It’s the last PPTQ of the calendar year. I am not in the mood for Drakes or Golgari. I decide to bring Chromatic Black. I have been goofing around with the deck online and at Friday Night Magic, and it has been fun. Plus someone actually brought it to Worlds? So hey, why not have some fun.
Round 1 - Boros Aggro
A quick 0-2 remindered me why I shouldn’t have registered this. Game one was somewhat interesting as I lead with a Thaumatic Compass, quickly get lands and draw... More lands. I was able to blow up the board once, fight off with two fake Maze of Iths but mana flood into extinction. Game two was a mulligan for Boros and a decent keep for me. Alas, their six was better. Legion’s Landing, Adanto Vanguard, Legion Warboss. I wipe. He pays four life. Next turn for him is Heroic Reinforcements and then an Ajani the next turn. Could it be any more perfect? I wish him luck, and he laughs. The last time we were both at this store we played each other first round. But he got me this time. I’m 0-1.
Round 2 - Golgari
Six rounds today. If I get home before 8pm I can play a Sealed MCQ on Magic Online. I decide to focus on doing something fun today before I drop. So I did that game one with a quick Josu Vess and my opponent doing lots of math to see how I could not kill him the next turn. Game two he embarrassed me with double Duress after I took a mulligan. Losing my Treasure Map and Ritual of Soot was game over. Game three opened like two. Mulligan and he casts Duress. My hopes dropped as I kept casting things he used Assassin’s Trophy on. But I had two Cabal Strongholds so I needed to draw my Masterminds. Then I did. Two. Belzenlok and Josu took the round 2-1 and I’m 1-1.
Round 3 - Izzet Drakes
Spirits higher, I see my opponent is the person who sat next to me round two. But he watched my game end, so we both knew what the other was playing. I shuffled up and he went down to five cards. I kept a slow hand but lots of removal with The Eldest Reborn to clean up. Game two was a long back and forth where the fake Maze of Ith kept me alive long enough to finally Banefire for 29. 2-0 and I’m 2-1.
Round 4 - Treasure Red
Game one it’s a Karn on Karn battle. He has more Karns, though. His Constructs soon overpower me as I’m looking for a Ritual of Soot. He Banefires me for one to end the game. This is important. Remember this. Game two I flip two Treasure Maps early. I untap and look at a his board with Karn, a Construct and a Rekindling Phoenix. I count my mana twice. He urges me to speed up. I cast Mastermind from a Cabal Stronghold to get Zacama. Cast Zacama, blow the shit out of his Phoenix and its elemental. He draws and scoops. Game three he’s flips a Treasure Map early. I have a Compass and am trying to assemble lands. He plays a Chainwhirler into a Legion Warboss. I Ritual of Soot and pass. He drops Karn, makes a Construct and drops the Snapcaster Pirate. I topdeck land six and stare at the board. I’m at thirteen. I have my other Ritual of Soot, a Mastermind’s Aquisition and Belzenlok. What would you do? I play Belzenlok, go down to twelve, losing a Cabal Stronghold and gain a Duress. He untaps and swings. I write down six. He casts Banefire. Fuck. Why was I worried about losing Belzenlok? Now, I didn’t know his hand. Had I cast Rain of Soot, I would have drawn the Cabal Stronghold. Then Belzenlok, get Duress and toss away his Banefire. Not that I knew it could have gone that way. Either way, I sped through that turn too fast and didn’t consider my opponent’s cards. Something I have to pay more attention to. 1-2 to be 2-2.
Round 5 - Boros Angels
Turn two Adanto Vanguard from him and I know I’m in trouble. Lucky for me I’m able to stay alive long enough to kick Josu Vess. His paying four life to keep his Vanguard alive through a Ritual of Soot let my Zombie Knights deal exact. Game two I mulligan away garbage and open a few lands and a Treasure Map. He plays an Adanto Vanguard, and then Resplendent Angel. The icing on the cake was an Ixalan’s Binding on my Treasure Map. It wouldn’t have helped as he smashed my face in.
