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Author Topic: Waterbury Report: 17th Place in Main Event.  (Read 6780 times)
Demonic Attorney
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« on: January 17, 2005, 04:47:57 pm »

Hello everyone,

Most of you probably don’t know me, and I’ll bet that even fewer of you recognize this screen name.  So, I’d like to take a moment to rebut the presumption that I am a scrub basic user, an assumption that seems to follow from the status of anonymity in the minds of a few posters here.  Yes, my report is entitled “Waterbury Report: 17th place”.  Yes, this means I failed to make the cut into the top 16.  And yes, I have not yet earned the distinction of “Full User” on the forums.  Though I do not attend tournaments often, I do well more often than not when I do.  I think that others can benefit from, or at least be entertained by, the lessons I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had over this past fateful weekend, if they would bother to read the report of an unsuccessful Basic User.  And so, for those of you who will deign to read on, I give you the story of my Waterbury Tournament experience.

The trip there turned out to be its own story, with Mike driving myself and Rich to Waterbury, and missing the exit to the Mass. Turnpike and needing to get off and back onto the highway going in the other direction.  We chose the next exit to do this, and that’s where we hit a little snag.  Well, actually it wasn’t as much of a snag as it was a guardrail.  The on ramp had come up on us rather quickly and Mike had to jam on the brakes and swerve to make the turn…well, almost make the turn.  My first inkling that things were going to go badly came when I felt the wheels on the car lock as we headed right for the median.  I had only a second to fall over in the backseat into the fetal position and shield my head from hitting against any of the doors as the car convulsed back and forth, with the guardrail running down the middle of the underside of the vehicle.  We were unharmed, and I got out to survey the extent of the damage.  I noticed that a small pool of liquid was collecting below the car, trickling onto the pavement beside the guardrail which pwned Mike’s car.  The first thought in my mind was that this could be gasoline, and I advised Mike to turn off the engine before we asploded.  Once that danger had passed, we now had to confront our situation.  We were standing on the median of the highway, being gawked at by every slack jawed yokel who drove by, without any means of transportation.  

First let me say, it was cold.  REALLY cold.  Within the first five minutes, my toes had already gone numb, and my fingers were well on their way, despite being inside my gloves.  The municipal police were first on the scene, and were also the first to offer us what would become a wealth of helpful information from law enforcement officials.  The officer on the scene told us that this was state police jurisdiction, and we had to wait for a trooper to arrive.  Ten minutes or so later, the trooper pulled in next to the median and began to lecture Mike on the finer points of not driving into stationary objects.  This was important information for Mike to have, because I’m sure he would otherwise have been unclear about the potential negative consequences that could result from driving recklessly and colliding with guardrails.  So, with that revelation from the helpful state trooper, we continued to wait in the cold.  And wait.  And wait.  During this time, we occupied ourselves by contacting people by phone to inform them we were probably going to be arriving late to the event, and we also called Rich’s parents to ask if they would be so kind as to two cars to the scene of our accident, and drop one off for us to complete the trip.  Thankfully, they agreed and the wait resumed.  Passersby continued to slow their cars down to stare at us for every second possible; one car actually had a passenger who took out a camera and snapped a picture of us.  This infuriated me.  It was bad enough that every driver who passed by gawked out their window at me like an orangutan staring into a kaleidoscope, but these people were going to derive entertainment from my misfortune.  I decided that could not be allowed to stand.  If that trooper had not been there, I may have given the picture taker a souvenir of this fascinating scene by hurling a piece of the debris from the undercarriage of the car at them.  Since the trooper was there, I needed to settle for shouting “Oh, I’m too sexy for my shirt, boys!  Come on back and I’ll give you some more pictures to take!  I’m sure they’ll go well in your nambla photo album!”  Rich decided to vent his frustration by voicing his hope that one of the drivers staring at us would careen off the on ramp and slam into the other guardrail.  I commented we could then entertain ourselves while waiting for the tow truck by staring at them, were this to happen.  It didn’t.  Mike passed the time by periodically asking the trooper when the tow truck was expected.  He dutifully informed Mike of how many minutes late the tow truck was.  I was relieved to find out that the job of keeping track of how long ago the tow truck was supposed to arrive was in the capable hands of the State Police.  Without wasting any more space on these sorts of details, the tow truck and Rich’s parents arrived at approximately the same time, and we were on our way shortly afterwards.  The rest of the trip remained guardrail free, and we arrived at the same time as Eastman.  Reassured that we would not miss registration, we hurried inside and signed up.  Pairings went up almost immediately afterwards, and I hoped for an easy match to give me a chance to warm up.  However, this was not to be—my first round opponent was Kevin Cron.  

Round 1           Kevin Cron, “CHA1N5”—Meandeck Tendrils

Game 1:  He wins the roll, and elects to go first.  My hand has underground sea, mox sapphire, thirst for knowledge, and some other cards which seemed promising at the time but proved to be completely irrelevant.  My memory of the exact details is hazy, but suffice to say the tournament itself got off to as auspicious a start the trip there, with my opponent managing a turn one kill.  I think his first play was a land grant, revealing night’s whisper, multiple dark rituals, a chromatic sphere, and a slight of hand.  Well, he got a chain of rituals going and played a few draw spells, eventually leaving the storm count at eight and two cards in his hand, with him at 18 life from his night’s whisper.  He used 1 of his remaining 5 black mana to play spoils of the vault, naming tendrils.  I had seen this coming from the land grant, but was powerless to stop it since my hand lacked force of will and I had made the mistake of assuming I would have the one turn I would have needed to get drain mana online.  When spoils had revealed 10 cards, I began to think that that maybe this combo deck would self-destruct before finding the kill spell, but that hope quickly vanished as Tendrils appeared as card number twelve.  I had lost the first game of Waterbury, on the first turn.  Things are not looking good.

