FFfreaky Friday Tuesday – Plunge into Darkness

I just got home from probably the most unlucky week of my life. Some of it was magical, some mystical, but most of it was just a big pile of suck. I bring you my very first tournament report!

I don’t want to spoil this article for anyone, but if you think this will be in-depth content you are mistaken. I played very little Magic this weekend as I was to busy getting the worst case of bad karma I have ever witnessed. So let’s begin!

It all started last Wednesday. The day was cold and I had to drive 200 miles to my home town to be a witness for some court case. It’s not too spicy. I was just forced to go. I got to my mom’s place, hung out with loved ones, and went to sleep.

The next morning I got up at 7:00 A.M. and went to court, only to find out that it was cancelled. No one bothered to call me, and to top it off, I wouldn’t be reimbursed for my travel costs. Bad beats!

I drove back to Fargo to get ready for the 10K in St. Louis. I was excited to travel and play some Magic. My roommate and I went to Minneapolis for the night to get Legacy decks and sleep. This was the first warning for me that this weekend could be filled with crazy times. We spent over two hours on the winding roads of Minneapolis trying to either find the house we were headed to or a gas station to keep the car happy.

Neither of which happened for a very long time. We found a few gas stations that were closed until we found one that took credit cards. I obviously didn’t bring my card with me because I’m responsible like that. So we put just enough on my medical card to survive. Thanks, medical insurance!

The next morning we were on our way to St Louis. I don’t know how many of you out there know your geography, but to get to St. Louis from Fargo, you have to make it through a very difficult part of the United States. It’s a dark place where no happiness is found. People pretend to be happy when you are there, but deep down they are just looking for their next meal. It is scary. It is rough. It is a terrible, wrong place.

It is called Iowa.

Iowa is a scary place to drive through. The roads were okay on the way down, but we counted roughly forty cars in the ditches from the state’s last snowstorm. We got through the state a bit slow but safe. Seeing the “Welcome to Missouri” sign was the best feeling in the world.

We found the site and got our decks ready for the tournament. I decided to play my Boros list I talked too much about in the last few weeks because I didn’t get much testing in since Worlds. I cut one Earthquake for a maindeck Elspeth and found room for two Manabarbs in the board.

Round 1: Eldrazi Green

My first round opponent hadn’t played Magic in two years. He got off to a decent start but only had two creatures to go with his Eldrazi Monument. I drew a lethal Ranger to go grab
Goblin Bushwacker, cast it, and said “Kicked?” He looked at me and asked if was his turn. Words could not describe my reaction. I just didn’t understand how he could ask this. He was just not paying any attention to the game and didn’t know what any of my cards did. I explain to him he was dead and we went to the second game.
In game two, I mulliganed to five and Master of the Wild Hunt beat me. I won a blowout game three thanks to landfall creatures and an Elspeth.

I got through a pretty easy first round and was ready to make some magic happen.

Round 2: Boros Mirror

He crushed me very fast by casting five spells by his third turn. I really wasn’t in any part of this game. If I drew an Earthquake I would have blown up all of his creatures, but that didn’t happen and we went to game two.

Game two was a textbook Boros mirror match. I let him put early pressure on me and then once he was exhausted, my Soul Wardens got me out of reach and a Baneslayer Angel mopped up the rest.

Game three was another very aggressive start for him and he drew everything he needed to kill me before my Soul Wardens got online the next turn.

Round 3: Nothin’ but Baneslayer

This is the part of the tournament I truly don’t mind. I don’t mind clawing for every win and fighting with my back against the wall. My deck, on the other hand, was not ready to do this. I mulliganed six times during this match and never drew any lands while my opponent did nothing until he dropped multiple Baneslayers.

GG, and that was my tournament.

I decided to do some commentary on GGslive and hang out with some friends. I tested the Canadian Threshold mirror with Cedric Philips and Ben Weinburg. After Cedric taught me that I was terrible at Magic and should start playing for real instead of being bad, I think I was 4-2 against him in the mirror.

I have never played this format before in my life. It was a trip but I honestly don’t remember what happened in any of my games really. I was too busy thinking about multiple things at a time to remember what went down. I ended up beating the mirror match twice and some random Rock deck, going a very nice 3-0, before losing to Dredge, 43 Land, and a Zoo deck.

My roommate Bill Lies was fighting for Top 16, but he ended one short and finished 17th. This was his first big tournament and had his first feature match against Sam Black. It was a great time to be there and watch him. He got really nervous, but I don’t blame him. I was really proud and impressed with his play this weekend. We’ll get ’em next time!

