Hello everyone and welcome to the week after The 2009s. I hope that everyone had a great time and that we have some new rising stars in the Magic community. Please excuse me not writing anything for a while, as my workload for school has been extremely busy, and I’m reduced to about 1 Magic tournament a week (if that). However, the much-needed rest that is the Christmas vacation is fast approaching, so I hope to refocus some of my energies on Magic.
The night before the tournament, after I got home from work, I had to come up with the final build for my deck. My choice? A variant on Gerry T’s “Spread ‘Em”. I liked the deck a great deal for a few reasons. First, it has a stellar matchup against the likes of Jund and Naya, both of which I expected in full force. Second, post-board it’s matchup against RDW and Boros is extremely close, and infinitely better than game 1. However, I did not expect a great deal of Boros decks (turns out I was wrong).
The 2009s in Edmonton was a gongshow to put it lightly. The day before, Edmonton became immersed in about a foot and a half of snow, probably more in some parts. The entire Highway 2 was closed down, which meant that all the people from Calgary could not make their way down, including teammate Sean, which was disappointing. I woke up at 7am on Saturday, Dragon’s Egg in hand (on shoulder?) and was all ready to go smash some face. Unfortunately, life enjoys throwing curveballs at us. Unfortunately, the entire city’s bus system had gone down due to the weather, yet neither their transit help line or their website would admit to this fact. I only found out because I was able to get a hold of a judge at the event who filled me in. He promised that they would keep registrations open for a half hour, and I was able to snag a ride to get to the site with 5 minutes left.
However, all was not well and good. I was looking through my deck and filling out my list at breakneck speed when I noticed my deck was playing 26 land. I knew this couldn’t be right, as the list I had been testing prior to the event only had 25. So I moved my last Convincing Mirage from my sideboard to the main, and had to think of what I had on me that could replace a sideboard card. The only other cards I had on me were a red deck wins that I had intended to lend to a friend of mine, who ended up not showing up that day. I took the only card that I thought might, just might work. Manabarbs. I was in such a rush that anything would be better than not having a sideboard at all, so at the very worst I was running a 14 card sideboard, so sue me.
Here’s the decklist I filled out.
And the sideboard looked like this:
Now there are some card choices here that are not standard. The most obvious of these is Stoic Angel. The reasoning behind the Bant Angel is threefold. First, It is a solid four drop creature that I found the deck needed, something that could go on the offensive once my opponent’s mana was sufficiently screwed. Second, the angel provided a solid form of defense against one of my worst matchups, Eldrazi Green, as well as a way to potentially pull out a game 1 against Boros.
Obviously this deck should play a full set of Baneslayers, but some people simply don’t have them. No one in my city is selling them for less than $60, and I can’t justify spending that much when I have to pay off some debt for my new computer.
Just as I was about to go hand in my decklist and pay my entry fee, Jason Ness (the organizer) yelled out “Pairings for Round 1 are up!” I was flabbergasted, and rushed to see if I could still get in. Jason, being a pretty understanding guy, paired me against the player who would have had a bye, and I was all set to play. Compared to the stress of getting to the site and registering, playing a few rounds of Magic seemed quite easy.
Round 1 – vs David (UWR planeswalker control)
In game 2, he has Wall of Denial which makes for a hard time getting to his life. To top it all of he casts his own Ajani Vengeant, which locks me out of my red mana. This in turn results in me not being able to cast my copy of the planeswalker, and overall mana screw (hot helped by his copies of Spreading Seas) prevents me from casting something big like Obelisk of Alara or Sphinx of Jwar Isle to try and win out. When he blows up all my lands and swings with a pair of shrouded sphinxes, I scoop and we go to game 2.
Because there are only 5 minutes left in the round, I go all out aggro in a hope to win it all, because his deck will not be able to kill me before time is called. In come Deft Duelists, Rhox War Monks and the 2 more Stoic Angel (a creature matters more to me than something like gaining 4 life against his deck).
I get a great start, with turn 2 Deft Duelist and turn 3 Rhox War Monk. However, his Wall of Denial makes my aggro plan go awry, and the last of our 5 extra turns is up with him at a precarious 5 life.
0 – 0 – 1
This is an awkward spot to be in. A round 1 draw means that each round I’ll be getting paired up or down, mostly up for the rest of the tournament, but I still have to win 4 of my next 5 in order to top 8.
Round 2 – vs (another) David (Bant)
I lose the die roll, and we both play Seaside Citadels to start. He has a Noble Hierarch and eventually a Rhox War Monk. I simply make all of his lands into islands and swamps, and I have the Day of Judgment for a timely 3 for 1. On my next turn Ajani Vengeant comes down and starts further decimating his mana. Eventually, I resolve both a Baneslayer Angel and a Sphinx of Jwar Isle and I think I’ve got the game won. He casts a $60 mythic angel of his own, and passes the turn to me. Thinking for a fair bit, I swing with Sphinx of Jwar Isle, and leave Baneslayer back to block in case my plan doesn’t work. He falls for my trap and blocks the sphinx with his angel. Combat went something like this:
Me: Attack with Sphinx?
Him: Block with Baneslayer.
Me: Okay, it dies.
Him: No, first strike.
Me: Yes, Ardent Plea has exalted.
Him: Ohh S***! (looks at hand, dejectedly)
I proceeded to win game 1 from there on out. I board in the Wall of Denials to protect against a possible Rafiq of the Many, as well as Oblivion Ring to take out his Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise, lest they make make mana and allow him to, you know, cast spells.