However, this is where many hours of painstaking preparation came into play.  I have never been comfortable in the Slaver vs. Combo matchup.  In fact, at this point in my time in the Vintage tournament circuit, I don’t think I had ever won a match against combo.  It was for exactly this reason that I had spent nearly all of my preparation time testing against deathlong, and other forms of combo.  Until this point, my strategy against combo decks had been to stop their draw spells until they spent one turn without doing anything, and then to try to go off myself before they got the chance.  However, this game plan seldom worked, so in the weeks before the event, I thought about how Slaver players who beat combo had approached the game, and what they did differently.  I eventually decided, and testing confirmed, that the way for Slaver to beat combo was to play entirely defensively.  Don’t try to go for Tinker, next turn Slave.  Don’t try to set up an enormous Yawg Will turn.  Devote all your resources to stopping their key spells, and finding combo hate cards to pin them down long enough that their deck collapses on itself.  
I had arrived at the conclusion that arcane laboratory and chalice of the void were the most efficient means of implementing this new strategy.  Chalice could come down fairly quickly and eliminate a considerable portion of the spells in most combo decks that they need to build storm counts, and arcane laboratory simply stops storm counts from ever building, while also avoiding most of the removal spells combo decks side in against combo hate.  So, still reeling from my resounding defeat in game one, I went with the following sideboard plan:

-1 Goblin Welder, -1 Fact or Fiction, -1 Darksteel Citadel, -1 Pentavus, -1 Triskelion
+2 Arcane Laboratory, +2 Chalice of the Void, +1 Duress

Game 2:   If anything was going to restore my confidence after the last game, it was my opening hand in this game.  It consisted of Mana Drain, Underground Sea, Island, Mana Crypt, Force of Will, Arcane Laboratory, Brainstorm and I was on the play.  Eager to put my new anti-combo measures to the test, I quickly played Sea, Crypt, Arcane Laboratory.  Seemingly unfazed, CH4IN5 allowed it to resolve and proceeded to his own turn.  He played land grant, revealing what I remember to be a hand featuring necropotence, mox emerald, and other assorted components of the infamous combo deck that would quickly become familiar to other players who made it an object of close scrutiny.  Unable to follow land grant with any other spells, he passed the turn, and I dropped a second land after drawing Duress.  Content to leave mana drain mana open to stop any bounce spells, I passed the turn, wanting to use the duress when I could replay the lab if CH4IN5 bounced it on my turn.  For his part, my opponent continued to build up his mana base over the course of the next few turns, with me drawing another force, a few more lands, and taking chain of vapor with the duress when it was played.  Eventually, I drew a second arcane laboratory and my opponent conceded, as time was beginning to run out at this point.

Game 3:   Still nervous with respect to my chances in this matchup since my last hand was unusually strong, and wary of the result in this game being the same as the last game in which CH4IN5 went first, I mentally resolved to mulligan aggressively to find force of will or a hand that could put combo hate or counter magic online on turn one.  As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary.  My hand contained force of will, land, 2 mana drains, a brainstorm, and some other irrelevant cards.  Team Meandeck’s representative opened with land grant, revealing a hand full of 1-drops, including 3 slight of hand.  Secure in the knowledge that I would not be losing 20 life before taking a turn, I force of willed the land grant, hoping to lock CHAIN5 out of the game long enough to establish a counter base.  On my turn I dropped an island and passed, only to have my opponent draw one of what I later learned were three lands in his deck, and play slight of hand off what I think was an underground sea, but could have been a tropical island.  He spent a good deal of time deciding which of the two cards he wanted to bring into his hand, and then passed the turn once that was done.  I took my turn, drawing another land and playing my second blue producer, getting mana drain mana online.  Passing the turn again, I prepared to counter an explosive threat from the combo deck that numerous passersby stopped to observe.  Fortunately, only another slight of hand was cast, and I allowed it to resolve.  I played brainstorm at the end of my opponent’s turn, finding a mox, a force of will, and a mana drain.  Beautiful.  I think I put back a mindslaver and welder, and dropped the land and the mox on my turn, playing arcane laboratory with one blue open, since CH4IN5 was not in a position to play bounce at the end of my turn, and I could force on his turn.  He spent the next few turns setting up his mana base, one component at a time, while I spent those turns establishing a hand full of counter magic.           However, time was now very short and it became doubtful that I would be able to finish the game off within the allotted time frame.  My turns had been relatively quick, but my opponent had been taking quite a while to decide what to play, and which cards to take from his brainstorms and slights of hand.  I feared I might be being slow played into a draw and considered exhorting my opponent to play faster, but I realized that his was a complicated deck to play, and ended up deciding to give him the benefit of the doubt.  It turned out to be the right decision, since he eventually conceded game three.  I hope that this experience is a lesson to whomever reads this report, as it certainly was to me—not everyone is looking for the cheap way to victory through the back door, and most players are entitled to the benefit of the doubt, because most players approach the game with an admirably sportsmanlike attitude.  CH4IN5 is certainly one of those people.

Matches:  1-0-0, Games 2-1-0

I found my testing partners Mike Lydon and Rich Shay, and informed them of my victory.  They received the news with a good deal of enthusiasm, and then expressed curiosity as to what deck Meandeck was playing.  I said it was a turn one kill deck, and they didn’t believe me.  I told them the story of my first game, and they started to become worried.  I then told them about the remainder of the match, and they weren’t quite so uneasy.  I described Meandeck’s creation as “Belcher without belcher”.  It really was the most appropriate synopsis I could think of at the time.  I advised them to aggressively mulligan to force or extremely early anti-combo cards, and to counter land grant early if no other mana sources are in their land, along with spoils always, as their deck could run out of gas if spoils doesn’t resolve.  However, this was as much insight as I had time to offer, with the next round getting underway.  My opponent:  A second Meandecker, Jacob Orlove.

