Hello everyone,

First off, let me say thank you to everyone for your support and for the many
congratulations. It is still very surreal to me that I came away with the
trophy, and I couldn’t be happier. For any of you that were concerned, it passed
the wife-test and is now proudly hanging up in my bathroom…just kidding, it made
the living room Very Happy.

Before I continue, I want to thank Nick Coss and the Card Titan and Top Deck
Games staff for running an exceptional tournament. On Saturday, I thoroughly
enjoyed the experience of the Artist Room and having the Screening Room. I was
also able to find a great deal from one of the vendors (of which there was a
great selection btw, and this is coming from a fellow vendor) on a Mox Sapphire
to finish up my Alpha Moxen set, which I of course had signed by Dan Frazier
himself (don’t worry fellow collectors, they were all very well played).
Parentheses aside, I got so caught up in these activities that I never made it
in time to play in any Vintage side events like I had intended to, in order to
loosen up for Sunday. But I thought, “Oh well, at least I had a great time!”. I
would love for Nick Coss to host this event next year and hold it in Philly
again! If you feel the same way, or even if you don’t, please provide them and
WotC with your feedback by emailing THIS IS VERY
IMPORTANT and this will benefit us overall.  I urge you to do this now. Really.
Now. Did you do it, yet? Good. Let’s move on.

Now for the tournament report!

Disclaimer #1: I’m relying on the small amount of notes I have and an old man’s
memory, so if you were one of my opponents and remember things differently,
please message me so I can edit this.

Disclaimer #2: I tend to write a lot. If this is a problem, then here:

TL;DR - I lost in the quarterfinals, hacked the coverage, and stole the trophy
from Greg Fenton!


But first, The Deck:

Reel Fish
(aka “Merfolk”, aka “Slaughter Smurfs”, aka “Islandwalk This Way”, just not
“Real Man Fish”…Hi, Matt!)
For consistency, I will refer to the deck as “Merfolk” going forward.

Main Deck
60 cards   

4  Cavern of Souls
9  Island
1  Strip Mine
4  Wasteland
18 lands

4  Cursecatcher
4  Lord of Atlantis
4  Master of the Pearl Trident
3  Merrow Reejerey
3  Phantasmal Image
4  Silvergill Adept
1  True-Name Nemesis
1  Waterfront Bouncer
24 creatures

1  Ancestral Recall
1  Black Lotus
2  Daze
1  Flusterstorm
4  Force of Will
3  Mental Misstep
1  Mox Sapphire
3  Null Rod
1  Steel Sabotage
1  Time Walk
18 other spells

3  Dismember
1  Ghost Quarter
4  Grafdigger's Cage
1  Hurkyl's Recall
1  Pithing Needle
3  Steel Sabotage
2  Tormod's Crypt

The decks co-designer, Matt Bliffert (thebliff) and I will be coming out with a
Primer for this deck in the near future. If there is anything you would like us
to touch on, please message us. We burst onto the vintage scene in January of
2012. Being in the North East we know we were going to need a fresh perspective
to be successful. The pillars and decks were already established, and each had
their champions. We were not going to be able to beat people at their own game,
at their strengths, given the many years of experience at our disadvantage. So
we created this deck, under the premise that we were going to make people play
our game and leave it to our opponents to find an answer to us. It wouldn’t
matter if you were the best Landstill player in the world, the best Noble Fish
player in the world, you had to play our game.

Basics: The primary role of this deck is the Aggro role while using the
disruptive spells and abilities to effectively buy turns until your opponent is
dead. If you worry too much about protecting your permanents or holding mana up
instead of playing more threats, you are effectively giving these turns back.
You need 4-5 attack steps to win every game, and every combo deck in the field
has a much shorter average turn win rate than this, so every disruptor has to
count. If you break from this role, you had better be sure about it. Granted,
there are times when you should absolutely leave Flusterstorm mana up or even
bluff the permission. Finding the balance and timing between your threats and
disruption will determine how successful you are with this deck. I’ve had about
1.5 years of experience with this deck and I’m still learning the optimal lines
of play for each matchup. I view this as an ever-evolving science.

Deck Selection: If Worlds was tomorrow again, I would play the same exact 75.
Blue is the best color in Vintage and arguably the most fun, so it will make up
the majority of the field. Scouring all the published tournament results from
around the globe, it is easy to see that this holds true. Merfolk is designed to
beat up on Blue-Control and Blue-based creature decks with Cavern of Souls and
Null Rod. With the exception of my local field, I felt that the format was
largely unprepared for Merfolk. In some cases, it’s because people did not know
to respect it, despite the many high finishes it posted in my area. In other
cases, it’s simply not correct to dedicate slots for a matchup that you are not
likely to encounter. In AJ’s report he mentions this specifically. He made an
educated decision to not dedicate slots to Merfolk. And if he had, he may have
not even made it as far as he did. Slots are precious. I know I needed every one
of mine. As you will see, I was fortunate enough to play against the sea of blue
that I predicted, including the whole Top 8.

