This is part 2 of my Houston report (Part 1 can be found here).
Round 6: Elves
I felt pretty confidant (kidding, kidding) for this match because I had about infinite sideboard cards, and not only they were many but also very strong; I was expecting to be a dog game one, but I’d be somewhat mad to lose the match.
Game one started better than expected, because he had a slow draw and could not beat me before I established a reasonable defense. He played a Cloudstone Curio, which I Remanded, and then on what I believe was my turn five I killed him.
I decided to keep in the Muddles and add the Negates because I think that, with the amount of removal that I have now, I can probably handle everything that is not a big Glimpse turn.
Game two I had a good draw, with Sakura on turn two and Firespout on turn three, but nothing to play on turn one (or two) to disrupt him – as long as he doesn’t kill me turn three, I should be fine.
He goes Llanowar, Nettle, Glimpse, Pact, papapa, and it gets to a point where I am pretty dead. If he ever passes the turn, I can Firespout and kill him with Pact, though, so might as well keep playing. He then finds a Primal Command, and I keep playing because I have a Sakura and maybe he cannot, or will not Regrowth it. He does that, and my outs are getting smaller and smaller, but I am still playing, because at this moment he has only one Heritage Druid in play, and has to pay for two Pacts, so if he passes without playing another one, I can sacrifice my STE for Mountain and draw a Bolt to kill him. He plays a bunch of guys, two of which are Heritage Druids, and passes the turn. I sac my Sakura, untap, draw, play a land and pass, and he draws his card. He then tries to pay for his Pacts, but I am not Kenji, so I win.
It was kind of unfortunate that it happened like that, since my opponent was a pretty cool guy and I would rather have just beat him normally, but I didn’t travel 24 hours and spend hundreds of dollars to go around helping my opponents, and I would obviously prefer beating him like this than not beating him at all.
Round 7: Living End
This is a pretty easy matchup, and game one my opponent didn’t really do anything and died NICEDECK etc. Even if he had managed to resolve Living End past my wall of counters that would probably not have helped him at all, since I’d be returning Wood Elves and Sakuras.
I made a mistake in this game – at some point, I had Wood Elves (and a second one in hand) and he had Fulminator Mage, and when he attacked I didn’t block, because I intended to play my second Elf and double-block it next turn. The problem with this is that, if I do that, he is very likely sacrificing his Fulminator and then my Wood Elves will not die – in this match, I just want them to die as soon as possible, so they make it more likely that I can beat a resolved Living End. The 2/2 is not going to kill me anyway, there is no reason I should feel threatened by it at all. This is the kind of mistake that no one who has ever played the match is going to make, but it took me a full turn to realize, because it goes against my common sense that I, you know, want my creatures to die. Then the following turn I simply chump blocked instead of double blocking.
Game two is going fine – he cycles cycles cycles and I have a Remand ready if he attempts to Living End, which he does not. When he hits five lands (and I have him dead next turn), he asks if he can talk to a judge, and I know that he is asking about Ricochet Trap, because there isn’t really anything that he could possibly be confused about. Then he plays Thought Hemorrhage, with R left.
Now I know that if he plays the Ricochet I am just dead, because the Remand is going to be redirected to his trap and I won’t even have the chance to draw anything (I suppose “dead” is not entirely true, since I won’t be killed, but my chances of killing him with Valakut before monsters get me are no very high). I hope that he doesn’t really know how I works and thinks that he shouldn’t Trap it since I will “just reuse my Remand after it comes back to hand”, and he ends up not Trapping it, so I just kill him next turn.
If we assume that he knew how the interaction worked, then I think he made a mistake and should have gone for it. The only card that really punishes him for it is Muddle, but at this point I don’t think he even knew I had that in my deck, and with Remand he just gives me a lot more draws to find what I need, and Trap doesn’t do anything against Command anyway because I can choose two targets, so he definitely doesn’t want to give me more turns to find it (or to kill him, as happened).
