I Don't Need No Lands, I Gots me a Meaaaannndeck - SCG Chicago 7th place
or Blue cards are for chumps
by JD

First, I'd like to apologize for taking so long to get this done. I was pretty
crunched for time in the week right after the event, and the report took me a
lot longer to write than I thought it would. Plus I had to get the decklists
done, and I figured the community would really like to see those as soon as

Man, the week before this tournament was rough. In fact, the week immediately
preceding the last SCG Chicago back in April I attended was just as bad.
Somehow, my professors must know that I'm going to have more fun than is allowed
by the school bylaws on the weekend and feel the need to offset that by making
the previous five days as miserable as possible. Yeah, as hard as they try, they
can't keep JD down. I had been harassing my team about logistics for the weekend
for the past like 4 weeks, and had posted about 70% of the messages in the
thread concerning Chicago logistics. Kevin Cron calls me the night before and we
try to hammer out some plans, as he tells me that he is going to be bringing
Paul Mastriano, Creator of Type 4, and JOE BUSHMAN. OH MAN!! THE BUSHMAN IS
COMING!! He wanted to meet at my place and have all of us go up together, but I
had made arrangements to pick up Jesus Roxas (Reb) in Urbana on the way up to
Chicago because not only I figured that wasn't going to happen but also I wanted
to help someone out and not have to ride up by myself (lame).

The guys in Terre Haute? Yeah, they decided not to come. They're a bunch of
jobbers. They'd rather go play Legacy or Extended or some other awful format for
a box of some lame set rather than the format that matters for some amazing
cards. Seriously. What is wrong with these guys? I mean, they'll only have one
of the new upstart paragons of Vintage in their presence until I graduate at the
end of May, and then I'll be gone from Terre Haute forever. Now that I think
about that, that's kinda sad. Oh well. I'll get to go back to Michigan (assuming
that blasted school in Ann's Arbor will have me) after that. Apparently, there
are some pretty good Vintage players there.

I really wanted to bolt out of Terre Haute right after Japanese ended at 1:30,
but unfortunately, I had to meet with a professor for my independent study in
topology for an hour. Every week, I come in under-prepared and wing my way
through the meetings. Somehow, I still have an A in this course. I likely don't
deserve it, as I've definitely been spending more time doing Vintage things than
worrying about school for the past 7 weeks of the term. Being a senior is
amazing like that. At the beginning of the term, I had been phoning in my
effort, but lately, I've been mailing it in. Somehow, they haven't thrown me out
yet and my grades are flawless as ever. I ask some question about how I didn't
understand something in the reading (it was a legitimate failure to comprehend)
and mostly pay attention to the lecture, but my mind kept getting distracted by
my impending travel plans and thoughts of foil cards and mad comboing out.
Finally, the hour ends, and I rush out, stop back at my house, and pack. I put
like a handful of things in my baseball bag, which can only be classified as the
biggest bag ever (no exceptions). It makes it look like I've brought enough
stuff for about 15 people, but really, I haven't. This time I remembered to
bring shampoo. Ok, that's an inside joke. At Gencon (surely everyone has read my
report), on the first night, I went to test with the Canadians next door, and
came crashing back in at about 1:40 am, after Chad and Jason and everyone else
had gone to sleep. Obviously, I hit Chad in the face with the door as I came in,
so I woke him up, which prompted a chain reaction of waking ups. I asked Jason
and Chad if they had any shampoo, as I had forgotten mine. Now, at states the
year before, I stayed at the same hotel and had forgotten to bring shampoo with
me. I went down to the desk and asked if they had any shampoo, and they didn't
have any back in October 2004 then. Guess what? They didn't have any in August
2005 either. At least I knew to walk over to the gas station across the street
and pick some up. Oh, yeah, Chad and Jason still swear this happened at 3 am,
but that's a crock. I told them I have the Canadians to back me up, but they
insist that they're not reliable, as Canadian clocks are only about 70-75% as
fast as American clocks. I wouldn't have gone to bed at 3, since Chad had
decided we needed to get to the convention center at 8 am because that's when
the dealer room opened, meaning I had to get up at some God-awful hour of the

Wait, isn't this supposed to be a report about SCG Chicago? How does everything
always come back to Gencon? Dammit, I got distracted again. This happens far too
often, but usually it's foils that distract me. I like shiny things. Remember
those report cards you used to get in grade school? The ones that peeled off and
there was a different one for each quarter? The ones with the comments by
numbers? That was a great system because, clearly, every possible issue with a
child can be described by one of approximately 40 different predetermined
numbered descriptions. When I got the first few back, I always used to get
"Diligent Student" (comment like #3 or something). But I was a kid, so I was
inherently dumb and couldn't read, so I thought it said "Delinquent student."
Anyway, if I were to get one of those now, I'd definitely get #26 for
everything. That's "easily distracted" if you don't recall. Don't ask how I
remember that. I have a good memory apparently, going back as far as grade
school. No wait, I was never young. I was never a kid. I use that as my defense
for why I hate small children. Forget you read all that.

Wait, isn't this supposed to be a report about SCG Chicago? Dammit, I got
distracted again. Ok, I promise, I'll get back to something interesting. Oh man,
I just noticed that I've gone like a page without using the words "savage" or
"amazing." Crap, it's happening again...

Ok, so I left Terre Haute after I got all my stuff together. I had printed out
some (half-ass) directions the night before to the various places I was going,
so I was all set there. I had even had the foresight to get money before getting
ten miles away from the closest ATM that recognizes First Terre Haute bank as a
legitimate lending institution. I mean, one time, we were in STL shopping for
Christmas presents (yes, we made a special trip there solely for that), and my
friend Ted stuffed his card into an ATM and it told him that there was no such
bank. Also, that was the trip that were we on a winding two-lane road and Ted
decided to go around this old guy with a hat in a Buick ahead of us...while we
were driving a 1992 Dodge Caravan. For everyone who criticizes my driving
(CHAD), at least know that there are worse drivers out there.

Wait, isn't this supposed to be a report about SCG Chicago? Here I am telling
stories about a trip to St. Louis I made back in 2002... I had XM Radio to keep
me company for the first hour and a half of my trip. Man, XM Radio is totally
savage. They have this one station called "Chrome" that plays nothing but 70s
disco and dance music. That's right, a station of nothing but BOOGIE MUSIC! How
good!! They play some amazing stuff on there too. At one point in the trip,
"Superfreak" came on, which prompted a loud "Bitch, that's RICK JAMES!!" and a
cranking of the volume dial. I boogied down the road for the next 7 minutes or
so (gotta love that super extended version they play on the radio), which must
have drawn strange looks from the people in the next lane, as I was clearly
groovin' to the music. The only thing I was missing was the afro. Other than
that, I drove nicely for once, and I don't think I did anything that would have
made Chad complain for least until I got to Urbana. No, there were a
few more exceptions. Apple must love it when I go on long trips, as I tend to
get the names of at least a half a dozen songs I feel the need to buy from
iTunes. I forget amazing songs far too often, so I started writing them down a
while ago. Yeah, it's hard to write and drive at the same time. However, I've
perfected this art such that I can look at the road and still write at the same
time AND at the end of it, not have hit anything and still be able to read my
writing. Clearly, I am a man among men for this.