Round 2   Jacob Orlove, “JacobOrlove”—Meandeck Tendrils

Game 1:   This match turned out to be significantly less competitive than the previous one, with Jacob’s draws not coming together for him.  I won the roll, and kept a hand with force of will, brainstorm, land, a mox, and thirst for knowledge.  I played a land and passed the turn, anxious to see what awaited me from the second incarnation of what would later be dubbed “Meandeck Tendrils”.  At least this time, more alterations had been performed than the addition of brainstorm to warrant the “Meandeck” moniker.  Jacob played land grant, revealing a hand of 1cc spells.  I forced, confident that lightning would not strike twice and my opponent wouldn’t topdeck another land next turn.  At the end of Jacob’s turn, I brainstormed into Tinker and other irrelevant cards.  I took Tinker into my hand and played land, mox, Tinker for Platinum Angel.  Jacob thought for a brief moment and then conceded.  I told him he still had chain of vapor in his deck to deal with Angel (I had seen in this in one of CH4IN5’s land grant hands) but then I remembered Jacob had no mana to play Chain of Vapor.  Fair enough.  On to game 2.

I went with the same boarding plan as before, hoping that the result would be the same.

Game 2:   My hand contained Arcane Labortatory, Mana Crypt, two lands, a mana drain, and other irrelevant cards.  The odds of getting a hand better than this by mulliganing weren’t good; I had a first turn drop of a card that had won me every game in which it had appeared.  Yes, my hand lacked Force of Will but I wasn’t going to gamble on a six card hand that might have one, but not live up to the promise of this one.  Jacob went first, and played a Chrome Mox imprinting Chain of Vapor.  This intrigued me, and I came to the conclusion that CH4IN5 must not have had time to tell Jacob about my sideboard cards since our match had ended so quickly and Jacob was busy judging.  He played brainstorm into three cards he decided on rather quickly and passed the turn.  Feeling victory in my grasp, I drew, and played land, crypt, arcane laboratory.  The odds of Jacob having a second chain in his hand had to have been small; four chain of vapors would clog the deck’s flow, and even three might end up giving them a chain at an inopportune time.  Using this logic, I decided that in a deck with no more than 3 chain of vapors with one already removed from the game, there was precious little chance Jacob could do about my Arcane Laboratory.  I was right.  Jacob drew, looked at his hand, looked at the Arcane Lab, and conceded.  Total match time was approximately 10 minutes.  Time to go to Subway.  Drawing well and eating fresh seemed like a good plan.

Matches: 2-0-0   Games: 4-1-0

After returning from Subway, a few people I’d met at previous events inquired as to how I was doing, and I eagerly shared news of my triumph over what some meandeck members had by this point been advertising as a 70% turn one kill deck that wins through force of will.  I wasn’t sure if that was true or not, but the deck was 0-4 against arcane laboratory, and that was good enough for me.  I shared my knowledge of the basis for Meandeck Tendrils with whoever inquired; as well as those matches had gone for me, I didn’t like playing games that were ultimately decided in the first one to two turns of the game.  I hoped arming other players with knowledge of Meandeck Tendrils’ weakness, as it had appeared to me, would help remove that deck from contention in the later rounds.  As I would later find out, the deck itself did a better job of that than I could have hoped to do, with spoils of the vault often preempting Tendrils of Agony in causing a player to lose 20 life.  In any event, the extended respite came to an end, and I went into round three feeling rejuvenated after having eaten fresh, including those disgusting pepper bits that Subway insists on putting into every meat component in their subs.  “They don’t make the sandwiches, you do”, my ass.  I’d make it without those damn peppers.  

Round 3   Jason Ortiz, TMD alias unknown—Landstill(?)

Game 1:   I didn’t recognize my opponent, a friendly and well-spoken gentleman of what looked to be college age, so I asked if he “was on the mana drain” hoping to find out in advance if I had to play another version of that stupid combo matchup.  He said no, and I breathed a sigh of relief, finally having the opportunity to play a game of Magic that wasn’t entirely decided by the opening hand I drew.  I think I won the roll, and went first.  I took perhaps too leisurely of a pace this game, grateful for the chance to hang back and build up an advantage before surging forward for dominance.  During this time, Jason played Tundra, Island, and Mishra’s Factory.  He went on the attack for a few turns, while I played Thirst for Knowledges and Brainstorms at the end of his turns and built up a formidable hand of welder, multiple counters, Yawgmoth’s Will, and Tinker, with a graveyard holding mindslaver.  I slaved him once and found Swords to Plowshares in his hand, which replaced the hammer in the hand of his mishra’s factory worker with a sickle.  Having little else to offer in the way of threats, and no counter magic to stop my Yawg Will, I tapped him out and proceeded to go crazy on my turn, setting up a slaver chain that inspired another concession.  I had not yet won a single game due to damage.

Game 2:   I had no idea what Jason was playing, but I had seen a minor amount of countermagic and a wasteland during the previous game.  So, I boarded in one duress and took out a Triskelion, which isn’t particularly helpful without rival welders to kill.  The second game proceeded in similar fashion to the first, until he resolved a Nevinyrral’s Disk.  Now I had a problem.  I had no welders on the board, and a mox and sol ring in play.  I kept another mox in my hand and eventually forced through a tinker with four mana open for a slaver activation.  At this point, Jason controlled a Fearie Conclave, a Wasteland, a mox, and a Tundra.  I thought he would trigger his own disk at the end of my turn to prevent him from losing all his lands, but he seemed like he didn’t play Vintage regularly and let me go to his turn.  When the dust settled, he had no hand and no permanents.  It actually took me a while from there to establish any sort of appreciable threat, but eventually Platinum Angel went the distance.

