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CardShark Content - Chris Morling (6/29/2001)

PTQ: New York, in Houston TX. June 23.

When I first knew I would be spending the summer in Houston, I tried to find a local team to join to practice for and to play in the upcoming Team Sealed Pro Tour Qualifiers and Grand Prix Trials, but I was unsuccessful. When I actually arrived in Houston, I turned to the Internet to find local stores for weekend booster drafts, sealed deck tournaments, and so on. The first store I went to had closed. Not closed for the evening or closed for the weekend, but rather it had shut down. It still had a website, which advertises weekly tournaments, that the store is used for Pro Tour Qualifiers, and so on, but when I arrived it was an empty building with a ´´For Lease´´ sign.

The next night, I went to a different store. This time, I called ahead to learn that there was a tournament at seven o'clock. I left with thirty-five minutes to make the trip that MapQuest said would take thirty minutes. Unfortunately, I got caught in terrible, terrible traffic, and arrived thirty minutes late. The tournament had started promptly, and I was too late.

With these failures in mind, I was afraid that this weekend would be yet another disaster.

In my search for local stores, I discovered that StrikeZone was being used for a Pro Tour New York Qualifier this weekend. The qualifier was to be team sealed. As I mentioned above, I had been unable to find a local team, but I did want to compete. I emailed the Tournament Organizer and asked for him to set me up with a team. He hooked me up with one Erik Landriz, another player without a team who wanted to compete.

I'm confident enough to say that I am a good limited player, and feel pretty confident in my game, but Erik is a Pro Tour veteran, with money finishes and everything. I was both pleased to be on a team with such a strong player and afraid of being the weak link that turned a stellar team into a good team.

A couple of days later, I received an email from Jason, a Houston player whose last name I'm afraid I still don't know. He was to be the third member of our team, and so we were underway. We decided to meet the night before the tournament to practice building sealed decks.

I arrived, and a few minutes later Jason showed up. He was younger than I was expecting, but he has some tournament experience, including some strong JSS finishes, so it wasn't too much of a problem. Erik showed up a few minutes later.

We opened some pretty good sealed decks that night, and built three decks that tested quite well. Erik and I noticed a couple of stylistic mistakes coming from Jason, which we tried to correct. Jason didn't like to hold cards in his hand. He liked to play land, play creatures and removal, attack, use his combat tricks, and pass the turn. This is how a lot of people start playing the game, but it isn't the way to win games. (As a side note, I had the opposite problem. I loved to hold cards in my hand, and would hold creatures, removal, and tricks indefinitely, on the off-chance I could get even more utility out of them at a later point.)

Erik and I pointed these mistakes out to Jason, and he got better and better. By the end of the tournament, he was playing very well. He was playing a land if he needed it for combat, attacking, playing combat tricks if they'd help, then playing more creatures after attacking. He was saving removal, and so on. Nice.

I gave Erik a ride to the tournament the next day, and he demonstrated what separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. He spoke about leaving mana untapped, and what you could learn from your opponent and what you could bluff. In Invasion Block, an untapped forest is the most threatening land (creature pumpers) followed by an untapped plain (damage prevention). At two lands, it becomes more debatable, but it was interesting to discuss the bluffing that could be done.

We arrived, and immediately received decks to register. I'm not convinced that this is the best policy. I think it's better to give all the people their decks at the same time, even if it is just for registration. Something like ten percent of decks go back to the people who registered them. I've gotten into the habit (and you should, too) of using the entire registration time. Once I have the cards registered, checked, and double-checked, I use the remaining time (often five to ten, but sometimes as many as fifteen minutes) to think about what I would do with the cards.

