Cook’s Kitchen- Storming into Jupiter Pt. 2 – Top 8 (NELC – 11/5/11)

by Bryant Cook


Friday, the day before the event, Jon Corpora picked me up at my house on his way back from school to go test and build his deck for the event. Jon decided to build Tempo BUG for the event, using a majority of my cards including my brand spankin’ new Force of Wills.


We tested for a while, it was pretty clear that I was running hot and the results were a bit skewed. My turn one or two ‘combo-out’ with protection ratio was much higher than the average. After a while, Adam Barnello showed up playing a very similar list and we played for a bit. Our match-up was much more even than Jon’s and mine, apparently I came back to Earth. Adam made a comment about how dirty my sleeves were, I knew I needed new ones for my beautiful deck, but I could get free ones at the event tomorrow. Time flew, and before we knew it, it was time for Friday Night Magic. For those of you who don’t know, Jon writes for Gathering Magic and is currently writing about playing in fifty-two FNM’s with fifty-two decks.


Normally, Jon and I don’t play in the same Friday Night Magic. There are multiple stores in the greater Syracuse region and I play at the one closest to my house. Jon offered to drive me to play where he plays at: Cloud City Games and Comics. I know one of the owners, Aaron Garritillo, the beautiful man he is welcomed me with open arms. I decided to play my Birthing Pod list that I wrote about last week. The event was very laid back and much more friendly than where I normally play.  This event was more enjoyable. The best thing about the event is that there were cash prizes, something I’m not used to. As rounds continually went by Aaron continued to tell my opponents not to feel bad, he’s Bryant Cook, the guy with five pro-points. Not that they’re even relevant. How uncomfortable.


I had lost round four to Blue/ Black Infect, I had drawn a lot of lands both games on top of mulliganing. The match was against Louis, a ‘Cuse local who had never beaten me before that day. The last time we played I had wished him good luck, he told me he hoped I mulliganed to four. I’m a firm believer in wishing good luck for good games, not necessarily good luck for beating me, etc. Louis wished me good luck for the first time, and was rewarded. I’m still a believer in its Karma. It’s round five, and I’m paired against Mr. Corpora,playing “Honey-Badger” a weird brew of Solar Flare which you can read about it in his article. As we shuffle, people tell me they hope I lose for claiming earlier that Jon’s deck wasn’t a bad match-up.  A friend of mine, Bret Weed had lost miserably to Jon the round before playing my card-for-card list.  While all of this bashing is going on I begin to wonder what things Jon would write about me in his article, it all goes away once we present our decks.


I wish Jon good luck and his response is, “Yup”. Jon and I have had the covnersation on wishing luck before, and he doesn’t believe in it.  Karma bites him in the ass. I end up beating Jon fairly easily 2-0, he’s a bit upset and said, “This wasn’t a large enough sample size.” Something he repeats several times throughout the weekend. My beliefs are that sample sizes don’t matter, it’s the two to three games that do, not whether or not in an ideal world that one person’s deck is better against the other. Magic is cruel and unpredictable at times, players can’t always go by the percentages.  I still don’t believe that Jon’s deck was a bad match-up.  Jon and I play a few more games, the next game I keep a three-basic-Forest hand with a Birthing Pod and three white cards.  I win that game too. However, game four I mulligan, and keep a lose hand. Jon demolishes me. I end up taking third in the event.  The money from that event and the money from the previous night’s Legacy event was enough to pay for the Jupiter NELCQ entry.


The morning of the event arrived, I woke up at 7:30AM, put on my Jupiter Games shirt, a jacket, grabbed my bag and was out the door. In Syracuse, people have adjusted to grey skies, cold weather, and warming up cars in the morning.  Not me. I hate being cold and hate waiting for my car to not be freezing. I start my car at 7:50, turn on the heat, and at 8:05 realize my car hadn’t warmed up yet because my air condition was on.  I hadn’t touched the AC/Heat since the summer and never switched the knob to heat. The car warmed up and I left to pick up Adam Barnello. I plugged in my phone, put on Saves the Day (I’ve been on a real Saves the Day kick recently), and listened to Stay What You Are all the way to Jon’s house.


