Get the MTG
March 9, 2001
Friday Night Magic
Beyond Reality, Geneva, IL
After a few weeks of seeing nothing but Fires and U/W control in my area (and trust me, seeing nothing but Bursts and Angels can get quite annoying), I figured it was time to try the most underrated deck in Standard: Skies. Walking into the store, I see about 14-15 people cramped into the upstairs "gaming room", a pretty usual turnout, but the lack of quantity is always countered by the high quality of play.
4 Spiketail Hatchling
4 Chimeric Idol
4 Rishadan Airship (Co-MVP)
4 Troublesome Spirit
4 Wash Out
3 Sky Diamond
4 Rising Waters (Co-MVP)
4 Rushing River
3 Misdirection (Co-MVP)
The land count might seem a little low, but when your mana curve maxes out at 4, with plenty of spells you can use the alternate casting cost on, mana flood happens far more often. Tonight we’ll be playing 4 rounds of Swiss, top 3 get prizes.
Round 1: Tony, playing U/W Angel Control.
Tony and I seem to always play first round. This is, I believe, the third week in a row. We question the randomness of the pairings as we draw our opening hands.
I win the die roll and keep a 3-land/Diamond/Thwart/Foil hand, feeling pretty good. However, it’s 5 turns before I draw my first creature, which of course is Absorbed. I’m not about to fight a counter war over this, so that resolved. My next pick is a Troublesome Spirit, which has a Desertion cast on it, which I Foil and then Thwart the resulting Counterspell. This was a mistake, as a Blinding Angel hits play next turn and I can’t Gush into an answer. 7 turns later I scoop out of utter frustration.
Sideboard: -4 Idol, -3 Opt, +4 Rising Waters, +3 Misdirection, +1 Faygo Diet Ginger Ale (It’s the drink of champions!)
Game 2 opens much better, with Spiketail and Airship in hand, and the mana to cast them. I let a turn 2 Millstone resolve on his side and start bringing the flying beats. A Story Circle makes thing a little harder, but about 6 turns later he’s at 7, while I’ve added another Airship to my arsenal. One Dominate gets Foiled and the other Thwarted, and a Wash Out of his Story Circle and freshly cast Blinding Angel allows the final points to be forced through.
Game 3 was home to the probably the best play of my Magic career so far. It opened about the same way as game 2, with me throwing out a Spiketail and an Airship. Tony misses his fifth land drop and casts a Millstone. Unfortunately for him, he tapped his 2 Islands, allowing my Rising Waters in hand to drop. Unless control can get rid of Waters, and fast, they can only counter once every 2-3 turns. I add a Troublesome Spirit to my ranks 3 turns later and run him down to 7. He has 4 lands untapped at this point and tries to Dismantling Blow my Waters. I look at my hand, smile, and toss a Misdirection on the table. Tapped out and out of options, he shows the Wrath of God in hand and concedes. His next card: a land. He could have gotten a Wrath next turn through my Spiketail had he sat on the land, but sometimes you take chances and they don’t pay off.
Match results: 1-0 (2-1 Game results)
Round 2: Benjy, playing Fires. Quite the diversity in my area, eh?
I win the die roll and go first, Opting into an Idol. My hand was perfect enough to go Spiketail, Idol, Airship, Airship, and still have enough Islands in hand to Foil a Blastoderm and Thwart a Jade Leech. He finally gets some offense on the table with a Leech and a Burst (with no Fires on the table), but a Wash Out seals his fate.
Sideboard: -3 Idol (He SB’s Artifact Mutation) –4 Opt, + 3 Misdirection, +4 Submerge.
Game 2 isn’t even worth talking about. I mulligan down to 5 and he gets The Draw™. I challenge anyone to be able to disrupt the Fires, Blastoderm, Burst turns when your Foils are nowhere in sight. Sometimes Fires just wins.
Game 3 was a nail-biter. I keep a 2-land, Spiketail, Airship hand, and luckily draw into a Sky Diamond. Benjy’s taken about 6 points of damage, his only lands being 3 Karplusan Forests and 2 Dust Bowls. He drops a Jade Leech, which I try and Submerge. Note that I said, "try". I mean, what Fires deck doesn’t have a basic Forest in play? I answer his Leech with a Troublesome Spirit, and EOT he Simoons. I have no answer. There goes half my army, and the Leech swings for 5, and he drops a Fires afterwards. I can only Gush into 2 Islands and say go. Nest turn there’s a Hydra I can’t stop, and he burns out the Spirit next turn and takes the match. Sigh. I look under the table, where I had mistakenly placed my Faygo after the first game. I vow to keep the bottle near me for the rest of the night.
