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The Road to Tourneyland:The Downfall of Paris
By Mark Ortego
August 21, 2004
The Road to Tourneyland: The Downfall of Paris
(The August Rogue League Game Tourney Report)
by Mark Ortego

Since joining the Rogue League, back in June, I have seriously made an impact on the environment of the monthly Rogue League game (or Meta-Game). How do I know this? Because someone ‘meta-gamed’ against ME!!!!!! No, not hated me out during the actual game-play, but outright designed their deck to “handle” me. We’ll call him ‘Coach’. Coach was playing B/W Control, heh, 3 of the players at the table were playing B/W decks, 2 control and one Cleric deck w/Akroma’s Angel. So the Seal of Cleansings and Disenchants were a plenty. Now, I might have the facts a tad out of align, but I swear by turn 5 there were TWO stinkin’ Seal of Cleansings out on the table courtesy of Coach. Why does THIS matter to me? I was, in fact, playing a beat-down deck, but I was packin’ Fires of Yavimaya (a gold enchantment that gives my creatures Haste) and Serra’s Blessing (a white enchantment that allows my creatures not to tap when attacking). These two enchantments really help my deck move fast. I allowed those Seals to affect my judgment and I *BLINKED*.

Here’s the report:
Date: August 21, 2004
Time: High Noon
Where: The Church Rec. Room
Format: August Rogue League Game
The Players:
Player 1: Kevin, the Goblin King playing his signature deck – GOBLINS!
Player 2: Kelly, GK’s Mom (see above) playing Black/White Clerics with Akroma’s Angel just because she CAN!!!!!!
Player 3: Steve, playing Blue/Black Pestilence Control
Player 4: Kevin, formerly the Dragon Mage but now THEE Squirrel Dude playing Blue/Green Counter-Earthcraft-Squirrel Nest deck.
Player 5: Me, playing Red/Green/splash white aka “RGw Fires”
Player 6: Jason, Playing UGW (blUe/Green/White) enchantment deck.
Player 7: P-Mark, playing Black/White Control
Player 8: Coach, playing Black/White HATE Control

Here’s my Deck List:
“RGw Fires” v2.5

Lands
6. Forest
6. Mountains
2. Savannah
2. Taiga
4. Wooded Foothills

Creatures
4. Birds of Paradise
4. Blastoderm
4. Flametongue Kavu
4. Horned Kavu
2. Shivan Wurm
2. Skizzik
4. Thornscape Battlemage

Spells
4. Call of the Herd
4. FIRES OF YAVIMAYA
4. Hull Breach
2. Savage Twister
2. Serra’s Blessing

Normally, I don’t like playing “Beat-Down” decks, it’s just not my style. Give me a “Control” deck any day of the week and I’ll be in heaven. Let me give you a brief description of my deck and it’s contents.
This deck was an actual Type II deck back in the days of Mercadian Masques to Invasion blocks. A dueling deck with tremendous synergy because of it’s ability get out cheap, efficient creatures and attack early via Fires of Yavimaya.

Fires of Yavimaya – 1RG
Enchantment – (Uncommon from Invasion)
Creatures you control have haste. (They may attack and tap the turn they come under your control.)
Sacrifice Fires of Yavimaya: Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

This uncommon from Invasion just friggin’ ROCKS! For you casual ‘beat-down’ Red/Green mages out there, this ones for YOU!

Dear Wizards of the Coast,
Please, oh please, just bring back this one lil’ ol’ enchantment for Type II this coming year and we promise not to abuse it,….again.
Sincerely,
Marky Mark and the Magic players of the world

[EDIT: Man, that was a thee saddest Johnny ‘Friggin’ Rizzo rip-off yet to date. I’m so ashamed ]

Yes, this deck is built off of the Fires enchantment, but, for those of you who KNOW this deck are most assuredly asking, “Whereinthehell” is Saproling Burst?

Saproling Burst – 4G
Enchantment (Rare from Nemesis)
Fading 7 (This enchantment comes into play with seven fade counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a fade counter from it. If you can’t, sacrifice it.)
Remove a fade counter from Saproling Burst: Put a green Saproling creature token into play. It has “This creature’s power and toughness is equal to the number of fade counters on Saproling Burst.”
When Saproling Burst leaves play, destroy all tokens put into play with Saproling Burst. They can’t be regenerated.

So what the heck does this mean? It means that if I have Fires of Yavimaya in play and I plop down Saproling Burst I will remove 3 fade counters from it producing 3 green creature tokens with their power/toughness being 4/4 and I will attack for 12 points of damage if unblocked. Not bad, huh? Except that in Multi-player it’s bad because only one singly-wingly enchantment removal spell freakin’ wrecks me. And, given that these games are likely to have 6 or more players in them, SOMEONE is packin’ artifact/enchantment removal for sure. So, no Bursts for MY deck.