Also worth noting, in this match it’s sometimes correct to just sacrifice your Elders mainphase, as to prevent Demonic Dread from being played.
Round 8: Tribal Flames Zoo
This match was against fellow Channelfireballer Zaiem.
Game one he started somewhat quick, with Nacatl, Bob and Tribal Flames, and as early as turn four I had my back to the wall, but I did have three Cryptics, so all I needed was to find Scapeshift and I would kill him. I fogged three times, played another draw spell, and then died =/
-1 Into the Roil
-2 Wood Elves
-2… you got me. I don’t remember. I know I had the Negate, because I played it game two, and if I had Negate I definitely had Muddles, because they are better, so I don’t know what I didn’t have. The reason I kept those was that I knew he had a bunch of Negates, from a previous match, and also Tribal Flames which are decent to counter.
Game two was somewhat tricky – he applies some pressure, but not much, and we get to a turn where I need to find Scapeshift. He plays a Meddling Mage, names Scapeshift, and passes. I Bolt it at the end of the turn, and he plays Negate. He knows that I have Negate in my own hand, from Peer, so he should just have let my Bolt resolve – if he does that, he robs me of two mana next turn, when I will probably need them more. The way he played, I still had 2 left to play Peer at the end of his turn, which found Scapeshift, but could have found a Ponder, for example, and that Ponder a Peer, and then I wouldn’t have the mana to play all that plus Scapeshift PLUS Negate on my own turn, so he basically let me spend my mana when I wasn’t going to use it for anything else. I also have more outs to Mage in my deck than to Negate, so it could have happened that I just had another Bolt or a Repeal for his Mage anyway, for example. As it was, my Peer found Scapeshift instantly, so there wasn’t anything he could have done.
Game three he mulligans to five, and I pump a mental fist. He starts with Wild Nacatl out of Breeding Pool, and the way he acts makes me think he has no more land. I start with Forest, Search for Tomorrow. On his turn two, he draws, plays a land, sacs it and thinks. He ends up getting a Blood Crypt and playing Dark Confidant. On my turn I untap and my hand is Remand, Repeal, Firespout, Stomping Grounds, Breeding Pool, something else, and I have a choice – I can either play an untapped land or not.
The big plus of playing an untapped land is that I can Remand anything he plays. The worst part of that is that I will probably take not two but four, since I will have to play the Stomping Grounds untapped for Firespout (I want to fetch an Island with Search). In the end, I think that there is not really anything that threatens me other than Meddling Mage that I would want to Remand, and Meddling Mage is pretty unlikely – if he had Meddling Mage, chances are he would have fetched Godless Shrine to play the Dark Confidant, not Blood Crypt. Even if he has the Mage, he has to draw a land to play it (assuming I am correct in my assumption he has no lands). Of course, he does have a Dark Confidant out, so he might draw both the land and the Mage, and in that case I will wish I had played the Breeding Pool, but even if he does draw the Mage, there is always the chance that he will name Search for Tomorrow, and not Firespout. EVEN if he does draw both AND names Firespout, I am still not dead, as I have a Repeal and there are good cards I can draw. So I decide that I would rather keep the four life, and play a tapped land and pass.
He attacks, plays a Kird Ape (uff) and passes, and I realize that I made a pretty bad mistake and played a tapped Breeding Pool, and not Stomping Grounds. Now I have another decision to make – do I Search for Mountain to take no damage or do I take two to get an Island? My original plan was to take no damage, but now the choice is two or Island, and I think Island is better – I do have a bunch of Cryptics in my deck after all, and since I did not use my Remand, I want to be able to Repeal + Remand whatever he plays the following turn, and for that I need two Islands. I take two, get Island and Firespout, and he plays Loam Lion, which is not nearly threatening enough to kill me before I find a Scapeshift.