True Name-Nemesis: I’ve been having some closer matches than I liked against
some blue-based decks in my area that began to run more creature removal, so I
wanted to increase the threat density to overload this. I tried running Aether
Vials, Mutavaults, Phyrexian Revokers, and Coralhelm Commanders, but they were
not what I was looking for. Enter True-Name Nemesis. If I was to expect a lot of
creature decks with spot removal, especially if backed up by Snapcaster Mage, I
would run the same 1-of if not 2 or 3. Other than those matchups, this card
really does not belong in the 75, in my opinion. Against most decks, you would
rather have the 4th Reejery as a 3-drop since this will be more damage dealt per
threat played. It’s different when all of your guys are getting bolted with
lightning or abruptly decayed. This card should be an all-star in Legacy, but I
only see it being played situationally in Vintage, at least given the current
landscape. I drew this one-of 3 times in the day and it was only useful once. I
do think it still needs to be there given the percentage of creature decks in
the field, which I expect to increase after this past weekend.

Disruptors: The balance of creatures and disruption has proven to me to be the
most difficult problem for me to solve with this deck. Cards like Cursecatcher
and Waterfront Bouncer are perfect to help bridge this gap. You still need more
than just those and 4 Fow’s, though. Since you’re tapping out most turns, the
countermagic needs to be free or 1cc. Mana Drain is out of the question. The
combination I’ve chosen of 2 Dazes, 3 Missteps, 1 Steel Sabotage and 1
Flusterstorm is what I am comfortable with. You need a variety of effects since
the threats are varied and I want to minimize the times when I have a dead card
in hand. Fair decks can’t afford that. You can still catch people with Daze and
even if you don’t, the threat of it alone can buy you a turn, and that is the
key in using any of these cards. Buy more turns. I cut the 3rd Daze for this
tournament, as it is the weakest of the disruption pieces, in order to add the
TNN, fyi. Before Worlds, I had a Hurkyl’s Recall instead of the Flusterstorm,
but I made the change expecting less Shops in the field than in my local area.
The Storm/Doomsday/Burning Long matchups are difficult and this earned
Flusterstorm its slot back in for the day. Even then, I feel I was fortunate to
not have to battle against Reid Duke’s TPS list in the Top 8. Otherwise, his
trophy shelf may have broke. Lastly, Null Rod. This is a Null Rod deck. I’ve
tried to make it not a Null Rod deck and just an Aggro deck, but that does not
work. You will be too slow for the format by 1-2 turns. Null Rod is the best
disruption piece in the deck and I expect to see a lot more of them popping up
in the near future. At least until they print a Thalia as a Merfolk. I’ll even
take Changeling, and fine, lose the First Strike. WotC. Do it. Do it. DO IT.

Sideboard: I have 8 cards to bring in for Dredge and they are all necessary. I
wouldn’t go with less than 4 cages, as this is your best card against them. The
rest of the hate can be too situational but you can’t just run 8 cages. You can
play around with Needle, Crypts, Ghost Quarters, etc. but I am comfortable
playing with this combination. The main reason I pack 8 pieces for Dredge is so
I can NOT see Dredge, it’s worth it. Shops, especially Espresso, is a tough
matchup. There are 9 cards to side in there as well and I am not planning on
changing any of them. My best success against Espresso and Martello Shops has
evolved around mana denial. If you can’t stop their threat on the way down, and
you mostly likely won’t be able to stop them all, you have your sideboard to
deal with it, then you can try to waste their lands and Rod-lock them. This
worked for me in both my Shops matchups on Sunday. There could be a better
strategy out there. Feel free to share!

Onto the matches!


Round 1 v. Bela (Bee’lah) Ball on a White Trash variant
Win 2-0

Game 1. I lose the die roll and mulligan to 5. At the time, I thought, “What a
great start to the tournament!”. Bela leads off with Thalia, effectively
shutting down the efficiency of my countermagic. I focus on the primary plan,
which is winning with creatures. I struggle with finding UU early on but even
then I can hold the ground with Cursecatchers, Silvergills and Images. I should
get the other U source in 4-5 turns and when I do, the Lords come down to battle
his Thalia and Leonin Relic Warder. From there, well, everyone knows that fish
eat bears. I end the game still at 12 life.

Unfortunately for him, his maindeck also had a lot of dead hate cards against me
like Stony Silence, Rest in Peace and, I think, Grafdigger’s Cages. Although his
deck was not my intended target either, one of the factors for my deck choice
was the prevalence of all the dead cards against it given the expected field.

Game 2 went smoother than the first as I was not land light. His path to exile
removed a lord but sped me up for the later turns, and unlike it removing a BSC
or even a Tarmogoyf, I should have plenty more of where that came from. Of
course, when I don’t draw another lord, the board did get a little bear-stalled
since I don’t run Graceful Antelope. Fortunately, I had a True-Name Nemesis in
play, which ended up doing all but 2 of the 20 damage. Two more lords eventually
showed up but were late to the party. This was TNN’s 1st and only useful
appearance on the day. He earned his keep, as expected, against a fair creature
deck with spot removal. I could tell Bela was not happy with how powerless his
deck felt this match. I wished him luck in the next rounds and mentioned that he
should stick with it to see if his build of hate cards would work against its
intended targets. His deck really was not meant for mine.

