Over the past couple of months, I took a break from tournament Magic. I found myself just not really wanting to do it; not wanting to spend my nights at Pandemonium, not wanting to wake up early on the weekends and drive to a PPTQ, and not wanting to even turn on MTGO. I got burnt out. Not just with Magic but with things in general. It was cold as fuck outside, constantly snowing, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Or watch House of Cards, I guess that was a thing too.

Anyway, every week I planned to go play Modern on Tuesday nights or finally get around to playing the UB Control deck I built for Standard on Wednesday. Then I would get out of work, drive home, and find myself under a heated blanket not wanting anything to do with leaving my apartment or competitive Magic. Don’t get me wrong, I would still watch Vintage Super League or Star City Opens on the weekend, but other than quietly contemplate Monastery Mentors role in Vintage or lament the existence of GW Devotion in Standard, I wasn’t very active.

That all changed recently. It just took a couple of texts and I was back in the swing of things.

Part of the problem with me not wanting to go play cards is that I was always going by myself. I would play the round, then kind of meander around, looking to trade or jam a game of Tiny Leaders. Most of the time I just watched other people play matches or looked at my phone. While I think the community at Pandemonium is pretty great in general, the sea of acquaintances wasn’t enough to keep me afloat on the tournament scene. I needed more than, “Hey, man!” or “Still writing the blog?” I needed my group of friends to trade bad beats stories with and to get a celebratory/commiserative beer afterward.

So I put out the Magical equivalent of the bat signal, and friends started to come out of the woodwork. Rodrigo started selling off his foiled out Sharuum deck that no one ever wanted to play against and put together a Modern Grixis Control list. Eric decided to shake the dust and sleeve up Burn again. Nik set aside some time to play his beloved Merfolk deck. For the last two Tuesdays, I’ve gone to Modern at Pandemonium with a car full of people. I even convinced my neighbor Max to play in a constructed event, though he rage quit halfway through saying something about Modern being a terrible format. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, it’s important for me to have a group of people to travel and test with. The Tuesday night ritual of piling in my car, playing Modern, and getting a drink after is reviving my interest in attending tournaments.

Rituals are important.

Last weekend we all went to a PPTQ in Rhode Island. I played Amulet, obviously, though I realized the sideboard had evolved quite a bit since I had last played the deck. I ended up playing my old list with a few tweaks:


LANDS (27)
Simic Growth Chamber
Gemstone Mine
Tendo Ice Bridge
Tolaria West
Gruul Turf
Selesnya Sanctuary
Khalni Garden
Boros Garrison
Golgari Rot Farm
Radiant Fountain
Slayers’ Stronghold
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Temple of Mystery
Cavern of Souls

Primeval Titan
Azusa, Lost but Seeking

Serum Visions
Summer Bloom
Summoner’s Pact
Ancient Stirrings
Pact of Negation
Slaughter Pact

Amulet of Vigor
Hive Mind
Engineered Explosives

Slaughter Pact
Hornet Queen
Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
Bojuka Bog
Seal of Primordium
Ghost Quarter
Engineered Explosives
Chalice of the Void
Swan Song

Ideally, I would have played three Leyline of Sanctity in the sideboard because they are excellent against all of Abzan’s sideboarded discard spells, Liliana’s -2 ability, and Burn (the whole deck). Additionally, I would have thrown in two more Thragtusk because that card is also a house against Abzan and Burn, two decks which I expect to see a lot of in my local meta. To make room for those five cards, I would get rid of 1 Slaughter Pact, 1 Ruric Thar, 1 Bojuka Bog, 1 Chalice of the Void, and 1 Engineered Explosives. Unless something changes drastically in the next two weekends that’s the list I’m planning on taking to TCGplayer Modern States.

Anyway, I finished the day at a lackluster 3-3 thanks to two astounding punts on my behalf.

  • I was playing against a guy playing Ichikawa’s Esper Monastery Mentor deck. It was game three. Turn two, I play Summer Bloom putting a bunch of Karoo lands into play. Turn three I use Summoner’s Pact to get a Primeval Titan and play the titan with Cavern of Souls. I have another Pact in hand to get another Titan or Thragtusk if he finds the removal spell. On his turn he plays a land and does nothing. On my turn he stops me during my upkeep and Path to Exiles my Titan. I find my lone Forest and put it into play tapped. I draw for the turn ready to play another threat. He reminds me that I forgot to pay for my Pact. I lose. After a year of playing this deck, this is the first time I’ve lost to forgetting to pay for a pact.
  • In game three against an Abzan player I had the fabled double Amulet turn two kill. The only thing he had out was a Tarmogoyf. So on turn two I played my first land for the turn, a Simic Growth Chamber, because I had two Amulet of Vigor, I stacked the triggers and ended up with four mana (UUGG) before returning the chamber to my hand. Then I played a Summer Bloom, playing, untapping, and bouncing the chamber to add 8 mana (I wanted to save a land drop). So I have 6 green mana and 6 blue mana. I played an Engineered Explosives on two. Then I played a Primeval Titan. With Titan I get Boros Garrison and Slayer’s Stronghold. Because of the two Amulets, I was able to activate Stronghold twice, to make Titan a 10/6 Haste, Vigilance, Trample creature. Then I went to combat. This drained all the mana I had in my pool, which I should have used to pop the explosives. Instead, I attacked, got a Vesuva to copy Boros Garrison and a Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and gave my Titan double strike. He chumped and took 16. The following turn he played a Liliana of the Veil, made me sacrifice my Titan, and I never drew another threat. I lost that game. Also if you were able to get through that paragraph without wanting to die, I would recommend playing Bloom Titan in Modern.

Fortunately, my brother started at 4-0 and double drew into the top eight. He beat an especially salty Tron player and then lost in the semis to a timely Spell Snare from a UWR Midrange player. At the end of it the day, he had half a box for his troubles and I had a rekindled interest in playing Modern.

It’s good to be back on the grind. Expect more tournament reports and Modern content from me.

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 and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.

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