One thing, though, that has proven extremely difficult to do is to read
maps/directions while driving in traffic, and I ended up missing Reb's place. He
told me it was the Hendrix House, which is written in 15 foot letters on the
side of the building, but despite that, I missed it the first time. So I started
driving around. Man, I always get all screwed up in college towns. Eventually, I
find the place and call Reb to see where he is. After some screwing around on
the phone, I find him, and tell him to turn around to find me. Man, sneaking up
on people is mad fun! Finally, we get along on our merry way. Somewhere after
that, Chad called me to complain about my driving...from 200 miles away. His
call made me dig for the phone, because finding it myself was going to be far
more exciting than letting Reb do it for me, which caused the car to swerve a
bit. In retrospect, I guess Chad was right. At that exact moment he called, my
driving was, in fact, awful. I really hate it when he's right.

I had to pick up Willie as well, on the southern end of Chicago. I had hoped
that my native guide Reb would be able to help me out with the directioning, but
it turned out that that wasn't exactly his neighborhood. I have Mapquest
directions, which are always exciting. Eventually, we come to a toll road. I
pick a lane at random, as they both looked pretty bad. Somehow, I succeeded in
picking the one that was worse. How laucky! It's like that one scene out of
Office Space. We wait in line for like 5 minutes, and then some dude gets up
there and starts taking forever. Then I start ranting. How can you wait in line
for 5 minutes and then get up there and fumble around to find 80 cents? What the
deuce was that guy doing while he was waiting?  Never mind, I don't want to
know. Reb and I joke about how people will get up there and then pay a 50 cent
toll with a100 bill, and how obnoxious that has to be. Then as we get up there,
I notice a big sign that says "No100 bills." Clearly, they've been through this
before. The whole incident amuses me greatly and I laugh for a good 10 minutes.
We agreed to meet in a CVS parking lot, and as we pulled out, I noticed a lanky
guy who was about 7 feet tall standing there with a few bags, looking around
shadily. We had just found Willie.

Willie hands me a Busch light can that's had the top carved out full of change
to be used for tolls. He informs us that he left for class with the floor clean
and came back to find 12 empty beer cans on the floor, and that he doesn't
drink. However, his roommate seemed to be absent when he returned, so he has no
idea where the deuce he ended up. Since there's no one left to pick up, we start
to head toward the Hotel. We get all screwed up trying to get back onto the
freeway, as the ramp we wanted to use was closed, and we end up in Indiana
somehow (and fill up with cheap gas). My Envoy has like every option ever on it
except the Navigation system, which was available only on the Denali model,
which was too much. Thus, we drive around for a bit before we finally get onto
the right freeway. I'm a little frustrated by this time, as it's taken us nearly
two hours to pick up Willie. I drive like I've got an assault vehicle. I can
only imagine how much Chad would have complained during the whole ideal. I think
we avoided about 10 accidents (including one where a semi-truck decided it
wanted my lane as well) along the way. I had no fears, and everyone else seemed
to be ok with it as well.

Kevin Cron and Paul Mastriano, Creator of Type 4, had tested for a few hours
before while we were driving all over Chicago on our adventure, so he was all
set. Willie needed to get some valuable testing in, so we did that. However, the
Colorado guys were already there, and I had to hang out with them. They're
always a blast. Bob, Lou, and a few of the other guys were about to go out for
some alcohol when my phone rang. It was Lou, on Bob's phone. Now, I was standing
inside their hotel room, and Lou was standing right outside the door (with a
good 10 people inbetween us). Yes, Lou called me from outside the hotel room.
Hilarity insued and while the Colorado guys were out getting booze, I headed off
to McDonald's to get some food, since I missed lunch. I guess McDonald's doesn't
really qualify as real food, but it has to do. It's at least a lot more
legitimate than White Castle. Man, Bob ate like 10 of those horrid things later
in the night, and I thought my stomach was going to erupt. Bleagh.

While Reb, Paul Mastriano, Creator of Type 4, and Willie were testing, I call
Brian Demars to see what he's up to. He informs me that Josh Franklin has
managed to duck out of this event and he's currently about an hour away with
Paul Nicolo and Jon Wilkerson, the evil ex-captain of Team Pandemonium, who
recently defected to Team RIW, a rival store. Jon holds a grudge against me
because I am better with Belcher than he is, hehe. Anyway, I give them
directions to our hotel, and then the whole mass of us hang out for a while. I
get my set of foil Joblin Welders from Brian, and am content that I will no
longer have to proxy them. Yes, I didn't own any Welders. Yes, I didn't own any
Welders because I couldn't find foil Welders. No, I'm not ashamed.

I look down at the trash can in and notice that there's like 5
empty beer bottles in there, and none of Reb, Paul Mastriano, Creator of Type 4,
or Willie had anything to drink. Hmmm...I don't feel drunk. I swear I didn't
have more than one, so I can only blame the Michigan crew for filling up our
garbage can. Anyway, somewhere all the middle of this chaos before he left,
Kevin informs us that Steve is going to be coming up. Steve previously had a
prior engagement that prevented him from coming, but at the last minute, that
fell through, so he was going to be flying up the next morning. We thought that
was insane, but whatever, we'd be glad to have him join us. We put the finishing
touches on Willie's and Paul's deck, and I hand Willie a good 2 grand in cards
so he can play his deck. I also found out just how many Hurkyl's Recalls I
owned. Apparently I have enough to supply both Willie and Paul with enough for
their decks (I think that's like 7 or 8 or something). Why I own that many
Recalls I don't really know.

We wake up and I take a quick shower (for me), as does Paul Mastriano, Creator
of Type 4. We greet the Colorado guys next door and head off to the tournament
site. However, we have to stop at the McDonald's along the way. In April, Ben
Kowal forced me to stop so he could get food, thus starting a new tradition. In
addition to being hungry, I had this free medium breakfast value meal coupon I
got from Monopoly that needed to be used. It's always good to start the day
right with a combo meal. Get it? Combo meal? Oh man, I'm soooo funny.

We find the store without much difficulty at all, and even get a nice parking
spot in front of the store, which is impressive considering the small parking
lot. We sit down and I work on my breakfast, while various people come up to me
and say hello. Slowly during all this, my teammates disappear one by one. Roland
calls me and asks me to come out when the parings start to go up.  I then learn
that there's a team meeting out in the parking lot...on the roof of Roland's
car. Man, it really looked hilarious to see like 5 people scrambling to put the
last polishes on their sideboards in the parking lot on the roof of a car. I get
bored at this "meeting" because it doesn't actually involve talking about
anything that is remotely useful to me. I head back in and find random people to
chill with. For once, I don't do any trading. I've got too much stuff. I don't
actually need anything any more and I don't have a lot I want to give up. It's
really hard for me to trade these days, which is too bad, since it used to be so
much fun. I see a lot of familiar faces, which is nice, and I hang out with some
of the GWS guys and a bunch of other people from the area I've met during all my
traveling. The pairings go up and I walk outside the door and shout to my team
"Let's go!" from across the parking lot and I watch as they round up all their
cards and hustle back into the store.

