Jeff Zandi is a four time pro tour veteran who has been playing Magic since 1994. Jeff is a level two DCI judge and has been judging everything from small local tournaments to pro tour events.

Jeff is from Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, where his upstairs game room has been the "Guildhall", the home of the Texas Guildmages, since the team formed in 1996. One of the original founders of the team, Jeff Zandi is the team's administrator, and is proud to continue the team's tradition of having players in every pro tour from the first event in 1996 to the present.


 

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Welcome to Wichita!
Late Season Mirrodin Block Constructed Action in the Heartland


by Jeff Zandi


It's getting late in the qualifying season for Pro Tour Columbus and there
is still no lack of creativity in the Mirrodin block constructed metagame,
even in the remote Magic outpost of Wichita, Kansas. This large-ish city
lies along the southern edge of the state, and is  the home of wheat, the
aerospace industry and, lately, the game of cricket. More about Kansas
cricket later. Last Saturday, the story was competitive Magic and the place
to be was the new Prairie Dog Comics location on Pawnee. This location was
the former home to another game store that had held PTQs for more than a
year, so the location was not difficult to find.

Fifty-seven players descended on Prairie Dog Comics' new location, a number
calling for six rounds of Swiss before cutting to the top eight. About a
third of these players were Wichita-area natives, another third were from
Tulsa, Oklahoma and other locations further south, while the last third were
from north of Wichita from as far away as Kansas City. I judged this
tournament for Edward Fox. Edward is the long-time tournament organizer who
runs events in southern Kansas, all over Oklahoma and in Dallas and northern
Texas. Ed Fox is also the face of Kansas cricket, bringing one of the
world's most exciting sports to a whole new group of players in schools all
across the area.

Having been a DCI level II judge for more than seven years, I've run a lot
of tournaments, but I have to say that this Wichita qualifier had more RULES
LAWYERS trying to get free game wins from their opponent's minor errors than
ANY pro tour qualifier I have ever been judged. I blame Kansas City. Not
blasting the Kansas City Magic scene, mind you, I simply think the Kansas
City Magic player is used to a tighter environment than they found in
Wichita on Saturday. For whatever reason, I had a LOT of troublesome players
to deal with. This late into a block constructed season, there shouldn't be
any surprises where rulings are concerned. The problem was procedural. A lot
of players were playing very loose with the stack. In one Affinity mirror
match between David Saylor and Aaron Hendrickson, the two players almost
came to blows over disagreements about the game state. I don't bring this
particular match up to show up either of these two experienced tournament
Magic players. Their situation was common in some ways to other things I saw
throughout the day. Affinity players get used to getting things their way
when it comes to putting their effects on the stack. Affinity mirror
matches, which happened again and again in a late-season tournament filled
with Affinity decks, were rife with player complaints that their opponent
was playing incorrectly. The answer to most of these problems was simply to
back up a step and enforce a very strict play-by-play method with each
player carefully making their choices. Playing Affinity on Magic Online
would have done a lot of these players a lot of good where their skills with
the stack are concerned.

The distribution of decks was very different from the other PTQs I have seen
or played in this season:
19 Affinity decks, of which all but one played Aether Vial
10 Tooth and Nail decks, most of which including red
5 Mono Red decks
5 Ironworks combo decks
4 Red/Green decks
4 Red/Blue decks
3 Pristine Green decks, two green/white and one green/white/blue
2 Blue/Green decks with Rude Awakening and counter spells
2 Black/Blue decks, both with March of the Machines but only one with Death
Cloud
1 Mono White Equipment
1 Green/Black deck, which did not run Death Cloud

I was shocked to see so MANY Ironworks combo decks (I guess Wichita didn't
get the memo that the combo deck wasn't really good enough to win PTQs). I
was MORE shocked to see how FEW mono red decks there were. I was also
surprised by the RU decks. After the top eight decks listed below in the
position they finished the six rounds of Swiss in, I have included one each
of the more interesting decks, including the Ironworks deck.

The top eight included three Vial Affinity decks, two Tooth and Nail, one
red/blue control deck, one green/black anti-Affinity deck and one Pristine
Green green/white/blue deck.  The top two finishers in the Swiss rounds were
Ronnie Jones and David LaFon. These were the only two players to make the
five hour trip all the way from Dallas. Ronnie and David also traveled
together, along with Ronnie's very nice girlfriend Jordan.

In the top eight, top Swiss finisher Ronnie Jones defeated Shane Houston and
his red/blue control deck. David LaFon finished second in the Swiss rounds.
LaFon's Tooth and Nail deck let him down in the quarterfinals, losing to
John Nelson's Vial Affinity. Quanah Gray won 2-0 in his quarterfinals match
with his Tooth and Nail deck over Brandon Simmons and his blue-splashing
Pristine Green deck. Michael Stranc was the quickest winner in the
quarterfinals, defeating David Green in a Vial Affinity mirror match. In the
semi-finals, Jones defeated Gray and Nelson advanced over Stranc. In the
finals, Ronnie Jones' main deck anti-Affinity cards were too much for John
Nelson's below average Vial Affinity draws.

