Report

Rich Shay
The Feinstein Report
First Place, Feinstein's Mox, December 23

Just so you don't need to scroll down to find it, here's the list I ran at
Dave's event.

// Mana
6 Fetchland
3 underground Sea
2 Tropical Island
2 Basic Island
1 Volcanic Island
4 Moxen
1 Black Lotus

// Draw
4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
4 Scroll
4 Gush

// Control
4 Force of Will
4 Duress
2 Mana Drain
0 Misdirection
1 Echoing Truth
1 Fire/Ice

// Tutors
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor

// Broken
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Timewalk
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Fastbond

// Winning
2 Psychatog
3 Tarmogoyf
1 Berserk
0 Quirion Dryads

// Sideboard
1 Volcanic Island
3 Pyroclasm
4 Energy Flux
2 Pithing Needle
2 Jailer
3 Red Elemental Blast

Expected Metagame:
1. GAT Mirror Matches
2. Workshop-Based Decks
3. Goblins / Aggro decks

This list deserves some explanation. The first thing you might notice is that I
ran red. This is because of Goblins. Do I need Red Blasts? I'm not sure they're
any better than Thoughtseize. Do I need Red artifact removal? I didn't run any.
What red gave me were burn spells. The last tournament I went to was Star City
in Chicago. There, my one match loss was against Goblins. My teammate, Jesus,
also lost a round to them. And none of the answers in-color seemed great. Hail
Storm, Plague, and Infest; these aren't on par with a two mana sorcery. The fact
that Pyrcoclasm also hits Magus of the Moon made it seem even better.

4 Ponder, 19 Mana:
In testing with either 3 Ponder or 18 Mana, I found myself losing too many games
to a well-placed Wasteland. Finally, frustrated at losing to my own manabase
imploding, I decided to try running the full set of Ponder plus 19 mana. The
deck became more smooth after that and the number of games I lost to my own
manabase imploding shrank.

2 Island maindeck, 1 Volcanic Island sideboard:
This worked out well. Against decks that can attack your manabase, having a
second Basic Island is strong. It gets you Drain against Stax and it lets you
ensure that unless your opponent gets a Crucible online, you will have at least
one land survive their lone Strip Mine. Having the Volcanic Island in the
sideboard enabled two different strong board options. Against the mirror and
similar decks, I could swap out a Basic Island for the Volcanic sort. Against
Stax, I could just bring in the 20the mana source for added resiliency against
their mana denial plan.

Fire/Ice:
I expected to see a Confidant across the table. That didn't't happen, but I
burnt a fair number of Welders and a Magus too. If I played without Red, then I
would have had a Misdirection in that spot.

1 Berserk:
Mon, Goblin Chief is right -- thanks to him for the idea of maindecking this
card. It proved itself great all day, taking down opponents when Cunning Wish
would not have worked. One game against Stax, for example, I was able to Berserk
for the win when the added cost of Cunning Wish would have given my opponent
another turn. Not once all day did I miss having the versatility of the Wish
maindeck; Echoing Truth serves that purpose sufficiently. In addition, Red
presents added sideboard options, meaning that not having Wish cards in the
sideboard is good.

2 Psychatog / 3 Goyf / 0 Dryad
This was a metagame call. I was preparing to have a standard list with three
Goyfs in the sideboard. However, I found myself unable to cram all the cards I
wanted into my sideboard. Something needed to give way. So, I started thinking
as follows. In the mirror match, I'd generally rather have my evil cousin than a
Dryad -- after all, Psychatog trumps an opposing Dryad under most circumstances,
but a Dryad seldom trumps one the opponent has already played. Against Stax and
Aggro, I'd rather have Tarmogoyf than Dryad under normal circumstances. With so
many spheres seeing play, getting the Dryad large is becoming more difficult;
factor that with the burn that various red aggro decks are including and
Tarmogoyf seems even better. So, there's no matchup in the metagame I expected
where Dryad is the optimal creature. I cut her and made three new sideboard
slots.

4 Energy Flux
Brassman gets all the credit for this one. He told me they were good in his
testing. I'm at home without access to MWS, so I couldn't test them myself. (As
an aside, I wish that MWS had a version that worked on this Ubuntu machine).
Brassman was right -- they proved themselves excellent today. They were more
effective than the alternate options would have been.

