Hello all!

This past weekend I played in my first ever sanctioned Vintage event: Vintage
Champs. I'm trying a new format with this report: I'll discuss my deck and my
mindset going in, but rather than give complete coverage of every match, I'm
going to highlight one match and give summaries of the rest. I hope this
balances my goals of creating a readable report with capturing all the
excitement and drama of the event's most exciting moments.

Going into this event, my work with The Atog Lord on the Vintage Super League
indicated Delver Cruise was the deck to beat. We had difficulty beating it
consistently and difficulty getting an edge in the mirror. This was my very
first sanctioned event, though, so I decided I'd focus on having fun and play
something interesting rather than put my normal emphasis on winning. As an added
point of pride, I owned my entire 75. (I would have had to borrow power for the
Delver deck.) Here's what I played:

Gush Doomsday
Mana (19):
4 Underground Sea
1 Tropical Island
2 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Dark Ritual
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire

Interaction (13):
4 Force of Will
3 Mental Misstep
2 Flusterstorm
1 Misdirection
1 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Duress
1 Thoughtsieze

Setup (13):
4 Gush
4 Preordain
2 Dig Through Time
1 Brainstorm
1 Ponder
1 Sensei's Divining Top

Tutors (7):
4 Doomsday
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor

Stacks (8):
1 Black Lotus
1 Lotus Petal
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Laboratory Maniac
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Fastbond
1 Yawgmoth's Will

Sideboard (15):
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Nature's Claim
2 Trygon Predator
1 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Steel Sabotage
1 Dread of Night
1 Thoughtsieze
1 Yixlid Jailer
1 Xantid Swarm
1 Forest

A few comments:

0 Time Walk: Time Walk opens up a few interesting stacks, but it's actually a
mediocre draw. Doomsday doesn't develop any sort of board presence, so Time Walk
is usually a 0 mana explore at best. Also, I don't own one yet.

2 Dig Through Time: These were awesome all day. Doomsday does make use of its
graveyard, but so few cards actually matter and being able to find, for example,
Doomsday + Gush, at instant speed, is incredibly powerful.

0 Necropotence: I tried Necro and was severely disappointed. When I didn't have
turn 1 Ritual into Necro, it was awful. I cut it for a Dig Through Time and
never looked back.

3 Dark Ritual: I started with 4, but once I cut Necro I realized that drawing
these kinda sucks. I'm not quite ready to go down to one because turn 2 Ritual,
Doomsday, Gush is such a powerful option, but some of these do get boarded out
in slower matchups.

I really, really love this deck. I goldfish with it while watching TV. I cover
random sheets of paper with Doomsday stacks when I'm bored. That said, I had low
expectations going in. The Delver matchup was even at best, I'm a dog to Shops,
and I didn't really have great answers for someone showing up with a pile of
hatebears. I told my friends if I started 0-2, I'd find a ratty old piece of
cardboard, sharpie "THE END IS NEAR" on it, and use that as my playmat.

My most interesting match of the day actually came in round one.

I go to the pairings board and see "132 Nir, JD 0 Maher, Bob 0".

Bob Maher. Hall of Famer Bob Maher. As in Dark Confidant. As in The Great One.
Is my round one opponent.

I sit down at my table. Bob walks up and I introduce myself.

"Hi, I'm JD."

"Hey. I'm Bob."

"Ya, I, uh, well let's just say I believe you."

I mention that I've been playing his side of this week's VSL match against The
Atog Lord to help him test and make a joke about our results being skewed as
Rich is Rich but I'm no Bob. He laughs. As corny as it sounds, I'm relieved he
chuckled at my joke and I settle down a little from my initial jitters.

Game one is awesome.

I won the roll and keep:

Scalding Tarn, Brainstorm, Thoughtsieze, Mental Misstep, Mental Misstep,
Flusterstorm, Preordain

I play the Scalding Tarn and pass.

Bob also starts on a Scalding Tarn and then Gitaxian Probes me. He passes
without a play.

I draw for my turn, think for a bit, and decide to fetch an Underground Sea and
Brainstorm. Bob pauses for a moment before Forcing, pitching Gush. I
triumphantly slam the Misty Rainforest I'd drawn, fetch another Underground Sea
and Thoughtsieze Bob.

"Oh, very nice!" Bob Maher just complimented me. I grin like an idiot.

Thoughtseize sees:

Treasure Cruise, Lightning Bolt, Time Walk, Volcanic Island, Scalding Tarn

I take the Cruise.

Bob plays his Tarn and fetches, then cycles Time Walk. On his Time Walk turn, he
floats UR and Gushes. Gush finds him Treasure Cruise and suddenly I'm way
behind. Bob plays a Ponder and I Misstep. He Missteps back, and I Misstep again.
Ponder is countered and somehow Bob passes, still without a threat.
Unfortunately, I'm down to just a Flusterstorm and Preordain in hand, miles away
from going off.

