The Daily Shot: Choose Your Own Adventure, Part 2

The ‘Tog wins it after ten or so turns of me casting Standstill, having it broken, casting Concentrate, Aether Burst, casting Standstill again… You know how it goes. Once the engine gets rolling, U/G is toast.

Buckle up. You’re about to read a the conclusion to yesterday’s report – and if you were crossing your fingers for me to improve on my gag-worthy play, you’re liable to go right through the windshield. That sound is my brain coming to a screeching halt.

If you were reading yesterday, you know I won my best matchup in Round 1, only to lose Round 2 because of a terrible play that threw the match away. I then lost again in Round 3 when the cards just wouldn’t come, and my opponent didn’t have the type of draw that lets you get away with anything but a strong draw of your own. I dropped from the GPT the week before (where I was playing”Sleight Knight 2002″) because I didn’t have confidence in the deck, but I decided to stay in this event, mostly because I didn’t believe I was doing so poorly.

O, ye of little faith. I sure believe it now.

If you’re”on tilt,” it’s time to pack and spectate. Of course, I realized this essential truth much too late to do me any good. Here’s how things went in Rounds 4-7. First, I better give you the decklist, again, just so you don’t have to flip around through my archive looking for it.

OBC Psychatog (Geordie Tait, PTQ Houston – Detroit, Michigan)

4 Cunning Wish

4 Psychatog

4 Chainer’s Edict

4 Circular Logic

4 Aether Burst

3 Standstill

3 Compulsion

3 Syncopate

2 Upheaval

2 Concentrate

2 Deep Analysis

1 Innocent Blood

13 Island

6 Swamp

3 Darkwater Catacombs

2 Cephalid Coliseum


4 Envelop

3 Innocent Blood

2 Ghastly Demise

1 Laquatus’ Disdain

1 Plagiarize

1 Coffin Purge

1 Psychotic Haze

1 Divert

1 Aura Graft

All set? Okay. Grab a beer and follow along.

Round 4 vs. John Lentz w/ U/G Threshold

John is playing a deck with Nimble Mongoose, Mental Note and Werebear, but he also has Roar of the Wurm. It’s a hybrid of the two most popular U/G archetypes. We sit down and lament how things haven’t been going very well for us, and then it’s”on like neckbone.”

Yeah, I’m an OG, and you’d best get to steppin’, cause I got my pistol point cocked, ready to lay shots nonstop.


Game 1:

I get a good”slow it down!” start, with a second-turn Syncopate for his Mongrel, and a Chainer’s Edict. He gets out a Werebear – and when he goes to flash a Roar with four land in play, I show just how bad I am by Syncopating it for one while his Werebear is sitting there, untapped. He shows that he is playing equally poorly on this day by being equally oblivious to the Werebear, and the Roar is unsuccessful.

The ‘Tog wins it after ten or so turns of me casting Standstill, having it broken, casting Concentrate, Aether Burst, casting Standstill again… You know how it goes. Once the engine gets rolling, U/G is toast.

I side in my Innocent Bloods and remove my Compulsions.

Game 2:

I get a broken draw this game, something like”Blood your second-turn play, Blood your third-turn play, cast Standstill, draw three when you break it, Blood again, Standstill again, draw three when you break it, Edict the guy you used to break it, Psychatog, Concentrate, Concentrate, Aether Burst, serve for the win.”

What can he do besides scoop ’em up against that draw? Ol’ Jasper says that it’s a paddlin’.

Match Record: 2-2

I feel a little better after that match – but I still screwed up huge in Game 1, and got away with it only because he was at the 1-2 table with me and probably wasn’t in the best frame of mind, either.

Round 5 vs. Jeff Johnson with U/G Beats

Jeff is playing a lot of Mongrels and a lot of Rootwallas and a lot of Standstills. This match was brutally short and it wasn’t happy.

