Yeah – we’re back up. Surviving a server problem – like trying to get out of Stasis lock – is never fun. Glad that’s over.
In the meantime, life goes on. Pete Hills, a teammate from Team C&C, won Midwest Regionals. Way to go Pete!
The last article I wrote before Regionals ended with a snippet about bad luck being part of Magic. Prescient, that: A last-minute emergency meant Ingrid and I missed Regionals completely. That’s a shame, because my deck was good – and I could have beaten Pete. (In my dreams – my U/W/b deck has a lot of dead cards against Nether-Go game 1 – it’s better after sideboarding, but not great.) Unfortunately, my deck relied on Recall, so it’s nowhere near as good under 7th edition.
I have finally found a title for this column: Yawgmoth’s Whimsy. It’s not as focused as Yawgmoth’s Will, or as useful as Yawgmoth’s Bargain, but hopefully a little better that Edict. Actually, I thought it up while brainstorming with Ingrid on titles for her column on CCGPrime. As it turns out, they’ve named her column Multiplayer Madness. Check it out. (Yes, do – I am SO damn jealous that CCGPrime has her for a Featured Columnist and not us it makes me wake up in a cold sweat – The Ferrett)
I have also played in an assortment of tournaments since my last article. Some drafts, some T2, some T1, some Friday Night Magic. With both Pete and Jason qualified for nationals, Team C&C is doing a lot of Rochester drafting and T2 practice, including a bunch of unsanctioned T2s. Nothing much I can say about that – I have been one of the people playing the suite of expected, standard-archetype decks. My decks are variants on standards like Fires, U/W Control, etc. – nothing that isn’t already all over the net. And I can’t talk about what Jason and Pete are going to play.
I have also been playing in some Friday Night Magic T2 tourneys. The turnout really varies – the count ranges from eight to sixteen, and the players range from complete neophytes to people with a couple PTQ top 8s and an occasional Pro Tour player. The decks you face are pretty random, too. I do my part – I play a brand new deck every time. After all, Ingrid and I generally have the cards, and Friday Night Magic is supposed to be about fun – not crushing little kids with a tuned deck every time.
Some highlights and notes on the decks – no point in doing complete reports for a half dozen tourneys, so I’ll just touch on the good stuff.
This deck packed Ravenous Rats and Nightscape Familiars as early drops, Doomsday Specters as control and kill, Recoils, Vendettas and Repulses to clear the path, plus various counters and card drawing. It could have been good, but there just wasn’t room for everything. I ended up with something like three Counterspells, two Undermines, etc. – it was clearly not a polished deck. It had some potential – someday I’ll have to think about whether to try it with Duress. Highlights:
I played a near-mirror match – my opponent was playing U/R/B specters, and he kept playing turn 2 Blazing Specters. He even had Crosis, the Purger maindeck, and Crosis is a bit bigger than a Doomsday Specter. He had worked hard on the mana, and consistently got what he needed. However, I had worked hard on the card drawing, so I could eventually out-counter him and take control. If Dominate targeting Crosis resolves, that was usually game.
I ended up playing the final round against Gary Nawrocki’s U/W/G deck running Questing Phelddagrif and River Boa. I outran him game 1, then ran into pro-blue Voice of Alls game 2 until the hippos arrived. Game 3 he started fast, with a turn 2 Boa being countered and a turn 3 hippo hitting the table. I was soon low on life and short of counters, but got a Doomsday Specter into play. On my turn, I Repulsed the hippo, beat with the Specter, and figured to make him discard the hippo with the Specter’s Coercion ability. Unfortunately, his hand had two hippos, two River Boas, a Kavu Chameleon, and some other useful stuff. That’s pretty bad – especially since I was pretty much tapped out after Repulse and he had tons of land and mana birds. I lost – no foil Giant Growth for me.
A week or so later, I threw together a R/B deck with Nightscape Apprentice, Crypt Angel, Blazing Specter, Skizzik, Terminate, Urza’s Rage and burn. In the sideboard I had some Marauding Knights, which proved an incredible choice. I was paired up against Rebel decks almost every round. Red-white Rebels. Blue-white Rebels. Green-white Rebels. Rebel chains ending in a Ramosian Sky Marshal do not like a 3/3 pro-white flier. The only deck that gave me any trouble was the CounterRebel deck; Ingrid played that one. She’s lethal with CounterSlivers, and way too good with any other aggro-counter deck. She won the tournament that night, so I cannot complain.
She explained it in terms of the old hunter/gatherer tribes from prehistory. My job was to go out and collect DCI rating points, then share them with her. Which reminds me – if you care too much about your rating to play FNM with rogue decks, how can you have any fun with this game? Lighten up.
Another week I took a G/W deck – with Blastoderms, River Boas, Voice of All, Parallax Wave, Wax and Wane, Armadillo Cloak. In effect, a bad PT Junk deck – but this was back when PT Junk was still secret. I’d never seen it – and I neglected to include Armageddon in the sideboard. Bad mistake – without ‘Geddon, the deck folds to control. I saw a bunch of control. By the end of the night I was swearing I would never play a deck without card drawing again. I really don’t remember what my final record was – somewhere in the middle of the pack. And thoroughly bummed about it.
That vow lasted about a week. Then next Friday Ingrid and I were busy and didn’t have time to build original decks. Instead, we just decided to try playing Darwin Kastle’s”Creatures in the House.” It seemed the quintessential Friday Night Magic deck – all creatures, some fatties, and built to beat down. It is also surprisingly versatile and powerful. Round one, I played against a Skies deck and just blew it away. My Battlemages burned his Airships and my Flametongue made sure his Spirit wasn’t all that Troublesome. We played some fun games afterward the match and I won 6 in a row before he won one. Ingrid ran out of time and drew with the dreaded Questing Pheldagriff deck. Then, round 2, the Skies player was paired up – against Ingrid – and he got blasted all over again. The poor kid was understandably upset.
Kastle’s deck was actually pretty good: We won every match from there on until Ingrid and I played in the final round. I won the toss, so I won game 1. My Battlemage killed her elves, my Flametongue got played first, etc. Game 2 I drew Simoon first, and played Tahngarth first. Not her night – but at least she didn’t make me walk home.
The night before Regionals I knew I was not going to be playing, so I took my Regionals deck to FNM. I had decided early on I wanted to play blue for counters and card drawing, white for Wrath of God and Disenchants and black for Tsabo’s Decree. That means the mana is a mess, but it ends up looking something like Sean McKeown Probe-Go deck. I had tried Dromar in the deck before he did, but I dumped it for Dominate. I did run Probe over Fact or Fiction, since mana problems often mean that you end up casting a Probe turn 4 to fix your land – and since you can Wrath or Disenchant anything that gets cast that turn. My deck looked something like this: Four each Counterspell, Wrath of God, Absorb, Accumulated Knowledge, Probe; three Nether Spirits; two each Tsabo’s Web, Foil, Dromar’s Charm, Dismantling Blow; one each Dominate, Misdirection, Tsabo’s Decree, Recall; lands. I’m doing this from memory, so I may be one or two cards off – but it’s close.
Anyway, that night FNM had a high percentage of good players who were playtesting their Regionals decks – or getting a last chance to work with an alternative deck. I played nothing but good builds and good players, so I didn’t feel too bad about taking a great, highly-tuned deck to FNM. I stomped all over Fires, Blue Skies / Blue Chevy, CounterRebels and PT Junk. Undefeated at FNM was good – but I was really wishing I could take that to Regionals. That same night, Ingrid lost only one match playing Animals in the House against tier one decks and good players. That’s tough to do.
Last week I played a very questionable U/G/w Opposition deck. It had too little card drawing, too few creatures, and the central lock was too fragile. In other words, don’t try this one at home. The deck had four each Counterspell, Llanowar Elves, Birds of Paradise, Opposition, Accumulated Knowledge, Saproling Symbiosis; three each Utopia Tree, Repulse (should have been Memory Lapse); 2 Nemata, Grove Guardian, Treva’s Charm, one each Dominate, Restock, Ports, Forests, Islands, two Cities, Treva’s Ruins.
Round 1 I played a kid (sorry, I forgot your name) with a Turbo-Fog deck. Howling Mines, Millstones, Spore Frog, Wrath, Tangle and Fog. He’s ahead on land and I’m getting blown out by Power Sinks. I’m thinking,”This deck isn’t that bad – why am I losing to Power Sink.” A few minutes, and a good chunk of my deck later, that changes to”It’s May. Why am I losing to Power Sink when it’s no longer in the format?!” However, this is FNM. The kid has a brand new DCI card and I don’t want him disqualified in his first game of his first tournament. I tell him that, after this game, we’ll have to pull the Power Sinks and replace them with something legal. Besides, I figure I can still pull this out.
I don’t. I lose game 1, with about thirty minutes of the round gone. Suddenly I realize that I’m not that blasé about losing a chunk of DCI rating (finally back over 1800) to a kid with an illegal deck. Fortunately, my deck behaves game 2. By turn 4, I’ve got two Birds, an Elf, a Utopia Tree, and Opposition on the board, and I can cast Saproling Symbiosis and lock him. Then Nemata shows up right on schedule and the Saprolings stroll over for the kill. Game three gets a little tight, but when time is called, I explain to the Steve Port, the Midwest’s best TO, about having to correct an illegal deck and ask for two more minutes. That’s enough for the win.
