TCGPlayer Limited Spring States 2014

The “States” branding is kind of all over the place lately, with multiple organizations each running their own series of States events. While the name has perhaps become a bit diluted, I am happy to have additional opportunities for more competitive events at the local level. We recently had TCGPlayer Limited Spring States, which was a sealed format event. Kind of cool, as every other flavor of States I’ve been to in the past has been Standard Constructed. I love me some sealed. As an early Father’s Day present, my daughter, Genny, colored a picture on a blank playmat for me. I knew it would bring me good luck in the tourney.

Genny's playmat

That’s Chewbacca, on the left. Genny asked me if Chewbacca had a tail and I told her I didn’t think so but she could give him one if she wanted.

I was passed a pool that I feel was most correctly built as black-red. I wasn’t thrilled with the deck, I would have liked another piece or two of hard removal such as an Asphyxiate or a Sip of Hemlock. I was also light on evasion, so I needed to just curve out and try to beat down.

I never drew the Aspect of Gorgon and sided it out after nearly every game one. I think I thought I had a couple of prime targets in the regenerating Servant of Tymaret and the first-striking Spearpoint Oread and that it would allow any given creature to keep attacking in – but, yeah, never drew it. I sided in the Starfall a couple of times, that would probably have been a better maindeck choice than the Aspect of Gorgon.

The Gluttonous Cyclops is pretty vanilla, but I wanted to have one “big” thing to do with late-game mana and that’s about the best I could come up with. Colossus of Akros is probably not really a thing. Also? The art on Gluttonous Cyclops is sweet. It kind of reminds me of these old Topps Dinosaurs Attack trading cards I had when I was a little kid.


Round 1 vs Black-Red: His deck was stocked with great removal, including common stuff such as Lightning Strike, Magma Spray and Pharika’s Cure but also premium answers like Hero’s Downfall and Gild.

Game 1, he had some guys that were tough for my largely ground-based offense to punch through, like Keepsake Gorgon and Black Oak of Odunos. Eventually I built up enough of a swarm to attack profitably, with Flurry of Horns being a key play. He made some blocks and cast a Pharika’s Cure but it wasn’t quite enough.

Let's get some shoes.Game 2, I sided in Fleetfeather Sandals and had it in my opening hand. He led with a Font of Ire, which loomed over the game. I played out a Kragma Butcher that strapped on the sandals and went to work. I did not draw many creatures so I was all-in on the Kragma Butcher. At one point I used a Titan’s Strength defensively to pump his toughness to 4 to save him from a Lightning Strike, missing the scry trigger because I was feeling tense. He played a Pharagax Giant and I chose to give him a 5/5 instead of taking the 5 damage, worried about that Font of Ire that was still hanging around. I spent 2 cards, a Bolt of Keranos and a Lightning Strike, to kill the 5/5. It felt kind of wrong as I did it but I wasn’t sure how else I’d handle a 5/5.

In the end, the Kragma Butcher did the full 20, minus 2 when opponent cast a Read the Bones at 4 life on his last turn. Best Fleetfeather Sandals I’ve ever cast, for sure. (record: 1-0)

Round 2 vs Black-Green: He had Nyx Weaver and a Font of Return, which presented a variety of options on his side. He also had some big guys, including a Nessian Wilds Ravager. In the last turns of Game 2, I had a Starfall in response to a Savage Surge on a Nessian Courser that was going to block and eat one of my guys. This gave me an opening to win on my next attack, when I was able to use Rise to the Challenge on an unblocked guy for lethal. (record: 2-0)

Round 3 vs White-Red: He was a low-curve aggro deck with a Spear of Heliod and an Akroan Conscriptor on the top end. Game 1 he doesn’t mount a big enough offense and I get there while still sitting at 18 life. I do immediately kill his Akroan Conscriptor when he taps out for it because I just do not want to ever deal with the variety of things that guy can do.

Game 2 is probably my worst-played game of the day. He comes out of the gates fast and I fall to 4 life pretty early on. I manage to build up a line of dorks that he can’t quite punch through without trading guys, even with Spear of Heliod online. He also, I think, held back on playing out a spell or two because he wanted to keep up mana to activate the Spear. There was a key turn where he could have alpha’d into my board, losing some of his guys to trades, but also hitting me for at least a little damage. Instead, he passed without attacking and I feel like I turned the corner at that point.

