It’s a national holiday, the typhoon has gone, and it is time for me to cast some rituals.
Round 1 - Miracles
I have a feeling he is on either Stoneblade or Miracles so I lead with a Duress. I take a cantrip and pass. He draws and plays a Counterbalance. I play a Lotus Petal and he blind flips a land. Double Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam and I find myself with a lot of Lotus Petals, LEDs and my third Dark Ritual, but no Cabal Rituals. I pass the turn. He plays the fetch he revealed as passes. I’m able to play around Counterbalance and take him out. Game two he chooses to draw and I strip his hand down and get a clean kill.
2-0 and I’m 1-0
Round 2 - Omnitell
Game one he goes Island, Island, Mountain and plays Narset. In response I cast Ad Nauseam and he scoops to my overflowing hand. I’m not entirely sure what he’s on, and side as if he’s playing Miracles. This wasn’t too bad as he was on Omnitell, but Abrupt Decay was there to help fight his Grafdigger’s Cage and Narset. I didn’t need to do that, though, as I was able to cantrip and ritual my way to a natural Tendrils for ten.
Secrets can be power.
2-0 and I’m 2-0.
Round 3 - Miracles
Well, is this Miracles? I guess it was more Jeskai Mentor? No Counterbalance, just lots of those good, good, Blue and White cards with a little Red splash. It wasn’t too different from round 1, although I had to be more careful about my life total when he was hitting me with the monks.
There’s a reason Monastery Mentor is restricted in Vintage.
2-0 and I’m 3-0.
Round 4 - 4C Phoenix
This was a weird one. Game one I’m not able to get a footing and eventually he swings with two Dreadhorde Arcanists with two bolts in his graveyard. Game two I keep him low on resources and find the combo. Game three I made a mistake. I finally have a chance to make a ton of goblins despite Ashiok tearing apart my graveyard. I duress and see his hand of Dark Ritual, Force of Will and Buried Alive. They had four lands. I took Force of Will, made goblins and then lost to them drawing a spell.
There’s always something to learn.
1-2 and I’m 3-1.
Round 5 - UW Stoneblade
As an ANT player, seeing Plains, Islands and cantrips can lead to some concern, but when you Duress them and see a Stoneforge Mystic, you can sigh relief knowing they have as lot more cards that are not very useful against you. I stripped his hand apart both games and cast Ad Nauseam to get clean wins. Well, game two was not clean. I could have just added Red off of my LED and gotten Past in Flames to win. However I did not reconsider the second Cabal Ritual I drew, and while I did not have Threshold when I first cast them, I would have been fine. I was clearly getting tired.
Time for a breather before round six.
2-0 and I’m 4-1.
Round 6 - ANT
Two more rounds to go, and as I wait I finish my water, write some of this report and take some breaths. Some nearby friends are playing Mental Magic, and that was hard nineteen years ago. I can’t imagine playing it now. My phone buzzes with the notification for my table and I walk over to see one of the other ANT players sitting down. He wins the die roll and casts Duress. We trade discard spells back and forth until I have two Cabal Rituals, an Infernal Tutor, a full graveyard and a dream. Game two he plays a fetch and passes. I do the same. He fetches, plays a fetch and casts Duress. I get my trusty Underground Sea, play two Dark Rituals and cast Ad Nauseam. He looks through my pile of cards and scoops.
Sometimes you have to go for it.
2-0 and I’m 5-1.
Round 7 - Karn Forge
I’m a bit nervous now. I have a potential of making top eight. Now, there is no top eight face off, but they do get prizes. Plus deck lists and names posted on the KMC site. I’ve never made top eight of one of these events, and wouldn’t that be cool? I know my opponent is on some MUD variant, but didn’t know it was Karn Forge until game three. Sideboarding didn’t change, though. I win the die roll and Thoughtseize away his Chalice of the Void. Turn two I play Ad Nauseam and win. Game two he mulligans and I think hard about my hand of four lands and cantrips. Yes, he’s going to be going for a Chalice on one, but with enough lands, most of them fetches, if I can find one of my six sideboard pieces and slash or some artifact mana or other spells I might get there. He leads with Chalice, I see nothing but 1 mana spells and he finish me off with a Karn/Lattice lock. Poor choice on my part. Game three I keep a hand with discard and artifact mana. Go time. I make him discard his Chalice. He quickly gets out a Mystic Forge and thinks real hard about the card on top of his deck. He passes the turn and I cast Ad Nauseam. A crowd is starting to gather. I begin to flip. Thoughtseize. LED. LED. Infernal Tutor. Petal. Tropical Island. Island. LED. Lotus Petal. My opponent scoops. A friend behind me pats me on the back.
2-1 and I'm 6-1.
I wander around the site and watch the other matches finishing up. A friend on ANT is having a rough time finding a blue source. He loses. Everyone hands in their slips and they begin to announce the top eight. When they get to three, the announcer asks someone else how to read the name. Must be me. They skip my last name and just call me Eric. I go up and get my prize. A Trinisphere. Going to sell that.
As low-stakes as this event is, it felt great. I played well, got lucky, had fun and feel like my recent hard work paid off. Winning is great, but I genuinely enjoyed my games, even the ones I lost. I felt invigorated about Magic in a way I haven’t in a while.