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A Random Tournament Report
by Spike

This week I thought I'd give you something a bit different: a report from the tournament I went to on Saturday night. If you'll recall, in last week's column I discussed the deck I was planning to play there, and I also promised to write a report. Originally, that report was to be written Sunday night and posted Monday, but I was depressed and I procrastinated, so it's merged with my weekly column. Just so you won't think you're getting cheated out of an article, I'll also discuss improvements to the deck and my observations of post-Planeshift type 2 in general. Enough for you? Get reading, then.

The tournament was held Saturday, March 3, in the fine establishment known as the Battlezone. There was a somewhat higher number of people in attendance than we normally expect-- somewhere around 32, I think. The tournaments are normally smallish, but I guess the prospect of a new set drew some people out of the woodwork. Wonder if they'll keep coming after the new set furor dies down and the environment coalesces back down to the same old Tier 1 decks?

Here's what I played.

RACHEL.DEC (R/b/g NeoSligh)

4x Kris Mage
4x Flailing Soldier
4x Mogg Toady
4x Chimeric Idol
3x Lava Runner
3x Kavu Aggressor
1x Laccolith Whelp
1x Raging Goblin
1x Fallen Angel
1x Crypt Angel

4x Shock
4x Rhystic Lightning
2x Hammer of Bogardan
2x Pillage

4x Geothermal Crevice
3x Archaeological Dig
1x Keldon Necropolis
1x City of Brass
13x Mountain


4x Tranquility
3x Agonizing Demise
4x Scorching Lava
3x Void
1x Terror

If you are a newcomer to my way of thinking, this decklist will probably lead your mind to question my sanity. If this is the case, you should run back and read last week's column before you go any further. It probably won't shore up your opinion of my mental condition any, but it might convince you that there is a method to my madness.

There are, of course, some ideas I have for improving this deck-- aren't there always? I decided, however, to withhold such commentary until after the end of the report. For now, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Round 1: Mike VanDeelen (U/W Ankh Tide)

I have known Mike for a while. He and I both played scholastic chess in high school and often met across the chessboard, but it wasn't until after going to college that I learned he also played Magic. After playing one form or another of Rebels for an amazingly long period, he finally set it aside last week or so in favor of this deck. I am happy to report that he has been partially converted from the dark side. Now, if only I could get him to stop playing white sources altogether…

The first game is relatively swift. I play an Idol, but he Blows it with kicker, so it turns into a bad thing for me. I still am pouring on the damage despite a couple of Wraths, having burned down two Blinding Angels in a row. He hasn't seen his combo, and I am getting him down, but he FoFs and flips up a Story Circle. That pretty much ends the game right there.

Second game is more decisive. I do the play out my guys, attack thing. He takes a few hits, Wraths, then drops two Ankhs and sends 20 damage to my head. 

When I sign the results slip, I write the word "Scrub" next to my name in small letters. I believe in truth in advertising.

Round 2: Aryana Nemati (B/R Lord Of The Undead.dec)

Aryana is the daughter of Kathy Nemati, a well-known local player whom I have had the pleasure to play against on multiple occasions. This was my first matchup against her daughter. I was aware that the younger Nemati had recently been playing what seemed to be a Fires variant, and was expecting more of the same.

She plays turn-1 Swamp, Maggot Carrier.


I quickly discover she has more removal than me. That is embarrassing. Getting beaten down by Zombies is embarrassing either, although not the most embarrassing part of the match. I'm a trifle annoyed, though. I'm all down with the idea of Zombie decks based around that type's Lords, but who the heck decided that 5/5 zombies were fair? Scuta should have been a Horror or something.

The most embarrassing part was finally getting killed by another Maggot Carrier's CIP effect. That was embarrassing.

I side in my Scorching Lavas, which will definitely be in the main deck next weekend. We have a go at it again.

This time it's closer. It eventually comes down to this. At the start of my main phase, I am at 1 life, with four lands and a Kavu Aggressor on the board, and a Kris Mage and Rhystic Lightning in hand. She is at 6, with eight lands and a tapped Scuta on the board, no cards in hand.

I send with the Aggressor, putting her at 3, then play the Mage and pass. 

Her draw is Keldon Necropolis, and I lose. If she had less mana, I could respond by burning her out. Oh, well-- if she hadn't drawn land for two or three straight turns, I would have been in worse shape already.

I shake her hand, wish her good luck, and pick up my cards-- after noting "Scrub" on the results sheet, of course.

Round 3: Adam Shimkus (B/R with specters, Skizziks, and too much freakin' burn)

I have played Adam before, and he is a nice guy. This doesn't change the fact that I hold a great deal of bitterness associated with him. I seem to ALWAYS lose to him, and it always seems to be because of totally random factors-- screw, flood, or something else entirely. He's a good player-- as good as I am, if not better-- but that doesn't change the fact that my matches against him always leave me in the loser's bracket feeling cheated. Sigh.

