A Vintage Year in Review, Part Two

The first half of 2005 was a period of successive metagame adjustments interrupted by a format-convulsing restriction. To recap, Control Slaver dominated the first major tournament of the year yet was demolished at the following StarCityGames.com Power Nine (SCG P9) pit stop in Syracuse, New York. Control Slaver was the deck to beat, and Vintage players knew it. The second half of the year brought some major changes to the format…

The first half of 2005 was a period of successive metagame adjustments interrupted by a format-convulsing restriction.  To recap, Control Slaver dominated the first major tournament of the year yet was demolished at the following StarCityGames.com Power Nine (SCG P9) pit stop in Syracuse, New York.  Control Slaver was the deck to beat, and Vintage players knew it.

The Top 8 at Syracuse was a collection of decks capable of subduing Slaver while holding their own against the rest of the field. Signs pointed to Stax as the next “big thing,” with Kevin Cron’s cutting edge Stax list earning him the Black Lotus.  Cron heralded the emergence of the expert Stax player, a phenomenon that accounts for the success of the archetype in 2005 as much as the power of the cards themselves. Unexpectedly, the DCI intervened before such prognostications could play out.

The DCI tempted fate by potentially tearing the lid off the metagame with the restriction of Trinisphere in March.  Apocalyptic predictions of Dark Ritual fueled Combo dominance proved misdirected.  Instead, the restriction of Trinisphere coincided with an explosion in the quantity and variety of Mana Drain hybrid Combo decks. This new breed of Mana Drain deck was faster and more vicious than the Control Slaver, Psychatog, and Oath decks that had come before. Instead, these Mana Drain Combo decks siphon mana into a massive game-winning turn using Auriok Salvagers; Gifts Ungiven; Future Sight and Sensei’s Divining Top; or plain old Yawgmoth’s Will.

Within a few months, a favorite emerged. A huge win at the SCG P9 stop in Chicago signaled that Gifts Ungiven was the cream of the Mana Drain crop. On the StarCityGames.com Circuit and at the Spring Waterbury, most of the diehard Control Slaver players- including Control Slaver enthusiast Rich Shay– switched to Gifts. Casting Gifts Ungiven for Yawgmoth’s Will, Recoup, Tinker, and Mana Severance or Time Walk became a common game ending play.  

The swelling of Mana Drains in the environment displaced Mishra’s Workshops and Dark Rituals in top eights, thus paving the way for the reappearance of Fish. The restriction of Trinisphere killed Workshop Aggro decks. No longer cloistered by Juggernaut-powered Mishra’s Workshops, Fish returned with a vengeance in pretty new colors (now in White!) to tackle the Mana Drain heavyweights abounding in the metagame. Fish’s Null Rod mana-denial gameplan foiled Yawgmoth’s Will fueled mayhem.

Back in 2004, Fish was one of the best decks in the format. Of course, the Vintage community was in denial at first: How could a deck with small 1/1s and limited power be so good? Fish was underpowered, but it was the best deck at abusing tempo. It preyed on Mana Drain decks and had the tools to combat everything else. However, Oath of Druids, Lava Darts, and Mishra’s Workshops finally pushed Fish from view. The restriction of Trinisphere unleashed a torrent of Mana Drain decks while simultaneously opening the door to Fish. This is why it was all the more surprising when in May, Mishra’s Workshops found their way back into the field.

The “Fish and Gifts” metagame was primed for artifact infiltration. Since the restriction of Trinisphere, Workshop hate had fallen from Vintage memory (and Vintage sideboards). The lesson of SCG P9 Richmond in May was that Workshop could compete in an environment without Trinisphere. Vroman and Cron’s performance in Chicago, making Top 8 and 9th place respectively, was no fluke.

Apparently, people took this to heart- by June, the “Fish and Gifts” metagame returned, this time with plenty of sideboard hate for those artifact-lovers. Simultaneously, trepidation over Fish prompted many Control players to revisit their deck choice. A raft of Blue mages veered back to reliable Control Slaver when Ugo Rivard reminded the world that the deck still had what it takes. He nabbed the top spot at the Shooting Stars SCG event in June, in a Top 8 filled to the brim with Fish.

The cards were now face-up. The remaining mystery was simple- who was going to win this tug of war between Gifts, Control Slaver, Fish, and Workshop decks?  Who would lose? By July, the answer would be unequivocal. This time, there would be no doubt.