Round 2 v. Greg Fenton on Misprints Oath
Loss 0-2

Game 1. I lose the die roll again. 0-2. But at least I get to play against my
buddy, Greg! He opens up Turn 1 with Lotus, Fetch, and I remember FoW’ing either
an Oath or maybe Ancestral, something broken. I thought my hand was pretty good
against Oath as after that I lead with Lotus, Land, Silvergill, Lord. I
wasteland him off his green source and I swing uncontested for 5 damage for 3
turns to bring him to 4 life. On Greg’s “last” turn, with few outs and very few
cards in hand, he draws the fetchland, fetches, casts Oath, and catches me
without any countermagic. But sure, no problem, he’s dead next turn. Then he
Time Walks. This could be a problem. He untaps, Oaths Griselbrand in play, but
is only at 3 life so can’t draw cards. He plays a land and passes with BG
available, but I can deal with that as I play another Lord, but, Greg has the
Force of Will against my Cavern-less board. I then attack with just the
Silvergill. He taps for BG and has the expected Abrupt Decay for my Lord. He
blocks Silvergill with Gris. Then on his turn he draws cards and assembles vault
key. Crushing…[Greg actually mentions this in his report as our Game 2 but it
was actually our Game 1].

When playing against combo, I have lost several games with this deck the turn
right before I could swing for lethal. I don’t think that this means the deck is
too slow to beat combo. I think that this is just the nature of the beast. By
threatening lethal the next turn, combo has no choice but to try to go off on
you, and sometimes you don’t have the disruption. If you do, then you win. The
better Combo players will generally play it safe and assemble as many pieces as
they can before they go off, barring some sick read on your hand. In these
scenarios, you get more time to draw into your disruption package, and your
non-creature cards except Cursecatcher become the most effective here. As long
as you have an average amount of 2-3 creatures in play and have an average
amount of disruption pieces, say about 2, then the matchup should be fine. In
the game above, I only had one disruption piece, which was a FoW that 2 for 1’s

Game 2. I am awarded for my near-victory with another mulligan. I get very
frustrated here, but I still find an aggressive 6 and lead off again with land,
Lotus, then Lord, Lord. I don’t have much in hand after that, another guy and a
land, no counters, but I am presenting quite a clock. On Greg’s turn, He also
plays land then Lotus…fair. Then, he casts Oath. Time to race? I’ve done it
before against T1 Oath on the draw, he does have an island after all. But alas,
once again, next to the party is Time Walk. From here, I start to tilt and make
a very bad series of misplays to ruin any chance of getting back into this game,
as hard as it would have been, but I know I punted. Very frustrated with myself
and my start to the day, I wish my friend Greg luck and that I hope he Top 8’s
so my loss won’t feel like it was wasted.

Here, I had to take a walk. I’m fuming more about my misplays than the bad luck,
but tilted about it all nonetheless. I drank some water, to ease the
frustration, and the more I thought about it, the problem was me. And I could
fix it. I may have taken a lot of mulligans already, but did I even make the
right decisions to mulligan or not to mulligan? Won’t a deck with only 20 mana
sources mulligan more often? So what that my opponent had T1 Lotus both games? I
too had my share. A Lotus start for combo is going to be much more crippling
than a Lotus start for Merfolk, so it’s really just my fault in deck choice.
Next, top decks are a part of the game. At a higher level, you can play around
or minimize them, whether it is a line of play you choose or your deck choice. I
had to shake off the negativity and just remember that I’m here at my first
Worlds event, getting a chance to play with the world’s best vintage players. I
can control my play, I can control my attitude, and that’s what I had to
concentrate on. A little bit ago, a good friend of mine reminded me of an
inspiring quote when it comes to competing.

“You either win, or you learn.” –Carlos Gracie Jr.

Round 3 v. Justin Kohler on Bomberman
Win 2-1

Another round, another friend. Justin and I have had some epic battles since I
jumped on to the Vintage tournament scene, splitting a pair of championships.
Now, we battle on the grandest of stages! Justin mentions that he too is coming
off a pretty bad start to the day and he looks pretty beat up. We share stories
and sighs and then he has the nerve to win the die roll. 0-3. At a Vintage
event. But…stay positive, right?!?

Game 1. I develop a board of two guys but I’ve only swung for 3. He finds the
mana to EE all of my creatures away and I go in to reset mode and play the
couple more I was holding back. He lands an Auriok Salvagers, and with an Aether
Spellbomb in play, attacking is difficult as I only have one Lord in play. As if
it was his plan all along, he plays the Lotus and goes infinite. I never felt in
this game. Oh, well. At least if I am eliminated from Top 8 contention, then
it’s to Justin and he can hopefully turn things around for himself and Top 8. I
would have definitely earned my 1-2 start.

