The Daily Shot: Sleight Knight 1-2

Of late, many cantankerous online Magic net-nannies have seen fit to opine that every Magic article or piece of Magic writing on the Internet should serve a purpose, and leave the reader better off, strategically, than he or she was before reading. It won’t ever be that way with me.

Before I forget, I better get this report on the record. The sordid tale of the 1-2 afternoon itself.

Of late, many cantankerous online Magic net-nannies have seen fit to opine that every Magic article or piece of Magic writing on the Internet should serve a purpose, and leave the reader better off, strategically, than he or she was before reading.

It won’t ever be that way with me, because these columns are like my journal, my link to rest of the Magic world. Don’t expect groundbreaking strategy or a report about how I went 7-0 every time you step in my door. I have written and will continue to write about:

  • Events where I tanked

  • The antics of my friends

  • Horrible decks I have made

  • Cards with art featuring a massive, green wang

I’m writing a tournament report about a tournament where I played a fairly bad deck and went 1-2, then dropped, ate McDonalds, and went home. Read it through, learn a lesson, have a good laugh, and I’ll be back tomorrow.

Here’s the decklist. The worst part about doing this GPT: Cleveland tournament report is having to list this thing for the third time. I guess I just have to choke back my gag reflex and fire it out there again, with no apologies and no excuses.

Sleight Knight 2002 (GPT Cleveland, Geordie Tait)

4 Hapless Researcher

4 Mental Note

4 Werebear

4 Aether Burst

4 Nantuko Blightcutter

4 Phantom Centaur

4 Mystic Enforcer

3 Alter Reality

3 Wonder

2 Llawan, Cephalid Empress

2 Breakthrough

10 Island

7 Forest

4 Sungrass Prairie

1 Tarnished Citadel


4 Envelop

4 Elephant Guide

3 Ray of Revelation

2 Genesis

2 Upheaval

I’m listing it again just because every good tournament report has the actual decklist in it. That way when I’m pontificating about whatever asshammering loss I’ve just received, you can scroll upward and find the listing that caused said loss. This report will be fairly short (as most”1-2 and drop and weep and eat a 99 cent McChicken” reports are) and as such, so enjoy the figurative castration of my DCI rating while it lasts.

First, I should get the basics out there for you to mull over: The event itself is a Grand Prix Trial for the upcoming Grand Prix Cleveland. The winner gets three byes at that event, and byes are a good thing to have at a Grand Prix, because they really increase your chance of winning the whole thing.

Let me just read that line again. “Three byes greatly increase your chance of winning the whole thing.” In other news, the sun will rise tomorrow morning. Try not to run off to Brainburst while I’m padding this thing.

Anyhow, the GPT is in Garden City, Michigan. The tournament organizer? Professional Event Services, Mike Guptil’s company. Mike is the head judge, and he was also the head DCI tank at Canadian Nationals.

A lot of tournament reports tell you about the ride down, and this one will be no exception – because no ride from Canada to the Detroit area is the same, and you might as well hear about our version of the trip. Tooling along in Jean-Marc Babin’s non-air conditioned car, we ended up getting detoured straight into the eighth circle of hell about fifteen exits before Middlebelt Road. We found ourselves rolling down a big ol’ street called Gratiot, an earthy avenue featuring about two dilapidated churches per block, and with detour signs placed seemingly at random.

It was a sight, that much is for sure. Steam pouring out of open manholes and grates in the street, construction on all sides, and every fourth building abandoned. The driver-side window was down because of the heat, and let me tell you in case you were wondering- the air quality in the Detroit area hasn’t changed since I was last visiting for Grand Prix Detroit. It still bites that special brand of ass – a potent mixture of burnt tire rubber, diesel, and decaying animal matter being baked into the road.

Did I mention that we had to explain our destination to the guy at the border for a couple of minutes, because Jean-Marc broke the border-crossing rules and mentioned that it was a”Magic” tournament? The poor old guy was at a loss trying to make sense of it.

“Now let me get this straight, boys… You’re going to see card tricks? Sawing ladies in half, and all that?”