Adam and I went into Jon’s house and made small talk while waiting for the fourth in our car to arrive – Adam Blanden. Barnello noticed that Jon had a Super Nintendo hooked up to his television. He asked Jon if he had a game, it sparked our conversation for most of the ride to Vestal. The four of us discussed our favorite video games for PC. I explained that the only PC game I’ve ever played was Heroes III of Might and Magic: Complete, I get a “FUCK YES” from Barnello in the back seat. After this we started talking about console games and I listed my favorite three as:


  • Final Fantasy X
  • Super Smash Brothers Brawl
  • Zelda: Ocarina of Time


As we approached Vestal the conversation switched to movies and films. Sports movies came up, Barnello and I had already had this conversation. It then went to Zombie and Horror Films, how they’re not similar, and how I have a hatred for Land of the Dead. There are few things I think about Zombies:


  • I don’t believe that Zombies should be able to able to shoot guns.
  • There are three speeds for Zombies, slow, normal, and fast.
  • Slow Zombies like Dawn of the Dead.
  • Normal paced Zombies like Zombieland.
  • Fast Zombies such as Day of the Dead that crawl on ceilings and jump fifteen feet. I’m not talking about “I am Legend” Vampires.
  • Zombies are awesome.


We eventually arrive at the new offices for Jupiter Games where the event is being held, I pick up a few foil Birds of Paradise for Birthing Pod and a Flooded Strand with the remaining credit I have on my account, grab some new sleeves, and begin to fill out my deck registration. Jon offered to sleeve my deck for me, a pretty nice gesture, although he wouldn’t sleeve my foil unhinged sideboard dividers – I have Mise, Cheatyface, and Johnny, Combo Player. I was playing some Elder Dragon Highlander/Commander when I saw Eli Kassis with his foil binder. I asked if he had a Japanese Foil Past in Flames, he did.



Before we knew it, the event had started!  Here’s my list:


The EPIC Storm


4 Gemstone Mine

2 City of Brass

2 Scalding Tarn

2 Underground Sea

1 Volcanic Island

1 Polluted Delta

1 Bloodstained Mire


4 Dark Ritual

4 Rite of Flame

4 Lion’s Eye Diamond

4 Lotus Petal

4 Chrome Mox

4 Burning Wish

4 Brainstorm

4 Ponder

4 Infernal Tutor

4 Duress

3 Orim’s Chant

1 Silence

2 Ad Nauseam

1 Tendrils of Agony


3 Pyroblast

2 Echoing Truth

1 Wipeaway

1 Deathmark

1 Diminishing Returns

1 Ill-Gotten Gains

1 Past in Flames

1 Tendrils of Agony

1 Empty the Warrens

1 Grapeshot

1 Thoughtseize

1 Shattering Spree


Round One: Unknown with BUG 


I apologize for not writing down my round one opponent, I didn’t start to take notes until round two.


Game One: He opens with two Wasteland and Stifle to keep me off of mana, I continually draw Chrome Mox and Duress. By the time he kills me, I have drawn all four Duress and Chome Mox, my hand is two Burning Wish and three Orim’s Chant effects. Maybe I should’ve shuffled better.


Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox, +3 Pyroblast


Game Two: I open with Gemstone Mine, Ponder, pass. He opens with Wasteland. I draw, pass. He plays a Delver of Secrets, I play Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, removing an Infernal Tutor, Orim’s Chant, he Forces, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam. I draw a metric butt load of cards, Duress reveals a pair of Stifles and Spell Snare. I play all my cards, and Grapeshot for 20.


