Cook’s Kitchen – SCG Invitational: Atlanta (09/21/12): 19th Place
The days leading up to the event I had been incredibly busy with work, freelance designing, and trying to figure out my decks for the invitational. I would come home, check the mail for the Japanese Foil Xantid Swarm that I was expecting for my Legacy deck, do more work, and then run ideas for UR Delver off of Carl Dillahay. I was completely confident in my list for T.E.S. for the Legacy portion, but I was incredibly nervous about Standard. Not for lack of experience or not knowing the format, but because I was playing a deck with an awkward mana base.
It was really nerve racking to think about, UW Delver has the best mana base in the format with eight dual lands. However, UR Delver does not have eight duals – it has four. Meaning that basics and evolving wilds had to happen. The benefit of playing UR was having the advantage in the Delver mirror against UW Delver and having main deck hate against Zombies with Pillar of Flame. Having Pillar in the deck is also huge in the mirror match for removing flipped Delvers and killing Talrand, something UW struggles to do. Carl and I must’ve brewed ten different lists with small variations, we ended up where we began originally with a one card difference. Funny how that works. Having the advantage in the mirror was important to me because it meant that not everything was draw or skill dependant, in some circumstances my cards could just be better than theirs.
When my friend Dan Walton qualified for the invitational, he had asked me if I was interested in going. Initially I wasn’t, then he told me the kicker, he could probably get free plane tickets. He came through thanks to his mother’s medical company. The Thursday that we left was just like any other for the most part, except for what I had for lunch. The guys at work had decided to break my “Five Guys: Burgers and Fries” virginity. We drove across town to the nearest location which was about half an hour from work and we placed our orders. I made a great decision getting the Bacon burger with Cajun fries, hands down the best French fries I’ve ever had. Feeling disgustingly full, I headed back to work until it was time to leave. Around four o’clock I left to meet up with Dan and Carl for our flight down to Atlanta, Georgia! We met at Dan’s workplace (his mother’s company) and I completely forgot to thank her for the plane ticket, I felt pretty badly about that. We met Mr. Walton who was pretty funny, apparently he had gone to “Scare-a-Cuse” and wasn’t impressed with Hacksaw Jim Duggan the former professional wrestler. Mr. Walton then proceeded to talk about how he would take him down in a fight. That man was a riot.
We arrived at the airport and headed through the security checks pretty quickly but my bag was stopped for additional checking. My small bottle of contact solution was apparently a problem, but the electric razor in my bag wasn’t? Let me say that I didn’t intentionally bring the razor, it was with my “getting ready in the morning” things and I must’ve thrown it in there without paying attention. I then wait for Dan and Carl, they stopped Dan’s bag too except for a completely different reason.
“Those look like cards, are those cards?”
“Can we get a check? Oh, they’re cards”
“I said they were, are you going to put them back now?”
If they look like cards and they thought they were cards, it’s beyond me why they stopped his bag. We hung around the Syracuse airport for about half an hour before boarding the plane. Carl asked if I was excited for my first flight, it hadn’t really hit me as something to be excited about. I was interested to see how it felt as the plane took off, luckily I had the window seat, it was pretty cool to see down and look at all of the familiar sites but incredibly small. I can now cross off flying on a plane and five guys burgers off of my “things to do before I die” list.
It was a smooth flight, we talked, joked and had a pretty good time. We made it to Atlanta in an hour and forty minutes, which seemed ridiculous to me. I’m always so tired and exhausted by the time we get to our destinations on trips because we always drive. This was refreshing, the Atlanta airport was pretty impressive. I know that it’s supposed to be one of the largest in the United States, but it was much larger than I expected. We tried to rent-a-car but things didn’t work out, we ended up taking a train and cab to the hotel which ended up being incredibly cheap at $15. We settled in and headed out for dinner, but I wasn’t really that hungry because of that Five Guys burger. We ended up going to McDonalds because everywhere else that was close by was very much a sit down restaurant. It was when I was ordering my shake that it hit me – we were in the south. The girl at the register had that southern accent that was tough not to grin at. I politely took my shake and sat down with the guys.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave for the convention center. We headed downstairs and found out that there’s a shuttle to the location as well as one on the way back. At this point we were incredibly happy that we didn’t rent a car, our transportation cost was practically non-existent. However, the hotel’s breakfast was pretty expensive meaning that we would be hitting McDonalds the next few mornings for food. We got to the location early and stood around for a bit, the doors opened, Carl walked up to Adrian Sullivan, and introduced Dan and myself. I was kind of shocked by how often he swore but it was funny at the same time, he’s definitely a different person in front of the camera – a professional for sure.
We all filled out our deck lists, then began to walk around when Dan stumbled upon Dan Scott (The artist of Ponder). I was quick to take out my eight foil (Four Japanese and Four English) Ponders for him to sign, his signature kind of sucks. It looks like your dad signed your Ponders, literally. His signature looks like the word dad. Before we know it, there was an announcement for the players meeting.