Occasionally, I'll receive those cards back, and I'll have a ten-minute head start for deck construction. Even if I don't, I might be able to recognize that my opponent is playing ´´my deck´´ later in the tournament, and I'll have an advantage in that I'll know whether I need to worry about Breath of Darrigaz, Rout
Rout
RoutSet: Invasion
Cost:
5
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
34
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
You may play Rout any time you could play an instant if you pay 2 more to play it.Destroy all creatures. They can't be regenerated.
, and other mass removal, as well a subtler commons like Exclude
Exclude
ExcludeSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
56
Artist:
Mark Romanoski
Text:
Counter target creature spell.Draw a card.
, Prohibit
Prohibit
ProhibitSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
67
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Kicker 2 (You may pay an additional 2 as you play this spell.)Counter target spell if its converted mana cost is 2 or less. If you paid the kicker cost, counter that spell if its converted mana cost is 4 or less instead.
, Armadillo Cloak
Armadillo Cloak
Armadillo CloakSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
229
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has trample.Whenever enchanted creature deals damage, you gain that much life.
, Agonizing Demise
Agonizing Demise
Agonizing DemiseSet: Invasion
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
92
Artist:
Mark Brill
Text:
Kicker 1R (You may pay an additional 1R as you play this spell.)Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated. If you paid the kicker cost, Agonizing Demise deals damage equal to that creature's power to the creature's controller.
and so on.

In the absolute worst-case scenario, I will neither get the cards back nor play against them, but even then I won't have lost anything. In fact, I'll have gotten some more practice at building sealed decks, which never hurt anyone.

This was the case in this tournament, as we neither received the cards back nor played against them, but it put us in the right frame of mind when we received the cards we were to play with. We built a U/W/b deck, which I ended up playing, a G/R/W deck, which Erik played, and a U/B/r deck, which Jason piloted. We were worried about the creature quality in the U/W/b deck, although the spells were excellent (Exclude
Exclude
ExcludeSet: Invasion
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
56
Artist:
Mark Romanoski
Text:
Counter target creature spell.Draw a card.
, 2 x Prohibit
Prohibit
ProhibitSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
67
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Kicker 2 (You may pay an additional 2 as you play this spell.)Counter target spell if its converted mana cost is 2 or less. If you paid the kicker cost, counter that spell if its converted mana cost is 4 or less instead.
, Fact or Fiction
Fact or Fiction
Fact or FictionSet: Invasion
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent separates those cards into two face-up piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard.
, Angelic Shield
Angelic Shield
Angelic ShieldSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
228
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Creatures you control get +0/+1.Sacrifice Angelic Shield: Return target creature to its owner's hand.
, Death Bomb
Death Bomb
Death BombSet: Planeshift
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
41
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
As an additional cost to play Death Bomb, sacrifice a creature. Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated. Its controller loses 2 life.
, Night/Day). We ended up moving a couple of sub-par black creatures into the deck (Zombie Boa
Zombie Boa
Zombie BoaSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
5
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie Snake
Rarity:
C
Number:
54
Artist:
Greg Staples
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
1B: Choose a color. Whenever Zombie Boa becomes blocked by a creature of that color this turn, destroy that creature. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.
, Slinking Serpent
Slinking Serpent
Slinking SerpentSet: Invasion
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Serpent
Rarity:
U
Number:
274
Artist:
Wayne England
Power:
2
Toughness:
3
Text:
Forestwalk (This creature is unblockable as long as defending player controls a forest.)
) and playing with Angelfire Crusader
Angelfire Crusader
Angelfire CrusaderSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Soldier
Rarity:
C
Number:
1
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
2
Toughness:
3
Text:
R: Angelfire Crusader gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
. There was a brief period where we were considering playing maindeck Haunted Angel
Haunted Angel
Haunted AngelSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
U
Number:
12
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying. When Haunted Angel is put into a graveyard from play, remove Haunted Angel from the game and each other player puts a 3/3 black Angel creature token with flying into play.
, but that passed, fortunately.

The deck ended up with not quite enough ground stall and not quite enough air force (it was present, but not to the extent I would hope for), but three tappers, some good spells, and Reya, Dawnbringer to seal the game. I'm pretty sure I drew Reya every single game, and they all came down to whether or not I drew 9 mana.