Game 2. I remember Justin having a completely broken hand but no protection. He
starts with Lotus and T1 Jace, which I am luckily able to FoW. I play
Cursecatcher and I think I even resolve a null rod. I play a Lord and when his
Ancestral doesn’t resolve he scoops even though he is still at 16 life. He looks
tilted and mentions that he shouldn’t have scooped so early but he got
frustrated at my deck having all the answers to all of his broken plays, and
that he may have misplayed a turn with not recalling earlier. I had plenty of
action in my hand still, so I think given the current board and cards in hand
that I would have won this game.

Game 3. I play some early guys, he Mox ramps up into a T3 Auriok Salvagers
powered through a Cavern, threatening the combo if he draws Lotus. I Dismember,
he forces, I Dismember again. He scoops, still at 16 life, again. He did not
have any action left in his hand and I had more guys coming down on top of the
4-5 power I already had. This one may have been an early scoop, too, but I think
I still would have won this one.

I don’t know if he could have won either of those games, but ironically, this
was an immediate example of why I wanted to get myself back into the game
mentally. If Justin was able to shake off the tilt enough from his previous
rounds and the frustration during Game 2, he would have been able to focus more
and increase his odds of winning the match. So, I wished another friend good
luck and this time I told him I would use his defeat as motivation to yet be
successful in this tournament.

Round 4 v. Joe DiClemente on Junk Humans
Win 2-0

Game 1. I lose the die roll. 0-4. I find out Joe came down with a car or two
full from Toronto. I don’t want to stereotype so I choose not to ask him what it
feels like to have a winning hockey team for once (I’m a Flyers fan so at least
the joke in my head was funny at the time). He leads with Dark Confidant off a
non-U dual, so I get prepared for another creature/attrition war. He plays Mayor
of Avabruck, says attack for 2, so on my turn after I draw my card, we have to
call a judge over because it should have been 3, and we both forgot. I should
have known, too, because my friend Samantha plays Humans. She’s adopted. I knew
I still had to tighten up though, I can’t be missing these details. The game
becomes a 1 for 1 battle between abrupt decays and paths. I am able to take this
game while still at 9 life due to eventually having the larger guys on the field
even though the quantity was pretty even.

Game 2. An early Thalia gets Dismembered. Along with a Cursecatcher, I get the
1-of Waterfront Bouncer into play and he does a LOT of work. I think I discarded
5-7 cards this game to bounce Mayor, a Wolf Token, Gaddock Teeg, and Kataki. All
the while, I couldn’t quite establish a good ground force and I think he decayed
one Lord but I could not find another. A Silvergill Adept helps the beatdown and
once I draw a lord the game ends with me at 12 life, which I did to myself with
2 dismembers. The bouncer shenanigans were a bit tricky, but this guy did all
the work himself this game. I’m never cutting you again!

My brain on magic, after wishing Joe good luck and safe travels, I left my
playmat on the table after this match. THANK YOU to whoever picked it up and
turned it into the judge staff! I LOVE VINTAGE!!! Here’s an observation: The
term that has the highest correlation among players in competitive non-Vintage
formats is “EV”. The term that has the highest correlation to Vintage is
“Community”. I will choose the latter every time and I thank you all for making
this my only correct answer.

So, I get my playmat back before my next match and the Card Titan bouncer asks
me every round afterwards if I remembered it…I pay the price and it makes me
laugh every time.

Round 5 v. Kurtis Frazier on Dark Times
Win 2-1

I compliment Kurtis on his custom ½ inch thick Lake of the Dead playmat that his
friend gave him as a gift. It was pretty sweet and definitely unique! I also
feel like my mental roadblocks are behind me for the day. I’ve played 2 friends
and met 3 new people and I’m having fun again.

Game 1. I lose the die roll. 0-5. He leads off with Lotus, Jet, Dark Confidant,
Vampire Hexmage, Thespian Stage. I contemplate just scooping so he does not know
what I’m on, but with some pressure and a Phantasmal Image in hand, I decide to
give it a go, maybe even learn more about his deck since I haven’t played
against Dark Times in over a year. So, I play island, pass. I didn’t have a
Cursecatcher but next turn the beats could come down. Next turn, he draws Dark
Depths! He confirms that at instant speed, he can activate Thespian Stage for
one 20/20, then Hexmage the DD for a 2nd 20/20. I don’t have a Pokemon life
total. Scoop’em up!

Game 2. He struggles to find his pieces and enough mana through a Null Rod as I
play some merfolk and he dies having only had 4 turns. His life total goes from
20 to 18 to 15 to 10 to dead.