The EPIC Storm (TES)
Round One: vs. Dustin Flora with UW Miracles
Dustin is a friendly guy who tells me he recently started playing again after eleven years. This is why it shocked me that he was running UW Miracles…
Game One: I win the die roll and lead off with a turn one Duress. Dustin then reveals his hand of Sensei’s Diving Top, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Terminus, Vendilion Clique, Ponder, Plains, and Scalding Tarn. Quickly the top is gone. Dustin lays the Tarn, cracks it and searches for a Tundra and plays Ponder. On my turn I play my own Ponder, shuffle, and draw and Ponder again. Dustin then put an Island onto the table followed by a Counterbalance, some Ponder. My turn three is pretty much ruined as Dustin reveals a one to Counterbalance. Dustin plays a Vendillion Clique to take my Burning Wish. I then sit there the rest of the game as Clique attacks me for three repeatedly.
Sideboarding:-1 Ponder, -1 Gitaxian Probe, +2 Cabal Therapy
Game Two: On turn one, I cast Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Duress (He has both Brainstorm and Top, take Top), Lion’s Eye Diamond, Chrome Mox, and then Burning Wish and cast Empty the Warrens. Dustin Brainstorms, no luck! (I put him on siding out Terminus, he seemed new to Legacy – I was wrong.)
Game Three: Dustin leads off Island go, I Ponder. He then slams down a counterbalance. My turn two I draw the Dark Ritual I knew was there from Ponder, cast it. Dustin reveals a two, luckily for me, that means the Ad Nauseam in my hand won’t be countered. I play everything into Ad Nauseam. I don’t reveal the Empty off of the Nauseam. I tear apart his hand and run out all of the artifact mana I can, then pass the turn. He draws, lays a land, and passes. I decide to go for it again. Dustin reveals a Terminus to Counterbalance, because I’m so low on life (4 life with a City in play) I struggle a bit for storm but end up Burning Wishing for Probe. Cast it, see Terminus and Snapcaster in hand. Tapping City I go to one life, I play some Rite of Flames, Past in Flames, recast all of the things I can and eventually find a Burning Wish with three red mana and a black available to kill him with Grapeshot.
Round Two: Pat Sullivan with Burn
I chat with Pat a bit before the game starts and find out that he’s from San Diego, I ask him if he is a Padres fan – he is in fact. We talk a bit about baseball and how our teams are at a similar place in their rebuilding stages. Pat asks how I qualified. I knew it was for information on how good I was in the format – I told him the truth. I top 8’d two Standard Opens, but… I’m a much better Legacy player (I didn’t tell him that).
Game One: Pat wins the die roll and leads off with the classic, “Mountain, Goblin Guide, swing, go.” I play a land and Ponder. Pat plays another Goblin Guide, I reveal a land for the first trigger but not the second. I lay a land and a Lotus Petal then pass. Pat attacks again, I cast Brainstorm in response then reveal two lands to the Goblin Guides (I’m at ten). I draw a Gitaxian Probe and cast it paying life considering that Pat is stuck on lands. Pat shows A Lava Spike, three Flame Rift, Lightning Bolt, and a Fireblast. I cast Ponder finding a Lion’s Eye Diamond, I then decide to combo out. Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Chrome Mox, Infernal Tutor (Revealing Dark Ritual), play both Dark Rituals, Burning Wish, and show a Tendrils of Agony.
Sideboarding:-4 Silence, +3 Cabal Therapy, +1 Echoing Truth
Game Two: He mulligans, then again, keeping his five. Pat leads off with his patented turn one, fetchland into Goblin Guide. I play Ponder once again. On his turn I reveal a land to Goblin Guide, Pat then plays a second fetch land and casts Flame Rift. This makes my turn incredibly easy. I draw a Dark Ritual, then play the revealed land, I cast Dark Ritual, Duress, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish, Tendrils of Agony.
As we chat as we de-sideboard, Pat reveals a couple of Mind Break Traps. Yikes! It turns out his first hand was fine against anything else, his second hand had two Mind Break Traps but no land, and his third was just alright. Luckily I wasn’t caught off guard. I was happy I wasn’t still playing Inquisition of Kozilek at that moment.
Round Three: Tinac Xing with Esperblade
Tinac knew clearly what I was playing when I sat down. I could just tell from his mannerisms and his body language. I had an idea of what he was playing but it was down to two different decks that were drastically different Goblins or Esperblade. I just couldn’t remember which one was him.
Game One: Tinac looks at his hand and snap keeps, I quickly think that there’s a Force of Will in it if he’s on blue. He plays a turn one Thoughtseize taking my Infernal Tutor leaving me with a bunch of mana and a Ponder. I draw a Lotus Petal and cast Ponder. Which finds an Empty the Warrens and some irrelevant cards. I play Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Chrome Mox (Remove Rite of Flame), Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Empty the Warrens. Tinac thinks for a minute before casting Force of Will on a copy. Over the next few turns the tokens attack while Swords to Plowshares are cast, but the goblins end up being too much.