Round 1: John Longo with Blue Draw/Go

Game 1: I open with Sea and Ponder. John gets out an Island and casts Ancestral
Recall. I Force it. I Timewalk, Gush, and Duress him. I Merchant Scroll for
Ancestral Recall and John is stuck at one land for too long.
Game 2: John passes with a land. I Duress him, to which he responds with
Brainstorm. He continues to dig with cantrips while I shut down the Drain I know
he has for a turn with Ice. After a couple of turns of passing the turn back and
forth, John uses Misdirection to push his Ancestral through past my Red Blast.
He drops a Chalice at 0 and a Chalice at 1. The Chalice at 0 traps a pair of
Moxen and a Black Lotus in my hand as John casts more draw. I resolve Psychatog
and John resolves Tinker. My Psychatog was one point away from being lethal
before Colossus ended things.
Game 3: This game is slow in the start -- we're both drawing and passing the
turn. I eventually pass the turn with triple Counter backup and an Ancestral
Recall in my hand. Then I lose. Here's what happens on John's turn. He casts
Tinker. I REB it. He casts Ancestral. I cast Ancestral. He casts Misdirection. I
Drain. He Forces. I Force. My Ancestral resolves and I draw 3. It includes a Red
Blast but I don't have the Red to cast it -- and if it were Misdirection, I
didn't have the Blue card to pitch to that either. John then draws three off his
Ancestral, including a Mana Drain. He Drains my Red Blast and his Tinker gets
the game-winning Colossus.

This match involved a massive counter war and despite my losing it was a lot of
fun. The second and third games were both very close and the fact that John was
playing a non-standard deck worked to his advantage because I couldn't predict
what he would do as easily.

Round 2: Sean with Stax

Game 1: I open with Lotus and Ponder. I shuffle, draw, and play an Emerald and a
Tropical Island. Goyf resolves and I cycle Ice. He Wastes my Tropical Island
while I Scroll for Ancestral. Goyf is a 4/5 while he's Wasting my second land.
Sean gets a Shaman and Welder but they need to jump in front of the Goyf to keep
Sean alive. Goyf ends this quickly.
Game 2: Sean mulligans to 5 and I have another first turn Goyf. Sean plays a
second Welder and I Fire them both to death. After that, Goyf is able to win
before Sean can break through with his threats.

Tarmogoyf was great in this match. He came into play quickly and was an
immediate threat, putting Stax on the defensive right away. Being able to use
Fire to kill the two Welders was strong; Pithing Needle could have worked, but
Sean was running Gorilla Shaman so Needle might not have worked as well.
Moreover, the Tarmogoyf would have been smaller in that case, and the size of
the creature allowed me to end the game fairly quickly.

Round 3: Austin with RG Beats

Game 1: Austin mulligans and passes with an untapped Taiga. I fetch out a Basic
Island. Austin has no second turn play, and I have a Tarmogoyf. I Scroll for
Ancestral while Austin starts getting some creatures into play. Force keeps
Magus off the table while I continue casting draw spells. I resolve a Psychatog
which Austin burns to prevent from being lethal, Austin's creatures having
already jumped in from of mine and traded with my Goyf. However, I soon Vampiric
Tutor for Berserk and win.
Game 2: Austin has two Moxes and a Mana Crypt. Root Maze comes down and I search
up Ancestral. I play a Tarmogoyf and over the course of the game cast three
Force of Wills to protect him. He ends up going the distance. One of the key
plays here was countering a Lighting Bolt against my lethal 4/5 Tarmogoyf. I
played around Sudden Shock, which Austin had.

Games against Red Green 'Beatz' are scary. In the second game, I was in a
position where I would have lost if Austin's three-card hand was a pair of
Lightning Bolts and a Red Blast. It wasn't, but playing against Burn is
certainly where having Misdirection would have been nice. The MVP here was
Tarmogoyf. At one point, T00L walked over and mentioned how my deck was being a
better Green aggro deck than my opponent's deck was; Goyf is huge and more
resilient to quick burn than Dryad is.

Round 4: Jeff with Long

These games were uneventful. Hand disruption and counters were able to prevent
Jeff from being in either of these games. Psychatog finishes them both. Long is
fairly weak against GAT. The fact that it has been doing well lately indicates
that GAT is not as dominant as many people are fearing that it would be.