Game 3. He opens up with Lotus Petal, Mox Sapphire, cracks Petal for B to cast
Dark Ritual. I misstep to slow him down, which I think is right. If he plays
Necro afterwards, I could just lose. He could also get value from playing two
spells and I’d rather just take the 1 for 1 now and commence the beatdown, than
risk playing against his threats. Somewhat luckily, he isn’t able to find B mana
after this. My consecutive turns after this decision are Adept, Lord #1, Lord #2
and it only takes 4 swings, with plenty of gas and disruption left in hand. He
shows me a hand full of Thoughtseizes and Engineered Plagues after the game. No
ritual for you!

Round 6 v. Roland Chang on Martello Shops
Win 2-0

I had the pleasure of meeting Roland Chang this round. At the time I did not
remember that he had won this in 2005 and I also did not know that he had the
Ancestral Recall trophy to show for it. I did know he was a very experienced
Shops player, which has been the pillar that I have historically had the worst
results against. However, I knew it was the Martello version, which is at least
not the worst as far as Shops go.

Game 1. I lose the die roll. 0-6. I force an early threat, probably a Lodestone
Golem or Trinisphere. I resolve an early Null Rod and with no threats on his
side in play yet and needing to use his Ancient Tomb for mana, he was in a bad
spot. Under Rod-lock, my small squad eventually took it down needing only one

Game 2. He plays Mana Vault in to Lodestone Golem, but I have the FoW. He gets
mana strapped with just an Ancient Tomb at first. I think he takes 6 damage from
the Tomb this game, and the Vault zaps him for 1 a turn over his last 5 turns.
He never gets to take damage from the Mana Crypt he plays and I am able to win
again with just a small tag team of guys, after I Dismember a Kuldotha
Forgemaster in the final turn.

After the games we talked, about life, about poker, he told me about the old
Stax deck he played, how the community came together for him in his time of
need, and how much he has learned to appreciate things over the years. These are
the conversations that make Vintage events memorable, meeting new people and
listening to their stories.

Round 7 v. Michael Meaney on 4C Keeper
Winn 2-0

My friend Will Magrann (an excellent Words with Friends player btw), told me
about his unpleasant experience with Mr. Meaney in a previous round and informed
me of the deck I was up against. Apparently, the Meaney filled out a match slip
wrong and this was not caught. Intention was suspected, but could not be proven.
The suspicion may have been due to this person’s unpleasant nature at the time.
Be good to each other and respect one another, we share our love for this hobby
together and there is really no excuse to treat people poorly without reason. I
know at competitive events, not even at PT’s or GP’s, but at PTQ’s, people tend
to be more concerned about winning than anything else, and some people even like
to play excessive mind games meant to mentally break their opponents, intimidate
them, bully them, etc. But we are the Vintage community and we are better than

So, I decided to kill the Meaney with kindness. He did seem grumpy at first but
along the way I got him to crack a few smiles, which was harder than it sounds
because both of these games ended up very one-sided.

Game 1. I lose the die roll. 0-7. He starts off with Land, Mox, Mox, Voltaic
Key. Oh, boy. Well, at least he only has 3 cards left, right? He then casts
Ancestral Recall, but I have the misstep and he does not. I land an early Null
Rod and he’s basically hard locked on mana after that. I kill him in 4 swings
with Adept, followed by Lord #1, then Lord #2.

Game 2. I believe I start off with Cavern, Cursecatcher, then a Lord the next
turn. I Force of Will his only real threat, which I think was a Jace. I think
here I drew a Lotus to drop 3 lords, because after he took 4 one turn he takes
10 the next. In one of these games, I think I Time Walk for the kill after he
thinks he has one more turn to try to go off.

He is still pleasant after the games, and I wish him good luck and safe travels.
I avenged Will’s fake loss and I hopefully brightened up Mr. Meaney’s day!

Round 8 v. Greg Kraigher on Aggro Shops
Win 2-0

My first full feature match ever! I knew Greg was on Shops, especially since he
Top 8’d Worlds last year with it, but I didn’t remember his build. I knew it
wasn’t Espresso. A friend texted me that he runs Slash Panther. I never played
this matchup before. You can watch the coverage and learn with me!

Game 1. I won the die roll! One Time! 1-8. I kept a 3 Null Rod hand with an
Island, Cursecatcher, Wasteland and Lord(?). If he was on the Forgemaster plan,
this hand should trump most of his deck. Against most other decks, this was a
snap mulligan. As far as my Wasteland play, whether it’s correct or not, here
was my line of thinking. Why would Greg port my Wasteland on his turn, instead
of tapping down my U mana on my turn? Either way, this should mean he is threat
light, no lodestone this turn. So, I have some time. The only answer I could
come up with was that he was going to waste my Wasteland. With having only 1
land in play and none in hand, if I did not draw a land, I would be under a hard
port lock until I drew a land. Since the deck needs two mana to run, I would
have to draw 2 lands off the top of my deck to function under a port, instead of
1 land if I wasted the port. This could have been a terrible play, but if it was
a terrible play, then at least it was a very well, thought out terrible play
Smile. I also was not under any pressure nor did I have any pressure when I
decided to not Time Walk. That card needs to be more than a cantrip, especially
in a fair deck. Statistically, I had to trust my deck to give me creatures
before his did. Fortunately, Greg’s deck was drawing mostly lands and dead
cards. Plus, I dazed him, bro! It gets someone every time! This game was very
odd for both of our decks, as neither of us really drew that many threats. My
negative side of variance was just better than his.

