The Road To Ontario Regionals

The Oshawa YMCA has a very nice swimming pool. It has somewhat of a stigma attached to it as far as Magic is concerned, though – if you’re playing anywhere near it, it means you are, for lack of a better turn of phrase,”sucking huge”.

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen

Regionals: Crunch time for every aspiring Ontario Magic champ.

The place: The Oshawa YMCA, right across the street from Skyfox Games. It’s a mass of humanity – two hundred and thirty-three players from all over Ontario have shown up to test their mettle. Also, there are some visitors hanging around just for the hell of it, like Gab Tsang and Gary Wise. Throughout the day, these larger-than-life Magic icons can be found observing matches and/or drafting.

It would be so cool to draft with Gary Wise and Gab Tsang.

Oh well, enough dreaming. I have more serious matters at hand – namely the quest to qualify for Nationals. While I’m waiting for the tournament to start, mise well pick up some cards, amiright?

A quick check of Skyfox, the gaming store across the street, shows that their Beta cards are too expensive for me to buy, but for some reason, Crypt Creepers are still only 25 cents. Doesn’t anyone else realize the almighty power of the Creeper? He’s a house! I buy all of the Creepers they have in stock, leaving a conspicuous hole in the”Odyssey” binder – a gap-toothed space surrounded by the full compliment of powerhouses like Coffin Purge. This is funny because I know Evil Matt Fox is going to head over to Skyfox to get his Creepers, oblivious to the fact that I have just cornered the Oshawa Crypt Creeper market. I wish I could see the look on his face when the only common missing is the one he needs.

I start to get that”butterflies in the stomach” feeling as I register my deck – if you’ve ever been to an event like this after months of preparation, you know the sensation to which I’m referring. My pores seem huge and my breakfast sits inside me like one big egg n’ hash brown brick. I’ve studied and tested for a long time to break out here and qualify for Nationals. Sure, I try to maintain the outward appearance of composure, but rest assured, gentle reader…The hand holding the registration pen is a clammy one. God bless the noble visionary who invented anti-perspirant! (You wear anti-perspirant on your hands? Eew – The Ferrett)

Sarnia was well represented. Let me give you a rundown of the players and decks that made the trip to Oshawa:

Trent Rogers

The owner of the gaming store where we all play, Trent is the patriarch of Sarnia magic. His deck of choice is the a R/G deck designed in-house at Future Pastimes. There’s nothing revolutionary about the design, but the card choices are very tight, the result of hundreds of playtest games. We thought it was the strongest possible listing – it was something like this:

Team Future Pastimes R/G

4 Firebolt

4 Urza’s Rage

4 Call of the Herd

1 Ghitu Fire

3 Kavu Titan

4 Yavimaya Barbarian

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Skizzik

4 Flametongue Kavu

24 assorted R/G land (the mana base wasn’t random, though, it was thoroughly tested… I just don’t remember the exact composition).


4 Compost

3 Shivan Wurm

3 Meteor Storm

3 Hull Breach

2 Nantuko Blightcutter

The Blightcutters are in there to stop Mortivore. Not a perfect solution, but they won at least one game on the day by staring the big guy down for a few turns while enough burn piled up to finish it.

Both Trent Rogers and John Silvestri would run the above R/G deck, and two or three other people had it as an alternate.

Chris”Christ” Borek

Most notable for the”Buddy Christ” statuette that he puts on the table for all of his matches, Chris is one of the more talented players in Sarnia. Now he needs the rating to back up his skills. Regionals was his chance to get it, though I think he might have made the wrong deck choice considering the Braids-riddled field. Chris was running an old-school Psychatog with Upheaval in the side; I’m not sure what he hoped to do in the first game against B/w or (especially) Kibler-style B/r Aggro Braids… It’s hard to win without casting Upheaval against those decks.

I don’t have the exact listing, but there were no Upheavals or Standstills in the maindeck – it was a more”San Diego Masters” style Psychatog deck. Don’t let the old-school feel fool you, though – it was thoroughly tested in post-Torment T2.

Evil Matt Fox

Evil Matt is known mostly for having no conscience when trading with the uninitiated newbie. He was running the same three-color black deck that three other Sarnia players were, including myself. You can find that listing below.

Prior to Regionals, Matt was still waiting to have his breakout tournament at a major event, and considering his 4-4 finish this year, I foresee some more waiting. EMF – see you at the Grinders.

Jay Vanderwielen

What can I say about Jay? Well, the people in his car mooned at least three women on the way down, and at the post tournament dinner he started relating stories about how he and his friends got wasted once and one of them accepted $5 to run through town naked.

Jay was running a Comer-esque Monoblack Control, with a maindeck Aladdin’s Ring. The draws weren’t kind to him, but Jay took it in stride – I suspect he came on the trip mostly to unleash his ass upon the unsuspecting viewer, and to eat at East Side Mario’s. Magic was secondary. Really, that’s sort of admirable. We need more men guys like Jay Vanderwielen.