Sideboarding:-1 Ponder, -1 Empty the Warrens, +2 Cabal Therapy
Game Two:I keep kind of a slow hand after Tinac mulligans, he plays land go for three turns while I cantrip. On my turn three Tinac plays Vendilion Clique on my draw step, I Brainstorm in response. I put Ad Nauseam on top, then reveal my hand of Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Ponder, Chrome Mox, and an Underground Sea. I thought Tinac was going to say keep it, but he doesn’t. He puts Ponder on the bottom of my Library. Ugh… I then draw Ad Nauseam and pass the turn. He knew something was fishy since that hand should’ve been able to go off if I put a tutor on top. He puts me on Empty the Warrens, attacks for three. I untap and play out my hand into Ad Nauseam not breaking the two Lion’s Eye Diamonds, leaving the wish in my hand. To my surprise Ad Nauseam resolves. (My plan at this point was to cast Past in Flames next turn and try again.) I reveal a lot of cards to Ad Nauseam before Tinac picks them up.
Round Four: Michael Dye with Reanimate Paint
Michael is a very energetic guy from Austin, Texas and you can just tell he’s a brewer. He then reveals that he qualified by winning a standard open with a GW aggro deck. Interesting.
Game One: Michael wins the die roll and leads off the game with a Bloodstained Mire before passing the turn. Interesting… I play a Gemstone with two Silences in hand. During the end step Michael fetches for Badlands and casts Entomb for Griselbrand. I Silence him two turns in a row as Michael lays land and passes. Unfortunately, I’m not drawing well enough to combo out. Michael Reanimates Griselbrand and draws seven, City of Traitors, Painters Servant (Blue), pass with an untapped Badlands. Here’s my window to draw Dark Ritual or Lion’s Eye Diamond, no luck. I cantrip and pass to lose the game to swing, draw fourteen cards, Grindstone.
Sideboarding:-4 Silence, +2 Cabal Therapy, +2 Karakas.
Game Two:I lead off with Cabal Therapy on Painter’s Servant, there’s two Magus of the Moon, a couple of Red Blasts, and an Imperial Recruiter. I decide to go for it, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Chrome Mox (Remove Infernal Tutor), Burning Wish for Empty the Warrens. Cast it. Flash back Cabal Therapy stripping the two Magus of the Moon. This was good enough.
Game three: Michael leads off with Bloodstained Mire again. I Duress on my turn one, Michael casts Entomb in response to reveal Reanimate, Animate Dead, Red Elemental Blast, Pyroblast, City of Traitors. You’ve got to be kidding me. No matter what I do I can’t win. I take Reanimate. He plays an animate dead and passes. I’m a mana short of Infernal for Ad Nauseam – I pass the turn. Michael attacks, draws seven, casts Painter naming blue and plays a second Badlands. I pick up my cards.
Honestly, that deck was incredibly bizarre and strange. I had no idea how it was so consistent, but he managed to beat me.
Round Five: Adam Snook with UW Delver
Adam wasn’t a very talkative guy unlike my other opponents. He kept his hood up the entire time and didn’t speak unless it involved the match.
Game One: I mulligan to five and quickly am outclassed by a Geist of Saint Traft, I draw a Phantasmal Image and jump to kill Geist. I begin to make a comeback with a Talrand, then Adam flashes in an Angel and has double Vapor Snag for my two flying tokens. Bummer.
Sideboarding:-3 Mana Leak, +3 Mental Misstep
Game Two:I lead with a Gitaxian Probe revealing a Seachrome Coast, Mental Misstep, Delver of Secrets, Mana Leak, Glacial Fortress, Island and Ponder. After looking at his hand I play a Delver. Adam casts Mental Misstep, I counter with my own. My Delver flips when showing a Ponder. I play Ponder finding another Delver, cast it and pass. Adam Ponders and then plays his Delver. I flip revealing a Pillar (I think this what I revealed at least), Gut Shot his Delver since I don’t have any red. The rest of the game consists of me playing two Snapcaster Mage stopping whatever Adam attempts to do with Gut Shot or Misstep.
Game Three: Adam mulligans. I see two Augur of Bolas to attack him with for the first few turns before I drop a Talrand, the Sky Summoner. Adam flashes in a Sword knowing every card in my hand besides the card I drew for the turn (Vapor Snag). He plays a Sword of War and Peace and equips it to the angel. If it had connected Adam would’ve stabilized most likely, luckily for me I have the Vapor Snag. I bounce his Angel and create a drake. I untap, Pillar him and swing for exactly lethal.
Round Six: Carl Dillahay with UW Delver
Ugh… This sucks. Testing all week and figuring out our decklists together to just play against each other this early sucks.
Game One: I win the roll and lead off with a Ponder, on the following turn I play an Augur of Bolas. Meanwhile Carl plays a Delver and doesn’t flip on his turn. We attack each other for a few turns, I Vapor Snag his Delver which helps, then Snapcasters casting Gutshots begin trading. I Pillar a blocker having one last Vapor Snag and a Runechanter’s Pike in hand and attack Carl down to nine. Carl plays an Augur and passes. I play Runechanter’s Pike, equip, Vapor Snag and win.
Sideboarding:-2 Mana Leak, -1 Thought Scour
Game Two: I am crazy flooded holding a Bonfire in my hand most of the game. I played Pillar of Flame on two different Talrand that entered the battlefield on Carl’s side of the table. The game was an uphill battle until I was able to force Carl’s hand with my own Talrand, giving me the opportunity to resolve Bonfire with the Mana Leak I left in for back-up. The game is over a few turns later as Drakes turn sideways.