Here, the game gets weird as we both brick off for several turns in a row. We’re both going “land, go” over and over but I do make some guys with Flurry of Horns and I find a Servant of Tymaret which makes me feel a lot better. I tense up when he draws and plays a Wingsteed Rider, a 3/3 due to Spear of Heliod. He attacks once, dropping me to 1 as I have no flying blocker. On my next turn, I peel Lightning Strike and immediately snap it off at sorcery speed on the Wingsteed Rider. We both continue to flood out, but I am sandbagging a Nyxborn Eidolon and a Feast of Dreams so that I can enchant and destroy any killer threat that he might manage to find. I start to finally chip in with various vanilla guys and opponent concedes. (record: 3-0)

Where I screwed up: Granted, I won, so my line worked out but I absolutely should have started attacking with my Servant of Tymaret shortly after deploying it. I drew an Erebos’s Emissary that I could have put on the Servant to make it a bigger attacker than most of his blockers. He did have a 1/5 Lagonna-Band Trailblazer but I could have pumped power to kill that if I wanted to. The Servant could regenerate whether killed by blockers or by Spear of Heliod. The Inspired ability to drain 1/gain 1 would have clawed me back from the precarious 1 life up to 8+ life considering how long this went on. I guess there may have been a one-turn window where, the first time I attacked with Servant, on his turn he could draw Akroan Conscriptor and target it with something, stealing the Servant and killing me from 1 with the Inspired ability but that’s pretty specific.

The tournament was only 5 rounds before Top 8, so at 3-0 I could comfortably start drawing, and my opponents were happy to do so as well. I was first place going into the Top 8 and would get to take advantage of the new play/draw rule.

In the draft, I first-picked a Pheres-Band Warchief from the Journey into Nyx pack. I really wish I remembered more of pack one. I second-picked a Deicide which I now believe was super wrong. On the third pick, I considered taking a Lagonna-Band Trailblazer, as it was a Centaur for my Warchief and I had taken the white Deicide but I think I came to my senses about what Deicide really is (that is, nothing special) and took a decent green two-drop instead, in Satyr Grovedancer.

Early in pack one, it might have been the Deicide pack, I could have taken a Bladetusk Boar but didn’t. This was a terrible choice and I regretted it immediately. I did pick up one Bladetusk Boar in the mid-pack, and two copies of Pheres-Band Thunderhoof which work well with the Warchief.

In pack two, I was hoping that the red would be flowing, as Born of the Gods has some great red cards and I had not really passed any decent red stuff in pack one – aside from that regretful Bladetusk Boar, of course. I didn’t see any of my dream red cards: no Bolt of Keranos, no Fall of the Hammer. I did get a Kragma Butcher, a Fanatic of Xenagos and a Forgestoker Dragon, though, so I think red was in fact somewhat open. At the end of the pack I got 3x Rise to the Challenge almost literally in a row.

Pack three, I think I first-picked the Boon Satyr? I don’t remember if I opened that or was passed it. I took an Ordeal of Purphoros over, I think, a Lightning Strike. That was a tough choice. I picked up one Nessian Courser and a Nylea’s Emissary. I would have loved a Time to Feed but no such luck. Here is the deck I registered:

I think it was probably wrong to run so many copies of Mortal’s Ardor and Rise to the Challenge, and I often sided them out to just play more guys. I do not claim to have any great theory to contribute to MTG but one thing that I think about in a deck like this is “combat tricks as removal.” When you have no hard removal, your pump spells and tricks are your removal. Rise to the Challenge is your Doom Blade, you just have to work really hard to make it happen. Maybe that’s stupid; shut up!

Quarterfinals vs White-Blue: I had strong aggro curves and took down both games pretty quickly. He showed me lots of enchantments in game one so I brought in Setessan Starbreaker and even Desecration Plague which I used to kill a Harvestguard Alseids so I could attack in for lethal.