Round 1:

In game one I draw every one of my fliers in the first ten cards, and have something like fifty of them in play by turn five. My opponent can't do very much. Putting his Stone Kavu
Stone Kavu
Stone KavuSet: Planeshift
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Kavu
Rarity:
C
Number:
93
Artist:
Adam Rex
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
R: Stone Kavu gets +1/+0 until end of turn. W: Stone Kavu gets +0/+1 until end of turn.
on top of his deck with a Hunting Drake
Hunting Drake
Hunting DrakeSet: Planeshift
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Drake
Rarity:
C
Number:
27
Artist:
Wayne England
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying. When Hunting Drake comes into play, put target red or green creature on top of its owner's library.
pretty much seals the game.

I make a pretty strong play when, after I deal five damage to his 3/3 Kavu Climber
Kavu Climber
Kavu ClimberSet: Invasion
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Kavu
Rarity:
C
Number:
192
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Kavu Climber comes into play, draw a card.
, he taps his Samite Pilgrim
Samite Pilgrim
Samite PilgrimSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
C
Number:
15
Artist:
D.J. Cleland-Hura
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T: Prevent the next X damage that would be dealt to target creature this turn, where X is the number of basic land types among lands you control.
to prevent three points of damage. In response, I tap a Sea Snidd
Sea Snidd
Sea SniddSet: Planeshift
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
C
Number:
31
Artist:
Chippy
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
T: Target land's type becomes the basic land type of your choice until end of turn.
to turn his one Mountain
Mountain
MountainSet: Arabian Nights
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Tap to add R to your mana pool.
into a Plains
Plains
PlainsSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add W to your mana pool.
. It therefore only prevents two points of damage, and the Climber goes to the graveyard.

In game two my opponent is too fast for me, and my limited ground stall means that he overwhelms me.

In game three, I once again find every flier and win. Better lucky than good.

Unfortunately, my teammates both lose. Erik gets locked up in a big creature brawl, and loses five elves (Nomadic, Quirion, Yavigmaya Barbarian, and 2 x Llanowar Knight
Llanowar Knight
Llanowar KnightSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf Knight
Rarity:
C
Number:
254
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Protection from black
s) to a Tsabo's Decree
Tsabo's Decree
Tsabo's DecreeSet: Invasion
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
129
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Text:
Choose a creature type. Target player reveals his or her hand and discards all creature cards of that type from it. Then destroy all creatures of that type that player controls. They can't be regenerated.
. I hear five for one card advantage is pretty tough to come back from. I'm not sure what happens in Jason's game.

My match record: 1-0
My game record: 2-1
Team match record: 0-1
Team game record: 4-5

Round 2:

In game one, my opponent and I become engaged in a ground standoff, but I have the advantage in the air. My opponent tries to gain air superiority with Lightning Angel
Lightning Angel
Lightning AngelSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
R
Number:
108
Artist:
rk post
Power:
3
Toughness:
4
Text:
Flying; haste (This creature may attack and TAP the turn it comes under your control.) Attacking doesn't cause Lightning Angel to tap.
, but is unsuccessful thanks to a timely Prohibit
Prohibit
ProhibitSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
67
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Kicker 2 (You may pay an additional 2 as you play this spell.)Counter target spell if its converted mana cost is 2 or less. If you paid the kicker cost, counter that spell if its converted mana cost is 4 or less instead.
. I go on to win.

In game two, things are looking pretty good for me. My opponent and I both have two fliers and a Samite Pilgrim
Samite Pilgrim
Samite PilgrimSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
C
Number:
15
Artist:
D.J. Cleland-Hura
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T: Prevent the next X damage that would be dealt to target creature this turn, where X is the number of basic land types among lands you control.
. He has a big non-flier, but I also have two Stormscape Apprentice
Stormscape Apprentice
Stormscape ApprenticeSet: Invasion
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
75
Artist:
D. Alexander Gregory
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
W, T: Tap target creature.B, T: Target player loses 1 life.
s. My opponent can't attack me with his fliers, but I can attack each turn. Unfortunately, my opponent plays a Razorfin Hunter
Razorfin Hunter
Razorfin HunterSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Merfolk Goblin
Rarity:
C
Number:
119
Artist:
Jeff Easley
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
TAP: Razorfin Hunter deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
, suddenly challenging my tappers. I'm worried, but then I topdeck and play Reya. Now the math is different. Each turn my opponent can kill a tapper. Reya will bring one tapper back each turn. That tapper will have summoning sickness. The other one will be active, and I'll use it to tap the big creature on the ground. Each turn I should have exactly one tapper.

