Wow - third place. Not too shabby! Thus far, my highest finishes had been random T8s at JSS Qualifiers and winning small tourneys and side events. But third out of 358 people is just like, wow to me! (And most others, I dare say - The Ferrett) Here's my report, as best as I can remember.
I decided to play Mono Blue Magpie control after bouncing back and forth between deciding to play either Fires or U/W Millstone. I ended up playing this because this was the most familiar deck to me, and because I REALLY can't resist twenty counters. The deck had a ton of countermagic and a bit of bounce. The decklist is:
Of course I hoped to do well, but I took no notes. :( Hopefully, what I do remember can give a bit of insight as to my judgement throughout the day.
ROUND 1: Vs. Steve Landen, playing U/W Control with Legacy Weapon Tech in the sideboard
Game 1: This game goes back and forth for a while, with me gaining a bit of card advantage with Magpie. He shuts it down with Story Circle. I have ways to deal with it, but he keeps drawing tons of cards, searching for a Millstone I know won't ever hit play due to the almost obscene amount of countermagic in my hand. I end up decking the Millstone deck.
Game 2: This game was nuts. I get an early Magpie and back it up with Thwart and Foil. He tries multiple times to destroy it, but I draw lots of ways to protect it. I get a Millstone or two out and Mill him for a bit, but when it becomes clear that I can't win by doing that (because I hit a Legacy Weapon when I Milled him!), I continue the Magpie beats, adding another to the mix. It would be impossible to deck him, because he would just discard the Legacy Weapon and have it put into his library for him to draw/discard again next turn! I have three Magpies on the table at the game's end, but don't have enough cards to use all three and attack. However, I get him to one on one attack, then attack with one Magpie to deal the final point - drawing my last card in the process.
Win 2-0, Overall 1-0
ROUND 2: Vs. Paul Deegan playing R/B/G Fires with Blazing Specter and Skizzik (one of these games I don't remember; I may even get rounds screwed up, but the basics are here)
He apparently smashed me one game so badly, it's been blocked from my memory. :)
Game 1: He gets a bunch of early pressure with an elf and some unkicked Battlemages. I am able to put a Magpie or two out and draw some needed cards. I get a Wash Out and play it, returning most of his team to his hand. I counter the majority of whatever he plays for the remainder of the game, then win with Mahamoti and his Magpie pets.
Normally against Fires decks, I side in Glacial Wall. In some matchups, I did - but in this game I expected Yavimaya Barbarian, which Dodecapod can block. Plus, it has the possibility of becoming very, very large if he happens to play a Specter or Battlemage (which I later found out that he had sided out).
Game 2: He gets out a few Barbarians, one of which I Force Spike. We both assemble nice sized armies. His consists of mostly Battlemages and Elves, along with Kavu Chameleon. I had a pair of Magpies and a Mahamoti Djinn who stayed on D for the Chameleon. I was still taking a bit of damage from a Barbarian or two, and I played a Dodecapod to stop that. I draw a ton of countermagic and lay another Moti to block the Chameleon and swing for the win.
Win 2-1, Overall 2-0
ROUND 3: Vs. Mark D Herberholz playing Fires
Win 2-1, Overall 3-0
Round 4 Vs. Matt Scott playing Fires
Game Two: He sides in Barbarians and Chameleons, along with Blood Oath and some other nasty stuff. He beats me senseless due to my lack of counters and Magpies.
Game Three: He gets a bit screwed, laying nothing more than an army of unkicked Battlemages. After taking a beating from them, I stabilize with"Wall of Magpie." I draw into Moti, then another Moti soon after. I play a Dodecapod to use as a wall and attack with the air force.
Win 2-1, Overall 4-0
I'm very excited at this point. Only three more match wins and I make top eight!
Round 5 Vs Frank Anderson playing Fires(noticing a trend?)
I win this match, I remember nothing about it other than I played my fourth Fires deck in a row! Nothing special to report
Win 2-1, Overall 5-0
Round 6 Vs Jason Rose playing....Dark Fires with Spiritmonger, et cetera --in a Featured Match! Covered by Toby Watcher on The Sideboard (quite creatively! :) )
Game 1: I think I have things held down, but I never keep a Magpie on the table. I drop one Turn 4 or so and he has two Ghitu Fires for three for it. I only have Thwart.... I keep up for a while, but without the card advantage machine Magpie is, I collapse.
Game 2: FUNNIEST Game I've EVER played! I sided in Dodecapods again because of Thunderscape Battlemage and Yavimaya Barbarian. I counter some early stuff, get out a Magpie, and draw into two Dodecapods. He casts a Thunderscape Battlemage... with the Black kicker...
<<space to laugh>>
I tell him it resolves, which got a bit of an odd look from him. I was smiling a large smile as I dropped Dodecapod #1 and his twin brother in the graveyard! Next turn I attack for eleven with the pods and Magpie. He chumps the Pods with a Bird and Elf, which struck me as odd. I see why next turn as he draws eight mana into his pool and casts Obliterate. I have no Thwart, card drawing, or land in my hand at all. But for some reason, I don't worry, since I proceed to draw a land for the next SIX TURNS IN A ROW! I cast a Mahamoti after I find a Thwart to go with my two Foils. He concedes shortly after.