Next round I drew with Jesse, who was playing Fires. He got the turn one elf, turn 2 Idol (which I countered) turn 3 and 4 Blastoderm (which I could not counter) start. I was at four before I could get a lockdown, but he finally killed me with a Get-you Fire one turn before I would have killed him. Game 2 I comboed him out – okay, beating him with Saprolings isn’t really a combo, but with Nemata in play to produce tokens at instant speed and the ability to sacrifice any tokens that get blocked or have summoning sickness for extra damage, it’s pretty close. Game 3 I had control, thanks to a Meekstone, Opposition, and some mana creatures. Unfortunately, I didn’t have counters or Nemata, and could not lock all his lands. He manages to Earthquake for two, which breaks the lock pretty convincingly. I could still recover, but we were already in extra rounds. I tried beating for eight with twin Birds of Paradise in the last round, but came up just short – well – just eight short. Ever notice that Birds of Paradise don’t beat worth a damn?
The next round featured one of the most inane games of Magic I have ever played. I was playing Jim Braatz, who had built a Rising Waters deck with Waterspout Elemental. Game 1 he got Waters down, and since I had four 4 counters in my entire deck, I died slowly. Game 2 I sided in Disrupts and Misdirections. He played Troublesome Spirit, but that meant his lands were tapped and my Disrupts were golden. I won the counter wars over Nemata and Opposition, and he scooped.
Game 3 got weird. He played a fast Sky Diamond and Troublesome Spirit – I let it attack and played Meekstone. After Disrupting a Foil, it resolved – so now all his lands were tapped at the end of his turn, but he could never get his Spirit pointed in the right direction. So he was toast… Or so I thought.
Unfortunately, I was no better off. I had to play an early City of Brass to play Opposition, and I had just two Birds of Paradise to keep him somewhat locked. Unfortunately, he drew a Port. I cast Saproling Symbiosis for two tokens, but he Rushing Rivered them away when all I had for counters was a Misdirection. He occasionally had to tap all his lands to try to cast things, but I drew just enough counters to keep threats away. The game finally ended with him at two life and me with three Birds of Paradise, two Utopia Trees and an Elf in play – and having taken the last fourteen points of damage because his Ports kept tapping my City of Brass. I had gone through 35 cards, and had I drawn a creature with power greater than zero two turns earlier, or drawn even one of the Treva’s Ruins, I would have won. But it wasn’t to be.
In the final round, I was paired up against a version of Blue Chevy (Adrian Sullivan deck, with a couple big fliers, lots of counters, card drawing and bounce, and some Glacial Wall). Game 1 I got the lock, then Nemata, then sent some trees to fall on him. Game 2, he showed what having more and better counters can do, as he countered my lock and pummeled me with an Air Elemental and a Mahamoti Djinn. It is a long time since I have been beaten up by the Djinn – and I don’t mind if it’s a long time before I lose to it again. Game 3 – from my perspective – went much better than game 2. I played a Forest and Bird, he played an Island. I played a Port and an Elf. He played an Island, and I tapped it at the end of his turn. I played Island, tapped his other Island, and cast Meekstone. He Foiled, I Disrupted, and he scooped. He had four creatures in his deck and had sided out the Wash Outs, so all four would have had to resolve and attack without being blocked in order to deal twenty damage to me. And I had a Bird in play, so that was game.
Why do I play FNM? Well, partially because I can get a lot of games in. No one is scouting between rounds, so people keep playing even after the match is decided. It’s laid back. It’s fun, and you get weird interactions. Things happen at FNM that would never happen in a PTQ.
Here’s an example. Andy Klein was playing Turbo-Fog against a kid with a green weenies and Seal of Strength deck. Andy has made the tour, and knows Turbo Fog well. The kid is having a blast playing tons of creatures, but Andy is Fogging every turn and has complete control. However, Andy is doomed. Turbo Fog is carefully tuned to recur Fog enough to deck the opponent using Howling Mines – but the kid has seventy-eight cards in his deck. Andy finally runs out of Fogs and dies. Game 2, he has put in a transformational sideboard and starts beating with Questing Pheldagriff, Blastoderms, etc. However, the game soon becomes a creature stall. Andy drops plenty of land, and it’s clear his opponent isn’t holding any. Andy has three Blastoderms in hand, twenty-odd mana available, and is just waiting for his single Obliterate. The plan was sound – float twenty mana, clear the board, drop 3 Blastoderms and win. Too bad his Obliterate was the very bottom card in his library.
Don’t you hate it when that happens?