Time for my report on the 5k tournament from yesterday!
First, the UW list I was playing. This version is really ridiculously good in the mirror, pretty good against Jund, excellent against Naya, and doesn’t auto-fold to anything else other than the game 1 against RDW and, it turns out, probably Polymorph. The best part was that since UW Tapout is so popular people weren’t bothering to play against counterspells at all at first and were constantly (and vocally) shocked the first time I countered something in the match. One opponent even told me he suddenly had no idea what to do when I deprived his first spell of relevance. But enough intro; this is the deck I chose to battle 478 other people with:
Round 1: Vampires
This matchup is actually so good for me that we didn’t even bother to test it.
Game 1 he hits me with a few random guys and gets me to a reasonably low life total. I stabilize around 10, take a point from my own fetchland, another from a Bloodwitch, and finally just beat him to death with Celestial Colonnades. Somewhere along the way I counter a Tendrils of Corruption targeting one of his own guys just because I can and it gives him fewer outs.
I had no sideboard plan for this matchup at all because I wasn’t expecting to see it, so I end up going -4 Spreading Seas, -2 Flashfreeze, and add in all the Perimeter Captains, the Deprive, the Negate, and a Baneslayer.
Game 2 is much the same thing. He’s never even in it, I stabilize around 10, and beat him to death with Colonnades.
Match 2-0, Overall 1-0
Round 2: Polymorph
This match was a hilarious nightmare against an awesome opponent. He was playing Polymorph with Emrakul and I had a strong opener against any deck. We trade banter back and forth as we try to figure out what each other are playing and finally when I realize he’s on the morph plan and he realizes I must be, and I quote, “some crazy kind of control deck” we stare at each other building up manabases, each missing a few drops despite cantripping, for the first 10 turns or so. Finally he goes for a morph. I have no counters in hand so I have to let it resolve, then cast Jace on my next turn, bouncing Emrakul. He takes his turn back, See Beyond’s to get Em back in his library, then casts Jace. What he doesn’t know is that my first two draws of this game were more Jaces, so I let this one get Legend’d to the graveyard.
Now it gets really interesting. He doesn’t have a way to make a token on his turn, having had to use two of his Growth Spasms on his ramp turns and not having another Khalni Garden, so on my next turn I play another Jace, thinking I can start the lock. I know he’s either a bit on tilt or still unsure what deck I’m playing because he wastes a Negate on it, making my graveyard two Jaces and nothing else. I pass the turn.
On his turn he finds a token producer and morphs again. On my turn I bounce Em again with another Jace, which he legend rules again on his turn. My graveyard at this point is all three Jaces and nothing else, and we both make comments about the situation, and now it gets really interesting, because I’m going to have to beat him down and he doesn’t know it.
Eventually it gets to the point where I have an Oblivion Ring, a Day of Judgment, and a Martial Coup in hand, a grip full of cards, and a graveyard full of counter magic (but not all of it) as we’ve been fighting back and forth forever and our libraries are getting pretty low. I look at his graveyard and see three into the roils and two Polymorphs. Finally he just goes for it and hard-casts the Emrakul he must have drawn with no way to shuffle back in to his library. He takes his extra turn, swings, and puts me down to 4 life. I sack a whole bunch of Spreading Seas and Wall of Omens to the annihilator, making it essentially irrelevant. On my turn I think and decide I have to go to for the Oblivion Ring first, even though it might lose me the game if he’s running four Into the Roils rather than just three, because if I recycle his graveyard I’m toast and might just mill myself out. It resolves and he doesn’t bounce it on the end of my turn. He goes into the tank, finally says “I have no outs” and scoops them up. Total time for Game 1: 43 minutes of 50 for the round, and I survived a hard-cast Emrakul.
Game 2 goes by quick. We get to turn 0 and I have no way to kill him in time and his board is perfectly set up, whereas I’m short on blue mana to cast multiple counters per turn. He extends the hand and says “I think I have the nuts here. Draw?” I look at his board, which has no token creature on it, look at hand, then smile and say “Let’s see it then.” He’d have to play at least one more turn out to have enough mana to make a token, polymorph, AND win a counter war, so…
Turn 1: He plays Explore.
