I had high hopes for the StarCityGames.com Open weekend in St. Louis. I had missed Philadelphia and Seattle but that only further fueled my fire. While waiting for the St. Louis weekend a few terrible things happened and my focus shifted off Magic. I tried to regain my focus and my fire but I think my head wasn’t in it. Not even Kesha singalongs with Martin Lohman could get my head out of the clouds.
To top it off I was playing Turboland and Reanimator in the Opens both of which were decks that were probably weeks too old for the metagames I built them for. It was also stressful heading down to St. Louis with no Legacy deck but I felt like I could scrounge something together if necessary. This was the first time in a while I thought that I might not be able to get the cards that I wanted but it all worked out in the end.
We piled eight deep in Forrest Ryan’s van and left from Minneapolis early Friday morning. The van had two front seats but the entire back of it was wood paneled with no seats. We did our best to get comfortable but no one could stretch their legs. I was warned in advance so at least I had a blanket to sit on. I piled up some bags laid my pretty little head down and did what I always do when things are going poorly: go to sleep and hope that everything is better when I wake up.
If you were in STL you would probably recognize Eric Staffa. He was the dude with red hair (and I don‘t mean some pansy ginger hair I mean the color you‘d paint a house) Juggalo tattoos and Psychopathic Records clothing. Eric was another part of our merry band and he happens to have a penchant for terrible horror movies. He brought along one named One Eyed Monster staring Ron Jeremy.
You can probably see where this is going.
I watched for about as long as I could but one man can only take so much abuse on his senses. I wasn’t tired but I tried to fall asleep anyway. Toward the end I was wide awake and started watching a movie I downloaded only to realize that it was dubbed into Russian or something. How I managed to get that one instead of the plethora of English ones I’ll never know but I probably won’t make that mistake again.
The rest of the trip was full of Martin Lohman and Corey Baldridge singing Kesha at every opportunity they got which I enjoyed. I was not singing along for fear of embarrassment and everyone else hated those two.
We arrived in St. Louis pretty early but we still missed FNM. Everyone unpacked their stuff in our hotel but not before Ian “The Warrior” Ellis tried to check into the wrong place. After that we headed to the site. Cody Jennings and Jesse Ryan Patrick were loaning me the entire Turboland deck so that was sweet. In the meantime I was trying to get games in with Marty’s copy. He wanted to play some games though since he was unfamiliar with the deck so I just made fun of his plays until he gave it up.
John Donovon spotted me and asked what I was playing in the Legacy portion. I told him Reanimator if I could find a copy. Him being the gentleman that he is asked what I needed. I replied with “About 70 cards. I own Coffin Purges.”
He handed me a deck box and while it didn’t contain Reanimator I told him that I might have to audible into it. All foil foreign and beta Ad Nauseam was staring back at me. He told me to write him a list and that he’d get it together. I quickly scribbled down my list from memory thanked him and went to play more games.
Later that night Gabe Walls set up a conference call with us and LSV as we were all playing Turboland although in different tournaments. LSV was a little inebriated but Gabe and I hashed out what I think was close to the best list possible I could have for the event.
Since then I’ve had a few other ideas but knowing what I knew then I wouldn’t change anything.
Me Marty and Jason Schousboe all played the same 75 but Jason was the only one of us to crack the Top 8.
I went 1-1 against Mythic and 2-1 against Jund but each of the matches felt really close. The Jund plan was excellent but I just didn’t draw gas in one game or lands in the other in the match I lost.
Gabe wanted to side out Cobras against Jund but I don’t think that’s correct. You need to have a two-drop and they don’t always have the removal spell. If they do it eats their turn and makes it more likely your Oracle will live. I would be fine with shaving one for lack of better options but I think you want as much acceleration as possible for you sideboard fattie plan.
For a brief moment I had Leatherback Baloths for Jund and RDW but Gabe and LSV both told me they were basically uncastable but then again those guys play a lot of Tectonic Edges. I’m still not sure if it’s good or bad as I never got a chance to try it out.
Sphinx is incredibly hard for Jund to deal with and allows you to dodge all sorts of removal and even Thought Hemorrhage. Pelakka Wurm is for RDW and Jund since if you don’t get burned out most decks can’t beat you.
Against Mythic game 1 is in your favor since their only relevant card is Sovereigns of Lost Alara. Post board the dynamics change a bit as most are expecting Roil Elemental but not All is Dust. Sadly it seems like most bring in Negate anyway despite it not countering much that’s relevant.
Gabe and I devised a sideboarding plan that involved siding out the Oracles against Mythic. You really can’t afford to spend a turn casting a 2/2 that doesn’t really do anything. You don’t need to ramp quickly against Mythic you need to protect yourself from Sovereigns. Going infinite isn’t really a big deal; you just want to land an Avenger which will probably kill them on its own.
Control decks are still easy matchups and RDW is about as beatable as you want it to be. Post M11 I think the deck only gets better with Cultivate and Obstinate Baloth being welcome additions to the list. The new Timetwister might also be interesting.
Garruk Wildspeaker is probably good in the deck but I’m not sure where it goes. Mythic is the most problematic matchup so I want to try a few different plans against them. Summoning Trap seems like it could be a card that’s good against Mythic and Jund but you want different threats against both of those decks. I could see going for something high variance like Emrakul but that probably isn’t what you want to be doing.
I also considered a Polymorph sideboard plan but nearly everyone I talked to shot down that idea with the quickness. I should really get around to testing these ideas myself rather than relying on everyone else.