I'm relieved that I should be able to survive, but then compound my opponent's frustration by drawing a Coalition Honor Guard
Coalition Honor Guard
Coalition Honor GuardSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Flagbearer
Rarity:
C
Number:
3
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Power:
2
Toughness:
4
Text:
If an opponent plays a spell or ability that could target a Flagbearer in play, that player chooses at least one Flagbearer as a target.
. I'm not even afraid of the Hunter anymore.

I build up a better air force than my opponent, and we both keep playing creatures. Since I have a better air force, he doesn't attack, and since he isn't attacking, I have the Apprentices take two life each turn. His correct play here is to declare an attack every turn. I'd be forced to tap some of his creatures to prevent him from hitting me with some big trick. Because I'm tapping my Apprentices to tap his creatures, I'd be unable to deal damage to him with them. He could just keep declaring null attacks, and that would make things much harder for me. I simply take two life from him each turn and seal the game.

Both of my teammates win this round 2-0.

My match record: 2-0
My game record: 4-1
Team match record: 1-1
Team game record: 10-5

The team talks about tiebreakers for a minute. Our game win percentage is almost as good as it possibly could be for the team to be at 1-1. The only improvement would have been if I had won the first match 2-0 instead of 2-1. My teammates joke about this, calling me the weakest link for dropping that game.

Round 3:

For me, this was the most exciting round.

In the first game, my opponent races and I can't keep up. I make a mistake, I think my only one of the day, by holding back with a creature so that I could use it to block when I had no intention of using it to block. Towards the end of the game, I'm chump blocking, sacrificing the Angelic Shield
Angelic Shield
Angelic ShieldSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
228
Artist:
Adam Rex
Text:
Creatures you control get +0/+1.Sacrifice Angelic Shield: Return target creature to its owner's hand.
to bounce, and so on, and my opponent Fact or Fiction
Fact or Fiction
Fact or FictionSet: Invasion
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent separates those cards into two face-up piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard.
s. I'm letting one attacker in next turn, and I'm at five life, so when he reveals an Explosive Growth
Explosive Growth
Explosive GrowthSet: Invasion
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
187
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Kicker o5 (You may pay an additional o5 as you play this spell.)Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn. If you paid the kicker cost, that creature gets +5/+5 until end of turn instead.
I put it in a pile by itself, and two big creatures and two lands in the other pile. He takes the bigger pile. He attacks me for the next two turns (instead of one!) and wins. I mention this Fact or Fiction
Fact or Fiction
Fact or FictionSet: Invasion
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent separates those cards into two face-up piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard.
because for a while I thought it might have been the wrong split, but in retrospect it was clearly the best choice.

I game two, my opponent gets me down to two life before I do a single point of damage to him. Somehow, I manage to pull the game out and win. In fairness, my opponent drew fifteen of his seventeen lands, but I still felt pretty good about it.

Game three was the best game of the tournament. My opponent brings me down to ten life, again before I did any damage. My opponent gets a Kavu Climber
Kavu Climber
Kavu ClimberSet: Invasion
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Kavu
Rarity:
C
Number:
192
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Kavu Climber comes into play, draw a card.
, Quirion Sentinel
Quirion Sentinel
Quirion SentinelSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf
Rarity:
C
Number:
204
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Quirion Sentinel comes into play, add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
, Magnigoth Treefolk
Magnigoth Treefolk
Magnigoth TreefolkSet: Planeshift
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Treefolk
Rarity:
R
Number:
82
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
2
Toughness:
6
Text:
For each basic land type among lands you control, Magnigoth Treefolk has landwalk of that type. (It's unblockable as long as defending player controls a land of that type.)
, Ceta Disciple
Ceta Disciple
Ceta DiscipleSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
19
Artist:
Greg & Tim Hildebrandt
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
R, TAP: Target creature gets +2/+0 until end of turn. G, TAP: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
, and doubly kicked Anavolver
Anavolver
AnavolverSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Volver
Rarity:
R
Number:
75
Artist:
Matt Cavotta
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Kicker 1U and/or B. If you paid the 1U kicker cost, Anavolver comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it and has flying.If you paid the B kicker cost, Anavolver comes into play with a +1/+1 counter on it and has "Pay 3 life: Regenerate Anavolver."
into play. I have a few chump blockers.