Playing against friends that you traveled there with always sucks, but it happens. You’ve just got to worry about the next round.
At this point in the day I decide to check my phone, there are tons of people asking for updates. I answer a couple and then check my email. It turns out there was a rush put on one of the design projects I was working on, it had to be done and printed by Monday. “Good thing my plane lands at 10:45pm!” I thought to myself.
I then noticed a missed call from my parents who are babysitting my puppy that was just neutered two days before. He was fine, they called to tell me that my Xantid Swarm had arrived. Figures.
Round Seven: Adam Prosak with UW Delver
We chat for a bit, I find out that Adam is from Arizona, I ask him if he happened to know an old pro from Syracuse that happened to move there. He said he did, I asked him about this old pros skills and he gave me a bit of insight. I was interested because a friend had told me I wasn’t as good as this player.
Game One: Game one I stumble on mana even after opening with Probe, Snapcaster Mage, and Probe-ing again. I land a Talrand eventually and if I untap I’m going to go nuts. Unfortunately for me, Adam drew the one-of Dismember in his deck. I even had a back-up plan for Vapor Snag. Adam lands his own Talrand and Probes me to see the Bonfire in my hand, the rest of the game he leaves up mana for the Mana Leak in his hand and it’s easy cruising for him from there.
Sideboarding: -2 Mana Leak, -1 Thought Scour
Game Two: This game is a cripple fight. We’re both flooding hard, although I have the opposite dilemma I had game one. All of this mana and no Bonfire of the Damned! Most of the game is spent with us controlling each other’s value creatures (Snapcaster Mage & Augur of Bolas). I draw an image and debate on which creature to copy, I decided on Snapcaster and Ponder. Although for some terrible reason, I had decided that on his turn my image was now an Augur and I block his Augur with “my own” Augur. Mine died though. When it came down to the final turn of the game, I played Pike, Adam reveals a Steel Sabotage. I cast Snapcaster Mage and Mental Misstep. I Vapor Snag his only blocker, an unflipped Delver of Secrets. Swing in for lethal? Adam was holding a Dismember which is unfortunate for me considering he had lethal on the table. Maybe if I hadn’t played so stupidly, he would’ve been forced to use the removal spell sooner and my alpha strike might’ve worked? Who knows? I wouldn’t be making that mistake twice.
Round Eight: Logan Rodgers with UW Delver
Logan is a guy from Tampa, but originally from Pittsburgh. He tells me he isn’t as dumb as the rest of the south after he finds out that I’m from Syracuse. I laugh a bit at this and he says the education system down there is miserable.
Game One: Logan is stuck on an Island and a Glacial Fortess, but there’s only so much he can do to fight off a flipped Delver of Secrets and a Talrand that created two tokens. I then revealed a Bonfire of the Damned! Boom! Field gone! I have two attack steps at this point before we begin the next game. My probe that game showed me a bunch of Geists and Angels clogging up his hands, I could’ve done pretty much anything and had been fine.
Sideboarding: -2 Mana Leak, -1 Thought Scour
Game Two: It’s a similar game to the first one except our enemy Logan has drawn three lands. He knows I have a Bonfire in my hand, it’s a catch twenty-two, he can’t put me under any pressure while defending his position. I have enough mana to kill his Geist if he plays it and if he doesn’t I’m eventually going to kill him. When I play Talrand off of Cavern (He had a Leak in hand) with Bonfire the following turn Logan knows he’s done and picks up his cards.
I wished Logan good luck during day two then looked to see how Dan and Carl had done. Carl finished strong at X-2 as well. Dan had scrubbed out and was now going to play in the standard open the next day.
We head outside to the shuttle area to find AJ Kerrigan and his friends, AJ tells us that everyone is going to Hooters for his birthday. The shuttle arrives when a bunch of us pile in (Max Tietze, Jim Davis, Max Brown, Carl, Dan, some random kid, and myself). It turns out there’s a Women of Faith convention on the other side of the building. Our driver Dory tells us that we have to pick up a couple of ladies there before heading back. We waited for over half an hour for these women but Dory would not leave. We begin to bribe her, but she wouldn’t bite. That’s when the hordes of women begin exiting the building, between seven and eight thousand, actually. We tell Dory for each person she runs over we’ll give her five dollars, as long as we get back to the hotel in time to go to Hooters. We were starving. The two women finally enter the shuttle. They were an older lady, in her late fifties, and a slightly younger woman in her mid-thirties.
They were shocked to see a shuttle full of guys, “Were you at the Women’s convention?” Of course we were, can’t a bunch of guys support women and their faith in our lord and savior? Carl tells them we were spying from the grassy knolls with binoculars. They’re southern Georgia accents only made everything even more funny. The eldest lady turns to me and says, “Did you know that god is good? Even when you don’t think he is, he’s always good. Always watching, caring, and guiding us in the righteous direction. He’s like your parents, even when you don’t think he’s making the proper choice he is, he’s good.” I turn to Carl and tell him, “Did you know that God is good?” The younger woman isn’t too happy with my trolling of her lord and savior. The older woman doesn’t recognize that we’re joking around. They ask what we’re really there for. We tell them that we were there to see “Menopause the musical” which was playing in a few weeks. They don’t buy it. But before we can answer we’re back at the hotel.
