Carl’s Too Long Alternate Raksoesque: The 24 Hour Eli Kassis Special, or Yet Another Random String of Nouns with a smattering of Verbs and Their Buddies, the Adverb and Adjective, To Describe My Waterbury Experience
By Carl Winter
Ray Robillard gives me that happy feeling they warn you about in elementary school. Waterbury events are always awesome for so many obvious reasons, but I like being able to play, which is something I get to do less and less as time goes on. So as per the last few Waterbury events I’ve played in (sans the one where all of Meandeck played SX), I got in approximately zero playtest hours, logging only a few in with Ashok on Magic Workstation. We weren’t really sure what to expect for this event because the metagame just seems so wide open at the moment (and the Top 16 decks demonstrate this very well) that predicting what’s going to show up is almost useless.
Luckily we were playing in New England meaning quite a few things:
A lot of Mana Drains
A lot of Thirst for Knowledges
A lot of Goblin Welders
As for the rest, well, it all shows up. Metagaming is just a matter of playing the numbers and hoping you got lucky with your sideboard and random main deck metagame slots which, by the way, I think are generally a horrible idea unless you know exactly what you’re going to be up against. Sure, you can shave off the last Duress or two to fit in some Lava Darts or Stifles, but you’ll feel sorry when you’re facing off against a Combo deck like TPS or Meandeath. (Which apparently isn’t as dead as I had previously thought with at least two players putting up decent showings with it. They were having so much fun that I was almost jealous of their decision to play it. Almost.)
So around a month or so before Waterbury I was fiddling around with various builds of different decks. Stuff like Shay/Goth Slaver, Oath of the two- and three-color flavors, and TPS…
Okay, fine, I admit it. I was considering playing TPS. Sue me! Gosh! I suppose you all would like to see the list though. It was pretty hot, if I do say so myself.
1 Boseiju who Shelters All
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Polluted Delta
4 Underground Sea
4 Dark Ritual
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Diamond
1 Darksteel Colossus
2 Tendrils of Agony
4 Force of Will
1 Chain of Vapor
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Spiral
1 Memory Jar
1 Frantic Search
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Time Walk
1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Mind’s Desire
Myself, along with the rest of Team Meandeck felt that this would be an event dominated by decks abusing Boseiju, Who Indiscriminately Shelters Everyone… except for JP Meyer. (He’s too Japanese-School-girlish to be Sheltered.) Boseiju was absolutely insane in every game that I got it into play, both in testing and at Waterbury… but more on that later!
One of the main reasons I liked Boseiju in TPS was because of the deck’s ability to run Frantic Search and Time Spiral – cards Meandeath is unable to fully abuse. They both allow you to play Boseiju and hopefully use it that turn as opposed to waiting a turn or casting Time Walk. Uncounterable Time Spirals, Tinkers, and especially Yawgmoth’s Wills make me tingly in the bathing suit spots.
Unfortunately the deck still had the classic TPS problems: Resolving bombs and then proceeding to draw Vermont and lose. Lands and Force of Wills are not conducive to Tendrils kills. I scrapped TPS after getting what would be insane turn 1 kills and then fizzling out to drawing four land, Dark Ritual, Force of Will, *insert random artifact accelerant here*.
Eventually I gave up on testing random decks, opting instead to wait for the results of SCG VI: Chicago to get a gander at what the metagame could look like for Waterbury.
Jump forward a few weeks…
(This space represents two weeks. If only time were so simple…)
After the results of SCG VI: Chicago went up I figured that I would go with an old standby: 4cc
4 Mana Drain
4 Force of Will
3 Phyrexian Furnace
2 Gorilla Shaman
2 Decree of Justice
3 Skeletal Scrying
3 Cunning Wish
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Mind Twist
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Swords to Plowshares
4 Flooded Strand
3 Underground Sea
3 Volcanic Island
2 City of Brass
1 Strip Mine
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Sol Ring
3 Red Elemental Blast
3 Arcane Laboratory
3 Rack and Ruin
2 Swords to Plowshares
1 Phyrexian Furnace
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Coffin Purge
Solid as hell, it is. The fourth Phyrexian Furnace in the sideboard should definitely be cut, and I’d have loved to see a Crucible of Worlds in the main deck. I had to take into account that Chicago is very heavily Mishra’s Workshop based, or to quote Doug Linn, “Mishra’s Workshop might as well be a suburb of Chicago”. [I think it is, and it’s located just north of Oakbrook. – Knut, who used to live in the area] With that in mind I went with a very generalized sideboard packing a few Arcane Laboratories in expectation of random Tendrils of Agony-based Combo decks.