I topdeck a land, tap all but one mana and sacrifice an Irrigation Ditch
Irrigation Ditch
Irrigation DitchSet: Invasion
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
C
Number:
324
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
Irrigation Ditch comes into play tapped.T: Add W to your mana pool.T, Sacrifice Irrigation Ditch: Add GU to your mana pool.
to play Reya. I tap the Volver with my tapper. My opponent attacks with the Treefolk and pumps with the Disciple. The next upkeep I bring a Hunting Drake
Hunting Drake
Hunting DrakeSet: Planeshift
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Drake
Rarity:
C
Number:
27
Artist:
Wayne England
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying. When Hunting Drake comes into play, put target red or green creature on top of its owner's library.
into play, and return the Treefolk to my opponent's library. I play another land. On my opponent's turn, I sacrifice the Drake to a Death Bomb
Death Bomb
Death BombSet: Planeshift
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
41
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
As an additional cost to play Death Bomb, sacrifice a creature. Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated. Its controller loses 2 life.
, killing the Volver. I bring the Drake back again the next upkeep, returning the treefolk to the top of my opponent's library. I then play a Silver Drake
Silver Drake
Silver DrakeSet: Planeshift
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Drake
Rarity:
C
Number:
125
Artist:
Alan Pollack
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying. When Silver Drake comes into play, return a white or blue creature you control to its owner's hand.
and gate the Hunting Drake
Hunting Drake
Hunting DrakeSet: Planeshift
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Drake
Rarity:
C
Number:
27
Artist:
Wayne England
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying. When Hunting Drake comes into play, put target red or green creature on top of its owner's library.
. I replay the Hunting Drake
Hunting Drake
Hunting DrakeSet: Planeshift
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Drake
Rarity:
C
Number:
27
Artist:
Wayne England
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying. When Hunting Drake comes into play, put target red or green creature on top of its owner's library.
, and put the Sentinel
Sentinel
SentinelSet: Chronicles
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Randy Asplund
Power:
1
Toughness:
*
Text:
When Sentinel comes into play, its toughness is equal to 1.0: Change Sentinel's toughness to 1 plus the power of target creature blocking or blocked by Sentinel.
on top of my opponent's library.

On his turn, my opponent plays the Sentinel
Sentinel
SentinelSet: Chronicles
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Randy Asplund
Power:
1
Toughness:
*
Text:
When Sentinel comes into play, its toughness is equal to 1.0: Change Sentinel's toughness to 1 plus the power of target creature blocking or blocked by Sentinel.
and uses the mana to pump the Climber. He then attacks with the Climber. I am unable to stifle a (literal) shriek of joy as I block with the Hunting Drake
Hunting Drake
Hunting DrakeSet: Planeshift
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Drake
Rarity:
C
Number:
27
Artist:
Wayne England
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying. When Hunting Drake comes into play, put target red or green creature on top of its owner's library.
, putting it into the graveyard for Reya recursion. My opponent concedes in disgust at my upcoming sixth use of my Hunting Drake
Hunting Drake
Hunting DrakeSet: Planeshift
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Drake
Rarity:
C
Number:
27
Artist:
Wayne England
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying. When Hunting Drake comes into play, put target red or green creature on top of its owner's library.
.

Unfortunately, this game is for naught as both of my teammates lose their matches.

