Of course I'd like to thank Nick Coss for holding this ridiculous event. A
thousand times cheaper than Gencon, the security was awesome, and the venue was
sick. The rooms that were reserved in Hotels were great, and the judges knew
vintage interactions! If you ever have the chance to go to Chima Steakhouse, get
there, best meal of my life.

First off, the brew

2 Island
3 Underground Sea
2 Tropical Island
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Scalding Tarn
1 Library of Alexandria

1 Sol Ring
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl

1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Demonic tutor
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Time Walk
1 Regrowth
4 Preordain

4 Force of Will
3 Mental Misstep
2 Flusterstorm
1 Nature's Claim
1 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Ancestral Recall
1 mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Brainstorm
4 Gush

1 Fastbond

4 Deathrite Shaman
1 Talrand, Sky Summoner

2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor


2 Trygon Predator
2 Nature's Claim
1 Forest
1 Hurkyl's Recall
2 Mindbreak trap
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Ravenous Trap
2 Yixlid Jailer
2 Grafdigger's cage

I came to this tournament with one goal in mind: I wanted to kill people with
Tendrils of Agony.

My deck choices were designed with this in mind. There were many decks that I've
played over the past year that I considered to be extremely good; however, they
did not win with tendrils. Before I was a gush player, I was a TPS player. I try
to keep the feel as close as possible. 

Over the past few months, i've been experimenting with a multitude of different
variants to accomplish this. I'll go over a few of the commonly attempted gush
strategies and explain why I chose not to use them

1 Pyromancer

This is definitely the strategy I spent the most time trying to refine over the
past year. I consider Pyromancer Gush an extremely good deck, and I've top 8'ed
multiple tournaments with it. I chose not to play it because it's a separate and
individual strategy that does not synergize with the tendrils kill, it detracts
from it. 3-4 slots occupied for pyromancers created a desire for creature
removal to clear the way for aggro based wins. This is not synergistic with
Additionally, it's been a long-running joke with my play group that I don't know
how combat works. This is....entirely correct. I found myself losing many top 8
matches to faulty combat plays and not understanding the correct way to assign
damage (forget about adding in double strike, trample, etc). You cant' make
those kind of mistakes in a 9 round tournament and expect to do well.

A deck such as AJ's RUG Delver list has the ability to take advantage of
Pyromancer in ways that the combo deck cannot, because it aids pyromancer,
whereas tendrils tries to combo off on its own strategies. The two pull at each
other, rather than being synergistic.

2 Lotus Cobra

This card is one of my all time favorites; however, is usually a win-more.
Against opposing blue decks the ability to continue to use mana to accelerate
bombs is pretty good, but against shops you had to actually DRAW the land in
order to use cobra, and many times its just a dead card on the field (draw a
bunch of mana sources = dead)

3 Dark Confidant

This is probably one of the better choices to go with gush tendrils. A few extra
cards goes a long way, and the average life loss isn't that terrible. In a
creature heavy meta, however, dark confidant becomes a detriment, rather than an
asset, and can quickly chip away at the life you need in order to win with gush.
I found myself losing to any deck that ran vendilion clique. With decks having
so many options available to deal with creatures, I knew I didn't want my center
draw strategy to revolve around bob.

4 AK/Intuition

This is a new one for me. This draws a MILLION cards. Against blue decks, I'd
imagine this strategy very strong. I played Miquel Alcoriza's top 4 LCV AK/Gush
shaman list in the Grinder on Friday. I found AK to be the weakest part of the
deck against decks that were not blue (But it was SO MUCH FUN)

Enter Deathrite Shaman

A kill condition, a Stall tactic, A mana producer.

Kill Condition

Typically, one of these on the field isn't going to kill anybody, but it acts as
a copy of tendrils every turn, meaning that you don't need to rely solely on
Yawgmoth's will to cast a tendrils for lethal, and you don't need to try and get
past creature walls. Two of these on the field activating every turn usually
kills someone

Stall Tactic

Life gain against aggro, plus a blocker. I'd trade it with Bob any day, plus it
baits out mental misstep. In theory the deck could reasonably stall for a turn
or 2 against game 1 dredge in order to set up a combo kill (didn't work that
way, but the theory's nice)

Mana Producer

Fetchlands and opposing wastelands are the most obvious uses to fuel out extra
mana, but I think what makes this card shine is that it taps for ANY color. This
makes your mana base even stronger (which it already is since its only 3 color).
The deck instantly becomes more able to deal with random Magus decks, and
obviously helps against other mana denial strategies. Unwitting players would
also find themselves on the wrong end of a flusterstorm/nature's claim, assuming
I was tapped out.

