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].

Years ago, I overheard some Magic players planning transportation and accommodation to something called a Grand Prix.

“People spend all that money, and travel for hours, for a cardboard game?” I laughed with my buddies. “What a bunch of dorks.”

On December 12th, I found myself on a four-hour bus ride to Grand Prix Baltimore. I was passing the time by looking up airfare and hotels to Grand Prix Vegas next May.

Like so many in the Magic scene today, it all started as a kid in the early nineties. My first pack was Ice Age; opening up a Scaled Wurm could not have been more awesome. Storm Seeker, with its glorious art, was undoubtedly the most badass card in the world. Eventually, Magic drifted away from me.


Just look at that sweet, sweet blade.

Almost a decade later, I found myself searching for a new hobby. I wanted to be good at something weird. Competitive, even. I chose Starcraft, another childhood favorite. I was terrible at it — not nearly quick enough for the lightning-fast mouse commands and became completely overwhelmed. I gave up, looked elsewhere to placate this competitive urge, and decided to give Magic another shot. Theros had just released and I played a draft at Twenty Sided Store’s Friday Night Magic.

I was a well and true scrub. I briefly read about BREAD and how Grey Merchant was a complete bomb. But concepts like mana curve, card advantage and splashing were beyond me. And I still thought BREAD was solid advice. (It’s not).

I finished 1-2, just barely losing in the third round. I was absolutely hooked.

Since then, I regularly draft many times a week. I’ve attended two GPs, and one main event. I’ve read articles, watched videos, listened to podcasts, and spent an immeasurable amount of time contemplating cardboard strategies. Last weekend I was headed to Baltimore with the expectation of winning a handful of rounds and attempting to take down side drafts once I was eliminated.

I knew I was still a scrub. But even scrubs have to start somewhere. And so I began my quest to scrub off the scrub.

The GP

I’m excited to see strong cards in my sealed pool, but then realize they’re in all sorts of colors. My mana fixing looks good, great even, but white is clearly strongest and there is barely any white fixing. I re-sort, re-organize, and desperately switch between Mardu aggressive, Temur splashing White, and Abzan splashing red. Sealed in this format is exhausting.

This is a mess. Five minutes remain on the timer. I need to come up with something quickly and be done with it. Finally, I land on base Naya using the “free” splashes for blue (Snowhorn Rider) and black (Armament Corps and Ponyback Brigade). My absolute mess of a deck seems to have a severe identity crisis. I’m defeated already. There are strong bombs but it seems all over the place with no real plan. My sideboard has cards I feel should be maindecked. Why is Mardu Warshrieker in here? It’s a decent card, but does not really flow with the strategy I landed on. My sideboard has both Take Up Arms and Dazzling Ramparts which I think make more sense, especially since I left Rush of Battle in my main deck. I’m a scrub, after all.

Screenshot 2015-01-22 14.42.42

What is this scrubby pile?

Oh well.

Round one goes smoothly against a Temur deck. Herald into Rattleclaw Mystic proves to be a very powerful start. Game two I lose against a Snowhorn Rider wearing a Ghostfire Blade. In game three, I am at four life facing down a Scaldkin with no fliers on board. I topdeck Incremental Growth and swing for exactly lethal.


O merciful Cloud-thing, dost thou proclaim my imminent doom?

That was close.

Round two is versus Jeskai and I pull in a quick win. In game two, my 6-card keep is a terrible idea. Lesson learned — don’t rely on Rattleclaw Mystic to fix your mana for your 5-color deck. Game three goes very well landing me at 2-0. At one point, my opponent blocks my 3/3 with a Jeskai Student that should have been Prowessed. He motions to put it in his graveyard, but I stop him because I think it’s my responsibility. Later I ask a judge who says this is absolutely not the case. This is Competitive Rules Enforcement; I need to take all the advantage I can going forward.

Round three I pull quick wins against Abzan. Dead Drop is dead against my outlasted Herald, and Savage Punch allows my double Hooting Mandrills to punch through. Round Four is more grindy against Sultai. I lose to Treasure Cruise hauling in lots of card advantage, but end up winning two following games with my Sentinels and Outlast/Incremental Growth combo.

Round five I pull in another win. I start to learn to keep Sentinels in my hand as I have no way to protect it and it’s my most consistent win condition. I begin siding out Mardu Warshrieker for anything each game, usually Dazzling Ramparts.


Keep it down, I’m trying to concentrate!

At this point I am 5-0 and completely astounded. I thought this deck was trash. To be honest, it is all over the place with random synergies. But the synergies it does have are leading me into wins. I am also playing well, avoiding tricks and board wipes and correctly guessing morphs.

Maybe the new confidence is misplaced.

Round six, I lose to a Four-color base Mardu deck with blue. Master of Pearls blows me out and, amusingly, my Smoke Teller alerts me of it in the next game. It’s not enough to beat out a Thousand Winds, though. The absence of removal in my deck is becoming apparent. Round seven does not fare much better as I face down an Ashcloud Phoenix and a Wingmate Roc. I almost make it, but the fliers are too strong and Act of Treason on my Sentinels is back-breaking.


A thousand sides? Didn’t see that Thousand Winds though, did ya?

5-2. I had a good run, though, and I’m still feeling accomplished. Whatever happens happens; water off a duck’s back; we’re all just dust in the wind; goosfraba, and et cetera. Deep breaths to scrub off the scrub.

Round eight begins with Jeskai aggro fumbling on mana. I pick up another round by surviving the onslaught twice in a row. Round nine is the “bubble,” I am told. The winner of this round will be invited to Day 2. My opponent can’t race a good curve-out with his few morphs and loses. He sideboards a ton of cards and plays a turn-two Trail of Mystery… and then nothing. After the game, he tells me he sided out all his morphs but forgot to take out the Trail. I get the distinct impression that he choked… the deck seemed solid but clearly rooted in Blue Green morph tempo. Keeping your head straight matters way more than I had anticipated.

I made it. 7-2.


7-2. Get it?

An invitation is extended to me for Day 2. This is a goal I’ve had in mind for the distant future. And here it is, now, in my scrubby hands. Over a year of trying to scrub off the scrub landed me here. But maybe it was blind luck? Maybe it was an ultra-strong pool? Would I make a fool of myself early tomorrow morning? Would professional Magic players laugh me out of the top tables?

I ask no less than four people what the protocol is for tomorrow’s games.

I really, really don’t want to screw this up.

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.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.