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The Road to Tourneyland: The March MML Report
By Mark Ortego
March 12, 2005
The Road to Tourneyland: The March MML Report
By Mark Ortego

Okay, I was supposed to be at the St. Patrick’s Day parade that Pittsburgh has on the Saturday before this imbibed holiday of my wife’s family. But I was excused at the cost of some future game-time event (the price I pay to play this game, OY!). Next, The Return of the “Demolition King”, Sam, came back and wreaked havoc upon us all once again. His schedule doesn’t usually allow him to participate in our MML games but twice a year, however for some reason, perhaps the stars were aligned correctly for him, he was able to grace us with his presence along with his son, Eric.

A quick refresher course for those of you who missed last month’s report: Sam played a RG Urza-Tron type deck with Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Stream of Life and Recoup (a red sorcery that lets you give “Flashback” to any sorcery card in your graveyard). With a lot of mana via the Urza Lands: Tower, Plant and Mine, he’s able to equally knock off every one’s life total. He also plays with Sizzles which also equally chips away at everyone’s life total but his. But there was another deck that arrived that no one had ever played before………….a counter-magic control deck. This deck was ready for Samwise.

The cast:
Player 1 – Steve playing his thinning 3 inch deck (used to be three and a half)
Player 2 – Eric using RGW Rith the Awakener/Armadillo Cloak deck
Player 3 – Mark (Me) playing UBW Control (deck list at end of report)
Player 4 – Kelly playing her favorite BW Zombie/Cleric deck
Player 5 – Pastor Mark playing BG Fungus Night Soil deck
Player 6 – Sam playing his now signature RG Urza-Tron deck
Player 7 – Kevin Playing his BG “pile” deck.

As in my previous reports I indicate the time of the player’s death (**) and an ever so brief description of HOW they died.

Anyway, we got off to a somewhat slow start and before we even started a conversation arose from last month’s game. Yup, it was about “Blocking Creatures”. Last month there was an “incident” about how someone thought that after blockers are declared/assigned that they can be destroyed (which is correct) but that the creature they were assigned to block is now considered ‘unblocked’. This conversation went on for about 10 minutes when I remembered that I had brought the Rulebook from an 8Th. Edition two-player starter kit. I had used red ink to underline this passage from the glossary under Blocked Creature:

“Once a creature is blocked, it stays blocked for the rest of the combat phase – even if all the creatures blocking it leave play.”

The player’s logic was compelling in that they said in a real combat it would be as if the blocking creature was destroyed by another source and the attacking creature is clear to do damage. I agree, but the RULES say….read the above passage again. Actually, it should happen BEFORE blockers are declared to make things right. But this person’s other evidence was that Magic: The Gathering Online lets him clear a path for his non-trample creatures to do damage to the player by burning away creatures that were declared/assigned as blockers. Maybe it’s different for MTGO, I don’t know since my stupid “C-Drive” is too clogged for me to download the game.

(the saga continues…….)

According to Steve we started around 12:20 p.m. (but Samwise clarified it as 12:21:43 p.m.). I think my note taking was a little better so here’s some of the things that happened before “Turn Seven”:
~Eric is still new to this game but having Sam coach him at home on how to play has made him a better player, in just one month’s time. Kelly had played a Serras Blessing (a white enchantment that gives all of her creatures Vigilance) & Steve had played a Mox Diamond on turn two. During Eric’s third turn he plays Hull Breach (a gold sorcery for RG that has three modes: destroy target artifact or enchantment or both) targeting the above mentioned cards. Good play by Eric as this had set Steve’s mana production back, a lot.

~Steve also played an early Throne of Bone (pay {1} whenever a black spell is played you gain one life). There were five of us playing black (Sam had splashed a bit for Syphon Soul) so Kelly decided it had to go. With a Disciple of the Vault in her control she had revenge on her mind for the “Boy” who had destroyed her enchantment. Steve got his Throne of Bone Disenchanted and Eric loses one life.

