Power and Toughness—Second at the $400 Cash Standard Tournament

Every Zombie Jesus weekend Jen’s folks come down to Brooklyn from the Boston area and we eat shit tons of ham, asparagus, corn, and mashed potatoes, which we then turn into actual shit. You know, because that’s how digestion works.

The in-laws’s visit kept me from going to Philadelphia for the PTQ there. It’s Standard season and Standard is totally my jam so I’ll probably go to 100 PTQs, eventually. It wasn’t meant to be this weekend. Sucks, ‘cuz Philly is my favorite city to PTQ in. There isn’t enough praise for the venue (a sweet convention center with lots of room) and the Reading Terminal Market (everything in there is delicious). So, I was swayed by Monique to test Standard at Kings Games in their $400 Cash Standard Tournament in preparation for the PTQ there next Saturday. You’ll probably see a report of that event in one week’s time.

I got up later than usual which gave me about three hours to make it to the other side of Brooklyn. I wrote my entire Twenty Sided Blog article on the train en route to Kings.

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The Q train kind of rules. It goes over the Manhattan Bridge and then sort of travels through this open roofed channel through Brooklyn. I liked the way these two people looked and snapped a shot.

When I got off the train Monique and Rob “Birdlaw” Kofsky were walking towards the stairs. We rode the same Q train just a couple of cars apart.

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This family consisted of five very young girls. FIVE. Holy cow. That’s a lot of kids.

We walk to Dunkin Donuts and I drank my first ice coffee of the season. We continued on to Kings, signed up, grabbed some deck registration sheets, and headed upstairs to fill’em out.

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The entire second floor of Kings was filled with food wrappers, soda cans, and other debris.

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There was also a sucker stick and an open ointment packet. It took us a while to decide where to sit down amongst the filth.

We waited around an hour or three for some stragglers to finish their deck registration. I took most of the Ray of Revelations out of my sideboard in favor of the “not very often in hand and almost always milled due to Mulch and Grisly Salvage” Abrupt Decay ‘cuz I needed to kill Boros Reckoners of which I’d face zero. The deck ended up looking something like this:

2 Cavern of Souls
2 Forest
1 Gavony Township
3 Godless Shrine
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
4 Woodland Cemetery
3 Angel of Serenity
3 Arbor Elf
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Centaur Healer
2 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Restoration Angel
4 Thragtusk
4 Grisly Salvage
2 Lingering Souls
3 Mulch
4 Unburial Rites

Sideboard:
4 Abrupt Decay
3 Acidic Slime
3 Purify the Grave
1 Ray of Revelation
2 Rhox Faithmender
1 Slayer of the Wicked

Round One vs Oscar’s Human Reanimator

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I’m pretty shaky on this match-up. I think I have to break up his Fiend Hunter/Angel of Glory’s Rise combo—but main deck, as I have it configured, I really have no way to so that. When I faced this deck 1000 years ago, I was playing BR Zombies at Millennium Games in Rochester, I had Searing Spear to interact with Fiend Hunter. Junk’s got nothing. I often think about Path to Exile being dope if I had access to it, but I don’t.

Path to Exile Path to Exile

Anyway, game one he comboed off the turn before I could craterhoof and win. Game two he stumbled on mana and I crushed. Game three is the same as game one, unfortunately. I lost the turn before I would’ve won. It’s interesting to note that if I’d topdecked an Angel of Serenity and not Craterhoof Behemoth I’d have probably won ‘cuz I’d have disrupted his board, picking up his Angel and Fiend Hunter. This Junk deck just doesn’t give ya what you want sometimes.

It’s curious to me that anyone plays Human Reanimator, ever. It’s much less resilient than Junk Reanimator outside of this particular matchup. Game two, I targeted the two humans in his yard with Purify the Grave (with flashback) and his Angel whiffed. There were no Purifies in my hand game three. Maybe I should’ve mulliganned until I hit a Purify? Seems dumb, but maybe I just can see why it’s actually the correct thing to do. 0-1 in matches, 1-2 in games.

Round Two vs Billy’s Jund Aggro

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Billy anticipated I’m playing Jund Midrange when he said “Farseek” as I played my second land. “Who plays Jund?” I asked him. He smiled. At the end of his turn I cast Grisly Salvage and said “Only jerks play Jund,” and returned his smile. I’ve played Billy at all three venues I play Magic, most often at Twenty Sided (my Magic home). He’s on the Jund Aggro plan and absolutely slaughters me game one. He’s so fast out of the gate and I don’t have shit to slow him down with. I drew all of my Unburial Rites and the only targets I had were Avacyn’s Pilgrim. Centaur Healers failed to make it to the party and the only reason I’m playing the card is for these aggro matchups.

