Twenty to the cranium.
The efficient elimination of twenty life as quickly as possible has many routes in Type I. There is combo, of course…there is green Stompy with seven land…there’s the Black decks that ride their first turn through the game. I have always liked to send twenty points of sizzling burn right to my opponent’s head. How does that go again?
Boom boom boom.
The week was a tough one as far as playtesting went. First I’d tried a B/R/U Goodstuff deck with Dwarven Miners, Ophidians, Hypnotic Spectres, Edicts, and Bolts. The mana was bad. Very bad. Some games I’d bust out an early Spectre and just win… Other games, I’d get stuck on two lands, play a Miner, get it Bolted, and then die. I got killed by a Type 1 version of Paul Barclay’s "Full English Breakfast," for heaven’s sake – pretty much the international sign for "reevaluate your deck." So I put Morphling Blue back together…With Misdirections instead of Force Spike. I play against my friend Trevor, who is with Suicide Black… And Misdirection was so bad that it became a joke.
"Huh? They’re creatures."
"I know… I’m Misdirecting one so he turns on his evil master. It happens all the time in movies. Think of me as the blue mage version of Charles Xavier from the X-Men…using his mental prowess to overpower the foe and turn him to good!"
"How about you take five instead, then ten the next turn?"
I didn’t learn a lot about my deck from games like these.
It’s all one word. Not in any dictionary, but in Magic slang I believe it means "Scoop if playing blue." Honestly, in this backwater area, "Ritualnegator" has become a part of our quaint little vernacular – just like "Who does that?" and "Mise" and "Tech’er than Techerson."
I draw…Wasteland. Lay an island. Go.
Lay a land. Powder Keg. Go.
I put a counter on my keg. And we start the next game.
Sometimes I would Force Of Will the Negator and win. Sometimes he wouldn’t get the Ritual and beat me anyway, firing down busted-in-half creatures all the way. I’d Counter his first guy. He’d lay a shadow. I’d lay keg. He’d Unholy Strength it up and serve for four, and drop a Carnophage.
I put a counter on my keg, drop Ophidian. He pays one for the ‘Phage, Hymns me, which I Force of Will just because I want to keep my land. He serves for another four, I’m at twelve.
His ugly Zombie can block my beautiful, sleek, card-drawing snake.
I topdeck a land. Yay! Blow my keg and take out his Shadow. I say go.
Trevor drops two more creatures the next turn.
I can’t decide whether his is a noble deck or a busted one.
On one hand, you’re playing with "fake-fatties" like Phyrexian Negator – a card that has the most ridiculous drawback around. But on the other hand, it’s not some engine deck…You’re rumbling over with beatings every turn… And everyone else’s power cards are undone by your 25-cent Hymns, and while they fondle their libraries and set up Sylvan Abundance combos…
You just sit, stoic and say: "I’ll summon another guy. I’ll summon another guy. Attack you."
Not even any Cursed Scrolls in Trevor’s black deck. No scrolls, no Edicts, no fancy tricks. No HATRED, even. Twenty points of beatings as fast as possible.
In any case, the Blue deck is getting its butt handed to it, and though that could probably be solved with some sideboarding, I don’t want to bother, since the first turn Specter played by Speed Black, Necro, or Pox will just win the game anyhow, stripping my beautiful sideboard cards from my hand before they even hit the table. Also, Duress and Unmask are the most vicious anti-sideboard cards ever printed. Why even bother sideboarding against Black unless you have like ten things to put in?
"Sweet, I got my Force Of Will in my opening hand!"
I don’t have that much space…the blue deck gets the boot.
From there I go for an Enchantress deck with Sterling Grove to search for hosers…Pacifism for creature removal, Seal of Cleansing for artifact and enchantment removal…and, well…that’s about it. My plan was to beat down with Treetop Villages after I get a lock on with Worship and untargetable guys.
"This seems a bit random."
The deck needs serious work and I don’t have the time.
I audible and go to Necro (with 1 Necro in it).