Then there was game three. He goes land. Land. Land, History of Benalia. History of Benalia. History of Benalia. I flip my Treasure Map and kill two knights with two Moment of Cravings. I have two Vraska’s Contempts in hand, but I am in trouble if something big happens. He swings for twelve when the second History of Benalia pops. I top deck a Ritual of Soot to clean the board. He plays a Rekindling Phoenix. I scry with Treasure Map to flip and want a land but see a third Vraska’s Contempt. This was a game of multiples. I Contempt his Phoneix. He plays Rekindling Phoneix into Lyra and I thank the world that I did not scry that third Contempt to the bottom. He drops two Resplendent Angels and I respond with a Josu Vess. He swings at me, pumps the Angel I didn’t target with Fake Maze of Ith and he puts two Angel tokens into play. He’s at twenty five. I uptap and count my lands and treasure tokens in my head. I swing. He decides to block a Zombie instead of Josu. He goes down to seven. I activate Cabal Stronghold, cast Mastermind’s Aquisition and grab my sideboard. Tap out and Banefire for nine. Wouldn’t have matter if he blocked Josu or not. He extends his hand. 2-1 and I’m 3-2.
Round 6- Golgari
I’m eleventh place. My tie breakers don’t look great. Playing for points. That’s fine. Let’s have some fun. Game one I’m on the play and mulligan down to a decent six. Unfortunately he gets going and my removal can’t keep up. I die short of flipping a Compass. Game two is another mulligan to a keep I’m not as happy with but feel pretty decent against Golgari. But he’s got Duress on turn one. He takes my Chromatic Lantern and I start working on a Treasure Map I had scried to the top. Although I have plenty of removal, he’s got plenty of planeswalkers. Karn, Vivian, Carnage Tyrant. I drop a Karn of my own before he plays Vivian and minus for a token. Vivian kills the token. I play yet another Karn and get out a token. Then here comes the Carnage Tyrant. I make another token to have six artifacts out. Vivian is too low to kill another token, so I swing into Karn to kill it. Now, was this a misplay? I had a Duress. Should I have done it first? He had another Vivian, and Carnage Tyrant. Plus Vraska’s Contempt, The Eldest Reborn, Find//Finality and a Chupacabra. I take The Eldest Reborn. Karn’s dead, but my tokens are going to die. He plusses Vivian to find a Plaguecrafter, my one token dies. He Contempts the other and slams into Karn. I play my third Karn, make a token and wait to die. He kills Karn. and plays the other Carnage Tyrant. I Vraska’s Contempt Vivian. He swings in for 14 and I’m at eight. I topdeck my fourth Karn, play it with mana floating from a Cabal Stonghold, plus Karn, praying for a miracle. (Double Masterminds? I had enough treasure tokens to make this happen. I did get doubles, though. Swamps. I laugh, he laughs, some people watching the game laugh. I sign the slip. A quick 0-2 to end 3-3.
As I leave I see the guy who beat me round one relaxing outside. He drew into top eight. I wish him luck and hop on the subway. I grab a Big Magic coupon out of my Modern deckbox from MMM The Finals two weeks ago. I then sigh when I see a sign saying Big Magic won’t open again until January third. I run over to Dragonstar and take a quick look at the Green and Blue binders. The Xantid Swarm and Chain of Vapors I needed for Storm are on page two each time. I message the group chat I’m in and they say there’s a Legacy tournament at Hareruya tomorrow. I’ve got my plans.
What did I learn? I can get lucky even when my opponent gets lucky. Three History of Benalias back to back to back? I cannot believe I pulled that out. When a friend asked him how the game went he said he lost, but it was a good game. Even if I hadn’t pulled it out in the end, I don’t think I could have been mad that game. It was swingy and fun. I ended on a bummer of a note, but we can’t have them all.
What did I learn? I need to take a brief moment at the start of each turn and think a little. Now, when I did this to do the math for Zacama, my opponent made a comment about how I should speed up. I let this get to me. I may have taken a little too long that time, but that doesn’t mean I take no time. As soon as I wrote down six on the lifepad I realized a Banefire was coming at my head. A second too late, but at least I realized it? Either way, a 3-3 with what I would hardly call a top tier deck doesn’t feel that bad. I had a good time.