Magic has been really good to me lately.  Trades are good, I’m mulling to five less, and it seems like I’m top decking right when I need it.  Such was the case this Tuesday at 20ss.  I got in really early, like 15 mins before the store opened… I was antsy.  I hadn’t played constructed in like two weeks.  I got a shift back at the job (which is wonderful), but that meant I couldn’t play the game on Sundays anymore.  Totally bummed about that, but let’s face facts: I need to eat/ buy things like Thragtusks (I HAVE 0) and a Christmas present for my girlfriend.  Working is important, it keeps me off the streets.  Also If I play too many times a week, I start to not care as much.  Individual games matter less and I start to get lax in my play.  There’s a nexus of M:tG that if I go over, I start to regress.   Playing less means I appreciate the game more and I’m better for it.

Like I said though, I was early.  And I was a little hung over from last night’s staff party at the bar. Walking back from coffee, I ran into Matt Jones, we went on a Dayquil/aspirin quest where we ran into Li Xu.  This was starting to sound like the plot from Final Fantasy XXVI.  I get aspirin, Matt gets his Dayquil and Li is along for the ride then we head back tot he shop.

Li and Matt settle into Modern testing and I spy Phil.  Phil’s rocking a homebrew tonight for Standard.  He wants to give it a spin. He crushes me 2 games in a row.  I’m like a blind seeing eye dog at this game.  Homebrews confuse me, as I have not idea what I’m playing against.  I’ve said it before, I’m really great once a format is established.  I learn my deck and then I play and learn the other decks.  Know thy Enemy, that sorta thing.  Recently Matt Jones commented that I like counterspells, not untrue.  Really though, I’m a spike at heart, I want to play whatever deck I think I have the best chance of winning with.  That’s not to say I’ll jump ship every week for a deck of the week, but I pay attention to the meta shift and then try to learn a deck I think is the most resilient to rifts.  Part of that stems from learning to play this game when I was 14… I couldn’t afford more than one deck.  Actually most of the time I couldn’t afford a full deck.  Rainbow Efreet had to be Ephemerons and stuff like that.  You work with what you got.  Yeah… where was I?  Oh, right homebrews.  Homebrews are my silver bullet.  I don’t know what they do so I can’t figure out where to strike.  I’m still feeling the hangover and Phil needs to deal with his sideboard so I wander around.

After a bit, round one pairings go up and I find a spot in the corner where I hopefully won’t need to move.

Round One: Larry U/W/R Flash

The first few turns Larry doesn’t play much but lands. Steam Vents, Sulfur Falls, Clifftop Retreat, I think he’s on American (Miracles) Control.  Excited because I know this deck I start to make plays accordingly.  THEN he plays a Restoration Angel on my End Step.  BAH! Flash!  I deal with it and he Counterfluxes.  I eventually take game one after seeing a Pike and know there’s a Jace, Memory Adept on his way in.

Siding is insane. Out go nine cards – yeah, nine cards.  In go 3 Negate, 2 Dispel, 2 Pithing Needle, 2 Jace Memory Adept.

Game two Larry sticks a Pike (as his deck is wont to do), then he sticks me with the Pike.  He drops a turn 3 Nevermore naming Sphinx’s Revelation.  Game two is quick, too quick for my taste.  I had a little mana trouble.

Game three side in the Entreats. I took out for Jaces (I saw no Detention Spheres).  Turn one Needle naming Pike!  A Miracle of Angels, three of them which is dumb I was holding a dispel and I tapped out like a chump he Negates,  I slap myself for playing foolishly.  A turn later I stick a Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius with my “wizards” Cavern of Souls.  He makes for the countermagic… I point to ol’ Niv, “He’s a Wizard.”  Larry takes a bunch from Niv… I draw some.  It’s over pretty much after that.  Larry likes the Cavern tech.

Games 2-1 Match 1-0

Round Two – Issac U/W/R Flash

AGAIN!?  Boo, Meta Game! You stink.  Larry gets me game one, Resto Angel style.  Which I deal with at one life as he flashes in a Snapcaster with Counterflux back up.

Side: 3 Negate, 2 Dispel, 2 Pithing Needle, 2 Terminus

Game Two there’s a ton of life changes. Revelations go off and counter wars end in Issac’s favor with Fluxes.  But I’m dropping threats like I’m the beat down here.  Entreat countered, Revelation countered, Niv …UNCOUNTERABLE… D-Sphere’d after a swing and some card draw. Entreat for one sticks.  She’s running for the end zone… SPLAT!  He’s pressuring me with Snapcaster.  Devil’s Play for two? Dispel back up… Not needed.  I’m exhausted.

Game three I mull to five.  My mana never gets off the ground, Pike, Angel, swing swing swing dead.  Issac and I almost went to turns.  He drew his last round so he’s glad that didn’t happen.  I’ve learned this deck and know much better what decisions to make and i play fast for the most part… I know the math of draws for the number of vards I need and when the odds favor which plays, that doesn’t mean I’ll always win, but it means I won’t draw that much and I won’t double think myself after a loss.  Play mistakes are one thing, I still make them but the mental math is on my side, so is the clock.  No more draws.

Games 3-3 match 1-1

Round Three – Li Xu U/W/R Flash

It’s a conspiracy now I’m sure of it.  I’ll see this deck in my nightmares, I’ll meta for it in GP AC and I’ll never play against it one time.

I’m facing my friends more often, lately.  Matt, Jess, Li.  This is good news… sorta.  It means I’m getting better.  I chose these cats for the blog for more than just their amazing personalities.  They are among the store’s best players. Li is likely at the top of that list.  We have been testing a lot.  Like a couple times a week.  My play is getting tighter as I’m learning to watch how he plays and glean what I can from him.  What follows are three of the hardest games of Magic I’ve played since people found out how good Harmonic Convergence is against Replenish.  Definitely Check out Li’s recap of the games as well.  It’s always interesting to me to see what was going on in the other guy’s mind doing these games.

