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The Road to Tourneyland: Two-Headed Giant
By Mark Ortego
October 3, 2005
The Road to Tourneyland: Two-Headed Giant
By Mark Ortego

[Every time I read ‘Two-Headed Giant’ I think of the group ‘They Might Be Giants’ and so I sing the song in my head “Don’t Let Start” – It’s kind of weird]

Since the end of May I have made a schedule for Magic events to be held on Friday nights at Blue Star Games. Most of the events are Chaos Multiplayer but I like to sprinkle in other types every now and again like: an All Common-Deck tournament, Alphabet, Standard, Extended, Vintage, Emperor, Draft and this past Friday we tried Two-Headed Giant. On the heels of the Ravnica pre-release, which held Two-Headed Giant events, I had a hunch the guys at the store might like it.

We had five teams and the format was “Extended” with the use of Ravnica cards and no B/R list, and since we’re not sanctioned, why not? Although, as we started the tournament I realized some folks didn’t know about the no B/R list and some were not happy, we’re working on getting it all worked out for the future. However, I had left a copy of the FAQ for 2HG at the store on Tuesday with the hopes that the guys would read it. But, no, they didn’t, which was okay, mostly, since we were just trying this format out for the first time.

It was $4.00 per person ($8.00 per team) and the prize was for the first place team was $27.00 and the second place team would get $13.00, both prizes are in store credit. I’ll use only first names for this report so here are the teams with primary players listed first:

~Team 1: Myself and Levi and we were “Team Jerk” (Hey, I’ve been talking about it lately so why not?)
~Team 2: Josh and Casey and they were “Team Shuffle”
~Team 3: Double D and Jesse and they were “Team Jihad”
~Team 4: Grant and Doug and they were “Team Patches”
~Team 5: Sean and James and they were “Team Poker Night” because that’s what they were going to do right after the tournament at another game store.

There would’ve been a sixth team but Timewalk Andy couldn’t be at the store until 7 p.m. (we start at 6 pm) which meant “Mr. Legendary” aka Kurtis had no teammate. Honestly, I would’ve been happy with just four teams but I’m glad we had one more.

We went 3 rounds instead of four (due to a time constraint with the store hours). 3 rounds of Swiss are pretty tough and it proved to be so by nights end.

Round 1:
Team Jerk vs. Team Patches
Team Poker Night vs. Team Shuffle
Team Jihad vs. ~BYE~

First, let me start with Team Jihad. Double D was lucky to get the ~bye~ since he wasn’t done adjusting his deck from our usual Chaos any-thing-goes format to make his deck fit into extended fashion. Now I’m not saying he and his teammate cheated but, after the first round started Timewalk Andy came into the store and he and Kurtis along with Team Jihad went to the back of the store and re-made their decks to handle our decks that they saw us playing. In other words, they made ‘Metagame’ decks right there during round 1. How fair is THAT!? Okay, but how fair was it that they got a ~bye~. [Touché]

Team Poker Night’s primary player, Sean, was playing mono-black with the Lethal Vapors/Mindslaver combo. Here’s how it goes off: He gets Mindslaver (an artifact that when you pay {6}, tap, sac: Take control of target players turn) and Lethal Vapors (Whenever a creature CIP destroy it, and also has {0}: Any player may destroy Lethal Vapors. That player skips their next turn.) into play, and then pays for the Mindslaver ability and takes control of opponents turn and then pays the zero cost for the Lethal Vapors activated ability and in response activates it again and again and so on for like ten times and we’ll not get another turn for the rest of the game. E-V-I-L!

Their secondary player, James, was playing UB control with counter magic and card drawing stuff like Howling Mines and making us take damage with Underworld Dreams. I HATE creative decks! The whole LOT of them! But I admire them nonetheless.

Anyway, they were playing against Team Shuffle who basically was just Josh since his partner was a warm body, named Casey, who plays VS. System now and hadn’t played magic for many years. Josh himself was playing UR Scepter and Casey had a Scepter-Chant deck.

I’m told it was a heated battle and Team Poker Night was keeping themselves alive with big un-countered Consume Spirits therefore giving Josh fits because he had tiny burn spells like Fire // Ice but on a stick. Team Poker Night had several Howling Mines in play and Sean had a Millstone out, too. Just when things looked grim for Team Poker Night James played Wheel & Deal (Any number of target players discards their hand and draws seven cards) and Josh ran out of cards. Tough loss for Team Shuffle.

