The Casual Report, Week 3

I have reached number three. I honestly thought I would have given up on this idea by now, but it just keeps rolling along. Just a note for those of you considering an article for StarCity: I strongly recommend sending it in. The first”Casual Report” managed to win the”Article Of The Week” contest. If you…

I have reached number three. I honestly thought I would have given up on this idea by now, but it just keeps rolling along.

Just a note for those of you considering an article for StarCity: I strongly recommend sending it in. The first”Casual Report” managed to win the”Article Of The Week” contest. If you keep in mind that drivel like this can win contests, what are you waiting for? Certainly you can do better than this.

After that ringing endorsement for my article, let’s get started.

Pre-Game Show

Welcome to a special Tuesday night edition of the Casual Report. These reports are actually weeks behind, so the night you are reading about happened on July 3, 2001. I guess that makes this a tape-delayed event! Thankfully, the news of the winners has not been leaked, so you can just pretend that all of this happened just last night.*

I arrived at Darren and Shane’s place in the middle of a heat wave. Okay, maybe 25 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit for the metrically challenged) isn’t all that hot… But around here, it qualifies as a heat wave. I am picturing six guys in a small room for four or five hours with that heat, and I was fearing a tournament-like smell. Thankfully, the guys had hooked up a fan so everyone was comfortable. Somehow, I always seemed to be sitting farther away from the fan than anyone else in almost all the games.

I arrived late as usual, and found out there would be seven of us playing tonight! I don’t remember ever playing a game with seven people, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Card Shop Scott** was bringing his girlfriend Charity along.

This was the last thing that I needed. My chances of winning are extremely limited and depend heavily on my ability to fade into the crowd, along with my knowledge of my opponents and their probable play decisions in various situations. Charity would be yet another wild card that would make things difficult for me. That, coupled with the fact that several of the regulars may act differently with this many players involved, worried me.

Seven players would also reduce my share of the potato chips. Grrr.

Game One:

As always, we played attack left. The order around the table was:

Shane – He was playing what he termed a fun deck. At the end of the game I found out he was playing a W/R deck with a bunch of walls and lifegain. His sole path to victory was four Crimson Hellkites. He knew he would be in an impossible fight to win, but thought the deck looked like fun.

Charity – She was playing one of Scott’s decks. I was expecting something truly ugly involving a nasty combo, but by turn four, I became convinced that Charity was playing a Merfolk deck. She started with two Merfolk of the Pearl Trident. Not the best of starts.

Me – I opted for my U/W deck with mostly creatures that don’t tap to attack. I try to mess with everyone else’s creatures by forcing them to tap. This is the same deck that I have mentioned before; the one that should have four Stasis, but doesn’t.

Scott – It seems that I have ended up as the player attacking Scott more often than not. This time he opted for a U/R bounce deck with some direct damage thrown in. It seemed like a solid deck that wasn’t too ugly.

Darren – Initially it looked like an all-brown deck with a splash of red… But as it went on, it seemed to change. Picture every deck type from the last two years that involved red and artifacts and throw them all together. That was pretty much Darren’s deck.

Dave – Dave was playing some type of B/U deck that involved shifting colors and land types on the permanents in play. Dave never really seemed to get off the ground, so I don’t know what he was hoping to do.

Colin – This R/G monstrosity essentially boiled down to venomous creatures, or at least giving creatures venom.

After a couple of rounds things were starting to happen as the first creatures hit the board. Darren seemed to get off to a particularly slow start with only two lands in the first five turns, but some quick burn was preventing Scott from going too crazy. At this point, Shane played Balance. I don’t understand why he decided to play it at this point. He had three walls out and seemed to have Colin under control. No one seemed to be gaining a big advantage, so I don’t know what the reason was.

In any event, everyone was reduced to three cards, no creatures, and two lands.

This seemed to work right into Darren’s hands. He played a Sneak Attack, then sat back waiting for everyone to build up their creature base again. Once he was satisfied that he would be getting some card advantage, the Crater Hellion hit the board. It didn’t stay long, but it acted as a new reset button, and once again the game slowed.

Once Shane had the land base, he tossed out his Crimson Hellkite. It was obvious to me that he had no intention of attacking Charity with it. She had yet to throw any kind of threat on the board, and Shane was willing to just ping away at the particularly ugly creatures on the board. Scott attempted to destroy the Hellkite, using some direct damage, but Shane gleefully played Scars of the Veteran, making the Hellkite a 5/10 creature. Well, maybe Shane didn’t play it”gleefully” – but that’s how I would have played it.”Smugly” is probably a better word, but that’s not quite right either. Garsh, this writin’ stuff is hard.

By now, I could see that Shane could easily do three points of damage per round with the Hellkite… So I took advantage, casting an Armadillo Cloak on him. While that wouldn’t save my creatures, it would protect me and probably lift my life totals, which needed some help after a steady pinging from Charity’s Merfolk.

I managed to cast Aura Shards and got a couple of creatures out to slow my death. I started playing the Silver Drake and gating him back to my hand, just to use the Aura Shard’s effect. After toasting most of Darren’s artifacts and his Sneak Attack, I cast the Drake and kept him in play, returning one of the other creatures to my hand.

In hindsight, this was a stupid play; I succeeded in pissing off Darren. Darren almost never shows any kind of anger and rarely responds vengefully unless it best serves his purpose. The problem was that we were within five minutes of the 1.5 hour time limit, and all seven of us were still in the game. At this point, Darren will do things to make something happen, even if it means that he will die himself. I know this about Darren and made this play anyway. Not surprisingly, Darren chose to hit me with direct damage and put me out of the game. If I had not been so greedy and stupid, I suspect he would have hit Scott, who had been attacking him all game.