As I said earlier Jason made Top 8 with our list and he seemed to do it with relative ease. He went 7-0-1 in the swiss and intentionally drew in the last round. He won his quarterfinals matchup against Jund before running afoul of RDW stuck on six lands in game 2 with a Pelakka Wurm in hand.
Gabe didn’t win his PTQ and LSV scooped to Jeff Huang in his tournament so neither of us really put up results.
Oh well. Time to Reanimate some fatties!
There were a few things from my Atlanta list that I wasn’t really happy with but most of them stemmed from the fattie count. There were too many and it was still hard to draw the right ones in the right matchups. The Careful Study plus boom boom plan wasn’t great. Sure you could max out on something and make it somewhat consistent but which fattie would it be?
I ended up going more of a Hatfield-ian route down to five fatties and played some garbage Ponders. Forrest Marty Andy Hanson Craig Wescoe and I all played my list.
The Blazing Archon became a Platinum Angel as it seemed almost strictly better. Round 1 my Plat got Gempalm Incinerated and then if he drew a land he could have Warren Weirding-ed me for the win but he missed. If that was an Archon that wouldn’t have happened but still. Most decks that can kill an Archon can kill a Platinum Angel and vice versa. You can even Reanimate Platinum Angel going to negative life if you need to.
Misdirections were for Path to Exile and Edicts. Against Zoo you can either get Iona and name White and then sit there while you get burned out or get Sphinx and hope you can stop their Paths. Inquisition was another nod to Zoo but was also an option versus anything with Faerie Macabre or Ad Nauseam.
Everything else is pretty standard.
I hit up Donovan early Sunday morning and took a glimpse at one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. Foil Japanese fetches beta Undergrounds nearly foil everything else. Honestly the deck was a bit larger than I was used to since it was double sleeved and I couldn’t riffle shuffle like I would want to but oh well. It’s the price to pay for beauty.
Sadly I don’t think a single person commented on the pimpness of the deck.
I played against Chris Andersen round 1 with Goblins. I worked hard to get him the cards he needed for his Lands deck but then he ended up audibling anyway. I guess I signed Corey’s chest for nothing…
First game I got a quick Sphinx and Forced his Weirding. I Exhumed a Platinum Angel into play but that gave him enough guys to Gempalm it and hope to draw a land for a second Weirding. Thankfully he missed and Sphinx killed him.
Second game was kind of weird. I decided to Force a turn 1 Lackey but would let a Vial resolve. He had the Lackey and I Thoughtseized his Siege-Gang leaving him with another Lackey and a Warchief. Due to a lack of better options I Reanimated his Siege-Gang and cast a Bloodghast. He drew enough guys that we stalemated. I finally drew an Entomb but he peeled a Crypt so I Reanimated his Siege-Gang again forcing him to Crypt himself. It seemed like I should go all in and kill him before he could draw anything of relevance so I Reanimated my Terastodon going to one life and killed all of my lands. If he drew a Siege-Gang or Sharpshooter (which he probably didn’t board in) I was dead but he didn’t and elephants went the distance.
In round 2 I had Thoughtseize Reanimate and Mystical Tutor so I could go for broke and Reanimate on turn 2 but I decided to Thoughtseize first and see what was up. My opponent had Force Ponder and two Tops so I took the FOW and hoped he didn’t peel anything of relevance.
When he played Top on turn 1 I was worried that he drew Counterbalance and that’s exactly what happened. I could no longer proceed with my game plan since I had all one-drops. He gave me a two or three turn window to draw an Exhume but I failed.
Second game he a couple of Goyfs while I could only animate an Inkwell after durdling around for a bit. Naturally I couldn’t race and would need to Exhume something in order to kill him but he found Natural Order well before that happened.
I wished my opponent Dale good luck and meant it. Unfortunately he was 5-0 before going 0-3.
I beat another New Horizons-ish deck (Dale had Knights and Wastelands in his NO Bant build so they’re kind of the same thing) and then was paired against another played by ringer Nick Calcaterra.
I was on the Careful Study plan and had an Iona and Sphinx to discard. I decided that Iona on White was a much better path to victory and kept the Sphinx in hand for Force of Will. He shrugged at Iona and casually played Karakas and bounced it (to my hand).
After that I was basically out of gas and he beat me to death with animals.
Second game I mulliganed to five and he Wasted my only land. I Brainstormed in response and he Forced it which I don’t agree with. I had the option of Forcing back but let it resolve and FOWed his Goyf instead. Eight turns later I still didn’t have a land so it was pretty difficult to win.
I decided to stay in and won some more matches before losing the final round to Dredge. Nearly every single list I’ve seen can’t beat a maindeck Archon or Platinum Angel but he simply shrugged at my Angel nearly decked himself to find Angel of Despair and blew me out.
Second game I went for Iona and named Blue not only because he only had Coliseums for mana but he also didn’t have any Dredgers in the yard or outlets in play. I also figured that he would have Chain of Vapor which he did. Much like before he shrugged and casually played Karakas. Plains in your Dredge deck?! Grr…
Sometimes you repeatedly get one-outered.
So I went 6-2 and 5-3. Overall pretty bad records and that was probably within my control.
On the bright side Adam Barnello’s Mosswort Bridge/Emrakul deck made Top 8 in the hands of Michael Poszgay. That was one of the decks that I was considering playing since it looks so fun and awesome so I’m glad to see Adam’s creation doing well.
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