Liam Andrew
East Windsor, CT, JSS challenge
U/W Control
2/11/01, 35 participants

Hello all!  I participated in a JSS challenge on February 11.  It turned out to be a lot of fun.  For a month I was planning on playing Skies.  It was the best deck in the format.  However, the night before the JSS I was testing it against Fires and it kept losing, and losing, and losing.  I expected enough fires there that this was a bad thing.  So I did the emergency switch to U/W.  I figured this was the best deck for the JSS metagame, as it usually handles creature-based decks quite well…JSS is abundant with those.  Now, I DID have playing experience with the deck as I had used it to make top 8 at the last JSS in East Windsor.  Unfortunately, it was the only other JSS I could go to all year.  I was bent on qualifying and meeting my friends down in Florida.  However, I didn’t expect to make even top 8 this time, due to the lack of playtesting and the low confidence I had in the deck.  Here was how the deck turned out:

RuffRider U/W

4x Counterspell
4x Absorb
2x Prohibit
2x Power Sink

4x Accumulated Knowledge
4x Fact or Fiction

4x Wrath of God
1x Rout
4x Disenchant
1x Story Circle

4x Blinding Angel
1x Jeweled Spirit

1x Kor Haven
4x Adarkar Wastes
4x Coastal Tower
10x Island
7x Plains

3x Misdirection
2x Arrest
2x Circle of Protection: Blue
2x Mageta the Lion
2x Light of Day
1x Story Circle
1x Jeweled Spirit
1x Ivory Mask
1x Dismantling Blow

Were I to play the deck again, I would probably remove one Disenchant (there were 61 cards in the deck, so there’s no need to replace it with anything).  I also might have replaced 1-2 of the Disenchants with Dismantling Blows, but that would need to be tested.  Of the sideboard, I actually sided in all but the Light of Days at some point in the match.  I’m going to keep those in for now though, as monoblack is slowly on the rise.  It’s an amazing deck.

If you just want information, you can skip to the matches.

So my carpool is Justin, Owen, and I.  Justin is playing his own creation: a B/U control with many janky cards like Yawgmoth’s Agenda (don’t laugh, it works), Glacial Walls (which were laughed at all day till they wrecked people), and other interesting choices.  It was a good deck overall.  Owen was playing Zvi’s Fires from PT: Chicago, replacing Earthquake with Ghitu Fire, Dust Bowl with Ancient Hydra (it seemed that there was too much land in the deck), and it re-worked the sideboard to a creature-based JSS metagame.  It was actually my deck, and Owen had essentially no experience with it.  When we arrived at the tournament after a 1-hour drive, I played a few playtest games with Owen (I needed to test my deck too, as I was not quite comfortable with it).  He seemed to get the hang of it.

So our friends Bavs, Skinner, and their carpool showed up.  We hung out with them till the tourney started.  Apparently there was to be tons of U/W, a deck I didn’t actually expect in mass numbers.  That annoyed me, as I had little to no sideboard for them.  Time would tell, though…and as it turned out there was a lot less U/W than there was rumored to be.  But on to the games.  I don’t remember names…instead I give a personality description…sorry if I offend you

Round 1: Kind of annoying guy, Bad G/W
Game 1: My opening hand is strange, with 4 countermagic and 3 land (one being Kor Haven...the unsung hero of the day).  I keep, counter an Idol, Derm, and Charging Troll in succession, then I let through a Troll.  He cloaks it, but I Disenchant the Cloak.  I Kor Haven the damage constantly, and I find Story Circle.  He gets a Chameleon on the board, but I FoF into an Angel, which rides to victory with counter backup.
I side in Circle and Dismantling Blow (I had seen Ancestral Mask, so I figured his deck was enchantment-based).
Game 2: This game was similar to game 1.  He had no real way of handling Blinding Angel, but just to be safe I played it with counter backup.  Turns out he sided in Angel of Mercy, but I countered all 3 in his deck.
1-0, 2-0

Justin beat Fires, Owen lost to Fires.  Lots of U/W eh?

Round 2: Small annoying kid, Red Deck Wins 2000 (2001 now?)
Game 1: He gets an explosive start with lots of Raging Goblins, Kyren Snipers (he knew they were jank but he liked them because he ALWAYS remembered to make the opponent take the damage), and tons of burn.  I never saw Skizzik.  I felt fortunate about this.  I had to Wrath, then he just played a few more fast creatures.  This was annoying.  Eventually he got me down to 1 with a Kyren Sniper in play and 4 cards in his hand.  I figured it was game.  I Wrathed.  When he tried to shock me I Prohibited.  My turn.  Whew.  I untap, play Angel.  He still tries to burn me to death but only results in me gaining 6 life from Absorbs (MVP of this match).  Angel went all the way.
I side in Misdirections, Story Circle, Jeweled Spirit, and Ivory Mask.
Game 2: Once again, an amazing start for him.  I can’t get much going.  I play Angel with no counter backup expecting it to be burnt out.  It isn’t.  I’ll take that!  I played Ivory Mask.  Eventually he does get the mana to attempt a Lightning Blast on my Angel, but I Misdirected it to his Kyren Sniper.  He couldn’t burn me out, and he couldn’t attack me.  It was over.
2-0, 4-0

Okay cool.  A win next round puts me in top 8.  Justin lost to Fires.  Owen beat a random bad kid.

