This is the second half of my adventures at Origins and GenCon. In part 1 I talked about the Extended tourney, and how I tweaked my deck. In this part, I’ll talk about the doubles tourney, the Type 1 tourney and – I suppose – I should report on my triumph at the Amateur Championships.
Let’s take the painful stuff first: Amateur Championships. I wanted to play a deck running Wrath, Disenchant, and Counters, but I wasn’t interested in CounterRebels. That left U/W control, Go-Mar, or something U/W/R. Since it was around the 4th of July and I was feeling patriotic, I played U/R/W.
Amateur Championships was the first major T2 tournament that was Apocalypse legal. That means the format is wide open, and the metagame is undefined. The best way to treat that type of format is to play a solid, predictable deck you have playtested a lot and know well. Then do the best you can.
I had enough time, in the weeks leading up to the convention, to make a list of cards that I wanted in the deck. Then I totaled the list – well over a hundred cards. Only playtesting would reveal which cards belonged, and how to cut it… But I didn’t do any. I pulled the deck together that night before, and played exactly two games with it. The deck had a lot of random cards: Four Accumulated Knowledges, four Counterspells, three Absorbs, three Wraths, three Rages, three or four Fact or Fictions, two Repulses, one Exclude, one Prophetic Blast, one Mahamoti Djinn, one red Volver, and so on. Other stuff. A tuned wonder, if ever there was one.
Round one, I faced off against a B/W deck with Phyrexian Arena and Nether Spirits. We split the first two games; one game I lost because of misplays on my part. The other I won despite misplays on my part. Game three I drew tons of card drawers – and my card drawers drew card drawers. They drew nothing that could counter the Desolation Angel, though, and it finished me.
Round two I faced a Dark Fires deck, and Rakavolver proved its worth. It’s tough to race a flying, spirit-linked 5/5. Game two, I gambled on a fast Lightning Angel turn 3, figuring he had seen only one 5/5 creature game 1, so he probably sided out the Flametongues, and the odds of him having an Flametongue Kavu in his three-card hand were poor. Bad gamble – he had it. Game three showed how this day was headed: I mulliganed a one-land hand, and drew into another one-land hand, with two Accumulated Knowledges, an Exclude, Fact or Fiction and Absorb. My opponent opened with a Forest, Bird. I drew no land, and passed. Fires hit the table. I finally drew a second land, a swamp, but could do nothing. My opponent then cast Blood Oath, turn 3, naming instants. I cast Accumulated Knowledge in response, and drew another AK. The Blood Oath resolved for eighteen points of damage. Enough – my confidence in the deck was shot, and I bailed.
Ingrid was 5-1 at one point, but dropped at 5-3. That’s enough of Origins – let’s go on to GenCon.
The Doubles tournament was our first Magic event at GenCon, on Saturday afternoon.* In the past, this has been mixed doubles, and ran around 30-40 teams. However, the TO got so much hatemail over having the tournament restricted to couples that he threw it open to anyone this year. (Okay, it was a non-sanctioned, just-for-fun-and-a-few-packs tournament. Who whines because they cannot find a female friend to play along? Come on guys, get a life.) This year it had 77 teams entered, and the event finished well after 2 a.m. There were also way too few judges. PES has, in the past, run good tournaments, but this time they were way understaffed and behind schedule. Sorry to have to say it – but it was bad this year. Please, PES, go back to doing a good job and I’ll be more than happy to sing your praises. Look at my past columns, where I praised Legion for the all great tourneys they ran or my complements to you guys on GP: Detroit.
Okay, back to the mixed doubles. Each team got two Invasion tourney packs, one Planeshift booster, and two Apocalypse boosters. We didn’t get many duplicates, except for Spreading Plague, two Tranquilities, and two other unplayable commons, as well as two Recovers (played one) and two Urborg Phantoms (played both – I was desperate!). We did not get Repulse, Exclude, Prohibit, Terminate, Consume Strength, or Jilt. On the other hand, we did get Demise, Annihilate, Scorching Lava, Breath of Darigaaz, Rushing River, Exotic Curse, Magma Burst, Thornscape Master, Mire Kavu, and some other good cards… So we can’t complain all that much. I built a fast R/B deck, with one Forest for the Exotic Curse and the Quagmire Druid. Ingrid built a G/U deck, splashing red for the Magma Burst, Thornscape Master and Zap (100 Invasion cards means a lot of Apprentices and Acolytes).