Game 2. I did not like my first hand, as all it could do was counter 1 threat
and had 0 threats itself. I could Wasteland Greg’s fast mana, but I had no
answer to any 2nd threat that his Aggro deck was bound to have. I did not think
my first mulligan hand of 4 islands, Reejery, and Steel Sabotage on the draw was
enough. The lands matter most against Espresso, but against his Aggro version I
needed threats, and the only one I had in my hand wasn’t coming out until Turn
3, Turn 4 if he lands a sphere effect, which I thought was likely. I’d be dead
before then. If it was a Lord, I would have kept. After some debate, I kept the
next hand of 5 cards that had a Mox Sapphire as its only mana source as I had
not seen a Revoker yet. Even though he could probably side them out if he had
them, if I had known Revoker was even in his deck to begin with, I would have
not taken the risk and mulled to 4. This lack of knowledge further crippled me
as I did not know to save my Dismember for his eventual Revoker, instead
choosing to try to bring his mana capabilities down to mine by Dismembering an
attacking Mishra’s Factory. I lost this one but I almost pulled out of it, if it
wasn’t for the next Factory. I got as many turns out of this game as I think I
could have given my mulligan decisions.

Game 3. I’m glad this one got on camera. My starting 7 was tricky to navigate
through but I thought it was good enough. The final turn vomiting up 4 creatures
was a pretty epic ending to the match, especially after Chris on commentary said
“I’m not sure why he did this” when I Ghost Quarter’ed my Wasteland. I felt
fortunate to beat Shops again. His Aggro build seemed to show up pretty tame for
him. Although, mine did as well until Game 3. Against his version, I think
Merfolk is favored. It’s simply the better Aggro deck, with a higher threat
density. Unlike other Shop variants, his doesn’t have enough of the disruption
pieces that give me fits. Shops is at its best against Merfolk when it functions
like a hate bears list against the deck.

Watching the commentary, Chris was right in that I definitely need to shore up
my mulligan decision process. This is something that can be very difficult to
do, and requires knowledge of the whole field down to the level of the turn
sequencing in each deck, but I know I lose some % points in this area. I need to
me more consistent in this process and make sure I learn more and more about
each deck so I can make the most informed decisions. Feel free to let me know
what you think about my mulligan decisions from the coverage in any of the
matches, and leave me a comment or a message.

And for everyone who was wondering, no, it wasn’t the camera, my leg DOES shake
that much…It’s for the ladies  Wink.

Round 9 v. Erik Tarmogoyf(?)…Pentycofe on Dredge

Luckily, the standings show that it is a clean cut to Top 8 if we all drew. We
all have 21+ points with the next highest point total at 18, and I am able to
draw in with the “Goyf” even though I’m only in 5th place. Good thing, he was on
Dredge! And I’m on to the Top 8 at my first Worlds tournament!

The Event Coverage write-up is here for your reference:

FYI, the “quote” at the end of the article is something I never said, which is
kind of odd. Also, in my profile they spelled my friend, Matt Bliffert’s name
wrong as “Blifferet”, apparently he’s now an Agent of Bolas.


Quarterfinals v. Kevin Cron on 4C Keeper
Win 2-0

So, I know Kevin has been a top contender for a long time (he’s on my Vintage
Champs Bingo card for #@$%’s sake!!!) but I ask him if this is his first Worlds
Top 8. Misplay #1. I also ask him where he’s from while he’s wearing a Michigan
hoodie. Misplay #2! I guess I was just excited to be there. Kevin Top 8’d in
2003 and 2004. The fact that he Top 8’d again, now in 2013, is an accomplishment
less revered but more difficult than actually winning, in my opinion.
Congratulations to Kevin on his achievements, I’m sure there will be many more!
I’m sorry I had to be the one this year to end another great run of his.

