Stupid Tooth and Nail: B/G at Midwest Regionals

This is the story of some Black cards, some Green cards, and a little card called Tooth and Nail.

This is the story of some Black cards, some Green cards, and a little card called Tooth and Nail.

To clarify, I didn’t take the Tooth and Nail to Regionals; I just worried about getting paired against it. I was with B/G Pest Control (my own thoroughly tested and teched-out version of Death Cloud Cemetery), and man was I afraid of the Tooth.

I mean, that sounds like a good matchup, right? I’ve got the only decent answer in the format to a resolved Tooth and Nail in the form of Death Cloud, I already have maindeck artifact removal to eat Talismans and the odd Oblivion Stone or Mindslaver, and Black should have the best possible sideboard options against a deck that revolves around getting large creatures out.

It’s actually the worst matchup ever. If they so much as cast Tooth and Nail, I have one or two more untap steps before it’s time to pack up my cards. Death Cloud’s got nothing on Symbiotic Wurm, and they usually have a Vine Trellis or Jens in play to keep their good stuff around anyway. This also means that the obvious sideboard tech of Barter in Blood is no good against them either.

My Regionals story starts two days before the actual tournament, in the middle of Booster Draft night at Hannah’s Games in St. Louis. Over the course of the past two weeks, I had tried begging, offering money (and other, *ahem*, favors), and even just plain old fashioned pestering to find someone who would give me a lift to Chicago.

Nothing was working.

Finally, on that fateful Booster Draft Night, I discovered that Troy Rumans and J.P. Smee (who, as it turned out, were also freshmen at Washington U. in St. Louis and I didn’t even know it) were taking a train to Chicago, and splitting the cab fare to the tournament site. It was the cab fare that had turned me off the idea of just hopping a train myself. $40 each way was not something I was ready to shoulder by myself, but $15 including tip? That I could handle.

I made some calls, got some tickets, and met Troy and J.P. curbside the day before the tournament.

With a five-hour train ride ahead of us, we had brought some stuff for playtesting. Our mini-gauntlet included:

Goblin Bidding (J.P.’s deck for the tournament)

Ravager Affinity (proxied)

Astral Slide (Troy’s deck for the tournament)

Tooth and Nail (proxied)

And of course Pest Control, provided by yours truly.

By the way, gel pens smear like mad when you try to proxy with them. Don’t do that.

I pick up Affinity (which I hate playing) and mess Troy’s Slide deck up with it. Then he sideboards in Echoing Ruin and some other stuff and turns things around. J.P. smashes my Pest Control deck with Tooth and Nail (surprise, surprise), and we split the Pest Control v. Bidding matches evenly.

While Troy and J.P. are duking it out with Lightning Rifts and Darksteel Colossi, I’m racking my brain for a sideboard answer to that stupid deck. Duplicant has been no help against the no-Akroma version we had brought, and about the only thing my deck can do in game two is get down an early Hollow Specter (very, very effective sideboard tech if unanswered) and hope he doesn’t have Pyroclasm for it.

Unfortunately, J.P. has the Pyro every time. He did bring in four, after all.

We play twelve more games post-board, and I manage to split them, despite never drawing Duplicant. We learn the following about the matchup:

Mindslaver is a ten-mana Duress for Death Cloud.

I can strip his hand, but I can’t stop him from topdecking for the win.

If Tooth and Nail resolves, I lose.

In almost all of the games I won, I killed him before he could even play Tooth and Nail.

I mediate over these as we enter Chicago, and finally come up with the wild idea of bringing in Wretched Anurid to put T&N on a Pyroclasm-safe clock. At this point I was willing to try anything.

Here’s the list I turned in:

Pest Control

By Richard Feldman

Mana Producers (27):

14 Swamp

9 Forest

4 Birds of Paradise

Game-Breakers (11):

4 Death Cloud

4 Skullclamp

3 Oversold Cemetery

Creature Removal (12):

4 Bane of the Living

3 Dark Banishing

3 Smother

2 Nekrataal

Utility (10):

2 Withered Wretch

4 Wirewood Herald

3 Viridian Shaman

1 Elf Replica

Sideboard (15):

4 Wretched Anurid

3 Hollow Specter

4 Oxidize

2 Naturalize

2 Infest

We hop off the train at Union Station and flag down a cab.

