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This was certainly an eventful weekend. I got up at 3 AM Friday leading into SCG DC and flew out with [card Squadron Hawk]Caw-Blade[/card] and [card Kuldotha Rebirth]Kuldotha Red[/card] prepared for Standard, as well as [card Lord of Atlantis]Merfolk[/card] and Natural Order [card Rhox War Monk]Bant[/card] skeletons next to my Ad Nauseam [card Tendrils of Agony]Tendrils[/card] deck prepared for Legacy. The flight left at 6 AM and landed in DC bright and early.

Unfortunately, the crowd I was splitting the hotel with wouldn't show up until something like 7 PM.


In theory, I was going to take my laptop to the Library of Congress and use The Internet there in order to do some work. In practice, something had set off my allergies, and that combined with my lack of sleep to make me unable to do anything productive. I found a diner for lunch (which was miserable and overpriced), wandered around a bit, then took a cab back to the hotel and sat in the lobby for a few hours. Eventually they showed up and I more or less passed out on the bed after making fun of someone's deck.

I had given up on finding a Caw-Blade list I was 100% satisfied with, and as a result I switched over to Kuldotha Red. Dave from 02drop borrowed my entire Caw-Blade deck as-is, and ended up going 2-3 or something like that.

First round, I got paired against Caw-Blade with Red for Cunning Sparkmage and Basilisk Collar. I didn't know it yet, but Angry Birds was the breakout deck of the tournament, and while this variant wasn't the same as what Gerry Thompson won with, it had great similarities. Namely, it crushed Aggro decks, starting with mine.

Second round, I got paired against one of my hotel roommates on Boros. He beat me in two close games, and I was out. Sat around moping for a while, decided to buy into Merfolk rather than Natural Order for Legacy, and entered the Legacy Challenge.

A 2-2 performance later, I felt like the deck was grossly underpowered and I don't know how anyone can consistently win with it. Any time a Tarmogoyf hit the other side of the table I wanted to just throw my deck in the garbage can.

Attacking is for losers.

There, that's more like it.

Round 1: Dredge. I get hit by 3 [card Cabal Therapy] Therapies[/card] game one and can still win “next turn” right up until the final Flashback strips my hand completely and I die to nothing more than a trio of [card Bridge from Below]Zombie tokens[/card] – one from each Flashbacked Therapy.

I only take 3 points of damage game 2, in which a rather hilarious play happened. He had something like Putrid Imp, two Narcomoebas, and a resurrected Ichorid on the board. He had a Dread Return and [card Iona, Shield of Emeria]Iona[/card] in the graveyard, but felt that he needed to Flashback a Cabal Therapy at me. I responded with Ghastly Demise on one of his remaining creatures in order to prevent him from casting Dread Return. This tilted him so hard he forgot he could remove Ichorids to each other in order to get attacks in, and I gained several turns to combo off.

Game 3 he led off with Breakthrough for 0. I retaliated with [card Tendrils of Agony]Tendrils[/card] for 20.

Round 2: Enchantress

Game one I killed him on turn 4 with no difficulty.

Game 2 I started out with a Krosan Grip in hand, and kept since I knew what was coming. As the game progressed, I cantripped into Echoing Truth, which was critical. On turn 5 my opponent was chaining enchantments, and at one point a spectator called a Judge. My opponent had just played Utopia Sprawl on Serra's Sanctum, which I didn't see any problem with at the time. Apparently Sprawl only enchants Forests, which is a problem. After some hassle regarding what the proper policy was with him having drawn cards, the Judge eventually had him put two random cards on top of his library and let him cast the Sprawl on an actual Forest, drawing them back. This seems a rather circuitous way of handling things, but apparently that's how their policy is written. Eventually (on the same turn) he had two Runed Halos naming Tendrils (of Agony) and a Sterling Grove. He sacrificed the Grove to get Solitary Confinement, chained it into play, and passed the turn. I played Krosan Grip on the Confinement, Echoing Truth on the Halos, and set up an Ill-Gotten Gains loop to kill him.