Centaur Healer

Game two he Cremates a Thragtusk. I cast Rhox Faithmender and he Slaughter Gameses the rest of my Thragtusks the turn before I was gonna gain ten life. Dang. There are a number of turns where I swung with the Elephant, gain two, blinked it on his turn, blocked a dude to gain more life or just not lose a bunch of life. Eventually I get to Angel of Serenity, wipe his board, and smash. He drew lands his final four turns.

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I eventually beat through this board state and won.

Game three I mulligan to five cards (colorless or no land hands). Billy gets me down as low as four before the same thing happens. With the Elephant-related life gains and another topdecked Angel of Serenity, I wiped his board and won. At some point I played a very excellent Garruk Relentless, too. He did a lot of work. I may have confused games two and three but it went something like that. 1-1 in matches, 3-3 in games.

Round Three vs. Nemesis (AKA Monique) Jund Midrange

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Monique got paired down this round. She was 2-0 and I was 1-1. Jund has a hard time with Junk Reanimator. Birdlaw told me not to screw this one up and laughed. I said “It’s not that easy a matchup, man. Maindeck Ground Seal fucks me over bad.” Monique laughed at this. She said something about how she’s not playing Jund and then my mind started cranking out potential decks she could be playing after she dropped an Overgrown Tomb tapped turn one. She Farseeked shortly for a Stomping Ground and I laughed and excitedly said to her “Oh come on! You’re totally on Jund! Who’re you trying to fool?!” She said she forgot she had started messing with me about that and laughed. Mindgames, always mindgames with her!

Game one my graveyard is looking sweet and she Rakdos Returned to make it even sweeter. After an early scare I’m able to stabilize and win.

Ground Seal Abrupt Decay

Game two I’m at 36 life at some point and Monique has several shades fewer. I smashed for huge amounts on consecutive turns. I think she played a Ground Seal that I Abrupt Decayed at the end of turn allowing me to Unburial Rites an Angel. I’m not totally sure but it was a pretty intense fighting through many Thragtusks on both sides. Jund Midrange was my deck of choice before the rise of Junk Reanimator. It doesn’t seem like it can get through the bombs Junk has at its disposal. Maybe maindeck four Deathrites? I don’t know. Right now it’s a lousy matchup for Jund. 2-1 in matches, 5-3 in games.

Round Four vs Wade’s Prime Speaker Bant Wolfrun

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I won game one on turn four, on a mulligan to six, with this in play: two mana dorks, two spirit tokens, and a reanimated Craterhoof Behemoth. I have never done this before. It’s totally awesome. Turn four win? Awesome.

Game two I was able to take out all of Wade’s blue mana sources with sided in Acidic Slimes. I cannot stress enough how amazing Slime is in the blue deck matchups. It is the best thing ever. Wade and I talk about his deck decisions, some cards I didn’t see, and what he changed from the Prime Speaker Bant list. He’s a very nice guy and it was a pleasure to play him. He had bad luck. 3-1 in matches, 7-3 in games.

I went to the bathroom, saw some of my favorite bathroom decor, and got ready for doing math to figure out if I was safe with a draw into Top 8.

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should say “us our super f’ing scary hand dryer”

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The super f’ing scary hand dryer. It’s safe, don’t worry, I think.

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I love this multi-cultural graffiti.

Round 5 I draw into Top 8 and get some Turkish yum plates with Monique’s friend Erin. I come back to Rob eating a Pop-tart. 3-1-1 in matches, 7-3-1 in games—good enough for fourth place going into Top 8.

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Look how filthy that table to the left is!

Top 8 Round One vs Dominic’s Esper Super Friends

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Dominic had defeated Monique round five after she was again paired down. He put her into ninth place. What a jerk. I asked him my personality type litmus test question.

“If you had to choose one super power, either invisibility or flight, which would you choose?”
He quickly answers “Flight.”
“So you’re a good person, I’m confused, why’re you playing Esper Super Friends?”
He laughed.

