By the time this report gets posted, I’ll be travelling ancient Europe to compete in Grand Prix: Gothenburg and Pro Tour: Amsterdam. The summer was cluttered by an insane schedule for Magic, and US Nationals was the first event kicking off a four week stretch of globe-trotting spanning over fifteen thousand miles and four different countries. Needless to say, this has been a busy time for me and full of stories to tell.
US Nationals has never been an event that I’ve done well at, though I’ve only played in it three times with the first two being during my “developmental” years. The saying “third time’s the charm” apparently rang true for me, and as a result I was able to propel myself to the top of the standings after the Swiss rounds and be only a few matches away from claiming my spot on the national team with a fellow teammate. Ultimately I failed to make it past the last hurdle as I lost my semi-final match and then the third-place playoff shortly thereafter. As easy as it would be to stop reading now since the ending of my story is known, you’d be missing all the juicy details that made the trip worth telling.
Building For Nationals
After getting back from Grand Prix: Columbus, I immediately immersed myself in preparing for Nationals. M11 was coming out on Magic Online in a few days, which would allow me to start practicing with the new format. Understanding M11 was going to be an important hurdle to overcome because it would be the majority of Magic being played at the next four events that I was going to. I played in about two dozen 8-4 drafts and got the hang of the format pretty quickly, though I wasn’t winning as much as I’d liked.
There were two constructed formats that I had to also research and practice in addition to M11 limited; they were Standard and Extended. The Pro Tour was going to be Extended and thus more important because there would be more at stake there in terms of money and Pro Points compared to Standard and US Nationals. I had figured that the Standard metagame would figure itself out with the results from the numerous foreign Nationals and that it wouldn’t be as useful to pay as much attention to. Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and China were having their Nationals before the United States and would be likely to be the sources of whatever decks were going to show up at the tournament in addition to decks from Magic League, Magic Online, and a super secret forum that I’m not supposed to talk about.
I had been scouring the Daily Events from Magic Online for interesting lists and had found a few; the most unique was a list that revolved around abusing Fauna Shaman and Hedron Crab with Renegade Doppelganger, Vengevine, and Extractor Demon. I had originally seen the list in early August but hadn’t given it much thought afterwards because I was too busy thinking about testing for Extended. Testing has always been a difficult process for me because I have generally sided with watching games rather than playing them and that has been a hindrance of my success at a certain level (I’m sure).
There were some people coming into town to test with us. Pat Chapin, Matt Sperling, and Zaiem Beg were flying in for a few days each for various reasons and were enjoying the hospitality of Tom Martell and Josh Utter-Leyton (Wrapter). We managed to coordinate some testing sessions, though those sometimes got derailed by Vintage and M11 drafting. Still, the sessions had good value as we were able to collaborate and run our decks against each other.
Going into the week of Nationals I began really grinding matches online. I had been informed that FFfreak (Brad Nelson) had also been working with the Renegade Doppelganger deck (hereafter known as Dredgevine) and was thinking about playing it. I got his list and started to play on a secret account and only in Standard 2-mans to not attract too much attention. I had incredible success with the deck (at least initially) and then started to lose a lot more as the percentages began to even out. I began to hate the mana in the deck and the weakness that it had to cards like Cunning Sparkmage and Linvala, Keeper of Silence. For reference, here’s the deck that I was battling with:
I found that despite the deck’s ability to have insane openings involving attacking with four Vengevines on turn two, that wasn’t enough to compensate for the frailty of its creatures against the other Noble Hierarch decks. Dredgevine had a hard time racing Mythic which was also a problem. The phrase “Good from far but far from good” applied to Dredgevine as its numerous problems became more and more apparent. Ultimately I decided to scrap the deck for more tested archetypes.
I began testing Jund and the various cards that were showing up as one/two-of’s in the various lists that I had seen. Cards that I needed to test with included Mitotic Slime, Slave of Bolas, Grave Titan, Siege-Gang Commander, Duress, Sarkhan the Mad, Broodmate Dragon, Garruk Wildspeaker, and Master of the Wild Hunt, just to name a few. Figuring out the best configuration for the expected metagame would be a time-consuming process, and time wasn’t exactly a commodity that I had a lot of. I expected that the metagame would involve a relatively flat distribution of the top decks. Noble Hierarch decks would be at the top. Naya and Mythic would be the most popular followed closely by Blue/White control, various Ramp decks, and Jund. After that there would be Pyromancer Ascension and Mono-Red decks.
Wednesday was the last day that I’d be in town to get cards from Channel Fireball’s physical store in San Jose, CA (Superstars), and so Luis and I traveled down there to pick up the last cards that we’d need to make whatever deck we were going to play. Despite the fact that the tournament was going to start in a few days, we still hadn’t decided what to play. Luis had been working with Pyromancer Ascension, though I wasn’t convinced that it was good. I was probably going to default to Jund, Mythic, or Naya but was still thinking of playing Dredgevine. In the end I picked up cards to play almost every deck in Standard (except for Blue/White and Pyromancer Ascension).
Luis and I were flying to Minneapolis on Thursday morning and had the fortune of being on a non-stop flight which meant that we’d get into town at a reasonable hour and allow us to have some time to get to the site, register, and durdle around for a while. We met up at the airport and were soon in the air to Minnesota. Unfortunately I was seated in front of a family of Germans and their rugrat children who were quite enthusiastic about flying. I had the impression that they were also starting a band to compete with Rammstein because they were using the back of my seat as a drum while screaming their Germanic vocals. In the meantime, Luis had been upgraded to first class (must, etc). Despite the constant reminder that I was in a day care center, I was able to put up with the distractions, and we were soon landing in Minneapolis.
I had looked up the weather forecast earlier in the week and it was supposed to be rather unpleasant. Thunderstorms were waiting along with Baltimore-like humidity. We never saw any of the rain despite the threats. The humidity was certainly present along with highs in the mid-eighties. This place certainly didn’t feel like Minneapolis that I had been to last November (where I also top-8’d). We took a taxi ride from the airport to downtown where the Hyatt and Convention Center were. After checking in we walked to the site to find other people and figure out what would be the best deck to play.
The Minneapolis Convention Center was quite large, and the hall that was being used as the site was several levels underground (hereafter known as the Dungeon) with no phone reception. There were groups of Magic players wandering around looking for the site, but fortunately I knew the way since the same location had been used for the last Grand Prix there. We found GerryT and Michael Jacob (MJ) lurking there and lured them out with the promise of food.