Mark Weymouth

Weighing in at about 115 pounds, Mark has enough fatties in his B/w/g Braids deck to make up for what he lacks in real life weight. Again, I don’t have an exact listing – but it was chock-full of Spiritmongers, Pernicious Deeds and Vindicates, plus the usual monoblack goodstuff. Mark’s mana base was similar to mine, meaning it could unleash a screwing now and then. As I’ve said, though, that’s the price you pay when you want to fill your deck with the best cards in three colors.

Neil Crawford

Fun-loving Neil Crawford holds the distinction of being the first one to moon someone while riding in Jay’s car… On this trip, that is. I’m glad I wasn’t in that car, since I have no desire to see Mr. Crawford’s sizable caboose.

Running a three-color madness deck of his own design, Neil did most of his testing on IRC and felt fairly confident going in. His worst enemy would prove to be color screw. Though he didn’t manage to snag any prizes at Regionals, he walked away $25 richer… Apparently it pays well to moon people. When asked for comment regarding the horror he inflicted on three passing young women for a mere pittance in cash, Neil could only remark,”I hope it wasn’t a sack moon.”

He will henceforth be known as Neil”I Hope It Wasn’t A Sack Moon” Crawford.

Jean-Marc Babin

First in the Swiss at Ontario Regionals 2001, Jean-Marc was the guy to watch. It was cool that he would think the”School Canoe” three-color black deck was good enough to run, and considering how we both did, I think it was the right decision. Better play and a bit more luck would have put us in the Top 8.

An avid player and sometime report writer under the pseudonym”Jean-Mise Beats,” Jean-Marc’s biggest problem was the fact that he was desperately ill for a good portion of the day. Mise well vomit in between rounds, amiright?

John Labute

Though my teammate John had been busy with work in the days leading up to the tournament, I was very glad to have him along at Regionals. As usual he went above and beyond the call of duty in driving people around and helping to co-ordinate our activities. He was also running”School Canoe.”

John Silvestri

A longtime Sarnia player now residing in Toronto, John is one of my dearest friends. On short notice, he was able to make the jaunt down to Oshawa and participate in the festivities, using the R/G deck also played by Trent Rogers and listed above. Having not played for a year (since last year’s Regionals, in fact), he still managed a respectable finish.

Geordie Tait

That’s me – the guy writing this report! My previous best finishes include 35th at Grand Prix Detroit 2001 and 11th at Ontario Regionals 2001. You can find the GP Detroit 2001 report at StarCity, and last year’s Ontario Regionals report via the wayback machine and Meridian Magic. I also have reports in the Dojo Archives and I write tournament reports and strategy articles for MtgOntario.com

I like to write entertaining reports – hopefully this read will be worth your time!

Here’s the deck I played:

SCHOOL CANOE – (It’s A Paddlin’!)

3 Ravenous Rats

4 Nantuko Shade

4 Crypt Creeper

4 Phyrexian Rager

4 Flametongue Kavu

3 Thunderscape Battlemage

2 Shambling Swarm

2 Ichorid

4 Terminate

4 Chainer’s Edict

2 Morgue Theft

12 Swamp

3 Tainted Peak

3 Tainted Wood

2 City Of Brass

2 Shadowblood Ridge

1 Llanowar Wastes

1 Darigaaz’ Caldera


4 Compost

3 Mortivore

3 Pernicious Deed

3 Duress

2 Haunting Echoes

This Canoe paddles you, instead of the other way around! (g)

Look a little strange? Well, it’s the product of months of testing, and each and every card choice and amount was the subject of agonizing scrutiny. This thing is without a doubt the tightest decklist I’ve ever developed – the choice between running the fourth Ravenous Rat as opposed to the fourth Crypt Creeper alone was worth a day’s ruminations.

Take the best cards in B/r Braids decks, remove Braids herself (you can beat control without her, contrary to popular belief, and she’s average in the mirror, poor against Red/Green), add green for the ability to remove Compost, which smokes B/r decks, and season to taste. Just make sure you test the hell out of it – I sure did.

As a companion piece to this tournament report, I’m going to be writing a full review of our playtesting leading up to Regionals – you’ll get to see how the deck evolved and check out some of the other wild ideas we had. (Look for it on StarCity next week, since submitting two articles in a the same week would be folly in the age of lucrative article submission contests!)

The key weakness”School Canoe” is the mana base. If you cast an eye over it, I’m sure you can see how it might stiff you on a much-needed red or green mana every so often. This is a necessary evil when you want to build a three-color deck that doesn’t use a thousand pain lands. The percentages actually say that you’ll have a red source every 7.5 cards or so and a green source every nine cards or so (so you should have all three colors by turn 3 to 4, if all goes well), but you all know that a deck can sometimes be fickle. Magic is a world where probability can only take you so far.

