How To Support Your Wife And Almost Win States In The Same Day... In Two Different Cities At The Same Time
Having not played tournament Magic for a number of months (since Regionals), I figured the best time to jump back in would be with the addition of a new Block, so I decided to play in the Arizona State Championship. Ever since the pre-release of Mirrodin I had been brainstorming with some local players and friends (whom I will mention later), as well as spending a lot of time building proxy decks and seeing how terrible they really were. I still had not settled on a deck by the week before the tournament, but I had it narrowed down to a few decks: R/W control, R/G Land Destruction (because it just wins sometimes), and a tricky mono-red Goblins build that recent Arizona resident, emerging professional, and good man Adam Prosak and I had been discussing.
What deck to play? I wasn't sure that any of them were all that great, but I also decided it didn't matter all that much at a tournament like States where nobody has it figured out yet.
The deciding factor on choosing my deck came from an unusual source: my wife. My wife does not play Magic. My wife has never wanted to learn to play Magic. My wife doesn't even understand why my cards can't be put away all the time so she doesn't have to look at them in stacks on the computer desk. (Can I get a little help on this one? Saying"It's too hard to put them away and take them out again," just doesn't seem to cut it.)
What my wife does do, however, is sing opera. She is extremely talented and is working on a Master's Degree in Opera Performance and really seems to be on track for a long and prosperous career. (I may be biased, but having a few degrees in music myself kind of gives me some credibility.) Tuesday night she approached me and asked what I was doing on Saturday. I explained to her that I was playing in States, but I was unsure what deck I was playing. To this she replied,"You should play Goblin Bidding; it's a very fast and consistent deck in a new format such as State Championships and would allow you to play cards that just win games outright, like Patriarch's Bidding."
Time slows. I blink. Twice."I'm sorry, hon, what was that?"
"I said," she repeats (with the look in her eyes that tells me I missed something important),"I really wanted you to be there on Saturday afternoon for my Metropolitan Opera competition audition, but you're going to go play cards instead? This is very important to me, and I really want you to be there. You said you wanted to hear me sing more; here's your chance. My audition is at 2:10 in the afternoon, and is only about ten minutes long."
So I did hear correctly... Sort of, except the only words those two statements have in common are"you","and", and"play". I definitely wanted to be there for her, that's what marriage is about; supporting and loving each other.
In my hopelessly optimistic mind, I think about how I can do both and still be successful... Then it hits me like a ton of bricks.
I know! I'll play a very fast deck that will give me a chance to win in fifteen minutes or less. I will hope that I can finish in enough time to win, leave, and come back in time to not miss any rounds! What a great plan! I'll play Goblin Bidding!
4 Goblin Prospector
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Warchief
4 Goblin Sharpshooter
4 Gempalm Incinerator
4 Siege-Gang Commander
3 Patriarch's Bidding
2 Pyrite Spellbomb
3 City of Brass
4 Bloodstained Mire
Nothing is ever easy. Just remember that. I keep telling myself that the good things in life are never easily obtained. Sometimes, I even believe it.
After making arrangements to borrow the cards I need for the deck on Friday night, I show up around 9:45 to the tournament site to discover that Wocco (another friend, Ryan Rocco) has instead lent his cards to another individual, since he thought I wasn't going to show up. Who shows up more than fifteen minutes before a tournament, anyway? Luckily, I gather my group of friends and we are able to put the deck together about five minutes before the tournament started (many thanks to Phimus Pan, primary card lender). I just so happened to bring my lands and sideboard pre-sleeved, and it saved me a ton of time.
Over a hundred people are entered, making this the largest Arizona State Championships ever. Congratulations to Ray Powers for a great turnout! Seven rounds of Swiss; pairings go up, and we are off!
Round 1: Nick Gianas, U/W Control
Before this round started, someone informed me that U/W was rampant and black border Coastal Towers were selling for upwards of $5 before the tournament. Tough beat... I had six in my binder. Nick is very cool, and in shuffling inadvertently revealed to me that he has a Coastal Tower in his deck. U/W #1! I rolled a one on the twenty-sided die and surprisingly, lost the die roll. Here's to good starts!
Game 1: Nick opens the first few turns with lands, while my turns consist of laying little red men and turning them sideways; Goblin Prospector, Goblin Warchief, Goblin Piledriver, Goblin Sharpshooter... his life went 20-19-17-10-5-0. He had one Wrath of God but not two, and the post-Wrath Siege-Gang Commander did him in.