Playtesting shows us that Necro with one Necro in it sucks. Necro is only good if you can play four. Even playing four Kegs, four Edicts, four Drain Lifes, I get smashed every game.
"Whatever…I’ll come over for seven on my turn."
"Whatever; my hand is empty. I’ll topdeck Unholy Strength and come in for nine."
Paying life to draw cards is pretty ass when you’re at one.
Necro just isn’t strong, and loses to weenie swarms. There will probably be some burn. It also loses to control if you only have one Necro, because they counter the Necro and you just lose… And you have no more Necros. Yawgmoth’s Bargain is not Necro. Too slow.
Mirror Universe is too slow. I die on turn 4, it comes out on turn 6.
Now what? Well, I bet you can answer that question.
I Decided To Play Burn
4x Goblin Patrol
4x Jackal Pup
4x Goblin Cadets
4x Mogg Fanatic
4x Ball Lightning
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Cursed Scroll
1x Black Vise
Twenty to the head.
Mike Flores is a great writer; on that I think we agree. It was his article on how Red is not ashamed to play crappy cards that inspired me to play this deck.
I wanted to drop Floresian elbows all day.
Sometimes red just wins.
I like that. Funny, in a way.
"Deck Construction Aside":
I considered going down to sixteen land and playing a Lackey/Grenade version… But that deck approaches Hatred-like levels of combo "ickiness." I’d like to be able to play at least a BIT like a control deck when I have to- and sixteen lands doesn’t give too many options. Who’s the beatdown? Who’s the control? I can be both.
I get to "Future Pastimes," and everything is going as scheduled. We have sixteen guys for today’s T1, and we’re going four rounds of Swiss to a Top 8.
I see my teammate John Labute, and he is with Nether Void deck. I don’t want to play him…My deck doesn’t have a mana curve per se, but the AMOUNT of mana in my deck is based on the simple fact that twenty-eight of my spells cost one. Even a simple Sphere of Resistance will ruin me. I wish him luck. I see other T1 moguls like "3rd in Ontario" Kevin Phelan there, Kevin is with Sylvan Abundance recursion with a Morphling for the kill.
The Chatham guys are all down…let’s hope the Sarnia guys can hold their own. Pairings are about to be announced….
Fiddle-dee-dee! I get to play the guy with eight Pro-Red dudes in his maindeck. Joe is always fun to play against… We’ll see how this goes.
I open up with a Pup… He comes back with Soltari Priest on his second turn. I serve with the pup (I always say "serve" now…I could make it into more of a roleplaying thing, but unlike other report writers I don’t actually own any dogs to name my pups after) for two and drop Scroll and Cadets. Joe drops a Mother Of Runes and a Crusade, and attacks for three with his Priest.
This game is all about me forcing through damage before I just get elbow-dropped by Worship or Empyrial Armor on a Pro-Red Shadow.
I Shock his Mother and serve for four, stuck on two land for now. I play Mogg Fanatic. Joe is at fourteen and I’m at seventeen…He untaps, lays land and drops Paladin En-Vec (I knew it was coming eventually), and Empyreal Armor on the Priest with no cards in hand…he comes over for three, putting me at fourteen.
I untap, draw land and attack with all (no Ball Lightning in hand unfortunately… Not that it would have mattered that much)…He blocks a Pup, bringing me to eleven and dropping him to eleven once the Mogg and my Cadets hit. I happily sac my Mogg, Incinerate, Bolt, and Fireblast him for the win.
"Two Pro-red guys, eh? Oops…I tripped and this burn fell on to the table….Hey, I won!"
Rubbing my elbow, I prepare for game 2 by dropping some Anarchies into the deck.
Let me tell the story of game two by offering you a good-natured bit from my own fable collection.
It’s a funny thing, naming. If you look back through the history of languages, some monikers have origins that border on the ridiculous, while others are obscure and fascinating.
