This past weekend I decided to throw caution to the wind and make another trip to grind out some games and possibly some cash by going to the SCG 5k in Atlanta. Again I was torn between going or staying home and kicking it with a bunch of good friends on one of the biggest college football weekends for any Michigan fan, THE University of Michigan v. Notre Dame. Two of the three most winning programs in all of college football battling it out for bragging rights for the duration of the year. Well, that’s how we fans see it anyway. I also had a friend playing in his championship game for amateur baseball, a team that I used to play for, that I wanted to go watch and support. Alas, my need to play magic and see some family in Atlanta won out. So fellow member of Team Mythic John McGuane (Mac), our friend Eric Fred (E-Fred or Fred) and I set out on the 14 hour drive from northern Indiana to Greensboro where we would be staying. This trip wouldn’t have been so draining if the other two were actually able to drive. Yes, that’s right, I was stuck driving the whole 30 hours round trip it took us to get there and back. Needless to say we arrived safely to my family’s house, got some good sleep and set out for the tournament site the next morning. When we arrived we noticed a slew of aggressive decks in the room and I made some necessary changes from the list that I played two weeks prior at GP Pittsburgh.
As always let’s start off with the list that I played.
4 Shrine of Burning Rage
4 Chandra’s Phoenix
4 Goblin Guide
4 Grim Lavamancer
3 Kargan Dragonlord
2 Hero of Oxid Ridge
3 Forked Bolt
2 Arc Trail
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Teetering Peaks
2 Act of Aggression
3 Manic Vandal
3 Vulshok Refugee
1 Hero of Oxid Ridge
1 Arc Trail
I will apologize ahead of time as some of the rounds are very detailed in the games and some are just summaries. It’s very difficult to remember the details from each match and although I take notes of every game it doesn’t always trigger a memory when I look back at them.
ROUND1 – George Goanos (UB Control)
I win the roll and elect to play. I start the game off with a Goblin Guide taking George to 18. On his turn he drops a Creeping Tar Pit. I get to drop another Goblin Guide on my turn and pump it via Teetering Peaks taking George to 12. He does nothing on his following turn and the game ends. Game two I bring in two Act of Aggression and a Hero of Oxid Ridge for two Arc Trail and a Searing Blaze. This game is very uneventful as we both flood. I’m able to stick a turn two Shrine of Burning Rage before he draws an Inquisition of Kozilek the next turn. At the end of his turn four I’m able to Staggershock him to 18 and kill his Solemn Simulacrum on my upkeep. On his turn six he drops a Grave Titan, but I have Act of Aggression and Dismember in my hand to limit the damage from it and get a couple of zombies as well. After that turn we both are still flooded, although I have a few burn spells and am able to get the Shrine to 16 counters a few turns later and pop it for the win.
ROUND 2 – Kerry Weekley (Caw-Blade)
I start the game off with a Goblin Guide attacking Kerry to 18 and pass. This is what this game actually came down to as well. My score sheet reads him taking 14 points of damage from this Goblin Guide and the other six points of damage in the form of Chandra’s Phoenix. Game two is much more epic and starts off guns blazing for the first few turns. He plays a Glacial Fortress turn one and passes. I drop a Guide and attack him to 18. On his turn he plays another Fortress and plays a Preordain. On my turn I play another Guide and power him up with a Teetering Peaks and attack him to 12. On his turn he drops a land and plays Timely Reinforcements going to 18. I Forked Bolt two of the tokens on my turn and attack in with the Guides again taking him to 16. Kerry plays another Timely Reinforcements on his turn and passes back. On my turn I attack with both men and he double blocks one Guide and singles the other to take no damage. Post combat I play a Kargan Dragonlord and level it once. On his turn he plays a land and passes. I take my turn and attack with the Guide and the Dragonlord. He Dismembers the Dragonlord and takes the damage from the Guide putting him to 16; I drop a Shrine and pass. The next turn he plays a Mirran Crusader off of a Preordain. I’m able to burn the Crusader off of the table and attack him to 12 via another guide. At this point the game gets nutty. He drops a Sun Titan and is able to bring the Crusader back. On my turn I find and Phoenix and take him to 10. From here I’m able to stall out long enough with men on the table to level up a Shrine, land a Grim Lavamancer somewhere and win via Lavamancer and Shrine on eight.
