Another Top 8, another heartbreak (Part 2)

By Michael Tabler - Last updated: Friday, June 3, 2011 -

So after my deck decided it no longer wanted to give me land in the last round of the standard event Drew, Joey, Chris, John and I went to a local sports bar to grab some dinner before we headed back to the hotel to get ready for some legacy.  After we pay our tabs and get back to the hotel Joey asks to test some games so he can get a feel for his deck.  We play six games and I’m not impressed by the deck that I had come expecting to play (U/W Landstill) as it’s thoroughly getting trashed and not handling threats the way I thought it would be able to.  Since everyone else in the room is passed out from out long day we decide to pack it in as well and make sure we wake up a little early in the morning to get everything ready.  Fast forward to 9am, John has gone for the draft open and everyone else is still sleeping.  I wake everyone up and we quickly shower and throw stuff together and head out the door.  During the rush I think to myself that merfolk was performing quite well during testing the weekend prior and that I would just roll with that and make some sideboard changes that I thought would be useful.  So as we roll into downtown Chris drops us all off with about 8 minutes left before registration ends and we scramble around the different buildings of the convention center looking for the room where we played Saturday.  We finally find where we need to go and get registered with about 2 minutes before they closed it.  As we find a seat to quickly jot down what we’re going to battle with today I hear a noise I haven’t heard since high school…fire alarm.  Yes, somebody had the nerve to pull the fire alarm somewhere in the building and roughly 400 people had to exit one room in a somewhat orderly fashion downstairs and out to the streets.  This did give me some time to think about some other cards that I wanted to put in my board and a little more time to relax and wake up.  Once we were allowed back in we got an additional five minutes to register out decks and find where we needed to be for the players meeting.  On this day we would have 203 entries and eight rounds of swiss plus a top eight.  For the explanation of the rounds I’m going to try something out a little different and show you what I have down from my notes to help you see how I’m playing throughout a game then  give a brief explanation of the games.  This is what I registered:

4 Aether Vial

4 Coralhelm Commander (Commander)

4 Cursecatcher (CC)

1 Kira Great Glass Spinner (Kira)

4 Lord of Atlantis (LoA)

2 Merfolk Sovereign (MS)

4 Merrow Reerjerey (Reerjerey)

4 Silvergill Adept (SA)

1 Sower of Temptation (Sower)

3 Daze

4 Force of Will (FoW)

4 Mental Misstep (Step)

13 Island

4 Mutavault (Vault)

4 Wasteland

3 Dismember

2 Echoing Truth

2 Energy Flux

3 Llawan Cephalid Empress

2 Pithing Needle

1 Sower of Temptation

2 Submerge

ROUND 1, Brandon Allen (UR Stax)

Me Brandon
  18 SA
  13 SA+CC+Reejerey pump
  3 SA+CC+Reerjerey+Vault
Me Brandon
15 Forgemaster  
10 Forgemaster  
 Me Brandon
  17 LoA+MS pump
  11 LoA+MS
  1 LoA+MS+Vault

Game one Brandon gets stuck on two land and is unable to cast anything in his hand.  Game two he sticks a Metalworker turn two then a Lodestone Golem turn three which sucks for me since I’m holding Energy Flux in hand.  It won’t win me the game instantly like I’d want, but it would at least turn off his threats since he would have to use the Worker to keep everything on the board.  Game three is much like game one as he can’t get more than three mana to cast anything.


ROUND 2, Tony Payton (Merfolk)

Me Tony
18 Step 18 SA
  15 SA+Reejerey
  10 SA+Reerjerey
  2 SA+Reerjerey+Vault
Me Tony
15 SA+CC+my LoA pump 18 CC
5 SA+CC+CC+SA+my LoA pump 12 CC+LoA+Reerjerey pump
  3 CC+LoA+Reerjerey
Me Tony
16 CC+CC+LoA pump 18 Step
  15 Commander
  11 Commander+CC
  2 Commander+CC+CC

Game one is quite awkward as we both have to mulligan down to five, but I’m able to continuously draw men as he’s flooded with countermagic.  Game two I make a mistake of dropping a Lord of Atlantis too early forgetting that he give all merfolk, even my opponents, islandwalk and +1/+1.  However, I do make another mistake in the game that prevents me from winning.  Game three is all about Tony not drawing enough men to keep up with me.  I found a Coralhelm Commander and he couldn’t.


