Someday I Will Win It All, Part 2

Here we go again. With everything behind Mana D starting to settle down, I am hoping to be ready to write on a more consistent basis. I sincerely hope this is the last time I introduce an article with how I am making a comeback to the writing side of things. Heck, part 1 of this series was written last October and I never got around to finishing my story about my top 4 performance at Provincials.

We are starting off fresh as I intend to focus on my performance two weekends ago at the inaugural FacetoFaceGames.com Invitational tournament. The tourney is obviously nowhere near as prestigious as its SCG counterpart, but it is my hope that it will be up there one day (in terms of prestige). Only 16 players were invited. 14 of them got their invites by accumulating points throughout the year while the final 2 (me being one of them) had to win a Last Chance Qualifier tournament.

Before we move on to the actual tournament, there’s something else I want to talk about…

MIND GAMES

If you listen to the Eh Team podcast, you would know one of the running jokes is the fact that I constantly get Jedi mind tricked during the games of Magic that I play. Well it is more than merely a joke and I have always been very transparent about this being a flaw in my game.

I think far too often, we as Magic players ignore our mistakes because we do not want to look like an idiot and a big part of the MTG community is to be blamed for all this. We troll people who commit misplays like nobody’s business and as a result, nobody wants to get caught looking like a fool.

It has gotten to the point where players just shut themselves down from feedback. I keep thinking back on this game my friend Kirk played during an FNM. Kirk was manning Mono Red while his opponent was playing Valakut. He had a [card]Goblin Guide[/card] out that was only facing down a [card]Terramorphic Expanse[/card]. An attack revealed a Lightning Bolt and right then, I knew the Goblin’s life was going to be short.

However, the opponent decided to crack the Expanse to look for a Forest. He then played a Mountain and shipped the turn back. Kirk eventually just kept attacking with his [card]Goblin Guide[/card] and won the game with the Guide and a [card]Kargan Dragonlord[/card] on his side of the board. After the match, I suggested to the Valakut player that the right play was probably to leave the revealed Lightning Bolt on top of his deck. He responded with “Well, I needed green mana” and that was the end of the discussion.

Maybe if I open up about the stupidest misplay I have ever made in my life, players will be encouraged to not hide behind their pride. This happened recently as I was playing Caw Go against a UW control variant that packed [card]Venser, the Sojourner[/card] as one of its main win conditions. It was my opponent’s turn and he decided to tap out for a foil [card]Sun Titan[/card]. I only had [card]Spell Pierce[/card] in hand, so I asked to see his graveyard and after scanning through the cards from his bin, I told him the spell was good to resolve. I cannot explain how and why this happened, but a few seconds later, the foil [card]Sun Titan[/card] was actually a foil [card]Gideon Jura[/card].

Obviously, like most MTG players, I was extremely tired because of lack of sleep, but I had to give credit where credit was due. He played his Gideon right in the middle of the board as if it was a creature. As far as I know, most people tend to put their Planeswalkers on a particular side of the board. After the match, I told my opponent about the mind trick, but there was in fact zero intent at a mind trick. I believe him, but how epic it would have been of him had he planned this all along.

THE INVITATIONAL

The format for the Invitational was quite unique. 16 players and 6 rounds of Swiss, 3 of them being Legacy, the other 3 being Standard with a top 4 cut-off where the format of the top 4 was going to be Legacy. Having never played a sanctioned game of Legacy, I knew that if I had a decent record in the first 3 rounds, Caw Go would bring me to the top 4, but after that, I knew I was a huge underdog to win the whole thing.

Instead of focusing on the “what if”s, I knew the most important task at hand was to select a Legacy deck. To start off, I decided to seek the advice of those that had more experience in the format than me. Gerry T and Alex Hayne both suggested that I should be swinging with blue men. Conley Woods told me he was sorry that he had no brews for me and directed me to Patrick Chapin’s Affinity list. I decided to ask Chapin himself what he thought I should play and he left this message for me:

Heya, merfolk, affinity, and junk are all fine choices. Since you don’t have xp in the format, just playing a deck that doesn’t require too many interactive points is key. All three of those are good choices, with merfolk bring the hardest. Personally, I would play affinity, but all three are ok.