Matches: 3-0-0   Games: 6-1-0

At this point, I was feeling very confident.  I had prevailed over two separate incarnations of an extremely volatile combo deck, which had killed more than one other player on turn one.  I stopped for a brief photo opportunity with Team Underground’s own Mixing Mike during the interim between rounds, striking the Randy Orton “Legend Killer” pose.  I thought my tiebreakers would be amazing by now, with two very prominent Vintage players contributing to my Op-Win %.    This assumption later proved to be less sound than I thought at the time.

Round 4   Mike Panas, TMD alias unknown—4CC

Game 1:   I introduced myself and asked Mike the same question I had asked Jason, hoping not to have to play yet another game consisting of comparing whose initial hand was better.  His reply led me to believe he was not a regular user, and therefore not another Meandeck Tendrils player.  I kept a hand against him that afforded me with an early Goblin Welder and a good deal of card draw.  The welder was STP’ed by a Keeper-style deck that seemed suspiciously light on countermagic, but welder #1 was quickly replaced by another.  Triskelion was welded in, only be targeted by another swords to plowshares.  Thankfully, it shot itself once after shooting Mike twice, landing in the graveyard from where it was later welded back in.  After a few more attacks, the three counters finished the job in response to Mike tapping his City of Brass.

I hadn’t planned on facing this matchup at all.  This metagame seems extremely difficult for 4cc or Keeper or whatever you’d like to call it to succeed in.  However, here I was and I wasn’t about to insult someone who had made it through 3 rounds undefeated by not bothering to sideboard against him.  After much deliberation, I boarded out Pentavus for one Duress.

Game 2:   My hand this time around is not quite as good, not having any playable cards outside of a single ancestral that compelled me to keep, hoping against hope that it would resolve.  On Mike’s upkeep it did, but only after his resolved on mine.  Mike had a bunch of counters this time around, stopping many of the threats I played for a while.  I slaved him once, only to find a swords to plowshares in his hand with no targets.  We played the draw-go game that Slaver is so adept at winning, only to have Mike resolve an Engineered Plague, naming Goblins.  Well, that changes the game plan, now doesn’t it?  Over the course of the next several turns, Mike dropped a Gorilla Shaman and destroyed all my artifacts, and I built up counters to force through a hardcast Platinum Angel.  It resolved, but Mike answered right back with a cycled decree of justice for 4.  At this point, his Gorilla Shaman and my fetchlands and forces had taken their toll on me.  I was hovering around 14 life with Mike still comfortably at 19 or 20.  The assault with the Angel was stymied a bit by a second Engineered Plague for Angels.   We traded blows for a while and I managed to push a Triskelion through Mike’s barrier of countermagic.  Unfortunately, this required a Mana Crypt, and my life total was now precariously low.  He attacked with four decree tokens, with me at 3 life, and STP’d my Platinum Angel.  I blocked one attacking token and shot another before damage.  If I survive the flip on crypt, I can attack for the win with the combined damage of combat and Trike’s remaining tokens.  Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.  I lose.

Game 3:   Now it’s time to reevaluate my situation.  I can’t hang back against this deck; he’ll cycle decree for a million and swords my Angel.  So I keep a hand with a single fetchland, a brainstorm, a welder, a thirst, a mox pearl, and a pentavus.  I can drop the welder early, brainstorm into more land, thirst the pentavus into the yard, and hopefully escape with the win before Mike can answer.  It seemed like a fine plan.  Welder resolved, but my land was wastelanded.  Another did not show up.  For the rest of the game.  I successfully welded in Pentavus after discarding it from my hand on my end step, and it got in 10 damage before both it and my welder bit the dust.  I sat there with a hand full of counters and no land while 6 soldier tokens did me in.

Matches: 3-1-0   Games: 7-3-0

Round 5   Sorry, I can’t remember your name—Landstill

Game 1:   Somewhat disheartened after my first loss, I redoubled my resolve to win out and get into the top 16 which by now seemed like it would be very slaver heavy.  My opponent laid an early standstill and followed it with a Mishra’s Factory.  I built up and played Thirst during his end step, adding 3 cards to his seven card hand.  He pitched three spells and I went to my turn, forcing in a welder and welding a slaver from the thirst.  His hand wasn’t particularly good, and by the time I was done, it was even worse.  Soon Yawgmoth’s Will made an appearance and the outcome of the game should be pretty clear after that.

Game 2:   I observed my opponent sideboarding a large amout of cards against me before game 2 and I decided to board in 2 Echoing Truths myself, as an insurance policy.  It turned out to be a very solid decision on my part.  Game 2 followed much the same trajectory as the first, but my hand was exceptionally strong.  I broke a standstill on his end step, placing only 7 or 8 cards in his hand so I could force through a Tinker on my turn, retrieving a Pentavus which met with Swords to Plowshares.  Then, his sideboard cards began to make an appearance.  Chalice for 1 and Chalice for 3.   Though I had countermagic, I allowed them both to hit, looking confidently at the two echoing truths in my hand.  When the time was right, his Chalices were bounced and Yawgmoth’s Will again did its thing.  Platinum Angel went the distance.

Matches: 4-1-0   Games: 9-3-0

Round 6   Nate, “Nasty Nate”—Workshop Aggro

Game 1:   I am on the play and keep a land heavy hand with Ancestral.  Ancestral hits on his upkeep off an island played on turn one, in case Wastelands made an appearance.  I drew three more land off Ancestral.  This isn’t good.  He takes his turn and plays Mishra’s Workshop, Trinisphere.  I decide those three lands aren’t looking so bad, after all.  I play a Volcanic and pass.  He plays Wasteland, strips and passes.  I play island and pass.  He plays Strip Mine and strips, pass.  I play Underground Sea.  He plays Wasteland, strips, and passes.  I drop a fetchland.  He drops a City of Brass.  Eventually I get welder in through Trinisphere and follow that with a Tinker.  Since his hand is still rather large, I slave him to find Crucible and two welders among assorted lands.  Conveniently, Triskelion makes an appearance before his welders can become abusive and puts an end to them.  Trike goes the distance.