Game Three: Once again he opens with double Wasteland, Thoughtseize, and then played a Tarmogoyf. Meanwhile, I played a Chrome Mox (Imprinting Tendrils of Agony) and Duress a few times. He continually attacks me down with a 2/3 ‘Goyf to the point where I am forced to go off. I have a Scalding Tarn in play with the black Chrome Mox, I know he has Stifle, Stifle, Force, and Spell Snare. I draw for the turn and it was Gemstone Mine. Play Gemstone Mine, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Orim’s Chant, he Forces, I Pyroblast. Lion’s Eye Diamond, then activate my fetch land to Infernal Tutor. I pick up my graveyard and notice my Tendrils in my Exiled Zone. I thought I had the game wrapped up. I begin to think to myself, “What are my outs?” I have to use Jedi Mind Tricks. I play the last card in my hand, Infernal Tutor, I count the Storm, it’s lethal.  I say “Game?” He picks up his cards, and I extend my hand. Afterwards, I tell him I didn’t actually have the win. He calls the Judge, the Judge says, “You picked up your cards: you conceded.”


I didn’t want to win that way, I felt bad about it, but it was necessary to play to my out.




Round Two: Li with RUG


Game One: Li just destroys me. I keep a hand with double Duress, a cantrip, and mana. I play out the Brainstorm and see nothing, forcing me to wait it out.  Eventually I draw an Ad Nauseam.  At the end of that turn Li Vendilion Cliques me. “In response, Ad Nauseam?” Force of Will. From there I sit with a handfull of mana while he swings with Clique and “Fate Seals” with Jace, the Mind Sculptor.


Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox, +3 Pyroblast


Game Two: I open with Volcanic Island, pass. Li plays Tropical, pass. I Brainstorm. Untap, Underground Sea, Ponder, pass. Li draws and casts Brainstorm, I Pyroblast.  My turn, I draw, Gemstone Mine, Orim’s Chant, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam. He concedes.


Game Three: Li mulligans, we both play “land-go” until turn four when I decide to crack some fetch lands attempting to play around Stifle. Burning Wish for Thoughtseize. Li, plays a Tarmogoyf and passed. I Thoughtseize, Li casts Counter-target-spell, leaving him with two cards in hand. I Pyroblast. Li had Force of Will and a Tarmogoyf in hand. I Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam.




Lunch break time! Jon and I decide we want to go to Subway, we wait for Barnello to finish his match. We exchange records and I’m the only one doing well. We drive to the Subway by the old Jupiter Games, we’re worried about getting back in time. I get my usual sub but not toasted due to time constraints. The sub is…


Italian herbs and cheese, oven roasted chicken, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, spinach leaves, banana peppers, jalapeños, hot sauce, ranch, and southwest chipotle.


We hop back in the car and race back into the new Jupiter location, on our way in I saw Jurgis, he gave me a look ,and I told him to go tend to his ostriches. (His dad owns Llamas I meant to say that…) We get inside with ten minutes to eat, we start to talk, and I bring up that they’re not doing well because they don’t say good luck. Adam and Jon get on my case, saying it’s dumb and not necessary. Before we knew it round three was up!


Round Three: Nate with GBW Junk


While we’re shuffling Nate tells me he’s from Boston and made the drive, it’s not a short one. He’s a really nice guy from what I can tell.


Game One: I open a hand of Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Underground Sea, Ponder, Chrome Mox, Ad Nauseam, and Silence. I win the roll and to play around Force of Will I decide to Ponder instead of going all-in turn one. If I find a five-color land or Lotus Petal, I have a protected turn two win. I find a Gemstone Mine off the Ponder and pass. Nate plays Verdant Catacomb, fetches a Swamp and passes. I untap, draw, play Gemstone Mine, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam.  I play a bunch of spells, last of which being  Grapeshot.


Sideboarding: -3 Orim’s Chant, -1 Silence, +2 Echoing Truth, +1 Wipeaway, +1 Deathmark


Game Two: I mulligan and keep a hand of Ponder, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Gemstone Mine, Underground Sea, and City of Brass. Ponder doesn’t find anything, I play out my Lion’s Eye Diamonds. I continue to draw bricks while I die to a single Tarmogoyf.


Game Three: I keep another hand with Cantrips and mana. Once again I find myself not drawing any relevant spells. Nate plays a Choke tapping down my Underground Sea, and then plays a Wasteland. I play two fetch lands the next two turns, and I sit on them until I draw an Ad Nauseam turn six. I Use both fetch lands, cast Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam. He scoops.