Sigh. Remember this. Always, always, always remember this:

When you cross the border and they ask you why you’re visiting the other side, you say”a collectible card tournament.” Do not EVER, EVER, EVER use the word”Magic.” If you do, best-case scenario the border guard thinks you’re a fan of David Copperfield, driving with a pigeon up your sleeve that very moment, and you have to explain the game to him for about ten minutes.

Worst case scenario, they think you’re headed ’round the bend to call forth the earthly avatar of Memnon the Unholy. Then you get pulled over while they call that one old guard, the guy they call”Stinkythumbs,” to take a look up your works.

Anyhow, back to the ride. We managed to screw up the detour about three times, and we had to stop for directions. Here’s a quick tip for all you uncertain travelers out there – if you stop to ask directions and the store clerk laughs as soon as you mention where you’re supposed to be, that’s not a good sign. This is what happened to us. The two young ladies working the counter shared a good ol’ belly laugh when we told them we were looking for Middlebelt Road. It’s not a good feeling.

Long story short, we drove around like morons despite the directions given by the store manager, looking for any way to get back on I-75, and reached the event with about ten minutes to spare. Ten minutes! It’s an hour and a half drive, and we left with three hours to spare! That is just sad.

Still, we did make it. It was myself, Jean-Marc Babin, and”Evil” Matt Fox, along with 63 other guys, shooting for the three byes. Jean-Marc was playing Quiet Roar, EMF was with Monoblack Control.

Seven rounds of swiss. Here goes nothing.

Round 1 vs. Doug Precunier w/ Monoblack Control

Doug is playing a version of Monoblack control I’ve seen quite a bit online, complete with that one Grotesque Hybrid that has been in numerous decklists. He may have made some changes himself, but the games didn’t really go long enough for me to notice anything special. He’s a good player and I didn’t notice any mistakes.

Game 1: He gets a draw with two Innocent Blood and four Edicts, but no Mutilate. He does draw a lot of mana though, so I have to fight through two Bloods and three Edicts, all with flashback. That’s eight dead creatures. As it happens, my ninth and tenth creatures are both Mystic Enforcers, and they’re going to have to go all the way because he unloads Haunting Echoes on me and takes pretty much everything else out of my deck.

I attack for three, leaving one back to block his massive and instantly deadly Nantuko Shade. He’s at fifteen. He draws land. I attack for another three. He’s at twelve. He draws land. I attack for another three, he’s at nine. He draws land. I attack for another three to put him at six, and he’s got one last draw phase.

He draws: Tainted Pact. He casts it. The first card he turns over is a swamp. If he continues on and turns over another Swamp, or a Mind Sludge, or an Innocent Blood, or a Nantuko Shade, or a Coffers, I’m in business. If it’s an Edict or Mutilate or Diabolic Tutor, I’m toast.

His next card is the Edict, and he clears my board and kills me from sixteen life.

I side in 4 Envelop, 4 Elephant Guide, 2 Genesis, 2 Upheaval for 2 Llawan, 3 Alter Reality, 3 Wonder, 4 Aether Burst (I should probably just leave those in, though).

Game 2: I keep a two land hand and make it up to three mana with no problem, with early Mental Notes and such finding me the needed fuel, but I get stuck on three land and my Werebear and Nantuko Blightcutter get killed, too soon to use the two Elephant Guides in my hand. Still no fourth land for about ten turns, even with the use of a Researcher that chumped a Shade before he could get the Elephant treatment.

The contents of my hand during this period of inactivity? Four Phantom Centaurs and two Mystic Enforcers, plus Upheaval. Meanwhile he’s got 7 Swamps, but not much pressure except for a Shade that he finally draws. I draw my fourth land at last, and get a Phantom Centaur down before a Shade kills me, but he Edicts and attacks for seven, dropping me to three. I play another Centaur; he flashes the Edict, but can only attack for two since he didn’t draw a land. I play another Centaur and he’s got no more removal, so we sit around for a while, though he does play a Coffers.

I drop Centaur #3 and attack for five, and realize that maybe this game isn’t as over as it seems – in two turns he’s going to die. My optimism is short-lived – he draws a second Coffers and Diabolic Tutors for Mutilate, with enough mana to keep his Shade alive and kill me.