This is the other matchup I have been worried about.  Five-three knocked me out of top four at the first Mikeatog’s Mox tournament in Auburn a while back, and the sting has lingered ever since.  Today, however, I’ve come prepared.  My sideboarding approach consists of:

-1 Fact or Fiction, -2 Duress, -1 Platinum Angel, -1 Mindslaver
+3 Rack and Ruin, +2 Lava Dart

Game 2:   I keep a hand with an island, a fetch, a brainstorm, a Rack and Ruin, a Force and other cards that didn’t matter a whole lot.  He leads with Workshop, Crucible which meets with Force of Will.  On my turn, I start building up mana.  On his turn, he does the same.  Eventually he drops Duplicant on a welder, using Mana Crypt.  The Duplicant is drained.  From here on, he doesn’t draw a single other threat, and I have two Rack and Ruins in hand.  Every single Crypt flip came up in my favor, which epitomized the nature of this match.  I suppose karma repaid its debt to me, after leaving me with only one land in my Round 4 match.  This was a decisive victory.

 Matches: 5-1-0   Games: 11-3-0

Round 7   Nick Coss, “CoolDaddyNick”—Workshop Aggro

Game 1:   I mulliganed two no land hands, staying at five.  It seems karma is about as good at balancing its budget as Bush these days.  My five cards are: Duress, Mox Emerald, Mox Sapphire, Underground Sea, Tinker.  Good enough for me.  I am on the play and lead with Sea and Duress, not wanting to walk my only hope of winning into a Force of Will.  I take Thirst for Knowledge from a hand that contains a goblin welder, 2 Workshops, 2 Crucibles, and Trinisphere.  He drops Welder on his turn and I answer back on mine with Triskelion.  He proceeds to play no threats for the ensuing turns until he is at 3, and plays Razormane Masticore.  I have a very shaky mana base and no counters.  It resolves.  I then proceed to draw mana drain after mana drain after force of will after force of will, while my Triskelion shot him to 1 before dying to Razormane.  And 1 life is where he won that game.

Game 2:   Same sideboarding strategy as Round 6, I’m hoping to put this one away early, as last game took a significant amount of time.  This haste on my part would prove to be my undoing.  At several key junctures of this game, I had a decisive advantage that was eventually neutralized by an unexpected topdeck on his part.  Two welders met with Fire/Ice.  The turn before I was about weld in Pentavus, he drew Tormod’s Crypt and removed my graveyard.  Triskelion later jumped into the graveyard to avoid an impending Duplicant.  However, one of the most serious play errors I have made in quite some time cost me this game, and thus the match.  At one point, I had an active welder, two blue open, and drain in hand.  He had a Lotus in his graveyard.  On his turn, he played Razormane again and without thinking, I drained it.  I immediately realized my mistake, but it was too late.  On my turn, I tried to climb back in with a second welder, but on his turn, those two were killed by a second Fire/Ice.  With no win conditions left in my deck, I played Tinker, surveyed the lost cause of my library, and conceded.  This was the worst game I had played in quite some time.  I might invoke the classic Magic player cliché and attribute it to the fatigue that accompanied being awake for what had been almost 14 hours at that point, and even then having had only minimal sleep in the prior few days thanks to a legal brief being due.  But, whatever the circumstances, I remain responsible for my own poor play decisions.  I must win Round 8 or face elimination from contention.

Matches: 5-2-0   Games: 11-5-0

Round 8   Jeremy(?)—Cerebral Assassin

Game 1:   I know I have to win this.  I have since learned that most of Team Meandeck has dropped from the tournament, so I begin to wonder about just how good my tiebreakers will really be.  Despite this, I press onwards, keeping a hand of Underground Sea, Volcanic Island, Demonic Tutor, Mana Crypt, and other cards.  I lose the roll.  My opponent leads with Bazaar of Baghdad.  I am playing either Dragon or CA.  Both are not stellar matches for Slaver.  I continue to my turn, and play Underground Sea, and Duress from the top.  I take Thirst for Knowledge from a hand with no other valid targets and one Squee.  He Bazaars at the end of my turn, discarding Sundering Titan, Platinum Angel, and Squee.  On his turn, he plays Mox Ruby, and Welder.  I am in big trouble.  I need to eliminate that welder immediately or face a 7/10 attacker with no lands.  On my turn, I pause for a moment.  All the frustration that came with losing game 3 of Round 4 in a favorable matchup surged to the front of my mind.  The disappointment that accompanied losing Round 7 to my own play error clouded my concentration.  I’ve come too far to lose now.  I beat two turn one kill combo decks.  I took down two members of the team who promised to change Vintage in New England so radically that it would never be the same.  I can’t lose now.  I won’t lose now.  And, with that, I drew.  Mox Sapphire.  I look at the Tutor in hand.  Time walk?  No, that won’t do enough.  Welder?  It won’t bring back my lands.  Ancestral?  Not going to help me now.  Tinker?  Yes, that could do it…could I slave him?  No, and that wouldn’t help anyway.  Triskelion.  That’s what I need.  I tinker for trike, shoot his welder and say done.  He bazaars again and discards another welder, squee, and a land.  I begin to draw counters and draw spells.  He can’t catch up, and Trike goes the distance.