Round Four: Eric with Welder Mud


I see Eli and he asks if I’ve cast the foil Japanese Past in Flames yet.  Unfortunately I haven’t. I promise him that I will this round. Eric sat next to me the first two rounds as an observer. He starts the match by talking quite a bit of shit. I don’t like this.


Game One: I open with Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Gemstone Mine, Brainstorm, Infernal Tutor, and Ponder. I begin by playing Gemstone Mine, Ponder, into Land, Chrome Mox, Dark Ritual. Drew Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor, Ad Nauseam. Played out all of the drawn mana sources, Burning Wish, Grapeshot.


Sideboarding: -3 Orim’s Chant, -1 Silence, +2 Echoing Truth, +1 Wipeaway, +1 Thoughtseize


Game Two: Eric opens with Ancient Tomb, Grim Monolith, Trinisphere.


Game Three: I mulligan and open Gemstone Mine, Scalding Tarn, City of Brass, Wipe Away, Dark Ritual, and Ad Nauseam. I started with Scalding Tarn, pass. Eric opens with Great Furnace, Chalice of the Void on “zero”, and then looked at his hand. He plays Mox Opal into Chalice, then passed. I played City, pass. He drew, passed. Gemstone, pass. Drew, then at his end step, I wipeaway the Chalice.  Now on my turn, I Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam, because he talked a ton of shit, I played out everything, Tendrils of Agony-ing him down to 2, then hit myself for the rest. I play Burning Wish, Past in Flames, flashback Ad Nauseam, draw my deck down to four cards, played a few Cantrips, Ponder and look at two cards which were Infernal Tutor and Burning Wish. I take Burning Wish, and Grapeshot Eric for 50.




Round Five: Eli with UW Stoneforge


Game One: I looked at my seven card by card, they revealed… Ponder, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Ad Nauseam, Underground Sea, and City of Brass. I win the roll and put Underground Sea into play, followed by Ponder. Ponder finds Dark Ritual. I then play Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Ad Nauseam? It resolves. Eli picks them up.


Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox, +3 Pyroblast


Game Two: I keep a hand of Underground Sea, Duress, Duress, Ponder, Brainstorm, Dark Ritual, and Burning Wish. I never see another land while Delver of Secrets beats me down the entire game.


Game Three: I opened with one Underground Sea, Duress. Duress reveals… Tundra, Flooded Strand, Force of Will, Mana leak, Brainstorm, Delver of Secrets, and Stoneforge Mystic. I take Brainstorm. Eli plays Delver, passes. I play Dark Ritual, Duress Force of Will down, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Empty the Warrens. I did the math wrong because of the Delver of Secrets, and by the time Batterskull hits the table he was able to stabilize. Without the block from Delver, I would get there. Mistake. In hindsight, Diminishing Returns was my only play.

Eli did trade me the hot Past in Flames to be fair…




Round Six: Jurgis with RUG


Jurgis and I make some small talk. We’ve played against each other quite a bit in recent years with me usually being the victor.  I explain the ostrich joke. I put him on RUG since that what he was playing at the last time we met at the Invitational.


Game One: We played “land-go” the first two turns of the match. At the end of his first turn, I Brainstorm, looking at 10 cards, Brainstorm, Lotus Petal, Orim’s Chant, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Ad Nauseam, Lion’s Eye Diamond, City of Brass, Gemstone Mine, Chrome Mox. I put Ad Nauseam second from the top and draw. I play out land, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Orim’s Chant (he Forces), Brainstorm, (cracking Lion’s Eye Diamond for BBB in response) Ad Nauseam. Grapeshot.


Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox, +3 Pyroblast


Game Two: I open with Gemstone Mine, Ponder, pass. Jurgis played and used Wasteland. Scalding Tarn, pass. Island, pass. Volcanic Island, pass. Misty Rainforest, pass. I end step Brainstorm because of the Pyroblast in my hand. Upkeep fetch, he Stifles. Pyroblast. Land, Duress. I played Lotus Petal, Orim’s Chant, Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor, and Ad Nauseam. Grapeshot. He revealed two Spell Snare in his hand.


