Report

There wasn't a lot of e-mail floating around before this tournament and I knew
Saucemaster would be skipping, so I didn't expect a big turnout.  Therefore, I
didn't put a lot of thought into my deck, I just decided to play the deck I had
already made which is HulkSmash.  I wasn't amazingly impressed last week, but
since the competition wouldn't be fierce I wasn't going to worry too much.  

So, of course, I show up and Spevack and Christiaan are both there; Raziel shows
up with TnT and a couple players I've never seen before show up with Power. 
Hmmm, suddenly it's going to be a tough week.  

(Note: my version of HulkSmash is the same as Az's second version in the
HulkSmash thread, except -1 Island +1 Strip Mine.  And a different SB.)

(Double Note: If you read nothing else, read the epic Mask v. Tog battle in
Match 3.)

Match 1: Jon Flores with Void.
I swear that the DCI pairing software has some strange non-random algorithm. 
There are people I always play, and there are people I never play.  Jon is one
of the people I always play; we played this exact match last week with me
winning 2-1.  

Game 1: I played six games against Void last night, so my memory is a bit fuzzy
on some of this stuff.  This is one of those games.  I think I got the Tog going
relatively quickly and Berserked for a pretty fast win.
Game 2: He gets his revenge by stripping away my hand with Duress and Hymn.  I
get D-Edict with a Wish, but am facing a Shade and Hyppie and potentially a
Mishra.  I Edict when he is tapped and the Shade dies.  I get a Tog down, but am
now facing a Negator and a Hyppie.  The Hyppie slowly picks me to death while I
am in a standoff with the Negator.  This is the sort of game that makes me
really want a Wonder in the board.
Game 3: I get a good start and Mis-Direct a Hymn back to stop his momentum.  We
end up in a bit of a topdeck war, going both to large amounts of mana before I
can Intuition for Tog and win.  

Matches 1-0: Games 2-1

Match 2: Spevack playing Keeper
Well, this should be an interesting match.  I've never playtested it, so who
knows how it will go.  

Game 1: I get the goods and he does not.  I build up a full hand and lay LoA. 
Max is out of cards when he topdecks Vampiric.  I begin pompously proclaiming
Vampiric to be a horrible card and state that, "Why do you play that?  I will
gain Card Advantage by countering whatever you fetch!" while fully expecting him
to get Wasteland and destroy my active LoA.  But, when I don't counter the
Vampiric, Max double-outthinks himself and figures that if I don't have the
Counter for the Vampiric, then I don't have the Counter for the Ancestral.  It
turns out thats only half-correct as I have the Misdirection for the Ancestral. 
So my hand is full and he is reduced to topdecking.  I draw a Tog and bunches of
mana off the LoA and the Ancestral.  I am about to go to town when he topdecks
Balance and discovers that it resolves despite me having about a zillion cards
in hand.  I throw many land and a Tog in the grave; keeping one Tog.  

I eventually draw another Land to play Tog with, and swing with a potential for
lethal damage.  Max does not resign immediately, and I, frustratingly, have no
counter to back up the Tog.  I agonize and decide to swing for 10 to try and
draw the StP without crippling myself.  (My Wishes are gone, my deck is 3/4
gone, this is my 3rd Tog.  If he has the StP I want to have some chance of still
winning.)  He has no StP and concedes next turn.  This is an interesting
situation, and I'm curious what other people would do here.  Swing for the whole
thing?  (Max is at 15.)

Game 2: I start with the goofy 2 Intuition, 1AK, no counter hand again.  Max
plays out an early Abyss, so I need to get Wish and get Recoil or Shallow Grave
eventually.  Or two Togs.  Then he plays Scrying Glass.  Hmm, thats some bad
permanents for me.  I set up the Intuition->AK play so I can have AK3 and AK4
coming up.  He starts peeking into my hand, I discard my Y-Will so he can't keep
naming "Black, 1" after resolving AK3.  It's not a good feeling to throw away a
Y-Will, but I didn't see much choice.

Now, I can mess with the Glass by AK4'ing, but I actually end up letting him
draw about 4 cards off of it because I feel I need to AK4 and then go off with
Shallow Grave to avoid the Abyss.  So I wait until I have about 8 mana on the
table and try AK4.  ReB opposes it and I Intuition for Mana Drain while holding
Mana Drain, FoW and MisD + blues.  Christiaan discussed this after the game, and
suggested that you let AK4 resolve and try to ReB Tog next turn when I have to
use my mana, but I think that ends up worse.  You can't let me draw 4 and be
able to Wish EoT also.  

Anyway, time is called in here somewhere, so I lay down a handful of
counterspells and say "Wish for Shallow Grave to win."  Everyone wants to read
Shallow Grave, which is fun.  ;-)  

Matches 2-0: Games 4-1

Match 3: Christiaan (Zalfirin) with Mask
Christiaan won this matchup 2-1 last week before fizzling in the finals.  It's
darn tough, but the Tog is mightier than you expect sometimes.  Christiaan took
detailed notes about our epic first game, and I copied them afterwards for this
report.  I'm glad he did, as it was quite the back and forth battle.

Game1: I get a pretty good hand with Ancestral, Wish and Tutor.  I also win the
very important dice roll.  I start with Delta, Mox Jet.  He plays
Delta->Underground Sea, then Ritual->Mask->Dreadnaught.  Hmmm, well, it doesnt
get much better than that.  I Ancestral in response to the Mask, but get a bunch
of mana artifacts.  Well, it could be worse.  