I didn’t win anything over the weekend but I did have a lot of fun with the other players. I try to not be results-oriented when it comes to happiness on a trip like this. It was supposed to be fun and, at best, pay for itself. It obviously didn’t pay for itself, but it was a lot of fun.

I also learned something this weekend that I have never really thought about. I don’t think I made the best deck decision for this weekend. I need to be willing to test more decks in the format. If I did test I think I would have just played Jund or something with a bit more inevitability in this format.

Boros is becoming a bit too linear to be successful in this format. The decks in Standard are very well tuned and Boros doesn’t have the card count to be able to adapt to anything.

I’m going to start working on a Sedraxis Jund deck in the next few days and see what I think about it. I heard it having some great success in the last few weeks and should get on the bandwagon.

Legacy was fun but a bit tough. I think I will have to put a lot of effort in the format if I want to play in any more events this season. There are so many decks and so many decisions to make too be successful. I probably will get a mentor to teach me it all.

This Trip Will Live in Infamy

That night, I went out to eat with Bill and Tom Ross’s crew. We had a good meal and talked about Magic and life. If any of you guys haven’t heard, Tom Ross is going to write for ChannelFireball.com. He is also The Boss and I am the president of his fan club. Sign up today!

Why is he The Boss? Because he is pure awesome.

The best story I have from this weekend is when I was on his computer in the hotel room and his girlfriend asked me if she could use the laptop. I yelled “NO” in a very joking manner and then she asked again. Tom interrupted her with a very smooth deadpan.

“Hon,” he said, giving her the eye, “a man said no.”

We decided to just get the hell out of St. Louis and get home with an all night drive. The trip home started great. The roads were nice, the weather was warm, and gas stations were plentiful. It was miles of smiles.

But soon Bill and I felt a strange sense of dread. Before we realized what was happening, we passed a sign.

“Welcome to Iowa.”

Welcome to Iowa? What trickster put this up? A warning sign would be more appropriate.

I looked at Bill and he was already white-knuckling the steering wheel in fear.

“What do I do?” he asked me.

I put on a brave face. “We fought through once already. We won’t make a big deal out of it this time!”

Ten minutes later we were stuck at some gas station with about a quarter inch of ice surrounding our car. I am not joking. We were trapped in the middle of a freezing rain storm right as soon as we entered the state. It was so bad we were forced to pull over. Scared, hungry, and cold, we decided the best course of action was to go into the establishment.

We talked to the attendant to find out what the situation was, weather-wise. We found out the roads were un-drivable until morning. There was a restaurant connected to the gas station where we stopped for some coffee. Things were looking up, as far as food and drink were concerned. The restaurant even had free Internet access. But, this being Iowa, it obviously died after about 10 minutes.

We went to our car for a poor night’s sleep. We could get a hotel room, but that’s how every horror movie starts. That’s what they wanted us to do. We decided to keep the car running, use some coats as blankets, and sleep with the doors firmly locked. If only we’d listened to our other roommate, who offered us blankets and additional cold weather gear when he found out we’d be traveling through Iowa!

The next morning the roads had improved. It was time to fight through Iowa once again. The roads sucked, the traffic was terrible, and we even passed a billboard that said “Prepare to Meet Thy Lord.”

It took us fourteen hours, but we finally escaped. While some parts of this story have been embellished for dramatic effect, this next part is 100 percent true: when we crossed the border and left Iowa, the sun came out. It was the first time we’d seen it since leaving St. Louis.

We began to understand how the surviving victims feel when they got away from the villains in horror movies.

The rest of the drive through South Dakota was great. We got back to Fargo uneventfully.
I got home and started writing. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a while and am strung out on sleep deprivation and Red Bull. If you think this story didn’t have much content, then you didn’t understand the point.

This article is a warning to everyone who plays Magic: stay away from Iowa. The people who live in Iowa are fine, decent people, but the geography itself hates anything to do with Magic. It’s like a no-man’s land for gamers, a black hole that sucks your energy and luck and any sunlight that manages to penetrate its overhanging layer of suck.

We got lucky during our trip, but some people aren’t so lucky. Be prepared for anything and everything in this state. And remember, never trust Brandon Scheel. He’ll sell you up the river for a warm meal and crappy commons.

I’ll have another article up on Friday about everyone’s favorite format with my take on a different deck in Standard. I know this was a bit off-beat from what I usually write about, but I hope it was at least amusing. Maybe things seem funnier when I’m sleep-deprived.

