Report

Hello again to all of you.  It's been a while since I wrote a tournament
report--I tried something a little different for the last few weekly tournaments
at C&J's with fairly disastrous results (a 2-2-1 record with Trinity Keeper,
with one of the losses and the draw due to play mistakes--must practice
Keeper--and 3-2 the next week with Rector Trix, with the three wins only coming
after I went 0-2 for the first two rounds.  Ugh.).  I decided that I needed to
redeem myself, so this last week I decided to bring what I currently consider
the best deck in the format--GAT.  I've done well with it at C&J's in the past,
and though I expected a little bit of SB hate for it, I felt confident that I
had a better shot with GAT than with any other deck currently, as the
possibility of running into Gro variants of any sort made ReapLace (my other pet
deck) a potentially disastrous choice.  But fear not, brethren, for my choice
was pleasing in the Lord's eyes, and He has rewarded this prodigal son.  For has
not Berserk been fruitful and multiplied?

Now, usually I take pretty detailed notes on all my games--partly for my own
benefit, as it helps me analyze my play, partly because it makes writing
tournament reports much easier, and partly because it's just generally annoying,
and I'm a bastard.  Unfortunately, it also distances me a little from the game
as I'm playing and takes up precious time in each round.  So I didn't take notes
this time around.  For that reason, this will be a (for me) pretty brief report,
and there may be a few inaccuracies here and there.  Remember kids, the Holy
Trinity of tournament reports is Truth, Excuse, and Ego.  They always contain a
little of each, just in different measures.

Anyway, on to the report.

The field was, once again, surprisingly large.  Twenty-eight people were
present, and almost all of the "really good" local players who have a good shot
at winning the tournament were present.  These weekly tournaments haven't dipped
below about 25 players in the last month or so, and most of the contenders who
used to play pseudo-Type 2 decks are now playing pretty decent budget aggro or
aggro-control decks (one fateful tournament a couple weeks ago saw *THREE*
Ankh-Sligh mirror matches in five rounds, for chrissakes).  I'm just praying
that no one brings any Smokestack decks, as it's really the only deck I'm truly
afraid of.  So what does Fishhead bring?  Yeah, you guessed it.

Round 1: Stompy.  I keep an eye on Fishhead's matchup and see that he's playing
against a pretty bad Goblin-based deck.  Normally that's just a bye, but it's
actually conceivable that even bad weenie-aggro could take out Ducktape if it
gets the right draw.  So I keep my fingers crossed.  Meanwhile, my games are
Stompy vs. CounterStompy (thanks to AxeMurder for the nomenclature).  Game one,
however, I lose to: first-turn River Boa (off an Elvish Spirit Guide), no
counter.  I lay a land, having kept a hand with two Dryads, a few cantrips, and
land, and when he Rancors the Boa on his turn, I Opt in response.  The first
card is land, so off to the bottom with it, and I draw a Brainstorm, IIRC.  No
help there.  On my turn, figuring that I need to race unless I get Gush to avoid
the Islandwalking, I play the first Dryad.  Still no counters in hand.  He
Rancors the River Boa again.  This is extremely bad.  However, I get the other
Dryad down, they both start growing as they're supposed to, and I'm able to Gush
back all my Islands.  Unfortunately, neither Dryad is big enough yet to do
anything but chump the massive Boa, and I go down one turn before I would have
been able to make a Dryad Boa-proof.  Ah well.

Games two and three, however, go as they're pretty much supposed to.  He drops
some little green men, I drop one very large, angry, toothy blue-and-black man,
and I win.  Game three: repeat, except this time Dr. Teeth doesn't show up, and
instead a very large green woman does the dirty work.

Even better, I notice that Fishhead ends up losing round one to the red deck. 
Unless I get really unlucky and either lose or get paired down, I should be
golden until the final round.  Dodged that bullet.