Anyway, you don't want to start out in the hole against Mask, and I felt at this
point that I was in a bit of a hole due to the quick 'Naught.  I play Sea,
Sapphire, SolRing which gives me 5 mana.  He attacks and I Wish for Edict and
solve my first problem.  Game returns to equilibrium.

Now, he plays a land, Rituals, DTs and plays a Naught for 2 under the Mask.  Uh
oh, game tipping out of equilbrium.  Especially as I have badly constructed my
SB and have a Terror instead of a Smother as my other creature removal.  And
Tranquil Domain instead of Naturalize.  Bad me.  Now using my own DT to get Wish
to get something is out of the question.

I DT on my turn and find that Upheaval is the only card in my deck that will
save me.  I Merchant Scroll for a FOW to cover my play.  I think mightily about
getting a second FoW with my second Scroll, but decide he wont have any gas
after 'Heave. He swings, I go to 7, and I think that everything is OK.  I will
'Heave, then I will FoW or Drain his Mask and he will be stuck.  I will make
Togs and go to town.  But then, as an afterthought to his attack, he plays a
Lotus.  Auuugh.  Now suddenly everything is up in the air again.  If he has a
Duress, he plays Land-Lotus->Duress->Mask->Naught and I will really regret not
getting that second FoW. I AK for 1 and get crap.

I Upheaval on my turn and lay a Land and my Jewelery again.  He, of course, has
the Duress and I am facing Mask->Naught again.  Auuuugh!  I use my jewelry to
get Berserk and Christiaan gives me a puzzled look. (I have to use the mana now
and I may not have time later.)

I play Tog because I have to.  But, miraculously, Tog is worth 15.  Christiaan
draws and passes.  I use my second Scroll to get a Gush.  Tog is worth a lot
now, but my opponent has played a second creature under the Mask.  Well,
regardless, I have to attack now.  So I swing with a 30/16 trampling Tog, who is
blocked by 2 Dreadnaughts.  How much fun is that?  "I swing with my creature and
EAT BOTH YOUR 12/12s and then I do 6 TRAMPLE to YOU!"  Lol.  

Now we are both topdecking and Christiaan starts well by playing a face down
Negator for 4.  I draw Tog with very little in my grave and have to let him hit
me down to 2.  I then topdeck Gush, which makes Max say, "You two have topdecked
like madmen these last 3 draws!"  My opponent topdecks Duress, which is not good
enough and I Gush in response.  I swing for lethal damage and he resigns rather
than throw the Negator under the wheels of the Tog and lose all his permanents. 


Now, like all my games this night, this game has gone on for some time.  There's
a lot of math involved; not a second goes by that someone isn't grabbing a
graveyard to count it and see how big a Tog could be.  So we don't have long
left and Christiaan is understandably anxious to play the next two games ASAP. 
I SB in 2 Duress and 3 Kegs and agonize about what to take out.  I hadn't
thought this through before so I'm trying to work fast on the fly.  I pull out
Upheaval, Mana Drain, Intuition and 2x Misdirection.  This probably isn't
terrible, but I'll bet there is a better plan.

Game 2: I rush and deal and draw my hand.  I look at it and think it's pretty
darn good; there's an FoW, a LoA and some other good stuff.  I start planning my
first turns and realize that I will have trouble activating the LoA because I
have drawn 8 cards.  Ooops.  I grunt in frustration and throw my hand back,
figuring that I am punishing myself for my stupidity by throwing back a
perfectly good hand. (Well, I guess 8 card hands are bound to look good.) 
Christiaan looks at this and frowns, and says, "Well, I rushed you so draw 7. 
But be careful this time".  Yes, sorry.  I carefully count 7 and look at them.

Of course, these 7 are even better than my first hand.  Christiaan has a great
hand, starting with an Unmask, but 2 FoW is too much.  He gets Mask and
Dreadnaught, but I have a Keg at 1 so it's useless. I lay Tog and Wish->Edict
the 'Naught.  I use the Keg to destroy Mask and then win with Tog.  A tainted
win, but I guess I take it.  Christiaan resolves to be mean to people in the
future and make them draw 6.  :-(

Matches 3-0: Games 6-1

Match 4: Robin (?) with Void.
I played Robin last week when he had Legend Sligh and won 2-0.  This week he is
with Void.  He's a cool guy and we chat about the games and SB strategy.

Game 1: He Mulls to 5 and gets rolled.  It takes me a while as I can't find
Black mana or a Tog until the midgame, but I have a pretty dominating position
throughout.  Mull to 5 = bad.
Game 2: We drift into the midgame about even, but he resolves Void with Shade on
the table.  Uh oh.  I need huge amounts of mana to do my tricks under Void and
he fixes me with 2 Wastelands.  One second I am in a position where I need just
one Land to go nuts, the next second I can't cast anything in my hand.  On to
game 3.
Game 3: His first four lands are Swamp, Mishra, Wasteland, Wasteland.  He can't
get much game going, and I have the Gush to respond to his Wastes.  I take a
huge Y-Will and recurse Strip Mine to smash his only Swamp which puts him out of
the game.  Tog finishes shortly after.

So, there we are.  This report is HUGE!  Lol.  But I there's a lot of fun stuff
in there; though as Christiaan said after, "Yes, those games are very fun.  But
it is also good to win the wild fun games."  So true, and I'm sure that colors
my perception.  ;-)  

I generally liked HulkSmash better this time; which is of course partly due to
me having more experience with it.  I don't think I got a lot of the magic
Combo-kills on turn 5, but then I did face a lot of decks with Duress.  It's
harder to go nuts when your hand is in your graveyard.  A random thanks to the
people who stopped by the HulkSmash report last time and gave me advice.  And I
welcome more advice or thoughts about these matches or the deck.