It’s time for another rendition of discussing how must of a Bad Magic Player I am. This week we have an extra-long pack of mishaps, including two errors that happened in the same match! I briefly described those two in my Season 1 MOCS report earlier in the week, and I go into painful (for me) detail below.
I really hope you’re learning as much from these mistakes as I am. Why learn the hard way when you can let me screw up for you!?
1. To Tap or Not to Tap
In a prerelease event last weekend, I was staring down my opponent’s Elder of Laurels and a few other creatures, no cards, 3 life, and 8 open mana (at least 2 of them were forests). I had a Nightfall Predator (flipped Daybreak Ranger) and a trampler creature, but it was a standoff until the Elder could be dealt with.
I thought for a minute and came to what I thought was a solution for victory. I don’t remember the exact details, but it basically involved me attacking with my other creature, letting it get blocked, flashing back Burning Oil at the blocker (which ended up being a Strangleroot Geist without a counter on it) after my opponent activates Elder targeting the Geist, and then activating Predator’s fight ability to finish off the Giest and then trampling over for the win.
The basis of this strategy relied on a simply premise: Elder of Laurels is a one-shot ability because it taps to activate the pump. Oops. Elder of Laurels doesn’t tap to activate, and it didn’t when my opponent pumped the Geist the first time, and then in response to my Predator’s fight ability.
I was very, very fortunate I had enough mana open to flashback a Geistflame in my bin to respond to that second Elder of Laurels activation. I was able to trade a possible 3-for-none (since I would have lost both creatures and wasted the Burning Oil and he would have an even bigger Geist thanks to undying) with a much less devastating 2-for-1 (burning oil and geistflame flashbacks instead of my creatures, but the Geist still got bigger).
This was a lucky misplay, as I was able to recover and still win the game. But this was a very basic error – look at the card to see whether it taps to activate. In other words, READ THE DAMN CARD!
Elder of Laurels doesn’t tap, but I was able to “fix” my mistake temporarily by flashback Geistflame and ended up winning the match, so it was sort of okay. The more embarrassing part is that Elder of Laurels is in Innistrad, so I’ve had months to play with the card, so I have no excuse not to know that it doesn’t tap to activate!
2. Set Us Up the Bomb
One of the most versatile cards in the current Standard format is Ratchet Bomb. It’s a sweet 2 mana wrath for tokens, and can sit there offering pending doom for anything with a particular cost that you don’t want to become a threat (like going to 3 for swords and Oblivion Rings).
I was one turn away from securing the win,with my opponent having two cards in hand, and a flipped Delver of Secrets. I was at 15 life, and my opponent had 8 mana. At the end of my opponent’s turn I considered adding a counter to the bomb. I had no reason to worry about dying to double Swords, since worst case scenario for me he could draw a land, but he couldn’t play and equip both Swords to the Delver. I thought about the chance the two cards are a Runecaster’s Pike and a Sword, which he could play both if he had the 9th land, but even then I wouldn’t die since he only had 7 instants/sorceries in the bin, so that would only be 12 damage (and with 2 cards in hand only 14 if it was Sword of War and Peace).
So, I concluded the only way I could lose next turn was double Runechanter’s Pike so I should set my Ratchet Bomb to 3 counters to be able to blow them up when he equips and attacks. Except, Runechanter’s Pike costs 2 mana to play, not 3. Sure enough, my opponent had double pike, and had no problem playing and equipping them to the Delver, doing 17 damage and claiming victory.
Had I known the correct cost of the Pike, I would have kept the Bomb on 2 counters, since the whole turn cycle I was focused on having an answer to those specific cards. My ignorance caused me to lose the game, and the match (it was game 3). This is probably my most common misplay – not knowing what a card is/does, and assuming the answer incorrectly. If I posted a picture of each card I assumed cost/did something it didn’t, I’d have wallpaper for my apartment.
Turns out that I could have asked a Judge for the correct mana cost of the Pike to make sure, since it’s part of the Oracle text of the card. I wish I had know this before, but I know that now, so I’m learning from my mistake for sure, and that’s what it’s all about.
3. Deadly Distractions
In the MOCS last weekend I was playing a green-white hatebears deck during Round 3 (a bunch of 2 drop guys like Ethersworn Canonist, Gaddock Teeg, Quasali Pridemage, and other annoying little shits). I was doing fairly well with a Path to Exile on an Isochron Scepter, so anything he put out was getting whisked away, plus I had another Path in my hand. He had a Sword of War and Peace out, so danger was lurking if he was able to stick it on something.
I played a Vendilion Clique on his draw step and saw that he had a Leonin Arbiter and a Mirran Crusader. I had three mana up, two shock lands (one that made white) and a Scalding Tarn. He played the Crusader first (his misplay for sure) and tried to equip the Sword to it, but I played the Path that was in my hand (so I wouldn’ t have the crack the fetch yet, so I could avoid taking 2 more damage – may have been a slight misplay but it was irrelevant for this situation) and sent it to oblivion. He then played the Arbiter.
Meanwhile, I was chatting it up with a couple friends on MTGO, telling them how I was doing and how I thought I had this game pretty much in the bag. In other words, I wasn’t giving my full attention to the game at hand. That was a fatal mistake. I hit F2 (which passes priority) after my opponent played the Arbiter, and then watched in horror as he equipped the Sword, me having absolutely no ability to react whatsoever. I stared at my unused, untapped Path to Exile + Scepter machine and my Scalding Tarn.
All I had to do was crack the fetch in response to the Arbiter being played, and the game would certainly have been mine since I’d be in full control and beating him down next turn. But no, I allowed myself to be distracted and misplayed an easy win. I lost the game to a 4/4 pro-white/pro-red (in otherwords, pro-my entire deck) Leonin Arbiter. This game was mine, and I threw it away. I lost the match 1-2, which means without this bumble I would have won the match and moved to 3-0 in the tournament.
4. The Whole Package
The second big misplay I made in the MOCS last weekend didn’t actually occur during a game – I made the error during sideboarding.
If you read my post about the Modern American Scepter deck I was playing in the event, you saw that the sideboard was mostly a package of Gifts Ungiven + Unburial Rites, to unearth a fatty that could single-handedly wins certain matchups. Obviously, the package requires both Gifts Ungiven and Unburial Rites in order to be effective, so when sideboarding, they both have to come into the main deck.
In game 2, I had a great hand and was prepared to win on turn 5 against the same green-white hatebear deck I made misplay number 3 above in game 1. The board was empty, and getting Iona naming white would all but guarantee a concession, since the only nonwhite cards in the deck were Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarchs. I played Gifts Ungiven at the end of my opponent’s turn 4 and prepared for victory, until I saw what was, or I should say what wasn’t, in my library. There was no Unburial Rites.
Somehow I had forgotten to sideboard in Unburial Rites when I brought in the Gifts Ungivens and Iona. What likely occurred was more interface-related, since I probably click-and-dragged the card from the top of the screen in the sideboard area to the bottom of the screen where the deck contents were displayed, and simply let go of the mouse button too early, so Rites didn’t make the transfer between the windows. Even so, I should have double checked to make sure all the cards were there due their their significance in winning the game.
I was fortunate enough to win the game with a small army of flipped Delvers, but there was far too much risk in that misplay. I got really lucky from a mistake that is generally very unforgiving. I lost the 3rd game (legitimate beat down, not to misplays) and the match, and it really came down to my poor play, particularly the one in game 1 above. It not only made me look really stupid, but caused me to be 2-1 instead of 3-0, a huge difference early in a long tournament.
I hope you learn from my mistakes, as I am trying to do. Play smart, play focused, and you won’t be a badmagicplayer!