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The Road to Tourneyland: Destination "HELL"
By Mark Ortego
The Road to Tourneyland HELL: 10 hrs., 5 min. and 36 seconds.
By Mark Ortego aka Killer Joe (Like the Jazz Standard)

Before I start my report please allow me to introduce myself.

[CPA Members: But KJ, we already KNOW you, what's this all about?]

Well, I'm actually submitting this article to two different sites. The Casual Player's Alliance http://www.casualplayers.org and GASP (Gaming Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania). It should be in the July 2004 GASP Newsletter here: http://home.comcast.net/~gasp01/gasp_newsletter.html ). So CPA members may scroll down to the report as I am going to briefly "BIO" myself.

I'm 42 years old and live in my mother's basement nah, I'm just kiddin'. I live with my wife Chris (16 years), my two children, Lauren (8) and Megan (5) and "Katie Brown" our Terrier-Beagle, she digs AND barks loud . AND, I live in MY basement aka The Cellar of Ancient Scrolls. I reside in a big house in New Kensington and am a music teacher in the Freeport Area School District.

I love to play Magic: The Gathering as both a tournament and casual player and I droll over "Control" style decks. Mono-green was my first love until I ran into a Tradewind-Armageddon deck. And it's been straight control ever since. IN FACT, I don't like to play with many creature spells at all (mostly). I've been playing since 1996 and semi-seriously in 1998 and seriously, TBA.

And, YES, I am a "Net-Decker" but that's a story for another article.

ON TO THE REPORT!

I recently discovered a casually organized gamming group while searching the internet for a new gaming shop to play at since Scorched Earth Games in New Ken is "Going out of Business". I found a website for a shop in Pittsburgh (Dormont) formerly known as Helm's Deep and now renamed Main Event Games. There was a link to GASP and I followed it.

Well, much to my surprise and delight, this GASP has an all-day "Game Day" held the second Saturday of each month starting around 11:00am and going until mid-night. JACKPOT! I already have a close group of friends that I game with about twice a month and included in the group are 3 tournament judges (casual players, though) and about 6 to 7 more old folks, like me. So having an opportunity to play NEW people was a chance I thought to be interesting.

It JUST so happened that June 12th was the GASP Game Day and so I contacted a few members and found out that they run a year long tournament called the "Rogue League" An unofficial year-long, multi-player, point-based Magic: The Gathering tournament.

I freed up some time with my family and planned for; what would be a game that would test every fiber of my Magic existence.

Date: Saturday June 12th
Time: High Noon
Place: A sacred Holy plot of land called "The Church Rec. Room".
The Format: Chaos Multi-player
The Players (First names only):
Player 1- Jason the wielder of a UR permanent stealer deck
Player 2- ME playing my RGW Type I "The Seinfeld Deck" because it's about nothing.
Player 3- Steve, who played UW Artifact manipulation
Player 4- Kevin the Kid- a mono-red mage ruling over his Goblins
Player 5 Jim, a very friendly and witty Green-White mage
Player 6 KEVIN, the Dragon Mage.
Player 7 Mark playing RG, burn spells coupled with Fatties.
Player 8 Stan, who was pummeled so quickly by P7 Mark that I didn't know WHAT he was playing.

12:00:00 pm - P1 plays a land.
10:05:36 pm I win.

Ladies and gentlemen, THEE shortest tourney report ever.

Obviously, the details of the game would be soooo long and boring (as if this report wasnˇ¦t ALREADY boring) that I'll realistically highlight just some key plays and stats.

First out of the game was Stan. Stan is an excellent player (I'm told) and is usually the target at the onset of these games by another excellent player, P7 Mark. Stan went from 30 to zero in one fell swoop by a huge Multani. Stan had no blockers.

Next in P7 Mark's cross-hairs was P1 Jason. And then, Mark had to LEAVE the game at 1:30 pm. (To attend an important reception). So Bill took over Mark's place. Yea, sure, okay, fine. Whatever. This format is new to me

Bill seemed like he was struggling with Mark's Fatty deck and soon puttered out and Kevin the Kid took him out.

BTW, I must say, there was a particularly high amount of Howling Mines out on the table that I had to get rid of because everyone else had 150+ card decks and mine was a slim 61 card deck (list will follow).

Three down and five to go the time was around 3:30 pm. Meanwhile, there were many other games going on like Mech Warrior?, War Hammer? [EDIT: Not War Hammer but WARMACHINE], Chess, LoTR, and a plethora of other unique games. All of which are recorded for GASP stats and records.

