One hundred and twenty-five columns in and even I'm overwhelmed that I've lasted this long. My first writing stint with this here illustrious site here started more than ten years ago—and while you can find some of those articles on the site it takes a fair bit of work to get to them. Looking back on them I can find great stories that I still tell to this day like the Osamu Fujita “Rout” story working on Borg 2K with Bennie Smith and playing it at States when he chickened out and Friggin' Rizzo calling me a teddy bear (not sure where his article doing this is but my reference to it is here).
When I came back to fill in for Chris Romeo I honestly expected it to be a temporary assignment. But I've had a great time doing it even though I think at times it's more challenging than being a Pro and writing about your adventures cavorting around the world. (Okay I say that… but I'm jealous of it.) I'm looking forward to another hundred and twenty-five!
Milestones are weird.
StarCityGames.com Denver Open
I'm not sure exactly what happened to me last week. I got an email Thursday night from Craig asking if I had an article ready for him. I didn't even know it was Thursday. I'm not sure if losing my entire weekend to the SCG Open up in Denver got my “days of the week” radar all messed up or what but there I was —article-less in my pajamas watching Psych.
(See? I wasn't even watching Psych on the right day!)
I unfortunately had to tell him no although I had a moment of insight where I realized “Hey —tomorrow is Friday!” and did do a little dance. And I did want to write about my adventures at the Star City Open...
So here we are two weeks after the event with another Star City 5K in between ... so we'll go with the condensed version.
Saturday during the Standard portion I played Pyromancer Ascension. The list was identical to the list put forth at the end of my last column with the minor change of -1 Call to Mind and +1 Burst Lightning. And an actual sideboard consisting of Pyroclasms Flashfreezes little Jaces and yes I went for it: Lighthouse Chronologists.
I finished 5-4 not a tremendous statement on my play skills or the power of the deck. What I did learn though is that Lighthouse Chronologist turned out to be a great sideboard choice against of all things Red Deck Wins. The 1/3 body sits in front of Goblin Guides all day and every Lightning Bolt they point at him isn't going to your head. Granted that's not the best use of a Lighthouse Chronologist but you go with what works.
I really missed the countermagic in the sideboard in my U/W matches; a Dispel here or there might have made the difference. I will proudly state that I never “fizzled” and didn't miss any blatant “on the board” kills which I felt was pretty likely to happen considering the complicated chains of spells that the deck can set up.
We did eat at the Saucy Noodle on the way back to the Springs. I'm not a small man but even I cannot finish a whole portion of pasta in that place. Great food good times.
Sunday during Legacy I chose Reanimator as my weapon of choice. I was pretty much all-in on Reanimator well before the banning of Mystical Tutor. While it may have lost some of its innate power due to the inability to tutor up an Entomb it also had fallen enough out of the spotlight that I hoped that the amount of hate would be drastically reduced. Here's the list I ran:
I went with the mix of Personal Tutor and Lim-Dul's Vault to replace the lost Mystical Tutors. My opinion about Lim-Dul's Vault is this: in matchups where the life matters you're likely going to lose a lot more life if you have to cast Reanimate; in matchups where the life doesn't matter setting up your draws is worth four or five life. I did have to Personal Tutor for Careful Study a couple of times over the course of the tournament and whiffed at least once with it but this is what the current Reanimator deck is “stuck with” I think.
Why is It That Betrays in there? Well in my mind sometimes you can win the game right on the spot by reanimating Iona and naming the right color. It That Betrays gives you another “answer me on your next turn or you have lost the game” threat —if you can attack with him on turn 3 your opponent has zero chance to recover.
Beyond that though the creature selection is fairly standard nowadays I think. I did contemplate running It That Betrays main deck for a little bit (over Terastodon) and I had a second Maelstrom Pulse main deck to compensate for losing the Terastodon but there were just too many fringe cases where finding Maelstrom Pulse (or Personal Tutor) was a heck of a lot harder than just reanimating a Terastodon. Gilded Drake made it into my sideboard to fight against the Emrakul / Show and Tell decks.
Null Rod is for the various CounterTop matchups. I probably could ditch the Reverent Silences as I never found a spot where I really wanted to side them in; with Maelstrom Pulse and Terastodon and Echoing Truth in a pinch I already had answers available.
I got a chance to introduce myself to Evan Erwin before the tournament started.
Me: “Hi I wanted to introduce myself —we share Fridays!”
