Today I drove an hour into the Middle of Nowhere, Frederick, Maryland, in the pursuit of an invite to the StarCityGames Invitational here next weekend. I played the 75 from my last post. Brian Wagaman designed the deck in its original form; he built it after concluding that the best thing you can do in Standard at the moment is resolving an Elesh Norn, so he started with a typical Wolf Run White shell, jammed four Norns into the thing, and here we are. Nate and Brian played it in two IQs prior to today, and they managed a 2nd, a 6th, and a 9th in those attempts, so I became a believer and spent this week trading very aggressively for allllll the cards. I “accidentally” bought eleven Norns on eBay as well, but I got pretty great value there, so it’s fine.
We didn’t tune the thing very much this week. We wanted to run this 75 this weekend, learn some things, and make the necessary adjustments in the week to come before the Open. I was essentially picking the deck up cold, and after just a few games I had some changes in mind, but first, the report.
Thanks For Playing Games is in an office park in what could be labeled Amish country, except they have office parks. Because it’s so remote, we were hoping that none of the ringers would bother to make the drive, especially since there’s another IQ at Xanadu tomorrow/today/Sunday. They must have all had the same idea, because everyone was there: Alex Majlaton, Jarvis Yu, Ian Shore, Matt Stein, etc. Our group included Brian and myself on the GW Ramp list (tentatively deemed “UB Shoes”), Steve Price on GW Humans, and Brian’s girlfriend’s brother Paul battling with UW Humans. I think we had 28 players for Round One, and I really wanted to dodge playing about a third of them, so I knew it would be rough sailing. Unfortunately, upon checking the pairings, I found myself against AMaj, who I knew was on UW MageBlade.
Round 1 v. UW MageBlade
Not much to see here. I was still figuring things out, Alex is much better than I am, and although both our draws were terrible (I was stuck on 5 lands with 5 Titans in hand for most of the game, and his Delvers never flipped in a million tries), I made a few stupid mistakes that put the first game out of reach. I mulled to five in the second, never did anything relevant, and wished him well.
This matchup is pretty rough. I think the Esper deck is much easier for us, but it’s also much less popular these days, so we have some work to do. This will be a recurring theme throughout the day.
Round 2 v. Esper Delver
My opponent led off with a Gitaxian Probe for U, and I sighed internally, but then he didn’t do anything until a turn three Drogskol Caption, I played a turn four Primeval Titan and turn five Wurmcoil Engine, both of which resolved, and he packed it in. Game two started in interesting fashion. He mulled to six on the play and led off with THREE consecutive Gitaxian Probes the painful way before playing a land and a Delver. On his next turn, he Pondered, after which he tanked pretty hard. I assumed that this meant his top three included at least one land but no ways to flip a Delver and that he was considering shuffling. After a bit, he rearranged and drew a card, then played a land and another Delver. They never flipped before I resolved my second attempt at day of Judgment, but at that point, I think he has to keep that top three, because shuffling there is pretty awful (then again, I think the “3 Probe, zero land” hand isn’t very good, but I can understand keeping it on six). He didn’t take very long to die after that.
Round 3 v. UW Humans
I feel like it’s wrong to call this deck UW, since the blue is there strictly for Moorland Haunt, but I guess it works. Our first two games weren’t real games; we traded mulls to five, and I managed not to show him much of my deck before third game, which was a fantastic marathon. I played Day of Judgment three times, I got back Ratchet Bombs five times with Buried Ruins and Sun Titans, and I cast seven or eight total Titans in this game, and I still fell just short. Both of our draws were really insane, with a game-changer off the top on seemingly every turn, but in the end, he found just enough Fiend Hunters and Oblivion Rings, and his Moorland Haunt combined with Angelic Destinies got me. I felt that I played at a very high level in this match, and I was okay with losing it.
Round 4 v. BW Tokens
My opponent was an older, good-natured gentleman who was having the time of his life in the X-2 bracket. It’s always refreshing to play people like this every once in a while; while it typically means you’re not doing too well yourself, these games are pressure-free and quite fun. In our first game, he made a ton of tokens and got me pretty low on life, and then Elesh Norn happened. After he lost, he chuckled, “That thing’s pretty good!” He then reached for a scrap of paper and wrote “Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite” on it. I thought he might just want to remember the name so he could pick up a few afterwards or something, so we moved on to the next game. I had a pretty slow draw with no ramp, and he got me with a few Lingering Souls. The highlight of this game was his response to my Batterskull after I finally hit five lands: “I can Smight the Monstrous on that token, right?”
For game three, I kept a pretty good one: three lands, Rampant Growth, Solemn Simulacrum, and 2x Elesh Norn. Everything was fine until his third turn, at which point he slammed a Nevermore onto the table and pointed to the scrap of paper – “that guy!”
Except I just played all deez Wurmcoils and got him. But seriously.
Round 5 v. Paul
At this point, Brian was just begging us to ID so we could leave, but I knew that he just wanted to hit a strip club or something, so we played.* Paul’s still trying to figure the game out, so beating him wasn’t too difficult or fun.
~going to bed, finishing later~
*It should be noted that I don’t do strip clubs and thus would not be joining him, in case anyone might think otherwise.