Round 9: Scapeshift
My opponent this round was my friend, and he was playing the exact same list I was (or something very close; he had Muddles too) with a few differences in his board (for the better).
Game one neither of us does anything, while I keep drawing land after land – at some point, my hand is a Remand and nothing else. He doesn’t know that, though, so he can’t really go for it. I play a Boseiju and he says “man that is a good card to draw in this match”, and on his turn untaps and plays his freshly drawn Boseiju (obv obv), which doesn’t really matter because I did not have a Scapeshift or a way to stop him. At the end of one of his turns, I Repeal my Wood Elves, then I replay it and he Remands it, and I have a choice – I can play a tapped or untapped dual. He has 7 lands, and I am at 19 life and have 5 untapped. If I play an untapped land, I go to 17, which means he doesn’t need another land to kill me. If I play it tapped, then it means that I can only counter things twice (I.e. double Remand, or double Muddle), and again he does not know that I don’t have anything, so playing it tapped might cause him to go for I when he wouldn’t if I had 6 mana left. I decide to just hope he does not have an eighth land, and play it tapped. He has it and plays Scapeshift with Muddle and Remand backup, and I die. I am not sure if he would have played it if I had played my land untapped – I think maybe I should have just kept bluffing and tried to give myself time to draw something.
Game two I was pretty frustrated, as I had a bunch of permission and mana but just couldn’t find a Scapeshift for the life of me – again. I kept my Elders for a while, so I could hit him to 18 – I think it is worth it to do that if you don’t need the mana immediately, because two Sakura-Tribe Elder attacks means one less land you need to kill him. Even if I am not actually killing him on 7 lands, the threat to do it is already a good thing. He played Boseiju and I was at 18, and when he got to 7 mana he tapped four lands and played Scapeshift. I let it resolve, he gets 6 Mountains and Valakut, and I bounce one of them with Cryptic with the abilities on the stack, so everything fizzles and I take only three. At this point it is very hard for him to win, but doable, since he has Jace in his deck and I don’t have an immediate way to kill him. My Wood Elves gets him to 6 life, and I have two Valakut in play and enough resources to get to five Mountains, so I need one more to kil him. I draw a Peer, which finds my Into the Roil, which bounces my Wood Elves, which gets a Stomping Ground, which kills him! That was pretty sweet, because the way the game was going, I could not possibly have won – all he needed to do was to wait for another land.
Game three I was a little bit behind because I lacked Blue mana – I had Commands, Remands, Ponders, but couldn’t really play anything because I only had UUU. He has a billion mana and I have a Boseiju, and though I do not have the Scapeshift, untapping with it will let me Command his Scapeshift without fear of a counter war that I cannot realistically win.
At the end of my turn, he Commands my Boseiju, which I allow. Next turn he transmutes Muddle for Peer, and I know he does not have Scapeshift, because there was no way he would do that if he did. I replay my Boseiju and he Commands it, and then does the same next turn. I finally play my Boseiju again, and at the end of my turn he plays a Peer with only 3 mana left (he played a bunch of things on his turn). I have a Cryptic and a Remand (and finally a fourth Island), and he has so many cards and so much mana that I figure I cannot really fight for his Scapeshift, so I decide to fight his Peer and hope he doesn’t draw the Shift manually, because that fight I can actually win – I Command, he Remands and I Remand it back. He does not draw the Scapeshift, and I do, and win next turn.
I think my play that turn was pretty decent – it might be tempting to just wait to see if he finds Scapeshift and try to counter that, but if he does find it, it is very unlikely that I can stop him, so I had to just hope he wouldn’t and do everything in my power to prevent that. After the match, I asked Web, who had been watching for some time, if I had played that correctly, because the game was pretty complex from my point of view, and he said I should have fetched an Island with Search for Tomorrow. I don’t remember actually fetching a Forest, but another guy who was watching said I did that too, so I probably did, and it was pretty stupid – I did almost lose the game for multiple turns because I didn’t have enough Blue mana.