Downtown Minneapolis was quite large and bustling with endless streets of eateries with enough variety to satisfy almost everyone. We went to Brit’s Pub, a decent joint that I had gone to the year before. I was looking forward to enjoying some Old Speckled Hen in addition to a few other choice brews. All throughout the meal we were talking about Standard. Luis and Gerry were focused on Pyromancer Ascension while MJ was going to stick with his [card]Fauna Shaman[/card]/[card]Vengevine[/card]/[card]Squadron Hawk[/card] version of Mythic. I ordered the Tandoori Chicken Wrap along with an Old Speckled Hen and a Leinenkugel Honey Weiss which was more than enough to satisfy me completely. Unfortunately our server never brought us waters (despite our repeated requests), which reduced his tip by a significant percentage.
We walked back to the site after dinner. My motivations were to find FFfreak and talk with him about the deck because I knew that the sideboard needed some work. One of the problems that I had had while playing online was sideboarding correctly; most of the time I had been trimming the edges and boarding out [card]Fatestitcher[/card]s. When I had finally made my way back down into the Dungeon, I found something was amiss. FFfreak had left the hall for a more private testing location. Fortunately I was able to get in contact with him via Steve Birklid (Alaska) and made my way back up towards civilization with Tom “The Boss” Ross. We made our way to an apartment complex that also rented rooms like a hotel (which was across the street from the Hyatt). Atop the high-rise on the thirty-fifth floor we found FFfreak testing with Steve Sadin, BDM, Corey Baumeister (FFfreakslittlebro), and their friend Brian. They had been testing cards for the Noble Hierarch matchups and had found that [card]Sleep[/card] was quite effective. Other cards had also been brought up like [card]Overrun[/card] (to combat Linvala).
At some point FFfreak went outside onto the deck to have a cigarette with The Boss, who was also halfway deep into a bottle of Captain Morgan’s; I went outside to find them at some point. When I went outside, I was greeted with an amazing view of downtown Minneapolis. There was so much to see in the night with the city’s lights glimmering in the distance. I also would have been able to watch the Twins play had another giant building not been in the way. Alas, not being able to watch the baseball game was probably a blessing in disguise because it kept my mind focused on the task at hand: making the Dredgevine sideboard good. We talked into the night and eventually I headed back to the Hyatt to get my deck ready and then get to sleep.
Our room only had one king-sized bed with four people staying in it and that meant that some people were going to be on the floor. Sleeping on the floor had never been a problem for me because I have always slept on my stomach and like a hard mattress; the floor made me feel at home (almost). However, there were still some problems. I’ve always been a light sleeper (mainly as a survival skill to keep Federales from sneaking up on me in the middle of the night) and as a result tend to wake up even at the slightest of noises. I’ve never been able to get a good night of sleep in rooms with multiple people because of snoring and the necessity to keep the AC unit on to keep the room’s temperature below sweltering (thank you body heat). I’ve tried using ear plugs to solve my problems but my ears are more sensitive than an emo teenager tripped up on life.
The night didn’t treat me well and I was awake for a lot of the night thinking about the Dredgevine deck. I don’t remember how much sleep I got. What I did know is that I didn’t get as much as the night before when I’d slept almost the entire night through. I didn’t want to relive my experience from GP: Columbus where I punted myself into oblivion, so I went to seek the Holy Grail; I needed some coffee. From my last visit to town, I knew of a few places where I could get an honest cup of Joe. There was a Midwest coffee chain called Caribou Coffee which was okay, Starbucks, and Panera. I opted for Panera because they also had bagels at reasonable prices. I bought a large coffee and two blueberry bagels knowing that I’d be set on food until dinner with the fare that I’d purchased.
I knew that the Dungeon was going to be quite cold because of the industrial-sized air conditioning units that had been used there at the Grand Prix were a stark contrast with the weather outside. However, I knew that being comfortable in the Dungeon was going to be more important than anything else and prepared myself with a Channel Fireball hoodie. I met up with FFfreak and told him about some potentially sick tech that I’d come up during the night that might solve the Hierarch matchup. I suggested playing four Lotus Cobras in the maindeck and three/four Linvala, Keeper of Silence in the sideboard to answer Cunning Sparkmage and opposing Linvala. Sure, splashing a double-White spell off of Lotus Cobra and Birds/Hierarchs MIGHT have been a bit off the deep end, but it was definitely something to consider (sometimes when you go deep into the tank, you don’t always come up with treasure). FFfreak didn’t want to change the list on such short notice without testing and opted to stay with the configuration that he’d tested with the night before; that was reasonable and I went with his plan as well.
Here’s the list that I registered:
The deck was interesting enough and the subject of a deck-tech video on the [O]fficial site. It can be found here.
There were 237 players in the tournament and after everyone had been seated for the player meeting for a few brief necessary announcements (and a laundry list of unnecessary ones), we were off to playing. The first day was broken up into two segments, four rounds of Standard followed by three rounds of M11 draft.
Round 1: Nathaniel Chafe, Naya
Game 1: I win the roll and open with a Hedron Crab that mills a Vengevine. I play a few fetchlands and still only have one Vengevine (and a few Extractor Demons) which comes back to join a Renegade Doppelganger and start beating down. Evil gets a Bloodbraid Elf to start attacking with the help of a Noble Hierarch, but I trade my Vengevine for it and start attacking over the top with the Doppelganger and Extractor Demons. Not even a Basilisk Collar on a Knight of the Reliquary is good enough to race.
Sideboard: -2 Enclave Cryptologist, -3 Birds of Paradise; +2 Pithing Needle, +3 Sleep.
Game 2: I summon a Fauna Shaman to find a few Vengevines and a Pithing Needle to preemptively stop Cunning Sparkmage. The Vengevines come back after a few turns of setting up, though Evil is able to stop my Fauna Shaman after a Bloodbraid Elf cascades into an Oblivion Ring. Evil has a Fauna Shaman of his own and uses it to find a Sovereigns of Lost Alara and kill me with a huge Birds of Paradise before I can kill him.
Game 3: I summon an early Crab and start milling myself and hit Vengevine and an Extractor Demon. I unearth the Demon and hit with it before summoning a Merfolk Looter and Noble Hierarch to bring back the Vengevine. However, Evil summons a Linvala to shut down my creatures while all I can do is keep attacking with the Vengevine. Pithing Needle stops Cunning Sparkmage after it kills my Hierarch, but I have another one to keep the Vengevine hitting for five. Eventually Evil can’t attack and I draw into a Sleep to force through the last five damage.
