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Author Topic: 13th at Gencon Worlds - Ben Allen  (Read 1711 times)
vroman
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« on: August 26, 2005, 07:50:56 pm »

My teammate Ben Allen wanted me to post this for him. The original is on www.ogrescards.com. I've edited it slightly for non-St. Louisans. Ben's opinions are his own. - vroman


Hey everybody! It's everyone's favorite three-day old Uba Stax player, Ben Allen here with a report about how I bearled my way into Top 8 contention and then quickly bearled my way back out of it. I'd like to apologize in advance as I don't have my notebook on me, but I'll do as best as I can remember. Also as an advance apology, this is probably going to be ridiculously long, so kick off your shoes and get a sandwich or something, 'cause this could take a while...

The weekend started off great. I was off work forever and making my way towards Indianapolis for GenCon and the Vintage World Championships. At this point, I fully intended to play the U/G Worst Than Fish concoction developed at first by Jacob Orlove and later by Caleb Scherer and myself at Ogres Cards. The new tech? Sacred Ground in the board to combat the one match that I quite simply could not win: Stax. Pithing Needles brought the CS matchup from difficult to somewhat favorable post-board, and a wide variety of other cards rounded out the 'board. I'ma list ya's right about now, so you can see it:

3 Tropical Island
1 Tundra
2 Island
3 Polluted Delta
2 Flooded Strand
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
4 Mishra's Factory
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Pearl

4 Wild Mongrel
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Spiketail Hatchling
3 Ninja of the Deep Hours

4 Aether Vial
4 Chalice of the Void
2 Umezawa's Jitte
4 Standstill
4 Force of Will
2 Brainstorm
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk

Sideboard:
3 Pithing Needle
4 Oxidize
2 Ray of Revelation
3 Sacred Ground
3 Echoing Truth

For those of you wondering, yes, the Mox Pearl is slightly janky, but is a necessary evil and actually, with the extra white cards in the 'board, would have been slightly better than the Black Lotus that is nowhere to be seen. The reason for this is, obviously, because we had a mere 2 Black Lotuses to spread amongst (at the time) 4 players, and so sacrifices had to be made. The simple joys of an un-proxied tournament....

Anyway, Jim Erlinger (4th at SCG9) and I left Friday morning, and after 3 and a half hours of the void that is southern Illinois and half of Indiana, we made it to the Indianapolis Convention Center, which is attached to the RCA Dome where the Colts of football play. We were greeted with the sights and sounds (and later, the smells) of GenCon! After a few minutes of searching, we had purchased badges for Friday and Saturday and eventually found the TCG Hall where all of the great tournaments would be held. We saw Cameron Heise drafting one of what would end up being infinite ridiculous decks; Robert Shelly judging said draft; Ogre, Fat Mark and Jeff Blyden (Kurasa on this board) sitting around with lots of cards trading; and, eventually, Vroman The Pirate himself preparing for the pre-tournament. Having just gotten in, and with literally -14 minutes to go until the start of said pre-tournament, Jim (Flux for those of you who know him only as that) and I decided to sit this one out, instead scouting ahead to get a better glimpse of the field. What we saw was not promising.

On Vroman's way to the Top 8, he faced more than a few decks that were not U/G fish friendly. That is to say, he faced zero decks that were U/G fish friendly. The Top 8 of this little pre-tournament consisted almost entirely of Stax and Drain-Gifts lists. My deck has very few problems with a Drain-Gifts list, but then again, I'd played mostly against bad players, and even then, the matches I'd won always felt ridiculously lucky (just ask Blyden...). On the other hand, here I'd be facing the progenitors of the archetype, meaning I'd have to get much more severly lucky than I had previously, which I didn't think was possible. On the other end was Stax, and even with my new Sideboard Tech, the matchup was highly unfavorable to say the least. Put quite simply, against a good Stax player, I could not win. The metagame did not look favorable for good old U/G fish.