Games: 2-1
Matches: 1-0

Round 2: Goblins.  This deck is pretty much a Goblin Sligh build except for the
random Sparksmiths, which, however good they may be in draft right now, just
will not cut it in Type 1.  Misdirecting Goblin Grenades is some serious fun.  I
win 2-0.

Games: 4-1
Matches: 2-0

Round 3: Elves!  Okay, in general, this is not a good Type 1 deck.  However, it
presents interesting problems for GAT that I had not anticipated when I sat down
to play against it.  Game one things go more or less as I expect them to.  Dryad
gets big, Llanowar Elves and Quirion Rangers chump block, Deranged Hermit gets
countered.  

Game two, however, gets tight.  I side in the second Berserk from the board, as
well as Submerges, but the board situation is getting out of hand for me; I've
got a fledgling little Dryad on the table, while he's chumping with squirrel
tokens from Deranged Hermit.  Worse, that Rebel-for-Elves guy is on the table
(Skyshroud Poacher or something?) and he has more than enough mana to start
whipping out tremendous numbers of very big squirrel tokens.  This is where I
make a mistake.  He's at 20, I've got a 4/4 Dryad on the table.  I have a
Berserk in hand, so at his EOT I Mystical for another.  He's tapped out, as he's
swung with everything he has.  I triumphantly lay Lotus, sack for GGG, and
double-Berserk my Dryad.  I had COMPLETELY forgotten that Quirion Ranger does
NOT tap to use its ability.  Aaaaargh.  So he chumps with an Elf, goes to 1
life, then kills me.  Stupid, stupid play mistake on my part.  Worse, we're now
getting a little low on time, and I do not want to draw.

Game three, however, starts looking pretty bad for me pretty quickly.  I have
Psychatog, but once again he's managed to resolve a Skyshroud Poacher and has a
Deranged Hermit already on the table, with concomitant squirrels.  Time is
called, and we have five turns--but it looks like he'll be able to get me before
then.  I Time Walk and use up the first of the extra turns (I'd been holding it
for a litte bit, because I was pretty sure we'd end up in this situation), then
draw YawgWill.  Hmmm.  I stare at my graveyard for a long time, then at my hand.
 I don't have Fastbond, so I cannot generate mana indefinitely.  I have a
Berserk in hand.  I can either replay the Time Walk to take another of the extra
turns and hope he doesn't get Concordant Crossroads (which would mean he could
still kill me in the two turns he'd get total) for the draw, or I can replay
Demonic Tutor to go for double-Berserk and try to win this game.  With Fastbond
it would have been a moot point, as I'd have just done both and won.  I don't
have enough cards in hand/GY to actually KILL him with 2x Berserk, however
(given the number of creatures he'll generate by searching/casting a Hermit on
his turn) unless I draw either Gush or a cantrip on my turn (no kidding.  One
more card in the 'yard will be exactly enough to do it).  He takes his turn,
drops Gaea's Cradle (good thing I didn't play for the draw!) and he passes with
almost thirty power of creatures on his side of the table.  He does the right
thing and doesn't attack, since he can kill me next turn with no fear of
reprisal after generating yet MORE tokens.  I hold my breath, and draw...

Brainstorm, which gets me Gush.  :D

Tight, tight games.  Probably the best games I played all evening.  I was
kicking myself for almost throwing away the match in Game two, but justice
prevailed!  (See, there's the Ego jumping in.)

Games: 6-2
Matches: 3-0

Round 4: Mask.  Ugh, this matchup is absurdly close.  Zhalfirin and I have
tested this matchup quite a bit, and it came out exactly 50/50 in game one, and
about 60/40 in favor of Mask game two if Mask had Blood Moon in the side.  It's
not Zhalfirin I'm playing, but the games were tight nonetheless.