Both myself and Liz putzed around with this list for the week leading up to Waterbury and eventually dropped Decree of Justice #2 for, get this, Morphling! Believe it or not, Morphling is really, really good. After I killed her a few years ago playing a Goblin Trenches-based control deck at one of the earlier Waterbury events, she hadn’t made much of a splash onto the “professional” Vintage circuit. Unfortunately, that really didn’t change with the advent of this event, but it would have been awesome if she had!
So here begins my report (finally):
The Cast of Locals, a.k.a. The Good:
Me, Yu-gi-oh, King of Games
Eli Kassis, a.k.a., How do you people keep letting him win with such terrible decks? And the guy with a car.
Liz del Cano: The pretty girl that accompanies myself to events and smashes face up until she gets bored or people stall her out.
Robert Leroy Denney III: Playa hata of TheManaDrain.com, proponent of Kobolds Combo (Chicago made him very happy if you read the piece written by JP Meyer on the Kobald decks that were making a splash there. Rob’s list is much better), and now a vigilante on a mission to take heads of the members of the online Vintage community.
Anson Phetteplace: Anson is the Token Pharmacist you may remember from my GhettoCon ’04 report a few months ago. Anson has been busy bringing in checks lately and hasn’t had much time for Magic. Eli set him up with a janky 3cc list that you can find in the Tournament Results forum of TheManaDrain.com
Josh O: The Binghamton dealer who actually played this time!
John Stevens: Binghamton Vintage player looking to make a splash with U/B/G Oath
Matt Silvernail: A former classmate of Liz’s who disappeared from the tourney scene upon the restriction of Gush. We all thought he had died or became a disciple of his friend, Jesus, but apparently he was just working a lot. I liked my excuse for his absence better, so let’s just say that’s what happened.
Jesse Gwyn: The local shark that rips off n00bs at his high school, plays a lot of Standard and Draft, and recently has made a foray into Vintage, putting up some solid results, and bringing home produce for his efforts.
Ashok Chitturi: Representing the Indian chapter of Meandeck, upon asking for Ashok’s last name, we had the following exchange:
Myself: How do you spell your last name?
Ashok: am I going to open a package you sent to me and be attacked by a bear in a party hat
Ashok: IS THAT WHAT YOUR GOING TO DO
Myself: or I’m mentioning you in my tourney report
Myself: but your idea is fun too
Ashok played a highly and accurately metagamed U/W Fish list that barely missed out on a Top 8 he would have torn apart.
JP Meyer: Popular writer here on StarCityGames.com, respected theorist, and Japanese schoolgirl trainee. JP and myself ran the same list and turned me on to the hotness that is Political Trickery… proxied because we, understandably, were unable to get our hot little Meandeck paws on them.
The Enemy, a.k.a. The Bad:
All of New England
New Jersey (Ashok is a turncoat)
A colorful list of characters that each contributed in some way to make Waterbury a great experience. One of the things I love about Waterbury is that it’s a great opportunity to hang out with people that I see only once in a blue Waterbury. Thanks for such great events Mr. Ray Robillard, Math teacher extraordinaire!
The story really begins Friday afternoon when I found myself in the SA CafÃ©, my place of employment, testing with Liz, throwing 4cc up against a hodgepodge gauntlet of hastily constructed decks. I remembered Ben Kowal success with Gifts Ungiven Charbelcher (known to them as SSB, which stands for something I don’t really care to remember), and thusly put together the Meandeck version which does not run Goblin Welder, which is the thing that sets apart Meandeck Belcher (hereon known as ToadiBelcher, inspired heavily on the work of Team CAB and their work on Severance Belcher).
- 4 Brainstorm
- 4 Mana Drain
- 1 Mystical Tutor
- 1 Yawgmoth's Will
- 3 Duress
- 4 Force of Will
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Demonic Tutor
- 1 Time Walk
- 1 Ancestral Recall
- 1 Mana Crypt
- 1 Mana Severance
- 3 Gifts Ungiven
- 1 Skeletal Scrying
- 1 Burning Wish
- 3 Thirst for Knowledge
- 1 Goblin Charbelcher
- 3 Phyrexian Furnace
- 1 Tinker
- 1 Black Lotus
- 1 Recoup
- 1 Mox Emerald
- 1 Mox Jet
- 1 Mox Pearl
- 1 Mox Ruby
- 1 Mox Sapphire
The main deck is solid as a rock, but I’ll be the first to admit that this sideboard is absolutely terrible. Were I to change it, it would likely look something like this:
1 Mind Twist
1 Cranial Extraction
1 Political Trickery
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Primitive Justice
1 Eye of Nowhere
1 Chainer’s Edict
1 Red Elemental Blast
2 Engineered Explosives
I found myself wanting more removal to Burning Wish for quite a bit in the event. Other than that, I’d prefer to have a bit more permission post board (hence the additional Blast), and to somehow have some sort of draw in the board, though I don’t see that working out well.