Game 1:

He wins the roll, gets the double-Mongrel draw – and though I try to slow him down, I can’t draw the Psychatog that would halt his offense. This is a game where Syncopate was especially guilty of sucking simply because I went second. Same with Standstill. I think I drew a couple of each, and though I held him off a while with Aether Burst and a Chainer’s Edict that made an appearance, without a Tog to block and having drawn four dead cards, it’s no use.

I side in three Innocent Bloods for three Compulsions.

Game 2:

Wow, this was fun. I mulligan, then get color screwed for black while he absolutely rolls over me with a Rootwalla, Standstill opening. This game was over so fast that my scooping broke the sound barrier – my Psychatog stuck its head out of the window to kiss the wife and kids goodbye and ended up kissing the ass of a passing Mongrel, on was its way over to shove sharp objects into very uncomfortable places.

Match Record: 2-3

2-3. There’s a record you never want to have.

Round 6 vs. Mike Stewart w/ U/G Threshold

Mike is playing the super-tight, twenty-land U/G with four each of Note, Study, Werebear, and Nimble Mongoose. This match was most notable for a rules dispute that occurred, most likely because we were both grouchy. Can’t really blame us – if our table was any lower on the totem pole, we’d have been playing amidst the Warhammer scenery.

Game 1:

I manage to get into a Standstill advantage position after a couple of timely Aether Bursts, and he breaks it by accident when he discards a Rootwalla and pays the madness cost, thinking it wouldn’t affect the Standstill. Frown for him. Anyhow, I take control of the game and ‘Heave to go for the win, laying a Psychatog with one land open.

This is where we got into the argument. He starts his turn and plays a Nimble Mongoose, and I don’t reply for about forty seconds. Why? Well, mostly because I was stupid and I thought he could pull some tricks and madness out Rootwallas I’d need to counter instead, during his discard phase. Of course, the right play is to counter the Mongoose regardless, since I can just Aether Burst any Rootwallas, but…

…well, I was just playing terribly and it didn’t occur to me.

He thinks I’ve passed priority and the Mongoose has resolved, so he starts discarding. I notice this and stop him, and then things got ugly because he thought I was trying to cheat and see if he had any Rootwallas before deciding to whether or not to counter the Mongoose. Long story short, head judge Shawn Jefferies shows up and infers from my side of the story that I was trying to cheat.

I have to explain it about four more times before he’ll believe that I wasn’t, after which we just go back in time and I counter his Mongoose and win the game, since he has no Rootwallas.

Game 2:

Mike and I forgive each other for our little misunderstanding (in truth, it only occurred because I thought for far too long about something that should have been obvious) and get on with Game 2… And it lasts forever.

I play Standstill, which he breaks with a creature and his own Standstill, which I break with an Aether Burst and then another Standstill for me, which he breaks with more creatures and more and another Standstill for him… Which I break with a Psychatog. We’re laying land the whole time, and he’s representing Envelop to stop my Upheaval win, so I have to play conservative.

Mike keeps whittling me down a few points at a time, while I kill a creature here and there and we exchange big Aether Bursts, each large enough to send the entire opposing side home. Because of Cunning Wish and repeated ‘Tog eating, I end up casting the same Aether Burst about four times, and while we’re jockeying for position, with he at sixteen life and I at five, time is called.

His attack in the third of the five extra turns sees a Ghastly Demise on his Rootwalla as he tries for the kill with one of his two remaining Centaur Gardens while my Psychatog takes down a Werebear. He has nothing except for a Nimble Mongoose, but hard-casts a Wonder after combat, saying,”I probably should have done this differently.” I think he was playing around Aether Burst, which is understandable since I’ve been casting them all game, but his playing the Wonder after combat instead of before ended up giving me a chance to win the game.

All I need to do is counter the Wonder, giving his Mongoose flying, and take three next turn, ending the game in a draw and giving me the match win. Of course, I’m too smart for that, so I decide to lose by any means necessary. I let the Wonder through with the reasoning:

“Hey – the Wonder will only hit me for two next turn, which is better than getting hit for three by a flying Mongoose. Plus I save a counterspell for anything he draws!”

