What The Hell Happened To Me? JoeyBags’ Odyssey

Want to know where Joey Bags disappeared to for the last month? How about his thoughts on the current Extended? Or maybe how he qualified for Pro Tour: Kobe with a”bad Rock deck,” and why he chose to play it? All of this and more is just a click away…

“The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause for all our adversities.”


For those of you that could care less about where I’ve been for the past month and want to skip directly to the strategic content, just hit Ctrl+F and look for”Fruitsalad.”

I’ve been gone for a while now. Ted Knutson, editor extraordinaire of this site, saw it fit to promote me to feature writer, and I chose to thank him with a month of complete silence. While I’m sure that none of you really missed me all that much, I’d like to think that my contributions were significant enough to warrant a”What in the world happened to JoeyBags?” I guess it is appropriate to fill you, my readers in on where I’ve been and what can be learned from my experiences.

Directly following Grand Prix: Detroit last July, I began suffering from horrible panic attacks. These attacks were very severe, hampering my ability to function normally and inhibiting my thinking and overall life quality. After a couple months of these attacks and a fairly successful trip to PT: Boston, I finally saw a doctor about my problem. In November, I was diagnosed with depression and given some medicine to help bring the attacks to a halt.

The medicine made me irritable and my behavior started to irritate and alienate my friends in the Magic community. I barely noticed, and in the meantime I became bored with the game. I mean, I have been extremely successful at my local store, but due to the attacks, haven’t really been able to travel to events such as PTQs around the region. I slowly but surely was fading out of the game, only kept in because of my employment at the local gaming establishment. I was still playing all the time, but wins and losses blurred together as I stopped truly caring about improving myself or taking things to the next level.

Days turned into weeks with me having no interest in writing or Magic in general, and wins kept piling up with little effort until my confidence turned ugly. I was being a huge scumbag and I knew it, but I loved the attention that I was getting and the laughs it was generating. At some point, my joking around, jerkoff persona enveloped me, and my fierce competitive spirit mutated into being an incredibly sore loser. Yes, I have always cared deeply about wins and losses in Magic, but never before did every loss bother me so much that it became a chore to play against me. In late December, I became extraordinarily cocky for someone who has never won anything, spouting off about how it wasn’t worth playing at the store anymore because my record was so good against everyone in the room, and I dared everyone to prove me otherwise. Not only that, but the jolly JoeyBags that everyone was accustomed to was replaced by an angry man that could barely take a joke.

Well this was the last straw among some of my friends, as they took my comments as an insult (and rightfully so). Soon, I was the one being alienated from the group, not in on any of the inside jokes, and people made plans for things without me. Finally I received the wake up call that I needed, and I would like to thank Tim Aten, Jason Opalka, and Joe Jones for bringing me to my senses about my awful behavior. In retrospect, I wish I would not have hurt anyone with my incorrigible actions, but those things happened and for that I am sorry.

After the air was cleared among my friends, not only did things revert to being enjoyable once again, but Magic felt right as well. I play with renewed gusto once again, and since I was still playing during the dark days, I have not lost touch with the goings on in the world of Magic. I still have the panic attacks, but local drafts are fun again, and here’s where I’d like to thank those of you that have been wonderful friends throughout the past year during all my ordeals, Aaron Cutler, Brian Brockway, Scott Meister, and anyone else that I’m lumping together for the sake of space. Ted has been extremely supportive even if I did leave him completely in the dark about where I was for the first three weeks. I understand that a month really is not that long of a time, but when the fog finally lifted, it felt like I had awakened from a Rip Van Winklesque slumber.


Long story long, I’m back now. It has been a long while since I attended a PTQ, but this weekend I hope to go to Columbus, Ohio and play in the final Extended PTQ. I have been testing and theorizing nonstop, as my desire to play and get better has returned in full force. So for those of you looking for another opportunity to call me an idiot about my limited”pick order,” I’m sorry but you’ll have to wait. Today is for all of you out there looking to mock my limited (har har) Constructed skills. Here’s what I plan on taking to the PTQ. After I post the decklist, since this is for sure going to be posted after the PTQ, I’ll just go through the card choices and follow that with the tournament report no matter what the outcome.