Game 2:   My teammates do not have a good record against CA, but I do.  Nevertheless, it’s a scary matchup, and it can slip out of your hands on turn 2.  However, we planned for this contingency.  I board in 2 Tormod’s Crypts and 2 lava darts, removing Angel, a land, Fact or Fiction, and a Duress.  Probably not the cleanest sideboarding job, but this match can’t go to time, and I want to get game 2 underway quickly in case it goes badly.  I draw a hand with Force of Will, Brainstorm, Welder, Mana Drain, and some land.  I decide to keep and hope that CA doesn’t explode on me.  He drops a land and says done.  I do the same, and brainstorm at the end of his turn, in which he dropped Bazaar.  It’s on.  I drop my second land and switch into control mode.  He gets Titan into the yard and tries for Animate.  Mana Drained.  He plays Careful Study and passes.  I draw thirst and pass.  He goes for welder on his turn.  Force of Will; he’s down to very few cards in hand already.  On my turn I duress him and find only land.  He can no longer bazaar and keep any cards in hand.  I pass.  He passes.  I draw and play Tormod’s Crypt.  It resolves.  From here, victory is assured.  It comes in the form of a Triskelion.

Matches: 6-2-0   Games: 13-5-0

I’ve completed the swiss with the minimum record necessary to make top 16.  I check the standings and find my primary tiebreakers in the low 60’s.  Both of the people I lost to are higher in the standings and should make it in.  Meandeck is nowhere to be seen, and the landstill decks are not in contention.  There should be between 2-4 people ahead of me in the standings after round 8 is over, based on my calculations.  What that does to tiebreakers, I can’t say.  My friends offer a few words of encouragement, and so does my other half on the phone from Pennsylvania.  I wait.  The moment of truth arrives, and there are several people at 19+ points.  Rich is in.  His good friend Brain Phelon is in.  Both the people I lost to in the swiss rounds are in.  Our friend ELD is in.  I am not.  Before the disappointment can sink in, they announce the standings for 17-32.  The words echoed in my mind before they even left Ray’s mouth.  I am in 17th place.  Even in defeat, Meandeck played a role in costing me the top 16.  I collect my prize of 3 foreign packs and return to my table, thanking my friends and teammates for their support.  The list which brought me so very close, but yet so far was:

4 Goblin Welder
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Brainstorm
4 Mana Drain
4 Force of Will
2 Duress
2 Mindslaver
1 Platinum Angel
1 Pentavus
1 Triskelion
Ancestral Recall
Time Walk
Yawgmoth’s Will
Demonic Tutor
Fact or Fiction
Mystical Tutor
4 Volcanic Island
4 Island
3 Underground Sea
3 Flooded Strand
2 Polluted Delta
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Library of Alexandria
Black Louts
Sol Ring
Mox Sapphire
Mox Jet
Mox Rub
Mox Pearl
Mox Emerald
Mana Crypt


3 Rack and Ruin
3 Lava Dart
2 Echoing Truth
2 Chalice of the Void
2 Arcane Laboratory
2 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Duress

Thus ended my second Waterbury tournament.  The experience itself continued, since Rich, Mike, and I had gotten a hotel room.  While still meditating on my own defeat, Rich came over from the top 16 tables to tell me he had lost to a Metalworker/Staff of Domination combo.  Disappointed in ourselves, we retired to the room at around 1:00am.  We went over our respective tournament experiences, trying to pinpoint what went wrong, and why, and what could be done to improve things in the future.  While this was necessary, both of us were still too wired to have this sort of conversation calmly, and eventually we went back downstairs in the hopes of finding Team Meandeck before they left so we could take them up on their offer to money draft with us.

In weeks before, Rich, Mike and I painstakingly reorganized our finances to bear the inevitable loss of the $50 that Smmenen had demanded for him to take the time to draft us.  For our part, we were eager to sacrifice $50 on the altar of Team Meandeck.  It would be a small price to pay for the privilege of being beaten by them, because if we were lucky, we stood to walk away from the experience with a precious fraction of the insurmountable skill that led Team Meandeck to its dominating performance in the main event.  However, when we arrived downstairs, Smmenen’s greater wisdom prevailed and instead of money drafting, we accepted Meandeck’s invitation to accompany them and PTW to the local gentleman’s club.  So, we went along with PTW, Smmenen and Saucemaster to a place off I-91 in Connecticut.  Along the way, Smmenen and Rich discussed whether or not a deck that averages a turn one kill facilitates player interaction.  I stopped paying attention soon into the debate in order to help PTW navigate.  After a small snafu with the directions, we arrived to find out that our problems on this trip were only just beginning.
   As it turns out, Saucemaster forgot his ID, and The Gold Club adheres strictly to an 18+ carding policy.  We tried to reason with the bouncer by pointing out to him that it had been nine years since Saucemaster was too young to be admitted to an 18+ establishment, and he looked it.  However the staff would have none of it and we regrouped outside.  PTW made a last-ditch attempt to persuade the bouncer with the help Mr. Franklin, but to no avail.  Never let it be said that businesses predicated on the sale of sexual gratification and alcohol lack scruples, at least not this one.  Lacking other options, we headed back to the hotel and went to sleep.  Day 2 was rather uneventful for me, though Rich won the Mox side event.  The drive back took place in the middle of a snowstorm, going by at least five different accidents which we did not slow down and stare at.  All guardrails were successfully avoided.  See you all next time.

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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2005, 04:58:45 pm »

One of the funniest tournament reports I've ever read.

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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2005, 05:16:20 pm »

Really nice report, Chris. Sorry to hear about you just missing it.

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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2005, 06:08:54 pm »

Hey Chris,

That sucks that you didn't make top 16.  You certainly deserved to.  When we played 7th round I had been holding that crypt since opening hand, only played it the turn before you were going to slave me.  I fear Rack and Ruin, and since I was only playing 1 (for tinker) I didn't want it to get shot to hell.  You were a standup guy and despite getting landscrewed twice in game 1 before you found a decent hand you didn't get angry like so many people do.

Thanks for the good games, and GREAT report.


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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2005, 06:09:32 pm »

Good report Chris, glad to see you posting.