We part ways with the two women and get ready to go meet up with everyone at Hooters. Except that we’re the only one’s there from the event. We’re seated and our waitress quickly comes over. Gorgeous thing, she has a huge southern drawl to her voice. Carl and I order a Blue Moon, she comes back minutes later telling us they no longer carry it, “You’re killing us Dawn, a Yuengling”. Dawn delivers us our beers while Dan gets some sort of juice, weirdo. A few minutes later we see our waitress hula hooping, Carl asks her about it. Apparently she’s going to be on a television show with other ladies hula hooping around the world and she was practicing. Carl tells her that he just loves hula hooping, not a good idea. Next thing we know he’s up in front of everyone attempting to hula hoop, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Dawn decides to sit with us for awhile, she asks Dan why he doesn’t talk very much. I say something along the lines of, “He’s getting neutered, like my dog, I mean married.” Dan then is standing on a stool as Hooters waitresses dance around him because he said he didn’t want a bachelor party. Mistake. After this was finished Carl asks Dawn, “Besides hula hooping and Dawn, what’s there to do around here?”
Well, Dawn clearly didn’t get the joke. Our food had arrived after what seemed like an eternity, it was barely alright, but I was hungry enough that it looked like a gourmet meal. We eat, drink, have some good times, but never see any other nerds before heading back to the hotel.
The alarm went off at seven, the same ‘ole routine. Get ready, hit up McDonalds for a Bacon, Egg & Cheese, and catch the shuttle to the convention center.
Round Nine: Kendal Guthrie with Esperblade
Kendal doesn’t say much and to be honest, I don’t remember much about him.
Game One: I win the die roll and begin the day with a Duress. I look at Tundra, Scrubland, two Snapcaster Mage, Stoneforge Mystic, Umezawa’s Jitte, and a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I take Jitte away to buy time and leave the option for Goblins on the table. Kendal plays a Tundra and passes. On my turn I cantrip, lay a land, and pass. Kendal plays a fetch, searches for Underground Sea and slams a Counterbalance. Not bad draws. I play another cantrip that is countered due to the enchantment. Kendal plays a Clique at the end of my next draw step. I’m pretty much locked out the rest of the game at this point from Counterbalance, threats, and the eventual Jace.
Sideboarding:-1 Ponder, -1 Gitaxian Probe (He seemed new, I figured I could catch him with Goblins)
Game Two: Kendal mulligans to four. Ouch. I lead off the game knowing his hand thanks to a Probe. He’s sitting on Spell Pierce, Flooded Strand, Umezawa’s Jitte, and a Jace. I play a couple of other cantrips while Kendal sits there until I can Duress him and Ad Nauseam in the same turn on turn three or four.
Game Three: I mulligan and keep a weak six card hand. Kendal begins with a Thoughtseize taking my Infernal Tutor leaving me with two lands, Dark Ritual, Ponder, and a Brainstorm. I cantrip into Empty the Warrens off of Ponder, build up my mana for a few turns until I can Empty the Warrens for 16 when he’s at fifteen with one blocker. He doesn’t reveal a Terminus or Engineered Explosives!
While un-sideboarding Kendal shows me three Engineered Plague that he says he forgot to sideboard in. I think he made the correct decision.
Round Ten: Timothy Thomason with UW Miracles
Timothy is a quiet guy at first but warms up a bit, he tells me that his housemate plays my deck. That’s pretty cool, but the down side is he knows what I’m playing and how to beat it.
Game One: Timothy tells me his first two hands he would’ve kept against me if he didn’t know what I was playing. Instead, he mulligans to five. I lead off with a Probe that draws a Duress and I cast it taking his Sensei’s Diving Top. Leaving him with Plains, Swords to Plowshares, Terminus, Counterbalance. He plays a Plains and passes. I draw a Dark Ritual, then lay my land. Dark Ritual, Silence, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor for Ad Nauseam. Cast it. Reveal a bunch of cards, he picks them up.
Sideboarding:-1 Ponder, -1 Gitaxian Probe, +2 Cabal Therapy
Game Two: He leads off with “Tundra, go.” I search for Underground Sea and Duress. He… Envelopes it? Alright. Then on his turn two plays a Counterbalance. I decide that I need to go for it sooner rather than later. I play Lion’s Eye Diamond, he reveals a Trinket Mage. I play out the rest of my hand, Infernal Tutor, breaking Lion’s Eye Diamond? Force of Will. Timothy, just had all of these.
Game Three: Timothy mulligans and opens with a Top, I Ponder and set up a turn two with Duress. Timothy plays another land and passes. I Duress and Timothy casts Envelope, alright. I play Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish? Envelope number two. Soul crushing.
Round Eleven: Dan Battle with RUG
Dan while shuffling is a pretty nervous character, he tells me this is his first Legacy event. Which triggers something Carl told me the day before, he lost to a guy who’s never played Legacy before and was running Elves. I put him on green.
