Cook’s Kitchen – One Round (NELC: 03/02/2013)
It was March 2nd, my twenty-fourth birthday.
I crawled out of bed, my body slightly aching from the previous night’s festivities. I thought to myself, “Man, I’m getting old” before heading to the bathroom to prepare for the day. I accomplished my morning rituals and then waited for Adam Van Fleet to arrive at my house. Once Adam was there, I went to pick up the other member of “Team Birthday Weekend”, Nick Patnode. After he was in the car, we found 81S and began our trip to Vestal, NY from Syracuse.
I know, you’re probably thinking, “He went to go play Magic cards on his birthday?”
Yes. My birthday celebration was the night before and to be perfectly honest, there isn’t much to do during the day on Saturday anyway in Syracuse.
[Editor’s note – click any of blue card names or featured card images to view and purchase the card from Jupiter Games!]
The trip went by rather quickly and we arrived at the Jupiter Games event center before we knew it. We filled out deck lists before heading to the diner across the street:
by Bryant Cook
I know I said I was going to play a different deck every month for the Jupiter Season, but it was my birthday. I wanted to play my deck on my birthday, can’t fault a guy for that. As far as the deck list is concerned, it’s a pretty standard list with one slight main deck change. A singleton Cabal Therapy over the third copy of Duress. It’s something I had been testing in weeks’ prior to the event as a way to improve the disruption package. The thought process behind the main deck Cabal Therapy was that since cutting the third Therapy from the sideboard to add Xantid Swarm back in, I’ve missed the ability to discard creatures as well as the value of the classic two-for-one it can provide.
The third Duress was already in a position where myself as well as Si-Ning Li weren’t incredibly impressed with it. We even previously considered an additional land before we decided it wasn’t the correct move. With that in mind, that slot seemed natural as a way to fit the third Cabal Therapy back into the deck. For those unfamiliar with The EPIC Storm, the reason the deck doesn’t play additional copies of the flashback discard spell is there isn’t the ideal number of cards that provide information based on what cards are in the opponents’ hand. With only four copies of Gitaxian Probe and three discard spells, the likelihood of having the correct information with three copies of Cabal Therapy has reduced odds. The chances of hitting a card with the first Therapy without a Probe is slim, about 40% actually. The synergy with Empty the Warrens isn’t worth the risk of potentially leaving other disruption spells in their hand. With a singleton Cabal Therapy, the reliability from the two Duress provide greater success for the Therapy. While on turn one the number of Cabal Therapy in the deck is irrelevant without a Gitaxian Probe, as the games progress Cabal Therapy becomes better. The problem with too many protection spells that improve as the games continue is that TES is supposed to be a fast combo deck. Meaning, as a singleton, Therapy provides flashback flexibly for a weaker Ad Nauseam that is forced to Empty the Warrens. While, still proving a random “value” situation where Therapy can still two-for-one.
After deck lists were filled out, Team Birthday Weekend and Adam went to the Diner across the street. While the waitress was bringing out the drinks she accidently poured a portion of my orange juice down my shirt, little did I know that was decent foreshadowing to my day. We headed back to Jupiter, traded, picked up some Commander foils as well as some pimped Legacy staples. Adam traded in enough cards to make buying a Mishra’s Workshop reasonable. We take casual formats seriously. After some games of Commander, the first round was paired. I lost my first round to Zombies based on the fact that he had a pair of active Deathrite Shaman in the third game which allowed him to gain two life, forcing me into a bad situation. After that, I won out the rest of the day, which brings us to round six.
I checked the standings, unfortunately I was in 9th place due to the miserable tiebreakers that losing the first round provides. I’m forced to play the final round against Ed with Mono-Black Disruption.
We sat down, shuffled and rolled my comically large dice. It wasn’t looking good, Ed was going to be on the play. I sat next to Ed in the round before this, I knew what was in his deck and what I had to do if I was going to win the round. Winning the die-roll was a huge part of my plan.
Another part of the game plan was not to mulligan. I did not make the decision to keep my initial seven. That hand was never a hand I would’ve kept.
Ed began the final round with a first turn Inquisition of Kozilek. Inquisition discarded Infernal Tutor leaving me with a hand consisting of a Gemtone Mine, Scalding Tarn, Chrome Mox, Rite of Flame, and Silence.
I drew another land for turn. Laid Scalding Tarn and passed.
Ed’s turn was rough, he played a swamp into a Hymn to Tourach, it was expected but still devastating. I discarded the drawn land and Silence.
My draw for the turn was a Lotus Petal. I played Lotus Petal, Gemstone Mine, and Chrome Mox (Imprint: Rite of Flame) before I passed the turn.
Ed plays Dark Confidant and Deathrite Shaman off of his third land.
I drew Dark Ritual and motioned for Ed to take his turn.
Ed flipped a land off of Confidant and then quickly tapped his lands to cast Lilliana of the Veil. Ed used her plus one ability. I discarded a Dark Ritual.
This repeatedly happened for three turns while Ed attacked me.
I drew Burning Wish. My only chance at this game was to Wish for Past in Flames and hope that Ed didn’t remove it from the game using Deathrite Shaman after he made me discard Past in Flames to Lilliana. He found my line of play. We were off to game two.
