Winning The Kentucky Open With U/G Madness

I could spice up the story by saying that I prayed to the almighty and dropped a flying elbow on my deck, but I just calmly flipped the top card of my deck onto the table… And it was Upheaval. So I played my land, and ended with a hand of five lands and Wild Mongrel. Her board didn’t have any early drops – just Arrogant Wurm, Wonder and Equilibrium, and her next two draws didn’t reveal a chump blocker. I realized that I no longer had the right to complain about any topdeck ever.

I hate introductions. I always get writer’s block before I start writing, even on something stupid like a one-page writing assignment or a filthy tournament report. See, in my line of work (I’m studying computer science), no one cares what part of your program you started first. However, when writing, almost everyone starts at the beginning of your article – unless the author is Timothy Aten.

I haven’t even started my story and already I’m ranting.

As you might have already guessed, I play magical cards. I’m one of those people who have issues when assessing my own skill level. On the one hand, I think I’m the best player ever because I bash on local people and I have a good rating and stuff. In fact, before every event, I proclaim myself to be the favorite to win and consider most of my losses rough beats as opposed to getting outplayed. On the other hand, I always predict (to myself) that I’ll 3-2 – and if I were Jamie Wakefield, I would develop carpal tunnel syndrome from turning dice over. This makes me think I’m a better player for realizing that my game is bad… And thus, the endless good player/bad player cycle continues.

Keep this in mind when I assess other people’s skill levels. If I say someone is awful, it might just be that their mistakes are more obvious or more famous. After all, odds are they probably wouldn’t try to save their guys from Tsabo’s Decree with a Rushing River.

So I’m on this mailing list for people in the Cincinnati area, and one Ken Hagen is also on this mailing list for Kentucky spellcasters. He forwards this post for a middle-of-nowhere Kentucky tournament for anywhere between $500 and $1500 in three different locations. One Joshua X Claytor is the brilliant organizer of this event. Here is a made up conversation made up from parts of real conversations:

Me: So we’re going to this cash tournament, going?

Jnye: Me and Chuck Horn are going gambling this weekend on the other side of the Kentucky River, near Louisville

Me: Sigh. So I guess that means we can’t trash your basement on Friday either

Some genius, prolly Andrew Denanzer: Why don’t we just get a hotel in Louisville? It’s close to both tournaments, and with six of us, it’ll be like $10 apiece.

Wheeler: Oh man, I’m not losing – I’m gonna scoop them.

So we mised the $10 hotel. At this point, I could tell you about our masterful preparation and playtesting the night before and how we chose our decks and other stuff you probably don’t care about (how presumptuous!), but it’ll have to suffice to say that the majority of my week was spent working on computer science projects and not casting spells.

If you are a geography buff, you should be saying”What on earth? There is no Kentucky River!” And I agree with you! Jason Nye is an idiot, but a fine man nonetheless.

Due to the previously-mentioned lack of self-confidence that I have in myself, and a giant fear of spending $50 to be terribly frustrated, I arranged a split with Adam Sherman and Andrew Benanzer. While quite possibly better Limited and Constructed players than myself, respectively, they lost many games before shuffling a single card, simply by taking the tier 1 deck with the worst mana (U/G madness) and splashing Violent Eruption. But Anger makes the Merfolk Looters come into play tapped! Can’t find room for all the goodies? Pretend like you can only play three of a card in your deck! In addition to Sherman and Benanzer, one James Wheeler also accompanied us.

Despite the inherent danger involved, I am going to write an aside on Jameson Wheeler.

Jameson doesn’t like being called Jameson. I think this is because an obese relative calls him Jameson before pinching his cheeks and giving him a giant bear hug. Or maybe it’s because he’s in high school and verbosity isn’t cool when you’re in high school.

Remember that person in high school who you always hung out with, but you hated them because they were terribly obnoxious? Despite this, you always invited them to stuff because you enjoyed many a joke at their expense. You know who I’m talking about…. That guy that thought it was cool to drink every beer in sight, smoke every joint, screw any moving object with breasts, and make infinite gay jokes? Yeah, that’s James Wheeler.

In addition to being really annoying, he is also a lot worse at Magic than he thinks he is. Now, I know I said I had problems in accurately assessing Magical ability – but I’m quite certain that Wheeler is very bad at Magic. He insults opponents during matches for making mistakes, and saying they lost because he is better if he is winning. If he lost, it’s because they”drew cards.” He also insults people for being worse than they think and thinking they should always win. This is the reason I arranged a split with Benanzer and Sherman, but not Wheeler.

Okay, I lied. I just knew Wheeler wouldn’t win matches.