Turn 2: I play land and get ready.
Turn 3: Khalni Garden, Polymorph. He wins the counter war and lands Emrakul.
Turn 4: Oblivion Ring on Emrakul. At end of turn he bounces it.
Turn 5: He Polymorphs again and I wonder what the hell this could be, something with haste? Did I miscalculate? Finally it lands on…Iona. He swings with Emrakul. I fall to 4, having popped a fetchland earlier in the match. Then he extends his hand and says he knew he had nothing and was trying to bluff me, and I tell him I was pretty sure mathematics was on my side.
Match: 1-0-1, Overall: 2-0.
Round 3, Jund
My opponent this round was David Sharfman, who promptly told me that he was the defending 5k champion and so forth and so on and started chatting with the other people around. Truly he was the only complete jackass I played all day. He thought I was playing UW Tapout, only playing it badly, the whole match. He could not figure out that I was not playing the deck he put me on and thought he was just losing to an idiot the whole match, whereas I games 2 and 3 (he legit stomped me G1) I was leading him down whatever path I wanted him to be on, although I did stabilize at the terrifying life total of 3 on game 2.
Finally at the end he asks me about the various ‘mistakes’ I was making, such as leaving three mana open after my mindsprings, asking why I was doing that if I was going for Flashfreeze. I told him I wanted to be able to cast a Cancel if I found it and he said, and once again I quote, “That deck doesn’t even run Cancel!” I flipped the remaining two I have after sideboarding at him and he just got a look on his face. I tried to explain what I was actually playing to him and he just said “Yeah yeah I got it” and left. So, there you go friends: David Sharfman, tool bag. He might have just been having a bad day, but he played the whole match like he thought I was a scrub, so he really got what he deserved: being beaten to death with Baneslayer Angel.
This man thinks he is playing against the worst UW Tapout player in the world. He’s not.
Also pictured: the back of my right hand.
Match: 2-1, Overall: 3-0.
Round 4, Mythic Conscription
Game 1 he gets the nuts and I have to exhaust my answers getting rid of Rafiqs before he lands Sovereigns and pulls out an Eldrazi Consription and hits me down to 9. I get rid of that dork but have no way to get rid of the Sovereigns themself. The next turn he swings again and I make him show me the second copy of Conscription just to make sure he wasn’t stuck with it in his hand or something and then we go on to game 2.
Game 2 my hand is nuts and just completely full of answers. Unfortunately he gets to 8 lands while I’m still at 4 and eventually just hard-casts Conscription and kills me in a few hits. Nice guy, we talk a bit after the match and I wish him luck.
Match: 0-2, Overall: 3-1.
Round 5, UW Control
This guy was playing a version of UW control with Lone Missionaries. Game 1 I Jace lock him with ease and he scoops to having his library exiled. Game 2 I sided out 2 of my Wall of Omens and he actually manages to eventually beat me to death with his 2/1s through some bad draws of my own, it was rather close. Game 3 I stomp the poor guy. I have Jace online, I’ve used Spreading Seas and Tectonic Edge to keep him off double white the whole game so he can’t kick either of the two Kor Sanctifiers he casts trying to get some damage in, and I finally just kill him with Luminarch Ascension angels. It’s pretty hard for me to lose the UW matchup. Another nice guy who played very well.
Bonus hilarity: Game 1, turn 1, the first play from all four players at our end of the table was a tapped Celestial Colonnade.
Match: 2-1, Overall 4-1.
Round 6, Naya Allies
I have to mulligan to oblivion this match and the guy gets the nuts twice. He deals 17 damage on turn 4 game 2 after I mulliganed to five keeping a hand with Baneslayer and Mind Spring. The mind spring on turn 4 turns up nothing but walls, meaning that he had exactly lethal before I would have stabilized. Oh well.
