By Garrett Gardner

Editor’s Note: We’re super excited to announce our first writer in the new, rotating Scrub Report. Meet Garrett Gardner, as he talks about life as a scrub below! Garrett, like each of our rotating authors, has written four amazing articles for us. If you’d like to write for Scrub Report, email [email protected].

Read Part 1 of Garret’s Scrub Report here.

This is it. Day Two of a Grand Prix. The pinnacle of human achievement. Or, at least, a shining goal in the hearts of Magic players everywhere.

I’m not supposed to be here.

No, really. I’d already bought a bus ticket home for 5:30 pm. Attending Day Two means I will almost definitely miss that bus. How am I supposed to even get home?

A true Magic player flies by the seat of their pants.

My First Called Draft

One for the history books.

One for the history books.

The draft begins, and I first pick Dig Through Time, which is interesting. A few green picks followed by strong black cards move me away from blue. But an extremely late Abomination of Gudul signals that Sultai is wide open. The absence of dual lands makes me a bit nervous about my fixing and hints that someone is going five-color, but I am able to stick with pure Sultai. I wheel a Villainous Wealth in pack two and am already excited. A mid-pick Sidisi, Brood Tyrant in pack three lets me know that I chose correctly. I end up with this:

Draft One

Maindeck (41)
 Crippling Chill
 Set Adrift
 Temur Charger
 Smoke Teller
 Sagu Archer
 Sultai Scavenger
 Kin-Tree Invocation
 Jeskai Elder
 Ruthless Ripper
 Villainous Wealth
 Murderous Cut
 Kheru Spellsnatcher
 Archers’ Parapet
 Abomination of Gudul
 Pine Walker
 Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
 Treasure Cruise
 Sultai Flayer
 Dig Through Time
 Monastery Flock
 Thornwood Falls
 Jungle Hollow
 Dismal Backwater
Sideboard (5)
 Kin-Tree Warden
 Swarm of Bloodflies
 Rite of the Serpent
 Crippling Chill
 Death Frenzy 

Round ten (or, draft one, round one) faces me against a very strong Abzan deck. I lose the first game to Abzan Guides galore. Game two is interesting in a weird way: we are both stuck at two lands for more than five turns. My two-drops are much stronger, with Archers’ Parapet into Kin-Tree Invocation, and the Abzan ancestors betray my opponent and lead me to a win.

Game three goes very, very long. Sidisi makes multiple zombies and I’ve only got a handful of cards left in my library. But one of them is Villainous Wealth. I draw it and cast for nine — snagging a Wingmate Roc and all sorts of goodies. My opponent scoops to my all-out attack on the next turn. Lesson learned — trigger Raid before you cast Wealth, just in case. I had to ditch a Bellowing Saddlebrute because I could not lose the life. My Roc missed his Wingmate, but let’s not get too greedy.

This card is aptly named.

This card is aptly named.

Round eleven pits me against a hyper-aggressive Boros deck. Valley Dashers dash in and Act of Treason is meant to finish me off. Unfortunately for my opponent, my two-drops are decent at holding off the onslaught. Archers’ Parapet does work and Sultai Flayer ends the games in my favor.

Round twelve begins with that dreaded five color deck facing me down. Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker bashes in but is Throttled soon after. Multiple Ponyback Brigades pose a problem against me– this is definitely a different take on five-color. The game goes long and my Archers’ Parapet cannot drain for one more life before I deck myself.

Game two lets my sided-in Death Frenzy do work against Ponyback Brigade, leading me to a win. Game three has me facing down a Necropolis Fiend, which is excellent at slowly picking off my guys. I desperately cast Wealth for a measly five, don’t hit anything worthwhile, and slowly lose the round.

Looking back, I did not board in the Rite of the Serpent, which could have even been in my main deck. Scrub-a-dub-dub, I’m still a big scrub.