Semifinals vs Blue-Black: Game 1, Bladetusk Boar was great – especially with a Boon Satyr strapped on. Opponent had an Abhorrent Overlord but only got two tokens out of it, and I was able to keep crashing in. Game 2, he had some running frost effects (Triton Tactics, Sudden Storm) and turned his Artisan of Forms into a Pharagax Giant so that it could block Bladetusk Boar but I just kept attacking.

Finals vs White-Green: He had a strong aggro/heroic deck with an Ornitharch at the top of the curve. Game 1, I’m feeling good, we’re kind of racing but I feel confident. Then I get blown out.

It is my turn, he is at 14 life, I am at 12. My board is a 5/5 trampler (Nylea’s Emissary wearing a Lightning Diadem) and a Nyxborn Wolf. His board is a tapped Staunch-Hearted Warrior and an untapped Eagle of the Watch. I go into the tank before attacking. I’d like to kill his eagle because I feel soft to fliers. Since my 5/5 has trample, I can attack with just that and even if he blocks, I’ll deal 4 because the Eagle is a 2/1. He most likely won’t want to trade the Eagle to just prevent one single point of damage, so I feel I need to offer up my 3/1 Nyxborn Wolf. I attack with both of my guys and he makes no blocks, taking 8 down to 6. On his turn he casts Phalanx Formation with strive and kills me from exactly 12. Ouch.

Those plays always sting me, when you kind of get combo’d out. Sure, I’ve delivered some of those myself – I once killed a guy from 20 with a Fabled Hero + 2x Titan’s Strength – but it still tilts me when I’m on the losing end of it. Fear of these plays leads me to being too conservative sometimes.

Game 2, I had a strong draw but I’m still living in fear of Phalanx Formation. I had to go ask for the Oracle text because I forgot what the specific costs on the card were and I desperately wanted to play around it now that I knew it was in his deck. Couldn’t look it up on my phone due to the new electronic device policy, haha. He was on the backfoot for most of game 2 and actually had to use Phalanx Formation defensively on his Nyxborn Shieldmate just to kill a 2/2 attacker on my side. So, yeah, I managed to get that game.

Game 3, I was on the draw and felt pretty nervous. I see on my notepad that my life total went from 20 to 8, so he 12’d me in there somewhere. I don’t remember exactly what the final sequence was, but it was a very tight two or three turns at the end. I think it went like this:

On my turn, I was at 8 life, he was at 13. His board was an 8/8 Staunch-Hearted Warrior (tapped), an Eagle of the Watch and a just-added Elite Skirmisher. I had Pheres-Band Warchief and a Pheres-Band Thunderhoof. Once again, I’m feeling soft to the flier but I’m more afraid of the Elite Skirmisher tapping my blockers. So, I put Ordeal of Purphoros on my Pheres-Band Thunderhoof, triggering Heroic for two +1/+1 counters. I attack with both creatures, triggering the Ordeal and using the 3 damage to kill the 3/1 Elite Skirmisher. Opponent makes no blocks and takes 10, down to 3.

On his turn, he attacks with the 2/1 vigilant flier and, I think, he leaves back the 8/8 on defense. I take 2 in the air, down to 6. He has no other play.

On my turn, I determine that I have to attack with both of my guys. Even though his 8/8 will eat my 7/8 trampler “for free,” he will then also have to lose his 2/1 flier blocking my 3/3 trampler, which will kill the flier and put him to 1. I make the attack and he blocks as expected. In my second main phase, I play out a lowly 2/3 Pensive Minotaur.

He untaps and draws, and my read is that he doesn’t have anything but I am definitely sweating. His board is just the 8/8, and he attacks with it. I chump with the Pensive Minotaur and he has no other play before passing the turn. I attack with the Pheres-Band Warchief and he extends the hand.

Got there.

The Warchief was super clutch in this game 3 and it felt pretty sweet to ultimately win the tournament with my pack one, pick one. I’ll probably save that guy for sentimental value instead of tossing it into the bulk rare box.