It’s obviously going to take the people running the event, from Future Quest, a while to set up tables to accommodate the massive turnout. When the venue is a little cramped, some creative space management has to come into play – it’s a skill every TO has to have. Like algae, the play surfaces start to spread beyond the main room and out into the hall, where YMCA members can have the pleasure of interacting with visiting Magic players from all over the province, 20-30% of whom may have actual social skills. Since the tables in the hall are numbered 70-116, I’m sure everyone playing there will be in a great mood.

Like last year, the highest numbered tables go up closer to the pool.

“Playing By The Pool” Aside

The Oshawa YMCA has a very nice swimming pool. It has somewhat of a stigma attached to it as far as Magic is concerned, though – if you’re playing anywhere near it, it means you are, for lack of a better turn of phrase,”sucking huge”. All of the highest numbered tables, frequented by those well out of contention for prizes or slots, are placed out in the hall by the pool.

After I went 0-1 in the opening round, I had to mention to everyone else that I was”glad I had my swim trunks with me.” (Don’t worry, I would come back from this poor start)

Amongst the boys from Future Pastimes,”playing by the pool” means you’re really in trouble, and sure to be the butt of numerous”Chlorine.dec” jokes, usually launched your way by people who aren’t getting their asses handed to them every round.

The almighty Jay Vanderwielen was 2-5 at one point – before he dropped, he was probably playing in the sauna.

Anyway, Future Quest finally gets everything in order, and we’re all registered and ready to go (Matt walked up to me as I was registering and said”I’m f***ed; they’re sold out of Creepers”). Looks like it’s going to be nine grueling rounds of Swiss, with the Top 8 qualifying and a prize cutoff of 6-3.

Pairings go up and it’s time for Round 1.

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” ~Bertrand Russell

That’s what the Swiss tournament structure is about, in a nutshell. I’m hoping to be one of the ones left when all is said and done.

Round 1 vs. Chris Langford w/ Jarrod Bright’s”Terminator”

I’m not sure if it was a card-for-card representation of Bright’s deck, but it seemed pretty close, and the Llanowar Dead were, so to speak, a Dead giveaway. Chris takes his time to make his plays, making sure to be extra careful, and it pays off as he doesn’t make any stupid mistakes.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for myself.

Game 1: No mulligan, which is great – as I’ve said, my mana base is my greatest fear, and as my opening hand size shrinks, so do my chances of getting all three colors. I come out strong and we trade early creature kill – my Ravenous Rat takes an Edict for the team after getting one of his land on the way into play.

In a stunning display of skill, I manage to draw both of my Shambling Swarms along with a Morgue Theft, and that combination gives him all sorts of trouble. The two Shambling Swarms are already proving to be the right choice simply because they help me deal with Call Of The Herd (which he has in his deck) without a loss of card advantage. Having to Terminate and Edict Call tokens isn’t a good deal. Flametongue Kavu is great for this as well, and with the addition of the two Swarms, I have six creatures in the deck that can nullify the card advantage of Call Of The Herd: Morgue Theft, if drawn, gives me four extra copies of these.

Oh yeah – I got a caution this game for calling a judge when I didn’t actually need one – I wanted him to issue an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Chris for playing a Spiritmonger. I figured if Kurt Hahn can do it and get laughs, so can I!

Apparently I’m no Kurt Hahn.

Anyhow, my repeated Morgue Theft of Shambling Swarms is too much for him, and they manage to go all the way after my Chainer’s Edict clears the pesky Spiritmonger out of the way. I knock his Shambling Swarm out of hand with a Battlemage.

I side in Compost, but not Mortivores. This is probably a mistake, since Mortivore is a better choice than Ichorid against B/g, the splash that has the most trouble removing it. I just wish I could have done more testing – Ichorid or Mortivore in this matchup? I guess I have to fly by the seat of my pants and stay with the Ichorids. If I had known he was running Terminate, I would have stayed with the Ichorids game 3 as well.

Game 2: His double-Flametongue Kavu draw is a beating, and my singleton Flametongue draw can’t compete. As sad as this sounds, the guy who draws more Kavu has to work hard to lose one of these matchups, and he just pounds on me this game. My notes say”2x Kavu draw.” That’s pretty much all you need to know… And if you’ve tested the black-splash on black-splash matchup, you know how true it is. What a beating! I do know that he sideboarded in Mortivore for this game, which I would not do against Black/Red running four Terminates and four Chainer’s Edict.

I side in my Mortivores against him, though – I haven’t yet realized he’s running Terminator. Sigh. Still, it might have been okay if I hadn’t been so foolish in Game 3, as you’ll see below:

Game 3: I get off to a great start, but he puts a Call Of The Herd token and a Spiritmonger in my way as we get to the midgame with Chris at about seven life. And me with no Edict or Terminates! The Monger is really becoming a problem, and with plentiful Elephant tokens to block, he’ll be able to swing each turn pretty soon. Luckily, I have a Shambling Swarm to hold things off… But I throw the game away by attacking into his Spiritmonger.


