It was the first weekend of March; looking at my Magic calendar, I saw that I was scheduled to head judge GP: Antwerpen that weekend. Henk Claassen, one of the other Dutch judges who would be present, had offered me a ride to the event and picked me up around 1:00 p.m. Arriving there, we checked in… And the hotel we would be staying at was a three-minute walk from the site.
Sounds good right? Well, it was – except for the fact that the ceilings were 6’5″.
Being Dutch means being above the average height usually, and guess what? I’m 6’6″. So walking through the hallways wasn’t that comfortable. After checking in, we walked over to the site. Usually, at this time on the Friday before a GP, people are busy with setting up – but when we walked into the main room, everything was finished. They were just setting up registration and people for that had been arranged as well. We sat around at some tables and were talking the usual Magic stuff. About an hour later, I asked if people were up for a game….
Counter Wars Rule!
Sure, they said, and I reached into my backpack and pulled out my 5-color deck. It’s a domain version without many rares, as I am trying to make out of excess cards. The people around the table were Eelco van Ruth, a Dutch level 1 judge, Henk, my ride and level 2 judge, Pete Norris, player and frequent writer for Cutting Edge, Craig Jones, sideboard reporter (for most Grand Prixs), player and also writing for Cutting Edge, and me. Five people, 250 cards; sounds like fun, right?
We started off slowly, with everybody trying to get his domain. Harrows, Elvish Granger, and Yavimaya Elder were cast left and right, and no one was manascrewed. The first excitement came when I cast a Windfall. Some people were happy, others were complaining, but it resolved and we all got a brand new hand of seven cards. The following turn, I cast an Anarchist targeting the Windfall, which I cast the following turn. Pete was cheering me on because his cards went from bad to worse after the first Windfall, and drawing five new cards would be pretty good for him. Eelco, on the other hand, was very happy with his current hand and would have none of it! He played a Syncopate, targeting the Windfall, I pouted and was putting away the card when Pete spoke up. He played Ice, targeting one of Eelco’s lands and drew his card and…. Almost knocked over the table.
He had topdecked a Syncopate.
250 cards, four Syncopates, two Evasive Actions, and a Counterspell – and we’re having an actual counter war. WOW! Eelco slumped back in his chair, discarded his hand – which featured Flametongue Kavu and Allied Strategies among the goodies – and drew his five cards. Still smiling like a madman, I passed him the turn; I had drawn Crosis, one of the four Dragon Legends in the deck, which would put me in a great position once that was on the board. The Windfall had been good for Eelco, though, as he had one of the other Dragons… One which is very annoying in multiplayer. (Rith.) We looked at him with disbelief, and he could only grin. Henk and Pete played little of importance, but Craig managed to put a Sisay on the table. I played Crosis and Eelco swung with Rith, creating thirteen tokens in the process.
A couple of turns later, Craig had out a Dromar and a Cromat, searched out for by Sisay, and a lot of other creatures were hanging back on defense as they were needed to block the horde of sixty-odd Saprolings controlled by Eelco. Pete’s defense had been very poor, and the only reason he was still alive was the Overgrown Estate, to which he kept feeding lands. Everyone survived Eelco’s next Saproling attack, but life totals were dropping low. Craig swung with Dromar, attacking Pete, because he was the only player able to survive the attack. He bounced green, and that was the end of the Saprolings. The game went on and small attacks were made back and forth. By now we had quite a few spectators, some off which had wandered off at the beginning of the game and were amazed we were still playing the same game two hours later. We were all drawing from the same library and all of a sudden things were looking grim, since the cards were depleting rapidly. At the beginning of Pete’s turn, there were three cards left, which would mean that I would draw the last card and the others would all die one after the other.
Pete drew his card and made an attack taking Henk out of the game. Craig’s turn, he untapped and drew his card, he tapped three lands and played… Phyrexian Rager! He loses the life with a smile on his face, draws the last card, and passes the turn triumphantly. I’m out, Eelco is out, Henk was already out, and then Pete scoops up his cards.
We had loads of fun, although the end was slightly anticlimactic. I usually have the deck with me wherever I go – so if you run into me and want to have a fun game, I’m usually up for it.
We’ll be focusing on another Torment card. More importantly, it will feature a game played on Magic Online; maybe I should do more than just booster draft when I’m on there. If you have any stories, real or virtual, send them to [email protected].
‘Til next week, have fun!
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