Oh wow, the cab ride.

Okay, so imagine the least competent person you know. The absolute least, mind you. This can include mentally retarded persons.

Now halve that person’s IQ, and you have our cab driver. The ludicrous cab ride from Union Station made the whole five-hour train ride worth it. In fact, I decided to write this report mostly in order to share with the world the most ridiculous cab ride any of us had experienced – and J.P. is from New York.

I considered spilling my guts about the whole thing right here, but you’ve already had way too much pre-gaming and probably want to get to the actual tournament report. So I’ll start it off here and then mix in random stories about the cab ride as I go through the rounds.

The ride began innocently enough. J.P. asked the driver to take us to the Baymont Inn – 1625 Milwaukee Ave. in Glenview, IL. The driver nodded, mumbled something incoherent, and pulled away from the station. Off we went. The hotel was about twenty-five miles away, so we were expecting a thirty or forty minute drive out to the suburbs.

Ten minutes later, the cabbie stops.”Okay, we here. Sissteen sebenty-five, please.” We looked around. Neon lights, a street packed with cars, and row-to-row commercial establishments. About as far from the suburbs as you could possibly get. And of course, no hotels in sight.

Luckily, the cabby was a nice guy about it and reset the meter for us once we explained to him that when J.P. said”1625 Milwaukee Ave. in Glenview,” he hadn’t meant”drive us to the middle of Chicago and dump us off somewhere.” That was when the real fun started…

Round 1 – Branden Meusling

To put things in perspective here, I’ve been pacing around all day saying”As long as I don’t get paired against Tooth and Nail, I will do fine.”

Naturally, Branden opens with a turn 2 Sylvan Scrying.

My feelings at that point could be best expressed by the following word: @#!%&.

I try to make a game of it by playing a Clamp and super-Cycling through some Heralds in search of a Death Cloud. He Shamans my Clamp and develops his board with a pair of Sad Robots. I Shaman one and Banish the other, then trade in combat for his Shaman. The board’s down to my Shaman, a Birds, and the multitude of land I have drawn (still no Death Cloud). Branden plays Darksteel Colossus, attacks me once with it, and Fireballs me for the rest.

Game two’s opening grip consists of Birds, Clamp, Shaman, and four lands. That’s a great opener against any other deck, but here it will just get my teeth kicked in. I mulligan to six (which turns out to be a one-lander) and then to five: two Forests, two Banes, and a Nekrataal. I run it.

I topdeck a Forest and a Birds, neither of which lets me unmorph Bane, so by the time I find my first Swamp, I’ve already taken twelve from Akroma, Angel of Face Punching. I need to topdeck Swamp and Death Cloud in short order, but I don’t. Game, set, match.

Record: 0-1 (0-2 games)

Yeah baby, losers’ bracket already! What was I thinking bringing a deck that loses to turn 5 fatties every time?

Stupid Tooth and Nail.

I appease myself by watching a traditional G/B player running City of Brass and Viridian Zealot, two things I specifically said not to do in the article I wrote. The G/B player was getting beat up by Astral Slide because his City of Brass was dealing him a bunch of damage – which is exactly why I said that card should be cut from the deck – and also because he still lacked the triple-Green mana necessary to play and activate his Zealot on the same turn before Lightning Rift could kill it. Which, naturally, is why I said that card should be cut from the deck.

Feeling vindicated with my build, but angry at my early loss, I marched off to the bathroom to take out my aggression on an unsuspecting toilet. On the way, I ran into J.P.

“J.P., what did I get paired against round one?”

He laughs.”Tooth and Nail!”

“Of course.”

Stupid Tooth and Nail. Oh well, at least Troy and J.P. won their matches.

Round 2 – Jason Henke

Jason was a really likeable guy for two reasons. First, he was quite amiable, and didn’t object to a little pre-game banter like some tournament players do. He was also likeable because he was playing MWC. I always find that likeable, because it means I’ve gotten a bye for the round.