The game went on. 5:30 pm and still at 5 players. In fact, P7 Mark came back from his reception and to his amazement we were still playing the same game. He momentarily lamented about Bill losing with his RG burn/Fatty deck.

This game was the longest I had ever played to date. It was also challenging to my mind. Many errors were made by all in regards to either card text or timing. Playing with 3 local judges, you get to know a thing or two about card text and rulings. I must've seemed like a "Rules Lawyer" slash Oracle monger to my opponents. I think I know a little something about "people skills" and it's NOT NICE to challenge rulings/timing and text when you're the new guy. Even if you ARE right.

I kept P3 Steve alive once or twice just because he had a control deck and those, I like. KEVIN the Dragon Mage attempted to take out Steve but I used Kor Haven to prevent the one attacking creature damage that would've put Steve under. My turn was next and I Fanning the Flames Steve for the kill. This, in their terms, is called "cherry picking". Alright, but I call it strategy.

It's 8:00 by now and we've had pizza, pretzels, potato chips. I had like at least 4 bottles of water and that made for some mandatory bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, there was a Live Action Role Playing demonstration going on outside (maybe it was earlier, I can't remember). They had costumes, swords, shields and the whole gauntlet of stuff. No, I didn't watch it. No, they weren't sacrificing anyone. Like the bunny, I just kept going.

My deck.

My deck has 61 cards in it and by rights, by now I should've been dead by decking. Except that I had two circulating GAEA'S BLESSINGs that kept me going. That's why I had to get rid of every Howling Mine on the table not to mention that "House Rules" impose a virtual Howling Mine at turn seven. Yup, turn 7 everyone has to draw an extra card. Of course, no one else minds because they all have 3 inch high sleeveless decks [oops, sarcasm].

Wanna see my list? Here it is:

RGW "The Seinfeld Deck", because it's about nothing.
4x Powerstone Minefield
4x Seal of Cleansing
4x Sylvan Scrying
4x Burning Wish (Burning Wish Choices were: Fanning the Flames, Wash Out, Wheel of Fortune, Tsunami, Sickening Dreams, Wildfire, Void, Perish, Flashfires and Rout).
3x Pulse of the Fields
3x Moment's Peace
3x Fellwar Stone (important in order to cast blue or black spells)
2x Gaea's Blessing (VIP card of the game)
2x Living Wish (Living Wish choices were: Anurid Brushhopper, Metallic Sliver, Spitting Spider, Mystic Enforcer and Lavaborn Muse.)
1x Ivory Tower
1x Phyrexian Furnace
1x Memory Jar
1x Sylvan Library
1x Abundance
1x Cursed Totem
1x Regrowth
1x Sol Ring
1x Enlightened Tutor
1x Jayemdae Tome
1x Balance (Runner-up VIP card of the game).

2x Mountain
2x Plains
3x Forest
2x Taiga
3x Savannah
2x Plateau
2x Woodland Foothills
2x Windswept Heath
1x Nantuko Monastery (The token 61st. card)
1x Shivan Gorge
1x Kor Haven

in Ruby Red Sleeves.

[Note to CPA members: THIS IS NOT A NET DECK. It is of my own creation]

In this tournament, the last three remaining players are called THE IRON TRIANGLE.

After I took out Steve, Goblin-Boy was taken out by KEVIN Dragon Mage.

9:00 p.m. The Iron Triangle continues. Libraries are getting smaller. Mine, just keeps getting manipulated by the Gaea's Blessings. Virtually every card I draw is the correct card I need to keep the game "in-check". Yes, it was me that kept the game alive for as long as it did. Why? Because my deck is built on one, just 1 single concept: "Not to lose." "PFFT!" You say, isn't that the same thing as "Always to Win"?

Nope.

As you can see by my list, my deck has no real effective way of winning. No fatties. Not enough direct Damage (No, Shivan Gorge is just to mess with player's minds). No combo's (my deck's personal enemy deck archetype). Nada. Zilch. Zip. Zero. "NOTHING". I love to play Magic: The Gathering. It's the interpersonal action between players I like, the cajoling, occasional ribbing, getting into the minds of the other players and my personal favorite: "Politic"ing. I told Stan over e-mail that politicing was a part of the multi-player game. Some call it "The Jedi Mind Trick", but they're NOT the same to me. The JMT is about misleading your opponent(s) into playing or not playing something. Politicing is making bold face alliances, doing others favors, correcting errors, even if they were going to be in your favor. Here's an example from the game: I had Fellwar Stones in play which is an artifact that produces any color that a target opponent's land can produce (great for multi-player). One opponent had Glimmervoid in play which was excellent for me since I had no way of producing black mana for my Void, Sickening Dreams or Perish (which I could've used throughout the game). C'mon, everyone plays black. Not here, not today. So when all of his artifacts were cleared it was time for the G-Void to go. But it was still in play. I really needed it to stay in play because I had a Burning Wish in my hands and Sickening Dreams in my mind. But no, to gain trust, I mentioned that the Glimmervoid had to go at the end of his turn.

