Tech for Breakfast: Tournament Report of Champions

We’re not sure what JMU was going for with this report and you won’t be either, but his combination of tech, tournament report, and breakfast still makes for an interesting read regardless.

 “Science: what is it all about? Tekmology: what is dat all about? Is it good…

Or is it wack?”

 Tech: ripping off Mike Clair’s method for intros.

Welcome to the inventor’s lair: the place where insanity becomes reality. All the good little boys and girls out there that read Starcitygames.com religiously know about the intuitive leaps of the past that placed their creators ahead of the curve: for example, how Randy Buehler played Mono-U control back in the day sans Morphling or Ophidian. Or how people playing Tide in Extended went with Volcanic Islands for access to REB in the mirror. Or how I played two copies of Goblin Replica at States. Bar0ken!!!1one

These are example of tech. Great tech. The best tech, even! And I’m here to bring you more. This is the kind of tech that will put you on the cutting edge of Limited, Constructed, Team, two-headed giant and multi-emperor-prismatic-singleton formats. Read carefully, but proceed at your own risk. If anyone discovers this URL on your hard drive, men in crisp black suits will be arriving shortly.

The story begins the night before PTQ: Philadelphia, or maybe it was West Chester; regardless, we’d be going to the basement of a one-story podunk Holiday Inn to sling magical cards. I tried to meet up with John Davis and company at a small hobby shop ~3 miles down the street from my apartment complex. Sample conversation:

“I’ve been driving in circles around a 15-square yard area for the last ten minutes! Where the hell are you?”

“I’m standing in the parking lot. Hey I can see your car! Come to where I am.”

“I can’t see you. Jump around or something. Wave your arms and stuff.”

“Do you see me now? Goooooood.”

“No, not really. Keep jumping.”

Tech: in-car navigation.

I got to the shop and we started to test Extended, which I will be writing an article about very soon, unless the TO from Philly cuts off my hands first (ooohhh, foreshadowing!). I haven’t really played Extended since I was in college when these sets were Standard and didn’t do Constructed for four years, meaning I have a lot of research and testing to do. I picked up JD’s U/G Madness deck, which turned out to be rather difficult. I played against Star Wars Kid (Goblins), and it was a lot of me making misplays and everyone else laughing and screaming (the bad thing about taking jiu-jitsu is that you have sudden uncontrollable urges to choke people). [Strangely enough, he’s right. -Knut, resisting an urge to choke you all right now] I was getting frustrated by a Goblin Sharpshooter that kept wrecking my team, and I wailed out “Star Wars Kid, Star Wars Kid, Star Wars Kid!”

I decided this was far too long and hence was born the first bit of tech for the weekend. “I’m going to call you SWK from now on. That’s great. It’s tech. My team will definitely win the PTQ tomorrow now!”

Matt Scott, friend and teammate, pointed out that this nomenclature had the exact amount of syllables that Star Wars Kid has. Hey man, lay off. Not all tech is good tech. I got bored when they all went to the finals of the draft and started challenging people to play Halo 2 for money, which no one accepted. Whaddabunchabitches.

We had to get up in early in the morning to make the drive: 5:30 AM. Which ended up sucking for me, as I was ready at five ’til six and they didn’t get there for another 45 minutes. Part of the reason is that they went to McD’s before picking me up, so I was forced to endure the somewhat-less-deliciousness of a sausage biscuit as compared to a bacon egg and cheese McGriddle (man, I am sure to get flamed in the forums for that one!). I kick SWK to the trunk and hop in shotgun and we’re off!

Aside: While we’re on the road, I take the time to introduce myself to Matt Scott’s girlfriend, who decided to brave the horrors of the gaming unknown to provide moral support for our team (tech: cheerleaders!). That was either very sweet or very naïve of her, but between the three of us we had enough martial arts skills to keep the rest of the Magic playing community’s grubby, unwashed paws off of her.

Not their eyes, though. Those horrible, staring eyes. There are some kinds of dirt that don’t wash off!

Tech: the girlfriend gambit.

This is where you get a hot significant other or friend to sit on your lap while you play cards; if your opponent is involved in a particularly difficult play or stack, your scab (I mean, lady-friend) will lean over (read: flash boobies) and pick something up to say, “Oooohhh, I like the picture on this one!”

I used the girlfriend gambit exactly once (which is, coincidentally, the number of girls I’ve dated that liked me enough to actually come to a tourney). She didn’t even have to lean over, or even stick around; she left in five minutes, but my opponents still couldn’t do math four rounds later. End aside.

