I hunger for the chance to show that my one Pro Tour appearance was not a fluke. I qualified for Pro Tour: New Orleans this past year, but went 0-4 with a junked out version of Psychatog. Of course, I did not actually prepare for the tour, as I hit New Orleans with no invite, and somehow managed to qualify via the Last Chance Qualifier. I did not get a chance to qualify for Kobe, and San Diego is sadly a format that I am simply not good at. Limited is far from my strong point.
So, I guess I needed to qualify for Nationals to prove to myself (and only to myself – I don’t have to prove sh** to anyone else) that I am capable of playing on the Tour. I started testing in February; only taking breaks to practice for Grand Prix: Columbus. I settled on my deck choice fairly early into testing the format, and just learned how to play it inside and out. I tested different theories on how to sideboard against certain matchups. I even went as far as pulling decks off of a rival site’s public deck database to test my choice for Regionals against rogue strategies.
I spent over seven hundred and fifty hours testing for Regionals. Yeah Seven Hundred And Fifty Hours. There are only that many hours in the month of April, so to get that many, I tested for eight hours a day, every day from the first of February to the last day of April. Of course, it’s easy to do that when you have no real job, or a girlfriend or a social life to speak of.
Even with the hundreds of hours of play testing underneath my belt, I have yet to actually do particularly well at any Regionals, with this year’s 6-3 record being far from qualifying. Enough with the rambling introduction though, what you came here for was a decklist, (maybe… I’m not really sure of that.) and a story explaining how after starting the day with five straight match wins, it all came crashing down around me.
Through the Fire
4 Chrome Mox
4 Slith Firewalker
4 Dwarven Blastminer
4 Stone Rain
4 Molten Rain
4 Electrostatic Bolt
3 Goblin Charbelcher
3 Echoing Ruin
3 Culling Scales
2 Oblivion Stone
2 Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]
I felt pretty early on in testing that the decks to beat would be Affinity, Goblins (Bidding, or maybe some sort of Mono-Red Goblins, like the version that [author name="Dan Paskins"]Dan Paskins[/author] posted on the internet) and some version of White Control (Astral Slide, Blue/White and Green/White all fit here.) the only deck that my testing team missed in the early stages of testing was the Tooth and Nail, and we had that fairly early in March to test against. The bulk of my testing was against these four different decks. Thankfully, I was able to learn a lot from this testing.
Against Affinity, it is almost always the incorrect play to Detonate the first turn land. However, if they went land, Skullclamp (or some other one drop, Chromatic Sphere springs to mind) it was always the correct play to blow the land. This deck has a harder then normal time dealing with Genesis Chamber. You want to keep the artifact count low on their side, as it keeps them from having a backbreaking turn (You know, all four Myr Enforcers or some crap like that.) but you also want to have a Detonate in reserve to deal with the Arcbound Ravagers.
The Goblin matchup really depended on what kind of goblins you were playing against. Against Bidding, you want to, no, need to aggressively blow up their Red producing lands. Without Mountains in play, it is awfully hard for them to actually cast stuff. If they resolved a Patriarch’s Bidding, it often times just brought back three to four blockers, while their Siege-Gang Commanders and Goblin Warchiefs choked in their hand. If it ever looked like the Bidding was going to be really good for them, then it is obvious to blow up the Black lands and keep them off of the game ending sorcery.
The White decks were quite often decided on how quick I started off. First turn Slith Firewalkers often meant the game was over then. Back that up with the disruptive land destruction spells, and it meant certain doom for the White deck. Of course Astral Slide could trump the early Slith plan, but that is where Goblin Charbelcher got the chance to shine.
The final tier one testing started in March and was with Tooth and Nail. The Urzatron version absolutely rolled over to first turn Dwarven Blastminer. Killing on average five lands per game, this guy might have skewed testing a little bit, as he was only actually good against this deck. He’s too slow against Affinity (unless he was the turn 1 play, and even then he was still a bit slow.) Tooth and Nail was in short, my one true dream matchup, but I was shocked to discover that my worst matchup against the Tier one decks were the Goblin-based decks.
Yeah, that was just the tier one testing in general. About five hundred hours were devoted to these four decks. We spent the other two hundred and fifty hours on testing the other decks of the format, stuff like Green/Black Cemetery, Red-Green Anti Affinity, Zombies, Elf Clamp. About the only thing I learned from this testing was if a Ravenous Baloth resolved against me, I could seriously consider packing it up, and trying again the next game. The deck was really bad against decks that had non-artifact creatures with fours on their backside. The Red/Green Anti-Affinity was almost unwinnable (You can view a deck similar to the one that I tested for this at www.professionalevents.com)
Knowing everything that I thought I knew about the format, I still feel that this deck was the correct choice for Regionals. It has very favorable matchups with what everyone else is supposed to be playing, and had very good results against the other decks of the format. If I were going to replay Regionals again this weekend, I would still game with this deck. I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing something similar to this at the United States Grinders (Hooray, I get to write about why this deck is actually good next week!)
