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I was a tournament virgin
By Luke Twigger
I know what you're thinking, "tournament reports don't belong at Casual Players Alliance", but please persevere and let me explain. I was a tournament virgin until yesterday (30th April). I've been playing for about 6 months and have amassed about 2500 cards but have only played against a pool of about 3 players. We normally get together about once a week and play Magic as a warm up before our real reason for getting together - AD&D. However, we've had trouble getting together recently what with jobs, competing hobbies and conflicting schedules. So I decided that, to continue playing Magic, I'd have to look elsewhere. I figured that I'd meet like-minded people at a tournament who'd hopefully live close enough to play casually outside the tournament environment.

Searching the Internet revealed a couple of tournaments taking place relatively nearby and I settled on one in Rainham, Kent (UK). Ringing the phone number, I spoke to a friendly chap called Bob, who informed me that UK Regional Qualifiers were taking place elsewhere that weekend, so he would be running a Stronghold Sealed Deck event for "fun players" in the absence of the "serious" players. It sounded ideal for my purposes so I confirmed I'd be attending.

Figuring that I'd have time for some practice warm ups before the Sealed event took place, I took along a couple of my decks. Technically they are Extended in terms of what cards they contain, but not at all in the sense of being strong tournament material. It was a good job I did take my own cards along though, as when I arrived at 10.30am on the Sunday morning, I was informed that it would now be a Type II event! After explaining that I'd been expecting Sealed and that my decks weren't Type II, they still allowed me to compete which was kind of them.

The venue was a little odd, a community centre by the train station, looking a little run down, the room was brim-full of screaming kids playing Pokemon along with a couple of much quieter groups playing L5R, Vampire RPG and us Magic players.

Here's a quick explanation of my decks, though a full listing of my tournament deck appears at the end. Cool Green basically consists of cards which are IMHO rather cool such as Multani Maro-Sorcerer and Weatherseed Treefolk. Green was my chosen colour when I started playing Magic and it's still got most of my favourite cards. Merfolk is basically a bunch of merfolk cards, using Lord of Atlantis and Tidal Warrior to send waves of unblockable beatdown. Rats is another theme deck, this time bunches of rat cards, led by the Ascendant Evincar.

While waiting for everyone to show up, I played a couple of practice games, losing narrowly with my Cool Green deck to Jason and his Green/Black fatty deck and then losing again to Chris and his black Highway Robber deck. Chris switched to an experimental Blue Counterspell deck and I managed to beat him first with my Merfolk and then with my Rats, though he was mana-screwed in the first game.

So what was I going to play in the tournament? Well the only deck I had a sideboard for was Cool Green and I figured I might as well play using my favourite cards, so that even if (when?) I lost, I'd have had fun along the way. With baited breath, I waited for the tournament to begin. After filling in a couple of forms and getting a DCI number, I was informed that the prizes would be a selection of Masques boosters and that my first opponent would be a girl called Sarah.

Sarah was the girlfriend of the above mentioned Jason and she was playing a Green Fatty deck with nice cards like Blastoderm and Rofellos Llanowar Emissary in it. Luckily for me, she was still learning the game and I beat her easily 2-0 which boosted my confidence no end. I was almost apologetic once the game was over and (hopefully without seeming too patronising) did my best to point out mistakes she'd made and how she might play better next time.

Next up was Michelle, who looked a lot more experienced. She was playing a Rebel deck with fliers. The first game was awesome for me, I managed to get 3 Weatherseed Treefolk and a Llanowar Behemoth on the board! I then stomped her good and proper, despite valiant chump blocking by the rebels. The next game was the opposite, I hardly played any cards and instead was swarmed with rebel fliers and Crusade. The third game turned into a stalemate as neither of us could make a break through and we ran out of time, making the match a draw.

Won 1, drawn 1, lost 0 sounded a pretty good start to me, sadly things went downhill after that. My next opponent was Mark playing a rather vicious deck. With hindsight it was suspiciously similar to the so-called Ponza deck of full-blown professional status - masses of land destruction coupled with expensive rares like Rishidan Port and some nasty red creatures like Flowstone Overseer and Molten Hydra. The first game was surprisingly close, I got him down to 3 life while heroically resisting his land destruction with my Yavimaya Elders, Land Grant, Nature's Lore and a healthy dose of top-decking Forests when needed. If only Multani had trample or if I'd had a Weatherseed out instead of the Maro Sorcerer then I might even have won. As it was I was finally pinged to death by a swollen Molten Hydra. The second game showed how bad a deal Mark must have had in the first game, as he quickly blitzed my land and I could hardly cast any spells before I died.