Not only did I miss the fact that he could regenerate using Llanowar Dead (I’m such a bad player), but Shambling Swarm doesn’t kill Spiritmonger anyhow – it gets a +1/+1 counter before the Swarm can kill it off. Terrible, terrible play on my part.

The worst aspect of this bonehead maneuver is that despite my complete stupidity, I almost pull this game out by getting a 5/5 Mortivore into play to block his ‘Monger. One turn before the game would end, with me at one life, I rip Flametongue off the top to kill his only possible blocker (Llanowar Dead) and swing things back my way, but he is at seven and my Mortivore is only a 6/6. Arrgh. I desperately needed a Terminate this game, as his ‘Monger was really putting the boots to me. Anyhow, the Flametongue saves me from death, or so I think…Until I find out that he has again drawn two of his own, and he sends for the win on his next turn.

Bah, time to get my swim trunks – I’m”playing by the pool”!

Match Record: 0-1

We congregate in the hall and it turns out that a lot of the Sarnia guys had it rough in the first round. And I mean”rough” like as in”prison sex.” Evil Matt and my teammate John, both running the Canoe, are also 0-1. The only person to win a match with the deck was the indomitable Jean-Marc Babin. Jay and Chris also managed to win their matches. Trent got matched up with a G/R deck running maindeck Shivan Wurms… And the guy hard-cast Violent Eruption on turn 4 of every game. No, he didn’t win that one, America.

Oh, and a bit of health-related foreshadowing – Jean-Marc is looking a mite under the weather.

Time for Round 2. Obviously I’m looking to get to 1-1 here – who wants to test for months and then go 0-2?

Round 2 vs. Rob Frac w/ Psychatog

Rob seems a little distracted; not a good state of mind when you’re playing a deck that requires your full attention. I’m not sure what Psychatog build he was running, but he had a ton of bounce and I didn’t see any Upheavals. He was running Aether Burst, Repulse, and Recoil, though.

Game 1: Game 1 illustrates why Crypt Creeper is sometimes superior to Mesmeric Fiend even against control – they’re a much faster clock. I manage to get a Creeper and a Phyrexian Rager down, and he’s forced to play a ‘Tog to block long before he’s ready to protect it. I have the Terminates and Edicts to push through, and Ichorid manages to seal the deal. The strange thing about this game was that he cast two or three Fact or Fictions but never gained the upper hand – he was under too much pressure. With all of his bounce, he really had no good way to deal with bounce disincentive (to use a phrase coined by Mike Flores) creatures like Ravenous Rats and Phyrexian Rager.

At the end of the game I could still lose by attacking for the kill and letting a second, freshly cast ‘Tog take a swing at me next turn, but I play correctly and Morgue Theft back a couple of”insurance blockers.” He’s Fact or Fictioned twice, so his Tog is indeed lethal when combined with my City of Brass damage. Sure enough, he went on to topdeck the Recoil that would have removed my blocker and won him the game.

Score one for”not being an idiot.”

I side out the Flametongues and bring in Haunting Echoes and Duress as well. I expect he might bring out Engineered Plague, and in fact I HOPE that is what he’s using as his anti-Ichorid measure of choice – it’s by far the easiest for my deck to deal with. I don’t want to see things like Cremate or Haunting Echoes.

Game 2: Once again I get a great start with Crypt Creeper, Nantuko Shade, and Phyrexian Rager – he’s under pressure from the second turn onward. Crypt Creeper’s status as a faster clock than Mesmeric Fiend once more justifies its presence in the deck. As with the first contest, he’s forced to play out a Psychatog in order to block, and I have the removal to knock it out of the way and keep serving. A Ravenous Rat takes care of a Psychatog and soaks up an Edict in the early going, which is a great help. Psychatog decks are generally a good matchup if they don’t use Upheaval and Nightscape/Standstill.

Match Record: 1-1

Turns out everyone won this round – we don’t have a single 0-2 amongst everyone who came. Jean-Marc looks like the walking dead, though – of all the times to get desperately ill, this poor bastard gets nailed with the flu at Ontario Regionals. Ain’t that a bitch?

Jay Vanderwielen is 2-0…This would be the high point of his day from a win/loss standpoint. Other 2-0 people from our area include Mike Clark and Jean-Marc Babin.

Time for Round 3… And there’s a barbecue starting out by the front doors.

Round 3 vs. Jon Woods w/ B/W Braids

John is running a B/R Braids with Gerrard’s Verdict – looks like Shvartsman’s”Noir.” I know I have an edge here if we get into the topdecking war that usually results when two black splash decks are hammering back and forth at each other. My Crypt Creeper can remove his Ichorid if he runs it, and my maindeck Ichorid will hand me the first game on a platter if we’re both living off the top.

Game 1: I manage to press an early advantage here by skillfully drawing a bunch of Flametongue Kavu. Thunderscape Battlemage knocks a Shambling Swarm out of his hand (the second one of the day), giving me a very nice advantage as we enter the midgame. He draws too much land and my own Swarm serves the beatdown after the Battlemage hits the grave as a result of Chainer’s Edict. I didn’t see Ichorid, but his deck died with four land draws in a row after the Battlemage cleared his hand out, and I didn’t need it.

