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The Road to Tourneyland: Champions of Ivan-Gawa
By Mark Ortego
September 19, 2004
The Road to Tourneyland: Champions of Ivan-Gawa
By Mark Ortego

The Champions of Kamigawa pre-release for southwestern Pennsylvania was held in downtown Pittsburgh at the newly renovated David L. Lawrence Convention Center. It’s really cool looking from the outside because it’s built right next to one of the three rivers that make Pittsburgh famous, called the Allegheny River. So, at night, the lights from the center reflect on the river and two of the center’s main lobby halls are practically right on top of the river because the building is built at a slant with the lobbies jutting out almost over the banks of the Allegheny.

Hurricane Ivan had devastating effects all over the south and north eastern United States. Pittsburgh was no exception. Though we didn’t have the severe effects that Alabama, Mississippi or Florida had, we did have our own problems, FLASH FLOODING. Flash flooding happens when the ground is so soaked that it can no longer absorb anymore rain water and the sewers back up. That water needs to go somewhere because gravity dictates that it has to. Here in PA the water goes into basements of homes and buildings closest to lower lands and gullies. Note: I have been around the country somewhat and I know that not everywhere people use their basements the same way. Here in PA most basements are used as another living floor in the house. In fact, I am in my basement (cellar) right now it’s my lair that I call “The Cellar of Ancient Scrolls”. So you can imagine the damage that was had by the flash flooding on most households in our area. Fortunately for my house, we were spared.

Humans have a funny way of coping with tragedy. And sometimes, we need a way to cope with horrible events like Hurricane Ivan. Pittsburgh has three major river arteries; The Allegheny River flows from the northeast, the Monongahela River flows from the southeast mountains; and the two meet at what we Pittsburghers call “The Point” to form the Ohio River which eventually flows into the Mighty Mississippi. You can only imagine the sights that we, the participants of the CoK pre-release, were privy to because we had FRONT ROW SEATS!

I arrived at the convention center around 6:50 a.m. (yes, I’m a Magic geek). The river had broken its banks and I saw one of its first victims, a boat. This poor lonesome boat was bumped up against one of the columns from the nearest bridge (btw, Pittsburgh has like 16 bridges). It had broken its bonds from some dock. Tsk-tsk, what a shame. I’m sure the owner will find it Sunday and have it towed in. I don’t own a boat but I can only imagine what a horrible feeling they’re experiencing this weekend. The river was flowing very fast and lots of small debris was floating, nothing too exciting. Around 7:30 am we all witnessed another boat floating down the river, unmanned of course, and what happened next is shocking, it rammed into the stranded boat I mentioned earlier. You would’ve thought the Steelers scored a touchdown when it happened because all who witnessed it screamed so loud it echoed in the giant lobby.

I started to get the feeling that this might happen again and again. A boat here, a boat there. But what happened around 9:00 am was just mind-boggling! An entire dock floated by, yeah, with boats still tied to it! We counted 38 boats. 38 of the them floating down the river and what was even more amazing was that it didn’t hit any bridge columns and later that night I saw TV News coverage that showed them making it to the dam down in the Ohio River about 2 miles west of Pittsburgh. Yup, 38 of ‘em strung together by one friggin’ dock. All in all it was reported that some 100 boats broke loose either individually or attached to a dock. Tragic, yes. But it made for some harsh dark humor all day long. In fact, anytime there was something really interesting floating down the river the Head Judge would announce it over the speaker system and everyone would stop playing and stand up and look. We were THAT close.

On to the report!

Flight 1:
My deck was so horrible you only get stats to protect my ego. I played RBW.
~~~Flight 1 – Round 1 vs. Andy playing RGW
Game 1: I never hit him once.
Game 2: I only hit him with the LAME Lightning Bolt called Lava Spike.

Games: 0 – 2
Matches: 0 – 1

~~~Flight 1 – Round 2 vs. NO ONE!
A Friggin’ BYE! My notes say: Punishment for losing round one.

Games: 0 – 2
Matches: 1 – 1

~~~Flight 1 – Round 3 vs. Bill playing UGW
Game 1: I have a bad deck and lose.
Game 2: My deck somehow gets worse (sad face)

Games: 0 – 4
Matches: 1 – 2

~~~Flight 1 – Round 4 vs. Max playing BW (lots of people were playing Black/White)
Game 1: I once again lose.
Game 2: I won but only because my opponent was a snotty nosed wanna-be pro tour player and is bragging to his friends how he’s about to dispense of me and talking about me as if I wasn’t there! (Stereotypical? I wonder why?) So I attacked him while he was talking to his friends. I would ask him if has blockers to be declared and he ignored me because he was such a chatter-box. So I wrote down the damage and he untapped and started his turn. This happened about five times and I won! He looked dumb founded.
Game 3: Little Maxy told his friends to “buzz off”, he won, as he should have because his deck WAS strong.

