Another Sick Burn. This time in Hotlanta, Part 2.

By Michael Tabler - Last updated: Thursday, September 15, 2011 -

As promised this is part two of my report. If you recall I made an inquiry to a pro at the event if me qualifying on rating was possible by doing a 5-0 or 6-0 drop. After hearing what he had to say it was time to play. Here’s what happened during the rest of the tournament.

ROUND 6 – Chris McCord (Mono Red)
So I find out that I’m playing Chris when pairings go up and remember a few conversations we’ve had online about him always being an aggro player. As we sit down I think to myself if he really is, is there a chance he would play Tempered Steel? The more I think about it, the more I feel that he’s on mono red and I’m in a mirror. I win the die roll and lead off with a Mountain and pass. He plays a Mountain as well and I know my assumption is right. I play a Kargan Dragonlord on my turn. On Chris’s turn he plays another land and casts Searing Blaze at me and my Kargan. I take my turn and play another Kargan, land and pass. He plays an Ember Hauler and passes. I attack him down to 18 with the Kargan and level it twice to bait either the Hauler or a burn spell to be thrown at it. On his turn he plays a land and passes.

The game starts to get real swingy at this point as we both are able to start playing multiple spells per turn since we’ve hit lands drops. I’m taken down to nine by some Goblin Guide hits, while he’s down to 7 from Arc Trails and Searing Blaze taking out his men.

The game stalls at a point where I’m able to land Shrine of Burning Rage and am forced to kill a Goblin Guide. At this point I draw a Goblin Guide of my own with Chris having one card in his hand. He reveals a land off the Guide, goes to five and takes his turn. He plays the land he drew and cast Searing Blaze, not passing priority and Searing Blaze again to hit me and the Goblin Guide for six points of damage taking me to one. I’m able to find a Staggershock and pass. On his turn he draws a Hero of Oxid Ridge, but I have the Staggershock to kill it. I take my turn and get him to three with the Staggershock on the upkeep and top deck my own Hero for the win.

Game two is another back and forth battle, but a much faster game. I take out two Hero of Oxid Ridge and two Kargan Dragonlord for three Vulshock Refugee and an Arc Trail. He starts off the game with a Grim Lavamancer and passes. I play a fetch land getting a Mountain, Goblin Guide and attack him to 18. Chris plays another Lavamancer and attacks me to 18. I play my land for the turn and Searing Blaze his Lavamancer taking him to 15 in the process. I attack with my Guide and he burns it off of the table. Chris misses a land drop this turn, attacks with his Lavamancer, then plays a Shrine. On my turn I play a Vulshok Refugee off of a fetch land and pass back. Chris misses another land drop, but plays another Shrine on his turn and passes back. I attack Chris to 12 via the Refugee and pass. Chris adds counters to his Shrines and passes back. I attack Chris with the Refugee, but it meets its end by a Dismember. I pass back and Chris activates his Lavamancer taking me to 11. On his turn he finds his third land and plays a Vulshock Refugee and passes. I play a Chandra’s Phoenix, attack him to six and show him double Lightning Bolt for the win.

ROUND 7 – Matt Thorne (Blade Breaker)
I’ve seen Matt playing at a few of the other tables and know he’s on Bladebreaker. I lead the game off with a fetch land and Goblin Guide taking him to 18. He plays Copperline Gorge and passes. I play a land, Grim Lavamancer and attack. He Bolts the Guide. On his turn he plays Birds of Paradise and passes. On my turn I play my land, Searing Blaze him and the Birds taking him to 15 then attack him to 14 with the Lavamancer. On his turn he does nothing but play a land and pass. I’m able to take him to 10 after two Lavamancer activations before it dies to a Bolt. He’s able to attack me to eight via Hero of Oxid Ridge before I’m able to kill it. Eventually I find two Shrines and play them back to back all the while he’s being flooded with lands. He’s able to get me to two life before I have enough damage via the Shrines, one at six and the other at four, to kill him on my upkeep.