The deck is obviously all about Gifts Ungiven. Myself and other members of Meandeck, as well as other Vintage players I’m sure, have likened Gifts Ungiven to Fact or Fiction. A few people have also speculated that, like Fact or Fiction, Gifts Ungiven will be restricted, a sentiment I agree with, but only time and the summer’s premier Vintage events will tell.
I wish there was a common Gifts setup to give everyone to help out, but the four cards you pull out depend so much on what game your playing, what you’ve played thus far, what you have in hand and on the board, and countless other factors that it’s nearly impossible to come up with a standardized list. The setup most people think of when they talk about the deck is Recoup, Yawgmoth’s Will, Mana Severance, and Tinker. There are just so many ways to set a Gifts Ungiven up that are better than the “standard” pile. About 75% of the time your Gifts will include Yawgmoth’s Will and Recoup.
It’s when one, the other, or both are in your hand that setting up the Gifts gets tricky. Luckily, as hard as it may be for you to choose the four cards that you will present to your opponent, said opponent will have a much more difficult choice to make, mainly because you know what’s in your hand and your opponent doesn’t. One of the most awesome plays to lead into a Yawgmoth’s Will is some combination of Moxen, Black Lotus, Mana Crypt/Vault and/or Duress, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, or Burning Wish. Just those twelve cards present four hundred ninety-five different combinations, and those are all cards you will commonly consider for a Gifts; if you don’t have Yawgmoth’s Will, Recoup, Mana Severance, or Tinker already.
Overall, I believe there are one million, five hundred eighty five thousand, eighty different sets of four cards that you can make*. Despite this, JP and I decided to play this deck with approximately zero hours of play testing. Ashok was playing his awesome Fish with a splash of White for Meddling Mage to go along with his Ninja of the Deep Hours and random hateful cards. He would go on to make Top 16 while JP dropped early on and hung out with random New Englanders. How shameful.
* I’m awful at math, so don’t even think about holding me to this.
Go Team Meandeck, go!
Back to Friday afternoon; I had built ToadiBelcher and was doing quite well with it. It came time to close up, so I put my stuff away and about seven people from school went to Centerfield Cards and Comics in Endicott, New York to play in Friday Night Magic which meant, thanks to a certain awesome person being in town a five dollar 8th Edition draft! Good times. I started out by opening something unspectacular; probably a Pacifism or something.
I got passed Worship.
The draft kind of went downhill from there though. Couple the fact that I’m awful when it comes to drafting 8th (and really to anything in general as of late) and almost everyone else at the table was worse than I was, I ended up with a pile that had like, three good cards (Worship, Evacuation, Orcish Artillery), and had to play Thieves Auction to hopefully deal with the higher quality creatures my opponents would be sure to play.
I ended up going 2-0-1, somehow beating the four Aven Cloudchaser special in which he never once killed my Worship, and then drawing against what I thought was the only other 2-0, which he wasn’t. Oh well. We got a pack for each round that we won, meaning two more packs of 8th Edition, whee! Unfortunately the T.O. ran out of boosters, so they’re still waiting for me at the store.
I got home and Liz stayed the night so that we could leave at 6:00 AM on Saturday.
That’s earlier than I get up for school.
Before going to sleep I burned a CD to listen to on the way up and tried to burn a copy for Liz, but apparently my burner was tired and went on strike. Unable to find a Scab, I gave up on the CD and decided I was going to play ToadiBelcher, and built the sideboard you see above, only a bit jankier (if you can believe that).
Eli arrives bright and early at 6:15 AM, just as Liz and I are getting our shoes on. We timing so good. We pick up Rob on the way to I-88 and start the trek to the mad ghetto that is Waterbury, CT. The trip takes a bit longer than it should have thanks to a few impromptu rest stops, but we still made decent time, arriving at the Waterbury Marriott around ten o’clock. We went inside but couldn’t find the tournament hall. I became somewhat worried because I really hadn’t actually seen the Waterbury announcement on TheManaDrain.com. I saw a few random dudes with backpacks and assumed that we were in the right place. Luckily, we were, and began the process of socializing and deck registration.
JP and I discussed various sideboarding strategies, I cut the Sensei’s Divining Top I decided I wanted to try out, and I cut the third Thirst for Knowledge for the Fact or Fiction, and then we were ready to go!
