“A half score and one year ago, Richard Garfield brought forth on this continent a new game, conceived in creativity and dedicated to the proposition that all gamers love new ideas.
Now we are engaged in a great Type 1 tournament, testing whether that format or any format so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met in a great convention center for that tournament. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who went 0-2-drop here so that the tournament may continue. This we may, in all propriety do. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave players, living and dead who struggled here have hallowed it far above our poor power to add or detract from life totals. The world will little note nor long remember who played here, but it can never forget what decks they won with.”
On a bleak Friday afternoon, the Grand Army of Meandeck West departs towards the southern state of Virginia, bent on a battle that would test their honor, resolve and courage against their rivals, those dire players known as Team Short Bus. However, they were the jewels in the crown; the main event was to be a battle of epic proportions, fought by men hailing from all states, in a tournament that would divide the country and select among those warriors only eight to survive.
The Southern state of Virginia was our final destination, a foreign land that surprised us with strange sales taxes and expensive fast food. Water falls in great cataracts from the sky. Waffle Houses abound. Below the Mason-Dixon line, tea becomes cold and sweet and everyone is referred to as”Sir”. A strange land indeed.
We set up camp that night at the home of Josh Reynolds, a Short Bus member, but an obvious Meandeck sympathizer. Much like the people of Cold Mountain, Josh knew that he needed to be in the good graces of the team if he were to survive the ensuing chaos.
We arrived on the site of what was to be the battlefield and surveyed the enemy. General Kevin Cron assisted me in fully staffing my deck with surplus recruits from his binder while Cols. Joe Bushman and Stephen Menendian assembled their decks, assessed what battle lay in front of them, and proceeded to make last-minute changes to their battle-plans and sideboards.
Soon, we were joined by our fellow field commanders Carl Winter and JP Meyer, the brunt of what is known as The Grand Army of Meandeck Northeast. Our decks primed and fuses dry, we begin our battle.
The First Division:
4 Goblin Welder
2 Sundering Titan
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Accumulated Knowledge
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Fact or Fiction
The Counter Attack:
4 Mana Drain
4 Force of Will
The Decisive Rout:
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Time Walk
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
4 Volcanic Island
4 Flooded Strand
1 Polluted Delta
2 Underground Sea
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring (That Soul Thing!)
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Library of Alexandria
2 Tsabo’s Web
2 Flametongue Kavu
1 Platinum Angel
3 Chalice of the Void
2 Rack and Ruin
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Fire / Ice
A quick explanation of the deck: I decided that I loved Hulk, but Psychatog was weak right now. Sundering Titan is the Sharps Carbine to Hulk’s flintlock. Team Meandeck had noticed a list from Gothenburg, Germany that combined Intuition/Accumulated Knowledge with the Control Slaver elements. I was intrigued by this idea and took our test deck and modified it to accommodate Sundering Titan instead of Mindslaver/Pentavus.
“But Doug! Dual Lands and Sundering Titan? You’re crazy!” That’s the knee-jerk reaction I hear about the deck. Seems unsynergistic, doesn’t it? The truth is, every deck in Type One plays either Islands or Mountains, so you will almost always only lose one land. Sundering Titan is a one-sided Armageddon with”you lose” tacked onto a 7/10 body. Instead of butchering my manabase and using terrible symmetrical draw spells like 7/10 Split does, I adopted the stable Hulk engine and combined it with Goblin Welder, the former making just about any resolved Intuition a game win. All three Intuitions are worthwhile in the deck – the first grabs AK, the second pulls out three threats from your library to Weld/cast, and the third basically reads”add six mana to your mana pool when you cast Yawgmoth’s Will” as it fetches the remaining zero-cost artifacts in the deck.
Combine the broken power of Titan to win games that Mindslaver does not (and vice versa), with fourteen drawing spells and you get just about the most controlling and powerful deck in Type One today. And hey, you even get to play Yawgmoth’s Will!
Round 1: 7/10 Split
My first opponent in the long day arrived with 7/10 Split, a deck that can cause headaches for me, as my Titans don’t have a whole lot to burn and destroy. Combine that with his Titans being able to force a ground stall, and the match doesn’t look very good.
The first game included me casting an early Goblin Welder, the key card in this match. I was able to weld in Mindslaver so that I could take my opponent’s turn. I found that he had a Gilded Lotus in hand, and so I cast it right into my Mana Drain. During my turn, I used that mana to cast a Sundering Titan and, with enough artifacts to make sure that he would be Slaved for enough turns to die to Titan, he scooped.
(I would add what my sideboarding was here, but it’s all pretty much intuitive. The first cards to cut are one of each draw spell, and in control matches Mana Crypt comes out, as it has a tendency to lose games in the long run.)
The second game involved me casting early draw spells and getting a Welder into play. However, my opponent had two active Welders on his side, ensuring that Titans would be bad news for me to try and attack with. Luckily, I had a Mindslaver handy that forced him to Wheel of Fortune away his hand and put a Triskelion in the bin on his side. He had taken quite a bit of damage from Mana Crypt at the time, and realizing that with three active Welders under my control and a Trike to play with, I could kill him without him being able to stop me, he conceded.
Round 2: U/R Fish
My next opponent brought a very popular deck to the tournament. Fish is a deck that can cause me problems, as I can never seem to ramp up to eight mana to hardcast Titan ,and Welders don’t seem to stay around very long. However, my favorite spell in the deck, Tinker, gets around all of this. My opening hand was thus: Mana Crypt, Fetchland, Tinker, Mox Sapphire, Force of Will, Tolarian Academy, Accumulated Knowledge. I played the Academy and artifacts to power out a Titan. My opponent Forced. I Forced back. He wisely scooped up his cards before he got a turn.
