So, I'm sitting here wanting to do an in-depth breakdown of the deck I played at State Championships (the same deck that a handful of others played, the majority of whom had great success), but I feel I owe the public some sort of State Championship report.
Do you guys actually like, read these things, or just scroll up/down until you find the decklist and go on to the next one?
See, my State Championship experience this year was such a blur, because I can say I seriously played the most savage Magic I've ever played in my life. Every possible thing was going right for me, from good matchups to topdecking out of my gourd, the stars were truly aligned that day.
Case in point:
I'm sitting at the number one table after the first three rounds at a perfect 3-0, 6-1 in games. I'm sitting there getting my deck sufficiently randomized, when I look up and notice everyone else is playing, and my opponent has yet to sit down. A couple of minutes go by and I'm starting to mumble"Please don't show up, please don't show up" to myself. Sure enough, the time elapses go by and I get the forfeit win!
Oh my God. Who gets a bye at the first table?
It gets better. My opponent shows up shortly after the match slip has been turned in, and when he saw the standings sheet and saw he was at table number one, he thought he was playing at the Feature Match table reserved for the defending State Champion and his opponents. By the time that mess was cleared up, it was too late and I had my wins.
Only in West Virginia, folks. I can't make that up.
I am the luckiest SOB alive some days.
I felt I had to say something to him afterwards, but what in the hell am I supposed to say? All I could manage was an"I'm so sorry"...in the end though, I found out later he was playing Red/Green, which is a virtual bye for my deck, so chances are I would've swept him regardless.
I know, I know; who cares about your random state and your random stories? Show us the list and get on with it.
by Carl Jarrell
with input from a cast of thousands
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Llanowar Elves
4 Kavu Titan
4 Call of the Herd
4 Ebony Treefolk
4 Flametongue Kavu
2 Shivan Wurm
4 Pernicious Deed
4 Urza's Rage
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Sulfurous Springs
2 Karplusan Forest
2 Darigaaz's Caldera
And now, for the card-by-card breakdown that everyone loves! *groan* (Although in this case, I think justification for quite a few of the cards is necessary):
4 Birds of Paradise, 2 Llanowar Elves: The standard mana acceleration that practically any good green-based deck runs, except in this case the four-and-two configuration might seem strange. This is mostly due to the lack of synergy with the four Pernicious Deeds in the deck (but as I'll explain later, this is largely negligible) - but since I decided not to run Mongrels, being able to pitch a late-game Bird or Elf wasn't an option, so four-and-two was the proper configuration that would let me get the acceleration early but have a better chance of not drawing them later in the game.
4 Kavu Titan: Why in the blue hell was I running Wild Mongrel over these guys, I have no idea. Mongrel is obviously the better two-drop, but unless your hand is complete junk (or you're playing with bad cards), it's hard to constantly pitch cards just to keep a dorky 2/2 alive. The Titan is a worthless Grizzly Bear for the same mana, but makes the match-up against Red/Green even more lopsided than it is to start with. Mongrel might be better in other decks, but within this deck's context, the Titan won games for me that a late-game Mongrel would've lost for me for sure.
4 Ebony Treefolk: The Best Treefolk Ever Printed. Hands down. My good friend Ben Visnic (and former State Champion - sorry about the landscrew, but that's karma for dissing forests all these years) keeps insisting Weatherseed Treefolk is the Best Treefolk Ever Printed, but I think I win the argument simply because the Ebony Treefolk is Black.
"So some random threw Ebony Treefolk into his deck, why should I keep reading this?"
Take a harder look at Ebony Treefolk within the current context of the metagame. For BG he kills Elephant tokens all damned day. Since he's green and black, while you would hate to hold back a pumpable 3/3 in general, he blocks and kills Shadowmage Infiltrator all damned day as well, and you don't have to pitch a card to do so (just to get him Recoiled before blockers are declared, which usually happens with the Mongrel here). He's able to shrug off Flametongue Kavu later on, and a Treefolk in the late game with a lot of mana can be a huge nightmare. In short, your opponent has to use a good card on him early before your mana opens up and he can start to be a major problem. Best Treefolk Ever Printed. Period.
4 Flametongue Kavu: This guy is one of the major reasons this deck contains red; otherwise it's a good but slightly mediocre Green/Black beatdown deck.