In game one I play a Skullclamp and Wirewood Herald, and draw some huge amount of cards by chain-tutoring one Herald into another. Jason is only at seven mana when he plays Oblivion Stone to get rid of the Clamp, so he can’t afford to activate it before I have a chance to untap and Shaman it away. I then Death Cloud him down to two lands and no cards in hand, and beat face with a Bane of the Living. Skullclamp is so good. [You don’t say? – Knut]

Game two yields a similarly awesome opening hand. And by that I mean it has Skullclamp and creatures, so it’s automatically awesome. Jason makes some lands, while I draw cards off my Birds and Viridian Shaman. Unfortunately, the cards I keep drawing are lands. Jason Wraths my guys away and I keep drawing lands. An Eternal Dragon comes down, but I draw a Bane for it and am able to give it the full -5/-5, thanks to the fact that I haven’t missed a single land drop all game.

I have still made all my land drops on turn 11, and am beginning to get a little desperate. Jason has a full grip, eight lands in play, and has recurred and re-played his Eternal Dragon. If I don’t draw a Death Cloud soon, I think, I’m going to have to scoop lest we run out of time in game three and take a draw.

Using incredible amounts of play skill, I draw the Death Cloud. And suddenly, as Mike Flores once put it, Jason has no Magical Cards. I didn’t just clear out his creatures, or Mind Twist away his whole hand, I made him scoop up everything but his library and put it in his graveyard.

Death Cloud is so good.

Anyway, I drew some beaters before he could find enough land to get back in the game, so his deck put up little resistance while my troops dealt with his life total.

Record: 1-1 (2-2 games)

So after our cab driver took us to the wrong destination, he spent like five minutes looking up Glenview in his cabbie direction book, then handed me the directions and asked me to read them off to him as we got to each stop. Then he made, I swear, like eight million right turns, skipped a Detour sign, ran over a conga line of elderly women, and sideswiped the Pope Mobile. After evading the U.S. Army’s attack helicopters (I forget how he pulled that one off, but it was really lucky and certainly didn’t involve any cleverness on his part), we finally made it to the highway minus twenty minutes of our lives.

Round 3 – Zax Rosenberg

I’d never met any one named Zax before, so this was a first for me.

Zax clearly knew how to maximize the speed of his Affinity deck, but for some reason he didn’t seem to realize that he was the beatdown deck in the matchup. He held back on several key attacks that could have made the game a lot closer than it should have been, and by attacking conservatively, he permitted me to trade for exactly the stuff I wanted to.

When the dust cleared, all the Modular counters ended up on an Ornithopter, which I promptly Banished. When another Arcbound Ravager came and died to double-blocking, I Smothered the resulting Modular Monster. Another Smother and another Banishing later, all that was left standing was my collection of creatures and his four Welding Jars. And I could have sworn I caught them laughing at him out of the corner of my eye.

Welding Jar is actually a really key card in this matchup, and I tried to convince him to side them out by pointing out how bad they were in game one.”None of my removal allows regeneration,” I proclaimed. It didn’t work. Actually, he later told me that he did side out one Jar, so I guess that counts as a partial success for my attempted Jedi Mind Trick.

In game two, I Shaman the one Welding Jar he plays, then cast Oxidize, Banishing, Smother, a bunch of other stuff with”destroy target” and sometimes”cannot be regenerated” in the game text, and run him over with my dorks. He insists on mana burning himself to death when he’s at one life, and I agree on the condition that he shows me his hand. (I’m fearing a random triple-Shrapnel Blast kill if I let him untap.) He shows me his hand, and it is certifiably Blast-free. As promised, he untaps and mana burns himself to death. Cool.

Record: 2-1 (4-2 games)

Troy and J.P. both lost in round two, but came back to win this round; we are all 2-1 now. The tournament organizers had offered a box of product each to the first twenty-four people to drop before round three, which was a classy move to help alleviate the crowding that resulted from attempting to fit 600+ Magic players into one comic shop. Troy, J.P. and I were glad we had won, since it would have sucked to go 1-2 and miss out on a free box because we hadn’t dropped before round three.

Round 4 – Bradley Ojala

I go first and play a turn 2 Withered Wretch before his U/W control deck can get Mana Leak mana up. I also play out a Viridian Shaman (killing a random Ancient Den he happened to have out), and wait patiently for the Wrath. Bradley spends his turns casting Thirst for Knowledge, cycling things, and then finally casting Pulse of the Fields. He turns out to be one of those Good Players that knows you don’t actually need to Wrath when the board consists only of threats that can be handled by Pulse of the Fields. Damn.

