I have a special treat for this week’s I’m a Bad Magic Player Series entry – we’re going back in time, way back to 2008! Okay so it’s not really that way back, but good enough.
In 2008, Standard was made up of Time Spiral and Lorwyn blocks, and was incredibly diverse in terms of the number of viable decks – probably even more diverse than the current format. There are at least 10 archetypes I can recall right away – Merfolk, Kithkin/White Weenie, Doran, Reveillark Combo, Reveillark Control, Faeries, Skred Red, GW ramp, Monored, BW tokens, 5-color control, BG elf aggro, GW elfball, BR rogues, and on and on.
I was playing in the Michigan Regionals (the tournaments that used to feed the old US Nationals event) a homemade Doran, the Siege Tower Deck that was basically a semi-homebrew treefolk tribal deck that strived for turn 2 Doran off a turn 1 Bird of Paradise, and free Chameleon Colossi and Timber Protectors off of Leaf-Crowned Elder. I was 5-0 in the event, and needed to just win one of the next two rounds so I could make top 8 and be qualified for Nationals. But as I discuss after the fold, I was about to be a Bad Magic Player.
We’ll All Float On Alright
The first “win and in” match was against Skred Red, a red-green deck full of ramp effects and snow lands that aimed to pump Chameleon Colossus to insane power levels and cast early game Cloudthreshers, while utilizing snow lands to power Skred and Mouth of Ronom to manage opposing creatures. Given the high number of nonbasics in the format, thanks to Mutavault, Reflecting Pool, Tribal Lands (like Murmuring Bosk), Vivid lands, and filter lands (like Mystic Gate), Skred Red effectively utilized Magus of the Moon.
Now, before I get into my horrid misplay, you need to know that I had just come back to Magic after a hiatus during college. I had played Mirrodin block heavily, but then missed the entire blocks of Kamigawa, Ravnica, and Time Spiral – Morningtide had just come out when I got back in. I also had not played the game beyond casually, so some of the more intricate parts of the game were unknown to me.
One of these intricacies was the concept of “floating” mana through my opponent’s spell casts. It was a close match, and I had all nonbasic lands in play and no creatures on board, when my opponent played Magus of the Moon. I winced at the notion that I was going to lose to that damn Magus that had naturally annoyed me every time I played against Skred Red. I let it resolve, and shortly after, conceded the match, showing my opponent my hand consisting of two Nameless Inversion. He was shocked and ask why I didn’t float the black mana to kill Magus – I had no idea what he was talking about.
That’s when I learned how to float mana through a spell. I had no idea you could tap mana in response to the Magus cast and play Nameless Inversion to kill it before moving on to the next phase. My opponent admitted that had I done it right, I would have won the game and the match, but instead chalked up my first match loss in the tournament to simply being a n00b.
A Profane Mistake
In the next “win and in” round, I played against black-green elves. This was generally a fun match-up that usually rode on which player got a Chameleon Colossus faster and bigger than the other. It was game 3, and we both had a Chameleon Colossus in play with about the same number of lands to pump them up equally. He had a few other creatures, nothing too threatening, but a way to overrun them all into me would spell defeat for sure. He top decks and plays Profane Command, announcing that he was giving all of his creatures fear and making me lose life as the modes. He then tapped all his creatures, and I scooped.
Except I shouldn’t have scooped. Instead I should have blocked his Colossus with mine, pumped it to keep it alive, and then swung in for the win next turn. But my little familiarity with the cards in the format and my eternal habit for not reading cards that do important things caused me to assume all of his creatures were unblockable with fear. But this was not the case, since Chameleon Colossus has protection from black, and Profane Command, which is a black spell, targets creatures to give them fear; the Colossus was not a legal target for the Command, as I had assumed.
To make things worse, after the match slip had been turned in, my opponent came up to me and said that he just realized that he shouldn’t have won the game, and recognized that Profane Command couldn’t have given Colossus fear as he indicated and I assumed. But he refused to go to the judges to change the outcome, saying it was too late and he was just lucky it worked out that way. Balls.
I ended up 5-2 at the event and placed top 16, which was still great for my first competitive event after taking a long break from the game. But I will never forget those two horrible misplays that ruined my shot at making US Nationals, no matter how much I learned from those mistakes.
I hope you enjoyed this sort of blast from the past. Remember to read the cards, go slow and play tight, so that you don’t end up a Bad Magic Player like me!