Round 3: Brian Skinner, Fires (Rages and Hammers…eew)
Game 1: Skinner is one of my friends, so this game was taken pretty lightly despite that it would decide one player in the top 8.  I beat Fires for the most part.  However, a 3rd turn Hammer was annoying.  He continued recurring it, and I had to play an Angel AND Jeweled Spirit to outrace it.  A couple Absorbs later and he couldn’t outrace me any longer.
I sided in Ivory Mask and Story Circle.  He sided in about 11 cards.  Uh oh.
Game 2: He kept a hand with only 1 Forest as land, and 2 Birds.  He didn’t draw any more mana sources for a while.  When I Wrathed away his birds, he was very manascrewed.  The next turn I played Angel.  Eventually he hit a mana pocket, but the countermagic I had accumulated during his manascrew held off his threats and I won.
3-0, 6-0

Top 8.  Cool.  Justin beat Rebels somehow…it’s a bad matchup for him.  Owen got a Bye (I guess the 0-2’s all dropped, so a 1-1 got Bye).

Round 4: Chris Baviello (Bavs).  ID.  Yeah, I knew his deck pretty well, and I didn’t want to have to face him.  Fires with 4 Rhystics 4 Rages isn’t nice.

Bavs and I went and got Blimpies for everyone, and when we came back we watched Justin playing against U/W…it was the most amazing match I have seen in my life.  Justin ended up winning it.  Owen lost to U/W.  Unfortunately, that made Owen 2-2.  But Justin was 3-1…however, after checking his tiebreakers, there was no real way he could draw into the top 8, and he’d have to play out round 5.

Round 5: Brian Fay (I think that was his name).  ID.  We played for fun and he was playing Skies.  I won somehow.  He got a bad hand.  Skies is a bad matchup for me.  And he’s a good player.  But that’s all irrelevant.

I watch Justin pummel Fires, and he’s in top 8.  Go Justin!  His first top 8 ever.  So I’m happy for him.  Owen beat Rebels meanwhile, to finish at 3-2.  And the top 8 rounded out like this:

1st: Justin, U/B Control
2nd: Bavs, Fires
3rd: Nice guy playing Fires
4th: Me, U/W Control
5th: Brian Fay, Skies
6th: Another nice guy, Counterrebel
7th: Annoying kid, sub-par G/W
8th: Yet another nice guy, Fires

So the top 8 broke down like this: 3 Fires, 1 U/B, 1 U/W, 1 Skies, 1 Counterrebel, and 1 Bad G/W.  Looks like a top 8 I can handle for the most part.  Except the Skies guy again.  But of course it’s just my luck that I’m playing him in the quarterfinals.  At least I have a lot of sideboard for him.

Quarterfinals: Brian Fay, Skies
Game 1: He got a great hand.  I didn’t.  He was maindecking Rootwater Thieves due to the big U/W hype before the tourney.  This was very bad.  I had to Wrath away the Thief alone, and then he just played another army.  This was too much for me, as I just kept drawing continuous useless countermagic after that and lost.
I sided in lots of stuff: Misdirections, Magetas, CoP: Blues, Story Circle, and Jeweled Spirit.
Game 2: My 2nd turn CoP: Blue got Dazed.  Damn.  After that he played a Hatchling.  Damn.  Then another, then a Troublesome.  He pretty much just got a god-hand this game.  And I got a terrible hand after the CoP.  I didn’t draw a 2nd white mana until it was too late.  At the end of the game, my hand was Story Circle, 2 Wraths, 2 Angels, Mageta, and Absorb.

Justin lost too.  Sigh.  I really felt like as long as I got that far, I could have gone further.  That marks the third time in a row I have lost in the quarterfinals.  And the last two were solely because of bad luck.  It annoys me.  But I’m glad I played U/W, I don’t know if any other deck would have taken me as far as it did.  I was happy for Justin too, as it was his first top 8 and he was very happy to have made it.  The top 8 finished out like this:

1st: Fires
2nd: Fires
3rd: Bavs, Fires (top 3 were Fires…yes, U/W must have been huge…)
4th: Brian Fay, Skies
5th: Justin, U/B
6th: Me, U/W
7th: Counterrebel
8th: Bad G/W

My prize packs were absolutely terrible.  Not worth discussing.  My foil Crusade was traded for 4 Vampiric Tutors.  And though it’s served me well, I’m done playing U/W.

Owen, for being cool and doing well.
Justin, for making top 8 and agreeing to drive me to Florida if he qualifies next time.
Fun and Games, for hosting a good tournament.
My deck, for not manascrewing me much (except when it matters most…).
Stambo, for the moral support.
Bavs, for getting 3rd and helping me get the Blimpies for everyone.
Skinner, for being nice even though he lost.

My prize packs.  ‘Nuff said.
Justin’s prize packs, for being broken and making me feel bad.
Stambo, for pulling a foil Lord of the Undead in a draft.

Brian Fay, for having to play Skies in the top 8 and getting very good hands in the top 8 (just kidding, he was a good opponent).

Me, for being 0-3 lifetime in top 8’s at JSS.

         Thanks for listening.  I hope this report was helpful to you.  So long!

Liam Andrew

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