I play some more guys and he finally Wraths, so I test the waters with a Death Cloud before playing more guys. He has the Mana Leaks, as expected. Next turn I Cloud again (I’ve drawn three), and this time it is met with a Rewind. He then taps out to cycle a Decree of Justice for eleven dudes. On my next turn, I make a morph, which resolves, and promptly reveal it to be Bane of the Living, thus clearing his side of the table. A Wing Shards stops it on the attack, then Death Cloud number three is met with Mana Leak. I resolve a Cemetery, and a couple of morphed Banes – one of which shreds another cycled Decree. Soon Bradley runs out of answers to stop my Cemetery recursion and McBane & Co. go all the way.

The highlights of game two include my unmorphing a Bane for five to kill an Eternal Dragon, Nekrataaling it when he re-plays it, and then Wretching it out of his yard to keep it down. I also mis-tapped my mana in the late game after he had cycled a Decree of Justice (I got careless and forgot that he might have topdecked another) and as such had to take six points of Soldier beats before I could get my double-Black untapped to unmorph Bane all over his face. At any rate, I won.

Record: 3-1 (6-2 games)

Sad times for Troy and J.P. – they have both lost. Troy drops in order to get his side draft on, but J.P. came to smash some heads with the little Red men and refuses to drop.

We console ourselves by recounting the cab driver’s match against the highway tollbooths on the way to Glenview.

Booth 1: Fifteen cents. The cabbie pulls up, rolls his window only halfway down, sticks his arm out at a crooked angle (I have no idea why he didn’t just roll the window down all the way), and heaves a dime and a nickel at the bucket. Clank, clank. The mechanical arm blocking our way is lifted, and we are back on the road.

Cabbie vs. Tollbooth: 1-0

Booth 2: Thirty cents. Again he rolls his window down halfway, but this time the master of manual dexterity actually manages to miss the freaking bucket. If you’ve never seen one of these buckets, imagine a funnel the size of a swimming pool with the big end pointing right at the car. Yeah, he managed to miss that. More money from his pocket was summarily launched at the drop box, and after a good deal of honking from the cars behind us, we finally made it out alive.

Cabbie vs. Tollbooth: 1-1

Booth 3: Fifty cents. Everyone in the car but the cab driver immediately realizes the booth is broken; the mechanical arm that’s supposed to block our way until we’ve paid is already up in the air and out of our way, and none of the usual lights that indicate electronic activity are even on. So when the fifty cents he deposits produce no noticeable result, what does he do? That’s right, he throws more money at it. After a dollar fifty or so has gone down the tubes I manage to stop stifling my laughter long enough to point out that it’s broken and we can just drive through.

Cabbie vs. Tollbooth: 1-2

Match Winner: Tollbooth. In the cab driver’s defense, this wasn’t a favorable matchup – the tollbooths were operated by computers, while his brain was probably operated by syrup.

Round 5 – Gary Hanline

While we’re shuffling up, Gary mentions that the only loss he’s had all day was to a Death Cloud deck. I don’t know what prompted him to say this, but it definitely boosted my spirits.

Gary had brought what can best be described as a Green/White control deck that ran both of the three-mana Swords and splashed Blue for Echoing Truth. I still don’t understand this tech, but apparently it had worked for him in three out of the last four matches against Goblins and Affinity (but not against the Death Cloud Deck), so I couldn’t really argue. At any rate, it didn’t work here either – all the Blue mana did was make me play around Mana Leak the whole game, then when he didn’t have it I just cast Death Cloud and wrecked him.

That was how both games went, by the way.

Record: 4-1 (8-2 games)

At this point J.P. had dropped to play in a Champs qualifier that had started up, so he could at least potentially earn some prizes while laying beats with his Red dudes, and Troy had constructed a solid deck in the side draft. I was pretty happy so far – after my first-round loss I was fully prepared to go 0-2 drop, but by this time I figured the majority of the Tooth and Nail players would be in a lower bracket somewhere, and I’d be able to play decent-to-good matchups for the rest of the day…

Round 6 – Squire Kershner

…So naturally, my sixth round opponent was playing Tooth and Nail.


Fortunately, Lady Luck was on my side. Squire had kept the ol’ Full-Urzatron-But-No-Colored-Mana opener, and it was screwing him. I had my deck’s equivalent of the random Exalted Angel win (turn 2 morph Bane, turn three unmorph and keep bashing for four until twenty becomes zero), which was more than enough to kill this poor manascrewed fellow.