Draft Two

A first pick Murderous Cut means shipping Suspension Field and Mantis Rider to my left, but it’s definitely the best pick. I second-pick a Savage Punch but it soon becomes clear that green is not at all open. A very late pick Hordeling Outburst strongly suggests that Mardu is open. In pack two, I pick three Chiefs… that’s right, three in a row. I also pick up two Mardu Skullhunter and a Raider’s Spoils. What in the world is The Dude On My Left in? I finish off the deck with some decent filler in pack three and feel extremely confident. Here it is:

Draft One

Main Deck (40)
 Hordeling Outburst
 Mardu Skullhunter
 Chief of the Edge
 Bring Low
 Canyon Lurkers
 Murderous Cut
 Chief of the Scale
 Timely Hordemate
 Alabaster Kirin
 Raider’s Spoils
 Ponyback Brigade
 Unyielding Krumar
 Arrow Storm
 Ruthless Ripper
 Trumpet Blast
 Grim Haruspex
 Jeskai Student
 Bellowing Saddlebrute
 Mardu Warshrieker
 Scoured Barrens
 Wind-Scarred Crag
Sideboard (6)
 Bring Low
 Shambling Attendants
 Smite the Monstrous
 Act of Treason
 Salt Road Patrol
 Leaping Master

Something you might notice about this deck will prove to you how scrubby I can still be. That’s five red sources and two double-red spells. A very bad mistake that I correct in every game two to follow. The Arrow Storm stays but ends up being a problem.

“Yeah, you’re new,”  a more experienced player tells me.

“Yeah, you’re new,” a more experienced player tells me.

Round thirteen pits my Warriors against Temur, which does not have a chance against the pure onslaught of back-to-back Chiefs. The game ends with my turn five Ponyback flip into a turn six Trumpet Blast. Round fourteen proves this Warrior deck outraces Jeskai. Warriors are just faster than Monks.

Round fifteen. The last match. I am new to the “tiebreaker” shenanigans and what that could mean for prize payouts, but I do know I’m in the money. My opponent wants to play and I am completely fine with that.

My opponent is Dude On My Left. He seems relaxed and confident, but I am curious what he could possibly have taken over what he passed me. He is in Jeskai, which makes sense. Game one, I keep a three-swamp hand and miss all my colors for far too long. I am incredibly nervous at this point, and miss a Grim Haruspex trigger after suiciding in a guy…

Pro Tip: Don’t forget your triggers.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget your triggers.

“Well, that was a punt,” I say out loud.

“Yep,” agrees Dude On My Left.

Game two is different, though, and I play out a perfect curve. Turn one Ruth the Ripper (Ruthless Ripper) into turn two Raided Mardu Skullhunter into turn three Chief. There’s no hope for Dude (on my left) and I snag a win.

This is it. The last game. Hours and days of Magic lead to the final moment. This is what determines who gets $500 and who gets $250. Those are some high stakes.

The game starts evenly. I attack with three warriors into two Morphs and five open mana, ready with Murderous Cut in hand for what he flips. He flips a Efreet Weaponmaster, which I expect, and the Cut ends in a 2-for-2 and an empty board for my opponent. But then my opponent follows with a Mantis Rider and a High Sentinels. Salt-Road Patrol is excellent against me here… but not as excellent as the second High Sentinels he plays next. Now I know why he shipped me the perfect Warriors deck.

Two of this guy. Two.

Two of this guy. Two.

I play Grim Haruspex and suicide strike, losing half of my Warriors but drawing tons of cards off of each of their corpses. Raider’s Spoils arrives in time to get me even more card draws.

At this point, we’re surrounded with Magic spectators. Most of the round fifteen players have finished and are huddled around the table, watching one of the last games play out. That’s not intimidating or anything.

I suicide in again. And again. Each turn hits my opponent for a few damage and draws me a chunk of my deck. My opponent has to play defense, but is building up for a single alpha strike to take me down. If he draws any instant-speed removal for my Haruspex, I’m dead.

Finally, I have him. I draw my Arrow Storm, but only need to flip up Ruth the Ripper for the final two damage. The crowd goes wild. In their heads, I’m sure.

A Conclusion

While my scrubbiness is still quite apparent, I am not as scrubby as I had thought. I ran hot and lucky throughout the two days, pulling great cards and great draws. But even after just a year and a half, I pulled through. I ended at 23rd place, which earned me $500 and more planeswalker points than I can count.

Everybody starts as a scrub, and everybody is scrubby. But if you play enough and you beat yourself up for running double-red spells with just five sources, you’re on your way to scrubbing off and becoming a Limited champion.

Next time, I scrub on home to Brooklyn to try a competitive Limited Qualifier.

Garrett Gardner is a scrub that lives in Brooklyn. Hooked since assembling Voltron heroes during Theros block, he intends on slowly scrubbing off the scrub until he becomes a Limited master.

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