The Captain’s Log- Going for the 3peat
It turned out my sideboard from the last event would have been more fitting for this week’s metagame. Here is the list I ran.
The main difference was that I decided to give dredge the proper respect it deserved by dedicating a full 4 sideboard slots to it. Unfortunately I did not get paired against Dredge all day. It was still lurking in the field so I felt justified in my decision. Secondly I added a forked bolt to give me some game against Death and Taxes, Goblins, Elf’s, and to give my Maverick matchup a few more percentage points. The other plus side to this: it gave me the versatility that I put a great importance on, in my sideboard. On the negative side I lost out on two of a very powerful card: Blue Elemental Blast. In retrospect those should have been included, but something had to go and this week they were on the chopping block.
On to the report…
From the beginning it seemed like I was going to have to work for this to be a 3peat, but I was confident in my ability and was ready for the challenge.
1st Round Eli Kasis Junk (Featured Match) (Archived video here: http://wp.me/p1Swun-dvo)
Eli was playing what could only be described as anti-RUG. With a whole slew of anti-RUG cards main deck my chances seemed bleak, but I plugged away and put myself in the best case scenario to win. Game one came down to me having two Nimble Mongoose on the field and after several turns of Eli playing around stifle and Daze properly (as expected) Eli landed a Knight of the Reliquary. That was enough to halt my ground pounders and all I had left was to suicide my two geese into his Knight and hope for some reason Eli would punt (hey a guy can dream). Needless to say he didn’t. Eli played up to his reputation and you can see it all on the feed. Into Game two came down to me drawing two Delver of Secrets and protecting them with Daze. Game three was an abnormal game to say the least. Eli was stuck on one green source for several turns which was a Horizon Canopy doing him damage all the way. I was able to play a Nimble Mongoose and bolted away any possible threats. It proved to be too much for Eli to handle. Not the way I envisioned the match to end, but a win regardless.
Record after Round 1: 1-0-0
2nd Round: “The” Bryant Cook JUND
First off I want to say I enjoy playing against Bryant win lose or draw. I appreciate his sarcastic ball-busting humor that very few people have. I think we both have similar views that while we both hate to lose we both realize it is a game and when played among friends it’s something that can and should be joked about.
First game Bryant mulliganed on the play and we exchanged wastelands for nonbasics and came to a board stall. It seemed to be that my Nimble Mongoose would be just too much for his deck to handle. Bryant was clawing back to try and stabilize but a previously resolved Dark Confidant proved to do more damage than benefit and put him in Lightning Bolt range so I could take game one. Game two came down to a possible play mistake for me turn one. I decided to keep a one lander with a Delver and a ponder among other non-land awesomeness. I elect to play a turn one Delver to try and apply pressure instead of playing it safe and playing a turn one Ponder to dig for a second land and potentially setting up a guaranteed Delver flip. The gamble proved to be disastrous when Bryant played a second turn Wasteland to lock me out. It took too long to draw an eventual land and he was way ahead by then. Game three was a very close battle. Bryant and I had a disagreement about the final play, I’ll let you decide in the end. The game came down to some well-timed Submerges on my part, putting Bloodbraid Elf back on top of the library at the cost of extreme value for Bryant. The final turns of the game came down with Bryant being at 1 life. In play he had Bloodbraid Elf, Dark Confidant, and Umezawa’s Jitte, with appropriate amount of land to equip. I had two Nimble Mongoose in play on my turn and I elected not to attack. In my hand was a useless Daze and a land. My thought process behind this was that the probability of Bryant hitting a non-land card with Dark Confidant was pretty high and would immediately kill him. If he did draw land, then I was still able to block his Dark Confidant on the attack back, giving him two counters on Jitte. I know it was a risk and I was ok with either result. Turns out it was a non-land, man down.
Record after Round 2: 2-0-0
3rd Round Connor Robinson UR Delver
All three of these games were very close, but ultimately came down to game three where I kept a hand on the draw without any threats. At the time it seemed like a good hand full of counters, stifle, and draw spells. I felt with three different draw spells and some fetchlands to reset the top of my library throwing away the trash I would eventually see a threat. As it turns for the rest of the game I did not. Who would have thought a creature is necessary for the win in RUG? Ground breaking I know. As it turned out the missing Blue Elemental Blasts from the board would have been very useful for killing a Goblin Guide.
Record after Round 3: 2-1-0
Took a round three loss, but I’m far from out. They say it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been knocked down it just matters that you keep getting back up. Sorry I’m Italian and I love me some Rocky. I was beaten and battered but I wouldn’t stay down.
