Ffreaky Friday – The Night Before States

So tomorrow is the big day. Your chance to be the best player in an entire state. Do you have the best deck? Have you been testing against the most important matchups? These may be some very good questions you want to ask yourself but are not the most important things about competition. That’s why I am here to refresh you on the basics!

Lets start from the beginning. I am bored. I have never actually been this bored in a very long time. The last four months of my life have been filled with what seemed like back to back events. I was either competition or testing for the next competition. After Grand Prix Portland was over, I thought I would enjoy this very long break. I was wrong.

I have been filling my time with a few different things. The first is about 30 M11 drafts a week. The second was getting hooked onto the TV Series Dollhouse created by the amazing Joss Whedon. I watched the entire first season in two sittings and got very behind on my Channelfireball duties (Thanks Nicole!). It is a very interesting show and worth your time if you have any.

After I was out of episodes to watch and I couldn’t stand opening any more packs of M11, it was time to prepare for this week’s article. Whenever I decide to do an article about decklists, I like to see what the rest of the Magic world is writing about. This helps me not be repetitive for the audience after an entire week of articles. Since I was so bored, I read about every article I could find. It took me almost half a day to get through all the material. I do have to say that there are some very talented writers out there that I have never heard of. Props to you guys!

Anyway, I realized that everyone is writing about the 2010s and that there are infinite decklists floating around. It also made me think about the basics, which I have not seen talked about in a very long time. That is why I think it is my duty as a Magic player to remind of these. If you are only interested in reading about decklists, I would strongly recommend just exiting out of this and saving some time. There is no time for more decklists!

So what are the basics? The basics are just some of the most important rules I try to follow with every tournament. They seem very “basic” but can be the only difference between winning a tournament and watching from the sidelines after the first couple rounds.

The first rule is also the most important rule.


(It’s big because its important!)

Sleep is the biggest factor in your ability to perform. An entire Magic tournament is very long and draining on a person. It is usually 12+ hours from waking up to the finals. That is a long time to stay focused and prepared to win. It is also a very long time when your body is not well rested. Everyone talks about getting enough sleep, but I always see people staying up way to late the night before an event. I have a good story about sleep deprivation!

Warning: This story may contain bits of hyperbole

There is only one person on the face of the planet that can actually compete with no sleep. His name is Chris “The Doc” Lachmann. I know Chris Lachmann very well. He is a good friend of mine and I used to love every minute I got to spend with him at events. This was until this year’s Nationals.

See, Lachmann was staying with me at this really sweet apartment building that had hotel rooms for its guests. It was a sweet place to stay since it was the closest, cheapest, and had the best view of any hotel in the surrounding area. They had a 35th floor balcony that had a great area for having a small gathering of friends. It was a sick find and I thought I would share it with my good buddy Chris Lachmann. How does he repay me? By corrupting my little brother!!!

My little brother, Corey Baumeister, is just your average 19 year old kid. He likes to hang out with his friends after Bible study, signing up for the next semester of school, and always ready for a good game of Magic. He is just as innocent as they come. This was until he hung out with “The Doc.” (Am I doing this foreshadowing stuff correctly?)

After day one of the event, Corey and I were both 5-2 and at the same draft pod. This was a bit exciting and sad, since both of us could not get out of Limited with an 8-2 record. We would have a chance at the for sure feature match, however. That night we got some grub and were hanging out at the apartment building. It was getting late and I was getting prepared for bed since it was almost midnight. I went into the other room and this is what happened.

Me: Are you about ready for bed Corey?

Corey: Yeah I’m just finishing my warm cup of milk and about to go to sleep.

Me: Ok, I’ll see you tomorrow. (I exit the room)

Lachmann: Hey Corey, instead of sleeping and being fully refreshed for the next day, we should throw a party on the 35th floor.

Corey: I don’t know, Brad has always told me that a good night’s sleep is important.

Lachmann: What’s better, a good night’s sleep or a 35th floor party?

Corey: Well I guess you are older than me and Abovetheinfluence.org says a teenager is 68% more likely to succumb to peer pressure from an adult…so ok!

The next day Corey was not prepared for the hardships of Nationals and ended up only taking 10th. I have only Chris Lachmann to blame. Even though he can compete with zero sleep does not mean you can as well! Don’t let this happen to you.