TMD Open VI – April 30, 2005
Round 1: Joe playing Grow-A-Tog
Game 1: He led off with a Polluted Delta on the play and passed the turn to me where I played Phyrexian Furnace. He cracked the Delta and got a Tropical Island, Brainstormed, and let it resolve. I figured there were two decks he could be playing barring something random (Oath and Tog), so I mentally prepared for a drawn out control mirror.
He was able to force out a random Psychatog which started attacking me very early on. It seemed a bit odd that he would play his Tog so early, but whatever. He got me down to 11 and Cunning Wished for Berserk. He pumped his Psychatog completely, losing his entire hand and graveyard, only for me to Mana Drain the Berserk. I took seven, dropping me to four, top decked Mana Severance and between the one Drain mana and some artifacts I was able to cast Mana Severance, drop Goblin Charbelcher and activate for the win.
Game 2: This game he played out a turn 2 Quirion Dryad, finally telling me that he was playing Grow-A-Tog. Unfortunately the Dryad was left unchecked for too long and hit me down to eight in short order. I used Duress to clear out his Yawgmoth’s Will and cast Tinker, knowing he had no counters in hand. I decided to go for Goblin Charbelcher for some reason and raw dogged it at him the next turn. Apparently he had boarded in not only a Rushing River which he had pitched to a Force of Will earlier, but Naturalize, which took out the Charbelcher and shut me down until his Dryad whipped me into submission.
Game 3: I opened up with Tolarian Academy, Black Lotus, and Phyrexian Furnace. Unfortunately those were my only mana sources, so when he cast Ancestral Recall on his turn I was forced to choose between the Black Lotus and having two Blue mana available with the Academy, or to Drain it and possibly get wrecked by Force of Will. I chose to let it resolve, knowing it could possibly mean game. Luckily I drew into Thirst for Knowledge a bit later and was able to get it through with the Mana Drain I saved. The Thirst got me to Tinker and Time Walk! This time I Tinkered for Darksteel Colossus and passed the turn keeping Mana Drain mana up for the one I had left in my hand. He had nothing on his turn, so I untapped, swung in for eleven, then cast the Time Walk for the win.
The match went very late in the round, so I didn’t have a very long time to walk around. I learned that Liz’s match was still going on, so I found my way over to the table only to see her game three end in a draw. How unfortunate. We milled around for a bit – a very common between-rounds activity – and forgot to camp out by the doors in anticipation of the pairings. When they did go up we had to fight our way through the crowd. Eventually we made it and I got ready for round 2.
Round 2: David playing Tog
Game 1: I resolved an early Thirst for Knowledge getting rid of my Goblin Charbelcher. I was able to stop his Psychatog from resolving after he resolved a pair of Deep Analysis’. I used Duress to clear the way for Yawgmoth’s Will, recast my Goblin Charbelcher, and showed him the Mana Severance as per his request, prompting him to concede.
Game 2: He played out an early Psychatog which started chipping away at my life total. I was stuck with Mana Crypt for a very long time without finding any business spells. Between the Crypt flips and his Psychatog, I got hit for the final three points by my traitorous Mana Crypt. My notes were somewhat thin, probably due to the fact I had to keep subtracting three from my life and noting that it was Crypt damage. That takes up a lot of time don’tcha know.
Game 3: It took so much time in fact that going into game three we only had ten minutes left on the clock. Oh well, I’m a combo deck… sort of. Things start off very poorly for me with him resolving Intuition along with the Accumulated Knowledge that it fetched and Ancestral Recall. Luckily I had Phyrexian Furnace to neuter the Yawgmoth’s Will he resolved a bit later, resulting in no Time Walk for him and having to cast Cunning Wish to get his removed-from-game Ancestral Recall.
Despite all of this, I Mana Drain a Force of Will on turn 3 of time. I used the Mana Drain mana to cast a Gifts Ungiven which he responded to with Cunning Wish for that Ancestral Recall I had dealt with earlier, but he came up dry. I used the Gifts to fetch Black Lotus, Yawgmoth’s Will, Ancestral Recall, and Recoup. He gave me Recoup and Ancestral Recall. I Ancestraled into Burning Wish and a Mox Ruby. I dropped the Ruby along with a Mox Pearl I had been holding for some reason. I counted up the spells played that turn, checked his life total (17) and thought for a moment.
I had miscounted my mana and would be unable to cast Recoup, Yawgmoth’s Will, Mana Severance, Tinker, and be able to activate a lethal Goblin Charbelcher. Instead between the Gifts (spell one), Cunning Wish and Ancestral Recall (spells two and three), my two Moxen (spells four and five), Recoup on a Duress (spells six and seven) and Burning Wish (spell eight), I was able to grab the Tendrils of Agony in my sideboard and barely Tendrils him out for the win!