Anyway, enough talk, three pages into my tournament report I’m actually going to start writing it.
Ohio Valley Regionals 2004
Hosted by Professional Events Services
Head Judged by Level three John Shannon
Six hundred and eighty eight players and eleven rounds of swiss.
Arriving at the tournament site after seven hours of sleep, I meet up with friends from Kentucky, registered my deck, and started to play the Marvel game with as many people as I possibly could. The game is enjoyable, to say the least. The tournament started around ten thirty, and my first round pairing saw me going against the most popular deck of the tournament, Affinity.
Round 1 versus Shawn Byrnes, with Ravager Affinity
Shawn sat down and nervously began to shuffle his deck. He won the die roll, opted to play, and both of us kept our opening hand. His hand was unexplosive for the Affinity deck, but who could turn down any hand that had Skullclamp, Disciple of the Vault, and some other little artifact men. Mine was a purely reactive hand, and I was able to deal with his first few lands, Frogmites, and was able to enter the mid game with a high life total of sixteen. The board started to turn around for him though, as his next turns saw him go all in with two Disciples of the Vault, one Frogmite, one Blinkmoth Nexus, and an Arcbound Ravager. I was holding an Arc-Slogger when he started to blow up on me, and needed one more land to get him out of my hand. He knocked me down to eleven with his Frogmite, Nexus and Disciples, and I finally drew the much-needed land to cast the Arc-Slogger. Tapped out, I awaited to lose during his next turn, as his side of the board was going to deal easily eleven points of damage.
Shawn knew this and smelled the win coming. He attacked with his Arcbound Ravager, Frogmite and Blinkmoth Nexus, leaving the Disciples back for some reason. I block the Frogmite, with the assumption that well, he was going to sac his board and kill me regardless. The resulting damage from combat knocked me down to nine, as the Ravager did not go large. Starting to get excited, Shawn sacked an artifact, knocking me to seven with the two clerics in play. The last artifact land he controlled went into the graveyard, and I was at five. Refusing to pack it in, I waited to see how he was going to play this out. A fresh Frogmite was summoned and sacrificed to knock me down to three. Tapped out, I had no responses to anything, and that is when luck decided to shower me with a gift for being the nice guy.
Shawn sacrificed his Arcbound Ravager, and put all the counters on his Nexus. This knocked me down to one. He moved to put his Nexus into play and recognized his mistake almost instantly. Dejected, he ended his turn. I destroyed both of the Disciples of the Vault with my Arc-Slogger, cast a Dwarven Blastminer, and started to pound out for the win. He failed to draw land to reactivate the Nexus (which was moot, as I had double Electrostatic Bolt in hand.) and my next draw yielded a Molten Rain for me.
The second game, I failed to draw any one of the six sideboarded cards I brought in for the matchup. However, his draw was one of those dreamlike Affinity draws. Quick beats with Workers and Frogmites, who were joined by Myr Enforcers on turn three. I think I was fundamentally out of the game on his third turn, but I played it out, just to the bitter end of it all.
The final game of the match saw me kicking things off, and my hand was going to be pretty golden in the matchup. I had two Detonates, and after he cast his first turn Disciple, I went ahead and wasted a land. His next turn was a land a pass, and all I had was Electrostatic Bolt for the cleric. He gets to cast a Ravager, and I cast a Goblin Charbelcher to answer his possible threat. He drew his card, got no heat, and I took the time to Detonate his Arcbound dude. Three Charbelchings later, the match was over and I was shaking his hand.
Round Two versus Chuck Bowser, with Blue/Red Land Destruction
As I went to sit down to the table for this round, I noticed that my opponent had left his deck sitting face up while he was checking his sideboard. The lone card I saw was Skirk Prospector, and automatically my mind settled in for a quick game against some sort of Goblin deck. Chuck won the roll, took a mulligan, and led off the match with a Skirk Prospector. I Bolted the goblin out of the way during my turn, and was kinda surprised to see him lay down an Island and play out another Prospector. I had the answer to that guy in hand, and killed him again on my turn opting not to cast Slith Firewalker for some inane reason.