Match results: 1-1 (3-3 Game results)
Round 3: Cory, playing Fires with Gating creatures.
Cory wins the die roll, and I mulligan down to 6. I’m not sure what was so good in his hand, but the fact that he kept a hand with no first-turn Bird or Elf means he has a really good midgame he wants to keep. I get a turn 2 Diamond and 2 Spiketails turn 3. He answers with a turn 4 Jade Leech, which I decide not to Thwart. I add a third Spiketail and an Airship and swing for 2. He sends the Leech for 5 and drops a River Boa and a Bird. This seemed like a good time to Wash Out, and being able to do it again 2 turns later wrapped up the first game.
Sideboard: -4 Opt, -3 Idol, +3 Misdirection, +4 Submerge
Game 2 starts with an Elf for Cory, and an Island for me. He drops a Fires, which I have to Foil. I drop a Spiketail turn 2, and allow a Chimeric Idol to hit. I drop an Airship and say go. He opens turn 4 by trying to play a Horned Kavu. I let it in, then Submerge his Elf, forcing the Kavu back to his hand. My Troublesome comes to play turn 4, and he tries the Elf-Kavu again. Again, it gets Submerged. His last hope is a 4-point Ghitu Fire, which I Misdirection to him. My only sweep of the night, and it felt pretty good to take care of Fires the way I did.
Match Results: 2-1 (5-3)
Looking at the standings, there are 2 people at 3-0, so if I can take this next round I’ll have a pretty good shot at finishing in the prizes.
Round 4: Jamie, playing a rogue Warped/Agenda U/B deck
I win the die roll and go first. I drop a Spiketail turn 2 and he Ravenous Rats’ me, I discard a Gush. I drop a Diamond turn 3, and swing with the Hatchling. He gets down a Warped Devotion and attacks. All I can do is drop a second Diamond turn 4, and he answers with a Double Ritual/Thrashing Wumpus, which I Foil. I finally draw and play a Troublesome Spirit. End of turn, though, he Rushing Rivers both my Diamonds, and I discard them. He Washes me out next turn, and I’m without a hand. Next turn an Avatar of Will hits and that’s game.
Sideboard: -4 Idol, -4 Opt, -2 Troublesome Spirit, +3 Rising Waters, +3 Misdirection, +4 Rushing River
Game 2 is over almost before it began. Turn 2 Spiketail, turn 3 Airship, turn 4 Troublesome, turn 5 Spiketail was much too fast for Jamie, his only spells being a Recoil, which was Thwarted, and a Warped Devotion, which I sacrificed a Spiketail to.
Game 3 we both have slow starts, but I do manage a turn 3 Airship, which he matches with a Warped Devotion. I decide to hold off on casting threats and just swing for 3 a turn while his pair of Rats can only do 2. Turn 5 he Probes with kicker, which I allow only to be able to drop the Rising Waters next turn and wait for him to get back to 3 land to try and Recoil my Airship, which I Thwart. Discarding 3 cards usually doesn’t matter when your opponent is at 3.
Match Results: 3-1 (7-4)
Overall finish: Third place, good enough for a life counter cover, which is pretty useless since I don’t own a base, and I prefer dice to the life counters anyhow.
Thoughts on the deck: The Opts should be Cloud Sprites. A little more aggression would really be nice, and I don’t know too many people who will waste burn/removal on a 1/1 flyer. These buggers can normally get in 6 or 7 points in before anyone takes notice.
The obligatory props and slops:
To Tony, who finally stepped away from the Dark Side of Fires and played control for once. Bravo!
To Hsiung, who won the tournament. Again. A great player and a top-notch guy to boot.
To Diet Ginger Ale Faygo, which was at my side during all 3 of my match wins.
To Misdirection, which nobody likes and nobody expects.
To Benjy, who signed Tony’s match sheet "Tony sucks." Maturity will get you a lot farther than this will.
To Benjy (again), for thinking it’d be fun to play "Let’s run in traffic" after the tournament. See above.
To Beyond Reality, for forcing us upstairs when there were no role-players on the lower level. People aren’t coming back, and this is one reason.
Ciao, and don’t let the mana gods know you’re having a run of good luck,