Game One: Dan wins the die roll, and leads off with Tropical Island into Delver of Secrets. Not what I guessed, but I guess it’s kind of green? I lead off with Underground Sea, and cast Gitaxian Probe paying life. I see that Dan’s hand is rather weak. Because of this I cast Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish for Empty the Warrens and cast it. Dan picks up his cards instantly.
Sideboarding: -1 Ponder, -1 Gitaxian Probe, +2 Cabal Therapy
Game Two: Dan leads off once again with a turn one Delver, this time my opening hand isn’t as explosive and I’m forced to wait a bit. I wear Dan’s hand down over several turns until I could resolve a Diminishing Returns. My Diminishing Returns was fine, but I was at two life and he had a Delver of Secrets. I decided that I was going to see if I could mind trick him. All I could make was red mana from rituals because of Rite of Flames, which was great because I had Empty the Warrens. I played out everything including two Lotus Petals but kept the Silence in my hand after the Empty the Warrens for 36 goblins. On his upkeep I Silenced, he snap cast Force of Will on my Silence. Interesting? I wonder if it had not resolved if he would’ve attacked. But I’ll never know.
Game Three: This one is a long one, there’s a bunch of soft counters that slow me down, I eventually cast Burning Wish. It’s down to Past in Flames or Diminishing Returns, I take Past in Flames. I play an Infernal Tutor from hand to search for my third copy of Rite of Flame, I run them all out there and resolve a Silence afterwards to avoid soft counters. Cast Past in Flames, flashback all three Rite of Flames, I use the only colored source I have to cast Infernal Tutor for Lion’s Eye Diamond. Play Diamond and break it for three blue mana. I cast two Probes using life, the first one draws Burning Wish, and the second a land. I play Ponder and shuffle, draw another land, cast Brainstorm putting two lands on top of my library. My hand at this point is Burning Wish, Dark Ritual, Chrome Mox, Chrome Mox. I play the two Moxes removing Dark Ritual and cast Duress from the Graveyard. Cast the Burning Wish for Grapeshot for one over lethal. Winning with red mana!
Round Twelve: Joey Mispagel with Reanimator
Joey is a nice guy, we chat a bit. He’s wearing a St. Louis Cardinals hat, I ask him if he’s an actual fan or just likes the hat, he’s a real fan from St. Louis. I sat next to him the round prior so we knew what each other were playing.
Game One: Joey Mulligans and leads off with a Verdant Catacombs, into Ponder. I Duress and look at Careful Study, Griselbrand, Reanimate, Reanimate, and a second land. I take the Careful Study. Joey draws and casts Thoughtseize on himself, then Reanimates Griselbrand going to nine. I set up a possible next turn win on my turn. Joey swings going up to sixteen and draws seven. Apparently the draw seven was five lands, Daze, and Animate Dead. He decides to go to two and take his chances. This draw is better, he discards a bunch of cards and passes. What matters is he’s at two. On my turn I draw Silence, which is actually the nuts draw. I Silence, he Forces, going to one. Meaning if he has anymore Forces they’re shut off. I play Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, breaking Lion’s Eye for RRR with no other possible mana. He tanks for a minute, calls the judge to see if he can respond to the mana from Lion’s Eye. Thankfully, it’s a mana ability. He dazes and I show him the Grapeshot.
Game Two: Joey mulligans to five and leads off with a Thoughtseize on me. I have Duress, Duress, Burning Wish, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Gemstone Mine, and Underground Sea. Joey takes the Burning Wish. I Duress him to see Careful Study, Griselbrand, and Griselbrand. Study out! Joey draws and passes. I draw Ponder, Ponder, it’s bad, shuffle and draw Infernal Tutor. I use the second Duress. He Entombs in response for Jin-Gitaxias. He needs to not draw Reanimate, he doesn’t (He draws Show and Tell). I untap, play two Lion’s Eye Diamonds, then Infernal Tutor for Ad Nauseam and cast it. By the time I’m done running out all of the mana I’ve drawn, I’m already at fourteen storm. I think to myself why not. I lay Karakas for the land for my turn and Silence. Chrome Mox removing the ugly Xantid, cast the pretty one. Cabal Therapy on Griselbrand to see the Show and Tell. Flashback naming Show and Tell sacrificing my beautiful bug. Continue to showboat until I Grapeshot for twenty-six.
I didn’t showboat because he was mean, the exact opposite, he was actually a really fun opponent. Even when he mulliganed three times and was losing, he was a good sport. But I Grapeshotted because it was my last opportunity in the event to showboat. While we’re picking up our cards he asks me if I’d like to trade. I only brought my trade binder which doesn’t have anything worthwhile in it other than a Chinese Foil Orim’s Chant. His first page has four foil Jaces, I’m embarrassed. I end up seeing a handful of foils off him I’d like, we make a deal, as we’re wrapping up the judges come over and tell us we need to exit the area. Really? Relax a bit.