I totally hate playing matches against Esper freaking Super Friends. I remember a few matches against Tim at Twenty Sided, just horrible. They counter all your cool spells and eventually land walkers you can’t do a goddamn thing about, ultimate them, and never lose their spells ever, Drownyarding their library into their hands, or whatever. It’s disgusting. To make it even worse I mull to four game one. The game lasts like half an hour, despite my mulligan, and I nearly win with a hard cast Craterhoof. We go to the damage step in combat and I say “unless you can gain a lot of life you lose” and he goes to Charm my dude when he realizes he would lose and I let him. Eventually I lose the game that I had no business winning anyway. Now, had it been a PTQ or GP or something I wouldn’t have allowed the Azorius Charm to bounce my dude during damage dealing. He’d have missed it and would’ve had to pay the price. I would’ve called the judge who would have to agree with me, probably, and the game would’ve been mine. But, this was Dominic’s first Top 8 and he was really excited so I just let it happen. After our game I mention that in a more competitive format I’d have called a judge and he wouldn’t have been able to bounce my card. He understood.

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I did not survive this board state game one.

Game two I win with zero cards in my library. I’ll spare you all the gory details but I should’ve lost many turns earlier. If Dominic had simply +0’d Jace two times I’d have lost. He +1’d him a couple of times and I killed it with spirit tokens pumped by Gavony Township. I talked to him after game three about this and said I think I knew why he made he decisions to keep Jace on the table. When I was new to the game, er, well, newer, I would try to keep my planeswalkers alive for as long as I possible. I’d be so focused on this that I wouldn’t see that I could very easily win the game and how many loyalty my walker had on him was essentially irrelevant. He totally got this, too. During this match I was able to kill maybe five of his lands with Slimes and it barely seemed to matter as my deck would not gas up until it finally did.

 

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I survived this board state game two.

Game three I mulled to five. Dom’s stuck on two lands and I bashed him with spirits, Garruk generated wolves, and mana dorks. When I got to five mana I killed his land with a Slime. He never recovered. We chat about games one and two and how unfortunate his land was game three and I congratulate him on his first ever Top 8, ‘cuz, seriously, it’s a big deal and worth pause and attention.

Our match went very long. If it’d been timed we’d have tied for sure. I prefer to play my Esper matches when time is irrelevant. While we taking forever to finish several other players, Top 8 and hangers-on, were playing for fun and/or standing around. I heard wonderful things like “Don’t be a pussy” and “Dude that’s gay” coming from my left. This is the most frustrating part of Magic and usually happens any time I don’t play at Twenty Sided Store. It’s super distracting because I want to lecture them on compassion and mindful speech, but I had Dissipates flying at me left and right, ultimated Tamiyos, and all sorts of crazy shit I needed to focus on. So, anyway, here’s a link to some helpful Buddhist ideas on wise speech and other good stuff. Please read it over and adapt your daily life to its lessons.

During our match Dominic and I were asked if we’d be interested in a four way split when one us made Top 4. We looked at each other, deeply into game two, and I said, “No way, I came here to play Magic.” Then I paused and thought for a sec, it was getting late. However, we said no. Dominic said he wanted to say no, too, but felt pressured and was glad that I said no first.

After I won the idea of splitting came up again. I said I was fine with it if we all tied but Erin came over and said he agreed to the split as long as we all elected to give him the championship. “Absolutely not,” said I. The Top 4 consisted of three Junk Reanimator decks and a Human Naya Blitz deck.

Erin and I were not paired in the quarter finals. Our opponents wanted to get the hell out of Kings, or so they stated, and they suggested they both scoop to me and Erin and then the two of us play it out. Not stoked on playing a Reanimator mirror I said “Sure,” the international signal for “yes” with the added flavor of “whatever, I don’t care.”

Top 8 Finals vs Erin’s Human Naya Blitz

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Erin had told me most of the cards in his deck while we were getting lunch. I had done the same, though everyone’s probably got the contents of Junk Reanimator memorized by now. Game one he’s super fast and blows me out. Burning Tree Emissary into Lightning Mauler was particularly good. 5/5 Champion of the Parish is hard for me to beat if I don’t get to undead an Angel of Serenity turn four.

I sided in all of my Abrupt Decays and Faithmenders. He sided into Descendents Path, a card he’d been having success with, game two. Here’s what it does, since you don’t know either:

Descendants’ Path
2Green
Enchantment
At the beginning of your upkeep, reveal the top card of your library. If it’s a creature card that shares a creature type with a creature you control, you may cast that card without paying its mana cost. Otherwise, put that card on the bottom of your library.