I felt kind of bad for David after the game ended. I pretty much stole the game thanks to some janky European tech. Mmmm… Europe. That victory did not in any way justify the inclusion of Tendrils of Agony in the sideboard. I’m sure there are countless other things you could play in it’s place… I just don’t know what those would be.
Round 3: Nick playing 3c Aggro (UBG)
Game 1: Nick started out strong with a Flooded Strand that he broke for a Tropical Island which he used, along with a Mox, to cast Wild Mongrel. My eyebrow raised for a moment, but I kept my game face on. I played out Boseiju on my turn and on his he dropped a Skullclamp and equipped his Wild Mongrel with the broken Equipment. I played a few mana sources on my next turn and was forced to burn a Force of Will on the Eternal Witness he tried to drop the next turn.
I tried to fight back by playing Gifts Ungiven for Tinker, Recoup, and two other cards that didn’t really matter. I used Boseiju to ensure my Tinker resolved to get my Darksteel Colossus, hoping it would stem the tide and protect the measly six life points I had left. It was all for naught though, as he spent his next turn playing Time Walk and attacking with his Wild Mongrel and an Eternal Witness he managed to sneak out. I chomped up the Mongrel with my Iron Giant, and on his Time Walk turn he Cunning Wished for an Echoing Truth to send my man packing, allowing his Eternal Witness through unhindered for the win.
Game 2: He started out with a Polluted Delta and a random Mox… then drew no more mana sources for the rest of the game. I didn’t give him a chance to recover by getting a Gifts Ungiven through very early on. Without him putting pressure on me I was able to take my time setting up the Tinker and Mana Severance, allowing me to finish him off at my leisure.
Game 3: Once again he is stuck on two mana sources, only this time they are a Strip Mine to accompany a random Mox. He cast something that I Force of Willed and then I played Mana Drain on the Misdirection he played to try to protect his spell. On my turn I played a Skeletal Scrying for five off the mana he so generously provided me. The game went downhill from there with him still not drawing any mana sources.
I felt pretty lucky to win this match. When you think about Aggro in Vintage, Fish or Workshop Aggro usually comes to mind. Nick’s Skullclamp engine served him much the same way it does in Affinity. Clamping up Eternal Witness is pretty sick. Wild Mongrel was also a huge problem. I had no way to deal with it once it was in play, so Chainer’s Edict would have been very helpful in my sideboard to Wish for. Post board I had the Engineered Explosives, but that just isn’t enough sometimes. At least against an Aggro deck that packs actual answers instead of awful cards like Flying Men, Grim Lavamancer, or Null Rod.
During the day I had seen a few 3-D life counters floating around that were made by a few New Englanders, Keith Johnson and a nice lady I never was introduced to. Mr. Kowal showed me to the table where they were being sold and I noticed a Brass Man one. Checking the price tag to see a measly $15 as the asking price, I demanded to know why Andy “TheBrassMan” Probasco was not yet the owner of that fine piece of work. Apparently Andy was broke, so as a token of goodwill I purchased the Brass Man counter for Andy.
Besides, I still owed him from GenCon last year.
Round 4: Anson, the Token Pharmacist, playing 3cc
Game 1: I started off with a mulligan to five. I was on the draw, but it didn’t help at all. A Duress in the midgame (where I was stuck with very few mana sources thanks to my mulligan) revealed to me:
It was rough. Anson had heard about my Tendrils kill two rounds prior, so when he dropped Meddling Mage he named Tendrils of Despair. I corrected him because I knew what he meant. That and it hopefully wouldn’t matter anyway. Pikula joined up the Soldiers that Anson cycled into play with a Decree of Justice the turn before, and the small White army took me down in short order.
Game 2: I started off with a mulligan to six.
Fret not, I was able to resolve an early Ancestral Recall to make up for the loss of card advantage. It set me far enough ahead that I was able to stop any card drawing shenanigans with countermagic so that while my Furnace was busy chewing up his graveyard to shut off Skeletal Scryings, I was able to resolve a Gifts Ungiven to get Black Lotus, Yawgmoth’s Will, Tinker, and Recoup. He scoops once I begin to Flashback the Yawgmoth’s Will.
Game 3: This game started off with no mulligan on either side. The early game was spent with both of us jockeying for position, resolving card drawing spells left and right, and plucking each other’s hands apart with Duress’s. The game went very long with him dropping a Null Rod when we had about ten minutes left on the clock. The Null Rod shut off the majority of his mana sources whilst I had a couple of lands along with a Tolarian Academy that was pumping out three juicy mana a turn to enable all sorts of card drawing shenanigans.