See you Friday!
Brad Nelson
FFfreaK on MTGO
[email protected]

47 thoughts on “FFfreaky Friday Tuesday – Plunge into Darkness”

  1. I agree with this from a MODO standpoint. The format is very hostile to Boros atm. Nice article, rough beats. I’ve been having really bad luck lately as well it’s comforting to know it happens to everyone.

  2. I like Sedraxis Jund, but I think Sedraxis Specter has a better fit than being Cascaded into by Bloodbraid Elf. A deck that can keep him coming back, again and again would be amazing. Specter is easily one of the most underrated cards in Standard right now.

  3. i was in iowa for a week a couple years ago…although it was in the summer.But its not that bad of a place*again i was there in the summer the closest thing i had happen was going to sleep with the window open and hot waking up at 3am to 50 mile and hour wind and ice inside the walls lol

  4. I’ve been to Iowa twice. One of those times there was a flash flood. The other time there was a flash blizzard.

  5. BallingOutOfControl

    “This article is a warning to everyone who plays Magic: stay away from Iowa.”

    This sentence made reading this whole article worth it.

  6. So about a week after saying Boros is probably the best deck in the format and writing an in-depth article about it, you’re now saying “Don’t play Boros”?


  7. sounds like an epic trip, i think standard has evolved away from boros right now. maybe it will come back but decks seem to have good plans against it.

  8. I live in Iowa, have most of my life. Ames is the #1 place to live in Iowa. Party central and home of most of the best players in the state ”also Scheel lives there”. Matt Yeager and myself drove back from St. Louis at around midnight since he top8’d the event. It was raining like hell in St. Louis but once we got about 10 mins out of town it stopped raining. Iowa is a dead state with nothing to do but play magic and online poker. So yes, Brad is right, NEVER LIVE HERE. It is a nice place to visit if your out of state and just want some peace and quiet….but thats for old people.

    Something is far worse than Iowa, but is also in Iowa and we are trying to have the city thrown out, but have failed so far………So follow this advice, you will be sorry if you dont….

    STAY AWAY FROM OTTUMWA IOWA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is the devil!

  9. John Hennigan was once given the deal: Live in Iowa for a month, get $25,000. Mr. Hennigan didn’t last a week.

  10. Sedraxis specter has to find a home sooner or later. I imagine it to include some ancient ziggurats. And btw, how is bloodbraid into sedraxis not a strong play?

  11. I was gonna say “Hey, why didn’t you take I-29!” and then I realized I-29 goes through Iowa and not Nebraska.

    Well played, Nelson, well played.

  12. I have never laughed out loud while reading an article about magic until I read “hon, a man said no.” hahahahahahaha

  13. “This article is a warning to everyone who plays Magic: stay away from Iowa. The people who live in Iowa are fine, decent people, but the geography itself hates anything to do with Magic. It's like a no-man's land for gamers, a black hole that sucks your energy and luck and any sunlight that manages to penetrate its overhanging layer of suck. ”

    Gerry T lived in Iowa for a time…

  14. Sorry to hear about your trip to hell. Never been there. Thanks for the warning.
    If you had to do it all over again would you find a way to GO AROUND hell to get to your objective? I know it might be a long trip, but it might just be worth it.
    As far as Tom Ross goes, yes he is awesome, and he gets major props from me in the “Hon, a man said no” department. Awesome. Just awesome.
    If you had to choose another deck, would you go with Jund w/Sedraxis Specter ? I know its a card I’ve been looking at and its a card that loves to see the light of day. Or would you go with Boros again?

  15. So I tend to hate Iowa and am moving away in a week, so I can understand disliking the state…but…

    You drive home in the middle of the night without checking the weather, then you decline to pay for a hotel and sleep in your car, then you complain about it? Erm…no sympathy for being dumb.

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  17. Man i know how you feel when me and my crew drove down for nationals we got lost in Iowa twice (once there and once back) and ended up in the middle of nothing but woods and cars along the side of the road…some looked crashed others just left there…..I have never been more scared in my life then the drive through Iowa. oh ya we all went 1-4 at nationals too so NEVER DRIVE THROUGH IOWA.

  18. Being from Minnesota, I feel somewhat qualified to comment. North Dakota is far worse than Iowa. It’s far worse than anyplace in the United States actually. Someone from ND commenting on how bad Iowa is? Pot meet kettle.

  19. I was going to be moderately upset about you hating Iowa (like Iowans do, even though we know it sucks), until you saved yourself with “the people are fine”. Well played Mr. Nelson.

    I do know it sucks. But we still begrudgingly go into the mouth of hell to PTQ grind. Respect.

