The Daily Shot: My Amazing Grand Prix Trial Win, Part Two

Now, if my last card is anything but Krosan Reclamation, the board will be my 4/4 and 2/2 against his 2/2 potential first striker and 4/4 first striking land, with his Glory in the graveyard. With Joe at twelve life and yours truly at seven, he could race with no problem. Topdeck or no?

Okay, I’m back. On with the report.

Round 7 vs. Joe Gagliardi w/ W/G Beatdown w/ Nantuko Monastary

Joe is playing a deck very similar to the one that Brian Dale was playing last round, right down to the Vengeful Dreams and Spurnmage Advocates out of the sideboard. He played as well as could be expected, but my draws were gaseous.

Game 1:

It’s a straight race. He has Glory and his Brushhoppers and Mongrels, and I have Wonder and my thresholded Werebears, Mongrels and Rootwallas. I win the race because U/G is just faster than W/G – there was nothing he could do. My draw?

Turn 1: Careful Study, discard Roar and Rootwalla.

Turn 2: Play Werebear.

Turn 3: Play Roar.

Turn 4: Careful Study, discard Wonder and another Roar. Cast Mental Note. Attack for ten.

Turn 5: Attack for the win.

Crazy. He came out fast and played a creature pretty much every turn, but it didn’t matter – I won the die roll and had an amazing draw. He played a Tireless Tribe, a Mongrel, an Anurid Brushhopper, threw out Glory and attacked, and then he died.

I sideboard in my”Race Cards” and the Upheavals. The Standstills go out, along with some miscellaneous other stuff.

Game 2:

This game is a war of attrition, but I have the one card I need to put me over the top – Krosan Reclamation. I was also lucky that he didn’t draw any of his Spurnmage Advocates or Vengeful Dreams.

The key play comes when we decide to clear out our respective boards by trading Mongrels. He has a Nantuko Monastery and a Patrol Hound to go with his, and I have a Werebear. I have three cards in hand and three in the grave, and he’s knocked me down to seven when he attacks with a Mongrel while he has four cards in his grave. Joe is also holding two cards in hand and I decide to block. He throws out Glory and his other card, and I switch the Mongrel to Red and match him at 4/4, holding one last card in my hand. He gives his creatures protection from red, forcing me to pitch the last card to send his Mongrel to the bin and give him threshold.

Now, if my last card is anything but Krosan Reclamation, the board will be my 4/4 and 2/2 against his 2/2 potential first striker and 4/4 first striking land, with his Glory in the graveyard. With Joe at twelve life and yours truly at seven, he could race with no problem.

Unfortunately, the last card I pitch to my Mongrel – the card that saves it – is Krosan Reclamation. And I destroy him by flashing it back, removing his threshold and leaving him with no Glory, no Monastary, no cards in hand…pretty much nothing but a Patrol Hound.

Things get worse on my turn, when I topdeck another Reclamation, cast it on some of his graveyarded land to get threshold, and swing for six. He draws and concedes. That threshold-eliminating, Glory-removing, Monastary-nullifying Krosan Reclamation was just insane. Too good to beat.

Record: 6-1

So I draw in, right? Nope. I get matched up with the one guy who couldn’t draw, he’s last in tiebreakers. Time to throw down the gauntlet in another high-pressure match.

Round 8 vs. Antonio Powell w/ MBC (Death Wish)

Well, this is it – one of the most high-pressure matches in my Magic career. He’s playing Monoblack control – a matchup I know better than any other – and he’s 6-1 so I assume he knows what he’s doing. It’s going to come down to the draws and the person who plays the best. Mistakes will not be tolerated here.

Whew! Man… Trouble, don’t catch me here!

Game 1:

I keep a hand with two islands and a forest, and play a turn 2 Werebear. He Edicts, and I play a Mongrel along with Island #2. He casts Rancid Earth on my lone forest, and passes the turn. I attack him for three, throwing out Rootwalla… But I have no forest. He casts Diabolic Tutor and passes the turn. I swing for another three, and he’s at fourteen. He plays Mirari and passes the turn, and I hit him again.

Still no Green mana.

He gets to untap with Mirari in play and a handfull of stuff. A copied Edict starts things off, and though I manage to whittle him down to nine life by drawing, you know, actual forests for my stuff, it’s too late. He Death Wishes for Morbid Hunger and copies it a couple of times. Time to scoop.

The usual sideboard goes in. I have to win the next two games, or my day is over.

