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Stinking It Up a Notch: A Ravnican Christmas
By Eric Turgeon
Let me explain my plan to you. A couple months back, Wizards announced special holiday events for Magic Online. One of the holiday specials was a Braingeyser promotional card to anyone who entered a Premier Event. Well, I'm not the type of person to miss a one time chance to pick up a cool promo card. I'm also not the type to enter a Premier Event, but I'm willing to make an exception. So my plan was to enter a Classic constructed tournament, pick up my card and write a little report on it. I'd title the article "Kicking It Up a Notch" since I'm delving into more competitive fields and perhaps it would turn into a series if I decided to enter more Premier Events.

The reason for choosing Classic constructed was because I was working on a cog deck abusing Lion's Eye Diamond and I thought this would give me the best chance to succeed. As it happens, the most convenient time to enter any particular event was 8am on either December 23rd or 24th. My wife had to work those days, so I could play out the tournament while she was at work. Unfortunately, no Classic tournaments were starting at those times, so instead I decided to enter a Ravnica Sealed event.

So that's actually not a big problem. I consider myself a pretty decent sealed player and figured I could probably do even better in that event than a constructed event since I really don't want to dish out money for all the best cards. My cog deck was decent, but a couple sets of duel lands would make it much more consistent. So I bought the products for Ravnica sealed and entered the tournament and prepared to write about how well I did. And that's when I realized how bad I am. So instead of getting a good story about a reasonable finish, I give to you and crappy story about stinking it up big time.

Let the Games Begin

I got up around 7:30am on December 23 to enter the tournament at 8. By the time it started, 81 people had entered. A rough comparison to the other Premier Events showed that either Ravnica Sealed is a popular format or 8am is a popular time to play. Either way, when the event started, my Braingeyser showed up right away. Hooray! As much as I hoped it would be enough to pay the six ticket entry fee, the message board showed that Braingeysers were selling for about four each. Oh well. I was a little encouraged when two people dropped before deck construction had completed. That gave me slightly better odds of making the top 8.

The Cardpool

A lot of Magic writers list their entire sealed deck cardpools when they write about these tournaments. I tried that. It looks awful. Especially with Ravnica. We got white cards and blue cards and red cards and green cards and black cards and cards for each of the guilds. I could list the whole cardpool, see that I wrote five pages and call it a day, but I won't. Instead, I give you the best of the colors. I will also use words in between each of the cards so that you don't just skim over the list. You can still do that for the decklist, though.

White:
Playable cards included Conclave Equenaut, Nightguard Patrol and Screeching Griffin. There was also one good card in Faith's Fetters. I quickly began scanning the next color.

Blue:
Blue had some playable control spells in Convolute, Induce Paranoia, Muddle the Mixture and Remand. It also had some good flyers, with Snapping Drake and Tattered Drake. And some good card-drawers, with Flight of Fancy and Compulsive Research.

Black:
Money Rare Alert! Dark Confidant, baby! Nearly unplayable in limited, though. Black did provide some decent removal, including Brainspoil, Darkblast, Disembowel, and to a much lesser extent, Clinging Darkness. The best creature was probably Golgari Thug, but I also had two Sewerdregs that could be useful against Swamps.

Red:
I had a lot of red cards, but I didn't think they were good enough to help sustain a deck. Cleansing Beam and Flash Conscription are good late-game limited cards, but red had nothing else to last that long.

Green:
Finally, some decent cards to work with! I've found Moldervine Cloak to be an absolute bomb before. Other playables included Carven Caryatid, Recollect, Transluminant, Scion of the Wild, Elvish Skysweeper, Elves of Deep Shadow, Farseek, Gather Courage, and Root-Kin Ally.

Guild:
The best of the Boros were Firemane Angel and Thundersong Trumpeter, but due to my lack of both colors, I couldn't see myself using either of them. Selesnya provided a Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi and Centaur Safeguard. Golgari had a couple quality cards, including a Shambling Shell, Golgari Rotwurm, and Drooling Groodian. Finally, Dimir gave me a bomb in Moroii and a playable Dimir Infiltrator.

Artifacts and Lands:
I had a signet for Golgari, Dimir, and Boros and a common land for Dimir and Boros. Apparently all my best commons went into the field of mana fixing.

The Deck

I thought my three best colors were green, black and blue, so that's what I went with. After some careful consideration, I ended up with the following deck:

Snapping Drake
Compulsive Research
Flight of Fancy
Tattered Drake
Brainspoil
Clinging Darkness
Darkblast
Disembowel
Roofstalker Wight (Dimir Infiltrator probably would have been better)
Elves of Deep Shadow
Carven Caryatid
Elvish Skysweeper
Farseek
Moldervine Cloak
Recollect
Root-Kin Ally (Never got played)
Scion of the Wild (Also never got played)
Transluminant (For some reason, I thought I could use its ability)
Dimir Signet
Golgari Signet
Centaur Safeguard
Golgari Rotwurm
Moroii
Shambling Shell
Dimir Aqueduct
Forest x8
Swamp x4
Island x3

I played a few practice games waiting for everyone else to finish and the lands seemed about right so I certainly thought the deck was good enough for a few match wins.

Match 1: Don't Be Stupid

Game 1: Land Screw + Plague Boiler = Bad Times
My opening hand looked playable. I had two Islands, Elves of Deep Shadow, a Golgari Signet and a Moroii. On my third turn, I still only had two Islands, so in order to cast Moroii, I used the Signet to cast the elves and took the point of burn. On my opponent's third turn, he cast Plague Boiler. I didn't want to lose Moroii right away, so I waited for the Boiler to go off. Much to my dismay, I never got the four lands I needed to cast him. In fact, I never even drew a Forest, with four green cards in hand. Needless to say, I lost.