For example, the word "Assassin" comes from the term used to refer to hired killers of the ancient middle east. These guys had found that a cold-blooded murder is more easily done when inebriated…So they would ingest hashish to dull their senses and fray their moral fibres.
Thus, "hashi-hashi-shins" we’re born.
What does this have to do with game 2, you ask? Well, I just wanted to illustrate a contrast. While some places and things are named in ways so obscure that you’d have to consult a library to make sense of their labels other things -DECKS, for example – have names that are fairly straightforward.
A friend of mine, Neil Crawford, once had a deck that he had entitled "Soltari Sodomy." I never played against it during his short magic career…And was skeptical that such a sterile, unthreatening weenie deck was deserving of such a suggestive sobriquet.
The name is deserved.
That is all.
Game 3 was a squeaker. With my Anarchies festering somewhere in the dead inch (the bottom part of my deck that I will never draw to during the course of any normal twenty-to-the-dome game), I was relegated to (as Jamie Wakefield so often did in his mono-green Urza’s Block constructed testing) playing out my gang of dudes.
White has excellent creature quality in their weenies. They have knights and monks…Steadfast and true bastions of the goodness in all of us.
Their creatures strike first. They have protection from evil and chaos.
My guys defect to the other side if they get blocked. If my dog gets hit, it bites me. My Patrols are so disloyal I have to pay them twice. Goblins vs. the knights and monks.
An evil, stupid and disloyal race versus the best humanity has to offer.
I’m sure there’s some philosophical message to found, then, in the fact that I burned Joe a new ass in this game, sending enough lightning toward his cranium to, render him a smoking, charred planeswalker on the decisive turn…Cursing the virtues of the knights and monks who’d failed him.
My goblins retreated to my deck, sated. To paraphrase again from a great article, Team Goblin didn’t serve all that well, truth be told.
They were, however, greatly subsidized by Team Burn-The-Crap-Out-Of-You.
I am 1-0. r33t.
In between rounds I unabashedly scout.
We’ve got two white weenie, two red burn (besides myself), one Morphling Blue, one U/W/B Rector Control w/ Morphling for the kill. We’ve got G/U Exploration/Horn Of Greed/Weaver/Feeder/Gibbons control with Morphling and Urza’s Rage for the kill. We’ve got one anti-Blue Stompy. And we have Trevor with Suicide Black.
Those dang Chatham guys…
Chatham guy #1: "I have blah blah blah with Morphling for the kill."
Chatham guy #2: "I have blah blah blah ALSO with Morphling for the kill."
Chatham guy #3: "I’m playing Morphling Pebbles."
Chatham guy #4: "WW/Morphling here."
Time for Round 2.
Round 2: Geordie vs. Nick, w/ Goblins & Burn
Nick is playing a deck like mine, but with a FEW cards different, a different landcount, more than sixty cards (over sixty by a few) and a different sideboard. Also, he has less experience than me. I have played this mirror a lot so I think I can take it.
We burn each other’s creatures…but I draw a Cursed Scroll and he doesn’t. After he uses his burn on my dome I drop a Cadets, and smoke his blockers while I serve for two a turn. I’m at seven when it ends; he had been holding a Fireblast, but was forced to finally Blast my Cadets. I topdeck Ball Lightning for the win.
I get a god-draw, with tons of burn and creatures and just the right amount of land. I smoke his meager plays and start serving bigtime, but he burns all my attackers off, drops land for three turns, and then busts out his maindeck ZURAN ORB.
I start sending mad burn right into his ear while he draws land after land. Finally, he’s once again forced to waste two Fireblasts on my creatures, and I topdeck Ball Lightning, make him sac all his land, and Fork a Fireblast to put him into the serious negatives.
In between rounds, I talk to Greg Gardner about my deck. He says that Goblin Patrols are sub-op. I disagree.
Round 3 has me faced up against Trevor, who is with Suicide Black. I am his nightmare matchup, and he knows it.