It is that simple. I have to win these games.

Game 2:

Nice draw here – some early creatures, multiple Standstills, an Envelop, and two Squirrel Nests. It all comes together perfectly – and though he trying his best, the Squirrels just make his removal useless, and he hasn’t been drawing enough Rancid Earths. I Envelop the first – and by the time he’s found a second, I’ve drawn a second Envelop. With the help of a couple of Centaur Gardens, the Squirrels go all the way.

Not much more to tell about this one. The sideboard did what it was supposed to do, and he was helpless. Squirrels make Edicts and Bloods useless, rebuild after Mutilate, chump Nantuko Shades forever… They’re just great.

So this is it. I came to this event to play high level Magic, and that is sure as hell exactly what I’m doing. The stakes couldn’t be higher for me – this isn’t just about a chance at three byes vs. no chance, it’s about self-respect. My record for the OBC season has been abysmal, but I know I can play this game, and play it well. I have to prove that to myself, if for no other reason than to make it easier for me to sleep at night.

Game 3:

What a game. Games like this are why I play Magic. Everything on the line, no room for mistakes. You could cut the tension with a knife. My rip on the final turn of this game was the equivalent of”The Shot Heard Round The World” for me. I felt relief flood straight to my heart when I saw it. I’d been keeping hope alive, and now a Canadian boy had made good. Here’s how it went:

I play a Rootwalla, he kills it. I play a Mongrel, he kills it. I play a Werebear; it lives. He casts Diabolic Tutor. I play Squirrel Nest with Envelop backup. He tries Rancid Earth, and I have the Envelop. I’m starting to get rolling now. On my turn I play Wild Mongrel and attack for two with Squirrel and Werebear.

He Mutilates and lays a Nantuko Shade. I make a Squirrel at the end of turn. On my turn I play a land, Wild Mongrel, Nimble Mongoose and a Standstill, leaving myself with no cards in hand.

Antonio thinks for a minute and breaks the Standstill with Mind Sludge. I draw a Werebear and two useless land, and they all go to the graveyard. I make a Squirrel at the end of his turn, then untap and draw….

Squirrel Nest.

Probably one of my best rips of the day, since I’d just drawn three cards off a Standstill that got auto-Sludged, and they were all pretty much worthless. I attack with everything and he declines to block with his Shade, going to thirteen. I play Squirrel Nest #2 and pass the turn. He lays a Cabal Coffers and casts non-thresholded Rancid Earth on one of the Nests, so I make a Squirrel in response, which is promptly eaten by an Edict. He passes the turn and I bring myself up to three Squirrels.

On my turn I draw Mental Note and swing with everything, but his Shade eats my Mongoose and I get through for five damage, bringing him to eight. I hold the Mental Note for later use. His turn sees another Coffers and another Nantuko Shade. Now he has two Shades and I have four Squirrels (one made at end of turn) and a Mongoose.

I draw for my turn and it’s a land. I attack with everything but one Squirrel, and he he blocks a Mongoose and a Squirrel, bringing him to six. At the end of the turn, he casts Skeletal Scrying for two, removing Rancid Earth and another card from the game. This puts Antonio at four life, but he’s quickly taking control of the game. With his never missing a land-drop and double Coffers, he can kill me in one attack with a Shade. All I have is two Squirrels and some junk in hand.

He swings with one Shade and I’m forced to chump it. He follows with an Edict, and another Squirrel bites the dust, leaving me with just one.

Antonio then makes it a do-or-die situation by casting Death Wish for Rancid Earth and destroying the last Squirrel Nest. I make a Squirrel in response, bringing back me up to two Squirrels, and I know that it’s almost over now – those Shades are going to kill me in a few turns. Antonio is at two life, but he has two Shades and I only have two 1/1s. Next turn I’ll have to start chump-blocking and that will just be it.

At the end of his turn I Mental Note, turning over nothing of note, and drawing a land. At the start of my turn, I have a two land in my hand – a Forest and an Island. I have probably fifteen cards in my graveyard. He has one untapped Shade back to block. I have two 1/1 Squirrels, and he is at two life.

Moments like this are what Magic is all about. Game three, last turn, with everything on the line. I either draw something here, or he takes total control and then it’s over. I go back to my hotel with no byes, no Top 8. I leave with nothing but a story, and Antonio Powell is into the Top 8, to play for his three-round vacation.

I draw my card… Careful Study. I cast it – I’m going to draw two cards and discard two cards.

