The Combat Phase – You know what I want?

Wednesday, November 17th – Jamie plays a deck with zero fatties (!) in Legacy and proceeds to build a metalcraft green deck for Standard. Are things looking up?

So, I’m playing Legacy in Spain. We have workers installing gas in the apartment on Saturday, so I decide to escape the pounding, drilling, and shouting and head to Evolution for a tournament.

Today I am going to be taking my black discard deck.

It’s odd, because it’s devoid of fatties.

Like with all of my black decks, the idea is quite simple. If they’re playing control or combo, eliminate their hand. If they’re playing creatures, kill everything they put on the board.

Any city in America would be alive with activity at this hour. Madrid is still slumbering at 10:20 this Saturday morning. As I walk to the shop, the streets are devoid of people and traffic, giving testament to the late hours Madrileños regularly keep.

I can’t quite tell you how frustrated I am with losing. Even as a writer, the words escape me. The combination of lack of skill, not knowing the cards, timings, language barrier, and ring rust all frustrate me to no end.

I love Evolution. The players are nice, the staff is excellent, the space is comfortable, the bathrooms clean.

We get twenty people this morning.

My first opponent is playing Survival of the Fittest. Things are going well until he dumps four Vengevines into the grave and swings for sixteen.

You know what works well against decks based on enchantments? Secret Force. You know what I’m not playing today? Yeah…

I side in my Ravenous Traps.

On turn 2 he plays a Ground Seal, and I slump in my seat. Soon, he has four Vengevines attacking me, and I concede. I show him and my friend, Jesue Segadoro, sitting next to me, playing his usual black deck, the Ravenous Trap in my hand. “I can’t believe he played Ground Seal on turn 2. I was so ready.”

The entire table looks at me like the fool I am. “It doesn’t say target. It still affects his graveyard.”

So when he played the Shield Sphere I could’ve emptied his entire grave, leaving him with zero Vengevines… Hence, no win condition.

I’ve already conceded, so I just shrug, tell them it’s my own fault, I’ll learn for next time, and wonder where I can get a shot of whisky. Considering this is Madrid, I’m guessing behind the counter right here.

Such a fool.

My next opponent is playing Survival of the Fittest as well.

Wait, didn’t I just read a slew of articles about how Survival might need to be banned in Legacy? Why am I playing discard this week? So people can play their Basking Rootwallas for free?

You go, J!

In the first game, I just empty his hand with a first-turn Dark Ritual to Hypnotic Specter, then Hymn you, Stupor you. In the second, I refrain from Wastelanding a land because I want him to use Survival a whole bunch. I’m holding Ravenous Trap and am anxious to use it. I keep drawing land; he keeps doing the opposite, never getting above three, one of which is an Island. He keeps playing creatures but never enough to Survival for three in a turn. My draw is less than optimal, and he runs me over with Basking Rootwalla and Vengevine.

Game 3 he mulligans to six. I have a risky draw but decide to keep.

Me – Mishra.

Him – Wasteland, using it on your Mishra.

Me – Wasteland.

Him – Wasteland, using it on your Wasteland.

Me – “I will use mine on yours in response!”

We laugh and have no land.

Me – Not land.

Him – Land, land, land, land.

Me – Not land, not land, not land, Swamp.

I die with one Swamp on the board.

My next round says “bye,” so I “buy” some cards for Standard. I’m not waiting around for an hour to play when I have an 0-2 record. I tell Juan Vincente I’m dropping and collect my newly bought cards from Ferrero.

As I leave, Ferrero calls to me. “Jamie.”

I turn back around, wondering if I have forgotten something.

He just looks sad for me and shakes my hand.

Don’t worry Ferrero, like the phoenix, I’ll be back.

I get home, and Wendy asks me if I’m in the mood for sushi, and I am, so we head to a Japanese restaurant and get some lunch.

“So, how did it go?”

“Well, I practiced my Spanish a lot, learned some more about the current environment, became better friends with a few people, and bought some cards for a deck I’m working on.

She smiles. “So, you’re trying to be positive?”

“I’m the Captain of team 0-2 drop.” 

Our waitress is odd. Asian, surly, and chunky; which is not something we’ve ever experienced from this restaurant. We jest about her attitude. My tuna sushi is beyond delicious. We get another half liter of wine, more teriyaki pork, and laugh a lot. I live a good life.

Wendy asks me if I’m going to play in the 4:30 tournament. I cherish our weekends and time together, but I’m sick of losing. This report would be a lot better if I could win today.

“I have a good book to read. Go.”