4th Round Jeremy Zach Schultz Loam
Yet another close match. These guys weren’t gonna give me that 3peat; I was going to have to earn it every step of the way. I put in early pressure with a couple Geese on board, but eventually a new situation formed. Zach had fought through a Stifle and Wastelands denying his resources, and Dazes punishing him for that. He now had two basic lands, a Mox Diamond and a fetchland in play. Zach was holding that fetchland for what I imagined was fear of a second Stifle. I had in play a Wasteland which was mostly unusable and a Daze in my hand. Zach played the Crusher using the Mox and two basic lands leaving up the fetchland. In response, I Wasteland his uncracked fetchland, naturally prompting my opponent to say, “In response… sac my land.” In my head I’m thinking “gotcha”. I used the would-be dead Daze in my hand in response to the fetchland to counter the Crusher. Sure I lose value on the Wasteland, but I gained that value back by turning on that dead Daze in my hand. Another play made possible by Stifle or in this case the threat of it.
Game two came down to Dark Confidant resolving and doing what he does best… creating a huge card advantage. Just not for me. Game 3, hey what do you know, Nimble Mongoose again for the win. Not being able to be targeted is a huge advantage. Knowing how huge that advantage was resulted in me playing around Engineered Explosives through counter spells and Stifles as the game plan and it got there.
Results after Round 4: 3-1-0
Rocky was inspiring, I got off the mat. Just needed to win one more and I could draw in to my third straight top 8, (editor’s note: understandably with Hurricane Sandy passing through earlier in the week, players had a lot of real life to handle. Turnout was low and so this event was only 6 rounds) I got this…
5th Round Jeremy Tibbits UW Stone blade
Hey remember when this was a good matchup for RUG? Yea… I would like to reassess that assumption. The addition of Supreme Verdict is a beast. An uncounterable wrath seems decent right? Still fighting. Still clawing. Game one ended with a Batterskull on his board, a Goose and 4/5 Tarmogoyf on my board and my opponent stabilizing his way back from 1 life. I eventually got there with Jeremy not being able to return and cast Batterskull all in one turn. Important interaction in game two Detention sphere on the surface seems very good against RUG right? Not so much. It seemed like Jeremy was very eager to snag two Tarmogoyfs, but Stifle had other thoughts. Really is there anything that card can’t do? Stifling the come into play trigger targeting the Tarmogoyf left him with a very nice enchantment sitting on the board. Even if that did resolve and get the Goyfs then that turns on my later Red Elemental Blasts. Jeremy also showed me he left in his Force of Wills, further making my future Red Elemental Blasts even more effective.
Jeremy may have had a different thought process than me, but I think it is generally accepted that Force of Will is just, plain and simple, a bad card against non-combo decks. The card disadvantage it creates is so monumental in a format which is so heavy on card value. Really what spell in RUG is worth two cards of yours? The answer is none. You want to be on the other end of 2 for 1’s, not giving them out to RUG. Secondly knowing your opponent is putting in Red Elemental Blast is just setting yourself up for huge blowouts. That being said, Jeremy was able to Force of Will a crucial spell of mine, at the cost of pitching a valuable Spell Pierce. Game Three Jeremy got me under a Wasteland and Crucible of Worlds lock that proved very bad for a deck with zero basic lands.
Results after Round 5: 3-2-0
At this point in the day I was very dejected. I thought for sure after fighting through two very good first and second round opponents I would ride easy street to the top 8. How did this slip away? Was I too arrogant? Did I let myself down thinking my hard work was already done? Maybe, that will have to be left for another day to be decided. But there was still a Badland to play for and I wasn’t going to let that slip away.
Final Round Fight! Jesse Adams Dallas Maverick
Jesse and I have played each other in the past few tournaments at Jupiter and he has played tight and smart games every time we play. I have been impressed with his ability and also his mentality towards the game. That being said, Maverick damn! Guess I was going to have to fight for that Badland too. Game one I kept a very bad hand in retrospect. It was creature heavy with no disruption, but I figured I’d give it a try and see what happened. Turns out Maverick, has better creatures and if left unchecked they tend to swarm. An astounding revelation I know. Game two came down to playing a turn two Cursed Totem of awesomeness and making all of his creatures amazingly inefficient. A forked bolt here, a few lightning bolts there, a whole lot of attacking and we were on to game 3. In game three Jesse seemed to be stabilizing with an active Elspeth, Knight Errant, but a flipped Delver and three subsequent Submerges killed Jesse’s draw steps and stifled his attack step. Delver was able to get the job done in the face of one scary planeswalker.
Ultimately I didn’t get there, but there was a lot to be learned from the tournament. While I am not happy leaving Jupiter without another top 8, I have taken solace in being able to gain some valuable information to prepare me for the future. Although I am not happy with the outcome of this tournament I did learn a lot and it gives me much to think about for the next battle.
- Things I will be pondering for next tournament:
- How to deal with this anti-Delver Junk deck that seems very popular at the moment?
- Which is more important: giving dredge or goblins the appropriate sideboard attention?
- With the lack of “unfair decks” is it still right to be playing 4 Force of Will?
All of these things will need to be figured out before next tournament and I will be tweaking and adjusting everything until I am happy with it, or until December 15th. Whichever comes first.
Thanks for reading and see you next time