Since I had essentially zero experience with the format coupled with the fact that Affinity is by far the cheapest competitive deck in the format, it was a no-brainer and this is what I ended up registering:

[deck title=Kar Yung Tom – Affinity]
[Lands]
2 Darksteel Citadel
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Tree of Tales
4 Vault of Whispers
[/Lands]
[Creatures]
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Arcbound Ravager
2 Myr Enforcer
4 Disciple of the Vault
4 Frogmite
2 Ornithopter
4 Memnite
3 Etched Champion
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Glimpse of Nature
4 Cranial Plating
3 Springleaf Drum
4 Thoughtcast
4 Mox Opal
[/Spells]
[Sideboard]
3 Duress
2 Tormods Crypt
2 Chalice of the Void
2 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Relic of Progenitus
4 Mindbreak Trap
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

If you have read my previous stuff, you know my style is not to go into great detail game-by-game. In the 3 rounds of Legacy I played, I was matched against Elves, Goblins and Naya. Now, before I played my first sanctioned Legacy game, I had the impression that the Affinity deck consisted of just spitting out a bunch of guys and winning, but it did not turn out to be that way most of the day. Against Elves for example, Joey Smith would play Intuition on turn 2 or 3, showing me 3 [card]Vengevine[/card]s, and next thing I know, I am staring at an army of [card]Vengevine[/card]s and all I have are [card]Frogmite[/card]s. The path I took to win most of my games was to swing with an evasive creature for lethal or just have the deadly [card]Disciple of the Vault[/card] + [card]Arcbound Ravager[/card] combo out.

I would end up losing my first match to Joey, but [card]Etched Champion[/card] would carry me on its back for the next two matches. I really wonder if there should be a fourth copy as all my opponents did was either swear or sweat profusely when this beast of a card came on the table. They simply had no answer and if I also had a [card]Cranial Plating[/card], forget about it. I asked Sebastien Alarie, the Goblins pilot, if his sideboard had anything at all against it and he shook his head. “Nobody really plays Affinity”, he said.

Well, maybe people should. I think it is a solid deck. Of course, the fact that it only plays 14 lands to go along with its 4 [card]Mox Opal[/card]s make drawing my opening 7 such an excruciating task all the time, because I know I am likely to ship it back.

With a 2-1 record, I was super confident going into the Standard portion with the following:

[deck title=Kar Yung Tom – Caw Go]
[Lands]
4 Island
4 Plains
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Seachrome Coast
3 Tectonic Edge
4 Celestial Colonnade
2 Scalding Tarn
1 Arid Mesa
[/Lands]
[Creatures]
4 Squadron Hawk
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Preordain
1 Deprive
3 Gideon Jura
2 Elspeth Tirel
2 Stoic Rebuttal
2 Mana Leak
4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Spreading Seas
4 Day of Judgment
4 Spell Pierce
[/Spells]
[Sideboard]
2 Flashfreeze
3 Celestial Purge
2 Condemn
1 Jace Beleren
2 Oust
1 Deprive
1 Sunblast Angel
1 Tectonic Edge
2 Journey to Nowhere
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Kibler’s exact deck list from the Star City Games Open in San Jose. I had brought my MTGO rating from 1600 to 1800 with it. My real life record with it was 6-1-2. There was little reason to choose another deck. The Standard portion was pretty funny because I was matched against Legacy veterans that had no clue what they were doing in Standard. I am not making fun of them as at the same time, I had no clue what I was doing playing Legacy.

I ended up starting off the Standard portion facing off two Vampire decks. I drew the first one with my 3 Planeswalkers on the board. I don’t know, I was probably talking too much. I beat the second one, but both players made major misplays that probably cost them the match. One of them would always forget to bring back [card]Bloodghast[/card], while the other did not seem to have any idea that [card]Bloodghast[/card] had haste when my life total was 10 or lower.

The last match came down to game 3 and it literally came down to the final turn as to whether or not I would make it to the top 4. He had a [card]Sword of Body and Mind[/card] on a [card]Spikeshot Elder[/card]. I had a [card]Sunblast Angel[/card] and a Colonnade. Both of us had no cards in hand. I was down to 1 life essentially and allowing him to untap with an Elder meant I was going to lose, but I draw a [card]Celestial Purge[/card] off the top and proceeded to win the game. The game only came down to this one card due to a major misplay on my part. I thought my [card]Sunblast Angel[/card] could not block his Elder. Yes, I mind tricked myself… Again!