Round 5: Ross Merriam with Stax

Game 1: Ross opens with Wasteland, Mana Crypt, and Thorn. I use Island to play
two Moxes. Ross has Coalition Relic. I Duress, seeing Uba Mask, Top, and Vamp; I
take the Top and pass with Force online. I Force his Mask and his Vamp resolves.
I Mana Drain his Tinker and win with a Berserk Psychatog.
Game 2: Ross has another Mana Crypt/Sphere start, this time with Strip Mine. I
play a land and Mox. He Timewalks and Ancestrals himself. I Ancestral and
discard, my land getting hit. He then gets out Goblin Welder. I Mana Drain into
Energy Flux. And then his board starts to crumble. He fights to keep cards in
play, but is unable to advance his position and slowly starts losing ground,
despite the best efforts of his Goblin Welder. The second Energy Flux further
hinders his board, and Goyf finishes it off.

Being able to board in a 20th mana source really helped me survive Ross' mana
denial in the second game. The Energy Fluxes were great too. Targeted removal or
a Predator would have been counteracted by the Goblin Welder; Energy Flux was
able to destroy Ross' board by preventing him from having a pile of permanents
in play as Stax usually does. That said, Ross played very well and the second
game was very close.

Draw into Top Eight

Top Eight: Brassman with GAT

Game 1: Brassman passes with Trop. I Duress, seeing: Gush, Gush, Dryad, Drain,
Durres, Will. I take Mana Drain. Brassman doesn't find land and Psychatog ends
things in a hurry.
Game 2: Brassman Ancestrals. I open with a Tarmogoyf. Brassman has a second
land. I Ponder. He then Drains my Timewalk and takes manaburn. He soon casts
Vampiric Tutor and resolves a Dryad. His Duress, however, gets Mana Drained. He
Brainstorms, then Gushes the next turn; I Ancestral in response to his Gush.
Brassman counters my Fastbond, but a Vampirically-given Yawgmoth's Will wins me
the game on the next turn.

Top Four: T00L with GAT

Game 1: Tool opens with Delta and Lotus. He Scrolls and resolves Ancestral
Recall. Then he plays a Jet and a Sapphire. He Forces my Lotus, and repeals my
fastbond. I didn't have any way to abuse Fastbond that game anyway. I get a
Tarmogoyf onto the table but his Psychatog is much larger. He Mana Drains my
Yawgmoth's Will and buries me in card advantage.
Game 2: We both mulligan. This time I Scroll for Ancestral and Force his
Misdirection. Psychatog resolves on my side and is soon lethal with some help
from Gush.
Game 3: Tool opens with an Island for Ponder. He plays a Jet and Vampiric Tutor.
I have a Force for the Ancestral he casts next turn, which he Misdirects. I have
my own Ancestral soon which also resolves. I cast a few cantrips and Duress him.
I REB his Psychatog and resolve my own. Mystical Tutor finds my Yawgmoth's Will
in response to his Duress and that's the match.

Finals: Rich Meyst with Aggro Stax

Rich has already beaten ELD and Brassman, so I know that this match is going to
be rough.
Game 1: Rich has a first turn Juggernaut with Wasteland and a second Juggernaut
on his second turn. However, I go off with Fastbond before his third turn.
Game 2: Rich has a Welder and some restricted mana sources. I get out a second
turn Tarmogoyf but he destroys my mana sources and it is Goyf staring down about
12 permanents. I am forced to stop attacking and then I get run over.
Game 3: I resolve Energy Flux while Rich resolves a Magus and a Sword of Fire
and Ice. I Fire his Magus in response to  equipping. Flux hinders Rich's board
position while I find a Tarmogoyf to win the game.

In conclusion, I was very happy with my list for the metagame. If there were any
Flash or more Ichorid, it would need some changes. Likewise, if there were fewer
aggro decks, then the Red splash wouldn't be justified. I only played against
two red aggro decks, but they made up a decent part of the field and half of the
top eight.

Thanks to everyone I talked with or tested against yesterday and the day before:
Brass Man, Jesus, Matt, Josh, Master Tap, ELD, T00L, Soly, and anyone I can't
remember.

Thanks to Feinstein and his staff. This was a fun event. Dave was generous with
his prizes and worked hard to make sure everyone had a good time. If you ever
see Dave, make sure to ask him to do a jig. You won't regret it.

Finally, thanks to all of my opponents and everyone I hung out with. I am very
happy that I got to go to this while I'm back in the area for Christmas break.