As a matter of fact, I drew so many cards that I was left with only twenty cards to Belch him with. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but it just so happened that time was called and I didn’t have everything I needed to cast Yawgmoth’s Will. It took another turn or two to make sure the coast was clear, and then everything came down to turn 4 of 5. It had taken me a while, but I finally drew into my Burning Wish which fetched me Primitive Justice. I used the Might of the Apes to nuke his Null Rod. With all of my artifact mana freed up, I was able to finally drop the Y-Bomb. I started off with playing out the Goblin Charbelcher I had discarded early in the game. I still had about seven or so lands left in my deck, and Anson was sitting at a ripe seventeen life. My only option was to Severance for every land in my deck save one Volcanic Island. That left me with only fifteen or so cards to hit him with.
It took me a little bit of thought, making sure all of my other options had been exhausted (they were), before I cast the Mana Severance. I left behind the lone Volcanic Island. The people that had began to walk away while I was using my Mana Severance began to trickle back as I activated the Goblin Charbelcher. One, two, three, four…, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven… Volcanic Island!
Winning 2-0 is for chumps.
It sucked to set Anson back like that, especially after I beat him in States a few years back playing the stupid pre-Ravager Affinity mirror match in Round One. I could tell he wanted to ID, and Eli hinted at it, but I reminded him that a draw this early in the event was essentially a loss for both of us and that playing would mean a loss for only one of us. Anson was pretty frustrated with the outcome of the final Charbelcher activation, but took it in stride like the classy fellow he is. As we were de-sideboarding I saw the hate Anson had: Null Rods, Meddling Mages, and Damping Matrix.
That’s the wonderful thing about ToadiBelcher; it’s so resilient to many forms of hate.
Round 5: Simon, Reining Highlander Champion and holder of the GhettoCon Highlander Championship Sword, playing Affinity
Game 1: I started off slowly while Simon was able to drop out an Arcbound Ravager and a Skullclamp that he had held back while baiting my Force of Will with a Disciple of the Vault. Simon aggressively started sacrificing some artifacts, growing the Ravager to a 4/4, and made a 5/3 courtesy of the Clamp, and bashing me with the strength of a Juggernaut for four turns until I died.
Game 2: On the play I dropped land, Mox Pearl, Mana Vault, Tinker for Darksteel Colossus. After taking my point of mana burn, Simon puts up resistance in the form of an Arcbound Ravager. The former Standard menace was put to shame two turns later after my indestructible robot lumbered over for the win.
Game 3: Simon led with some artifact mana and a Thoughtcast. I one-upped him with a Black Lotus, Sol Ring, Mox, Land which fueled up a Demonic Tutor for Tinker. The Tinker brought out Goblin Charbelcher which, with the help of the Mana Severance in hand, would be lethal on the next turn. Simon’s next turn was of no consequence. On my turn I realized that I was one mana short of casting Mana Severance and activating the Goblin Charbelcher. I decided to cast Mana Severance and left a lone Volcanic Island in my deck to fetch out with my Polluted Delta on my turn. Again, his turn yielded no answer and I was able to use my Charbelcher at my leisure.
Again, winning 2-0 is for chumps.
Simon seemed a bit miffed by my lucksacking in our final games, but playing Affinity yields some stupid-broken draws, so I don’t think he was bothered. Much.
Round 6: Feature Match against Justin playing ThePerfectSuck, erhm, I mean TPS
Game 1: He played first and dropped a Polluted Delta before passing the turn. My hand was kind of slow, but it did have two Mana Drains along with a few lands. I played one of said lands before saying go. He had an effect at the end of my turn, breaking his Polluted Delta for an Underground Sea which fueled up a Vampiric Tutor. I don’t remember exactly what happened from there, but I do know that I was reduced to the role of a spectator, even after a Memory Jar that blessed me with two Force of Wills that didn’t do a whole lot against a Tendrils of Agony along with twelve of his little Stormy friends.
Game 2: I played something threatening early on which he Force of Willed and was then able to resolve Necropotence.
By “sigh”, I mean that he was playing TPS, so I would be forced to watch him use broken cards and then fizzle. True to form, Justin had to say go on his next turn, using his Necropotence to refill his hand. It didn’t help though, because I had gotten the time I needed to get the mana to cast and use my Goblin Charbelcher in one turn, which had no problem ridding him of three pesky points of life left after all of his masochistic playtime.
Game 3: Justin started off with a Duress on turn one, taking a random spell leaving me with no countermagic to speak of going into my turn. Luckily for me I drew my lone Red Elemental Blast, so when Justin floated a bunch of mana on his turn and tried to cast Timetwister, I was ready with my Red Ninja Blast. He was very displeased, and with him with an empty hand and mine containing a Gifts Ungiven, the game was over in short order thanks to a Tinkered out Darksteel Colossus, even though he did manage to squeeze out a Tendrils of Agony for eight on the turn I countered the Timetwister.