We (Team Jerk) were playing against Team Patches and Grant is starting to be a good player and his teammate (Doug) seemed good, too. Grant was playing a beat-down Snakes deck and Doug was playing what I think was a mis-mash of White-Weenie and control via Armageddon and Life Gain spells. Anyway, Levi (my teammate) was playing RG Fires, a deck I built for him for this tournament, and I had his back with my UBR Wish-Control-Scepter Deck. I would like to tell you that we laid the beat-down but it took us a while since Doug had life gain spells up the wah-zoo!

Anyway, early on in the game Doug plays a CoP: Red which basically shuts down the Fires deck but when Doug played it I picked it up and looked at it and said in a sarcastic voice, “Huh, I wonder how THIS works in this format?” I gave it back to Doug, he looks at it and gives a “Huh, I dunno?” kind of a grunt & lays it down in front of him and then slides it to his far left near his graveyard never to be activated until it’s too late and they’re dead via Flametongue Kavu and Skizziks.

Was this a “Jedi-Mind Trick” I did? Or a “Jerky” player thing? I certainly didn’t intend it to be either way. During the rest of the game, however, I looked at the CoP: Red every time we attacked and there it sat, un-activated and lonely. I think Levi went to say something about the CoP: Red once and I interrupted him with some silly comment about nothing and he refocused on my words and perhaps forgot about what I thought what he would’ve said, “Hey, you guys have CoP: Red in play, you know?” These guys forever say stuff like that even if it means they’ll lose the game, they just can’t help themselves. Now THAT’s casual game play. Anyway, we win.

Standings after Round 1:

Team Jerk
1-0

Team Poker Night
1-0

Team Shuffle
0-1

Team Patches
0-1

Team Jihad
1-0 (w/ ~bye~)

Round 2:
~Team Jerk vs. Team Poker Night
~Team Shuffle vs. Team Jihad
~Team Patches vs. ~BYE~

All I know about Team Shuffle vs. Team Jihad is that Casey laid down an early Chant on Scepter and shut-down Double D and his teammate is unable to help out with any artifact destruction, he was playing a UG Counter magic/artifact destruction deck with Eternal Witnesses and Double D was sporting a non-Arcbound Ravager Affinity-type deck only with Broodstar as the beating stick. But that didn’t matter because Team Shuffle won anyways.

We were playing against the Lethal Vapors/Mindslaver combo deck and I was afraid. You see, I’m a pretty simple control person and combo decks boggle my mind (low I.Q. I suppose) and I have an instant fear of them especially when multiple strategies are applied. I never got the combo figured until after the game. Anyway, we laid down a steady suppressive attack each turn and they were killing our libraries and life total with two Howling Mines and Underworld Dreams. Sean had played an early Phyrexian Arena which meant he was drawing one more card than the rest of us. By mid-game I start to panic when Sean plays Mindslaver, Levi’s doing a great job but I have yet to really come through for us. So I get this “moment of brilliance” when I remember I have Brain Freeze in my sideboard and it just so happens that I also have a Cunning Wish and Isochron Scepter in my hand.

At the end of their turn I Wish for the Brain Freeze and on our turn I play Isochron Scepter imprinting Brain Freeze, Levi had played two Birds of Paradise and Phantom Centaur and then I played a Nightscape Familiar that’s five spells and then I put a copy of Brain Freeze on the stack and target Sean who dumps 15 cards into his graveyard (I think it should’ve been 18), a Lethal Vapors was one of them. On their turn Sean plays a Lethal Vapors from his hand! Remember, I still don’t know the combo but Vapors looks awfully sneaky. I’m holding a Boomerang and Sean is tapped out so he can’t activate the Mindslaver. I want to Boomerang the Underworld Dreams but something in the back of my mind tells me the Lethal Vapors is much scarier. So I bounce it at the end of their turn. On our turn we draw lots of cards, take lots of damage via U-Dreams and I tell Levi to play as many spells as possible, I play one Fire // Ice and it totals to six spells and I activate the Brain Freeze, that’s 21 cards into the graveyard and then Sean has one card left in his deck and they loose on their next draw step. We win!

Standings after Round 2:

Team Jerk
2-0

Team Poker Night
1-1

Team Shuffle
1-1

Team Jihad
1-1 (w/ ~bye~)

Team Patches
1-1 (w/ ~bye~)

Start of Round 3:
~Team Jerk vs. Team Jihad
~Team Poker Night vs. Team Patches
~Team Shuffle vs. ~Bye~

Team Poker Night must’ve handed Team Patches a quick and decisive blow because before I knew it both teams were up and walking around the shop. Our game, however, was a different story.

