After scrubbing out of the SCG Standard Open in Providence last month, I teamed up with my buddy Thien to take down a Two-Headed Giant side event. The deal with Thien is that he is a master at Two-Headed Giant, having a near perfect record in the format since its inception in 2007. Granted there aren’t a lot of Two-Headed Giant events, just the occasional side event and pre-release, but a 90% win rate is still unheard of in any game where variance is a factor. Anyway, after playing the event, I came away with a few realizations about the format:

  • Always draw. In a format where you start off with 30 life and can just about always expect board stalls, there is no reason to give up two cards just to play first.
  • Mulligan aggressively. Since you get a free mulligan, there is no reason to keep subpar seven card hands.
  • Cut low impact cards from your deck. When I was constructing decks with Thien, I had Nyxborn Rollicker in my pile of playables until he threw it to the side and said, “Shawn, this card is terrible.” I tried to defend the satyr enchantment, citing times in regular draft where Rollicker was a reasonable, albeit unexciting, card that triggered heroic and stuck around if the creature bit the dust. The problem is that Two-Headed Giant games tend to go longer, and neither a +1/+1 aura nor a 1/1 creature impact the board enough to warrant inclusion. The fact that the card  fits an aggro mana curve nicely is much less important in 2HG where you’re unlikely to deal 30 damage to your opponents before they can stabilize and play more powerful threats.
  • It’s okay to play more situational cards as long as they are powerful effects. While I would never start Glare of Heresy in a normal draft deck, I would almost always play it in 2HG. The probability that one of your opponents has white creatures goes way up with a shared card pool among two players. Same goes for cards like Shredding Winds, Gainsay, and creatures with landwalk, they are much better in this format.
  • Cards that reference “each opponent” are really powerful when you have two opponents. Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Grim Guardian, and Scholar of Athreos are really good in this format since their abilities are effectively doubled.

Armed with the knowledge I had gleaned from Thien and a couple of rounds of 2HG, I decided that I would try my hand at another 2HG event when the SCG Open came to Worcester a month later.

I recruited my girlfriend Erica to be my other half for the event. We’ve done a couple 2HG events before, which is where we came up with Team Tunnel Ignus, named after everyone’s favorite mischievous elemental. And by everyone I mean, really immature people who enjoy questionable puns, bad cards, and Freudian slips. After making the hour drive, we signed up for the side event at the judges booth and awaited the first round to start.

When 3 o’clock rolled around, just four teams had signed up for the event. Yup, that’s right, a solid eight people had signed up for Two Headed Giant. Instead of playing four rounds of swiss, we would just do three games of round robin. After opening up our pools, we decided on a UB Control deck for me, and a GW Heroic deck for Erica. They looked like this:



The notable cards in the UB deck were the two copies of Gray Merchant, a Whip of Erebos to bring them back from the dead, and a Scourge of Fleets. The GW deck featured two copies of Reap What is Sown, a Bow of Nylea, and an Eidolon of Countless Battles.

ROUND ONE— Tim and Andy (1-0)


Tim & Andy were a couple of really nice guys who also came to the Open to hang out and play in side events. Tim, the gentleman in the Coheed and Cambria shirt, played a UB Control deck chock full of removal, and Andy played a GW deck with a Godsend that gave us trouble the entire game. Tim and Andy took an early lead with a couple of cheap threats equipped with the aforementioned Godsend which made blocking seem extra bad. They had us down to 13 life before I was able to defeat mana screw and Erica was able to get Bow of Nylea active and start gaining back life while shooting down the occasional flier. We ended up winning in one giant attack after Gray Merchant drained them down from 26 to 18 the turn before. The final board state looked like this:


After this round, a judge came around and told us that one of the teams had dropped. Apparently their parents showed up and didn’t want to wait around for them. So our round robin tournament would now effectively consist of two rounds.
ROUND TWO—Jack and Joe (1-0)


This game was pretty lopsided. After playing an early Satyr Hoplite, Jack got flooded out and pretty much didn’t play any more relevant threats throughout the game. This left Joe to fend for himself while Erica and I curved out and started swinging for the fences. The game ended after I cast a seven mana Aerial Formation and catapulted a bunch of dudes over all of Joe’s ground creatures. The final board state looked like this:


Since we beat the only teams left in the tournament, we got the last round bye and were able to collect our packs and go.


While I would normally be tempted to grumble a little bit about the anemic prize support, winning an additional eight packs for just two games of Magic seems more than reasonable. Half a box for $30, I’ll take it.

Next week, I’ll be finalizing my deck for GP Worcester/Boston which happens to just be in Worcester and more than an hour away from Boston. So yeah, if you’re in the market for some Modern talk, I’ll be writing about Amulet of Vigor and UR Delver. I still don’t know which one I’m going to play.

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and is training to become a pro-wrestler.

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