Round 3: Show and Sneak

I won game 1 because he hit me with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

That's going to require an explanation, isn't it? Fine. I had three uncracked fetchlands on the table, since I didn't want to tip my hand as to the deck I was playing since I had no action. My opponent went to 16 off fetchlands and Ancient Tomb so I only needed 7 storm plus Tendrils to win. My hand consisted of Swamp, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Infernal Tutor.

In response to the Annihilator trigger, I cracked all 3 fetchlands to put lands into play and sacrificed those to the trigger, resulting in 6 cards in my graveyard. I can't remember if the Ill-Gotten Gains was in my hand (which would be a guaranteed win) or if I was merely playing to my outs and setting up a win so long as I didn't topdeck a land. With only 9 lands left in the deck I had pretty good odds of winning if this was the case. Either way, I pulled out the win.

Game 2 I kept a hand which won on something like turn 2 or 3, only to have it shut down completely by a turn one Null Rod screwing over my mana. At one point, a Duress revealed that I needed to win this turn or lose all my lands to Sneak Attack + Emrakul. I didn't have a guaranteed Ill-Gotten Gains victory so I went for Ad Nauseam but came up short and had to settle for Tendrils for 10, boosting my life total to 16, and giving me a strategic hand. This put my opponent at 7, and when he cracked a fetchland and used two Ancient Tombs to Sneak out Emrakul, it put him at 2 and me at 1 with no mana sources. I needed to draw a black source and a Ritual and didn't get there in the one turn I had before he hit me with Progenitus. Nice draw.

Game 3 my turn one Duress revealed a pair of Force of Will and a slew of blue cards to pitch to it. I couldn't get a second discard spell in time, and lost to Emrakul followed by Progenitus.

Round 4: Elves!

Game 1 he comboed me off with Mirror Entity and infinite mana on turn 3.

Game 2 and 3 I comboed him off a turn before he would have comboed me. I think there was a Ghastly Demise involved in one of the games. I had to use Ad Nauseam the third game since I didn't have an Ill-Gotten Gains loop to win.

Round 5: Burning ANT

Ugh, this matchup is horrible. Both decks play a ton of discard spells and cantrips, but Burning ANT has 2 additional [card Burning Wish]tutors[/card] and some number of Orim's Chant which gives them a huge advantage in winning the matchup. This round's opponent even brought in Silence for game 2, and I didn't win the match.

Round 6: Blue/Green Elves

The Blue is for Coiling Oracle, which I didn't even realize was an Elf, since I remembered it from the Snakes deck from Ravnica-era Standard. I'm not entirely certain how you get a Snake Elf, but I'm sure there are highly detailed diagrams on the internet.

I was expecting to see Daze, Spell Pierce, Force of Will, Gaddock Teeg, anything – but no hate ever made its presence known and I absolutely demolished him with Ill-Gotten Gains into Tendrils two games in a row.

Round 7: Burning ANT

I stripped an Ad Nauseam from my opponent's hand and had a win ready to go the next turn protected by another Duress, but a topdecked Orim's Chant stopped me. Fine, I'll take a Dark Ritual. Pass the turn, I've got another Duress. In response, another Orim's Chant. Seriously? Fine, I'll take the second Dark Ritual and pass the turn, I'll win next turn. Lotus Petal, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lion's Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor off the top, and I'm dead. Damn.

I boarded in the Dark Confidants, and as we stripped each other's hands clean, my Confidant beat him down. Eventually, I cast a Tendrils for 10 and won with Confidant beats.

Game 3 was a real heartbreaker. He didn't have enough mana to win, so I took one of his two Infernal Tutors. I had something like 3 mana floating off an Ad Nauseam and went all the way down to 3 life before giving up, figuring I'd set up a win on the next turn with lots of mana, Cabal Rituals, and an Infernal Tutor. He topdecked a Lion's Eye Diamond and killed me. Sigh.

Top card of my library was my own Lion's Eye Diamond, which would have let me kill him. I stopped at 3 life because I had both Grim Tutors left in my library.

4-3, out of contention.

Later on I found out that I should have tried to play 2 further rounds, as going 2-0 would have let me play the tiebreaker lottery at 6-3 for $50. Ah well. I won't be dropping at a positive record in large events again.

My next major event will be SCG Memphis, at which I hope to snap this run-bad streak I've had since GP: Atlanta.

Joshua Justice

@JoshJMTG on Twitter

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