2 Shivan Wurm: These guys were a late addition to the deck, but also won several games for me single-handedly (which 7/7 tramplers tend to do in general). Besides just being a gigantic beatstick, they make the Pernicious Deeds and Kavu Titans that much better; my absolute favorite play with this deck is fourth or fifth turn, play a Shivan Wurm and pick up something cheap like a Bird, Elf, or Titan, and then the following turn drop Pernicious Deed and Deed the mortal hell out of their side of the board. That exact combo won me at least three games alone; Red/Green thinks they'll just hold back Mongrels and whatnot to chump block, and then you just drop the Deed after the fattie and just autowin (and recast the cheap guy you saved from the Deed). Just brutal, with a capital"oo-tal."
4 Spiritmonger: There was a lot of talk before the State Championships actually occurred that Shadowmage Infiltrator and Flametongue Kavu were, one and two, the best two creatures in the format. Perhaps, but I think you can easily make an argument for Spiritmonger being the third best for sure, and quite possibly better than either of the ones mentioned above. Over and over, every round it was like a broken record, I kept hearing my opponents say,"I just can't deal with Spiritmonger," to which I'd reply,"Not many decks can; that's why I play him." I just can't say enough good stuff about this guy. He's only a 6/6 for five with three special abilities... No big deal.
Side Note: Since Spiritmonger is so insanely good in this format, he has earned a new nickname that hopefully will stick:"Smoke Break." We arrived at this nickname for him because every damned time he hit the board, whoever cast him was taking a smoke break shortly afterwards. I was even using spare cigarettes as Sengir counters;"Dammit, every turn you block him, that's one less cigarette I get to smoke." Whether you smoke or not, if you play Spiritmonger from here on out, please refer to him as Smoke Break out of homage - I'd much appreciate it, heh. Smoke Break is broken in this format, 'nuff said.
4 Pernicious Deed: Many have also commented that Pernicious Deed is the best card in the format, if only there were a deck that could truly abuse it within the context of the deck. I feel that Hot Garbage is that deck to do it. Decks just flat-out roll over to cards in this deck in general, this being one of the major culprits. As long as you just don't flat out play stupid with it, it just wins games, especially with the Shivan Wurm gating and playing fat creatures in general.
"But you Deed your Birds and Elves - that's bad!"
"I've already used them to drop my fattie; who cares if I Deed away one stupid Bird if I've Deeded away two Mongrels and a Call token of his, leaving my Treefolk and Flametongue standing?"
Also, going into this open format, Pernicious Deed was the best"I'm not going to lose to randomness" card available. Deed works in this deck; please don't doubt its power alongside some of the rest of the cards despite the fact it nukes my mana guys. Again, if it leaves me with some huge random creature and destroys their side of the board, who cares if I nuke a stupid Lawnmower of mine in the process?
4 Urza's Rage: The other main reason to splash red in this deck. Between this, the Flametongues and the two Shivan Wurms, this goes from being an otherwise mediocre Green/Black beats deck to what I honestly feel is the hand grenade deck of the format.
Really, all I did was take the Deadguy Green decks from the Invitational, and replace some of the bad cards with better cards at the price of being three colors:
-4 Raging Kavu, +4 Ebony Treefolk: I spoke volumes about the Best Treefolk Ever Printed earlier. While I feel the Raging Kavu is a decent card in some decks, I just am not comfortable at all with the fact he trades with virtually anything, and gets killed all day not only by Spectral Lynx but by random Mystic Crusaders and Galina's Knights.
-4 Skizzik, +4 Spiritmonger: Okay, Skizzik isn't necessarily a bad card, but it's not necessarily good these days; With Calls and Rages all over the place, he tends to be a Lava Axe that just comes across for two trample damage, if he comes across at all. I obviously can't play double-red spells in this deck anyways, but losing the haste factor is definitely negligible to play the almighty Smoke Break instead. People just cannot deal with Smoke Break.
-4 Fire/Ice, +4 Pernicious Deed: Here people would be tempted to use Terminate in the Fire/Ice slot if they were conducting a similar experiment, but I decided to put Terminate in the sideboard (four copies for sure though) and chose to play the card that better helped me against random crap in general.
So, now that I've justified playing the deck and explained the inner workings of Hot Garbage, how'd I do?
Note: Tournament reports are really passe these days, so instead of giving you an actual report and boring you to tears (and in all honesty, I was locked into Smash Mode all day and thus everything was just happening too fast for me to really take notes), I feel I'll give you the results of my rounds, followed by a random educational fact just so you don't feel stupider just for reading yet another long-winded report about how some dude did in a field of fourteen herd of Buffalo, three Cacti, Jake"The Snake" Roberts, and Eric Taylor (because c'mon, if there's an event anywhere, he'll be there.... Field for PTQ Anchorage, for example: Thirteen Polar Bears, four Eskimos, The Guy who Wrecked the Exxon Valdez, and Eric Taylor).
Round one: James Boles, playing U/B/g CounterDeed with stuff like Skyfolk, AEther Mutation and Traumatize 2-0
Deeding his mana guys away so he doesn't have black mana is cool, then Deeding away his Smoke Break while regenerating my Smoke Break is even cooler! Take six, take six, take six, Rage you, etc.
Random educational fact: if the approximately 23 species of Glossina recognized, commonly referred to as the Tsetse fly, all but three will transmit trypanosomes of mammals.
Round two: Brad Davis, playing U/G Opposition 2-1
My only game loss during the Swiss was due to listening to Bruce and not drawing green mana until my sixth turn with a Darigaaz's freakin' Caldera, and I still almost won, taking him to five life before he drew his third Beast Attack. Surprisingly, I didn't even sideboard my Hull Breaches, as my strategy was just to bring in four Duress and four Slays and just freakin' kill every damned critter he played, which worked to perfection in the two games I won, which weren't very close at all... Second-turn Slay your mana guy, Deed for one and freakin' wreck you, FTK your Call... Opposition is ass without creatures to power them.
Random educational fact: The femur, the longest and strongest bone in the skeleton, is almost perfectly cylindrical in the greater part of its extent.
Round three: Mike Wilhoit, playing R/G Rocket Shoes 2-0
Rocket Shoes is Hot Garbage's best matchup, which is why this was clearly the deck for me to take to States... He got me to nine life the first game before I got the Shivan Wurm followed by Deed, and that was that, and then the second game I drew three Slays and quickly finished the job that his two Barbarian Rings had started.
Random educational fact: The Black Mamba is renowned and feared throughout its African homeland for its speed, agility, and deadly venom. Despite its name, however, this snake is dark greyish-brown in color.
Round four: Aaron Carpenter, playing R/G Rocket Shoes 2-0...
See gigantic mise earlier in article...again, who gets a bye at the first table? Although it was R/G, so chances are I win anyways.
Random educational fact: Mycotoxin contamination of peanuts, particularly aflatoxin contamination, is a serious food safety problem. Aflatoxins are highly toxic mycotoxins produced by the fungi aspergillus flavus and a. parasiticus and as such are highly regulated by the FDA and European importers of American food products.
Round five: Aaron Abromowitz, playing R/G Rocket Shoes 2-0
Despite him drawing three Volcanic Hammers and getting me to five life, I once again get the Shivan Wurm/Deed combo and followed by a Smoke Break and kicked Titan, win again. Second game he draws a Mongrel and lands and I smash him in short order. Sucks beating people you know and like, but hey, show me the IDs and I'm in like Flynn.
Random educational fact: Current estimates suggest that the rat genome comprises three billion base pairs - roughly the same as the genomes of mice and humans.
So after five rounds, I am 5-0. My win percentage at the time was an obscene 90%. I am the number two seed when I ID in rounds six and seven, and enter top eight as the fourth seed, because a lot of people played out the games. Argh!
In the quarterfinals, I get the pleasure to be matched up against Jeff Curry. Jeff is a pretty damned solid player who won the whole thing in 1999 and made the finals in 2000. He's with the Finkula, card-for-card. Now, if you've done your playtesting any, you'll know that Rocket Shoes tends to eat Finkula, and since my deck is essentially just as quick as Rocket Shoes except with better cards and better sideboard options, I should clearly have the advantage. First game is a slaughter, as his first two lands are taplands, I drop Treefolk on my second turn, third turn peel the Karplusan off the top for the Rage in my hand to take care of his Lynx, and despite three Vindicates he's still stuck at three lands regardless and dies horribly.
Second game is more of the same, as he Duresses me and I show him a handful of land and men. Peel the Rage off the top the next turn. I was in the deepest regions of the Zone ever. I get some more guys into play, he Duresses me again and I show him Smoke Break and Kavu Titan, and everyone watching shakes their head. I Duress him back since he has one card in hand and it turns out to be Dodecapod. I drop Smoke Break on his head to go along with an Elephant token in play and some mana guys.
"You had better win this," Jeff says to me.
"I'm trying my best," I say.
"No, I mean, you had better win the whole thing. I mean, you've got the deck for it," he replies.
He scoops shortly thereafter and I'm in the semis. Jeff's a guy I always get along with, and considering he's been at the top of the heap before, those words of encouragement really meant a lot - especially considering I just got through manhandling him and he could've been rude about it, like many lesser people would have.
So I'm in the semis and get paired against...
Elliot Kasun playing Red/Green Rocket Shoes.
Oh. My. God. I'm paired against Rocket Shoes in the semis.
I'm in the finals, right? Should I even bother telling you what happened?
After playing the most savage Magic in my career all day and getting one of the biggest lucky breaks in competitive Magic history, I was due to get screwed, and I was. First game I keep a hand with two lands, a Bird, and The Nuts; he Fires my Birds, and I don't draw another land the entire game.
So my friend Ben and John"Wandering Mage" Giroir (who was responsible for getting me the four Calls I needed two hours before gametime, thank you, I was two hours away from not playing at all, and then I make the semifinals) step off to the side. Ben tells him I have four Slays and up to four Terminates to bring in, and John shakes his head and makes a comment that I'm in the Top Two then regardless of the first game.
So despite the anomaly first game, I go on to wreck my best matchup like I have all day and make the finals, right?
My opening hand is Karplusan, Birds, Elf, Monger, Flametongue, Titan, Titan. I'm playing first and going down to six cards against him would be bad, so I listen to Bruce and keep. No land, no land, no land, my Bird and Elf get freakin' Simooned, my second land is a Caldera out of cuteness, and he gets double Flametongue and Shivan Wurm to top it off.
So my final record for the day was 6-1-2, 10-and-freakin'-1 during the Swiss. Of course, seeing as how I didn't scrub out in the Top Eight like I had the two previous years, I figured instead I would just decide to draw four lands in two games against my best possible matchup when it really mattered.
I can't say it wasn't frustrating, but I took it well because it was totally out of my control despite maybe parising the second game.
So after two straight top eights in 1999 and 2000 and a top 4 finish with a deck that practically everyone in the room thought was the best deck in the field that day, I am now probably The Best Player To Have Never Won West Virginia States.
Hear that choking sound in the background? That's me.
What do I have to do to win one of these things?
"Hey Trey, will you sign my Briberies for me?"
The only reason this deck didn't do better nationwide is that no one else knew about it, save for my Binary21 teammates, a few friends of mine on IRC and in real life, and one additional mailing list I'm on. Ron Leidner, a.k.a."whistler" on IRC, made Top Eight in New Jersey with a version of Hot Garbage we had worked on, except he ran one less Spiritmonger and no Wurms in place of three Tainted Pacts. I absolutely love Pact in the deck, and many of you will want to consider it as well, but I decided in the end I would play as many warm bodies as possible instead of Pacts, and it worked out for the both of us. Skip Potter, whom I'm on a mailing list with, made the finals of Virginia States with a personalized version of Hot Garbage he called Infinite Justice, and another G/B/r deck made Top Eight there also.
In closing, I annihilated Rocket Shoes when I drew land, beat Opposition, beat U/B/g, and crushed Finkula for the day, which sums up a large amount of the metagame (should people be stubborn and play White Weenie, Pernicious Deed beats that by itself). I would highly recommend playing Hot Garbage in any future Type 2 tournaments you'll be playing in, as I really feel that it is currently the best deck in the format until someone decides to blatantly hate it out. That is, play Hot Garbage if you can get the rares for it.... Sheesh, is this seriously not the most rare-driven format ever or what?
See you next year when I choke again.
Well, when I write again, anyways, whichever comes first.
May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house,
Zeke2517 on mIRC
The King of Greyhounds