ROUND 3, Anthony Eason (UW Stoneforge Control)

Me Anthony
22 Swords to Plowshares 18 Step
24 Swords to Plowshares 17 Scalding Tarn
  16 FoW
  15 Misty Rainforest
  14 Scalding Tarn
  12 LoA
  11 Flooded Strand
  8 LoA+MS pump
  5 LoA+MS pump
  2 LoA+MS pump
Me Anthony
19 FoW 19 Flooded Strand
18 FoW 18 CC
  17 FoW
  16 Misty Rainforest
  14 CC+LoA pump
  7 CC+LoA+Vault

As you can see game one drug out a long time as he drew a lot of countermagic and land, but no threats to put me on a clock.  Eventually multiple turns of making my Lord of Atlantis unblockable with Merfolk Sovereign gets me past his Mutavaults.  Game two we get into a two small counter wars over an Aether Vial then a Stoneforge Mystic.  Eventually I get some pressure on him via Lord of Atlantis and take it home.


ROUND 4, Justin Adams (Merfolk)

Me Justin
19 FoW 19 FoW
18 FoW 16 SA + Reerjerey pump
15 SA + Reerjerey pump 13 SA+Reejerey pump
12 SA+ Reerjerey pump 10 Mutavault+Reerjerey pump
5 SA+Factory+Reejerey 8 Step
Me Justin
18 Step 18 Step
14 Dismember 16 Step
13 FoW 13 Commander
  4 Team
  3 FoW

Game one we both fight over each other’s Aether Vial which neither of us lands.  I find more men and am able to push through him having an untapped Vial on three for the final points of damage.  Game two starts off much the same way, but we play the game with Mental Missteps instead of Force of Will.  Being down so many cards after the counter war I was able to take advantage of having men in my hand while Justin was struggling to find some.


ROUND 5, Chris VanMeter (Team America)

Me Chris
19 FoW 19 Verdant Catacombs
  18 Force of Will
  17 Polluted Delta
  14 Commander
  7 Commander+SA
  5 Dark Confidant revealing Hymn to Tourach
  1 Commander, Confidant kills him on upkeep
Me Chris
19 FoW 19 Polluted Delta
18 FoW 16 SA+MR pump
  14 SA
  12 SA
  10 Thoughtsieze
  3 Team

Game one was rough for Chris as he was unable to get to two black sources or a third land to cast Hymn to Tourach or multiple threats, of which he was holding the whole game.  Game two is much more interactive between us as he gets more removal and is able to kill my lords whenever I drop one into play.  The turn he Thoughtsiezes me I’m able to attack with a Silvergill, Cursecatcher and Merrow Reerjerey after casting a man and having the Reerjerey trigger tap his Tarmogoyf.


ROUND 6, Chris Kronenberger (MUC)

Me Chris
18 Step 18 Step
16 Step 13 LoA+Vault
  3 Team
  1 Scalding Tarn+Misty Rainforest
Me Chris
18 Step 18 Step
  17 Scalding Tarn
  15 CC+LoA pump
  4 Team
Me Chris
19 FoW 19 CC
  18 FoW
  17 CC
  15 CC+LoA pump
  9 CC+LoA+LoA pump

Game one is pretty epic in the first turn for each of us.  I play an Aether Vial which he Missteps, I Misstep his Misstep.  On his turn he plays a Sensei’s’ Divining Top which I Misstep, he hard casts a Misstep and I Daze it.  After that I start unloading men on him and get him down to one until he casts an Energy Field.  This is where the game stalls out and he’s able to gain control via Oblivion Stone and win.  Game two he’s holding no board control cards, just countermagic and I’m able to Vial in every threat I need to win.  Game three starts off with a Cursecatcher then my playing a Vial on turn two.  He Forces it, I Force back and start to unload men.  On his turn three he casts a Vedalken Shackles and passes.  I simply put more men into play to keep on pressure and drop a Pithing Needle.  He scoops as he shows me he’s holding another Shackles in his hand.


