It was last Sunday night, after an exhausting session of playtesting (I was then running a janky control white deck). My chances of attending States was very slim. (Unlike myself!) I was feeling horrible, and the game that has brought me much happiness began to lack appeal for me.
I guess I miss Urza’s Block a lot. Gone are the staple cards like Deranged Hermit, Morphling, Replenish, and other powerful stuff. My first impressions of Invasion were not overly to good, and I thought about not playing the game anymore – just writing about it.
Cut to Thursday.
My playtest group was supposed to get together to play in a tournament at Books and Music Exchange (BME) in Louisville. However, due to lack of interest, I decided that I was not going to go and I went out and played pool with my best friend. I actually played well, which is a rarity. Magic was on my mind, but not too much of it was being processed. When I came home that night I looked at my Control White deck, threw it away, and opened up my Apprentice. Looking at the decks that I liked to play (Humility/Prayer in Rath, Stasis in Extended, SquirrelPrison in UBC, and Angry Hermit in the old Type II), I decided that maybe I should play a deck with counterspells in it. When I opened up my Masques block deck, I knew that I had to make it my Type II deck, and I think it shall remain that way for a long time.
I playtested Nether Go! until 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, got TWO hours of sleep, and was on my way to the State Championships with the rest of Team Infidelity All-stars. (Will Lutes, Ray Cooley, Jamie Clarkson, and Matt Troutman.) After registering my decklist, purchasing new sleeves from Alex, and smoking more cigarettes than I should have, round one was about to start. Before the tournament was over, my feelings about Magic would change for the better.
Round one, Ben Bell, Four-Color Cowardice.
I got to meet Ben soon after I returned from my stay in Minnesota at PTQ Nashville. We were both playing pretty much the same decks from that qualifier, and I was able to see him playtest his new version a lot. I was pretty confident that I was going to win, as I was running an insane amount of countermagic.
I did sideboard in Chilling Apparitions, while I watched Ben side in plenty of hate for my deck. While game one was his manascrew, game two was MY manascrew. However, he could not take advantage of this, and after setting down five straight lands, I was back in the game. A Circle of Protection: Black surely locked down the game for him, and the turn before I scooped, he attempted to cast a Wrath of God. I counter, he counters, I counter, he Thwarts, I Prohibit, he Foils, and finally to end the battle I cast an Undermine. He attempts to activate the Circle of Protection: Black, but the judge points out that Undermine does not deal damage – it is a loss of life. I start off this year’s championships with more game and match wins then I got in four rounds last year, when I went 0-4!
In between rounds, Ray lets me know that his deck was misplaced. Thankfully, my friend Jamie Grey gave it Kevin, who gave it back to me.
Round two. Nick from Bowling Green, playing Nether Go!
Before this round starts, I see that two of my friends are sitting next to me, and a third is playing one of my teammates. I wish all of my guys luck, and it is on to round two.
As soon as he played an Island, I felt that I had lost. He sets down a swamp, Accumulated Knowledges during my end step, discards a Nether Spirit, and proceeds to Cremate the Spirit in my graveyard. I try to stabilize with a Coffin Puppets, but it was met with an Undermine.
I am sideboarding out all of my dumb Snuff Outs, and bring in High Markets to help out with the mirror match. Unfortunately, I did not side out the Snuff Outs. When I draw one on my fourth turn, I pick up my cards, tell him what happened, and let him know that I made a mistake. He wins this round.
In between rounds, I tell everyone my mistake, get laughed at, and watch Ben use cigarette tokens for his Hydra. I also watch my teammate Matt lose, and Jamie beat the most attractive female I may have ever watched play Magic.
Round three. Clay from Marshall County. Some white stuff.
I get The Draw! Four lands, two counters, and a Nether Spirit. He plays first, and I discard my Spirit during my turn. After countering THREE straight Wraths of God, it was on to game two.
Between rounds, Kenneth, Pro Tour Competitor Jared Burt, Ken’s opponent, his girlfriend, and me played around with plenty of jokes being thrown around. I came to an understanding of why females do not play this game more often.
Clay plays first again. I get a rather sad draw, but it did hold my only sideboard card of any use. After countering the first couple of threats (Light of Day, Jewelled Spirit, CoP: Black), I get enough mana to cast Ashen Powder with counter backup. Six turns later, the game ends with a Jewelled Spirit on my side. I tell Clay that I think Marshal County has a good marching band.
At this point I am 2-1. So are some of my teammates. I dreaded having to play them, but when the pairings for round four go up, I know that I may not have to even think of playing a teammate. I also catch a nap in between rounds – it would be important for me later, as the nap cleared my brain for round 8.
Round four. Mike from Louisville. BigStupidGreenGeddon.
I comment early in the round that my red deck may have a hard time dealing with his critters. When I win the draw and play an island, he calls me a liar.
I own him. I counter all of his threats, snuff out his creatures, and ride the Puppets and Spirits to victory.
I side in nothing, while he sides in Millstones. I counter the first one, but after that I let him mill away at my library, while I go counter crazy! A Millstone where he mills a Spirit away seals his doom, and I am now 3-1!
Side note: I was so happy to be 3-1! After last year’s horrible showing, I thought I needed a chance to cement myself as one of the better players in the state. Now if I can go to Regionals and do this well!
Round Five. Ben Price. Red Green.
Ben Price is from Danville, and like the rest of the 7towers crew he was wearing a shirt from the store. I have never been to the store, but I write for the site, and I bought deck shields – so I thought I fit in with the group.