That is, until I draw Ancestral Recall. Recall finds me Gush and Lotus. Gush
finds me Yawgmoth's Will. I recast Recall and Brainstorm and draw approximately
one million cards. I never have a spot where I can Doomsday into a win, though,
and I don't find Demonic Tutor until it's too late, so I can't Tendrils him off
this turn. I DT for Gush and pass with a Sapphire and an Underground Sea in play
and a hand of:

Force of Will, Flusterstorm, Doomsday, Dark Ritual, Gush, Gush, Underground Sea

Now, it may seem like I'm way ahead, but here's the problem: my Will, Lotus,
Recall and Brainstorm are all exiled. I don't know any Doomsday stacks off the
top of my head without any of those, so as I pass the turn, I'm desperately
trying to come up with a pile on the fly.

I'm barely paying attention to what Bob's doing because I'm trying to figure out
a stack, so I accidentally let a Null Rod resolve. Fortunately, I draw Hurkyl's
Recall right off the top! I pass and Bob doesn't have another play. I bounce
Null Rod, untap, and Ritual (1) Doomsday (2) into a stack I've never built

Lotus Petal
Dark Ritual
Tendrils of Agony

I Gush (3), play Lotus Petal (4), Fastbond (5), replay both lands going to four
life, float mana, Gush (6), Dark Ritual (7), and Tendrils (8), which is enough
to finish Bob off.

My hands are literally shaking. I know I was way ahead after my double
Recall/Will turn, but building a brand new pile on the fly is hard enough, let
alone doing it against Dark Confidant himself!

I bring in Thoughtseize and Steel Sabotage for Sensei's Divining Top and
Hurkyl's Recall.

Bob opens game 2 on a mulligan. I keep:

Island, Underground Sea, Mox Sapphire, Brainstorm, Preordain, Preordain,

Bob opens on Misty, fetches Volcanic Island, and plays Lotus, Pyromancer,
Ancestral Recall, Gitaxian Probe, Ponder, Ruby. He passes with five power on the

I explain to Bob that when players mulligan they are supposed to have slower
starts because they have fewer cards to work with. He laughs but says he doesn't
want to hear it after my Recall last game.

I draw Recall for my turn (!!) and play a Sapphire into Preordain, which gets
Misstepped (making a fourth token) and then Island into Recall, which gets
Pyroblasted (making a fifth token).

I pass and get attacked for seven, then Bob plays a second Pyromancer and Bolts
me, emptying his hand and putting lethal on board.

I draw a Force of Will. I have a Brainstorm and an Underground Sea in hand, so
all I need is a Dark Ritual and I can go Ritual, Doomsday, Brainstorm into
Ancestral into Lotus, Maniac, Gush. I tap Sapphire to Preordain, ship two cards
and draw...Flusterstorm. Rats. I concede.


What would have happened if I had Brainstormed? I peek.

Thoughtsieze. Dark Ritual. Gush. Put back Force and Flusterstorm, play Sea,
Ritual, Doomsday, Gush into an easy, well-practiced win.

I would have won. I could have beaten Bob Maher. I am Brian Davis in the finals
of PT Chicago '99.

Bob has seen me staring at my top three cards and he knew about the Brainstorm,
so I just tell him that I punted. I ask if I should have even looked. Bob says,
sagely, "Always look. All else equal, it's better to have more information. Now
you won't make that mistake again."

I'm calmed once again and settle in for our third game. Boarding doesn't change.

I keep:

Underground Sea, Island, Thoughtsieze, Flusterstorm, Dig Through Time, Vampiric
Tutor, Doomsday

Bob keeps his seven as well. I lead on Thoughtsieze because the chance to take
Delver's only threat is worth waiting on Vampiric. Bob shows me Pyroblast, Fire
// Ice ... and then stops.

"Oh, I guess I should read my cards. Mental Misstep."

Apparently he'd thought it was a Gitaxian Probe. I laugh and put my Thoughtsieze
in the bin. The way I see it, I got to take a card and see half of his hand and
he paid the two life instead of me; sounds like a deal!

Bob cracks a Misty for a Volcanic Island, plays a Sapphire and a Young
Pyromancer and passes. I draw another Doomsday, play my Island and pass.

Pyromancer attacks me and Bob plays another Volcanic Island and a Preordain
before passing. I Vamp for Ancestral. I draw it and pass. Bob bolts me to 13 at
the end of my turn.

He untaps and attacks me to nine before passing again. In my upkeep, he casts
Ice targeting my Underground Sea, leaving only a Volcanic untapped. Sensing
opportunity, I recall off the Sea. Predictably, he Problasts and I Flusterstorm
both the blast and the Ice. Recall resolves and I draw Sapphire, Lotus Petal,
and Tendrils. My draw step yields Gush. The storm count is already four, so I
play Sapphire (5), Lotus Petal (6), Dig Through Time (7) which finds Lotus and
something else, Gush (8) into nothing exciting, Underground Sea, Lotus (9),

I guess that was a good Recall.

