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

58 thoughts on “Ffreaky Friday – The Night Before States”

  1. Just one thing. 4 litres or more of water in 24 hours and you risk damage to your kidneys.

  2. The article was OK, but seemed tense. And the deck list looks like it dies at the 6cc second wind of most current decks. I like the land base. Anyone been testing this deck?

  3. I guess you don’t really care about comments on the deck but I think it’s pretty horrible.
    Why would you bother to play naya at the moment really?? Cunning sparkmage is simply not a good card at the moment. It was good before because a unequipped sparkmage severely hurt 40% of the metagame before (any noble hierarch deck and some more) but now that’s simply not the case.
    Worst of all the deck seriously has almost no chance against valakut ramp, which for sure will be the most popular deck at states. Only a fast hand with monument that doesn’t run into a timely lightning bolt will be able to beat a decent ramp hand. After boarding pyroclasm and arc trail just make things worse. Refraction trap is ok but its very difficult to keep mana open for it at turn 2 which is the critical moment usually.
    The entire naya strat is just not that strong anymore, there are no proper fast threats in it anymore, the deck has just NO good 3-drop it can curve into and the red just doesnt do much in the deck. Vengevine recurring just doesn’t beat ramp decks or wurmcoil engines and the like.
    You are just better off running elves (which is much faster and a more synergetic) OR a bant strategy. Bant is just much better then naya because it can run a) jace b) sphinx of the lost truths (which is insane with vengevines and squadron hawks) c) mana leak. Mana leak is vital to delay those day of judgements, primeval titans etc which this deck just rolls over too.

    Kudos if you do well with the deck at States but it’s just a weak strategy at the moment really.

  4. Man mark a bit of a bash on the deck but I’ve played the list and it works well. I think Brad will do fine! Brad nice fresh idea on tips even if I have to drive 400miles! See u at states.

  5. U >> W in the Fauna Shaman decks right now IMHO – Trinket Mage search up not only the Collar, but Memnite to rise the Vengevines from the grave as well. With the loss of KotR, white is no longer necessary. Well, at least that’s what my experience of this new format shows. Whatever you choose to play, good luck to you. 🙂

  6. Squadron hawk is stupid (good), sparkmage is good in the mirror, against the dorky myr decks that are trying so hard to get started, and infect, and white gives you journey, linvala, and refraction trap (which is really good against valakut). I am wondering why there is no sideboarded valakut deck hate, and I am also wondering why you choose inferno titan over Sun titan (which works a lot more synergistically with the deck.) and I wonder why you run llanowar elves when you could run a small stoneforge mystic, outfitter, argentum armor toolbox as well. I’ve tested with the toolbox and it works fairly well, especially with sun-titan.

    Good luck at states and thanks for the article, I’ll try not to succumb to peer pressure. ^_^

  7. oh, and to clarify, this naya list isn’t like the old naya aggro list, this list is a bit slower because it tries to be a lot more controlling until you drop a bomb onto the field like the monument or masticore or (in my version) argentum armor. Keep that in mind before you flame it and try to see what the deck does currently as opposed to what the deck did. (also, you could try reading FFFreak’s articles on the deck as opposed to flaming it without a frame of reference, GG)

  8. Hey Brad Nice article..i always enjoy ur article. I do agree with just about everything in your article. I do also believe the same way you do about preperation before a tournament. Sleep is very good, and drinking water is always useful. I did the same the night before Wizards World comic con 5k. I dont think ive ever slept so well on that night before that event. anyways…keep out the good work Brad.

  9. “Just one thing. 4 litres or more of water in 24 hours and you risk damage to your kidneys.”

    [citation needed]

  10. Isn’t Kor Sanctifiers basically strictly better than Sylvok Replica? And why not more Journey to Nowhere in the SB over Oust?

  11. @Wonder Boy, who writes, “4 litres or more of water in 24 hours and you risk damage to your kidneys.”

    That is so ridiculously false. Just because you read it on the internet does not mean that it’s true.

    2.5 liters / day is a good amount for the average male on an average day (slightly more if you’re above average weight). Athletes and others who burn a lot of calories can require up to 5 liters / day. Magic players burn a lot of calories in an all day tournament – both thinking hard and stress burn calories.

    That said, 1 liter every hour does sound a bit extreme. But Brad is a bid guy. Big guys needs more water.

    On a side note, the “drink water” tip is a very good one.