So, I had finished day 1 at 8-1, which was sweet, especially after losing my first round. We went to eat in some place close by, where I had a Mushroom and Swiss burger (can never really go wrong with Mushroom & Swiss). After that, most of the Brazilians went to a bar, but I just collapsed into bed, having been in the travel + tournament routine for pretty much two days.
Round 10: Dark Depths
This was covered by GGslive, though I have no idea where it can be seen. As any self-respecting egocentric and narcissistic person I tried to find it to see what was being said about me, but didn’t succeed.
Game one he threatened an early Hexmage + Dark Depths, but by then I had five mana already, and could transmute Muddle for the Into the Roil. Next turn he went for it, and I had drawn a Repeal. I decide to Repeal (on his upkeep) instead of Roil, and then draw another [card]Repeal[/card] next turn. He makes another 20/20, and I again have a bounce spell. He Muddles, and I have another one. He has wasted all his resources at this point, and I get him with Scapeshift pretty quickly.
Game two was pretty weird – I remember that we traded some spells and then it got to a point where I was dead next turn, and he was at 19 and had a Ghost Quarter. I have 7 lands in play, one of which is a Valakut, the other is a Mountain, the other a Red dual and 4 non Red sources, and I have another Red Dual in my hand, so there are 6 left in my deck.
I think for a bit and decide to play a land and Scapeshift. He Ghost Quarters my Valakut in response, and I get a basic. Then I sac six lands, deal 18 and die. My hope when I did that was that he would either a) just scoop to Scapeshift b) not Ghost Quarter my Valakut c) not realize he was at more than 18.
Now, a lot of people came to talk to me about how much of an idiot I am, that I should have just held my land and played it after Scapeshift to deal the remaining three. I agree that this would have been a better play, but this also loses to his Ghost Quarter – all he has to do is wait for the Scapeshift to resolve and then Ghost Quarter one of the Mountains, and since there is no Mountain left in my deck, I will not kill him. So, it doesn’t matter the way I play, if he plays correctly I cannot possibly win this game.
I do think, though, that it is much more likely that he does not know that, and tries to get my Valakut even if I do not play another land, so I should have played this way because it gives him more room to make a mistake. So, in short, I agree with everyone who said I was an idiot and missplayed, but it is not like I missed an in-play kill or anything like that – both plays require him to make a mistake, but I will concede that the line I chose was much less likely to work.
Game three started very well – he mulliganed and I went land go. Then he went Mox, Mox, Thopter Foundry. I went land, Repeal, Repeal. Next turn he played Mox, Mox, Sword of the Meek, and had no cards left in his hand. His next draw is a Bob, and I can’t do anything about that. He finds a third land, makes a bunch of tokens, I Peer into 5 lands and then fail to draw a sixth land to play my Oona ever, until I am eventually overran by his tokens after drawing like a second Oona, a Negate, a Peer, etc. In the last turn, I could have drawn Scapeshift to kill him, but didn’t and died.
Round 11: UB Ninjas (or something like that)
This was a feature match, though my name is misspelled! The games were covered, so I will not go much in depth about them except for a couple of points:
In game one, I played Scapeshift to deal 18 damage, though he was at 19. I had a Wood Elves in play and Cryptic Command in hand, though, and even though he had a Mutavault it was only his fourth land, so I know he is dead no matter what (I attack with Elf, if he animates to block, he, can’t Cryptic my Cryptic, nor Snare, nor Leak, nor Stutter it, so I just bounce back my land and replay it to deal the last three). Even if he somehow does not die to that, then any Red land, fetch or land searcher kills him.
For game two (after having played Bob, Vendilion Clique and Mutavault), he got some Faeries tokens out and said “I guess the secret is out now anyway”, or something at the kind. I jokingly say “well, either that or you took out the Bitterblossoms, and want to trick me into thinking you’ll have them”, and don’t really mind it. It turned out he did not even have Bitterblossom in his deck.