: Three Stax and Fish is Out!

The StarCityGames.com tournament circuit retuned to great anticipation. This tournament would set the stage for the third Vintage World Championships, mere weeks later.

Take a look at the top of the metagame breakdown, provided by the esteemed supercomputer Dr. Phil Stanton:

24 Fish

14 Control Slaver (1 without Slaver)

13 Oath of Druids

12 Gifts (about half traditional Severance Belcher and half Meandeck Gifts)

9 Stax (plus 1 Uba Stax, piloted by Vroman)


7 5/3

Full coverage can be found here.

Tastes great with orange juice!

Fish dominates the tournament numbers, with seventy percent more Fish than the second popular archetype, Control Slaver. People took notice of the Shooting Stars Top 8. Of 141 players, over fifty ran Mana Drain decks, and 27 ran with Workshop builds. The Mana Drain decks were pretty evenly split between Gifts, Control Slaver, and a newly-returned Oath! Some players wisely foresaw that Oath would be a solid surprise solution to the Fish metagame. Workshop Aggro decks joined in the fun to stomp some fishies. Juggernaut eats Cloud of Faeries for breakfast.

Take a look at the results.

1) Uba Stax

2) Cron Stax

3) Traditional Stax

4) Control Slaver

5) Control Slaver

6) Meandeck Gifts

7) Control Slaver

8) Worldgorger Dragon Combo

No Fish made Top 8, despite its huge presence in the field. Fish had finally hit the wall- a metagame with the non-trivial components of Mishra’s Workshop decks and Oath. Apparently, these Control Slaver decks also had little difficulty dispatching with the little fishies, as Ugo Rivard proved.

This is a turning point in Vintage. A watershed moment. Three very different Stax lists made Top 8. But they not only secured a place in the Top 8. They each bested a Control Slaver deck in the Top 8 elimination rounds.

Three different Stax decks knocked out Control Slaver with the same ferocity.

The conventional wisdom said that Slaver was the favorite in the Stax match. A single counterspell and Goblin Welder could toy with the board state of a Stax player. Imagine… turn one Force of Will on a Smokestack, followed by Goblin Welder. The Welder could mess around with the Stax board long enough that Stax might never recover.

The Stax game plan depends upon locking the opponent down. Opposing Welders tend to get in the way of that. The sweeping way that Stax dealt with Control Slaver is the most significant aspect of this Top 8.

Let me put it in context.

For the totality of its modern existence, the Vintage expert has been a Mana Drain player (you surely remember Oscar Tan!). The premiere website for Vintage strategy is named after the card. The Vintage expert played Keeper (the modern incarnation of the Weissman deck) and then switched to the Mana Drain deck in fashion at the time. Mana Drain decks clinched both of the Vintage championships. Carl Winter triumphed with the power of Psychatog, handily besting nearly two hundred competitors. Mark Biller slaughtered a Top 8 of Workshops and Trinispheres with his Mana Drain and Welding Mindslaver deck.

In 2004, Eric Miller made a name for himself playing Workshop Aggro decks. He was a finalist at the first SCG P9 tournament in July of 2004. He won two more SCG P9 tournaments, and made Top 8 at the SCG P9 tournament in May 2005. Many people attributed his success to luck, and the fortune of having both Workshop and Trinisphere in opening grip an inadvertent number of times. Playing Workshop and Trinisphere, followed by Juggernaut, was not very skill intensive, or so the critics claimed.

The restriction of Trinisphere forced Stax players to adapt, revealing a new breed of Mishra’s Workshop aficionados. The archetypical Vintage Control/Mana Drain player was famed for intelligent metagaming, insightful adjustments, wise sideboarding, and brilliant play. Workshop players, like Aggro players and other non-favored folk, were dismissed as unskilled luck-sacks.

That stereotype was a casualty of 2005.

Robert Vroman made two Top 8s in a row, finally securing his first SCG win with his Uba Stax creation. Matt Morrison piloted Kevin’s Cron Stax to second place. And the unflappable Roland Chang achieved his second Top 8 in Chicago with his trusty, traditional Tangle Wire Stax list.

I want to draw attention to one feature of these decks: Control Slaver is celebrated for its metagame flexibility. Small tweaks are constantly being undertaken to improve Control Slaver against the field.

