Owing people favors can be a bit of a frown. I try and duck as many frowns as I am able to, which is another way of saying I try not to owe people favors, and those to whom I do owe favors, well I avoid them. I duck them, as it were. I am very good at ducking people.
(Nothing personal. They are all very, very nice people. They did me a favor or two once upon a time.)
Debts must be paid, though. Even I cannot duck my friends forever.
(I have tried. Nothing personal. My friends are all wonderful people, etc.)
So, long story longer a favor was called in and I was compelled to put my level two judging skills to use at a National Qualifier in the tiny nation of Wachovia in Eastern Europe somewhere. I’m not sure exactly where it is, but as long as the pilot knew where we were going, and the taxi man after him, well… why worry? Everyone is somewhere, and as long as I didn’t lose track of myself I wasn’t going to worry about finding myself on a map.
(Leaving the beach behind to fly millions of hours to someplace where the weather was not going to be anywhere near as nice as at home and no beach to boot is not high on my list of fun things to do. It is just above attending a Britney Spears concert and just below practicing home dentistry with a hammer and chisel. But, a favor is a favor.)
(This wasn’t even a big favor that was called in. It was a teensy-weensy favor with a lot of interest. I think I helped my friend move a bookshelf or something several years ago. Now, he’s a big shot Tournament Organizer in Europe yanking unsuspecting fellows away from loved ones when he’s short on staff.)
(I’m glad I didn’t help him move a body.)
Well, before I move on, let’s take a moment to hope no one else calls in a favor on the poor, poor pitiful blisterguy.
On the bright side, I do enjoy National Qualifiers/Regionals/Whatever They May Be Called Where You Live. Once again, I will not be attending my own. This is the fruit of my labors, my labors being to not play Magic in any setting that might put my rating in jeopardy.
(Let’s have a boo-yah for successfully sitting on my rating for another year.)
(Ah…that felt good.)
Would you like some irony with your article today? I am currently typing this several thousand feet (at least, I hope so) above the water in a jet bound for home. I don’t have a ‘puter of my own with me. I have borrowed the laptop of my neighborly fellow passenger. Naturally, I now owe this stranger a favor.
Irony 1, blisterguy 0.
It’s all for a good cause, though (that’s what I keep telling myself. That, and the plane will not drop out of the sky at any moment). You see, gentle peeps, I saw something quite unusual at this little Qualifier (by little I mean two hundred guys, a couple of gals, and a few unclassifiables (unclassifieds?)). What did I see? Oh, wouldn’t you like to know.
(Maybe you would like to know. Maybe you wouldn’t like to know. Who knows? Well, you do I suppose, but I’m not all that interested, really. I just need something to take my mind off the possibility of the engines stopping and gravity doing its inevitable thing to the giant metal casket I find myself in. All for moving a bookshelf two feet. Not even a heavy bookshelf.)
(I mean, he could have moved it himself. Bit of a pansy, really.)
The interesting thing is that this deck ended up the winner.
Wachovian Regionals (East-Central), First Place
Strapping Young Lad – Andy K. Gravas
3 Vulshok Battlemaster
3 Shield of Kaldra
2 Whispersilk Cloak
4 Iron Myr
4 Slice and Dice
3 Chartooth Cougar
4 Electrostatic Bolt
3 Lightning Rift
4 Spark Spray
4 Forgotten Cave
…or something close to that anyway. Pretty close. I’m doing this from memory and I haven’t had any sleep in about twenty hours.
(I would be a sleepy-bopotamus if I wasn’t several thousand feet above the water. Actually, if I wasn’t several thousand feet above the water I might be a drownsy-bopotamus.)
(Happy thoughts! Happy thoughts! Kittens, etc.)
What exactly does the pile do? It keeps the board as clear as Lighting Rift will allow while playing out a few combo pieces (Shield of Kaldra, Worldslayer, and the optional Whispersilk Cloak). Eventually, the idea is to make Vulshok Battlemaster and then swing away (his CIP ability will attach all Equipment in play to him). The end result is everything in play is destroyed except Worldslayer, Shield of Kaldra, and Vulshok Battlemaster (and perhaps a Darksteel Citadel or two).
I was table judge on a couple of Andy’s (the guy with the odd deck) matches, and I was a wee bit impressed with how the pile stood up against the field. To give you some idea, there were plenty of Ravenger Affinity decks, lots of Bidding for Goblins, a smattering of Toothsies and Nailsies, and a fair share of MWC. I spoke with Andy briefly after the tournament was over, and he was good enough to share some of his own testing results with me. I will now share them with you peeps.