Soo, why am I even mentioning that? Well, it seems to me that he wants to trick me into thinking he is playing Faeries when he is not. However, based on the cards he played game one, I already thought he played Faeries – I needed no more convincing, so what he did could not have accomplished much other than making me a little suspicious. Lets say, though, that I was not sure he was playing Faeries, and his tokens convince me – what are the implications of that? I am not going to play around Bitterblossom (what can I do?), and I am certainly not going to side in something like Naturalize – if I think he is Faeries, the one card I will play around is Spellstutter Sprite, which he does have! So, if his ruse was to actually change my way of playing against him because of a misconception, it would have been for the worse for him, since I would start to play against a card that is in his deck!
Not to say I do not see the merits of what he did, but it seems to me that this was really not the match for that.
Game two at some point, after he hits me with a Ninja and has some other things, I do not block a Vault, and he makes that another Ninja, tapping out. I then decide to sac my Tribe Elder, because I have a Ponder in my hand and that will bring me to 7 lands in my turn, so I can try to find Oona and play it. I looked somewhat stupid not blocking and then saccing it EOT, but I think it was the right decision – what he did on his turn changed the game state to a point where I decided it was better to risk it that turn, because it didn’t look like I was going to win if I let him untap with that board, even if I had an Elder to block once (whereas, before the second Ninja, the Elder would be good enough as a blocker to make up for the lost turn I think). It worked, and I did Ponder into Oona, but he played Gatekeeper and I died. After that oversight, I swapped my Searches for the boarded Wood Elves, to protect against Gatekeeper, and also kept in mind not to sac my Sakuras if I didn’t have to. I also boarded in the Bolts, to go with the Dead/Gones, and took out the Muddles.
Game three none of us had a really good draw, but when the games go long, I don’t really need to draw much to win, just a Scapeshift, and that eventually happened before he did anything. It was interesting this game that he played [card]Extirpate[/card] on my Search for Tomorrow and did not remove the one that was left on my deck – definitely a good play from his part, since it would have been a bad draw at that point.
Round 12: Dark Depths
Game one my opponent didn’t do anything and died.
Game two it started fine – he had a Chalice for one but I had a Boseiju, so that meant the moment I drew Scapeshift he would be dead. I had a Command, so that meant he would have to combo twice with the 20/20 to kill me, since he couldn’t Thoughtseize or Muddle it. He had a Jace though, and Foundry and Sword in his graveyard, with Academy Ruins in play, so I didn’t have much time. At some point he played Compulsive Research and discarded a Thoughtseize and something else, and then he played Hexmage to go with his Dark Depths. I decided it was time to make a move – no use trying to just Command his token and die to his other cards. I have dug through a reasonable portion of my deck, and many cards draw cards, so I have a reasonable chance of finding Scapeshift. I bounce his Chalice at the end of the turn (so I can play Ponder if I draw it), and draw into Into the Roil + land. I can cycle Into the Roil and hope to draw Scapeshift, but it that doesn’t’ work I’m going to die to the 20/20, so I just pass. He makes his Marit Lage and I bounce it, drawing into Scapeshift (frown), so I just have to hope he doesn’t have Thoughtseize – or basically doesn’t draw into it, because I am sure he would have discarded it for the Research the turn before. He draws, Jaces and replays the Chalice for 1, so I know I am home.
I think if my opponent had been using the +2 ability on Jace, that would have been a little bit better for him – as it stood, he couldn’t really have been looking to Brainstorm into a lot, since I had Boseiju and he had Chalice, and he already had access to the Thopter/Sword combo as a kill.
Round 13: UR
This was another featured match, and again Dama #$%^&*
We split the first two games, and third game I am on the play and mulligan into Forest, STE, STE, 3 decent spells. I think for a long time and decide to ship it – on the draw I would have kept, but I think this is just too much even for this deck – if I don’t draw a land right off I am probably dead, because he has cards such as Jace, Mana Leak and Spell Snare in his deck. Certainly not an easy decision, and I couldn’t fault you for keeping.