There is greater variability between the Stax decks than between the Control Slaver lists they bested.

The variation in design reflects individualized decision-making, analysis, and preparation concerning the expected metagame. No longer are these Mishra’s Workshop builds the result of lucky net-deckers. These players are as comfortable with, and knowledgeable about, their weapon of choice as Control Slaver guru Rich Shay is with his.

SCG Chicago in July was a clearing-house event. Fish showed up in huge numbers, but was swept out of the metagame like dust on a dirty floor.

Of note, Meandeck Gifts secured a spot in the Top 8.

More on that deck later.

Gifts and Control Slaver clearly struggled for Mana Drain predominance in July. Now that Stax, in the hands of a capable pilot, had asserted itself as capable of beating everything the metagame could throw at it, another question arose. Could Stax sustain its momentum, or would the Drain decks evolve once more? The answer was found in the most dramatic fashion imaginable: The Vintage Championships at Gencon.

August: Setting up the Triple Crown

For the first time in its three year existence, the Vintage Championship implemented a qualifier system. The Winners of the respective Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Belgium Vintage Championship tournaments were awarded flights and free entry to the Vintage Championship at Gencon, along with two byes to as a bonus. I managed to receive one of the few byes given to Americans by winning the qualifier at Origins with Meandeck Gifts. The qualifier system enhanced the diversity of the tournament and made it all the more appealing. Unfortunately, the tournament was one player shy of the typical eight rounds of Swiss. After seven rounds, a Top 8 took shape.

I recommend to you Ted Knutson coverage of the event, from Wizards.com

The Top 8 and final results looked like this:

1) Traditional Tangle Wire Stax – Roland Chang

2) Gifts Control (SSB)

3) Control Slaver

4) Psychatog

5) Oath of Druids

6) Control Slaver variant

7) Dragon Combo

8) Cron Stax

The finals was an epic contest of two warring archetypes: Stax and Gifts.

Take a look at Andy’s Gifts list:

I crafted Meandeck Gifts out of my dissatisfaction with the current Gifts incarnations. I canvassed all the potential draw engines in Gifts, and came to the conclusion that four Gifts Ungiven was not only doable, but necessary. Gifts Ungiven was the broken card, and should be abused to the fullest. You can read my analysis and view my decklist in my article on the subject.

The substance of my critique was as follows- the old Shortbus Severance Belcher lists, promoted by Andy Probasco in March and winners at SCG Chicago in April, were inefficient. They were clogged with unnecessary cards, such as Goblin Welder and Mindslaver. I argued that the Burning Wish and Darksteel Colossus components were superior. I felt that the best route to victory was to Tinker for the Colossus, followed by Time Walk (and another Time Walk either via Recoup, Burning Wish, or Yawgmoth’s Will). I also expressed a strong distaste for Thirst for Knowledge , proposing multiple Merchant Scrolls instead. Randy Buehler agreed.

A benefit of the proliferation of Vintage proxy events is that Wizards employees can complete in this exciting and dynamic format. I suspect we will be seeing a lot more of Buehler and his cohorts at Vintage events in 2006.

Andy “The Brassman” Probasco took up many of my changes. He dropped Welder and Slaver, and incorporated the Burning Wish and Darksteel Colossus victory conditions. He also added two Merchant Scrolls. He kept the Thirst engine, but made some important changes. A problem with Thirst was that there weren’t enough artifacts worth pitching. Andy utilized Pithing Needle and Engineered Explosives to increase his artifact count. Meandeck Gifts was a solid evolutionary improvement upon Shortbus Severance Belcher. Andy took note, incorporating improvements and making changes to overcome the Thirst deficiencies. The result was a cutting-edge Gifts list.

Unfortunately, Andy’s mana base came back to bite him in the ass. Stax preys upon weak mana bases. Andy only had three basic lands, in a total of 14 lands period. Fifteen lands was the minimum number you should run. I piloted Meandeck Gifts to top 16 with five Islands and six fetchlands – an invulnerable mana base.

In this epic battle of Gifts and Stax the winner was clear. Stax prevailed against the fiercest competition. One of the finest innovators in Vintage from the East hit a wall of Meandeck expertise in the Midwest. Stax and Mishra’s Workshops won their first Vintage Championship.

