It is the night of Friday, January 14th. Our hero--six feet tall, blade thin and
pale as a ghost, yet somehow incredibly... sexy...--awaits The Van in the cold
January air of Philadelphia. It is past 10pm, and The Van has still not arrived.
The streets of this trendy downtown Philadelphia neighborhood are bustling, and
he waits patiently, watching the foolish mortals stumble by.

The Van arrives, the door opens, hands grasp the slender figure and pull him
inside, and just as quickly the door closes, as the vehicle speeds off into the
night. Leaves the light and energy of the city behind. Heads into a darkness
that is more than the mere absence of light. A Darkness that is a stain on the
face of human decency, a soul-crushing weight that drags down all that
transcends the merely animal in humanity, that drowns it in the depths of the
frigid Delaware River. The Van heads into The Darkness. The Van heads into NEW


If you feel a crawling sensation, a certain guttering of the flame of your human
intelligence, an oily slime on the surface of your consciousness, check the road
signs. You might be on the New Jersey Turnpike. I know I was.

You might also be missing your ID, but you won't realize that until much later.

I spent a few days this summer driving across the country in my recent move from
San Francisco to Philadelphia, and believe me when I tell you this: the only
thing worse than a Burger King in Nebraska is a Burger King in Southern New
Jersey. There's this one on a stop on the Turnpike that totally fucking sucks.
Don't go there. In fact, stay away from the NJT altogether if you can.

But back to the story. The Van, despite some troubling incidents involving
turnabouts marked as exits, and soft drinks whose prices are inexplicably
mysterious even to the very people who are supposed to sell them, manages to
arrive in Waterbury without any significant problems. The Meandeck Ohio crew,
myself, and a barn or two all bed down in the hotel. This isn't nearly as sexy
as it sounds, because it was late, and we were tired, and anyway JP wasn't there
yet. Meandeck Rule #7 (cribbed from the Paragons) is, "No Sausage Fests without
JP or an Official JP Representative present." We like capital letters. Anyway,
we slept.

We awaken, and those of us who didn't shower before going to bed the night
before shower now. Because Meandeck Rule #5 is, "Don't be That Guy who doesn't
shower." Carl and Liz, who need no introduction, and Steve (Zherbus Steve, aka
"The Most Irish Steve Ever" (according to Hi-Val Doug, aka "The Standard
Argument")) and Tyler (TJ-Whoopy Tyler, who I don't have a nickname for yet but
is way too cool not to have one) all join us in our (now very cramped) hotel
room to sleeve up and go over everything one more time.

We head down to the tournament, which for a Vintage tournament is pretty
staggeringly large. Quite possibly the largest Vintage tournament ever in North

The Ass-Whooping

Pairings go up. I have that nervous jittery feeling, but it's that good nervous
jittery feeling, like "Alright, time to fucking pwn" and not like "Oh shit, I
forgot that project was due today." I'm playing Meandeck Tendrils, which while
fragile, is also broken as hell and almost as hot. Who DOESN'T want to goldfish
on turn one almost 70% of the time?

4 Tendrils of Agony
4 Spoils of the Vault
4 Night's Whisper
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Brainstorm
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Darkwater Egg
4 Dark Ritual
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Land Grant
1 Necropotence
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Lion's Eye Diamond
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mana Crypt
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Vault
1 Lotus Petal
1 Chrome Mox
1 Bayou
1 Tropical Island
1 Windsweapt Heath

1 Chain of Vapor
4 Duress
4 Force of Will
1 Bayou
1 Doomsday
1 Elvish Spirit Guide
3 Hurkyls Recall

Round 1 I'm paired against Rob. I didn't write anyone's last names down, so if I
played against you, forgive me for only knowing your first name. Game One: I win
on turn one, the second turn of the game since I lost the die roll. Game Two:
I'm not even sure what he's playing. I side in Force of Will. I have literally
no notes on this game except my little scribblings on how much
black/blue/colorless mana I had in my pool and my storm count. I win. I'm about
80% sure this deck was Control Slaver, but I really didn't see much of it.

So, nice start. Nothing like a turn one win to start a tournament right.

