Looking at the Open Series schedule one of the standouts was Boston Massachusetts. I love going to New England and have been visiting it since I was a kid due to a bunch of my family members living out there. Things were looking great until about two weeks ago when I realized that the tournament wouldn't be in Boston at all.
The tournament this weekend was in fact in Boxborough. This location made it awkward to travel as it was about 45 minutes from the airport. While it was well-placed for those driving to the event by being more convenient and still close to Boston this left me with the option of either flying into Boston and spending around $75 on a taxi or finding an alternative. I decided that this week I would choose the alternative and fly into New York to meet up with Alex Bertoncini and drive with him and his friends over to the event on Friday. With my flights booked and my plans made it was time to spend Tuesday night drafting at the local store before my early flight on Wednesday.
My Tuesday night draft ended up being quite a blowout as I opened a Sword of Feast and Famine and all of the pieces fell together from there in my U/R flying/removal deck. I like this strategy because fliers are underrated in this format and the red added to the blue gives you enough reach to deal with bombs and stall the game. That lets your slightly overcosted fliers have time to do their jobs. A quick and easy 3-0 with that deck had me going home early to pack and get some sleep before my flight in the morning. I was excited to spend a few days with Alex and needed the practice—my options for the weekend were still wide open.
The lesson and story of the week comes from a dumb mistake that I made by not preparing properly for my travel on Wednesday. I knew that my flight was getting to New York LaGuardia and from there I had to get to upstate New York using public transportation. In Florida we have no public transportation and I usually just drive everywhere so this whole concept was way beyond my reach. All I knew was that I had to catch a bus to a train station and then a train station to a stop near Alex's house. Much to my dismay I didn't know which bus I was supposed to take to get to Grand Central Station in NYC. I asked a guy that was standing at the bus stop with me and he told me to get on the same bus with him and that it would take me where I wanted to go. After about 30 minutes on the bus and asking Alex where I was I found out that I had ended up in Harlem of all places known for its…shadiness.
I was told to get off the bus and walk six blocks to a train station that would take me to the right place. I had heard rumors about Harlem and I was not excited about the prospect. My day had somehow started in Disney taken a break in the nation's capital for a layover in Washington D.C. and ended up in Harlem. After getting to the train station and finding the train I needed I boarded the train and crossed my fingers. About an hour later I was safe at Alex's house.
For those of you who know the Star City kid himself you know that Alex Bertoncini's love of the game is matched by no other. He doesn't just play Standard and Legacy; he is a cubing master and currently has three different cubes. They include a power cube a combo cube and a cute yet fun tribal cube. While these are fairly well-known what a lot of people don't know about is his extensive Type 4 stack.
Type 4 is a format in which you pick some of the most powerful cards in Magic and take mana costs out of the equation. The format is played like so: your starting hand is four cards the person on the play draws one card also and you can only play one spell on each turn. The trick is that you have infinite mana and several cards that would be mediocre to average in regular Magic are busted in this format. Alex has worked hard on this stack of cards and made sure to take out anything with X in its casting cost and also to make sure that none of the cards were too broken. There are no tutors in the deck as the stack is about 600 cards and searching through a singleton stack for a specific card that you want would be too much work and make the game not fun.
After hours of playing Type 4 and a few heads-up cube drafts we decided that it was time to get some work in for the weekend and test. I had given up my Vengevines and decided that the card and deck was out of place in the current metagame. I had planned to try my luck with Valakut as it is the only other deck in the format that I thought would give me a reasonable chance to do well. I had decided on a list that was fairly traditional. Valakut is a much more all-or-nothing deck as it has no interactive spells and basically tries to play Primeval Titan or bust. Here is the list that I played:
I believed this deck to be super-powerful and the Summoning Traps would allow me to deal with the only problem in my Caw-Blade matchup—their counters. Finding good spots to cast Summoning Trap became my advantage in the matchup and I felt confident going into the weekend.
We spent Wednesday night all day Thursday and some of Friday morning testing and battling casual Magic before leaving left late on Friday night from New York. We headed to Boston with Drew Levin and had Alyssa Spizzirro driving us. After a fairly uneventful trip spent talking less about Magic and more about life we got to Boston and had a fun night before the weekend.
As Saturday morning rolled around I began feeling the effects of the climate change in New England—a cold was coming and it was coming fast. I battled through the symptoms and started out 4-0 before the wheels fell off and the sickness started kicking in. As the day progressed my body and mind both gave out and the latter is your biggest asset in Magic. Without a sharp mind your play plummets and your mistakes become far more frequent. Over the next four rounds I picked up three losses knocking me out of contention. I decided to reevaluate my health and figure out what I wanted to do.
As the night wore on I wasn't getting any better and I decided it was smart to get a hotel room by myself for the remainder of the weekend and just get better. That meant I would have to skip the festivities on Sunday which was quite disappointing but I felt that my health was more important than gaming at this point.
While I stuck around in a hazy and disgruntled state on Saturday night I realized one thing—there were seven copies of freaking Caw-Blade in Top 8! As much as I disliked seeing a new Faeries/Jund deck in the format nothing makes me happier than it finally being a control deck that suited is my style of play. While I have stayed away from Caw-Blade over the past few months I think it's clear that if I didn't play it this weekend in North Carolina then I would be a fool.
And so begins my quest to find a playset of Jace the Mind Sculptors to borrow for the weekend as I have the rest of the deck somewhere in my collection. The version that I'll play is unknown but the testing will begin on Tuesday. I hate to join the gang of bad people playing the best deck in the format but it's a long grind and I believe that I have to take this opportunity to play the best deck. I would like to give a shout-out to Edgar Flores for his changes to the deck this weekend as I loved his metagame decision to put the Gideon Juras in the board. I might be playing his list with the slight change of switching two maindeck Oust for two Day of Judgment. This is Edgar's list:
North Carolina is right around the bend and the week to come will be a week of recovery and figuring out the format. Standard will change soon and I am fairly certain I can brew up something sweet. What that will be and where that idea will come from is yet to be determined. Right now I'm just excited to get back on the grind in Charlotte and play a full weekend of Magic before the new set comes out.
With a few days to recover before my drive to North Carolina I hope to see all of you out in Charlotte next weekend.
Signing off “The Road” in the Boston Airport