As it was, I mulliganed into the much better hand of 3 lands, Search for Tomorrow and Remand. He is a little short on lands, but has a Vendilion to apply some pressure. The key point of the game happens when he has 3 lands, Mox and the Clique and I have 8 lands, Command and Repeal in hand, but only triple Blue. I decide that it is better to try to go for it now than to wait for another turn, because if he plays a land than my Repeal is no longer a threat, and I don’t know if he has Bolts left in his deck or not, so I Repeal his Mox. He thinks for some time and plays Cryptic Command on the Repeal, denying me the card. I think a lot of people would have just let it resolve, but his play was definitely correct – again, you have to pick your battles. He could not have done anything to prevent me from playing Scapeshift, so he is doing the only thing he can, which is to give me one less card to find it, in case I don’t have it already. I draw into a [card]Ponder[/card], and that finds Scapeshift obvobv.
Round 14: I got paired against Shuhei this round. He looked at the standings, and then concluded he could scoop. Wee!
Round 15: ID
Soo, I had made it. I was pretty glad that my rushed decision to go had worked out, despite all the minor problems I had to get there.
Top 8: Boom/Bust Zoo
Feature Match (this time Damo :D)
I was happy about my match – I had not played many games against this, but I thought it was a decent matchup. He has a little more disruption, but is much slower, and I can generally handle the disruption if I have enough time. I’d also much rather my opponents to play Blood Moon than Negates.
Game one was pretty standard – I thought I had a decent shot, but then at some point he played Bloodbraid and cascaded into Blood Moon, and I couldn’t handle both the faster clock and the disruption, so I died.
Game two I have a hand of
and another card, and I keep in a heartbeat – generally Ponder is as good as a land, and double Ponder will definitely get me there. Even if I have to spend my second turn Pondering too, I have Firespout to recover if he starts too fast, so I’m game.
I start with Ponder, and miss. He plays land, go. I play another Ponder on turn two, and again miss (that’s already 9 cards deep), though I find another Ponder and a Bolt. He plays nothing on turn two, and I do not draw a second land, but I Ponder into a fetchland. On his turn, he plays Boom/Bust. I sac my fetch and draw a second land, and he has another Boom/Bust. I Remand it, but he has a fourth land, and replays it. Then next turn he plays another one, and I do no find more lands and die.
This game was super frustrating – I had 17 cards and could not find two lands. My opponent saw that I missed my second land drop, and declined to play one of his Boom/Busts on turn two because he wanted to get value from it with a fetch, but that is clearly bad – if I happen to draw a land that turn, then I get Sakura and Remand on, and both those cards are going to be very disruptive to his game plan. Had he played the LD spell, I would have passed without playing a land that turn too, because I wouldn’t have had the mana to Ponder. Buuut it was not to be, and I yet again exited in the quarters. My opponent kept saying “good match” afterwards, which made me want to use my newfound Poison knowledge on him, but after a bit I cooled off and understood his side (though I must say a meteor would have to fall on the table and kill us both for this game to be any worse from my point of view) .
Leaving in the Top 8 made me feel a bit disappointed this time – I guess I have finally came to the point where I want more. Not to say that “Top 8s are beyond me now” or anything like that, but in all my Top 8s, as frustrating as my games were, I was never really sad – I felt a sense of accomplishment even if I lost. I understand the old “you have to want to win” talk, but you can’t simply will yourself to have those feelings, and I am sure the great majority of the people who say “I came to win” would happily accept Top 8 in the beginning of the tournament (I know I would, even today – It’s not like Top 8 is bad by any means).
This time, though, something was missing – I really wanted more than I got. Perhaps this means I was not really putting my heart into it? We’ll see from now on I guess!
Thanks for reading, and see you next week!