Welcome to the Rock

4 Cabal Therapy

3 Duress

4 Birds of Paradise

3 Llanowar Elves

4 Troll Ascetic

4 Yavimaya Elder

3 Spiritmonger

4 Pernicious Deed

3 Smother

3 Diabolic Edict

3 Living Wish

4 Llanowar Wastes

1 City of Brass

3 Treetop Village

8 Forest

6 Swamp


4 Spike Feeder

2 Ravenous Baloth

2 Haunting Echoes

2 Naturalize

1 Bone Shredder

1 Royal Assassin

1 Genesis

1 Visara the Dreadful

1 Withered Wretch

After looking at that decklist, there are many thoughts that could be going through most of your heads. I’ll try and read your minds and address concerns prematurely.

Ten Questions About This Deck

1. Hey, It’s a bad Rock deck! If you’re gonna play the Rock, why not just play a good version?

So when I was figuring out what I wanted to play in the upcoming PTQ, I looked at the Rock and saw a deck that had many elements that I loved. Resilient threats, plenty of disruption, and answers to everything make the Rock a strong choice in any format that plays by the standard rules of Magic. However, I noticed a disturbing trend. There was an over reliance on Vampiric Tutor and such a small quantity of actual threats, meaning that many decks could recover from the opening barrage of discard and disruption, and simply draw into more powerful spells as the game went on, while the Rock searched for a way to actually win the game. I vowed to not be one of those Rock players. Tim Aten asked why no one plays Spiritmonger, and I saw no reason not to include the big man in multiples, as well as four Troll Ascetic.

These also happen to be great in the Mirror Match, and I expected a lot of that at the PTQ.

2. No maindeck form of recursion?

The reason for this is simple. The maindeck is streamlined as a B/G beatdown deck and recursion is unwieldy in many of the faster matchups in the format. Against Red Deck Wins, you have nowhere near enough time to get any sort of recursion going, and U/G Madness is much the same. Against the Rock, you depend on the higher quantity of difficult to remove creatures to lead you to victory, and against Psychatog, Living Wish can still fetch Genesis. Another benefit to not having any recursion maindeck is that people will often side in graveyard disruption against this deck, effectively creating dead cards where useful cards could have been in their place.

3. Six”Gain Four Life” creatures in the sideboard?

Yes. If a deck has a bad matchup game 1 against one of the top-tier decks, it must be rectified, otherwise the deck cannot be played. Red Deck Wins can create many bad situations for this deck, but morphing into an efficient life-gaining beatdown deck turns things around rather nicely.

4. Why one random City of Brass?

This particular deck has plenty of early game plays in both Black and Green. Having access to both colors of mana is key, and in testing, color screw was happening just a little too often for my tastes. So I took a page out of the U/G playbook and added a City of Brass, and that alleviated things enough for my liking.

5. No Vampiric Tutors?

Vampiric Tutor is really not very good in a deck that wants to establish early pressure and with seven one-mana creatures, Treetop Village’s drawback is too severe. The versatility of the Tutor is replaced by the more powerful Living Wish. In the matchups where Vampiric Tutor would shine, Living Wish is simply better, and in the matchups where Tutor is slow and unwieldy, Living Wish makes an easy target for sideboarding out.

6. What is with those Living Wish targets?

I wanted actual sideboard cards when I built this deck, so the Living Wish targets had to have maximum value in a variety of situations. I don’t have room for something narrow like Thrull Surgeon or lands like Dust Bowl. Genesis is wonderful against Psychatog or The Rock, Visara is for when you need to actually”win,” and Royal Assassin is completely insane against U/G.

Withered Wretch is a catch-all that helps with Wonder (the main problem U/G gives you), opposing Genesis or graveyard recursion, and can be good in keeping Psychatog from lethal damage. Having access to a”Terror” out of the sideboard can be very key in game one, and Bone Shredder fits the bill nicely, dealing with Exalted Angels and other powerful creatures at a very low cost.

7. What’s with all that removal?

I really don’t know. In a normal Rock deck, the correct thing to do in my opinion has been mastered by Big Cuts, local Constructed maestro. Play one of each removal spell (Smother, Diabolic Edict, Terror), as they are functionally similar but having access to the correct one via Vampiric Tutor is quite useful. Here though, we do not have the luxury of Vampiric Tutor, so we had to pick the best removal spell for the widest array of situations.