Game 1. On the draw, I land Null Rod, packing counter backup. I of course draw
the Lotus afterwards, but I would have been greedy to ask otherwise. I Wasteland
him about three times over the early course of this game and he is Rod-locked
with Voltaic Key and mostly artifact mana in play. Unfortunately, I can’t draw
my second U source right away and this leaves him a window to resolve Jace to
bounce my Silvergill Adept. Since I do not have a Cavern, his counterspells are
live and he is very much still in this game. He counters the German Foil
Silvergill Adept on the replay while I reveal an English Foil Silvergill Adept,
and he kindly allows me to keep the German one and put the English one in the
graveyard. We both run Willenskrafts. Kevin’s a good man in my book! I slowly
wittle his life away between attacking and killing his Jace when I realize this
game is going long. Between a bolt, counterspells and my creature light draw, he
is able to hold on. As I get close to lethal, he draws Tolarian Academy to keep
things interesting, which taps for UUUUU. He merchant scrolls and I feel like he
could be getting Force of Will to back up a tinker/BSC kill. I could Force of
Will the scroll and pitch Merrow Reejery. I have a Steel Sabotage and Phantasmal
Image in hand to answer the BSC line of play, but I second guess myself and
decide to just drive the nail in the coffin by not allowing him anymore plays
and I FoW the scroll. He mana drains my FoW and I actually feel relieved when he
gets Ancestral Recall, which means he still has to dig for an answer. Thinking
back, I think I was tapped out and if he had the Tinker already, he could go for
the FoW backup, get Time Vault, Abrupt Decay the Null Rod and win right there.
Even if I did have U open, he had a full grip so I don’t think I would want to
depend on my Steel Sabotage here since he can easily have a misstep. Still, I’m
not sure if FoW’ing the scroll was right, as maybe I should have allowed him to
2 for 1 himself, Misplay #3? Let me know what you think about this play or any
other in the comments below or via message! Back to the game, I am able to swing
through for the kill shortly after I finally draw a lord. Although my draws this
game were suboptimal, stalling on UU and drawing very few creatures, his deck
had very little outs to the Null Rod start. He even hit a big out with Tolarian
Academy, but even more than that was needed. I feel that this match is mine to

Game 2. I have some early UU mana issues and need 1/14 of them as he tries to
start the clock via Ingot Chewer beatdown. I draw a Cavern and get off to the
races. He has bolts to slow me down and kill one of my 2 lords. After I land
another lord, I think a Reejery, he goes for the hail mary with a Toxic Deluge
(which in between games he told me he “wished” he had in his deck, but I know
that trick!). He pays 3 life, I go for the blowout and Force of Will his deluge
and he is very, very dead on my next turn. Deluge may be great against other
creature decks not running FoW, but against Merfolk, you basically need to
assemble “another combo”, with Deluge + counter backup AND play around
Cursecatchers/Dazes for it to work. Defensive combos are probably not where you
want to be, but forcing opponents into these types of plays and decisions are
what this deck is all about.

Semi-Finals v. Greg Fenton on Wood Elemental Oath
Win 2-1

I think it’s great that all four of us in the Top 4 were from the NY/NJ/PA area.
This area has a large concentration of Vintage’s best, and playing with these
guys every month has been the greatest boon that I can ask for. I wouldn’t have
been able to get this far without those lessons and experiences.

Game 1 on the draw, because why change it now? I kept a hand with one island, no
other mana, Cursecatcher, Ancestral Recall, Force of Will and more 2 drop gas. I
did not know Greg ran a 1-of Strip Mine. Had I known, I would have led with
Recall instead of Cursecatcher, which I thought would have protected my Recall.
I thought I had two turns of draws to start my Adept and Image parade and if I
ended up on the wrong side of that 73% probability, then I should be able to
Recall out of it. Then, Strip Mine happened. Followed by Oath with not one but
TWO FoW backups, and my FoW and Cursecatcher were not enough. Wow, what a beep
boop bop!

Game 2. I Misstepped the Pithing Needle with a Wasteland in my hand, as I was
pretty sure that is what he was going to name. After the Wasteland, Null Rod
came down, I Misstepped the Ancestral Recall and I felt like I had a good soft
lock on the game, especially with Cavern in play and with Greg having few cards
in hand. However, my soft lock got worse and worse each turn as the 1/3 of my
deck that is creatures decided to stay home for several turns, taunting me with
a Silvergill Adept I couldn’t cast. Finally, I found where all the creatures
were hiding and the game was over in a couple of turns. For anyone who was not
there, the hall was closing in an hour and a half when we started this round and
the judge gave me and Greg both a warning for slow play; mine came in less than
1 minute after drawing my card for the turn. I understood the situation but it
did make it more stressful, especially knowing that the match could be won if we
took more than one minute for any of our turns. Luckily, these were the last
warnings given out this evening and we avoided having a taint on the title.

Game 3 the 1/1 beats continued! I force an early Time Vault, as I had no Null
Rod or an answer to key. I had ¾ of a fully powered draw but only a lonely
Cursecatcher and then a Spirit token to offer the beatdown. I hard force a Show
and Tell, getting minimal but crucial value out of my Lotus, but next turn Greg
tries to Yawmoth’s Will back into the game after playing Forbidden Orchard, with
2 mana open. With two cards in his hand, I wanted to minimize the potential
damage from the Will so I sac’d my Cursecatcher to at least cut him off from
replaying the Time Vault, and all he was able to do was brainstorm. I finally
landed more men, after getting a Caverned Reejery Mindbreak Trapped, and his
deck provided no answers. One bittersweet hug later, I had eliminated my friend
from becoming a World Champion, and I was off to the finals. Congratulations,
Greg, on your incredible run this year. Next time, it’s your turn.

Finals v. AJ Grasso on RUG Delver with Pyromancer
Win 2-0 but not after another hug! I like hugs.