I side in four Composts, but run into trouble trying to find a configuration that will allow me to sneak the Echoes into the deck. I decide to leave them out – if only I’d had more time to test the sideboard, I could have found a plus/minus scenario for B/W Braids that would allow me to fit the Echoes in – they’re backbreaking in the late game.

Now here’s his chance to side in some Ichorids or Haunting Echoes. As it turns out, he does bring in Aura Blast as well as a mystery card – read on to find out his tech.

Game 2: I keep a five-land hand this game, because I expect he’ll be Edicting and Vindicating the daylights out of me – and sure enough, that’s what happens. He burns his Vindicate on a Swamp in an attempt to screw me out of colored mana (I have a bunch of Tainted lands), but the gambit backfires – I have a redundant swamp and he basically wasted his Vindicate. My mind flashes back to something Kevin Phelan said when we were testing the black splash mirror -“If I Vindicate land, I always lose in the mirror.” This is true because of situations just like this – his Vindicate did nothing, and now he has to deal with the Rager I’ve cast.

I rip a Compost off the top, but he has Aura Blast to deal with it.

As it turns out, the game is a bloody war of attrition – at the fifteen-turn mark, we’ve both cast and flashed back Chainer’s Edict at least three times, and our respective graveyards are filled to the brim with black creatures. I wish I would have known he had no Ichorid or Haunting Echoes, because without those cards there’s no way he can win this matchup if it gets to the late-game.

Jon has also Aura Blasted another Compost, but a third is in play and has drawn me a couple of extra cards.

He’s at seven life; I’m at eleven life and waiting patiently for one of my Ichorids. He draws and plays a Mystic Crusader! It’s a 3/3 Pro Black, Pro Red flyer, and with three Edicts already come and gone, my chances of removing it aren’t great (though Ichorid is still light years better in the mirror, in my opinion). It’s a standoff between my Rager and his Crusader, but with three power on the table he can make a race of it.

I’m due for a good draw…

I rip Morgue Theft and go get two Nantuko Shades, casting both. He scoops next turn in the face of a severe Shade beating. Morgue Theft plays the late-game house in the mirror…Just as I had intended. Gratifying.

Match Record: 2-1

Not bad…2-1 looks a lot better than 0-1. Keeping hope alive! Jean-Marc is 3-0, so is Mike”Jersey” Clark, playing his Compulsion Burn deck, something that hadn’t been testing all that well. I figured him to drop early, to be honest. Life is full of surprises.

Round 4 is coming up. Lift up your skirt, grab your unmentionables, and let’s check it out:

Round 4 vs. Jeremy Elgar w/ B/G Call-Spiritmonger Deck

Jeremy and I played at Ontario Regionals last year when we were both 5-2… I beat him that time to finish up at 6-2. He’s back to get revenge, this time with a B/G Goodstuff deck with Mongers and Calls to put the beats to anyone in his way. Still, I know I can deal with everything in his deck if I get the draws… And once the board is clear, my maindeck Ichorid should clean up.

I’ve already talked a little bit about the mana base of”School Canoe” and how it’s the one major weakness of the deck. Read on to scope out a textbook example of the things you risk when you play with a mana base this unstable – you have the best cards, but you need the mana to run them…And it doesn’t always come. You can only hope to see what you need in your first seven cards – if you don’t, you’re playing with half a deck until you draw into your splash colors. Running this deck is like being a fluffer for Stalin – the opening grip better be good.

Game 1: This is the type of thing that can happen. Jeremy’s opening draw is solid if not spectacular, but my opening hand, which had a Rager (always a good sign) and three land including a Llanowar Wastes, just didn’t come together. The Rager didn’t yield any more land and I didn’t drop a fourth land before he killed me. I was holding two Shambling Swarms and two Flametongue Kavu (I didn’t have any red mana either). The Tainted Peak I needed was still several cards down when I hit zero.

Well, that was ugly. Let’s bring in the Composts and try out Mortivore – it’s better than Ichorid against Monger/Call decks. I also side in a Deed or two in hopes of eliminating his Compost.

Game 2: I’m just asking for it this time, as I keep a hand with a couple of turn 2 monoblack plays, a Pernicious Deed, a Compost, and no green mana. Sure, a mulligan is often trouble for this deck (testing has shown me time and time again) but I had no business keeping this hand.

I never draw the green mana and just get my face kicked in by Jeremy’s Compost and a Spiritmonger that sneaks in for the final seven points of damage after my meager 4/4 Mortivore is tapped by his Pernicious Deed.