He plays first, and has a Noble Hierarch. My turn sees a Jungle Shrine and he plops down a second land and a hierarch. Luckily, he doesn’t play any more lands, and on my turn 4 I get a 4-for-1 Day of Judgment, taking out the mana dorks as well as a Qasali Pridemage and Emeria Angel. He draws a couple lands after that, but they’re not enough to stop a Sphinx of Jwar Isle.
1 – 0 – 1
Round 3 – vs Devin (Jund)
I was quite happy to face Devin, as his deck is probably my deck’s best matchup. A turn-two Spreading Seas on his Savage Lands was just the first in a long chain of mana denial spells. Follow them up with a Day of Judgment and a Baneslayer Angel, and game 1 is easily won.
Game 2 is much the same, with him having to have Broodmate Dragon and her baby sit back while Baneslayer cruises into the red zone. Although my first angel gets hit with Terminate, my second one sticks, and I win the round handily.
2 – 0 – 1
Round 4 – vs Sylvester (Jund)
I was so happy to see Dragonskull Summit and a forest from Sylvester, who had asked me before the game “Are you playing Jund or anti-Jund?” to which I shrugged and said “we’ll see.” Again, not much to say here, as the match is almost a bye for our deck, and Sylvester had to deal with some mana screw in game 2 to make a bad situation worse.
3 – 0 – 1
Round 5 – vs Sean (Turbo Fog/Jacerator)
Sean was playing one of the worst matchups for my deck. I had scouted Sean’s deck and knew that my matchup was abysmal. However, I committed myself to play the Magic I possibly could. Game 1, I was able to resolve an Ajani Vengeant, which was able to go ultimate. Follow that up with a Sphinx of Jwar Isle, and the turbofog deck had nothing to do, and got the win in game 1.
After sideboarding out Spreading Seas and adding in Oblivion Ring and Manabarbs, my opponent and I were called by my good friend Matt who was judging for a mid-round deck check. Nothing was wrong with our lists, but some of Sean’s cards were boxed, and he received a warning.
I decided that a more aggro approach would be prudent, and so out came the expensive creatures in favour of more lightweight ones from the board. Spreading Seas aIso came out to ensure maximum mana denial had to win this one fast.
In game 3, I was told we had 10 minutes left, but that was extra time we had been granted due to the deck check. The judge behind me began to take on my shuffling duties for things like fetchlands, and directed the game pace. I went first with a land, and he played a Glacial Fortress. On turn 2, I cracked a Misty Rainforest for an Island with a Convincing Mirage in hand. Due to his desire to keep the game moving, the judge said “go” just after I got my island, and the entire crowd laughed when I told the judge my turn wasn’t done. His land was made a forest, as was the one he played next turn. He evetually dropped a Howling Mine, and I was able to cascade a Bloodbraid Elf into an Oblivion Ring to rid him of the mine. He dropped another land and another mine, and I repeated my turn, with an elf into a ring to get rid of the mine. Adding a Deft Duelist was enough to win the final game while he was hold white spells he
4 – 0 – 1
Round 6 vs ???(???)
When I sat down at table 1, my opponent and I agreed to draw, which would get us both into top 8.
4 – 0 – 2
Top 8 – Quarterfinals vs Olav (Boros Bushwacker)
After going an entire day without playing against the super-fast red white deck, I had to face in a match where it really mattered. Game 1 was just us going through the motions, as we both knew it wouldn’t be a probable for his creatures to decimate me.
My sideboarding was obvious. Duelists, Walls, Monks and Angels all come in, and the more expensive stuff and lack screw packages come out. Game 2 sees the antithesis to game 1, with Deft Duelist, Wall of Denial and Rhox War Monk making it virtually impossible for the aggro deck to bring me down from a life total well above 30.
Game 3 is a nail biter. I get down a duelist and a wall, and he has Plated Geopede, Steppe Lynx, and 3 fetchlands. After he casts a Ranger of Eos to get even more dudes, I start to panic, but I soak up all the hist well after gaining life with Captured Sunlight. I’m at 7, and cast my MVP for the day Stoic Angel. All of his army remains tapped, and my Angel is set to take him down, as he continues having to make poor combat decisions with only a single creature. I get him down so that I will have game next turn. He has 2 cards in hand, and 5 lands out. I’m racking my brain to see what he could possibly have. My mind settles on the fact that he needs a Burst Lightning, a Lightning Bolt, as well as a 6th land to cast them both if he wants to pull it out. He draws, gasps, and shows me his hand.
Surveying the board, I sigh, and extend the hand.
4 – 1 – 2
I ended up getting 7th place overall, and was happy to have top 8ed my first ever big tournament. I like the playmats we got, even though the years haven’t been kind to Serra Angel. I really like Spread ‘Em as a deck, and give major kudos to Gerry T for coming up with the idea. It’s an awesome deck, being fun to play and extremely powerful, but that is obviously heavily metagame dependent.
Props go out to Jason Ness, the organizer/head judge, who coordinated a giant pizza delivery for lunch. He’s a terrific organizer who has organized Grand Prix tournaments in the past, and is a valuable asset to the Alberta magic scene.
I’m relieved that the heavy competitive magic season is done. I can get back to school work, enjoy the holidays, and not worry about attaining the perfect 75 card list. I’ll still write here, especially over the holidays, and I hope that you all had fun with your respective championships. We’re heading into Worldwake spoiler season, so expect lots of commentary on Smother, Celestial Collonade, and Leatherback Baloths. (Hint: They’re awesome!).
As always, email me at zak -AT- power9pro.com with questions or comments, or you cna check out my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/zturchan.