The last time I felt that much pain from something big and black was when I was in the state pen. Maybe we should start calling Nantuko Shade”Z-Smooth”?

Match Record: 0-1

Jean-Marc also lost, but Matt Fox won and is 1-0. This is not the way I wanted to start my day, and as I look around the play area, Monoblack is everywhere. It’s probably two-thirds of the field.

Round 2 vs. Russell Taint w/ Monoblack Control

Russell is also playing Monoblack control, and he’s got a couple of Guiltfeeders in the main. As usual, I expect Game 1 to be really annoying, with my sideboard making things much easier in Games 2-3. Before we start the match, I say”Good luck…” – to which he replies,”I’m not going to lie; I hope you get manascrewed.”

Actually, that’s sorta admirable.

I’m going to start wishing my opponents”equal luck.” That way we can have a fun and entertaining match. If he has more luck than me, I’m going to be bitter. If I have more than him, it’s just awkward, because I have to stumble around a seething opponent with phrases like “Yeah, that sucks” and “What can you do with draws like that?”

“Equal luck” is the best way to go.

Game 1:

I steal one here, because I think he got a multiple Butcher draw. Anyhow, I play Werebear (killed), Blightcutter (Edict), then another Blightcutter, then Mystic Enforcer, then Phantom Centaur, and I just start serving. He has another Blood and an Edict to flash back and a Mutilate, but I just keep laying the Pro-Black guys. A couple of Mental Notes give me threshold, and in the late-game it’s my Blightcutter and Phantom Centaur staring down his Guiltfeeder, while I have ten cards in the yard.

All things being equal he wins the race, since I’m at fourteen life and he’s at thirteen and he has first attack, but a Mind Sludge shows him that all things are not equal because I have the almighty Alter @#$%ing Reality at my command!


Alter Reality is such a house that I have to pay a mortgage to have it in my deck.

It’s such a beating that the LAPD look at it and they’re all like,”Damn, that thing is a beating.”

Alter Reality, the alpha and the omega of cards everywhere, is such gas that salesmen for propane and propane accessories are like “Damn, that’s pretty gassy. I thought I knew gas, but that’s the gassiest example of gas that has ever gassed.”

Alter Reality, a card amongst cards. I can call it Alter but you should just call it”Mr. Reality.” This card has Tyra Banks on one arm and Nicole Kidman on the other, it’s smoking a big, fat Cuban, and your mother is in its room.

His Guiltfeeder attacks and Mr. Reality says that it can be blocked only by Green and Artifact creatures, and my Centaur eats it for breakfast. Then I serve for seven. He draws, Skeletal Scryes for one, and scoops. Mutilate was the next card down.

Same sideboard as before.

Game 2:

This game was a beating. I double-mulligan and get a passable five-carder with land and Mental Notes. I Note twice, lay some land and fire off a Breakthrough, but he Edicts my 6/6 Enforcer, casts Mind Sludge, and then casts Haunting Echoes when I have nothing on the table, nothing in hand and pretty much everything in the grave.

I pack faster than light. Well, double-mulligans will do that to you. It was still harsh even so.

Game 3:

Another double-mulligan. Poor Geordie. He’s not happy. He sided in Braids for some reason, and Braids is pretty bad against me. I play a few creatures and he doesn’t kill them, because his draw is just bad. He plays two Braids in the same turn (whoops!) and I remind him that he just pulled a Dan Clegg and that he has to bury one because they are Legendary. I start attacking with a Nantuko Blightcutter and a thresholded Werebear, but he casts Innocent Blood (sacrificing his Braids, with no replacement in hand because of his earlier mistake) and I let the smaller Blightcutter go, evening the mistake count at one and one.

It’s all a question of clocks. I had a 4/4 and a 2/2, and he was at six life. If I let the Werebear go, even if he has Haunting Echoes I still have him on a three turn clock. If I let the Blightcutter go, I have a two-turn clock, but Nantuko Shade can trade with it and a Haunting Echoes makes it a six-turn clock that can be blocked by Braids or Butchered.

I make the wrong decision and keep the Werebear – and sure enough, he has the Echoes. The Werebear is now the only creature in my entire deck, and I have to hit him for six turns in order to win. This should be fun.