Evan: “You're a lot grayer than your profile picture!”
I started out the Legacy portion very strong playing against the dream matchup — mono-red Burn — not even Goblins! — in rounds 1 and 2. It's not a complete shutout; if you're forced to rely on Reanimate and they can do a bunch of early damage to you they can steal a game here and there but by and large the bodies that you reanimate are just great against them — either you're pulling up Sphinx of the Steel Wind to reverse all the damage they've done or you're bringing out Iona and shutting off their arsenal.
In Round 1 I had turn 3 Sphinx or Iona in the games I won; in Round 2 I had turn 2 Iona on Red in both games. I then pulled out victory against CounterTopGoyf in Round 3; Inkwell Leviathan completely earned his pay in those games.
In Round 4 I was paired up with eventual Top 8 member Harrison Beach who out-countered me after sideboarding and set up my path out of contention. I then lost Round 5 against a U/G/B Control deck that I don't know the name of and then lost Round 6 to CounterTopGoyf played by local heartthrob Alex Smith. (Well he's no Shuuhei Nakamura but so few men are.)
I finished out strong (it's a euphemism) with a win in Round 7 and hoped for the best!
….Aaand just missed the newly-extended payout by a few percentage points.
The long and the short? The Star City 5k events are amazing. Huge payouts great players tons of side events and the chance to win your way into the Star City Invitational? If there was another one within driving distance I'd certainly be willing to lose track of another week for the chance to attend.
This week we got word from Glenn Godard and Sun Mesa Events that once again our local independent Premier Tournament Organizers are banding together and bringing us the replacement effect for the old States tournament: The 2010s. All the big boys are participating: Star City Professional Events Gray Matter all the big dogs.
Now I love States. With its placement in the schedule immediately following the October “big set” release and the complete rotation of the Standard environment I think it's possibly the one tournament that rewards innovative deckbuilders more than effective gameplay machines. This time around we have exactly eight days from the street release of Scars of Mirrodin to the tournament date — that it patently insane. I'm not even sure that I'll be able to pick up the commons and uncommons from Scars that I might need by then —never mind the prospect of picking up a set of a popular mythic. Bonkers.
By the time you read this there actually might be some news about Scars. This weekend there's a Scars party at PAX and a Scars event at PT Amsterdam. Official previews start on Monday. Since we have an idea of what Scars of Mirrodin is going to hold I want to bring your attention to the following:
All those “hint” cards that Wizards printed to foreshadow Scars are still remarkably cheap!
Lodestone Golem ($1.49):
Despite being one of the central beasts in Vintage MUD (I don't know I read Stephen Menendian) this guy is still only a buck and a half. With Scars about to possibly bring another hundred or so artifacts into Standard it's possible that Lodestone Golem will fill his Vintage role in Standard as well.
Stoneforge Mystic ($4.99):
The leonin had a mad-on for all the equipment we saw in Mirrodin the first time. Will Scars return us back to an equipment-heavy environment where fetching out a toolbox of swords and axes will be beneficial? With Sword of Vengeance already in Standard and the FTV-spoiled Sword of Body and Mind coming there might not need to be any additional equipment to return Stoneforge Mystic back up to $8-$10. Or higher.
Phylactery Lich ($4.99):
There are two reasons Phylactery Lich isn't costed correctly for a 5/5 indestructible for three mana — first there's no deck that currently can afford BBB in the early turns and second the artifacts available for storing the Lich's soul just aren't thrilling. Scars of Mirrodin is definitely going to bring us a bevy of new artifacts to stuff a lich's soul into — and from experience I can tell you that mono-black's biggest issue currently in Standard is that it can't handle 95% of Jund's creatures and guess where Jund is going. (Hint: It's Extended.)
Hoarding Dragon ($0.99):
Baneslayer Angel has us all spoiled as to what five mana should buy. Serra Angel was perfectly good in her day! Again the reason Hoarding Dragon is currently so cheap is because there just isn't anything game-breaking that he can fetch out. Eternity Vessel? Come on. Scars will definitely be bringing more artifacts into Standard; will Hoarding Dragon be able to fetch out game-breakers once we see the new set?
Just something to think about as we head into the first round of spoilers.
Next week we head into the official spoilers! Man I'm excited. Start making your plans now to attend a Pre-Release or Launch Party (or both!) and start brewing for The 2010s!
Until next week
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