First and foremost is my list:

JD-Land Belcher

1 Taiga
1 Bayou
4 Land Grant
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mana Crypt
1 Lotus Petal
1 Lion's Eye Diamond
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring
1 Grim Monolith
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Dark Ritual
3 Cabal Ritual
1 Channel
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Tinder Wall
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Imperial Seal
2 Living Wish
1 Memory Jar
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Yawgmoth's Bargain
1 Necropotence
3 Duress
4 Joblin Welder
4 Joblin Charbelcher

1 Artifact Mutation
1 City of Brass
1 City of Traitors
1 Dark Confidant
1 Elvish Scrapper
1 Eternal Witness
2 Naturalize
1 Oxidize
1 Uktabi Orangutan
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Xantid Swarm

Not much has changed since Springfield aside from the obvious addition of
Imperial Seal (which I mentioned in the 2-Land Belcher thread on TMD) and a few
tweaks in the sideboard. I explained most of it in my last report, and I'll be
working on a primer when I get a chance (hopefully next week). I'll explain it
all in there.

One thing I'll note is that I ran another Naturalize in place of one Oxidize
because I anticipated a large number of Dragon and Oath decks. Naturalize kills
both their win conditions (Dragon doesn't usually see responses with the Dragon
trigger on the stack coming from Belcher) as well as Null Rods, which is my
primary concern. I also figured that the anticipation of Grim Long would send
the number of Chalices present through the roof, and Chalice for 1 is a nice
thing to remove when you can.

Round 1 - Vanessa Acevedo with Food Chain Joblins

Now, I always get a little nervous before the first round of a big tournament,
and again, this is no exception. I don't really understand why this happens
either. I've got tons and tons of tournament experience, and I know my deck is
savage. I mean, it's already gotten me a Timetwister and a Workshop, as well as
some other stuff, so it must be pretty good. Maybe it has something to do with
how the first round can set the tone for the day and losing round one just makes
life so much more difficult. My opponent sits down and is introduces herself. In
addition, she was kinda cute too, so all of that relieves my nervousness. I'm
ready for action. I win the die roll, which is nice too.

Game 1:
Man, my opening hand is just plain ridiculous. Black Lotus, Dark Ritual, Taiga,
Belcher, Cabal Ritual, Land Grant, and something else. Yeah, that wins on the
first turn without exception. Vanessa was rather impressed with my first turn
victory, as at that point, there's not much else you really can do. I've always
said that the best thing you can do with a combo deck is win the first game of
the tournament on the first turn (bonus points if you're on the play), as it
just sets such a precedence for the rest of the tournament.

The only trouble with this is that I have no idea what she's playing. In fact, I
have no idea if Force of Will is even in her deck. All I know is that her
opening hand didn't have Force of Will in it. I board out a Duress or two for
some artifact hate, since it seems likely she might bring in Chalices and/or
Null Rods if she has them. Chalices are pretty popular these days.

Game 2:
My opening grip has no action whatsoever and a lot of mana, with a couple
Chromatic Spheres and maybe a Welder. I have no idea what my opponent is
playing, but I guessed that she wasn't playing with Force, since her reactions
on my first turn in the first game seemed to indicate that she had no intentions
of responding to anything I was going to do. I suspect there's a good chance
she's playing Stax, and the hand I have is perfect against that, as it has all
sorts of accelerants at a variety of casting costs. I've got a game to burn as
well, so I decide to keep this hand based on all that.

She opens up with a Goblin Vandal. I drop about 4 permanents, including a
Welder. She attacks with her Vandal, and I block it with the Welder. I again
feel like I've accomplished something. This exact same play happened in St.
Louis the weekend before, and I felt good about it then too. Man, creature
combat in Vintage is soooo exciting. I continue to draw more and more mana.
Unfortunately, I let my Welder die, so I can't get my draw engine of artifacts +
Chromatic Sphere up and running. I get another Welder down, but she kills it
with a Gempalm Incinerator. Man, it's really annoying how Incinerator can be
used to kill a Welder when there are no other Joblins in play. Somewhere around
turn 4, she plays a Food Chain, and converts a Piledriver in play into a
Ringleader. Her Ringleader turns up 3 Joblins and another Ringleader. She plays
some of them, and then the next Ringleader, which turns up 3 more Joblins and a
Ringleader. I really don't like where this is going. Things get pretty
complicated in here with a Warchief making everything really cheap and creatures
going in every which direction, and I help her out by keeping track of her mana
from all these various Joblins for her. Eventually, she runs out of cards, and
her board features a horrible horde (without the toaster this time,
unfortunately) of Joblins, which by then included a Warchief or two and a few
Piledrivers. I look at my Tinder Wall on the board and wish it were a Moat.

Game 3:
I didn't so much catch a glimpse of a Chalice or a Null Rod in that game (the
one non-Joblin she turned up off the one Ringleader was a Naturalize), but I
board out my Duresses for artifact hate just in case Vanessa was unlucky enough
to not have found them in the previous game. Duress just really isn't very good
against a deck that plays with like 3 cards that it can even hit. I'm on the
play again, which is always good.

My first hand contains Bargain and Jar in it and not enough mana to play either
one of them. In fact, it contained a bunch of black spells, but no black mana,
so I ship that one back after trying and failing to find a way to justify
keeping it. It did, however, contain Taiga. My opening hand in game 2 also
contained Taiga, so that's three games in a row where I drew it. I mean, you
could say I got really lucky to see one of my two lands in each opening hand,
but I looked at it more as "this could be any other 1-of in my deck, like Black
Lotus." My hand of 6 looked about the same, except that it contained 0 mana at
all. Ok, so 5 cards. I really don't like where this is going. Fortunately for
me, my hand of 5 is pretty good. I open with Mana Crypt, Land Grant for Bayou,
remove an ESG for green, and then Living Wish for Dark Confidant and play it.
Vanessa makes a comment that she doesn't have Mogg Fanatic in her opening hand,
which is good, and she decides to Waste my Bayou. The first card I get off the
confidant is Yawgmoth's Bargain, which is really not the card I want to see
against an aggro deck when I have a Crypt on the table. Speaking of which, I
avoid damage because I am a savage lucksack. I draw Belcher for the turn and
play if off (I think) a Mana Vault I had held back. Then I get my 2 damage in
there. She plays a Piledriver or something off a Mox on her turn and passes. I
rip another Belcher off the Confidant, which moves me to 10. Then I avoid damage
for the second turn in a row. I draw Land Grant for my turn, play it, and
activate the Belcher for the win.

I'm terrible at turning in match slips in a punctual manner after my round ends.
Usually, a good 10-20 minutes pass before I think about getting up. This round
is no exception. I sit and converse with my opponent a little bit and she shows
me that she brought in Naturalizes and Null Rods. I show her my collection of
artifact hate, which was 2 Naturalize and one Artifact Mutation. She tells me
that she didn't have Chalices, and points at the Joblins fellow who was playing
against BrassMan who had a Chalice on the table and says she likes the idea.

After I get my match slip taken up, Paul Nicolo walks by me and shows me his
result, which says that he defeated Roland Chang in part due to some savage
deckwielding skills and solid draws, which included double Energy Flux and
Kataki in game 3. As for the rest of my team, I learn that Steve has won his
round (including game 1 on the first turn) and the others did not fair as well.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I got this amazing idea: take notes right
after the match. Then, when I try to write a report, I won't be scrambling to
remember what the deuce happened in all my matches. Let me tell you, games with
combo can all blend together, especially if you draw the same restricted cards
multiple games in a row. It gets really hard to remember exactly what game you
played Grim Monolith in. I write down some notes on the last match and hang
around for the next one to start.