Game one I played an Entreat for one, Li Azorius Charmed the Angel as it attacked on turn six.  Turn 7 I tapped incorrectly for a Snapcaster to Snap in Entreat.  Li and I play on a pretty strict no take backs policy.  These play mistakes are what separates us from the pros.  I shake my head like, “I’m an Idiot.”  I cast Think Twice and flash it with the Snapcaster for an ounce of value. Turn 7 I tried a Revelation at exactly the wrong time.  It was met with Li’s Dispel.  All the while Li’s Snapcater began killing me, I think I D-Sphere’d it.  Then his Augur came at me.  Eventually Li’s stuck a Pike and then equipped and hit me for the rest of my life exactly.

Game two I got lucky on a weird bluff.  Li put me on a Dispel I repped HARD vs his Counterflux (that is to say I made it look like I wanted to play it but could not).  Next turn he Revelationed during his main phase (as I had tapped out for an Entreat he Detention Sphered (I think), which opened me to stick my own Jace Memory Adept.  Who eventually got me there.  Li’s misplay (see his Article) may have cost him in the last turn, I’d hardly call it a punt, we both were repping countermagic at the end of the day, though we both kill ourselves mentally over what we could have done differently.  I thank Jace and the main phase Sphinx’s Revelation for the win here.

Game three I sided back out my Dispels.  His Counterfluxes made them feel stupid, and I jammed every threat into my deck.  Turned out I needed them. Fast forward to the end of the game.  The game state looks like an EDH match.  I’ve got two Needles (one is Runechanter’s Pike the other is Jace) He has a Jace in play a Pike too.  I have two D-Spheres. Jace is under one and Snapcaster is under another (he was threatening me earlier and had me down to four, twice.  I’ve got like every card in my yard.  Seven in had, I had just Rev’d for three putting me back to seven.  I knew there was an Entreat left in the deck.  In hand I’ve got Jace (Useless thanks Needle and the other Jace in play) two Negates, two land a D-Sphere and a Think Twice.  I was upset because I needed to deal with his Jace and my Needle if I wanted to win with Jace.  He had just countered my last ditch effort Devil’s Play after Niv-Mizzet had been breathing fire and drawing me cards for the last few turns.  I decided that attacking the last few turns would leave me open to any number of plays Li could pull from his deck, and his Augur was giving me a dirty look on the board. At four life I wasn’t sure of anything aside from Li having outs.  Like I said, I whittled his life down with Niv, then I went for an attack. AZ Charm, I hit him for one more and let the charm resolve.  Next turn Niv, C-Flux via Snapcaster, I Snap and cast Terminus.  Now if my Entreat was on the bottom I’d still be able to attack.  I’m tapped out, Li casts Resto Angel.  I have the D-sphere so I’m worried but not hopeless.  Seven cards in deck, I draw, Entreat for six.  Li looks at his hand, I’m praying he can’t C-Flux it, I have enough mana for both Negates.  NOTHING.  Li extends the hand.

HOLY SHIT THAT WAS TENSE.  All the stops were pulled out.  It felt like every play in that game was important.  Say what you will about Miracles, but that wouldn’t have been much different if it was Niv-Mizzet or any other damage dealing threat in my deck.  Having the Sphere and the Negates ready for the next turn I was only worried about that Counter Flux.  Li fronted up one hell of a fight and being that it was my first constructed victory vs him was was pleased with the match.  Needless to say Li was disappointed, he took the loss hard, but I know that feeling.  Magic can be one of the most rewarding experiences or it can me heart wrenching.  There’s rarely a time that I loose in a draft that I don’t think about what I could have done to fix the match in my favor.  Anyhow, we shrug it off and move on.

It means I’m getting back to my Magic: the Gathering fighting weight, if I get a match vs him.  This means that our test group is getting that much stronger.


Round Four – David “Bones” McCoy – RDWw/B

No one calls him that.  “Bones”. This is a match up I know I’m ready for.  I know the cards and the deck and It’s all about trading card for card long enough to Rev for 3-4 and then taking over the game.  Game one Dave gets a slow start.  By slow I mean turn two Ash Zealot… AZ Charmed.  Knight of Infamy, Izzet Charmed, Ash Zealot, countered.  Entreat for 3!  Dave overloads Mortars. Niv Mizzet prompts a scoop by Dave after I Rev for 3 a turn later.

Game two is more his side of things.  Cackler, Knight, Zealot, ouch ouch ouch… no answers DEAD.

Game three Dave gets screwed goes to five on the mull.  I take control early and Tamiyo on turn five locking down his already humbled mana base.  He concedes.  I apologize.  He shrugs it off.  Land flooded game one, and screwed game three – that’s Magic for ya!  For once it wasn’t me.  I make some trades (two more foil Verdicts).  I am pretty sure this is going to be my 75 for AC.  I know American Control with Miracles isn’t exactly Tier one right now, but hopefully folks sleep on it and I get there.  Two byes is gonna help get me past the ramble of Timmy’s on aggro that normally stomp me in the early rounds and have me running the whole tournament at x-2.  I’m making day 2 this time. I just hope I can go X-1 or x-0 and avoid mana screw.

Final result: Games 7-5 Match 3-1

I will check my mana before I tap for spells

I will check my mana before I tap for spells

I will check my mana before I tap for spells

I will check my mana before I tap for spells

I will check my mana before I tap for spells

(I actually wrote that out five times here’s hoping it sticks.)

What are you on for Philly?  Please don’t say Omnidoor Thragfire!


Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.