Back when we played cobra a lot, it created a ton of excess mana that went
unused. Shaman creates one mana a turn, which is relevant, but not excessive,
and has other abilities. 


One of my theories about sideboarding is that I want cards that are relevant
against multiple decks. Many of the cards i use I'll board in against entirely
different vintage pillars

Blue Package:

I knew doomsday and burning long were going to be in the room, and they are more
broken combo decks than I am. Additional Flusterstorms were a choice, and so was
misdirection. I came to the conclusion that being able to attack strategies from
another angle (especially when tapped out) was the way to go against blue decks.

Dredge package:
This is my normal dredge package. This 6 is SICK with deathrite shaman. Dredge
can't deal with diversity like this, along with your countermagic. Stick one
piece and ride it long enough to find the next, and wipe the graveyard every now
and then. Even with 2 jailers, it's still your best card. If I didn't think oath
was in the room, the grafdiggers would have been jailers too. The Nihil
spellbomb comes in against welder type decks, plus it's a card draw against some
snapcaster type decks. The one-of ravenous trap is great with top deck tutors,
and they never see it coming if you've got permanent hate on the board (although
i suppose now they might)

Plan A is to cast Hurkyl's recall. Plan B is to refer to Plan A. Every card in
the sideboard against shops is designed to destroy chalice on 2. If they choose
to board in creature kill they will dilute the threat density, which buys time
for massive hurks for the win. I'm sure there are better strategies out there,
but I don't test against shops that often. I do know how to win when an opponent
has no responses to my spells though, so I stick with the hurks strategy.


The problem that I typically find with oath decks is that they play with Oath of
Druids, and Oath cards. Be a broken blue deck dangit! Predators, claims,
grafdiggers, and traps all have the potential to come in against it. Plus, i'm
not a creature centered strategy, so i get extra free turns against it. 


TOXIC DELUGE IS THE BEST BOARD WIPE IN VINTAGE. Losing to random aggro decks has
always been the bane of my existence. Gaddock teeg drives me nuts, and there's
countless other little disruptive creatures that can ruin gush's day. Targeted
removal takes up too many slots and red weakens the mana base. Go with deluge. I
might run 5 in the future.

Notable maindeck choices

Talrand - He's one slot. The other choice is tinker/bot, which is two slots. I
hate having the bot dead in my hand, and I'm not running a million Jaces. I
played talrand in the past, and was pretty comfortable with him. Unlike
pyromancer, when he sticks the game ends FAST, even one or two activations is
hard to handle. If you like tinker/bot better, play tinker/bot. Jeremy Beaver
told me tinker's a crutch. 

Deluge - One slot to steal aggro game ones seemed reasonable. Typically, a list
like this chooses to run 10/11 counterspells. I only run 9, but I have deluge
and nature's claim, which can answer different threats/more threats after they
resolve. combo decks aren't that popular right now, so it's ok to have some
spells in the main deck that answer things at sorcery speed, especially

Nature's claim- I wanted a way to clear blood moon, stony silence, oath of
druids, and gain life in case i was low during fastbond. As i mentioned above, I
cut a counterspell for this card. I knew oath was going to be around, and
artifact/enchantment hate never hurts anyway.

4 Preordain/regrowth - these cards are the "glue" that hold gush together. you
need to be able to dig deeep with this deck in order to kill people fast. These
cards dig through the deck to chain together multiple gushes and find the kill.
Regrowth also recovers a countered will, which is super important, and is time
walk #2 when talrand is out. If i could fit more regrowths I would, but one is
usually enough


went 7-2 over the day

I'm only going to post notable interactions/memories, because I'm bad at taking

rounds went like so:

Rd 1  Dan Friedman - Pyromancer - win 2-0

Game 1 he mulls and I kill him before I see a wincon. I board out deluge because
he's blue. I pay for it hard in game 2 where he has an army of pyromancer
tokens, but I rip lotus off the top like a boss, and win a counter war with a
hardcast mindbreak trap, and kill him with one life left. You HAVE to have a
little luck to do well in an event like this, all there is to it.