~Sam had splashed a bit of black in his deck for 4 Syphon Souls (maybe 8 with Recoup in his deck) and had used Mana Cylix & School of the Unseen (a non-basic land that produces {1} colorless mana or you pay two colorless mana and it produces any color of your choice).

~Eric had Rith the Awakener in his deck and when he played it I had counter magic in my hand in the way of Dromar’s Charm and I also had a Spite // Malice for spot removal but I thought I’d save it for another time like if he would ever think about attacking me. Two turns later he announces Armadillo Cloak (a gold creature enchantment that gives your creature +2/+2, Trample and you gain life equal to the amount of damage done by the enchanted creature) targeting Rith, well, that’s not a good thing. He was fine with just the dragon but I had to draw the line with the Cloak. Later I was told he had Test of Endurance in his deck (a white enchantment that says “At the beginning of your upkeep if you have 50 or more life, you win the game”). So I Recoiled his Rith back to his hand and got rid of the cloak and some random card in his hand. I wished it would’ve been the Rith. Did I mention Eric had mana acceleration in the way Skyshroud Elf and Llanowar Elves?

Turn Seven started at 12:59 p.m. (Woo-Hoo!), I think that was a record.

There were other worthwhile things that happened during the game and I’ll insert those later.

(**)The first player to go at was Eric, yup, the Prince of the table. Who took him down? D-A-D! His own father attacked with a 31/31 fatty Phyrexian Processor token. Did I mention that Sam had played one of these? I let him play it so he would do my bidding and he KNEW IT! Time of Death: 1:49 p.m.

Sam is awarded 1 Kill Point
Eric is awarded 1 Placement Point for being the first one eliminated

Somewhere between there and the next kill P-Mark had Animated his Multani-Maro Sorcerer. A question arose about if the Multani can be targeted with Animate Dead. I didn’t want to cause a ruckus because I had a way of dealing with it via Innocent Blood, Barter for Blood and Rout. I Rout it away later for no real reason. We all just kinda let Mark target it even though it says on the card it can’t be targeted by spells or abilities.

Before I stupefy you with what happened next let me tell you about how I may have swayed the game. P-Mark played Naturalize targeting Sam’s Phyrexian Processor that was producing 31/31 black tokens and he had several in play already including the one that eliminated Eric. So in response to the Naturalize I play Spite (From a split card that says Counter Target Non-Creature Spell). I don’t think P-Mark was too happy with that move because he had a dumb founded look on his face & said he couldn’t understand why I did that. I know why I did that, because Sam was my Champion, my way to Victory, THAT’S WHY!

(**) A mere 21 minutes later Sam had finally drawn his Earthquake and with tons of mana available to him and several players at lower life totals he ‘Quakes for 17. Everything on the ground goes and so do THREE players! Steve (at 17), Kelly (at 16) & Kevin (at 16). Then, he attacks Mark with a Phy Token and polishes him for a four player kill in one turn. A feat worthy of my play style! I could’ve used Dromar’s Charm to counter it but I was really impressed with the “KILL” and I let it go. So, at 2:10 p.m. three players go via Earthquake and at 2:12 p.m. another joins the list.

Sam is awarded 4 Kill Points
Steve, Kelly & Kevin are awarded 2 Placement Points for being simultaneously eliminated second
P-Mark is awarded 3 Placement Points

(**) So there we are, looking at each other being the last two standing. I, with a seven card hand chock full of counter magic, spot removal and mass creature removal along with utility in the way of Disenchants and Recoils and Sam with two cards in hand and more mana than any one player should have. He said that all he could do was try to run me out of counter magic. Well, yes, that’s ONE way to go (CPA members can chime in here!). He played various things that I dealt with or allowed to resolve because I had had a Pulse of the Fields (a white Instant for{1}{W}{W} that gains me 4 life and goes back to my hand if an opponent has more life than me and Sam almost ALWAYS had a lot more life than me) in my hand since the start of the game.