    Also, don’t listen to Tuffy. He uses too many exclamation points.

  20. Ripping on Iowa aside, I wouldn’t mind hearing some more on why you think Boros is now being outpaced by the format. I tend to agree, based solely on playing on MTGO, but I’d like to know what put you over the top into playing something else after calling Boros the best deck in the format only a week ago.

  21. Brandon Scheel is a personal friend of mine, a good guy, and always honest. I want to know why Brad is publicly libeling him. I also want to know why Brad went on and on about how terrible Iowa is.

    The articles published on a website reflect the judgement of the site’s owner and editors. Do Brad’s ascersions reflect the opinion of Channel Fireball?

  22. I’ve seen that sign in Iowa, “Prepare to meet thy Lord.” Even being a pastor…no, especially being a pastor…I hate that sign.

    BTW, if you’re looking for a sweet decklist for standard, I’m running this thing that is slowly letting me go infinite because it’s off the radar and really good. But I wouldn’t mind sharing it with the local Bismarck boy gone pro, so hit me up on MODO if you’re interested (and even remember me from Bis).


  23. Grunch – The stuff about Scheel was pretty tongue in cheek, or at least that’s how I read it. Pretty sure that Brad isn’t actually suggesting that for a warm meal and some commons Scheel will “sell you up the river”…

    As for his opinions of Iowa – well, they are just that, his opinions. He didn’t have a great experience the few times he has been there, so that’s what he chose to share with his readers.

  24. So Brad even though you totally made me the laughing stock of magic for the whole “A man said no” thing lol I am totally siked that it was one of the best memories from your weekend…. sweet article def made me laugh…. maybe you having to pay for the cheese at the Mexican restaurant was a sign that karma was out to get you already… you should have just came to Louisiana and i could have smuggled you in my dorm room for the next few months liked planned and you wouldn’t have been in the whole stuck in the snow predicament in the first place….

    With Love,
    Tom’s Bitch <=== as Brad likes to call me

  25. I don’t know about boros being untenable at the moment, I 4-0’d with it yesterday in a DE. I definitely got somewhat lucky with draws, but the deck is still a solid choice.

  26. Iowa’s weather will crush the weak, see them driven before it, and hear the lamentations of their women. If you can’t take the cold, stay out of the midwest.

    Oh, and South Dakota is much worse weatherwise. Having lived in both, I can say that without any doubt whatsoever.

  27. Oh god, i didn’t know boros is dropping so much its value to you now Mr Nelson. However, there are 2 boros that went str8 up to top 8 by scoring 5-1-1 n 6-1-0 in a 5k tour at my place. 1 of the boros is piloted by me which i followed according to the guide you gave in ffriday, just that i -3 soul warden and +3 manabarb(There are plenty of jacerators around but non of them perform well). Well, i went through 3 jund, 1 boros, 1 RDW and 1 white token and only lose to the white token by mistake. And the top 8 consist of 2 boros, 2 jund, 1 esper control, 1 RDW, 1 UW token and 1 white token. The 1st match for me is against esper control(well tweaked against aggro decks and can eat anything red). In the end, that esper control eats up RDW in semi and got champion after defeating boros in final. This may shows that control deck is still very well alive and not so ”dead” like what other people said. Anyway, Thanks Mr Nelson alot for the guide on playing his version of boros which i think is brilliant. I really enjoyed playing Nelson’s Boros.

  28. Keep writing like this, it’s very entertaining!

    As for the Iowa debate, yeah, I’ve done a couple PTQs in Des Moines, never did any good due to the energy-sucking black hole known as I-80. It is a land of pretty much nothing but corn and Kum & Go stations. The K&G T-shirts are like an inside joke around here, and I saw one on the coverage on Sunday, so I know they’re popular elsewhere.

  29. Pretty good report. Sucks you got bashed. Good to see Bill do pretty good in a tournament. Whenever I go through Iowa I usually just sleep the whole way through, it’s a pretty good technique. You gonna be in MN for the extended ptq? b

  30. I feel your pain about Iowa, Brad. My friend Matt, Lou and I traveled to Chicago for one of SCG’s P9 tournaments awhile back. On our return journey about ten minutes into Iowa the block in the car overheated and melted a bunch of stuff in the engine. We get the car towed and we get taken to a small motel. The sign says 129.99 a night, but the guy ends up charging us 169.99 because “this was a very busy season for the motel and demand for rooms was high.” We were stuck there for four days with nothing to do and everything around us closed at 9:00 P.M. Brad is 100% right avoid Iowa!

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