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The Road to Tourneyland: You can't win them all
By Mark Ortego
September 13, 2005
The Road to Tourneyland: You can’t win them all.
By Mark Ortego

Being a “Family Man”, like some of you, I have a responsibility to provide not only financial needs for my family but provide my presence as well. With that said I’ve come to an agreement with my wife about my playing Magic, which is just about the only hobby I have, and that agreement is that I get to play Magic only one night per week*.

I’m okay with that but I do wish I could play more than once in one week, not every week but maybe once a month. In fact, this HAS happened before but that was when my family went out of town for a week and I stayed home. During that week I went to Blue Star Games everyday from 10:00 am – 10:00 p.m. It was kinda like my old days when I used to hang out at bars and drink. Man, I can’t tell you the last time I had a beer because it’s been so long ago. I don’t miss it.

The reason I bring this up is because I run two Magic type events; The Multiplayer Magic League (MML) at G.A.S.P. (Gaming Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania) on the second Saturday of each month ( and Friday Magic Events (FME) at Blue Star Games every Friday. So once a month I have what I call the “Double Whammy” which is the FME followed by the MML the next day which makes me S.O.L. Of course I feel a sense of responsibility to both groups to be there since I run them but both groups can and have run the games without me before but I still feel guilty when I’m not there.

Well, this past week it was that time I spoke of earlier when the Double Whammy came up and I decided that I would speak to my wife about maybe me doing both; the FME and the MML. To my surprise she agreed with no-strings-attached. Hmm, are the planets aligning? Is it a full moon? Was that the Four Horseman riding by my house? I couldn’t figure out why she agreed and with no argument or discussion to boot! Well, it turns out that my girls had a Girl Scout outing at the local Drive-In Theatre to see “The March of the Penguins” & “Valiant” this past Friday. PFFT! So much for the signs of the apocalypse .

So I present to you: “The Double Whammy”

On Fridays when school is in, I’m a teacher btw, I drive right past Blue Star Games so instead of going home I grab a bit to eat and belly-up to a table at the store and begin to play straight away. The FME start at 6:00 p.m. so the hour and a half prior I like to play either board games or Magic. A couple of the guys were there and so we played a small multiplayer game. I consider it “Bad Luck” for me to preview my deck to anyone before the official game starts, which was Chaos Multiplayer this week, so I pulled out my MP version of “The Rock” it’s a BGr deck with Kokusho, Spiritmonger and Darigaaz the 6/6 dragon, some other notables are Sakura-Tribe Elder, FTK, Ravenous Baloth and Wall of Blossoms. My utilities are Pernicious Deed, Terminate and Decree of Pain. This is the deck I usually play with for MP games lately but I have another deck I’ve been secretly working on…muwhahaha.

Okay, I got ahead of my self.

Our little game was NOT interesting so I’m not gonna tell you about it except that I wasn’t going to win and it 5:55 p.m. so I entered my scoop-phase. I was still hungry so I ran over to the “Get-Go” and got me two chili dogs with extra onions and jalapenos, a bag of ranch flavored twisted corn chips and a Diet Coke and then came back and ate them hastily.

“Better out than in I always say” – Mike Meyers as Shrek

Okay, on to the show! Here are the players in turn order:

Player 1 – Mr. Legendary himself: Kurtis, playing “Blue Control”

Player 2 – Greg. I don’t know Greg but he played straight Red with Repercussion (more on THAT later).

Player 3 – Levi playing Big Green

Player 4 – The infamous “Double-D”. The thing about “DD” is that he has a love affair with E-bay and magic cards and so I swear this guy went from not having anything good in his stock pile to precious gems like Wrath of God, Chrome Mox, etc…. Gawd! I hate it! Anyway, he was playing Affinity Broodstar Control.

Player 5 – Nick, who is new to our group, was playing a really, really BIG Green deck where is smallest creature was Thresher Beast a 4/4 fatty that if blocked defending player sacs a land.

Player 6 – Me playing Mono-Black Control (deck list to follow)

Player 7 – Jim, he also plays in the MML at GASP, he’s playing green snakes.

6:17 p.m.– 6:27 p.m.

Turns 1 – 3: Development is steady and boring when Kurtis plays Mind Bomb. Yup, Mind Bomb. I couldn’t believe it. Mind Bomb is a blue sorcery for one blue mana that has everyone take three damage, each player may discard a card to prevent each one damage. So many of us take the damage. Then Greg plays Chaos targeting “Double-D”, ha, he played Chaos in a Chaos game . They played three times when Greg finally called it quits and they only moved in points by one each. On my turn I turn up the heat by playing Syphon Soul, an all-time classic card in multiplayer. They all take 2 damage except for Dave who had mana acceleration via Chrome Mox’s & a Lotus Petal and had played an Urza’s Armor. I’m up 12 life.

6:28 p.m. – 6:41 p.m.

Turns 4 – 6: Greg made things interesting by plopping down Repercussion a red enchantment that has a player take equal damage whenever one of their creatures takes damage. So Greg Lightning Blasts Levi’s 4/4 fatty and Levi takes 4. For me? I’m not worried because I have ZERO creatures and I’ve been doing a pretty good job of clearing the board with Innocent Blood and Barter in Blood. Nick’s turn he attacks Levi for 4 with his Thrasher Beast.

Life totals at the end of turn six:

23 – Kurtis
26 – Greg
17 – Levi
23 – Double-D
26 – Nick
36 – Me
25 – Jim

Most of the damage has been from Kurtis’ two Mind Bombs and itty-bitty random attacks. But clearly someone has Levi in their cross-hairs.

6:42 is TURN SEVEN!!!!!!!

For you first time readers here’s why turn 7 is important; starting on turn seven and every turn thereafter each player can do the following during their draw step:

~Draw a card
~Scry 2 (Look at the top two cards of your library. Put any number of them on the bottom of your library and the rest on top in any order)
~Draw a card

Except for the first “Draw a card” the other two are “may” and not “have to”. Clearly you can see how this can speed up the game a bit. Also, we all start at 30 life so if the above life totals seemed weird that’s why

6:42 p.m. – 6:53 p.m.

Turns 7 & 8 – These turns are pretty boring except for Jim blowing up his Nevy’s Disk and clearing the board for me so that I can take advantage of the situation unbeknownst to him. Jim popped it because some hit him for three damage.

6:54 p.m.

Turn 9 – Kurtis and his stupid Mind Bombs, I really didn’t care since I was pretty high and lofty in life and they DID make for less work for me to kill everybody, whoops. Anyway, Greg Blasted away another of Levi’s 4/4 beastie critter and takes four to the dome because of Repercussion, he’s now at 10 life. So Nick thought that the Repercussion was annoying enough and attacks Greg with a pumped up Winding Wurm via Monstrous Growth and Greg is down to 13 life.

Life total check at the end of turn 9:

~20 – Kurtis
~13 – Greg
~10 – Levy
~22 – Double D
~25 – Nick
~33 – Me
~19 – Jim

Alright, up to now this is how my board has been developing; I had three Tainted Isle (not really what I wanted in the early game), five Swamps and I missed one land drop. I had tried to Syphon Soul a second time but it was countered by either Double D or Kurtis I can’t remember. I drew into a Mirari earlier but Jim’s Nevy’s Disk prevented me from plopping it down. But now, all is clear and I play the Mirari and manage to Syphon Mind twice, unopposed, and mostly everyone is down to one or two cards in their hand and I draw into one of my two copies of Beacon of Tomorrow’s a blue sorcery for 6UU that says: Target player takes an extra turn after this one. Shuffle ~this~ into its owner’s library.

On turn ten I bide my time to see if anyone is going to take out someone from the game. It happens, in response to Nick Creeping Mold his Repercussion Greg plays Hidetsugu’s Second Rite (If target player has exactly 10 life, ~this~ deals 10 damage to that player) targeting Levi since he’s at 10 life. When the smoke is cleared Levi is dead. Then Nick attacks Greg for 10 and Greg’s at 2 life.

On Greg’s next turn he played something that made all of us take two damage and he kills himself on purpose. Good thing this isn’t for points like the MML.

Meanwhile, Kurtis had been attacked several times and I had successfully played yet another Syphon Soul putting me at 42. I played a Corrupt targeting Kurtis and he’s out. Not much happens until my next turn. Clearly no has any idea what my Tainted Isles are for and even though they’ve been a disappointment to me since I’ve had all three of them down by turn five, they finally make things happen. I now have a Cabal Coffer in play and I play a Beacon of Tomorrow and copy it with my Mirari. Right after that Jim uses Naturalize to get rid of it but it’s too late. I take out Jim via Consume Spirit. My next turn (1 of 2) I target Nick with a Corrupt which brings him down to 4 life. I take another turn (2 of 2) and draw into another Mirari and I play Consume Spirit and copy it to target Double D and Nick and I take them both out at the same time.

Official ‘end-game’ time: 7:15 p.m.

Whew! I win. I get $10 in store credit and Nick and Double D split $4 between them for second place tie.

Here’s my list:
**Mono-Black Control**

4 Cabal Coffers
18 Swamp
4 Tainted Isle

4 Barter in Blood
2 Beacon of Tomorrows
4 Consume Spirit
4 Corrupt
4 Demonic Tutor
2 Evincar’s Justice
4 Innocent Blood
2 Mirari
4 Syphon mind
3 Syphon Soul
1 Thran Foundry

