The Daily Shot: My Horrible, Horrible Manabase Takes It All The Way

Geordie took yesterday off thanks to it being Canada Day or something. But in the meantime, he got over THIRTY THOUSAND people to read his Magic Online article, and now he’ll tell you how he ground in to Canadian Nats. Oh yeah, and I’m giving him a Rizzo box. What the hell else does he want?

We’re back, and it’s a whole new week. A few minutes ago, I watched Brazil capture their fifth World Cup title, so I’m in the proper frame of mind to write up a championship-level edition of”The Daily Shot.”

First though, some recommended reading. Seth Burn just put up a great piece over at Brainburst, and you should read it if you get the chance. Did the whole”women in Magic” thing galvanize you in any way? If so, I think you’ll find Seth’s article fascinating – I know I did. It’s one of those works where I can sit back and say, “I wish I had written that”.

Remember how I said that if you change things around to help the women out, you run the risk of alienating some of the men, and/or making them resent the women who arrive because of those very changes? Bingo. University athletic programs are between a rock and a hard place, and as Seth says, there is no easy solution.

In other news, my article on Magic: Online was linked by Penny Arcade, the best online comic known to man. (I hate to disagree, as I like Penny Arcade, but I have to give my nod to PVP The Ferrett) Other than my kid being born, that’s probably my proudest accomplishment as a Magic writer.

Well, okay…. I don’t have a kid. That I know of. It’s still pretty damn cool.

On to the Magic… Remember my deck with all the cool cards and the horrible, horrible manabase? (You can read about it in last Friday’s edition). Turns out it was the siren song of that damn Resilient Wanderer that caused me to butcher my land distribution – I ended up with about three more plains than I really needed for everything except that one card, and I also had no business running Mystic Visionary.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in with feedback. Most people favored a strong U/G/w build, splashing two or three Plains for Shelter and Mystic Zealot, Odyssey’s top two white commons. Looking over the various listings, I can’t help but agree. Still, that’s now and this was then – Canadian Nationals, with only fifty minutes to make all the relevant decisions.

(A reporter later described Tait as wearing”a yellow shirt, buttoned tight at the neck”…i.e., CHOKE! Sigh.)

I’d made my multi-hued, easily-screwed bed…would I be able to lay in it through three rounds of single elimination play? The Magic 8-Ball says that it seems doubtful. To further jinx the whole deal, I’d been in a rush through my cupboards to find forty or fifty sleeves for my deck, and I’d taken the same white sleeves that stuck together at Grand Prix Detroit, handing me a game loss for drawing extra cards. Bad mojo.

Time for Round 1. This is where legends are made.

I’m Sivitri Scarzam, the 7CC two-color Craw Wurm.

Round 1 vs. Victor Lee w/ U/B/G

Victor is playing a beating of a deck featuring Roar of the Wurm, Wonder, and Stalking Bloodsucker. Yowch. His brother is watching him play, so he’s under additional pressure – can’t show weakness in front of the siblings. I’ll take any edge I can get.

Game 1:

We both get a little mana flooded (that tends to happen when you run eighteen land to smooth out your god-awful manabase), but while I draw stuff like Mystic Visionary and Krosan Archer. His Wonder ends up dying when I attack and Sylvan Might something. I draw Call of the Herd, but he hardcasts Roar of the Wurm, and flashes it the turn after.

I manage to hang on for a long time, casting Refresh on chump blockers, Prismatic Strands, blocking with Krosan Archer and pumping toughness… But I have to use the Sandstone Deadfall on a Giant Warthog and his two Wurms just keep on swinging. I’m unable to find Aether Burst – and truth be told, I’d used so many tricks and resources avoiding flying Wurm death that my chances for winning were hazy at best even if I had drawn it. I do draw Centaur Chieftain, with threshold… But I’m four damage short of the mini-Overrun kill when he blocks with everything.

I’m betting we’re going to see some Wonder/Roar tricks in Block Constructed and Standard… In Sealed, it’s just unfair. I sideboard in Dematerialize.