Round 2 I play Jared. He's playing Control Slaver, which becomes a theme of this
Waterbury. Game One: I Spoil myself to death. Ouch. Game Two: I win on turn one
on the back of Consult and Demonic Tutor. Game Three: He Welds in a Platinum
Angel, and I have Hurkyl's Recall and Yawgmoth's Will in hand. The obviously
correct play is to Hurk him at his EOT, then play YawgWill on mine. If he
counters the Hurk, great, I'll replay it. I make an incredibly stupid mistake,
however, and decide that since I need to resolve Hurk or I'll lose, I have to
bait with Will before I play Hurk. He counters the Will, but obviously I can't
play Hurk on the same turn now and still win. A man only has so much mana to
use, after all. I have to pass the turn, and he has a counter for my Hurkyl's
Recall that he may or may not have found on the extra turn I shouldn't have
given him. I don't know if that play error cost me the match, but even if it
didn't, I deserved to lose.

The rest of my team is having similarly mixed results. Z has already died to
Spoils at least once, and in general we're just foundering. I need to stop with
the stupid mistakes, and I need to start doing what I came here to do. Game

Round 3 is against our very own Method! He wins the die roll, and says "I know
what you're playing--I played a few games against JP last night, and he had it.
Hmm, this is risky, but I keep." I keep, too. He plays Wasteland, Mox, go.

Now there is only one way that a man of Method's obvious intelligence kept that
hand when he knew what I was playing, and I know this because I played Stax
against Zherbus in testing. Next turn, I promise you, he was going to play
another land, and a Trinisphere. That's why I didn't give him his next turn.
That's what Zherbus did to me in testing when I had those hands, too. What can I
say, I learned from the best.

Game Two: I keep a hand with two Force of Will and no other blue cards. I have
written here that I Forced a turn-1 Trinisphere. I'm thinking it was actually a
turn-one Tinker, but I may be confusing that with another game. It was a card
that kicks my ass, anyway, so I thought maybe I should stop it. My first turn is
relatively uneventful--Land, Chromatic Sphere, go. My second turn is pretty
event-tastic, though, because that's when I win.

Sorry about that, Method. You did exactly what you were supposed to in that
matchup, but I just had the goods. That's what kept happening in our testing, so
know that I wasn't a TOTAL lucksack.

At this point, I'm starting to hear the sound of inevitability. I'm starting to
feel it deep down. I am not going to lose before the Top 16, and I know it.

Round 4 sees me face Mike Burns, who's playing Tog. I don't know that until
after the match is over and we talk about it, though, because he doesn't get
much of a chance to do anything. Game One: I win on turn one. He didn't have the
Force. Game Two: I keep a hand that's either incredible or total shit, because
I'm on the draw and I have to play aggressively. This hand would have goldfished
on turn one; instead it wins on turn three, after I have to punch through Duress
and Force (thanks for the clarification, Mike). Mike's a good guy, we talk a
bit, and I wish him luck. Like all the people I played against, he was a class
act, and took his loss to this ridiculous deck in stride. For those counting at
home, that makes 5 hands in four rounds that goldfished on turn 1.

Round 5 vs. Nicholas. Game One: I win on Turn One. No FoW to stop me. Game Two:
I run into a Force of Will on my first turn, and at the end of my second turn he
plays Thirst for Knowledge dropping Platinum Angel into the yard. The clock is
ticking. Then he plays Goblin Welder on his third turn. That's when I decide
it's time for me to win, and I do, on the third turn.

Round 6 vs. Mike Panas. Mike is a very careful and thorough player, and almost
got me. Game One: I have a hand that goldfishes on turn one, but it seems like
every deck in the tournament is control, and I can't win on turn one if he has
Force. So I slow-play and don't push it. I make a stupid mistake and try to Land
Grant while holding Tropical Island, so I just play the Trop and then Land Grant
afterwards--this time with no lands in hand for real! Thanks God this wasn't a
game-ending mistake, though it could have been. He just got to cast Peek for
free! At any rate, he does have Force, and he has Drain to back it up, but I
keep constant pressure on and win through both. Game Two: He has two Force of
Will. I have total brokenness, and after he uses both to stop me, I Brainstorm,
Land Grant to shuffle, then Sleight, and YawgWill is the last card I see. Sorry,

Still undefeated in games since losing Round 2.