Rd 2 Paul Mastriano - Oath - Win 2-1

Game 1 he oaths. He draws a million cards with griselbrand, brings himself down
to 2 life with active mana crypt, and attempts to time walk. I flusterstorm. He
passes the turn. I pass back, he wins the mana crypt roll. I die. 

Game 2. He does not oath. Trygon Predator, nature's claim, Jace the Mind
Sculptor Fateseal for the win

Game 3. See Game 2

Rd 3 Marc Tocco  - BUG Fish - Win 2-1

Pretty sketchy memory on these games. He mentioned he top 8'ed legacy champs the
day before, which I thought was way cool. He was a little unfamiliar with some
of the interactions, and I think I got ahead in one game because he didn't exile
my gushes with deathrite shaman, assuming Yawgmoth's will worked like Past in
Flames. (He did take a call, time walk, etc., so it probably evened out)

Rd 4 Kevin Cron - Keeper - Loss 1-2

Game 1 I combo kill him very early, maybe like turn 2

Game 2 he rides a single snapcaster to victory beats

Game 3 he wins with deathrite shaman activations

MISPLAY of the Day - In one crucial moment to gain a foothold of the game (maybe
game 2), I cast Jace TMS with Force Force Flusterstorm in hand, with one mana
open. He counters, I pitch Flusterstorm to Force, figuring that when Jace
resolves, I'll brainstorm into the second blue card and be on easy street from
here on out. He has the double counter, and Jace doesn't resolve, I'm stuck with
nothing in my hand but a blank Force of Will. 
Lesson Learned: Don't be too greedy. 

Rd 5 Brian Plattenburg - Dredge - Win 2-1

See my sideboard commentary for Dredge. I Haven't lost a set to dredge in a
looong time.

Rd 5 Taylor Pratt - Blue Angels - Loss 0-2

Sensei's Divining Top is pretty good, I hear. The ability to always have a
counterspell, plus resolve a Jace. These matches were undoubtedly the most
lopsided. I need to practice against this deck more or something.

Rd 7 Lance Ballester - Dredge - Win 2-1

See round 5.

Rd 8 Mason Sokol - Plateus - Win 2-0

This guy is in round 8 with an unpowered deck, freakin sweet!

Mainboard deluge saves me game 1, and Talrand does some WORK. Thalia is a
monster, and the deck plays lodestone!

Game 2 Don't remember a log about it, but I remember winning with a late game
yawg's will 

Rd 9 Greg Kraigher - Shops - Win 2-1

Game 1 I get smashed

Game 2 I play a bunch of mana and a shaman over a bunch of turns as I slowly die
and get to a giant hurkyl's and ride the victory train. Best compliment of the
day "Your deck DOES actually cast spells!"

Game 3

My turn 1 is nature's claim some threat, lotus mox trygon predator. The
concession comes pretty soon after that, as He locked himself under wire for a
turn or two as I nommed on artifacts with predator.

Deck has a lot of cool interactions, and can grind out long games against a
variety of archetypes. Main kill is tendrils. I won 3-4 games with fateseal on
Jace TMS, and 1 Game the entire day with Talrand (he was countered most of the
time, or tendrils was an easier kill)

Going to play around with Shaman more. All of his abilities helped throughout
the day. Makes Shops and dredge easier matchups, and can eat through control
players life totals, and destroy snapcaster targets. 


Nick Coss - He's the man. He needs to figure out a way that he can PLAY.
Team Ramrod - Jon Geras and Chris Varosky - Playtest partners, hotel roomies,
solid friends. What the format's about.
Full of Win Guys - Random Playtesting and years of gaming
-Chris Materewicz,Nate Thompson,  Dom Difebo, Rob Zimmerman, Anthony Scalzo,
Nick Jury, Gery P(Chris gets top billing because he is most likely to mention
not getting top billing, all others are random order)
Joe Brown - Recommended Chima - I ate my face off (also random playtesting and
years of gaming)
Joe Pace - Put on the daddy pants and organized the trip to Chima (also random
testing and years of gaming)
Random Friends along the way - Pretty much EVERYONE, the community rocks.
J.P. Kohler for making the switch to the GUSH side of the force


Not Winning
Scary homeless people who shout racial obscenities at you as you walk by
Decks that don't play blue cards ( You know who you are, and you should be

Please feel free to ask any questions about the deck or the Experience in the
comments below, and I'll respond as soon as time allows. I could talk about Gush
all day, it's the only deck I've played since it was unrestricted, and I've
piloted almost every variant out there at some tournament or another.