I suppose due to boredom he casts a 21 point Earthquake that would kill him and me both but I respond with my Pulse of the Fields (which he knew I had in my hand) so it was no surprise to him when I played it. I’m at 2 and he’s dead, robbing me of a Kill point.
Sam is not awarded a Kill Point for eliminating himself (a House Rule in the MML)

Sam is awarded 4 Placement Points
I’m awarded 5 Placement Points and win the game

Here are the games results:
Sam~~~~~~4 + 5 = 9
Mark (Me)~~5 + 0 = 5
P-Mark~~~~3 + 0 = 3
Steve~~~~~2 + 0 = 2
Kelly.~~~~~2 + 0 = 2
Kevin~~~~~2 + 0 = 2
Eric~~~~~~1 + 0 = 1

Formula: X + Y = Z
X = Placement Points
Y = Kill Points
Z = Total Game Points

Here are the Standings for the Multiplayer Magic League for March:

1st. Place
~Sam (19 Game Points)

2nd. Place
~Kevin (17 Game Points)

3rd. Place
~Mark (Me) (15 Game Points)

4th. Place
~Steve (11 Game Points)
~Jim (11 Game Points)

5th. Place
~Megan (8 Game Points)

6th. Place
~P-Mark (6 Game Points)
~Adrian (6 Game Points)

7th. Place
~Kelly (5 Game Points)

8th. Place
~Eric (4 Game Points)

Our point system is worded like this:

106 – Two types of Game Points are awarded each month at the end of game play.
106.a – Kill Points
106.b – Placement Points
106.1 – One Kill Point is awarded for each other player that you eliminate from the game.
106.2 – Players are also awarded Placement Points for the order in which they themselves were eliminated (First player eliminated earns 1 Placement Point, second player earns 2, third-3, and so on).
106.3 – In the event that all players are eliminated from the game simultaneously, the player who caused that event receives One Kill Point per player eliminated. And, each player eliminated this way receives Placement Points in accordance to 106.2.
106.4 – In the event of an “Infinite Loop” combo (extremely rare) that prohibits the game from moving forward, or does not allow for anyone to win, the game ends. No additional Game Points are awarded.

Alright, so what do you get if you WIN the game?

Zip!

This point system was actually meant to reward aggressive decks rather than control or passive decks (like the kind I like to play). Our games are now faster as a result and slow-play decks are left in the dust. I think that’s a good thing because I know that my deck today was certainly made for hanging back and just reacting instead of initiating.

Sam’s deck, though not what I’d call a beat-down deck, has certainly proved strong in our Metagame. I would go so far as to say that his presence has made a significant impact on us all. We should now know what kind of deck does well and what decks don’t. And although I did “WIN” January’s and March’s MML games I’m left in third place at a 4 point deficit.

Recently at the Casual Players Alliance website (www.casualplayers.org) there was a discussion on the forums about counter magic decks and how do you play against them. Well, I’d say in a multiplayer setting such as ours no one really had an effective way of dealing with my deck.

Here’s my list:

UBW Control

2 Darkwater Catacombs
4 Island
4 Plains
3 Salt Flats
1 Scrubland
2 Skycloud Expanse
4 Swamp

3 Barter in Blood
2 Decree of Justice
3 Disenchant
4 Dromar’s Charm
1 Feldon’s Cane
3 Innocent Blood
1 Mirari
2 Power Sink
4 Propaganda
2 Pulse of the Fields (MVP)
3 Recoil
3 Rout
4 Spite Malice
2 Talisman of Dominance
2 Talisman of Progress
2 Vex

In an environment that doesn’t have many or any counter magic decks being played this thing is SOME BAD for my opponents. Let’s do the math:

Total counter magic spells: 12
These came in the way of Spite // Malice, a split card that Spite says “Counter target non-creature spell”, Dromar’s Charm that has three “Choose One” modes and one of them is “Counter target spell”, 2 Power Sinks just because someone said how they’re not that good anymore and 2 Vex, a common card from Darksteel that says, “Counter target spell. That spell’s controller may draw a card.” Well, in an environment where decks are mile-high I don’t mind my opponent’s drawing a card because chances are they won’t draw what they need.