I fail at life. I know, b*tch, b*tch, moan, whine I’m six-and-oh but keep dropping games. Oh well, what works, works.
Being 6-0 at an eight round event is a wonderful feeling. You get two unfettered hours during which you can eat, nap, sing, or whatever else floats your monkey. I took the opportunity to grab some Subway with an already eliminated Ben Kowal, Andy Probasco, and Liz del Cano. Ben revealed that Team Shortbus’s secret tech, Ninja Sword, was in fact not a real deck. What made that even funnier is that while writing this report I saw some guy talking about their fake deck in IRC. He would have generated a discussion if I hadn’t let him know what’s-what.
After setting up my second intentional draw I wandered over to a table where Rob was playing pickup games of Type 4 with the stack I had left in Eli’s car. I got to hop in for a game which I eventually dropped out of to help Jeff Anand’s girlfriend, Dyannah, sell cards from a chandelier. Being the gentleman I am, I decided to give the lady a hand, giving her a stepping stone from my knee to get to the ceiling. She got cold feet at the last second and tried to get away, but not before I grabbed her sandal. Dyannah is a wily one though. She slipped from my grasp, with her sandal still on her foot, and in one fluid motion grabbed my bag and ran away! I was forced to chase her around the tournament hall until I cornered her, pushed her and grabbed my bag while she was off balance.
A winner is me.
Why is it that at every single Waterbury I end up chasing Dyannah to get something she’s stolen from me and/or flee from her trying to tie me to a T.O.’s table and duct-tape me into submission? I guess I’m just lucky like that. Liz is a poor bodyguard. At least for me. She escorted Dyannah up to her room at one point because some dudes were being shady and she felt uncomfortable.
No love I tell you, no love.
My two hours of fun eventually passed and I was forced to begin the elimination rounds.
Top 16: Dana, also known as THE MasterTap of IRC fame, playing Burninator!*
* My thanks to Ben Kowal for covering my match. Thanks Ben!
Game 1: Master Tap led off with a Mishra’s Factory and a few small guys while all I could do was drop lands. All it took was a few turns to beat me into submission, even despite a Yawgmoth’s Will from me that only netted me a few more artifacts on the board after some card drawing.
Game 2: I showed him what Vintage was all about this game. I led with an Underground Sea after a mulligan to six. Master Tap led off with a Mogg Fanatic that I responded to with a Brainstorm, throwing Boseiju and something else to the top. A Polluted Delta on my next turn shuffled away the Boseiju, and I followed it up with a Mox Pearl and cast Time Walk. On my next turn I cast Ancestral Recall, Brainstorm, and then finally Black Lotus before passing the turn. On Master Tap’s turn he tried to play a Pyrostatic Pillar, but I had the Force of Will to stop it cold. At the end of his turn I cast a Gifts Ungiven and showed him Tinker, Recoup, Yawgmoth’s Will, and Mana Vault. Master Tap gave me the Recoup and Mana Vault and combined with the Black Lotus, I had more than enough mana to cast an insane Yawgmoth’s Will and to also Tinker out Darksteel Colossus, leaving the Time Walk. Master Tap played another dude on his turn, but my next turn followed up by a Time Walk cast courtesy of Recoup led to his demise.
Game 3: Master Tap started out with a Goblin Vandal. On my turn I used Duress to rid him of a pesky Null Rod, leaving a Threaten, Mogg Fanatic, Mountain and Lava Dart in hand. Since my plan is to go for the throat with Darksteel Colossus, knowing he had Threaten in hand was a “good thing”. The game continued with me drawing some cards and eventually going broken. I proceeded to drop some artifact mana, Time Walk, and then followed it all up with Demonic Tutor for Tinker.
I took my Walk turn, Tinkered out the Darksteel Colossus and then dropped an Engineered Explosives for one, just in case he managed a lot of chump blockers. Master Tap swung at me with some guys and I finished off his Goblin Vandal. On my turn I dropped Tolarian Academy with a Sol Ring, Mox Ruby, Colossus, and Engineered Explosives in play. I got in my attack and passed it over. He finally cast his Threaten with one Mountain untapped. I tapped two of my lands to Mana Drain which he responded to with Pyroblast. Luckily for me I had just enough artifacts out for my Tolarian Academy, combined with my Mox Ruby to cast Force of Will to give me the game and match.
Our match ended fairly quickly, so I was able to go over to the other tables and check out the competition. Anson had lost and Eli was still in, but his match was going wicked slow, so I decided to bounce off. After milling around for a bit I checked in on Eli again, but he still wasn’t done, nor was half of the Top 16.
