First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Ray, but most people call me blisterguy. Well, actually, they call me "Ray" in person, "Ray" if they know me, and only "blisterguy" in forums. Soooo… Whatever.
Anyway, this is a tournament report from my first tournament in what seems like centuries. I was gonna submit this to the Dojo, but it doesn’t seem to be there any more. My friends tell me StarCityGames is the new Dojo, so it’ll have to do!
I quit playing Magic just after Alliances was released because it was such a lame set, and moved on to play Spellfire. That lasted all of two months before I then took up Rage, and after that Shadowfist. From Shadowfist, I got into Legend of the Five Rings, but not before trying both the Star Wars and Star Trek cards games first. I’ve recently given up playing the Lord of the Rings TCG because those movies are like, so last month, and contemplated getting back into Magic. Many of my friends still played, so I dusted off the only cards I had in the form of an aggro red deck and dragged them along to "Big Willy’s Cards and Comix" for some games. My deck is based on the deck Paul Sligh used at a Pro Tour back when I still played, so I was stunned to discover that most of the cards within it were no longer legal in type 2. I was even more shocked to discover that type 2 was now called standard, and I was even more Lightning Bolted to find out that Shock has been replaced by the inferior Lightning Bolt!
(Actually, I may have gotten a bit confused there…)
Any way, Big Willy let me use some program on his store computer called "Magic Online,” or something to check out what cards are legal now in the hope that I could morph my deck into something I could play in the type… Er, I mean standard tournament this weekend. In return, I gave Big Willy some advice along the lines of:
"You know, Big Willy, they might stop calling you that if you lay off the triple-chili cheese dogs."
Big Willy just sighed, and told me that it was much more preferable that being called "Little Willy," like when he has in high school. I don’t get how that was a problem, myself – surely he could have hit the gym instead of the Burger King drive thru, but what do I know?
Allow me this small rant for a second if you will, but what’s up with Magic going online? I mean what the hell?!? Who would actually pay for digital cards? It’s obvious that the real life cardboard ones are in contrast actually quite valuable. I don’t think it will last; we’ll be playing with good ol’ cardboard Magic when we retire, I just know it.
Anyway, I read through the cards available to me and I modified my list accordingly. Thankfully, Mountains are still legal so I can use my own land at least! Big Willy and some of the other guys at the shop pitched together to lend me the cards I needed for my deck, so some mega-upsized super-shake props need to go out to Big Willy, Stevo, Nigel, Akbar and Smelly T.
Here’s my decklist with some commentary added for those of you who wish to copy my list for use in your local tournaments.
3 Dwarven Scorcher
This guy seems pretty good. I guess it would be pretty stupid to allow you to target players with his ability because of the optional side of it.
3 Goblin Digging Team
The bane of this deck is some quick, efficient walls. This guy helps here, big time.
3 Dwarven Grunt
Kind of a carry over from the original deck, but instead of them being mountainwalking goblins, they’re dwarves. Which are much cooler, in my humble opinion.
1 Obstinate Familiar
This is in place of Black Vise, which is a shame. But I remember people used to Braingeyser their opponent out in the old days, and Millstone can be dead annoying, too, so he’s a keeper.
How lame is this? It’s not like Lightning Bolt was broken or anything. That rounds out the 1cc spells, and happens to be one more than the recommended number of the original Sligh deck mana curve. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from playing other TCGs, it’s that being aggressive is good.
1 Infectious Rage
Could actually be better than the Immolation that I had in the first place!
4 Volcanic Hammer
It’s no Incinerate, that’s fer sure! But it’ll have to do, I hope the fact that it’s not an instant doesn’t come back to bite me.
4 Goblin Piledriver
While it lacks the power of the Ironclaw Orcs, I thought that the protection from blue meant that it couldn’t be countered! …So I was wrong, but they proved to be good anyway, especially in multiples.
This guy would be much better if he could target players. But he can’t, so he isn’t.
3 Skirk Drill Sergeant
I was quite happy when I found this guy; he makes the Orcish Librarian look quite awful!
3 Rod of Ruin
I’m sad that Brass Man is no longer legal, I mean who isn’t a "Bra’s Man" themselves, you know what I’m talking about? But it meant I was lacking in a colorless source of damage and I’ve long been a fan of the Rod. Thankfully, Wizards wouldn’t be stupid enough to print an artifact that did two damage in a similar fashion; that would be insane in this deck! (Or any other deck, for that matter!)