Creature spot removal: 14
When I say “Spot removal” I mean that I have a spell that targets a creature to destroy, remove or bounce it away. Disenchant counts because there are a lot of artifact creatures played in our group, Another one of Dromar’s Charm “Choose One” modes are “Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.” , Recoil is a gold instant for 1UB that says, “Return target permanent to owner’s hand. Then that player discards a card from his or her hand.” A real champ if they have no cards in hand. Spite // Malice is a split card and Malice is the black part that says “Target non-black creature. It can’t be regenerated.”

Creature control: 13
I should immediately point out that I consider Propaganda a creature control card because it can slow down an attack if the attacking player doesn’t have a lot of mana and in our environment that happens a lot. Innocent Blood is cool because it says, “Each player sacrifices a creature” and Barter for Blood is it’s older brother that says, “Each player sacrifices two creatures”. Rout is an amazing mass creature removal spell here’s what it says, “You may play Rout anytime you could play an instant if you pay {2} more to play it. Destroy all creatures. They can’t be regenerated.” This is a $3 card at best and for those of you wish you had Wrath of God’s ($11) in your collection, this ‘lil gem is just as good if not, better.

Other spells (utility): 5
Disenchant, which I had mentioned earlier, Feldon’s Cane to bring back the “LOVE” from my graveyard back into my library. Mirari a Legendary Artifact for {5} that says, “Whenever you play an instant or sorcery spell, you may pay {3}. If you do, put a copy of that spell on the stack. You may choose new targets for that copy.” So with a lot of sorceries and instants in my deck this card could be very useful.

Life gaining spells: 6
The last of the Dromar’s Charm “Choose One” modes are “You gain 5 life”. But the “Most Valuable Player” award goes to Pulse of the Fields. It was this card that allowed me to stay alive through Sam’s destruction. As long as HE went up in life, which he did many times, I could use Pulse to catch up.

Mana fixers: 4
Two Talisman of Dominance an artifact that produces Black or Blue for one life and two Talisman of Progress which produces White or Blue for one life.

Kill Cards: 2
Decree of Justice is a white sorcery:

Decree of Justice
{X}{X}{2}{W}{W}
Sorcery
Put {X} 4/4 white Angel creature tokens with flying into play.
Cycling {2}{W}
When you cycle Decree of Justice, you may pay {X}. If you do, put X 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens into play.

Although I never saw this card during the game it was, in fact, my only way of eliminating my opponents. I rarely ever play the Angels because if I have to wait for my next turn to attack they be gone by then. So it’s Soldiers to the attack! I “Cycle” at the end of my opponent to my right’s turn and produce MONDO soldiers.

The land count is only 20 but with mana fixers and a somewhat guaranteed slow environment I figured 20 was okay. The Salt Flats have to go

Well, I have two “WINS” under my belt but find myself in third place. Maybe I can adjust my deck a little to be a tad more aggressive or maybe,….I can finally play “MISS AMERICA” my Red, White & Blue aggro-control deck using counter magic, burn spells, card drawing spells, FTK (Flametongue Kavu) and of course, Miss America herself: Lightning Angel a 3/4 creature for {1}{R}{W}{U} that has Flying, Haste & Vigilance.

I’d like to take a quick minute to say that I am grateful that I have a place to play with so many great people especially when I read about many players who have NO PLACE to play or it’s fading away in their area. Magic definitely has a good home here in the Greater Pittsburgh Metro area. So, thank-you GASP for being here for us.

CPA members, you can visit GASP at www.GASPgamer.com we are currently updating pictures at the top of our website pages and I know my picture will show up sometime, just look for the jerk dressed in all black trying to be a Johnny Cash wanna-be.

Later,
Mark O.

Oops, I almost forgot. I have started to explore other games recently. One I loved so much to play that I went and bought it, it’s called “Ticket to Ride” and another I was introduced to is “Samurai” by Rio Grande Games. There’s no doubt in my mind that I LOVE to play Magic (everyday if I could) but I thought it’d be therapeutic to try other games. As it turns out, I really like board games, “heh”, imagine that.

Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

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