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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2005, 06:39:15 pm »

'Bout time you got on here man!!  Suffice to say things didn't work out for you and me this time, but we shall have out vegenance.  Great report too.

Ten minutes or so later, the trooper pulled in next to the median and began to lecture Mike on the finer points of not driving into stationary objects.

Ah, good 'ol Lydon....

[EDIT]: Added said picture
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2005, 07:03:44 pm »

That was an outstanding report- legitimately funny and well thought out.
I know your pain, last Waterbury I came in 17th with the same record. Still, congrats on not doing too bad.

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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2005, 07:09:28 pm »

Congrats Chris.

It is indeed a shame that Saucey had to sabotage our mission saturday night.
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2005, 07:14:39 pm »

Mmmmm, well written and enjoyable tournament reports.  They're a rarity these days and Jet Li knows that I'm a terrible writer, so I like being able to read about the experiances of others at events I've been to.

Anyhow, it was good to hear that you guys didn't explode on your way to the venue.  That would've put a big damper on things, not to mention you wouldn't have that awesome state trooper story Smile.

I'd talk about SX (aka Meandeck Tendrils aka Storm10) but I'm sure it'll be talked to death in the days to come.  Suffice to say, great report and I apologize that we didn't get to draft.  After Meandeck, Marc, and the Canadians went out to dinner I was drained and only barely had the capacity to play Type 4, followed up by being extremely ill Sunday morning.  Maybe next time, though Betrayers looks like it'll be stupid in draft, so maybe we can run a different format.

Um, yeah, rambling on and such.  Good report.

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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2005, 07:20:47 pm »

Quote from: CrazyCarl
Maybe next time, though Betrayers looks like it'll be stupid in draft, so maybe we can run a different format.

I can hook you guys up with a sweet draft format at some point. Just let me know when it'll be necessary.

Awesome report. Game 1, I had to try for the land grant, because my 6 spells were totally awesome. Force wrecked that hand hardcore style. Game two, I think I should have mulliganed, but I didn't exactly expect a turn 1 lab out of CS. Good job, and sorry for bringing down your tiebreakers by messing around in round 8.

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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2005, 09:15:23 pm »

Wonderful tournament report.  
I brought four color control again, after using it during the summer when it was a powerhouse.  
I didn't see a significant amount of nonbasic hate, besides two times when i was cleaned out by sundering titan.  I had been keeping up with the changes proposed as far as tinkering for the 11/11 dude. However, after trying these changes, an angel seemed much more reliable.  Then I realized that the angel is only going to be getting me past the aggro matches and the key is cycling decree for tokens in the control slaver matchup.  As rich told me at Newington, slaver is going to walk all over 4cc.  So, the build that i used to get like 14th place is essentially the same as i used at the starcity games, minus an angel and plus crucibles.  the deck pretty much just plays the crucible game, and takes forever to play.  I think almost every match that I won went to time plus 5 turns.

I was particularly glad to read this report because one of my losses was to the meandeck creation, even when i started off with 3 force of wills in my opening hand.  I went for what i thought was a critical block on a dark ritual after he had played 3 spells already, only to have him use some form of tutor to get yawg's will next turn and re-ream me.  In hindsight, the land grant seems to be a good key play to stop.  Besides running any number of stifles, I would be interested to hear what other people have done to stop the deck.
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2005, 09:30:15 pm »

Not much to add here but I also wanted to express my gratitude for you writing your report. It was excellent. I hope to see you continue posting here on the boards Smile.

Tough break on the bad tiebreakers, but they happen to everyone now and again.

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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2005, 10:28:58 pm »

This was a really excellent report, and I intend to use it as a manual if for some reason I decide to play Control Slaver in the future.  Good job in the tournament, it really sucks to get owned by tiebreaks.

So I suppose I should take The Fringe back out of my sig now...
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2005, 01:02:07 am »

Excellent report indeed.  And Mike Panas, sorry to have blasted through your Forces like that. Smile  

As for the ID... ahem.  Yes.  Well, I'm going to be trying to live this one down for a long, long time.

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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2005, 02:48:22 am »

Great report, I haven't seen one so entertaining in quite a while.

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« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2005, 03:03:27 am »

Quote from: Demonic Attorney
As it turns out, Saucemaster forgot his ID, and The Gold Club adheres strictly to an 18+ carding policy. We tried to reason with the bouncer by pointing out to him that it had been nine years since Saucemaster was too young to be admitted to an 18+ establishment, and he looked it. However the staff would have none of it and we regrouped outside. PTW made a last-ditch attempt to persuade the bouncer with the help Mr. Franklin, but to no avail. Never let it be said that businesses predicated on the sale of sexual gratification and alcohol lack scruples, at least not this one.

Funny story about that...

I went back inside to go and talk some sense into that bouncer, and here was the conversation that followed.

I walk back inside, and the bouncer stands infront of me.  He's a short stocky white guy with a beard in his late 30's.  I go up to him immediately and begin.  "Look, my buddy here just forgot his ID, we've driven over 40 minutes to get here and we were really looking forward to this.  Is there anything we can do to work this out?"

"Nope, nothing we can do."  He seemed pretty firm on that.  Said it very matter of factly, like he had already made his decision and there was simply going to be no reasoning with him.  This was apparently the case.

"I know we can reach some kind of an arrangement.  There's no reason we can't."  You can already see where i'm going with this.

"No.  No kind of arrangement we can reach."  Again, said completely without hesitation.

I smile, "Heh.  I know you guys all work on tips here," I flash the hundred I'm holding between my index and middle finger like a cigarette. "My buddy just forgot his ID, we came a long way for this and we just wanna have a good time.  I know we can work something out."  I hold out the hundred like I'm offering it to him.