Game one, I end up with two huge Dryads who kill the first Dreadnought, the
smaller one surviving.  Another facedown creature hits (played for four mana),
and I'm pretty sure it's Negator, but I can't risk swinging, just in case it's a
Dreadnought, as I'm at 8 (one hit from the first Dreadnought before I managed to
kill it).  My suspicion is confirmed when he doesn't attack with it.  However,
another facedown creature hits the table (again played for four mana).  If it's
another Negator, I'm fine, but if it's a Dreadnought... well, if it's a
Dreadnought, I'm dead no matter what happens.  I have Berserk in hand, and if I
target one of his facedown creatures and then Misdirect it to my Dryad, I can
get the Dryad large enough to trample for the win even if he's got Negator/Lord
of Tresserhorn.  I do it.  Oops, Dreadnought.  I lose.

Game two: in come the Naturalizes and Smothers.  He's never really in this came,
as I have DT, Naturalize, and Smother in my opening hand.  He plays two facedown
Dreadnoughts on turn TWO, but I calmly Smother one. He Unmasks me before
swinging and sees Naturalize and DT.  He takes the Naturalize, but during my
turn I just DT for another Smother (with enough mana thanks to a Mox Jet) and
kill his other Dreadnought.  He can't recover in time, and a Dryad kills him
right before time is called.  So we tie.

Games: 7-3
Matches: 3-0-1.

By this point it appears that almost all of the usual suspects have dropped at
least one game: Fishhead has lost one match, Zhalfirin has lost one match, Brent
(TMD account?) has lost a match... and I'm the one who gets paired up (Mask and
I are both 3-0-1) and face NaClhv with ABM in the finals.  I'm feeling pretty
confident; we both know that this matchup is harsh for ABM.

Round 5: Game one goes as usual.  See NaClhv's report here.  I get a Dryad and a
Tog, I think?  He Mysticals for Balance, I try not to let on that I've got
Counterspell, FoW, and Gush all in hand, he goes for Balance, I counter, and
that's game.  Turn five kill with double counter backup.

Game two is one of those glorious uber-broken GAT games where you're playing
aggro-combo instead of aggro-control.  This is the second most broken start I've
ever had with GAT; the first was in testing against Zhalfirin's Mask, where I
got the much-touted first-turn kill off of Fastbond + multiple Gushes + Time
Walk + Yawgwill + Psychatog + Berserk, etc.  Now, I've sided out my maindeck
Berserk, since I shouldn't need it to win in this matchup, but it ends up not
mattering, as I drop a first-turn Fastbond, and go to town with Gushes and
Scrolls for Gushes until I get Yawgwill, end up with a Psychatog on the table
and a Cunning Wish for Berserk.  I couldn't get both Berserk AND the Time Walk,
however, so I have to give him a single turn.  Damn.  ;)  I kill turn two with
Berserk'd Tog.

Final results: Games: 9-3, Matches: 4-0-1.  It felt good to win again after a
short slump, and there's no better way to come back than to win it all, I guess.
 My pairings were pretty good, since strangely most of the best players at C&J's
dropped a round before I had to play them, but I'll take all the luck I can get,
thanks.

General thoughts: I love playing GAT and all, but sometimes I feel guilty doing
so.  There are so few decks that can realistically compete with it right now;
Mask and TnT are pretty much it (and maybe Elves!? :p).  But no other deck fits
my playstyle as well right now, and it feels silly to play a deck I know will be
inferior in the C&J's metagame just because I feel guilty for winning with GAT. 
We'll see.  I liked that Rector Trix deck from the prior week, but it didn't
perform that well.  I'm still not sure whether that was the deck's fault or my
own (I'm leaning towards "my own", but the deck still doesn't feel as powerful
as GAT), but it makes me wary of picking it up again until I've had a chance to
test it more.

Random thought: so, Fishhead is (last I checked) ranked #1 in California in Type
1 (rating in the 1870s, IIRC).  I'm wondering whether his first-round loss to a
kid who couldn't have a rating higher than the low 1600s may have lost him more
points than he regained by *winning* the Matchplay event on 4/5.  I suppose not,
but it's kinda funny that it's actually conceivable. :)