Let me just say that Nick was patient with me and I want to thank him for it. I was learning the deck on the fly, having only talked about how to play the deck effectively. Not that this deck is hard, but the math can be a little tricky sometimes if you're not used to it.
-4 Gempalm Incinerator, -3 Sparksmith, +3 Flashfires, +1 Patriarch's Bidding, +2 Pyrite Spellbomb (I think he might have Silver Knight or something, and it lets me draw into Patriarch's Bidding more often... I think.) (Which is only cards, but he just said that the math can be a little tricky sometimes. =Knut)
Game 2: Nick opened up this game with Circle of Protection: Red on Turn 2, which earned a mighty frown from me. I knew I could still win around it, but it would make resolving a Patriarch's Bidding much more crucial if the game lasted too long. I laid a second-turn Goblin Piledriver, and could not follow it up with more than a Goblin Sledder or two. He was preventing all but one damage per turn with a Circle of Protection: Red, and managed to get an Exalted Angel into play and swing once with it to gain some life back.
I had two Patriarch's Biddings in hand, but was stuck on four land when he was forced to Wrath of God away the board due to Goblin Warchief allowing me to play a Siege-Gang Commander or two. After the Wrath of God, Nick was unwilling to put any more pressure on me, and was instead drawing cards with Thirst for Knowledge, cycling Eternal Dragons, and feeling confident behind the Circle of Protection: Red. I continued to draw a creature almost every turn (and a couple of Terrors) and drop it into play, but I was still stuck on four land.
For about three turns in a row Nick tapped out (or only had 1 land untapped) on his turn to play Exalted Angels, which I promptly Terrored at the end of his turns, hoping to draw land for what would have been a game-ending Patriarch's Bidding on the following turn.
Nothing is ever easy, though. I missed my window, and Nick wisely left counter mana available (or wisely drew a counter?). Three guesses what my draw that turn was! Patriarch's Bidding got Mana Leaked, and on the next turn, the second one got Mana Leaked as well. Nick was starting to establish control of the game with a fair amount of cards in hand, Eternal Dragons in the graveyard, and lots of mana. I stayed in the game for a while longer, hoping to draw the miracle Patriarch's Bidding for the win, but Nick finally played an Eternal Dragon and started going to town on my life total.
-3 Flashfires, +3 Sparksmith, for speed in trying to win game three.
Game 3: I was playing pretty slowly at times last game, and it cost me a chance to win this game, as time was called as I mulliganed. I spent too much time thinking about Siege-Gang Commander math, but I was learning how to figure the math quickly. Perhaps I should have conceded with about ten minutes left in order to give me a chance to win game 3 while locking him out of a victory (I don't think his deck could win in ten minutes), but I didn't think about that until the round had already ended, since I felt as though I still had a chance in game 2 (his ending life total was five).
Into the draw bracket! So much for having a fast deck...I was asked by at least 13,000 people after the round,"You drew with Goblins?" It had to get better...
Games 1-1, Rounds 0-0-1
Round 2: Michael King, G/W Seedborn Muse/Soldier deck
Michael is also very nice, and lets me know in our pre-game chatter that he was worried about Goblins today. I wasn't sure if that was good or bad, but I told myself that it was a good thing.
Game 1: I won the die roll but didn't play a little red man until turn 3, while Michael plays a turn 2 Wall of Hope (stating that it was in his deck because of my deck). That is a small frown, but I was able to cycle Gempalm Incinerator after he blocked my Goblin Warchief to remove it. Michael was Primal Growthing and Sylvan Scrying while I played a pair of Goblin Sharpshooters, but he Wing Sharded my Goblin Warchief, so the Siege-Gang Commander I played on turn 6 got to sit on the table for a turn before going to work. As any self-respecting White player is wont to do, he cast Wrath of God, killing my team. Frown. Luckily, I had a Bidding in hand and all the requisite parts of the combo in my graveyard (Prospector/Sledder, Goblin Warchief, pair of Goblin Sharpshooters) to win the game the next turn, taking him from sixteen to zero in one shot.