John and Cathy opened two Tribal Flames, two Exotic Curses, Dromar, and some other good stuff. Cathy built a 5 color green deck, while John played Dromar and his colors. Cathy’s best play was against an opponent who played Armadillo Cloak on Treva. On her next turn, Cathy cast both Tribal Flames to fry Treva and won the game. John had great luck with Liberate. It saved Dromar from death via Rout and from a fate worse then death (think Yavimaya’s Embrace). Dromar also rode to victory in a Traveler’s Cloak, showing that even bad cards can be good in the right deck (especially if you are short of removal and counters).
To be brief about this, Doubles events are played with each team having an A and B player, and each round the A player plays a one on one match against the A player, and B plays B. Each match is separate – no shared life or shared sideboards. If both players win their matches, you win the round. If you split, the round is a draw. There were a lot of draws. We finished 3-1-3, which was good enough for eleventh and some packs.
Highlights: The tourney was a lot of fun. Most of our opponents were cool and friendly. I topdecked Demise against the Angelfire Crusader wearing two Armadillo Cloaks, and had mana for the kicker. When my Mire Kavu went into Mourning, and my opponent dropped Sinister Strength on his Ancient Kavu, I had both the Quagmire Druid and a Forest in play and he didn’t notice. (When I sacrificed the Kavu to the Druid, the Mourning hit the graveyard due to state based effects – opponents don’t get an opportunity to respond to sacrifices before state-based effects kill the sacrificed creature’s enchantments. The Druid’s effect killed the Sinister Strength, then the blockers killed the Ancient Kavu.)
This is also a highlight, even though it cost us some packs. Once we were seated for our fifth round, I realized that our fourth-round opponents (with whom we had drawn) were seated way below us. I called them and we checked with the judges. Our match had been recorded incorrectly, giving us the win. The TO didn’t repair, since most teams had started and since it was late, but did correct the standings. I don’t blame the TO – it was after midnight, mistakes happen and we didn’t spot it immediately, either- but I’m glad we got that fixed. I don’t want to steal match wins – I want to earn them.
Lowlights: Ending at 2:30, and getting our only round loss because an opponent stalled. Here’s what happened: I lost my match. Ingrid was in game three and had her opponent on the ropes. Ingrid had more creatures and the opponent had less than ten cards in his library. Eighteen minutes later, when time was called, he still had four cards in his library. Yes, it’s a win, but holding up the entire tourney (twenty teams – forty people – were still in contention for pack) at 2:30 in the morning to cheese a win in a non-sanctioned tourney is a little much.
Unfortunately, worse things occurred. The TO did not require deck registrations deck swaps. One pair of teenagers played John and Cathy early – and the kid with the U/R/B deck played two non-foil Terminates in one game. Quite a pull – considering each team only opened one pack of Planeshift.
We played the same kids a few rounds later. I played the U/B/R player, and while I did not see two Terminates, here what I did see: Probe, Terminate, Repulse, Scorching Lava, Cavern Harpy, Phyrexian Rager, Salt Marsh, Confound, Jilt, Ghitu Fire, Ancient Kavu, Nightscape Familiar, Agonizing Demise, Vodalian Zombie, Cauldron Dance (which one kid commented to the other was”so amazing”) and a few others – that in the half of his deck I saw. His partner had Repulse #2 and Exclude, and was playing 5 color green with at least one of all the color fixers. The only cards they did not play against us were Magma Burst and Rushing River, and listening to them talk I’m pretty sure they don’t realize how good the kickers on those cards are.
I don’t know for sure that they stacked their decks, so I won’t give names… But I would bet on it. Every single card my opponent played I considered a top five pick (except maybe Cauldron Dance and the Zombie, but Cauldron Dance/Cavern Harpy is pretty good.) It is possible that they opened the best sealed decks I have ever seen, but I doubt it. I think they were cheating. If Cathy did indeed see two Terminates in one game, then they were definitely cheating. (She didn’t call the judge immediately. Cathy plays Type 1 primarily, and didn’t realize Terminate was Planeshift – and that each team got only one Planeshift booster pack – until later.)
I really think that pair added other cards to their sealed decks, in order to steal wins and prizes from other people. I hate people who cheat like that. Actually, I don’t want to play anyone who cheats, period.
In the match Ingrid and I both had good draws, played flawlessly, and pounded both kids 2-0 to win both matches and the round. That was the sweetest win all night.