There are easy ways to prevent yourself from being sleep-deprived before a tournament. If the tournament is not in your city, then you should always travel there the night before. It might mean you have to get a hotel or find a friend, but that is very important. The economy might be on the upswing but it is still your duty as an American to invest into your nation. If you are not an American, then you probably have hostels, and they suck, so just drive in the morning.

Sometimes you are unable to get there the night before. You will in fact have to drive the day of the event. I don’t know if you know this, but starting your day at like four in the morning makes it very hard to win an event. This is why you do not want to be the person driving. Sometimes you get lucky and there is a guy that likes to drive or is happy to do it for the group. Other times it comes down to drawing straws. I in fact have a foolproof method in getting out of driving when situations like this come up.

How you get out of driving is tell everyone in the Magic community that you are a terrible driver. They might not believe you and this is when you have to prove it to them. You will have to sell it! When you get behind the wheel it is very important that you do everything procedurally. Make sure to check all the windows and seatbelts and do this out loud so they concentrate on you. Then once you start driving you should look very nervous and swerve just enough that they get concerned. It is also very important that you do not go the speed limit. Make sure you are going at least 10 miles under it so getting to the event could become a factor. If you pull off all of these steps flawlessly you will be sleeping in the backseat with an iPod in no time.

The last lesson about sleep is preparing the night before an event. Don’t just sit there until 3 in the morning because you want to figure out that last sideboard slot, or that you’re just so excited to play in the event. Go to sleep. One hour of sleep is more important than your two sideboard slots. Don’t be a fool, start the drool (yeah…I said it).


Drinking water is so important. So many players start their day of with Mountain Dew, it astonishes me. Even though Soda POP is enjoyable and tastes good, it does not mean it is good for you. Soda and energy drinks are the easiest way to crash mid-tournament. It happens all the time.

I am not a scientist, but I am writing this from a Holiday Inn Express. If you just drink a ton of water, your body will have a reverse effect than when it is on caffeine. Your body is forced to deal with an abundance of water, so it is always processing and working. This help your energy levels much more then the quick boost of sugar.

I figured this out to the fullest extreme. At Pro Tour Amsterdam I went to the bathroom in the middle of so many rounds that people started a rumor that I was cheating. I was in fact not cheating, but simply drinking about a liter of water an hour. This meant I had to go to the bathroom a lot. I also took second at this event so it just proves that water and bathrooms are important! Anyway…how could someone cheat in the bathroom?


This is one of the biggest things to realize for players that do not play in many sanctioned events. Often times when a player is being questioned about something that is happening in the game, they will freeze up and say the wrong things to a judge. Judges are your friend and are only there to make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible. They are not looking to DQ as many players as they can. If you are not doing anything illegal, then you have nothing to worry about. Do not go crazy and run out of the room if you get questioned. Calmly discuss the situation and they will resolve it as fast as possible.

It is also important to call a judge whenever there is a dispute. The judge has your best interests in mind and you cannot say the same for your opponent. They will help you anyway they can. You will not look stupid for calling one either. I called a judge once about a die-rolling dispute. My opponent and I did not know what happens if a die is resting at a 90 degree angle. This is when I found out judges can not rule over the randomness of Magic…..sad day.


So many players get nervous about tournaments. It is good to have a little bit of nervous energy but staying calm is the most important place to be. If you are not calm then you are not thinking correctly.

Last year at States, there was a matchup in the Top 8 between a Naya Deck and Turbofog. The Naya player had [card]Ajani Vengeant[/card] on 7 counters and was using its ultimate ability. The Turbofog player thought for a second, and let it resolve picking up all of his lands and putting them in the graveyard. Since the Naya player was so used to people conceding at this point and he saw his opponent pick up his lands, he got very excited. He then picked up his cards and put his graveyard board and hand together.

The Turbofog player obviously asked what his opponent was doing and the whole situation got very awkward. The ruling favored in the Turbofog player’s favor and he got the game and then match win. This was the correct ruling, but could have been easily sidestepped if the Naya player just took one breath and didn’t let his emotions take over.

Since you have been such a good audience I will give you guys a decklist. It is what I am going to be playing at States. I know some of you guys don’t like this deck, but too bad!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and bashes up on some newbs!

Brad Nelson


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