Round 2: Matthew Landstrom, Naya Allies
Game 1: Evil wins the roll and plays a Plains while I summon a Hedron Crab to start milling. Evil summons a Kazandu Blademaster and a Fauna Shaman which trades with the Fauna Shaman that I summon on my turn. Meanwhile, Evil is stuck on two lands and I unearth an Extractor Demon with a Renegade Doppelganger and hit in the air for ten damage. Evil summons two Kazandu Blademasters and I have to chump while I ramp up to six mana so I can summon the Extractor Demon in my hand and finish the job. My plan would work but Evil is able to kill me exactly after he summons two Hada Freeblades to pump his three Blademasters.
Sideboard: -4 Enclave Cryptologist; +3 Sleep, +1 Obstinate Baloth.
Game 2: I mulligan to six and fetch out some lands to summon a Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch, which allow me to summon two Renegade Doppelgangers before summoning an Extractor Demon. Evil doesn’t have much except for an Oran-Rief Survivalist. The two Doppelgangers attack Evil down to eight life and the real Extractor Demon finishes him off in two turns.
Game 3: Evil has to mulligan to six but still has a Kazandu Blademaster for his turn-two play. I summon a Fauna Shaman on turn two and a Renegade Doppelganger on turn three. The Shaman trades for an [card]Oran-Rief Survivalist[/card] after I discard a Vengevine to find my Sedraxis Alchemist to bounce the Blademaster (who is getting out of control). Evil summons a Linvala to stop any shenanigans. The Vengevine comes back (after I summon the Alchemist and a Birds of Paradise) and attacks along with the Doppelganger to bring Evil down to eleven. Linvala hits me and I’m down to eight life while I find my Obstinate Baloth and go back up to twelve. Some more Allies are recruited by Evil and suddenly he’s got two Hada Freeblades, which let him trade with my Vengevine and Obstinate Baloth. I’m down to four life and play Sleep to tap down Evil’s team while holding two creatures, one of which is a Doppelganger that will turn into a Vengevine and be able to kill Evil (he has no cards in hand). He draws and passes and I draw another Vengevine. I summon the Doppelganger and Vengevine getting back the other Vengevine and attack with the three of them, but Evil plays Violent Outburst before blockers and cascades into an Oran-Rief Survivalist. The one creature isn’t enough to save him because he is at seven.
Round 3: George Blankenship, Jund
Game 1: I win the roll and Evil mulligans once. I summon a bunch of creatures but they are all killed immediately; Renegade Doppelganger dies to a Lightning Bolt and Fauna Shaman dies to a Maelstrom Pulse. I summon a Vengevine on turn four and it goes to work on Evil’s life total, taking him from twenty to sixteen to twelve before it’s killed. Meanwhile, I summon a Merfolk Looter and get hit by a [card]Blightning[/card] (discarding nothing of interest). The Looter finds some Extractor Demons that allow me to finish Evil off in the air while holding creatures to get back my Vengevine with.
Sideboard: -4 Enclave Cryptologist; +4 Obstinate Baloth.
Game 2: Evil mulligans to five while I keep my hand. He has a steady stream of removal to kill my creatures despite a double-mulligan on the opposing side. I summon a Noble Hierarch but it’s killed by a Terminate. Okay, so maybe it was only my Hierarch that dies; its death wasn’t in vain as I am able to stick a Fauna Shaman and get a Vengevine with it. Evil is out of removal and has to start summoning creatures; he summons a Sprouting Thrinax and a Putrid Leech. I take a hit from the Leech and summon an Obstinate Baloth to stabilize. The Thrinax and Leech run into my Baloth and I block the 3/3, taking four damage from the Leech to go back down to sixteen. Afterwards, Evil uses Pyroclasm to rid the Battlefield of the Saproling tokens from his Thrinax along with my Fauna Shaman and Noble Hierarch. However, I use the Shaman one final time to find a Renegade Doppelganger who attacks as a Vengevine after I summon it along with a Merfolk Looter. Evil is unable to recover from my recurring Vengevine and dies.
Round 4: Gregory Marques, Green/Red Eldrazi Ramp
My round is announced as a feature match and also covered on the [O]fficial site.
Game 1: I win the roll and summon a Birds of Paradise followed by a Hedron Crab and Fauna Shaman; a fetchland along the way lets me mill six cards that don’t do anything in my graveyard. Evil is accelerating his board with a Rampant Growth while I mill more cards into my graveyard, this time including an Extractor Demon. I add a Renegade Doppelganger to my board and hit Evil down to ten with the Demon and Doppelganger on my next turn. My Fauna Shaman finds another Extractor Demon and I repeat my attack on my next turn to finish Evil off.
Sideboard: -2 Enclave Cryptologist, -1 Sedraxis Alchemist; +3 Unified Will.
Game 2: I summon a Birds of Paradise followed by a Renegade Doppelganger that takes the form of the Enclave Cryptologist that I summon on turn three. I Level up the Doppelganger and use it to loot one card deeper into my deck, but don’t find anything interesting. At this point Evil has played a few Rampant Growths and clears my board with an Earthquake, leaving only my Birds of Paradise alive. I summon a Noble Hierarch and get to work slowly with the Birds while playing some of the many fetchlands in my hand. Evil seems to have kept his hand based on the removal and ramp because he didn’t have a threat to play afterwards (he passed the turn with eleven mana). I draw into a Hedron Crab and mill nine cards with it including three Vengevines. The Vengevines join my Hedron Crab on the Battlefield after I summon another Noble Hierarch and get into the Red Zone. Evil chumps with an Overgrown Battlement and kills another with Lightning Bolt before removing the rest with an Earthquake on his turn. We go back to draw/go, but I’m able to recover sooner by finding a Fauna Shaman and Sedraxis Alchemist to get back my Vengevines and attack through some Khalni Garden tokens. Evil draws a Kozilek but doesn’t have enough mana left over to prevent taking any damage.
Being undefeated through the first portion of Standard felt nice and I was happy that it was over. I was ready to get busy drafting and found myself in a moderately difficult pod with quite a few people that I knew.
Draft #1 (Pod 1):
The draft pod was the feature pod and can be found on the Mothership: Draft Viewer.
The draft went well for me even though I was getting cut from Blue on my right. I stayed away from Red despite opening some nice cards because I didn’t want to be in a weak color compared to White, Black, and Blue. If I had to go back and build my deck again, I would have taken out the Ajani’s Pridemate for Alluring Siren, Negate, or Siege Mastodon because those cards would have done more than the almost-vanilla 2/2. My initial reasoning for including the Pridemate was to compliment the flyers in the deck along with the Inspired Charges. I wanted Inspired Charge to be lethal whenever I played it and that would be more likely to be the case if I had Grizzly Bears to do some of the early heavy lifting.