Ronnie Jones is a very good Texas player who has performed well in a lot of
pro tour qualifiers, but who has not yet played on the Pro Tour. Ronnie
assured me that he will be making the trip to Columbus in order to finally
play in his first Pro Tour event. Ronnie has been working on his own
green/black creation for the past six weeks. Last month, in a Dallas PTQ,
Ronnie took a less focused version of the deck all the way to the finals
before coming up just a little bit short. For this tournament win, Ronnie
moved three Necrogen Mists into the main deck. He had been sideboarding them
in against control decks previously. The other big difference in this
tournament-winning version of his green/black deck was Barter in Blood.
Barter in Blood is invaluable against Tooth and Nail and is quite often the
answer against Affinity once you have destroyed that deck's artifact
creatures with your Viridian Shamans, your Molder Slugs and your other
artifact hate. Ronnie has been very confident about the deck from the start,
and his hard work paid off this week, simply proving that every good deck
doesn't come straight off the internet.

Top Eight Finishers after Six Swiss Rounds

1st Place Finisher
Ronnie Jones
Black/Green
4 Eternal Witness
4 Barter in Blood
3 Plunge Into Darkness
4 Tel-Jilad Chosen
4 Viridian Shaman
3 Molder Slug
3 Necrogen Mists
4 Beacon of Creation
4 Echoing Decay
4 Solemn Simulacrum
9 Swamp
15 Forest
SIDEBOARD:
4 Oxidize
3 Fill With Fright
3 Terror
3 Tel-Jilad Justice
1 Plunge Into Darkness
1 Molder Slug

2nd Place Finisher
David LaFon
Tooth and Nail Green/Red
4 Electrostatic Bolt
2 Mindslaver
4 Tooth and Nail
4 Sylvan Scrying
1 Leonin Abunas
1 Duplicant
1 Platinum Angel
1 Darksteel Colossus
4 Reap and Sow
3 Oxidize
4 Eternal Witness
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Talisman of Impulse
4 Cloudpost
4 Mountain
15 Forest
SIDEBOARD:
3 Tel-Jilad Justice
1 Sundering Titan
1 Darksteel Colossus
1 Platinum Angel
1 Triskelion
1 Mephidross Vampire
4 Viridian Shaman
1 Duplicant
1 Hoverguard Sweepers
1 Plated Slagwurm

3rd Place Finisher
Michael Stranc
Vial Affinity
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Vault of Whispers
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Great Furnace
2 Glimmervoid
2 Darksteel Citadel
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer
2 Atog
4 Disciple of the Vault
2 Myr Retriever
4 Aether Vial
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Thoughtcast
4 Cranial Plating
SIDEBOARD:
4 Annul
3 Shrapnel Blast
4 Electrostatic Bolt
2 Shatter
2 Glimmervoid

4th Place Finisher
Brandon Simmons
Pristine Green
4 Eternal Witness
4 Viridian Shaman
3 Pristine Angel
4 Solemn Simulacrum
3 Rude Awakening
2 Vex
4 Condescend
4 Wayfarer's Bauble
3 Thirst for Knowledge
3 Echoing Truth
3 Oxidize
8 Island
7 Forest
4 Plains
4 Mirrodin's Core
SIDEBOARD:
3 Pulse of the Fields
3 Purge
3 Annul
1 Vex
2 Echoing Decay
3 March of the Machines

5th Place Finisher
Quanah Gray
Tooth and Nail Green/Red
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Eternal Witness
1 Duplicant
1 Leonin Abunas
1 Platinum Angel
1 Darksteel Colossus
4 Sylvan Scrying
4 Tooth and Nail
3 Reap and Sow
2 Rude Awakening
3 Oxidize
2 Tel-Jilad Justice
3 Electrostatic Bolt
2 Magma Jet
3 Talisman of Impulse
4 Cloudpost
13 Forest
5 Mountain
SIDEBOARD:
3 Engineered Explosives
2 Sundering Titan
2 Mindslaver
1 Duplicant
1 Platinum Angel
1 Electrostatic Bolt
1 Magma Jet
2 Viridian Shaman
1 Oxidize
1 Tel-Jilad Justice

6th Place Finisher
David Green
Vial Affinity
4 Myr Enforcer
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Frogmite
4 Disciple of the Vault
3 Atog
2 Myr Retriever
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Thoughtcast
3 Cranial Plating
4 Aether Vial
4 Tree of Tales
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Vault of Whispers
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
3 Great Furnace
1 Glimmervoid
SIDEBOARD:
1 Glimmervoid
3 Moriok Rigger
3 Viridian Shaman
1 Myr Retriever
4 Oxidize
3 Shrapnel Blast