Lose 1-2, Overall 5-1
I'm a bit bummed, but I knew I did my best and that I can still make it.
Round 7 Vs Deroy Thomas playing a very standard version of Fires (aaaaaagain)
Game 1: We chat a bit while we are playing and he's a very sociable person - one of my more enjoyable opponents that weekend. I counter a ton of his spells after taking a few huge hits from Saproling Burst and win with Mahamoti.
Win 2-0, Overall 6-1
Round 8 Vs Matt Sugget playing Black/White Arena
I've played many, many matches vs this deck and or decks similar to it on-line with my deck. I very rarely lost because I draw an extra card like them, but they lose two life (Magpie and Arena) which is painful, so I was very confident going into the match.
Game 2: He builds up his resources and has a few creatures out and attempts a turn 3 Desolation Angel with no kicker. It hurt, but I couldn't afford to let him have a 5/4 flier... Even if it was a one-way 'Geddon. So I counter it, drop some fliers (Magpies and Djinns) and beat down.
Win 2-0, Overall 7-1
Round 9 Vs Chad Caudel (eventual T8er) playing U/B Control
Game 1: Just as I sit down, I ask him if he'd like to ID. He declines eventually, due to the fact that a lot of things have to go his way to make T8 if he does that. I ask him if he'll reconsider after this game. He says he'll think about it. I get a good start, Force Spiking and Countering spells. I drop a Magpie turn 4. He Maggot Therapies it (mize Rishadan Airship :) ) and he attempts another; I Thwart it. He asks me if I'll take the draw. I take a moment to think and decide I'd rather not risk getting land screwed and not make it.
Intentional Draw, Overall 7-1-1
My friends ask me why I drew with him, seeing as how he was such a good matchup - to which I replied that I wanted that good matchup in the T8 where it counted, so that I had more of a good chance to do well there.
Quarterfinals Vs Tom Willoughby playing ProbeGo with Vindicate
Game 1: I find out he made it through the tournament playing almost 30 lands because he misregistered and didn't include his three Fact or Fictions. I'm quite impressed he made it so far with so many lands! We start off playing lands for the first 4 turns. Our reporter looks somewhat bored, so I decide to make some action by casting Thieving Magpie turn 4. We get into a counter war, which I win. A few turns later, he plays Vindicate on my Magpie. I have Misdirection in my hand. Rather than use it to knock off one of his lands, I decide to be a bad player and use it to win the counter battle over it. He cast Probe later on with kicker, but I was able to Force Spike it. His Nether Spirit was racing my two Magpies, but I was ahead in cards and life, so I won.
Game 2: I sided in my four Millstones and Mahamoti. I drop an early Millstone, which he doesn't counter. I end up milling two Nether Spirits into the grave and continue to draw cards with Magpie. He doesn't draw his last Nether Spirit in time, and I deck him with Millstone.
Win 2-0, Overall 8-1-1
Semifinals Vs. Eventual Champion Tim Bonneville playing U/R/B control
Game 2: I side in Dodecapods in hopes of him Voiding for four to kill a Magpie. Plus it's another body, and can block Nether Spirit. I end up losing after casting a Dodecapod and he Obliterated, which took me by surprise. I almost come back with a Magpie, but I don't draw the land fast enough.
Game 3: This time I bring in Millstones in hopes of trapping his Nether Spirits in the graveyard, and also to deck him. I get an early Millstone that resolves. I get another and end up racing a Nether Spirit. He casts Obliterate and I mill two times in response in hopes of hitting Nether Spirit. I don't, and my heart sinks. Nether Spirit comes back and performs its dirty work for the next couple of turns until I'm dead.
Loss 1-2, Overall 8-2-1
The deck performed amazingly. The only really bad matchup I had(and everyone else had!) in the Top 8 was Tim's deck, and it was perfect for us. My congratulations certainly go out to him!
I was criticized a lot for not siding in Glacial Walls against Fires decks. I realized that they were only good if my opponent didn't side in Barbarian. I almost always guessed correctly when they did or didn't. Dodecapod's ability to block Barbarian won me a lot of games I most likely shouldn't have, so it's certainly my recommendation to side them in if you expect Barbarian. You can always block Chameleon with Moti or bounce it. Thanks for reading this, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the Amateur Championships!
- All my Magic friends, who constantly help me improve
- Robert Mongiello: For trading me that third Mahamoti
- All the people on IRC who helped me playtest (whether they knew it or not :)
- Wizards of the Coast, for some nice prize support all the way down to 32nd place.
- The Judging Staff: Ran very quickly and efficiently, thanks alot!
- The DCI: For all they put up with.
- The one guy I played in the Sideboard Team Challenge who kept on complaining of a mirror match in Type 1 when I played Mono Blue and he played Blue Black :(
- Lack of Sleep at Origins :) Too... many... games... :)
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