Round 5: Charles Gindy
Game 1: I win the roll and choose to draw first. We both start playing flyers which is bad for me because I have Stormfront Pegasus staring down his Augury Owl. Evil summons a Child of Night and I answer back with a Scroll Thief. Evil answers back with a Scroll Thief of his own. The back-and-forth continues as I trump his Scroll Thief with a Blinding Mage. I’m pretty tight on mana but find a fourth with an Augury Owl and draw it after offensively tapping down his Scroll Thief. Then the wheels on the bus start to fall off as I’m hit with a barrage of card drawing and removal. Foresee follows Doom Blade, Fireball, another Foresee, and another Doom Blade. Suddenly I’m down to nothing in play with only a bit of business in my hand. I try to regroup with some more flyers like Wild Griffin, Azure Drake, and Cloud Crusader, but they die to removal and counters. I try to go over the top with a Vengeful Archon that I draw, but it gets stolen with a Mind Control. I draw a Pacifism on my turn to “stop” the Archon but know that the game is likely over. Still, I have to try and go for the “W” and attack with the three creatures that I have and pump them with Inspired Charge. Evil doesn’t use the Archon (for two) and I realize that he thinks that he can’t use the ability. I am able to win on my next attack.
Sideboard: -1 Ajani’s Pridemate, -1 Mighty Leap, -1 Inspired Charge, -1 Plains; +1 Negate, +1 Siege Mastodon, +1 Prodigal Pyromancer, +1 Mountain.
Game 2: Evil chooses to draw first and I have to mulligan once. I summon a Blinding Mage on turn two. Evil stops my beats on his turn four with a Howling Banshee followed by an Azure Drake and a Nightwing Shade. I summon some flyers to trade with the Banshee, but Evil gets it back with a Gravedigger and puts me even closer to death. All the while, Foresee is putting Evil further ahead and I’m soon overwhelmed by his flyers as my Blinding Mage is killed.
Game 3: I choose to draw first and it’s Evil’s turn to take a mulligan. I start out with an Infantry Veteran and get in a few attacks with it before Evil stalls out the board with an Azure Drake and Rotting Legion. Evil is playing the game defensively and I figure he’s sitting on a Negate and/or Mana Leak so I hold off from playing spells for a bit. He blinks first and taps down on Blue mana to cast a Foresee while I play Jace’s Ingenuity in response. I play into Mana Leak with an Azure Drake of my own and it resolves, which lets me play Vengeful Archon on my next turn. The Archon doesn’t die to Doom Blade and I’m able to untap with Negate in hand along with Pacifism and two lands in case Evil tries to flush my hand with Mind Rot. I put Pacifism on Evil’s Azure Drake which reduces the clock to two turns and lets me play around Diminish (though I haven’t seen it yet). I clock Evil in the air for nine and he concedes on his next turn.
Round 6: Benjamin Lundquist
Game 1: Evil wins the roll and chooses to play first while I have to mulligan. We play out some creatures and my board is shut down by a Giant Spider. Spined Wurm quickly follows and gets in there while holding a Warlord’s Axe. I throw a bunch of creatures in front of the Spined Wurm in an attempt to lure out a combat trick/removal spell but Evil doesn’t budge so I have to use the Condemn in my hand to remove the Wurm before it kills all of my creatures. Evil gives the Axe to his Giant Spider and has Giant Growth on his following attack when I make a similar block. From there I’m unable to recover and die shortly thereafter.
Sideboard: -1 Ajani’s Pridemate, -1 Mighty Leap; +1 Negate, +1 Alluring Siren.
Game 2: I choose to play first and summon a Blinding Mage that gets one attack in before Evil is able to summon an Ember Hauler and Sylvan Ranger. The Ember Hauler gets in a few attacks before killing the Blinding Mage and I’m able to summon an Azure Drake and Alluring Siren. Evil has a Giant Spider, but I slowly pick off his smaller creatures with the Siren and kill his Spider with an offensive Inspired Charge. Flying beats from a Cloud Crusader and Stormfront Pegasus end the game a few turns later with Evil still being stuck on four lands.
Game 3: Evil chooses to play first and summons a Sylvan Ranger; I answer back by summoning a Blinding Mage. The Ranger goes to attack and I have to wonder if I’m being baited into trading my Mage for a Giant Growth or whether Evil is trying to mise some free damage. I decide to call and block the Ranger; Evil doesn’t have the Giant Growth and bins his man. The Blinding Mage gets some attacks in before being joined by a Cloud Crusader, which is then answered by Evil in the form of Spined Wurm. However, I’m not concerned about the Wurm at all because I have the Blinding Mage to tap it down every turn. Evil doesn’t have any follow-up for the Wurm as my Cloud Crusader gets to work on him; sixteen; fourteen; twelve. I summon an Azure Drake to join the party and Evil shows me the spell that he’d be sand-bagging: Destructive Force. I’ve been waiting for some trick and already have Negate at the front of my hand. Jace’s Ingenuity draws me into another Negate and Inspired Charge that I use to stop a Chandra’s Outrage and kill him.
Round 7: Anthony Eason
My round is announced as a feature match again (because I’m awesome) and also covered on the [O]fficial site.
Game 1: I win the roll and choose to play first while Evil mulligans to six. Stormfront Pegasus is the first creature that I summon while Evil has a Goblin Piker that gets prevented from attacking by my Scroll Thief on the following turn. Evil finds a Fiery Hellhound but I’m ready with [card]Pacifism[/card] to also allow my Thief to get in there and draw an extra card. Chandra’s Outrage kills the Thief, but continue deploying threats, this time in the form of [card]Infantry Veteran[/card] and [card]Blinding Mage[/card]. Evil summons a [card]Hoarding Dragon[/card] which exiles a Juggernaut, but I’m able to get around the Dragon with my tapper. A second [card]Chandra’s Outrage[/card] kills the Blinding Mage, but I have an [card]Inspired Charge[/card] to finish Evil off.
Sideboard: -1 Ajani’s Pridemate, -1 Mighty Leap; +1 Siege Mastodon, +1 Negate.