You know what’s good against Survival of the Fittest? Secret Force. I add in a couple Elvish Lyrists for good measure and make my way to the store. I arrive a minute late to when the tournament is supposed to start. Thirty people are milling about outside waiting for the doors to open.

I settle down on the cold, hard stone sidewalk against the cold, hard stone wall of a building. It’s 4:41, and the doors aren’t open yet. I’m reading about Alayne Stone and wondering if I’ll ever come back into my glory. Will I ever be a good player again? Will I ever be a good writer? Will the store ever open? Will I ever be able to return home to the beautiful Wendy and tell her I actually came home 3-1 or even, could it be, 4-0?

There are dozens of us waiting to enter the store. I’ve always been a loner, but now I’m a stranger. I’m friends with no one. I don’t speak their language. They congregate to trade, talk, swap stories, deck strategies. I sit against the wall, and I read until the doors finally open.

Juan Vincent takes my money. I feel like telling him I’m going to win today.

Persistence and determination are omnipotent. Being a genius helps too, but I lack that.

The store is packed.

Please Lord, let me actually face decks based on SotF like this morning, so I have a chance of winning. I swear to God if I face Zoo all day long and lose to 5/1 first strikers again I’m going to scream.

My first opponent is unique. His entire deck is based on enchantments. Moat, Wild Growth, Argothian Enchantress, Elephant Grass. After he gets out three ways to stop me from attacking, and I have yet to see

Viridian Zealot,

Woodfall Primus,

Elvish Lyrist, I just concede in frustration hoping the next game will be better.

The black deck would’ve smashed this thing. Actually, the green deck should smash this thing…

What the hell is with my luck these days?

I side in three Krosan Grips making my enchantment  solutions those cards plus two Woodfall Primuses, four Viridian Zealots, two Acidic Slimes, two Elvish Lyrists, and four Natural Orders as a way to fetch them.

He plays the land that generates mana equal to the number of enchantments in play. This game I see the exact same thing, only, with no Wastelands. It’s a disaster of international proportions. I concede and go through my deck, throwing cards in front of him: Woodfall Primus, Viridian Zealot, Elvish Lyrist, Krosan Grip… for all the good it does. I saw none of them. He smiles and nods in sympathy.

I remember those days. Days when I sucked. Days when I drove three hours to a PTQ and got smashed and showed my opponent all the cards I had that were solutions to the problems he showed me. And now I’m back there.

If I’d played Secret Force in the morning and the Black Discard deck this evening…

If wishes were fishes…

My round 2 opponent is playing B/U. The B is for removal. The U is for Jace and counterspells.

I have a Natural Order, a Llanowar, a Viridian Zealot, a Lyrist, a Gaea’s Cradle, and a Forest, and my opponent keeps drawing Swamps and no Islands. Rather than risk a Force of Will, I just attack for one, then three, then five, then five, then five.

I’ve won a game.

Stunned silence.

I side in my three Lifeforces since his black is used for removal.

The next game is just classic Lifeforce. Cast some spells, counter your shit, leave enough mana open for multiple counters, crush you. Natural Order for Woodfall Primus killing your Island. Overrun for thirty with enough mana to counter three black removal spells.

I remember when Magic used to be like this all the time. Those were good times.

Next to me, a guy plays Show and Tell and puts Emrakul into play on the first turn.

OMG! Holy Crap!

I look over during the next game, and he has Progenitus in play to his opponent’s two Elves.

I tap him on the shoulder and tell him in Spanish. “I have fear of you.”

He laughs.

Seriously, I don’t want to play this guy.

My next opponent is playing mono-green as well.

No one, and I mean, no one, beats me with mono-green.

It doesn’t go well for him in the first. I unleash Hell.

In the second, he plays a Leatherback Baloth on the second turn. On the third, he attaches two Rancors to it and swings for eight. God, I love Spike Weaver and Wall of Roots. Five turns later, I have a Verdant Force and Overrun.

I call that “some good.”

 Sadly, I’m bad at this game and leave him at two. I also forget to create a token on his turn, and he swings for exactly enough to bring me to zero. As we shuffle up for the third, his friend points out, “You forgot to create a token on his turn to leave you at one.”


I side in four Jittes.

He gets land-screwed, and I get a Jitte and a Natural Order. The only thing I’m missing is a Gaea’s Cradle and an Overrun, but it doesn’t matter. He signs the slip to drop.

I’m 2-1.

I’m not f@cking losing the next round. I will slit my opponent’s throat before I let him beat me.

3-1 would be a nice finish. I’d be very happy with that.