I head up to the SCG table to kill time by looking at foil cards. A guy named
Jeremy comes up and introduces himself to me and says that he is playing my
deck. I am flattered that people thought my deck was good enough to bring to a
high-profile event. He tells me that his friends put the maindeck together, but
didn't provide him with a sideboard, nor a list for the sideboard. Needless to
say, his sideboard was a bit thrown together and a little suboptimal. He asks
for some general boarding hints, and I provide as much insight as I can, but his
board doesn't include Xantid Swarm, which makes it a little harder.
Unfortunately, in the middle of our conversation in the middle of traffic, the
pairings go up, so we have to run.

Round 2 - Raffaele Forino with 5-Color Stax

Raffaele sits down and introduces himself and shakes my hand. I really love how
friendly everyone is in Vintage! It just makes rounds so much more pleasurable
to play when you start off on the right foot. I've gotten a little negligent in
introducing myself before rounds start as of late. A lot of people recognize me
anyway, so I tend to forget. The big "Meandeck" on my hoodie and the foil cards
are usually a pretty good giveaway. I don't want to gain an advantage based on
introducing myself as "JDizzle" (which I might do by accident), because I
remember how hard it was for me when I first started going to big events to meet
and play against all the people I had seen on The Mana Drain and SCG Forums.

Game 1:
Raffaele wins the die roll and elects to play first (what a surprise!). After
deliberating a bit, he elects to keep his hand. My hand doesn't require much
analysis at all, as it has a variety of acceleration at a variety of casting

He opens with an Arabian City of Brass (pretty!) and a Mox Ruby and passes the
turn. At this point, I figure that he is playing either Stax, or possibly a
combo deck like GrimLong. In either case, I am shocked that he didn't have a
turn 1 play, but not especially disappointed though. I draw a second Land Grant
(how good!), and then Land Grant for both lands, finding Bayou first and it into
play and then Taiga into my hand. I then tap my Bayou to play Dark Ritual, Sol
Ring, and a Belcher. With a sigh, Raffaele is unable to make a more significant
turn than to Strip Mine my Bayou, which he knows doesn't really do anything
against that Taiga in my hand. I untap, play my Taiga, and win.

Game 2:
After my opponent keeps 7 cards, I realize that my first hand is complete
garbage and I ship it back without too much hesistation. My next hand is much
more exciting: Black Lotus, Mana Crypt, Joblin Belcher, Dark Ritual, Land Grant,
Chromatic Sphere. This hand folds to Chalice for 0 and one Sphere of Resistance
puts it in "find ESG now!" Obviously, I keep it. The risk is offset by the fact
that this hand just plain wins on the first turn otherwise, and I'm up a game
besides the point. Finding an ESG isn't that hard, and I'll generally have time
to do it, as to lock me out, my opponent would need to locate a Trinisphere or
another Sphere of Resistance to pose a problem.

He opens the game by dropping a couple Moxes, a Gorilla Shaman, followed by a
Sphere of Resistance. Crap. What was I saying about ESG? Yeah, he plays stuff on
his turns, and I don't find an ESG. He's got about 10 permanents out there,
including a Smokestack, but I don't really care, as if I find an ESG, I'm going
to drop my hand and win the game. Finally, he locates a Tinker, and shows me
Trinisphere. With no sight of Channel and enough ESGs to cast it, I scoop. The
ball is my court in game 3.

Game 3:
My opening hand is pretty dicey: Demonic Consultation, Mox Pearl, Land Grant,
Channel, Dark Ritual, Wheel of Fortune, and Joblin Welder. This hand isn't
explosive, but it should be good enough to win if I play it correctly. I start
by Land Granting for Bayou and then playing Mox Pearl. Now I have decisions to
make. I elect this one: I play Demonic Consultation and name Chromatic Sphere. I
find it after removing about 13 cards or so. I then play the Sphere and pass. 

First, why Chromatic Sphere? It is clear that I need to have red mana to make
this hand work. I can't consult for Land Grant, lest I remove the Taiga in the
process. Consulting for Black Lotus or Mox Ruby just isn't a great idea right
now, and I can't play Tinder Wall this turn because my Bayou is tapped), so I go
for the only unrestricted red source in the deck I can play this turn-Chromatic
Sphere. It's also nice that Sphere will replace itself, meaning it only costs me
1 card instead of 2. When I first looked at the hand, I had hoped to cast Wheel
of Fortune on turn one, but I was one mana short: Dark Ritual makes BBB,
Consultation bumps that down to BB, and then the sphere takes one, leaving me
only with WB (which becomes RB after I use the Sphere). I'd need to draw a mana
source off the Sphere, otherwise I'd have to burn and play the Welder. Welder is
great against Stax, but then I'd have to Weld Mox Pearl for Chromatic Sphere to
get red mana for the next turn (killing my permanents), and then I'd still have
to draw a mana source to play Wheel of Fortune. This early in the game, it's
going to be a while before my opponent puts an artifact into his graveyard, and
if my Welder is on the board, he'll guard against it as best as he can. If I
wait until the next turn, I can play the Wheel and have some mana left over to
take into the new hand. That seemed better and that's why I chose what I did. If
things went my way, I'd have the option of playing either the Welder or the
Wheel the next turn, and options are always good. After a short break for
analysis, we can now return to the game at hand.

On his turn, he plays a Chalice at 1 and passes. Ok, now this just got more
exciting. I draw something worthless (not mana-see!?!) and have to pass. Then he
plays a Smokestack. I look at my board of three permanents and the Chalice and
realize that I need to take action quickly, otherwise I'm going to lose my
board, and that doesn't seem good considering Chalice for 1 makes a significant
number of my permanents unplayable. I draw another worthless card for my turn,
and then I tap my Pearl to crack my Chromatic Sphere for red, and draw Land
Grant. Then I rifle out Channel and use two life plus the red floating to play
Wheel of Fortune. My next hand nets me two Belchers as well as some zero-cost
artifacts. I'm more than happy to pay some combination of life and mana to play
and activate a Belcher for the win.

I wander around the room for a bit, and head over to find Roland and see how
he's doing. His game looks more intense than that one time I forgot how to sit
down, so I decide to watch. The chair next to him is empty, so I sit down to
inspire some more confidence in him and maybe intimidate his opponent a little
bit with some Meandeck backing. Ok, I really didn't think that was going to work
(I'm not very naturally intimidating, and I don't try to be), but I at least
wanted to watch the match. It was announced that there was going to be a lunch
break after this round, so I had to round up Roland (the last member of our team
not involved in a match) and take him for nourishment. Unfortunately for our
stomachs, Roland's battle was an epic one. His opponent was playing Ninja Mask
(which at the time, I mistook for Full English Breakfast at the time), and
managed to get down a Ground Seal to accompany his Illusionary Mask to make
Roland's Welder worthless. Meanwhile, he was able to produce enough blockers not
to lose to Roland's Sundering Titan while Roland's Mana Crypt made life
interesting. It wasn't long before a few Dreadnoughts located by Survival found
their way onto the board. The match went into turns, and unfortunately, Roland
was unable to pull it out.

