This past weekend was the big StarCityGames Invitational weekend in Somerset, NJ—and, of course, I didn’t participate in a lick of it except for the Sunday Sealed Classic.

Hipsters' own Zac Clark played Merfolk in the Legacy Open on Sunday.

Hipsters’ own Zac Clark played Merfolk in the Legacy Open on Sunday.

Other than the prerelease, a quick Friday-night sealed testing sesh at the diabolical Nick Forker’s studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn (which is where all the cool kids are playing MTG these days; Williamsburg is so over), and a lone MODO draft, I hadn’t practiced much, either. That’s not how I like to go into tournaments, but summer and an awesome vacation to Tulum with my fiance (which you can read more about here) intervened.

Monique and Nick Forker, testing at Nick's studio.

Monique and Nick Forker, testing at Nick’s studio.

At the prerelease, everybody seemed pretty down on the format, citing interminable ground stalls. But despite my and Christian’s train wreck of a 2HG outing, my four sealed matches at 20SS were really interesting and challenging. And that’s mostly what I felt in the sealed testing sesh and on Sunday at the SCG Classic. Here’s what I played:

Naya Slivers

Creatures (15)
Pitchburn Devils
Predatory Sliver
Megantic Sliver
Groundshaker Sliver
Striking Sliver
Bonescythe Sliver
Giant Spider
Young Pyromancer
Ogre Battledriver
Deadly Recluse
Blur Sliver
Advocate of the Beast
Elvish Mystic

Spells (8)
Chandra’s Outrage
Lava Axe
Darksteel Ingot
Hunt the Weak
Shiv’s Embrace
Lands (17)
Shimmering Grotto

Sideboard (13)
Act of Treason
Barrage of Expendables
Rod of Ruin
Wild Guess
Gladecover Scout
Accorder’s Shield
Sentinel Sliver
Academy Raider

And here’s what I pulled in SCG’s Mythic Madness promotion:


Not terrible. The guy across from me—this Brony:


—pulled a Liliana of the Veil.

But so, instead of a standard-issue tournament report, I’d rather go through the set and discuss some standout or surprising cards, perhaps citing individual matches as I go along.

I was wavering on playing this in my RB steal-stuff-and-sac-it deck at the prerelease, as I wasn’t sure it was quite what my deck wanted to be doing, but I figured I should err on the side of testing out this dope (especially flavor-wise) rare, and so I ran it. Mail really over-performed for me; it just never seemed like there was a time where it was bad or dead on board. At one point, Mail being my only “creature” held off my opponent’s Child of Night and Blood Bairn—and then, after I drew into Striking Sliver and Marauding Maulhorn, the 1/1 first-striker put on a suit of armor and did serious work. Especially in sealed, I would consider Spooky Armor to be an auto-include.

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, Act of Treason + any sac outlet is a real thing in M14. On Sunday, Hipsters’ own Dave “Bones” McCoy basically ran an Act of Treason combo deck, with 3 x Acts and something like 2 x Blood Bairn, Vampire Warlord, Barrage of Expendables, Altar’s Reap, and more—and he piloted it to a 5-2-1 record, after tragically losing his top eight win-and-in in round eight. My deck on Sunday was RG beats with a minor slivers theme, splashing for Bonescythe Sliver. I had 2 x Act and Barrage of Expendables in my board, and I often sided these cards in on the draw, usually for something like -1 Advocate of the Beast (aka Beast Attorney) -1 Elvish Mystic, and -1 Lava Axe, although the mix of cards I sided out changed.

I had a long IM discussion with Zach “Drawing Live” Barash about whether or not this card was good, and made an outside bet that it would be—that low, low cost of just R to play and R to activate triggered my alarm bells. Sure enough, I’ve turned out to like Barrage quite a bit. In R4 on Sunday, I boarded into Windstorm, 2 x Act, and Barrage. Sure enough, I dropped Barrage in T1, and then cast Act on my opponent’s Dragon’s Egg, saccing it to Barrage and getting the firebreathing 2/2 token for myself. Even though I fucked up on the next turn, when he flashed in Nephalia Seakite and I killed his guy and mine with Windstorm—whoops—I still managed to get myself into a can’t-lose situation by drawing both of my Pitchburn Devils. One died somewhere along the way, leaving me with a Pitchburn and an Elvish Mystic—and even though my opp. cast Shivan Dragon and swung in for 10 (when he was at nine life), on the following turn I cracked back for four, putting him to five, and sacced both Devils and Mystic to Barrage, doing the final five damage, and making the Shock I’d just drawn redundant.

This guy can do a shit-ton of damage, especially when combined with Ogre Battledriver. Now, I know these are both rares, so who cares, but it was cool enough that I have to mention: In G1 of R1, I had Ogre Battledriver and 2 x Striking Sliver on the field, and my opponent Terrance was tapped out. I drew and played Bonescythe Sliver (made hasty and bigger thanks to the Ogre), and swung in for an incredible 15 damage in one turn, dropping him from 21 to six life. R1 was also the match I closed out in G3 by casting Windstorm to delete my opponents’ Nightwing Shade and Deathgaze Cockatrice, after he’d just swung in for a bunch. After the match, an observer said to Terrance, “I don’t think you play around a card that’s not even good against your deck”—which seems pretty silly, given that Windstorm was fucking amazing in that situation, and he already knew I’d boarded into it, after one-for-one-ing another flier in G2.

A side note about quote unquote topdecking. I’m tired of people complaining about opponents topdecking answers. That’s part of this game: Drawing a card. And you do it every turn of the game. If a card is in my deck, and I draw it at some point—how is that notable? It just seems really boneheaded to bitch about topdecking. You don’t play the game with just the seven cards you start out with. And, as one of my opponents said to me at one point on Sunday, “If you don’t like variance, play Chess.” True fact.

This card seems like a real beating. At one point on Sunday, I watched as Dave McCoy’s Sengir Vampire got sent to the top of his library not once but twice in a row. This happened after a few turns wherein Dave had needed to draw gas, and instead drew lands, and so having to repeatedly draw Vamp was just salt in the wound. Granted, Dave’s opponent didn’t capitalize as much as he could have on his 2 x Time Ebbs, but if he had I don’t think Dave’s turn-five (of time) Barrage of Expendables would have been able to get the job done, as it in fact did. (This was a really exciting match to watch, and I really didn’t think Dave was going to make it out of that one.) Here’s a shot of this match, wherein Dave was shamefully getting held off by not one but three of the Matt Jones “Competition” side of Hipsters’ own business card:


This wasn’t the only appearance of Matt Jones at the tournament. Nick Forker spotted his spoor in the parking lot:


Also when we were in the parking lot, this cool dude recognized us from Hipsters of the Coast, and we took his picture! Thanks for reading, Scott!


And here is my tournament report from the event, in the form of my notes from each round, and pictures of all of my (non-jerk) opponents:

IMG_2638 IMG_2639 IMG_2641 IMG_2642 IMG_2644 IMG_2645


Round one: Terrance.


Round two: Jon.


Round three: Mike.


Round four: Clay.


Round six: Justin.


Round seven: Kevin.


Round eight: Julia. She Garruk-ed me in both games. It was pretty discouraging.

From left to right: Nick, me, and Dave "Bones" McCoy.

From left to right: Nick, me, and Dave “Bones” McCoy.

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands.

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