Panic set in, and I quickly tried to figure out what else I could possibly play. We had tons of power and expensive cards on us, but the limiting factor was the Black Lotuses. We had several sets of Mana Drains, but any Drain-based deck loves Yawgmoth's Will which, in turn, loves Black Lotus. The choice was Stax, or to be more precise, Uba Stax, which is much more able to play minus a Lotus. Luckily, we had a complete Uba Stax deck thrown together as Josh Smith had planned on playing in Vintage too, but when we told him that he could sleep in the next day and then continue his dominance of all things free, he seemed less heartbroken. At the very least, he'd already T-8ed the Legacy world Championships the day before, so he couldn't say he had done nothing all weekend.

All that was left was for me to actually learn how to play this thing. I'd played against Vroman just enough to know that my previous deck choice was a bye for Stax, but beyond that I had little knowledge of the intracies of the decision tree or of the deck in general. I got ten minutes of explaination out of Vroman after his tournament, and I'd goldfished under his watchful eye half a dozen times. All I can say is that the deck seems very straightforward when there are few non-obvious choices to make, but when it gets going the choices become nearly infinte, and as we all know, there is often only one correct play in a sea of millions.

That night we slept in Corey Byington's hotel room. He nearly murdered us, but aside from that, it's difficult to beat a free hotel. The next morning we got up and searched for some sort of sustinance for the long day ahead of us. Wanting to skip the horrible effects of fast food on tournament play, we sought out a supermarket, finding instead a market in which Jim, Vroman and I constituted the entire white population. We bought our apples and Sunny Delight and got the hell out.

At the TCG Hall, we found deck registration sheets and such and set to get a list down...

List ya's!

4 Mishra's Workshop
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
4 Mountain
2 Barbarian Ring
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Vault
1 Mana Crypt

4 Goblin Welder
2 Solemn Simulacrum
2 Gorilla Shaman
2 Duplicant

4 Chalice of the Void
3 Null Rod
4 Smokestack
2 Sphere of Resistance
1 Trinisphere
3 Crucible of Worlds
3 Uba Mask
1 Wheel of Fortune

Sideboard:
3 Viashino Heretic
2 Lava Dart
2 Barbarian Ring
2 Duplicant
2 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Maze of Ith
2 Price of Glory

Obviously, this is a list suffering from missing a few cards. We found one extra Maze of Ith, as Vroman's original plan was to run 4, but we decided upon the 3-blast plan, which proved to be gold all day. And in place of the ever-scarce Black Lotus is a Wooded Foothills.

Seriously though, how bad ass would it have been for me to become World Champion without a Black Lotus? I could have said "Well, after extensive testing, we decided that the Lotus was quite simply bad" or "Black Lotus is just a win-more card". The 'boards would have had a brain aneurysm at that one...

Now on to the tournament!

Rd. 1 - Justin Droba (JDizzle of Meandeck) playing MeanDeath, a.k.a. DeathLong.

The first game I got a keepable hand, but played the wrong threats. I believe that I had a Chalice at 0 and Crucible/Wasteland gnawing away at his lands, but he eventually Death Wish-ed for Hurkyl's Recall and combo'd me out. My reliance on the Crucible rather than dropping a potent threat, like say Chalice at 2, cost me the game, but then Justin is by far the best combo player around (excepting only Simister), so I didn't feel terrible. As for sideboarding, all of my cards are bad for him and good for me, and I was still going first, so I made no changes.

The second game began with first-turn moxes, Welder, Trinisphere. It ended promptly when I set a Chalice of the Void at 2, shutting down his only out at that point, aside from perhaps rebuild.

Third game was a bit less of a blowout, though I did get a first turn trinisphere again, after his first turn brainstorm/Mox, prompting a "Well that's good" from JDizzle. The next turn was Crucible/Wasteland, which is significantly more effective under a Trinisphere. I laid a Null Rod eventually to shut off his Mox, and I kept him from ever getting another land. He was a very nice guy, but Combo is not good against Stax of any variety.