Round Thirteen: AJ Sacher with RG Aggro
We sit down for the second standard portion, I’m feeling pretty good being at table seven. Although, I still hadn’t had any feature matches. Probably because I’m not important enough. While AJ and Sam Black were talking AJ mentioned how his opponent congratulated him on a GP top 8. AJ said he never has. I thought to myself, “Even I’ve top 8’d a grand prix” but decided my sarcastic joke may be misconstrued for rudeness. AJ complains that he hates this format and I say, “Well if you’d like we could always EDH for the round?” Half sarcastically, AJ laughs and says, “Yeah, I wish.” Sam Black is sitting next to us and starts going on and on about Edrik, the UG guy that draws cards. How cool it is that cards like Flying Men become insane in this format. Sure. I tell him that I play Godo, “You mean a six mana red creature? Isn’t that kind of slow?” I explain that my deck runs sixty-five mana sources and is quite fast, even killing turn two one in every ten to fifteen games. He compares the deck to belcher saying it loses to a single counterspell then. I decide that it’s not worth the arguing, while Sam may know more about Standard than me, I certainly had him here.
Game One: I was dominating the early game with a flipped Delver, on turn four I ran out a Talrand. AJ has a Huntmaster and then plays Thrun, the Last Troll. I play a few Cantips, and then an Augur to find Pillar to kill his Huntmaster. I’ve created three Drakes by this point. I’m certainly winning the race against RG aggro. AJ plays and equips a Sword of War and Peace to his Thrun. He actually does the same exact thing the following turn while killing my Delver with a removal spell. I have an Augur with a Pike on it, that’s no longer larger than the Thrun. Awkward. On my turn I put AJ to two, before passing the turn in a great position to win. When AJ reveals Bonfire with enough mana to play around the Mana Leak in my hand. He clears my entire board minus the Pike. I lose the game the following turn.
Sideboarding:-2 Mana Leak, +1 Negate, +1 Pillar of Flame
Game Two: This game sucks. I mulligan to five and keep Island, Island, Ponder, Augur of Bolas, and Bonfire of the Damned. I Ponder, it’s pretty bad so I shuffle. Draw an Island. Next turn, I play Augur of Bolas to see two Sulfur Falls and Evolving Wilds. That was a slap in the face. That’s all I did the entire game, as I continually drew the red cards in my deck as AJ played three Thragtusks off of Cavern of Souls. Brutal.
Round Fourteen: Jack Fogle with Naya Pod
Jack is a kid who just seems very nervous, he was a little snappy with his responses but he’s in day two of the invitational. I suppose he was trying to step up his concentration or something.
Game One: I open with Island, Delver of Secrets, on my turn I reveal Vapor Snag to my Delver. Gut Shot his Birds, Ponder looking at Island, Mana Leak, Mana Leak, play a Second Delver of Secrets. Yes, I opened with the nuts. He plays an Emissary, I swing a few times with double Mana Leak. That game was incredible.
Sideboarding:-2 Mana Leak, +1 Pillar of Flame, +1 Gut Shot
Game Two: This game is very similar to my second game against AJ but I didn’t mulligan to five. Instead both of my Ponders blanked and I never found a red source. I did play a Talrand to buy me some time, it just wasn’t enough.
Game Three: I open with a Turn one Delver of Secrets and a Gut Shot for his Birds of Paradise, my Delver doesn’t blind flip, I play an Augur of Bolas for a Ponder, pass. Jack misses his second land drop and plays an Avacyn’s Pilgrim. I am quick to Ponder, play another land, and play the Snapcaster Mage that I drew off Ponder to flashback the Gut Shot. Swing two! My Delver flips on my turn after Jack plays a second land and an Emissary. I Pillar of Flame the Emissary and swing for six. Jack draws a third land and casts Blade Splicer. I play and equip Runechanter’s Pike to my Delver and swing. Jack keeps the team back but plays a second Birds to block my Delver. I reveal Bonfire of the Damned for my draw.
Round Fifteen: Stephen Mann with UW Delver
Stephen is a quiet guy that kind of looks like Craig Wescoe. Although, I don’t remember where he’s from. I’m going to guess Texas or Florida from the sun burn/peeling he was sporting. As we begin the judge handing out slips says “Going for four in a row?” to him. Great, a guy on a hot streak.
Game One: I stumble on mana in the initial turns after mulliganing to five. meanwhile Stephen plays a Geist off a Cavern of Souls. Which was fine considering I didn’t have Mana Leak. Although, Stephen did. Two of them with a Snapcaster Mage to Flash one back. Stopping both of my attempts to kill the Geist (A Phantasmal Image and a revealed Bonfire of the Damned). I lose to the Geist in a couple of additional swings.
Sideboarding: -2 Mana Leak, -1 Thought Scour
Game Two: This game was a long one, I don’t remember too many of the details (my apologies). We traded Geists and Images, Legend ruled out a couple of Talrands, but he cast Negate on a crucial Bonfire of the Damned. I remember that much.
Well that knocks me out of top 8 contention, I guess the next best thing is top 16! Here we go.
Round Sixteen: Nick Spagnolo with 4c Control/Solar flare
As we sit down, Nick asks if there’s any chance if either one of us can top 16. Considering that I was 20th entering the round, I thought that there would be a pretty good chance if I had won. I say, “Let’s just play.” Nick is a really friendly guy and asks why I haven’t met him before, I told him I had no clue. I mention I flew down with Carl, knowing that they were friends and we began the match. He was all business at this point.