During the end of the match, while I was watching this all this, I was chilling
with a number of people, which included Vanessa (my first round opponent) and I
believe Jeremy McDonough (Arakkis). Jeremy mentioned that I'm JDizzle, which
inspired some awe in the others sitting/standing there, and I received a flurry
of compliments on my reports and other miscellaneous writings. I was so
flattered that I didn't know what to say! It means a lot to me when people say
that they like my work. I'll keep writing it if you guys keep enjoying it! Also
in the middle of this, I signed a JD's Desire and a Chalice of the Void, on
which I wrote "Grr! I hate this F'ing card" 

Kevin called me as well and told me that he and the rest of the group was at the
Wendy's two blocks over and to join them as soon as possible. I informed him
that I needed to bring Roland with me and his match was still in progress. With
the turns having cut into food time, Roland and I hustled over to the Wendy's
only to find an astronomically long line. Apparently a few other
tournament-goers had the same idea. Who would have thought that? We only had
about 20 minutes to get food and get back, and it was clear that we couldn't
wait in that line and still be on time. Then Roland showed me why we pay him the
big buck: he suggested that we go through the drive-through! We hustled back
over to his car, got in, and rolled into the Wendy's, getting food with about 10
minutes to spare.

I open up my trusty notebook to a new page to make some notes for the coming
match and realize that if I don't start writing on the back of the paper, I'm
going to run out. That's not very good. I had better get a new notebook before
the next tournament otherwise I'm going to be in trouble.

Round 3 - Jason Hall with Food Chain Joblins

I've drawn Joblins two out of my three rounds. I didn't scout around after I
finished my last two matches to see what the metagame looked like, but I guess
there was a significant amount of Joblins. With Stax and Slaver as popular as
they are, I'd bring Joblins to an event over Fish. Or it could be that I'm just
lucky. After going through the lists after the event, it was really the case
that I was just lucky.

Jason is from Kalamazoo, and I've met him before at various events within

Game 1:
Jason wins the die roll and has to mulligan to 5, which is always unfortunate. I
only have to mulligan once, and my opening hand has Land Grant, Dark Ritual, and
Necropotence in it, among other things. The card I draw for my turn is Taiga,
which is really obnoxious. These stupid lands keep following me around.
Seriously, the sheer amount of times I draw my lands in opening hands is pretty
ridiculous. It's pretty nice against Stax and nice not to have to show my hand
to control, but why couldn't that land have been Black Lotus, or like, Mana
Crypt? Anyway, I toss the blasted Taiga onto the table and play a Joblin Welder,
which is lame. Then I Land Grant up the Bayou and pass. Jason cycles Gempalm
Incinerator to wipe out my Welder on his turn. Remember what I was saying about
how annoying it is that Gempalm can kill a Welder with no other Joblins on the
table? Yeah, it just happened. I guess it's just as well, as I really didn't
need that stupid Welder and was upset that I had to play it anyway. On my turn,
I draw Grim Monolith, and tap my Bayou to play Dark Ritual. I have Memory Jar in
my hand and enough mana to play it, and I hesitate for a second or two before I
come to my senses and cast Necropotence. I take 10 cards or so. Jason doesn't
kill me on his turn, and my next turn is just ridiculous: Jet, Sapphire, Lotus,
LED, Dark Ritual, Demonic Tutor, win.

Game 2:
Jason has to mulligan to 5 again, while my hand of 7 is pure Gas. Jason leads
with a Wasteland and passes. Oh boy! LED, Lotus Petal, remove an ESG for Tinder
Wall, crack Lotus Petal for black to play Imperial Seal to get a pretty amazing
card, remove another ESG and then Wheel of Fortune, cracking LED for BBB in
response. I make a comment about "I wonder what I got?" and Steve, sitting at
the next seat, notices and says "Did you crack that LED for black? Yeah, I think
I know what you got." I play a Dark Ritual (I don't think that was it), Mox
Sapphire (also, probably not), tap the Sapphire to play Chromatic Sphere (also
unlikely, I already tutored for one of these earlier), which I crack to filter
out a black, and draw Land Grant. Then I play the Land Grant and reveal my hand,
which contains this really amazing card called Yawgmoth's Will. Yeah, after
playing my Bayou, I cast Yawgmoth's Will, replay all that stuff (Seal for
Belcher and crack Sphere to get it) and win the game after flipping up 24 cards
or so.

Round 4 - Stephen Menendian with Grim Long

I didn't take notes after this round, or during it, and my recollection is
pretty shaky on this match. A lot of stuff happened in this match, and there was
such a huge break between this and the next round and I didn't have to tell my
teammates about the round, so I kinda forgot most of it. Oops!

Game 1:
The following things happen in the first few turns: Steve Duresses me twice
(hitting a Belcher and Dark Ritual), and I Duress him once (can't remember what
I hit). Steve Time Walks and Brainstorms and hits no action. At some point, I
Living Wish for Dark Confidant and build up massive card advantage. Steve plays
a Xantid Swarm and blames me that he has it. I just smile and remind him that
it's cutting off my Mana Drains. My Confidant makes my topdecks come a lot
faster, and it's not too long before I find another Belcher or Welder (can't
remember which) and win the game.

Game 2:
Steve gets an early jump on me, and I lose this game. I have no recollection
how, but that's what happens.

Game 3:
We Duress each other into oblivion and eventually Steve hardcasts a Memory Jar.
I have an active Welder on the board, but Steve has no artifacts in his
graveyard. Boo. I decide it's time to try to win and cast Wheel of Fortune. I
don't hit a Belcher or enough mana to play one, but I do drop Mana Crypt
followed by Mana Vault into play. Then I pass. Steve starts planning his next
move. He says that its going to be excessively complicated, as Will is in the
graveyard (discarded to Wheel), and it sure sounds like it. It reminded me of
that one time at SCG III (Chicago, October last year) when I played Dante in
that side event. He was playing Doomsday and made a map of his deck when he
finally thought he could Doomsday up a win, all the time muttering "I hate Steve
and his deck." That qualified as the worst combo mirror ever. We didn't finish
it. How lame. Anyway, somewhere between Steve's Brainstorm and Imperial Seal I
suddenly remember that I have a Belcher in my graveyard from a Duress like 4
turns ago. How much mana do I have untapped? 3? Hot dish! I was curious to see
if Steve could pull it out, and was going to wait until he had a lethal Tendrils
on the stack (I learned that from Ben) before Welding in my Belcher, but when I
could see how much that would deter him, I waited for the next time I had
priority and Welded in and activated the Belcher.

I signed the match slip in Steve's favor 2-1. Clearly, I wasn't going to lose
another match that day (because I'm such gas), something which Steve assured me
of as well. In my last two tournaments with Belcher, I've walked away with two
power cards. I felt indestructible with the deck, and it was important to put as
many teammates in the Top 8 as possible. I was too determined to be denied.

I walk over to the SCG booth and ask to see the foreign box. I love foreign
cards. I pick out a Gorilla Shaman, a Japanese foil Krosan Reclamation, 3 Asian
Spheres of Resistance, and 3 Asian Smokestacks. Bleiweiss prices it out for me a
bit later and I end up with all that stuff for a mere $25. Man, what a savage
deal! Ben Beiweiss is now my new hero because he gets me Asian cards at
breakneck prices. I love him until he writes his next Vintage article, at which
point he'll likely raise the ire of the entire community (myself included), and
then he'll have to sell me more Asian cards to get my favor back. Man, I'm so
easy to please.

Doug Linn calls me somewhere around this time for an update, and I fill him in.
Apparently he didn't see our signals, as at some point, Willie stood on Kevin's
shoulders to signal our teammates back in Ohio. I guess there must have been an
overcast or something (smog?), because none of them saw the message. Luckily,
technology is pretty useful sometimes.

