So here we are, with one week left in the season, and still not yet at the threshold for two byes (unfortunately, GP Richmond and Philly, despite being just a month apart, were in different seasons). The SCG Open at New Jersey did not go as well as I had hoped. The slump I described, last week, continues! (In the meantime, my roommate almost scored a top eight in the Legacy Open, but loses to the most insane series of topdecks ever.) With a subpar performance at the Opens, I might be in jeopardy to get the two byes that I was hoping to have for Worcester. I have one last weekend of PTQs to try and get there!

Am I feeling a little pressure? Perhaps. After this week is over, however, I can start with a completely clean slate. I can put the slump behind me (I hope). A new season has already started on MODO, and my QP futility of Season 5 will be forgotten. After this weekend, we’ll also be starting a new season for grinding those Planeswalker Points. We also get to begin Modern season, which I will admit, I am somewhat excited for. Yes, I’m excited for Modern season.. look, they’re never going to give us a Legacy season, so this will have to do! Here’s to all of these things helping me break the slump. Or maybe I’ll just play more BUG Delver, since I did put up a 4-0 with it.. oh right, let’s talk about the Opens.

Standard Open

I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the Standard Open, as I consider myself to currently know very little about this format. I stuck with the sort of deck I feel most comfortable with: control. UWR Control, to be specific. Part of this decision was because I forgot to pack my Thoughtseizes, so Esper was out, and I chickened out on my original plan of playing RW Burn, because I felt that the hate would be out in full force. I really liked the idea of trying out Keranos, and the list that caught my eye actually played a copy in the main, as well as the board. In some matchups, the lightning god proved to be an absolute house, and took over the game, while requiring a somewhat unique answer.  I started the day off with a 4-2 record (after a 1-2 opening three rounds) and was feeling pretty good about how I was handling this unfamiliar format. Along the way, I lost to eventual champion, Charlie Rinehart, in a three game set. This is at least the second (and quite possibly the third) time that I lost to the eventual champion of the Open, so Pro Tip: if you beat me in an Open, you probably have a better chance of winning the whole thing! Here’s my impression of the format, as sort of an outsider—someone who hasn’t played much of it since rotation (that’s right, I’ve played very little Standard since Theros came out):

  • Scrylands add an interesting skill dynamic, much like I felt when Theros first came out, but it is even more prevalent, now, as we have the full set of them.
  • Remember when everyone played manabases that were almost entirely nonbasic when we had “checklands” (do people actually call them that?) and shocklands? Remember how deadly Burning Earth was, back then? Well it’s pretty dangerous, again. I found myself on the receiving end of it in one round, and it was quite painful!
  • A lot of times, matches will come down to who draws the wrong half of their deck at the wrong time. I played back-to-back matches against Junk Midrange. In one round, I handily won, 2-0, and felt unstoppable. The pilot seemed like he knew what he was doing; I just had better cards than him. In the next round, I got run over by one powerful threat after another, until all of my answers were exhausted. Was the first pilot worse, because he couldn’t draw big threat after big threat when he hit the sweet spot of his curve, or that I got to Rev for seven twice?
  • It feels really sweet to Deicide your opponent’s Thassa, and they have another Thassa in hand.

Legacy Open

My Legacy weapon of choice for this weekend was a take on Joe Lossett’s latest build of Miracles, with a slight adjustment to the sideboard:

Miracle Shizz

Planeswalkers (3)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Creatures (5)
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique
Venser, Shaper Savant

Spells (29)
Entreat the Angels
Force of Will
Red Elemental Blast
Sensei’s Divining Top
Spell Pierce
Swords to Plowshares
Lands (23)
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Mystic Gate
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island

Sideboard (15)
Blood Moon
Grafdigger’s Cage
Pithing Needle
Red Elemental Blast
Relic of Progenitus
Rest in Peace
Sulfur Elemental
Supreme Verdict
Swords to Plowshare
Venser, Shaper Savant

The only minor changes I made to Lossett’s list was replacing a sideboard Supreme Verdict with another copy of Swords to Plowshares. I figured that five sweepers in the 75 (plus the Sulfur Elemental as a pseudo sweeper against D&T) were enough, and that an extra piece of spot removal would typically be welcome in all of the same matchups that a sixth wrath would come in. The other change was Blood Moon for a Spell Snare, because I wanted to Moon people.