End aside on Jameson Wheeler

I guess I should have a theme song for this tournament, ’cause that sounds fun.

50 cent – []D. []. []V[]. []D.

If I wanted to act even cooler, I would put in some random comments about how big a 4/7 really is or something just so theferrett can insert his very witty commentary. Speaking of which, Hundroog (Hundroog! – The Ferrett, wittier than thou) isn’t an actual word in the English language; my spellchecker told me so.

The tournament is at some random high school, about forty-five minutes south of our hotel near Louisville. After running over some curbs (I’m much better at casting spells than I am at driving) and spending ninety minutes waiting for entries that closed at 10 a.m. to close at 11 a.m., I sit down to play my first-round opponent with the following deck:

Big []D. []. []V[]. []D. ‘N

4 Basking Rootwalla

4 Wild Mongrel

3 Aquamoeba

2 Merfolk Looter

3 Arrogant Wurm

3 Roar of the Wurm

4 Careful Study

4 Circular Logic

3 Quiet Speculation

3 Deep Analysis

1 Ray of Revelation

3 Wonder

2 City of Brass

11 Island

10 Forest


3 Stupefying Touch

3 Ravenous Baloth

2 Upheaval

2 Callous Oppressor

1 Krosan Reclamation

2 Ray of Revelation

2 Turbulent Dreams

I would give you a card-by-card analysis, but this is a tournament report. I might write a deck analysis, as I feel there are many misconceptions about the deck, especially when certain matchups are involved.

Did I mention that JoshXClaytor was the Head Judge? After sitting down to play round 1, I wait a minute or so, walk up to the pairings again, and then sit down to play my”real” round 1 opponent.

Round 1 – Seth Stair – Astral Slide w/Living Wish

What is it with these masses of people that are State Champions or top 8ed States or did whatever at States, yet never win another match of magic in their life. This guy is one of those people. In fact, I didn’t know that he was had been the Kentucky State Champion until after the match.

Game 1 I win the roll, but he gets a good start with turn 2 Living Wish and turn 3 Astral Slide. However, my draw is a little bit better: Turn 1 Careful Study into a pair of Basking Rootwallas, turn 2 Wild Mongrel attack to eighteen, turn 3 attack to fourteen, end of turn Arrogant Wurm, turn 4 pump both ‘Wallas, pitch two cards. I win!

Game 2 is only slightly fairer because he drew Wrath of Gods faster than I drew Circular Logics. I drop a Wild Mongrel, then Quiet Speculation and Ray of Revelation his Astral Slide. Then I make an Arrogant Wurm and Circular Logic his Wrath of God. He taps 2WW on his next turn, and my creatures actually go to the graveyard – but by that point I’ve flashbacked both Deep Analysises (go plurals!) and I’m up a lot of cards, so I can just play more creatures and hold a counter that I don’t need to use.


Round 2 Jameson Wheeler

I had never played a sanctioned match before this round against Jameson… And let’s just say that he was as dumb in a real tournament as he is in testing.

On my first turn, I cast Careful Study, and he goes to draw his card for his turn before I draw my cards for Careful Study. I stop him, tell him to wait until I pass the turn blah blah. My draw still doesn’t contain a two-drop after the Careful Study, so I Careful Study on turn 2 as well. Again, he goes to draw his card for his turn before I draw from the Study. Sigh. I tell him that I’m playing Magic for real (fo realz!) and to do things properly and such, I make him wait awhile before discarding to my second Careful Study. Between the two Studies, I discarded Basking Rootwalla, Wonder, and Roar of the Wurm, and my hand now had two Circular Logics and a Wild Mongrel, with mana to put a 6/6 into play as well. He had a turn 3 Arrogant Wurm; his draw was better overall, but I had the option of blocking, whereas he didn’t.

He bitched as we were sideboarding. I think it’s pertinent to mention that he wanted to draw before the match and kept bringing up the subject of splits. I don’t know why, but I agreed to give him something if I won money. I knew he wasn’t going to win, so it was quite dumb of me to mention the possibility. He also did stupid stuff like face up his sideboard because we were playing the exact same list. I’m not a fan of such ridiculousness during sanctioned matches; I enjoy conversation, but not bitching. If you are gonna whine about how unlucky the pairing was or how you got manascrewed, I will either tell you to shut up or not talk to you the rest of the match.

Game 2, I simply got tempoed out with something like a Wild Mongrel and Arrogant and a Circular Logic versus my Merfolk Looter and not Arrogant Wurm on the draw. I’m not exactly sure, but I knew I was losing life at a ridiculous pace.