Unfortunately for all of us players who can finish a round in 50 minutes or
less, there was match still going. Apparently it involved a player with Meandeck
Gifts making about 15 errors in a row and trying to figure out a way to win
despite his ineptness. I think he did something like burn Mystical Tutor on
something retarded and couldn't find Tendrils, and was trying his hardest to fix
that, much to the detriment of the rest of us. I couldn't go over and watch it
because I didn't think I could bear it. In addition, there wasn't much more room
for spectators around the crowded table. I stand there with Steve, Matt Endress,
Willie, and a few other people and waste time. Steve decides that my Meandeck
Hoodie looks amazing, and that Douggie deserves mad props for it. I inform the
group that I got green because Dr. Doom wear green (obv), but it was all Doug's
idea to make the letters goldenrod (yes, it's not yellow or gold, it's
goldenrod). I tell Steve I won't trade it to him even for Asian foil cards.
About a half hour later, the madness finally ends, and the pairings for round
the fifth go up. Luckily for us, we were standing right by where the pairings
are posted, so we didn't have to fight through a mass of humanity to see our

Round 5 - Dan Chapman with Ninja Mask

I'm a little nervous, as I was 3-0 at the April Chicago and lost the next two,
and once did the exact same thing at a PTQ. At least it wasn't as bad as this
year at States, where Chad started 4-0 and somehow managed to scrub out and lose
the next 3 in a row. My opponent sits down and I know I saw him play earlier in
the day, but I can't for the life of me remember what he was playing. I haven't
seen a Mana Drain deck as of yet, and I wasn't especially broken up about that
fact (if I had been playing Long, I would have been complaining that I didn't
get a chance to stomp the crap out of Mana Drain). Dan makes a comment about
Roland or signing cards while watching his match or something that gave it away,
and then I remembered what he was playing. I was able to relax after that.

Game 1:
I win the die roll and might have mulliganed, but I apparently didn't write that
down. The mulligan notes seem to have disappeared somewhere around Round 3. I
open with a Mox, Sol Ring, Chromatic Sphere, which I crack for red and play a
Joblin Welder. Dan then plays a Sapphire, Brainstorms, plays an Emerald, and
passes. Hmm...there seems to be something missing on the board right now. Oh,
yeah, LAND! Bah, who needs that. I sure as hell don't. I got sick of losing to
Crucible/Wasteland, and I figured that there were two good ways to stop that. 1)
Play with more basics, or 2) just don't play with land. I opted for the second.
It seems to be working thus far today. Anyway, on my second turn, I generate
some green mana off a Bayou (which I think I drew), and play Living Wish for
Dark Confidant and pass the turn. Dan then plays another Brainstorm, another
Mox, and Survival of the Fittest. I believe this is the first time ever I've had
more land than an opponent...ever. I'm quick to point this fact out, and my
opponent doesn't seem too pleased by that. My first Confidant card is Dark
Ritual. On my mainphase, I go aggro and beatdown for 2 (I love this attacking
stuff!), play the Dark Ritual, and play Necropotence. I think about it for a bit
and take 8 cards, moving down to 11 life. I sculpt the perfect hand that
involves Yawgmoth's Will and removing Taiga from the game, so it must be good.
EOT, Dan removes an ESG to pitch Psychatog to the Survival to get Squee. He
plays a land and Volrath's Shapeshifter, but it doesn't have Haste, which is
just as well, since I could block with my Welder. Man, Belcher uses the combat
step sooo much. It's amazing. I reveal Imperial Seal off the Confidant and then
play a ton of mana: Emerald, Mana Vault, Mox Jet, Duress, Dark Ritual. I've got
two Welders in play by this point as well, so I'm sooo set on mana. I play a
Chromatic Sphere and crack it and draw an ESG or something. Then I realize that
playing Will would be complete overkill, and just play the Imperial Seal for
Belcher, weld out my tapped Mana Vault for Chromatic Sphere, crack the Sphere,
play the Belcher, and use my Mana Vault mana to activate it.

Game 2:
Dan opens with Tropical Island, proving that he is, in fact, playing with land
this round, Mox Sapphire, Chalice at 0, and Ancestral Recall. That seems pretty
good. I'm only holding one 0-cost accelerant, so Chalice for 0 doesn't bother me
at all. I Land Grant for Bayou and play Tinder Wall. Dan then plays a Chalice at
1 and passes. Well, this is interesting. I play Duress. Then Dan points at the
Chalice and reminds me it's countered. Drat. On his turn, Dan plays an
Illusionary Mask and a face-down creature. Then I play Taiga after drawing it
the hard way (man, I'm glad it wasn't Black Lotus this time!), and play Joblin
Welder. Man, that's countered. Crap. Then I try Vampiric Tutor. Man, nothing
seems to be able to get through that wall of Chalices! Dan's face-down creature
doesn't flip over, so I know it's not a Dreadnought. He plays a Survival, which
means that things are going to get exciting soon. On my next turn, I look at my
Graveyard and see that it has 7 cards in it. How laucky!! That means my Cabal
Ritual produces 5 mana, which means I can play Memory Jar this turn. How good!
Unfortunately for me, in response, Dan Survivals away something to get Volrath's
Shapeshifter and pitches it to Force. Dan then uses Survival to find a
Dreadnought and plays it face-down, and it becomes face-up instantly. I rip Grim
Monolith off the top of my deck, which I get down. Then I take 12 and am now
staring down two Dreadnoughts. I need to make something happen and tap my Taiga
and Monolith for Wheel of Fortune, which resolves. My new hand has Cabal Ritual
and Yawgmoth's Will in it. I get the Ritual to resolve, but my Will is met with
the third Force of the game. Dan tells me he had the 4th Force in his hand as
well. So, to summarize it all up, it took 3 Forces to prevent me from winning
with Chalice for 0 and Chalice for 1 both on the table.

Game 3:
My opening hand is pretty exciting. I play Mox Emerald, Mana Vault, tap for
Chromatic Sphere, crack it for red, Joblin Welder, LED, and then burn for 1. Dan
leads with a Ground Seal, which means I can't just use my LED, put the Belcher
in the yard and then Weld it in as I had planned on doing. I play a Tinder Wall
and attack for 1, since this Welder doesn't do much else good. But then Dan
plays a Blocker in the form of a Birds of Paradise. I just hope I don't attack
and get met with Giant Growth. That would be annoying. I try to play Wheel of
Fortune on my turn, and predictably, it is met with Force of Will. I don't
remember what Dan did on his next turn, but I play the Monolith that had been in
my hand for a bit and play the Belcher, and then activate it off the LED, since
I think Bayou was in play. I flip a ton of cards and get to the bottom, where
Taiga is sitting.

My tiebreakers are amazing (Jason Hall, my third round opponent, had also won
his last two matches), so I should just need to win one more and then I can draw

Round 6 - Jeremy Seroogy with 5-Color Stax

Jeremy's play mat has "The Spooky Kid" written in large letters across it, and I
recognize the name. I know we talked at April Chicago, but I don't think we
actually played. Jeremy is a member of Team ICBM. The last ICBM member I played
was Ian Degraff at the Saturday evening tournament at Gencon, and he beat my ass
good. Then again, I was playing TPS (what a pile!) and he was playing Meandeck
Gifts, and testing has proved that TPS has about 0% chance of actually winning
that match. I guess the moniker "ICBM" really came true last time. However, it
is my intention to make sure that it doesn't happen this time.