My next opponent is very pleasant. We chat amiably, shuffle up, shake hands, say
“bueno suerte,”

and start. (Good Luck.)

 He kills me on the third turn with Charbelcher.

I tap the guy next to me.
“Perdona, tienes una cuchara?”

“No, I don’t have a spoon, why?”

“Spoon? No, no,
lo siento, tienes una cuchillo?”

“No, I don’t have a knife either, sorry.”

I side in Krosan Grip.

I draw no land on my first draw. I mulligan to six and see, um, three Gaea’s Cradles, Llanowar Elf, Noble Hierarch, Natural Order. Do I keep and pray for a Forest or mulligan to five? I keep and play a Cradle.

My opponent plays a Mox.

I draw a Forest! Play it, Elf, Hierarch. Ha ha!

Mox Opal, Lotus Petal, Seething Song, Seething Song, Charbelcher, kill you on turn 2.

Why am I playing this format again?

Next to me is the Show and Tell deck, again, playing against Goblins. On turn 2, he Ponders into an Emrakul and wins the next turn when his opponent scoops after sacrificing two lands, three Goblins and taking fifteen damage.

Um, whee?

As it turns out, the

is five rounds. Let’s see if we can save some face. 3-2 would be bad, but acceptable.

I mulligan to five. I have to keep with a hand of Gaea’s Cradle as my only land.

My opponent plays Mountain, Mox, Done.

I draw a Forest! Llanowar, Hierarch!

Mountain, Seething Song, Sneak Attack, Emrakul, kill everything you have on board, hit you for fifteen.

Forest, Elf.



I side in some Krosan Grips.

I mulligan to five, while my opponent says “Wow!” Then he says “Wow” again. It’s not a good wow. Well, it’s a good wow for him. Not so much for me.

Seething Song, Seething Song, dead on turn 2, wondering if I’ll ever be playing this format again.

Tired of being Grumpy McCrankypants, I return home with a smile, drink some wine with my beautiful bride, and watch
The Secret in Their Eyes

which is phenomenal. I get up in the morning with a renewed sense of purpose.

 You know what I want?

I want to hit you for thirty-seven. In one turn. I want to play a 4/4 on turn 2, and I want to play an 8/8 on turn 3. I want to smash you in the face. Figuratively. Not literally. Then I want to shake your hand, stunned look still on your face, and say “Good game. Good luck in the rest.” Which, I’ll have you know, I can say in Spanish.

That’s what I want.

To accomplish this goal, I start building metalcraft green which initially contained nothing but Elves, Memnites, Mox Opals and Ezuri, Renegade Leader. Then I thought; why do I have all these useless Elves just so I can use Ezuri? Ezuri + Memnite is not a combo. I’ve seen such success with Overwhelming Stampede and Baloths (with a record of 5-0 now); how about just adding in a few artifacts and adding in the huge metalcraft Elves and Stampede?

I loves me some Baloths.

I call this “Overwhelming.”

Despite never having lost a match with it (lucky, I know), I feel like the Terra Stomper needs to be swapped out for something in the four-casting-cost range. You really just want to get to five mana, have something with four power on the board, and cast Stampede.

I use this base to bring about the metalcraft Elves deck I was just suggesting –

A couple things in no particular order:

Yes, there are better artifacts, but do they allow you to cast a 4/4 on turn 2? No, they do not.

Can you tell I’m sick of losing to Red?

The very first time I played this, I had four Mox Opals (which I had just bought three of, of course, and started the game with “Forest, Opal, Opal…”

Why do I now have twenty tickets in the bin?

Because Mox Opals are legendary, you donkey.

Seriously, what a dork.

I sell one back to a bot. Three is plenty.

My next match goes better, against Red, and Basilisk Collar shows me why it now sells for $5.50.

He gets me down to six, I get back up to 28 by the time I kill him. Metalcraft in Standard is the same as it is in draft. You need a lot more artifacts than you think for it to trigger. Some lands that were artifacts would help…

I’d recount the games for you, but the only one MODO has recorded is the last, and it was a blowout. Leatherback Baloth plus Basilisk Collar plus Obstinate Baloth and then equipping each, with one attacking and one blocking is pretty much game.

I’m not sure if metalcraft is worth it at all in Standard. I think I might just go back to “Overwhelming” and add in something cheaper for Terra Stomper. How can you argue with improvements to a 5-0 deck?

This is all over the place, but I’ve also continued to practice Sealed and Draft every chance I get. I’m now to the point I can go 2-1 in every draft I play in and won my first tournament this morning. Next weekend is a PTQ, and I think I’m actually ready.

Good luck and have fun.
Jamie Wakefield