2 Skirk Marauder
This replaces the Brothers of Fire, and helps double as another source of colorless damage. After the tournament I toyed with the idea of going up to three of these, but it would mean dropping one of the Rods, and I’m already pushing the three-drop spot as it is.
4 Orcish Artillery
Now these guys – these guys are nuts. I can’t get enough of these guys. When I was thinking of adding another Marauder, I took one look at these guys and laughed and laughed and laughed and then stopped. Because you know, I had done enough laughing by then.
2 Fledgling Dragon
Shame to see the Dragon Whelp go, but when I saw this card I wasn’t too bummed because I knew Wizards would probably bring it back sometime soon. I mean, who doesn’t like ‘ittle bitty baby dwagons?
How hard was it to understand Fireball anyway? But it doesn’t worry me really; I usually went straight up their nose with it anyhow.
Sucks to have to use a crappy Alliances card, but I really needed the artifact destruction card in the maindeck. The others convinced me to drop the Shatter I had in there, too, saying there aren’t many powerful artifacts these days, but the paranoid side of me decided to at leat run one anti-artifact card.
It’s what make the deck tick, what can I say? And I got to use my land at least! (Smiley Face here, please).
It’s a shame too, because I really wanted to use my four Beta Manabarbs.
There is no replacement for Serrated Arrows, but I had a feeling that I’d need these after reading the reminder text on the Fledgling Dragon. And what’s up with reminder text?!? Is the rule book too good for some people? I mean, it fits in your pocket without breaking the line of your pants, for goodness sake!
1 Rod of Ruin
Was a Detonate, but what can I say? I love the Rod!
Grumble, grumble, I miss Fireball, grumble, grumble…
Another direct carry over.
1 Iron Star
This was a Zuran Orb originally, so I figured If I needed life gain this would do the trick nicely.
Wow, I can’t believe this card – it might actually be better than the Active Volcanos they’re replacing!
If I can’t have An -Zerrin Ruins, I’ll have a White Weenie hoser instead. I mean, since when is White Weenie not a good deck anyway?
Anyway, on to the tournament. I set my alarm and of course it didn’t go off until ten minutes before I was expecting to be picked up by Nigel, which sucked, but I figured I could still have a quick shower before he got here. Man, I wish other players would do the same! But it turns out it didn’t matter because Nigel belled me on my shoe phone a la "Get Smart" and told me he was gonna be quarter of an hour late. So thankfully, I still had time to have a quick breakfast.
On the way to Big Willy’s, Nigel made me call the store and get them to stall the tournament for thirty minutes. I quizzed him to as to why it would be thirty because we were only fifteen minutes late at the time. It turns out that we had to pick up Stevo on the way too, and that Nigel likes to buy his Pokemon comic books first thing on the Saturday it comes out – how lame! I asked him why we couldn’t get the comic from Big Willy’s, but Nigel said they didn’t carry it there. I wondered aloud why on earth they wouldn’t stock such a quality publication, but Nigel protested all the way there that it had a great storyline once you got to know it.
When we got there everyone was waiting for us just as we expected, and after quickly adding the last few cards to my deck we got ready for round one. Getting ready for round one involved trying to drink the entire contents of a can of Red Bull for some people. Thankfully, I had had a good night’s sleep the night before; I mean, who really actually parties on a Friday night anyway?
My first-round opponent was this little kid with a gigantic deck. Seriously, when the kid sat down it damn near towered over him. In game one he played out a few lands and a mana artifact that tapped for white. I tried not to laugh too much, but I remember when those things cost no mana and didn’t come into play tapped. My deck did what it always did and used all its mana every turn, casting small guys and he was at five and facing lethal burn before you can say, "my Scaled Wurm smashes you!"
I sideboarded in the Meekstone because I knew he would be playing all five colors and a ton of fatties, and I also bought in the Impatiences to punish him for not playing anything while he built up to his Scaled Wurms and Craw Giants.