-4 Gempalm Incinerator, -1 Sparksmith, +2 Terror, +3 Flashfires
Game 2: He played turn 1 Wall of Hope, turn 2 Circle of Protection: Red, turn 3 Damping Matrix. As you might well imagine, this game didn't start all that well. He got his combo into play - of all of his sideboard cards + Seedborn Muse + Mobilization - and things didn't seem to be going my way. As it turned out, I was able reduce him to one life before he hard-cast a Renewed Faith to go back to seven life, then made a number of tokens with Decree of Justice at the end of my turn. I was at eleven life, but on his turn he cast Daru Warchief and swung for twelve and the win.
-3 Sparksmith, +3 Shatter
Game 3: Guess what? Turn 2 Circle of Protection: Red, Turn 3 Damping Matrix is pretty good vs. the goblin deck. Luckily, I drew a lot of little red men with a Goblin Warchief in play and managed to reduce him to ten life off of a fast draw of Goblin Prospector, Goblin Warchief, and Goblin Piledriver before he cast Wrath of God.
I didn't recover well after the Wrath, and he got his Seedborn/Mobilization combo into play and started making little white men. Like a champ, I was able to keep playing Siege-Gang Commanders for three turns in a row and held off his tokens. An Exalted Angel on his side of the table got Terrored, and I now had a Bidding in hand.
Stupid Damping Matrix... I really needed one of those Shatters I boarded in. I was still at seventeen life, but I could feel the game slipping away as he continued to tutor up more land and was looking to start generating a lot of soldiers. He was also able to keep enough mana on the table to prevent all my damage, since he was untapping with the Seedborn Muse.
I was running out of creatures to block his 2/2 tokens (thanks to Daru Warchief), and things were slipping away. Who plays turn 2 Circle of Protection and turn 3 Damping Matrix twice, anyway? I drew my card for the turn, and decided it was the time to make a move. I cast Bidding, and brought back a veritable cornucopia of goblins including three (!) Siege-Gang Commanders, a Goblin Warchief, a Goblin Prospector, and a Goblin Sharpshooter. I shoved all but the Goblin Sharpshooter into the red zone (much to the chagrin of the crowd; I heard mutters about my misplay), and waited for all of his blocking and prevention effects before damage went on the stack. Once damage was on the stack, I tapped two mana and revealed the last card in hand: Zersplittern, a.k.a. Shatter. Shatter is a good man, even in German (Zersplittern ist ein güter mann, ja?).
"That's why he didn't attack with the Sharpshooter, you moron," was heard from the crowd.
Nothing is ever easy.
Games 3-2, Matches 1-0-1
Round 3: Dusty Ochoa with U/W Control
Once again I had a nice opponent, albeit a bit quiet. Then again, I do a lot of talking between and after games, and am often quiet during gameplay. Dusty rolled a 1, which I matched with a 1 of my own (that's twice so far!), but was able to beat his 17 with an 18.
Game 1: I lead off with a Goblin Prospector, and Dusty played a Coastal Tower. Ugh. U/W #2...this fast match thing wasn't working out so far, but this round had started at 12:30, so I am optimistic that I could pull off the highly improbable feat a round from now. I attacked and passed the turn after playing the second land. Dusty cycled an Eternal Dragon mainphase, and passed the turn after playing his third land. I brought a Goblin Warchief into the fray and attacked for 3. His turn: land, Wrath of God. They always have it turn 4!
I played only a Goblin Sledder next turn, with the promise of a Siege-Gang Commander next turn. He played a morph (I wonder what it was?), and passed the turn. I drew Goblin Warchief and played it, and swung in for three. No blocks. I played a Goblin Sharpshooter and passed the turn. He decided to swing in with the recently unmorphed angel, and passed it back again. I played another 1/1, and passed the turn after attacking. Things get a little fuzzy here, but I killed the Angel on his attack phase (I think via Gempalm Incinerator, double-Sharpshooter by sacrificing a Goblin) and he played another one. I Sharpshooter him once pre-combat in expectation of a possible lethal Bidding resolution. I get it to resolve, but have just the exact amount (or maybe one extra) damage available after they all come back into play to Sharpshooter him out. I don't attack, but instead I fear the Renewed Faith that would make me decimate my board but have him survive.
I'm sure I made a mistake here somewhere, but for some reason I think about the fact that you can't respond to cycling (even though I'm sure the life gain goes on the stack). I had the Siege-Gang Commander still in hand, so I was confident that I could win next turn unless he has both a counter and the Wrath of God. I start sacrificing things to do a few points of damage in order to test the waters, and he starts to scoop up his cards just as I pass the turn. Seeing the weakness, I went ahead and Goblin Sharpshootered him out during his upkeep before he could draw anything helpful.