Another card missing could be Phantom Centaur.

Phantom Centaur – 2GG
Creature – Centaur Spirit (Uncommon from Judgment)
Protection from Black
Phantom Centaur comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it.
If damage would be dealt to Phantom Centaur, prevent that damage. Remove a +1/+1 counter from Phantom Centaur.
Power/Toughness: 2/0 (a 5/3 when it comes into play)

Although not an original member of the classic Fires deck it can be a very effective and cheap creature that could work well in this deck but alas, I had to make room for utility spells.

Also missing are the extra Llanowar Elves to speed up the deck. See above reason for their absence.

My creature selection was tough to decide. I knew I wanted Blastoderm (a 5/5 fatty with Fade 3 and can’t be the target of spells or abilities.). I also knew I wanted Flametongue Kavu aka FTK. This guy is a 4/2 that deals 4 damage to target creature when it comes into play. I needed one or two more “Señor Fats” to add to the deck. So in went Skizzik (a 5/3 with Trample;Haste and sticks around if you paid the kicker cost). But it was too expensive at 3R plus another R for the Kicker. So a virtual friend of mine suggested Shivan Wurm.

Shivan Wurm – 3RG
Creature – Wurm (Rare from Planeshift)
Trample
When Shivan Wurm comes into play, return a red or green creature you control to it’s owner’s hand.

The Wurm’s effect was called “Gating” back in the day. Several creatures had it like the much under-cost Horned Kavu which cost only one green and one red and was a 3/4. Not bad either. So in went two copies of Shivan Wurm and 4 of Horned Kavu. I took out 2 Skizzik’s to make room for the Shivan Wurms. It was all worth it because with these ‘Gating’ creatures I could send back FTK to my hand so it could once again do it’s handy-dandy FOUR damage to an annoying creature AND/OR return a nearly depleted Blastoderm. (Thornscape Battlemage, too.)

[INSERT DISSCUSSION: What is targeting?]

A member of the group had a question during a game we played after the Rogue League game was finished. It involved me using Tradewind Rider. I was playing an ATS deck (Angry-Tradewind-Survival) with Slivers (yes, it WAS horrible with Slivers) anyway, the question came up as to weather or not I could use Crystalline Sliver (All Slivers can’t be the target of spells or abilities – just like the Blastoderm) as part of the activation cost for Tradewind Rider’s ability.

Tradewind Rider – 3U
Creature – Spirit (Rare from Tempest)
Flying
(Tap Symbol), Tap two creatures you control: Return target permanent to owner’s hand.
1/4

So the question was that if Crystalline Sliver made all Slivers untargetable, how can I use them for Tradewind’s activation cost? Simple, you aren’t targeting the Slivers, you’re just tapping creatures you control. It doesn’t say: (Tap Symbol), Tap two TARGET creatures you control: blah, blah, blah…It just says tap two creatures you control. I’m pretty sure I’m right and I am currently investigating this query A.S.A.P. I also promise not to change/edit this paragraph if I find out that I’m wrong. Now THAT’s integrity. [a day later – Yup, I was right. Since Tradewind’s activation cost doesn’t TARGET, I can use any creature I control.]

But you know what? The Horned Kavu and the Shivan Wurm brought back several Blastoderms and this member did not questioned it during the official RL game. Why not? It’s the same thing, When ~this~ comes into play, return a red or green creature YOU CONTROL to it’s owner’s hand. The Blastoderm was not being targeted.

I have more experience in tournament play than most (if not all of the players) in this group. I play “CLEAN”, I announce at what state of my turn I’m in, I tap my permanents fully not just at 5 or 10 degrees, 95% of the time if I make a mistake in either tapping the wrong mana or misplay a spell, I almost never ask my opponent(s) if I could take it back (actually it’s more like 99.999% of the time I don’t ask for forgiveness-HEY, there IS no 100% to anything). I know I sound arrogant but I do allow for some slack for players I deem “Bad” or “Inexperienced”, I set my own standards and try not to hold them against anyone else but if there is flagrant abuse of what I call, “Hind-Sight Playing” then I tend to speak up. No one should play like that unless they’re a newb. Just play CLEAN!

[END OF DISSCUSSION (rant)]

To the game:

[NOTE: It’s been over a week since I last worked on this report so now things are really sketchy, sorry]

There was no doubt about it, I WAS picking on P-Mark. Before the game starts he’s already in first place and I just need to slow him down so that I could catch up because I’m in third (He’s at 37 points and I’m at 25). So as soon as I could I start the beatings but without the help of either of my enchantments because “COACH” has laid down two Seal of Cleansings AND has Spirit Linked my Skizzik. I figured that I could deal with his ‘life-gain’ strategy later (BIG MISTAKE).