I was in for a surprise in game 2! I had a slow-ish start but didn’t think it would matter verses "fat-o-matic boy", but he cast a mana artifact on turn 2, a Demonic Tutor for four mana on turn 3, and an enchantment on turn 4. I ignored the enchantment, obviously, because everybody knows that red will never be able to kill an enchantment and spent my next turn dropping a Fledgling Dragon. He untapped and said – or should I say squeaked?
"Put Battle of Wits on the stack."
I grabbed the enchantment and looked at it for the first time. It said that he wins the game if he has more than two hundred cards in his library! I can’t believe Wizards would print something like that; it’s just stupid. But I figured the chances of him being able to do that again from amongst the great number of cards in his library were slim to none, so I began to shuffle for game 3 safe in the knowledge that It was as good as in the bag anyway!
I started it out well with a Goblin Digging Team, a Goblin Piledriver, and a Pillage on his mana artifact on turn 3. He then missed a land drop and looked visibly annoyed, funnily enough, but then managed to draw two straight lands into a Wrath of God. Luckily I had been holding back in case he did something like that and then dropped a Scorcher and a Grunt. On his next turn he cast a "Something" Wish, which was almost exactly like a Ring of Ma’ruf for like, half the mana! I tried not to say anything when he went for his sideboard and grabbed another Battle of Wits when the card says "any card from outside the game", and then ended his turn. I untapped and attacked him to six. He then played the Battle of Wits and ended, I untapped, attacked him for two, and then finished him with the Blaze! Phew, that was close, imagine losing to a deck like that? I was about to ask the kid not to tell anyone that it was so close, but he was already off trying to trade with some other small kids.
I’m paired with Nigel and agree to draw. Who want’s to beat on their friends anyway? I’m much happier in the draw bracket, too; I’ll get to pick on some control decks now, which is where my deck shines. Nigel says we should take this opportunity to pop out for a quick bite while we wait for the round to finish. Instead, I take the opportunity to rib him some more about his Pokemon comic collection. It’s his fault I’ve already eaten anyway, so I tell him he should check under the counter when Big Willy isn’t looking. 10 to 1 says Big Willy keeps food stashes in case of emergencies like for instance, if he ever stops chewing!
My round three opponent is a bit of a jerk, so I won’t mention his name – but needless to say, this was where I first learnt about the Sixth Edition rules changes in regards to the stack. We had the games split one each when he received a game loss for a decklist error. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
It turns out that Me and Nigel are the only ones in the draw bracket anyway, so I get paired up again. This time I’m playing our local Mexican, Hulio. He keeps telling us he’s Spanish, but we know he loves it anyway.
Hulio is playing some kind of black/red deck and spends his early plays killing my guys with a Smother and some card called Chainer’s Edict, or something. The Edict seems pretty bad, I mean it really only offs my worst creature and it’s flashback cost is too much to even consider. But none of this matters as Hulio doesn’t play a third land and I keep adding to the board once I realize that an Earthquake from him will put him in burn range anyway.
Game 2 however was something I’d rather forget. My start was great – I’m talking turn 1 goblin, turn 2 Piledriver, turn 3 another Piledriver and a Scorcher. This is a turn 4 kill if Hulio does nothing… Which was exactly what he did on turns 1 and 2! I was getting pretty sure of myself until he played a Buried Alive on turn 3. What’s up with that card? It’s pretty obvious what it was designed for and leaves nothing up to the imagination, as far as building decks is concerned. Sure enough, on Hulio’s fourth turn he casts a reanimation spell whose name escapes me right now, getting his Phantom Nishoba.
Have you seen what this thing does to my deck? I can’t even burn it very efficiently; it’s just stupid. I guess it’s balanced in the sense that it costs seven mana and is therefore unplayable, I wonder if Wizards envisioned people having it in play on turn 4. I then had to do a double take when Hulio tried to swing in with it.
"Uh, nice try, Hulio…" I say, but he points at a card in his graveyard. "What the hell is haste?!?" I ask.
"Eet means he ees unaffected by summoneeng seekness," says Hulio.
"Well why the hell don’t they just say that?" I ask, getting a bit flustered. It was then that I spotted the other creature card he had "Buried Alive.” It caused me to flat-out yell:
"Oh you want to seee eet, too?" asks Hulio.