Game 3 was dumb. I really wish I could have played my Callous Oppressor first, because I doubt he would have named Cephalids first. Alas, we could basically take each other’s creatures. I took the Aquamoeba that he owned as opposed to the one that he stole from me, and he made some comment that suggested he thought it was irrelevant which one I took. I got my Stupefying Touch first, which gave me a huge advantage; neither of us had Wonder advantage, so I was able to ride the stupid Touch/Oppressor to victory while sitting on Upheaval. I knew he boarded out his Basking Rootwallas, so I kept a few of mine in and went for Upheaval in the mirror.


Round 3 Stephen Vollmar – Beasts

Let’s just say that everyone loves Brian Fox in Kentucky… And Brian Fox loves his beasts. Close to half the field was Beasts, and I didn’t quite understand that. Fortunately, many people don’t know when to attack and block and when to cast spells, or even activate Contested Cliffs and/or Glory, so many games were winnable even if I didn’t draw Wonder and kept Wished-for creatures off the table like Silklash Spider and Intrepid Hero.

Game 1, I failed to accomplish task #2 and an Intrepid Hero resolved, along with a myriad of three- and four-mana creatures, which I could not kill with creatures that had less than four power.

Game 2, he Wishes for Silklash Spider, then proceeds to cast every card in his hand that is not the Spider. Its reasons like this I hold Wonder until blocking is a good plan for them, even if I have to pitch nonmadness cards to do so.

Game 3, I fail to accomplish task #1: drawing Wonder. Two Exalted Angels bash my face a total of four times, and I flash a Deep Analysis, putting the life totals at thirtysomething to one in his favor. I burn a Stupefying Touch on his Angel to cantrip and draw Wonder off it… The second-to-last card possible. I get to kill both Exalted Angels (why he attacked with both Angels when one was lethal – only God knows why), but he gets to play the Silklash Spider. He has six lands and a bird, so if he rips a land he Hurricanes my team and serves. I make a minor mistake by not casting Callous Oppressor and forcing him to Spider away his Birds of Paradise with my Callous Oppressor, and he draws Llanowar Elves and I lose.

2-1 5-3

Round 4 Robert Smith – Psychatog

This match is terribly uneventful and my opponent is softspoken, which makes for a boring match. Game 1, I Careful Study two Roar of the Wurms on turn 1, Careful Study a Basking Rootwalla into play on turn 2, and he Chainer’s Edicts it on his third turn, which gives me an opening for Quiet Speculation. He cycles his fourth land, I Deep Analysis a bunch, then bury him in an avalanche of creatures. He wrecks me with a Cunning Wish for Hibernation once he draws more land, but my Wild Mongrel doesn’t feel like being green and I get to madness Arrogant Wurm after he plays his sorcery-speed quasi-evacuation for six mana.

Game 2: My draw isn’t as creaturetastic, but I manage to get him to play Counterspells on my two-mana creatures. My Careful Study for two Basking Rootwallas on turn 5 brings out an Engineered Plague from him, which gives me an opening to play Quiet Speculation. I hard-cast a pair of Deep Analysis this game, flashback many Roar of the Wurms, trying to draw out some counters. I’m somewhat nervous since he’s not using his Compulsion (who keeps that in against U/G!), but it would appear that he was happy not drawing cards, so I can draw out counters with my Circular Logics and Stupefying Touches, then Upheaval and play two Wild Mongrels.

3-1 7-3

Round 5 Laura Karem with U/G madness

I’ve played Laura a few times before, most recently at the PTQ in Louisville for Yokohama. I definitely considered her to be one of the better technical players in the room, as her play is solid and she has a general idea about what is going on in the matches we’ve played.

In game 1, our draws were very similar and both of us were trying to get an advantage anyway we could. We both had Merfolk Looters and Wonders and double-digit life totals. She got the first 6/6, but multiple Basking Rootwallas and an Arrogant Wurm made attacking a bad idea for her Roar of the Wurm… And any attack en masse would be suicidal for either of us. She got her Circular Logics before I did, so I was knocked into single digits by trading Arrogant Wurm for Roar of the Wurm and taking some damage from her other people.

We both got Quiet Speculations about the same time, only mine was for all three of my Roar of the Wurms, where she got Roars two through four. I got 6/6 advantage by Circular Logicing one of her Roars, but in return she got two Merfolk Looters after Circular Logicing my second Merfolk Looter. She was madnessing stuff at a faster rate, and I flashbacked a pair of Analyses to put me at two. She outnumbered me in creatures, and went for a big attack. I had to block a lot of stuff, and couldn’t pump all my Basking Rootwallas…. However, I got to keep a Roar of the Wurm, my Merfolk Looter, and my Wild Mongrel, after pitching my entire grip. She makes a big mistake by Looting twice in her main phase instead of just blocking with the Merfolk Looters. She was at ten due to early Wonder-aided beats and her Deep Analysis. So I drew my card, sent the team, and dealt exactly ten damage.