Game 2:

This one is all about Resilient Wanderer. I get all of my colors early on and it comes out on turn 4, stalling his attack with first strike, protection from whatever-I-want goodness. We sit around playing creatures, and though he casts a turn 6 or 7 Stalking Bloodsucker, I have the Sandstone Deadfall.

Man, I love that card.

He makes me use it.

Anyhow, he draws the Wonder and I can either trade damage with him or block it and give him uber-flying. We trade a few hits, and with him at ten and my life standing at eleven, he starts holding Wonder back to dissuade me from attacking. He throws out Roar of the Wurm, but I have the Dematerialize to nullify it. Shelter saves my Aven Cloudchaser from some removal, and when I draw Skywing Aven and Mystic Zealot, I suddenly have three flyers to his one, though he does have Puppeteer.

I attack with all flyers and nail him for five as Wonder trades with the Cloudchaser, leaving him at five life. He can’t do much on his turn because of the threat of Prismatic Strands (though with a ton of flying creatures, he’s rock solid on defense… sort of), and when my turn comes around, I rip Sylvan Might to turn a long grinding win into a quick one – I cast it, flash it on Resilient Wanderer, let it resolve, and then declare my attack phase with three land in my hand. He tries to tap it, I give it Pro Blue, he tries Aether Burst, I give it Pro Blue again, and then I throw out my last land to give it Pro Green and attack for six, and the win. Even his Serene Sunset won’t save him, because of the protection from green.

My sideboard stays the same.

Game 3:

Psionic Gift is the house in this game. I fire it on my Mystic Visionary (a good use for that otherwise bland little guy) and his Skywing Aven has to stay home. What a beating! I draw Wild Mongrel and Call of the Herd and start sending the pain.

I’m getting considerable damage through (two or three a turn) when he manages to throw out Roar of the Wurm (I forget how) and cast it… But I have the Aether Burst at the end of his turn, and I keep serving, adding a Teroh’s Faithful to the table. He’s looking for answers and summons a few dorks. We try to trade and both have the Refresh, and I get two more damage through. He offs the Visionary with Ghastly Demise and the Mongrel with Patriarch’s Desire, but I have Hydromorph Gull and Skywing Aven, and go to the air!

Two turns and an attempted Serene Sunset later, it’s over… My hand was an Esso station the whole game, with great tricks held in reserve.

Match Record: 1-0

The grinder only had about forty entrants, so almost everyone got a first-round bye. I need to win the next two rounds and I’m in to Canadian Nationals.

Round 2 vs. Craig w/ B/R/G

Craig has got a three-color special as well. My notes on this match are a little sparse, but I know his Metamorphic Wurm went well with his Lithatog.

Game 1:

I make a few play errors this game. I don’t know what they were (perhaps mercifully so – ignorance is bliss), but on my scoresheet the following notation is writ:

“Bad play, get run over by Metamorphic Wurm.”

I feel like an archaeologist or an anthropologist. While the details of this harrowing Game 1 have all but vanished from my brain, I can use these primitive scribblings to reconstruct what must have happened. They’re like cave paintings.

From the markings on this Arena league scorepad here, Dr. Livingston, I deduce that I played like a tuna and got canned as a result. On to Game 2.

Game 2:

Psionic Gift rides again. He gets a second-turn Mesmeric Fiend, taking Skywing Aven, and then third-turn Cabal Torturer. Meanwhile, all I have is my second-turn Nantuko Tracer.

Like a good player, I rip Gift off the top and ping his Torturer, then his Mesmeric Fiend. The game turns around 180 degrees and starts heading my way. He’s not giving up easy – laying creatures left and right, but once we both get out about six to seven dorks and a few fatties, I threshold myself and use Seton’s Desire like Lure, hitting him for fifteen damage. It’s more than enough to finish the job.

Craig had some mana trouble as well – no access to red for many, many turns in the early game, when he might have been able to push through for some damage before the Resilient Wanderer and Mystic Zealot appeared to force a stalemate.

Game 3:

He chooses to draw first, fearful of getting another poor mana draw. I check my opening seven and can’t help but smile to myself – it’s an absolute gas station. Wild Mongrel, Call of the Herd, Skywing Aven, Shelter, and all three colors of land.

Do you want the regular or the high-octane?

Which pump?

Check the oil?


