to attack me for lethal damage the next turn because of it. I am not joking.

4-1-1 =9th place

So I keep banging on and on about how I don’t like splashing for anything short of a bomb and then someone goes ahead, takes that to extremes and wrecks me with Takeno’s Cavalry! I can’t believe I’m writing this. I feel dirty. I personally would splash for mediocre guys long before I’d ever even remotely consider playing Takeno’s Cavalry. Crawling Filth at least soulshifts, but Takeno’s Cavalry? WTF?!? Has the whole world gone mad? That deck made Top 8! I guess it has the rogue effect going for it (and the Jitte). I lost because the Cavalry’s effect is one I’m not expecting in this format, so I don’t know to play around it. If he’d left a White mana open I would never have blocked. Raaahhh!

I was so angry at this stage I wanted to hit and kick everything in sight. The special ninth place price of twelve foil lands was no consolation either. For a laugh, Ed and I then spent the next hour or so making up conspiracy theories about how it came to this. Playing the blame game can be fun. It was Ed’s fault because he beat me in round one, didn’t beat Mark Voisey in round five and got me a Dr Pepper when I asked him to get me a Coke. It was the tournament organizers’ and judges’ fault because they failed to attract a 65th player (which would have led to an extra round where X-1-1 would’ve definitely been enough for Top 8) and didn’t call time on the round a few seconds earlier (which would’ve denied Mark that last turn that killed me).

Now let us leave the world of fiction and look at this with more calm and collectedness. It was quite clever of him to tap out to lull me into a false sense of security. It was my mistake; I should have taken a closer look at what was on the board, or should have done the maths to figure out what blocking I needed to do to survive this. The clock wasn’t running anymore, so I could take my time. I can’t blame anyone but myself for losing to an onboard trick, even if it’s not so much a trick as a crime against humanity.

I then watched the Top 8 draft, following Mike Major and Graham Ribchester who both drafted B/W sitting next to each other. They both made the semi-finals, which I guess is a testament to the power of these colors, or maybe a testament to the power of these players. Right next to them Jeremy Duck was the only Green drafter at the table, and predictably his deck turned out ridiculous, though it fell in the finals to Tom Harle’s U/R spliciness.

In the quarterfinals I witnessed the following incident: Tom was playing Neil Rigby and tried to kill his Innocence Kami by splicing a Torrent of Stone onto a Peer Through Depths, Neil responded by sacrificing his Moonlit Strider to give the Kami Protection from Red. This of course doesn’t save it, as it was being burnt by a Blue spell. Remember kids, spliced spells give up their characteristics and take on those of the vessel. Neil said he’s played shedloads on MODO since CoK came out and never had this situation come up, but it’s still good to keep it in mind.

As a final thought, even if he never drew the Jitte against me, Mark still beat me in part thanks to its power. I’m sure he would never have not splashed and played such rubbish as Takeno’s Cavalry if he hadn’t had such powerful bombs! That’s how good the Jitte is, it beats people without even showing up personally to deliver the beats.

Coming up next week: Rounds 4 and 5 of Martin vs. his Bruce!

Martin Dingler

Martin at thatsfinethatsfine dot com