Chuck’s third turn is where stuff started to get strange. He Stone Rained one of my Mountains away, and when I had no land’s to play on my turn, he Annexed my final land. My deck was refusing to cooperate with me, and my hand was starting to get filled up with stupid cards but no lands to use them with. I draw two Chrome Moxen, and a third land finally, and attempt to apply pressure with the Slith Firewalker and a morphed Dwarven Blastminer. Both of the kiddos were sent to the graveyard though, as Starstorm killed them.
Chuck was gaining massive amounts of card advantage via Pulse of the Grid, but could not actually find something to kill me with. He Demolished one of my Moxes and Rained another Mountain, but I kept playing, not willing to concede until he showed me how he was going to win. The game was starting to drag on for a bit as I was drawing Arc-Sloggers to his land, and when I finally drew my third Chrome Mox, I checked his graveyard and saw that a majority of his removal had to have been already cast or cycled into the graveyard. Chrome Mox number three came into play, and my second Firewalker of the game started to beat down. The turn after, I drew another Mountain, cast a morphed Blastminer and just started to hope for the best. He had no immediate answer to either guy, but was frantically searching his library with the Pulse of the Grid. His deck decided to not work with him, and a few turns later (and one land destruction spell from Chuck.) my board was two Chrome Moxes, one huge Slith Firewalker, and the Morphed Blastminer. He drew all twenty of his lands.
Neither of us mulliganed for the start of game two, but I had a blisteringly fast Land Destruction hand that started on turn 2 and just did not quit until turn 7. After I land screwed Chuck, a Slith Firewalker took the match home for me.
Chuck was a great opponent and all around nice guy, he gave me the decklist to his deck after the round was over, and I was surprised to see how similar it was to the Blue/Red control that I piloted to a top eight finish in a block constructed PTQ at the Origins Convention last year.
Round 3 versus Steven Greene with Goblin Bidding
I got to kick off this game and had a great hand for the matchup. Early Slith (which remember, is awful in this match unless he is getting to swing freely), some removal (that ensured my Slith was going to swing freely for one or two turns), land destruction and some land. I Bolted his first drop, came backing roaring with my Firewalker, and started to systematically destroy every Red source he had. Goblin Charbelcher came on my side to finish up the work that the Firewalker had started, and at the end of the game Steven was left with a hand full of Goblin Warchiefs and Siege-Gang Commanders.
Steven had to paris his second game hand and his first play was Goblin Sharpshooter. I had no offense, as I sided out my Slith Firewalkers, but my land destruction was keeping Steven from having a ridiculous turn. I bring a Charbelcher into play and after a six point Belch, he finally started to apply some real pressure. Goblin Warchief was joined by a Siege-Gang Commander and before things could spiral anymore out of control for me, I Pyroclasmed his board away. My Belcher, however, was not cooperating with me, and kept showing me a land as soon as I activated the artifact. My life was at a precarious thirteen, and Steven went in for the kill.
Another Warchief was cast out of his hand, and was joined by a Skirk Prospector. With the bulk of my land destruction already in the graveyard, Steven had plenty of lands open for this turn of his. The Prospector turned itself into mana, and another Commander came into play. Things looked bleak. He attacked me to six, and if I had no answer on my next draw step I would have to pack it in and get ready for the last game. I Belched him for two, took my draw step, and placed the freshly pealed Pyroclasm from my hand into the play area.
Steven was left with no cards in hand, (Remember he did take that massive turn before I ripped the Pyroclasm.) but a Patriarch’s Bidding could still win him the game. None came up, and with my final two Belcher activations I was able to end the game.
Round 4 versus Aaron Vanderbeek with Affinity
Aaron was one of the most pleasant opponents that I had the pleasure to play all day long. He was well mannered, and polite, and all kinds of good stuff. He was playing Affinity, and in short, my hands both games were going to be hard for almost any deck to beat. I had the early artifact removal, the early Bolts, and when my Arc-Slogger came online and cleaned his board away, the first game was over.
Aaron sadly had to paris to five (at least I think he did, that is what the scribbles on my pad say) and was not able to overcome a replay of the first game.
Aaron however is actually a skilled player and brushed the dirt off his shoulder after he lost to me. You can see the decklist that he used to qualify with at magicthegathering.com. Congrats Aaron, and good luck in Kansas City!
Round Five versus David Warburton with Affinity
You know, it gets awfully hard to keep writing these reports when absolutely nothing of any interest happens in the game. I get to play first, I have the first turn Slith Firewalker, cast him and start to race against the only creature he’d cast. Disciple of the Vault makes a great win mechanic for the deck of David’s, but not when he is having to race against an ever growing Firewalker.
