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The Road to Tourneyland: Planeshift
By Mark Ortego
The weather in Pittsburgh was really bad early Saturday morning, so Doug and I didn't know what to expect when we arrived at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown.

Whew, at 8:25 am there was only 15 people signed up for the 1st flight and so we got in and waited...and waited...it wasn't until like 9:45 that the 32nd contestant signed up.
We register decks, we pass decks to the left, we build our decks. Time for "secret-secret tech".

I had studied Ferret's article on Friday about the pre-release, and I studied hard, why? Because I'm real bad at sealed and my ego can afford to listen to someone else for advice instead of thinking I'm "Joe Magic Player" who doesn't need advice from a rodent or any other source for that matter.

I read from somewhere else that, "The Rule" for sealed in Invasion was; "If you can, play B/U/r.", however, there was a disclaimer of sorts that alluded: if other options are better, then go with those.
Okay, so I open my stuff and right away follow the article's advice: seperate into colors (check), divide each color into creatures and others (check) and build a deck with 16 creatures, 16 land and 8 tricks. Easy enough.
I immediately check out Black and I am with 2x Nightscape Familiars. This basically gets me thinking, "Oh yeah, my Blue and Red spells are going to cost me 1 less generic mana?" I'm playing B/U/r! Here's the list:

BLACK
Creatures
2x Nightscape Familiars
1x Nightscape Master
1x Phyrexian Reaper
Others
1x Agonizing DeMISE
1x Death Bomb
BLUE
Creatures
1x Dream Thrush
1x Sea Snidd
1x Shoreline Raider
1x Zanam Djinn
Others
1x Repulse
2x Rushing River
1x Wash Out
GOLD
Creatures
2x Lava Zombie
1x Vodalian Zombie
Others
0x
RED
Creatures
1x Rogue Kavu
3x Goblin Slingshot
1x Thunderscape Apprentice
Others
2x Magma Burst
ARTIFACTS
1x Star Compass (see, I told you I suck at sealed)
LAND
1x Dromar's Cavern
4x Island
1x Meteor Crater
4x Mountain
1x Sulfur Vent
5x Swamp

Here are some notables I passed up for the main deck:
BREATH OF DARIGAAZ! Man, do I have to start reading the cards better! I didn't even use it for a sideboard, In fact, I buried it way deep in my Green/White section (refer to Star Compass comment)!
Others I could've used included Ravenous Rats, Zap, Traveler's Cloak, and an Undermine (which I later traded to a dealer for a Taiga, WooHoo!).

Round 1 B/U/R vs. B/R/G
My opponent is Jeremy, I have been down to his local shop in Charleroi, PA once or twice before and I always see he and his buds at these pre-releases and I make it a point to say "HI" to the fella's ('Cause I'm just a nice guy ).

Game 1: I was so excited about playing with new cards that I don't remember much about this game except that before I knew what was going on, Jeremy is shuffling his deck for game 2.
Game 2: I'm looking at my notes here and I have "2x Gold 5/3 beat me down...", I think I managed to bounce stuff back to his hand but was finally overcome by 'da beatings'.
0-2-0
0-1-0

Round 2 B/U/R vs G/W
I don't have my opponent's name down on my notes but he looked kind of young and inexperienced. I must have beat him silly because looking at my score total it reads:
Me - Opp
20...20
.....18
.....14
.....12
.....10
......3
......0
I remember thinking, "Can't this guy deal with my 2/2 Goblin Slingshot?" I Burst hhim for the last 3, it was kinda funny.
Game 2: I remember getting out the Zanam Djinn, he had Green as the most common color of permanants, so I win again.
2-2-0
1-1-0
Now, a normal person would've dropped after the 1st round, not me, pal.

Round 3 B/U/R vs R/G
My opponent is Shana and I'm thinking I'll be dropping after this round, she exudes confidence, which is intimidating in of itself let alone she's wearing a ski cap and appears to be a bit excentric. Anyhoo,...

Game 1: I am drawing my entire arsenol of burn, bounce and destroy spells like there was no tomorrow. I finally get out Mr. Zanam Djinn and beat her down.
Game 2: She is clearly "Ticked-off" because I'm drawing more of my bounce spells and she doesn't like having to play one of her Gating creatures only to have me use Rushing River with the Kicker to send it back to her hand. I stall long enough to make it to the last five turns rule when she all of a sudden drops just about everything in play that I've been sending back to her hand. And on turn five at the end of the round, she rushes me and she wins (not really, because the judge says the match is a draw). Like the other two opponents, I shake her hand. But, to my surprise, she says, "That was the best match I ever had." Here's my opportunity say something really meaningful and special and all I hear from my throat is, "Cool." I'm a dork. On to the next round.
3-3-0
1-1-1

Really, most would've dropped by now, but NOOOOOO, not me.

Round 4 B/U/R vs Son of Round 5
Okay, first of all, I'm an educator, and as an educator I have a high tolorance level with kids. But this lil' dude had "Chit-Chat-itus". On and on about...about...God, I can't even remember about what. Bantering is one of my pitfalls, I can't concentrate and I usually end up by losing due to lack of focused concentration.

Game 1: I'm rattled and he walks all over me.
Game 2: I haven't got the heart to tell him to shut up and so I don't respond to his 'chattiness' and I start to concentrate because I got alot of catching up to do. My notes indicate that I beat him down with a Zanam Djinn, at that point, I'm sure I could've cared less about what I was beating him down with, just as long as I could imagine beating him down!
Game 3: His bantering is considerably slower and gets slower by the point. He's at three and I couldn't wait until the next turn and I Magma him for the win.
5-4-1
2-1-1

Round 5 B/U/R vs Father of Round 4
This guy is about five to six years older than I and I'm thinking, ya know, apples don't fall from the tree, is he going to be as chatty!?
Game 1: This thing goes for 45 min. I swear to God. All of a sudden, I'm playing Blue/White control style with this deck, OY! It came down to: I was at 1 and he was at 8 and tah-dah! Mr. Zanam Djinn hits the board. I win.
Game 2: He knows that with less than 5 min to go, I'm going to stall, and I do, long enough to take the match.
6-4-2
3-1-1

The first flight is over and I am in 6th place! WHAAAAAHOEYYYYYY! I get six packs!
I immediately enter a draft a build a U/W control deck and make it to the final round where I split the winnings with my friend and I walk away with another 6 packs!
I had a great day; I introduced myself to Friggin'Rizzo (no picture though ), I intoduced myself to Aaron Forsythe (interesting note: For fun, he and his friend were playing "Sideboard" a game you play with the cards not in your main deck of the sealed tournament, kewl!). So,
12 packs, 3 Savannah's and 2 Taiga's later, I'm well on my way to....Tourneyland.

I'll see ya there!

Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

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