We had agreed to split the prize packs evenly and play for the playmat, and there were also these TCGPlayer Maxpoint skeeball ticket things in the pot. First place got 50 and second place got 20. I didn’t really know what they were for, so I just offered mine to my opponent as we were collecting our prizes at the counter. “Hey man, you want these? I don’t need them for anything.” He seemed like he might go to some of the events where they could be used for entry fees so I was happy to give them away. Afterward, someone told me that the Maxpoints can actually be sold for cash on eBay so I guess I punted there, just out of ignorance. I can’t say I really care, though; I’m just super stoked to have won and my opponent was a very nice dude. Thanks for the awesome match, Scott!

Mistakes that I recall: Missing a scry trigger on a Titan’s Strength in Round 1, Game 2. Not seeing the best line in that clogged-up board in Round 3, Game 2 (start attacking with Servant of Tymaret). In the draft, not taking the first Bladetusk Boar that I saw.

Cards that impressed: Fleetfeather Sandals was great in that one game. Maybe that’s a maindeck card if you have no evasion? Flurry of Horns was very good in the spots that I was casting it. I guess it passes the vanilla test as a “4/6 for 5,” so to speak. Obviously Pheres-Band Warchief was strong but that’s a rare, after all. Lightning Diadem was excellent every time I cast it. I always killed an X/2 with it and then attacked with a buffed guy. In a vacuum, I don’t think that card looks like it’s worth 6 mana but in practice it’s doing a couple of different things when you cast it, and that versatility makes it pretty decent.

I ran well, no doubt about it. I don’t think I missed a crucial land drop all day which is just plain good luck. I kept multiple two-land hands that desperately needed to draw the third on time and I always got there. I only lost one game on the day, game 1 of the finals. I do think I played a little bit more tightly than I usually do. I won’t exaggerate the achievement, it was just a small local tournament but this tier of tournament is kind of where I’m at in skill level so it’s a thrill to do well.


Born of the Gods Game Day

I did well with Jund Monsters at Born of the Gods Game Day this past weekend. Indeed, I think about 70% of my success on the day can be attributed to my deck selection, 20% to a case of the run-goods and 10% to sound play. First, though, let me go on a quick tangent about the deck I almost played: Red Devotion splashing black for 4x Rakdos’s Return.

Douche Card For DouchesThe goal is to do the devotion thing with Burning-Tree Emissary, Boros Reckoner, etc and then destroy their hand with Rakdos’s Return as early as possible. I played just a small handful of games with it, for funsies, against a Bant Control/Planeswalkers list. In that particular matchup, the Rakdos’s Return deck was great. In addition to the big X spell, Fanatic of Mogis and Stormbreath Dragon are also strong against planeswalkers – not to mention Dreadbore. Losing to control sucks, and this list seemed specifically well-equipped to handle control. A deck that stomps a boot down on the throat of Sphinx’s Revelation is one of the good guys, in my book.

The deck feels sweet when it goes off; I will try playing it at FNM some time but for Game Day I decided that I didn’t want to spend the afternoon drawing the wrong number of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or topdecking 2/2’s for 2 in tight spots. Green-Red Monsters was appealing, especially the combination of Domri Rade, Courser of Kruphix and scry lands. You get to be aggressive with big creatures that demand answers but you also have some avenues to keep the gas coming after the first few turns. Adding black for premium removal puts the whole thing over the top and breaks the mirror in particular.

What you gain by adding black: Removal, first and foremost. In the maindeck, I played 2x Dreadbore and 2x Putrefy. I actually had to look up Putrefy to make sure it was still in Standard; I feel like I haven’t seen that card around in a long time. Good thing I have some baller status full art copies. Hero’s Downfall is an option but the double-black mana cost might be pushing it. I never had trouble setting up Putrefy or Dreadbore mana. In the sideboard, you can jam whatever additional black removal you want: Ultimate Price, Doom Blade, Abrupt Decay, the list goes on and on.

On the creature side, black gets you Reaper of the Wilds. I’ve never thought Reaper looked very flashy on her face (it’s a chick, right? all these gorgons are chicks, I think) but she actually does a lot of work once she hits the table. She can’t be Mizzium Mortars’d, the scry ability synergizes with Domri Rade, and deathtouch makes her great in a fight – and Domri is a helluva fight promoter.