-4 Gempalm Incinerator, -3 Sparksmith, +3 Flashfires, +2 Terror, +1 Patriarch's Bidding, +1 Pyrite Spellbomb (Still waiting for Silver Knight, I guess)
Game 2: Dustin started with a Flooded Strand and I lead off with a Goblin Sledder. He laid another land and passed. I attacked for one, then made a Goblin Piledriver. He drew, and mainphase cycled Eternal Dragon for his plains then gave me the go-ahead. I laid my third land, played Goblin Warchief and attacked for eight. This is the kind of draw I need more often! He draws, plays his 4th land and tapped it all for Wrath of God. Wait, Solemn Simulacrum you said? OK! He fetched his 5th land and passed the turn. I made another Goblin Piledriver and Dustin was finished. A fairly fast round, especially considering the last two!
Games 5-2, Matches 2-0-1
I was looking at my watch and the round ending time; it looks like I might have a chance to pull off the getting-slightly-less improbable task of winning next round and getting to the audition on time! This is when I needed the fast draws the most; this is when I would learn if my wife and I chose the right deck.
The next round starts at 1:30 PM, and I was feeling pretty good about my chances at this point as long as I get a fast matchup (read: not U/W)
Round 4: Ryan"Wacco" Rocco, with Suicide Black sporting Grinning Demon and Hollow Specter
As I walked up to Rocco, all kinds of good feelings came up. He told me that he has just about no chance in game 1, but he feels good after sideboarding. I won the die roll (yay!) and we're off!
Game 1: He wasn't lying when he said his deck is outmatched game 1. I played a Goblin Sledder, and he plays a Headhunter. I made a Sparksmith, which drew a large groan from Rocco. He swung with his Headhunter on his turn, which I blocked with the Goblin Sledder. Rocco made a Hollow Specter and passed. I obviously made a Goblin Piledriver, shot the Specter, then passed. Rocco made another Hollow Specter on his turn and was done.
I shot this new Specter, and then attacked for the almighty one damage. He then made a Graveborn Muse, and said go. I played another Sledder, shot the Muse, and attacked again. Rocco played another Graveborn Muse and expounded about how bad this game is for him. I drew, shot his black man, drop a Goblin Warchief into play, and attacked for eight. Life totals were twelve to ten in my favor, and I had dealt all eighteen damage! Rocco takes his turn, drops another Specter and passes the turn. On my turn I shoot his Specter (going to eight!), play another Goblin Piledriver and attack for the win.
That game only took five minutes! It was 1:35 p.m., and I needed to leave by 1:45 in order to insure an on-time arrival at my wife's audition, since it is a solid twenty-minute drive (with some help from traffic lights, longer if the fates frown on me) to get back across the Valley to Arizona State. There was a chance!
-3 Patriarch's Bidding, +2 Oversold Cemetery, +1 Pyrite Spellbomb (he has a lot of zombies, and I'm not sure Bidding is a card I want, since I know he is siding in Withered Wretches; Oversold Cemetery is fine because all I need is four creatures to make it happen)
Game 2: This was a very close game on the score sheet, with a lot of life changes that I cannot possibly remember enough to describe in detail. We were both able to get out early creatures that did some trading in combat, but he was able to gain a small advantage due to the fact that one or two of his men were Rotlung Reanimator. I was able to negate this some due to having two Gempalm Incinerators to keep the playing field level. I was taking some damage from his creatures, but I was able to get Oversold Cemetery into play and recur a Gempalm for some more card advantage. Rocco played a Graveborn Muse that started ticking away his life total while he dug for an answer - namely, Withered Wretch.
He knew that if I was able to constantly recur my creatures I would win the war of attrition, especially once I played Siege-Gang Commander (which makes all sorts of problems for him, if I can recur it every turn). As Rocco dug thru his deck for the Wretch, I was able to block his never-ending stream of attackers (thanks, Unholy Grotto) and start throwing Goblins at his face. His life total was dwindling as my hand was refilling thanks to Gempalm and Cemetery, so I decided to let Graveborn Muse help me win this game faster by not killing it.
I had enough sources on the table to start recurring Siege-Gang Commander every turn and still throw one at his head, so it was definitely looking grim for Rocco. I was at a low life total myself, and I was pretty sure he had a Gempalm Polluter in hand so I had to be very careful about having enough blockers. Rocco drew his cards for the turn, taking him to two life; I was at three with a Siege-Gang Commander in the yard along with three of his friends, and he only had one zombie in play and now three cards in hand. He drew nothing that helped him, and died to a recurred Siege-Gang Commander the following turn.