Game two was actually much more of game then I thought it would be. David gets a bit land screwed, but was able to successfully cast a Genesis Chamber, and kinda went off on my on his second turn. Ornithopter came down, spawned a token and played a Frogmite, which spawned another token.
My turn was not as explosive as his, I cast Detonate, killing off his Genesis Chamber before it got too troublesome, and passed the turn fully expecting another giant third turn from him.
It was not to be though, as he was land hosed beyond his wildest dreams and brought nothing new to the table. He attacked me to seventeen with the tokens and the Frogmite and passed back. I had nothing but a Pyroclasm for him, and the game stalled until I drew a Goblin Charbelcher. Small Belches knocked him to ten, and one of the spectators commented saying I was due for a large activation.
The next one dealt fourteen.
Round 6 versus Patrick Cordle with Elf and Nail.
This, my friends, is point in the tournament were the wheels started to fall off. I was paired against what everyone was calling the Vernal Bloom deck, and I had no idea how to play against, or really what even to be ready for. I did know that it was a Tooth and Nail deck that ran a similar toolbox approach to the other versions of Tooth and Nail, but added in the mana acceleration of Vine Trellis, Birds of Paradise, and Vernal Bloom. Skullclamp, Viridian Shaman, Wirewood Symbiote were some other cards in the deck, but for some reason I felt confident in my ability to just steal a win. You know, activating Goblin Charbelcher for a lot.
I’m on the play, and start off with a quick Slith Firewalker, and an Electrostatic Bolt for his Bird of Paradise. Vine Trellis shuts off my attack step, and we both just kinda sit around waiting for something from either deck to command the game. I pull a Charbelcher off the top, and start working it, eventually killing him with a large ten point Belch.
Game two, I’m feeling really good about how the tournament is going, and may have started to get a bit overconfident in my deck and myself. Patrick was on the play, but had to mulligan down to five before the game started. I knock him to eighteen before I start to kill his smaller creatures off with Culling Scales. Even though I had been drawing poorly, I felt strongly in control of the game the greatest mistake I made occurred.
While I had a Culling Scales in play, I passed my upkeep and directly drew my card.
While my opponent had no problem backing up and allowing me to kill the Bird that he had in play, I requested a judge. I knew it was going to be a game loss offense at REL three, and when the judge (Fred Donovan, for anyone who cares) came back after checking with the Head Judge, the ruling was a game loss.
How many players would stop and ask for ruling that they knew was going to lead to a game loss?
Not many, and I just happen to be one of the few who would stop the game. I feel if I ever had to resort to cheating, or a dirty tactic to win any game, I would just stop playing it. I’m having too much fun with Magic to have to resort to that kind of behavior.
Anyway, game three was rather anticlimactic. His deck outperformed mine, and after I tried to regain control with an Oblivion Stone, an unentwined Tooth and Nail brought a Viridian Shaman and Darksteel Collussoususuousus into play, and sent me into a scoop.
Round 7 versus John Garibotti with Go Anan
His deck was a card for card copy of the mono-Red control that won Pro Tour Kobe. He built it the night before with an issue of Inquest at his side. At least that is what he told me.
I actually lost my notes for this round, but I know it involved me killing him with a Molten Rain while he was at two life. The second game, I’m pretty sure I just cast a lot of land destruction spells, a Slith, and maybe something else.
Round 8 versus Olwen Wee with Affinity
Again I lost my notes, and am working strictly from memory. I have to pitch my first hand back in game one, as four Arc-Sloggers, two Mountains and a Chrome Mox just seemed awful. I was overrun quickly with his draw.
I think I kept a shady hand in game two as well. Five lands and two artifact destruction spells kept me in the game longer than I should have been.
Olwen of course, played as well as I could have ever imagined him to play. He’s a great player.
Round 9 versus Dave Cleveland with Affinity
Yeah I lost my notes to this one as well, I know I lost, I know it was an awful defeat, and I totally checked the drop box. Besides, x-3 was going to be hard pressed to finish in the top 64. I was no longer having fun, and besides, I was going to go draft Marvel.
So that was my Regional experience. I enjoyed myself immensely at this event, and am looking forward to trying to grind into Nationals this year. With no invite in had, I’ll see you in Kansas City!
Props and Slops and Such
Professional Events Services Staff and Judges: I’m pretty sure the tournament started at 10:30am, and ended around 11:30pm. Pretty good for 688 players and 11 rounds!
My Opponents: All of my opponents were great people to play against, polite, and looked like they were having a blast to just be playing magical cards.
Thanks for reading, and have fun!