2-1, 1-0


Rd. 2 - Random guy with Cerebral Assassin

The next round saw me paired against a random guy, playing what would eventually reveal itself to be Cerebral Assassin. I personally think the deck is unfocused and wildly unreliable, but it is a bit scary from the Stax player's point of view, so more power to him. This guy showed up and started shuffling his deck, a minute later realizing that he hadn't unsideboarded and taking two or three minutes to figure out what he had had in his maindeck, and then another two or three minutes to shuffle properly. After we both presented, the judges swooped in and deck-checked us, citing his very unreadable list. After about fifteen minutes, they came back and awarded him a game loss for misregistering, having put "Underground" rather than either Underground Sea or Underground River, both of which were present in his deck.

Game 2 saw me play lock parts inefficiently and him playing a very early sundering Titan which I could not answer, try though I might. I ended up dying to my own Mana Vault.

Game 3 involved my first usage of Smokestack in a tournament ever and also involved a trinisphere. The downside was his Goblin Welder, something that gives this deck fits. I was eventually able to clear his board, leaving me with trinisphere and crucible, at which point winning was inevitable.

1-1, 2-0

We had finished before time was called, despite being given a 20 minute extention for the deckchecking. At this point, Vroman was 1-1, having played CS in the first round, and Jim was 0-1-1, a decidedly unfavorable record. Blyden was playing with a teched out CS list and was also 2-0.


Rd. 3 - Andy Probasco (BrassMan of Team Shortbus) playing what was eventually deemed to be Drain-Gifts.

It wasn't until after this match that I realized that Andy was playing a Drain-Gifts deck, as I had seen the Mana Drains but little else. This match was one with many, many straightforward decisions, and went very favorably for me.

Game 1 involved some Wasteland/Crucible action, combined with a Null Rod to shut off his other mana sources. Jens the Sad Robot got in there for about six turns, reducing Andy's life to zero fairly quickly.

Game 2 was almost exactly the same, only with my sideboarded Red-Blasts and Price of Glorys, there was little that could be done. Jens once again went the distance, which just goes to show that no one EVER counters him, making him that much better. I Hymn to Tourached him twice (or in other words, he Force of Willed one of infinite lock parts), stopping the last one with a Pyroblast, and shutting him off his mana indefinitely.

2-0, 3-0

After this match I went to watch The Irate Pirate's match, noting with sadness that his opponent was none other than Rich Shay, Meandeck's resident CS expert and a real badass with Goblin Welders and Mana Drains. He drew about 10 cards off his Library of Alexandria and had a nearly unbeatable hand throughout the last game, leaving Vroman with two losses. Blyden was 3-0, and Vroman refused to go out like a punk, as Jim had....


Rd. 4 - Random guy playing U/W Fish

After not getting to play any crappy decks in the first two rounds (traditionally littered with Elves and Suicide Black and Stompy), I finally get the closest thing to a bye possible. U/W's small creatures make it even easier to crush than any other build of fish, and there is the added bonus that a large portion of their offence is a non-basic land.

Game 1 I lead with an early Uba Mask (first time I've cast it all day...) and promptly remove a Force of Will. Some Strip Mine recursion ends his day before he can even begin it.

Game 2 involves him keeping a one-land hand (that land being a colorless, non-basic Mishra's Factory) and me having Crucible/Wasteland and Trinisphere and Null Rod and all sorts of guys. He scoops after a few turns of not drawing lands and my having Bazaar of Baghdad for ridiculousness.

2-0, 4-0

Note: I was at table 1 for the first time of my Magic Career this match, and quickly 2-0'ed the competetion. I was feeling pretty good. Vroman has pulled his record to 2-2 but Blyden has dropped his first match to some janky Dragon deck (cue ominous foreshadowing repleate with eerie music....) to leave him at 3-1.