Games 7-2, Matches 3-0-1
I have to admit that I was very nervous all match, as I really needed to leave by 1:45 regardless of the outcome or game standing. As it turned out, it was exactly 1:45 when the match ended. How lucky! I reported and ran to my car so I could begin the trek across Chandler and Mesa to get back to Tempe.
Nothing is ever easy.
I hit possibly every red light on the trip there, and with the grace of having no speed-tracking devices on the highway make it to the audition site about 45 seconds before my wife starts singing. Wow! My heart was pounding with the adrenalin rush of driving a"few" miles over the speed limit and running to and from the car. My wife sang beautifully and was greeted by a large round of applause by the crowd when she was finished (for those of you wondering - and I'll admit it's probably not many - she performed arias from Mozart's Don Giovanni and Floyd's Susannah).
I look at my watch and it is about 2:20; the round was ending right about then, but I figured with the extra turns, review of standings (maybe) and posting pairings I would be able to make it back in time to just receive a game loss, and play games 2 and 3 (I told the judges that I might be absent the following round, and not to drop me from the tournament for being a no-show). All I had to do was wait for my wife to meet me in the lobby so I could congratulate her and show her my support and love, then I could be on my way back to States. That's all I had to do was wait.
It was 2:20. Then 2:25. 2:30. No wife yet. At 2:35 she finally made her appearance, and I was pretty frustrated that my well-laid plans for the impossible were slipping through my fingers. I had to control myself not to get upset with her for not meeting me immediately afterwards, but I was there to support her and was able to escape with just a brief mention of 'Where were you?' before reining in my frustration. She was very happy about her audition and after we talked for a minute I ran back to my car to attempt to use the flux capacitor and travel backwards in time to play my round, since it was already 2:40 by the time I got moving again. As it turns out, my car is a 1991 Subaru and not a DeLorean, and I miss my round 5. Frown. It almost worked! I almost made it back were it not for the delay! My opponent was:
Round 5: Michael Fimbres, Deck Unknown
Match loss for being a fan of happy marriages. So I received a loss, but didn't lose.
Games 7-4, Matches 3-1-1
It was time to win out into the top 8!
Round 6: Phimus Pan, with Suicide Black sporting Grinning Demon and Hollow Specter
Phimus, the man who lent me most of the cards for my deck. Phimus, the man who is playing the same deck as my easiest match of the day. Phimus, the man who stayed in the tournament at 3-2 before this round just to see if his deck was in fact a pile of feces. Phimus, the man who decided to concede so I may have a chance to make Top 8 with his cards. Phimus, the man with the Barry White-like voice... I salute you.
Games 8-4, Matches 4-1-1
For those opponents of the concession, let me just say that Phimus was in no way obligated, cajoled, or compensated for his concession. Let me also say that all three people I knew who were running this suicide black deck today admitted that goblins just beats the pants off of it. Just to see what happened, we played a game. I had a horrid draw and he had about the best draw he could have. I won anyway.
Standings went up, and I was in 9th place with the best tiebreakers among the 13-pointers.
Round 7: Sean"Tabby" Fitzgerald, with U/W Control
Woo! Nothing better than playing against the #1 rated constructed player in Arizona in the final round of Swiss where the winner goes on to the Top Eight. And U/W Control deck #3, too! I wonder if he has Circle of Protection: Red in his board...
Game 1: I'll have to ask Sean why his nickname is Tabby. Maybe it's because of his cat-like reflexes while playing hackey-sack between rounds. Maybe it's because he used too many tabs in his formatting when writing a report to Starcitygames.com and the Ferrett dubbed him so.
Maybe it's because he took out the claws and mauled me in this game.
I had my first three threats Mana Leaked, and then Tabby killed whatever I got into play after that with Wrath of Gods, then made two 4/4 angels with Decree of Justice and smashing me with them. Yeah, that must be it. He was at seventeen when the game ended.