Match: 0-2, Overall 4-2.
Round 7, Naya with Vengevine and Eldrazi Monument
This match was pretty fun. Game 1 I Jace’d him out of the game and he scooped to 13 counters. He tried to cast Eldrazi Monument, causing me to Deprive it going “my god, you’ve got monument in that deck?” His response: “Holy shit, I was not expecting Deprive!”
Game 2 I had an awesome hand but drew nothing but counter magic on top of more counter magic. My fatal error was not countering Vengevine after countering every single other play he made, despite still having three counters in hand, thinking that was a bit loose. Well, the first four damage I took was highly relevant. Alas.
Game 3 I feel a bit bad about. He was never really in it. I got two Wall of Omens and a Perimeter Captain down early which forced him to just keep playing more and more creatures. My life total kept growing as he tried to get damage through and I’d path a Vengevine or do something else. His board gets to the point where it has two Lotus Cobras, three Noble Hierarchs, a Bloodbraid Elf, a Goblin Ruinblaster and some other creature that I can’t remember on the board and he still can’t get through, so I finally Martial Coup after he uses exalted bonuses to kill enough of my walls and end up getting 7-1 card advantage out of it. Pretty sick.
The game was truly over when I cast my second Mind Spring though. This is when I started to feel a bit bad because my friends, who had been watching the match and could see my hand the whole time, just started talking to me and making jokes at this point in time, innocently enough. Unfortunately my opponent guessed, correctly, that this meant that they knew the match was already over. He kept playing but his face sunk to about his feet at this point and I finally told Brad and Scott that they were “distracting me” just so the guy wouldn’t have to deal with that. Jace eventually got to 13 counters behind Walls and a hand full of counters and he scooped. Nice guy with an interesting deck.
Match: 2-1, Overall 5-2.
Round 8, Ionamorph
This guy got the nuts both games and flat-out admitted it, but he was an awesome guy and it was a bad matchup as well, so I don’t hold it against him. The pivotal point in both games was when he had an answer to my Jace to bounce Iona to his hand. Turns out he was 9th on tiebreakers at the Orlando 5k.
Match: 0-2, Overall 5-3.
Round 9, Jund
I’m getting pretty tired of writing at this point, and Jund is an uninteresting matchup, so suffice it to say this was a stomping. The best part was game 2 where he cast Thought Hemorrhage naming Jace and I didn’t bother to waste a counter on it. Sure, he got to see my hand, but he got to waste a turn finding out that my Jaces had transmogrified into Baneslayer Angels. This was another nice guy; like I said, round 3 was the only bad opponent I had all day.
Match: 2-0, Overall 6-3.
My goal going into the tournament was to be 6-3 after the 9 rounds I thought it would be, so I was happy to do that. Unfortunately there was a 10th round and, perhaps already thinking about delicious food that would be coming my way soon, I punted my 10th match against Bant Control Jank pretty badly with misplays that I marked down. Game 1 actually wasn’t my fault; I was color screwed for the first time in the day. After game 1 I had about 25 cards left in my library and 12 or so of them were white sources. I don’t feel like writing up a full report on this match, but I lost, and I shouldn’t have.
Overall my thoughts on this tournament are very positive. I went into it worried that I’d get bounced out quickly but I was in contention later in the day than many of the pros that showed up, beat some people with actual names, and did well. I completely failed to notice they were taking photos of one of my third round match (above)…because they wanted photos of my opponent playing Magic. I guess I was less noticeable, but I beat him anyway, so fuck it.
I’m definitely going to start hitting more of these 5ks and PTQs soon. I feel like if luck had gone my way a bit more in mulligans or matchups I could have easily been 8-2 or better at this event, especially if I’d had the fortune to play against UW control a few more times. It was all around me every time I sat down but I only got to play it once, which sucked.
Hopefully next time I’ll write one of these reports from the top 8. I’ll be sure to let you know after the National Qualifiers in two weeks. The field there should be slightly less back-breaking with fewer pros coming in from out of town, so we’ll see!