How do I say this without spoiling the outcome? Well, I guess it doesn't matter,
does it? Everyone knows that I made T8, so it's obvious that I must have won
this round. I was a little excited after this match, so I didn't write anything
down. I hope I have reconstructed the events that transpired correctly.

Game 1:
Jeremy wins the die rolls and we both keep our hands of seven. He opens it up
with a Gemstone Mine, a Mox, and a Chalice for 0. I'm only holding one 0-cost
accelerant in the form of Lotus Petal, so I'm ok with it. I open it up with Land
Grant for Taiga, which I put into play, and Land Grant for Bayou, which I keep
in my hand, and a Joblin Welder. Jeremy then plays a Chalice for 1 on his next
turn. I'm ok with it, and just attack with my Welder because I have nothing else
to do at the moment. We play Draw-Go for a turn or two, and Jeremy makes a
comment that that Chalice for 1 is hurting him more than me. I draw a Grim
Monolith, play a Cabal Ritual after slipping the Bayou out, toss a Lotus Petal
into the Chalice, play the Monolith, and a Belcher. Jeremy wastes one of my
lands, and then at the end of his turn, I weld out the Monolith for Lotus Petal.
I then untap, bring the Monolith back and activate the Belcher for the win.

Game 2:
Jeremy opens with another Chalice at 0 and a land and passes. I've already got
Bayou in my hand, so I play it, Dark Ritual, Chromatic Sphere, which I crack for
a red (and draw something like an ESG), play a Welder and cast Demonic
Consultation naming Joblin Charbelcher. I find it after 15 cards or so, and I
believe Taiga goes out of the game. Jeremy then plays a Chalice at 1 off another
land and passes. I remove an ESG to Naturalize the Chalice and have no other
plays. With an artifact in his graveyard, I can stall with this Welder for as
long as it takes me to draw something useful. I draw a card and play out a
Tinder Wall and attack with my Welder. Jeremy has a Workshop finally, and gets
Smokestack into play. On my next turn, I find some way to get to 4 mana (some
sort of Ritual) and get the Belcher down. The details are fuzzy, but I know I
had 3 mana available to me the next turn even if Jeremy did have another
Wasteland, but I can't remember how. With the Smokestack on the stack, I
activate the Belcher for the win.

Round 7 - Ben Carp with ICBM Oath

We check the standings and realize that both of our breakers are amazing, and
decide we can draw into the T8 without any difficulties. He shake hands and
congratulate each other on a day well-played.

I go back and chill with my team, before they start arguing about something I'm
not really interested in, and then decide to go over to the Sushi place next
door. Steve and I had gone in there a round earlier to get a menu and were
greeted with a loud and enthusiastic "Irasshaimase!" I guess that's how it is
over in Japan. When we used to role-play store and restaurant scenes in Japanese
class, we were always like dead and just acted like we just didn't care (like
most American employees, right?). Kubota-sensei always did threaten to fire us.
Anyway, I'm always tempted to order in Japanese, but I don't ever have the nerve
to actually do it because I'm afraid they might assume that I know more Japanese
than I really do and start rambling on and I wouldn't understand a word. That
would be embarrassing. However, at one of the GPs or PTs I go to, I want to meet
Masashi Oiso and talk to him a bit in Japanese (and get him to sign something
for me). That guy is just plain amazing. He's totally my combo hero, even if he
doesn't play Vintage. Yes, I realize that plan has disaster and embarrassment
written all over it, but I don't really care. It'll be cool (or, maybe Sugoi

Instead of grabbing Sushi, I call Ben Perry and let him know the good news. Ben
served as my partner-in-combo before I joined Meandeck, but now has moved on in
his life and isn't able to play cards as much as he used to. He still serves as
a confidant for my magical career and has always provided me with good advice.
It was just too bad that he wasn't there to share triumph with me in person.

I sort my deck out, which a few people watch and are impressed with its sheer
pimpness. Then Steve walks up and asks "What happened to your Beta power?" I
then respond with "Man, it's really strange. I woke up one day, and it had just
turned white-boardered!" I'm not ashamed to admit that I don't own any
black-boardered power. Well, ok, I'd like to have it, but I just can't justify
the upgrade cost...yet. There's a delay in starting the T8 deck checks because
Josh Smith (from STL) had his match slip entered incorrectly or something like
that, and it might have cost him some prize. I have no idea about the details,
but there was quite an long discussion between Josh and the head judge. I watch
from afar as a judge checks my deck. I had sorted the entire thing as it was
exactly on the list (since I had an extra list), card for card, and I watched as
he made his life difficult. All he had to do was count the cards in the exact
order they were already in, but instead he had them all sprawled out across the
table and was searching for them as he checked it over. A woman watched as he
did it and looked liked she was in awe of its sheer prettiness.

I stop by and see Vroman and his crew and inform him that we've been paired in
the Top 8. He says he already knows and I notice he's somehow managed to capture
a copy of the standings of his own. I have no idea how that happened, but it
seems that Team Ogre is pretty good at coming up with these sorts of things. I
don't really understand it, but somehow, it always happens. After some more
waiting and other screwing around, we finally get seated for some savage Top 8

Oh, wait, since there was no Top 8 coverage, my profile didn't get to go up on
the website. It's too bad, as that would have meant JP Meyer would have been
there. Then everyone could have heard us argue and harass each other in
Japanese! No one would understood it, but I'm sure everyone would have found it
entertaining. Here's what my profile would have been:

Where are you from? My hometown is officially Dearborn, MI, but I go to school
in Terre Haute, IN, so I'm there for 9 months out of the year.
Age? 21
What deck did you play? 2-Land Belcher
Where did the deck come from? Ben Perry introduced me to Ray Robillard's list
with some very minor tweaks back in June or so, and after I played it one day at
Gencon and then at Ogre's cards, I knew I had to work on it and perfect it.
What was good about your deck? It does broken things, and has a great match
against Stax and Oath.
What would you change about it? I need a little more effective way to deal with
Null Rod.
Best matchup? Stax and any aggro deck
Worst matchup? Gifts, and Vroman
Do you own your own power or did you have to borrow it? It's all mine, as are
all the foil cards.

Top 8 - Robert Vroman with Uba Stax

V and I have met on the way to or in the finals in each of the last five
tournaments I've played in. In fact, each of those tournaments has been
won/split by him or me. I'm not particularly pleased to have to play him in the
first round of the Top 8, but I figured it had to happen eventually.
Unfortunately, in our last meeting in his store the weekend before, I was the
victor, and thus far, we've alternated wins. That would mean it's technically
his turn to win. I would really like to change that and break the cycle, but
it's never easy. I really like playing against V because he's a great opponent
and really forces me to push myself to my limits as a player.

I win the roll, but we have to sit and wait for something before we can start.
We resolve our mulligans and I keep a set-up hand. I go over it a few times to
figure out how to play it, and so much time elapses between that and the time we
start that I forget it a few times. V keeps 7 without much hesitation, which
makes me a little uneasy. It's too bad I had to choose whether to mulligan
first. I might have tried a new hand if I knew he was going to keep 7.

