The Daily Shot: Let’s Talk About Magic, You And I

A gaming everyman’s desire to kick some ass and sleep ’till noon is eternally youthful – if anything, it grows stronger with age. I believe that if I ever become more successful at Magic, you won’t be able to shake the rest of the kids stuff out of me.

Let’s talk about Magic, you and I. Chuck Daly said that pro basketball players are no different than the kids he coached at Punxatawney High School – they’re like children, and they care about all the basic children’s things. Points. Rebounds. Minutes played. It’s a children’s game, he said, so that is their mentality.

“He’s got $10,000,000,” said Chuck, “or whatever. But he’s no different.”

A gaming everyman’s desire to kick some ass and sleep ’till noon is eternally youthful – if anything, it grows stronger with age. This phenomenon explains, really, part of the reason why I want to be successful at Magic. A part of me (and no small part, either) wants an astronomical DCI rating, a stellar record, and fat cheques from the Wizards Finance Department. These are the same people who mailed me two $1000 prize cheques for being a top amateur finisher at Grand Prix: Detroit instead of one.

(Yeah, I gave the other one back, though I could have stuck it to them…I’m pretty sure they only found the error because I emailed them about it. Am I a schmuck or what? But enough about that.)

I care about all the basic children’s things. I admit it. Actually, I admit it with some pride, because you can spin Chuck’s pro basketball theory in another direction, one that Chuck probably didn’t think about when he was trying to give orders to a group of teenage multi-millionaires. I believe that if I ever become more successful at Magic, much more successful, much much much more successful… You won’t be able to shake the rest of the kids stuff out of me.

So here’s this kid, Geordie, that’s been in the game for seven years, and he’s got $100,000….or whatever. But he’s no different. He still likes loading up his Magic: The Interactive Encyclopedia and looking at all the art and reading the flavor text, and he even played that Shandalar game by Microprose, where you’d quest the world trying to build a deck with nineteen Black Vises, nineteen Bolts, and some Wheels and Mountains.

I guess the moral of the story is that if I win a Pro Tour, I will still think Dakmor Sorceress is a hot little spicy salsa number. And I’ll still remember the flavor text from Bequeathal, because it’s the best flavor text that Wizards has ever written.

Time to wrap up the tale of Canadian Nationals. I know it’s been a long time, and I thank you for coming this far with me. The story so far is one of blood, sweat, tears, victory, and defeat, and I remain your narrator and the chief protagonist.

Well, not so much blood or victory. Mostly tears and defeat. And judging from the smell pervading parts of the play area, a good deal of sweat as well.

I’m 2-4 after the constructed portion, where I played the”When Sorceries Attack!” deck designed by Davis, Shuler, and Sullivan. 2-4 doesn’t have a shot at Top 8, but I can still play for pride and DCI rating points. In other words, the more successful players may have walked off with my date to the dance… But I’ll be damned if I won’t at least steal a pair of her unmentionables.

I try to draft as often as possible – but in practice, it amounts to about four times month. I try to shore up this potential weakness by reading a lot of match coverage and draft strategy articles. It works… Up to a point. Nothing can replace the experience you get from drafting on a regular basis, day in and day out.

I’m at one of the bottom tables and after some preamble from Head DCI Tank Guptil, we’re underway and I’ve busted a Cabal Patriarch. Then I take Dirty Wererat. Then Gorilla Titan makes it to me for third pick.

So I’m G/B and I’m going to need triple black and double green. I know what you’re thinking about Green/Black… It’s tough to get threshold with Black, and many good green cards need it. Very true. I can only hope that things work out, because I can’t pass a Patriarch. I end up drafting mostly Green in pack 1, and my playables are a Crypt Creeper, 2x Seton’s Desire, Dirty Wererat, Gorilla Titan, Elephant Ambush, and two nifty land in Centaur Garden and Bog Wreckage. I really like the Garden, but considering how much trouble I’d have getting threshold with this deck, it was more like casting Shock on myself every time I drew it early.

My Torment pack was pretty good. I open Gurzigost, which is a very nice first pick, and then nab Crippling Fatigue, followed later by Seton’s Scout and Mesmeric Fiend. I pick Slithery Stalker, Waste Away, Shade’s Form, and Nantuko Calmer, three of which would make my deck… And that’s not so hot because all four of those cards are only semi-good. Waste Away, for example, is fine… But I ended up taking it much earlier than I would have liked, something like 3rd pick. I round out the picks with 3x Putrid Imp, one of which made it into my deck as a 23rd card, Patriarch food, Desire target, and threshold enabler. Slithery Stalker is better than average with two Seton’s Desires, since it has Swampwalk.

In the Judgment pack I first-pick a Genesis, but the rest of the pack is awful. I would have loved to pick up a couple of copies of Toxic Stench or some Phantom Tigers, but I every pack seemed to have nothing but white, blue and red cards. I ended up with a Nullmage Advocate, two fairly late Harvester Druids (which I ran without cutting a land… I suck), a Cabal Trainee, a Sutured Ghoul (one of two at the table) a Serene Sunset, and a big pile of Centaur Rootcasters, like three or four of them. I don’t know why I was taking them…I think they were my 12th through 14th picks.

I ended up maindecking a Rootcaster, because I am a bad player. That’s right. I left two Putrid Imps, a Krosan Restorer, a Sutured Ghoul, and a Shade’s Form in the side and played Centaur Rootcaster.

Bad play, bad play, watcha’ gonna’ do? Watcha’ gonna’ do, when they come for you?

Still, I’m hoping to 3-0 the table because I have more bombs than Bomberson, a man who denies entry to U.N. weapons inspectors because he fears an international incident will result. The man has a lot of bombs.

And I have more than him.