"Nothing we can work out."  He doesn't budge at all from his original position.  Not at all.  Doesn't waiver, doesn't hesitate.  It was absolutely mind blowing.

I stand there totally dumbstruck for a moment or two thinking to myself "what the fuck".  And I turn and leave in disbelief.  

I then come back outside to meet up with the gang.  I remember opening my mouth to explain what had transpired, but words not coming out.  I was still in shock at the reaction I had just received from the bouncer...

At that point someone, possibly smmenen, said they were just going to leave...again my mind was a little hazey on these details because I was in shock.


In retrospect, I think it's pretty clear that he thought that saucey was infact underage.  We had two guys with us that were exactly 18 years old, Kowal and Big Chuck, which makes saucey's lack of ID seem very suspicious.  Couple that with saucey's gross lack of chest hair and you can really see that the bouncer was trying to keep out the kiddies.

Still, my inability to sway the guard to my side, that was what really hurt.  Failed charisma check Sad

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« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2005, 06:45:21 am »

Great report.  

Just want to mention something that very few people know...

if Rich Shay is being asked to drive the vehichle on the way back from the

I feared that one day someone would unearth Rich Shay for title of
'worst magic playing driver on the planet.'

Mike Lydon, you have earned that title...
and I'm officially scared to death of you.

It's a shame that I was unable to join you guys and experience the uh...
'entertainment' that was your van ride.  

Again, great report Chris.  Too bad about your breakers.  I'm sure you'll top 16 the next one.

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« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2005, 08:31:45 am »

very, very good report, might be the best I've ever read. It was great man, your sense of humour but also playtips and overview of the whole tournament was perfect. Thank you!!!!!!!
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« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2005, 07:55:18 pm »

I'd like to thank everyone who submitted positive feedback in this thread; I honestly didn't expect this type of response.  To respond to a few individual posters:


Man, I should have posted my report for top 8'ing Stok's tourney and winning an oversized lotus.  THAT was going to be an entertaining read.

Mike Panas,

My hat is off to you for making top 16 in a field that was dominated by slaver and combo, two awful matches for your deck.  Your performance in the tournament is a testament to your exceptional skill.  I look forward to playing you again in the future.


That's a shame to hear you came down sick so soon after the event.  I hope you're feeling better.  A lot of people I know agree that Kamigawa block is not as good to draft as Mirrodin was, to put it mildly.  Maybe we could do MD5 next time?  Although I am curious to see what Jacob's suggestion will be.  And that reminds me...


I totally understand where you're coming from.  That first hand you had against me would have been the stone cold nuts had land grant resolved and with only an approximately 7 in 15 shot at me having drawn a force of will in my opening hand, the decision to go with it is certainly a solid one.  It's a shame that things didn't come together for you in the tourney; how much of your bad luck with draws do you think was attributable to the unstable nature of your deck as opposed to just being unlucky?


After hearing your account of what transpired inside, I'm even more blown away by what went down now than I was then.  You handled that situation very smoothly for...well y'know for someone who was offering a bribe to somebody.  Maybe the bouncer position at the gold club pays a hell of a lot more than we thought.


Mike still has a long way to go to catch up to Rich in terms of the number of times I have almost died as a result of his driving.  I refer you to the time we were leaving Wendy's on the way to your place and Rich dropped his drink.  In the span of about five minutes, we were in the wrong lane in the path of oncoming traffic, on the sidewalk, and at a full stop on a busy street.

And for anyone else I missed, thanks again for your words of encouragement.  It was a great experience, and I look forward to the next time.

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« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2005, 01:31:43 pm »

great report there.
i know this is a bit late, but i was wondering, why do you board out the angel against 5/3? it seems that this little beauty would be a great way to stop how fast 5/3 hits for. they can put 5/3 5/3 in play, but with angel resolving, they will have to deal with her first...

I understand your desire to board out FOF. It is just too slow in many matchups. But i see that you have been boarding out land in almost matchup. If this is the case, why even run 26 sources in the first place?

great matches!

Just moved from Ann Arbor to Chicago. Even had a chance to play a bit with some of the famed Ann Arbor players.

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« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2005, 02:22:04 pm »


No problem, glad to know the memory of my Waterbury experience is being kept alive.  With respect to your specific questions:

When 5/3 is able to wrest control of the game away from you, a few key things happen that make Angel not as helpful.  First, your mana base disappears under Crucible/Strip Mine.  So, you're not in a position to go with the "protect Angel for 5 attacks" plan that works rather well against U/G Madness, Standard Oath, Meandeck Tendrils, and random hate.  Moreover, I've noticed that in the games I've lost to 5/3, I've also already lost what we New Englanders call "Welder superiority."  Under these circumstances, it becomes a small matter for 5/3 to weld out Angel on me, Trike/Fire it, or Duplicate it after I'm already at 0 life.  In my experience, Pentavus and Triskelion are much harder for 5/3 to deal with and given the need to eliminate all unnecessary slow spells against 5/3, Angel unfortunately didn't make the cut.

About 26 mana sources.  This has been a sticking point for me and my testing buddies as of late.  We've wondered about the very question you posed-- if the plan involves boarding out land so often, why run 26 sources to begin with?  While we settled the question by deciding to change the 26th source to something a bit more...versatile, your point remains well taken.  I suppose the reason I decided to stick with 26 sources is because one of the fastest ways for Slaver to lose is to get insufficient mana in its opening draws or to fall victim to repeated Strip/Waste recursion.  This potential weakness is so severe that there was a time when my testing partners and I were all but certain that the proper sideboarding plan in Slaver vs. Slaver involved sideboarding in Crucible, Strip, and 2 Wasteland.  Because things can go so horribly wrong if you lose your mana base, I decided to make that less likely to happen and run what could be reasonably construed as an "extra" mana source.  

These were very good questions.  I hope my answers were satisfactory.  Thanks for the positive feedback.

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