ROUND 3 – Mat Mansoor (Caw-Blade)
It looks like I’m stuck on a mulligan to five this game and start off with a hand that involves a turn two Kargan Dragonlord. I’m able to attack him to 18 with it then level it on my following turn. When I attack him on that turn it meets its end to a Dismember. From here I’m able to land a Shrine and triple Searing Blaze with landfall triggers to take him down. Game two it’s his turn to mulligan to five, but he has double Mental Misstep to ward off my two Goblin Guides. Being so low on cards and resources I’m able to land a Chandra’s Phoenix and Kargan Dragonlord turning it into an 8/8 flying monstrosity and take the game down.
ROUND 4 – Brian Braun-Duin (Caw-Blade)
I win the roll and choose to play. I play a fetch and pass the turn. Brian plays his land and passes back. I play a Kargan Dragonlord on my turn and it meets a Dismember by the end of it. Brian plays a Colonnade, Preordains and passes the turn back. I play a Chandra’s Phoenix and attack him to 14. Brian plays a Hawk and land on his turn and passes back to me. On my turn I’m able to play another land, Searing Blaze him and the Hawk and attack him to nine. On his turn he plays two of the Hawks he got from the previous turn and passes back. I play a Forked Bolt on his two Hawks, play another Phoenix and attack him to four. He’s able to Oblivion Ring one of my Phoenix and play another Hawk to chump the other, but Lavamancer is enough to take him down and we move to game two. Sadly, game two Brian gets mana flooded and can’t answers to the threats I’m able to play. I’m able to land a turn one Guide and attack him for three turns before it’s dealt with. However, by that time, I’ve already landed a Grim Lavamancer that can hold off his Hawks and Shrine of Burning Rage that can finish him if not dealt with quickly. I’m forced to use the Shrine when it’s at seven counters due to an Into the Roil, but I have Grim Lavamancer on board to deal the last four points of damage I need to win.
ROUND 5 – Tannon Grace (Blade Breaker)
Tannon is an awesome guy and somebody I talked to and watched play a lot during the rest of the tournament. He’s basically what a lot of grinders aren’t, chatty. Now I understand that a lot of people don’t like to chat during a match and just want to concentrate on what’s going on in front of them, but for the few of us that can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time it makes the game that much more enjoyable. Game one I watch Tannon lead off with a Rootbound Crag tapped and look at him and try to figure out what he’s playing. I drop a Guide and take him to 18. He plays another Crag tapped and passes. I attack with the Guide again and it meets a Lightning Bolt. I drop a Shrine into play and pass the turn. He plays a Skinshifter on his turn, and seeing that finally shows me he’s on Bladebreaker and not some random deck. I add a counter to the Shrine on upkeep and another after I cast a Grim Lavamancer. I’m able to get rid of the Skinshifter by responding to its ability and attack the Lavamancer on my next turn. A few turns go by of no business while my Shrine slowly becomes a clock for him. He’s able to find an answer to it via Acidic Slime, but I have mana untapped and am able to send it to his head for seven points of damage taking him to 10. After that I’m able to land a Chandra’s Phoenix that takes him to six and show him double Lightning Bolt to take game one. Game two is the type of game I don’t want to happen against him as he’s able to drop a turn four Thrun while we trade burn spells on creatures. He’s also able to land an Obstinate Baloth the turn after the Thrun to make all the more unlikely for me to win. He runs me down two turns later while still at 15 life. Game three he has a decision to play as he as a decent starting hand of double Skinshifter, Lightning Bolt and four land. He doesn’t risk the mulligan and keeps the hand. I open with a Guide taking him to 18. He plays a Mountain and passes. I attack with the Guide again, but it meets a Bolt. I play a Shrine of Burning Rage on my turn and pass. He plays a land and Skinshifter and passes. I drop a Chandra’s Phoenix and attack him to 16. He takes his turn drops another Skinshifter and passes leaving a green mana up and the other to block. I draw a Forked Bolt and split it between his two men. He makes the correct call and makes one of them a plan to keep it alive for the turn. I play another Phoenix and attack him to 12. He finds a fetch land and plays a Thrun on his turn. I’m able to attack him to 7 with the two Phoenix and sacrifice the Shrine to end the game the following turn.
It’s at this point that I have some time left in the round and head over to the booth to ask Gavin Verhey a question, “Is there any way for me to go 5-0 or 6-0 and drop to qualify for worlds?” He asks what my rating was coming in and I tell him 2043. He sits and thinks for a bit and says, “No.” His explanation is that at a 32k level event with my rating being that high that I would most likely get four to six points per win unless I come across a bunch of people with ratings 1940+. After hearing that my decision was basically made for me to just go for the win at the tournament and see what happens when rating update. Stop by tomorrow to see how the rest of the rounds play out and see some epic blunders on my part due to lack of sleep and knowledge of a few particular cards.