I've got ten bucks says Reaper wins.

I don’t feel like I “lose” anything by going 3-color but there are, of course, some green and red cards that have to be dumped to make room, such as:

Ghor-Clan Rampager is a strong, multifaceted card but it’s an easy cut. The creature half of Rampager is replaced by Reaper of the Wilds and the combat trick side is replaced by the black removal spells. I realize I just said I needed to play multiple cards to replace the functionality of just one but c’mon, you see what I’m saying, don’t be an asshole.

Scavenging Ooze often appears as a two-of but I played zero. I didn’t see what it was going to be doing, unless it came down in the late game and became a 7/7 or something, and there aren’t too many graveyard decks around. The ooze might tag back in, though.

Xenagos, the Reveler: I’m not sure I believe this guy is that great. Is he ramping? Ramping to what? Your five-drop that you were going to play on-curve anyway? Multiple times, my GR opponents would cast a Xenagos, the Reveler and make a 2/2 that they’d have to leave on defense to chump a bigger threat. Like any planeswalker, he can go bananas if left unchecked for a couple of turns but I think making a 2/2 for 4 is not really in line with the maindeck’s plan. I played one in the sideboard but never drew it. Too bad, I had even made some custom satyr tokens.

sweet 2/2 for 4 brah

Xenagos, God of Revels has been a one or two-of in a lot of lists. The card is obviously very good when it’s doing its thing but I generally wasn’t very afraid of it. The god has the potential to be a literal blank in many board states. That said, I am open-minded about XenaGod, we are still early in the life of this card.

The tournament:

Round 1 vs Green-Red Monsters: This one went according to plan – We both played out Polukranos, World Eaters and Stormbreath Dragons but I cast some black removal spells and ran him over. Opponent cast Xenagos, the Reveler a couple of times and it did almost nothing. (Record: 1-0)

Basic sideboard plan versus Green-Red Monsters: -4 Courser of Kruphix, +2 Dreadbore, +2 Ultimate Price. The spot removal is the whole point and Courser, while good, isn’t directly accelerating like Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid.

Round 2 vs Golgari Scavenge Aggro: Looking back across the entire day, this was the one match where I felt most imperiled. Opponent’s deck was faster at beating down than mine, with Lotleth Trolls, Dreg Manglers and removal to clear the way. He was also resilient against my own removal since he had multiple regenerators (Lotleth Troll, Varolz, the Scar-Striped, maindeck Golgari Charm). The creatures that I did kill, he could scavenge onto the next guy. Should have played Scavenging Ooze after all!

Game 1 was a bizarre affair, opponent ran wild with a Varolz, the Scar-Striped getting up to around 20 power via scavenge counters, with a Whip of Erebos in play granting lifelink. I drew plenty of running chump blockers as my Domri Rade ticked ever upward. While I was not dying, opponent climbed as high as 160 life. I created a Domri emblem and had a double-striking deathtouch Reaper of the Wilds to shut down his offense and I start swinging in for huge chunks with absurd emblem-powered monsters. I am well over halfway through my deck and both of my Putrefys are still in there, eventually one is revealed on the top (I had Courser of Kruphix) and opponent concedes game 1 since Putrefy can finally break through Varolz’s regeneration.

We only have about 10 minutes for games 2 & 3 so we’re both shuffling up pretty fast. I don’t recall what I sideboarded; it may have been -4 Elvish Mystic, +2 Dreadbore, +2 Golgari Charm. He has a good curve of attackers and removal to get game 2 in just a few turns. Game 3, we don’t get too deep before time is called and the match is a draw. If opponent had any sort of evasion, maybe Herald of Torment or even something like a Rogue’s Passage, he could have gotten me in that first game. (Record: 1-0-1)

Round 3 vs Blue-White Control: Game 1 is close, things go back-and-forth a bit and opponent lands an Aetherling, shifting into “kill you” mode. I manage to fog one Aetherling attack by forcing a blink in response to a Putrefy. I then resolve a Stormbreath Dragon and the race becomes pretty tight. Opponent gets into a difficult position with the number of cards in his hand (with Stormbreath Dragon’s monstrous ability looming) and the number of Aetherling activations he chooses to sink mana into. Ultimately he needs to cast a Supreme Verdict without being able to first blink out the Aetherling and I just barely get him.