I kid you not, this creature was 6/6 and had every ability except banding, it was sick. Sure enough, Hulio reanimated it the turn after and I was soon shuffling for game 3. My only consolidation is that the Angel couldn’t be enchanted by Animate Dead, so if Hulio was playing it he was in for an anti-combo or two.
Game 3 was a close one, but my sideboard tech came in handy. Hulio gets the same two creatures into play again, but this time I’m ready with my trusty Meekstone. I lock down the Nishoba and the Angel comes in for eighteen before I rush past her for the win! I didn’t draw either Steamclaw, though, which would have been good I think.
This is the second to last round before the cut to the top 8, so if I win this I can draw in. Unfortunately I was paired against Smelly T and I was using his Piledrivers! The other bad news was that Smelly couldn’t afford to draw to we had to play it out instead of drawing and hoping for a win in round six. The T-meister used to play Shadowfist with me and is playing today, with the Forests and Mountains.
I win the roll and get a reasonable start with a Dwarven Grunt and a Sparksmith. His first play is some Grizzly Bear clone, but when I untap and Shock it, he pitches a card to it to try to save it. I grab the card and read it, only to discover that it’s strictly better than Grizzly Bears after all – although I don’t know how much better, really. Discarding cards is a big ask. Thankfully, I have another Shock which makes the Smelliest of T’s frown somewhat. He thinks for about thirty seconds and then pitches two more cards, leaving two in his hand. I drop a Digging Team and shoot his guy with the Sparksmith for the last two needed to kill it or leave him with no cards in hand. He takes the bait and pitches the last two cards. The next turn I drop the Artillery and own him from there.
Game 2 is closer, but drawing two Rods of Ruin and eight land makes for good beatings on my behalf.
We intentionally draw for the top 8. I’ve never seen this guy before, but he seems like a nice guy. Mind you, who doesn’t seem like a nice guy when they can draw into the top 8? I wonder how he’d look after going 0-2 drop, huh? Still, it’s benefit of the doubt time so he’s cool.
I check out how Nigel’s going with his match before grabbing a bite to eat. If Nigel wins the match, he’s probably in, which is great. If you don’t count Stevo’s 1-2 drop, our car group is doing quite well. Stevo’s been having a good day with the trading though, which at least makes up for it. Having to sell his trading profits to Big Willy so he can grab some food with me isn’t so cool, but I’m sure he could eat the cardboard if he really wanted…
Nigel lost his match to an untimely topdeck, or so he says. He then went on to whine about this and that, and we let him, it’s his right after all to vent uncontrollably after he loses!
I’m playing some other guy I don’t recognize again, but this guy doesn’t seem so nice. He was bringing the trash talk like I had ordered it alongside my dog and fries not half an hour ago. Of course I don’t let it phase me, I figure he seems to be all of fifteen, so I guess puberty is giving him more grief than I could ever hope to.
He’s playing a red deck, but it seems more goblin-based than mine. I take game 1 when out of the fray comes one of my Fledgling Dragons, all large and mad from the preceding carnage.
Game 2 is an interesting one, he drops some artifact called Ensnaring Bridge and renders my attackers quite useless. He keeps dropping his hand and burning me from time to time. Because his Bridge is preventing my guys from attacking, they’re doing a top job on the defence, meaning he can’t attack me either. A few turns before it can get out of control, I draw my sideboard tech of Iron Star and start to gain life off of our spells. Somehow he manages to draw artifact removal for my Rods, though, so I’m not doing a great job of killing him either. It gets pretty serious towards the end of our libraries and we both realize that don’t have enough burn left to kill each other, him because of my Iron Star and me because I used too much of it on his creatures earlier.
He starts up with the trash talk again and tells me I should concede because I’ll lose to decking, but I tell him I’ll happily lose when he burns me out thanks. With two cards left in my library, I draw my ace in the hole: The Obstinate Familiar. Because he’s already used all his burn just to keep his hand empty, he is now without an answer for the Lizard o’ Doom. He calls me something very similar to an "ace in the hole," packs his cards up, obviously pissed off at life in general. But to be fair, I would be pissed too if life had dealt me a face as full of pimples as that.
From a brat to a gentleman. Jim told me he had been playing since Arabian Nights, so we had a great chance to reminisce on old times before getting down to business.