-4 Gempalm Incinerator, -3 Sparksmith, +3 Flashfires, +2 Terror, +1 Patriarch's Bidding, +1 Shatter (to have an out vs. Damping Matrix or possible Oblivion Stone)
Game 2: We both mulliganed, and Tabby keeps what was a land-light draw. I don't get to play a threat until turn 3 Goblin Warchief, and he is stuck on 1 land. I added a Goblin Piledriver to the fray two turns later, while Tabby has improved to 3 lands. He then cycled Eternal Dragon mainphase for the 4th land and passed the turn. Next turn I Flashfired away his two Plains, and it was just one more attack until he was finished.
Game 3: Tabby mulliganed again, while I drew a nice hand containing Flashfires, some 1/1 goblins, and a Goblin Warchief. As it turns out he kept a one land hand again, and my 1/1s started going to work. On about the 5th turn I wanted to press my advantage, so after he tapped out to cast a Story Circle I threw another 1/1 into the fray and swung for five. I only had three lands myself, so I used my remaining two untapped lands and sacrificed some goblins to Goblin Prospector to Flashfires away his one Plains to keep him off of Wrath of God mana. He remained there at two land for the remainder of the game, and I was able to grind out the win with my Goblin Warchief and a Goblin Sharpshooter, even though he did have the Mana Leak for what would have been a lethal Siege-Gang Commander.
Games 10-5, Matches 5-1-1
Wow, after getting a match loss, making Top Eight at a 100+ person tournament is feels very good. Now on to the single elimination! It was about 5:30 or so when they announced the Top Eight, and we started play shortly thereafter.
Top 8: Michael Fimbres, with U/W Control
Well, well, well! Look at who we have here - the beneficiary of my absence in round five... Let's see how this matchup works when there isn't an empty seat, shall we?
Game 1: This game wasn't very interesting. I played Goblin Prospector, Goblin Piledriver and Goblin Sharpshooter before he could Wrath of God away my team, but not before I reduced him to ten life. I played Siege-Gang Commander after the Wrath, and he had no answer. A boring, vicious beating... No complaints here.
-4 Gempalm Incinerator, -3 Sparksmith, +3 Flashfires, +2 Terror, +1 Patriarch's Bidding, +1 Pyrite Spellbomb (SOMEONE has to be playing Silver Knight, right? Right?!? It lets me get around Circle of Protection: Red at the end of a game, too)
Game 2: I started with a few little red men, while Michael's first play was a Circle of Protection: Red on Turn 2. Anyone else getting sick of hearing about that card? I was. Good thing it isn't the panacea people thought it would be. I slowly chipped away at Michael's life total; my score pad doesn't have him losing more than one life at a time. The game lasts agonizingly long, as my opponent was just drawing cards and playing lands while hiding behind his two Circle of Protection: Reds and an Oblivion Stone.
Many turns pass while I continue to play just enough little red men to keep him honest, and he leaves his Eternal Dragon in his graveyard or continues to cycle them instead of playing one and killing me with it in three or four turns. I start to get a little annoyed, as he is just neglecting things that could cost him later on in the game. His Circles of Protection sat on the table with his Oblivion Stone for about twelve to fifteen turns until he remembered to use some of his twenty mana on the table to put fate counters on them. He eventually gets brave enough to make a dragon, and eventually I succumb to it since he had a Rewind for the Patriarch's Bidding I attempted to play.
Quick aside for all those people playing a control deck that has large men in them: If you want to be a better player please, please learn when the time comes to become the aggressor. Having played a lot of different aggressive decks, I have won a ton of games versus the control decks because the control player ton knows when to go aggressive and gives me a chance to set up my hand exactly as I want in order to make my move.
Most aggressive decks have a point in time where they are vulnerable, because it is near impossible to draw a threat every turn. This becomes even more important when spells like Obliterate are in the format, because all of your well-laid plans to play that Mahamoti Djinn/Morphling/Exalted Angel/Eternal Dragon with four counterspell-effect backup may be destroyed, and you find yourself on the losing end of a game you should have won. It's imperative that you remember that the object is to win the game, not to bore your opponent to death while setting up the perfect hand.
-3 Pyrite Spellbomb, +3 Shatter (I finally gave up on the spellbombs, and if he was using Oblivion Stone he might very well be using Damping Matrix as well, so I figured Shatter is a fine replacement)
Game 3: I opened up with a Goblin Sledder, and followed it up with a Goblin Prospector on turn 2. On Turn 3 Michael played an Oblivion Stone, which I promptly Shattered at the end of his turn. That brought some frustration out of my opponent, and I can tell he wasn't expecting that play at all. I was unable to find any more attacking threats, but was able to play a Goblin Sharpshooter to add to the team. Michael played a Circle of Protection: Red, and it slows my attacks down significantly.
