Preparation for Regionals
In the last months, we’ve listened to people tout Ravager-Affinity as a ridiculous deck, along with Goblins and Tooth and Nail and a host of other wannabe’s and has-beens. Blue has been discarded from Affinity, then returned to the fold, then rejected yet again. Goblins has gone through so many permutations that it boggles the mind. And the rogues have gone to work on their insane little creations, hoping that they’ll sneak through the random decks to smash the favorites right in the face.
On Saturday, it’ll be done.
For me, after a lot of consideration, I made the decision to join the judging team rather than to play in the event. The reasons for this come to a number of issues, but the primary one has been very simple, and very bitterly true.
I don’t want to have to try to win.
This week is dead week; next week is finals. This semester has turned into a nightmare the likes of which I hadn’t thought I could possibly descend into. I have a job that eats into my time now. I need to spend time getting myself together to wind up the semester and figure out what I want to do over the summer.
And yet…that’s not the reason I’m not playing. I don’t feel like I can put my best game forward and really play at a sufficiently high level to get through an event like this. I’m not prepared to deal with the amount of stress that I put on myself to do well, and I don’t want to deal with the stress from potential losing. This event is of such a nature that I don’t feel like I want to deal with everything that goes along with it.
Soooo…judging it is! I’ve become very comfortable with working as a judge, and I have come to enjoy the role that I can take in an event like this. I’m looking forward to working with Ben Drago and the other judges; I’ve also been given permission to use “The Judge’s Elbow,” when necessary, but I’m not going to speculate on what kind of circumstances will call for that.
As far as decks are concerned, I’m expecting to see the Goblins and Ravager acting as the dominant forces in the room. But what else is going to poke its head into the room? There are a slew of little beasties that are going to see play, with people either trying to metagame the big two right out of the room, or operating on one of my favorite principles in Magic: “Ignore them.”
Personally, I hold to this last argument pretty regularly within a stagnant environment; you’re talking to the same guy that played Junk when Super-Gro was spiraling into power and Rebels at PT-Houston in a room full of Reanimator, Rock, and Tinker. If you think that you have a matchup that you know how to play, whether it’s a deck within sight of the normal metagame or not, then you have a pretty solid leg up on everyone, and just might be able to get through the day.
I know a good number of people who walk into Regionals with the idea that they simply…aren’t going to play these matchups. “I’m just not going to play against Goblins today!” They know that there are bad matchups, they’ve practiced how to best deal with these hurdles, and yet they still know that they are going to suffer if it happens. And, sometimes…they just get through the wire mesh that is the, "established metagame,” and sneak a few wacky people into Nationals. It’s a strange world out there.
Anyway, back to the decks…there will be plenty of decks out there Saturday. Let’s take a look at a few of the decks that will be there that aren’t Ravager and Goblins:
This deck has run a bit rampant around here of late. The Scion of Darkness sometimes makes an appearance here, but doesn’t necessarily always have to. Skullclamp plus an array of mid-range black creatures (Rotlung Reanimator and Withered Wretch forming the backbone of the deck) puts a pretty decent amount of pressure on opponents, sometimes finishing them off with Death Cloud.
Oversold Cemetery keeps hanging around in constructed, and makes its impact here with Baloths and other useful creatures, like Wirewood Herald and Viridian Zealot. Personally, I have come to hate this deck, simply because it hasn’t had a particularly good way to win; however, the addition of Skullclamp and Death Cloud has helped to make this deck quite a threat, if it’s allowed time to set up its very powerful engine.
The Freeze has kept a few solid adherents, playing a horde of zero-cost artifacts along with things like Retract to enable them to “go off” and Freeze them for the entire deck. It’s very draw-dependent, but at least a reasonable amount of fun to try to force to go off.
R/G Land Destruction
Several groups have managed to put together versions of R/G that have the ability to “wreck” both Ravager and Goblins. While I haven’t seen this necessarily accomplish this task, I know that the deck has been pretty solid in testing for a number of groups. Large beasts like Arc Slogger and Molder Slug step in to finish the job, as well as causing horrible problems for the two big decks. This might be an up-and-comer to pay attention to.
I’m aware of a number of builds of this deck that have tested extraordinarily well against Affinity, with Viridian Shaman and Wirewood Symbiote causing them horrid problems. It really does just scoop to a Sharpshooter, though.
I’m just noting these lists as decks that you need to be aware of for Saturday; don’t be too surprised to see them near the top tables, at least in small numbers. They have the ability to win.
Finally, a few things to make sure that you really are ready for the grind that is Saturday. There’s a lot more than cards that you’ll need to get through the whole day; that’s just the nature of the beast that is Regionals, as well as other major tournaments.
Bring something good to eat with you. Don’t count on their being convenient fast food nearby, and don’t expect that you’re going to be able to think more clearly with a Whopper or two with you. Look for something good for you, like fruit. If you can bring a bunch of bananas with you and eat them through the day, it’ll help you avoid the fog that comes along with hunger, or from eating junk food. Bring a bottle of water or juice; leave the soda at home.
Bring dice. Bring sleeves. Bring counters. Bring paper and a pen or pencil for keeping life-totals; not dice. Do not expect to be given a free ride because you couldn’t find any of these at the hotels; you’ll find yourself on the wrong end of warnings and possibly game-losses. Also, pack these before you leave home; life will be much easier if you have a bag already packed before you have to leave.
Get some sleep the night before; if you get a long break between rounds, try to grab a catnap, if those work for you. Keeping yourself fresh will get you through the day more effectively than your opponent, and you’ll be more unlikely to commit that error in round eight that could knock you out of the tournament.
That’s all I’ve got for today…good luck, folks.
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