I hit him. He draws land.

I hit him. He draws land.

I hit him. He draws land.

I hit him. He draws land.

I hit him and draw Envelop. Woohoo!

He draws – Mutilate!

I Envelop it! Who does that?

I serve for the 1/1 Werebear win. The Bear goes all the way.

Match Record: 1-1

Aaron Breider was watching the end of that last match and called it a”tough beat” for Russell. I think that’s his way of saying “that guys deck was a real three-coiler; it’s too bad you lost.” I can’t really disagree with him, to be honest.

Jean-Marc Babin is also 1-1, and”Evil” Matt Fox is 2-0. Viva la Monoblack!

A quick note to rogue deckbuilders: One thing about Monoblack is that it’s unforgiving when you’re playing a deck with embarrassing cards in it, mostly because of Haunting Echoes. I got Echoed in both of my first two matches in this tournament, and on both occasions I had to watch both opponents search through the deck and periodically switch facial expressions from”neutral” to”what the hell?”

Round 3 vs. Matt Cherry w/ MonoWhite Beatdown

Matt is playing mono-white with Pianna, Divine Sacrament, Battle Screech and the like. He also has the Tiresome Tribe/Glory mechanic going on, along with some Soulcatcher’s Aeries that may have actually been in his sideboard.

My deck should win Game 1 against any deck that plays with Divine Sacrament. I don’t think you can win a game where you give all of your opponent’s creatures +1/+1.

Game 1:

I get the second-turn Werebear start, and my deck operates 100% better when I get that start. He starts laying out the weenies, but I quickly get threshold and slap down an Enforcer and Blightcutter. He plays Divine Sacrament, but I use Alter Reality on both the Sacrament and on my Blightcutter, making it a 7/7 Protection from White creature… With flying, since I have Wonder in the yard.

Finally, Alter Reality reaches its full potential!

The Blightcutter goes all the way, reaching 8/8 or 9/9 on the final turn.

He sideboards out his Sacraments, I sideboard in nothing, though I should have put in a couple of copies of Upheaval… This was the matchup they were supposed to be for. I have no idea why I didn’t side them in – they’re good against otherwise unsalvageable Bird token beatdown situations.

Game 2:

I have a dead draw this game, with too much land and two little to do in the opening turns. By the time I play my first creature on turn 4, he already has Pianna beating me down with his first- and second-turn plays. He tosses Glory into the yard and mops up before I can get anything going. The white deck can be scary fast when it wants to be.

Game 3:

This is a heartbreaker. I have strong beatdown early with Werebear, Nantuko Blightcutter and Phantom Centaur, (and he has no creatures!), but he absolutely wrecks me with a Vengeful Dreams that, all things considered, I walked right into. He even puts Glory in the graveyard with it!

I recover quickly with a duo of Mystic Enforcers, but he starts Battle Screeching and plays two Soulcatcher’s Aeries. About this time, I draw Llawan – but despite two Mental Notes and being many turns into the game, there’s no sign of the Alter Reality that would bounce every creature on his board and lock him for all time!

I hardcast a Wonder to give myself two colors of blockers, making it harder for him to break through for the win… But my time is running out. I have him at three life, but there’s no way I can break through. Alter Reality will just win me the game here, either by comboing him with Llawan or by giving one of my Enforcers Protection from White to serve for the win, but I can’t draw it to save my life. Even a last-ditch Mental Note turns up nothing.

He gives all his creatures protection from Blue and from Green once he reaches six mana, and attacks with enough to finish me off. It’s a strange thing to spend most of a game wishing for Alter Reality, but that was the case here. It would have been an absolute wrecking ball.

Match Record: 1-2 (Drop)

So I drop, not altogether pleased with the day’s events. I had really hoped to play more U/G decks, and I lost a match against my best matchup – monowhite with Divine Sacrament. I should smoke that deck, but in the end it was Pianna and friends who rolled me and lit me up.

“Evil” Matt Fox ended up 3-2, and Jean-Marc decided to play all seven rounds (because Magic is fun!) and finished the day at 4-3.

Hope you enjoyed the report.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]