Sigh. Slow Vintage players.
I asked Aaron, the OMC clone and the dude in charge of the Top 16 pairings sheet, who I was against next.
Eli’s match eventually finished, and he didn’t really want to play any more as we were facing a 3.5 hour drive home and he was exhausted as it was. So we decided to split our prizes and he conceded to me.
Seeing as how I didn’t have a match to play for a while, I obviously checked out my competition, taking full advantage of the time given to me. Or I played Type 4. I don’t really remember. All that’s important is that I was eventually slated to play against my Round 6 opponent, Justin.
Semifinals: Justin playing, once again, TPS
Game 1: I’ll spare you all the details and say that this game followed my Game 1 trend for most of the event, which means that I lost.
It was actually a bit more interesting than that. I stalled on two lands, but somehow almost made a comeback, getting out Boseiju and starting to cast draw spells. It was all for naught however, as Justin had drawn a Rebuild which allowed him to generate huge Storm and cast a respectable Mind’s Desire that found him a Tendrils of Agony.
Game 2: This game was very similar to our Game 2 in Round 6. He cast Duress to make sure my hand was clear for his next turn. Well, it was up until I drew a Mana Drain during my draw step. I dropped a second Blue source and shipped it over. As expected, he tried to combo and played a Draw 7 of some sort. I, of course, played Mana Drain which gave me ample mana to cast Gifts Ungiven to assemble the Goblin Charbelcher/Mana Severance kill.
Game 3: This game was the worst game of all for me the entire day. Fatigue had finally caught up to me and I began to play on auto-pilot. We traded off some Force of Wills and Duresses and eventually reached a point where I resolved Mana Drain, allowing me to find a Tinker and use it to get a Darksteel Colossus. He cast a Gifts Ungiven that he drew on his turn grabbing Black Lotus, Demonic Tutor, Ancestral Recall, and Yawgmoth’s Will. His only mana sources were an Underground Sea and Island with a useless Tolarian Academy pulling up the rear.
Here’s where the tournament ended for me. I untapped and swung in, following up my attack with a Duress where I took… Demonic Tutor. I wish I could explain why I chose the Demonic over Yawgmoth’s Will, but I frankly can’t. He was able to take advantage of my error on his next turn, drawing a Swamp to be able to cast Will with a bunch of artifact mana in the graveyard, and along with the Demonic Tutor in his hand he was able to find a lethal Tendrils of Agony.
Bad Carl, bad.
So there the event ended for me.
Or so I thought.
3rd/4th Playoff: Travis playing some Gilded Lotus based Mishra’s Workshop deck, thing.
Game 1: Travis stated right off that he had no chance of winning, but I was skeptical and played cautiously. He was right in that he just couldn’t best a Phyrexian Furnace. How unlucky for him. This match was particularly awesome because his deck was chock full of juicy Mana Drain targets which I took full advantage of to combo him out with a Gifts Ungiven.
Game 2: Much of the same, only he Force of Willed some inconsequential spell. Mana Drain is delicious.
Final finish: 3rd place, taking home an Unlimited Mox Ruby that was crazy off-center.
Eli apparently had two matches to play to determine what he would win. Oops. He was playing some awful combo deck that was running the Sensei’s Divining Top/Helm of Awakening/Future Sight combo. He was also playing Cabal Therapy, which was really hot, but he also had crap like Gush in his deck. How awful. Anyway, it was taking him forever to win, despite his Oath conversion post sideboard.
Eli eventually finished his match, winning a Mox Pearl for his troubles. I said the obligatory goodbyes, thanking Ray for running such a terrific event, and then made sure I had everything on me before I left the Marriott.
The car ride home was… special. I was the only one who was able to stay awake, but I was in the back seat. Rob had shotgun and wasn’t doing his job to keep Eli awake. Bad Rob. We stopped at a Denny’s at some point where people ate random food and I took a quick nap, poking my head up at random intervals to threaten passersby with a butter knife. Luckily everyone was able to finish their food quickly so that I didn’t have enough time to get into any real trouble.
For some reason Rob hopped into the front seat again, so Eli was forced to play some terrible music very loudly to stay awake. I was kind of out of it, but I swear that I heard Eli singing something very loudly, and I even think I saw him leaning out of the window and screaming unintelligible things at the top of his lungs. I was frightened. Very, very frightened.
We arrived in Binghamton at about 5:30 AM. Thank Jet Li that it was on a Sunday, meaning that I had plenty of time to be drowsy all day so that I could get to sleep on time that night.
2003 GenCon Vintage Championship Winner
Taking summer classes to graduate on time. Frown.