Off to the top 4 I go and here I am facing one of the Vampire opponents I just slaughtered, except this time, I was in his house. This was his format. I was about to be his bitch. According to DMac, I had zero chance. DMac apparently played a zillion games against Félix with the store’s Affinity list and he basically never won a game. Well, at least I won’t have a chance to screw up, I will just lose.

Félix confirmed what DMac was saying by quickly killing me on turn 3 or 4 in game 1. He played all these cards I had not seen in any decklists. When I asked the crowd if there’s anyone that actually played this monstrosity, DMac said Félix is the only one he knows who plays it. Great…

After some digging online, here is what he probably sleeved up against me:

[deck title=Félix Lapan – Hulk Rebirth]
[Lands]
2 Dryad Arbor
1 Savannah
3 Bayou
2 Wooded Foothills
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Windswept Heath
1 Gaeas Cradle
2 Forest
2 Verdant Catacombs
1 City of Brass
1 Phyrexian Tower
[/Lands]
[Creatures]
1 Reveillark
1 Body Double
1 Mogg Fanatic
4 Carrion Feeder
3 Xantid Swarm
4 Tinder Wall
2 Protean Hulk
1 Academy Rector
2 Wild Cantor
4 Birds of Paradise
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Natural Order
4 Living Wish
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Pattern of Rebirth
3 Slaughter Pact
[/Spells]
[Sideboard]
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Gaeas Cradle
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Xantid Swarm
1 Academy Rector
3 Krosan Grip
4 Qasali Pridemage
2 Vexing Shusher
1 Shriekmaw
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

From a forum post I found:

In case you don’t know how the Hulk kill works, I’ll explain it here: Hulk goes to graveyard and its ability goes on the stack. You fetch [card]Body Double[/card] and [card]Carrion Feeder[/card] (or something else if you already have one in play). [card]Body Double[/card] enters as [card]Protean Hulk[/card]. Sac the new Hulk and find [card]Reveillark[/card] and [card]Mogg Fanatic[/card]. Sac the Fanatic to ping your opponent and then sac [card]Reveillark[/card] to bring back [card]Body Double[/card] (enters as [card]Reveillark[/card]) and Fanatic. Now you can create an endless loop of [card]Reveillark[/card] recursion and Fanatic pinging.

This very combo is what killed me in Game 1. I had no clue what to sideboard, but I brought most of it in. [card]Duress[/card] along with graveyard hate seemed good. Let’s see how this goes, I thought. Game 2, I returned the favor by killing him on turn 4, dealing him 11 points of damage on his final turn. Why did they ever give [card]Cranial Plating[/card] the ability to instant-equip? Too broken. This was actually the only game I killed someone so fast.

Game 3, I had an opening hand with [card]Duress[/card], but I decided to wait on Duress for a few turns. When I finally cast it, he revealed a [card]Mogg Fanatic[/card], a [card]Slaughter Pact[/card] and a [card]Pattern of Rebirth[/card]. I obviously take the Rebirth and play [card]Chalice of the Void [/card] for 0. Eventually, he [card]Krosan Grip[/card]s my Chalice and proceeded to cast [card]Slaughter Pact[/card] after [card]Slaughter Pact[/card] before I eventually killed him with you guessed it, Cranial Plating. People who watched this game probably saw all these misplays I did near the end, but thankfully, they were not enough to make me lose the match.

In the finals, I faced our good friend Joey Smith again and again, I did not really like my matchup. Affinity has no removal, so I could not stop [card]Fauna Shaman[/card] from starting up the impending [card]Vengevine[/card] army. I had it easy though as he apparently drew multiple [card]Gaea’s Cradle[/card] in both games. Game 1 was the classic evasive creature + [card]Cranial Plating[/card] win as [card]Ornithopter[/card] was the one to do the job this time.

Game 2, Joey had a few [card]Nettle Sentinel[/card]s out while I had almost no board presence. And I Thoughtcasted 3 times! Basically, as you could imagine, I drew 5 lands and a [card]Mox Opal[/card] from the [card]Thoughtcast[/card]s. Not something I was too disappointed in as I did have a [card]Disciple of the Vault[/card] in play. At this point of the game, I had a [card]Frogmite[/card] in hand and a [card]Glimpse of Nature[/card]. I am desperate and even Cycling would help, but as I positioned myself to Glimpse for a Cycle, Joey asks “Are you really just going to Glimpse for one card?”.