Before we move on, it’s worth mentioning that Control Slaver performed quite well at Gencon. It managed to take in a top slot in the tournament, under the supervision of Brian Demars. Although Gifts appears to the crowd favorite, Slaver isn’t far behind.

September: Gifts Ascendant

For the second time this year, the masses of the Mana Drain players switch once more to Gifts Ungiven. 191 players strut their stuff in Waterbury, Connecticut, and the Top 8 is overflowing with Andy’s Gencon deck:

1) Stax, with original decklist

2) Control Slaver with Gifts

3) SSB (Gifts)

4) SSB (Gifts)

5) SSB (Gifts)

6) SSB (Gifts)

7) UWG Aggro-Control Threshold/Fish

8) Dragon Combo

The top three spots mirror the top three decks from the Vintage Championship a month earlier. Stax, Slaver, and Gifts, once again, show that they are the decks to beat.

I can hardly contain my excitement.

The winning Stax list runs Null Rod. This is the first time it appears in a more traditional Stax frame. Null Rod in Stax was an innovation of Uba Stax creator Vroman. This innovation is one to take note of.

Winning the Waterbury was the final pin for Stax to knock down. Of 191 players, I would be surprised if there were more than 25 Mishra’s Workshop decks, and shocked if there were fewer than 70 Mana Drain decks. The Northeast is Mana Drain country. Kevin Cron’s February victory with Stax in Syracuse was explained away as anomalous. Stax performing well in Richmond or Gencon is not all together out of the ordinary… however, Stax won the Vintage Championship for the first time ever after Trinisphere was restricted! Not only did it perform well on the SCG circuit, it also took home top slots consistently. And now Stax won a Waterbury. It won the triple crown this year.

Nonetheless, the Brassman Gifts list appears to be the favorite of the tournament. Where Gifts couldn’t quite dominate at the Waterbury, it decided to take first, second, and third place in Richmond two weeks later. This time, Andy shored up his mana base and included more basic lands. Four other Workshop decks appeared in the top nine places, alongside a Fish deck and an Oath list. Fish and Oath are still showing despite Fish’s massive implosion at Gencon.

The success of Gifts in Richmond is important: the last Richmond tournament followed the previous victory of Shortbus Gifts from Chicago but no Gifts list managed to make the elimination rounds. This time, Gifts bested a Workshop-heavy field in the South, where Gifts failed to make strong inroads.

Stax had won everything it asked for, but now it faced a reversal of fortune. Whereas it had consistently placed itself above the Mana Drain decks in the final Top 8 results, now it fell to the bottom half of the Top 8.

There is one other trend worth pointing out. From SCG Chicago, to Gencon, to Waterbury, one Dragon deck managed to sneak its way into the Top 8 before getting knocked out of contention. Dragon seems to be a deck that appears in the bottom half of Top 8s as a singleton.

Gifts laid claim to a solid part of the Northeast metagame, and trampled over the South with no remorse in the heart of Workshop country. This occurred after the longest Stax winning streak in Vintage history.

October: Portal to the Future

Stax had been upset in Richmond. The hybrid Meandeck Gifts and Shortbus Severance Belcher Gifts list that Andy Probasco and his teammates piloted to numerous solid finishes appeared to be the strongest deck in the format. Would this winning streak continue unabated?

As luck would have it, some major metagame shifts were in store.

Vintage has a huge card pool. Ravnica became legal on October 20th, and three Portal sets entered the fray. Each small set at least has some impact on Vintage, and oftentimes it shakes things up a lot (see Scourge). It has been some time since so many cards suddenly materialized in Vintage. No one expected that SCG Chicago at the end of October would precipitate a full incorporation of these sets, but it might give us some important clues about which cards were likely to see play. Both Portal and Ravnica are crammed with goodies for Vintage players to devour.

Before I discuss what happened in Chicago, let’s take some time to review where we are.

Gencon confirmed that Stax, Gifts, and Control Slaver were the decks to beat. Fish, once a promising solution to the metagame, was once again shut out. Team GWS placed a unique Oath list into the Top 8 at Gencon, and Dragon consistently pushed a player into these final stages.

One of the keys to predicting these Top 8s is whether people are sticking with Gifts or reverting back to Control Slaver. Every time we see advancement, the major Drain players choose to play Gifts. However, when Gifts sits still, Control Slaver reappears and Gifts retreats into hiding.

