What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

I fucking hate it when people say that. If I could punch the guy in the face who coined that term, I would. I wouldn’t do it in Vegas though because I would want everyone to know about it. I’m not sure if I hate it because it’s overused, because it’s the title of an abysmal Ashton Kutcher film, or because it has been readopted and used in a multitude of ill fitting settings that make the new phrase somehow dumber than the original. Have you ever heard someone say something like, “What happens in the business office, stays in the business office.”? It’s probably not true, since Nancy has the propensity to gossip, but also even if it is true, it’s probably about something so benign that it’s not privileged information in the first place.

I digress. Despite having a strong dislike of the above phrase, I was excited to go to Vegas. I had never been before and was looking forward to attending the world’s largest Magic tournament, cracking more packs of Modern Masters, and getting to spend some time away from home after an especially hellish week at work.

I touched down late Friday night and met up with Erica and Nik for a midnight meal before passing out at the hotel. The only place I could find within walking distance was an all night diner and lounge called The Peppermill. According to their website, the Peppermill is a “…timeless must-visit stop on the Las Vegas strip! The Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge is a classic with a cool atmosphere, unique drinks, and amazing food & desserts!” The truth is the Peppermill is not on the Las Vegas strip at all, unless I have a profound misunderstanding of geography, and is kind of the opposite of timeless, unless you count unbearable tackiness as transcending time. If I were to write an accurate bio of the restaurant it would be something like this, “The Peppermill is kind of like Denny’s but more expensive! If you like weird color schemes, pink couches that have almost certainly been sexed on, and trees coming out of the back of your booth you’ll love this place!”


Anyway, the next morning I woke up early  and made my way to the convention center with Erica and Nik. Despite having two byes, I decided I would forgo the sleep in special and just head there with my friends. That was a stupid decision. Not “what happens in Vegas” stupid but pretty dumb. After registering my pool I wandered around exhausted for 3 hours before I played any Magic at all instead of getting a good night sleep and being awake and on my game for the tournament. I can point to a couple of punts that I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have made given a few more hours of sleep. For example, if I had a good nights sleep I don’t think I would have blocked Water Servant with a 4/2 and a 1/1 and expected to make a trade.


Regardless of my sleep deprived state, I did manage to open a pretty decent pool with lots of internal synergies and bombs in my colors. This is my build:


GP Vegas BW Sealed

Creatures (16)
Plagued Rusalka
Sickle Ripper
Reassembling Skeletons
Kami of Ancient Law
Thief of Hope
Daggerclaw Imp
Mirror Entity
Ghost Council of Orzhova
Scavenger Drake
Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
Battlegrace Angel
Hikari, Twilight Guardian
Dread Drone
Scuttling Death

Spells (7)
Bone Splinters
Wayfarer’s Bauble
Raise the Alarm
Oblivion Ring
Spectral Procession
Grim Affliction
Lands (17)
Selesnya Sanctuary

I had every intention of building a 5 color concoction with lots of bounce lands and all of my best cards, it just turned out that all of my best cards were in BW and that I didn’t have to build a crazy mana base. I had several bombs—Battlegrace Angel, Endrek Sar, Mirror Entity, Ghost Council—a bunch of removal—Oblivion Ring, Bone Splinters, Grim Affliction, and the old Plagued Rusalka plus two Resassembling Skeletons—and a minor spirit subtheme—2 Kami of Ancient Law, Thief of Hope, Hikari, and Scuttling Death. For what it’s worth, I do think I misbuilt the pool and should have played a Death Denied over a Sickle Ripper and perhaps should have splashed a Wrecking Ball and played it over a Dread Drone. Here is a brief synopsis of my tournament in the Vendillion Clique section of the Modern Masters GP:




ROUND THREE—Richard with BW Removal (2-0)
My opponent played 2 Sunlance, 2 Arrest, Oblivion Ring, Spread the Sickness, and Grim Affliction. Despite his litany of removal, I had a bunch of recursive threats and cards like Spectral Procession that aren’t dealt with easily via 1-for-1 removal.

ROUND FOUR—Dan with 5 Color Good Stuff (1-2)
I managed to steal game one with Mirror Entity but Dan was able to go much longer than I could via Pelakka Wurm, Savage Twister, and Necrogenesis in games two and three. This is the match where I incorrectly blocked the Water Servant.

ROUND FIVE—Ray with RUG Bloodthirst (2-1)
Ray also had Pelakka Wurm and Savage Twister, two cards that proved to be the bane of my existence this weekend. Fortunately he also had a bunch of filler stuff like Goblin FireslingerGnarlid Pack, and Helium Squirter. My bombs prevailed!

ROUND SIX—Stephen with Naya Tokens (0-2)
There was one turn where my opponent played Spectral Procession then convoked into Scatter the Seeds. I feel like I was just outclassed in these games.

ROUND SEVEN—Jeremiah with WUR (2-1)
In game three I played Raise the Alarm into Mirror Entity. He didn’t have a removal spell and I won a few turns later. Mirror Entity is a stupid card.

ROUND EIGHT—Erik with 5 Color Green (0-2)
I punted game one with a bizarre attack with Endrek Sahr where I traded a removal spell for a Kavu Primarch and then lost three tokens to get in a few damage. In both games I was Savage Twistered to oblivion.


Despite being dead for day two, I figured I’d play out the last round. My opponent obviously disagreed and I got a match win when they failed to show up.

Since I finished my round with lots of time on the clock I went to go check on my friends. I found Tim playing his win and in with a super complicated board state.


He ended up winning game one, but the game itself took 30 minutes. Game two his opponent won. They started game three with 5 minutes left on the clock.

Tim’s friend Lindsay had come to watch the game and being unfamiliar with Magic asked me what was happening. I responded the only way I knew how, “A really awkward situation.” As expected, neither Tim nor his opponent could win in turns. They took turns asking for the concession and talking about the likely winner of the game. Tim ended up being the bigger person and conceded. He walked over to us, visibly bummed out.

“At least now we can go out and get drunk.”

Since none of us made day two, we all went out on the town. We had dinner, found a place that exclusively sells boozy slush and vessels to carry that slush, and walked through a seemingly endless maze of hotels, casinos, and bars.

I would divulge more information but you guys know the saying.

What happens in vegas, exceeds the recommended word count of my article.

I’ll be back next week with a report on a Two Headed Giant tournament with remarkable EV.

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.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.