I was able to play a Siege-Gang Commander and overload the Circle of Protection for some damage, bringing my opponent to ten. He then cast Wrath of God and Mana Leaked my Patriarch's Bidding the following turn. Michael started to build his mana base by cycling Eternal Dragons. I didn't draw very many threats at this point in the game, and was able to just keep a creature or two on the table. I remember Terroring a pair of Exalted Angels, and then Michael Wrathed my team away again.
At some point in the match we came to a creature battle when he made some soldier tokens with Decree of Justice. I remember a singular soldier token emerging from the fray and it hitting me for five or six turns in a row until I was able to finally play a Goblin Piledriver to stop the soldier beatings. A major turning point occurred in the match shortly thereafter; Michael continued to not return Eternal Dragon, and made another Oblivion Stone (which was pretty much irrelevant at this point in the game). It was a couple turns after this when I think the turning point in the match occurred.
I played a relatively harmless card (considering he had two Circles of Protection: Red in play and about seventeen mana), and Michael responded by Mana Leaking it... Three times (not at the same time, consecutively after I paid the three mana). Not being one to mind the playing of lots of counterspells on something minor, I just considered myself fortunate and kept playing. A few turns later, I draw another Patriarch's Bidding and attempt to play it. After much deliberation from my opponent (looking at my graveyard, looking at his graveyard, looking at the card in his hand...rinse and repeat), I hear the magic words:"That's fine."
After stating that I choose Goblins for my creature type, Michael starts getting ornery and irate, cursing his luck that he didn't draw any Rewinds but instead drew all four Mana Leaks. I didn't have the heart to tell him that three Mana Leaks would have stopped my Patriarch's Bidding. After some Goblin Sharpshooter action to overload his Circle of Protection, I was able to do the last amount of damage needed to finish the match with about five minutes remaining in our time limit for the round.
Games 12-6, Rounds 6-1-1
Did I forget to mention that I had also promised my wife that I would go to a reception given by the Metropolitan Opera boosters at 7 p.m. that night? The Top 8 match ended at about 6:40, and so I figured I would call her and try to convince her that playing in this tournament to its completion is more important than going to the reception.
There aren't many times where I wished we had cell phones. This was one of them. There was no answer, so I considered my options at this point.
1) Stay and try to become the Arizona State Champion so I can win a few more packs and a plaque that I won't be allowed to display, and leave my wife wondering where I am and why I had stood her up for an important event that I had promised to attend.
2) Drop out of the top 4 and go home to attend a nice reception, have a good dinner (let me add that all I had to eat that day was an ice cream bar), and continue to support my wife in something that is important to her. (Read: not get in big trouble.)
Much to the dismay of friends of mine who were still around to watch including good man Adam Prosak (who had also advanced to the Top 4) I chose option #2 - otherwise known as The Correct Answer. I collected my new fancy playmat, filled out my information for Wizards, collected my packs, and wished Adam good luck. Even with all the adversity and frustration of having to find another deck, missing a round, taking a match loss, not eating, and dropping out of the Top Four of a highly-touted Magic tournament it was an amazing day.
Like I said, nothing is ever easy and the good things in life are not easily obtained. I believe it.
Thanks for reading!
Odds & Ends
- The deck is very solid, and there weren't any cards in the maindeck or sideboard I would change if I had to do it over again; I had game against any deck in the field.
- Congratulations to new AZ state champion, Adam Prosak! I wish we could have had the all-Ohio finals, but oh well. Good luck in New Orleans!
- Fun things to do at a tournament: Give lots of high fives, talk like Snoop Dogg ("cycle Slizzle and Dizzle"), and eat ice cream bars from an Italian pizzeria.
- Thanks to Adam's round five opponent for joining in on the Snoop talk by telling his friend that he and Adam were in game 'thrizzle', the deciding game.
- If you want to have some exposure to opera, Mozart's Don Giovanni is a great place to start. An opera about a man who has slept with 1003 women in Spain alone with great music, betrayal, swordfights, comedy, and a statue that comes to life in one of the more famous opera scenes ever (also shown in the movie Amadeus). Good stuff.
- After talking to my wife that night, she said it would have been fine to stay and win the tournament if I would have been able to talk to her beforehand and not just leave her hanging. We may be getting cell phones really soon...
- If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. I'd like to hear from you.