Game 2: Evil chooses to play first but I have the first play of the game in the form of an Infantry Veteran. An Ember Hauler is hot on the heels of the Veteran and I find myself unable to attack with it but can still summon a Stormfront Pegasus. My hand is relatively weak at this point because I’ve drawn two lands in a row, so I immediately trade my Pegasus for the Ember Hauler when Evil attacks with it. A [card]Brindle Boar[/card] replaces the fallen Goblin and I summon a Wild Griffin. Chandra’s Spitfire continues to clog up the board and I find the game slipping further and further out of my control. The Infantry Veteran is allowing me to attack through in the air, but I’m not drawing spells to keep up with Evil. A second Spitfire enters the fray along with a Fire Servant. Chandra’s Outrage seals the deal for Evil and we’re off to game three.
Game 3: Evil chooses to play first but I have the first play of the game again with an Infantry Veteran on turn one. The Veteran is able to get in for a point while I summon an Augury Owl and find that I’ve got an awkward situation with my mana. I have a bunch of expensive spells and the last land in my hand is a Terramorphic Expanse with a Plains, Preordain, and Jace’s Ingenuity on top of my deck. I decide to draw the land and keep both Blue spells on top, but shuffle them away after Evil summons a Brindle Boar so I can keep up. Evil summons a Giant Spider while I summon an Azure Drake. Then Evil summons a Juggernaut and gets a hit in with it before it trades with a Siege Mastodon. I use Negate to counter a Pyroclasm after Evil sacrifices his Brindle Boar. I start to accumulate more flyers and eventually start attacking through the Giant Spider until Evil finds his Hoarding Dragon. From then on it becomes more difficult to attack. We trade some more creatures and removal. My Blinding Mage dies to an Ember Hauler and my Azure Drake dies to a Plummet. I manage to get enough flyers to attack Evil down to three, but he draws Overwhelming Stampede to kill me the turn before I can kill him.
With the first day completed, we found ourselves with a lot of time left in the day. It was only 7:00 PM which meant that there was plenty of time to get dinner, draft, and whatnot. I went back to the room, showered, and got ready to go out. The change in temperature from the Dungeon compared to outside was quite extreme which made my hoodie sweatshirt quite excessive. After I changed into a nice collared shirt, I was ready to go.
Tom LaPille was going out with our group and he had suggested a Thai place nearby which instantly sold Luis since he’s all about Thaiing new things. However, I wasn’t sold on the idea and was browsing through the kiosk of restaurant advertisement slips in the lobby of the Hyatt. I had told people what I was doing and they acknowledged it, yet when I had turned to victoriously claim that I had found a suitable place for my palate to explore, the group had vanished. POOF! I looked all around the lobby and outside of the Hyatt, walking up and down Nicollet Mall but found no one. Dejected, I walked back to the Hyatt and made a call to Luis’s cell phone. They’d gone to the Thai place and were in the restaurant lounge which was around the corner and down a few blocks from the Hyatt. After walking to the joint, looking at the menu, and voicing my disappointment multiple times, I stormed out (as much as someone could imagine me doing so without making too much of a scene or even a minute expression of displeasure).
I walked back to the Hyatt and found that Steve Sadin, BDM, Nate Price, Patrick Chapin, his girlfriend Amanda, Dave Guskin, and Greg Marques (I think) were all waiting to go out to eat. They’d made a reservation at Ichiban Japanese Steak House (across the street) and were leaving in a few minutes. We talked about how the day had gone, and after learning of my lack of dinner plans, invited me to come along (after I rudely asked if I could go). Ichiban is similar to Benihana and offers teppanyaki style Japanese cooking. Not bringing my camera along for the show was one of the few regrets that I had about the trip. There was juggling, fire, singing, sake, lobster, fillet, and shrimp involved in the perfect intermingling of food and entertainment. I was quite satisfied.
After we had finished I had wanted to go back to Brit’s Pub and get a few rounds with Steve Sadin, but we’d had too much to eat to make room for any after-dinner plans and parted ways. On the way back to the hotel, I stumbled upon Tom Martel, Matt Sperling, Paul Rietzl, Dave Williams, and Brian Kibler also coming back from dinner. They invited me to come play Ascension, but I declined because it was getting late and I wanted to get catch some of the sleep that had eluded me from the night before.
I had a plan this time for getting better sleep than the last night. After the sweltering heat from the night before, I turned the temperature down to sixty degrees and found a lighter blanket to use which worked wonders. I still woke up a few times despite the changes I had made but was able to get more sleep than the previous night. I got restless in the morning and woke up at 6:00 AM. After waiting in bed, thinking about what I wanted to do for the second draft, dinner, Extended, and various other things, I decided to get up and head over to Panera to get my non-dinner food for the day. Luckily for me, Panera was open early on Saturday so I was still able to get my coffee and blueberry bagels.
The second day had the same formatting as the first with the only difference being that the draft was first. I was in Pod 1 again and found many familiar faces from the previous draft. We weren’t the feature pod for coverage this time, though I didn’t understand why (who wouldn’t want to watch me draft given the opportunity?). Anyways, back to the story…
Draft #2 (Pod 1):
I opened up Brittle Effigy with the next best card being Howling Banshee by a fair margin which meant that the person I was feeding (Robert Graves) would likely go into Black. I was fine with everything until I got my second pick where the only good card was a Corrupt. Charles Gindy was to my right and I knew that he liked Blue (liking Blue in M11 eh… go figure) and so I decided to stick with Black because it was one of the better colors. I went in pretty early on an Act of Treason and started to construct the deck. I opened an Ancient Hellkite and Howling Banshee in pack two and passed the dragon without much thought. Red wasn’t the color that I wanted to be heavy in and I needed to cut Black off from my right to ensure my pack three would still yield what it did in the first pack. I ended up with a nearly mono-Black deck but it was light on the combo pieces (Act of Treason, Bloodthrone Vampire, Viscera Seer, and Reassembling Skeleton).
The biggest decision that I had to make was between Jinxed Idol and Warlord’s Axe. I knew many people would simply slam the Idol without much thought, but the choice was much closer than people would give it credit for. The deck was light on creatures (twelve) and didn’t have much to do in the late game which was one of the reasons why I chose the Axe. Without Reassembling Skeleton, I wouldn’t be able to throw away creatures to force them to take damage or sacrifice creatures of their own. I was aware that Jinxed Idol would combo with Act of Treason, but it wouldn’t be as easy as Bloodthrone Vampire and Viscera Seer because I’d need to control the Idol at the time I played Act of Treason. If I didn’t control the Idol, then the opponent would sacrifice whatever I was trying to steal and I’d end up with the Idol and not a good way to give it back. In the end, this type of trading would foster the desire to use Act of Treason prematurely simply to maintain a favorable board position instead of using it as removal for important creatures.