Rd. 5 - Hale Simon (PurpleHat) playing 5c Dragon

I start out Game 1 with a bad decision. My opening hand was 5 lands, none of which were Bazaar of Baghdad, a Goblin Welder and an Uba Mask. It is a hand that should have been mulliganed, and having not mulliganed it, I proceeded to lose sometime around turn 3. I did get a first turn Uba Mask which almost won me the game, but he had just enough tutors in his opening hand to negate it. He also cast a Lim-Dul's Vault which stacked his library and let him use his Bazaar as I am often wont to do (hint: it's insane under an Uba Mask). My failure to do nothing else in the first three turns means that I let myself lose.

Game 2 involved another bad mulliganing decision in which I should have kept my opening hand. I have no excuses other than I was paranoid from having made a bad decision at the start of the other game and it caused me to mulligan what may have been the nut-high, hand wise. The hand I got back let me get off a first-turn Welder and a second turn Null Rod, but he comboed out on his second turn and I had nothing to stop him.

I felt like a goldfish this entire match...

0-2, 4-1

Dropping this match was especially disappointing because, had I won, I could have very easily drawn right into the Top 8. All hope was not lost, but I could not lose another match if I wanted to get in. Blyden was now 3-2 and dropped to go savage people at a DDR tournament. Vroman, the ever tenacious, was also 3-2 and kept playing for his shot at the prizes associated with the top 32.


Rd. 6 - Roland Chang of Meandeck playing 5c Stax.

The moment the pairings were up, both Vroman and I knew that Roland was playing 5c Stax. Vroman said that it would be a fairly typical Stax mirror match, but that scared the shit out of me as I had no experience with Stax-on-Stax action and was facing one of the best players in Type I. Vroman ran me through some basic things including sideboarding strategies and general ways to win the welder battle, things that I remembered to varying degrees of accuracy. Regardless we shuffled up for Game 1 with some friendly banter. We were playing next to Kevin Cron and Andy Probasco which helped ease the tension, as the two are very good friends from different teams.

I remember very little from this match aside from the winning plays. The first game involved me having two Welders and Roland eventually finding two Welders. I fought very hard to keep his Mana Crypt on the table, if only during his upkeep, and that, combined with some Solemn Beatz, eventually ended the game for him.

Game 2 was a nice, slow Stax match, though admittedly I was taking more time than normal to make some decisions in an effort to not lose. The victor this match? Gorilla Shaman for Roland that I could not answer. 1 damage a turn for 1 red mana? Sounds broken to me...

The third game involved me punting pretty hard after making a pretty good play on my first and second turns, putting me way up in permanents and looking to be in good shape. The root problem was surely that Roland began each of his turns over the last two games with Ancestral Recall and I did not find a Bazaar of Baghdad at any point in our three games. That little bit of card advantage kept him ahead and turned my bad plays into game-ending ones. We went to time, and I almost walked away with a draw, but on his final turn he had more than enough damage to finish me off, having tinkered for a Triskelion and shooting me in the face several times.

1-2, 4-2

At this point I was firmly out of Top 8 contention and also pissed off as hell, so I bashed. It's awfully frustrating to be unable to nail down that final victory. It is a small consolation that Roland ended up winning the whole thing, but I was very glad to have met him personally and realized later that it was a good match and actually fairly enjoyable. Big props to him, as I like him far more than any of the other Meandeck-ers.


Rd. 7 - Italian Guy playing TPS

At this point I was not taking notes, having been too upset to even try, but the match was still fairly easy. TPS, along with all combo in general, is an easy matchup for Uba Stax, and TPS is particularly easy because it's very difficult for them to win on the first or second turns.

In Game 1 my memory is sketchy at best, but I know he won. In my defense, he did cast a Hurkyl's Recall at some point, so I must have had some pressure to apply. Nonetheless, I saw he was playing TPS and smiled on the inside.

Game 2 saw me with a first-turn Uba Mask, which was countered. He dropped a lot of artifact mana and a non-basic land on his turn. I countered with a Wasteland and a Null Rod. He swore in Italian. I found the Crucible, and he scooped.