Darren later managed to finish off Dave, who was teetering on the brink for the last half-hour of the game. Darren’s efforts to knock Dave and myself out of the game, left him wide open – and naturally, Scott managed to kill Darren off on the last turn. Stretching your resources too far will get you killed in most Magic games, and our group is no exception. I don’t remember if Scott used direct damage or creature damage, but it was enough. The game ended in a four-way draw.

Normally, I would guess who the winner would be if the game continued, but I just don’t know. I suspect Charity’s deck and Colin’s deck were not strong enough to keep them in the game if they had been pressured, but I don’t really know what else was coming from everyone else.

Game Two:

Normally I list the turn order, but in this game, it didn’t really matter. Colin was playing a Shadow deck with black creatures. He started quickly and it only got worse. An Endless Scream on one of his creatures for six, and I was soon down below ten life. I managed to Drain Life on one shadow creature and actually ended up losing to black weenies without shadow.

At the time I was really frustrated, because I had intentionally picked a deck with few creatures, that focused mostly on tapping an opponent’s creature to do damage to the opponent. This would have worked well, but I couldn’t get enough mana out fast enough and too many of my cards were unable to target black creatures.

Colin then moved on to Charity, who was sitting beside me hitting Dave with a creature wrapped in an Armadillo Cloak. Colin took a few more turns but managed to finish off Charity, and was looking to finish off what was left of Dave.

At this point, it was already turn 10 and certainly there were other things happening around the board, right? Well, yes, but they really weren’t all that important, except for Scott. He had played out Teferi’s Puzzle Box, which was allowing him to move quickly through his library to find the rest of the combo. By turn 8 there were three Teferi’s Puzzle Boxes in play, which made the game almost funny to watch, as players would draw some cards, draw some more, put them all at the bottom of the library, then draw some more.

Just as Dave was about to become Colin’s next victim, Scott played Phyrexian Tyranny. As each person’s turn would come around, they would die; Scott was the last one left standing. This was great, as I had never heard of any combo with the Puzzle Box. I’m sure it was a frustrating way to lose, but it certainly made me feel better. If I had picked a different deck and managed to survive Colin’s attack, I would have surely died to the Puzzle Box as well. Sometimes it pays to make the wrong move.

Game Three:

The die was cast to begin game three and I liked where I ended up. Me – Colin – Scott – Shane – Charity – Darren – Dave. Ahhh, my opportunity for revenge. After getting brutally assaulted by Colin, it was my time for revenge. Now don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t going to kill myself to get my revenge, it was just that I was the one sitting on Colin’s right this time.

The deck I chose for this revenge? The famous not-really Fires deck. Being the casual player that I am, I haven’t made any changes to this deck, so it still lacks direct damage and any way to deal with enchantments and artifacts.

The game started slowly, just like both of the previous games. The only person that rocketed out of the gate was Charity, casting an early Phyrexian Negator. She hit Darren twice before he could put a single creature into play. He did manage a Sengir Autocrat, which slowed the Negator.

With Dave feeling no pressure from Darren, he cast an early Rakavolver and prepared to hammer me.

My deck failed me even worse than usual, as I had only a couple of creatures out and was being forced to keep them back for blocking.

Colin was free to beat on Scott and was doing everything he could to hit for damage. Scott had other ideas and he cast Pernicious Deed, wiping out everything on the board. I was gleeful,*** as it appeared my ass would be saved. Somehow, I shouldn’t be surprised that Dave would be one of the first to recover.

Charity immediately cast another Negator and was back to work on a now-defenceless Darren. Clearly, Darren would need some drastic measures to save himself. It was not to be and Darren was the first one out. As he left, he cast Nocturnal Raid to hammer back at Charity. The Raid pretty much forced her to restart the game.

At that point, everything slowed down. Dave and Shane seemed to recover the fastest and started to put pressure on Charity and I. My deck was just unable to handle Dave’s flyers, while Charity just didn’t have enough land in play to be able to deal with Shane’s rats. I was next out, and Charity quickly followed.

Just as Charity faded away, Scott cast Cromat. Darren, Charity and myself all looked at each other, knowing that Coalition Victory couldn’t be far behind, as he already had all the basic lands in play. It turns out he already had it in his hand, but believed that Dave had the counterspell in hand. For some reason, the people playing the game didn’t seem to notice what was coming. After a few turns, Dave finally ended a turn, leaving only one blue mana open. Scott decided that this would be his best chance and dropped the Coalition Victory. No one was able to counter it or kill the creature, or get rid of a basic land, so the game ended there.

That’s right; my playgroup can lose to a Coalition Victory.

This week has been an inspiration. Unless I intend to lose every single time, I will need to go the extra mile and stop being so casual. I don’t mind losing to better decks played by better players; what bothers me is playing a game knowing that I have no chance of winning. The only way I can change this is to improve my selection of cards (which I can’t afford to do) or improve my play and deckbuilding skills. I must take every advantage and work harder. In short, I must be less casual in my attitude.

Tune in next week to find out if the Internet’s worst Magic player can finally pull out a win after three straight weeks of losses.

Bruce Richard

[email protected]

* – Or I’m a Psychic and it will all happen tomorrow. In that case, please send your $4.95 per minute it takes you to read this to Bruce Richard, c/o Starcitygames.com. I’m sure any site whose editor is known as The Ferrett will have enough character to pass on my well-deserved earnings.

** – The previous articles have each mentioned a different Scott. This is Card Shop Scott from the first article.

*** – Who really uses the word gleeful? Gleeful times for Becky…? No, probably not.