I still have my integrity and I have not cheated anyone. I don't say things like, "Oh, I'M not a threat." Or "What!? Little ole' me"¨ I AM a threat, I spent a whole week and a half play-testing for this format once Stan gave me the rules. I read lots of articles on multi-player strategies and traded for cards that I needed for this deck. This is my way of having FUN. It's just that I can get a little crazy and anal about it.

Sometime late in the last hour of this grueling game KEVIN Dragon Mage was about to lose to Jim's Millstone. The hand was extended and then there were two. [insert the sound of scary dungeon doors closing]

[insert a mysterious wind sound]

[Read slowly in a Gandalf like voice: On a deserted desolate plane stood two mages, one creature mage and the other with his nothingness book of spells. Eyes squinted, upper lips curled, chins pointed with beads of sweat and blood dripping] But enough about the other cool games that were going on. Jim and I were like those dance marathon contestants from the depression era trying to jitter-bug but were too tired and drained to lift a foot let alone doing the "WORM" or somethin' crazy like that.

Well, by this time Jim had had it with my Gaea's Blessing tricks. He Millstoned my library and yup, a Gaea's Blessing went right into my graveyard and WAH-LAH! I actually had a library that was more than 4 cards. Gaea's Blessing's last paragraph says that if Gaea's Blessing is put into your graveyard from your library, then you get to shuffle your whole graveyard into your library. At some point though, he played Catastrophe choosing the Armageddon effect.

Why, Jim, why didja do it!?!

With the virtual Howling Mine still effect, I loved it! I wasn't sure how many lands I had left in my deck (so the Catastrophe must've went off after he Millstoned my Gaea's Blessing). Anyway, we were drawing back and forth with almost no land drops. I thought for sure that it was over for me. I drew a Woodland Foothills and prayed that I still had land left in my library. My next draw was a forest so I saved the W-Foothills for now. I drew another forest and a Gaea's Blessing and I went to town with my land going from the graveyard and shuffling it back into my library. Jim was seeing no such luck and his library was as thin as a supermodel.

I said, "Jim, how many cards left in your library?" He said about 13, I had like 16. I knew that I would win. But it ain't never over 'till the fat lady sings. Jim gets down to two cards and BAM! At 10 hrs., 5 min, and 36 seconds he extends his hand and the longest game I had ever played was over!

I was exhausted. People were amazed that a 60 card deck could make it through this format. Taking the Music Education PRAXIS tests weren't THIS grueling. It certainly was the longest and about the best game I ever endured.

Notice how I never mentioned points during the last 6 hours of the game? Oh sure, KEVIN Dragon Mage was trying to burn me and I was trying to burn him. But his life gaining spells and my Pulse of the Fields kept me alive and sometimes well into the high 20's. Attacking was pretty much out of the question because I kept on putting ROUT back into my 4 card library. snicker-

To GASP: I had the best time with you guys. I want to become a permanent member. Order me up a t-shirt, please.

To CPA: Check out the Rogue League page. Maybe you can adopt some of these rules to make your mp games more fun.

Well, I'll be seeing you next time on that long and dusty road, to Tourneyland.
~Mark O.
aka Killer Joe

[Scene: Me driving into the dusty sun set ala' Blazing Saddles]
[Credit exit music: "April in Paris" by the Duke Ellington Band]

Thanks to:

Wiz Co. for making the best game ever.

All the players in this game report.

Earth, Wind and Fire for pumping me up while driving to GASP Game Day (September/In the Stone/Fantasy)

The pizza shop that made our pizza we ordered, it was fantastic! How 'bout an onion laden pizza next time?

Helm's Deep or whatever you are now for linking me to GASP

My lucky charm that I wore around my neck

My wife and kids who had to endure an entire Sunday listening to me go on about the game.

My doctor who said I needed to start exercising again not only to help my body but help me think clearer. I walked every morning, in the hood, last week for a half an hour just playtesting in my mind and memorizing every card in my deck and picturing my best possible opening hand.

God. Who surely had a ring side seat THAT day.

That's it!


Go on.


Click the back button or sumthin'

[chicka-chickahhhhhh]

[fade to black]

Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

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