My match record: 3-0
My game record: 6-2
Team match record: 1-2
Team game record: 13-10

At this point we consider dropping. The tournament has 33 teams, and therefore has 8 rounds. Normally, I'd be inclined to drop with two losses, but 33 teams leads to very ´´loose´´ rankings, and, while it would be hard to make top two, top four was quite reachable. All we had to do was win the rest of our matches.

Round 4:

We're seated and wait for our opponents to arrive. And we wait. And we wait.

Our opponents haven't shown after five minutes, and we begin to suspect that they dropped after losing in the third round. As I mentioned above, it's quite possible to make top four and win prizes (top two is mathematically possible, but unlikely), and so I feel like they made the wrong decision. More time passes, and eventually the judges award us our victory. We again debate dropping, but remain convinced that winning out will get us prizes.

My match record: 3-0
My game record: 6-2
Team match record: 2-2
Team game record: 13-10

Round 5:

While waiting for the round to begin we play a little, and so almost miss the pairings. We notice just in time, and proceed to our tables. We sit down, having beaten our opponents to the seats. We wait for our opponents to arrive. Once again, they don't. The judges make us remain seated until fifteen minutes have passed, then award us with another victory. Two in a row puts us above .500, but it's a pretty hollow reward.


My match record: 3-0
My game record: 6-2
Team match record: 3-2
Team game record: 13-10

I go get some lunch, return, and then play a couple of games before the next round begins.

Round 6:

Now, I've not done the math, but I know that in top eight tournaments, the number of players is rounded up to the nearest powers of 2 (16, 32, 64, 128, 256, etc.), then you divide by two until you get to one. The number of times you have to divide by two is the number of rounds. If the number of players is about halfway between the nearest power of two below the actual number and the nearest power of two above (say, 47, about halfway between 32 and 64), then X-1-1 should make top eight. If the number of players is very close to the power of two above (say, 60) some players at X-1-1 won't make the top eight. If the number of players is very close to the power of two below (say, 33, like at this tournament), then some players at X-2 should make top eight.

In team tournaments, they cut to a top two, instead of a top eight, but have two more rounds, so it pretty much evens out. By my reasoning, then, a team at 6-2 might make top two. It would almost certainly make top four.

Unfortunately, either my reasoning was wrong or no one else knew about it, because for the third round in a row, our opponents left before the round began. The judges were lenient this time, and gave us the win immediately.

My match record: 3-0
My game record: 6-2
Team match record: 4-2
Team game record: 13-10

Round 7:

We're seated, and wait for our opponents to arrive. This time, they sit down promptly. I, in perhaps a poorly thought out move, tell my opponents, ´´I don't mean to try and intimidate you, but no one on this team has lost a single game since round three.´´ Our opponent's C seat says in a loud voice, ´´Well you know what? I HAVE!´´ He seems a little angry, and so, in an effort to defuse the imaginary tensions, I explain that for three consecutive rounds we've been matched with people who haven't shown up.

I win both game one and game two. My opponent puts up little resistance. It isn't that he's a bad player. His deck simply can't compete. In the mean time, the opponent's C seat (whom I'll call Seat C, since I don't know his name) shouts about how he's smashing face, how he's been smashing face all day, and how he'll continue to smash face. It doesn't get much better when he wins game one. He announces that he's just smashed some more face, and Jason to my left (in the B seat.) retorts that he's smashing face in game two, after losing game one. I wouldn't normally be so liberal with the phrase, ´´smash face,´´ I promise, but here it's the phrase that's tossed around.

Jason loses game two, and his opponent taunts, ´´I thought you were smashing face.´´ Whatever. Meanwhile, Erik in seat C is not doing so well in his game two.