Game two is a pretty epic one on my part due to me actually playing well enough to stay in the game and the punt that costs me the game. He starts off with land, go. I naturally play a Goblin Guide and attack him to 18. On his turn he plays a Rootbound Crag tapped and passes. I attack him with the Guide on my turn. It dies via Lightning Bolt. I play a Kargan and pass. He drops a Sword of War and Peace on his turn and passes. At this point in the game I’m terrified as I know I don’t have any answers to this card boarded in. I play a Teetering Peaks on my Karagan and attack him to 14 then level him up two times. On his turn the absolute worst creature he could play hits play, Thrun. With Kargan in play I have an actual threat to win, but with the Sword and Thrun combo and him having four cards in hand it’s unlikely I will. On my turn I level the Kargan up to four and attack him to nine with the help of a fetch he needed to play the Thrun. I drop a Shrine and all I have in my hand is a bunch of burn that can’t touch Thrun so I hold on to it for him to play another threat just in case. He straps the Sword onto the Thrun and attacks me to 14, then I take four more damage from the Sword putting me to 10. I play a fetch on my turn to reduce the amount of cards I have in my hand. I attack him to 10 with the Kargan, then Lightning Bolt him once and Forked Bolt him twice to take him to three and my shrine to five counters. I’m also able to get a Chandra’s Phoenix back from the bin via the burn. On his turn he swings with the Thrun taking me to three, then two from the Sword. He goes back to eight from the Sword, but has an Obstinate Baloth go along with it to take him to a healthy 12.

So it’s at this point that I know I need to draw one of a million outs I have in my deck. The Kargan will take him to eight after attacks. I have a Shrine in play that will go up to six, so I have 10 points of damage on board with five lands. All I need is an untapped land for the Chandra’s Phoenix I have or a burn spell that’s not Searing Blaze or Staggershock. I draw my card and it’s a Teetering Peaks, ugh! I think to myself of all the land in my deck why did it have to be a Teetering Peaks!? I show my opponent the Peaks and scoop up my cards dejectedly figuring I can’t win. I then look at the look of puzzlement on the guys sitting behind him and totally forgot that my Kargan flies and the Peaks adds the two damage I was looking for. As soon as I realize this I write make sure to check life totals and all possible damage on my score sheet as it was a game I had in the bag. No worries though. You can’t let misplays get you down, no matter how big of a blunder they are.

After we finish boarding again we have about five minutes left to play game three. Luckily for me my deck wins that fast. I start the game off with a Goblin Guide taking him to 18. He plays land, go. I drop another Guide and attack him to 14. Again, land, go from Matt. I play a Chandra’s Phoenix and attack him taking him to 10 after he Bolts a Guide. He plays a Sword again on his turn. I attack him to six and show him double Bolt for the win with about a minute left on the clock. Hopefully I’ll never have that big of a mistake again.

ROUND 8 – Isaiah Ley (Tempered Steel)
I look at Isaiah and have this feeling that he’s on Caw Blade. We shuffle up and resolve mulligans in which case I’m down a card. I keep a four land double Searing Blaze hand. He leads the game off with a fetch for a Plains, Memnite, Glint Hawk and replays the Memnite. I play a land and say go. On his turn he attacks me to 17 and plays double Signal Pest. My turn I play my land and Searing Blaze Isaiah and the Glint Hawk. On his turn he attacks me to 12 with his men and is able to drop another Hawk. I draw another land on my draw step and scoop.

Game two I board in three Manic Vandal, 2 Dismember and an Arc Trial for four Shrine of Burning Rage and two Hero of Oxid Ridge. I’m on the play and lead off with a Goblin Guide taking him to 18. He plays a land and passes. I play another land, drop a Kargan and attack him to 16. On his turn he plays a fetch to grab a Plains and drops a Porcelain Legionaire. Not having any burn and a hand full of men I’m halted from attacking. I play another Kargan and pass. On his turn he drops a Tempered Steel and swings in for five which I take. I’m able to lever up some Dragon men and swing in for the win. Game three is a very fast paced game. He leads off with a fetch into a Signal Pest. I play a fetch and split a Forked Bolt between him and the Pest. He plays another fetch and plays a Steel Overseer. I play another fetch on my turn and cast Searing Blaze taking him to 14 and taking out the Pest. He’s able to drop another Memnite and a Porcelain Legionnaire on his turn and passes. I have another Searing Blaze for the Legionnaire taking him to 11. I play a Goblin Guide and attack taking him to nine as he opts to not block in hopes of a Tempered Steel. On his turn he plays a Contested Warzone and attacks me with the Memnite, pumping it with the Warzone. He plays another blocker and passes. On my turn I’m able to Forked Bolt the blocker and his Memnite away, attack him to 7 and steal the Warzone. All he’s able to do on his turn in play the Tempered Steel he’s drawn a turn too late and scoops.