This is a dialectic that defines Mana Drains in 2005: Control players appear to be most comfortable playing Control Slaver. However, they switch to Gifts when they believe it is the more powerful deck, especially when a new Gifts variant emerges. The rest of the Top 8s appear stable in 2005: a smattering of Dragon, Fish, and Oath; and a lot of Workshop decks. The mystery is whether Gifts or Control Slaver will be the favorite.

Is all the more surprising that neither Control Slaver nor Gifts did well in Chicago in October, 2005. Andy Probasco placed 105th with his recent Gifts list.

I pull up the list is to show how Ravnica has affected the format: Andy has dropped the Goblin CharbelcherMana Severance Combo in favor of Time Vault and Flame Fusillade.

Brian DeMars, a consistent Control Slaver player who recently qualified for Honolulu, didn’t fare much better at 73rd place.

So, what the heck won?

The answer, of course, is Stax. For the third time in a row, Vroman made Top 8 at SCG Chicago, and for the second consecutive time, he took home the Black Lotus. Take a look at his most recent Uba Stax incarnation. Vroman’s only significant defeat this year was at Gencon, where he was knocked out of contention rather early.

Not to be denied, a traditional Stax deck placed 2nd, reminding everyone that all varieties of Stax are capable of success.

Now take a look at the Top 8.

1) Uba Stax – Vroman

2) Traditional Stax

3) UW Fish

4) Grim Long (Menendian)

5) GWS Oath

6) GWS Oath

7) 2 Land Belcher – Jdizzle

8) Meandeck Gifts-Oath

Three other developments are worth mentioning. Team Meandeck published a Gifts variant using Oath of Druids over Merchant Scroll, and Josh Rayden made Top 8 with this evolutionary offshoot. Mat Endress, Gencon semi-finalist, not only secured himself a spot in the Top 8 with an innovative Oath list running Imperial Seal, but he also got another teammate there as well.

The Top 8 was two Stax, two Dark Ritual Combo decks, two Oath lists, one Fish, and one Gifts deck.

Why did two Dark Ritual decks make Top 8? I can’t answer that question definitively, but I can speculate. It has been an eternity since Dark Ritual decks saw success in Vintage. Six months is a long time in this format, and when something is absent for so long, the metagame becomes ripe for their return.

Portal aided that trend. Portal infused the format with new tutors: Imperial Seal, Personal Tutor, and Grim Tutor shine among them. These cards were critical to the two Combo decks that made Top 8. Imperial Seal found a home in Stax, fetching Strip Mine. It was used by Endress in Oath. Andy Probasco and Brian DeMars turn to Imperial Seal in their Gifts and Control Slaver decks. Grim Tutor replaced Death Wish in Long.dec, and made possible an objectively stronger Combo offering. I wrote an article extensively discussing my choice of deck and explaining how it works.

Imperial Seal and Personal Tutor were preemptively restricted when Portal became legal. The restriction of Imperial Seal was warranted, but the restriction of Personal Tutor is quite questionable. It is not altogether clear that Personal Tutor will see significant play.

The danger is that restriction, as a policy device, is losing its ability to shape the metagame. With Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Imperial Seal, Personal Tutor, Demonic Tutor, Merchant Scroll, and bulk tutors like Gifts Ungiven, cards like Tinker, Yawgmoth’s Will, and Strip Mine can be found with relative ease. It remains to be seen whether a critical mass of tutors will necessitate a banning.

November – Legacy Begins

In November, Vintage players braced themselves for the Legacy Grand Prix. A collective sigh rang through the Vintage community when it was over. A number of Vintage players like Josh Silvestri, Andy Probasco, and myself focused most of our energies on Legacy… and Vintage suffered for it. There was a fear that Legacy might over take Vintage. That fear was, of course, unfounded, but the enthusiasm, accessibility and freshness of Legacy took a lot from the Vintage events in the waning months of 2005.

Every year at this time, Vintage experiences a lull until the format is jolted upright by a new Waterbury in January.

However, before bell tolled and book closed, there was one story left to tell…

December: A Dialectic Emerges

108 players rushed to Rochester for the last leg of the SCG P9 Circuit, 2005. The results were as interesting as the characters that defined it. Once again, Canada makes its presence known, and the fearsome Ugo Rivard walks away with the trophy:

The Top 8, and more.