Man, that was a brutal beating, and a 2-2 record is way below what I was aiming for after Round 4. I was mentally prepared to accept a color screw loss this tournament (it’s one of the dangers of playing a three-color deck) but after throwing away the opening round, I could ill afford it. Jeremy was able to accept victory gracefully, but I could only sit there like a knob while he brought the match results to the judge. 2-2 and out of the running after so much work? Oh well… Time to play for the 3 P’s – Pride, Points N’ Prizes.

I should have mulliganed.

Match Record: 2-2

Jean-Marc Babin and Jersey are both 4-0. Everyone is pretty surprised that Jersey is 4-0 with Compulsion Burn, since as I said it hadn’t tested well. I’m curious as to how far he can take it. As far as Jean-Marc goes, it’s nice to know that someone who won’t throw rounds away due to stupid mistakes is playing the Canoe… And his record reflects what the deck can do when you don’t throw away your Shambling Swarms for no reason.

Time for Round 5…And the hot dogs are quite good. So what if you can’t identify what’s in ’em? More testicles means more iron!

Round 5 vs. Suliman w/ B/W Braids

Best….name….ever. Suliman is playing B/W Braids with Verdict and so forth; I can only hope he doesn’t get”the draw” (Duress your removal, Vindicate your land, turn 4 Braids), because barring that vicious opening, I have the advantage here.

Game 1: This is a beating – I throw out two Ichorids to his Verdict, drop a couple of Rats to nibble his hand and soak up his Edicts, and also draw a couple of Flametongue Kavu to off his creatures (including a slightly belated Braids). A Terminate comes off the top to get rid of a last-ditch Spectral Lynx. He does nothing to me and I beat him with Nantuko Shade until he’s dead.

I side in my Composts, but stick with the Ichorid plan. Haunting Echoes stays in the side since I didn’t see any Ichorids from him and, really, I haven’t seen any from anyone all day. My local metagame was very different from this one – I assumed everyone would be playing Ichorids, as they were key to the mirror in our testing.

Game 2: This was all about draws. We both knock off a few creatures each, and the board is clear after he double blocks a Shambling Swarm and I have to drop the counters on my Ravenous Rat. He draws Nantuko Shade. I draw Nantuko Shade. He draws Nantuko Shade. I draw Nantuko Shade. He draws land. I draw Terminate. He draws land. I draw Edict. He draws land. That’s it.

I feel a little better now that I’m 3-2, but that’s a long haul away from the 6-3 I’m going to need to finish”in the money” – or”in the prizes,” as it were.

In between rounds, I find out that Evil Matt was nearly trapped in the YMCA washroom due to his fear of touching the notoriously”germ infested” door handles that are always part and parcel of any public lavatory.

Matt is also 3-2 with the Canoe, and JM Babin is 5-0. My teammate John Labute is 3-2, giving School Canoe a combined record of 14-6 on the day…not too shabby. Jersey took his first loss to go to 4-1.

I’m hoping to go 4-2 here, obviously…With my preparation, I believe I’m better than a 4-5 or 5-4 finish. Time for Round 6 – hold on to your hats.

Round 6 vs. Matt w/ Psychatog (Upheaval and Standstill, no Familiars)

The closer the build gets to Zevatog, the less chance I have of victory. He’s got the Upheavals and a few Standstills but no Nightscape Familiars, so I’m in good shape. With enough early pressure, his deck will crumble. If you’re going to run Standstill, you really need the Familiars to give you a larger selection of”viable Standstill scenarios.” With a Nightscape on the table, you can drop Standstill even when a Nantuko Shade is staring you down from the other side of the Red Zone.

Game 1: After a few quick beats on my part in the early game, he gets down a Psychatog and manages to counter my Edict. His hand and graveyard size are low due to the ‘Tog having to deal with a Flametongue Kavu, so I keep alpha striking with small creatures and Ichorid to sneak damage through and deplete his resources. A key play occurs when I cast a Ravenous Rat and he uses the one card in his hand – a Repulse – on a Nantuko Shade in response. This allows my Rat to nail the card drawn off of Repulse – an Upheaval he desperately needed. The Shade comes back down and the ‘Tog has to chump block. The game ends a couple of turns later.

I side in Duress and Haunting Echoes.

Game 2: The key play here happens in the first few turns. I Duress his hand early and take a Standstill, noting the annoying fact that he also has a Fact or Fiction. A Ravenous Rat nets me land while he plays additional land and Edicts me a couple of times. When he has three cards in hand, he plays a fifth land and a Psychatog, leaving himself with 1 mana untapped and one card in hand, the Fact or Fiction. Luckily, I have the second Ravenous Rat to absolutely destroy him – he loses the Fact and is left with a less than threatening Psychatog and an empty grip.

Next, I Edict his Psychatog and start swinging with a Rat and a Phyrexian Rager. After three turns of these beats, he taps out once he hits seven land to flash back an Edict.

I draw – Haunting Echoes. He has every card in his entire deck in the graveyard, including a Psychatog. It’s over.

Match Record: 4-2

Sweet, 4-2…I’ll be happy with a 6-3 finish and a few packs for my trouble.