Here’s the deck I played in the first draft:

G/B Bomb Festival (Geordie Tait, Canadian Nationals Day 2, Draft 1)

Cabal Patriarch

Dirty Wererat

Cabal Trainee

Putrid Imp

Mesmeric Fiend

Slithery Stalker

Crypt Creeper

2x Harvester Druid



Nullmage Advocate

Nantuko Calmer

Centaur Rootcaster (what was I thinking!??!)

Gorilla Titan

Seton’s Scout

Elephant Ambush

2x Seton’s Desire

Serene Sunset

Crippling Fatigue

Waste Away

7 Swamp

8 Forest

1 Bog Wreckage

1 Centaur Garden

So a fairly top-heavy mana curve, with a lot of power. Not many tricks, not much removal. In retrospect, I should have cut the stupid Rootcaster for either Sutured Ghoul (leaving in seventeen land) or Putrid Imp. The Ghoul has terrible synergy with all three of my other bombs… But it’s good with Gorilla Titan! I also should have cut a Forest to go down to sixteen land…Harvester Druids now count as mana sources to me, mainly they are useless for anything else. I know the deck really gets going with five or six mana on the table, but sixteen land and two Druids is plenty. That 17th land just served to mana flood me.

I also probably should have booted the Centaur Garden. In almost any other deck it’s fine, but in this one it’s damage for no reason.

I’m feeling good about my deck going into Round 7, but then again, I was blinded by bomb-vision. How good can your deck be if you have Centaur Rootcaster in it?

Round 7 vs. Mike Ferneyhough w/ B/U

My most specific memories of this match remain, but the details of the actual play have vanished like Claude Raines. I’ll try to give you the gist of each game without embarrassing myself. At least, without embarrassing myself any more than usual.

I am Jack’s misplayed Rootcaster.

Game 1:

I get the Harvester Druid draw and beat him with a turn 4 Gorilla Titan with no cards in the bin. He kills my Druid, but then I get Gurzigost. On the final turn, I pull off the obvious-but-still-broken-play of removing my graveyard via Gurzigost upkeep and swinging for fourteen or so, but not before I show him the Patriarch the turn prior.

No sideboard changes because I hadn’t figured out until after the tournament that Centaur Rootcaster is garbage. Why? No idea. I think I had some sort of cognitive dissonance going on.

Game 2:

This was long and complicated. I have the Patriarch out for most of the game (starting on turn 5, actually), but he’s putting me under pressure with flyers and alpha strikes. In order to keep things under control I have to sacrifice a lot of stuff, but I do get them under control, finally clearing his board and leaving him with no cards in hand, while I have a Patriarch. I end up at a precarious eight life when the preliminaries are all said and done.

I attack for five, leaving him at fourteen life, and say”go.” He draws and plays a creature. I topdeck Seton’s Desire (no threshold, alas) and cast Crippling Fatigue on the creature, removing it. Then I cast Seton’s Desire on the Cabal Patriarch and swing for seven, bringing him down to seven. One more turn.

I needed to tap six mana to do that, and I have only two untapped.

He draws….Faceless Butcher.

Are you kidding me?

Another match slips away. He pumps the fist. I draw land, he attacks for two and plays Dirty Wererat. I draw land, he attacks and kills me.

Game 3:

It’s a creature stalemate and I think Gurzigost is going to win me the game (along with the Cabal Patriarch, which is also out and wrecking him), but he plays a 7/9 trampling Sutured Ghoul, which holds down the fort while he swings with a Wormfang Drake. I can’t attack unless I’m going to win, because the Ghoul will kill me in the counterattack.

I’m still going to win eventually though, with Seton’s Desire newly cast on the Gurzigost, and a fiendish plan to fill the grave via it’s activated ability… But I’ll need two turns to get enough cards in there.

Mike draws Slithery Stalker and removes my Gurzigost from the game.

Sigh. His Drake eventually finishes it, along with an alpha strike at my now much less threatening board.

Match Record: 2-5

2-5? How did I lose with that deck?

Must have been the Rootcaster.

I’m pretty upset at this point, and the world just seems gray and sullen to me. To make things worse, I get a bye… Meaning I only get to play two games with this deck. Best possible record with the Genesis, Gurzigost, Patriarch deck? 1-1-1. Sad.

Round 9 vs. Chris Sokalofsky w/ U/W

This guy is playing U/W and he’s got a lot of two-toughness flyers and such. The Patriarch (among other things) will dominate this game if and when he comes out.

Game 1:

Patriarch, Genesis. I think he had Commander Eesha, but I cast Waste Away on her. Can U/W control beat a deck with Genesis, Gurzigost and Cabal Patriarch in it? The answer is no. No matter how badly I built my deck (and it wasn’t too bad, except for the Rootcaster and 17th land), you can’t play a typical U/W control strategy against bombs like that. There is no way you can stall the board in the mid-game. Around turns 5-6, I start swinging with 5/5 and 4/4 creatures that I can sacrifice to kill his stuff and then recur infinitely if I so desire.

You have to laugh when you have the Patriarch is out and you just know his hand is full of Battlewise Avens, Hallowed Healers and Nomad Decoys.

Game 2:

I crush him again, this time with some early fat beatdown (third-turn Elephant Ambush, fourth-turn Seton’s Desire), plus some early Cabal Trainee and Putrid Imp pressure. Oh, and Gurzigost once he stabilizes. He’s got Cephalid Retainer and Commander Eesha as his big guns, but all he can do is shake his head as I drop bombs that make his stuff look like Chinese New Year firecrackers.

Match Record: 4-5

I’ll see you tomorrow with Draft 2. Right now, I’m going to go and play some Warcraft III. It’s fun – and best of all, there are no Centaur Rootcasters in it. That I know of.

Have a good one,

Geordie Tait

[email protected]