I lay a Hollow Specter early in game two, and strip a Symbiotic Wurm. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough mana to look at his whole hand, and he hides an Oblivion Stone that I don’t have the Shaman for when it inevitably comes out to play. I knock another card out of his hand (I forget what), then resign myself to my Specter’s fate at the hands of the Stone. I lay some beaters and start taking down his life total. Squire Mindslavers me and makes me play and Banish a random Viridian Shaman; all in all, a solid use of ten mana (snicker). It doesn’t matter, because he topdecks a Fireball for my entire life total.

In game three, my Wretched Anurid tech finally shows up. I lay a pair of them early on, then a Viridian Shaman on his Oblivion Stone, and finally a Clamp on said Shaman to take him all the way down before he can get Tooth mana up. Score one for the last-minute Train Ride Tech!

Record: 5-1 (10-3 games)

At this point I ran around screaming”I beat Tooth and Nail! I beat Tooth and Nail!” to anyone that would listen. Actually, I just humbly and quietly expressed my happiness to Troy and J.P. Yeah, that was how it happened.

Round 7 – Bryan Wallace

I really wasn’t expecting to see any random decks up this high (except mine, of course), so when Bryan’s first play was a third-turn Stone Rain off of two Mountains and a Blinkmoth Nexus, I was a little taken aback. What was I playing against? Big Red? Ponza?

I decide to call the deck Big Red Ponza, and then set to work beating it. In game one I have to fight off four Avaraxes with spot removal, which I do – but then afterwards I am out of gas when Rorix comes down. D’oh.

I board in my Specters and Anurids, and Bryan keeps a one-lander (a definite mistake in a deck whose average casting cost must be around three or four). Specter steals an Avarax before eating an Electrostatic Bolt, while the Anurids keep plowing away at his life total. He tries to get back in the game with Culling Scales, but I have the Shaman, and the 3/3s take it home. Wretched Anurid – could he be the next Morphling? Only time will tell.

Game three is a real nail-biter. We go back and forth, but all the trades are in his favor. I draw Skullclamp and go nuts on some Birds and I think a Nekrataal. He topdecks Avarax, but I have the Death Cloud to get rid of it as well as its tutored-up buddy. Now he has two copies of Blinkmoth Nexus, though, and I am fresh out of fliers and am sitting at a precarious six life. I’m deathly afraid of Shrapnel Blast at this point, so I blow a Dark Banishing on a Nexus next turn (at least partially to take his land count down to three so he’ll have a harder time applying pressure), chump the other one with my Birds to keep me at six life, then play an Oversold Cemetery to start recurring stuff with. Initially I am just bringing back Birds every turn to chump block his Nexus, but after awhile I finally find a Hollow Specter and things start to turn around.

Every turn becomes a nightmare of blocking math, trying to make sure I can attack for the maximum amount of damage possible without the possibility of a lethal counterattack via a topdecked Haste guy like Rorix or Avarax. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that he can always burn some number of my guys out during my end step, and still have enough mana to cast a Haste guy on his turn. After a grueling series of turns, I finally have him at three with two Specters and an Elf Replica in play to his Avarax and Blinkmoth Nexus.

I close my eyes and Banish the Avarax. He thinks for awhile, shakes his head, and extends the hand.

Very. Very. Close.

Record: 6-1 (12-4 games)

Game three was one of the most intense games I’ve ever played. That’s the first time I’ve ever had to use recurring Birds of Paradise as chump blockers while trying to mount an offense at the same time.

Good game, good game.

I had been playing solidly all day, only making one”d’oh” play mistake in the whole tournament – that mis-tapping of Bane mana against Bradley Ojala’s U/W deck in round four. I honestly think getting a good seven hours of sleep the night before was a big help.

Although, to be honest, it was really a miracle we made it to the hotel by midnight after that cab ride. After spending another full hour on the highway (consider that MapQuest reported an estimated thirty minute drive total from Union Station to the hotel), we finally made it to the self-described Village of Niles, IL.

The driver slowed down as we passed through every green light (and a few red ones) to read the street signs, clearly having no idea where we were. He also pulled over several times, as he had frequently done on the highway, to consult what could only have been the user’s manual for his brain. He eventually deigned to notify us that he was”going to have to stop and ask someone for directions.” A bulletproof plan if ever I’ve heard one, especially at eleven o’clock at night.

