A buddy and I went over to Grand Rapids (Michigan) this past Saturday for a TCGPlayer.com Platinum Qualifier. It was basically a mid-sized event where you can win a few hundred bucks and entry into a big $50K tournament later this year. We did absolutely terrible, although most of my losses were due to a combination of terrible luck (sure, that’s what all the scrubs say). I was playing a slightly edited Boros Reckoner version of American flash (here’s an example list of the archetype).
To start things out, we drove two hours just to be matched up together in Round 1. 179 players, yet somehow the two of us are matched to start it out. Not willing to ruin each other’s day that early, we took an intentional draw.
Round 2, I crushed my Naya Midrange opponent. It was fun to Rapid Hybridization his Thragtusk in response to his attempt to value-bounce it with Restoration Angel. Two 3/3 tokens is FAR better than a 3/3 token, 5 life, and a 5/3 that will turn into another 3/3 token. Value is still value, even if it isn’t incredible value.
Pongify is back and still good!
Round 3, I played against a very interesting Simic Delver deck that relied heavily on Quirion Dryad and a crapton of blue instants, growing the Dryad with every spell played (think Searing Spear targeting Dryad, but Think Twice or Simic Charm in response to put it out of lethal range). I wasn’t prepared to face the deck game 1, but was able to lay the smack down in game 2, paving the way for an epic game 3. Hand one: 4 spells and all ISD/M13 lands (like Glacial Fortress)…almost always a mulligan on the draw, especially against a fast deck like this one. A turn 2 Dryad or a flipped turn 1 Delver of Secrets and I’m screwed. Hand two (6 cards): one land, nothing less than three mana. Hand three (5 cards): no land. Hand four (4 cards): no land, but very, very enticing, with Supreme Verdict, Searing Spear, Izzet Charm, and Negate. If I drew two land in a row I’d be in business, but I threw it back anyway. My three-card hand was a land, searing spear, and izzet charm, so it was a keep, and I actually drew several lands in a row to keep the game alive for a bit before getting stomped by a Quirion Dryad that was an 8/8 when I died. Mulliganing to three is generally a bad thing, I’ve heard.
Round 4, I played my favorite match up – Esper Control. I believe I have a slight advantage over that deck game one, mostly because I have Harvest Pyre in my deck (and they fill up my graveyard with Nephalia Drownyard), and Izzet Charm to help keep my opponent’s Sphinx’s Revelation and Sorin/Lingering Souls threats under control. I was rocking out game 1, running quite ahead, when my opponent plays a shocker of a card – a maindeck Rest in Peace. Of course, the next card I drew was Snapcaster Mage, and a few cards later I ripped that Harvest Pyre. Game 2 I cruised to victory, with the best part being when my opponent played Duress and I showed him a hand of Negate, Dispel, Dissipate, Izzet Charm, and Snapcaster Mage. He scooped shortly after. Game 3 was a close one, even though I started out stuck on three land (the three in my opener, of course) and kept drawing Sphinx’s Revelations and Restoration Angels that I couldn’t play. I had my opponent down to three life with a Searing Spear in my hand, but I knew he had a Sphinx’s Revelation from an earlier Augur of Bolas, so I had to play around it to get in those last points of damage. Interestingly, my opponent landed a Jace, Memory Adept and milled me for 10 – seeing the other three Searing Spears in my deck all at once. I was hoping he’d feel safe casting the Revelation so I could kill him in response, but he played well and didn’t let me have the chance. I didn’t draw any counter magic, and he was able to Terminus away my Restoration Angel I had threatened with in the meantime. He had 2 mana open after the Terminus, so I threw caution to the wind and played the Spear, but he had Negate. I didn’t really have a choice but to try it then, since I was only two turns away from losing to the Jace mill-out, which is how I ultimately bit it.
Round 5, I lost in a mirror match, mostly because I was on tilt from getting my 2nd loss (taking me out of top 8 contention), and also because in game 2 my opponent played two Assemble the Legion in a row, and I couldn’t dig a Detention Sphere out to deal with. I was run over by an increasing army of little red and white soldier dudes. That card is awesome by the way, and with so little enchantment removal in the format, it almost seems like a maindeck choice.
Round 6, I finally had the chance to play against the Junk Rites/reanimator deck that everyone has been so afraid of lately. Game 1 I already have a fairly awkward matchup against it, but I tried to shore it up with main-deck additions like Rapid Hybridization to deal with Angel of Serenity and Obzedat. Rapid Hybridization is a real card (especially since Boros Reckoner keeps a 3/3 token in check nicely), and was actually really helpful against every match-up except Esper Control. Anywho, during game 1 I killed Obzedat three times with Hybridizations, but he was able to find more Unburial Rites and later used Angel of Serenity to get it back again. I really wish there was an exile instant that didn’t cost a billion mana like Smite the Monstrous to deal with that stupid Orzhov card. Game 2 I stabilized after Dissipating two Unburial Rites and Hybridizing Obzedat twice again, and it became a war of attrition with both players handless. We both then drew SEVEN, yes SEVEN lands in a row. His eighth draw was an Angel of Serenity that gave him back Obzedat and two Thragtusks underneath, and I drew a Supreme Verdict and then three more land. My deck taunts me cruelly.
Big Spirits. Big Annoyance.
So that’s how it went, 1-4-1 drop. I had some terrible luck, probably made some bad plays I didn’t know about, but for the most part, I can count at least two of those losses to mulliganing to three and getting mana screwed/flooded. Hooray for variance. I really love the American Flash archetype, and have been doing very well with it at the local store events – I’ve top 8′d every week I’ve played it during the past month. It can’t be the deck, so it must be the player. After all, I am a Bad Magic Player.