I sideboard fully 10 cards: -4 Polukranos, World Eater, -4 Mizzium Mortars, -2 Putrefy, +2 Sire of Insanity, +1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, +1 Rakdos’s Return, +2 Dreadbore, +2 Golgari Charm, +1 Xenagos, the Reveler, +1 Chandra, Pyromaster.

Game 2, I have a Sire of Insanity in my opening hand; I then reveal the second copy to some effect, a Courser of Kruphix, I think. So opponent knows I have one Sire of Insanity at that point, but he doesn’t know I have two. I feel incentivized to cast the first one into any amount of open mana/cards so I do, and it gets Dissolved. On my next turn I get to resolve the other Sire of Insanity. Even though my opponent does topdeck a Detention Sphere in short order to remove the Sire, I’ve gotten far enough ahead to close it out. (Record: 2-0-1)

Round 4 vs Green-Red Monsters: Opponent is 3-0 and is a little bummed that we can’t just draw but he’s a cool dude and isn’t a turd about it or anything. As in my round 1 match against Green-Red Monsters, I cast some black removal, sided in even more black removal for game 2 and took it without much fuss. (Record: 3-0-1)

Round 5 vs Red-White Midrange: Opponent was undefeated after 3 and had ID’d last round, so we’re now both 3-0-1 and ID into Top 8. He wants to play for funsies and I’m happy to do so. I came to game, after all! His deck was full of big, powerful cards such as Aurelia, the Warleader and Aurelia’s Fury as well as a selection of unorthodox one and two-ofs that would catch anybody by surprise. For example, while you’re trying to figure out what to do about his Assemble the Legion, he might jam Spark Trooper + Boros Charm for double strike and kill you out of nowhere. We each won a couple games and then waited around for Top 8 pairings. (Record: 3-0-2)

Quarterfinals vs Red-White Midrange (R5 Opponent): Nice that we got a chance to playtest the matchup a little, haha. Game 1, my variety of 4+ toughness creatures were good against his Anger of the Gods, and Stormbreath Dragon is good against the white half of his deck. I did give up a Courser of Kruphix to block a Spark Trooper once, basically giving that creature away to absorb 4 damage – that’s an example of me just not knowing what I should be doing against this roguish deck. It seems kind of bad to give up my 2/4 with sweet abilities but against a burn deck it might be correct?

Sideboard plan: -4 Elvish Mystic, +2 Golgari Charm, +1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, +1 Dreadbore (I think?)

Game 2 he stumbled a bit, with no Mountain for his Chained to the Rocks so he had to spend multiple burn spells on individual creatures. I had a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed that he had to pay 6 life to remove, and a Stormbreath Dragon fought his Aurelia, the Warleader via Domri Rade to sew it up.

Semifinals vs Green-Red Monsters (R4 Opponent): For the third time in a row, the Green-Red matchup was a bit of a breeze. My hand always felt stocked with removal and nothing that he cast seemed scary. I think this was the first time I saw Xenagos, God of Revels all day, but it did nothing. It was a creature for a brief moment, but a removal spell turned off devotion and left XenaGod just sitting there.

Finals vs Mono Blue Devotion: These were strange games. For example, across 3 games I saw zero of the following cards from opponent’s deck: Cloudfin Raptor, Judge’s Familiar, Tidebinder Mage. I was lucky to dodge Tidebinder and fast fliers. Opponent also had to mull in at least 2 of the games, might have been all 3.

Game 1, I overloaded multiple Mizzium Mortars and had a Putrefy for a Master of Waves. Sideboard plan was: -4 Courser of Kruphix, -2 Dreadbore, +2 Gruul Charm, +2 Golgari Charm, +2 Ultimate Price. The Courser of Kruphix is a juicy Domestication target for the Mono-Blue deck, so I think it’s good to just cut them.