Round 8: Aaron Wilburn
Game 1: I win the roll and choose to play first. I summon a Child of Night and Nether Horror, but Evil answers with a Roc Egg which hatches into a 3/3 flying Bird token after blocking my Nether Horror. I draw some cards with Sign in Blood but don’t find much that can get through the Knight Exemplar that Evil summons on his next turn. Evil is White/Red and splashing Blue for multiple Foresee. After playing a few Foresee, he wipes the board with Day of Judgment and follows it up with a Stormfront Pegasus and Silvercoat Lion. I find nothing except land to go with my Corrupt (good for eight) and Act of Treason and decide to concede rather than showing him my pseudo Fireball.
Game 2: Playing against Day of Judgment and two Foresee makes me reconsider my role in the matchup and I decide to draw first. I keep a two-lander but stumble and get beat down by a Silvercoat Lion that I have to use a Lightning Bolt on after Evil uses one on my Child of Night. I have a Brittle Effigy also, but refuse to use it on something that I can deal with via trading in combat. I draw some cards with Sign in Blood, but don’t find any land and have to discard once while stuck on three mana sources. Evil isn’t doing much either except playing single threats that I manage to deal with. I find a land to summon my Gravedigger and get back Child of Night so I can stabilize and get a bit of breathing room, but Evil is ready with Day of Judgment and Mystifying Maze to prevent me from doing anything. I have to burn the Brittle Effigy and Evil slams down the Ancient Hellkite that I had opened in pack two. However, I am ready with Corrupt and exactly six Swamps. Evil summons a Sun Titan and gets back a Pacifism to put on one of my guys which put me in a difficult spot because I am so low on life and he has a stocked graveyard due to the game going on for so long. I still have some tricks up my sleeve and use [card]Act of Treason[/card] plus the Quag Sickness in my graveyard to kill the Titan. Necrotic Plague and Reassembling Skeleton clear the board. After everything is gone I am able to summon a Rotting Legion along with the Skeleton to defend the fort along with a Viscera Seer and filter through my deck until Evil has only two cards left in his deck. At that point I use Sign in Blood to make him draw his deck and he loses on his next turn.
Sideboard: -1 Warlord’s Axe; +1 Jinxed Idol.
Game 3: Evil chooses to play first and I keep another two-lander on the draw that doesn’t get there. I have a Child of Night that gets a hit in before dying. This game isn’t as out of control as the last one and I wipe the board with Necrotic Plague and Reassembling Skeleton to buy time. I set up a turn where I use Act of Treason and Jinxed Idol to put Evil on a clock. He’s low on creatures and takes four damage before tapping out to summon a Berserkers of Blood Ridge. I’m holding Corrupt in my hand and draw Lightning Bolt to deal nine damage to him while having the Idol and Reassembling Skeleton to finish him off during his upkeep.
Round 9: Brandon Ayers
Game 1: Evil wins the roll and chooses to play first but has to mulligan to six. He summons a Llanowar Elves and beats me down for a few turns while I assemble my Bloodthrone Vampire/Reassembling Skeleton combo. My Child of Night trades with his Garruk’s Companion along the way. Evil summons a Sacred Wolf and follows it up with a Yavimaya Wurm but I steal the 6/4 with Act of Treason and bash for a trillion. Evil concedes on sixteen life.
Sideboard: -1 Warlord’s Axe; +1 Volcanic Strength.
Game 2: Evil chooses to play first again and decides to mulligan once before keeping his hand. I summon a Child of Night that runs into a Grizzly Bears. After that, I summon a Reassembling Skeleton and Bloodthrone Vampire (again) while Evil summons a Juggernaut and forges a Whispersilk Cloak. I have an Assassinate in hand, but that won’t help against the Whispersilk Cloak, so I decide to steal the Juggernaut with Act of Treason and put Evil on the defensive. Evil concedes.
I finished this match really quickly and had a lot of time left over to watch the match that would have the other eventual 2-0. I was happy to find that the deck that I would be playing against next round was that of Robert Graves (the guy I was feeding in the draft). His deck was Black/Green with Doom Blade, Corrupt, and a lot of random fatties. I felt that the matchup was quite favorable because Act of Treason was quite good against Green. Additionally, I had very few targets for Doom Blade (only Juggernaut) as well as two Bog Raiders to landwalk all over him. I fully expected to 3-0 the pod and be in a great position to make top-8. However, when the round pairings were put up, I found that I had been paired against a different person who was in the same point bracket as Robert (since the point bracket takes precedence which I had forgotten). Instead of having my dream matchup, I got paired against a different deck, though it was an opportunity for revenge…
Round 10: Anthony Eason
Game 1: I win the roll and choose to draw first, but I am forced to take a mulligan. My decision to draw first turns out to be a bad one as Evil is quick out of the gates with a Stormfront Pegasus. The Pegasus hits me a few times and I help Evil out by using Sign in Blood so I can draw a few cards. I stall the board up with Necrotic Plague and Reassembling Skeleton but Evil is still summoning creatures so I kill his Stormfront Pegasus with a Lightning Bolt instead of waiting to kill it with the Plague to slow him down. The board gets cleared and Evil uses Lava Axe to bring me to two life. However, I’ve got plenty of creatures to summon while Evil has very few. I summon a Juggernaut and attack with it along with Evil’s Assault Griffin after stealing it with Act of Treason. The Griffin gets sacrificed to the Viscera Seer that I summon after combat after I summon a Rotting Legion. I have four attackers and a Sign in Blood to Evil’s three blockers and go for the suicide. Evil doesn’t have a trick and my attack takes him to two with Sign in Blood dealing the final blow.
Game 2: Evil chooses to play first and I have to mulligan once again. My hand is another two-lander on the draw, though both lands are Mountains. I draw a Swamp on my first turn and that allows me to summon a Viscera Seer. Evil summons a Stormfront Pegasus on his next turn but doesn’t want to trade as I attack my Seer into it. The Pegasus begins attacking and is joined a few turns later by an Assault Griffin. The pair of flyers hit me once before I draw an Act of Treason to slow down the beats. I keep missing land drops but finally start to draw out of it, though I still only have one Swamp and three Mountains. I summon a Nether Horror, Bloodthrone Vampire, and Barony Vampire and am able to kill of Evil’s creatures Stormfront Pegasus with a Lightning Bolt. I am down to five life and draw a Child of Night which gives Evil a turn to draw Lava Axe before I start gaining life. I get out of range and win shortly afterwards.