1) Control Slaver

2) GWS Oath

3) Burning Control SlaverBrian DeMars

4) Gifts

5) Gifts

6) Dragon

7) Fish

8) Control Slaver

2005 ends not with a bang but with a jolt. Conspicuously absent is Stax, already under-represented in the Northeast. At the last Rochester, there was almost no Stax in the Top 8. What little Stax there may have been was forced out due to its unprecedented success. This Top 8 is so unlike SCG Chicago that we must be reminded how regional differences can affect a metagame. Perhaps more importantly, it reminds us how strongly the constitution of the competition affects the outcome. Perhaps if Vroman had been competing, he would have forced a showdown with Uga Rivard. Yet the same can’t be said of Chicago. Demars and Probasco both fell on their swords in the Windy City.

The question posed by SCG Chicago- would Dark Ritual decks make a comeback- seems to be answered in the negative. However, with Justin Droba piloting Belcher, it is hard to say that Belcher can’t compete. Justin has been consistent this year. Will see this breed of player emerge with Combo decks? We saw hints of it with Michael Simister (placing third at Gencon in 2004) and others, but they vanished. For the first time we see it clearly with Workshops, on the same scale as the Drain experts like Rich Shay, Steve O'Connell, and older Vintage players.

As for Ravnica, Darkblast is already a Vintage staple. I’ll wager that Darkblast breaches the Top 10 Black Spell list in the next metagame summation. It doesn’t take Sylvia Brown to predict that Ravnica will see much more play in Vintage. Remember, it wasn’t until April that Gifts Ungiven, the Blue bomb from Champions, established a foothold in the format.

A few trends recur in Rochester to characterize the last few events of the year. The questions to determine a Top 8 make-up are simple.

Is Gifts or Control Slaver the Drain deck of choice?

Will Stax or Drain end up on top?

The rest of the Top 8s are consistent. This one is no different with one Fish, one Dragon and one Oath. Three Control Slavers find their way into Top 8, with two Gifts lists along for the ride. Brian DeMars manages once again to make the semi-finals with his Slaver list; this time he’s sporting Imperial Seal.

The dialectic that emerges is one I’ve already spelled out. When Gifts evolve, they advance and do well. With no advance in Gifts, Control Slaver steps up to the plate. The player base appears happier playing Control Slaver than Gifts. When Gifts experiences an evolutionary advance, then Gifts shows up once again: people are drawn to power. Josh Rayden piloting Meandeck Gifts-Oath in Chicago is a case in point.

I’d like to point out the unique Gifts list that made the semi-finals at this event.

Peter stitched together another advance for the Gifts concept. He moved the Oath concept to the sideboard, cutting the superfluous win conditions that Andy Probasco and his team had left in when considering the changes that characterized Meandeck Gifts. Peter’s list is a hybrid of both Meandeck Gifts and Andy’s Shortbus Gifts list. It remains to be seen whether his variant will stick or whether people will return to Control Slaver.

I suspect that the January Waterbury will show a split between Gifts and Control Slaver. The important question is: which will be more successful? An even split between Gifts and Slaver is not sustainable. One will win out. Regardless of the strength of these archetypes, there can be no doubt that the pilot is a huge factor explaining the success of any given deck.

The big difference for Stax is that, for the first time ever, we see the emergence of expert Stax players who repeatedly performs well: Vroman, Chang, Cron, Laplante, Eric Miller, and others. These players were overshadowed in 2004, with David Allen and Eric Miller’s repeated success on the SCG and Gencon circuit, but the restriction of Trinisphere unmasked the truly great Workshop players from those who relied on Workshop, Trinisphere to win games.

The January Waterbury is looming, and in a few weeks we will have some preliminary answers to these big questions. We will see if Stax can make headway in the Northeast… Roland Chang is trekking out there for a showdown! His presence will certainly test those frigid waters. If there were more Stax experts in the Northeast, more Vromans and Changs, then we might well see more Stax decks in those Top 8s. Nonetheless, those Stax players are here to stay.

If we don’t see Stax perform well again in the Waterbury, I have every confidence Stax will make a strong showing at the double-header P9 Circuit stop in Richmond or wherever else the P9 circuit stops in 2006. I hope to see you there.

Stephen Menendian