Okay, on to something more fun – the T1 tourney. Ingrid was going to play Zoo, with green for Lyrist and Skyshroud Elite, red for mox monkeys, Dwarven Miners, Bolts and Kird Apes and blue for our P9 cards and Serendib Efreets. We also hunted through the dealers booths, and managed to get two cheap Black Lotuses (amazing, but we spent hours digging) and a couple of Mishra’s Workshops, so it was pretty obvious I was going to play a Stacker variant, but without Mox Ruby (not the one you want to be lacking in a mono-Red deck, but I didn’t have one). Here’s what I played:
Stacker 2, by JP Meyer, modified by PRJ
The deck looks for explosive starts with the mana acceleration, tries to disrupt opponents with Blood Moon and can get massive card advantage using Welder/Memory Jar tricks. For more information, look at JP Meyer original article on the deck:
I made a few changes. First, because I didn’t have all five Moxen, I added a Mana Vault. That gave me a little more acceleration, but I really wish I could have afforded a Mox Ruby. All too often the deck was hurting for red mana. The Rage and Null Brooch gave me more options against control. I like the Heretics in the sideboard – mainly because they can block, and because they don’t die to a Cursed Scroll. The Ghitu Fire kills fast Gorilla Shamans, and the Pyroblasts and REBs were to kill Back to Basics and fight counter decks. I would have liked three Anarchies against Moat and white weenie, but I didn’t have room. I was also hoping to use Cursed Scroll to handle shadow weenies, and Scroll and Urza’s Rage to get around (over?) a Moat.
There were 27 people, IIR, playing in the event. That was low,** partially because it was Sunday and partially because the TOs never announced the tourney – just posted the pairings. I know of at least one person who had a T1 deck in hand but didn’t get into the tournament.
I hope I have my opponents straight – I didn’t keep my notes in order.
Round 1: Mr. Bye. Fortunately I know this matchup inside and out, so I had no trouble smashing him 2-0 in short order. My super-secret tech card was key. (Don’t you just love reading reports like this?) I had really mixed feelings about the first-round bye – on the one hand, a first-round bye really helps your tiebreakers. On the other hand, I almost never have a chance to play T1 tournament matches and I wanted to play, not watch.
Round 2: Keith with Sligh. I draw an opening hand of two Land, three Blood Moons, and stuff. I know he’s playing Sligh, so I figure making all his mountains into mountains is not strong. I mulligan to Mishra’s Workshop, Mishra’s Factory, Mountain, Su-Chi, Su-Chi, Bolt. That’s okay.
Him: Mountain, Pup, go.
Me: Mountain, go.
Him: Attack (he takes three when I Bolt the Pup), play mountain, another Pup and Cursed Scroll, go.
Me: Workshop, Su-Chi, go
Him: not much
Me: Factory, beat, second Su-chi, go.
Facing two Su-Chis is not much fun, when you only blocker is a Jackal Pup. Next turn, he did block, then Bolted the Su-Chi. However, I had deliberately played the Factory, so I burned the four mana that appears when Su-Chi hits the graveyard by activating the Factory four times. He burned the Factory in response, but it didn’t matter. Game 2 he just barely outran me, and I was reduced to Welding a Memory Jar out of my graveyard to try to finish him off… But I didn’t get a burn spell. I had another good start in game 3 and fried him. When he played a Ball Lightning, I had a Bolt. When he got out some Goblins, I had a Masticore with mana to spare, and so forth.
Round 3: Aaron with Keeper. Aaron is usually judging at PES events, but this time he was playing. His deck was a classic 5 color Keeper, with Library, Mana Drains, Balance, and Morphling for the kill. Game 1 was quick, with me getting the turn 1 Mountain/Welder, turn 2 Workshop opening, and then casting three quick artifact creatures to run him out of counters. He countered the creatures, but a Mox slipped through, and quickly became a Juggernaut. He was dead almost instantly.
Game 2 I had an amazing opening hand, with mountain, Welder, Academy, moxen, and a Juggernaut. I opened with mountain, Welder, and he played Academy on his turn. That completely shut me down for a dozen turns before I finally forced through a Su-Chi, but he found a Balance and we stalled again. Then he found a Moat, and we spent half an hour fighting over Blood Moons, Null Brooches, and Welders. The two Su-Chi and the Juggernaut sitting behind the Moat were so much scrap metal, but I was still waiting for Rage and hoping I could find it before he found Misdirection. In the end, he found Morphling. I Pyroblast it, but for some reason (possibly linked to the seven cards in his hand) that didn’t resolve. Morphling finished me with about five minutes left in the round.
