Here’s the second and final part of my Richmond wrap-up. If you’re curious about my decklist, matchups, or record, they’re at the bottom. But first, I’ve got stories to tell, and stories are more interesting than raw data.

Phyrexian Obliterator

The night before the main event, I jammed a bunch of games against Dana’s BG Rock deck (I believe it’s the Reid Duke version with a playset of Phyrexian Obliterators). As readers of Drawing Live will know, Jund (particularly Liliana of the Veil) is a problem for Geist of Saint Traft decks. I’d never tested against Jund since Deathrite Shaman (the best card in the deck and best creature in Modern) was banned.

BG Rock is more controlling than Jund was, using powerful removal like Slaughter Pact and Abrupt Decay to control the early game, Dark Confidant and Courser of Kruphix to grind advantage, and Tarmogoyf, Scavenging Ooze, and Phyrexian Obliterator to end the game.

The matchup felt much, much better than Jund’s. Liliana of the Veil would never come down on turn two, so Mana Leak, Remand, and Snapcaster Mage were always online to deal with her. The redless version lacks Lightning Bolt, so I never need to worry about being burned out – it only deals damage with creatures.

Rock certainly takes less damage off of its own lands than Jund did, but the UWR player has some breathing room in the early game, assuming that…

1. Liliana of the Veil  doesn’t resolve.

2. Your hand isn’t shredded by Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek.

3. You have cards like Spell Snare, Path to Exile, and Lightning Bolt to manage Rock’s creatures.

So… there’s a ton to worry about and it’s still not a great matchup. Often times, I found myself killing all of Rock’s creatures but unable to finish the job. In that case, prepare for a grindfest where their creatures are better than yours but die to most of your removal (while Rock’s removal tends to be dead). Postboard, they’ll bring in Thrun, the Last Troll which UWR can only stop with Cryptic Command‘s tap mode, so be mindful of that.

Stern Mentor

My final thanks (though I assure you, I have plenty more people to thank than have been covered in this two-parter) is to our old Ponderer, Li. If it weren’t for him, I’d never have built a Modern deck, never have sleeved up UW, and never have moved onto UWR. I’d have far less testing under my belt and far less confidence in myself (which is essential at any tournament). When I was 7-1 on day one, Li insisted that I play out my final match, rather than split (since he was sure I’d win it, which sure enough, I did).

To all who got me here, thank you so much. Magic is a communal game and I am a social Timmy. Without you all, I’d never have gotten this far, I’d not be continuing this wondrous journey, and I’d not be having this much fun.

Now, a story of me being an idiot!

Dumb Ass

It’s round eight. I’m 6-1 and if I win, I’m guaranteed to day two. I’m up a game against RUG twin. I just fought counter wars over three turns to resolve a Geist of Saint Traft. At the end of my opponent’s turn, I flop a Lightning Bolt onto the table to destroy his Snapcaster Mage, the only creature he has. He’s got almost nothing in hand, I have Counterflux. An uncontested Geist wins me the game.

“Bolt Geist?” I say.

Wait, WHAT?!

“Oh, uh, whoops! I meant to say Snapcaster! I- argh.”

My opponent’s a good, chill man. We do the right thing and call a judge. I describe the situation, say it was a slip of the tongue, and my opponent corroborates all of my actions. The game state hasn’t advanced. Accordingly, the judge rules that my opponent’s Snapcaster Mage, and not my Geist, if the target of my Lightning Bolt.

The point of this story is not to paint me as clumsy (which I totally am, and my being thoroughly sleep deprived and mentally drained from ten hours of Magic enhanced). The point is… don’t let this happen to you! Dexterity mistakes, slips of the tongue, and mistakes of that ilk can be corrected if identified immediately. Catch the mistake, chill out, and call a judge. I’ve seen too many people, myself included, get flustered and accept a suicidal play when it can (potentially) be corrected.

Fortune Thief

Last lesson: when you arrive at a tournament, you can only hope for three things: to play your best, to enjoy yourself, and to get lucky. I took everything I learned from losing at GP Toronto and applied it to Richmond; I was prepared, I had a positive attitude, and Mark Lovin’s words echoed in my mind—no matter how skilled a player you are, you need to be lucky to succeed. I didn’t play any top tier pros (though I’d have loved to, it certainly made it easier to day two), I didn’t mulligan too often, and when I drew poorly, my opponent’s often couldn’t kill me for long enough that I could stabilize. I ran well when plenty of more skilled players than I didn’t, and I accept this.

And finally, behold! The decklist!

UWR Geist

Land (25)
Arid Mesa
Scalding Tarn
Celestial Colonnade
Hallowed Fountain
Steam Vents
Sacred Foundry
Sulfur Falls
Tectonic Edge

Creature (13)
Snapcaster Mage
Geist of Saint Traft
Vendilion Clique
Restoration Angel
Thundermaw Hellkite

Spell (22)
Lightning Bolt
Path to Exile
Spell Snare
Lightning Helix
Mana Leak
Cryptic Command
Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Damping Matrix
Rest In Peace
Stony Silence
Wear // Tear
Engineered Explosives
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

And last of all, my record in each round.

  1. 1-0 Bye
  2. 2-0 Little Zoo
  3. 3-0 Robots
  4. 3-1 Robots (ROBOT HOOOOOUSE!)
  5. 4-1 Little Zoo
  6. 5-1 Burn
  7. 6-1 Bogles
  8. 7-1 RUG Twin
  9. 8-1 UWR Midrange
  10. 9-1 Melira Pod
  11. 9-2 Robots (ROBOT HOOOOOUSE!)
  12. 9-3 Robots (ROBOT HOOOOOUSE!)
  13. 9-4 Ad Nauseam
  14. 10-4 Melira Pod (technically a draw, and I was going to lose the following turn, but my opponent scooped to me)
  15. 10-5 BG Rock

Clearly, day two went swimmingly for me. Here’s looking forward to my next GP (hopefully Boston-Worcester) and many more stories to share. As ever, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

—Zachary Barash — Join the livestream!

Magic Online username: Zennith

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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