Game One: Nick’s four colored mana base works beautifully this game and even consists of a Cavern of Souls on beast. Nick plays two Thragtusks and copies one with a Phantasmal Image. I have two Augurs with a Runechanter’s Pike, one swinging through and then re-equipping to the other post combat. I know at this point that Nick was holding a Black Sun’s Zenith. I think he should’ve played it before the second Thragtusk to kill both Augurs and be really far ahead, he chose a different path. Either one would’ve worked as I continued to flood out.
Sideboarding: -2 Gut Shot, -3 Pillar of Flame, -1 Vapor Snag, -1 Delver of Secrets, +2 Dissipate, +1 Negate, +2 Zealous Conscripts, +2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Game Two: Nick’s four color mana base caught up to him with only drawing three lands, one of which was a Cavern of Souls. He plays two Oblivion Rings to slow me down on a couple of Snapcaster Mages. He mentions how he’s going to be mad if I drop a Pike, but he thinks I may have sideboarded them out. I drop a Pike then dwindle down his life total with an Augur of Bolas and a flipped Delver of Secrets.
Game Three: Game three is a long one that consists of a couple Thragtusks dying, creature exchanges, and then Nick played a Cavern of Souls naming praetor. I have a couple of guys that lived through Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and a Zealous Conscripts in my hand. If I take the Praetor and swing, I can put Nick to one. Frustrating. I opt to play a Pike and set up for the next turn instead. Nick kills my Augur with a Go For The Throat taking that plan away. I’m now forced to kill the Praetor with my Phantasmal Image in hand. Nick clears the board again with a Black Sun Zenith then plays a Sun Titan and Thragtusk. I play the Zealous Conscripts from my hand, stealing Sun Titan, equipping my Conscripts with Pike and attacking. Returning the former Image and copying Sun Titan, returning Snapcaster for a Vapor Snag on his Sun Titan post combat. This wraps up the game in the first turn of time in round.
Standings were posted and I finished in 19th, I missed out on top 16 after all. I could have just drawn with Nick into the top 32, instead Nick finished in 34th. I felt kind of bad about that. 19th place isn’t too bad in a field as competitive as this, it’s still $500 too. I wish I could’ve done better, but not everyone is a winner. This event was a huge improvement compared to my first invitational at Indy. Where I didn’t do so hot against three rounds of Reanimator in a row for the Legacy portion. I felt that it was a little weird that there was a real lack of Zombies at the event, all that metagaming against the undead to not even fight them. Luckily, my Zombie hate was still good in the mirror. Something similar happened for Legacy, there was next to zero Maverick in the event while there was a dramatic increase of Miracles.
The event was extremely draining, after each day I was just exhausted. It’s a lot of complex thought to be had in a single day of slinging cardboard. The bright side was that the event finished around seven so we had time to explore the area around the hotel. We hopped on the shuttle back, changed, and went out to look for dinner. We found a buffet that served higher quality Chinese food. Our waitress was terrible, she never came back to the table after our initial drinks besides to give us our check. We were all pretty thirsty by that point, but the food was terrific. The huge crawfish that they had were ridiculously tasty as they were flavored with something hot and spicy, there were some other good things, but those really stood out to me.
We decided that our group was going to get drunk, we set out looking for a bar to hang-out at. We went to Barnacles, which wasn’t exactly our crowd with it being full of gangsters. We even tried Applebees and Hooters both of which were crammed due to the UFC fight. Walked by a red-neck bar or two, before we found a sports bar where we stayed the rest of the night at. We must’ve shared between eight and ten pitchers of Blue Moon before stumbling out of there at 2AM. I get back to the hotel at 3:30AM after walking the wrong way for half an hour and find the sink destroyed by Dan. Good job, kid. Carl walks in about ten minutes later.
We weren’t playing in the Legacy open because of our flight time, so we didn’t have to be up at any special time. We eventually wake, share stories of the night before, get ready, pack up, and head over to the convention center. Carl and Dan enter the Two-Headed Giant side event, while I decide to play in a couple of Commander Pods. The first pod, there was one other competitive deck at the table and he hoped with a turn one:
Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, into Solemn Simulacrum. Then casts a turn two Jace, the Mind Sculptor. What’s sad is I almost killed him on my turn four but he left open three mana for Chaos Warp to keep me out of the game. He won a few turns later. I played him in a one-on-one afterwards and absolutely destroyed him with Godo. I guess I should’ve done that when it mattered. I play in another pod and end up making a play mistake to cost me the game. It happens.
Carl and Dan end up losing their final two rounds of the event and we head back to the Atlanta Airport. It’s funny, our bags went through fine in Atlanta, no problems. Interesting, our section of the airport had a Pizza Hut express for food. I was told there was a Chipotle somewhere. By the time we get to the front of the line they’re out of breadsticks that normally come with the meals, so instead they gave us chicken wings. Winners!
The flight back went smoothly once again, I had the window seat at night which was nice. All of the lights below were an incredible sight. We arrived in Syracuse twenty minutes early, which was nice considering I was back to work the next morning. Not a bad weekend.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource