Hello, all - I'm back again, and before we kick things off for today, I have some corrections to make.
First, thanks to everyone who wrote to tell me that I was getting Marvin Paguirigan (owner of Skyfox Games) and Allen Pengali (LV 2 DCI Judge, Scrabble aficionado) confused. I always confuse those two guys, so my doing it this time wasn't much of a surprise to me. Nonetheless, it does bother me when I make these sorts of mistakes - I think many writers/artists are like that.
Gary Larson, the brilliant creator of the comic"The Far Side," once wrote in "The Pre-History Of The Far Side" about some feedback he'd received about one of his strips. It was the one where a male fly is coming home (after a hard day of biting) to his apron-clad female fly housewife and their humble fly-home. Looking at this single frame, you can almost see the relief in his haggard compound eyes as the male fly throws his overcoat onto the rack and prepares for an evening of watching fly sporting events with a fly brewski in one hand and the fly remote control in the other.
"Whew, what a day! I must have spread malaria across half the country."
It was a funny cartoon. Most of the mail Gary got about it, though, was from members of the scientific community. They were quick to tell him that it's the female fly who does the biting, not the male! (Of course, Gary would note, it was perfectly acceptable to them that the flies in question would wear clothes, go to work, and speak English.)
He finished the anecdote by saying that part of him wanted to respond by saying,"So what?" He couldn't, though, because a bigger part of him was bothered by making the mistake. I guess it was just the scientist in him.
I feel much the same way. Sheepish about confusing Marvin and Allen. Heck, something like that would have bothered me for weeks had it gone uncorrected. Now, thanks to the catch-all eyes of at least a dozen people, I can say"Sorry, I'm dumb" and get on with my life. Thanks again to everyone who wrote in to correct me - it shows that if nothing else, you were paying attention.
Last week, I gave you all the ugly details about my crash and burn in the first Limited grinder. If you haven't had the chance, go back and read that one and see if you come to the same conclusions I do about how poorly I built my deck. If you've already read it and you've had enough of my"short bus" deckbuilding skills, then I've got something more exciting on tap today - grinder number two.
As much as I'd like to deny that this grinder even happened (I think they made a movie about my performance - it was called"Gone In 60 Seconds"), I might as well tell the story of how my dreams were stymied again, partly by luck but mostly by my own poor play.
Here's the story of Grinder 2,
Of mana-flood and color screw,
Of black and green and red and blue,
So did I win? I think I'm due.
I chose my Constructed deck the same way I always do - I found an article I enjoyed on the Internet (in this case, Brian Davis' article on Team Academy.com) and gave the deck in question a try. When it didn't totally bomb (in testing, I was doing well against Trenches and Psychatog, just as Brian had said I would, and I was 50/50 with Red/Green), I knew the sorcery deck was the one I was going to play.
Here's the decklist:
When Sorceries Attack/Lumberg (Geordie Tait, Canadian Nationals 2002)
4 Innocent Blood
4 Chainer's Edict
3 Engineered Plague
3 Diabolic Tutor
2 Haunting Echoes
2 Disrupting Scepter
1 Soul Burn
1 Jayemdae Tome
1 Ensnaring Bridge
4 Tainted Peak
4 Urborg Volcano
1 Shadowblood Ridge
3 Soul Burn
1 Haunting Echoes
1 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Infernal Contract
This deck is a couple of cards different from Brian's Nationals deck.
The Jayemdae Tome in the maindeck is there as something to Tutor for when I've decimated a hand, but Haunting Echoes just won't win the game because some key cards aren't in the opposing grave. Once it's on the table and you have some time, the Tome will win the game for you. It's slow, though.
The Infernal Contract in the sideboard comes in against Psychatog, if you're wondering, and also in the mirror and against U/W control, should I face either deck. It's sorta like a Deep Analysis for Black, except that you pay fifteen life for eight cards (and you have to use a Recoup) instead of three life for four cards. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but with Tog decks not playing Undermine anymore (it doesn't work with Nightscape Familiar, don'tcha know!) I figured I'd give it a shot - and it won me a couple of games in testing due to the massive card boost.
Against beatdown, you're probably going to lose Game 1. Once you bring in three Pyroclasms, two Magnivores, the second Ensnaring Bridge, and the other three Soul Burns, things start to look better for you - almost every card in your deck is a wrecking ball. Against R/G, I side out Overmaster, one Disrupting Scepter, the Millstone, the Jayemdae Tome, a couple Persecutes, and a Haunting Echoes to fit that stuff in - it works well.
While siding in both Magnivore and Ensnaring Bridge might seem a little strange, the game can go a lot of different ways, and you'll figure out four or five turns into a Game 2 which of the two paths to victory you're going to take. If the draw a lot of removal and the board is clear, you Tutor for the Magnivore and just win. If you're still under pressure, you Tutor for the Bridge, and your mode of victory becomes Scepter lock (no Meteor Storm) and Soul Burn, with the one Echoes in the deck serving to get rid of every piece of burn except for Firebolt (which anyone playing against Echoes will flash back immediately).
Against any control deck, you beat their hand to death and cast Echoes. Game 2 you bring in three more Addles, one more Persecute, and maybe the third Echoes, taking out Ensnaring Bridge, your one Soul Burn, and probably the Engineered Plagues - unless you're playing against Trenches, in which case they have to stay. You could also remove some Innocent Bloods, especially if you're also bringing in Magnivore.
The time has come for round ought one,
where dreams are crushed and days are done,
half advance, bask in the sun,
for others, Magic ain't much fun
Ain't. What a beating.
The pairings go up and I'm hoping my money is well spent on this sumbitch. It really depends on the matchup - "Salt Marsh, go" is a good thing, and so is "Coastal Tower, go." I don't want to hear "Forest, Rootwalla, go" or "Swamp, Duress you." Those are bad.
Round 1 vs. Nate Warsh w/ B/G Monger/Deed/Arena
Nate is playing the usual B/G beatdown suspects, with Call of the Herd, and he's running Mindslicer. Pernicious Deed isn't much fun for me (the Ensnaring Bridge won't stay down long, that's for sure) and in order to prevent a Deed topdeck that would wreck my day, I have to get him to use one, then Echoes. It a complicated dance that requires time to set up, and it's hard to set up without Ensnaring Bridge.
Then there's Phyrexian Arena. Just for the record, I think two cards single-handedly wreck this deck: One is Deep Analysis, which laughs at discard, with a"pay life" cost that is negligible against an Echoes win condition. The other card is Phyrexian Arena, which does the same thing, and is even better at it than Deep Analysis. When you win with Echoes/Millstone, any deck can afford to pay life against you.
Nate is running four Arenas. Let the carnage begin.
We trade early discard (he's playing Duress) and then he resolves a Deed after I whiff a Duress by topdecking it like a pro. My Ensnaring Bridge bites it and he plays Mindslicer, which I really don't want to kill because my hand consists of Persecute, two Chainer's Edicts, and two Innocent Blood. I take a couple of hits after laying an Engineered Plague on Horror (stopping the Ichorid he's also playing) and then I'm forced to Innocent Blood and lose my whole hand. He recovers faster with Spiritmonger, and I can't get to seven mana in time to flash my Edict. My life goes from fourteen to eight to two and then it's over.
I side in my second Bridge. Against this deck, I wish I had four of them - decks with Diabolic Tutor can play a low number of some silver bullet cards, but this strategy doesn't work if your opponent can regularly destroy them...Then it's just better to have multiple copies. There's not much I can take out against him, unfortunately.
Bad play, bad play, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do, when they come for you? Ugh. I Duress him on turn 2 and have a choice between Phyrexian Arena and Pernicious Deed; like a complete idiot, I take the Deed. I figured at the time that he'd have to Deed away the Bridge (which I had in hand) to win anyhow, so he'd have to Deed away his own Arena in the process.
Of course, the Arena came down on turn 3 and started gassing up his hand. After some random Phyrexian Rager beatings take me to twelve, I get rid of all my cards and he's locked... But it doesn't matter. When he finally did grab the next Deed for the Bridge, he'd already drawn 1,000 cards, including a new Arena. He Deeded and replayed Arena and a couple of creatures, I played the second Bridge (still unable to draw Echoes to save my life) and then he drew some more cards and Deeded again, after which I finally drew Echoes.
I resolved the Echoes, but looking through his library I could see that he still had Call of the Herd in there. I left him with all of his useless discard and hoped to hell that I'd draw removal and that he'd take a while to draw a Call - he had about twenty cards remaining, four of which were Calls.
Of course, the first thing he rips off the top after I shuffle and cut is Call of the Herd. He casts and flashes, I've only got an Innocent Blood. I take three, going to nine, draw something useless. Go to six, draw something useless. Go to three, draw something useless. And then I die.
If you're wondering what happened to all my Edicts, I'd had to use the flashback on the two I'd drawn, because Spiritmonger came out under the Bridge. Usually you don't have to use Edict under the Bridge, because all creatures are useless, but Spiritmonger had to go because he regenerates. As a result, I had nothing left for the Call of the Herd.
I think the game would have been different had I taken the Arena instead. My notes show him drawing eleven extra cards off of it, and you can't win when your opponent does that. The whole thing took about thirty minutes. Thirty minutes to come one step closer to not grinding in. That's one fast failure. But hell, if you're going to bomb, might as well get it over with quick, amiright?
My speed of suckage is my ally this day... For I've been knocked out of Grinder 2 just in time to make the next Limited Grinder! I'll tell you about that one sometime in the next couple of days - I ran a 6/6/6 manabase and sorta left things to chance. High card quality, poor mana quality. I figure if it comes out, I win. If not, there's always the fourth Grinder.
I'll see you tomorrow, all - have a good one.