ROUND 9 – Chris Lewis (Tempered Steel)
Intentional Draw

ROUND 10 – Dustin Flora (UB Control)
Intentional Draw

If you’ve already seen my list online you’ll notice a discrepancy between what’s posted elsewhere and what I have written in the sideboard for this report. As previously mentioned before the tournament there were a few changes that I wanted to make to the deck as what we saw at a lot of the tables were a slew of red and other aggressive decks, thus the addition of Forked Bolt and Arc Trail to the main.

After doing so I knew I needed to make some changes to the sideboard as well, but when I made my changes, the one Hero of Oxid Ridge for one Act of Aggression, I forgot to change it on my deck registration sheet. So when I turned my deck list in for the top eight deck check the judges immediately found something wrong and called me to the stage to figure it out.

After talking to the head judge about all the scribbles that had been made on my deck sheet and how I arrived at these changes, basically me telling him what I just wrote about the slew of aggressive decks, he arrived at the conclusion that I wasn’t trying to cheat in anyway and allowed me to play in the top eight. However, for my carelessness, I would be receiving a game one loss in the quarterfinals.

QUARTERFINALS – Louis Walker (Mono Red)
I knew I was going into a mirror match when I found out I was playing Louis and my heart sank. The mirror match is not the thing you want to be a game down in. However, when we were given deck lists to go over before we began I knew I could win this match if I didn’t make any mistakes. Looking over his list I noticed that he had six four-drops, a five-drop and a six-drop in his lists with only 20 lands. Six of those lands being fetch lands. My thought process at that time is as long as he doesn’t flood, I’m going to win. Game two starts off with me playing a land and passing and him playing a land and getting in for two with a Goblin Guide. I play my fetch land for the turn and Arc Trail him and the Guide. On Louis’s turn he plays another Guide and gets me for another two taking me to 15. I have Forked Bolt for this Guide, miss my land drop and pass. Louis plays a Grim Lavamancer from his hand and passes back, missing his land drop, indicating he has the four-drops I was worried about in his hand. I take my turn and Arc Trail him and the Lavamancer, make my land drop and play my own Lavamancer. From here I’m able to take control of the game as Louis just draws threats that I can deal with via burn in my hand and the Lavamancer I have on board and he never hits his fourth land drop. So I take a huge sigh of relief as I manage to dodge one bullet, but can I dodge the second?

We board and begin the battle. Louis draws his seven and snap keeps indicating he’s got a spicy hand, most likely with Goblin Guide and Grim Lavamancer. My hand is two Shrine of Burning Rage, two Lightning Bolt, Grim Lavamancer, Searing Blaze and Mountain. This is a very borderline hand to keep since we only have the one land, but double Bolt and a Lavamancer makes it worthwhile if you think you’re getting the land you need. After thinking about my hand and realizing that Louis did make a snap keep I went for it. I tell him I’ll keep as well. He played a Goblin Guide turn one and got me for two revealing that all important second Mountain I wanted in my opening hand. I was insanely overjoyed and gave myself one of those “I’m a genius/badass” fists to the chest as I knew I wasn’t losing this game with my opening hand. I played my land for the turn and dropped the Grim Lavamancer expecting it to be nuked off of the board. Louis attacked me to 16 with the Guide, again giving me another land, and a Grim Lavamancer of his own. I took my turn, played my land and cast Searing Blaze on Louis and the Guide. Louis took his turn and played another Lavamancer. On my turn I played a Shrine of Burning Rage and cast Lightning Bolt on the active Lavamancer. Louis shot me for two in response and I ticked up my Shrine. On his turn Louis was on two lands with only a few cards left in hand. He attacked with his Lavamancer and passed back. On my turn I ticked up my Shrine, played a Goblin Guide, ticked up Shrine again and attacked Louis to 12 after playing Teetering Peaks on the Guide. At this point life totals are Louis at 12 and me at 13. The reveal from the Guide was the third land from Louis so I knew I had to be careful at this point. He played his and passed indicating either he had four-drops in his hand again or was just sitting on a lot of burn. On my turn I ticked up the Shine, now at four counters, attack with the Guide revealing another land. Louis kills off the Guide with his Lavamancer.