Game 1:

I open up with a Mox Jet, a Mana Crypt, remove an ESG for green, and play Living
Wish. I nab Dark Confidant, play it, and burn for 1. V opens up with a land,
Mox, and a Null Rod. Crap. The game does downhill quickly, as I can't locate a
way to remove the Rod, since V is far too smart to put an artifact in his yard
to allow me to Weld out the Rod. Eventually, he gets out a Smokestack and ramps
it up. It's not long before I realize that I'm not getting out of this one and
pack up the cards for the next game.

Game 2:
Again, I keep 7, but I probably shouldn't have. I play a Bayou and Land Grant
for Taiga. I really didn't want to play the Land Grant because I didn't want V
to see the Naturalize in my hand, but I needed to cast Consultation for Dark
Ritual, and I couldn't risk removing the Taiga from the game. All the rest of my
artifact hate goes out, but it all cost 2, so it didn't really matter anyway. I
don't bring in Oxidize against Vroman because Chalice for 1 makes it quite
useless. I then pass the turn. V opens up with Workshop, Mox, Mana Vault, Null
Rod, Chalice for 2. He then comments "I'm not a nice man." I was inclined to
agree with him. I spend the next few turns building board advantage and putting
as many permanents in play as I can. V doesn't really do very much, except that
he has a Welder and a Smokestack, but can't ramp it very high because he doesn't
have a Crucible and can't risk putting an artifact in there and letting me Weld
out the Rod. I look at my board of two lands, Tinder Wall, and Welder and
realize that I can play Yawgmoth's Bargain. What I'm going to do with it, I
don't know, but I play it and draw a bunch of cards. I put as many permanents in
play as I can and discard a bunch of useless cards. V then plays an Uba Mask,
and I respond by drawing myself down to 2 life.

So now I have all these cards and aren't sure what to do with them. Here's where
I messed this game up more than I've messed up anything in recent times. I cast
an ESG in here, but don't have the mana to play another one, so my goin' aggro
is limited to one 2/2. I overhear a comment from Willie that this game has just
turned into draft: my creature is bigger, so, therefore, I win. V Wastes both my
lands, so now I have no more mana for the rest of the game. However, I don't win
the game. Eventually, V strikes up a master plan: he thinks for a good two
minutes, stacks his Smokestacks in the opposite order, sacrifices the Rod, Mana
Vault and Chalice, proceeds to his mainphase, sacrifices Lotus, welds out Jet
for Lotus, sacs the Lotus, Strips his own Shop, and then throws the Ring at me.
I then looked up at my life and saw that I was at 2.

Ways I could have won this game:
1)  I should have Ritualed out a Belcher at some point, as my hand consisted of
like 3 rituals and a Belcher or two. Then V couldn't have let the Rod leave play
for even a second, lest I activate the Belcher and win. I didn't do this because
I knew he had a Viashino Heretic in his hand, and I was afraid he'd find the
mana to activate it and kill my Belcher, thus killing me.
2)  I should have cast two ESGs a couple turns earlier, then I would have might
gotten enough damage in to pull it out.
3)  Not drawn so many cards. I focused on drawing Will or Wheel of Fortune too
much. The former would have let me replay about 10 permanents, and the latter
would have put an artifact in V's yard, which would have allowed me to Weld out
the Null Rod.
4)  Welded out his Mox Jet for anything else when he attempted to Weld it out
for his Lotus.
5)  Welded in my Belcher and activate in response to his Ring activation. I had
a Chromatic Sphere or two on the board, plus a few Moxes, and Rituals in hand,
as well as two Belchers I had discarded a few turns ago.

Oh well, so I had my chances. I just got preoccupied with other things and just
didn't think outside the box. I pride myself on getting out of all sorts of
random sitatuations like this, but I just didn't think enough on this one. I
commend V on his win (again). He definitely earned it. I'll have my revenge at
his next tournament.

After this, I play some Type 4 with Paul Mastriano, Creator of the Format, Matt
Endress, Matt Robbins, Willie, and someone from ICBM whose name I can't
remember. For the first time ever, I'm not the first to get killed, and the
whole experience is a blast as always. Paul Mastriano, Creator of Type 4's stack
is obviously ridiculous, and Type 4 is always fun anyway. The Creator wins, of

After the T8 is finished, I go up and pick up my prize, a Mox Emerald. I'm quite
happy with it, as its in a little better condition than the one I already had.
Paul Nicolo from Michigan also made T8, letting him pick up an Ancestral Recall
for his pretty savage deck. It's nice to see some hometown representation. In
fact, Sean Bauers is also from Michigan, meaning Michigan represented 37.5% of
the Top 8. I think the state might have a claim to the strongest metagame in the
nation. I need to get back there and kick those boys around a little more before
they get too arrogant.

The rest of the team goes out to dinner, but I'm dead tired by this point, and
just want to go back to the hotel and collapse. However, I need to grab some
sort of nourishment, so I just hit the McDonald's. Unfortunately for me, I'm
stuck behind the guys from Colorado in the drive-through. They order enough food
for like 15 people it seems, and it takes them like 12 minutes to place their
order. I just wanted to roll down the window and do my best impersonation of
Jack Black and shout "Come on with the order! Take forever!" but I'm too tired.
I go back to the hotel, but Bob and Scott Limoges catch me and distract me.
However, I manage to call Jim Gaffney and let him know how it went. Scott walks
up to me and says "try this beer-it's the most awful thing I've ever had." I sip
the beer and nearly gag, and it really is the worst thing I've ever tasted. Bob
trades me 4 Japanese Sphere of Resistance (bringing the total of Asian SoRs up
to 7 for the weekend) and swaps out the random language Smokestacks I bought for
Japanese ones.

Somewhere after that the whole of us crash, and are kept up Steve's awful
snoring. We have a big argument over it the next morning because Steve usually
doesn't snore, but at some point in the night, Willie asked if someone could
kick him and got up and went next door to sleep on Colorado's floor. There's
some more hilarity that ensued the next morning as we were leaving as well, but
I'll spare it all. This report is over twenty pages, and you must be as sick of
reading it as I am of writing it. I hope everyone enjoyed it!

-  Ben Perry. For everything: introducing me to this deck in its raw form, the
constant support and advice, everything. I wish you could come back to playing
cards like you used to!
-  Team Meandeck (Willie, Paul, Roland, Kevin, and Steve at the event, and
everyone back home) for support, advice during my tuning of this deck, and being
great teammates to hang out with all weekend.
-  Jesus Roxas, aka Reb, for giving me a travel companion most of the way up.
It's not an especially exciting drive, so it's great to have nice company!
-  The Colorado Crew (Bob Yu, Scott Limoges, Lou Christopher, Travis Spero, and
anyone I may have missed), Brian Demars, Paul Nicolo, and Jon Wilkerson for
beign great to hang out with the night before.
-  Everyone who asked me to sign stuff and all the new people I met over the
weekend. You guys were amazing! The Vintage community is simply the most amazing
thing ever.
-  Grim Monolith. Dude, this card was completely savage!

-  Chicago traffic. Yes, if you were wondering, the Eisenhower was all backed up
again, as it always is.
-  Everyone who thought this deck wasn't good enough to get it done, and
everyone who thought that good decks need to play blue cards. Vroman and I don't
need blue cards. Looks like I got the last laugh!

That's all I got for now! Look for a primer on Belcher in the coming weeks!


Hmm...I thought Jacob fixed that character limit for me... ;)