My hopes of easing myself into the day were quickly dashed when I saw on the pairings board that my round one nemesis would be none other than a name that might be familiar to some of you who pay attention to the top of the Open Series Leaderboard, Gerard Fabiano.

Round 1 – Gerard playing BUG Explorer ‘Walkers

Gerard was able to beat me in game one without showing me a whole lot. I saw the typical Cabal Therapy-Veteran Explorer combo that forms the backbone of all the NicFit style decks, as well as the Jace that put the game out of reach. Based on this information, I assumed Gerard was on a version playing blue, likely for Jace, FoW, Brainstorm, and maybe some high-end monsters like Consecrated Sphinx or Damia (not joking, I’ve seen it done). This assumption proved to be quite wrong! As it turned out, Gerard was playing a more Superfriends variant of NicFit, complete with Karn Liberated at the top of the curve. The only creatures were Explorers, and some pesky value creatures, like Clique, Venser, Snapcaster, and Strix. Had I known that, I would’ve cut all of my Terminuses, but I left them in out of fear that he would drop something like Grave Titan on me. Despite the poor sideboarding, I still had the game in hand, and would’ve had the opportunity to properly sideboard in game three, but I made an incredible punt, caused by tunnel vision. Gerard resolved an early Nether Void, after I had an early Counter-Top combo assembled. He tries to get me with Explorer beats, but I send the Explorer farming. Gerard finally gets to ten mana (I’m thirteen) and attempts to cast Karn. I know the top two cards of my library are Entreat and land; I was planning to cast a lethal Entreat that turn with Pyroblast backup. I figured, screw it, there’s no sense wasthing the mana to spin top, when that costs me an angel, and it’s a low probability to hit anything useful, since my only Counterspell is in the graveyard, and I cut some of my FoWs. Besides, what can Karn do? I’m going to kill him next turn, anyways. As it happens, Karn can do a lot. One of the things he can do is exile the Pithing Needle that is keeping Pernicious Deed locked down, which is the reason why Entreat was my line, in the first place! To make matters worse, the third card down was a Snapcaster Mage (remember that Counterspell that I said was in the graveyard?), so at that point, I was just on unbelievable tilt. I may have made a few minor misplays after that, but it was on that play that the game was thrown away, and I could not recover. I was probably on severe tilt for the rest of the day after that one.
One other thing I will mention about the misread on Gerard’s deck. I probably should have assumed he was on the ‘walkers list from the fact that the only two creatures I saw in game one were Explorer and Strix, and sideboarded better, but earlier in the day, we were trying to scrape together a deck for Tony Loman, who accidentally brought his Modern deck instead of a Legacy deck, and unfortunately, it wasn’t something like Jund, where all we had to do was add duals. We were able to scrape together most of a creature-based BUG NicFit deck (with Pod), but without Jaces or FoWs. With that fresh in the back of my mind, and losing a game where I saw Jace and Explorer, I immediately just thought of the deck we threw together for Tony, rather than the ‘walker-based version. Still, as I made clear, game two was very winnable, even with the sideboarding error.

0-2 loss; 0-1 overall

Round 2 – Frank playing Elves

The Magic gods were feeling benevolent as I entered the second round, doing all that they could to shake my tilt from the round one loss to Gerard. I was gift-wrapped an easy win against Elves, in which I blindly topdecked Terminus two turns in a row, the second of which came immediately after Frank dumped what was left of his hand, thinking the coast was clear after the first sweeper. So yes, good topdecks in an already favorable matchup will get you that 2-0 win, sometimes. I have a feeling that my day would have gone a lot better if I faced Elves to start the day, like I did during Eternal Weekend, in Philly. Sometimes, that first round does a lot to affect your mindset for the rest of the day, but at the same time, a player with a bit more mental toughness would be able to forget about their tilt from a bad misplay immediately after the match ended; a player with a significantly higher level of mental toughness would shake the tilt of the misplay during the same game, immediately after it happened (so long as it wasn’t a game-ending misplay). I need to get stronger in that aspect of my game, and not let a bad play make me feel dejected for a long period of time. Maybe that’s why I play better on Four LOKO 😛

2-0 win; 1-1 overall

Round 3 – Peter playing UB Thopter-Sword (without Tezz!)