Game 2, my hand was weird and threat-light, but I was enticed by the presence of multiple sideboard cards so I kept it. It was something like Gruul Charm, Gruul Charm, Golgari Charm, plus lands and a mana guy. I even started to write it down because I was thinking, “I’m going to want to look back on this keep later and think about it.” but then I thought, “Don’t be a donk and write down your opening hand right here in the middle of a match just because you want to talk about it on your shitty website.” so I may be misremembering some of the specifics of the hand. It was a bad keep, is the point. I know I whiffed on several Domri Rade +1’s in the game before finally dying to some unblockable attackers courtesy of Thassa, God of the Sea.

Game 3, I got on board with a monster early but opponent had some tempo plays – bounce this, counter that – to keep me off of a game-ending threat for a while. I eventually found a Stormbreath Dragon and got there.

Got there!

you can see his moobsI was pretty stoked to win the playmat, even though we all sort of agreed that the art was not the coolest: a bunch of angry minotaurs, rawr! The full-art Pain Seer looks dope, though. I arbitrarily jam every full-art Game Day card I get into my cube, regardless of whether the card is any good or not. For example, I have Cryptborn Horror in my cube, solely because I think the full-art version looks rad.

Going forward, I don’t want to change much about the deck. The Ultimate Prices would have been better as Doom Blades in this particular tournament but it’s probably just dumb luck that I didn’t encounter any Desecration Demons on the day. Speaking of Desecration Demon, I could try playing that instead of Reaper of the Wilds, or maybe a 2-2 split. I am also a stupid idiot so I would like to try Underworld Cerberus in there or maybe even a maindeck Sire of Insanity.


Clash of Champions

The local store ran an event they called the “Clash of Champions” this weekend. It was Theros sealed and to qualify you needed to have made top 8 of one of the four Theros prerelease events that ran the previous weekend. It’s a cool idea and I’m really happy that the store is trying some new things. “Clash of Champions” might be a bit dramatic, though.


Regardless, it was a lot of fun and I sincerely hope they continue experimenting with different types of events like this. Many thanks to the staff for staying well past their normal closing time on a Sunday evening to finish out the tournament for us.

Here is my sealed deck. I won’t bother listing out my whole pool; I don’t think I misbuilt so badly that the other colors would have been better than this. I had a single Divine Verdict plus a couple of other reasonable white cards that tempted me, but I felt blue and red were clearly my two deepest colors.

There were 21 of us, 5 rounds of Swiss + top 8 draft.

Round 1 vs Blue-White: R1G1, I bestowed Thassa’s Emissary onto Prognostic Sphinx. Turns out, that’s pretty good. I also had my Spellheart Chimera up to 5 power at one point, which was not something I could count on game after game, of course, but I think the card is actually very decent even with just 1 or 2 power and I’m glad I ran it. R1G2 I cast my Master of Waves (one of only two times I cast it all day) and got 3 tokens that helped swarm in and end the match. (record: 1-0)

Round 2 vs Red-Green Gods Event Deck WTF?!: Mitchell’s pool had Purphoros, God of the Forge, Hammer of Purphoros and Bow of Nylea, all of which make the typical sealed pool durdle creatures much stronger. I just crumpled to the power level, although I think I had a couple of opportunities to choose better lines than I did. (record: 1-1)

Round 3 vs Black-Red: This turned out to be the pool that I had registered, the big bomb was an Underworld Cerberus. If I were more observant, I could have sussed out that this was my pool before the Cerberus appeared – paying attention to those types of details is a weakness in my game, for sure.

I had probably my worst misplay of the day in this match; I may not remember the sequence exactly, but it involved me missing my 3rd land drop when I did not have to. Something like: I keep a 2-lander (Island x2). Turn 1, Island. Turn 2, Island. Turn 3, I don’t draw a 3rd land, but I do draw/have Traveler’s Amulet. Obviously, I should have cast and activated the amulet, searched out a Mountain and played it. What I actually did was cast Traveler’s Amulet and pass the turn. Total screw-up, I own it. I put my brain on auto-pilot and thought “yeah, I’ll crack this amulet on his end step.” Endofyourturnitis strikes again. I do go on to draw some lands and cast some things but I lose that game. Did I lose specifically because of that mistake? I don’t know, but it was pretty embarrassing either way.