ROUND 7, AJ Sacher (BUG)



ROUND 8, Joe Bernal (BW Discard)



During these rounds we look around for a guy we had set up a trade with earlier in the day for some Candelabras I had.  I picked up three Candelabras before Mental Misstep had been spoiled and hadn’t had the opportunity to play the High Tide deck in a tournament.  After playing numerous games against merfolk with the deck I decided that the deck wasn’t nearly as good because of the printing of Misstep and decided that I should try to trade the cards before people caught on.  I had about $350 invested in three very beat up cards and shopped around the room with the dealers and traders to see what I could get.  Most people answered with the question, “what do you want for them?”  After hearing that response a few times I decided that I would want to start finishing out Chris and my second set of dual lands.  So once I figured out what I had in them I decided that I would want six to eight duals roughly the same condition of the Candelabras.  I ended up getting a trade that involved two Volcanic Island, one Tropical Island, two Bayou and three Scrubland.  All of the cards were played, but the retail for them in that condition is roughly $530 so it was a good trade as I got format staples that have more of a chance of me playing than some niche cards.

QUARTERFINALS, Adam Turk (Team America)

Me Adam
17 Goyf 19 FoW
9 Goyf+Stalker 18 Misty Rainforest
  17 Polluted Delta
  14 LoA+LoA pump
  13 Polluted Delta
  10 LoA
Me Adam
15 Stalker 18 Step
10 Stalker 17 Polluted Delta
5 Stalker 14 Snuff Out
  9 Commander

Yes, this is where the heartbreak sets in.  I knew this was a reasonably good match for me, but there was nothing I could do about a double Daze draw game one or a Misstep/double Hymn to Tourach draw game two to just stop me cold.


This is the third top eight I’ve made at a high level event in the past seven months and I’m proud of that since I don’t get the opportunity to travel like I’d want to.  I have yet to make it past the quarterfinals, but I definitely feel that I’m just as good as the regulars and ringers that get to appear at the events every week, I just have some dumb luck when it comes to the single elimination rounds.  However, I do look forward to the Invitationals that I will be traveling to later this week and in December as well as the other 5k’s in between for more opportunities to test and prove my skills.  Thanks much for reading and as promised the Birthing Pod list from team member Chris Hurlbut.

1 Batterskull

4 Birthing Pod

1 Sword of Body and Mind

1 Sword of War and Peace

1 Acidic Slime

1 Baneslayer Angel

4 Birds of Paradise

2 Blade Splicer

1 Hex Parasite

1 Linvala Keeper of Silence

1 Llanowar Elves

4 Lotus Cobra

2 Mirran Crusader

1 Nest Invader

1 Phyrexian Revoker

1 Spellskite

4 Stoneforge Mystic

1 Sun Titan

1 Thrun, the Last Troll

2 Vengevine

2 Viridian Corrupter

6 Forest

2 Plains

3 Misty Rainforest

4 Razorverge Thicket

1 Stirring Wildwood

4 Sunpetal Grove

3 Verdant Catacombs

Michael Tabler About Michael Tabler
I started playing Magic: The Gathering in 1995 with the release of Ice Age and quickly fell in love with the game. I've been to two Pro Tours and have multiple Star City Games top 8's including two trophies, one in Standard and the other in Legacy. I spend most of my time playing Eternal formats as I enjoy the complexity of them and the ability to play combo whenever possible.

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