Round 3: Geordie vs. Trevor w/ Suicide Black
I kill everything he plays, and eventually when he thinks I’m out of burn, he tries a Negator. I Bolt and Fireblast it, getting rid of everything on his board. Then I draw more burn and creatures. Exciting, riveting material for this report? Not exactly. But at least I’m giving you the facts. =)
He sideboards in his four Bottle Gnomes, but doesn’t draw one…instead he gets mad creatures. I Shock a Fallen Askari, Incinerate an Erg Raiders, and when he tries to sneak Unholy Strength on his Dauthi Slayer, I Bolt it for sweet card advantage. He plays MORE guys. I start having to play my creatures… And I trade a Pup for his ‘Phage while his Black Knight gets through a few times. NONE of my creatures are even close to being as efficient as Black Knight. Black Knight is a beating.
I draw scroll. I kill the pesky knight…it apparently was never taught not to read Cursed literature.
I kill everything he plays.
I burn him into the negative digits.
He never draws a gnome.
3-0…and it looks like I’ll be going up against Evil Matt…who is with Morphling Blue.
Time to get pizza, the control guys are trying to outplow and outdraw each other. Zzz….
The best slogan for twenty to the head is unquestionably this:
"Twenty To The Head: It Leaves Time For Pizza between rounds."
Round 4: Geordie vs. Evil Matt Foxx w/ Morphling Blue
There is a season, burn, burn, burn…
I hit few times with an early Patrol, bringing Matt to fourteen. Then we stare at each other…. He’s with control. First main-phase spell loses. When he gets to seven mana he taps five for Morphling, two untapped to counter. I have five burn in my hand and a Fanatic on the table.
"End of turn, I send Incinerate at your head."
"Take it… I’m at 11."
"I also send another Incinerate at your head."
"Take it… I’m at 8."
"I’ll Fireblast you…"
"Counter (tapping out)"
"In response to your counter, fork it to the Morphling."
"Force of Will, paying one life…I’m at seven."
"Ok, my turn….Draw….Ball Lightning…Attack for eight."
"Block with Morphling…bah…take four, I’m at three."
"I’ll send a Shock at your dome?"
On to game 2.
Matt fires down a second-turn Chill… And Ancestrals himself, Time Walks, plays an Ophidian, blasts my pup, serves, draws extra cards, counters my stuff, plays more Ophidians, draws three cards a turn, counters my stuff, plays a Morphling, and wins.
This one was great…I play a Cadets, and say go. He plays Island and says go. I serve for two and have a choice… I can tap out to get three 2/1 creatures out on the second turn (I have two Pups and a Cadets in hand – SOME good against control), or I can leave R untapped for my Pyroblast and play the other stuff next turn.
I play one Cadet and leave R untapped.
He tries Chill without FoW backup; I Blast it. Who does that?
On my turn I serve for four and drop two more 1CC guys that are 2/1.
He says, "You’re not going to get away with over-committing like that." And plays a Keg.
I saw, "I’m playing red, I can get away with anything."
He would have kegged next turn and taken care of all of my threats. But I’m playing red. Oops. I won.
4-0 and top seed into the Top 8…out of our field of 16 guys (heh). Come to Future Pastimes, go 2-2, and make the top 8!
Looks like I’m matched up against teammate John Labute. I hem and haw about my chances, but he assures me I’ll win. As it turns out, his deck is not the deck I expected… Much less burn and more anti-control elements, which is great for me.
Quarterfinals vs. John w/ Nether Void/Sphere Of Resistance/man-lands/r33t spells
I serve with Goblin Cadets. His Factory gets active and I burn it. He Edicts me but I have some Pups in hand; down they come the next turn. He plays a Goblin Welder and a Sphere Of Resistance…I burn the Welder and serve for four. He plays a blocker…I burn it and serve for four. He Edicts me… I serve for two and send ten to the cranium over the next few turns, as he draws nothing of use.
I have no idea what to sideboard, so I don’t.