After the round Jurgis told me he read my article on Pod then showed me his list. He then traded me my forth foil Birds of Paradise and a Spanish foil Gavony Township. What a guy.




Round Seven: Joe with Imperial Painter


Joe and I drew into Top 8. I felt pretty safe being in second place after six rounds. Adam Barnello and Jon Corpora scrubbed out and decided to go to the bar. They asked me to go, but I wasn’t about to drink before a Top 8.  Their argument was the bar had food. We just ate Subway. I observed some matches, I walked over to watch Nick Patnode’s match against BANT.  Walking around, I walked into a conversation about my deck. It was Brian Finlaysen-Schueler (BFS) and some fourteen-year-old kid. BFS was telling the kid to play TES because ANT isn’t very good. I didn’t say anything for a minute. I just listened.


BFS: TES is faster, has more tutors, and protection.

Kid: I have protection that is always a two-for-one with Probe and Cabal Therapy.

BFS: Your deck lost to Goblins.

Me: (At this point I started laughing).

Me: TES doesn’t lose to Goblins.  Ever.  I haven’t lost to Goblins since 2007.

Kid: I haven’t been playing since 2007.

Me: Why is your deck better?

Kid: My deck can win through Force of Will, Force of Will, Stifle, Flusterstorm.

Me: and TES can’t?

Kid: Nope! Probe, THERAPY! It’s always a two for one!

Me: Alright, kid. I won’t waste my time.

Kid: (I only half heard, but it was something about me being wrong)

Me: ANT is worse. Orim’s Chant is incredible and the reason to play Storm combo. It runs circles around Spell Snare and Stifle decks.

Kid: So does ANT, TES sucks.

Me: I don’t think so, I top 8’d a Grand Prix with it. Cabal Ritual is countered by Spell Snare.

Kid: This list just top 8’d a Grand Prix, minus a few cards. Rite of Flame sucks, it only makes red mana. What are you going to do with it? Burning Wish? Empty the Warrens? It sucks.

Me: What were the few cards? Probe and Therapy? And Yes, I will cast Burning Wish or Empty the Warrens. Rite of Flame is infinitely better. It’s faster, and is less damage on Ad Nauseam.

Kid:  Yes. What’s your record?

Me: They’re awful. I just drew into top 8.

Kid: Well you’re probably playing a better deck than me.

Me: Yeah, I’m playing TES.

BFS: Bryant, just ignore him.

Kid: Wait… you’re Bryant Cook?

Me: Yes.

Kid: You’re probably right.




Top 8: Ethan with Tempo BANT


After standings were put up, I was in third place. Doug McKay was in sixth. Doug told me he’s going to get a game loss for his deck registration. The Top 8 was random, and the two people with deck registration errors were playing one another.


I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a free win, but it’s Magic. Instead I had to play against Ethan, with whom I had shared an intense hug with in the last round. A Top 8 split was being discussed, but I don’t split. Growing up in Syracuse and having my opponents intentionally not split with me in top 4’s has made me a bit bitter. It taught me that the risk is worth the reward once I became good enough to knock these people out of my way, and I never looked back.


Game One: Ethan keeps me off of mana with Stifles and Wastelands. I sit there and get beaten down by a Delver of Secrets.


Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox, +3 Pyroblast


Game Two: Ethan mulligans, my opening hand consists of two Duress. It turns into a long game where Ethan Surgical Extractions me twice, removing Rite of Flame and Infernal Tutor during my combo turn.  On the down side for Ethan, I open-hand the Tendrils and he just ups my Storm considerably. I run the Tendrils out there. I have three red mana floating with a Burning Wish in hand and a Lion’s Eye Diamond in play.


Game Three: I mulligan and keep a hand of Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Duress, Pyroblast, with three lands. Ethan plays two Nimble Mongoose, followed by a ‘Goyf.  Meanwhile I’m praying to draw some business, but it never happened.




Hope you enjoyed the report. Always wish your opponent “good luck”, and come back next week. Until then, keep Storming!


Bryant Cook

Bryant Cook on MTGthesource


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