Terror does nothing that Smother can’t do, and being able to kill Black creatures is very important in the current environment. Against RDW and U/G, Smother is clearly best, killing Slith Firewalkers, Wild Mongrels, Wurm tokens, and Grim Lavamancers with extreme prejudice. Against Psychatog, the Smother and Edict are relatively equal. There is almost no difference between the two as they will always kill a Psychatog, but Smother can kill an extremely large ‘Tog if the opponent is dumb and pumps one to oblivion but not the other. In the mirror, if they have Troll Ascetics, you will feel like a chump with Smother in hand, but the overall edge goes to Smother, so here it stays. Diabolic Edict has simply wonderful synergy with Pernicious Deed and can stop even the most powerful of early game plays. If more decks like this one show up, the number of Edicts should increase and the number of Smothers should decrease.

8. Why is Spiritmonger so fresh?

Because it is a 6/6 regenerating monster for five mana. It attacks through everything, survives everything, and kills anything if it is blocking. Why aren’t more people playing it? Because they are stupid hippies. [Those Phish-listenin’ hackey sackin’ tree-huggin’ Patchouli wearin’ bastards! I hate those guys! – Knut, who eschews Patchouli anyway] With the seven mana accelerants in the deck, if you draw Spiritmonger, chances are you can play it on turn 4. Honest to goodness, there are zero removal spells widely played in Extended that kill Spiritmonger every time, so maybe you trust me on this one, mm’kay?

9. That Royal Assassin better be some sort of inside joke.

What Living Wish target would be better against U/G? Go ahead, think, I’ll wait. There isn’t a single better creature that this particular deck can Wish for that makes such a great impact against U/G. Normally, something like Silklash Spider or even Visara would be a perfect card to Wish for, but in this case, with a quick answer often times being necessary, the Royal Assassin is just better. U/G can be put in bad situations with the Assassin, since Spiritmonger and inevitable Pernicious Deeds can actually provide ample pressure to attack and can go through anything that they put in the way. They cannot deal with it, save with Waterfront Bouncer, which only provides a temporary solution. And best of all, it comes out early enough if need be that they usually will not have countermagic at the ready.

10. Why are you writing about a soon to be irrelevant format?

Response: I wanted to write, and there are still a few PTQs around to play in. Plus I needed to break the monotony of writing about Limited, and my choices were an incredibly interesting and fun format (Extended) or the most stale format ever, including Type 1 (Current Standard). Not to mention that writing about limited really has no point with Darksteel coming out in a couple of weeks. I’ll be back writing Limited as soon as that happens.

Matchup Analysis

Let’s talk matchups. Do I have enough empirical data to proclaim accurate percentages against each and every deck in the incredibly varied Extended format? No, of course I don’t, but I can tell you what this deck does against the big decks in the format and make some knowledge-based assumptions about what it will do against some of the lesser played decks. If that isn’t good enough and you really want to know what this deck does against say, White Weenie, I recommend proxying the deck up and just playing it yourself. In fact, I recommend that anyway, since me telling you that something works well does no good if you have no idea how to actually play the deck. On to the matchups and sideboarding guide.


Game One: Despite sacrificing some of the card advantage engine for some more early game power, Psychatog still has a very difficult time defeating this deck. Between hand disruption and the ability to put a significant clock on the table relatively quickly, this version of G/B beats up on ‘Tog just like a standard Rock deck does, albeit in a different way. Play a turn 2 Troll and watch them squirm as they have so few answers to it. Isochron Scepter is annoying, but only if they put something truly deadly like Diabolic Edict on it, as drawing more cards will not help them here. A forced through Pernicious Deed can get you out of almost any jam anyway, so never panic.

SB Plan:


+2 Naturalize

+2 Haunting Echoes

-3 Diabolic Edict

-1 Llanowar Elf

w/o Scepter

+2 Haunting Echoes

+2 Ravenous Baloth

-3 Diabolic Edict

-1 Llanowar Elf

Post Sideboard Analysis: The post-sideboarded games come down to one thing, that being whether or not the Psychatog player was smart enough to pack Perish. Without Perish, it is very difficult for them to win, as you are now optimized to beat whichever strategy that they have, and Troll Ascetic still provides a significant problem. Avoid overextending and realize that your creatures do not die in combat with Psychatog. This is the one place where Spiritmonger’s color changing ability could come in very handy, so make sure not to forget that it’s there. Overall, prospects are even better here, as forcing through a Haunting Echoes is yet another option to gain victory.