Game 2, my play was very very sloppy to match my sloppy draw. I budgeted my Merfolk Looter + Aquamoeba use very poorly when playing a variety of Wurms and Circular Logics. I basically went for Roar of the Wurm when I knew it would resolve, but I let hers resolve as well. So the board was at parity, then my team no longer had the option to block. My draw was better, but she had Wonder. I make a huge mistake hard-casting Deep Analysis to try and find a Wonder when the answer to Wonder was in my hand: Quiet Speculation for Krosan Reclamation. By this point, I had built the better board and might have won, even with a precarious life total of two.

Game 3 I kept one of the worst hands I’ve ever kept in the mirror. I had only a Deep Analysis to draw extra cards, And I discarded it to Wild Mongrel on turn 4, and before playing a land, I flashed it back, only to get Diverted… Then I played my 4th land. Sigh.

My only saving grace was a pair of Stupefying Touches on her only madness outlets. I only kept cards in my hand long enough to send her to nine with my Wild Mongrels and Aquamoebas, discarding to slaughter her pair of 2/2s. When she cast Deep Analysis, and flashed it back (going to six life), then Careful Studied – and my board deteriorated so quickly that I was soon left with a board of six lands against a board of Roar of the Wurm token, Arrogant Wurm, and Equilibrium (with no Wonders in sight). I topdeck Wild Mongrel, and play it. She plays her Wonder, bouncing my Wild Mongrel and sends the Wurm pair, putting me at one.

I could spice up the story by saying that I prayed to the almighty and dropped a flying elbow on my deck, but I just calmly flipped the top card of my deck onto the table… And it was Upheaval. So I played my land, and ended with a hand of five lands and Wild Mongrel. Her board didn’t have any early drops – just Arrogant Wurm, Wonder and Equilibrium, and her next two draws didn’t reveal a chump blocker.

I realized that I no longer had the right to complain about any topdeck ever. It’s not like I was outdrawn, though the Divert on Deep Analysis was insane; I had no reason not to play a land before flashing back. I had no reason to suspect Divert, but it’s just a good idea to play lands before casting spells in general. After the game, she showed me the Circular Logic she had but couldn’t cast without a madness outlet in play. We talked about playing the Wonder/Equalizing my Wild Mongrel vs. holding back with Circular Logic, and we agreed that it was a judgement call. Since the match, I’ve thought about it more and I’ve come to the opinion that bouncing my Wild Mongrel was just wrong; she wasn’t dealing lethal damage, and all my Wild Mongrel could do is chump, since I had no cards in hand. Whew!

4-1 9-4

Round 6 ID with Cody

If I’m not mistaken, there were 32 Wild Mongrels in the top 8. I’ll leave it to the awful people to make something of this; me, I’ll concentrate on playing in a format with a lot of Wild Mongrels. To be more specific, here’s the top 8 breakdown:

  • 3 Beasts

  • 3 U/G Madness

  • 1 R/G Beats

  • 1 Trifecta (U/G/R madness with three of everything but the good cards in Madness, Wonder, and Careful Study)

While its champion Brian Fox went a spectacular 1-2, the sheer quantity of Beasts decks placed three of its members in the top 8 – and I played against what looked to be the best player of them all in the quarterfinals.

Top 8 Jarrod Burt – Beasts

Let’s just say he drew one white source of mana the entire match. In game 1, a Circular Logic on Ravenous Baloth (his first spell that did anything) bought me an eternity of tempo and soon 6/6s sent him to his sideboard for game 2

Game 2 I kept a somewhat iffy hand lacking forests. I still cast some spells, including a Deep Analysis, but a Call of the Herd/Ravenous Baloth brigade meant that using my City of Brass to flash back Roar of the Wurm was a little too painful and a little too late.

Game 3, I just played the CounterRebel deck. Play a threat I don’t like? Circular Logic. Play something dumb like Phantom Centaur when all my guys fly? End step Arrogant Wurm. He showed me the Wrath of God in his hand that he could have cast if he had another white source, but I showed him another Circular Logic.

Top 4 Derek Glenn R/G Beats

While Derek’s a good guy, he just defeated my good friend Andrew Benanzer – and a MGM sweep would be unacceptable. I’m quite hazy on both games; I just know that I won them easily and that little strategic or entertainment value can be garnered from it.