It was sometime around this point in the car that I first started planning how I’d devastate my opponents. It involved a bent brim and a 45 degree canted angle, always to the right, always. I was close to writing Tech: Red Hat Wins but Matt’s girlfriend chimed in with how said hat made me look like a little kid. Everyone in the car asked me if I was really going to wear it that way (which would be the way that I always wear it). It was at this moment that I remembered how the Knut himself once asked me about the hat at this past State Champs, in a less-than-flattering tone of voice. I started pouting and continue to do so.

We tried to come up with a good team name at some point. Davis had been trying to scare Matt’s gf (sorry babe, I forgot your name) with the percentage of grossly obese people attending the tournament, which he put to be around half; I suggested we be Team Skin Fold Caliper. Matt’s gf suggested “the Musketeers” so she was fired immediately from naming duty. We settled on “we don’t give a rat’s ass” although that’s not what went on the slip.

Tech: good team name. Ours ended up being “name wanted.” Your name should strike fear into the hearts of thine enemies! Or not. The best one that I heard was “Myojin and Juice,” belonging to a dude named Ken that I’ve played with at Outpost Station, and a couple of his homeboys. In between rounds, I approached two of them and cordially asked how they were doing. A simple thumbs up or thumbs down would have sufficed but they looked at me, ignored me, and walked away. Them’s some rude dudes! I know you don’t like my articles, Ken old boy, but until you write your own I’m the only one with a voice; therefore, I’ll take this moment to point out that I beat you in a Block PTQ some months ago. What do five fingers say to da face? s m 4 ( k

Dissed in bold, no less. [Your team name was so bad that I wouldn’t have talked to you either. – Knut]

After about two and a half hours, many bad jokes, and one story of how I got kicked out of the club on New Year’s Eve later (hint: it involves “lewd dancing”), we arrived. After scoping the play area, we registered our team. While doing so I noticed two guys, one wearing a makeshift cloak and the other in a headband and blue kimono wrapped left over right

“Hey man! Are you guys Team Harry Potter?”

“No, and I’m a little insulted that you asked me that.”

“It’s cool man, Hermione’s going to be hot one day.”

John Davis told me that only women wrap kimonos left over right and that men are supposed to do the opposite. I did a little research though, and as far as I can tell all kimono’s are wrapped left over right; maybe Knut can shed some light on this, what with his recent travels.

There’s some boringness and then we get our cards to register. We opened some awesomeness that included two Kodama’s Might (does anyone else call it K-Mart?), two Glacial Rays, Nagao, Yamabushi’s Flame, Kodama of the South Tree, two Sakura-Tribe Elders, triple Orochi Sustainer, double Devouring Greed, blah blah blah it goes on. Of course we have to give that back and get some crap. We had a couple of good sections in there but they were completely lacking complementary cards that would make them good: i.e., three K-Marts went into my U/G deck with zero mana acceleration. We build a W/R speed deck with all the tinies and some burn (B seat), a R/B Spirits deck with a couple of Greeds (C seat) and my U/G slowness and fliers deck with Strengths of Cedars.

None of the decks were spectacular but all were capable of winning matches. On to the tournament!

Round One

Sorry, I forgot their team name. I was A, Matt was B, and John Davis was C. Matt won his match in three games pretty fast. Davis lost the first game like this: he was at fifteen with four critters facing an empty enemy board. On his EOT, his opponent spliced three Glacial Rays for six damage. Then on his own turn he spliced three more for another six. Then he spliced one onto another for the last few points. Ugly! He took it to three games but lost, so it was up to me.

In the first game, I was laying the beat down on his board of two 0/1 spirit-tappers with some Orochi Rangers and then some flyers. I was holding back because he played two Counsel of the Soratami and wasn’t playing any creatures; I thought he had the White Myojin, so I always held back a dude in hand. He did nothing of consequence and Strength of Cedars splicing K-Mart wins.

Game two took a really long time and it was my fault. I played turn 4 Soratami Savant, which was going to be really awesome. Too bad he played turn 4 Nagao when I was tapped out. Anyway, we trade beats, him on the ground and me in the air. I was short on mana and couldn’t play out my hand, but I get out the Soratami bounce-guy and some other guys to race him. He drops the white Honden and it’s now or never with my flying beats; the final situation is that I can only deal six points any way I look at it. If I had one more mana or one more point of damage I would have won, and I took a really long time trying to figure out how to win that game; in the end, it’s probable I made a mistake somewhere along the line that cost me the edge in the race. However, when I couldn’t get the damage through, I should have scooped and gone to game three because my pile of slowness was far faster than his.

