For a period of about a month, Tom Shea, owner of TJ's Collectibles, ran qualifiers for the second New England Challenge Invitational. A bunch of stores in the area held the qualifiers - and my friends, along with myself, decided that we could Q towards the end of the season. It was theoretically easy. All you had to do was go to a store in the middle of nowhere and beat a bunch of randoms to automatically win at least a draft set. Unfortunately, Tony Patronick and I somewhat procrastinated about it. We had two shots to make it. We had to go to the nighttime grinders at TJ's arcade dungeon zone.
For quite a while, all we did was play Tog since it's the best deck in the format. We went to M's Collectibles and played in tournaments there like it was our day job. We decided we were going to play some form of Tog at the grinders, regardless of the metagame formed from GP Milwaukee.
The day before the grinders, I downloaded UltimateBet and played some Hold'Em out of boredom. The Chris Roy calls up talking about his deck, which was a modified version of Kai Budde's German Nationals deck. Somewhere in the phone conversation, in the middle of talking about the changes and flopping a boat, some guy decides that he has a very good chance of mizing a 5H to complete his straight flush on the river. He gets it, of course, making me realize that there are people out there who have no clues of what they are doing, not playing by the odds or going by common sense that 2H 4H in the hand is not good enough to see to the flop. That guy made up for about prolly several days of bad play and getting jacked about the face by people who play the game for a living. At this point, I ask The Chris Roy if I could let him go so I could go punch my bed, scream, ponder about starting my smoking habit again, and ultimately, go back and play some more hands.
After the break, I call him back, and he believes that Cabal Torturer is utter technology in the mirror match, since whoever retains Nightscape Familiar advantage the longest wins the match. At first I was very iffy about it, especially after telling Tony Patronick about the card during the drive to the grinders and him almost having an aneurysm and driving us straight into the poles of a bridge - that would have certainly been ironic, since that's how the captain of that barge down in the South slammed into the bridge and had motorists fall into the river and drown to death.
I think Tony's exact words were"What? Cabal Torturer? That's terrible! What?"
We arrive at the grinders pretty early and Chris lends me the cards I needed to play the better version of Tog. Highlights of the first grinder involved a draw against Rich Shay, playing Trenches, and losing to my playtest partner Brian Kellett in the mirror match, since I couldn't draw lands for a while. For the second grinder, there were only eight people in it, since it started at like midnight, and the T4 of the last grinder was still going on. I get to play against Rich Shay again - and this time, I feel a bit confident since I know the tricks in his deck and how he would sideboard against me. He believes that I'll put in Demises and Excludes (Excludes were horrendous, by the way), so he doesn't put in the guys. I won game one off mizing some Familiars off the bat and not becoming a burn victim by Fire/Ice. Game 2, I'm putting up a good fight until he busts out Trenches. Time is called and he's beating with some tokens while he has three land out. Luckily, he sends with all the tokens, while I have two Ghastly Demises in the grip. Send, kill the fresh tokens, and win on extended turns. What a mize.
The next round, I played against Will Morgan and his three-color tog deck. He starts with four swamps, making me think that he's Control Black, until I see some other random cards. The match was irrelevant, though... He Duresses me, sees four Counterspells and two Repulses, and packs it up. Game 2 was not as fun, but I still won that one anyways.
In the finals, I played against Jonathan Lewis, who decided to come down out of boredom and play a Battle of Wits deck. Lewis attempted to cheat me at Regionals by announcing during my blocks that his Nantuko Shade was pumped from swamps that he was sac'ing to Braids, even though he missed actually pumping the Shade for a million turns in a row. I won the moral victory after trying my hardest to have him swear at me or throw his deck since he had a previous warning for unsportsmanlike conduct. No dice.
Game 1, he gets Wild Research on the board, and it's wicked dangerous against me, so I was forced to Upheaval to clear it and get advantage to counter it at some point. He plays it again with backup after I countered some Compulsions and it hits the board. I mized another Upheaval and got advantage to play some Familiars. He eventually casts Insidious Dreams with backup with twelve-plus lands out, and Wits wouldn't work at this point since his yard was stocked. He screws up and gets counter/Rage/Rage, rather than Rage/Rage/x to win, since he lost on the second turn after the Dreams.
Game 2, I had an okay start. My Duress finds some irrelevant cards, and a Duress later on proved the same thing, leaving him with a Chainer's Edict in hand. He drew Insidious Dreams and cast it for one after I tried to get greedy and kick a Probe, and he gets Battle of Wits with it. Frowns. How dumb.
Game 3 was considered to be the most exciting game by Rich Shay, who also finds playing long games to be the norm. Lewis kept a one-land hand with a bunch of cards that were the wrong colors, and he peels some necessary lands off the top to put him back in the game. He now has some counterspells and some bounce, and this gave me an issue since I couldn't kill him fast enough with a Familiar and Tog. He gets out a Yawgmoth's Agenda, and it resolves. This caused all aspects of time and space to get completely warped as it was now 3 a.m. and he can do whatever he wants with a stocked yard. After taking a large amount of time on my turn and deciding that I may not win at all because of his peel, I keep on playing as normal and say go. He got impatient and forgot to do anything at the end of my turn, allowing me to maintain tempo and card advantage to win the game after countering every single threat that he replayed. Revenge never felt so good.
At the end of the night, I q'd, along with Tony who won the last grinder, and Chris q'd based on playing the most matches or something like that. What a bunch of savage mizers. We go back to Brian Kellett's house and ate some corn dogs - savage sustenance considering I hardly ate at all during the day, I pet his cats and they flock to me wanting treats etc. I'm so good with cats, and it's not because I'm asian or pacific islander or whatever the f**k I am - and no, I don't eat them either.
After attempting to get sleep while hearing birds chirping, people walking their dogs, and getting the mail at the time of x a.m., I wake up, take a shower, and snag another tasty corn dog treat. Chris Roy attempts to sex the cat, but it decides to bite him, resulting in the cat being thrown across the room like the savage uncouth animal that it is.
Seven hours after Q'ing, we're back at the store and doing decklists while Tony and I put on a show with Tekken 3, until some guy shows up and crushes our face with just the punch buttons. Apparently, throughout the day, he has nothing better to do but watch us like hawks and waste our 25 cent investment in the span of sixty seconds. We write up our decklists; this time, I included Torturer and Engineered Plague a.k.a. AIDS in the sideboard, and we're off.
Round 1 - Matt Beverly - Dragon's Lair - BUG
Matt Beverly is a tight individual, sporting a doo-rag and knowledge of urban fashion. Props to him for this.
Game 1, I think I got out some Familiars while keeping his Finkels and Spiritmongers off the board. I Upheavaled, cast a Tog, and won.
Game 2 was nasty - since this time, he crushes my balls with Mystic Snakes that didn't show up in the previous game. Deed wrecks my Tog, and I go for a desperate Upheaval/Tog even though I prolly should've done it earlier. Tog/Snake/Counter/Gainsay, and it was game over for me.
Game 3 had factor of skill whatsoever, since my Duress shows his hand of lands and Snakes. A Familiar gets through and beats while I get a Tog with backup out later on while he is still stuck with some 4cc counterspells. The tempo was in my favor that game.
Matches 1-0 Games 2-1
Round 2 - Mike Emmert - Crossroad Games - Tog w/ Duress main
Mike Emmert is not to be underestimated, especially since he mized at GP: Tampa a while back.
Game 1, I drew more FoF's than he did. This game was gross against him.
Game 2, vice versa, except he sees the Torturer technology and the crowd is wondering why I'm playing with"non-Rich Douglas cards." Tom Guevin would put up a good argument if he were there, saying that I would draft Aven Trooper and play it since I like janky cards. I'm sure he's reading this with his parents at their house as we speak.
Game 3, I Duress his hand and see the game in my favor, so I play a Familiar, and he follows suit after peeling it. I think I played a Tog, and he peels that too. Time is running out, and I no longer have a shot to win after he stabilized the board with his own guys. I have Torturer/Familiar/Tog out versus his two Togs at the time. He's drawing a million cards with Deep Analysis since he needs to find two Repulses to send for the win. He shows me three on his last turn with quad backup and I scooped.
Matches 1-1 Games 3-3
After this match, I was feeling my T8 shot slip sliding away.
Round 3 - Mischa Bauermeriteiurthksdfg - Looney Toonz - Trenches
Whoa, the shot came back, nevermind.
Not many people realize that he came in second at Mass States - nor do many people give a crap, since it was States.
Game 1, I busted out a turn 2 Familiar, and once again, the Fire/Ice doesn't come down. He's also stuck on three lands for a while, with only one source of blue mana. He Syncopates a Tog, but he takes about ten damage from Familiar until I can drop a Tog. His hopes of staying alive with Trenches failed when the Goblins discovered AIDS.
Game 2, I got some Familiar out at some point in the game and put slow pressure on for the whole time, while feeling confident about playing against the deck twice before and having favorable results. I don't remember much about this game except for the fact that I took like ten damage from my own lands during the game.