That made me stop and think for a bit. I held back on the Glimpse, but I wanted to play it again when on my next turn, I flipped over another bloody land. However, with a hand filled with [card]Gaea’s Cradle[/card]s, Joey could not kill me fast, so I had time. When I finally drew a [card]Memnite[/card], I knew it was finally time to Glimpse and I guess it pays to be patient as I was able to draw 5 cards off of it. Still, his creatures were still bigger and next thing I know, I was one turn away from dying to his Elves.

I looked at his life total. 14? I had Ravager in hand and a Disciple on board. I started counting the artifacts and I was just a couple of points short. I knew my only out was another Disciple. I cycled [card]Nihil Spellbomb[/card] and drew my card. [card]Disciple of the Vault[/card] #2. Joey graciously congratulates me for being the inaugural FacetoFaceGames.com champion and I was ecstatic because I could finally say I won a tournament.

There’s one last thing I want to say about this matchup. I sided in Chalices because they are obviously insane against Elves when casting it for 1 counter very early in the game. However, later in the game, Chalices can become quite awkward as it was for me in game 3 when I also had a Disciple and a Glimpse in my hand. Thankfully, I had another good number to set Chalice at as Joey had his [card]Wirewood Symbiote[/card] + [card]Viridian Shaman[/card] combo out. I tapped for 6 mana and put 3 counters on my Chalice to stop his artifact destruction.

Before I let you guys go, I got one last decklist to show you. This was used by my good friend Adam Yurchick to split the finals of a Premier event recently. He knew how much I loved Caw Go as a deck and he also saw that the Japanese players were starting to play [card]Gravitational Shift[/card] in their UW Control decks, so he decided to come up with something and ended up being extremely happy with it. There isn’t a day that passes by where Adam does not say “Shift is so sick!”. Michael Jacob also mentioned [card]Gravitational Shift[/card] as a tech card in his recent article, so there definitely seems to be something to this.

[deck title=Adam Yurchick – Caw Go with Shift]
[Lands]
2 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Island
3 Plains
2 Scalding Tarn
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Tectonic Edge
[/Lands]
[Creatures]
3 Emeria Angel
4 Squadron Hawk
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Condemn
3 Day of Judgment
2 Gideon Jura
1 Gravitational Shift
1 Jace Beleren
4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Journey to Nowhere
4 Mana Leak
4 Preordain
3 Spell Pierce
1 Stoic Rebuttal
[/Spells]
[Sideboard]
2 Condemn
2 Coralhelm Commander
1 Day of Judgment
1 Deprive
1 Emeria Angel
1 Flashfreeze
1 Gravitational Shift
1 Journey to Nowhere
1 Negate
3 Spreading Seas
1 Volition Reins
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

The Elspeths were taken out to fit some of the Shift pieces. Kibler loves [card]Elspeth Tirel[/card], but Adam and I both find her underwhelming in the more popular matchups. It is awkward against UB when they have a [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card] on the field and against Valakut, you always want [card]Gideon Jura[/card] because he is the faster clock. However, I will concede to the fact that she is great against Vampires for the same reason [card]Avenger of Zendikar[/card] is insane against them.

If the Goblins deck that everyone is brewing becomes popular, then I am not sure how comfortable I would be with Caw Go moving forward. The only deck I ever really worried about was Kuldotha Red, because it would just litter the board so rapidly and before I knew it, I was dead. Yes, sometimes, they are slow out of the gate and you can wipe their board with [card]Day of Judgment[/card], but if they had a [card]Chimeric Mass[/card], it would eventually “get there” for them.

With that said, I leave you with the usual props. I know I will forgot some names…

Props

Dan Lanthier & Jon Smithers – For giving me the opportunity to take down the title.

Barry Hum & John Maher – For lending me what I was missing to play the Affinity deck. My wallet is a little less empty because of them. Thanks guys!

Alex Hayne – For not only being my mentor when it comes to Constructed, but also for becoming one of my closest friends.

Nick LeBlanc – For inspiring me to finish this by reminding me that I was one of the bigger names on Mana Deprived. It meant a lot to me.

Dan MacDonald – For being awesome.

Salvatore Reda – Thanks for giving back to the Magic community by hosting this tournament. I am proud to say that I am associated with your store.

Justin Richardson – For also being my Constructed mentor. You know I have kept saying this since it first came out and I will say it one last time. Caw Go is the best deck!

Phil Samms – Because if I don’t, he will bitch at me. Everyone’s favorite grinder, ladies and gentlemen!

Mat Schmaltz – For being my commander.

Much love,

KYT