In: Fire/Ice, Platinum Angel, Tsabo’s Web
This game was a blur consisting of his entire board, including Maze of Ith, being shut down by Tsabo’s Web. It’s a card like Back to Basics, where it’s best cast when they’ve tapped out and used as a surprise. That’s exactly what it did here, stopping the onslaught of Faerie Conclave. I drew Tinker and brought out my large unstoppable killing machine. When you can actually resolve fat men, the Fish don’t stand a chance.
Round 3: The Man Show
I sit down across from Eric Miller, who would go on to place second in the tournament. He starts off with an early Su-Chi and Triskelion, both of which serve to make my life go down in large chunks. I lose to Wasteland mana denial.
In the second game, I get out a Titan and start beating with it. However, one swing away from the win, he Rack and Ruins away my win condition and turns the game around. Juggernauts finish me from there.
Round 4: 4C Control
My fellow soldier JP has fallen on the field of battle to unsuspected tactics by his opponents and general surprise and disbelief of having to deal with Suicide Black.
This was my favorite game of the entire day. My opponent had a Gorilla Shaman out, demolishing my board. However, he was tapped out when I dropped Mox Emerald and turned it into a Mindslaver c/o Goblin Welder. His hand was the following: Balance, Skeletal Scrying x2, Swords to Plowshares, Exalted Angel, Strip Mine, and his top card my most favorite ever to see when Slaving: Ancestral Recall! I cast the Ancestral targeting me, stripped his Tundra to cut him out of White, Sworded his Shaman in response, cast a Scrying for zero and brought the beats out with Titan the next turn. This game reinforced why I love the deck.
Game two, I get out a Titan that gets a single swing before taking up farming. He eats the lifegain from STP with a Gorilla Shaman, who also happens to eat my precious moxes. I end up Time Walking, casting Yawgmoth’s Will, bringing back lots of artifacts and Time Walking again with a Titan in play. The game ends there.
Round 5: Fish again!
I manage to make a Titan stick. All of his manlands are shut down. I win.
Game Two involves Platinum Angel coming down. What’s important to remember about Angel is that it’s a 4/4 flier first, and something that sometimes saves you from dying second. Fliers are the way to stop Fish’s attacks and that’s exactly what it did. Like a glorious… angel, she protected me, aegis-like, and struck down with divine fury. I Welded in a Titan a few turns after Angel dealt with his fliers, had two Tsabo’s Webs in play, and by the next turn had enough artifacts to hardcast Sundering Titan off of Tolarian Academy alone. When I get to that point, not much stands in the way of winning.
Round 6: Dragon
You can read JP’s coverage here. The match reinforced why Mindslaver needs to be in here to shore up the weaknesses in Titan. At this point, all other members of the Grand Army of Team Meandeck had fallen in battle, and I had ended up their only hope. With grim determination, I knew that I had to win. And I did.
Round 7: Food Chain Goblins
This is another deck that sometimes gives me pause. The key is being able to Mana Drain their threats into larger ones that your deck can produce. They also have the most potent sideboard in T1 and a turn 1 Goblin Lackey can go a long way towards ruining your life. His opening play was, predictably, Lackey. Mine was a Welder that ended up chumping his Goblin. I Mana Drained a Goblin Recruiter into an Intuition and then Accumulated Knowledge for three and again for four. I play a Sundering Titan and like Sherman’s pillaging of Savannah, I annihilated his manabase. Unable to recover, he played a few chump blockers before dying to the Titan.
I bring in Flametongue Kavu and Fire/Ice.
He gets out a Goblin Warchief, a sure sign of imminent death. His recruiter is Mana Drained, assuring that I wouldn’t die so soon. I had Intuition in hand, knowing that I could put the mana to use, but drew Flametongue Kavu, a much better play, and turned the game around by burning his board and putting him on the defensive. I was able to make a Welder stick and cast Thirst for Knowledge, throwing away Titan and putting the win within reach. Out came Titan, away went his lands. He attempted to cast Artifact Mutation, a card that not only ruins my win, but makes me lose as well! The active Welder did his part for the battle and took the Titan out of the line of fire in response, making victory assured.
Round 8: Intentional Draw
I knew that with a 6-1-1 record, I could draw into the top eight on my tiebreakers. I took respite with the men as we vainly waited for our pizza delivery, a supply convoy that would end up waylaid and never arrive. Meanwhile, I entertain the troops by taking them to watch Kevin play 5-Color in the downtime. Morale is high, as we are guaranteed a piece of power.
You can read Ted’s report of the match here. Suffice to say, my low land count combined with plain bad luck meant that I didn’t really play much of a game at all. I figure that if I had lands out and could cast the magical spells, I could have put up a strong fight against the fish men. However, it was not meant to be.
As pillage, I took a Mox Pearl home from the battle to complement the team’s collection of power, most of which was lent to me to play this tournament. The rest of the expensive bits came from the wonderful proxies that SCG allowed us to have, making the tournament challenging and very enjoyable.
I found the sideboard lovely all day, aside from the Chalices, which were meant to deal with the nonexistent combo decks. I really would like to fit a Duplicant in, as his shifty ways can quickly pull a game from 4CC or 7/10 Split when he assassinates their best creature and puts on their pants.
Although our enemies in Short Bus placed three members in the T8 compared to our single survivor, we reached an armistice that night with rousing games of Type Four and deep Magic conversations around the campfires lasting well into the night. The peace will last until GenCon, when once again we take up arms against our brothers in Magic.
As a final note, I would like to thank the SCG crew for sending my camera back from the field, lost amid celebrations of our victory. Their promptness and skill will be duly noted in my letter to Washington.
Until later, my weary warriors.