Card #1 is an island.


Did you hear what I said?

I was down to my last hope, my last chance, and my deck came through for me. Centaur Garden. Trouble didn’t catch me here. I slipped by like a ghost and he just kept on walking.

I play the Garden, attack with two Squirrels, and pump the unblocked one +3/+3 with the Garden.

That’s the game!




Record: 7-1

Needless to say, I’m just ecstatic. This is am amazing feeling for me, my first ever first-place finish at a high-level event. Not super-high level, mind you, but 152 people is a pretty good field. Of course, it won’t mean much if I can’t get the byes. There are only four sets and we have eight people.

I sort my deck to get it checked, and nearly have a heart attack when I judge finds me and says “Mr. Tait, can I talk to you over here for a moment?” Turns out I have four marked sleeves in my deck. Four is a bad number when you’re talking about marked sleeves. I’d rather have any number than four. Thirteen marked sleeves is a factory DEE-fect. FOUR marked sleeves is a DEE-Q!

So anyhow, my heart is up in my throat somewhere as I ask, in a weary and unbelieving tone:

“They’re not four of the same card, are they?”

He turns them over and the marked sleeves are on a Forest, an Island, a Careful Study, and a Roar of the Wurm. I breathe a sligh of relief.

“Thank God.”

I replace the sleeves. I count my blessings.

There are no atheists in foxholes, and precious few at the Top 8 tables.

Elimination Round vs. Craig Krempels w/ Monoblack Control

People are gathered around us. The room is freezing because we’re right below the air conditioning unit. I have goosebumps. It might be the cold. It might be the anticipation.

I lose this round, I go home with no byes. Mise well win the biggest clutch match of your life, and still just lose, amiright?

Game 1:

I have no notes. Just life totals. All I remember is playing around Mutilate very, very carefully. There were turns where he had one card in hand, and I could have committed massive forces to the board, but I just kept swinging with one or two creatures anyhow, for fear of Mutilate. Eventually, even at my slow pace of attack, the turn comes where he has to show me answers.

He has no answers, not this game. Maybe in the fifty games before this, and maybe in the fifty afterward, but in this game, my team swings into the Red Zone and goes all the way.

I have to win one of the next two to complete the best day of Magic in my life.

Game 2:

My life goes from 20-15 by decrements of one. His goes from 20-0. I didn’t take detailed notes, I was too focused. It was all about playing around the Mutilate, not overcommitting. My playtesting, hundreds and hundreds of U/G on Monoblack matches, was well worth it.

I have the record of my matches with me right now, as I compose this report. On that scorepad, the sheets so generously provided by the good people at Professional Events Services, the following notation is writ, in bold and powerful strokes, slashed into the top page with enough force to indent the unused, virginal score columns beneath:


I guess that exclamation expresses the essential essence of how I felt, and does it better than I could as I sit here now, with the heat and light and unadulterated joy of the moment now only a memory.

The second part of this report – a footnote, really – will detail how I did at the actual Grand Prix. For me, though, this Trial and this Friday night was my REAL Grand Prix experience. I met Adrian Sullivan and The Ferrett, caught up with OMC and Mike Guptil, chatted with some of the readers of the column (many of whom were nice enough to offer me encouraging words!). I did you guys proud, I think. I fought through all the needed pressure matches, I put my practice to good use. Best of all, I proved to myself that I could play this game at a high level, after my 1-2, 2-4-1, 2-3 string of performances at Detroit and London-area events.

I won’t spoil it by writing any more. The report ends here, and it will always be a great memory.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]

P.S.: Shout out to Gary Wise for the props – I was honored by your very kind words. I hope to get a chance to thank you in person. Anyone can tell you that you spin a good yarn, right? (Not that I don’t appreciate it!) Not everyone will tell you that you contribute something to the game. Those are big words, and they mean a lot to me.

Shout out to the Grimmoire, for linking my column on a regular basis. I wasn’t a reader of the site at first, but the unique content and the quality of work has won me over. I am a Grimmoire reader. I watched Mike Turian who was watching Aaron Forsythe who was playing a Monored OBC deck, but I didn’t have the stones to say hello.

Shout out to the Sideboard for the feature match at Canadian Nationals. One of the best moments of my life.

Shout out to Amos Claiborne – nice to meet you in person at the GP, too bad the Breakthroughs turned out to be too slow.

Shout out to everyone else who came up to say hello at the GP – it was great to see you all there!

Shout out to anyone else I forgot.