This could have easily been remedied by pulling into any number of 24-hour establishments along the left side of road, but the driver steadfastly plowed ahead along the residential-only right side of the road. I guess maybe he was hoping someone would be out at midnight walking their dog or selling drugs, and that such a person would be willing to give directions to a cab consisting of three Magic players and a coked-up driver. An obvious misplay to say the least.

Round 8 – Jeremy Barbean

With an opening play of Great Furnace and Seat of the Synod, I’m pretty sure I know what Jeremy is playing. Figuring he’s holding Mana Leak, I decide I want my Bane of the Living to live, and rather than morphing it on turn 3 I just say”go.” I’m such a clever player.

He then went off turn five with Mind’s Desire. I’m such a bad player.

His build was clearly Twiddle Desire (based on the Twiddles and Mind’s Desires that were played in the first game), and as such his artifact mana was very important – especially Gilded Lotus. In order to mess with his execution, I brought in all the artifact hate from my board as well as the Wretched Anurids and Hollow Specters – thirteen cards in total.

Game two I played a turn 3 Hollow Specter and it ate his hand. He was visibly aggravated at losing to such a janky card, and refused to be consoled by my insistence that it was amazing. That’s okay, buddy – I lost to Vorrac Battlehorns in a draft once. At least we both know that one’s awful.

I chuckled a little inside when he made the game three play of Naturalizing the Skullclamp on my Hollow Specter. I don’t get it – why do people feel compelled to board in artifact and enchantment hate based on the mere fact that I run artifacts and enchantments? None of my artifacts or enchantments stop him from going off, and Naturalizing Skullclamp to save himself one point of damage per turn is hardly an optimal use of an entire card. He should have just boarded in something to up his Storm count more and help him go off before I could get my game going.

Eh, not my problem. Hollow Specter beat his brains in again and forced him to raw-dog a Mind’s Desire for four via triple Chrome Mox with no Imprint. He drew a ton of cards off Trade Secrets and had a full grip when he said”go,” but I had the Death Cloud to finish him off after the attack, so it didn’t matter.

By the way, mad props to Jeremy for running it rogue and making it to the top tables. I don’t know how he finished overall, but I hope he didn’t drop after making it that far.

Record: 7-1 (14-5 games)

Round 9 – Cyrus Rashtchian (my notes here are illegible – but I’m pretty sure Cyrus Rashtchian is more accurate than Cyrus Rasgasdfaeriatkachn, which is what I wrote.)

Finally another Affinity deck to beat up on! Cyrus plays three Ravagers in a row, and I blow them all up. He then draws some lands and some Welding Jars while I kill him with Viridian Shamans and other stuff that rules.

In game two I Death Cloud all his Magical Cards away and smack him to death with Bane of the Living.

McBane is so good.

Record: 8-1 (16-5 games)

Well, score! I just need one more win and I can draw into the top eight.

I definitely wasn’t expecting to do this well at my first Regionals, but then again I did put in a ton of playtesting time and knew my deck inside and out. Oh, and my savage Wretched AnuridHollow Specter tech. I fully expect both of those cards to be banned come next June; they are simply too powerful for this format.

Oh yeah, so the cab driver finally figured out the pattern that was developing, of all the commercial establishments being on the left side of the road, and made a U-turn into a gas station. And I mean right into that sucker. Something fuel-related exploded and shot some poor sod and his Yugo five hundred feet into the air. Luckily he landed okay, and said simply to the cab driver,”It’s cool, man.” The cabbie then got out and asked the attendant for directions.

After hearing the directions repeated fourteen times, and in several different languages, the attendant’s instructions finally registered with our fearless leader. He walked back to the cab, picked up the cell phone that he had been playing with (while driving) the entire trip, plugged the earpiece in, and took off without us. Er, I mean with us. Whatever, at that point we probably could have walked the rest of the way and gotten there just as fast.

Round 10 – Steve Krolak

The judges have started to hover like hawks around the top table, and are lashing out with deck checks left and right. While shuffling up for this round, I discover that one of my brand new sleeves has developed a rather noticeable crease in it. Not wanting to get a game loss or anything this close to the gold, I call over a judge and ask him what to do. He calls over the head judge, who suggests I re-sleeve. Fine. I buy another pack of Japanese Super-Blacks (those slippery Ultra Pro jank sleeves can eat me), and spend ten minutes or so re-sleeving and chewing the fat with Steve – a very nice guy, as it turned out.