In Game 3, he almost killed me on the first turn. I nearly shat myself, but then I remembered in the middle of his turn that TPS simply cannot do that. He Tendrils-ed me for 16 and, having laid a Necropotence, drew another twenty cards. I dropped a Trinisphere on my turn, and followed it up with Crucible/Wasteland on the next. He drew another ten or so cards over the course of the match, putting him down to 5, and when I dropped Jens the Savage Facebeater, he scooped.

2-1, 5-2.

In the end, I finished in 13th place and earned a foil Gemstone Mine, 3 packs of Italian Legends, 9 packs of 9th, and 9 draft sets of CoK Block. Despite my barning it up, I have fallen in love with this particular deck and only wish that I could be around during the school year to help Vroman tinker with it and tune it to fight the bad matchups. I ended up spending a hundred dollars and some of the cards I'd won in previous tournaments buying 2 Bazaar of Baghdad so that I could play the deck without borrowing savagely from lots and lots of people, and so I am now firmly intent on playing it. And now, for the traditional....

Props:
- Almost everyone I played for being good guys and great players
- GenCon for being an absolute blast
- Vroman for teaching me how to play the deck to a 13th place finish in...oh...15 to 20 minutes
- Jim for being savagely unlucky all weekend
- Roland for winning the whole thing

Slops:
- The Dragon player for savaging me out and making me feel like a goldfish
- Corey for being very cranky in the morning

I'd say more, but I'm sure that you're all very sick of reading this. Until next time, may you play nothing but bearls and barns!

Ben Allen



sideboarding was clearly paramount here. my full set of mazes was a total mistake as scrubby aggro was nowhere in sight, while Ben's redblasts saw him through the ranks of blue decks. - vroman
« Last Edit: August 27, 2005, 03:17:26 am by vroman » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2005, 12:29:25 am »

In our match, in game 3, I cracked a turn 1 hardcast Memory Jar with UB floating, but didn't get anything I could play off it (3 lands, Time Walk, Tendrils), and Brainstormed into a few more cards I couldn't play.  Ben dropped a turn one Null Rod (not Trinisphere) making my two Moxes and Mana Crypt look pretty foolish, and eventually Pyroblasted my Chain of Vapor attempt a few turns later.  (Also, my name is Droba, but it's all good).

All in all, glad to see that Ben did well playing a tough deck for the first time (I could tell his inexperience after the first game of our match).  It's tough to just pick up a Vintage deck and roll with it, but Ben did really well.  Good job and I'll be looking for you next time!

Also, mad props for the compliment!
« Last Edit: August 27, 2005, 12:38:58 am by JDizzle » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2005, 09:27:59 pm »

Hey Ben,

It was a pleasure to meet/play yet another one of you St. Louis guys.  That match in the 6th Round really racked my brain up (if you didn't notice me grabbing my head half the time).  With so many possible effects and upkeep things to take care of, my brain shut down once Time was called.  I got lucky w/ your Wheel of Fortune you cast to pitch your Dup into the yard.  From that WoF, I drew into Karn.  Good games though dude and I definitely hope to play ya sometime in the near future.  Chicago?  Wink

-Roland 
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2005, 03:58:27 am »

Since I couldn't find any random typos to highlight, I'll just say:  It was nice meeting you at GenCon, congrats on the high finish, and nice report!
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2005, 07:32:25 pm »

good job on the finish through some very talented players...

One note though...

Quote
I personally think the deck is unfocused and wildly unreliable

In regards to CA, which is my baby....your statement is generally true for most players...however when you actually know what you are doing and take some time to tune the deck CA can be amazing...in fact I LOVE playing against uba stax with it (5cStax not so much)....

But I can definatly see it being wildly unreliable when you are running BOTH rivers and seas, who knows what the rest of the pile looked like...

Maybe at some point I will make it past the rockies to play with some of you guys..at some point me and nataz will get together in a tourney and run you guys with CA.  Cool

well we will try anyways, lol.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2005, 07:34:36 pm by Lunar » Logged

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