Game three I get going with Orochi Ranger, River Kaijin, Mirror-Guard, and Feral Deceiver. This is about the fastest start that I can get; I made my deck worse by siding in a Dripping-Tongue Zubera and a Humble Budoka for slow guys in an attempt to win before time ran out. I am playing really fast and end up making a mistake when I attack my Deceiver into his Kitsune Riftwalker; I thought that even if I reveal and my guy gets trample, the damage would be reduced to zero as a state-based effect. What actually happens is that I assign one to the critter and four to the player, so the one is prevented and the four tramples over. This would end up costing me the win as I am able to get him to nine, setting up a Strength of Cedars enhanced lethal attack for my last turn, and he drops Honden of Cleansing Fire for the save. I try to trick him into not blocking, but he’s already seen the Strength of Cedars. Result: we’re 0-0-1, a miserable way to start the tournament.

Round Two

Once again I forgot the team name. They were some good players though, one of whom is this year’s State Champ. I play against the nightmare matchup that goes something like this:

Me: Forest.

Him: Forest.

Me: Island, Soratami Rainshaper.

Him. Forest, Orochi Sustainer.

Me: Island, swing.

Him: Kodama’s Reach for Mountain Mountain.

Me: Mirror-Guard, swing.

Him: Honden of Infinite Rage.

Me: Scoop.

While there was actually a little more to it, as I had double k-mart and I made a splicey swing for eight then saved my Mirror-Guard from the Honden in his upkeep, he followed up the Honden with a Frostweilder and a top-decked Blood Rites. With all due respect, I would have won if it wasn’t for the Blood Rites, as my Teller of Tales would have gone the distance just in time.

I sideboard in Kashi Tribe Warriors and Serpent Skins, but this time he goes with plan B: two Moss Kamis that bash in my dome. So now I am an awesome 0-1-1, as is the team, as Matt wins but John Davis loses. Matt’s wins were close ones, as his opponent (the State Champ) was one mana away from a game-winning Reverse the Sands twice. Which leads me to my next bit of

Tech: screaming a lot during your match.

Loudest match ever. The only time I’ve ever been that loud was against Todd Scott’s evil topdecking ways in a Richmond Block PTQ, and I was warned twice! But anyway, this is where everything gets crazy, or perhaps more crazy, as it were. We get paired up and start our match; we’re playing against some younger guys that I see at every PTQ but don’t know their names. Wait, wait, I’m bring remiss here.

Tech: Round Three

 My opponent is a dude that I played against in VA State Champs two years ago with my pile of janky awesomeness.** He had Mono-Black Control and was responsible for my only loss in the Swiss rounds despite a completely questionable move in the third game – them’s the breaks. If you want a blast from the past you can read about it here. This was the first chance I’d had to get my revenge and I also managed a decent draw so I was happy.

After playing for about six or seven minutes, one of the Judges came over with a teeny problem. Apparently a team that was all wearing pink shirts (……okay) had accidentally gotten dropped and was being repaired into our matchup in place of our team, while we would be repaired to another team that was 0-2 rather than 1-1. This kind of sucked since games had already been played and won on both sides (Matt lost and JD won, and it was going to be close on my end), and neither team was happy about it.

Tech: Conspiracy Theories

Somehow John Davis managed to convince himself that this repairing was part of a grand conspiracy on the part of the judges. Apparently, they have his name down in their big black book of Magic players to hate on (because, of course, judges do stuff like that, don’t they?). The reason they would do such a thing is because he is a criminal that constantly and deliberately misrepresents the facts in order to cast the judges of any particular event in a bad light. He also wants to cause civil unrest in the Magic playing populace so they can rise and up overthrow those Level 3 tyrants! Yargh! He is also (supposedly) a known liar and cheater. He’s like the dark underbelly of the “Magic Jerks” out there – a Robin Hood that steals match wins from the high tables but doesn’t give them to the poor, rather he keeps them for his own sinister purposes.

The conspiracy was revealed to him by a Judge friend that searched the top-secret judge mainframe for references to John Davis, of which there were over thirty. Also, at his last event he was deck checked in more than 50% of the rounds. There were other pieces of “evidence” that I’ve forgotten, mostly because they were stupid.

So now that I’ve deliberately misrepresented what John Davis told me as some cracked out conspiracy theory, I have just one question: how does it feel? Does your own medicine go down smooth, huh Johnny Boy?

Without getting any more ridiculous, my personal standpoint on this whole feud is that it is just that – a feud. The judges don’t have some kind of conspiracy against John Davis, they just don’t like him. If I wrote an article about strange or questionable calls that I didn’t like at PTQ-level events, they’d probably swap emails about what a douche I was as well (and I can assure you, with the publication of this article, that I am indeed a douche). And on the other side – how to put it – John Davis is a character. Sometimes he can be abrasive.*** But that’s typical of most of the good Magic players I know. Deal. Besides, sometimes he’s even on the judge’s side.****

John Davis, Scourge of the Seven Judges!