The judge gives us our time extension, we shuffle up, wish each other luck, admit we really hope the other one gets mana screwed, and draw our opening sevens.

Mine is looking pretty nice. No Green sources, but no Green cards either – and all the juiciest Black to deal with Goblins. (Steve mentioned cycling a Gempalm Incinerator at one point during our chats, so I went out on a limb and assumed he was with the Red guys.) I kept.

I beat up his dudes, cast Death Cloud, Wretched out his ‘yard, Clouded again, and the board finally stood with him having only a Goblin Sledder, three lands in play, no cards in hand, and me with a full grip of Green stuff and still no Forest. Long story short, I continued to draw no Green mana and the Sledder went all the way. Bad times for sure.

I board in my Infests and get ready for game two. My opener contains no Black mana sources save for a Birds of Paradise, but plenty of gassy beats. Plus almost a quarter of the cards in my deck are Swamps, so chances are I’ll draw one by the time that Bane in my hand needs unmorphing, right?

Well, around turn 6, when he actually does need unmorphing, lo and behold – I’m zero for five in draw steps that yield Swamps.

I think fate just loves to mock me. Sends me against Tooth and Nail round one, then an 8-0 run through the Swiss, then a match loss to double mana screw when I’m this close to top eight.

And no, it wasn’t correct to mulligan those hands. I’ve played enough games with this deck to say that with authority, buster.

Record: 8-2 (16-7 games)

Ah, well. There’s still a chance I’ll make the cut – my tiebreakers are surprisingly good, despite starting out in the 0-1 bracket, and there’s only one Tooth and Nail deck left at the upper tables in a sea of Ravager decks. So there’s pretty much no chance I’ll get paired against it.

Round 11 – John Samos

Playing Tooth and Nail.


I’ll save you the trouble. Guess who wins? Not me, that’s who.

Record: 8-3 (16-9 games)

And so it came to pass that I started the day and ended the day with an 0-2 loss to Tooth and Nail. That put me at 8-3 overall, though only a hair away from 9-1-1 and glorious top eight.

That’s fine, though. My deck worked great – I only planned on losing to Tooth and Nail and mana screw, and that was exactly what happened. The only change I’d make to that list is to cut one Oxidize for the fourth Hollow Specter. The Specter was great every time I cast him, and after failing to lose a single game to Affinity all day, I’m pretty convinced the full set of four Oxidizes aren’t necessary.

We all took home some packs – Troy from side drafts, J.P. from placing at the qualifier, and me for my 21st place finish at the Regionals itself. I sold a few of them to random players as they exited the building for $2.00 each. (I hate cracking packs and I don’t have nearly enough Mirrodin to make draft sets out of half a box of Darksteel.)

All in all, a great day of cards.

Now, back to the cab ride. Once we finally made it to the hotel, the driver added 50% onto our already ridiculous fare because it was an out-of-Chicago trip. Luckily the fare was lessened due to the fact that, at one of his frequent pit stops to consult the manual, he turned off the clock and forgot to turn it back on again until we were already at our destination. What a sucker.

Also, he followed us into the hotel to ask the receptionist for directions home. It was literally three consecutive right turns to get onto the highway, counting the one to get out of the parking lot, and he just couldn’t handle it. She had to write it down for him. After he left we all burst out laughing for several minutes, then checked in, bedded down, and prepared for the exciting day of cards and plays ahead.

Props –

-J.P. and Troy, for letting me sleep on their hotel floor. I’m such a cheap bastard.

Adrian Sullivan, for casting Sculpting Steel on the Darksteel Colossus of the Tooth and Nail player that beat me round one, and then killing him with it. I love sideboard tech!

-Everyone I played, for being a stand-up bunch of guys. Even if you were playing Tooth and Nail, you still ruled. Just know that I hate your deck.

Slops –

-Our cab driver, for being a moron.

So that was Regionals. I had a blast, my Constructed rating grew by 100 points, and I’ll definitely try to make it back next year. Until that time, hope everyone else had as much fun as I did!

Take care,