R3G3 is very close, toward the end he has Underworld Cerberus. I’m at 8 life and have a few guys. He’s at pretty low life and has to hold back the 6/6 to block. I think we were both kind of bricking off but I managed to play a couple more guys and I put an Ordeal of Thassa on one of them and an Ordeal of Purphoros on the other. I was tempted to put both ordeals on a single creature, in hopes of triggering them both on the second attack but that would have probably been too greedy. I eventually squeak through the last couple points of damage. (record: 2-1)

Round 4 vs Green: Was this mono-green? I can’t remember. I just remember him casting giant green creatures and crushing me. This felt similar to my one loss last weekend at the prerelease: just big, beefy green creatures that don’t give a fizzuck about what I’m trying to do. It was not particularly close. (record: 2-2)

Round 5 vs Black-Green: Crap, I am drawing a blank and my notes are no good. I forget exactly what this deck was, I might not even have the colors right. I think I remember getting a good Griptide and Voyage’s End on some of his enchanted guys for big tempo swings and I manage to take the match. (record: 3-2)

I limp into 8th place and get to draft.

Side note: I had drafted Theros once prior to this, I had a sweet-looking green-white deck featuring a Spear of Heliod and a Fleecemane Lion. I lost my first round to a hyper-aggro red-white Heroic deck. It was using pump spells and Heroic triggers to deal 7, 9, etc with each attack.

In game 3, I made a mistake by going turn 2, Fleecemane Lion, turn 3 Spear of Heliod. I should almost certainly have cast a Nessian Courser on turn 3 instead of the Spear. I think I was just geeked out like a small child go to “rare, rare, attack” with my draft deck. It didn’t pan out.

The extra creature would have become a 4/4 assuming I played the Spear of Heliod on my turn 4, and would have made a big difference. My point being, this red-white Heroic deck seems like it might be so explosive that even a minor misstep in the first couple of turns can be lights-out. I needed to put up resistance, and a Spear of Heliod cannot block.

Back to the top 8 draft: I P1P1 an Anax and Cymede but end up with kind of a pile. I’m getting multiple Lash of the Whip, for example, and go into black, but also want to play red-white. It’s a bit of a trainwreck, the mana is atrocious (I probably should have run the Unknown Shores).

Round 1 vs Blue-Red: Fleetfeather Sandals were key here. His deck was more controlling, so I was able to get lots of land in play. Then, in the later turns I had mana to cast a creature + equip. I had some durdly bigger creatures that became much more threatening when they strapped on the shoes. Game 3, I closed it out with a 10/10 flying Nighthowler. Rares are dumb.

Round 2 vs Blue-Green: Game 1 I had a good curve of creatures. He was light on early drops and I killed the blockers he was able to play. Game 2, I mulled to 6 and kept a one-lander with a few 2-drops. I was justly punished for it by not drawing a 2nd land and getting killed.

Game 3 I feel like I’m in a strong position for most of the game. However, I do make a pretty bad misplay that gave my opponent 2 or 3 more turns than I needed to give him. I had Anax and Cymede in play, plus a couple other guys, but opponent had some high-toughness stuff that would at the very least block my guys and possibly kill them if he had a trick. I cast a Cavern Lampad as a creature. I think I wanted to build up a swarm and try to trigger Heroic on Anax and Cymede to punch through. However, I definitely should have just bestowed the Cavern Lampad onto the Anax and Cymede, creating a 5-power guy with evasion. Whoops. I ended up having to chip in with the 2/2 Cavern Lampad like 5 times to take the match. Embarrassing, but I got away with it in the end.

Round 3 vs Red-White: Oh, good, the RW Heroic deck. He wins the die roll and runs me over in game 1. I win game 2 with a good curve. Game 3 I mulligan to 5 and lose. I can’t remember exactly what my opening 7 was, but it was lands and spells and I probably (maybe?) should have kept it… maybe? I threw it back because it had no early interaction and I felt like I wanted to be doing things on the first 2-3 turns against this deck.

First place got a sealed box of Modern Masters, and I got a sealed From the Vault: Twenty for 2nd place so that’s pretty cool.