I apologize to everyone for my little hiatus last week, but did you ever feel like everything was just kicking you in the teeth?
That's what I felt like, literally.
The Wednesday before Richmond I went into the dentist to have my four Wisdom Teeth removed, and to see if my broken tooth could be saved.
The wisdom teeth came out without a hitch, and the dentist was able to save my other tooth, doing a build-up on it. My mouth was extremely sore, but the pain meds were fabulous. Come Friday I was just a little sore, but I was able to head in and get some work done and get all planned for SCG Richmond.
I was still on W/U Heroic for Standard and was planning on giving the Jund deck that I played in the Live VS Video with BBD a spin. I felt like if everyone was going to be on Delver and Stoneforge Mystic still that the Punishing Fire engine backed up with Liliana of the Veil could be a nice spot to be at.
Even though I still felt a bit out of it from the pain meds, I was pretty excited for SCG Richmond. I knew W/U Heroic very well and had been having absurd results with it testing on Magic Online. I had played Tom's last list in an Elite IQ that I won and had only made a couple changes to it. Overall I had been unimpressed with Eidolon of Countless Battles and had been super impressed with how Treasure Cruise had been playing in the deck. Here was the list that I had registered:
- 4 Battlewise Hoplite
- 4 Favored Hoplite
- 3 Heliod's Pilgrim
- 4 Hero of Iroas
- 3 Seeker of the Way
- 1 Eidolon of Countless Battles
I had originally wanted to cut the Eidolons all together, but after chatting with a couple people I wanted to have one in the deck as a way to punch through a bunch of damage against the decks with Nylea's Disciple.
A lot of people had concerns about how good Mardu was against the deck, with cards like Chained to the Rocks and Crackling Doom, but I never really had too much of an issue with it. Of course, there can be some draws that we just can't beat from them, but we also have that capability on our end. I always found that I just had to be patient and pick my spots. Sometimes that means even waiting until turn 3 to play a creature with Gods Willing backup so that we don't just play into their removal spell on 2.
A lot of the deck's power came from people just not know exactly how and when it could be explosive, which is unfortunately not the case anymore. I had the pleasure to play against our own Anthony Lowry on camera in round one, and he even had Back to Nature in his sideboard for the W/U Heroic and Constellation matchups. G/R Monsters is pretty favorable for the Heroic deck, but questionable plays on my part and Anthony having decent draws in games 2 and 3 paired with his tight play got him the win.
I ended up winning the second round, but not before I was dispatched in the third and fourth by back to back Abzan decks, which were supposedly good matchups. It just wasn't my day. In fact, against one opponent, I was ahead on board with a 4/4 Battlewise Hoplite and was resolving a one-mana Treasure Cruise with four more open mana.
I drew three land. Then I drew a Temple for my turn and scryed a land to the bottom. I then proceeded to do the same thing for two more turns, seeing a total of nine lands in a row. My opponent was just as flabbergasted as I was at the end of it all, but them's the breaks.
I'm not sure what I'm going to be on in Standard since I really haven't been plugged in for over a week with my dental shenanigans, but I've got a Brad Nelson, a Todd Anderson, and a Brian Braun-Duin that I'm going to try and rely on.
At this point in the story it's important to mention that I had run out of pain pills Saturday night, taking my last one as I went to bed with the side of my face hurting. It had steadily been getting more and more painful throughout Saturday, and I just wanted to try and get a good night's sleep.
Sunday I decided I was going to battle with Jund, basically the same list that I had used in the Live VS Video with BBD at Grand Prix New Jersey. Here's what I sleeved up:
I was really excited to play this deck, even if my face was hurting pretty bad. I would be so focused during the games that I wouldn't really notice until after the match. Sadly, I was quickly dispatched at 0-3 after getting paired against Dredge, Storm, and Imperial Painter.
That is the big problem I have with playing a deck like this with the intention of preying on certain types of decks, is that in Legacy, people are going to play whatever they want or whatever deck they have regardless of what is perceived as the best deck or the good/poor matchups. I felt like I would have obliterated most Delver or Stoneforge decks with this Jund deck, but just got demolished by the slew of different combo decks that I was pitted against.
I was pretty upset about doing so badly on the weekend, but by this point I was in enough pain to just about bring tears to my eyes. Thankfully (not in a literal sense, but at that moment I was thankful), two of my other three traveling partners were dead in the event and/or extremely sick and wanted to get out of there. I secured BBD another ride home so that we could leave, and I set up a dentist appointment for myself on Monday and took a handful of Ibuprofen and crashed.
Unfortunately, the result at the dentist was what I had thought happened but hoped wasn't the case. The tooth that had the build-up done on it had abscessed. The infection had set in over the weekend and my gums around that tooth had swollen up to the point of almost eclipsing the tooth. Thankfully, on the ride home on Sunday it had drained by itself and was on the decline already. I was prescribed antibiotics to take out the infection and some more pain pills and now have to look into a root canal or extraction.
While it has been a rough couple weeks, it's all behind me now. Pain free, albeit with a handful less teeth, I will be heading out to the West Coast this weekend for some Magic, good times, and visiting my family. I will be in Portland for the Open Series this weekend and then spending the week in Tacoma in preparation for the Invitational.
We have a pretty sweet cast of Ross Merriam, Brad Nelson, Brian Swatkins, Chris Marshall, and Chris Cothren joining myself in the house, which I have conveniently booked less than 0.5 miles away from my mom's Greek Restaurant (It's Greek to Me), which I plan on visiting often to gorge myself on gyro meat and chicken souvlaki the whole time we are testing.
I'm going to be relying on my great friends for Standard information (although I will be doing some testing this week IRL and on Magic Online), and will be focusing on figuring out a list for Legacy. Going into this weekend, I was thinking about the format as a whole and that I want to be on a proactive combo deck with plenty of disruption that can lock the game up quickly. I have had some experience before with Reanimator, and I think that it is pretty well-positioned right now.
Needless to say when I saw that there was a Reanimator deck in the Top 4 of the Open Series in Atlanta I had a mental "pat myself on the back" moment. I had been driving home from the holiday weekend up north in the Jersey area, and in the hell that is I-95, I had plenty of time to think about it. Between everyone heading home from the holiday and the four (!) accidents that were showing on my GPS in the stretch of 95 from the bridge south to Baltimore, it was literally stop and go for over two hours.
My fiesta of solitude allowed me to just sit there and think about the format as a whole. Griselbrand, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, and Iona, Shield of Emeria are very powerful cards that allow the deck to be proactive and interact with just about every deck in the format.
Griselbrand is a huge flying lifelink threat that is difficult to race (although Bob Huang proved that it could be done, so be careful), and can also draw a billion cards to protect itself and you. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is lights out to a lot of decks, like Elves and Dredge, but is also amazing against Delver and Stoneforge strategies. She's not bad against Death and Taxes and Maverick-style decks, but those tend to play a lot of Karakas or ways to find it. Iona, Shield of Emeria is kind of the quiet star of the deck, letting us put the K.O. on the other combo decks, one of which, Sneak and Show, has a hard time even casting a Show and Tell against us.
Containment Priest is a consideration when building the deck, but I like using Massacre as a way to clean things up along with our Thoughtseizes. It could be that Snuff Out is a viable sideboard choice against it too.
I'm not sure how I feel about Jesse Inman's list not playing any Show and Tell since that has always been a great way to combat Grafdigger's Cage and Rest in Peace and a way to give us extra ways to combo, but I do like adopting Storm's plan on boarding into Abrupt Decay. With Wasteland on the decline, I think we can afford to go without basics and give us an amazing all around sideboard card.
I'm not sure what my exact 75 will be yet, but there's a good chance that my west coast trip will be a reunion tour for myself and Griselbrand. Being away for a week or so has been nice, even if it was under some pretty cruddy circumstances, but I'm ready to delve back into the action and see how many points I can finish up this year with to make a run at the Players' Championship again at the beginning of next year.
Speaking of which, there are a lot of players within striking distance for the Players' Championship, and with the last two events being on the west coast, anything can happen. Let's see who really wants it!