He wins the roll and leads with an Island and some card I can’t remember which lets him draw two cards and discard two. Seems fair to me, as that would leave him down a card, which I’m naturally fine with. He then discards two guys that he can somehow play for free if he discards them! I’m not sure what Wizards had been smoking there; they’ve certainly come up with some wacky ideas since last time I checked! I play a mountain and pass back the turn; it’s not often the Paul Sligh mana curve lets you down, but I guess it has to eventually. He then plays a 1/3 blue creature that he can make 3/1 by discarding a card. He sure loves discarding his cards, and once again I’m not complaining.
On my second turn, I play another Mountain and again pass it back. He untaps and swings in with his crew, and he discards a land to switch his guy’s power and toughness. I try to stifle my giggles at the possible card advantage I seem to be gaining from this. He then plays another blue creature that he can tap to draw a card and then discard a card. While part of me thinks it’s just part of a weird theme deck, another part of me knows a book on legs when I see one. I untap, play a land and try to Shock the card drawing machine. Jim thinks for a bit, pitches a card to the 1/3 or 3/1 or whatever it is guy, and then pitches another which he can play again for one blue when he discards it. He then tells me to pay one more for each card in his graveyard or it’s countered – in other words, one more than I can afford. His deck idea is becoming more and more clear to me now, although I can’t help but think that it was a deck that didn’t take much imagination to build, the cards seems to have been designed for each other. Kinda like that Buried Alive card was for reanimator decks, if you know what I mean.
Then I spy the card in my hand that I had just drawn.
"So that guy’s toughness is now one?" I ask.
Jim tells me it is, so I play my third land and play Infectious Rage on it. Poor Jim has to read the card. I tell him how it’s not as good as Immolation in most cases, but right now I feel it may be somewhat devastating. After a few seconds Jim looks at his cards in play, and then back at the card. He looks at his now empty hand as if to see if any new cards had mysteriously appeared in it, then back at his creatures, and then finally back at the Infectious Rage again.
"Wow." That was all he had to say.
Jim’s next four turns involved him drawing a card and shaking his head, while my next few turns involved playing some creatures and a Blaze. Jim chuckled and reached for his sideboard.
"That Infectious Rage was huge, dude, just huge!" he laughed.
Jim leads off this time with Islands as his first three land drops, so I take that as a good reason to burn his two early card drawing guys as fast as possible. Something made me think back to my match verses Smelly T, and I all of a sudden remember the "Grizzly Bear that wasn’t" that he was playing with. As I end the turn, I ask Jim if he’d thought of playing that Bear guy. He untaps and finally slams down a Forest.
"You mean this guy?" He asks.
I look at it and confirm that it is indeed the card I was talking about, and Jim tells me that the dog is pretty damn gassy. I can’t help but agree with him as my own dog and fries begin to turn somewhat in my stomach.
I untap and drop a Fledgling Dragon. It may not have been fat yet, but it still had wings – and as with all baby dragons, they can’t stay cute forever! Jim draws his card for the turn and passes it back. I hadn’t thought of sideboarding in the Impatiences, but If it comes down to game three I just might have to. I attack with the Dragon, and who could have blamed me for not knowing what was gonna happen next?!? Jim discards a card to the Bear and gets to play it as an instant – imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a 4/4 trampler!
"But does it fly?" I asked Jim with a glint in my eye.
"It’s funny you should ask that," responded Jim, with a glint of his own, and he promptly discarded another card to the Grizzly Bear guy to give his guys flying. I told Jim how I had seen a similar card to that earlier, and he seemed surprised I hadn’t seen more of them today. Not surprisingly however, he blocked my Dragon and my Dragon failed to make an example of his 4/4 guy, which turned out in actual fact, to be a "Wurm.” I told Jim I thought that a "Wurm" was a try-hard Dragon and he replied that maybe it was. He then untapped and swung in over the top of my guys with the Wurm and the Bear, pitching two cards to the Bear to take me to twelve in one swing. I jokingly threw myself back in the chair as I took the damage.
"That’s quite a beating!" I remarked.
Jim just nodded and flashed back a card from his graveyard.
"Another Wurm, by the way." Jim informed me.
"Yeah? How big is this one?" I asked.
Jim just looked at me and then slid the flashed back card across the table to me to read. It took me several seconds to see what was going on.
"What the hell?!? Is this some kind of misprint or something?" I asked.