7th Place Finisher
John Nelson
Vial Affinity
3 Atog
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer
4 Disciple of the Vault
2 Myr Retriever
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Aether Vial
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Thoughtcast
3 Cranial Plating
4 Tree of Tales
4 Seat of Synod
4 Vault of Whispers
1 Glimmervoid
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
3 Great Furnace
SIDEBOARD:
3 Terror
2 Moriok Rigger
1 Myr Retriever
1 Glimmervoid
4 Viridian Shaman
4 Oxidize

8th Place Finisher
Shane Houston
Red/Blue Pain Cake
4 Wayfarer's Bauble
4 Electrostatic Bolt
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Arc-Slogger
4 Seething Song
4 Condescend
3 Furnace Dragon
4 Magma Jet
4 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Beacon of Destruction
2 Seat of the Synod
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Great Furnace
8 Mountain
6 Island
SIDEBOARD:
2 Echoing Ruin
4 Shatter
1 Furnace Dragon
2 Beacon of Destruction
3 Acquire
3 Last Word

OTHER INTERESTING DECKLISTS FROM WICHITA

Blue/Black Death Cloud
Kathy Nemati
4 Wayfarer's Bauble
4 Echoing Decay
4 Condescend
4 Darksteel Ingot
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Barter in Blood
3 March of the Machines
2 Greater Harvester
4 Death Cloud
10 Swamp
6 Island
4 Mirrodin's Core
3 Blinkmoth Nexus
SIDEBOARD:
1 March of the Machines
3 Damping Matrix
2 Greater Harvester
3 Terror
4 Annul
2 Echoing Truth

Ironworks
Marcus Black
3 Chromatic Sphere
4 Thoughtcast
3 Serum Visions
2 Talisman of Progress
2 Talisman of Dominance
4 Myr Incubator
3 Fabricate
3 Conjurer's Bauble
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks
1 Fireball
1 Mindslaver
2 Disciple of the Vault
3 Pentad Prism
4 Condescend
3 Darksteel Citadel
4 Great Furnace
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Ancient Den
3 Tree of Tales
3 Vault of Whispers
SIDEBOARD:
1 Talisman of Progress
1 Talisman of Dominance
3 Override
2 Annul
2 Broodstar
4 Qumulox
2 Chalice of the Void

Ironworks
Will Ferrell
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks
4 Thoughtcast
4 Condescend
4 Myr Incubator
3 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Pentad Prism
3 Talisman of Dominance
3 Talisman of Progress
3 Serum Visions
4 Chrome Mox
3 Fabricate
1 Goblin Charbelcher
1 Fireball
3 Tree of Tales
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Great Furnace
2 Ancient Den
2 Vault of Whispers
SIDEBOARD:
4 Furnace Dragon
4 Seething Song
4 Override
3 Electrostatic Bolt

Pristine Green
Gregory Black
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Nourish
4 Oxidize
4 Wayfarer's Bauble
4 Viridian Shaman
4 Eternal Witness
2 Rude Awakening
2 Creeping Mold
2 Duplicant
3 Molder Slug
3 Pristine Angel
3 Blinkmoth Nexus
7 Plains
14 Forest
SIDEBOARD:
3 Damping Matrix
4 Troll Ascetic
3 Purge
2 Creeping Mold
1 Duplicant
2 Rule of Law

FINALLY, A WORD ABOUT CRICKET

For those of you that have never heard about cricket, it just happens to be
the most popular sport in the world that America knows nothing about.
Cricket is the sport that originated baseball. With all of baseball's
evolution, and baseball certainly is a great sport, cricket has some
important advantages, especially for the casual player. I always hated that,
as a casual lover of baseball, the only way that I could generally play
baseball was in the much-lesser format known as slow pitch softball. Adult
baseball is a game that is really only intended for persons of much greater
than average fitness and athletic ability. Cricket is great because it can
be played casually at full speed with regulation equipment on the same size
field as the professionals play. If you haven't ever given this game much
thought, but you like baseball and always wished there was a better game
than softball, I suggest you look up Edward Fox's www.wichitacricket.org
website. Edward Fox, long an innovator in the promotion of our favorite
INTELLECTUAL sport Magic, is now one of the driving forces behind teaching
America the game of cricket. If you live anywhere near Wichita, Kansas, and
you like to play sports, you owe it to yourself to get with Edward Fox and
check out his Kansas cricket scene. I played in a match with Fox's team on
Labor Day and it was such a blast that I've been thinking about cricket
every day since.


As usual, I'm always interested to know what YOU think.

Jeff Zandi
Texas Guildmages
Level II DCI Judge
jeffzandi@thoughtcastle.com
Zanman on Magic Online
 

 

 

 

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