There isn’t much to say about this game except that I also topdecked Seton’s Desire for the Mongrel, and just kept swinging. He was always a turn behind, and my tricks were the nuts – Refresh, Shelter, and Sylvan Might ensured that he could never make a good trade when blocking, or use any removal effectively. Bottom line, this was an unwinnable game for Craig – my first seven plays were all first-pick caliber cards. It was the nuts draw.

Match Record: 2-0

Okay…this is it. I’m already guaranteed either a slot in Nationals (awesome!) or a draft set (thirty-six packs total… Also VERY cool). I want Nationals, though – gotta keep my eye on the true prize.

Round 3 vs. Ryan Walsh

I tell Ryan that if he’d rather have the draft cards, he can just scoop to me ^_^. He graciously declines my generous offer, and it’s on. He’s playing a U/G/W with SCALPELEXIS (ARRRGHH!) and an Elephant Guide to steer her by. Of course, my deck is really good as well; just fragile on the ol’ mana. We’ll see how she goes.

I fear the Scaplelexis of a U/B or (especially) an U/R/b a lot more than the U/G/W version… Those colors can remove your flyers and force the big guy through.

Game 1:

He wins the roll and draws. I play second-turn Mongrel, third-turn Call, fourth-turn Mystic Zealot, fifth-turn flashback Call, and when I start attacking in earnest I have Shelter and Sylvan Might in my hand again. I Lost In Thoughts his first blocker and fire Seton’s Desire on my Zealot. I’m at eighteen when his life hits zero.

Dear God, this game was a beating. No sign of any of his good cards. He played solid stuff all game, but my draw was too strong. Another nuts draw, as it were. The tricks in this deck are so good… If I get the Mongrel draw, I’m in the driver’s seat.

Game 2:

We lock up the ground quick with dorks, plus his Krosan Archer and my Resilient Wanderer, and I try to get a leg up with Prismatic Strands when we run our bears into each other, but he has a Refresh. Then on his fifth turn he drops Scaplelexis. I respond with Hydromorph Gull, and he puts an Elephant Guide on his Scaplelexis and swings. Instead of chumping, I prevent the damage with my Prismatic Strands.

On my turn, I have the best possible answer – Aven Cloudchaser. You can almost see his heart break as I now have five power in flyers to his one, and he gets no Elephant out of the deal. To make things worse, my next draw is Skywing Aven.

We stalemate for a long time (I can’t get by the Scaplelexis without attacking with too many guys), until he plays Cultural Exchange and gives me Hapless Researcher and Escape Artist in exchange for two of my flyers!

It’s okay, though, because I have Sandstone Deadfall and a Krosan Archer out. I attack with Resilient Wanderer (pro everything he has) and Skywing Aven, and when he doesn’t block the Aven (the one flyer he left me), I double-Sylvan Might to bring him down to four life from twelve. It looks like he can hit for the win next turn, but I Aether Burst my Hydromorph Gull and pass the turn.

He has to leave his blockers back, and I replay my Gull and hit with the Escape Artist he gave me, taking him to three.

Guess what?

The Escape Artist goes all the way – the board is a stalemate on both sides. He hits zero in three turns and I’m playing in Canadian Nationals!


And there was much rejoicing.

Match Record: 3-0

If you read the above report, you’ll notice a complete lack of mana problems despite my terrible manabase. In truth, I had a few annoying color troubles throughout the games, but nothing too major – the minor screwings would usually occur during the games where I had strong early plays in the colors I did have, and maybe one off-color card I couldn’t cast. With all the cantrips early on, I would usually draw into what I needed within four or five turns… And don’t forget that the percentages say I should have two of each color by turn five. If I draw first (which I did almost every chance I could), the chances are even better.

Yeah, I know – those percentages are typically bald-faced liars. On this day they were bang-on. Better lucky than good.

Tomorrow, we’ll go through the constructed portion of Nationals, including my first feature match. Does the Sorcery deck really hammer those control decks? How did it do against R/G? You’ll see tomorrow. Until then, have a good one, make sure you read that Seth Burn article, and if you have the time, check out the interview with Ryan Fuller that they have over at the Grimmoire – it’s a good read.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]