Games: 1 – 6
Matches: 1 – 3

~~~Flight 1 – Round 5 vs. DROP!

Next Flight, number 7.

I went with my instincts this time and built myself a control deck which is my nature.

Here it is:
UW Control

-Blue Creatures
Hisoka, Minamo Sensei
River Kaijin
Soratama Cloudskater (2)
Soratama Savant
Teller of the Tales

-Blue Spells
Counsel of the Soratami
Hisoka’s Defiance
Hondon of Seeing Winds
Mystic Restraints
Peer Through Depths
Sift Through Sands
Thoughtbind

-White Creatures
Harsh Deceiver
Kami of the Painted Road (2)
Samurai Enforcers

-White Spells
Blessed Breath
Cage of Hands
Candle’s Glow
Ghostly Prison (2)
Indomitable Will

Land
Island (8)
Plains (8)

SB://
Artifact
Reito Lantern

Land
Hall of the Bandit Lord

Blue
Aura of Dominion
Wandering Ones

White
Kami of Ancient Law
Silent-Chant Zubera
Terashi’s Cry
Vigilance

~~~Flight 7 – Round 1 vs. Kyle playing RGW
Game 1: My deck keeps my opponent locked down due to playing two early AND consecutive Ghostly Prisons which are an enchantment that makes your opponent pay {2} for each attacking creature. This gave me time to get out my fat flayer Teller of Tales a 3/3 that has “Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, tap or untap target creature.” He manages to do some direct damage and trample damage to me and get me to 8 life but not before I hammer him down with my flyer.

Game 2: Almost the same as Game 1 but his deck found its stride just ahead of mine.

Game 3: Zip! This deck is a slow control deck and his green creatures are a plenty and early this game.

Games: 1 – 2
Matches: 0 – 1

~~~Flight 7 – Round 2 vs. Andrew playing [damn – I forgot]
Game 1: My notes say that I had him on an early lock-down and that I used Hisoka, Minamo Sensei a 1/3 Legendary Creature – Human Wizard that has “2U, Discard a card: Counter target spell if it has the same converted mana cost as the discarded card.” & Soratami Savant a 2/2 Flying creature that has “3, Return a land to its owner’s hand: Counter target spell unless its controller pay 3” to counter most of his threats. To top it off I had Ghostly Prison out making him having to choose to attack me using up his mana or cast a spell and then have it countered. I win.

Game 2: Rinse and repeat.

Games: 3 – 2
Matches: 1 – 1

~~~Flight 7 – Round 3 vs. Adam playing RW
Game 1: Bad draw. Bad mulligan. Bad game.
Game 2: A turn five Hondon of Seeing Winds, (a Legendary Enchantment – Shrine that has “At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card for each Shrine you control.”) allows me to rip through my deck and find an answer to each and almost every threat he put to me. He eventually had me down to 5 whilst he was still at 20. After getting all my ducks lined in a row that included 2 Ghostly Prisons, Soratami Savant, Teller of Tales and a Mystic Restraint on his Samurai Enforcers, I beat him down.

Game 3: Did I mention that round 1 & 2 went almost to time? This match was no exception. I even hurried the 3rd. game to get started and I’M the one with the control deck. Turn 1,

Games: 4 – 3 – 1
Matches: 1 – 1 – 1

~~~Flight 7 – Round 4 vs. Paul playing RG
Game 1: This guy has a low carb RG deck meaning that he had lots of small creatures and the fast beats begin. He has me down to 6 life when I finally get it together with some blockers and Ghostly Prisons. A Teller of Tales and a Soratami Cloudskater (a 1/1 flying creature that has “2, Return a land you control to its owner’s hand: Draw a card, discard a card.”) do my bidding and make a huge comeback for the win.

Game 2: Once again he gets out fast-beats but I get to the lock-down by 6 life, again. When my Teller of Tales starts to attack him for 3 a turn he concedes.

Games: 6 – 3 – 1
Matches: 2 – 1 – 1

~~~Flight 7 – Round 5 vs. Steve playing RG
Game 1: My opponent gets mana screwed and I don’t miss a land drop for 8 turns in a row. The first thing I play is a turn five Teller of Tales followed by a turn 6 Kami of the Painted Road. I attack and his life goes like this: 20, 17, 11, 5, 0. I win. A control deck that acted like a beat-down deck, (humph).

Game 2: I get all set up and have Ghostly Prisons and my flyers out and my card drawing Shrine enchantment. But I can’t get through and I lose by decking myself.

Game 3: Time is a ticking away, seven minutes left. He gets down early beats and eats away my life points but a well timed double Candle’s Glow, (an Instant – Arcane that has “Prevent the next 3 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn. You gain 1 life for each damage prevented this way) brings me back to a higher life total which allows me to get set up and I plop down a Cage of Hands on his Moss Kami, a 5/5 Trample creature, (Cage of Hands is an Enchant Creature that has “Enchanted creature can’t attack or block. 1W: Return Cage of Hands to its owner’s hand” and a Mystic Restraints on another creature of his, (Mystic Restraints is an Enchant Creature that has “You may play Mystic Restraints any time you could play an instant. When Mystic Restraints comes into play, tap enchanted creature. Enchanted creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s untap step”). We could go to time but he concedes. I win!

Games: 8 – 4 – 1
Matches: 3 – 1 – 1

I come in 7th place and walk away with 6 packs. Thank GOD! I haven’t won any packs in quite a while,…..a long while.

Okay, I got one more thing to say. The new depletion lands. Though I didn’t play any nor did I play against anyone who did, I think that if I use it for a color and it has to stay tapped until two turns later, I am going to tap it at a 120 degrees then the next turn move it to the regular 90 degrees and then untap as usual when its time. This’ll help me to remember that I used it. Also, if my opponent uses his for color, I’m going to write it down on my score sheet just in case (s)he forgets .

The long and dusty road to Tourneyland was just a tad sweater this time. Take care and a special take care for those of you affected by H.I.

~Mark Ortego
ortegoc@aol.com

Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

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