Jim assured me it wasn’t and offered to call Big Willy over to confirm it. I told him it was fine, I believed him. I untapped, drew my card, and looked across at his guys.
"There’s no way I can stop that twelve damage in the air," I laughed.
"Actually, I can do at least fifteen," Jim replied. "I can pump the guy, remember?"
I just shook my head and reached for the sideboard again, figuring that it was time to bring out the Meekstone and dust off the Steamclaws. It turns out that it didn’t matter, as Jim kept a one-land hand with two of those draw two, discard two spells and failed to draw a second land. I apologized for the mana screw, but Jim said he didn’t mind, really, and wished me luck in the finals.
Jim, if you’re reading this, buddy, you were an absolute pleasure to play against – there should be more players like you!
It felt good to make the finals in my first Magic tournament in years. I was introduced to the kid I was playing who seemed nice enough too, he even wished me luck in the match before ducking out to the bathroom. When he got back, we sat down and started shuffling up for the game. He told me his name was Dennis and he was new to the area. I complimented him on such a good start to his gaming here at Big Willy’s.
"Yeah" he said, "You could say that so far, I’m undefeated in Big Willy Block Constructed."
I just chuckled in agreement as we rolled the dice. Dennis managed to roll his onto the floor twice before we got a result, so already the match was off to a light-hearted start!
I played out some early threats before his counters begun to stop everything else I even considered playing. Eventually, he even found some removal for my two lowly attackers, and we then both lapsed back into the "rebuilding phase" of the game as I tried to amass a hand that would take on his wall o’ counters. When I finally went for it, he just let the creatures resolve. I feared a mass removal spell, so I moved onto burning him directly. He let the Shock through, but countered the Volcanic Hammer. I passed the turn over and he cast some huge spell called, I believe, "Upheaval" or something, leaving enough mana in his pool for a creature afterward. I shrugged and figured starting the game again was in my favor. I played a Mountain and he promptly Force Spiked the critter I tried to play.
I got a laugh out of that, obviously, because who plays Force Spike? I can’t even believe they bothered to reprint it! I soon stopped laughing however when he attacked me and pumped his guy +19/+19 for the kill! That was insane; it’s a good thing they stopped printing Berserk.
I complimented Dennis on his innovative deck idea, and he admitted he found it on the internet.
For game 2, I sided in my new favorite card, Boil. Let’s see him get to ten mana or whatever it is against this card. Things started off well with me scoring a Boil for two with another in hand, but that was where it all went downhill…
You see, the problem with running single copies of a card in your deck is you can go a whole tournament without drawing it. Big Willy had not bothered to check my decklist because we’d all made my deck just days earlier… So you can imagine his surprise, along with everyone else, when to further aid my attempts to stall my opponent’s mana development, I finally windmill-slammed my Strip Mine onto the table.
I figured that Strip Mine was a restricted yet staple card in the environment and therefore always gonna be around, but boy was I wrong! Big Willy informed me that he’d have to disqualify me, but that he was really sorry he hadn’t checked my list earlier. I told him it was okay, it was pretty much my fault anyway. Next thing I know, Dennis tells Big Willy to divide our prizes equally, saying he hadn’t had such a good laugh in ages! What a guy!
I guess I’m back into playing Magic again now, it’s times like this when you question why you ever left the game. I think I’ll have a go at "sealed luck" next time, although I’ve never really trusted the format because it would be too easy to slip an extra Fireball into your deck or something. At least my Strip Mine won’t get me in trouble there though!
I guess I gotta go out with the obligatory "props and slops.”
- You – For reading this far!
- Big Willy – For being such a nice guy and running events etc.
- Nigel – Gotta give props to the driver, you could be forking out for a taxi next time!
- Stevo, Akbar and Smelly T. – The other guys who lent me cards, sorry about beating you T!
- Jim and Dennis – For being the nicest opponents a guy could ask for.
- Osyp Lebidowitchitziz – Nice win on the weekend, this report is dedicated to you, buddy!
- Round 3 opponent and "Pimply Kid" – Just grow up, guys.
- Wizards – Who’duh thunk they’d stop printing Strip Mine?
- Everyone else – No WW decks? Who doesn’t play White Weenie at "Big Willy’s"?!?