There's some confusion, when Erik's opponent chooses not to block an attack, takes damage (adjusts his life total), and then says, ´´Wait, during your attack phase, I want to Lightning Dart
Lightning Dart
Lightning DartSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
152
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Lightning Dart deals 1 damage to target creature. If that creature is white or blue, Lightning Dart deals 4 damage to it instead.
your Quirion Elves
Quirion Elves
Quirion ElvesSet: Mirage
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elves
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Randy Gallegos
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When you play Quirion Elves, choose a color.T: Add one mana of the chosen color to your mana pool. Play this ability as a mana source.T: Add G to your mana pool. Play this ability as a mana source.
,´´ there's some confusion, as Erik isn't sure if it's still his attack phase or whether he's dealt combat damage yet, and Seat C says, ´´Hey never mind. I'm going to beat you even with your five casting cost creature.´´ Erik plays an Attendant.

On his turn, Seat C attacks with a Goham Djinn
Goham Djinn
Goham DjinnSet: Invasion
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Djinn
Rarity:
U
Number:
107
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
1B: Regenerate Goham Djinn.Goham Djinn gets -2/-2 as long as black is the most common color among all permanents or is tied for most common.
. Erik blocks with the Attendant. He puts the Attendant in the graveyard and, I believe, says, ´´Are you done?´´ Seat C acknowledges that he is done. Erik then says ´´The Djinn is dead.´´ Seat C didn't notice that the token created by the Penumbra Bobcat
Penumbra Bobcat
Penumbra BobcatSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat
Rarity:
C
Number:
82
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Penumbra Bobcat is put into a graveyard from play, put a 2/1 black Cat creature token into play.
is black. That makes two black creatures in play, and it makes the Djinn 3/3. Seat C taps two mana to regenerate, but Erik won't have it. He asserts, quite accurately, that his opponent chose to let damage resolve before putting up a regeneration shield. His opponent becomes (even more) belligerent. Erik calls for a judge.

The judge shows up, and hears both sides of the story. Seat C claims that he never said that he was done. He asserts that Erik told him the Djinn was going to die, or that he said the Djinn was dying, but that Erik hadn't given him a chance to regenerate it. Neither player had said, ´´I have no fast effects. Does damage resolve.´´ It's possible that Erik didn't ask if his opponent was done, but the player didn't object when Erik put his creature in the graveyard, and was shocked when he heard that the Djinn was dying. He picked up Penumbra Bobcat
Penumbra Bobcat
Penumbra BobcatSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat
Rarity:
C
Number:
82
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Penumbra Bobcat is put into a graveyard from play, put a 2/1 black Cat creature token into play.
out of the graveyard and read it. He asked whether it was a black Cat-token, or a Black-Cat token. Seat B asserts that, in fact, Erik never asked whether Seat C was done, and that Erik was rushing, and that Erik stole from children, and that he was plotting to kill the judge, and so on, but the judge told him to sit down and be quiet.

I was thinking, ´´Okay. Failure to agree on reality. Erik is, in capital-T Truth, correct, and, in capital J Justice
Justice
JusticeSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Ruth Thompson
Text:
During your upkeep, pay WW or bury Justice.Whenever any red creature or spell assigns damage, Justice deals an equal amount of damage to that creature's or spell's controller.
, his opponent should lose the creature, but it's not going to happen. The players are going to have to back up, they'll both receive a warning, and the Djinn will regenerate. Such is live.´´

The judge says, ´´Djinn goes in the graveyard.´´ I'm shocked and amazed.

I'm shocked but not amazed when Seat C says, ´´Can I appeal this to a better judge.´´

Now, I've appealed a ruling before. My opponent wanted to pay a smaller blue kicker on the Sunscape Battlemage
Sunscape Battlemage
Sunscape BattlemageSet: Planeshift
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wizard
Rarity:
U
Number:
16
Artist:
Tony Szczudlo
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Kicker 1G and/or 2U. When Sunscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the 1G kicker cost, destroy target creature with flying. When Sunscape Battlemage comes into play, if you paid the 2U kicker cost, draw two cards.
because he had a Sunscape Familiar
Sunscape Familiar
Sunscape FamiliarSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wall
Rarity:
C
Number:
17
Artist:
Brian Despain
Power:
0
Toughness:
3
Text:
The spirits of fallen battlemages can serve their guilds as familiars by joining with any physical form.
in play. I called the judge and she apparently got confused and thought we were asking if, in general, Familiars reduce kicker costs, or something to that effect, and said that yes, they did. I was sure it was the wrong ruling, and so I CALMLY said, ´´I'd like to appeal that ruling to the head judge.´´ The head judge showed up and gave the correct ruling, that the blue kicker is part of the cost of a white spell, and isn't reduced, and everyone was happy.