He does early damage with cheese, Boas and Llanowar Elves. He knocks me down to three life while he is at one. I have a brain cramp during my end step; I have TWO Dust Bowls out, while he has a Rath’s Edge. I should have Bowled his Edge, then Snuffed his Elf, which would have let me kill him the next turn. I do neither, and it is on to game two.
I just romp this game; he deals early damage, but I stabilize and win.
This is my first game three of the day. I should have lost, but it ends up being the best game of Magic I may have ever played in my life. I start liking the game again, and while my deck is working for me, it doesn’t work for my opponent. I win the game while he draws nothing but land when he needs a Rage to win.
Round six. Lenny Vowels. Blue Skies/Waters.
My teammate Willie plays Lenny last round, and informs me that his sideboard morphs into a Rising Waters deck after game one.
I lose. Simply put, flyers do not make my day.
In between rounds, I talk to Reese and James Waters; we decided that we have a one in nine chance of playing each other. I get paired with none other than James, who is now my favorite player to play against.
Round seven. James Waters. NetherVoid.
We are still in contention for top 8 with the winner, being all but knocked out. We decide to have fun with the game.
I play first and drop random land. I ask him if he is smart enough to play his deck. He shoots back with a crack about my weight. We banter back and forth, while all through this we are gathering a crowd of spectators. At one point we have more people watching us than the top three tables. Turn five I windmill slam a Prohibit to counter a Jokulhaups, then realize that I played the wrong spell… and laughter is shared by all around. I win this game thanks to my Puppets.
The crowd is still gathering to watch us while we are trashtalking and staring each other down – and at some slow points, Reese comes over watches some, and then my teammates join in on the trashtalking. Except it was ME they were busting on! One play saw him play a Cremate, then another during my end step. I said something about him cheating while the laughter was being passed out. Two Cremates, one counter = one removed Nether Spirit. I eventually win the game, and it is ended with some sort of applause and a handshake. We both jab at each other after it is over, but it is all in lighthearted fun.
Round eight. Shane Adams. Guildhouse Geddon.
Shane is pretty confident about this game, so much in fact that he shows me his library for five seconds. Again, I trashtalk with a good friend of mine in a round of Magic, who is also sorta responsible for making me like Magic again. This great guy drove me to the Prerelease in Indy, and I am glad to have gotten to know him better.
He comes out very strong, Birds, Elves, Boas, and Blastoderms – and all of them either meet counters or Snuffs. He casts the best Dragon (Crosis), but it is met with a counter that I was holding. I asked him why he didn’t windmill slam him on the board, like he did to an earlier opponent. He smiled, passed the turn to me, and I attacked. Next turn he tries to cast a Boa, which I counter, and he scoops with a quickness.
I side in seven cards to the nine he puts in. He plays first, and starts weaker than he did last game. I’m letting him have most of the smaller creatures, but I counter the ones that I can not Massacre away. I Massacre on a turn which puts a Spirit in my graveyard, but wipes out his entire creature base. He tells me that he was glad I sided them in. A couple of turns later I Perish, and he extends the hand. Shane is a good player and a good friend, and I was glad to have played him.
I wait. I wait some more. Rumors are abound that maybe one 6-2 player will make it in. However, this was not to be, as the 8th seed was 6-1-1. I find out I finished 13th place, which I belive put me second in order of BME players. Andrew Just was the top BME player. I did hang around to watch the top eight, and I figured my favorite to win was Anthony Justice. He is a great guy, and while I watched his quarterfinal match, I learned a lot about playing Nether Go! Anthony is a great representative of Kentucky Magic.
Anthony Justice Vs Ryan Nunn
Vincent Gioffere Vs Andrew Just
Andrew defeats Ryan in two straight!
After the top eight I get contact information from most of the Danville crew. I am thinking of relocating later this year, and I maybe moving to that part of Kentucky.
I fell in love with this great game again. Not because of my solid 6-2 performance, but I had a lot of fun. This is what the game is supposed to be about. Congrats to everyone who played, and more importantly to Ben Stoll and Andrew Just. You guys built a great deck and it shows!
James Waters. You gave me one hell of an entertaining game.
Ricky Atwood. Before the first round you told me some really nice stuff; it helped me calm down. Thank you.
Reese Davis. You, sir, are just awesome.
Alex and the rest of the 7towers crew. I hope that I got to know you all a little better.
Shane Adams, Anthony Justice. You guys make me want to go to Ashland and play. I liked hanging out with you fellows.
Moody, Daryl, Kevin and Reese. You guys ran a smooth trouble free tourney. I hope that soon Kentucky will get the respect it deserves in the Magic scene.
I-gaming. Thanks for letting me playtest, which is something e-league refuses to let me do!
Infidelity All Stars. We may not be the best team around Kentucky. But you guys are certainly the best to hang out with. I’m glad to know you, and I am glad to call you my friends.
Me. I go from 0-4 to 6-2. My prediction of my placement was the only one I got close to being right, and I finished 13th place!
Magic. Thanks for making a great set!
Me. For not sideboarding out in Round two.
Ben Price. Do not make your mother worry.
Executive West. Why put 144 in the smallest room you have?
If anyone wants to go to any Extended qualifers, get ahold of me – I would love to be a riding buddy!
* – This tournament was played in the memory of Floyd Eugene Claytor, the man who supported me in everything I ever did. I hope you are proud, and I love you dad.