Red Deck Wins

Game One: Things go from the penthouse to the outhouse when discussing the matchup difference between RDW and Psychatog. Whereas the maindeck is really good against control and aggro-control decks, it does not deal very well with pure aggression in the form of small red creatures backed with burn and land destruction. Getting two Green mana can be difficult, but if a Yavimaya Elder hits play, you have a much better chance of winning. Troll Ascetic is really great against them, but keeping the mana open to provide regeneration is often times difficult. Smother can buy time, and the discard spells are much better than expected. Besides that, the Red Deck has a marked advantage.

SB Plan:

-1 Spiritmonger

-3 Living Wish

-4 Cabal Therapy

+4 Spike Feeder

+2 Ravenous Baloth

+2 Naturalize

Post Sideboard Analysis: What a difference a game makes! The B/G deck makes a full transformation after game one, turning into a deck that can compete with the faster starts of RDW with plenty of troublesome lifegain. Naturalize helps in getting rid of Cursed Scroll, Tangle Wire, and potentially Sulfuric Vortex. The matchup takes a turn for the better post sideboard, and the amount of sideboard slots devoted to Red Deck Wins make sure of that. You basically side out all of the incredibly slow, inefficient stuff in the deck and replace it with life gaining creatures that make efficient beatdown besides. The one mana difference in Spike Feeder and Ravenous Baloth give the Feeder the edge in sideboard creation, and this is where that difference can be extremely key.

U/G Madness

Game One: A perfectly even matchup, the U/G deck can and will get draws that the Rock cannot compete with no matter what. Fortunately, the B/G deck has many tools that give it the advantage in any game not decided in the first three turns. Pernicious Deed and Smother are the primary weapons, dealing with Madness outlets and Wurm tokens with equal efficiency. Wonder is the primary problem that U/G has to offer, rendering Troll Ascetic and Spiritmonger useless as blockers, and can only be dealt with through Living Wish.

Speaking of the Wish, it offers important flexibility here, as Withered Wretch can throw a wrench into the standard U/G plan, taking out Wonder and messing up mid-combat pumps of Wild Mongrel and Aquamoeba. Royal Assassin, as I said earlier, provides a very difficult situation for the U/G deck, as they must try to overload it around Pernicious Deed and Smother, a difficult proposition. An early Deed, facilitated by mana acceleration can disrupt U/G and set it back too far to win by destroying both Madness enablers and Chrome Moxen.

SB Plan:

-3 Llanowar Elves

+2 Haunting Echoes

+1 Visara the Dreadful

The Rock

Game One: A pseudo-mirror match, the Rock probably has the most variants of any of the popular decks out there. For the sake of discussion, refer to Professional-Events.com and look at the Rock decks from the 1/10 PTQ. I have tested the matchups mostly with the Rock decks in the top 2, but also with Aaron Cutler’s build as well. I consider Aaron to have the best Rock build if you truly understand the inner workings of the deck, but the first two builds are probably more along the lines of what to expect in any PTQ in which you are a competitor.

I think that most B/G mirrors are decided on play skill and understanding of the metagame, but in this case I feel like this decklist gives an edge in any mirror. First of all, singleton Living Wishes have become vogue among Rock players, and very few are playing Spiritmonger in their maindeck. Having access to both of those cards gives a big advantage when playing a mirror match. Another big advantage over standard Rock decks is the use of Visara the Dreadful as a Wish target.

Our decklist has more issues with opposing Pernicious Deeds than the standard Rock list because Elves are so much better than irrelevant Walls of Blossoms, but at the same time, our consistent ability to abuse our mana accelerants more profitably makes it well worth it. Troll Ascetic is a major problem for both decks, but with access to more regenerating creatures, this B/G list has the advantage there as well.

SB Plan:

-3 Smother

+2 Haunting Echoes

+1 Visara the Dreadful

Post Sideboard Analysis: Smother does not have enough worthwhile targets in the mirror, and Haunting Echoes is a foil for potential problems with opposing Genesis and Volrath’s Stronghold. Visara comes in out of the board as she will rarely be a bad draw, and at the same time can deal with opposing Spiritmongers if they choose to bring them in. Be careful of Grim Reminder, but be aware that you have the tools to get out to such a sizable advantage that it really becomes a nonfactor.