Of course, he has the Centaur Garden in play and kills me from five life.

When is a flying Nimble Mongoose actually better for you than a flying Wonder? When your opponent has a Centaur Garden and one turn to kill you, and you’re at five life. That’s when. Centaur Garden can’t target Nimble Mongoose!

The kicker? I didn’t realize this until after I’d passed the fourth extra turn- I could have tried to cast Upheaval and draw the game, but I didn’t because I figured that it would be a draw anyhow, so why waste the mana?

The bigger kicker? He never actually had the Envelop, so not only would that have worked, but I could have won the game turns ago.

My friends, it just doesn’t get any worse than that. I have never in my Magic career so fearlessly pulled back from the brink of victory in order to nab a draw. And, if whatever gods there are have mercy on me, I never will again.

Match Record: 2-3-1

Despondent doesn’t even begin to describe me at this point. How bad can one man be?

Round 7 vs. Mike Upham w/ Monoblack Malevolent Awakening Deck

This is the deck that uses the”comes into play” triggers on the Nightmares, along with tons of mana and Malevolent Awakening, to remove all of an opponent’s cards in hand, graveyard, and creatures in play from the game. It uses Faceless Butcher, Gravegouger, Mesmeric Fiend, and a bunch of copies of Braids, Nantuko Shade and even a few Balthor, The Defiled.

This is not a good matchup for me, and I don’t expect to win.

My powers of prognostication, dear reader, are apparently far more refined than my own dwindling play ability, because I nailed this one. I didn’t win.

Game 1:

Game 1 he buries me with Awakening Recursion. Nothing much else to tell – I got a fairly dead draw and I wasn’t able to counter the Awakening, and it eventually screwed me, especially after he resolved a Balthor, The Defiled and brought back about five Nightmares and Braids.

Mesmeric Fiend, stack ability, in response sacrifice, get Gravegouger, play Gravegouger, stack ability, in response sacrifice Gravegouger, get Nantuko Shade. It’s a raise dead, a Coffin Purge, and a Duress all in one. Cabal Coffers can power all sorts of broken stuff.

Game 2:

I ended up ‘Tog killing him this game, since he never got the Awakening going, and drew a bunch of creature removal and land. Compulsion got going and I was able to set up a nice Plagiarize, emptying him out while refilling my own mitt. I played a Psychatog from my hand with triple counter backup and it won the next turn.

Game 3:

This is another one of those games where I wish I could somehow create my own alternate universe and cross over into it. I ended up getting killed on turn five of extra time again, though this time it wasn’t because of any mistake I made – it was because he was all over me like white on rice. I had to Upheaval twice just in order to stay alive, and though I played for the draw, his Coffers-powered,”replay all my stuff in one turn” response made my stopgap Aether Bursts look pretty bad.

He had the second-turn Nantuko Shade this game, as well, and a fourth-turn Braids- tough for me to deal with when I’m going second and I haven’t sideboarded into more removal.

Like I said, he kills me on the fifth turn of extra time – a heartbreaker considering how hard I had to work just to stay alive. The first Upheaval was done with me at one life, and I lived for about twenty turns after that.

One more turn was all I needed. Had one card been different, it could have happened.

Like I said – alternate universe.

Match Record: 2-4-1

That match record is uglier than an Erik Watts dropkick.

What? Doesn’t anyone here read the NetCop?

Oh well. Here’s an interesting point. If I hadn’t played like a moron in Rounds 2 and 6, and if Round 7 had ended one turn earlier, my record would have been 4-1-2 instead of 2-4-1. Scary.

“You’ve never heard of chaos theory? A butterfly flaps its wings in Peking, in New York you get rain instead of sunshine?”

-Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

Like I said. Scary. Let me leave you with a quick thought before I go. If you ever play “Choose Your Own Magic Adventure” and lose…

Don’t get discouraged.

Don’t get upset.

Don’t start feeling like you don’t want to play.

There is time enough for you to improve, and there will be other days, and other chances. It’s Magic, baby.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]