First of all, remember when I talked about Team Jihad making their decks after the start of the first round? Well, I let that bother me and I was unfocused. The first thing that went wrong was during our opening turn Levi played a Wooded Foothills and activated it looking for a Forest and then to play what I thought was a BoP. He gets his Forest and says, “Hey Mr. “O”, where’s my hand?”

(I can feel the veins in my neck starting to bulge and that must’ve been a sight to see since I have the neck of an old German Shepard, my teeth are grinding and bad, bad, really bad words are circling through my head)

Yup, he shuffled his hand into his library……………………arrrrrrrrgh! We all agreed to continue the game and Levi would remain handless. Okay, I was going to try and remain calm, but my turn two Orim’s Chant on a Scepter was Naturalized at the end of my turn and then things really went south. Double D’s deck had lots of zero casting cost artifacts like Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox (which he imprinted with a Sliver Queen), the artifact lands and Paradise Mantles? WHAT-EVER!

So Double D’s deck got its “Mojo” going and we were toast. None of my Fact or Fictions resolved and Levi had no cards in his hand. He wanted to scoop but I made him stick it out and let him “FEEL” the agony of the loss via Broodstar with Cranial Plating attached to it. It really was painful.

Here’s the deck I made for Levi:
RG Fires
6 Forest
6 Mountain
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Karplusan Forest
3 Chrome Mox
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Fires of Yavimaya
4 Saproling Burst
4 Phantom Centaur
4 Skizzik
4 Flametongue Kavu
2 Shivan Wurm
4 Sizzle  Fantastic in 2HG, 6 damage for 2R
4 Assault // Battery
4 Volcanic Hammer

And I was playing UBR Wish – Control – Scepter:
5 Swamp
1 Plains
3 Mountain
7 Island
2 Polluted Delta
2 Watery Grave
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Crosis’s Catacombs
4 Nightscape Familiar
3 Fact or Fiction
4 Cunning Wish
1 Orim’s Chant
1 Vampiric Tutor
3 Terminate
3 Boomerang
4 Undermine
4 Isochron Scepter
4 Counterspell
3 Fire // Ice
3 Engineered Plague

SB://
Coffin Purge
Fire // Ice
Brain Freeze
Shadow Rift
Boomerang
Hero’s Resolve  Secret “Stupid” Tech
Orim’s Chant
Terminate
Disenchant
Twincast
Rebuild
Volcanic Geyser
Foil
Hideous Laughter
Fact or Fiction


Check out these final win/loss records after round 3 and YOU tell me who should be first ($27) and second ($13) and I’ll reply with what we actually agreed on after a few posts.

Final team records after Round 3:

~Team Patches
Rd. 1 vs. Team Jerk (loss)
Rd. 2 vs. ~BYE~ (win)
Rd. 3 vs. Team Poker Night (loss)
Final Record: 1 – 2

~Team Poker Night
Rd. 1 vs. Team Shuffle (win)
Rd. 2 vs. Team Jerk (loss)
Rd. 3 vs. Team Patches (win)
Final Record: 2 – 1

~Team Jerk
Rd. 1 vs. Team Patches (win)
Rd. 2 vs. Team Poker Night (win)
Rd. 3 vs. Team Jihad (loss)
Final Record: 2 – 1

~Team Shuffle
Rd. 1 vs. Team Poker Night (loss)
Rd. 2 vs. Team Jihad (win)
Rd. 3 vs. ~BYE~ (win)
Final Record: 2 – 1

~Team Jihad
Rd. 1 vs. ~BYE~ (win)
Rd. 2 vs. Team Shuffle (loss)
Rd. 3 vs. Team Jerk (win)
Final Record: 2 – 1

We were done by 9:00 p.m. and I realized that we could’ve made it 4 rounds but by the time I started to say something several players had already left.

I think mostly everybody had a good time and I thought it was somewhat successful but next time we’ll have a better grip on all of the rulings and resolve to play a better structured format other than Swiss. The teams that we agreed to be first and second place were happy but I’m not so sure everybody agreed with the final standings. With your help in hind-sight maybe we can learn something about running an effective tournament using Swiss. Surely a fourth round would’ve helped.

Please *CHIME-IN* with your opinions.

Once again, “thanks” goes out to Blue Star Games store owner: Rich Gard for letting us use his store for us to play. Thanks Mr. Gard! Don’t forget to shave your beard down to a perfect 2 day shadow.

Thanks, Mark O.

Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

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