The Tournament Report and Road Trip Chronicle:

The trip down was, as always, an adventure. There was freezing rain and my 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass was not up for the challenge, so I met my ride at a random McDonalds twenty minutes on the way to Columbus. The two-hour ride down was fairly uneventful, with me basically saying that I felt good about the day ahead and was glad I got out of bed to attend the PTQ.

My squad for this trip consisted of myself, Aaron”Actually” Cutler, Adam”What A” Loring, and we were joined by Tony”Nether” Chopcinski and Saran”My Name is Too Long for a Nickname” Aiyapassamy at the site. Saran’s lovely girlfriend Racquel baked some cookies, and I gladly downed a pair within the first five minutes of my arrival. As I walked into the room where the tournament was being held, local legend Tim Sprague said”Bags, you walk in here like you own the place.” I replied with”That’s because I do!” with some mock bravado, even though I was indeed feeling promising about the day. After some tomfoolery involving finding Spike Feeders ($3 on site, what in the world, noooooot paying), I registered my deck and got ready to play.

Round One, Fight! (Mortal Kombat Reference): Michael Villa, playing The Rock

Game One: I start off with a bang, mulliganing to five and keeping a one land, Birds of Paradise hand. Some random discardery keeps him from killing my Birds, but unfortunately I do no play another land until Michael is recurring Yavimaya Elder with Volrath’s Stronghold. Hm, not exactly what you want to be dealing with in a Rock mirror match. Finally I begin to draw land, and Michael’s lack of pressure keeps me in the game for a long time.

He plays nothing but lands for many turns. Eventually I Living Wish for Visara and hope that it will be enough to take him from seventeen to zero life. Michael makes a mistake in not recurring his Birds to block and his misstep gives me what I need to win, as Visara manages to get the job done.

Game Two: Things go according to plan, as I play turn 2 and 3 Troll Ascetic followed by an Edict for his Troll, which puts me in the driver’s seat right away. A Spiritmonger (Go Go Godzilla) comes down to mop things up.

Record: 1-0 (Games 2-0)

Round Two: Thomas Wood, playing The Rock

Game One: We get deck checked and during our chats I learn that Tom is playing the Rock again this week after finishing second in last week’s PTQ. Tom is a really nice guy and a solid player, so I was very interested in hearing his views on the Rock in general and he was a good sport throughout this match despite his less-than-stellar draws. So back to the game. This game is decided within the first few turns, as I win the roll and play a Llanowar Elf on turn 1. Tom answers back with Swamp, Cabal Therapy. He says”Yavimaya Elder or Troll Ascetic, but which one is worse for me?” He settles on Elder, and I have a Troll. On my turn 2, I play the Troll, and he plays a Wall of Blossoms. On my turn I Therapy him, naming Troll Ascetic, and hit three in his hand. I Smother the Wall and start going to town, and add a Treetop Village to finish things off.

Game Two: I again come out of the gates extremely well, racing Tom’s more powerful Genesis-based strategy with turn 2 and 3 Troll Ascetics and a turn 4 Spiritmonger. Tom plays Grim Reminder, but he has nowhere near the tools available to him to fight the regenerators. I simply do not play anymore spells and after fighting through some random recursion, Spiritmonger takes it home.

Record: 2-0 (Games 4-0)

Round Three: Chris Mondon, playing R/G

Game One: I designed Chris’s deck, and through a complex series of events involving multiple people, he ended up with it, despite me never having any contact with him. His sideboard was radically different than what I had come up with, so I was in for some surprises. Game one I take a brutal beating, with Chris giving me a taste of my own Troll Ascetic medicine and Pernicious Deed times two not being enough to bring me back from the brink of oblivion.

Game Two: Some early discard reveals Chris’s sinister plan, Genesis, while I removed my Living Wishes for lifegain creatures, meaning that I have no options against Genesis. During this game, I play four Troll Ascetics, and after some Deed tomfoolery, I force through enough damage for the win.

Game Three: Chris mulligans into an awful hand and Spiritmonger smashes him.