Matches 2-1 Games 5-3
Round 4 - James Benjamin - TJ's Collectibles - Tog
A tight dude, always around to give high fives whenever necessary. This match would've been better if he wasn't land screwed in both games that we played.
Matches 3-1 Games 7-3
Round 5 - Kong Khamleu - Game Zone - BRG Deed/Monger
The only thing I know about this guy is that his last name automatically got the red spell-check-needed-line. I also know that he isn't playing a control deck, so this match should be done very fast.
Game 1, he gets some Elf out while I Spike his next play, along with Repulsing stuff and eventually killing him with Tog without casting Upheaval, since he swung with all his guys in order to get a point of damage through, allowing me to go for the win. Highlight of this game involved him playing a Darigaaz's Caldera...Chris Roy and I theorized that if anybody played any of the timewalk lands, they would lose.
Game 2, he double parises, and plays a Shadowblood Ridge.
Matches 4-1 Games 9-3
And you expected to see more competitive results from a New England Invitational event?
Jerry Freedman approaches me and asks me if I would draw with him to both make T8 if our ranks were good, seeing how we both lost to Mike Emmert, who was 1st place going into the last round. Unfortunately, we are not paired. I'm 7th place and I'm paired against Seth Wilson, who was 8th place...It's feature match time, with Alex Shvartsman from the Sideboard doing coverage, no jokes, seeing how Tom Shea really wanted to promote his store and tournaments. I personally don't know how much compensation Alex got for it, but it must've been worth it if he had to fly in and cover a 50+ person invitational event.
Round 6 - Seth Wilson - Crossroad Games - R/G
Prior to the match, people were telling me everything about his deck, along with how I should sideboard against him and everything. Sick beats.
Game 1, He starts off the game with an elf, making my Force Spikes look bad. He does cast a Mongrel afterwards, along with some burn spells at my Familiar to get some beats through. I got out like a Familiar and a Tog and stabilize the board after pumping Tog from an FTK. I think I Upheaveled/Tog, and that's all she wrote. If I'm wrong, just check the Sideboard for the info.
Game 2, I have some Ghastly Demises that definitely hurt his deck. He starts off with a Mountain, prompting me to get all excited over the two Force Spikes in my hand. He plays a Yavimaya Barbarian (Bowman) and I slammed a Force Spike down with the quickness. At this point, Mouth arrives to chill at the place, since he has nothing better to do, and points out how dejected and demoralized my opponent looked like after the Spike. He plays a Wild Mongrel and starts with the attack mode, while I try to stabilize the board with two Familiars. He kicks a Kavu Titan, and things are starting to look wicked grim, since I have a Demise in my hand with almost nothing in the yard. I got out two Psychatogs to help out with the D, and I explain to him about getting tricky with gang blocking his Titan, so he decided to stop attacking. At this point, I was at seven, while he has two Barbarian Rings out with a Mongrel and Titan out. He also has Urza's Rage in the deck, so I could easily die to a peeled Rage at any time. He doesn't peel one in many turns, while I bust out Tog #3 and 4. After doing some math and deciding that I definitely didn't want to die to some guy from Maine, I sent with the dudes and did enough to kill him with two Counterspells in my hand. He casts Tangle. LOL! Countered.
Matches 5-1 Games 11-3
I tried to apologize to him about my behavior during the match, saying that the windmill slammed Force Spikes were there to please the crowd and to add a psychological element to the game, but he got all catatonic on me and didn't say a word. I later found out that he died of a stroke. Poor guy.
There was much rejoicing going on at this point, seeing how I made T8 and am in the money, so I took a laid back approach to the whole thing. If I lost the Quarterfinals, I'd still have $100, no big deal. In the T8, everybody but Emmert wanted to split the money up eight ways, allowing each person to have like $300 or so. Not too bad for going 5-1 in a 50+ person tourney. Emmert decided to block the masses by refusing the split, stating how he didn't want to split at the last NEC and him getting his balls crushed in the T8. We all decide to play it out.
Quarterfinals - Jake Elder - Savage Games - Tog
I mentioned to him that this should be a good match, and that we should be happy that we came this far, and that the loser will still walk away with at least $100. No pressure, really.
Game 1, he starts it off by winning the die roll and playing a turn 2 Familiar, despite possibly walking into a Spike. He lucked out, and he was hitting with it for quite a while. I thought I swung the game back in my favor after getting a kicked Probe to resolve and being up on card advantage along with two Familiars and a Tog holding off his one Familiar and Tog. I'm tapped out after we get into a counter war over something I think, and he casts a maindeck AIDS on the Familiars, Repulses my Tog, and swings for game.
Not a fun game.
Game 2, the game looks bad for me as my Familiar gets Spiked, and he plays two of his own. I'm taking random hits while I played a guy to hold my ground. On a Duress, I see that he has a Possessed Aven in hand. He plays around any possible countermagic until he can cast it with backup. He gets it out, we clap over it, and eventually after taking some hits from it, I cast a FoF with the splits being Counterspell/Repulse vs. Land/Torturer/Familiar. Since I did this Fact or Fiction during my main phase to avoid getting it countered, since he had some cards in hand, I took the three pile. After playing out a Familiar and Torturer, I eventually go to town on his Familiars and eventually Repulse the Aven and kept it off the table while I played a Tog and rode it. At this point in the match, crowds were forming and the match got hot.
Game 3, time to get nasty - like Mr. Richard Nasty, prolific figure in the porn industry. His friends call him Dick. Much fanfare was to be had at this game...
Elder plays a Familiar and rides it until I'm at twelve. I got some card advantage on him while countering every single thing that could let him draw cards or beat with. My graveyard is stocked, the Torturer is online and kicking all of his Familiars in the balls, and my Familiar is on guard. I gained more advantage with some Deep Analysis and such, putting me at five and at the offensive. I'm beating for 2 at a time, keeping threats off my ass like I was in prison (or Tony's car). He plays a Tog, I Repulse it, beat. He draws, passes, etc. At this point, I have like six cards in hand with two Coliseums out. One card in my hand is a Circular Logic. The rest is crap.
"Yeah." - Him
"That was terrible." - Me
The crowd is pretty much digging into him harder than ever. Laughs were had at his expense.
It's his last feasible play before he would potentially die. I Coliseum, and found three worthless cards. Good times. It's the fourth Quarter and the Lakers are down by two. Time is running out. I activate the second Coliseum... And find a Fact or Fiction. At this point, the game is tense and the crowd is into the game.
Cast FoF. Flipped over the cards one at a time. Flipped over three irrelevant cards. Shaq misses with the rebound lay-up with 2 seconds left. 4th card is irrelevant. Divac takes the ball and tosses it away from the net. Horrey takes the ball with .8 seconds left and...
Circular Logic on the River.
I got up, said "God damn!", high-fived everyone within high-five radius, and looked at Elder, who had the look of a coma patient. Logic'd the Upheaval, and he took two burn from floating mana and scooped.
WHATEVER MAN, YOU SO LUCKY! CIRCULAR LOGIC, WHATEVER.
Semifinals - Kush Patel - AntiTog Tog
This matchup looks wicked terrible, seeing how he has maindeck Duress, Deep Analysis, and Chainer's Edict. Alex Shvartsman covered the match, so I'll just let you all check that out. I ended up losing 1-2, losing after sideboarding to Mana Shorts and Lobotomies.
- $200 - For finding a home in my pocket.
- Jerry Freedman - For offering to split the $150-$250 evenly and calling it a night.
- Circular Logic - You're always there for me.
- Brian Kellett - For having tasty Corn Dogs and sexy cats.
Chris Roy - For calling me up and suggesting the Torturer technology.
- The 3on3 team we drafted against - Thanks for the 5-0 win.
- Mouth - For crapping on Elder.
- Tony Patronick - For being tight and helping with playtesting since the dawn of time.
- AndyStok - Hooking me up with a TA Shirt, stat.
- Andrew Ranks - Having good taste in music.
- Matt Beverly - For sporting a doo-rag.
- Corn Dogs - For being tasty.
- Eddy Gordo - You got to smoke the killa weezie in Bahizi.
- Max Hardcore - Tony's porn alter ego.
- Nasty - ...like Dick Nasty!
- Kush Patel - This makes up for getting ripped last season.
- Brian Davis - For pissing on fat girls.
- The guy who played us in Tekken 3 - You had nothing better to do but kill us.
- The left steering wheel on Cruisin' World - Yer crap.
- Waffles the Cat - For biting Chris Roy.
- The dude with the blue shirt that I drafted against - You're a frickin' jerk.
- Sleep - For having only three hours of it.
- Mouth - For casting the hot cards on me in that last PTQ you played before the perm.
- Mike Emmert - Your finish finally made up for your decision not to split last season.
- The Sideboard - They will never acknowledge Team Academy's existence.
- Brian Davis - For sexing fat girls.
- The Catholic Church - Obviously.
- Kush Patel - For conspiring to blow up American landmarks.
4 Nightscape Familiar
4 Force Spike
3 Memory Lapse
3 Circular Logic
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Underground River
4 Salt Marsh
1 Darkwater Catacombs
2 Cephalid Coliseum
Richard "Dr.C" Douglas