I kept my initial hand for game two while Ed did not. My hand was rather mediocre it was a bunch of cantrips, two land and two Lotus Petal. Gitaxian Probe was the first spell of the game, which revealed two Dark Confidant, two Mishra’s Factory, Surgical Extraction and a Swamp. I then played Ponder, shuffle, drew, and passed.
Ed drew and played an Inquisition of Kozilek and discarded the Dark Ritual in my hand. He promptly reached for the Surgical in his hand and removed all of my Dark Rituals from the game.
I drew, laid a land, and played Ponder again. This Ponder found a Burning Wish, Gemstone Mine, and Ad Nauseam. I drew Wish and laid the Lotus Petals in my hand.
Ed played one of the two copies of Mishra’s Factory and put a Dark Confidant on the battlefield.
I drew the Gemstone, put it on the table it.
Ed revealed a Hymn to Tourach to Confidant, played a land and Hymn to Tourach. I discarded down to just the Burning Wish. Ed then attacked me with his lone Confidant.
I drew the Ad Nauseam and passed the turn.
Ed revealed an Inquisition of Kozilek to Confidant and immediately it was on the stack. I let him see my hand, the Burning Wish was down. Ed looked across the table and saw that I was going to cast Ad Nauseam on his turn activated Factory and attacked with both of his creatures. On his end step, I put Ad Nauseam on the table. Ed told me to hold on, then very carefully read a card in his hand. It resolved, I told him he can’t Mindbreak Trap just yet. I reveal close to thirty cards and Ed picked up his cards.
I was very nervous as we shuffled for the third game. This game single handedly decided if I was going to be in the top 8 on my birthday. I couldn’t stop thinking about how bad it was for me that he was on the play.
Ed started the game with an Inquisition of Kozilek. My hand was face-up on the table: Ponder, Brainstorm, Silence, Silence, Scalding Tarn, Gemstone Mine, and City of Brass. Ed contemplated for what seemed like forever, and then said, “Ponder.” I was shocked! I couldn’t believe he didn’t take Brainstorm. My immediate line of play was that I could possibly Brainstorm/Scalding Tarn those Silences away and maybe I could’ve been back in the game.
Perhaps I moved too quickly.
I laid a City of Brass and then passed the turn.
Ed put his swamp into play and slammed a Hymn to Tourach. I slouched. I realized that my odds of winning this game were now slim. I tapped City and played Brainstorm. I really needed Ed to discard both Silence. He hit one and the Scalding Tarn, I put Infernal Tutor and Burning Wish on top of the library. I draw my Wish, put Gemstone on the table and played Wish to retrieve Past in Flames.
Ed played Duress which discarded Past in Flames and then followed up the play with a Deathrite Shaman.
I drew the Infernal on top of the Library. My hand was now Silence, Chrome Mox, Infernal Tutor. I laid the Mox on the table (Imprint: Silence) and played Infernal Tutor. Searched for Ad Nauseam and passed. Ed Missed his land drop and exiles Past in Flames.
I said out-loud, “C’mon deck, one time!” I drew a Duress instead of Dark Ritual. I played Duress and looked at Ed’s hand full of disruption. I discarded Hymn to Tourach.
Ed drew Lilliana of the Veil for his turn and then cast it off his two lands and Shaman. Ad Nauseam was discarded. My game was over. I shook Ed’s hand, wished him good luck in top eight and just sat there replaying the round in my head.
Ning sat across the table from me. I tell him how the round went, he went through the motions of how he won his round. He then asked, “Don’t you think you should’ve Silence-Walked” him twice then Brainstormed? I didn’t even see the play I was so excited about my opponent misplaying. I next leveled myself. I was the reason I didn’t top 8 on my birthday, how great.
A couple people walked by and made jokes about how Ning was better than me with my own deck and truth be told, he very well could be. T.E.S. is the only deck Ning pilots in any format, he has had a lot of practice. I’ve been stretching myself thin playing plenty of Standard and other decks in Legacy. It certainly could be possible that I’ve lost some of my storm-skills in the process. Maybe I should take a step back and practice slightly more with my own deck. There’s no reason I couldn’t have seen that line of play, excited or not, it’s about making the proper play. Ning was absolutely right too. I should’ve been casting Silence on Ed during his upkeep on the second and third turn. All I can do at this point is learn from my mistake and not let it happen again.
Final standings were posted, I squeaked into top sixteen while Ning was in top 8. I was behind him rooting for him the entire time, if I couldn’t take it down, my deck better have. I was really happy for Ning that he won the event and in the process beat Ed. Now that Ning is continuing winning streak with TES, perhaps he should invest in some dual lands that aren’t hideous.
I used my store credit from top 16 and some previous credit to pick up a Foil Dark Confidant for Commander. With only 63 people the day ended quickly between one less round and the finals split, the ride back to Syracuse happened in no time. I was home by 9PM and ready to celebrate my birthday all over again.
Also, congrats to my good friend Trevor who top 8’d his first Legacy event in months with his new Maverick brew! (He also gives the best Birthday gifts)
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource