Odd year in, even year out? My name is Nathan Saunders, and I am now the two-time Oregon state Champion. This was my 7th States, and I had previously Top 8'd my 1st, 3rd, and 5th states. Would I also top 8 my 7th? Well, duh. States this year had 102 players, so it was 7 rounds with the obvious cut to the Top 8. Here is the deck I played.
Ricky's New Apartment (now with 33% less vermin)
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Nezumi Shortfang
2 Kokusho, the evening star
2 Hand of Cruelty
4 Hypnotic Specter
3 Phyrexian Arena
3 Sickening Shoal
2 Cruel Edict
2 Cranial Extraction
3 Umezawa's Jitte
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Llanowar Wastes
2 Svogthos, the Restless Tomb
1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
Round One - Clint Hawk, mono-Black Rat Aggro
We both played swamps and Clint played a turn 2 Nezumi Shortfang. I ended up Sickening Shoaling it, and a few turns later I distressed his hand, nailing a Kokusho, the Evening Star when he had five mana in play. Phew. We both played draw go for a few turns before I drew an arena. After that, it was basically over. I got out a Nezumi Shortfang which flipped, and a Hypnotic Specter. A few turns later, and I used up my spot removal to kill anything he played and drained him to death with my flipped Nezumi Shortfang.
Game two Clint played a turn 2 Hand of Cruelty and a turn 3 Hand of Cruelty. I was wondering why he kept those in against me, and cast Cranial Extraction on him, naming Umezawa's Jitte. Clint then proudly announced that he had sideboarded them out. What? Alrighty then... So I had to use a Cruel Edict to kill one of his Hands of Cruelty, and kept on taking 2 a turn from the other Hand, which I didn't fear at all. Neither did my Black creatures. I finally got one of my Umezawa's Jittes online and beat him down with an angry Ravenous Rats. I drew into an Arena, and with massive card drawing and equipment life gain, it was over.
Round Two - Chris Buker, WW/r
Chris was the best player in the tournament, and I was a bit surprised that he was playing White Weenie. It doesn't really seem like his type of deck, but hey, it's States.
Chris exploded out of the gates with a first turn Isamaru, and a turn two Leonin Skyhunter. I played a turn 2 Umezama's Jitte, and on turn 3 Chris bashed for 4 and then played a Suntail Hawk and a Savannah Lions. I cast a Putrefy on his Skyhunter on my mainphase (figured just in case he was playing any protection effects, might as well just cast it then). Chris bashed in again, and played a Lantern Kami. I then cast a Nekrataal on my turn, killing his 2/2 flier. Chris swung in with his two 1/1 flyers, and then played an Umezawa's Jitte of his own to kill mine. I was relieved that he didn't have any burn for my Nekrataal. On my turn, I cast another Umezawa's Jitte and equipped up my Nekraatal, swinging in. Chris double blocked and I Sickening Shoaled one of his blockers, killing his defensive team. That was worse defense than the Kansas City Chiefs right there. Hi Missouri! That was basically game, for I kept on killing anything Chris played, and then he tried to store up creatures in his hand, but finally conceded when I had eight counters on my Umezawa's Jitte.
Game two wasn't as exciting as the first game. I mana stalled on two lands and played a Hand of Cruelty. Chris Char'd it and swung in with his guys, so on my next turn I played another Hand. This held Chris off for a turn except for a Suntail Hawk swinging for one in the air. I then cast an Umezama's Jitte, which pretty much won me the game as Chris scooped a few turns later with four lands in his hand.
Round Three - Alec Wilson, Black/Green Control
I mulligan a hand and decide to keep an awful hand of five-land and an Umezawa's Jitte. Man alive am I getting tired of typing out "Umezawa's". Alec doesn't do anything special on his first few turns, getting out a Sensei's Divining Top and a Sakura-Tribe Elder and casting a Farseek to fix up his mana. I draw into a Phyrexian Arena, and the fun begins. I keep on drawing into gas, and cast Cranial Extraction, naming and hitting on Graveshell Scarab. I got a lot of card advantage and ended up using spot removal to kill any threat Alec played. Being able to Cruel Edict away an Ink-Eyes, servant of Oni was awesome. I was very glad I played Cruel Edict over Last Gasp, although many players would disagree, I didn't need the -3/-3 effect in my deck since I had Sickening Shoal, I wanted something that removed random fatties for cheap, and Cruel Edict fit that role perfectly.
I mulligan again into another awful five-land, Putrefy hand, but since I'm on the draw I keep it. This game I drew into multiple Hypnotic Specters and a Nezumi Shortfang, and they were able to stick around long enough to nuke Alec's hand. A Pithing Needle naming Sensei's Divining Top, followed by Alec not responding to my Pithing Needle, only to have him trying to use his Sensei's Divining Top at my end step, combined with him pretty much not having a hand at all led to my victory.
Round Four - Michael Lew, Blue/Black Control
I had seen Michael's deck while I was watching earlier tournament games, and I knew he had Blue and Black in his deck in some very interesting two-color control deck. I resolved a Ravenous Rats game one, which kept on beating down. Michael was countering everything I was playing including my turn 2 Distress, but I kept on nibbling away at his life total with a Rat and a very tiny Svogthos, the Restless Tomb. Michael finally tapped out for something, and I killed whatever threat he played and played my Kokusho. A few turns later and it was scoop time for Michael.
I kept a pretty solid hand, but once again Michael had a Mana Leak for my turn 2 play (a Ravenous Rat) and my turn 3 Phyrexian Arena was countered as well. On turn 4 I threw a Cranial Extraction at Michael which he didn't counter, so I named Meloku, the Clouded Mirror. I then nuked all of them from his deck, and noticed that his only win condition left was Jushi Apprentice and a few Threads of Disloyalty. He had boarded out his Ink Eyes. Woo hoo! But to make a long story short, I drew about 12 lands in about 15 turns and ended up conceding when I was at four and he had 3 Apprentices turned sideways. Ouch. Wizard beats.
Game three was a back and forth game. I thought I was in control of the game when Michael was able to Pithing Needle Umezawa's Jitte, and I promptly drew the rest of them in my deck. I got a Hypnotic Specter, Ravenous Rats and Nezumi Shortfang in play, but Michael ripped the Hideous Laughter to kill them all. Hideous Laughter? Shi shi shi shi shi! I played another Nezumi Shortfang, but he cast another Hideous Laughter to kill it. Shi shi shi shi shi! Michael finally made a Meloku but during his end step I Putrefied it. I'm pretty sure that every time somebody casts a Meloku, you're legally obligated to shout "It's a man, baby!"
Michael had a Disrupting Shoal, so my attempt at killing it was for naught-except I had two Nekrataals in my hand (which I had boarded back in because of his Jushi Apprentice wrecking machine game two. No way was I going to lose to 1/2 beatsticks again). I killed his Meloku with a Nekrataal and in response he made one little spirit token. All this time he was taking pain from his Underground Rivers, and his life total was dwindling. It was at four life when I knew something was up. He had an Ink-Eyes in his hand. Michael swung in with his 1/1 flying spirit token and in came an Ink-Eyes, Servant of Savage beatings. Michael stole a Ravenous Rats which I then discarded another Umezawa's Jitte to. I had a few hard decisions on my turn, but managed to resolve a Cranial Extraction, which to Michael's surprise I named Hinder, because I knew he had one in his hand. I then resolve a Kokusho, the Evening Star. The next turn, and Michael conceeded. Phew.
Round Five-Bryan Eleyet, Gifts
Gifts is a pretty solid matchup for my deck. I have so much disruption and discard, the Gifts player is always on the defensive and isn't able to do much besides pray that a random fatty sticks around. I got a Nezumi Shortfang to stick around a few turns, and with the card advantage I got from a Hypnotic Specter and a Phyrexian Arena, it was game over once again. Is anybody noticing a pattern? Yeah, Phyrexian Arena is insane. So why only three in my deck? Because it's an amazing card, but just not that good in multiples
Game two was pretty similar to game one. My first three creatures I cast Bryan was able to Putrefy away, but he wasn't getting any card advantage and wasn't able to ever have time to cast his Gifts Ungiven that he had sitting in his hand. Finally, he was able to have a little breathing room to cast Gifts Ungiven, but I was able to cast Shadow of Doubt in response, and I got out a Pithing Needle for Sensei's Divining Top. After getting out a Nezumi Graverobber, which chomped any chance of Bryan coming back, he conceded.
Round Six-Jesse Herro, WW/R
Jesse had a pretty interesting build of White Weenie, with maindeck Shock, which was a very good idea for this weekend. Being able to kill first turn Birds of Paradise, Hypnotic Specters and being able to pretty much kill any creature in the mirror match was huge for Jesse all day. Jesse is a pretty good guy that I had just recently met at the local cardshop Gamers Guild. He just moved back to Portland from New Zealand, and really loved the Magic scene there. OMG blisterguy! (random internet name dropping). Jesse says I remind him of Rainman. I don't know why. I suddenly have the urge to watch Judge Wapner... gotta watch Wapner... Ohh, and by the way, we ID'd.
Round 7-Sean McBee, Blue/White Control
I've known Sean for many years now, but none of you probably care. Except for Sean. Hi Sean!
So the Top 8 was set. After 7 rounds, the top was the following...
1. Jesse Herro WW/R 5-0-2
2. Nathan Saunders Rats splash Green 5-0-2
3. Dan Schomberg 5-0-2 Gifts
4. Gary Patrick 5-0-2 Reanimator
5. Sean McBee 5-1-1 Blue/White control
6. Mike Blacic 5-1-1 Rock
7. Jason Powell 5-1-1 Rock
8. Michael Lew 5-1-1 Blue/Black control.
My little barn, Trevor Baker did feature match coverage for the Top 8 and he summed up the Top 8 pretty well. Now I have play by play coverage for my super neato tournament report. Tartar Yaus!
Top 8 - Jason Powell
Jason started off with a first turn Bird of Paradise. I wasn't able to kill it, but I managed to snag a Kokusho, the Evening Star out of Jason's hand with a Distress. On turn 3 I got a Phyrexian Arena out and once again, my deck fed me cards by the spoonful. And that's a Yokozuna-sized spoon. I Cranial Extracted away his Graveshell Scarabs, but all of a sudden had a real weird feeling. Something wasn't right. After Jason used his Sensei's Divining Top on his turn, he swung in with his Bird of Paradise. I immediately figured out he had Ink Eyes, Servant of Oni in his hand and Sickening Shoaled his attacking Birds of Paradise, all while Jason was attempting to tap five mana to sneak in his Ink Eyes, Servant of Oni. Not quite! So Jason ended up sneaking in Inky the next turn, but I just Putrefied it. I was able to draw into a Hypnotic Specter and got an Umezawa's Jitte on the little busted 2/2 flyer, and Jason wasn't able to keep another creature on the board the rest of the game. Kokusho, bane of Bill Clinton meant Jason was soon scooping.
The first big play of the game was when Jason Extracted away... my Cranial Extractions. I was able to get a Nezumi Shortfang in play and a Hypnotic Specter as well. I cast Ravenous Rats, then I used the Nezumi Shortfang on Jason and was able to flip my Shortfang into Stabwhisker. Rats are flipping out all the times like ninjas. Extreme ninjas. Jason had a Kokusho in play but it just acted like a giant wall (err, creature with defender ability?) and his life was dwindling by my Rat Rack during his upkeep. I finally drew my sixth land and was able to cast my own Kokusho, The Evening Star (and breaker of stalemates everywhere) and swing in for the win with my team.
Top 4 - Michael Blacic, Rock
This game was a tough one. I got an Ink-Eyes, Servant of the Oni (Man alive, typing out all these super long card names is really annoying. They really need to make some new easy card names. Like Bob Dole. Everybody would play Bob Dole, and it's so much fun to type! Try it right now. Bob Dole. Hehehehe. Bob Dole likes peanut butter! Bob Dole's never made a secret of that!) with a Distress, but Michael had a Nezumi Graverobber, then next turn I played another third turn Phyrexian Arena. Michael's Nezumi Graverobber ate my Distress and bashed me for four. I killed the flipped Graverobber on my next turn with a Cruel Edict and said go. Michael played a Nezumi Shortfang, but on my next turn I resolved a Cranial Extraction, getting his Putrefies. (He had two in his hand). On Michael's turn, he made me lose a card with his Nezumi Shortfang, then cast a hypnotic specter. The next turn he dredged back a Scarab and smashed my head in. I played another Arena, but I couldn't draw any good answers to his Hypnotic Specter and Graveshell Scarab, and died.
In game 2, I killed his first turn Bird of Paradise with Cruel Edict, then got another third turn Phyrexian Arena. Mike got a Nezumi Shortfang in play, and then an Umezawa's Jitte after I had played a Hypnotic Specter. He killed my Hypnotic Specter with his Jitte counters. On my turn, I played another Hypnotic Specter, which Michael killed with a Last Gasp or something, and bashed me again. During my turn I killed his Jitte with Putrefy, and Michael gained four life in response. On his turn he played another Umezawa's amazing swiss army knife, and I Putrefied his Nezumi Shortfang. So Jason got a Dark Confidant in play, along with a Umezawa's Jitte and a Top, it was looking bad for me. But hey, I was drawing two cards a turn! I cast a Ravenous Rats and a Nezumi Shortfang. Michael did a Maher/top trick, and then swung in with an equipped Dark Confidant. I cast another Putrefy on his Umezawa's Jitte, and killed his Dark Confidant with my Ravenous Rat. I then made Jason discard a card with my Nezumi Shortfang, and cast a Hypnotic Specter. I ended up flipping my Nezumi Shortfang into Rack Rat mode, and the game was over soon after.
Michael got first turn Birds of Paradise again, followed by a second turn Sensei's Divining top and peek at the top three cards. Michael cast a turn 2 Specter, which I Putrefied. Michael then cast a Dark Confidant, which also got punked by a Putrefy. Michael decided it was time to get some more mana, so he cast another Bird of Paradise along with a Plague Boiler. However, I cast a Hypnotic Specter the turn before, and on my next turn got an Umezawa's Jitte to stick to my little flyer that could, and swung in. Michael chumped with a Bird of Paradise, and I removed one counter to kill his other bird. It was then a game of chicken for a few turns as Michael didn't want to blow his Plague Boiler to kill my Hypnotic Specter only, because Michael Putrefied my Umezawa's Jitte. I cast a Nezumi Shortfang, and not wanting to face a flipped rat, Michael blew his Plague Boiler. He also forgot to use his Sensei's Divining Top in response, and lost it forever. I then played all my threats I was holding back (A Ravenous Rats, a Hypnotic Specter and another Nezumi Shortfang), and soon after, he was dead.
Finals-Michael Lew, Blue/Black Control
Once again my turn 2 play ran into a Mana Leak. I was able to Cranial Extraction Michael and get rid of his Ink Eyes, as Michael stalled on land. He then drew four straight lands and played some more wizard card drawing action, but random spot removal killed it all. I was able to draw a Jitte and resolve it on one of my guys, smash into Michael and kill his Jushi Apprentice that he had just made, plus my own Nezumi Shortfang that Michael had used a Threads of Disloyalty on. I kept on playing little beaters and was able to overwhelm him to take game one.
Michael was able to Mana Leak my turn 2 Distress again, and then Michael tapped out on turn 4 to Cranial Extraction my Cranial Extractions. On my following turn I Persecuted Michael, only to have it be Disrupting Shoaled, as Michael removed a Rewind. That was okay with me, he only had one card left in his hand. I was able to draw two Svogthos, the Restless Tombs but Michael had a Pithing Needle for them. Michael cast a Jushi Apprentice, but I had a Pithing Needle for the little wizard. Die little wizard, die! I had resolved a Nezumi Shortfang and Michael wasn't able to find an answer for it. After a few desperation plays, one of which involved Michael having to Boomerang a Hypnotic Specter back to my hand only for me to just replay it, I won.
And that was it. I was the two-time, two-time, TWO-TIME Oregon State Champion, as Cy Cook, the only other two-time Oregon State Champion watched on. My deck was dominant throughout the day, going 16-2 in games played. I had a ton of fun in this tournament, and was even more annoying and egotistical than normal! However, it's just a game, and I tried to have fun and I don't think anybody really took my silly antics personally.
Props-All my barns. And Matttttttt Scondinnnnnn.
Slops-Max protection sleeves. It's like you need sleeves to protect the sleeves.
Thanks for reading my giant, ego-filled novel!