(Blisterguy productions would like to take this moment to state the opinions expressed by Andy K. Gravas do not necessarily jive with those of the author of this article, who likes to think he knows a thing or two about Magic.)
This is a fifty-fifty matchup. There are plenty of ways to kill an early Disciple of the Vault. Dealing with Ravager is trickier. After boarding the Shatters help a wee bit, but not a ton. The Furnace Dragons can come in, but Andy claims that they aren’t really there for Affinity.
(I’d like to point out Andy faced Ravager twice during the tournament. His first opponent went down to five cards in both games. His second opponent chose to hold what would have been a fatal Shrapnel Blast until the Andy played the Battlemaster. The Ravager player targeted the hasty guy when his CIP was on the stack. Andy played a second Battlemaster the following turn.)
Another fifty-fifty matchup. The first game is not in Strapping Young Lad’s favor, but after boarding things look up. The Shatters come in just to prevent the Goblin player from doing something clever like putting two Skullclamps in play (Vulshok’s CIP resolves and suddenly he goes to the graveyard once the State Based Effects are checked. He’s only got a two toughness, and two Skullclamps is one too many for such a narrow butt). The Incinerators help things out quite a bit, and go well with the whole Lightning Rift theme.
(The obvious stuff is usually the best stuff, so I mentions it even though I knows you knows it.)
(Incidentally , Andy played Goblins twice at the Qualifier and lost game one both times. He won games two and three in one match, and the other was awarded to him after a judge handed his opponent a game loss for marked sleeves. Unintentional, to be sure, but marks is marks. A little luck never hurts!)
TwelvePost (Tooth and Nail)
This is the best matchup. Andy claims to never lose this one. (I believe him. Really, I do.) Most of the Rift activations are being sent to the dome, and Shield of Kaldra doesn’t care about Oblivion Stone, Oxidize, Viridian Shaman, or anything else for that matter. The Lay Wastes come in from the board for the next games to take out Cloudposts.
(This seems unreliable to me. TwelvePost seeks out land practically at will every turn. I’d prefer Blood Moon, which seems like it might have legs against other decks if I was going to try and deny mana at all.)
This is the matchup where Andy wants to bring in Furnace Dragon. The idea is to wait until Tooth and Nail resolves and then make the Dragon, thusly removing the Platinum Angel and/or Darksteel Colossus.
(Novel idea, and I actually witnessed this happen. It did make me wonder what would happen if the Twelveposter boy fetched Akroma and Rorix. Furnace Dragon doesn’t look too hot then, does he? Oh, no he does not.)
Andy claims he never tested this matchup at all at all, which I thought odd. His logic was that no one would play MWC, since Tooth and Nail devours it.
(Blisterguy productions would like to remind everyone the opinions expressed by Andy K. Gravas do not necessarily reflect those of the author of this article or the owner of the laptop this article is being written on, who has a river of drool running down his chin and is a-snoring like a chainsaw.)
(By the way, Andy played the deck he didn’t feel he needed to test against twice. His first MWC opponent was late for the match (game loss number one) and then proceeded to knock his library over during play thrice (game loss number two). His second MWC opponent was surprised by Strapping Young Lad in the first game. Andy won the second game by getting around COP: Red with Iron Myr.)
My plane has now hit a wee spot of turbulence, which is having the after effect of making me need to find my way back to the washroom. Once I figure out how to slip past my neighborly, sleeping, and covered in his own drool passenger, that is. It may take me a moment to figure that one out, so before I slip in the floppy and tell Microsoft Word to”save,” I suppose I should list the top eight from Wachovia while I can still recollect it.
(Yes, that is correct. I haven’t saved this file yet. That’s because I’m all hardcore and living on the edge and stuff. You wish you were this cool.)
The Top 8:
Strapping Young Lad – Andy K. Gravas
Ravager Affinity – Ivan Illych
MWC – Dorian Gray
Ravager Affinity – Harrison Bergeron
TwelvePost – Daniel Webter
Goblin Bidding – David Copperfield
Goblin Bidding – Silas Marner
Angry Myr – Richard Garfield (not that one)
That about does it. Well, except to say I would never in a million years play Strapping Young Lad at FNM let alone a National Qualifier, but what do I know? I’m still sitting on my rating.