Time was marching on and I was onto my last game, this time against Heidi, Mark's girlfriend. Again, I was subjected to a beating from an expensive professional deck, this time more Rebels with Lin Sivvi this time. My deck never really got going and I was crushed in both games by masses of white weenies with double Crusade and Glorious Anthem.

So, my early form was misleading and I ended the day in utter defeat. But I had a good time doing so. I learned a lesson aswell. My deck, though usually reasonably effective and definitely fun against my close friends, was no match for top tier professional decks. As I was so used to playing the same small group of people with a more-or-less closed card pool and predictable tactics I was overwhelmed when faced with the unknown. Everyone was very gracious though, nobody made fun of my naive play and people took the time to give me a few hints. Overall I viewed it as learning exercise, I certainly had fun, and I hope to attend the next Rainham tournament, with a Type II legal deck and widen my playing experience yet further.

Anyway, the icing on the cake was that, in the final analysis, I finished 4th out of 8 entrants and was rewarded with 2 Mercadian Masques booster packs!

Finally, take a look at my deck listing:

CREATURES (16)
2x Elvish Lyrist - enchantment destruction
2x Scavenger Folk - artefact destruction
2x Yavimaya Elder - get lots of land on the board
1x Llanowar Behemoth - boostable fatty
1x Multani, Maro-Sorcerer - fatty of changeable effectiveness, awesome in multiplayer
1x Uktabi Wildcats - another fatty of variable potential
3x Weatherseed Treefolk - my favourite fatty!
1x Titania's Chosen - has the potential to be a fatty if cast early enough or if opponent is also Green
1x Taunting Elf - sacrifices himself so the fatties can do their job
1x Tinder Wall - useful cheap blocker which can be sacrificed to help get expensive cards out

SPELLS (18)
1x Instill Energy - cast at the same time as a Weatherseed Treefolk and see the look of horror
1x Lure of Prey - chance of getting a fatty out slightly more cheaply and as a surprise blocker
1x Respite - stop an approaching horde and gain life while doing so
2x Sandstorm - especially good against weenie hordes, can also soften up bigger opponents so you can kill them in combat
2x Snake Basket - weenie token generator
1x Sporogenesis - slower weenie token generator, can be good in long games though
1x Waiting in the Weeds - another weenie token generator, just hope your opponent hasn't any untapped Forests though
1x Titania's Boon - turns hordes of weenie tokens into hordes of slightly bigger weenies
1x Song of Serenity - stops horrid Ancestral Masks and Rancors from hurting
1x Serene Heart- useful for clearing aforementioned creature enchantments from the board
2x Vitalize - useful for surprise blocking when your creatures are apparently tapped out and defenceless
1x Defense of the Heart - gets fatties out without paying for them directly
1x Pattern of Rebirth - as Defense of the Heart
1x Reclaim - useful if a vital card is counterspelled, killed or discarded
1x Emerald Charm - handy multiple applications - bring an attacking flier into blocking range, untap a fatty as a surprise blocker or destroy an enchantment

LAND ETC (27)
19x Forest - vital for a green deck really
2x Treetop Village - best animated land around IMHO
1x Heart of Yavimaya - tap for +1/+1 to save a creature or inflict a vital extra point of damage
2x Hickory Woodlot - mana acceleration
1x Land Grant - land substitute
1x Nature's Lore - as Land Grant
1x Emerald Medallion - makes expensive spells cheaper

SIDEBOARD (15)
1x Hunted Wumpus - side in against creatureless decks
1x Hurricane - deal with fliers
1x Wing Snare - more anti-flier protection
1x Winter Blast - more anti-flier protection
1x Pincher Beetles - handy against red blasting decks
1x Spreading Algae - slows down black
2x Crumble - if more artefact destruction is needed
2x Multani's Decree - if more enchantment destruction is needed
2x Tsunami - hose those blue decks
3x Whirling Dervish - great against black

As you can see, I like a lot of variety, not only does it make games more interesting for me, it also means an opponent has less chance of knowing what to expect. Typically a fatty or two and a weenie token generator or two will show up, the rest relying on the vagaries of chance.

BTW, if there's anybody lives near Sevenoaks, Kent (UK) who fancies a few casual games then please drop me an email at luke_twigger@geocities.com and we can sort something out.

luke_twigger@geocities.com

Read More Articles by Luke Twigger!

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