I’m sorry that all my matches can’t have the fantastic entertainment value of the last-second rip of Wonder or Upheaval or something insane. Derek is a good man, just recently exposed to the wonders of Magic Online, so Derek and my round 1 opponent Seth Stair are now a proud member of my fabulous clan, Alcoholics Anonymous.

Top 2 Stephen Vollmar, The same guy I lost to in round 3: Beasts

Game 1, I basically used Circular Logic to keep his problematic guys off the table while dealing damage with my madness guys. Then I drew Wonder.

Game 2: His play was just awful. I didn’t have a Wonder, which allows him to block, but he does stuff like blocking Wild Mongrel with Anurid Brushhopper when I have mana up and a fairly full grip, and then discarding two Wild Mongrels to save his beast. I put a Roar of the Wurm token into play; he casts Call of the herd on his turn and then I attacked with my 6/6 and my Wild Mongrel. He chumps the Roar of the Wurm with an Elephant and does nothing with the Anurid Brushhopper. Doesn’t seem like the play to me.

He didn’t draw a fourth land and scooped, showing me two Ravenous Baloths he had saved when he discarded the Wild Mongrels.

Here’s a free lesson in class: My opponent was using unglued sheep tokens for Call of the Herd, much to the amusement of myself and some spectators. Being in Kentucky and all, the subject of sexual intercourse with farm animals had to be brought up, to which Wheeler responded,”I bet that guy isn’t on top” – referring to my opponent, who wasn’t a small man. If you want to avoid evil looks like the one Wheeler received from both of the players in the final, avoid insulting people for things out of their control, like race or a stutter or something like that. Shaking your opponent’s hand is classy; insulting them while they’re playing Magic is not.

On a lighter note, I win! Gimme that $500. I end up making about $250 after splits and travel expenses. However, I have no product, so I plan on setting my alarm clock to go to a local tourney the next day, and plan on sleeping through it. However, I get home at 11 p.m., and immediately fall asleep. I wake up well before my alarm goes off, so I decide to go to the Wizards’ Den, 6-0, and walk home with a box. I would tell you about it, but I played against winners such as the two-spell, twelve-land.dec, Might of Oaks in one R/G build, Silvos in another, and an Astral Slide player attacking into Wonder in the yard + Mongrel. Winning was rarely in question, and I forget the names of everyone, so I won’t bore you with another billion words. Because I like bragging, and I will mention that I have won my last twelve sanctioned matches, all at 24K. This seems good, until you realize that I get like 2-4 points for the majority of my matches. Eh. Mise.

Because people like reading about themselves on the internet…


  • Jason Nye: for allowing us to drink at your house basically every weekend, despite us trashing your house and certain people (who may or may not be appearing on the slops list) making incessant gay jokes aimed at you. Also, losing to the sixth card in hold’em is certainly a rough beat, one that is undeserved.

  • Andrew Benanzer: For being good at Magic, despite playing decks that are Godawful. And for crushing me in caps. And for not dropping, despite wanting to every round.

  • Adam Sherman: For trying to win at Magic. Most of you may not know this, but Adam Sherman is very good at casting spells. If he would go to tournaments while not inebriated and not let losses demoralize him, you may be playing him at many a Pro Tour in the future (unless you’re not at that Pro Tour yourself).

  • Karl Horn: Along with Sherman, the reason I’m going to qualify for PT: Boston. Winning often disinterests him, however, as he’s been known to drop at x-0 and scoop in the finals of PTQ for a PT within driving distance for $100.

  • Jcal: GET IN THERE!

  • Joshua X: Despite appearing to be a total idiot, the tournament was run relatively smoothly, with problems getting solved quickly. The advertisement/location could have been better, though. At least he’s not Vic.

  • Tim Aten: because I’m a Tim Aten barnacle. (Who isn’t?)

  • Careful Study: bah-roken. And I rip Study like a fat man rips a pair of size 32 jeans.

  • Upheaval: Quite possibly the biggest rip of my life; I’ve had to earn most of my wins over my career.


  • Wheeler: Do you know how to read?

  • Auer and Jcal: Quitting magic = {f}

  • Compilers and packet sniffers: For eating hours upon hours of my life away.

  • Arun Sharma: For being so damn stupid. I wake up every day in a good mood because I’m not Arun Sharma. I’m fairly sure a swift kick in the nuts would feel better playing in a PTQ with Wheeler and Arun. STOP BITCHING AT ME TO FINISH THIS REPORT, ARUN!

I felt like writing a report because there aren’t many tournaments right now. Then I wrote 4500 words. So I’m not going to write anymore.

Adam Prosak

[email protected]

Ihatepants on modo, captain of Alcoholics Anonymous