Jean-Marc is 6-0 (!!!) but he’s sleeping and tossing his cookies in between rounds and looks, with apologies to our more sensitive readers,”like sh*t run over twice.” The guy is popping Tylenol like M&M’s.

More hot dogs for me, and a Coke. The Jaymeister is 2-4 with his Control Black and playing in Lane 7 of the YMCA pool. Watch out for the guy doing the breaststroke! Mike Clark is a little disillusioned as well, having dropped his last two rounds.

Round 7 coming up. Let’s go.

Round 7 vs. Jordan Christianson w/ Zevatog

Now this build is obviously Zevatog, it’s got everything, right down to the sideboard Sickening Dreams and Exclude. Apparently, he’s been practicing too, as this guy seems to know what he’s doing.

Game 1: I mulligan after his voodoo shuffle hands me a grip with no land, and still not knowing what he’s playing, stupidly keep a hand with five land and a Terminate. Who does that? I chalk this up as my third big mistake of the tournament, after running that Swarm into the Spiritmonger in Round 1 and refusing to mulligan an obvious color-screw hand against Jeremy Elgar in Round 4.

What can I say? Sometimes I’m just stubborn that way. Anyhow, the end result is that I throw the game away.

Once it turns out he’s playing Zevatog, I know I have no chance in hell and he combo kills me after drawing about a thousand cards. I had no pressure this game, but it was no one’s fault but my own. If you have to go to five, go to five instead of keeping a six-card surefire loser.

I side in Duress and Haunting Echoes.

Game 2: My draws are better after another no-land mulligan, but the loss of the card is just too much. If you start down two cards to a good Zevatog player, your draws have to be the sugar, and mine were just average. His are average too, and at one point he tries to kill me with a 14/14 Tog and gets it Terminated (nothing but land and an Aether Burst in hand) but I can’t force through the last four points of damage to kill him. After a Fact or Fiction turns over an absolute gas station (two Psychatogs, Aether Burst, Repulse, Sickening Dreams) I know I’m screwed. I give him the two Psychatogs and he plays them both with enough power in the grave to kill me next turn. He takes three more from my Ichorid to drop to one, and finishes me off.

Match Record: 4-3

Bah…I have got to win these last two rounds. I refuse to leave Regionals without at least six wins under my belt – I know the deck is good enough.

Jean-Marc has dropped his first match to go to 6-1 on the day, and Jersey is 4-3 after a 4-0 start…he decides to drop rather than risk additional rating damage. Trent Rogers, the local comic store owner, takes a tough loss to drop to 5-2. My bladder manages to smash face and go to 7-0.

Round 8. Check it out…

Round 8 vs. Wilson Wong w/ R/G Beats

The indomitable Willy Wong (no, not the guy with the chocolate factory) is running a R/G with some Frog elements (Reckless Charge, Lavamancers) augmented by the more durable R/G staples, including Call of the Herd. The first game isn’t too good for me in any R/G matchup, 45/55 at best, and I just hope to draw more Kavu than him…That’s what the contest boils down to before sideboarding. I mentioned in last year’s Regionals report (you can find it on Meridian Magic via the wayback machine) that Flametongue Kavu is utterly idiotic, and nothing has changed.

Game 1: I run into land trouble and my City of Brass works overtime, which is tough when you’re up against R/G. I’m trying to stabilize, but he’s got too many damn Flametongues – and they do me in, with help from my Phyrexian Rager life loss and City of Brass damage.

That’s okay – I lose game 1 anyhow. Time to bring in Mortivore. Mortivore single-handedly wins this matchup if drawn, especially if you can prevent the opposing Lavamancer from clearing out their graveyard. I’m sure any reader who has done the testing knows the same things I know about Mortivore.

Game 2: This game is simple. Trade creatures. Trade creatures. Terminate Lavamancer. Cast 7/7 Mortivore. Cast another 7/7 Mortivore. Win. There really isn’t much more to say – Mortivore is impossible for R/G to deal with – they’re forced to try stuff like Nantuko Blightcutter just to hold the big guy back. Playtest game after playtest game after playtest game, Mortivore would decimate the opposing Red/Green deck. This game is also the only time all day I got to pull of Thunderscape Battlemage’s most entertaining trick – the”destroy your Compost, make you discard your last two cards” trick. What a beating.

Same sideboard for game 3.

Game 3: His deck didn’t do much to help him this game – he had Compost out and just needed to draw something to get in the way of my Nantuko Shade and make me use my black removal so he could draw into something good. Instead of useful spells, he kept peeling land and Reckless Charges off the top after I Terminated two Grim Lavamancers in a row. The Shade is a fast clock and it was over quickly when he couldn’t find any threats or answers.

Match Record: 5-3

Well, this is it…if I lose, I end up a pretty dismal 5-4 with no prizes to speak of. If I win, I’m 6-3, I get a few packs and I’ve made a bunch of points. I need a fair matchup and some fair draws, and I can do the rest…I think.