Record: 3-0 (Games 6-1)

Round Four: Ken Rawson, playing Red Deck Wins

Game One: Ken and I exchange pleasantries, as we’ve played on multiple occasions in various GP Trials and other random events, but I hadn’t seen him in a fairly long time. He proceeds to give me the biggest beating of the day, as I keep a two Llanowar Wastes, three one-mana creatures, Yavimaya Elder hand, and end the game with no permanents. A cruel and unusual smashing at the hands of Wasteland and Seals of Fire ends this one awfully quickly.

Game Two: Things are looking good as I play turn two and three Spike Feeders, but once again some timely Wastelands and a Grim Lavamancer that I don’t have the answer for turn things around quickly, and to add insult to injury I draw my City of Brass and have to play it when I know he has Rishadan Port in hand. This kind of beating would normally really hurt my confidence but I just took it in stride this time and figured that Red Deck Wins is called that for a reason.

Record: 3-1 (Games 6-3)

Round Five: Steve Duncan, playing U/G Madness

Game One: Steve seemed sort of angry when we sat down, so I kept the small talk to a minimum. He comes out of the gate with Chrome Mox, Wild Mongrel, and things are looking bad right away. However, he doesn’t have Wonder yet, so I keep playing Elders to block and after baiting out countermagic with Troll Ascetic, I set up a devastating Pernicious Deed, while he complains about how lucky it was, when of course, I had it in hand the entire game. A wished-for Royal Assassin assures that there will be no comeback. Spiritmonger comes in to finish the job.

Game Two: Steve once again comes out with Wild Mongrel, which I kill, and he plays two more in rapid succession. He does have the Wonder this time, and my Trolls, Treetop Village and Spiritmonger are trying to race his three Mongrels. On the turn before I would die, I peel Haunting Echoes from the top of my deck and let out a quiet”holy crap.” I resolve the Echoes and it is enough to swing the game back into my favor and my superior creatures take things home shortly thereafter.

Record: 4-1 (Games 8-3)

Round Six: Steve Kreuger, playing White Weenie

Game One: Deckchecked again, I chat with Steve and he’s a nice guy and a very competent WW player. Game one was very odd, as after I Smother his early Ramosian Sergeant, not much happens. A couple of shadow guys and a Savannah Lions race against two Treetop Villages and a Llanowar Elf. A Living Wish seals the deal, as it fetches a Bone Shredder to kill a face down Exalted Angel. I win the race in a very uneventful game.

Game Two: I mulligan to five, put up a valiant effort, but basically get rolled by a stream of Whipcorders.

Game Three: My favorite game of the tournament by far. He deliberates for a long while before keeping his hand, and I keep my hand. I play a Forest and pass the turn on turn 1. He says”You’re not gonna like this, it’s insane,” before playing Adarkar Wastes, Chrome Mox, Chrome Mox, morph. Playing the Rock, this is not what you want to see.

His gambit pays off as I’m not holding the Smother, he gets to morph up the Angel on turn two, but I don’t panic and play a Yavimaya Elder on Turn 3. The Angel hits me turns 2 and 3 while all I can do is play and sacrifice my Elder. Off of the Elder I draw Diabolic Edict! I Edict away the Angel, and things are starting to look good. Then he plays his fourth land and plays Exalted Angel number two face up! I’m forced to take another hit from the Angel while I set up Pernicious Deed for six the following turn. He doesn’t have the Seal of Cleansing so I get to deed the Angel away, along with his Chrome Moxen. Spiritmonger, Troll, and Village make sure he doesn’t get a chance to get back in the game after that amazing start.

Record: 5-1 (Games 10-4)

Round Seven: Adam Flaum, playing Pattern/Ghoul

Game One: My tiebreakers are good enough to draw, but his are terrible, so we have to play it out. A friend played him earlier, so I know what I’m up against, unfortunately, that doesn’t help much, as this is an awful matchup. Adam was quite nervous before the round, as it was his first shot at a T8, but an extremely friendly, nice guy who has a bright future if he keeps playing.

We settle in for game one, and I keep a disruption heavy, threat light hand. I take apart his hand, but this matchup can be decided by a lucky topdeck. He finds one in Pattern of Rebirth the turn after I Duress him, but I have the Smother for the Wall of Blossoms that he tries to enchant. After this I find some threats and get rid of his Recurring Nightmare with Cabal Therapy, and win soon after.