At this point I’m holding a Staggershock and another burn spell in my hand with four lands in play. The Shrine is on four, so as long as Louis doesn’t have an answer to the Shrine I’m going to win. He takes his turn and attacks with a Hero of Oxid Ridge taking me to six. At the end of his turn I’m able to unload my burn on him and win with the Shrine on my turn.

At this point Magic for the day is done. The top four competitors need to report to the hall by 7:45 a.m. the next morning to begin play. Problem here is that it’s already 11:30 p.m. and we have almost a two hour drive to my aunt and uncle’s house, where we’re staying. We get there around 1:30 and catch some highlights of college football on ESPN and I quickly pass out.

I’m groggy and have a sinus headache as I wake up at 5:15 a.m. The people in my group all start to wake up and wait for their turn in the shower. I’m the last to do so because I like to sleep as much as possible. We leave about 10 minutes behind schedule, but it’s not that big of a deal since there’s no traffic this early in the morning on a Sunday. We hit up the McDonald’s we visited yesterday for breakfast only to find out that they don’t open until seven despite the business hours on the door displaying they open at six. I told the other two guys that we needed to leave and we’d get some food in town when we arrived.

Fast forward an hour and a half later and I’m fifteen minutes early at the tournament site. Mac and E-Fred go off to get us all some breakfast to start the day, which is much needed since none of us got any sleep. After they leave I discuss sideboard strategy with another mono red player from the previous day on the Tempered Steel matchup. He tells me that boarding out Goblin Guide is something that you need to do since it rarely trades with anything they have and Grim Lavamancer is the key to beating the deck.

We hear the announcement for the top four competitors to report to the feature match area and we begin play.

SEMI-FINALS – Chris Lewis (Tempered Steel)
The video for this round can be seen here. –edit: we’re still waiting for video feed to be posted for link. Please check back soon!

All I can say is that I now know what Refraction Trap does. Yes, I realize that I’m lucky to have won that match since Chris didn’t attack one turn with his Inkmoth in game three. In the same token if I had actually taken the time to re-read the trap there wouldn’t have been a need for a game three.

FINALS – Dustin Flora (UB Control)
We did decide to split the cash prize in the finals and just play for points and the trophy. However if I had the opportunity to actually look at his list before the tournament began I would’ve seen that he didn’t have much of anything for me in his sideboard and probably would’ve played the greedy pants roll and played it all out straight up.
Coverage for this round can be found here.
The video for this round can be seen here. –edit: we’re still waiting for video feed to be posted for link. Please check back soon!
So I was finally able to get the top eight monkey off of my bike that I had going. Three top eights until now and not once was I able to make it past the quarterfinals. This time I was able to make it past that point and in dramatic fashion as well! The win felt great, awesome, and a million other words that can be used to describe the joy I received for finally getting over that hump. Alas, the feeling isn’t always going be there as it’s now just a memory, something in the past, and I’m just another player waiting for rotation and another chance to prove that this isn’t a fluke. Currently the nifty trophy I received is sitting in our local shop on display. If it hadn’t been for the store owner letting us use his brand there’d probably be little incentive for me to even play in some of these events. So I want to say in closing thank you Mark for letting us have a team bearing your logo and thank you to all of my friends, teammates and family who’ve supported me throughout my life playing this goofy little game.

As always, thanks for reading.


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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