A bunch of other people are 5-3 as well and hoping to hit the 6-3 mark. This round is the final reckoning. Time to play some Magic, we won’t get another chance at this for a year.

Round 9 vs. Don Chambers w/ B/R Braids (3x Ichorid main)

Yes! B/R Braids with Ichorid – I crush this deck. It can’t deal with Compost in the side. It can’t deal with the opposing Ichorid first game, and I can get rid of his maindeck Ichorid with my Crypt Creepers. Braids is even less a threat than usual when they can’t slow me down with Vindicate on crucial land. Watch as all my playtesting comes to fruition:

Game 1: We do what the decks in the Black/x mirror match always do… Kill everything and hope to draw off the top. A vicious battle of trading creatures and removal leaves us with nothing but land and high hopes for a sweet peel. He busts his Ichorid out on me first and is headed for the win, but I draw my Crypt Creeper and remove it from the game. After some jostling around, my newly-drawn Ichorid finishes him off over the course of a few turns while I hold steady at five life.

Crypt Creeper wins me the game I would have lost otherwise, just as it was designed to do. Now I bring in the Composts and watch him weep when I play one. I’m hoping he doesn’t have Haunting Echoes, which is the only way B/R can win the mirror if their opponent can deal with Ichorid. A lot of people don’t know this because they haven’t tested, but it’s true. You will lose to the opposing Ichorid in B/W because they run Circle: Black… And your Ichorid can’t plow through the 100 creatures that B/G will draw from Compost. B/R needs Echoes more than any other splash deck.

Has he tested? Is he running Echoes? Read on.

Game 2: He Duresses me first turn and whiffs because I have four creatures and three land. Like a Pro, I savagely rip Compost off the top and fire it down. Mise draw mad cards, amiright? Even though his draws are insane (during five successive turns he drew three Flametongue Kavus in a row, followed by two Shambling Swarm) I’m going to roll him because Compost just beats B/R. I beat down with creatures and there’s nothing he can do – I even play a second Compost.

His sideboard against me wasn’t Echoes (whew!) but Engineered Plague to combat my Ichorids (he sided his out). Considering how well equipped I am to deal with Ichorid, I can understand this strategy… A little bit. Still, it has some glaring flaws. Naming”Horror” on Engineered Plague screws eight creatures in his deck as well, including the Mesmeric Fiends which he left in due to a mistaken understanding of when they die due to state-based effects.

Normally Ichorid is the key to the matchup, so if my opponent is sideboarding his out and bringing in enchantment defenses (which I can Battlemage anyhow), I’ve got the advantage.

Final Match Record: 6-3

I finish up my round quickly, so I get to watch Kevin”Tried To Qualify But I Keep” Phelan get housed by the Sylvan Might in Sporto’s deck. Who plays that? Kevin ends up 6-3, which is more than respectable but probably a disappointment to him considering his strong start.

“In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book

Here’s how everyone did:

Geordie Tait (me) – School Canoe – 6-3

Jean-Marc Babin – School Canoe – 6-3

Matt Fox – School Canoe – 4-4 (drop)

John Labute – School Canoe – 4-5

Trent Rogers – R/G Beats – 5-4

John Silvestri – R/G Beats – 5-4

Mike”Jersey” Clark – U/R Compulsion Burn – 4-3 (drop)

Jay Vanderwielen – Monoblack Control – 2-5 (drop)

Mark Weymouth – B/w/g Braids – 6-3

Neil Crawford – U/r/g madness – 4-5? (Not sure on this one)

A bunch of Chatham and Wallaceburg players – assorted decks – 0-100 (or something)

My prize is three packs of Torment, but more than that I can walk away with my head held high – I ganked some points, kicked some ass with a (fairly) original deck design, and had a great time with my friends.

Now that Regionals is over, I can relax and concentrate more on writing about Magic and playing T1 for fun and profit.

I hope you enjoyed the report – keep an eye out for the playtesting summary next week – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you enjoyed this report.


  • John Labute, Jay Vanderwielen, Jean-Marc Babin – Thanks for driving!

  • Trent Rogers – for a lot of things, not the least of which is lending me the needed cards

  • StarCityGames.com – for being generous in compensating good writers with their weekly contests

  • Kevin”Trying To Q But” Phelan – Good try, better luck next time Kev

  • Mike Clark – starting out 4-0


  • Flametongue Kavu – this card is still idiotic

  • Matt Fox – who is afraid of a bathroom door handle?

  • Jay Vanderwielen – Upon kissing the tarmac on American soil, journalists detained by the Taliban told harrowing tales of how their Afganistani captors, in violation of the Geneva Convention, forced them to view photographs of your rear end.

  • Mike Clark – finishing off 0-3…ouch

  • Mark Weymouth – Beating a teammate in the last round…who does that?

See you next week everyone! Until then, just hope it isn’t a sack moon.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]

11th @ Ontario Regionals 2001

35th @ GP Detroit 2001

37th @ Ontario Regionals 2002

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