This deck was an absolute nightmare matchup for me! Peter was running multiple Liliana of the Veils, and he ended up pitching THREE copies of Sword of the Meek to her; when he finally got the Thopter Foundry up and running, he was cranking out 4/7s (a thopter big enough to squash an angel!) and was able to make quick work of me, since I don’t have any real hate for that in my maindeck. In game two, I got Lily’d out of the game, while somewhat low on mana. I also got blown out by Spell Snare a few times in this match, while playing around non-existant FoWs (which I would later find out was due to card availability; his friends were using all the FoWs). Snare is often a one, maybe two-of, but because Peter needed to improvise, he caught me off guard a few times.

0-2 loss; 1-2 overall

Round 4 – Chad playing BUG Delver

Chad made what I thought to be a fatal error, in game one, where he had a Sylvan Library on the board, and neglected to draw cards with it on several occasions. He later said that it was because they were lands, but I don’t think it matters. I’m usually not going to win by whittling you down, so you should feel free to liberally spend your life. Even if they’re lands, it digs you deeper to get to the cards that you actually need. Plus, you can Brainstorm them away, later.  I had an early top in both of our games, and two-for-one’d (or better) him several times.

2-0 win; 2-2 overall

Round 5 – Ryan playing RUG Delver

The first game was unfortunate, for me, as I had to mull to five on the draw, keeping a one-lander, and decided against cracking my only fetch when Ryan led with a Misty Rainforest. Misty Rainforests can make me rather suspicious of a lurking Stifle. On Ryan’s next turn, he confirms that I guessed correctly, when he plays a Scalding Tarn, cracks one of the fetches for a Tropical Island, and deploys a Delver. My having to play around the Stifle that was being represented allowed the Insectile Aberration to make short work of me. The sideboarded games were both highly interactive and fun games of Magic (at least for me). Game two ended with me stabilizing at 5 life with CounterTop and Jace to his empty board. Game three went incredibly long, with me going through nearly my entire library, before finally falling to a Nimble Mongoose. Ryan was getting visibly exasperated as my deck would find answer into answer into fetch into answer, etc, etc. He apologized afterwards and said he wasn’t trying to be a dick, but that it just gets frustrating. Then he said that he can’t be the only person who gets miffed playing against me, to which I lightly chuckled, and thought on the inside, “Well, duhhh! Why do you think I play the deck? It’s the most evil deck in the format!” Evil would not prevail, today. At this point, with three losses, I was totally dead for top 8 (though I was probably already dead, given how early in the day my previous two losses were), so I decided that after two more rounds, I would leave to go watch the Rangers play. It was worth it, we won. AND NOW WE’RE GOING TO THE STANLEY CUP FINALS!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Sorry, had to get that out of the way, because my boys just finished off the Habs earlier tonight!

1-2 loss; 2-3 overall

I didn’t really take good notes during my last two matches, since I knew I was planning on leaving, but I won one and then lost one, which pretty much summed up the win one, lose one, win one, lose one pattern of my day. I handily defeated Sneak and Show in a match where my opponent quickly rage quit both games. The first was when I had Karakas plus CounterTop with a spare Top to always have an answer to his cantrips. Game two was much faster, as my opponent packed it in after I played Karakas and Pithing Needle (on Sneak Attack). He later apologized for the rage quit but he was just frustrated from not getting to play actual Magic, as he played two matches against D&T, earlier (if you haven’t tried it, it’s not a good time for the Sneak player). I would lose my last match of the day against Chris, a guy that I often see at the Monday Night Legacy at Twenty Sided. Chris got me with BUG Delver in two games. I don’t recall all the details, but our game two was very long and I tried to battle through a Lily ultimate (but to no avail).

That’s a wrap for the New Jersey Open. While I’m not happy with my result, I need to shake it off and make one last push for points, this weekend. Here’s to getting to two byes for next season, because after that, thanks to the new changes to byes, I’m set for the next year!


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