Here I am again: another article on my PTQ attempt. I hope this isn't boring any of you out there, but I'm hoping this might give you some insight on what to play and a casual (pardon the pun) laugh.
The last tournament was in Gary, Indiana. That was a mess. The choice of deck was Counter-Oath. Let me state this now: I HATE Counter-Oath! (grrrr). It might have been a bad decision to play that deck in the first week considering the possibilities of Rogue and unknown new deck constructions.
Ryan Strand and I headed out Friday night around 8:30 towards Indianapolis. With two bathroom stops and 5 Mountain Dews (now the official drink of MTG players everywhere!) we arrived on the outskirts of downtown. We decided it was best to find a cheap motel and camp out for the night. After spotting a $25.95 motel, we parked and went in to pay. The first thing I noticed was a sign on the inside door saying the price was now $40. That was frustrating since my funds were barely enough to pay for some food and possibly cards the following day. There was no HBO even though it clearly said so on the sign. It was surprising to find clean sheets and soap in this pile of a motel. Oh well, what can you do? After all you pay for what you get. The phone woke us up for the 7:30 alarm and we headed for the RCA Dome. Let me tell you something: If you haven't been to downtown Indianapolis, you should sometime if you're driving through. You will clearly see that the tax dollars are well spent. It is beautiful. Ryan compares it to downtown Milwaukee and I agree, but reply, "except cleaner". There are shops of all kinds and great places to eat. It is a pity (no offense Indiana) that such a beautiful downtown has to be in Indiana. Another thing I noticed: there are hardly ANY gas stations downtown. Seriously! Driving down Highway 65 you see them every 10 miles but once you hit downtown, BAM! Nothing! *sigh*
Anyhow, once we got situated inside, Strand heads out looking for Stormbind as I search for Spirit of the Night. The night before I decided that I was going to play the deck that won the Gary, Indiana PTQ with the great Stern piloting it. The only thing I regret is not getting to playtest this deck. I never played a Recurring deck before in a qualifier and hardly ever in fun games. That didn't bother me since I have great confidence in playing ANY deck as long as I don't build it. I couldn't build a Sligh deck if I wanted to. *sigh*
Here's the deck I played:
4 Survival of the Fittest
1 Korvakian Horror
2 Llandowar Elves
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Recurring Nightmare
3 Vampiric Tutor
1 Q. Ranger
1 Elvish Lyrist
1 Bone Shredder
1 Spirit of the Night
1 Avalance Riders
4 Wall of Roots
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Stampeding Wilderbeast
1 Spike Feeder
1 Spike Weaver
1 Wood Elf
2 Gea's Cradle
2 Spike Feeder
1 Spike Weaver
1 Bone Shredder
1 Monk Realist (don't ask...)
1 Crater Hellion (AAAmmmaaaaazing!)
3 Emerald Charm
2 Phrxian Furnace
1 U. Oranutang
I can't really recall all of the minor details of every game, but here's how it went to the best of my recollection.
First game. He got a little mana trouble. He decided to help me out with a Vineyard. I complied and responded with Avalance Rider Recursion every turn.
Second game. He got plenty of land, however he thought vineyard was more beneficial to him and not me. I tested his theory with third turn blastoderm backed up with squee in hand and K. Horror in graveyard. I got every card I wanted all he got to see was a loss. He was a nice guy and I told him his mistake. He agreed.
First game. It consisted of me setting up for a Spirit of Night kill. One turn away he top decks a land and gets out exactly enough mana to kill all creatures and stall the game. He wins. Good game and very close.
Second game was all to my advantage. From the first turn I was confident I would get him. I got out second turn survival and got squee. Third turn was a cradle and a nice fat Hermit with my Recurring Nightmare assisting me.
Third game turned out very slow. With only 5 minutes in the round I set up for another Spirit of the Night kill. I ridered his only source of black mana so his Carrion Beetles wouldn't ruin my fun. He, again, top-decked the black mana. I put out Weaver on my 2nd turn into extra rounds to show him he wasn't going to win either.
Frustrating. I didn't want to draw so early. Grrrrr....