“He’s like a cuddly, drunken teddy bear…” 

Hopefully one day they’ll work it out; as it stands, I’m glad he was on my team because he’s good, funny, and he drove. He’s invaluable as a testing partner and a friend. Maybe I’m on the watch-list now; it doesn’t matter to me, because I love judges. Sheldon is the bomb! Write another column soon!

So before eighty judges come down on me in the forums for the above commentary, which I shouldn’t have to point out is rather facetious (except for the Sheldon part!), but I am going to cover my own ass regardless (Disclaimer: the above commentary is facetious), let me take a second to clear the air. I am in no way suggesting that any particular judge or group of judges let their personal opinions of certain players impair their ability to do their job in a completely fair and non-partisan manner.

What I am suggesting is that perhaps this guy wasn’t as polite as he could have been. It was a strange situation that none of us had been in before and weren’t sure if rules were being broken. We had questions and were given a rather brusque brush-off, something to the tune of, “either get repaired or stay here and both lose, I don’t care, and that’s what’s going to happen.”

Tech: Ask the Judge!

I was curious if the above situation did indeed break any rules and Asked the Judge. I outlined two situations, one in which repairings occurred before the round had started, and the other what I just described above. Here was Chris Richter reply:

“The only official policy is that that head judge can do almost anything to preserve the integrity of the event.  You didn’t really include the details as to why you were repaired so I can’t comment on that.  But if the head judge felt the need to repair for some reason, he can do that.  It is unfortunate that it did not happen until several minutes into the round, but it is better to spend the time to get things right than to just let a problem continue.”

Makes sense to me. Does anyone else think that Mr. Richter looks like the guy from E.R.?

Round three take two

This time we sit down against Natural Selection.

Tech: remembering a team name.

This match I draw the nuts, something like double-Reach-Through-Mists-Triple-K-Mart-Strength-of-Cedars-Both-Games to the dome! Matt and John Davis also win, but at this point our tiebreakers are shot and even should we win out we have virtually no chance of making Top 8. Not to mention that our decks are pieces of crap and there’s not going to be another card pool.

It is at this point that we find out our previous round three opponents complained to the tournament organizer about the pairing fiasco and they were dropped with a complete refund. Team Name Wanted decided that we wanted to play for free also and followed suit, citing our alleged mistreatment and yada yada yada. To make a long story short they gave us our money back and let us keep our (crappy) cards. But the story isn’t finished yet…

Tech: winning the PTQ despite dropping

They forgot to drop us, so when the pairings went up we proceeded to our next match. As with every match that mattered, I have forgotten the team name; the important thing here is that we figure we have some sort of Karmic assistance on our side that desperately wants us to Top 8 despite having been “dropped” from the tournament.

My A-seat opponent recognizes me from Starcitygames.com, and judging by the sweatiness of his handshakes, I think he is a little intimidated. He and his friends were all nice guys though and we begin the match. I keep a crappy hand that has mana in it after I mull to six since I don’t believe the match is going to last long; our play area was almost directly in front of the TO’s table, and he was shooting us dirty looks from the second we sat down to play. Sure enough, five minutes into the round someone screams, “No! Do NOT begin the round!” though everyone within the range of my eyes has already done so.

So in addition to our other accolades of the day, Team Name Wanted was also responsible for the re-pairings of the entire tournament in Round Four. I mean, we had to protect our rating right? Did they expect us to forfeit that match? Whatever. But before they start my own secret file deep in the black vaults of the DCI, I’m going to blame this one on John Davis.

Peas out, ya’ll.

John Matthew Upton

I like back, feed me!

jmumoo MIGHT BE AT yahoo DOT com

* Da Ali G Show, season 1, episode 5: Science.

** I still insist that this deck was/is totally awesome, while John Davis is still trying to drill into my skull how awful it was. I mean, if it was awful, then I must be a good player for winning with it, right?

*** Still awesome!

**** He told me a funny story on the way to the tournament. Apparently he was drinking in between rounds and his last opponent was a huge proponent of gamer funk; or rather, his opponent was huge and also smelled like a dead skunk. John Davis got kicked out when he sprayed him with aerosol deodorant (don’t ask me why he had it on him at that moment).

***** John played on a different team at DreamWizards on Sunday. The other members of his team specifically asked the judges to sufficiently randomize their decks before presentation for the first three rounds. He told me that he was against mocking the judges in that manner for the now infamous incident. See, he does have a heart… albeit a black and atrophied one.