Game one he has more Skizziks near the top of his library than any one person is entitled to. I don't give up until he sends the final few points to my dome. Then I sigh and shuffle up for game two.

Game two opens in the usual fashion, with me quickly dropping a Toady and an Idol. Somewhere around my fourth or fifth turn, with him hovering a few points above 10 life, I decide that it would be a really cool idea to Armageddon myself so I can play my Fallen Angel. Surprisingly enough, it works. He Ghitu Fires it next turn and is seemingly stunned when his Ghitu Fire for "enough" turns into "not enough." I lose the Toady. Next turn I play another Toady and start swinging madly with the Angel. He cannot draw 5+ points of burn and dies in a few turns.

I love my Angel. :)

So one of my matches goes to a third game. Before I start describing this game to you, let me mention that I had not seen any reason to bring in my Scorching Lavas so far this match. What I had in was working as well, or better, and I just left them in the sideboard. Keep that in mind and maybe you'll understand why this game sucked so much.

Adam: I play a Pyre Zombie.

Me: On my turn, I notice that you don't have the black to buy it back, and burn it.

Adam: I play another Pyre Zombie.

Me: I burn it, growing less confident.

Adam: I draw another black source and play a Pyre Zombie.

Me: I stare in stunned disbelief.

By this time I am getting used to writing "Scrub" by my name, and do so quickly before handing the slip back to Adam. He gives me a strange look. I ignore it.

Round 4: Bye

I'm 0-3. I am losing horribly. By any reasonable standards of performance, I suck and should never be allowed to play Magic again. The only possible motive I could have for not dropping out is a love of the game and a desire to play as much as possible. The computer knows this, you see, and decides that it would be a cool idea to make me spend a round watching OTHER people play. The computer is sadistic and wants to see me suffer. I hate the computer.

Round 5: Some Guy

It is now nearly midnight. About half the people who were here at 7 PM have mysteriously evaporated, and my prospective opponent never materializes to defend his honor. I win, I guess. Yay.

I draft. I lose the first round of the draft and go home. I'd post my draft deck here, but it's embarrassing.

Now, the requisite props and slops:

Props to Barnes and the Battlezone for always having good tournaments. You guys rock, even when your vending machine is empty.

Props to George Carstens for showing me that there's a deck out there that auto-loses to my deck. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but there you go. George is cool.

And last but definitely not least, props to my Fallen Angel… I don't think I need to say anything else.

Slops… wait a minute, I don't have any slops to give out. It's a bright beautiful day and the birds are singing; why should I want to give slops to anyone? Normally I'd give slops to George W. Bush just as a matter of principle, but I'm feeling nice and he hasn't managed to get us into a thermonuclear war. Yet.


What is to be done?

I still think the deck has potential. It's certainly fun to play. Unfortunately, the potential it has was obviously not realized on Saturday. Time to begin rebuilding.

One of the things that was obvious to me is that I almost always wanted my Scorching Lava in the main deck. The match where I didn't bring them in, they might have saved me. I looked for 4 chaff cards that I could cut to make room, and noticed that I almost always sided out the same cards in each match-- Raging Goblin, Laccolith Whelp, and the Pillages. Next weekend, those cards will come out for Lava. The Pillages might find a new home in the sideboard; the random 1/1s will probably vanish altogether.

Sideboard changes are also in order. After judging the metagame, I have decided I need something that kills black 5/5s. I'm reluctant to use Terminate just yet, because I don't think the nature of my black sources support it well. I thought for a while, then decided to try out X spells. Since my brother has both of my Ghitu Fires, Blaze will fill the bill for me. Who wants to cast it as an instant anyway?


I'll also cut the Voids. That leaves me with four sideboard slots that I don't know what to do with. I'll think of something.

In terms of land, I want to put in 2-4 Darigaaz's Caldera to replace some of the multicolor lands I currently use. Not the Crevices, because those kick ass, but the others. City of Brass + Chimeric Idol = Not A Combo.

That about sums it up for my deck. The bad part is, as you see, I went 0-3. The good part is that I had a blast. I love the deck and see no reason to put it down just yet.

Now, what about the current state of T2?

Realize that I haven't yet seen more than a very small sample, which may or may not be representative. What I saw, though, is that G/R/x fat, with or without Fires, and B/R of various kinds seemed to rule the day. U/W control seems to have fallen to an all-time low among the denizens of the shop where I play, and Blue Skies had only one representative on hand. The much-vaunted TurboChant deck made a dismal showing as well. One brave soul decided to try it and spent the evening losing to decks that can only be described as fairly random. Maybe it was him, or his luck, and not the deck… but I'm not sold just yet. It definitely needs more tuning.

I really don't think anything new came up. Most of the existing decks got some new cards. Nothing was strong enough to foster a whole new deck, at least not one that seemed to be competitive. Warped Devotion seemed to be a no-show, as was anything with Phyrexian Tyranny in it.

Doomsday Specter? Make me laugh.

Next week: More of the same, hopefully a report on me not losing as badly, and maybe I'll have an actual idea or two for you to peruse.