Game 3 I had another turn 1 Welder, turn 2 Juggernaut, turn 3 Su-Chi start, with some Bolts and Incinerates thrown in to spice things up. We finished the game with more than three minutes left in the round. Aaron played a great match, but I was luckier than he was.
Round 4: Ingrid with Zoo. It was too early to ID, she insisted, so we played. She got her most broken opening of the tourney: By the end of her turn 2, I had a Mountain and a Welder on the table, I was at fourteen life and was facing a Serendib Efreet with Rancor, a Skyshroud Elite, and a Kird Ape (and she had a Taiga in play). I played a Su-Chi – since there were only two cards in her deck that can kill it, versus four Bolts to kill the Juggernaut. She cast Ancestral in response, then played the Psionic Blast on her turnÂ¸ killing the Su-Chi and forcing me to burn for four. That match also featured her casting Regrowth with a choice of Time Walk or Ancestral, and her Timetwistering away my graveyard (containing two Su-Chi) when I had an active Welder but no artifacts in play. Ugh.
Round 5: Pat with Replenish. Fortunately, I know Replenish pretty well, having played it in my last T1 tourney. It’s good, and he owns at least one Bazaar of Baghdad – which works really well in this deck – so I was a little nervous. Replenish doesn’t care about life totals, so long as it gets the combo off, so fast beats aren’t always enough. However, game 1 he made a serious mistake when he didn’t Force of Will Blood Moon. Blood Moon turns those expensive Libraries and Bazaars into overpriced Arabian Nights mountains. The AN mountains are nice to have, but they’re not enough to win with. The only spells he cast after Blood Moon resolved were Force of Will (and he didn’t have nearly enough of those) and Wheel of Fortune.
I can’t remember everything I sideboarded in and out, but I know I brought in the Tormod’s Crypt and the Null Brooch. I mulliganed into a great opening hand: mountain, Sol Ring, Welder, 2 Blood Moons, Mishra’s Factory. I played the Welder turn 1, and it resolved. The first Blood Moon was countered, but the second resolved and it was all over at that point. In actual fact, it took a while to kill him, with him still having a chance of getting the combo, but eventually I had two active Null Brooches and a Crypt in play. Shortly after that, I pulled a Juggernaut off the top. It was countered, but my Goblin quickly made me another one out of a Mox Pearl and Pat conceded.
Round 6: Matt with Sligh: He won the draw and cast a Jackal Pup. I Bolted it. I cast my Goblin Welder turn 2, announcing it as”Goblin Bolt Catcher.” One turn later, it proved the name – but not until it had beat for one. I also Incinerated another Pup, but that was all the damage I could do that game.
Game 2 I got the fast Su-Chi start, but he had Pyrokinesis. Fortunately, I had once again got the Mishra’s Factory into play and it saved me from mana burn. This game, however, I had a bunch of other threats and finished the game with nineteen life.
Game 3, however, didn’t go as well. I did get Masticore into play, but he kept dropping Bottle Gnomes as blockers. The last words I heard before I died were the dreaded”Cursed Scroll, naming Fireblast.” Matt was a good player and a fun opponent, though, and deserved his packs. He finished the tournament undefeated.
I finished third. Ingrid was fifth. Thanks, Mr. Bye, for the awesome tiebreakers.
Overall, I like the deck. It really needs another source of red mana, though. Way to often I had two or more burn spells and only one mountain. I would also like to try playing with a J-Tome or Urza’s Blueprints (if only Mishra’s Workshop could be used to pay echo!) for card drawing, and maybe sideboard Rejuvenation Chamber or Bottle Gnomes for life gain. A decent Tutor could be nice – Gamble would be good if the deck didn’t empty its hand so fast, and if you weren’t often tutoring for burn spells and Goblin Welders. Junk Diver was interesting, but seems unnecessary – in general, threats are better than non-threats, and an overpriced 1/1 is not a threat.
That’s it for the conventions. I wish I didn’t have to wait eleven months before doing it again…
* – Thursday and Friday were devoted to roleplaying, seminars, watching the Costume contest and all the people, a game of live D&D Clue and misc. good times.
** – The Thursday T1 had over 60 players.