Bob was extremely friendly, even after I won. While we were talking after the
match, a judge came to collect our slip. I stammered, and asked if I could give
it to him in a moment.

Bob laughed. "You want to take a picture, don't you?"

"Ya, I'd wanted to wait until you'd left to try and be a little classy, but..."

"Aw, go ahead."

And that's how I started off Vintage Champs 1-0. Thanks so much to Bob Maher for
being an excellent opponent and great sport. He even asked me how I was doing a
few times throughout the day. I will remember this match (my first ever match of
sanctioned Vintage!) for a long time.

Round two saw me paired against Harry. He was playing a powerless Abzan (Junk)
disruption deck. He won game one on Lotus Petal, exile Elvish Spirit Guide,
Thalia, despite me hitting all of my land drops and him missing his first
several. I wish I could say Dread of Night shined, but in reality Harry
mulliganned three times to my zero for the rest of the match and I took it down.

In round three I played Antonio who had flown in from Sicily. He was on Terra
Nova. Fully expected my short win streak to come to a close. In game one I never
find a Force and soon my non-artifact spells cost 6 more to play. In game two I
have in my opener the one Thoughtsieze I left in my deck because I'm short a
card to bring in. It takes his only mana source. He asks his deck for a land and
it delivers...Tolarian Academy. Guess he should have been more specific. He
mulligans to five in game three and I keep an opener with Hurkyl's.

Round four brought Fancois, a Montreal native, on a Grixis Pyromancer list with
Tinker for Colossus and Vault/Key. Finally, a midrangey blue deck! Both games
are pretty textbook; take some beats, counter the must-counters, resolve
Doomsday and win.

In round five I played against Ryan on UR Delver. In game one he blew a few
Bolts to make sure a Flusterstorm countered my Dig Through Time which was
fortunate because I wasn't playing around both of them. I Doomsday'd down to two
life but fortunately I have a 0 life, 0 floating mana stack ready: Ancestral,
Lotus Petal, Yawgmoth's Will, Black Lotus, Laboratory Maniac. Gush into Petal,
Recall, Recall in to the rest. Then Lotus into Will into Lotus, Petal, Maniac,
Recall on an empty library. I Force his Misstep on my Recall and win game one at
one life. Game two is much easier.

In round six I play my second match against a Bob playing UR Delver. This time
it is SCG Edison Legacy Open Champion and close friend Bob Huang. I take game
one. In game two he desperation Gushes and finds the Force. I miss that I have a
pass-the-turn Doomsday pile and die. This time, however, I'm not lucky enough to
win game three anyway. I keep an awful seven and get run over.

I made it to the feature match area in round seven. You can watch coverage here:

I'm just about ready to go off in game one when I Probe my opponent and see
double Force, double blue card. I then offer my opponent a few tempting Force
targets but he doesn't bite and I can't find a winning line. My favorite part of
the coverage is when the casters say "This Doomsday deck doesn't seem to be
doing much" right before I go off through Force, Steel Sabotage and Ravenous
Trap. In game three I mulligan to a one-lander with two discard spells and no
black source and then Dario has three Mental Missteps.

Going from 5-0 to 5-2 sucks, but I'd already performed way better than I'd
expected. I actually relaxed a little now that the pressure was off.

In round eight I played against (then) reigning world champion and friend of
many years Joel Lim. We split games one and two when Doomsday does it's think in
game one and Merfolk does its thing in game two. In game three, Joel mulligans
to four and gets flustered by a judge who sits on our match and rushes us
through our game, despite having plenty of time. My draws are pretty mediocre
and I actually summon a Laboratory Maniac that takes Joel from 24 (after a Claim
takes out a Sapphire) to 6. My hand becomes increasingly powerful, but I'm under
no pressure and Joel has a full grip that I assume have to be counter spells.
Finally I go off with double Flusterstorm, Force and Misdirection backup and it
turns out Joel has just been holding a bunch of UU creatures while stuck on
Island, Strip Mine. I Tendrils him for approximately 200.

The final round matches me against Chubby Rain, another friend, on some crazy
storm deck. We agree to a split but play it out because the winner might make
top 16. However, we're both planning on going to Fogo de Chao (an awesome
Brazilian steakhouse) after this round, so neither of our heads are in it. I
strip his hand and win game one easily. My hand for game two is bonkers, but
Matt lets a Xantid Swarm resolve when his hand is literally counters and lands
so I cover my friend in bees and get the easiest turn two win of the day.

We head out for Fogo and it is delicious. Someone checks final standings while
we're at the restaurant; I'm in 17th by 0.23% on tiebreakers. I drown my sorrow
in steak and all is well.

Bob Maher. I can't say enough how appreciative I am.
Joel, Bob and Matt. Playing friends in events sucks, but you guys are awesome.
The rest of my friends in the vintage community. You guys make this all worth

17th place as a concept

Thanks for reading! And remember, judgement day is upon us. Repent! The End is