I'll repeat what Seat C said. ´´Can I appeal this to a better judge.´´

The head judge shows up, hears the lower judge and both player's recounting of the events, then goes to get his big book of procedures. I'm thinking, ´´Okay. Now it'll be failure to agree on reality.´´ The head judge came back and said, ´´Djinn goes in the graveyard.´´ Booyah! The lesser judge announces that he'll stay and watch the rest of the match.

Seat C is oh so belligerent. He's swearing, insulting Erik, shouting random numbers on Erik's turn while he's trying to think, and so on. The judge tells him to simmer down, and he tones it down a little, but only a little. He stops swearing in his insults, starts talking loudly instead of shouting, and such.

Now, Erik is a semi-pro poker player. He makes $100 a night on the weekends. He's pretty good at reading an opponent, and pretty good at making an angry opponent make mistakes. My first instinct in this situation is to try to calm things down a little. Erik's instincts were different. Every attack phase he said, ´´Okay. I'm announcing my attackers. I'm going to attack with this creature, this creature, and this creature. Do you have any fast effects? Go ahead and declare blockers. Okay, I have no fast effects. Damage on the stack? Okay, this creature will assign 3 damage to you. This creature will assign 2 damage to you. This creature will assign 2 damage to the single creature that's blocking it. Is your creature assigning damage? I have no fast effects. Do you have any fast effects? Then damage resolves.´´ He wasn't playing this slowly. He was simply doing everything very much by the book. This was infuriating his opponent.

Erik asked the judge for a time extension, since so much time had been lost to the ruling. He was not granted his request.

Erik won the second game just as time was called. This put the two players at a tie. Erik was about to fill out the match report when Seat C said, ´´Hold on, let's talk about this. Neither team gets anything if we tie. We'd still have a chance if one team one and one team lost. One of us could concede the match to the other.´´

Erik replied, ´´Well, we're okay with you conceding to us.´´

Seat C said, ´´I thought we could flip a coin or something.´´

In an ideal universe, good triumphs over evil.

In an ideal universe, Erik gets his time extension and goes on to win the match.

In an ideal universe, the judge gives Seat C a game loss for unsportsmanlike conduct.

In an ideal universe, the judge shouts ´´Seat C, you are guilty of coercion, attempting to convince your opponent to concede using a coin toss.´´ This is a real infraction. Tossing a coin is considered coercion, or collusion, or something to that effect.

Unfortunately, this is not an ideal universe, and the match ended in a tie. Perhaps that's appropriate, with good neither triumphing over evil nor being defeated, but rather ending with a tie.

I'd like to stress that while Seat C was very unpleasant and Seat B was a little unpleasant, my opponent was very well behaved. He didn't draw very well from his deck, and hadn't won a single match, so if he’d been abrasive it would have been somewhat understandable, but he was nothing like his teammates in terms of behavior.

My match record: 4-0
My game record: 8-2
Team match record: 4-2-1
Team game record: 14-13

So, after apologizing to my opponent for the unpleasantness, we dropped and left.

In real matches, we finished at 1-2-1. Officially, we finished 4-2-1.

If anyone is in the Houston area and would like a teammate, email me at morlingc@msu.edu.

If anyone saw the game in round seven and would like to comment on it, you can email me at the same address, but I'd much prefer if you'd email submissions@card-shark.com to put your report in the public record. I'm aware that when people with vested interests see things they tend to reinvent them in the most favorable way, and I'm aware that I have biases in this event. If you'd like to point them out, I'd rather everyone were given the opportunity to get a . . . ´´more accurate´´ impression of the events.

Chris Morling
“Did you know that urine is sterile? You can drink it.´´


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