At this point the tournament had reached the final stretch and the finish line was in sight. There were only four rounds separating the top-8 from everyone else and I was at the top of the standings along with one other person: Robert Graves. I knew that we’d be paired against each other in the next round and that he was playing Naya, my most common match-up and the one that I didn’t want to play against. With my fate known, I soldiered on and went to the feature match area once the pairings were announced.
Round 11: Robert Graves, Naya
My round is announced as a feature match and also covered on the [O]fficial site.
Game 1: Evil wins the roll and chooses to play first, but has to take a mulligan as payment for his fortune. He starts off with an Arid Mesa while I have a Misty Rainforest that lets me summon a Noble Hierarch. Evil fetches out a Plains and plays a Misty Rainforest of his own while I summon a Fauna Shaman and attack with the Hierarch. Evil plays another fetchland and passes again while I summon a Hedron Crab and mill myself for six cards with a fetchland. Evil summons a Vengevine and hits me for four, but his attack is too slow compared to my game plan. I use the Fauna Shaman to find a Vengevine and mill two more Vengevines along with an Extractor Demon on my turn with the Verdant Catacombs that I play. Evil holds back with his Vengevine and summons a Knight of the Reliquary, but it’s too late. My Vengevine becomes an Extractor Demon which becomes a Renegade Doppelganger on my turn. I summon my Doppelganger along with a Birds of Paradise and get my Vengevines back and send them, the Doppelganger, and an unearthed Demon at Evil; he concedes.
Sideboard: -2 Enclave Cryptologist, -3 Birds of Paradise; +2 Pithing Needle, +3 Sleep.
Game 2: This time I have to mulligan and Evil keeps his hand. Evil has some action this time with a Fauna Shaman on turn two while I summon a Merfolk Looter. The Shaman beats my face in and Evil reinforces his board with a Knight of the Reliquary. I don’t have much going on on my side of the Battlefield compared to what Evil has and have to use my Merfolk Looter, summon a Hedron Crab, and mill myself with it (finding only an Extractor Demon). Evil summons a Cunning Sparkmage and kills my Looter after bashing me with the Knight to thirteen. I draw a Pithing Needle on my turn and Evil uses his Fauna Shaman in response to get an Inferno Titan. I could name Knight of the Reliquary to prevent Evil from summoning the Inferno Titan since he only has four lands in play, but my board presence is weak and I wouldn’t be able to end the game before he draws into a land. I name Cunning Sparkmage and hope that Evil doesn’t draw a land next turn. Evil doesn’t draw a land, but unfortunately for me already had one in his hand to summon the Inferno Titan and crush whatever hopes I had of winning the game.
Game 3: Neither of us takes a mulligan for the final game. I have nothing on my first turn while Evil accelerates with a [card]Birds of Paradise[/card]. I summon a Fauna Shaman on my turn while Evil summons a Cunning Sparkmage. I summon another Fauna Shaman but Evil shuts them down by summoning a Linvala, Keeper of Silence. However, I’m still able to get a use out of one before she comes into play; I discard an [card]Extractor Demon[/card] to find a Vengevine. The Vengevine comes into play on my turn and I begin bashing with it. Evil continues to attack with Linvala but doesn’t have much else. I take the opportunity to unearth my Demon and swing with everything, forcing Evil to make some sacrificial blocks that will allow me to mill myself even more with the Demon. My attack puts Evil down to eight and I summon a third Fauna Shaman afterwards. Evil finds a Fauna Shaman of his own and I send my entire team in to attack again. Evil loses his Birds of Paradise and Fauna Shaman while keeping his Cunning Sparkmage and Linvala, going to five. Afterwards I summon a Hedron Crab and use a fetchland to mill myself for six which puts another Extractor Demon into my graveyard. Evil passes and is forced to chump with Linvala on my next attack. Evil concedes after not drawing another spell.
Round 12: Gerard Fabiano, Blue/White Control
Game 1: Evil wins the roll and I have to mulligan once, but I still have a decent hand. I summon a Fauna Shaman on turn two after drawing the necessary Green source to do so. However I get set back a lot when Evil stops my Shaman by putting a Spreading Seas on my Forest. I find another Misty Rainforest and crack it immediately to play around Path to Exile, but Evil has another Spreading Seas to put on the Forest. I respond by searching for a Vengevine but can’t do anything except summon a Merfolk Looter to continue searching for cards. The Merfolk Looter is exiled by an Oblivion Ring and Evil follows his play up with summoning a Baneslayer Angel on his next turn. I brick again on my draw and watch as Elspeth comes into play. I die on my next turn.
Sideboard: -2 Birds of Paradise, -1 Enclave Cryptologist; +3 Unified Will.
Game 2: I summon a Noble Hierarch followed by a Fauna Shaman on turn two while Evil summons a Meddling Mage naming Fauna Shaman. I summon a Vengevine and start attacking with it while Evil summons another Meddling Mage naming Merfolk Looter. I’m racing better than Evil is because my Vengevine is hitting for five thanks to my Hierarch and sit back on my Fauna Shaman which is searching up more Vengevines. Evil is at nine life and summons a Baneslayer Angel after attacking with his two Mages. At this point I discard my Vengevine to get a Renegade Doppelganger so I can bounce Evil’s Baneslayer Angel with the Sedraxis Alchemist that I drew on my last turn. Evil concedes.
Game 3: Evil and I both mulligan once each and he plays Preordain putting both cards on the bottom. I summon a Noble Hierarch on my turn and he misses his second land drop. I summon a Fauna Shaman while Evil still has nothing. I summon a Hedron Crab and mill an Extractor Demon while using my Fauna Shaman to cycle through Vengevines and unearth the Demons while sitting on Unified Will. Evil finds land and starts casting spells, none of which I care about until he summons a Baneslayer Angel which I counter with Unified Will. Afterwards, I get my Vengevines back after playing a Renegade Doppelganger and attack for lethal.
At this point I’m a lock for top-8 even with two loses and the only player at 11-1; Wrapter is also a lock at 10-2 if he can draw twice which wasn’t going to be a problem.
Round 13: John Kolos, Mono-Green Eldrazi Ramp
Intentional Draw 0-0-1
FFfreak won his last round which meant that he would also be a lock for top-8 if he could secure a draw in the last round. Going into the last round, I figured that FFfreak would be in eighth place which meant that I would have to play against him in the first round of top-8. I was paired against Wrapter in this round and knew that if I conceded to him, he would either be in first or second place in the standings after the Swiss. Either way one of us was going to have to play against Brad, but if I conceded, Wrapter and I wouldn’t meet until the finals. The play seemed like a no-brainer.