Game Two: He manages to combo with two Academy Rectors fairly early. He misses a Cabal Therapy in his graveyard that would have allowed him to go off sooner, buying me a crucial turn. When I Deed away the Rectors (including one with Pattern of Rebirth on it), I am facing down Akroma, Angel of Wrath/Worship/Recurring Nightmare, and I have no Diabolic Edict to get me out of the mess. At three life, with a Pernicious Deed and seven lands on the table, I am forced to Living Wish for Ravenous Baloth to stay alive. I play the Baloth and go to one life following his attack. He Cabal Therapies me with Akroma, figuring that I would Deed anyway, and has a Treetop Village on the table.

He makes a key mistake here, probably from nerves. I am forced to tap down to one mana the next turn to get some pressure on the table and bring him within one turn of death. If he plays Recurring Nightmare, then activates Treetop Village, I do not get a chance to kill the Village before he can use it to bring Akroma back into play. Fortunately for me, he does not do that, and I end up winning the next turn by using Pernicious Deed to kill Worship with damage on the stack.

Record: 6-1 (Games 12-4)

I make top 8 as the second seed. I don’t recognize my opponent, but fortunately it is neither Saran nor Aaron Cutler, who both also managed to make top 8. Congrats guys!

Quarterfinals: David Snow, playing U/G

Game One: After all the preliminary stuff, we get started with a bang, both taking mulligans. Our draws are less than spectacular, me with one land and he with only a Basking Rootwalla for an actual threat. I attempt to Edict it, but it gets Dazed. I start playing creatures after being stuck on one land for a couple turns. Meanwhile, he manages a Careful Study or three, but nothing of note comes of it. He flashes back Roar of the Wurm, I Wish for Bone Shredder and kill it, and my random dudes carry me to victory.

Game Two: We both mulligan again, this time he goes to five, while I am content at six. He comes out of the gates fast, with Aquamoebas (Smother/Edict), then a Wild Mongrel, which sticks. Meanwhile, I have a lowly Birds of Paradise and a ton of lands. I take a large beating before I’m able to force through a Living Wish, fetching Royal Assassin. At seven life, with him having two cards in hand, a Wild Mongrel, and an Arrogant Wurm that fly, I have an active Royal Assassin and a Birds of Paradise. I draw Cabal Therapy, and cast it on him naming Circular Logic. I miss, but I see something extremely important. He has two Stifles in hand, meaning that I lose the game next turn. I flashback the Therapy with the Birds on Stifle, and after one more random attack that sees his Arrogant Wurm get Assassinated and me fall to four life, I take full control of the game and complete the two game sweep.

Record: 7-1 (Games 14-4)

Semifinals: Saran Aiyapassamy, playing U/G

Game One: Saran is playing what he called”the little deck that couldn’t,” a variation on the [author name="Geordie Tait"]Geordie Tait[/author] listing of U/G with Lightning Greaves (which is very good by the way). He wasn’t thrilled about playing this deck, but it served him well to his first ever T8. Fortunately for me, my lifetime record against Saran is something like 60-3. This trend was not about to change with something on the line, even though Saran is a solid player playing an explosive deck that he understands. Quick story: Pernicious Deed wins game One while Saran is stuck on no Green mana.

Game Two: More of the same, as Saran does not get the fast start necessary to compete with the power of the B/G deck. A Stifle on a Pernicious Deed only delays the inevitable, and I win the game in fairly short order.

Record: 8-1 (Games 16-4)

My finals opponent has no intention of attending Kobe, so I give him a favorable money split in exchange for the slot, just on the off chance that I attend. I get my picture taken with a fire extinguisher and go enjoy a wonderful dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse (the Columbus PTQ tradition).

Would I play the deck again? Absolutely. This deck has everything that a regular Rock deck has, simply exchanging a little of the flexibility for the raw power of having explosive starts and more difficult to deal with creatures. Playing extra removal did not hurt me one time, although I do side out Smother in the mirror match as it is very unexciting. If you choose to play this deck in the remaining PTQs, I would advise switching out one more Smother for another Diabolic Edict, as the Edict was strictly better for me over the weekend.

I’ll be back writing Limited stuff next week as soon as we have a full spoiler. Feedback is always welcome in the forums or at [email protected]

Joe”JoeyBags” Gagliardi