Now I tried to keep better notes but I’m writing this all from memory, however, I did write down the time of deaths for everyone. So, at 1:10 p.m. I had P-Mark so low in points he became an easy pickin’ target for “Cherry-Pickers”! So Kevin, the Goblin King went finish off P-Mark with an attack but P-Mark wouldn’t have it and he activated his Pestilence and took himself out. Of course that meant that Kevin, the Goblin King was robbed of his 1 Kill-Point. Come to think of it, if Kevin would’ve had a burn spell in his hand he could’ve responded to the Pestilence and he would’ve gotten the kill point. Didja HAVE one in yer hand Kevin? LMK.

Death by Auto-Pestilence.

Well, Kevin redeemed himself because at 2:13 p.m. he killed off the Squirrel Dude (Formerly the Dragon Mage). I had NO IDEA what The Squirrel Dude’s deck was supposed to do. I mean, I was convinced that he was packing Opposition (he wasn’t). I was thrown by his laying down of Earthcraft but I never saw him use it. He said he had Squirrel Nest in his deck but I never saw that either. And with several Pestilence’s on the board at any given time his Squirrels never had a chance, even WITH Deranged Hermit in play.

Death by Goblins.

Well, Kevin GK pretty much left himself open so I go in for the attack with a Spirit Linked Skizzik and a Call of the Herd token and he’s DOA at 2:20 p.m. “Coach” however is up another 5 points.

Death by Beat-Down.

Now during all this time Kelly, whose playing Black/White Clerics, has had an Akroma’s Angel out in play for many turns. Never attacking, always just sittin’ there looking foreboding and yet menacing. So just when Steve is at his most vulnerable, she attacks him and at 2:47 p.m. he’s gone.

Death by Angel or is that, Angel of Death?

Okay, meanwhile, to my left, Jason’s graveyard is PACKED with tons of enchantments of blue, white and green. Ya know why? Because this man is freakin’ MANA SCREWED like I’ve never seen before!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s nearly 3:00 p.m. and he’s got like 3 land out. So I did what any honest Joe would do, I attacked for the kill and got my second Kill-Point at 2:47 p.m.

Death by Skizzik/Blastoderm/Horned Kavu/Elephant token!

This starts the I.T portion of the report (The Iron Triangle):

Okay, NOW I can start thinking about dealing with “Coach” and his life-gain shenanigans. But since I was so focused on HIM I never saw the Akroma’s Angel coming my way. I was stunned, stupefied, shocked. I had no way of dealing with flyers save for the Savage Twisters I used earlier but even those wouldn’t have helped because the angel has pro RED.

Death by Akroma at 3:00 p.m.

I knew I would at least make it to the I.T. with this RGw Fires deck and I did accomplish my goal; to slow down the point leader. I picked up 5 points this game, two kill points and 3 for being the third player in the I.T. I passed up the ever elusive “Sliver Queen” whom I’ve yet to meet. She’s now in third place at 27 points, I’m in second with 30 points and P-Mark is in first with 38 points.

How did the rest of the game turn out?

Well, after I was out “Coach” pulled off a Nevy’s Disk and then played a Kickered Desolation Angel (Kicker: Destroy all lands). Kelly recovered quickly but “Coach” double Spirit Linked the D-Angel. Kelly had another A-Angel out and had to attack to keep “Coach” at bay with 47 life points because he had a Test of Endurance in play. The life-gain tactic eventually worked as “Coach” had taken the lady down! There was an Orim’s Chant involved but I can’t remember how it helped him.

At one point in time early in the game “Coach” was extremely vulnerable (no blockers) and I loudly announced that I wasn’t going to attack him. Whyinthehell would I DO that!?! I dunno. It may have cost me the game and it probably did. Oh, well. My game was very good. I did a mental Wakefield 6 on me and I made about 3 mistakes. Not too bad. I’m happy.

Honestly, I thought I would sweep the summer Rogue League Games but that didn’t happen. I did, however, manage to rise from zero points to 10 to 25 to 30 in a span of three games. I am a casual player but with just a sprinkle of Tourneyland magic. Thanks for reading these articles I’ll be MIA for the Rogue League games until maybe November. If I’m still a contender at that time I’ll be bust’n-a-move to get to the top.

Next Deck? Well, let’s just say that Mike Tyson and my possible next deck have something in common; prison.

Muwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Until next time, I’ll be seeing you on that long and dusty road,…to Tourneyland.

Mark Ortego

[Hit it Boys! Run those credits!]
Thanks to P-Mark who let’s GASP hold their events at his Church.
Thanks to John, Stan and Steve for an outstanding job on the GASP new web page.
To Wizards of the Coast for making the best dang CCG on the market.
To the Casual Players Alliance for all of their ‘preview’ advice on my decks for this league
And lastly…..
To my wife (Chris) and my two children for their patience by not having a Husband and Daddy for an entire beautiful Saturday each of the times I played at GASP.

Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

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