Round 14: Josh Utter-Leyton, Mythic
The last match results trickled in from the round and afterwards we found out what the brackets for top-8 looked like.
1 David Ochoa
8 Brad Nelson
4 Tim Sussino
5 Anthony Eason
2 Josh Utter-Leyton
7 Gerard Fabiano
3 Eric Froehlich
6 John Kolos
There was still a lot of work to do and I was running on empty as were the rest of my friends. We decided to take a break and get some food to eat before going back to the Hyatt to test the matchups for the top-8. After taking some photos and filling out the bios for the event coverage, we were free of our obligations and headed out to Nicollet Mall. There were still a few places that I wanted to go to, namely the Indian place that had taken up so much of my concentration finding the night before and caused me to be lead astray from my group.
I didn’t remember exactly where the place was except that it was “to the left” or something like that. After wandering around for a bit, the group (Ben Stark [BenS], Tom Raney, LSV, Brad and his friend Brian, Matt Nass, and another local guy) decided to try Buca di Beppo because we couldn’t find the Indian place. We tried to get a table, but the wait was more than thirty minutes and we demanded instant gratification (at least I did).
I STILL HAD ALL THESE places that I wanted to try and asked if people wanted to go to Brit’s Pub again, however that suggestion got shot down right quick (though I still think they were being a bit harsh); the place wasn’t bad. I suppose pub food wasn’t what people wanted on a trip like this; they had a good selection of beer though. After the pub got No-Sir’d, we walked over to McCormick & Schmick’s but found a similar situation with the wait. Apparently all of Minneapolis had decided that today was a good time to go out for dinner. There was also this place called Hell’s Kitchen (no relation to the show) that I’d heard good things about, though I can’t remember for the life of me where or who I heard those things from.
People were starting to get legitimately impatient and so we walked across the street to this place called Zelo. The restaurant specialized in Italian and Seafood and was able to seat us in ten minutes (which was the amount of time that it took me to go and come back from Hell’s Kitchen after waiting in line to ask how long the waiting line was. I ordered a dish with a local fish called Walleye which was good. I had a good time at dinner up until I had to pay for the entire meal (I heart variance).
Brad and I agreed not to test the mirror for our Top-8 match and focus more on the Top-4 and potential finals; the mirror seemed roll dependant and I agreed. Besides, I could just test anyway and lie about it. We went back to our respective hotels and began grinding; I had set up in the lobby at the Hyatt. We figured that the Pyromancer deck in the other bracket was favored against mono-Red and began testing against that. The matchup was a lot closer than we thought it was initially, and that [card]Inferno Titan[/card] was going to be a problem if the Ascension deck could use its eight burn spells and counters to stall long enough. We tested for a few hours and went back to the room to test more after a lot of people showed up which was distracting. There was this group of kids who were waiting to go out to eat and didn’t understand a thing about Magic, though they seemed excited to see us playing because it reminded them of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! We tested up in the room until 1:00 AM at which point we went to sleep in anticipation of the day to come.
We had to be in the Dungeon at 9:30 AM which gave us a lot of time to sleep in. As usual, I was the first person up and made my way to Panera to buy some coffee and a bagel. This time however, I only bought one because I had some bigger plans for the day regarding food. Today was the day that we were supposed to go to Fogo de Chao. Everyone should be familiar with the awesomeness that is the churrascaria experience. Unlimited meats of the highest quality, roasted to perfection with the perfect ratio of salt to delicious. Yada yada yada. Anyways, back to the dilemma at hand. Being a Magic player, it is and has always been necessary for me to get maximum value out of a situation, and Fogo was no different. If I didn’t eat my fill, it would be like conceding a matchup that was impossible to lose. I wouldn’t want to go to a buffet on a full stomach and Fogo was the ultimate. However, there was a problem. On the one hand I needed enough sustenance to get me through the day but I also needed to conserve my appetite. Furthermore, I’d cut down significantly on the food that I eat (because I’m a fatty) which has reduced my appetite and would last almost an entire day on one bagel and coffee. In the end I decided to get one bagel only.
The Top-8 matches were covered with a lot of detail by Wizards’ Event Coverage and I’m going to refer you to those. Also, I don’t get paid by the word here so I mise well use some free help.
Top Eight: Brad Nelson, Dredgevine
My match against Brad was close and played out quite similarly to how I thought it would. I’m glad he had as much success (roughly) with the deck that I did.
Top Four: Anthony Eason, Mono-Red
I knew that this matchup was going to be difficult to win and also would rely heavily on winning the die roll. Ultimately I wished I had been able to summon my Obstinate Baloths, but the situation never arose where I had both a Baloth in hand and the mana to play it.
Third-place Playoff: John Kolos, Mono-Green Eldrazi Ramp
In two of the games that I lost, it felt like I had been robbed after setting up a favorable gamestate.
After losing the third-place playoff I was consoled by my friends; they seemed to take it much harder than I did (although that’s probably because I don’t have feelings and am an emotionless cyborg sent from the future to … well, that’s another “story”). The reservation for Fogo wasn’t for a few hours which left me enough time to go back to the Hyatt and clean up. It’d been a long day and I needed to shave off my playoff head. After I was ready, we went back to the site because there was still a lot of time go burn through before 7:00 PM. We battled a bit of Extended (and when I say “we battled”, that’s more like “I watched them play”) and Vintage because Vintage has always been awesome. Eventually we got tired of waiting and called Fogo to tell them that we were heading down there early and that they had better be ready for us. Fogo was about as amazing as I had remembered it to be and I was more than full by the time that we had left. As we reached the Hyatt I said I was going to the room to sleep, said a few goodbyes, and made my way up to the comfy bed awaiting me.
Monday came around and there was still infinite work to do. I had a non-stop flight back to the San Francisco Bay Area and had to make the preparations for leaving to go to Gothenburg on Wednesday, type this novel of a report, and finish up other assorted tasks. Delta was apparently having a special for nursing mothers for the flight back because I was surrounded by screaming infants. Thankfully I had been sleep-deprived enough over the previous few days to the point of being able to still nod away into a restful slumber. We arrived back in San Francisco not a minute too soon.
Unfortunately the playlist of misadventures that I was willing to recount to you has run its course and will send you back to reading the articles based on my winning Swiss queue drafts that I cherry pick to bolster my ego. Ahhh yes, the life of a pro. Until next time….