Game one. I overheard some of my teammates/friends talk about how all Indiana players love to play White Weenie. I laughed with them, thinking that they were just being smart asses. However, here I was with White Weenie across from me. I duress him first turn and took out E. Armor (thank god). Second turn was me, again, duressing him for his catalysm. I took a lot of beatings all the way to 6 life so that I set up riders combo on his land. I put out a Weaver and he scooped.
Game two. He got out every White Weenie that there was-8 to be exact. I put out a Weaver followed by a Stampeding Wildebeest. He cast Catalysm. Luckily, I saved a birds and Weaver in my hand. He gave up once he saw the Recurring Nightmare come out and play.
ICK! I have the advantage but still hate playing against clock decks like these. Tony is a nice little man and I enjoyed playing him. We got checked and his sideboard was still in his deck. I felt bad for him and promised to drop elbows on the judges later for him.
Game two. Ummmmmmmmm, I think this sums it up: First turn Rogue Elephant followed by rancor. Game.
Game three. Weaver. Need I say more?
Saporling Burst/Pandemonium combo deck
Game one. I have to play Dan Flood. He's a good player and I knew him since I've played with him occasionally at VGC. Kind of like the Racine-Milwaukee crew. I hate playing teammates/friends. I should have lost to him easily...however......I get out every card in my deck and had Spirit in my graveyard. Next turn he will die but he goes off on one turn. *sigh*
Game two. I SB in Pyros and Charm and Furnace. Needless to say, I feel confident about my match now. I get out a first turn Furnace and then try for a follow up with Survival. Annul and I stall him out with my Furnace until I duress his Replenish.
Game three. I get extremely lucky. He doesn't pull any card drawing spells. I duress him and take ONE of his Replenishes. I beat him down with Hermit Tokens.
Game one. I am at top table now, and have to play another friend from VGC. Julio Fontanez. NOW THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART!!!!I am 4-0-1 and need ONE more game to ensure my way into Top 8. He is undefeated and can just draw in. I can't draw with him and playing him could put him into small problems (very small set-back). NOW, he does something extremely nice; Beyond MTG nice. He asks what we would win when if we got Top 8. I told him a box. He asks if he gives me this game, will I hook him up just in case he misses Top 8. I tell him I would surely give him cards since the only thing I want is simply to get there. HE GIVES ME THE GAME 2-0 FREE! This was amazingly nice of him. I can't say enough about him.
I make Top 8!!!And for the third time!!!
Yes, now I feel better since I think I have a great shot at winning and qualifying for Tokyo.
Game one. He gets out his horde and wipes the board with me as I am unable to establish board control. A Fireblast finishes me off.
Game two. I SB in Weaver, Feeders, and an Orangutang. Fourth turn I dropped out Hermit and followed it up with Masticore. I beat him two turns later with exactly enough damage to beat him. One turn before my death.
Game three. He doesn't get third turn mana drop and I take full advantage by dropping the Deranged Hermit again. I get out Recurring Nightmare and Survival for Feeders. Game.
YES, my first Top 4. I am now ONE game away from going to a Pro Tour!
PTG Junk (made by Adrian Sullivan)
Game one. With barely enough knowledge of my own deck, I have no idea what PTQ Junk is. I haven't enough playtesting to know. Darn. I lose to DOUBLE MULLLIGAN.
Game two. He gets a god hand. Meaning, he got every card he needed to stop mine. Lucky, but that is MTG. I lose...so close.
FAT man, the giant of 5-Colored Magic, was present at this tournament and also made Top 8. I was told it was his first time. If so, CONGRATS!! It was nice to see a fellow casual player there. Good to finally meet you! And on a personal note: When you actually quiet down and concentrate, it's possible to be a good player who can win. And you showed that Saturday. Good luck on your future PTQ attmepts.
I hope this has entertained you. I am not sure if anyone actually enjoys reading this kind of article, so let me know...
I am going to be in Chicago, Illinois this Saturday for the PTQ. If you see me, call me over...I could use some good conversation.
Shawn J. Houtsinger
The one and only,