Round 7 vs. Jared (a different Jared). Game One: first turn kill. I have no idea
what he's playing, since I won the die roll. Game Two: first turn kill. One of
Jared's friends, who was witness to game one, drops in as I'm in the middle of
my massive turn and says "What the hell happened?!" Jared replied, sounding for
all the world exactly like Han Solo, "IT'S NOT MY FAULT!!" I'm sorry, Jared.
You're right. It wasn't your fault.

The train of inevitability arrives in the station, and now I can draw into the
T16. I get paired against hulk3rules (Brian Phelon) and we draw in.

The Top 16.

I'm paired against Matt. He's playing Control Slaver! I'm going to pause for a
second to let the sheer shock of that set in.

Round 1: I die to my own Spoils, but to be fair, Matt had this game locked up
after countering everything in sight. That train is having a little trouble
getting started back up again...

Game 2: ...but it gets there okay. I win on turn 1.

Game 3: Again with the 1st turn wins!

The Top 8.

I'm paired against hulk3rules. This is the best match of the tournament for me.
In game 1 I run into a timely Force of Will on my first turn Ancestral (that was
almost certainly a first-turn goldfish, unless I drew total ass off of that
Ancestral) and he Donates me my very own Illusions of Grandeur, as if I needed
more. That puts him at 39 life on my turn. I consult for YawgWill, and it's six
cards from the bottom. My five card library combined with my YawgWill allows me
to Tendrils for...

38 damage.


Game 2: My deck apologizes, and in a kindly gesture of reconciliation, kills my
opponent on turn 1.

Game 3: I have to LG on turn 1, and he sees my FoW and Sleight of Hand (as well
as the rest of my cards, none of which were blue). I can't go off turn 1--I
actually can't go off until turn 3, but i keep the hand because Brian's had to
mull to 5, so I figured I had time to set up against him. That, and it's a hand
that's fairly resilient to TheRapists and Duress. Sure he has at least one FoW,
I decide, if possible, to play around 2 FoW. On turn three (I think), I Whisper
and Brainstorm to set up my hand for the turn four attempt, and I draw a second
Sleight. I really don't need to play it, and from a goldfishing perspective it's
probably better to hold back with it, but I decide to give him the chance to
assume I've made a mistake, that I have no remaining blue cards to pitch to FoW
and that I'm playing my only Sleight to clear the cards I just had to put back
on top with Brainstorm. I play the Sleight. When I try to go off on turn four, I
start by playing Ritual, hesitating and waiting for it to resolve. He counters
it, probably because I have only one black source on the board, and perhaps also
in part because he DOES have the second Force, and is willing to use his first
liberally. I drop Lotus after he counters the Ritual (thanks for the storm!),
then play Cabal Rit with Threshold, then play Will. He FoW's, and I FoW back,
pitching that original Sleight. I don't know if my tricksiness actually won the
game or not, and I think that with the information he had, Brian played
correctly, but I'm pretty proud of the play....

Top 4 vs. Ultima.

...And of course we all know what pride goeth before, don't we? Game One: I die
to my own Spoils with something like 15 storm. Game Two: he plays Land, Mox, Sol
Ring, Arcane Lab.


And thus my Waterbury experience ends most ignobly. Deciding that celebration is
better than playing out the 3rd place vs 4th place match--particularly because
the other Top *8* match isn't even finished yet--I take Ray's advice and have
him tell my future opponent to take whichever Mox he wants, and I'll take the
other one. And that's why I have two Mox Rubies.

As for identification... yeah, well. I have no defense. I found it in the pocket
of a jacket I last wore about a month ago. I have broken Meandeck Rule #389:
"Don't be That Guy who loses his ID". And for that, I have been and will be
punished, and my response will be only: "Please, sir, may I have another?"


This time we avoid the turnpike. KFC off the turnpike turns out to be the polar
opposite of Burger King on the turnpike. And the story ends right where it
started, as our hero tramps upstairs to his apartment, tired but victorious,
buoyed by the Eagles' victory over Minnesota, in downtown Philadelphia. And it
was good.