The turn after he cast Path it put a second Mayor of Avabruck into play. The turn he beat me he had two Mayor, Thalia, Wolfbitten Captive (which he would pump pre combat each of his turns), a Stonewright (that he bonded with Thalia, I think, after he pumped his Captive, though I’m not sure of this and it didnt ultimately matter, but I’m pretty sure his timing was off), and probably 300 more creatures. Before I extended my hand I paused to think for a bit. I could see no outs beyond a Bonfire for three and I had no red mana or Bonfire in my deck. All of my Abrupt Decays had landed in my yard off of a couple of shitty Mulches (some Mulches are shitty). Hand extended, I congratulated him on his win, get my cash, have my photo taken in front of a Pokemon banner (gotta catch’em all!), and pack my stuff up to leave.

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While I was packing up one of the guys asked me if I was a PTQ grinder ‘cuz I looked familiar or my name was familiar to him. I said I went to as many local PTQs as I could, ‘cuz I need the Planeswalker Points, though sometimes the amount of hate speech, homophobia, and aggressive bigoted jock talk turned me off.

He looked at me and we both paused, then I said “You know, ‘Faggot this, faggot that, you’re a faggot, that’s gay,'” kinda talk. It’s pretty unacceptable. It’s 2013. We know better than to speak that way.”

“Just say, ‘You’re a pussy’ then,” said another guy, followed by laughter. “That’s a gendered insult and equally unacceptable.” It got weird and kinda quiet. I thanked them for the matches and the hundy. I passed all the guys who were super eager to split the prize money and get home at the bottom of the stairs. They were lounging and shooting the breeze with each other. I walked out the door to the Q, texted Monique and Rob “Birdlaw” Kofsky the results of the tourney, and Monique sent me a photo of Rob and her in which Rob was actually smiling with approval. It’s not so much that he approved of my second place finish but that he was smiling at all. Birdlaw is very serious.

I made it home in time to watch The Walking Dead season finale and all was right with the world.

Lots of love,
Matt
MTGO: The_Obliterator

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Comments
12 Responses to “Power and Toughness—Second at the $400 Cash Standard Tournament”
  1. Zac Clark says:

    Lemme know when there’s a PTQ I wanna durdle some standard

  2. Thomas Dixon says:

    Death to King’s Games.

    • Matt Jones says:

      Haha. They do waste the incredibly opportunity that all of the space they have represents. I mean if they got it together the upstairs could be so awesome, like some cool club house. Instead it’s like what I imagine any generic gaming store in Ohio would be like. It’s NYC, dudes, get it together. We have crazy high standards. YOU MUST MEET OUR CRAZY HIGH STANDARDS. Seriously. You have to. At least wipe the tables down.

  3. Li Xu says:

    That picture of Rob is too good.

      • hey matt!…even though i lost and did a few misplays..thanks for being very considerate and I wasnt aware of certain rulings..but hey, im new to competitive tournaments and I just learn from it so the next time I dont forget it at all…i had an amazing time at this tournament…was not expecting to top 8 at all……it was one of the toughest matches I had once you got all that stuff on your side of the field….thanks again for not being one of those super quiet serious players…i enjoyed it more because you made the match funny and still competitive….I like the honest article as well….hopefully we meet in the battleground again! hehehehhe

      • Matt Jones says:

        Dom – thanks for reading, man! So much about MTG is learning. I highly doubt you’ll forget to win with your Jace ever again. I played this guy at GP Worcester last year in a side event. He was on Jund Mid-Range, shaking like a leaf, and kept forgetting his Bloodgift Demon triggers. At one point I wondered if because he forgot his trigger I would get to draw a card or in some way choose the outcome of the trigger so I called a judge. Turns out that because he missed it I could choose whether or not he got to draw a card and take one damage. I chose not to have this happen and suggested that he put a die on top of his deck to remember upkeep triggers. I ended up beating him in what turned into a war of Bonfire of the Damned (we cast five or six together the last game!).

        At GP Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago I saw the guy again and he was playing the same deck. He made it to the finals of a side event (battling my buddy for an uncut sheet of Ravnica uncommons). The die was on top of his deck whenever he had Bloodgift Demon in play. He wasn’t missing any more triggers 😉

  4. ughhhh I am so maddddddddd I chose to +1 jace…i shouldve just strictly stuck to his 0 ability! grrr…oh well lesson learned! lol ;P

  5. Another nice read Matt… keep up the good work man….. battling this weekend at the PTQ sir… see you there

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