  12. The ‘OD-ing on water’ thing is a lie. Snopes.com cuts through all the bulls— that is heard ‘around’.

    I was in the army (US) for quite some time and they/we would FORCE soldiers in training to drink a canteen an hour during high activity (thats > a liter); a magic event is something I would consider high activity. Peeing a lot? Who cares.

    There is NOTHING – absolutely nothing – that is better for you than drinking plenty of hydrating fluids (meaning that Gatorade is alright too once in a while). No vitamins and eat junk food? If you drink tons of water you’ll be better off than Mr.Vegan Power if he doesn’t; long run or short.

    Sorry about the diatribe. But it’s true. Drink water.

  13. Everyone that’s saying Liters, convert that mess to the o-z. DOOM HAS NO TIME FOR COVERTING THIS HIMSELF!

    Brad, comedy? Not so much.

  14. Brad I’ve been playing your naya decklist and as i suspected it just gets completely raped by pyroclasm. Raped. Watch out!

    It does clobber most non-red decks tho. Good luck!

  15. Average kidneys can only process 0.8 to 1 liter of water per hour (or approx 27-33 oz). Strenuous physical activity reduces this amount greatly (distance runners can often only excrete 0.1 liters per hour).

    Exceeding the amount of water that your kidneys can process causes your blood to carry too much water, but it will not cause damage to your kidneys. Eventually the excess water will be absorbed into cells all around your body. This will cause slight swelling of the cells and also will flush out some nutrients, most likely causing a deficiency of electrolytes. Swelling of your brain cells can cause a lot of adverse effects (anything from a slight headache to death). Brain cells are tightly packed in your skull and have practically no room to expand.

    Obviously the only adverse effect that Brad experienced was an active bladder. He credits having a sharp mind to drinking that much water, so I doubt he had any reason to believe it was detrimental.

  16. Wow… big focus on the water.

    I was also in the army (and the army stresses being well hydrated).

    Keys for drinking water: you cannot just drink a lot of water. Electrolytes must also be replaced (with sodium and potassium being the important ones). Taking in too much water (keep in mind, too much is more than 2 to 4 quarts over the course of an hour, depending on your body). Intaking LARGE (as was just described) amounts of water without intaking proportionate levels of electrolytes results in hyponatremia. That is bad. Most people will never reach that level however, as it is simply uncomfortable to drink that much (it pretty much has to be forced).

    That being said, brad is certainly correct. Being very well hydrated results in optimal performance for your ENTIRE body (including brain function).


  17. @Gus: You said “rape” twice

    I’ve got a G/U/B Vengevine deck sleeved up for tonight, and I’m not entirely sure I’d rather have Red. Royal Assassin is slightly less vulnerable than Sparkmage (black, so not Doom Blade-able, but then again it dies to Twisted Image…) but will handle things just as well, when you’ve got Fauna Shamans and Titans tapping each turn, and it doesn’t need the Collar.

    It just feels weird after playing Naya and Bant for so long, but I’m hoping it works out as well. Plus, Skinrender is just so much fun!

  18. How could someone cheat in the bathroom?

    LOL Its not the best place to do it uncomforable and smelly and not that erotic plus you always feel like a tramp when you walk out but hey any holes a goal.

  19. W.C. Fields – “I don’t drink water because fish f*ck in it.”

    That’s my contribution to all of this water talk.

    Good luck at States Brad.

  20. I can’t stand when my precious bodily fluids get sapped. That’s why I only drink rain water and grain alcohol.

  21. Hilarious. I lol’d a few times.

    I also advocate sleep and water very highly: if you’re getting a headache at a tourney odds are you didn’t get enough of one of the two, and by then it’s too late. Nerves are always my biggest issue, round one I’m constantly shaking/shivering with nervous energy even after a few years of playing in PTQs and such. It’s always gone after the round though, and I know it happens so it’s not a big deal anymore (plus it forces me to focus more), but I imagine someone who’s new to tourneys might feel the nerves and punt as a result.

  22. @Denog: Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?

  23. Dollhouse is good. Raises some interesting Philosophy of Mind questions. Read “The Mind’s I” by Hofstadter and Dennet for an academic but enjoyable introduction.

  24. I am playing this exact same list tomorrow. I will attribute any and all success I have to the education and teachings of Fffreak.

    Also if you were to remain at rest, like vegging in front of the computer, for hours there is a significant chance of over-hydration. Simply engaging in non-sedentary actions requires more water for the body.

  25. I never leave comments but this article is awful. I usually enjoy your writing but this just seems rushed overall subpar.