Game 2: Speed Kills
Here's my first seven turns:
1) Land
2) Land + Signet
3) Land + Snapping Drake (Hit by Last Gasp)
4) Land + Golgari Rotwurm
5) Roofstalker Wight + Recollect targetting the Drake
6) Clinging Darkness on my opponent's Rotwurm
7) Recast the Drake
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I won.

Game 3: May the Best Player Win
I managed to cast Moroii on the fifth turn this game. It did some damage, but my opponent had an Oathsworn Giant and Golgari Rotwurm in play, along with a Selesnya Evangel that was pumping out an army of saprolings. Eventually, it came to a point that reminded me of a Mowshowitz-like scenario: My opponent has six life and one card in hand and nothing to block flying creatures. In an earlier game, he played Last Gasp. He can kill you on his next turn. You have a Moroii and Roofstalker Wight in play. You just drew a Moldervine Cloak. What is the correct play?

In this situation, you should cast the cloak on the Moroii, give your Wight flying and attack with both. If Last Gasp is in your opponent's hand, when you cast the cloak on Moroii, it still won't prevent six damage from going through. On the other hand, if you try to cast it on the wight, he can cast Last Gasp and kill it, only taking four damage from Moroii's attack.

Okay, now that we know the correct play, what do you think that I did?

Match 2: Mana Problems Abound

Game 1: Opposition Mana Screw
In this game, my opponent's only lands were three Forests, yet he was not playing mono-green. I cast a bunch of flyers and they went the distance.

Game 2: Lands, Lands, Everywhere
In this game, I found out that my opponent was playing the exact same colors as I was. And if there was any doubt, he found out the colors I was playing as I drew almost every land in my deck. He actually made a series of obvious mistakes that extended the game about four turns longer than it needed to be. Meanwhile, my turns went like this: "C'mon Topdeck!" Draw a land. By the end of the game, I had 13 lands either in play or in my hand, with only three left in a library of 23 cards.

Game 3: Too Little, Too Late
Every time I get mana flooded, I should just concede the next game, because I know the exact opposite is about to happen. This game was actually pretty good, but I eventually succumbed to a beatdown at the hands of a Bramble Elemental and Siege Wurm. All the while, a potentially game-turning Brainspoil sat in my hand while I had just four lands in play.

Most people dropped out after two losses, but as I saw it, I paid six bucks to play and that's just what I was going to do. I'm glad I did, too, considering my next match result.

Match 3: Hooray for Byes!

Yes, I got a bye! Victory is mine! At this time, I was expecting my wife home for lunch, so I thought the hour off was even more convenient than I imagined. I fixed her a lunch, but she didn't come home before my next match began. At the time, I just assumed she had eaten at work.

Match 4: Still Finding Ways to Lose

I'm not going to give a game-by-game analysis for this one, because it is too painful for me to talk about. From what I saw, my opponent's deck was awful. Well, I guess I should say it had some awful cards. During our games, he played a Voyager Staff, Junktroller, Perilous Forays, Conclave Phalanx, and Gate Hound. Each of these cards was in his maindeck. In retrospect, he might be a genius because his deck was also only two colors: straight up Selesnya, containing a couple bombs in Tolsimir Wolfsblood, Crown of Convergence and Oathsworn Giant.

He won game 1. In the middle of game 2, Lauren came home for lunch. She was over an hour and a half later than I was expecting, meaning that she was probably really busy at work. This also meant that she would probably not be in a good mood and Magic would have to wait. When I went downstairs to see her, she actually wasn't all that upset, mostly just tired. She was happy that I made lunch and when she asked me what I had been doing all day, I told her I entered an online Magic tournament. She asked me if I was still playing in it and when I told her I was, she came upstairs with me and ate while I finished the second game. I won that game.

Lauren went back to work in the middle of game 3. Once again, I had somehow put myself in a position to lose, but before the game finished, I realized that my clock was ticking down past 20 seconds. I probably would have lost anyway.

Match 5: I'll Take Any Luck I Can Get

When the match began, my opponent was a little slow to decide whether or not to mulligan, so I checked up on my limited rating: 1537. Wow. A new low. I went back to the game and realized my opponent still hadn't done anything. A minute later, I realized he wasn't going to show up. Yay, another win! In the meantime, I started typing up this report and copying my decklist.

Match 6: Holy Crap!

Game 1: Opposition Mana Flood
This is the reason I rarely complain about mana problems. (Note that earlier I was simply mentioning them, not specifically complaining. I also rarely make excuses for myself.) Mana problems are random. They happen to everyone. And just as I had my mana problems in the past, in game 1, my opponent was mana flooded and unable to fend off my attackers.

Game 2: Maybe I'm Good, But More Likely He's Bad
At one point in the first game, my opponent played a Gaze of the Gorgon giving him a two-for-one trade. I didn't really have a good solution so I actually sideboarded in a Convolute in case he tried to use it again. For the first time all day, something actually worked out the way I planned. My opponent cast it to trade creatures again, but Convolute was in my hand to prevent any funny stuff. He conceded immediately after that.

Match 7: The Waiting Game Part 2

Once again, my opponent fails to show. Another 2-0 match win for me!

Stinking It Up, But Just a Little

After the last match, my final record was 4-3 with an 11-6 game record. My final place was 16th out of the 81 and my limited rating actually finished higher than it was when I entered. But, of course, I only beat one opponent, meaning that I'm probably not nearly as good at sealed as I thought I was. So now my plan is to find a way to abuse Braingeyser in Classic and do this right the next time.

Read More Articles by Eric Turgeon!

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