I’ve posted this deck before and I’ve made minor changes to it but I really think the Beacons help me win by giving me extra turns to kill everyone. If I can’t eliminate every player left in the game and they’re allowed another turn I’m t-o-a-s-t. I suppose I could win without the Mirari’s and the Beacon’s but it just seems like they work well for me.

~~~~~~~~DAY 2!!!!!~~~~~~~~

Saturday September 10, 2005

The Multiplayer Magic League at GASP

I’m debuting this MBC deck at the MML.

But before I go into any details allow me to update you on how things work in the MML. First of all it’s a league where points are awarded. There are “Placement Points” which are determined by when you are eliminated from the game i.e. if you’re the first player to be eliminated then you’re awarded 1 Placement Point, if you’re the second person eliminated you’re awarded 2 Placement Points and so on and so forth. The other kind of points awarded are; “Kill Points”. For each player you eliminate you’re awarded 1 Kill Point. At the end of the game your two scores are added together to come up with a composite score and then you are ranked against the other players. This happens after each MML game is played and we only play once a month and the league started last January.

As of yesterday I had 33 points and was in first place. I speak of this in past-tense because as I’m writing this part of the article the game is still going on and I’m here at home, which is an hour away from the place where we play our game.

No, no, no. I didn’t miss it. Although our parkway to our airport is being reconstructed and detours are a plenty and that’s the only way I can get to GASP and I held up the start of the game for 15 minutes because I got stuck in traffic. No, no, no. That wasn’t it at all. You see, I was the first one OUT!!!!!

I’m so mad I could SPIT!

Spin Time ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the right frame of mind I could look at it like this; I am, in fact, in first place (or was), I do play superior decks (I define ‘superior’ as playing a deck with focus and depth and not a random pile of “Oh, I just threw stuff together and got ~this~, which sorta kinda looks like a “FUN” deck). Can you picture Yosemite Sam getting mad at Bugs Bunny for not playing the correct last note of a motif on a bomb-rigged piano? That’s me right about now!

Poor sportsmanship? Maybe. But it’s also a kind of a compliment. My first three turns were this:

~Turn 1: Swamp, go.
~Turn 2: Swamp, go.
~Turn 3: Swamp, go.

In those mere 3 turns I got smacked for 1 by Coach’s Basking Rootwalla, got hit for 8 by P-Mark’s supped up Crusading Knight which is pro:Black and gets +1/+1 for each swamp opponent’s control, got snapped at twice for four points and several poison counters by Dave’s Sabertooth Cobra and once again getting smacked down by P-Mark’s Crusading Knight only now it’s like a 9/9 and that’s Some Bad for me.

Three “friggin” swamps are THAT scary? Well, how could I let this bit-o-knowledge go by; Pastor Mark played Armageddon on his turn four (he had a turn 1 Sol Ring for you mana counters out there) after what I think was a mistake by me by letting him see my hand which had Barter in Blood in full view. Maybe. I’m not saying he actually DID see it but playing Armageddon could have hurt him, more than it helped him if he hadn’t known that his two creatures were about to go bye-byes.

Bitter? You betcha! Do I feel my status slipping? No way. Think about it, out of 8 players, me being one of them, I had three players ‘gunning’ for me right from the get-go. I have said this before and I’ll say it again, gone unchecked and folks not making a concerted effort against me, I will prevail, no “ifs”, “ands” or “buts”. Truth be told I like to win, but If I have to defend a three-front attack, anyone, including myself, can and will crumble.

As for the rest of the game? I don’t know, I left. Partly because I promised my wife I’d come home right after the game and partly because I was mad and didn’t want people to see me brood.

Day 3~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

No Magic today but I’m hoping to get some feedback on the MML game from Jim or Sam. Meanwhile I’m headed for the Steelers opening day game vs. the Tenn. Titans.

34 – 7
Steelers win a decisive victory against the Titans

Day 4:~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay, I’m done being mad and I’m not ashamed for admitting that I WAS mad, its perfectly normal to have passionate feelings about something you care about i.e. Notepad’s Synergy article.

What did I learn?

I learned that what may work in one environment might not work in another. At BSG there is no point system it’s just about ‘last man standing’ wins the game, at the MML we have a point system and it most certainly matters who you take out first, P-Mark did what he was supposed to; prevent me from staying ahead of the pack in the point system.

Here are our Game Point standings as of Saturday’s game:

1.) 36 – P-Mark
1.) 36 – Coach (Yes, a tie)
2.) 35 – Kevin (Formerly the Goblin King)
3.) 34 – ME
4.) 28 – Coach’s Son
5.) 25 - Jim
And so on……

For my MBC deck to have worked better at the MML it needed TEMPO! So after I came home from the Steelers game I sat down & worked on how I could make my deck faster but still keep its integrity.

Dark Ritual

The only cards we can’t use in the MML are: Ante Cards, Proxy cards, and Vanguard Character cards.

So I threw in 4 Dark Rituals, hmm, much better but how could I *turbo* it? I threw in 2 Sol Rings. Wow, much better. Then I went crazy and added 4 Chrome Moxes and Ker-POW!!! I could do many, many things on turn one and two. I consistently drew into either Innocent Blood and/or Barter in Blood for creature control and also either one of the Syphons; Soul or Mind. Yes, my hand by turn 3 was depleted but I know what ever I draw into will be playable. I have yet to figure out what can go and I’ve kept changing it every couple of goldfish games to see what works best and it seems that if I make available three copies of all of my spells and eliminate two of my Non-Basic lands (Tainted Isle and Cabal Coffer) it seems to work faster.

We’ll see next time.

The next few weeks I’ve got nothing on my schedule yet so I don’t know when the next time I’ll be able to try out my MBC deck. But I know THIS for sure, I’ll be better prepared and certainly much faster!


*I know I COULD play MTGO but I don’t mostly because I like IRL interaction with people.

Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

 - Wednesday (July 18. 2018)
 - Thursday (May 17, 2018)
 - Tuesday (Aprl. 24, 2018
 - Monday (Apr. 16, 2018)
 - Friday (Apr. 6, 2018)
 - Wednesday (Apr. 4, 2018)
 - Monday (Apr. 2, 2018)
 - Friday (Mar. 23, 2018)
 - Thursday (Feb. 15, 2018)
 - Thursday (Jan 25, 2018)

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