  26. I have tested your deck, and actually really like it. I made only a few modifications: -4 lanowar elves, -3 eldrazi monument, -1 Inferno Titan, +1 Lotus Cobra, +4 Muldaya Channelers, +2 Baneslayer Angel, +1 Inferno Titan.

  27. @ EP3
    Way to ruin a deck. cutting the monuments cannot be right.
    Channelers seem underwhelming as well.
    Agree with the 4th Cobra though…

  28. Wow, you’re right that reads a lot like Dave Barry! Great article but I am skeptical about Naya shaman but of course I hope you and it does well.

  29. I find it ironic for Nelson to be talking about Health and Nutrition, guy looks like he weighs 350 lbs….

  30. Worst deck ever! I want my states entry fee back brad… This deck has absolutely no game against u/w and it just rolls you. Not to mention r/g ramp is just faster than you. Worst decision ever… Thanks.

  31. Did you consider “control your weight” and “don’t smoke” in your list of things to help one prepare for a tournament? Because these are important factors as wall, and you fall short in those categories. I agree with the article, however. Is Corey overweight/ a smoker? I’m curious.

  32. LOL drinking 4 litres of water won’t harm you. I easily drink that much daily in bottled water. It depends a lot on weight, activity, etc as a larger male adult who is active can drink more. I was drinking 5 litres a day while out in the sun on my last trip to germany. This isn’t including water from food, juices, soda, milk, or any other drink i may have had. It’s when you start hitting 12-15 litres that you should start getting concerned about kidney problems with water.

    And yeah i do it all the time. I constantly make trips to the bathroom since i always drink plenty of water before and during events to keep hydrated. Dehydration from the sodium in sodas and energy drinks mixed with the sugar and caffeine rush makes it a bad combination anyway when trying to perform well.

    Great article, and definitely a lot of stuff players forget then wonder why they performed poorly at an event. Lately i work shifts until 3-4am then go to these events, but it has hurt my performance by doing so also as the lack of sleep might make me more susceptible to misplay and cost me the game over it.

  33. Naya is legit I piloted this deck to 5-0 before tilting and losing to 3 valakut decks in a row (I thought ignus would help but that card is absolutely horrible I literally lost every game I played it and I think it only triggered once)

  34. @ Andrew

    If your bad enough to copy a list straight out of an article and not do any testing (if u did u would have already known the weaknesses of the deck) then odds are you were never going to win many rounds anyway.

  35. i dont think the 4 liters of water in under 24 hours is what he should be worrying about, probably the 12 double cheeseburgers in between.

  36. its funny that brad gives health tips but is a SMOKER .. how many cigs is good per hour for success?

  37. you guys need to stop drinking the haterade. the man said sleep and drink water….. no need to get angry about his weight and the fact that he smokes.

  38. LOL @ judges having your best interest at heart. I was at nationals and overheard the HEAD JUDGE BRAGGING about how he talked a player into getting himself a dq at a previous event to another judge. I reported this to the dci through email and at Nats. Nothing will probably be done about it, but not all judges are worth the respect that most are given. I hope this was a one time incident, but it showed a true lack of professionalism and character. Just my 2 cents.

  39. Wow, you guys are dicks. Who cares how overweight he is or if he smokes. He’s just giving tips on how YOU can better prepare yourself for optimal play in the tournament. It should be obvious that he’s doing something right in this category, so you shouldn’t write him off just becuase he doesn’t embody what you imagine to be a healthy human being. He isn’t giving health advice. He’s giving Magic-playing advice.

    Maybe the judge knew that the guy was cheating and got the guy to admit it. I have know idea if thats what he was doing, but that seems pretty brag-worthy to me.

  40. Im sure he’s not going to turn down a Chesseburger and Fry lunch while playing a marathon magic day.

  41. No, he’s not an sportsman. Yeah, he smokes… how much? Dunno…
    But hey… he made 2nd in PT Amsterdam. Have any of you guys gone so far in Magic? NO.
    Go Brad, and enormous thx for your advices!

  42. Hey Brad,

    I have to say that these schmuck trolls are entertaining to read because of how inconsequential the hate they spew is to someone as talented and genuine as yourself. From all the videos and articles I’ve seen from you, I very much enjoy your style and the laid-back sensibility you bring to MTG. Keep it up, kiddo. You’ll get States one of these days.

    Best of luck on POTY.

    PS. How was your record with this Naya list? I find it a little underwhelming, considering the meta but I’m curious how you went and whom you played against.

    To all you hating out there,

    Who gives a shit what his personal health choices are – he’s a grown ass man able to make your own decisions. You guys might benefit from a nice spliff and chill out.

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