This time his big play is Umbilicus…But he can’t seem to find a Nether Void to lock me down with. He plays Viseling; I burn it and serve. I burn his Factory and serve. He does eventually kill all my guys with Edicts, but I burn him for fifteen during the next few turns with 2x Fireblast, sacced Fanatic, and 2x Bolt. Game-
Umbilicus didn’t hurt me enough.
John and me always split, so even if I win he gets some prize money…So he’s rooting me on.
Semi-finals vs. Ray w/ Control Rectordeck
Ray and me sit down and we know this is going to be a rough game for both of us… Because my deck sometimes just wins. Ray is one of those big loud and friendly players and never takes it too hard when he loses, so it’s always a lot of fun to play him. No BS between us no matter what happens in the game…Landscrew or no landscrew, misplay or no misplay. The hand always gets extended and the congratulations always go out.
I have respect for anyone who can extend that hand, even in defeat. That’s what it’s all about. The Source way, I suppose, if you can apply such a thing to Magic: the Gathering.
In the first game, I serve until Ray drops a Rector…I’d only taken him to about fifteen before attacking became fruitless. So it’s a waiting game… His Rector staring down my Cadets and Pup. I start stockpiling burn…And at the end of one of his turns, I think I have enough to burn him out. I start firing with some Incinerates, Shocks, and such, and I get him down to three… But he hard-cast a Worship last turn, so I have to kill his Rector and, in response to him going to get Ivory Mask, burn him out. He is at three… My cards are Ball Lightning and Bolt… With Cursed Scroll on the table and three land. I need to draw a land and I do, so now I have to Scroll his rector and Bolt him in response to the activation. I scroll…naming Ball Lightning. This is Game 1 right here…win or lose.
He picks bolt. His Rector stays alive.
Time for Game 2.
In go my Price Of Progress, Pyroblasts and Anarchies.
He gets third- turn CoP: Red and I’m stalled for a bit with no Anarchy in sight. He plays a Morphling on his sixth turn, though (leaving only one mana untapped) and I sneak through a few Shocks to take him to twelve (a pup did four to him before the CoP). On my turn I have to say go- my big bomb (Price of Progress) is in my hand, but I only have a Fireblast as backup and if he has FoW it’s game over (he has two cards in hand). Ray has four non-basics, so Price will take him from twelve to four… Right into Fireblast range.
He beats me with Morphling once; I draw a Fireblast and a mountain over the next two turns. He plays some land and, on his eight turn, taps out to play Time Spiral, with one blue floating in his pool to make his Morphling untargetable or to use his CoP.
I have no idea why he would do that….He had the game locked. I guess he thought his land would untap and all would be hunky-dory.
I do the unthinkable and Pyroblast his Spiral.
He spends his Blue to pump his Morphling.
I untap and Price, Fireblast for the win.
Boom boom boom. Twenty to the head.
Game 3 I lost, and I hate losing. It was an epic battle, but I don’t have the energy to describe it all here.
It all ended thusly- he had a Rector on the table, and a Moat. I have nothing much in hand, but I DO have a Pyroblast…. He is at one, with five land and a Zuran Orb out. That is eleven total life. He peels a Time Spiral and plays it.
B: Let it through, and hope for 11 points of burn off of my Spiral draw. I have sideboarded quite a few creatures out (8) and I have 4x Price Of Progress, 4x Pyroblast in the deck. I have 5 land open.
A is the correct choice, because B can go wrong in so many ways.
Trent, the kindly storeowner, went 1-3 (bye, heh) with a deck that was, in the opinion of no less an authority than myself, so hideously ass…. that if there HAD been a guy named "Asserson," it would have been more ass than him.
Simpson’s Comic Store Guy: "Worst… deck… ever."
Oh well, out in the semis….But it was fun, more fun than I’ve had in a while. Not only because of the friends and food and fun, the trading and bullshitting, the competition and triumph and defeat…But because I got to see some interesting phenomena up close today.
Sometimes red just wins.
Whoops! I just dropped those two Fireblasts and Bolt onto the table…let me just pick…
Oh, I win. (shrugs)
Sarnia, Ontario, Canada