Game 1 I’m on the play…yeah, it’s a weird feeling. He lands an early Goyf and it
looks like the race is his to everyone but me. His Spell Pierce on my freshly
drawn Lotus was definitely the right play, as I would have been able to drop 6
power that turn. After I sac the catcher on the Spell Pierce, his force really
slows me down but at least takes some key cards out of his hand. In return, I
Wasteland his Volcanic Island and that may have been what won me the game. The
Goyf was going to hurt, but I know what my deck can do and I had the cards in
hand to do it. Play Lord, take another 4 from Goyf. Play another Lord, swing for
3, take 4 from Goyf. Play another Lord, swing for 8, game over. What race? The
deck works! I bagged the Time Walk here as I expected more action out of AJ’s
deck, another guy, a lightning bolt, something other than his deck refusing him
more land after my timely Wasteland. That Time Walk was going to steal me this
game if it got close and I was not going to use it just to draw a card. In
general, Time Walk in a fair deck needs to be used to either take significant
tempo back or win the game. Unless you need to absolutely fish for a disruptor
against combo, I would not recommend blowing an early Time Walk in this deck.

Game 2 He leads off with Mox, Mox, Island, Pyromancer. I make a joke about fair
decks not supposed to having power starts in the finals as I stare at the Black
Lotus in my opener. Still, the Pyromancer could get ugly quick, so I force it. I
open with Lotus, Cavern Lord, Lord. He ponders to find green mana and lands a
Goyf with two gushable lands in play. I play another Lord and I can swing in
without fear of losing half of my army, although I would have still attacked
even if I did put him on Gush. Without a Gush, there was no outs left for AJ to
draw, and I achieved what I thought was impossible. Congratulations to AJ.
Welcome back. You are where you belong, at the top tables of Vintage’s best.

2013 Vintage World Champion.

Just like President of the United States, I never thought I would ever have that
title. Some of my friends put me on their Vintage Bingo cards to Top 16 the
event and I thought I’d be happy if I could just earn the mention. I played well
throughout most of the tournament, especially after shaking off the negativity
after Round 2, but I wasn’t the best player. I could have known more about the
decks I was playing against. I could have made better mulligan decisions. I can
and will be better. I think always striving to improve is the key to success, in
magic and in life. There were many great players in this field, players who were
more experienced, more skilled, more talented, and even one or two who were
better looking. My key to success was the deck itself, finding a weakness in the
format that I could exploit. I lost every die roll except one. I had many hands
that were on the unfavorable side of variance throughout much of the tournament,
including the Quarters and Semis. And still the deck did overcome. I honestly
feel that it is currently the best deck in the format. You CAN win with
creatures! I hope that AJ and I being in the finals with “fair” decks will bring
more people into Vintage and our great community. About 20% of the players at
one of my LGS’s have since proxied up decks. I hope other areas have even a
portion of this increase in interest. It’s up to you to nurture this and do the
rest. What better time than now? You can Top 8 or win Worlds with a Legacy deck!
The format is wide open. How will you exploit it? I look forward to the next
chapter of Vintage, a changing landscape, fresh challenges, new people, new
friends, and new experiences.

Before I go, I want to say thank you to the Vintage community as a whole for
encompassing the true spirit of Magic. Thank you, everyone. If you’re reading
this and are unsure if I am talking about you, I assure you, I am. Special
shout-outs and gratuitous name-drops:


Matt Bliffert – For designing the deck with me and believing.

Nick Coss – For starting the North East Vintage series that convinced me to try
out the format and for other obvious reasons.

North East players who have helped me learn the format through our various
conversations and who playing against has helped me improve greatly within the
format: Nick Detwiler, Tom Dixon, Mike Hajduk, Justin Kohler, Greg Fenton, Ryan
Glackin, Rob Edwards, JP Kohler, Mickey Mahr, Will Magrann, Josh Potucek, Lance
Ballester, Shawn Griffiths, Josh Butker, John Jones, Mike Egan, Joe Brown and
anyone else I missed.

Local playtesters: Samantha Reichert, Andrew Varsallona, Willzzz Dayton &
Michael Canzanella

Mike Noble & Bernie Parise – For being part of our first brainstorming session
on the deck at an NEV event at Brothers Grimm in mid-2012. Who better to ask for
input on this deck than the Noblest of Fish Masters and Professor Vintage (new
nickname, here’s betting it sticks)?!?

Mark Hornung – Whose Vintage Primers on SCG allowed me to learn the format
before jumping in head first. And for subsequently apologizing for this.

Calvin Hodges – For hooking it up with some BB power for my deck and just being
a cool dude.

Kevin ? – A fellow Vegan who, on Saturday, I met for the first time and offered
me a delicious brownie that sealed the deal on a great pre-tournament day.

WotC, Randy Buehler and Chris Pikula – For providing coverage most worthy of the
Vintage format. Great job!


Die rolls – It’s not all about you

Thanks for reading! I hope it was worth the time. Now get back to work! And
don’t forget to eat your vegetables!

Truly Yours,

-Joel Lim